Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Over the Counter #470

What book caught my eye this week? You may see a theme developing here....

Nomad: Designing a Home for Escape and Adventure Hardcover by 2019 by Emma Reddington and Sian Richards.

From Workman Publishing:

"A reclusive designer living in a custom tiny house in the middle of the Montana wilderness. A couple who traded their expensive Bay Area apartment for a slip at a nearby marina, where they live on a docked sailboat. A family of five who decided to simplify their lives by moving into a school bus, selling most of their possessions in the process. Nomad features their stories, and many more. From vanlifers to boondockers, liveaboards to tiny-house dwellers, these freedom seekers have forged a new way of life for themselves—one that values experiences over things, is environmentally conscious, and is often more budget-friendly than their “rooted” lives ever were.

The ubiquity of the internet has ushered in a new era of connectivity that makes working from an Airstream beside a roaring river or running a photography business from a mountaintop a reality. It’s now possible to do whatever you want from wherever you want and still have a foothold in the world. This book shows you how, with tours of 26 unconventional homes and the people who live in them, plus all the information you need to make your own off-the-grid dream a reality. There are chapters on bathroom and storage—two of the most challenging aspects of this lifestyle—plus a comprehensive guide to finding the right home, assessing the cost of renovation, handy products for small spaces, and indispensable resources (including sources for replacement RV parts, portable power solutions, tiny wood stoves, and much more)"

(Over the Counter is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World. I've sadly come the realization that I cannot physically read every book that catches my interest as it crosses over the counter at the library. But...I can mention them and maybe one of them will catch your eye as well. See if your local library has them on their shelves!)

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

The Deepest South of All - Richard Grant

I love fiction, but honestly, the non fiction titles are the ones that stay with me the longest. I've enjoyed previous works from Richard Grant and was quite excited to listen to his latest - The Deepest South of All: True Stories from Natchez, Mississippi. 

Grant has been described as a travel writer, but I think I think his writing encompasses more than just the physical. His locales are explored through the inhabitants - their history and stories. More of a sociological feel if you will. A transplanted Londoner, Grant makes his home now in Mississippi. 

"Natchez, Mississippi, once had more millionaires per capita than anywhere else in America, and its wealth was built on slavery and cotton. Today it has the greatest concentration of antebellum mansions in the South, and a culture full of unexpected contradictions."

Grant introduces us to many of the citizens he meets at a party in the first few chapters. Eccentric is a descriptor that can be used many times in this book. Many of the residents seem so quirky as to be fictional - but they're not. Much of the modern day Natchez is told through the 'war' of the two garden clubs - and their yearly ritual celebration of Natchez history. It's an over the top historical presentation that glosses over the fact that Natchez was the second-largest slave market in the US, second only to New Orleans. The antebellum mansions play a large part in depicting the selective history. Author Greg Iles is referenced as trying to make changes in this long held tradition. And the contradictions mentioned are definitely there - Natchez's mayor is a gay black man who garnered ninety one percent of the vote to take office. Yet, there isn't a black member in either garden club and black history is not presented in the  'Tableaux'. Grant meets and interviews both black and white inhabitants of Natchez and gives the listener a broader picture of this complicated city through their thoughts and history.

Told in alternating chapters with the current time, is the story of one slave - Abd al Rahman Ibrahima, a West African prince sold into slavery in the late 1700's. His story is heartbreaking, but fascinating. And his story is just one of millions.

The Deepest South of All juxtaposes the history and current day climate of Natchez, providing a look inside this enigmatic and yes, insular city. 

Grant's writing is always a treat to read. But, I did choose to listen to this latest. The reader was Matthew Lloyd Davies. His performance was excellent and he interpreted Grant's work really well. He has a British accent (remember, Grant is British) that is charming and easy to understand. His voice is quite versatile - he presented many characters and each was a different and believable voice. His reading has movement and he captured the emotions and tenor of the book.

Curious, quirky, fascinating and most definitely thought provoking. The Deepest South of All makes for timely reading and listening.  Listen to an excerpt of The Deepest South of All.

Monday, September 28, 2020

Giveaway - The Invitation - Rachel Abbott

If you like psychological suspense reads, you're going to enter this giveaway for a copy of The Invitation by Rachel Abbott

What's it about? From Grand Central Publishing:

"That’s the thing about old friends, they never let you forget.

The first time Jemma and Matt were invited to Polskirrin — the palatial ocean-view home belonging to Matt’s old friend Lucas Jarrett — it was for an intimate wedding that ended in tragedy. Jemma will never forget the sight of the girl’s pale, doll-like body bobbing listlessly toward the rocky shore.

Now, exactly one year later, Jemma and her husband have reluctantly returned at Lucas’s request to honor an anniversary they would do anything to forget.

But what Lucas has in store for his guests is nothing like a candlelight vigil. Someone close remembers more from that night than they’ll admit to, and Lucas has devised a little game for them all to make them tell the truth.

At least Jemma knows that she and Matt weren’t involved in what happened to that young woman . . . or were they? Before you play a game with death, make sure you can pay the price. . .

From the three-million-copy bestselling author of Only the Innocent comes an absolutely gripping new psychological thriller. Perfect for fans of Something in the Water, The Woman in the Window and The Silent Patient." Read an excerpt of The Invitation.

And if you'd like to read The Invitation, enter using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, ends October 20/20.

"Rachel Abbott was born just outside Manchester, England, and spent most of her working life as the Managing Director of an interactive media company. After her company was sold in 2000, she fulfilled a lifelong ambition of buying and restoring a property in Italy. Rachel now lives in Alderney - a beautiful island off the coast of France - and spends a few months of each year in the Le Marche regions of Italy, where she devotes her time to her love of writing fiction." You can connect with Rachel on her website, like her on Facebook,  follow her on Twitter as well as on Instagram.

Friday, September 25, 2020

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #331

- You can't judge a book by its cover - which is very true.
But you can like one cover version better than another...

US cover
UK cover
Lisa Unger's newest book, Confessions on the 7:45, releases this fall. And I've got it on my TBR list. Why? I love mysteries that happen on a train. The Hitchcocks, The Woman on the Train etc. I'm looking forward to seeing what Unger has planned for her train ride. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Two different tones this week - the US cover is somewhat sepia and I think the blurred window is great. We don't clearly see the woman's face (thank goodness).We're outside looking in on her. The UK cover is much brighter in tone. The red coat stands out. This time it's the woman on the outside looking at the train, waiting to board. I'm going to go with the US cover this week - I prefer the subtle tones.
What about you? Any plans to read Confessions on the 7:45? 
Which cover do you prefer?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Barry Squires, Full Tilt - Heather Smith

I was immediately drawn to the cover (and title) of Heather Smith's new YA novel - Barry Squires, Full Tilt. I had an inkling that dancing might be involved. I was right - but there's so much more to Barry's story....

1995 St. John's Newfoundland. Twelve year old Barry is determined to join the Full Tilt Dancers - a tap and step dancing troupe that is St. John's famous. There are a few obstacles to overcome on the way to that goal. And sometimes the biggest impediment is Barry himself. School is problematic and Barry spends more time in the principal's office than in the classroom.  

Barry's dialogue, inner thoughts and conversations are quite funny. Barry is quick witted, quick on his feet and quick with his comebacks. And that's the direction I thought the book would take. But, I was very happily proven wrong. There's so much more to Barry's story. He's bullied in and out of school. "I thought about school the next day. Soon I'd feel like a frayed puzzle piece - no matter how hard I'd try to fit in there'd always be bits sticking out."

Barry has a wonderful family - Mom, Dad, Nan, an older brother and sister and Gord - a baby brother. The love Barry feels for his little brother is so touching. The whole family is a close knit group, but there are issues as well. Mom is suffering from postpartum depression. And for Barry, difficult emotions and feelings are hard things to cope with. "The army men marched through my brain all day long. I didn't know who or what they were fighting, but they were angry. They ransacked my thoughts, tossing them aside and breaking them in two."

Okay, so that sounds pretty serious doesn't it? But there's lots of humour as well and Smith does a fantastic job of combining the two. She presents and tackles some heavy issues (I must admit, I was truly caught off guard with one big game changing plotline) with a good dose of banter.

Other supporting characters are unique and diverse and will also draw the reader to them. From homeless Uneven Steven to the residents of the One Step Closer to God Nursing Home. And Saibal - I'll let you meet this wonderful character on your own. I truly enjoyed the conversations between Saibal and Barry. (And the cameos from Alan Doyle and Rick Mercer were fun.) The setting itself is as much a character. 

I often wonder how an author comes up with their ideas for a book or if there's a bit of their own story woven through their work. You'll find a bit of Heather Smith is this novel. She's originally from Newfoundland and "Her east coast roots inspire much of her writing." And I think there's a bit of Barry there too. 

"But this isn't a memoir. Memoirs are for people who've lived long, amazing lives and have inspirations stories to tell." I don't know about that Barry, I think your story is pretty inspirational......An excellent read for all ages. Read an excerpt of Barry Squires, Full Tilt.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Over the Counter #469

What book caught my eye this week? I know a number of people who love Disney....

Holiday Magic at the Disney Parks: Celebrations Around the World from Fall to Winter by Graham Allan, Rebecca Cline and Charlie Price.

From Disney Editions Deluxe:

"This deluxe jacketed hardcover is visual storytelling at its best. Almost 1,900 photographs (two-thirds of them taken just for this book) showcase Disney's key locations filled with special holiday menu offerings, the biggest parade and stage productions and nighttime spectacles, the tiniest decorating details from amazing artists and designers, and, of course, the most significant historical holiday events.

A harmonic trio of researchers, writers, and photographers logged more than 180,000 miles visiting every Disney park and resort across the globe, personally documenting the holiday installations through eighty thousand photographs and, wherever possible, meeting the talented and endlessly passionate artisans behind it all.

With twelve theme parks and dozens of resort hotels, plus numerous cruise ships, dining and shopping districts, and more than six decades of holiday experiences, there are a lot of pumpkin treatments and ornate trees to reflect upon. (The smallest holiday tree at a Disney property is just four inches high, while the very tallest reaches up to seventy feet.) Every parade or show requires dozens (sometimes hundreds) of creative magicians both onstage and off. And each decoration is chosen carefully to fit within a story and is expertly placed on its tree or garland by craftspeople backstage. The decor is installed onstage, maintained, and, ultimately, disassembled by technicians before it is once again cleaned, prepared, and stored in vast warehouses . . . till next year's event. The stories and contributions from so many unsung Cast Members (often hard at work at hours of the night when others are asleep) fill these pages, along with the joys of Halloween, Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year celebrations. Time to join the party!"

(Over the Counter is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World. I've sadly come the realization that I cannot physically read every book that catches my interest as it crosses over the counter at the library. But...I can mention them and maybe one of them will catch your eye as well. See if your local library has them on their shelves!)

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Seven Crows - Kate Kessler

I always have a good look at a book's cover before reading the tale. The cover for the first book, Seven Crows, in Kate Kessler's Killian Delaney series drew me in. Have you heard that old nursery rhyme about counting crows? Seven for a secret never to be told....

Killian is an ex-con, hard core fighter and is associated with a biker gang. She's just been released after a nine year stint in prison. It was a sentence she gladly served. She messed up the man who killed her boyfriend. He's tried to have her killed numerous times in prison. But now that she's out, he's trying something else - he's kidnapped her teenage niece. And....yup you got it....she's gonna hunt him down....again....

Seven Crows absolutely reads like an action movie. With a kicka** female lead. Kessler does a great job of revealing Killian's past even as she fights to find Shannon. Her extended family includes the Crow MC. Now, fair warning - the activities of outlaw MCs play a large part in the plot. And Killian's actions and thoughts reflect someone living that life. As a reader, I did initially question some of the dialogue, reactions and outcomes of certain plotlines - were they realistic? Well, not maybe to me, but they perfectly suit the tone and tenor of the plot and players.

The supporting characters are also intriguing. Dash is from the old days - he and Kill have a history. (And maybe a future?) He's running a legit business now, but behind that front, he's still got his hand in some questionable activities. His cohort, Story, is another enigmatic female support characters I'd love to hear her backstory as well.

The action doesn't stop, the danger just multiplies and Killian's own moral compass never budges. The reader can't help but be on her side as she battles seemingly overwhelming odds. Revenge drives her forward. Will she find redemption?

Gentle readers, this one's probably not for you. But if you watched Sons of Anarchy, this is a book you'd probably enjoy.  Read an excerpt of Seven Crows. And....keep your eyes out for my review of the second Killian book, Call of Vultures. It releases December 1/20.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Giveaway - The Woods - Vanessa Savage

Let's start this week off with a great giveaway! The Woods is Vanessa Savage's new book. I was hooked by the tagline -"Two girls went in. Only one came out.

Want to know more? From Grand Central Publishing

"From the acclaimed author of The Woman in the Dark: a young teacher struggles to solve the mystery of her sister's death while battling hallucinations of her own. Two girls went down to the woods... But only one came back. There's a lot from Tess's childhood that she would rather forget. The family who moved next door and brought chaos to their quiet lives. The two girls who were murdered, their killer never found. But the only thing she can't remember is the one thing she wishes she could. 

Ten years ago, Tess's older sister died. Ruled a tragic accident, the only witness was Tess herself, but she has never been able to remember what happened that night in the woods. 

Now living in London, Tess has resolved to put the trauma behind her. But an emergency call from her father forces her back to the family home, back to where her sister's body was found, and to the memories she thought were lost forever... Read an excerpt of The Woods.

"Vanessa Savage is a graphic designer and illustrator. She has twice been awarded a Writers’ Bursary by Literature Wales, most recently for A Woman in the Dark. She won the Myriad Editions First Crimes competition in 2016 and her work has been highly commended in the Yeovil International Fiction Prize, short listed for the Harry Bowling Prize, and the Caledonia Fiction Prize. She was longlisted for the Bath Novel Award." You can connect with Vanessa on her website, like her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter and on Instagram as well.

And if you'd like to read The Woods, enter for a chance to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends October 3/20. Good luck! 

Friday, September 18, 2020

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #330

- You can't judge a book by its cover - which is very true.
But you can like one cover version better than another...

US cover
UK cover
John Grisham has a new legal thriller - A Time For Mercy -
coming out this fall. It will be the third book to feature Jake Brigance from A Time to Kill. And I will most likely listen to it - I do enjoy his legal thrillers. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. I like the starry sky on the US and the isolated road cutting through the woods. But what is that flare of light? My guess would be fire. The UK cover has an even more isolated road with - yep, you guessed it - a cabin with a light shining out of a window. Dark, cloudy sky included. I'm going to go with the US cover this week. The sky sold me. What about you? Which cover do you prefer?
Any plans to read A Time For Mercy?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Confessions on the 7:45 - Lisa Unger

Have you ever looked at a book and thought, 'Oh, I'll just take a quick peek at the first chapter'? And then that quick peek turns into the second and third chapter ..... and all of a sudden you're halfway through the book and can't put it down? Uh huh. You have been warned - if you start reading Lisa Unger's latest book, Confessions on the 7:45, you're not going to be able to stop.

I have always thought this premise was such a great starting point (including the classic film, Strangers on a Train) - there are so many places a story can go from there. Two women, Selena and Martha, are on a stalled train, a conversation starts - and 'confessions' are shared. "Don't you ever wish your problems would take care of themselves?" The trains moves on and so do the women, not expecting to ever see each other again. Until..."Maybe we should meet for a drink. I'm eager to continue our conversation. It's Martha, by the way. From the train."

Are you hooked yet? Confessions on the 7:45 is told from many points of view. Each of those characters is hiding something - secrets abound! Unger has outdone herself with the twists and turns in this book. There's more than one gotcha in this tale. I was caught off guard as the seemingly disparate threads start to weave together. You won't be able to predict what's next.

I really can't say more without creating spoilers. And I can't say enough about how much I enjoyed Confessions on the 7:45. While that initial premise is not new, Unger's take on the tale is unique and makes for addictive reading. Absolutely recommended. Read an excerpt of Confessions on the 7:45.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Over the Counter #468

What book caught my eye this week? Love to knit? Outlander fan? Here's one for you...

Outlander Knitting: The Official Book of 20 Knits Inspired by the Hit Series by Kate Atherley.

From Clarkson Potter Books:

"Feel the magic of Outlander at your fingertips with this officially licensed book of knitting: twenty patterns inspired by the hit series from STARZ and Sony Pictures Television, based on Diana Gabaldon's bestselling novels.

From the Scottish Highlands to the courts of Versailles to the eastern shores of North America, the TV show Outlander brings to life in gorgeous detail the epic love story of Jamie Fraser and Claire Beauchamp Randall Fraser. But beyond the drama and passion, what has captured fans’ imagination the most are the rustic knits worn on the show.

Now knitters of all skill levels can recreate them with twenty projects for apparel, accessories, and home d├ęcor that take inspiration from memorable episodes. Knit the capelet cowl that Mrs. Fitz gives to Claire at Castle Leoch, warm your feet with Clan Mackenzie Boot Socks, swaddle your bairn with the Mo Chridhe Baby Blanket, and dress your Jamie in a warm waistcoat. From chunky knits to Celtic cables, each project includes a clearly written pattern, gorgeous photography, and scenes from the set.

A love letter to the fans, Outlander Knitting will have you wishing you could time travel to the Highlands."

(Over the Counter is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World. I've sadly come the realization that I cannot physically read every book that catches my interest as it crosses over the counter at the library. But...I can mention them and maybe one of them will catch your eye as well. See if your local library has them on their shelves!)

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Anxious People - Fredrik Backman

I picked up Fredrik Backman's latest novel, Anxious People, without a clue of what I might find inside. But having enjoyed all of his previous books, I just knew I would love this one too.

"A bank robbery. A hostage drama." That's the opening line. And from there we 'meet' the robber, the hostages and the two policemen tasked with the case.

Anxious People is told by an unnamed, prescient narrator  who observes the goings on and the players with an eye for the human condition. There are so many truths on each and every page of Anxious People. Situations, circumstances, hopes, fears and so much more - including anxiety. "Because there's such an unbelievable amount that we're all supposed to be able to cope with these days." (Uh huh, kind of right on the money in these uncertain times)

There's at least one, if not more, observation that every reader will personally connect with - truths, wisdom and introspection. But....I don't want you to get the idea that is a strictly serious book. It is, but it isn't. I found myself laughing out loud so many times. Some of the police interviews read like a 'who's on first' skit. And each of the players is, well, quite the character. Every one of them is quirky, unique and so well drawn. I had my favorites. But, as more and more of their stories is revealed, I found my perceptions and opinions changing with each new chapter.

And....there's the crime to solve as well. It's not as straightforward as you might have assumed. Backman is a clever, clever wordsmith. I had my suppositions (happily) changed many times as the book progressed. And slowly but surely, the ties and tendrils of fate start knitting together the lives of the characters. A lovely serendipitous circle.

"But when you get home this evening, when this day is over and the night takes us, allow yourself a deep breath. Because we made it through this day as well. There'll be another one along tomorrow."

Such a fantastic read on so many levels. Absolutely recommended. Read an excerpt of Anxious People.

Monday, September 14, 2020

His & Hers - Alice Feeney

If you like clever plotting, you're going to want to pick up a book by Alice Feeney. Now, her first two novels have been great - but this latest - His & Hers is fantastic!

"There are two sides to every story: yours and mine, ours and theirs, His & Hers. Which means someone is always lying." And you will be hard pressed to know who is lying in this intricately plotted suspense novel!

Hers - Anna Andrews is a news reporter. When a body is found in the village of Blackdown, Anna is sent to cover the story. She has no choice, despite her reluctance to set foot in the village again.

His - Detective Jack Wallace is on the case as well. In more ways than one - investigator and possible suspect.

Unknown - creepy missives from an unknown player add to the story....

Oh boy, I can't tell you how much I loved this book. My favorite genre is mystery and I fancy myself to be a bit of an armchair detective. But, I did not see the ending at all. Do not, I repeat do not cheat and read/listen to the last chapters out of order. That will absolutely spoil what is a massive gotcha!

One of my favorite storytelling styles is the back and forth from alternating narratives. As readers, we end up knowing much more than each character does. But who is telling the truth? Feeney happily led me down the garden path more than once. There are numerous characters who could be the culprit.

And I won't say much more - suffice to say it's an addictive read/listen! Those who enjoy psychological suspense are going to want to pick up His & Hers.

I did listen to His & Hers. I often find myself more immersed in books by choosing the audio version. Such was the case with this book. The two readers - Richard Armitage and Stephanie Racine - are both excellent and I've enjoyed their narration in the past. Listen to an excerpt of His & Hers.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Final Cut - SJ Watson

I've enjoyed SJ Watson's previous books - especially Before I Go to Sleep, which was also made into a movie starring Nicole Kidman. Final Cut is his latest novel.

Alex makes documentary films. Her latest assignment is in the village of Blackwood Bay. With her latest undertaking, anyone can submit a film clip of village life, scenes, activities and more. Alex will curate the clips and decide what can be made public. And her boss thinks that she also needs to ask about the disappearance of more than one girl from this community. And....Alex has a connection to Blackwood Bay - one that she's hiding.

I thought the film clip premise was a great idea - clues, suspicions and leads can be brought to light through this vehicle.

I just couldn't connect with Alex though. She's all over the map - and yes, that is part of the plot. But some of her actions are just plain ridiculous. She's been there a day or two and has decided that she can solve the case of the missing girls - one of which is ten years ago.

She meets village residents and feels like she knows them and how they will react, what they will do. Which of course does not serve her well. And here's the thing. Knowing she's a filmmaker, some local residents bring her into their circle. Or rather she invites herself. Her worry for local teens just feels awkward. Much of it just didn't ring true.

There's some obligatory attraction between a three month resident named Gavin and Alex. "His eyes are wide, expectant, and for a moment I think he's going to try to kiss me, and know that if he does, I'll let him." Puleez. This was one example - there are many more. Knowing Alex's background, this 'romantic' thread just didn't fit at all.

Alex is a bit of an enigma - she has a history in Blackwood Bay that she doesn't disclose. Mostly because she can't remember it. As a teen she was found on a beach with traumatic memory disorder. So, she reinvented herself.

There was so much potential in this story. But the endless rounds of questions and enigmatic clues seemed to just repeat themselves. Along with cryptic responses - I just can't tell wouldn't understand and more. I like cryptic, but this response only works for so long. Oh, and don't forget the creepy guy in the creepy house.

And you may be asking - where are the police in all this? Well, they're not part of this book. Their one appearance provides such a break of protocol it's ridiculous.

And yes, I like a good twist. The one that's telegraphed is a good one. But the turn after that was too much of a reach. Yes, I finished the book - I was so very curious as to how things would end. Well, it felt like the final ta-da went on forever, with curveball after curveball. And without providing a spoiler, the final bad person's's accomplice didn't think they were doing anything wrong? C'mon.

I had high hopes going in, but this was most definitely not a book for me. Others quite liked Final Cut - you can find their reviews on Goodreads.

Friday, September 11, 2020

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #329

- You can't judge a book by its cover - which is very true.
But you can like one cover version better than another...

US cover
UK cover
Love Your Life is a new stand-alone from Sophie Kinsella, arriving in October on both sides of the pond. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Okay....well blue is the background on both covers. It's raining in the US. A dog seems to feature into the story. The author's name takes precedence on the UK cover.  But on the US cover, they are apart or perhaps thinking of each other. Although he is holding a bone for the dog. On the UK cover they're holding hands, but pulling apart. The tagline also gives the potential reader an idea of what they'll find inside. The style of both seems to follow previous titles. Hmm, I think I'll go with the UK cover this week. What about you?
 Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to ead Love Your Life?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

The Silent Wife - Karin Slaughter

I eagerly await every new book that Karin Slaughter writes. It doesn't matter - stand alones or series. Her newest book, The Silent Wife is the tenth entry in the Will Trent series.

(Side note - this could absolutely be read as a stand alone, but you're missing out on some great reads if you've not read the previous books)

Will is an agent with the GBI. While investigating a riot at the prison, one inmate demands to talk to an agent. He insists that he is innocent, the killer is still out there and that he was railroaded by Sheriff Jeffrey Tolliver. Tolliver is the now deceased husband of Will's girlfriend (and coroner) Sara Linton. Whew, that is just the bare bones - there is so much more to this plot - did I forget to mention the serial killer?

Long time characters return - Will's partner Faith, Will's boss Amanda and....oh yes, the character I've loved to hate - Lena. Lena is a detective now, but her background, her actions and her time working under Tolliver (and now) are sketchy. And....there are chapters from the past through Jeffrey's point of view.

Slaughter's writing is amazing, her plotting is stellar and the characters are ones I've come to know and care about. (most of them.) The relationship between Will and Sara is also explored in The Silent Wife. Will is a wounded soul and Sara is carrying her own baggage. No sappy stuff here - but an exploration that suits the characters. (And I admit it - I'm a little infatuated with Will myself.)

An absolutely brilliant read! And - there's more to come - I can't wait for the next in this series!

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Over the Counter #467

What book caught my eye this week? Oh, I want one....

Skoolie!: How to Convert a School Bus or Van into a Tiny Home or Recreational Vehicle by  Will Sutherland.

From Workman Publishing:

"School buses that have been converted into mobile living spaces — known as skoolies — are a natural extension of the tiny house craze. Buses are not only easier and safer to drive than an RV, they provide a jump-start on the conversion process with frame, roof, and floor already in place. Experienced builder Will Sutherland, whose creative school bus conversions have been featured in Road and Track and Popular Mechanics, is behind the wheel of this alluring look at life on the road. In addition to profiles of eight fellow skoolie fans and stunning photos of bus interiors designed for simple living, Skoolie! does what no other book on the subject has — it offers a complete, step-by-step guide to the conversion process, from seat removal to planning layout and installing insulation, flooring, and furnishings that meet your needs."

(Over the Counter is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World. I've sadly come the realization that I cannot physically read every book that catches my interest as it crosses over the counter at the library. But...I can mention them and maybe one of them will catch your eye as well. See if your local library has them on their shelves!)

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Giveaway - Chaos - Iris Johansen

Iris Johansen's latest book, Chaos, has just released - and I have a copy to give away to one lucky reader! And....this is the first book in a new series!

What's it about? From Grand Central Publishing:

"The #1 New York Times bestselling author introduces CIA agent Alisa Flynn, who is willing to go rogue if it means catching the most heartless band of criminals she's ever encountered.

When CIA agent Alisa Flynn flaunts the rules by breaking into a mansion in the middle of the night, she skillfully circumvents alarms and outwits guards only to find herself standing in billionaire Gabe Korgan's study . . . busted by Korgan himself. This could cost her her job unless, in a split second, she can turn the tables and try to convince him to join her on the most important mission of her life.

In a ripped-from-the-headlines plot, schoolgirls in Africa have been kidnapped, and Alisa knows that Korgan has the courage, financial means, and high-tech weaponry to help rescue them. With so many innocent lives hanging in the balance, what she doesn't reveal is that one of those schoolgirls is like a little sister to her. But when the truth gets out, the stakes grow even higher.

Calling in additional assistance from renowned horse whisperer Margaret Douglas, Alisa and Gabe lay their plans, only to see them descend into chaos as the line between right and wrong wavers before them like a mirage. Every path is strewn with pitfalls, each likely to get them -- or the hostages -- killed. But with the help of a brave team and a horse with the heart of a warrior, they might just get out of this alive." Read an excerpt of Chaos.

"Iris Johansen is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than 30 consecutive bestsellers. Her series featuring forensic sculptor Eve Duncan has sold over 20 million copies and counting and was the subject of the acclaimed Lifetime movie, The Killing Game. Along with her son Roy, Iris has also co-authored the New York Times bestselling series featuring investigator Kendra Michaels. Johansen lives near Atlanta, Georgia." You can connect with Iris Johansen on her website, like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

And if you'd like to read Chaos, enter for a chance to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends Sept 19/20. Good luck!

Giveaway - Dawson's Fall - Roxana Robinson

Roxana Robinson's novel Dawson's Fall is fictional, but has much of the author's own history woven through it. It's a timely read - and I have a copy to give away to one lucky reader.

What's it about? From Picador Books:

"A cinematic Reconstruction-era drama of violence and fraught moral reckoning.

In Dawson’s Fall, a novel based on the lives of Roxana Robinson’s great-grandparents, we see America at its most fragile, fraught, and malleable. Set in 1889, in Charleston, South Carolina, Robinson’s tale weaves her family’s journal entries and letters with a novelist’s narrative grace, and spans the life of her tragic hero, Frank Dawson, as he attempts to navigate the country’s new political, social, and moral landscape.

Dawson, a man of fierce opinions, came to this country as a young Englishman to fight for the Confederacy in a war he understood as a conflict over states’ rights. He later became the editor of the Charleston News and Courier, finding a platform of real influence in the editorial column and emerging as a voice of the New South. With his wife and two children, he tried to lead a life that adhered to his staunch principles: equal rights, rule of law, and nonviolence, unswayed by the caprices of popular opinion. But he couldn’t control the political whims of his readers. As he wrangled diligently in his columns with questions of citizenship, equality, justice, and slavery, his newspaper rapidly lost readership, and he was plagued by financial worries. Nor could Dawson control the whims of the heart: his Swiss governess became embroiled in a tense affair with a drunkard doctor, which threatened to stain his family’s reputation. In the end, Dawson—a man in many ways representative of the country at this time—was felled by the very violence he vehemently opposed." Read an excerpt of Dawson's Fall.

"Roxana Robinson is the author of ten books: six novels, three story collections, and the biography of Georgia O'Keeffe. Four of these were New York Times Notable Books. Robinson was born in Kentucky, but grew up in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. She attended Bennington College and graduated from the University of Michigan. She worked in the art world, specializing in the field of American painting, before she began writing full-time. Her novel, Cost, was named one of the five best novels of the year by the Washington Post, and received the Fiction Award from the Maine Publishers and Writers Association. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, The New Yorker, Harper's, Tin House, Best American Short Stories, and elsewhere." You can connect with Roxana Robinson on her website and follow her on Facebook.

Enter for a chance to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US only. Ends Sept 19/20.

Monday, September 7, 2020

One By One - Ruth Ware

I read Ruth Ware's In a Dark, Dark Wood back in 2015. It was a 'closed room' mystery. A group of friends gathers at a remote cabin. And you guessed it - there are deaths....I loved it and have eagerly awaited each of Ware's new releases.

That 'closed room' format is one of my favorite premises. Ware takes us there again in her latest release, One By One. Ten employees are sent on a corporate retreat to an isolated chalet high in the French Alps. With the two chalet employes on site, that makes twelve. (Yes, there are comparisons) Tensions are running high within the corporate group. When an avalanche snows them in, things turn deadly - and the body count begins.

Oh, One by One was such an excellent read for me! Each and every one of the characters has a secret, an agenda, a scheme. They're all very disparate personalities with the corporate crew decidedly unlikable. The reader won't have a problem remembering who is who, even with such a large cast. The about us page at the beginning of the book lays the groundwork on who's who.

The group of ten are all employees of Snoop - a music app that lets the user see in real time what others they follow are listening to. Very current and very real. (Watch the Snoop stats at the beginning of every chapter.)

Ware drops lots of clues along the way to the final whodunit. The book is told from the viewpoint of two of the characters in a back and forth narrative. I did have my suspicions (and was right), but this in no way detracted from my enjoyment of the book. Honestly, I couldn't put the book down. We find out who the killer is, but there's a good eighty pages after that. The tension. does. not. stop. Those last pages detail a delicious cat and mouse game.

Ware's writing is so easy to get caught up in. Either way - if you've read Ware before or this is a new to you author - you're going to enjoy One By One.

Friday, September 4, 2020

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #328

- You can't judge a book by its cover - which is very true.
But you can like one cover version better than another...

US cover
UK cover
Tana French is a brilliant writer. I've enjoyed all of her books and am looking forward to the Oct./Nov. release of The Searcher. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. The title alone says there's someone or something missing. Both covers seem to suggest a where. The heavy clouds and seemingly endless field are a place to get lost in. I like the overall green tone - for me it says a storm is brewing. The stark black and white of the UK cover is very effective. Again there is an endless forest behind the isolated cabin. I do wish there wasn't the one lit window - that's been overdone. They're both really great looks, but I'm going to go with the US cover this week. What about you?
Any plans to read The Searcher? Which cover do you prefer?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Cry Baby - Mark Billingham

This is the 17th book in Mark Billingham's long running and much loved DI Tom Thorne series. Now, although it is technically number 17, it's actually a prequel to the first book in the series  - Sleepyhead. So.....faithful fans like myself will be thrilled to explore an early Thorne in Cry Baby. And new readers can make this their first book and discover this addictive series.

Cry Baby opens with Thorne dreaming of a past case - one where he didn't arrive in time. He's determined to not have the same outcome with this latest crime.

1996. Two young boys are playing hide and go seek in the wooded area of a park. The mom charged with watching the pair takes her eyes off them 'for just a second'. And only one boy comes out of the woods. A witness swears he saw the boy getting into a car with a man. And as anyone knows, the clock is ticking for Kieron's safety.

The two moms come from different worlds, but they each seem to have secrets and pasts they don't share. Billingham gives us lots of red herrings and possible whodunits along the way to the final pages. I was sure I knew who it was, but was happily proven wrong. Very well plotted. It was interesting to see Thorne try to solve the case using only technology and tools available in 1996.

We meet coroner Phil Hendricks (also a long running character) and witness the beginning of the friendship between Phil and Tom. Thorne's personal life is also part of Cry Baby - his marriage is over, but he's having trouble accepting it.

This has long been one of my favorite series and I loved seeing the beginning. Can't wait for number 18!  Read an excerpt of Cry Baby.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Over the Counter # 466

What book caught my eye this week?

Friendshipping: The Art of Finding Friends, Being Friends, and Keeping Friends by Jenn Bane and Trin Garritano.

From Workman Publishing:

"It used to be so simple, back when we were kids. But now, in an age of loneliness, ghosting, and toxic relationships, making and keeping friends is anything but simple. Jenn Bane and Trin Garritano know this better than anyone. Their podcast, Friendshipping, gets 30,000 downloads a month because their listeners are craving real guidance—along with entertainment. Now they’ve distilled the lessons and wit into an essential book for anyone who’s feeling a little friendless or is trying navigate the challenging world of grown-up friendships.

Illustrated throughout with Jean Wei’s dynamic art, here are the tips and tools readers need to make new friends and improve the quality of existing friendships. The tone is relatable and irreverent; the advice stresses gender inclusivity, empathy, and practicality, with scripts and step-by step guides to achieving friendship goals. Readers will learn how to master the art of small talk (no matter who you are, you are not too boring, and you do have good stories to tell!). How to get to know an acquaintance better—and why “Let’s get coffee sometime” is not an effective way to move a relationship forward. Plus the four levels of friendship in the workplace; the soft no vs. the hard no; making real (non-creepy) friends online; how to unfollow someone on Twitter (and remain friends); and the eternal question: Can dudes and ladies ever really be friends? The answer is yes!"

(Over the Counter is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World. I've sadly come the realization that I cannot physically read every book that catches my interest as it crosses over the counter at the library. But...I can mention them and maybe one of them will catch your eye as well. See if your local library has them on their shelves!)

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Dead Man Dancing - John Galligan

Dead Man Dancing is John Galligan's follow up to last year's intro to Bad Axe County - and Sheriff Heidi Kick. If you're a 'grit-lit' fan, you're going to enjoy this series.

The underbelly of Bad Axe County is a scary place. Kick is determined to clean up the town, but she's got her work cut out. White supremacists think the town is just ripe for their attention - as do a number of the residents. Beatings of migrant workers and the murder of a local author have Heidi working twenty four seven. And then her husband Harley goes missing...

Galligan's prose are definitely dark and gritty. The book hums with undercurrents of hate and danger that are not just an author's imaginings. Instead they are real and present day events.

Heidi doesn't hesitate to wade into the fray. I think bad a** when I think of Sheriff Kick. Her calm approach is much more effective as she tries to deal with the corruption in the department and the lack of support from the town council in addition to the crime. Now, that's not to say she's a pushover. Far from it.

Neon, a young Black man is in Bad Axe County tracing his ancestry. He is given a voice in the book as well. His timeline runs parallel to Heidi's investigation - and the listener can only hope what might happen - doesn't.

The plotting is very good. There's a lot going on and I wondered how things would tie in together by the end. The reader is privy to more information than the Sheriff and can only hope she puts the pieces together before it's too late.

Bad Axe County isn't somewhere I'd stop - to me, it says keep on driving. But.....I'll be back for the next entry in this series for sure!

I chose to listen to Dead Man Dancing. Much of that is down to the reader.  Samantha Desz read the first book and this follow up. I appreciate the continuity. Desz's voice is perfect for this character. It has a nice gravelly tone, is clear and is easy to understand. Her tone completely matched the mental image I've created for Heidi. She rarely raises her voice which is right for this character. The calm way of speaking belies her determination. It's well paced, never rushed and perfectly modulated. The voices employed for other characters are really good as well, especially the 'baddies'. Hear for yourself - listen to an excerpt of Dead Man Dancing.

Gentle listeners - this one may not be for you - there are a number of trigger situations.