Saturday, April 25, 2015

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #51

- 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
It's time to start thinking about beach bag books for this summer. Jane Green is always a good bet. Her new book Summer Secrets releases in June. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. This week I'm going with the US cover. I love the colour and picture of the hydrangeas. (and that broken stem is a good hint) The UK cover is cute and beachy, but I don't like the line drawing. Are you planning on reading Summer Secrets? Which cover do you prefer? 
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular Saturday feature at 
A Bookworm's World

Friday, April 24, 2015

Blood on Snow - Jo Nesbo

I've read and enjoyed every adult book Jo Nesbo has written. His Harry Hole novels are a favourite. But I've also enjoyed the stand alones - including his newest book - Blood on Snow.

1976 Oslo, Norway. Olav has worked for crime syndicate boss Daniel Hoffmann for a number of years. But, it took him a bit to find the right job within the organization. He turned out to be no good as a pimp, a getaway driver, a robber or a drug dealer. But....he found his niche as a fixer. Olav doesn't fix things - he to fixes people. Permanently.

All seems to be going well, until Daniel Hoffmann gives Olav his latest assignment - Daniel wants his wife fixed. This time the job doesn't go quite as  it should....

"When  exactly do you reach the point where you know so much about your boss that he starts to get worried? And when you do you know he's beginning to wonder if he ought to fix the fixer?"

Now, after that cold blooded description, what you wouldn't expect is to feel sympathy for Olav - but I did. There's more to Olav than meets the eye. Nesbo has created a wonderful anti-hero - one I was actually rooting for.

All the elements of Nesbo's writing that I enjoy are packed into just over 200 pages. Short sharp dialogue, brutal situations and an intensity throughout it all - but always with an undertone and a conscience lurking beneath the violence. Astute readers will capture and appreciate the nods to Hugo's Les Misérables as Olav's tale unfolds.

Blood on Snow is easily devoured in a night's sitting and is a treat for those fans missing Harry. (me included!)  Read an excerpt of Blood on Snow.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Over the Counter #261

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Well, it was weeding week at the library - no, not flowerbeds, but bookshelves. It's time to cull the stacks for low circulating items. These two items are now on the way to the Friends of the Library book sale.......but I'm sure you could order them online if you needed a copy.

How about The Second-hand Parrot by by Mattie Sue Athan and Dianalee Deter?

"Two expert parrot owners point out the pros and cons of adopting a bird that has had a previous owner. All Complete Pet Owner's Manuals are heavily illustrated with color photos and line art, and are filled with reliable, easy-to-understand information on pet care. The many titles in this series show and tell pet owners how to care for dogs, cats, birds, fish, reptiles, gerbils, hamsters, and virtually every other animal that is kept as a pet. The books give advice on purchasing and otherwise acquiring a pet, maintaining health care, housing, proper feeding, and where applicable, grooming and training. Clear, straightforward text comes with high-quality, full-color photos and anatomically accurate line art, as well as helpful tables and charts."

Or perhaps The Ultimate Guide to Weight Training for Golf Past Forty by Rob Price?

"The Ultimate Guide to Weight Training for Golf Past 40 is the most comprehensive and up-to-date golf-specific training guide for adults over 40 in the world today. It contains descriptions and photographs of over 80 of the most effective weight training, flexibility, and abdominal exercises used by athletes who are looking to stay in shape and sharpen their game. This book features year-round golf-specific weight-training programs designed specifically to meet the needs of golfers over 40 and is guaranteed to improve your performance and get you results. No other golf book to date has been so well designed, so easy to use, and so committed to weight training. This book enables golfers past 40 of all skill levels to add extra yardage to their drives and irons without having to buy the latest technology in golf! By following this program you can develop the flexibility and strength required to eliminate fatigue and increase distance with every club in your bag. With stronger and more flexible muscles, you will not only hit the ball farther but you will have better control over all of your shots throughout the round. Most importantly, you will reduce your chances of injury and be able to play 18 holes without any problems! Both beginners and advanced athletes and weight trainers can follow this book and utilize its programs. From recreational to professional, thousands of athletes all over the world are already benefiting from this book and its techniques, and now you can too!"

(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 my 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!)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Giveaway - The Invention of Wings - Sue Monk Kidd

Sue Monk Kidd's novel, The Invention of Wings, was a New York Times bestseller in hardcover last year. The paperback releases on May 5/15 - and I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader, courtesy of Penguin Books.

From the publisher:

"From the celebrated author of The Secret Life of Bees, a New York Times bestselling novel about two unforgettable American women. Writing at the height of her narrative and imaginative gifts, Sue Monk Kidd presents a masterpiece of hope, daring, the quest for freedom, and the desire to have a voice in the world.

Hetty “Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women.

Kidd’s sweeping novel is set in motion on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten year old Handful, who is to be her handmaid. We follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love.

As the stories build to a riveting climax, Handful will endure loss and sorrow, finding courage and a sense of self in the process. Sarah will experience crushed hopes, betrayal, unrequited love, and ostracism before leaving Charleston to find her place alongside her fearless younger sister, Angelina, as one of the early pioneers in the abolition and women’s rights movements.

Inspired by the historical figure of Sarah Grimke, Kidd goes beyond the record to flesh out the rich interior lives of all of her characters, both real and invented, including Handful’s cunning mother, Charlotte, who courts danger in her search for something better.

This exquisitely written novel is a triumph of storytelling that looks with unswerving eyes at a devastating wound in American history, through women whose struggles for liberation, empowerment, and expression will leave no reader unmoved."

There's a book club kit available, complete with an interview with Sue Monk Kidd, recipes for torte, cocktails and tea as well as some words of Wisdom from The Invention of Wings. Here's a sampling:

“My body might be a slave, but not my mind. For you, it’s the other way round.”

“I was meant to do something in the world, something larger than myself. …How can I explain such a thing? I simply know it the way I know there’s an oak tree inside an acorn. I’ve been filled with a hunger to grow this seed my whole life.”

Read an excerpt of The Invention of Wings. Or listen to an excerpt. And watch for my forthcoming review! Scroll to the bottom to enter to win a copy for yourself!


"The Invention of Wings, Kidd’s third novel was published January 7, 2014 by Viking to wide critical acclaim. It debuted on the New York Times bestseller list at #1 and remained on the hardcover fiction list for over six months. It has been translated into 20 languages, thus far. The novel was chosen for Oprah’s Book Club 2.0. Plans are underway to turn the book into a film. Kidd serves on the Writers Council for Poets and Writers, Inc. She lives in Southwest Florida with her husband, Sandy."
You can connect with Sue Monk Kidd on Twitter as well as on Facebook.

Enter to win a paperback copy of The Invention of Wings. Open to US mailing addresses only, no PO boxes please. Ends May 9/15. Ends May 9/15. Enter using the Rafflecopter form below.


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A Desperate Fortune - Susanna Kearsley

Okay, I admit it - A Desperate Fortune is the first Susanna Kearsley novel I've read. And for all the people who have recommended her books to me over the years - you were absolutely right - she's a wonderful writer!

Kearsley employs my favourite style - a past and present narrative that switches between present day Sara, and Mary in 1732.

Sara has been hired to decode a recently discovered diary dating from 1732. But the owner insists she travel to Paris to work on it. Sara is a gifted puzzle solver and she quickly discovers that the diary belonged to Mary Dundas - a Jacobite exile. As she makes more headway, she recognizes that the book has historical significance beyond Mary's personal thoughts.

I just loved the idea of a coded book finally being revealed after almost three centuries. Of the two story lines, I was more caught up in the past, eager to see where Mary's journey took her.

But that's not to say I didn't enjoy the present. Sara was an interesting protagonist - Kearsley has created a lead character with Aspberger's Syndrome. There have many books with male leads with this syndrome, but this is the first female lead I can think of. I thought Kearsley did a good job with her portrayal.

Both storylines contain a romantic element. Again, I thought Kearsley wrote Sara's story with a realistic, sensitive view of this syndrome. But it was Mary's story that captured me completely. I loved her mettle, her hopes, her determination and her 'affair of the heart'. (And I think I'm a little in love with Mr. M. as well) I loved the stories within a story - Mary is a lover and raconteur of fairy tales. And again, Mary's life mirrors some of her beloved tales.

The author has a strong sense of time and place. Kearsley brings to life a time frame I truly did not know much about, in an interesting and engaging fashion. (The author's notes at the end are fascinating - they detail her historical research for the book.)

Turning the last page left me feeling satisfied - but also sad that the book had ended. This definitely won't be my last Susanna Kearsley book. You can connect with Susanna Kearsley on Twitter, on Facebook and on her website.  Read an excerpt of A Desperate Fortune.

Canadian readers, you can join Susanna Kearsley and Genevieve Graham on the "Timeless Tour" from May 9 - May 13th. More information can be found here.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Down Don't Bother Me - Jason Miller

Now in addition to having an eBook and a physical book always on the go, I also have an audio book queued up as well - sometimes to help me fall asleep.

Well, there was no way I was falling asleep listening to Jason Miller's debut novel Down Don't Bother Me. In fact - I stayed up much later than I had planned!

Miller's protagonist is Slim, an Illinois coal miner with a propensity for finding people. It's not a job for Slim, but he's helped out folks before. But this time, he doesn't have much of a choice. A reporter is found dead in the mine - and the photographer working with him is missing. Luster, the mine owner, wants to run his own search for the photographer - who just happens to be his son-in-law. Well, Slim is a single father, so when Luster dangles a pension as a carrot, Slim takes the job.

Now, I'm sure the written book will Miller many fans. But - the audio version was fantastic! The reader was Johnny Heller - one of my favourites.  He has a low, gravely, worn voice that completely embodied the mental image I had of Slim. Heller's interpretation of Miller's story was perfect rhythm, cadence and tone.

The setting is just as great. Slim makes his home in Little Eygpt - one of the last colliery towns in Illinois. Its down and dirty, populated by a wild variety of characters - methheads, environmental activists, gangs and everyday folks just trying to make a go of it.

I'm going to applaud the supporting cast as well. Slim's daughter Anci is a firecracker - smart and wise to the ugliness of the world even at twelve. I enjoyed the relationship between Slim and his girlfriend Peggy - the give and take, the yes or no. Every protagonist needs a sidekick and Slim has a good one with Jeep - a big, strong guy who is like a brother to Slim.  But, the standout of course, is Slim - he's rough around the edges, but smart, caring and a guy you'd want to have in your corner. He's a lead character you can't help but get behind and cheer for.

What sets off these relationships, and indeed the whole book, is Miller's dialogue and descriptions. Miller's prose are folksy, real, gritty, and so addictive to listen to. I don't think I would have enjoyed the written book as well. The audio just brought the novel to life. The descriptions of the mines and the men who work them were atmospheric (and for this reader claustrophobic!) I could taste the coal dust as the men emerged into the light.

Now, I need to mention the mystery as well - which was wonderfully plotted. I couldn't predict where the story was going to go and happily went along for the ride through the back roads of Little Egypt, eager to join the search for the photographer.

This is the first in a planned series and I will absolutely be listening to the next entry. Highly recommended. Down Don't Bother Me is a great entry in the 'grit lit' genre. Fans of Elmore Leonard's Justified will enjoy this novel. You can connect with Jason Miller on Twitter.

Listen to an excerpt of Down Dont' Bother Me.  Read an excerpt of Down Don't Bother Me.


Sunday, April 19, 2015

Winners!

And the lucky winner of a copy of  One Step Too Far by Tina Seskis's, courtesy of courtesy of Harper Collins is:


Kara S!
And the winner of Natale Ghent's latest book, Dark Company courtesy of  Doubleday Canada is:

Debbie K!

Congratulations! I've contacted you both by email for your mailing addresses. Please respond within 48 hours - after that time a new winner will be chosen. Keep your eye on the sidebar for other great giveaways!