Monday, November 30, 2020

The Transatlantic Book Club - Felicity Hayes-McCoy

The Transatlantic Book Club is actually the latest book in Felicity Hayes-McCoy's 'Finfarran Peninsula' series. It's the first I've read by this author and I really enjoyed it. I didn't feel out of step at all from not reading the ones before - if anything, I just found some new titles to add to my list!

After the death of her Irish grandfather, Cassie Fitzgerald decides to travel from Canada to Ireland to stay with her grandmother Pat. Cassie easily settles into life in Lissberg, working as a hairdresser and driving the mobile library van. Well, that cemented things for me - a mobile library would be my dream job! The bricks and mortar library also starts an online book group with the US town of Resolve. Most of the members have roots in Finfarran. I thought this was fantastic idea - and discovered in the author's notes that it indeed had its roots in reality.

Hayes-McCoy explores love, loss, grief, hope, friendship and more in this multi-generational tale. I really liked Cassie as a lead character. She's one of those bright moments in a book - not perfect, but giving it her best. She comes off as quite real. I was also drawn to the enigmatic Fury O'Shea, who seems to turn up at the right time and know what is, or isn't needed. But the character who stole the show for me is The Divil - Fury's dog. Loved him! I didn't love Frankie - he's definitely the 'villain' in the book.

I appreciated the descriptions of the Irish countryside. Hayes-McCoy has a cottage of her own in Ireland and the setting details benefitted from this first hand knowledge. And I think I would love to live in Pat's wee flat above the store - it sounds so cosy.
The Transatlantic Book Club was a perfect feel-good read for me . Fans of Jenny Colgan would enjoy this book. See for yourself - here's an excerpt of The Transatlantic Book Club.

Friday, November 27, 2020

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #340


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've not read Jane Harper before, but a blurb from Val McDermid has me thinking I should. Harper's new book The Survivors comes out at the top of next year. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. "When a body is discovered on the beach, long-held secrets threaten to emerge in the murder investigation that follows. A sunken wreck, a missing girl, and questions that have never washed away..." Well, with that snippet, both covers seem well matched to the story inside". The US cover is a long shot of a flat coastline. The UK cover seems to be looking down from a cliff perhaps with a cave? The sea is much calmer on the US shot while the UK waves seem much more dangerous. The dark sky on the US cover does seem ominous. I think both covers are good this week, but I like the UK cover just a bit better. What about you? Any plans to read The Survivors? Which cover do you prefer? You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

The Moth and the Mountain - Ed Caesar

The best stories in life are those that are true... The Moth and the Mountain: A True Story of Love, War and Everest by Ed Caesar is one of those tales...

"An extraordinary true story about one man’s attempt to salve the wounds of war and save his own soul through an audacious adventure." In the 1930's, World War I British vet, Maurice Wilson decides he is going to "fly a plane from England to Everest, crash-land on its lower slopes, then become the first person to reach its summit - all utterly alone."

But there is much, much more to Wilson's story. Caesar does an amazing job, piecing together his life, not just the Everest idea. I was fascinated by Wilson, who seemed determined to squeeze out every last moment of living each and every day. That's not to say every day was butterflies and sunshine. There are definitely wounds to his psyche. But Wilson's determination and his strength of mind and body was simply phenomenal. As was his ability to figure out a way to get around the obstacles put in his path, without ever doubting he could.

Caesar explores all of Wilson's - from his home and family, to the war, his wanderings, his marriages and more. Much of this is gleaned from letters and journals of Wilson's that have survived. I liked Caesar's writing style and presentation. Wilson became a person and not just a subject. I'll be looking at some of Caesar's other published items. 

I chose to listen to The Moth and the Mountain. The reader was James Langton and he did a great job. He has a British accent which was perfect for both the subject and the writer of this book. His voice was clear and easy to understand. He interpreted the book well, conveying the emotion, action and more with his reading. He has a very expressive voice. I've said it before and I'll say it again - I become much more immersed in a book when I listen to it. The Moth and the Mountain was a fabulous listen - the story of a man who truly lived life. Hear for yourself - listen to an excerpt of The Moth and the Mountain.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Over the Counter #478

What book caught my eye this week? Where do the butterflies go?

Bicycling with Butterflies: My 10,201-Mile Journey Following the Monarch Migration by Sara Dykman.

"Outdoor educator and field researcher Sara Dykman decided to do something no one had ever done before—pedal along with monarch butterflies over the entire length of their 10,201-mile migratory journey. She did it alone, on a hand-built bicycle, through three countries.
In Bicycling with Butterflies, Dykman recounts her incredible journey and the adventurous ups and downs of her ride—follow her along through a Midwestern thunderstorm, a field of zombie corn, and multiple trips across the border. Along the way, we meet a cast of characters that includes devoted citizen scientists, skeptical bar patrons, farmers, and fellow bicyclists. Dykman weaves a tale full of humility and grace, all while sharing the science that underlies the urgency of saving the monarchs and why we all should care.
Bicycling with Butterflies deftly combines memoir, travel, and popular science. It is a must-read debut if you are looking for an uplifting story filled with optimism, energy, and hope."

(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, November 24, 2020

A Lady's Guide to Mischief and Mayhem - Manda Collins

A Lady's Guide to Mischief and Mayhem is the new book from Manda Collins. I loved the title and happily turned to the first page... 

1865. Lady Katherine Bascomb is the widowed owner of a London newspaper. She also (against the opinions of the male members of the paper) writes a column. With some particularly vicious crimes happening in London, she and her bestie Caroline decide to pen a piece about the 'Commandments Killer.' Perhaps do some investigation as well. Can you guess the name of the column?

Kate inadvertently lands herself in the middle of the investigation and under the scrutiny of DI Eversham. Which might be bad....or maybe good...

I love novels set in this time period. The verbal sparring is so much fun - barbed insults delicately covered in social decorum. What's not as great is the male attitude towards women and their 'sensibilities' and what might be best for them. Collins has created a wonderfully spunky, outspoken, eminently likable protagonist. And a great sidekick that shares her ideals and is just as forward thinking.

Collins has come up with a good mystery as well. There are lots of choices for whodunit along the way, with one character that I sussed out early on, but she adds a little bit more that wasn't predictable.

So, how to categorize A  Lady's Guide to Mischief and Mayhem? Historical romantic mystery seems to cover all the bases!

Now, that romance angle...Collins has penned some delicious romantic tension between Kate and Eversham. Will it go any further than each of them just thinking about it...? Not telling! But suffice to say Collin's background as a romance writer stands her in good stead.

It looks like this will be a new series for Collins with Caroline and Lord Thorn getting the lead roles in Lady's Guide 2 due out in Fall 2021.

A Lady's Guide to Mischief and Mayhem was a fun escapist read, perfect for a snowy day on the couch with tea and biscuits! See for yourself - here's an excerpt.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Fortune and Glory - Janet Evanovich

Janet Evanovich has just released the twenty seventh novel in her long running Stephanie Plum series. I was feeling Covid down in the dumps this last week and just wanted something fun, fluffy and light hearted to listen to. Fortune and Glory fit the bill. (It's the first one to not have a 'number' title, although it is in the small print at the bottom Tantalizing Twenty Seven.)

Fortune and Glory takes us back to the Burg - bail bond agent Stephanie's neighbourhood in Trenton, New Jersey. Familiar characters return as well - Stephanie's partner Lula, Connie in the office, Grandma Mazur (my fave) as well as Ranger and Morelli. They're the two love interests in the book - Stephanie just can't make up her mind. Two new characters make an appearance - the enigmatic (and dangerous feeling) Gabriela Rose. As well as a previous skip - George Potts - who feels he needs to keep an eye out for Stephanie and help her as she helped him. I quite liked him - for all of his neurosises he comes up with some good answers. I hope we see him again.

Grandma's short lived marriage to Jimmy Rosolli ended when he died. But he left her a clue and set of keys to a treasure. She and Steph are on the hunt for it - as are many others.

New listeners will be easily able to catch up with who's who and what's what. Evanovich provides lots of background. Those who've listened before will find comfort in settling in with familiar characters. Lula continues to provide the comic one liners. (I did find that some of the jokes fell a bit flat for me.) Stephanie continues to destroy cars. Skips gone wrong. And everything is better with a cannoli. 

This is the familiarity and comfort listening I was looking for. There's lots of action and adventure in this latest and the mystery of the clues and keys was more involved that I imagined. But the fun of course is in the journey to the final answer. There are missteps and mistakes along the way, but you just know things will turn out the way we want them to. Except for that one burning question - Morelli or Ranger....?

I chose to listen to Fortune and Glory. Lorelei King has narrated much of this series and I was happy to see she was back for this book. Her voice is really pleasant to listen to and easy to understand. She provides different voices for all the characters. And they really suit. The voice for newcomer Potts was perfect! And I love Grandma Mazur's upbeat enthusiasm. King captures Evanovich's plot, bringing it alive. And it was perfect to beat the doldrums - a light hearted listen that will let you escape the real world for a bit. Hear for yourself - listen to an excerpt of Fortune and Glory. 

Friday, November 20, 2020

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #339

-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
Canadian cover
There's a new Inspector Banks coming next year from Peter Robinson. Not Dark Yet will be the 27th entry and releases in Spring 2021. This is one of my fave series, so it's definitely on my TBR list. The US cover is on the left and the Canadian cover is on the right. Interestingly the same image has been used on both covers. The difference being in the view. The US cover is close up on the rocky image, specifically the opening while the Canadian cover gives us a long range view. The Canadian version has the last bits of a sunset visible which matches the title - not dark yet. The US cover shot feels ominous to me with the storm clouds just visible. I'm drawn to beaches and would happily be walking down to the rock formation to see it clearer - and what might be on the other side. The font used on the Canadian cover seems to pack more of an impact IMO. Both have pluses, but I'm going to go with the Canadian cover this week. What about you? Any plans to read Not Dark Yet? Which cover do you prefer?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

The Trials of Koli - M.R. Carey

The Trials of Koli is the second book in the Rampart Trilogy by M.R. Carey. I read the first book, The Book of Koli , earlier this year. (my review) I've been eagerly awaiting the next tale.

I don't read a lot of sci fi or fantasy, but if the setting  is post apocalyptic, it's one I definitely want to read. I am fascinated by the imaginings of what the world might be like if....

In Carey's book, it is sometime in the future and the human race has been decimated. Small pockets of survivors live in their own fortified villages and encampments. Society has reverted to a much earlier time with survival being the goal. Nature has turned on humans, with predator plants and trees. Tech from the past is revered. And more.

Koli from Mythen Rood is the protagonist in this trilogy. Without spoiling things for a new reader, Koli has left his village and is travelling with his compatriots towards a signal. Who could be still broadcasting? Is it simply a computer still functioning somewhere? Or could it be a group farther along in rebuilding than those in Koli's sphere?

The great thing about post apocalyptic books is you have no idea what to expect. The plot could go anywhere - and I really like being unable to predict a book. 

Koli is a great protagonist. He's still young and not as jaded as his elders. He sees and thinks and still hopes. It is his voice that drove the first book. I was happily surprised to find in this second book that there is an alternating narrative - that of Koli's friend Spinner, back in Mythen Rood. She too is facing trials - mostly from within even as Koli weathers what is outside the gates and beyond.

Danger is ever present and the book is action filled. I stayed up late quickly turning pages. And the ending? Nicely set up for the The Fall of Koli, the final entry in this trilogy, due out in March 2021. That's a bit of an ominous title isn't it? I'm quite eager to see how the journey ends. 

The Trials of Koli was addictive reading for me. I enjoyed the speculative writing of Carey... and tried to keep my mind from wondering 'what if' in these crazy times...  Read an excerpt of The Trials of Koli.

And I leave you with this quote from Spinner:

"There ought to be a rule in the telling of stories, my husband complained to me once, after I had brought him some dismay with a sad one. You ought to say before you start whether things will be brought in the end to a good or a bad case. That way them that are listening can gird themselves up somewhat, and be ready when the ending comes.

I told him I was sorry for the hurt to his heart and promised to give him fair warning next time. But I thought more thereafter, and in the end I came to this thinking on the subject. There can’t be any rules in the telling of stories. They’ve got to go where they go, which is not always where you would want them to. And as to the happiness or the sadness of it, that depends on where you’re standing. A happiness for one is sometimes a sadness to another. Or it might only be a happiness when you squint one eye. Or you might not know, even after it’s all done, whether it came out well or badly."

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Over the Counter #477

What book caught my eye this week? 

I've followed Steve McCurry's blog for a number of years. His photographs are amazing and a curated collection of unseen images is being published later this month.  In Search of Elsewhere.

" A unique collection of previously unseen images spanning Steve McCurry's extraordinary career.

Steve McCurry is known for creating some of the most iconic images of recent times and in this new collection, he shares previously unseen photographs from his incredibly rich archive. In Search of Elsewhere takes us across the globe and offers new perspectives on many of the locations that the photographer has already made famous – from India, Myanmar and Cuba, to Kashmir and the white-washed temples of the Himalayas. Each image is reproduced at large format and in remarkable detail and this new compilation reveals the incredible depth of his work.

"I compare photography to food, air, and sleep... this creative energy, this impulse, is what gives us purpose, pleasure, joy, happiness and love." Steve McCurry"

(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, November 17, 2020

The Museum of Forgotten Memories - Anstey Harris

It was the cover of The Museum of Forgotten Memories by Anstey Harris that first caught my eye. It was unique and I wondered 'What are all those animals doing around the kitchen table?' Well, the story inside is just as unique - and it's one I absolutely adored.

Cate Harris has lost her husband Richard, her job and her home. With little left in savings, she and her teenage son Leo pack up and move to Richard's family home - a Victorian museum called the Hatters Museum of the Wide Wide World in the small town of Crouch-on-Sea. And inside? Taxidermied exhibits that are quite frankly  amazing. It gives them a place to live for the summer while Cate ponders what to do next. Not as thrilled with their arrival is Araminta, the caretaker.

I loved the premise and couldn't wait to discover more about the museum, the residents and what might be in the future for Cate. Cate is the voice of the book and we see and discover everything through her eyes and thoughts. Araminta is flinty with lots of sharp edges, she finds the intrusion into her domain barely tolerable and does not hesitate to let it be known. Leo is wonderful - his view of the world tempers the tension between the other two. There are a number of supporting cast members that are just as well drawn, with each bringing their own story to weave into the plot.

And that plot is fresh, unique and unpredictable. You'll find your loyalties challenged and your preconceptions to be erroneous as the book progresses and more of the past (memories) are brought to light. There's a bit of an underdog feel to the tale - and I am always on the side of the underdogs.

Harris explores love, loss, grief, hope, friendship, duty and abilities in this latest. All of them done well.

I chose to listen to The Museum of Forgotten Memories. The narrator was Tania Rodrigues and her performance was excellent. Her voice is clear and easy to understand. Her tone is rich. The speed of speaking is just right. Harris's dialogue is great and Rodrigues does a fantastic job with bringing it to life. Cate's voice is calm, measured and thoughtful - for the most part. The voice for Leo is perfect for this character. Araminta's is short and clipped and suited the character as well.  It was easy to tell who was speaking.  Rodriques interprets Harris's book well. The tone of situations and the emotions of the characters is presented very, very well. I've often said it but I'll say it again - I feel more immersed in a book when I listen to it. The characters seem to come alive and the listener is part of things. Hear for yourself - listen to an excerpt of The Museum of Forgotten Memories.

Monday, November 16, 2020

The Children of Red Peak - Craig DiLouie

Craig DiLouie is a new to me author. His latest book is The Children of Red Peak.

Five children survived a religious group’s last days at the mountain top of Red Peak. Everyone else 'drank the kool aid.' The five are now adults who have not kept in touch over the last fifteen years. When one of the five takes her own life, they finally reconnect. There are unanswered questions, fractured memories and no sense of closure in their lives. Will they climb to the mountain top one last time for answers?

Now, I don't read a lot of horror. I'm not one for overt violence and gore. While The Children of Red Peak definitely has horror elements, it's not wholly  dependent on shock elements. Instead, much of the book is a look at each of the four and how their younger years were much different from the last months of the group. How did this tragedy shape their lives, their thinking, their mindsets etc. DiLouie does a good job of building his characters. It did seem like musician Deacon got the lion's share of coverage. I admit, his storyline began to lose me. The discussion around his music and the album he wants to make got tiresome for this reader. It was the more reticent David that I was drawn to.

I'm always intrigued by the inner workings of an insular group and the faithful that accept such as
their own paradise. As well as the acceptance of the doctrines their leader teaches. DiLouie's original group sounds quite happy, but it seems almost inevitable that cracks will begin to show. When does a 'religious group' become a cult? How does someone become so immersed in a belief system that would make no sense to most of us. (Yes, I am a pragmatist.) DiLouie employs a past and present narrative that goes back and forth until the two collide. The horror elements don't really come into play until that final collision. 

The ending will be interpreted many ways I think, depending on the reader. I thought DiLouie put his own spin on 'cult fiction.' See for yourself  - here's an excerpt of The Children of Red Peak.

Friday, November 13, 2020

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #338

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

US Hardcover
US Kindle
Lars Kepler is a husband/wife writing duo. I quite enjoy their 'Joona Linna' series, set in Sweden.
Lazarus is the sixth entry. Now, I did find another cover - but it had a snake on it and I just didn't want to look at it. So - today we have the US Hardcover on the left and the US Kindle on the right. Let's see...the black and red on the hardcover absolutely works for a murder mystery. The red looks like bloody slashes and the word Lazarus fades out from top to bottom. Also works well for a murder mystery. The green on the Kindle cover is, umm, different. Lazarus rose from the dead, so maybe that the green choice? For living. Although I find the green a little science fictiony. And I believe those are tombstones in a graveyard setting. Which suits the premise of the book. Hmm, I think I'll go with the US hardcover this week. What about you? 
Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read Lazarus?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

The Killings at Kingfisher Hill - Sophie Hannah

Agatha Christie created some of the most memorable and beloved characters ever to populate a mystery novel, including Hercule Poirot. The first Poirot novel was published in 1920 and the last in 1975. Sophie Hannah has continued the series with the Christie estate's blessing. The latest is The Killings at Kingfisher Hill.

Poirot has a new sidekick in the Hannah books - Scotland Yard Inspector Edward Catchpool. Catchpool documents the cases and it is through his eyes that we see the unfolding mystery. He is a delightful character and he's clever in his own right. But, no one can match Poirot's deductive powers, so Catchpool's personal thoughts and comments are more in line with what the reader may be thinking and postulating. 

Poirot and Catchpool are taking the train to the Kingfisher Hill estate for a reason only Poirot knows. But before they arrive there are number of odd events on the train. A woman is afraid to sit in the last available seat as she has been told she will die if she does. Ah hah! Poirot is intrigued... And there's more once they arrive at the estate. Murder to be exact. Hannah's plotting is clever, serpentine and makes for addictive reading.

It is Poirot's 'little gray cells' that drive the investigation. I always have enjoyed the deductions, the piecing together, the reasoning, the seemingly innocuous clue tucked into a paragraph along the way.  The reader needs to pay close attention. The 'old fashioned' method of solving a crime is quite enjoyable and challenges the reader.

I think that Hannah successfully captures Poirot's style, mannerisms, dialogue and idiosyncrasies.Those looking for a book written as Agatha Christie won't find it in The Killings at Kingfisher Hill. But those looking for a classic mystery written in the style of Christie will enjoy this book. I did! Here's an excerpt of The Killings at Kingfisher Hill. And I had a quick listen to the audio version. It sounds great as well.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Over the Counter #476

What book caught my eye this week? As today is Remembrance Day, this one seems very appropriate...

Heard Amid the Guns: True Stories from the Western Front, 1914-1918 by Jacqueline Larson Carmichael.

From Heritage House Publishing:

"A rich and varied tapestry of the First World War, highlighting the personal stories of over 150 men and women from across North America who served overseas.

After receiving a bundle of worn letters written by her late grandfather George “Black Jack” Vowel during the First World War, journalist Jacqueline Carmichael became fascinated with the daily realities and personal stories of those who had lived through that pivotal and harrowing period in history. Reaching beyond the battlefield descriptions found in most history books, Carmichael presents unforgettable accounts filled with drama, hope, and heartbreak culled from journals and letters of Allied soldiers and nurses.

From tales of men “shot at dawn” under charges of desertion or cowardice, to women cross-dressing to get into battle, to a Canadian Member of Parliament whose PTSD-induced death was barely acknowledged by Ottawa for nearly a century, Heard Amid the Guns reflects the human face of war. Featuring profiles of people from every Canadian province and many American states, including soldiers of Indigenous, Asian, Indo-Canadian, and African-Canadian and -American backgrounds, this book is a touching tribute illustrated throughout by WWI-era photos, postcards, documents, and the author’s contemporary photos from battlefield sites and monuments."

(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, November 10, 2020

The Law of Innocence - Michael Connelly

I couldn't wait to read Michael Connelly's newest book - The Law of Innocence. It's a fantastic read (as I knew it would be) and one I finished far too quickly.

The Law of Innocence is the latest in the 'Lincoln Lawyer' series. Mickey Haller is headed home one night after celebrating his latest 'not guilty'. He's stone cold sober when he's pulled over, but cooperates - to a point. Then the cop pops the trunk - and discovers the body inside. Haller is innocent of course, but just like that, he's the one in jail and headed to trial. Mickey elects to represent himself - with some help from his regular team - and some additions. Fans of Connolly will be happy to see Harry Bosch as well. (Another fantastic series!)

And the title? "The law of innocence is unwritten. It will not be found in a leather bound codebook. It will never be argued in a courtroom....In the law of innocence, for every man not guilty of a crime, there is a man out there who is. And the prove true innocence, the guilty man must be found and exposed to the world." That's what Haller wants for himself. They've got to figure out who the real killer is.

Connelly is simply brilliant at plotting. The reader is along for the ride as Haller and team try to piece together the 'why' of the body in his trunk. They are hampered not just by Mickey being locked up, but also by the prosecutor, who is determined to make her mark by taking down the famed 'Lincoln Lawyer.' The courtroom and the machinations of a trial are eye opening. I was fascinated by the behind the scenes look.

I love the characters in this series as well. Mickey is such a strong personality and force of nature. But Connelly also gives him a human side, often shown through his daughter. Faithful readers will be surprised by some of the turns Haller's personal life takes.  The reappearance of a past player is very welcome. I look forward to the next book to see where things go. And being in jail gives Mickey a look at the other side of the bars...

The dialogue is so sharp and focused. The prose flow so easily and make for truly addictive reading. Connelly's background and skill are a big part of why his crime and legal thrillers ring so true. 

Who, or should I say what, also makes an appearance? Yup, Covid 19. And I loved the brief political opinion one character voices.

So very, very good on so many levels! See for yourself - here's an excerpt of The Law of Innocence.

Monday, November 9, 2020

Goodnight Beautiful - Aimee Molloy

Oh, if you love a good twisty read, you're going to want to pick up Goodnight Beautiful by Aimee Molloy!

Sam and his wife Annie move back to the small town Sam is from. He sets up his counselling practice on the main floor of a beautiful old home. The landlord lives above. And there's a vent that allows sound to travel......

There's more, but I am in no way going to spoil this read for you! Molloy is a master of misdirection. I was caught up in the book immediately and rapidly flipped pages until I reached the end of part one. And I then stopped - had I read that right? Everything I thought about one aspect was wrong. So, I flipped back to the beginning, looked again and mentally applauded Molloy. Psychological suspense is one of my favorite genres and I truly appreciate being caught off guard. So, back to the next part - and it happened again! Yes! I had assumed the twist had already happened and was unprepared for another one. 

Goodnight Beautiful is such a great page turner. Well written. I loved the dark humor and nod to a famous author. But most of all, being fooled. Bravo! Here's an excerpt of Goodnight Beautiful

Friday, November 6, 2020

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #337

- 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
Piece of My Heart by Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke releases in a few weeks on both sides of the pond. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Okay...I do like the color used on the US cover. And the image of the skull is great, especially when made of pretty flowers. The font style and color also work on the turquoise. Well, I feel like I've seen the UK cover many times before. Lone woman seen from the back in an isolated area. It's boring and overdone. So an easy choice for me this week - US. What about you? Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read Piece of My Heart?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

The Noel Letters - Richard Paul Evans

The Noel Letters is latest entry in Richard Paul Evans' yearly Christmas 'Noel Series'.

Noel Post has not been back to her hometown in two decades. And that's also how long it's been since she's seen or spoken to her father. With the news that he is dying, she does make the trip. But she's not in time.

She inherits his beloved bookstore and meets his friends and co-workers. Their opinion of her father is worlds apart from Noel's. She also re-connects with Dylan, her old flame. And she starts to receive a series of letters full of wisdom and advice. They're unsigned but she sure it is Dylan's handiwork. 

Noel is a hard character to like in the beginning. She has her walls up and blinders on, determined to confirm what she's thought for the last twenty years. I initially found her obstinance a bit off putting. The supporting players consists of Wendy, bookshop manager, Grace - a customer and Dylan and his family. Wendy was intense, but I was quite drawn to Grace and Dylan. Both of them are genuine, calm and reasonable.

This series is always emotional and the books are released at the time of the year when we often reflect on our lives, our goals, our mistakes and our reparations. The reader can't help but become immersed in Noel's life, urging her to take a second look at her memories, her perceptions, her life and what the future holds for her. Love, loss, grief and forgiveness are amongst the themes Evans explores.

Evans has scattered literary quotes from well known authors throughout the book. I quite enjoyed these, along with the advice included in the letters. There's much food for thought. And the bookstore sounded heavenly - a place I'd like to be!

The ending isn't a surprise, but a surprise wouldn't do here. Instead, the right thing happens. And the journey to the right thing was just as enjoyable as the previous entries in this series. 

I chose to listen to The Noel Letters. The narrator was Helene Maksoud. She has narrated other books in this series and I was glad to hear her voice again. She has a voice that is very pleasant to listen to and easy to understand. Her speed of speaking is just right - a very measured pace that suits the tone of the book. She captures the emotions in the book well and the tone and tenor reflect that.  She used a different voice for different characters. It was easy to tell who was speaking. Maksoud interprets Evans' book well and it made for a very enjoyable listen. Hear for yourself  - listen to an excerpt of The Noel Letters.

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Over the Counter #475

What book caught my eye this week? A chore that I don't overly mind - especially when I can hang it outside...

Laundry Love: Finding Joy in a Common Chore by Patric Richardson and Karin B. Miller.

From Flatiron Books:

"Patric Richardson, aka the "Laundry Evangelist,” reveals his revolutionary methods for cleaning clothes—and making laundry loads more fun.

Doing laundry is rarely anyone’s favorite task. But to Patric Richardson, laundry isn't just fun—it's a way of life. After years of running Laundry Camp at the Mall of America for thousands of eager learners, he's ready to share his tips, tricks, and hacks—bringing surprise and delight to this commonly dreaded chore.

Sorting your laundry? It's not all about whites and darks. Pondering the wash cycles? Every load, even your delicates, should be washed using express or quick-wash on warm. Facing expensive dry cleaning bills? You'll learn how to wash everything—yes everything—at home. And those basically clean but smelly clothes? Richardson has a secret for freshening those too (hint: it involves vodka, not soap).

Changing your relationship with laundry can also change your life. Richardson’s handy advice shows us how to save time and money (and the planet!) with our laundry—and he intersperses it all with a healthy dose of humor, real-life laundry stories, and lessons from his Appalachian upbringing and career in fashion.

Laundry Love will make you wonder why you ever stressed about ironing, dry cleaning, or (god forbid) red wine spills on your new couch. No matter the issue, Richardson is here to help you make laundry miracles happen—wrinkles and stains be damned."

(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, November 3, 2020

The Unpleasantness at the Battle of Thornford - C.C. Benison

C.C. Benison is the author of a delightful series - The Father Christmas mysteries. I've been waiting for more murder and mystery from the village of Thornford Regis. And it's here! The Unpleasantness at the Battle of Thornford (a novella) releases November 5/20.

The lead character is actually a widowed vicar by the name of Tom Christmas. He makes his home in the rectory with his daughter Miranda and housekeeper Madrun. I happily settled in with a pot of tea and gingersnaps, eager to visit Tom and the lovely, quirky residents of Thornford Regis. 

Tom has been asked to attend and bless a historical reenactment of a 1645 battle. The original battle "...appeared to be rather less a 'battle' than a 'skirmish', or perhaps, an 'incident' or - really - little more than an 'unpleasantness' as the weary locals dragged themselves out for a final bash at one another in the protracted war that divided England in the seventeenth century." And it is here that the body is found. 

Father Tom is such a great lead. He's likable, naturally curious, kind and thoughtful. His vocation lets him make discreet inquiries and piece things together himself. He just can't help himself. The residents are a mixed bunch - quirky, suspicious, friendly, nosy, secretive, helpful - there's no lack of suspects in this parish. There are many I miss from previous books and *hope* there might be more Father Christmas and et al tales. I truly miss Madrun's missives to her mother. 

Thornford Regis reminds me of one of those English village displays you'd see on a mantle at Christmas - the church, the local meeting hall, the corner store, the manor house, a tea room (where you would find me) and more.  

The first three books in this series are distinctly cozy - despite the bodies. This latest novella is a cozy entry as well, but with a darker 'why' at the heart of the whodunit.

I can heartily recommend this latest Father Christmas - it's an engaging, easy little read that will entertain you. And the size of the book makes is just right for Christmas stockings! 

Join At Bay Press and Whodunit Mystery Bookstore for a virtual launch of The Unpleasantness at the Battle of Thornford happening tomorrow - November 4th. Check out the details here.

You can connect with C.C. Benison on his website, follow him on Twitter, like him on Facebook as well as on his Goodreads page.

Monday, November 2, 2020

The Return - Nicholas Sparks

The Return is the newest novel from Nicholas Sparks. And for faithful readers of Sparks (me included), The Return is another read in the style we've come to enjoy.

Trevor Benson was a doctor in the Navy, but was bombed in Afghanistan, suffering severe injuries himself. As he's recuperating, he learns his beloved grandfather has passed on. And he's left Trevor his cabin in a small town in North Carolina. What better place to recuperate?

Trevor was a very likable lead. His inner dialogue is thoughtful and considered. In addition to his physical injuries, he's also battling PTSD. I think Sparks did a great job detailing this condition, as well as the ways that Trevor uses to cope. Trevor meets Deputy Natalie Masterson in New Bern and the spark he feels for her is undeniable. Could she feel the same? Natalie too seems to be one of the walking wounded, harboring secrets she doesn't want to share. There's one more lost soul that Trevor crosses paths with. Callie is an enigmatic teenager who lives in the trailer park down the road. It seems she was friends with Trevor's grandfather, but doesn't want much to do with Trevor. 

How will the lives of these three characters interact? In the trademark way we've come to expect from Sparks. Loss, grief, acceptance, love, hope, faith and fate entwine the fates of Natalie, Trevor and Callie together. I enjoyed the plotlines that Sparks uses to tell this story. We don't have the full story until the end of the book is coming up. I enjoyed the slow, thoughtful, measured pace that Sparks uses to tell this story. Mystery, romance and more are knit together into a comforting read. I enjoy the detailed descriptions that bring the setting to life.

Bees also play a part in The Return. I have to say, I learned quite a bit about beekeeping as well.

The Return is the perfect read for those days when you want to just want to curl up with a good book and a pot of tea. And believe in love. And as with many other Sparks books, I can see this one as a movie. 

See for yourself - here's an excerpt of The Return.  And this was fun to discover - the dust jacket has a flip side, portraying a winter snow covered porch with a Happy Holidays tag. If you're gifting it for Christmas, make sure to flip the picture.