Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Chalk Man - C.J. Tudor - Review AND Giveaway!

Oh, where to start! Well, here's the thing - I started reading C.J. Tudor's debut novel The Chalk Man in my jammies on a snowy day. And while starting was not an issue, stopping was. I couldn't put the book down!!! Addictive, page turning and so very, very good....... (And I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader!)

1986. Twelve year old Ed and his four friends have a great, way of communicating with each other. They chalk little stick figures at the end of their driveways and throughout their small village. It's a 'secret' way to communicate with each other. But when a set of chalk directions leads to a body, it's clear that someone else knows their secret.

2016. Ed still lives in the same house he grew up in, teaches at the school he attended and drinks a little too much. When a chalk man drawing arrives in his mailbox, he knows that the past is not finished with him......

Tudor's use of the past and present narrative in alternating chapters is soooo effective. She ends each chapter with a cliffhanger or a lovely bit of foreshadowing. You know that don't go into the basement scene in movies? Yeah, like that. This and her plotting is what kept me tucked into my reading chair for the day. There's a mystery at the heart of the book - who is the killer? But, there's so much to the plot than just that question. Tudor provides lot of alternatives for the whodunit. There's a dark undertone running through the town. Everyone seems to have secrets.

"I knew it was wrong but, like I said, everyone has secrets, things they know they shouldn't do but do anyway. Mine was taking stuff - collecting things. The crappy thing was, it was only when I tried to take something back that I really screwed up."

Oh, does Tudor ever have that 'twisty, turny' plot thing nailed down! The narrative took lots of unexpected, unpredictable directions. "Never assume. Question everything. Always look beyond the obvious."

The Chalk Man was so 'readable'! I loved it! If you're a fan of Stranger Things, Stand By Me and suspense reads, you'll love The Chalk Man. This book is so darn good, it's hard to believe it's a debut - I can't wait to see what Tudor writes next!  Read an excerpt of The Chalk Man. And, yes this is going to be one of my top reads for 2018!

"C. J. TUDOR lives in Nottingham, England, with her partner and three-year-old daughter. Over the years she has worked as a copywriter, television presenter, voice-over artist, and dog walker. She is now thrilled to be able to write full-time, and doesn’t miss chasing wet dogs through muddy fields all that much. The Chalk Man is her first novel." You can follow her on Twitter and like her on Facebook. See what others on the TLC book tour thought - full schedule can be found here.

If you'd like to read The Chalk Man, enter to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US only, no PO boxes please. Ends February 3/18.

Monday, January 22, 2018

The Wife - Alafair Burke

Oh, Alafair Burke, you have outdone yourself with your new novel, The Wife! Brilliant, addictive, full of twists - and that last line ending? Perfect!

I was hooked from the opening line: "In an instant, I became the woman they assumed I'd been all along: the wife who lied to protect her husband."

The husband, Jason, is a celebrated public figure. When one of his interns makes an accusation against him, the foundations of his public and private lives begin to crumble. His wife, Angela, has secrets in her past that she wants to keep out of the public light. And she doesn't want her son exposed to any of it. What will Angela do to keep that secret? To protect her husband? Her son? Is Jason guilty? Or is he the victim of a campaign to discredit him and his work? Ahh, a delicious premise and one I couldn't wait to dig into!

The Wife falls into the genre of 'domestic thriller'. This has fast become a favourite for me. I love not knowing who is telling the truth, the possibilities of whodunit, the turns and twists that jump out of a chapter to surprise me, and unexpected endings.

"To know something, he argued, was not the same as to be certain beyond all doubt. And to believe something was definitely not the sane as to know it."

Burke's characters are so well drawn, coming alive in my imagination. Angela is portrayed as a sympathetic character - but does she deserve it? I was happy to see Olivia Randall in this novel. She's a high powered defense attorney last seen in Burke's previous book, The Ex. (And I hope we see her again.) The dialogue flows easily, the plotting is addictive and the prose are so very 'readable.'

The Wife benefits greatly from Burke's legal background. (Burke teaches criminal law) The case, the police investigation and the legal machinations are so well portrayed and unfold in a believable manner. Suspense, mystery, police procedural and some social commentary - The Wife has it all. This is one you're going to want to pick up. I loved it!

You can connect with Alafair Burke on her website, like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Friday, January 19, 2018

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #194

- 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 enjoyed Brad Parks' last thriller (Say Nothing). It was fast paced and entertaining read. Parks's newest book, Closer Than You Know releases in March and looks to be in the same vein. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. |The US cover mirrors the previous book in the use of one bold colour, a strong, shadowed title font. We're looking at the outside of a home.The UK cover adds a tag line - "Disaster is always..." to change how the title could be read. The view is from the inside of the home in this cover. The addition of a child image (while integral to the plot) seems lurid to me. So, US cover for me this week. What about you? Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read Closer Than You Know?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Wife Between Us - Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Here's another one to add to your list psychological suspense lovers - The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen.

From the prologue: "She is oblivious to what I have done to her. She is unaware of the damage I have wrought; the ruin I have set in motion." Yes, that had me hooked....

In part one we meet a wife - a discarded wife, traded in for a newer, younger model. She drinks too much, so her judgment, thoughts and actions are often clouded and ill thought out. But the one thing she can't stop thinking about is the other woman. The other woman has her own baggage - a past that we know has secrets, but they aren't spelled out. Two women and a man. Is he everything a woman could want? Or is he too harboring secrets?

I'm being deliberately oblique, as I don't want to spoil the book for you. The publisher probably says it best: "When you read this book, you will make many assumptions. You will assume you are reading about a jealous ex-wife. You will assume she is obsessed with her replacement – a beautiful, younger woman who is about to marry the man they both love. You will assume you know the anatomy of this tangled love triangle. Assume nothing." This description is one of the main reasons I picked the book up.

And they're right - I was blindsided by the end of part one. I went back to earlier chapters and reread a few. And applauded  the authors for their cleverness - I did not see it coming. And I couldn't wait to see what would happen next. I had a few suspicions as I had read a book with a similar plot in the last few months. I was somewhat right, but Hendricks and Pekkanen put their own spin on things. I had to suspend disbelief a bit near the end and the last gotcha was a bit of a reach and didn't quite work for for me.

That aside, The Wife Between Us was an addictive page turner, guaranteed to entertain. And you'll be seeing The Wife Between Us on the big screen - film rights are sold to the folks who brought you The Girl on the Train. Read an excerpt of The Wife Between Us.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Giveaway - DIY Rules for a WTF World - Krista Suh

DIY Rules for a WTF World: How to Speak Up, Get Creative, and Change the World by Krista Suh has just released and I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader!

From Grand Central Publishing:

"From the creator of the Pussyhat Project comes a manifesto for every woman to create her own distinct and original path to joy, success, and impact.

On January 21, 2017, millions of protestors took part in the Women's March, and many of them created a "sea of pink" when they wore knitted pink "pussyhats" in record numbers. The pussyhat swiftly found its place on the cover of TIME and the New Yorker, and it ultimately came to symbolize resistance culture. Creator of the Pussyhat Project, Krista Suh, took an idea and built a worldwide movement and symbol in just two months. But like so many women, Krista spent years letting her fears stop her from learning to live by her own rules.

Now in DIY Rules for a WTF World, Krista Suh shares the tools, tips, experiences, "rules," and knitting patterns she uses to get creative, get bold, and change the world. From learning how to use your own intuition to decide which rules are right for you to finding your inner-courage to speak up fearlessly; from finding what your passions are (this might surprise you!) to dealing with the squelchers out there, DIY Rules for a WTF World not only inspires you to demolish the patriarchy, but also enables you to create your own rules for living, and even a movement of your own, all with gusto, purpose, and joy." Read an excerpt of DIY Rules for a WTF World.

"Krista Suh is a feminist, artist, Hollywood screenwriter, and creator of The Pussyhat Project. She's based in Los Angeles. She wants to make the world a safer place for women and to help everyone validate their own creativity, femininity, and intuition." You can connect with Krista Suh on her website, like her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter and on Instagram as well.

If you'd like to read DIY Rules for a WTF World, enter to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends January 27/18.

Over the Counter #401

What books caught my eye this week it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Good vibrations......

The New Bohemians Handbook: Come Home to Good Vibes by Justina Blakeney.

From Harry N. Abrams:

"The New Bohemian Handbook guides readers in beautifully simple techniques for adding good vibes and style to living spaces. Packed with hundreds of ideas for bringing positive energy to your home, the book features exercises and activities for thinking about rooms in new ways.

With Justina’s expert guidance, learn how to rearrange, paint, prop, and plant your way to a home that’s fresh and inspiring. Uncover your “spirit environment” and learn how to use color and scent to enhance mood, productivity, and relaxation. Revel in Justina’s encouraging advice (“you got this!”), and easily and affordably turn any dwelling into a personal sanctuary."

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

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Nomadland - Jessica Bruder

I don't read a lot of non-fiction, but Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century by Jessica Bruder was a five star read for me.

Bruder spent three years following, interviewing and documenting a group of nomads. But the nomads aren't probably what you would initially think. This group of low-cost labourers is primarily made of an older population. They live and travel from job to job in their RV's, campers, vans or cars. The nomads are those who have lost their bricks and mortar homes, those who can't live on their social security checks, those who have no choice but to keep on working past any retirement date, and yes, those that choose this lifestyle. Working at physical, seasonal jobs at fulfillment warehouses, harvesting crops and staffing campgrounds. They're often referred to as 'workampers'.

Bruder introduces us to many of the people that make up this community. And I do mean community. There are regular meet-ups, connections and on-line communications. We are privy to the details, struggles, concerns, joys, friendships, resilience and day to day lives of a few workampers over the course of three years. A woman named Linda May is the 'lead' if you will - the book follows her closely.  Bruder herself goes on the road and manages to get hired on at many of the same jobs. The difference being that Bruder still has a bricks and mortar home to go to.

For some of the nomads, it's a lifestyle choice, but for most, its necessity. There are workers in their eighties. The workampers are made up of those from wide and varying backgrounds. Don't make assumptions until you read this book.

Nomadland is an absolutely eye-opening, fascinating read. But at the same time, its difficult and unsettling. I was quite stunned by how large this workforce is, the demand for these older workers, how they are used and the subculture. This is a group living unseen, right underneath society's nose if you will.

 Nomadland is well written and well researched. Five stars. Read an excerpt of Nomadland.

If you enjoyed Nickeled and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich or Evicted by Matthew Desmond, you'll want to pick up Nomadland. (Workampers are not just found in the US. I found sites in Canada advertising for Workampers as well.)

Monday, January 15, 2018

I Know My Name- C.J. Cooke - Review AND Giveaway!

I Know My Name is the debut novel of C.J. Cooke. And I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader!

The book opens in 2015. A woman is washed up on an isolated Greek island. She has no idea who she is or what she was doing when her boat wrecked on the island's rocky shore. And in England a man is frantic - his wife has gone missing, leaving her two small children behind.

The reader is privy to more than either lead character. We know what is happening in the England investigation. And what is happening on Kommeno Island. The island is not completely deserted, as we discover that there are four other people on the island. Their behavior is odd and they seem determined to keep our unnamed woman with them. "The only way to get off this island is to remember."

I always enjoy a back and forth narrative - it's guaranteed to keep me reading later than I had planned. Cooke inserts a third narrative about a quarter of the way into the book. It is set in 1983 - and explains much. With that information, I had a strong inkling as to how the two 2015 narratives would connect. I was partially right, but Cooke throws in a twist at the end.

I found myself drawn more to the London search than the time on the island. Perhaps because there were numerous characters and more happening. I found the island scenes and dialogue very off kilter with it's decidedly strange inhabitants. Things did make more sense in the run up to the final answer. That ending goes on a bit longer than I would have preferred. Now, being deliberately oblique - Cooke uses those last chapters to 'educate' the reader. While I appreciate this, it was more than I wanted as the pieces had already been put together. Warning to gentle readers - there are some disturbing elements to this tale.

I Know My Name is a good debut - here's an excerpt. If you too would like to read I Know My Name, enter to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends January 27/17.