Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Long Shadow - Liza Marklund

The Long Shadow is the eighth North American release in Liza Marklund's Annika Bengtzon series.

The Long Shadow picks right up from the last book, Lifetime. Annika's personal life is in shambles - her husband has left her for another woman, he has custody of their children and her home has burned down. She's just learned that she'll now be reporting to a man who used to be her subordinate at the Swedish newspaper she works at.

She's sent to Spain to report on the death of a former Swedish national. It looks like they were originally just targets of the latest European crime wave - pumping gas into the victim's home until they pass out, then robbing them. (This is frighteningly true!) But something went wrong this time - he and his family have been killed. Or was it deliberate?

Annika is a tireless reporter. Or perhaps obsessive is a more apt description. She's headstrong, impulsive and plunges headlong into her stories, often to her own detriment. But, she trusts her own instincts and follows them regardless. It often pays off - she saved the life a young boy in the last book. And this time is no exception. Annika knows this current story is much deeper than her editor thinks. When he wants her to move on to other pieces, she lets him believe she has - then pursues her own leads.

Marklund's plots are quite detailed and intricate. I do enjoy her style as it really keeps the reader engaged and on their toes. Having followed the series, I was easily able to keep up with the players and past references. But new readers might find the number of characters, established relationships and connections a mite confusing. Much of this book's plot is tied to previous cases. An interesting twist is slowly revealed through flashbacks to someone's childhood.

Woven throughout is the secondary storyline of Annika's personal life. I think Marklund has handled and written this very well throughout the series. . Although I've heard some other readers remark that this secondary storyline muddies the waters of the main plot, I disagree. I quite like seeing the two sides of Annika's life - personal and professional. For me, it makes the character more realistic and believable when we see vulnerability in such strong personality.

The setting was brought to life with detailed descriptions of ex-pats and luxury. And corruption and crime.

This is an excellent series with a character I quite like, even though she's not always likable. Definitely recommended. I'll be watching for the next in the series. Read an except of The Long Shadow. And on a side note, I was thrilled to discover that the Annika books have been made into films. And my library carries them! You can find Liza Marklund on Facebook .

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Giveaway - The Other Story - Tatiana de Rosnay Tatiana de Rosany's book, Sarah's Key, occupied the New York Times bestseller list for over two years Her newest book, The Other Story, releases today, and thanks to the great folks at St. Martin's Press, I have two copies to giveaway to two lucky readers!

What's it about? From the publisher:

"Vacationing at a luxurious Tuscan island resort, Nicolas Duhamel is hopeful that the ghosts of his past have finally been put to rest… Now a bestselling author, when he was twenty-four years old, he stumbled upon a troubling secret about his family – a secret that was carefully concealed. In shock, Nicholas embarked on a journey to uncover the truth that took him from the Basque coast to St. Petersburg – but the answers wouldn’t come easily.

In the process of digging into his past, something else happened. Nicolas began writing a novel that was met with phenomenal success, skyrocketing him to literary fame whether he was ready for it or not – and convincing him that he had put his family’s history firmly behind him. But now, years later, Nicolas must reexamine everything he thought he knew, as he learns that, however deeply buried, the secrets of the past always find a way out."

Page-turning, layered and beautifully written, Tatiana de Rosnay's THE OTHER STORY is a reflection on identity, the process of being a writer and the repercussions of generations-old decisions as they echo into the present and shape the future." Read the first two chapters of The Other Story.

You can find Tatiana de Rosnay on Facebook, on Twitter and on Instagram.

Sound like a book you'd like to read? Simply leave a comment to be entered. Open to US only, no PO boxes please. Ends May 3/14.                   

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Little Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules - Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg

As I've mentioned before, I have a fondness for heist tales, be it book or movie. Well, Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg has come out with a fun caper story, with a twist - The Little Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules.

Seventy nine old Martha and her four friends reside at the Diamond Retirement Home in Sweden. The administrators  running the home have slowly but surely eroded the seniors' enjoyment of life, through tasteless meals, strict rules, rising costs and worse. They're bored. Surely even prisoners are treated better than they are!

Hang on....what if? You can see it coming, can't you.....

Martha and her newly formed League of Pensioners gang come up with a plan. They'll commit robberies and have themselves sent to prison. Surely they'll be treated better there! And a little bit of extra cash wouldn't go amiss either.

And half the fun is in the planning. Who is going to suspect five old folks with walkers? Well, it turns out they have a knack for crime, although their plans don't always execute quite the way they intended..

What I really enjoyed were the seniors themselves, their thoughts, interactions and desire to live an interesting, full, rich life despite their advancing age. I think older people are discounted far too often. Ingleman-Sundberg's take on her seniors' lives has a large dose of truth woven throughout. Her imaginings of what they might do to change their circumstances were really quite entertaining. For me, not quite the laugh out loud funny mentioned on the cover blurbs, but definitely charming. You'll be cheering for the 'gang'.

Being a crime fiction fanatic, I had to stop myself from picking apart plot points that were a bit far-fetched in places and just go with the story. Although, I can see this being made into a movie - and it would be fun to cast. There seem to be a lot of 'feisty old folks' films being produced lately.

The Little Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules is a bestseller in Sweden (1.2 million copies sold!). I found the translation to English a bit wooden in spots and some references may have been 'lost in translation. If you enjoyed The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out Window and Disappeared, you might enjoy this book. Read an excerpt of The Little Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Earthly Pleasures with DK Canada

Well, we finally had a few days warm enough to start melting all the snow. There's still a few piles left in my yard, but I was out peeking at my flowerbeds today....and there's life under there!
To celebrate Earth Day (April 22nd),  DK Canada has a great selection of titles in their
Earthly Pleasures Boutique at 30% off until April 23/14.
"Celebrate the wonderful planet that we call home. "Make the world a better and more sustainable place for every living creature with organic primers or exercise your love of the outdoors with our gardening books filled with terrific tips and ideas for those with a green thumb. There's also a selection of children's books that showcase the natural world and ways to make a difference."
I've always been a vegetable gardener with a few flowerbeds. I'm looking to change that and expand the flowers. But no matter what you're looking to plant, I have the book for you - the Canadian Encyclopedia of Gardening - revised and updated March 2013. Editors: Christopher Brickell and Trevor Cole.

This book is amazing!! Literally anything and everything you wanted to know about gardening in Canada is covered. There are 760 pages chock full on any and all information you could ever want or need on gardening
The first part covers creating your garden. Do you need help designing? What will grow in your zone? (There's a hardiness zone map on the flyleaf)Choose your plants - and refer to the detailed description for almost every growing thing you can imagine -from fruits, vegetables, herbs, all types of outdoor plants, shrubs, trees, lawns, houseplants, water gardening and more.

And once you've got it all in the ground, you can refer to Part Two - Maintaining the Garden. Everything from tools and equipment, climate, soil, building plans and more. I found the visual guide to plant problems really good. Not sure what you're looking for? There's a wonderfully detailed index at the back.

DK produces the best reference books. They're always well laid out, easy to read and populated with wonderful photographs detailing the information. ( In this case there are over 4000 colour photos!)

The Canadian Encyclopedia of Gardening is the last reference book I think I'll ever need for gardening. And until I get out there and get my hands dirty, I'm having lots of fun daydreaming and planting on paper! That chapter on water features is getting another look.....

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Winner - Happy Blogiversary Giveaway

And the winner of the 6th Blogiversary giveaway is:

Karen B!


I've emailed you for your mailing address. And I'll be sendin' some books your way.....

Friday, April 11, 2014

Film on Friday #12 - Forgetting the Girl

I'm a fan of Film Movement and their award winning films.  Film Movement has launched a new brand, Ram Releasing, that will be showcasing films of a different genre - thrillers, suspense, even horror films. And that's right up my alley - I love scary films. One of their first releases is Forgetting the Girl from director Nate Taylor.

The film opens with Kevin Wolfe filming a 'if you see this...' talk. Kevin is a photographer specializing in head shots. He asks out every woman whose portrait he takes. And most say no. The few that do say yes rarely say yes a second time. And it those women that Kevin wants to forget. To forget he engages in activities such as a shopping spree or joining the gym. The one person he can't remember and doesn't want to forget is his sister, who drowned when they were both children.

Spoilers below.

I thought Christopher Denham did a good job in the role of Kevin. He presents as an affable young man with a ready smile for those whose attention he wants. But there's something off about him. His sense of desperation and obsessiveness isn't far beneath the surface. And something else is behind that glib exterior as well. Lindsay Beamish is Jamie, his suicidal make-up artist, who is infatuated with Kevin. She too turned in a good performance. There are a few other characters as well. Kevin's grandmother Ruby is there to act a historical record of Kevin's past. Jamie's sponsor seemed awkward and seemed to only be there to underscore Jamie's fragile state. (The camping trip was ridiculous) And the creepy, porn watching landlord? A very obvious red herring. Although I must say, his brief role was frightening - especially in the elevator with one of Kevin's clients.

The exploration of Kevin's 'forgetting' would have been suitably creepy if it only applied to his adult life. And this would have sent the film in the direction that the trailer seemed to promise. I found the trailer misleading - the darkest bits of the film are showcased and seem to promise a different film than was delivered. Kevin's attempts to remember his sister just grew tiresome after a few times.

But things speed up as both Kevin and Jamie start to lose control and things hurtle towards an inevitable, but sadly surprising ending. Forgetting the Girl was just okay for this viewer. However, the two trailers included for coming releases, App and Hide and Seek do have me intrigued.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Over the Counter #207

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Cityscapes and city folk.

First up was Beautiful Lego by Mike Doyle. The cover shot was amazing and the inside even more so!

From the publisher, No Starch Press:

"Mix hundreds of thousands of LEGO bricks with dozens of artists, and what do you get? Beautiful LEGO, a compendium of LEGO artwork that showcases a stunning array of pieces ranging from incredibly lifelike replicas of everyday objects and famous monuments to imaginative renderings of spaceships, mansions, and mythical creatures.

You’ll also meet the minds behind the art. Interviews with the artists take you inside the creative process that turns simple, plastic bricks into remarkable LEGO masterpieces."

Next up was Humans of New York by Brandon Stanton. 'Cause, really, who doesn't love to people watch?

From the publisher, St Martin's Press:

"Based on the blog with more than four million loyal fans, a beautiful, heartfelt, funny, and inspiring collection of photographs and stories capturing the spirit of a city.

Now an instant #1 New York Times bestseller, Humans of New York began in the summer of 2010, when photographer Brandon Stanton set out to create a photographic census of New York City.  Armed with his camera, he began crisscrossing the city, covering thousands of miles on foot, all in an attempt to capture New Yorkers and their stories.  The result of these efforts was a vibrant blog he called "Humans of New York," in which his photos were featured alongside quotes and anecdotes. 

The blog has steadily grown, now boasting millions of devoted followers.  Humans of New York is the book inspired by the blog.  With four hundred color photos, including exclusive portraits and all-new stories, Humans of New York is a stunning collection of images that showcases the outsized personalities of New York.

Surprising and moving, printed in a beautiful full-color, hardbound edition, Humans of New York is a celebration of individuality and a tribute to the spirit of the city."

(Over the Counter is a regular weekly 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 catch your eye as well. See if your local library has them on their shelves!)

I have to admit, I couldn't just browse both of this week's selections - I had to sign them both out!