Thursday, December 31, 2020

Happy New Year!

Well, it's been a year like no other for me. Here's hoping that we turn the corner in 2021. In the meantime, be kind to yourself and each other - and safe. Books continue to be my escape and in particular, audio books. Keep calm and read on.....

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 24, 2020

'Twas The Night Before Christmas - Clement Clarke Moore

" 'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter's nap,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;
"Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.
His eyes -- how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night."

I know Christmas is going to look much different this year. 
I hope you're able to connect with family is some way while staying safe. 
Wishing you health and happiness in the New Year.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Over the Counter #482

What book caught my eye this week?

The Great British Baking Show's new book - Love to Bake by Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith.  (Who hasn't binge watched this show?!)

"Love to Bake is The Great British Bake Off's best collection yet - recipes to remind us that baking is the ultimate expression of thanks, togetherness, celebration and love.

Pop round to a friend's with tea and sympathy in the form of Chai Crackle Cookies; have fun making Paul's Rainbow-coloured Bagels with your family; snuggle up and take comfort in Sticky Pear & Cinnamon Buns or a Pandowdy Swamp Pie; or liven up a charity cake sale with Mini Lemon & Pistachio Battenbergs or Prue's stunning Raspberry & Salted Caramel Eclairs. Impressive occasion cakes and stunning bakes for gatherings are not forgotten - from a novelty frog birthday cake for a children's party, through a towering croquembouche to wow your guests at the end of dinner, to a gorgeous, but easy-to-make wedding cake that's worthy of any once-in-a-lifetime celebration.

Throughout the book, judges' recipes from Paul and Prue will hone your skills, while lifelong favourites from the 2020 bakers offer insight into the journeys that brought the contestants to the Bake Off tent and the reasons why they - like you - love to bake."

(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, December 22, 2020

Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder - T.A. Willberg

Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder by T.A. Willberg.

From Park Row Books:

"The letter was short. A name, a time, a place.

Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder plunges readers into the heart of London, to the secret tunnels that exist far beneath the city streets. There, a mysterious group of detectives recruited for Miss Brickett’s Investigations & Inquiries use their cunning and gadgets to solve crimes that have stumped Scotland Yard.

Late one night in April 1958, a filing assistant at Miss Brickett’s receives a letter of warning, detailing a name, a time, and a place. She goes to investigate but finds the room empty. At the stroke of midnight, she is murdered by a killer she can’t see—her death the only sign she wasn’t alone. It becomes chillingly clear that the person responsible must also work for Miss Brickett’s, making everyone a suspect.

Marion Lane, a first-year Inquirer-in-training, finds herself drawn ever deeper into the investigation. When her friend and colleague is framed for the crime, to clear his name she must sort through the hidden alliances at Miss Brickett’s and secrets dating back to WWII. Masterful, clever and deliciously suspenseful, Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder is a fresh take on the Agatha Christie-style locked-room murder mystery, with an exciting new heroine detective."

My Thoughts:

I loved the description of Willberg's debut novel! What's not to love - a hidden detective agency below the streets of London, wondrous, magical gadgets to aid in investigations, a spunky female apprentice - and that last descriptor - Agatha-Christie-style-locked-room murder mystery.

Initially on starting to read, I thought of Platform 9 ¾. And our lead protagonist reminded me a bit of Nancy Drew. That should give you an idea about the feel of Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder. I just knew I was going to love it.

Marion is a wonderful lead - clever, curious, dogged and determined to become a full fledged Inquirer. But she has to wend her way through what is truth, what are lies and what is reality to find the perpetrator. There are many, many choices for whodunit. There are numerous characters in the book and it did take me a few chapters to remember who was who. 

The setting is so detailed! I could picture myself climbing down the trapdoor stairs to find a whole 'nother world. Willberg's imaginings are fantastical. The changing paths, the gadgets, the training and so much more. The name of the agency, Miss Brickett’s Investigations & Inquiries, conjures up time and place and a bygone method of crime solving. The 1958 time period is perfect. This book wouldn't work for me in a current time.

The plot is fairly involved and will keep the reader on their toes. 

Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder was a unique, wonderfully imaginative, delightfully fun read that took me away from the worries of today.  I had great fun walking in Marion's footsteps as pursued the mysteries of Miss Brickett's - and the name of the murderer. And that last page.....I'm hoping there's more in store for Marion Lane.

See for yourself - here's an excerpt of Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Unsinkable - James Sullivan

Perseverance, endurance, bravery, tenacity. All of these describe those who fought in WWII. James Sullivan's latest book is Unsinkable: Five Men and the Indomitable Run of the USS Plunkett.

What first drew me to Unsinkable? The personal stories - the best tales in life are the true ones. And Sullivan has done a fantastic job bringing these five men's stories to life. Their families, homes, hopes, desires, fears, strengths and more are detailed. Sullivan has drawn from many sources such as diaries, reports, interviews and a family member. Rather than just an annotation in a dry history book, Sullivan's writing made them 'real' for me as he takes us from enlistment to war to final days.

While I am familiar with the battles of WWII, I learned so much from Unsinkable. Sullivan's descriptions of the Plunkett's role is comprehensive and again, well detailed. Unsinkable takes the listener inside the battles and puts us on the destroyer.

An excellent book, honoring those who fought for our freedom and the ship that carried them. The title is perfect, referring to both ship and men. 

I chose to listen to Unsinkable. I find listening to a book immerses me in the story. Even more so for this book. The reader was a favorite of mine - Jacques Roy. His voice is clear, easy to understand, well enunciated and pleasant to listen to with a gravelly undertone. Its calm and suits the subject matter. But, his voice does rise and fall with the emotions and actions. The speed of reading is just right, allowing the listener to take it all in. Listen for yourself - here's an audio excerpt of Unsinkable.

Friday, December 18, 2020

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #343

You can't judge a book by it's cover - which is very true ... 
But you can like one cover version better than another
US cover
Australian cover
I'm looking forward to Linwood Barclay's forthcoming book, Find You First. The US cover is on the left and the Australian cover is on the right. It's a stand alone suspense novel. So...both covers do convey that sense of danger.  Let's start with the Australian cover. I really like the bold pink colour. The yellow raincoat pops as well. Looking closer at the picture, those are street lights on the left side and there are some buildings on the right. And have you seen this look before? 'Young woman in trouble, running from something, looking back over her shoulder'? Uh huh, me too. Now on to the US cover. The colour used for the font transmits that danger element. And the silver for the author name pops as well. It is the image I really like. That single eye looking back in the rear view mirror at a behind is very effective. So, an easy choice for me this week - the US cover. What about you? Any plans to read Find You First? Which cover do you prefer?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

The Twelve Dates of Christmas - Jenny Bayliss

I needed to escape Covid for the day and was looking to get lost in the pages of a feel good, heart-warming read. The Twelve Dates of Christmas by Jenny Bayliss was the perfect (and seasonal) choice!

I adore British rom-com cozies with all of the required elements - a quaint little village full of interesting shops and shopkeepers, quirky residents that are quite familiar with each other's business, a lead character that immediately endears themself to the reader, a supporting cast that have their own stories and more. And that 'more' is of course, romance!

Kate has reached that point in life where she is looking to settle down. All she needs is the right person. So....enter the Twelve Dates of Christmas - with twelve different men.

Kate is such a great lead - I liked her immediately. She's fun, a great friend and daughter and very giving. I have to say, her jobs are intriguing - a fabric designer for Liberty and a baker for the local cafe. (Bayliss herself worked as a baker and I have to say that Kate's creations were mouthwatering!) The supporting cast is just as likable. The 'Knitting Sex Kittens' were delightful! I liked that there were sub plots running through the book as well.

The descriptions of the homes, businesses and traditions of the village made me want to move to  Blexford. 

The dates are quite funny, but not every match is successful. The reader can see this clearly and we know the person she really should be with. And that's the fun of these rom-coms - the 'will they, won't they' tension, the missed cues, missteps and misunderstandings. And a happy ending is guaranteed.

I was quite surprised to find that this was Bayliss's debut novel. It was well written, engaging and just plain fun to read. I can see this one as a movie.I look forward to and I'm looking forward to her next book. But for now, here's an excerpt of The Twelve Dates of Christmas. This would be a great stocking stuffer for yourself or a friend! 

(The Christmas timing of the book is a bonus, but you would enjoy it at any time of the year.)

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Over the Counter #481

What book caught my eye this week?

It was the cover of Peacebunny Island: The Extraordinary Journey of a Boy and His Comfort Rabbits, and How They’re Teaching Us about Hope and Kindness by Caleb Smith that made me take a second look. Love the bunny!

"The incredible true story of a boy who is changing the world through kindness . . . one bunny at a time.
Meet Caleb Smith: a young man who, at age 8, decided to follow his dream to train endangered and rescued rabbits to become therapy animals. Today, 16-year-old Caleb is an entrepreneur who owns and operates a private 22-acre Mississippi River sanctuary called Peacebunny Island. The deal is simple: he saves the rabbits, and they help save us. Driven by an unbreakable desire to spread kindness and compassion, Caleb’s adventures include:

Founding a program of therapy rabbits who visit with veterans, senior citizens, families with special needs, and much more
Embarking on a quest along the Mississippi River to develop the site that would become Peacebunny Island
Overcoming challenges and obstacles along the way, while never giving up
Becoming an advocate for animal rescue, comfort animal training, and endangered species preservation
Inspiring hope and possibility in the next generation of young people.
Readers who love animal stories like We Bought a Zoo, Watership Down, and Marley & Me will treasure Peacebunny Island―an unforgettable journey of determination and faith destined to touch hearts around the world."

(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, December 15, 2020

This is How We Fly - Anna Meriano

My latest teen read is This is How We Fly by Anna Meriano. Young adult reads have changed a great deal over the years. While marketed as teen reads, there is much to be learned for all ages from this genre. That's definitely the case with This is How We Fly. 

This is the last summer before Ellen heads off to college. She and her two besties aren't headed to the same places, so she is looking forward to spending the summer with them. But, the best laid plans....

Instead, one friend wants to cut the ties now and Ellen herself is grounded - for the entire summer. Thanks to her stepmother Connie, Ellen will be doing a list of chores every day. And her dad backs Connie up. (A little bit of Cinderella there...) 

I loved Ellen and her passion for her own beliefs, whether it's feminism, veganism or climate control, she is determined to make the world a better place. Connie and Dad really irked me. Connie is well, mean, and her dialogue had me fuming. We get to know bestie Melissa much more than Xiumiao, but both are well drawn with their own issues instead of just being a foil for Ellen.

When Melissa joins a Quidditch team (yup, you read that right - the Harry Potter game), Ellen gets reluctant permission to join as well. The team, the players and the game are a big focus of the plot. I thought it was a unique premise and a great vehicle to introduce so many topics, themes and situations. Friendship, gender identity, romantic relationships, sex, belonging, blended families, coming of age and acceptance can all be found in these pages. There are so many personalities introduced though the team and tournaments. I thought they were really well done and inclusive.

I've of course read all the Potter books and had a pretty good mental image of a Quidditch match. But I had no idea of how this would be played in our reality. Meriano provides great descriptions. And the title of the book is from that question...." If it's do you fly?" 

I thought the writing was great and I enjoyed This is How We Fly very much. I did think the 'resolution' at the end of the book was a bit quick, but it's the right ending. Read an excerpt of This is How We Fly.

Monday, December 14, 2020

American Daughter: A Memoir - Stephanie Thornton Plymale with Ellisa Wald

The most fascinating, captivating, gut wrenching, heart breaking tales are those that are true. Such as Stephanie Thornton Plymale's memoir - American Daughter.

Stephanie and her five siblings grew up in chaos - neglect, abuse, hunger, homelessness, extreme poverty and more. Their mother fought many demons - substance abuse, alcoholism and mental illness.

Despite the odds, Stephanie educated herself, got married, had children, ran a college and lived an enviable life. From the outside looking in, she was a success. But like that old saying goes - she was ' a duck. Calm on the surface, but always paddling like the dickens underneath."

It was not until she was in her fifties that Stephanie decided to try and find answers, reasons, cement her sketchy memories and finally ask her mother for truths This was a last chance as her mother was dying. 

What she found was not at all what she expected. She learned more about her family, discovered relatives and saw her mother in a different light as she grew to know her as a person with her own struggles and demons. Stephanie found answers, healing and reconciliation. And herself.

This is not an easy read, so gentle readers be forewarned. But it's a true read. I am sure that Stephanie's story will resonate with many readers - for what happened to her and perhaps themselves. Sadly, there are many children living the same childhood she did. 

It's impossible to judge someone's life. I applaud her honesty in sharing her life and her goal to "inspire others to share their stories, receive support and feel empowered by their ability to survive, forgive, heal, transcend and live the life of their dreams." 

This was a five star read for me. If you enjoyed North of Normal, Educated or The Glass Castle, you'll enjoy American Daughter.

Friday, December 11, 2020

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #342

-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
Harriet Tyces'  new novel is the Lies You Told. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Now at first glance, you might have thought I inserted the same photo twice. Well the same 'frame' has used on both cover with the same  ivy details. Differences - the windows themselves - six panes vs 12 panes. I wonder why? We've got subdued lighting in the US window, but much brighter in the UK window. A lone woman is planted in each window, but on opposite sides with one looking out and one looking in. I'm not a fan of either, but will go with the UK cover this week, solely based on the warmer light. What about you? Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read The Lies You Told? 
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

The Sun Down Motel - Simone St. James

I've read nothing but great reviews of The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James. 

"Something hasn’t been right at the roadside Sun Down Motel for a very long time, and Carly Kirk is about to find out why in this chilling new novel from the New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of The Broken Girls.

Upstate New York, 1982. Viv Delaney wants to move to New York City, and to help pay for it she takes a job as the night clerk at the Sun Down Motel in Fell, New York. But something isnĘžt right at the motel, something haunting and scary.

Upstate New York, 2017. Carly Kirk has never been able to let go of the story of her aunt Viv, who mysteriously disappeared from the Sun Down before she was born. She decides to move to Fell and visit the motel, where she quickly learns that nothing has changed since 1982. And she soon finds herself ensnared in the same mysteries that claimed her aunt."

My Thoughts:

I had read so many glowing reviews of The Sun Down Motel. I managed to finally get my hands on an audio copy and ..... wow! What a fantastic listen!

St. James successfully blends a mystery together with the supernatural. Now, I'm not a big supernatural reader, but this pairing is just so very, very right for this story. The supernatural aspects were simple, but frightening. The mystery is in the death of four women in Fell, New York. It was unique to have the case being investigated by two amateurs thirty five years apart. The reader is privy to both narrative and knows more than either Viv or Carly. The search for answers is so really well written from an investigative point of view. The two leads are well drawn and I was happy to drawn into their obsessive search for answers. But I don't know if I would go back to that motel night after night...

I've said it before and I'll say it again. I become so much more immersed in a story when I listen. And this book was fantastic in audio format. The Sun Down Motel is told back and forth in a past and present narrative. Two readers - Brittany Pressley and Kirsten Potter  - were used to tell this story and that was a good decision. They're both award winning readers that I've enjoyed in the past. With two voices, it was easy to discern what time frame we were in and who was speaking. Within their time frame, both narrators employ unique voices for supporting characters. Each captures the danger, the fright, the fear and much more. I often listen when I can't get to sleep. And I have to say that the descriptions of the Sun Down Motel gave me goosebumps - more than once. Doors opening and closing on their own had me listening to every squeak of my old house. Five stars plus! Hear for yourself - listen to an audio excerpt.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Over the Counter #480

What book caught my eye this week?

Stuff You Should Know: An Incomplete Compendium of Mostly Interesting Things Hardcover by Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant.

"From the duo behind the massively successful and award-winning podcast Stuff You Should Know comes an unexpected look at things you thought you knew.

Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant started the podcast Stuff You Should Know back in 2008 because they were curious—curious about the world around them, curious about what they might have missed in their formal educations, and curious to dig deeper on stuff they thought they understood.

As it turns out, they aren't the only curious ones. They've since amassed a rabid fan base, making Stuff You Should Know one of the most popular podcasts in the world. Armed with their inquisitive natures and a passion for sharing, they uncover the weird, fascinating, delightful, or unexpected elements of a wide variety of topics.

The pair have now taken their near-boundless "whys" and "hows" from your earbuds to the pages of a book for the first time—featuring a completely new array of subjects that they’ve long wondered about and wanted to explore. Each chapter is further embellished with snappy visual material to allow for rabbit-hole tangents and digressions—including charts, illustrations, sidebars, and footnotes. Follow along as the two dig into the underlying stories of everything from the origin of Murphy beds, to the history of facial hair, to the psychology of being lost.

Have you ever wondered about the world around you, and wished to see the magic in everyday things? Come get curious with Stuff You Should Know. With Josh and Chuck as your guide, there’s something interesting about everything (…except maybe jackhammers)."

(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, December 8, 2020

A Time for Mercy - John Grisham

John Grisham's latest book is A Time For Mercy.

"Clanton, Mississippi. 1990. Jake Brigance finds himself embroiled in a deeply divisive trial when the court appoints him attorney for Drew Gamble, a timid sixteen-year-old boy accused of murdering a local deputy. Many in Clanton want a swift trial and the death penalty, but Brigance digs in and discovers that there is more to the story than meets the eye. Jake’s fierce commitment to saving Drew from the gas chamber puts his career, his financial security, and the safety of his family on the line.
In what may be the most personal and accomplished legal thriller of John Grisham’s storied career, we deepen our acquaintance with the iconic Southern town of Clanton and the vivid cast of characters that so many readers know and cherish. The result is a richly rewarding novel that is both timely and timeless, full of wit, drama, and—most of all—heart.
Bursting with all the courthouse scheming, small-town intrigue, and stunning plot twists that have become the hallmarks of the master of the legal thriller, A Time for Mercy is John Grisham’s most powerful courtroom drama yet. There is a time to kill and a time for justice. Now comes A Time for Mercy."

My Thoughts:

I was thrilled to see that this latest Grisham was a legal thriller. Grisham is a talented writer across the board, but his legal tales are my favorite. And this latest may well be the best of them! The plot is gripping and the execution is simply fantastic. The behind the scenes machination of a trial are fascinating. As is the actual trial. Grisham's own background as a lawyer adds so much to his books. Jake is a great lead and the supporting cast brings back supporting characters from the previous two books. Time and place are brought to life with detailed descriptions. And then there's the loaded question - is murder ever justified?

I chose to listen to A Time for Mercy. The reader was Michael Beck and his narration was perfect for this title. He has created many Southern accents/drawls for the myriad cast of players. Each is just a little bit different and it's easy to know who is speaking. He also does the female/child voices very well. His interpretation of the book is simply wonderful. Beck uses his voice to wonderful effect, capturing the emotions of the characters and the action of the plot. I've said it before and I'll say it again - I become so much more immersed in a story by listening. Five stars plus for this one! I hope we see more of Jake. Hear for yourself - listen to an audio excerpt of A Time For Mercy.

Monday, December 7, 2020

Call of Vultures - Kate Kessler

I read Kate Kessler's first Killian Delaney book earlier this year and quite liked it. The second book is the newly released Call of Vultures. It starts off with a great opening line..."It would be a great place to get rid of a body."

Killian is an ex-con and hard core fighter. After a tumultuous reentry into society in the last book, she's taken a job with a 'security' company. The jobs are dangerous and more than a little left of the right side. If there are vulnerable women to be rescued, Killy's the one to do it. She has her own unwavering sense of justice.

"Violence was something she was good at, and violence was pretty much the only thing the people she was sent after understood. "

This time, the job is to rescue two sisters, reportedly living in a commune. Seems like a straight forward job. Not so much....

Killy infiltrates the group, but finds more than she bargained for - including some faces from the past. And some new faces with their own agenda. The reader is privy to more information that Killian has. We can see the danger, but can't warn her. (I must admit, I took a little peek ahead to see if she figures it out!)

Those familiar faces include the enigmatic Story, another employee of The Initiative. As well as Dash, her boyfriend. I really like these two. Killian's sister and her family are Killy's weakness - their safety is everything to her. Her niece Shannon does grate on me though.

Killian is such a great kick butt female lead. The reader can't help but be on her side as she battles seemingly overwhelming odds. Kessler continues to build this character, with more insight into her psyche.

But what drives this series (aside from Killian) is the danger, the action and the darkness of Killy's world. Truly, Call of Vultures reads like an action movie. Kessler provides quite a few turns in the plot that I didn't see coming (and neither does Killian) that kept me turning pages quickly! Killian's own moral compass never budges. The reader can't help but be on her side as she battles seemingly overwhelming odds. 

 Gentle readers, this one's probably not for you. Read an excerpt of Call of Vultures. And this reader is looking forward to the next entry!

Friday, December 4, 2020

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #341

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

US cover
UK cover
I think the last book I read in
Jonathan Kellerman's Alex Delaware and Milo Sturgis series was around number 25. For those of you who are keeping up, the 36th entry, Serpentine, releases in early February next year. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Both covers take into consideration that the murder being investigated occured on Mulholland Drive. And that's reflected in the images. The shot on the US cover is interesting with the amount of light. I'm sure this is what LA looks like. The light narrows as the road heads up into the hills and does bring the word serpentine to mind. But I don't like the blurry effect. The UK cover uses a closer shot of headlights. The open door of the car seems dangerous. And includes the world famous 'woman in danger on a road in the dark' shot. I admit I'm not a fan of either cover this week. But if I had to choose it would be the noir tones on the UK cover. What about you? What cover do you prefer? Any plans to read Serpentine?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World. 

Thursday, December 3, 2020

The Cousins - Karen M. McManus

Teen fiction makes for great escapist reading. My latest escape is New York Times bestselling author Karen M. McManus' new book, The Cousins.

The Cousins has all the right elements - three teens who are related, but haven't seen each other since they were young. Their parents don't speak to each other either and everyone has been estranged from the family matriarch for twenty five years. Her choice. She made it clear with a "You know what you did' letter to her four children. So, Milly, Aubrey, and Jonah Story are quite surprised to be invited to Gull Cove Island to work for their grandmother's resort. The three are excited and hope to meet her. But things don't go quite as imagined...

The three leads are great - all with different personalities, strengths and weaknesses. Their interactions ring true with believable dialogue. I think Aubrey was my favorite character - she grows as the book progresses. They are each given a voice with their own chapters. Also given a historical voice are the parents - from when they were teens on the island. This gives the reader a chance to have a different perspective, knowing more about the why and the what of that ' You know what you did' letter. 

The setting is well imagined and easy to picture. (I want to be on the beach!) But it is the mystery of what happened all those years ago that drives the book forward. The three are slowly putting things together....and then BAM....McManus throws in a twist, a revelation and promptly turns things in a different direction. I love being caught off guard and kept on my toes. And the last page provides one last gotcha.

The book moves along at a good clip with those twists. There's a romantic subplot that is well done and doesn't overshadow the mystery. There are some truths woven into the book as well - family relationships are complicated and messy sometimes.....

The Cousins was a fun, lazy Sunday read for me. See for yourself - here's an excerpt of The Cousins.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Over the Counter #479

What book caught my eye this week? 

I Want to Thank You: How a Year of Gratitude Can Bring Joy and Meaning in a Disconnected World by Gina Hamadey, releases April 2021.

From Tarcher Perigee:

"An inspiring guide to saying thank you, one heartfelt note at a time.

We all know that gratitude is good for us–but the real magic comes when we express it. Writer Gina Hamadey learned this life-changing lesson firsthand when a case of burnout and too many hours on social media left her feeling depleted and disconnected. In this engaging book, she chronicles how twelve months spent writing 365 thank-you notes to strangers, neighbors, family members, and friends shifted her perspective. Her journey shows that developing a lasting active gratitude practice can make you a happier person, heal complicated relationships, and reconnect you with the people you love–all with just a little bit of bravery at the mailbox."

How can we turn an often-dreaded task into a rewarding act of self-care that makes us feel more present, joyful, and connected? Whether we’re writing to a long-lost friend, a helpful neighbor, or a child’s teacher, this inspiring book helps us reflect on meaningful memories and shared experiences and express ourselves with authenticity, vulnerability, and heart. Informed by Hamadey’s year of discovery as well as interviews with experts on relationships, gratitude, and more, this deceptively simple guide offers a powerful way to jump-start your joy.

Hamadey found herself thanking not only family members and friends, but less expected people in her sphere, including local shopkeepers, physical therapists, long-ago career mentors, favorite authors, and more. Once you get going, you might find yourself cultivating an active gratitude practice, too–one heartfelt note of thanks at a time."

(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, December 1, 2020

Accidentally Wes Anderson - Wally Koval

I've always been an armchair traveller - even more so now with the appearance of Covid. I love 'visiting' out of the way, off the beaten track and unusual locations and attractions etc. The newly released Accidentally Wes Anderson by Wally Koval is a compilation of those.

Now, you may be wondering about the title. Accidentally Wes Anderson began as as a travel bucket list for Koval and his wife. Specifically places that embodied the style of filmmaker Wes Anderson. As they started to document their travels, others started weighing in with their own pictures. Things grew and there are now over one million Adventurers seeking out and sharing locations on Accidentally Wes Anderson (AWA) 

The real Wes Anderson provides a forward. The book is divided into nine chapters that circle the globe. Each entry has a full color photograph, location and year and a detailed entry on the place. This is one of those coffee table kind of books that if you leave out, people will inevitably pick and peruse. Normally I would have done that, but I decided to travel along with the layout starting with North America.

The pictures are what first catch your eye, the stark simplicity, the colors, the almost 'otherworldliness' of them. Set into a single shot, they almost feel not real and do indeed bring Anderson's films to mind. Think 'The Grand Budapest Hotel.' And then there's the story about the location. This for me, was absolutely fascinating.

A favorite? I can't pick one but the striped bungalows in Portugal, launderettes in England, a viewfinder in Iceland, fishing huts in Canada, typewriters in New York were a few of them. There are many, many more and each is just as wonderful 

Fans of Atlas Obscura will love this book. And it would make a great gift. Accidentally Wes Anderson is a unique and captivating look at jewels out in plain sight - if you only knew where - and how - to look.