Friday, October 30, 2020

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #336

-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
Nicci French has just released her/his latest book, House of Correction. Sounds ominous, so let's see if the cover matches the title. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right.The title takes precedence over the author's name on the US cover, but is reversed on the UK cover. The red font on the US cover is more 'deadly'. The rain and colour of the sky seems suitable. Having read the premise of the book, I'm not sure of the image use. The meal roofed shack looks like a fisherman's storage shed by the sea. The colour used on the UK cover is a hideous hospital green. A cover blurb gives you a bit more and the cover itself is a door. A prison door as we can see the bars.
I'm not a fan of either, so went looking to see if there was another option. And there is - so my vote this week is for the Australian cover below. Great blurb, good simple image that draws you to it. What about you? Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read House of Correction?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Australian cover

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Miss Benson's Beetle - Rachel Joyce

I've been asked many times 'who is your favorite author?' While it's hard to pick just one, I always mention Rachel Joyce. Her newest book, Miss Benson's Beetle has just released.

Why is Joyce a favorite author? Her characters and the journeys they undertake. Her characters are the ones that aren't noticed, the walking wounded, those that are 'different'. But they also have something within, some drive, determination and more to find - what they need, what they want, what they can give. And the journeys? While they often involve physical travails, for the most part it is a journey of the spirit. And for this reader, Joyce's writing makes me cry, makes me hopeful, makes me think and makes me want to be a better person.

Miss Benson had a dream when she was young, but life didn't turn out the way she expected. Forty years on, she is determined to finally follow that dream. A pair of stolen boots seals the deal. The dream? To find a golden beetle that no one has ever captured. She is going to cross the world to reach the jungles of New Caledonia. She'll need an assistant of course - and so Enid Pretty is hired. She's not quite what Margery is looking for, but needs must.

And so the journey begins. A physical journey to be sure, but also an emotional one...."She was traveling of the other side of the world. It wasn't just the ship that had been unmoored. It was her entire sense of herself."

Rachel Joyce excels at characterization. Margery and Enid are so wonderfully drawn. I could easily capture their physical appearance in my imagination. But it's what's inside that makes this such an amazing read.  Enid is a bit of a mystery with clues dropped along the way. Still, the reader will be able to piece together her story from inferences and actions. I liked her more and more with every chapter. Miss Benson's sense of self, her memories, her losses are juxtaposed with her want to be more, do more, experience more. "She got the feeling she was always looking at life through a glass wall, but one that had bobbles in it and cracks, so that she could never fully see what was on the other side and even when she did, it was too late." There's a third player, one I will leave you to discover. Their story is heartbreaking, and very real.

Joyce has such a way with words. Many sentences had me stopping to enjoy them more than once. "Besides, she had been raised in a house of women whose skill at not saying a difficult thing verged on professional."

I laughed and yes, cried. (Oh, Rachel Joyce - that ending....) I gripped my book too tightly at times, and kept reading long after my eyes said stop. But I laughed out loud many, many times as well. 

And the beetle? Is it found? Ahh, you'll have to pick up the book for the answer to that - and many other things.  Absolutely a brilliant read - one of the best of 2020 for this reader. See for yourself - here's an excerpt of Miss Benson's Beetle.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Over the Counter # 474

 What book caught my eye this week? Words of wisdom...

Star Trek: The Wisdom of Picard by Chip Carter.

From Adams Media:

" Discover all of Captain Jean-Luc Picard’s sage advice, insight, and wisdom from the deck of the USS Enterprise and beyond in this ultimate collection of wise words from the esteemed Starfleet captain.

Any Star Trek fan knows that Captain Jean-Luc Picard is renowned for his impressive oratory skills, preferring negotiation and diplomacy over violence and destruction. Now, you can finally ponder all of his wisdom in one place—from his thoughts on leadership and sense of duty to justice and the limitlessness of exploration—in Star Trek: The Wisdom of Picard.

Journey with the Starfleet captain through his seven seasons on Star Trek: The Next Generation to the Star Trek movies to the current series Star Trek: Picard. Star Trek: The Wisdom of Picard boldly goes where no book has gone before to log Picard’s timeless advice in one impressive collection, perfect for Star Trek fans everywhere! Make it so!"

(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, October 27, 2020

In A Holidaze - Christina Lauren

In less than two months, Christmas will have come and gone. What! Well, what that means is, it's time to get going on your Christmas listening and reading!Although, you would enjoy Christina Lauren's newest book - In A Holidaze -  at any time of the year.

Maelyn Jones arrives at the cabin for the yearly Christmas get-together of three families. They've been meeting up since the kids were babies. Maelyn is now in her twenties. And in a drunken moment she makes out with Theo, whom she's been friends with since they were toddlers at the cabin. It's a 'too much to drink mistake'... because it's his brother Andrew she's been in love with for - well - forever. Oh, how she wishes it never happened! "Mae throws out what she thinks is a simple plea to the universe: Please. Show me what will make me happy."

Uh huh, enter Groundhog Day Christmas. Mae gets to relive the same time frame again. And again. Will she get it right? You'll have to have a listen to find out.

I loved the friendship and affection shown between all the members of these families. Their coming back to the cabin year after year for get togethers, especially at Christmas, was lovely. The traditions they have, the meals, games and more had me thinking of my own family traditions. And how important family and friends are to our lives.

Lauren writes romance really well. Yes, there's some steamy bits (also well done), but love is more than the physical side of things. Mae gets to explore what she wants from life and love more than once and her introspection will have you nodding along. 

The other thing Lauren does well is comedy. Some of the situations Mae gets herself into are laugh out loud funny. And the dialogue is fun as well. So, I guess that makes In A Holidaze a rom com listen. (And you know, it would make a great film as well) And a feel good listen. And a seasonal listen. And a magical listen. And one I really enjoyed!

The narrator was Patti Murin and she was just perfect for the character of Maelyn. Murin has a wonderfully expressive voice. She captures each and every emotion, situation and thought with her voice. She speaks clearly and her voice is pleasant to listen to. Her voice was perfect for the character of Mae as I had imagined her. She also provided other voices for the rest of the cast, including an Aussie player. She's interpreted Lauren's work really well and brings the book to life. Hear for yourself - listen to an excerpt of In a Holidaze. 

Monday, October 26, 2020

When No One is Watching - Alyssa Cole

I love suspense reads, so the cover shot of Alyssa Cole's new novel, When No One is Watching and that tiny "A Thriller" non the front door definitely caught eye.

Gentrification has come to Sydney's Brooklyn neighbourhood. Neighbours that have been in their homes for forty years are selling up and disappearing. Sydney is also feeling the pressure from aggressive real estate agents. She is determined to hold out and hang on to the neighbourhood she knew. She finds an unlikely partner with Theo, a new resident.

Right off the bat, I have to say how disgusted I was with the new white people moving in this predominantly Black neighbourhood. Their comments and actions are so disgusting - and yet sadly are true. A timely take on race and privilege. So that's one bit of this book. But there's also some romance - also well done. Cole's previous books have been romance reads, so they come off well.  History plays a part also, with details of Brooklyn and New York past. And last but certainly not least - the thriller part. Completely unexpected! There was no way to predict this plotline at all. And I'm not going to spoil it for you at all. Things do end on a bit of a rushed note, but it was hard to stop flipping pages at the end. 

A great read on so many levels. Cole is a talented wordsmith, weaving together many threads. See for yourself - here's an excerpt of When No One is Watching.

Friday, October 23, 2020

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #335

- 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
I pretty much read anything Harlan Coben writes. His original series was the Myron Bolitar books. And Myron's sidekick is Windsor Horne Lockwood III, also known as Win. Coben has slowly added details about this character in each new book. And I was thrilled to see that he will be the star at last. Win releases in March on both sides of the pond. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Okay.....The colors on the US cover are certainly eye-catching. I like not having a face and just a back view - keeps the mystery of the character alive. The blood spatter is a nice touch. It does remind me a bit of Dexter. The orange of the font for the author's name is what the eye is drawn to first on the UK cover and then the book's name. I liked the tagline - "If you lose you die" So you better "Win". The ominous gates are a grabber, as is that dark sky. What's he going to find down the path.
I'm torn this week - I do like both, but in the end I'll go with the UK cover. What about you? Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read Win?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Invisible Girl - Lisa Jewell

Invisible Girl is the latest novel from Lisa Jewell. Each of Jewell's book has been different - it's impossible to predict what you might find inside - other than a good read that is!

Owen is 30 and lives with his aunt. Owen is a bit, well, a bit different. The Fours family have just rented the house across the street from Owen. Dad Roan is a child psychologist, Mom Cate is a physiotherapist and their two kids are in school. Also on the street, but hidden is Saffyre. She's not sure why she does it, but Saffyre spends many, many hours following Roan and watching his family from the shadows. And then she disappears...and Owen Pick is the main suspect.

The idea of someone watching is not new, but it still gives me the creeps. And as the reader is privy to what Saffyre sees and does, we can see the danger coming before she disappears. You just want to tell her to stop and go home. The book also evolves through Cate and Owen's points of view. Jewell does a great job with her characters. They're all unlikeable and many made my skin crawl. Saffyre was the exception. Owen is socially awkward, but is that a crime? His looks also contribute to what people think of him. Whereas the Roan family present 'better' and are treated differently. Preconception and actions taken contribute to the shape the story takes. A nice bit of social commentary is woven into the book. Bullying also rears its ugly head in Jewell's plot. 

Secrets and lies drive this book forward. Every character is hiding something. And with each new revelation, the direction I thought things were going to go changes. There are some nice twists in Invisible Girl. And I have to say, I love twists! Another addicting read from Jewell. Here's an excerpt of Invisible Girl

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Over the Counter #473

What book caught my eye this week? Is there any better place to be....

At Home With Dogs: Rescue Love Stories by Natalia King- Sun and Patricia Hart McMillan.

"People who rescue dogs have a great deal of compassion and enough love to last through what is often a trying adjustment period. But adoptive owners say the bond they feel with their grateful pets makes it all worthwhile. Heart-warming color photos of 15 adopted dogs interacting with their humans celebrate the joy that comes from a fortuitous match. The photos are accompanied by the stories of the owners, many of whom selected their pets long-distance and met them at the airport. For adoptive families or those considering adoption, the book includes insights on how to make a good match and tips for a smooth adjustment after bringing a dog home. This soulful tribute to abandoned dogs of all ages, breeds, and temperaments, and the people who gave them a second chance, will appeal to animal lovers everywhere."

(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, October 20, 2020

Christmas at the Island Hotel - Jenny Colgan

Is it too early to read Christmas fiction? Absolutely not! And especially when it's the latest novel from Jenny Colgan! Christmas at the Island Hotel releases today.

Colgan takes us back to the remote, wee, Scottish island of Mure - and it's residents. I'd be quite happy living there myself. I always feel like I'm catching up with old friends when I turn the first page of the latest Mure tale. And making some new ones as well - new characters are introduced with each new book. Some who may have been in a supporting role in previous tales now take a bigger part. But, each and every one of them has a part to play in the tapestry that is the life of Mure.

Christmas at the Island Hotel picks up where the previous book left off. Flora and her large, noisy, eccentric family are still working to get the Island Hotel up and running by Christmas. They'll need staff - and here's where the new characters and storylines are introduced. But Colgan also continues on with the lives of many other recurring players. I've become quite invested in their lives. Colgan does a bang up job with the interactions, complications, emotions and feelings of her characters. They ring true. Everyday life, love lost, love found, friendship, family rifts, family uniting and community are the driving forces behind Colgan's works.

This is the time of the year when I enjoy seasonal reading, cosying up with a feel-good read, along with a cup of tea and a warm blanket. Christmas at the Island Hotel is the perfect choice - heartwarming, engaging, joyful, romantic, humourous and a great escape. I was sad to turn the last page, but I just know there's more in store for the folks in Mure And this reader can't wait!

Monday, October 19, 2020

The Invitation - Rachel Abbott

The Invitation was my first read of Rachel Abbott - but it won't be my last!

Jemma and Matt head to Lucas's sprawling mansion for the weekend to celebrate his wedding to Nina. Matt, Andrew, Nick, Isobel, Alex and Lucas have been friends since they were teens. And...."That's the thing about old friends. They never let you forget..."

There are uncomfortable undercurrents and relationships amongst the five that Jemma doesn't understand. And her husband won't discuss it. Even when one of the group dies. Fast forward a year and the group is back together at Lucas's estate - minus one. He's got a game for them all to play - a murder mystery in fact - re-enacting everything is as it was a year ago.....

Oh, I loved this premise! It's not a locked room mystery, but we do have a small circle of suspects. All of them have secrets and most of them are liars. The whodunit changed many times for me. It's fun trying to solve the case along with the players as they recreate that fateful night. The reader follows along mostly through Jemma's point of view. But the narrative does flip back and forth from present to past. At a certain point I did guess half of the final answer, but I was (happily) caught offside by the other half. And it didn't detract from my enjoyment of the book.

I liked Jemma very much as well as Detective Inspector Stephanie King. It turns out this is second book King features in. The group of friends is very easy to dislike - and easy to suspect. 

The Invitation made for great escapist reading on a dreary, rainy day. See for yourself - here's an excerpt of The Invitation.

Friday, October 16, 2020

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover # 334

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

UK cover
US cover
 I was excited to see that C.J. Tudor has a new book coming out! I've enjoyed all of her previous titles and this one looks to be just as creepy. The Burning Girls publishes in early 2021 on both sides of the pond. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Well, given that burning is in the title, it's no surprise that fire is featured on both covers. The tones, orange and red, both relate to fire. The US has decided to use a drawn image. There's a few hints at the centre of the picture. That is indeed a church at the centre of the flames. The flames themselves kind of bring a hand to mind. The edges of the title and author font are broken, adding to the destructive feel. Now, on to the UK cover. The red just pops and grabs your attention right away. A realistic picture has been used and I think it's brilliant. A burning house shape made out of lit and charred matchsticks. That one flame still burning, knowing it will encompass the entire 'structure' is ominous. Loved it - so an easy choice for me this week. UK cover. What about you? 
Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read The Burning Girls?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

It Can't Be True! Animals! - DK Canada

When my kids were younger, they adored the annuals that gave you lists of the biggest, the most and so on. DK Canada has a series called It Can't Be True! And the one that caught Little Guy and Gramma's attention was It Can't Be True! Animals! Unbelievable Facts About Amazing Animals.

Little Guy always has to peruse the cover before opening a book. And he was hooked by this one. Was that dog real and almost as small as a tennis ball!?

It Can't Be True Animals has divided the entries up into five categories: Skills and Senses, Unbelievable Bodies, Strength and Speed, Homes and Hideaway and lastly Growing and Breeding. The question and it's page number are listed under the headings. And guess what - yes, we had to find the smallest dog entry first. The listings made it easy to find. What we found was a color, enlarged picture of Milly the wee dog compared to the feet and forelegs of the tallest dog. A fast facts sidebar box gives more smallest and largest comparisons - cat and horse. The layout is attractive, not too busy but with lots to look at and talk about. The font size is varied with bold and colored text giving emphasis to the facts being presented.

Well, from that one entry, Little Guy really had the idea of the book and just started flipping through pages and stopping when a photo caught his eye. The photos were more attractive than the drawings for him - "it's real".

There's much to talk about as we stopped and looked at the ones that caught his eye. Take those comparisons and make a conversation out of the information given. I learned many things along the way as well. Little Guy loves to share snippets of information and this gave him a wealth of "Did you know..." pieces. What is the loudest animal? (A sperm whale) Many of the entries are more in depth than I would have supposed from the cover shot.

The books is printed on good quality paper, the photos are sharp and clear, the layout is attractive and engaging and the information is interesting and well presented. The format allows the reader to pick a page at whim and learn something new each time.

Gramm and Little Guy both both enjoyed It Can't Be True! Animals! (As did many of the adults who picked it up off the coffee table to have a 'quick look'.) Check out the page below for a closer look.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Over the Counter #472

What book caught my eye this week? Turning the tables on E-mail scammers....

Dot.Con: The Art of Scamming a Scammer by James Veitch.

"From viral comedy sensation James Veitch (as seen on TED, Conan, and The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon) comes a collection of laugh-out-loud funny exchanges with email scammers.

The Nigerian prince eager to fork over his inheritance, the family friend stranded unexpectedly in Norway, the lonely Russian beauty looking for love . . . they spam our inboxes with their hapless pleas for help, money, and your social security number. In Dot Con, Veitch finally answers the question: what would happen if you replied?

Suspicious emails pop up in our inboxes and our first instinct is to delete unopened. But what if you responded to the deposed princess begging for money in your Gmail? Veitch dives into the underbelly of our absurd email scam culture, playing the scammers at their own game, and these are the surprising, bizarre, and hilarious results."

(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, October 13, 2020

Blue Sky Kingdom - Bruce Kirkby

I've been an armchair traveller for many years, even more so in these uncertain times. I'm in awe of those who make it a life goal to see the world. Bruce Kirkby - and his family - most definitely fall into that adventurous category.

In 2014, Bruce, his wife Christine and their sons Bodi (7) and Taj (3) set off on an amazing six month journey with living in a remote Buddhist monastery high in the Himalayas as a goal and destination. Why, you ask? "One morning at breakfast, while gawking at his phone and feeling increasingly disconnected from family and everything else of importance in his world, it strikes writer Bruce Kirkby: this isn't how he wants to live."

That revelation and subsequent journey are chronicled in the newly released Blue Sky Kingdom: An Epic Family Journey to the Heart of the Himalaya.

I know I myself have questioned the time and attention I've given to being online. And I can say from personal experience, it is very freeing to turn things off  and just see what is around you, and find the simple pleasures in life again. I was quite eager to read the Kirkby family's experience.

Bruce and Christine chose to slow travel, eschewing airplane travel to stick the goal of slowing things down. Instead they travelled by ship, bus, riverboat, train and by foot. This choice allowed the family to meet local people and experience new cultures, food, and  more. Juxtaposing that is the camera crew that followed the family on their journey to the Karsha Gompa monastery. The Travel Channel sent along a crew to film the series Big Crazy Family Adventure. Kirkby does include the interactions with the crew only as it impacts the path forward.

I found the details Kirkby includes about the culture and customs of the countries they cross on the way to Karsha Gompa - South Korea, China, India and Nepal engrossing. What always fascinates me is the people met along the way. The arrival at the monastery ended the film crew presence. For the next three months it was only the four of them. Given a choice to live with a retired Lama or in a guest house, they choose to live authentically. They become part of the everyday life of Karsha Gompa - going to prayer every morning, teaching English to novice monks in the afternoon, letting the boys explore and play and more.  But my favourite part of the book was meeting Lama Wangyal and the other monks, novices and village residents. Being allowed into their lives, their faith, their friendship, their hopes and their struggles through Kirkby's rich writing. 

I admit to having limited knowledge of Buddhism. Kirkby provides much information in the pages before arrival and more as the family becomes part of the tapestry that is Karsha Gompa. Scattered throughout the book are detailed drawings by seven year old Bodi, a very talented artist. And there are full color photos of people and places along the way. 

Before the family left Canada, Bodi was diagnosed as having Autism Spectrum Disorder. Bruce lets us see how Bodi reacts and interacts throughout this adventure, along with the challenges this brings for  Bodi and his parents. Just and Bruce and Christine were looking for simplicity and connection, Bodi too achieves his own successes.

"And as the urgency of modern life faded, time stretched out in a reassuring way. There was a serenity to our days, a whisper of a half-remembered paradise."

What saddened me is that the very things that the Kirkbys were taking a break from are slowly but surely making their way into this valley. Progress in the forms of roads, goods and yes, those infernal devices. The symbiotic relationship between the peoples, their customs, their stewardship of the land and more is being eroded by this progress.

Kirkby is a talented writer - he easily captures his family's journey along with the lives of those met along the way. And it's hard to not want to take away a piece of the blue sky kingdom for yourself. Turn off the computer, go sit in the sun. Blue Sky Kingdom was simply an excellent read. Bruce Kirkby is a talented raconteur. See for yourself - here's an excerpt of Blue Sky Kingdom.

And the title? "A Blue Sky metaphor is often employed in meditative teachings. When storms descend upon our lives, as they inevitably do, we tend to focus on the clouds - problems conflict, anxiety, distress, depression - forgetting that the blue sky is always there, but hidden from view, somewhere above. Like an airplane breaking through the clouds, meditation is meant as a conduit to that peace, accessible to anyone at any time. One breath in. One breath out."

"A  wilderness writer and adventure photographer, Bruce is recognized for connecting wild places with contemporary issues.

With journeys spanning more than 80 countries and  2000 days, Bruce’s accomplishments include the first modern crossing of Arabia’s Empty Quarter by camel, a raft descent of Ethiopia’s Blue Nile Gorge by raft, sea kayak traverse of Borneo’s northern coast, and a coast-to-coast Icelandic trek.

A columnist for The Globe and Mail, author of two bestselling books, and a multi-National Magazine Award winner, Bruce’s writing has appeared in The New York Times, EnRoute, Huffington Post, Explore and Canadian Geographic. His photographic clients include Patagonia, Lululemon, Time, Outside, NG Adventure and MacLean’s. Winner of a prestigious Western Magazine Award, Bruce’s photography was selected by National Geographic as among “the most compelling adventure images of the decade.”

An Ambassador for Mountain Equipment Co-op , the former host of CBC’s No Opportunity Wasted , and Producer of Travel Channel’s Big Crazy Family Adventure, Bruce makes his home in Kimberley, B.C." You can connect with Bruce Kirkby on his website, follow him on Twitter as well as on Instagram.

Monday, October 12, 2020

All This Time - Mikki Daughtry and Rachael Lippincott

All This Time is the newly released YA novel from Mikki Daughtry and Rachael Lippincott, authors of the New York Times Bestseller, Five Feet Apart. I really enjoyed Five Feet Apart and happily picked up this newest collaboration. (Isn't that cover gorgeous?)

Kyle and Kimberley have dated all through high school. But the night of grad, they argue while in the car....and yes, there's an accident. When Kyle wakes up in hospital, he learns that Kim didn't make it. And he feels like no one can understand his grief - until he meets Marley. She too has suffered the loss of a loved one.

The book is told solely through Kyle's voice - memories, hopes, dreams, sorrows and more. Daughtry and Lippincott have created quite an emotional lead character, one who loves love. That pursuit seems to drive his life. The word obsessed did pop into my thoughts. Now that being said, I did initially enjoy the back and forth, yes, no, maybe so of Marley and Kyle. But after a bit, I found Kyle's intensity somewhat off putting. His determination to have Marley to feel the same was a bit off putting. The same intent and emotions are repeated over numerous chapters. And I grew a bit weary. I wanted something more to happen. It did - there's a twist about two hours from the end of the book. It's a device often used, but it worked and my interest was caught up again. I did like how things ended. 

Daughtry and Lippincott do a good job depicting grief and I'm sure everyone can identify with some of the emotions depicted.

I chose to listen to All This Time. The narrator was Tim AndrĂ©s Pabon, an new-to-me reader. He was a great choice for this story. I absolutely believed that a high school senior was talking and his voice matched the mental image I had created for Kyle. His voice had a nice soft tone to it that easily caught the emotion of the character. His reading was clear, easy to understand and pleasant to listen to. Hear for yourself - listen to an excerpt of All This Time.

A good listen, but not as good as Five Feet Apart in my opinion.

Friday, October 9, 2020

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover # 333

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

I'm so excited! The next entry (13th) in Elly Griffiths' wonderful Ruth Galloway series has been announced - The Night Hawk. UK readers - you can grab your copy in the February 2021. NA, we'll be waiting until June. will be  most definitely worth the wait! The US cover is on the left and the and the UK cover is on the right left. So the first thing you might notice is that there's an S on the US cover, but not on the UK cover. I believe this is an error on one side or the other. The US cover follows previous looks for this series, including the skull logo. This image however doesn't say England or Salt Marsh to me. Instead it looks like a rundown barn in a forest setting.  Now to be fair, an isolated farm is part of the plot. The UK cover takes us to a setting more like what I would expected. The life preserver says we are close to the sea. And indeed that is part of the plot as well. That sky is wonderfully dark and stormy. Not sure if that one lit window was necessary though. It's getting overdone. I prefer the font and style on the UK more. The up and down mis sized letters on the US cover don't appeals to me. And easy choice for me this week - UK. What about you? Which cover do you prefer? Are you a Ruth Galloway reader?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Dear Child - Romy Hausmann

Romy Hausmann's international bestseller, Dear Child, has just released. And if you're a suspense reader, you're going to want to add this one to your must read list.

From Flatiron Books - "Gone Girl meets Room in this page-turning, #1 internationally bestselling thriller from one of Germany’s hottest new talents." Well, two books I've really enjoyed, so I was hooked by this description!

A woman escapes a locked and boarded cabin in the woods, only to be hit by an automobile. One child makes it out with her, the other stays behind. In hospital, the woman says her name is Lena. One family has been searching for their missing daughter Lena for fourteen years. Against all odds they pray that it's her. And the children? The girl who ran with Lena knows more than she's saying.

Okay, a few chapters in I thought I knew how this was going to play out. And....I was happily proven wrong. Hausmann had me guessing with each new chapter and revelation.

Now, Dear Child is a dark novel, as evidenced by the premise. But it was the puzzle of 'is this Lena' that had me turning pages late into the night. Lena is an unreliable narrator. I truly enjoy this literary gambit, seeing if I can ferret out the truth amongst the red herrings and garden paths Hausmann sends her readers down.

Dear Child is told from three points of view - Lena, Hannah the young girl and the captor Matthias. Each entry adds to the story - and the uncertainty of what is the truth. There are a number of supporting players - Lena's parents, old boyfriends etc. that also muddy the waters. I felt bad for Lena's father, but on the other hand, I truly despised him. Hausmann does a great job manipulating the reader and their emotions and perceptions. Lena is an enigma. We know little about her and when we do get some insight, I find I'm not sure about her at all. 

And the ending? Not what I expected at all. Again, I really appreciate being surprised by a book. Dear Child is an unpredictable, twisting, dark tale guaranteed to keep you up late. Read an excerpt of Dear Child.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Over the Counter #471

What book caught my eye this week? The Front Steps Project: How Communities Found Connection During the COVID-19 Crisis releases in late November.

From West Margins Press:

Curated from the grassroots social movement of the same name, this inspiring, uplifting portrait series documents how people coped with living in isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Front Steps Project™ demonstrates that even in the most challenging of circumstances, incredible kindness, love, courage and hope exists to build, bind, and connect communities around the globe.

Created on March 18, 2020, The Front Steps Project™ began when friends Kristen Collins and Cara Soulia chose to unite their neighbors through images of life in quarantine. Along with other local photographers, they committed to take a few hours each day to go to neighborhoods around Needham, Massachusetts to photograph residents in front of their homes in exchange for donations to their local food pantry.

Within days, #TheFrontStepsProject became a grassroots social mission, connecting thousands of people across the globe and currently raising over $3,250,000 for vital non-profit organizations and local businesses including food pantries, frontline workers, homeless and animal shelters, hospitals and more. Hundreds of thousands of images and stories of love, sacrifice, joy, compassion, kindness, pride, perseverance, and – ultimately hope – are flooding social media.

Featured on Good Morning America, The Today Show, People Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe and more, The Front Steps Project brings communities together virtually, despite being – and maybe feeling – isolated.

This heartwarming keepsake commemorates a massive effort of unity, courage and commitment to community goodwill in gift book form with over 400 photographs and dozens of stories. Participating photographers as well as their subjects from across the United States, Canada and beyond share how the virus has impacted their lives with both heartache and triumph.

As a tribute to the good work of The Front Steps Project and to keep paying it forward, a portion of proceeds from the sale of the book will go to The United Way and their own efforts to help people impacted by the pandemic."

(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, October 6, 2020

The Woods - Vanessa Savage

Two girls went in. Only one came out." That tagline is on the cover of Vanessa Savage's new book The Woods. And it opens up lots of paths that a story could take....

The two girls were actually sisters - Tess and Bella. They were found in the woods - Tess unconscious and Bella was dead. Tess has no memory of what happened - then or now, ten years on. She moved to the city and rarely ventures back home. It is only when her stepmother Julia is dying that she goes home to help her father. Well, that and the chance to escape the bit of trouble she's having at work.

Tess is a decidedly unreliable narrator. She has no memories of the past and she often can't tell if the ones she does have are reality. Now, I felt like I should be on her side - she's suffered many losses over the years. But, there's just something about her I didn't like. Her thinking is sometimes skewed and her actions are just a step off. More in some cases. Upon arriving at her childhood home, she discovers that Julia's sons have arrived as well, bringing with them two others that were part of Bella's circle of friends. Savage does a great job of creating some truly odious characters. Their actions and dialogue had me questioning everything. As the past is relived through Tess's memories and present day interactions, the reader will be hard pressed to decide who is telling the truth, who is lying and what actually happened that day in the woods. Everyone is a suspect over the course of the book. 

The plot is one I've read before in various forms, but Savage does a good job putting her own spin on things. The relationships between the characters was very well done. And Tess's mental confusion as well. The final whodunit was as I suspected, but I still enjoyed the journey there. See for yourself - read an excerpt of The Woods.

Monday, October 5, 2020

The Forgotten Kingdom - Signe Pike

I don't read a lot of fantasy, but I really enjoyed  the first book in Signe Pike's The Lost Queen series. It was this descriptor that initially caught my attention ...."Outlander meets Camelot and The Mists of Avalon for a new generation". 

The second book, The Forgotten Kingdom has just released - and I quickly became re-immersed in the story of Languoreth, "a forgotten queen of sixth century Scotland who claims her throne as war looms and her family is scattered to the winds."

Signe has taken a few obscure historical references to an actual sixth century Celtic queen and created an addicting, unputdownable tale of love, honour, duty, fealty, war, intrigue, religion, politics, family - and yes - magic.

The settings are rich with detail. The landscape, castles, kingdoms, lochs, forests and more are easily imagined through Pike's descriptions. The language, customs and beliefs are also an integral part of the story. The time period (AD 573) encompasses the ongoing clash between the Old Ways and Christianity.

Languoreth is still at the heart of the book, but there are many characters, each with a tale to tell. Languoreth's daughter Angharad takes a large role in this latest book. I really enjoyed her story. And she will play a larger role in future entries I am sure. Pike ages her characters as the book progresses and that opens up time for a larger look at not just the characters, but the extensive and encompassing plot Pike has penned. Pike's research is admirable and that input shows in the detail of the book and the richness of the characters. 

I chose to listen to The Lost Queen. Toni Frutin had narrated the first book and I was very happy to see she was brought back for this second book. Continuity is so important in a series. Frutin is a fantastic reader. She has a wonderful Scottish accent that is so easy to understand and pleasant to listen to. It immediately embodied the mental image I had created for Languoreth. It's rich and full and her narration is so very, very expressive, capturing all the nuances of Signe's book. As an added bonus two other readers were added to The Lost Kingdom. I do like ensemble casts. It makes for a more immersed listening experience. Gary Furlong provided a voice for the male characters in the book. He too was wonderful - a rich, full accent and a tone that suited and embraced the male roles. Siobhan Waring added much to the telling of this story as well. She too has a rich, expressive tone and has an voice that is pleasant to listen to. 

The Forgotten Kingdom makes for wonderful escapist listening. There's more to this story - and I can't wait to listen to the next entry. Hear for yourself - listen to an excerpt of The Forgotten Kingdom.

Friday, October 2, 2020

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #332

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

UK cover
US cover
Ahh, another one I'd love to read - but the TBR list is getting out of control. John Banville's latest, Snow, releases at the  beginning of October on both sides of the pond. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Hmm, I like them both this week! The house on the US cover looks like it's hiding secrets. I like the one upper window that lit as it illuminates the snow falling. The one toned cover of the UK book is appealing as well. It seem all the more ominous for that one color. The author's name is 'snow.' But the piece de resistance is that blood dripping from the title on the UK cover. So I will go with the UK cover this week. What about you? 
Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read Snow?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Playing Nice - JP Delaney

I must admit - I didn't love J.P. Delaney's last book. It was just too far fetched for me. However.....he has redeemed himself in my eyes with this latest book - Playing Nice.

No robot companions here. Just two sets of parents trying to cope with an untenable situation. Both families have a two year old son. Both boys were in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit after their births. And...imagine this....Miles and Lucy contend that the boys were switched. DNA seems to prove Miles right. What a great premise - there's so many avenues this story could take.

Pete and Maddie are stunned, but agree that they will leave things as they are, but will try to be present in each boy's life. Uh huh, what would you do? There's lots of arguments for and against the path they've decided upon. But really, you can see what's going to happen can't you? Yes, you're right - one couple decides they want more....

And so begins a wonderfully delicious cat and mouse game. It starts out with small things that seem reasonable, but escalates. Until one couple's lives have been turned completely upside down and inside out. And it's all legal. But no one is blameless - each of the four is harboring secrets.

Delaney does a great job bringing his characters to life. The reader will have no problem deciding who they're behind. Or will they? There are a number of revelations that had me questioning how things were going to end up. And I have to say the ending was a nice little gotcha! Read an excerpt of Playing Nice.