Friday, March 27, 2015

Q and A and Giveaway with Tina Seskis!

Tina Seskis's debut novel One Step Too Far was released in January of this year in North America (Did you see my review) Tina was kind enough to stop by today to answer a few questions about her book, her writing - and herself!

 Hi Tina!  One Step Too Far is the story of a young woman who walks out on her life, which leads some readers to be critical of her choices. What do you think of your heroine, Emily?

Well, I've always known her secret, so I guess I understood her actions, even some of the more extreme ones. It means that I've always had a degree of empathy with her, and I just really willed her on in the story to get some kind of resolution. I did find that she became almost like a real person to me, and I liked her, despite her flaws (hey, who's perfect?) although I know some readers found her to be quite self-indulgent. All I would say is take a walk in her shoes before you judge...

In One Step Too Far you bring London to life in a very gritty way at times. How well do you think the book helps London tourism?

Ha, well, I think if you want to go to Finsbury Park or the Nag's Head you won't find them in any tourist books, so I've given you a flavour. I think I may have brought to life the real London, of beautiful parks and squares cheek by jowl with less aesthetic places, of smoky dives and fancy hotels. I hope I've shown that London is also a very green city (in the original sense of the word), and the magnificent Hampstead Heath in particular is one of my favourite places anywhere. So come visit!!

Like many writers, you struggled at first to get One Step Too Far published. What made you so determined to carry on?

First, that I had had enough feedback, from my family (which every writer knows doesn't count!), friends, acquaintances, literary agents, and most importantly readers to know that there was something about the book: people found that they couldn't put it down, plus it seemed to elicit some very extreme responses (love and hate spring to mind, fortunately with love in the vast majority) that made me think it was the type of book that people wanted to talk about and share. And secondly, I had run out of money and it was either get published or get another job in freelance marketing, which I didn't want to do.

What is your favourite place to write? Do you have a specific daily routine?

I write on an iPad with a wireless keyboard, so I tend to write anywhere. I follow the sun around the house (kitchen table, living room sofa, bedroom sofa, a deckchair in the summer etc), I rarely go to cafes or libraries, but nearly always edit if I'm on public transport. I get some very odd looks sometimes. And my routine is non-existent unless I'm in the writing bit, where I do 2,000 words a day, even if it's finished in the dead of night.

What's next for you?

Well, my next book (When We Were Friends) is about to come out in the UK, I am editing my third novel, writing short stories, doing quite a bit of PR activity, looking after my dog with a broken paw, and I am going to Australia to see family at Easter. So I'm pretty busy...

 Thanks so much for stopping by Tina! You can connect with Tina on Twitter as well as on Facebook.

If you haven't had a chance to read One Step Too Far - well, here's your chance! I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader, courtesy of Harper Collins. Enter using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US only, no PO boxes please. Ends April 18/15.  Get a sneak peek - here's an excerpt of One Step Too Far.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Over the Counter #257

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Well,Spring cleaning has been in the back of my mind lately....

First up is Lose the Clutter, Lose the Weight: The 6-Week Total-Life Slim Down by Peter Walsh.

From the publisher, Rodale Books:

"A houseful of clutter may not be the only reason people pack on extra pounds, but research proves that it plays a big role. A recent study showed that people with supercluttered homes were 77 percent more likely to be overweight or obese! Why? Author Peter Walsh thinks it’s because people can’t make their best choices—their healthiest choices—in a cluttered, messy, disorganized home.

In Lose the Clutter, Lose the Weight, organizing guru Walsh comes to the rescue with a simple 6-week plan to help readers: Clear their homes of excess “stuff” as they discover their vision for their personal space Clear their bodies of excess pounds as they follow a healthy, supersimple eating and exercise plan Clear their minds and spirits of the excess weight of too many possessions.

All the pieces are connected—and Walsh weaves them together for a 6-week program that leads readers step-by-step through decluttering their homes, their bodies, and their lives. Rodale took the program for a testdrive with two dozen volunteers who followed his plan. All reported great results—from significant weight loss to calmer minds and more organized, happier, and more efficient lives. With a room-by room organizing guide, plus supersimple recipes and an easy exercise plan, Lose the Clutter, Lose the Weight is the only book to help readers clear the clutter while they zap the pounds all at the same time."

Next up is Buried in Treasures: Help for Compulsive Acquiring, Saving, and Hoarding by David Tolin, Randy O. Frost, and Gail Steketee.

From the publisher, Oxford Press:

"While most people find it relatively easy to manage their possessions, some find it extremely difficult. If you have a problem resisting the urge to acquire and you find your home cluttered and filled to capacity with items many people would find useless and unnecessary, you may suffer from a condition known as hoarding disorder.

Hoarding is a behavioral problem consisting of clutter, difficulty discarding items, and excessive buying or acquiring. Hoarding is often associated with significant reduction in quality of life, and in extreme cases, it can pose serious health risks. If you or a loved one has hoarding disorder, this book can help.

Discover the reasons for your problems with acquiring, saving, and hoarding, and learn new ways of thinking about your possessions so you can decide what you really need and what you can do without. Learn to identify the "bad guys" that cause and maintain your hoarding behavior and meet the "good guys" who can help motivate you and put you on the path to change. Useful self-assessments will help you determine the severity of your problem. Training exercises, case examples, organizing tips, and motivation boosters help change the way you think and behave toward your possessions. This book provides easy-to-understand strategies and techniques that anyone can use."

(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, March 25, 2015

Food and Drink with DK Canada!

So, here's the thing. I can cook. And sometimes I really enjoy it. And other times? Well, now and then, there are other things I'd rather be doing. But you have to eat right? And I still want to eat well - I'm not a fast food fan.

So, The No Time to Cook! Book: 100 Modern Simple Recipes in 20 Minutes or Less by Elena Rosemond-Hoerr definitely caught my eye. It's one of the suggested books in DK Canada's Food and Drink Boutique.20 minutes or less?! Oh yeah!

I loved the title of the first chapter - The Quick Kitchen - which had a great list of grocery items to have on hand in the pantry for those quick meals. I was happily surprised to find that I did have most of them already. Speedy you say? Quick ways to chop/slice and other tips included too.

The actual recipes are broken down into Breakfast, Lunch, Dinners, Food with Friends and Short and Sweet (Desserts). Breakfast isn't usually a problem for me but the wheel of smoothies looks like a fun way to vary a morning shake. And I am going to try the overnight oats in a jar and making my own granola.

I am getting tired of the same old, same old for lunch. Rosemond-Hoerr has some new ideas for stuffing pita pockets and another jar idea I've been meaning to try - Salads in a jar.(And a wheel of salad dressing to make your own as well)

But it is dinner where I just think -oh, what am I going to make tonight? Rosemond-Hoerr has come up with some fresh ideas for those quick standbys - pastas, stir fries and one pot meals. There are some more great 'speedy' charts here as well - salsa and stir fry.

The Food for Friends chapter has such great finger food ideas that I think I will actually use for our dinner a few nights. Bruschetta bar anyone? How about pot sticker dumplings? Yum!

The desserts look just as appealing, but many rely on butter, cream and chocolate. Those looking to count calories will have to do the figuring themselves - nutritional information is not included. 

There are colour photographs of the finished dish for each recipe. The instructions for each recipe are easily read and numbered for simplicity. The ingredients list is drawn out for each as well.

Curious? Here's an excerpt of The No Time to Cook! Book - a simple easy cookbook that I will be using for those rushed days. 

The Other Joseph - Skip Horack

Every so often I need to take a step back from my usual genres and pick up something completely different. Skip Horack's new book, The Other Joseph, offered up a great opportunity to do just that.

Roy Joseph has lost most of his life - his beloved older brother Tommy died in the Gulf War, his parents are both dead and he lives within the narrow confines of a life constricted by a felony conviction. He's chosen to live in a remote area with only a dog for company and he works an isolated job on the oil rigs. Roy has exiled himself from life.

When a young woman contacts him and say that his brother Tommy was her father, he sees a chance - a chance to reconnect with life again, to redeem himself, to perhaps be happy.

Roy's journey physically takes him from Louisiana to San Francisco. He visits locales from their childhood and calls on those who knew his brother along the way. Broken and wounded characters litter the road between Louisiana and San Francisco.

Horack's prose are rich and powerful. They are stark and spare, underlining Roy's solitude. I was overwhelmed by Roy's life - his broken, isolated existence. It was just so very, very sad. I wasn't able to read the book straight through - I simply had to read in small doses. I wanted so badly for the the trip to be Roy's redemption. And of course you're asking - was it? It's hard to say - the ending is not what I wanted at all - Horack did surprise me. I'll have to go with an ambiguous yes and no answer.

The Other Joseph was a moving, eloquent read - one that will leave echoes with you after the last page is turned.  Read an excerpt of The Other Joseph.

You can connect with Skip Horack on Twitter as well as on his website.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Giveaway - One Plus One - Jojo Moyes

Have you had a chance to read One Plus One by Jojo Moyes yet? I absolutely adored it! (my review - and it was a five star book for me!)

The paperback releases next week and I have a copy to giveaway, courtesy of Penguin Books.

From the publisher:

"One single mom. One chaotic family. One quirky stranger. One irresistible love story from the New York Times bestselling author of Me Before You

American audiences have fallen in love with Jojo Moyes. Ever since she debuted Stateside she has captivated readers and reviewers alike, and hit the New York Times bestseller list with the word-of-mouth sensation Me Before You. Now, with One Plus One, she’s written another contemporary opposites-attract love story.

Suppose your life sucks. A lot. Your husband has done a vanishing act, your teenage stepson is being bullied, and your math whiz daughter has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you can’t afford to pay for. That’s Jess’s life in a nutshell—until an unexpected knight in shining armor offers to rescue them. Only Jess’s knight turns out to be Geeky Ed, the obnoxious tech millionaire whose vacation home she happens to clean. But Ed has big problems of his own, and driving the dysfunctional family to the Math Olympiad feels like his first unselfish act in ages . . . maybe ever.

 credit: Charlotte Murphy
One Plus One is Jojo Moyes at her astounding best. You’ll laugh, you’ll weep, and when you flip the last page, you’ll want to start all over again."

Get a sneak peek - read an excerpt of One Plus One. Or you might want to listen to an excerpt.

There's also a great book club kit with recipes, cocktails and a playlist and interview with Jojo.

"Jojo Moyes is the New York Times bestselling author of Me Before You, One Plus One, The Girl You Left Behind, The Last Letter from Your Lover, Silver Bay, The Ship of Brides and Honeymoon in Paris. She lives with her husband and three children on a farm in Essex, England." You can connect with Jojo Moyes on Twitter as well as on Facebook.

Sound great, doesn't it? It is! Enter to win a paperback copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US only, no PO boxes please. Ends April 11/15.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Fiercombe Manor - Kate Riordan

I love old houses and forgotten corners - there are so many stories to be told and remembered.  Kate Riordan's latest book, Fiercombe Manor has one of those stories....

1933 England. Young (and naive) Alice Eveleigh has gotten herself into 'trouble' with a married man. Her mother calls upon an old friend to take Alice in until the baby is born. That friend, Mrs. Jelphs, is the housekeeper of a old manor in a forgotten corner of the Gloucestershire countryside. Mrs Jelphs and old gardener Ruck are the only two staff (and residents) of the Stanton estate.

All the elements are there for the perfect Gothic mystery - young, curious woman, old retainers, crumbling house with closed off rooms, secrets alluded to, and clues to the past. Riordan seals the deal with a delicious piece of foreshadowing.....

"When I think back to the memory, that first glimpse of Fiercombe Manor and the valley it seemed almost entombed in, I cannot recall any sense of unease......It seems amazing in light of what happened, but I can't say I felt any foreboding about the valley at all." " I could never have imagined all that would happen in those few short months and how, by the end of them, my life would be irrevocably altered forever."

Riordan's novel is told in a past and present narrative. The past is from thirty years early and is Lady Elizabeth Stanton's story. Old letters that Alice uncovers begin to fill in the past for her, but the reader is privy to more through Elizabeth's voice. I found myself reacting more to Elizabeth's timeline, caught up in the past.

"There's an atmosphere, though, as if something of what's gone before is still here, like an echo or a reflection in a dark pool."

Cue delicious tingle.....are there ghosts? Can the past reach out to the present? Is the sad history of Fiercombe Manor going to be repeated?

Riordan's setting is wonderfully drawn - I could easily imagine the uneven stone floors, the crumbling outbuildings, the gardens and the dusty rooms. Time is also well done, with the social graces and mores of both time periods captured. Riordan also explores an issue that has a foot firmly in the present. (Sorry, I'm being deliberately oblique so as not to spoil the book for future readers)

This novel is fairly lengthy at 400+ plus pages, but I enjoyed the slow unfurling of this novel. Riordan keeps the reader in the dark until the final chapters - and only then reveals the end of Elizabeth's story. Alice's story has a fairytale ending, perfect for this tale. (I have a 'thing' for covers. I loved this one - I wanted to go exploring myself!)

Fiercombe Manor is best read in a comfy armchair within a lamp's circle of light with the wind whistling outside at night. Oh, and a pot of tea. Read an excerpt of Fiercombe Manor. Fans of Kate Morton would enjoy this book.

"Kate Riordan is a British writer and journalist who worked for the Guardian and Time Out London. She is also the author of Birdcage Walk and is already at work on her third novel. Born in London, she now lives in the Gloucestershire countryside." You can find Kate Riordan on her website and connect with her on Twitter.

See what others on the TLC tour thought - full schedule here.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Giveaway winners

The winner of copy of Inside A Silver Box by Walter Mosley, courtesy of  Tor Books is:


The winner of a copy ofAs White As Snow by Salla Simukka's, courtesy of  Skyscape Publishing is


And last but not least, the winner of Cynthia Swanson's debut novel, The Bookseller , courtesy of  Harper Collins is:


Congratulations everyone! I've emailed you for your mailing addressess. Please respond within 48 hours. Keep your eye on the sidebar for other great giveaways!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #48

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

US/Canadian cover
UK cover
Michael Christie's new book If I Fall, I Die is another book on my teetering TBR pile that I'm looking forward to. The US/Canadian cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Both covers illustrate the premise of the book...."Will has never been outside, at least not since he can remember." The US cover seems a little more ominous, but I like the UK birdcage image. Hmm.....US this week, but by a slim margin! 
Is If I Fall, I Die a book you've read or plan to read? 
Which cover do you prefer? 
 You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular Saturday feature on 
A Bookworm's World