Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Giveaway - Echopraxia - Peter Watts

I've got a great giveaway today for science fiction fans! Echopraxia is the latest from author Peter Watts. Thanks to the generosity of Tor Books, I have a copy up for grabs!

From the publisher:

"Prepare for a different kind of singularity in Peter Watts' Echopraxia, the follow-up to the Hugo-nominated novel Blindsight
It's the eve of the twenty-second century: a world where the dearly departed send postcards back from Heaven and evangelicals make scientific breakthroughs by speaking in tongues; where genetically engineered vampires solve problems intractable to baseline humans and soldiers come with zombie switches that shut off self-awareness during combat. And it’s all under surveillance by an alien presence that refuses to show itself.

Daniel Bruks is a living fossil: a field biologist in a world where biology has turned computational, a cat's-paw used by terrorists to kill thousands. Taking refuge in the Oregon desert, he’s turned his back on a humanity that shatters into strange new subspecies with every heartbeat. But he awakens one night to find himself at the center of a storm that will turn all of history inside-out.

Now he’s trapped on a ship bound for the center of the solar system. To his left is a grief-stricken soldier, obsessed by whispered messages from a dead son. To his right is a pilot who hasn’t yet found the man she's sworn to kill on sight. A vampire and its entourage of zombie bodyguards lurk in the shadows behind. And dead ahead, a handful of rapture-stricken monks takes them all to a meeting with something they will only call “The Angels of the Asteroids.”

Their pilgrimage brings Dan Bruks, the fossil man, face-to-face with the biggest evolutionary breakpoint since the origin of thought itself."

"Peter Watts is a former marine biologist and the Hugo and Nebula nominated author of novels such as Starfish, Maelstrom and Behemoth, and numerous short stories. He has been called "a hard science fiction writer through and through and one of the very best alive" by The Globe and Mail and whose work the New York Times called "seriously paranoid."
If this sounds like a book you'd like to own, simply leave a comment to be entered into a random draw. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends Sept 13/14.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Sweetland - Michael Crummey

I think Michael Crummey's writing is simply brilliant. His latest book, Sweetland, is newly released. Knowing I would become immersed in Crummey's storytelling, I saved it to devour on a week off.

Oh, where to start? I simply don't think I have the words to do this book justice.

Moses Sweetland has lived on Sweetland Island, Newfoundland for his entire sixty nine years - as did his father and many generations before that. There were a few trips off island for work, but this is home. Until the government decides that the community needs to be 'resettled'. (This is very real - both past and present)  The offer is generous and all of the residents accept the package - except Moses Sweetland. But the government's offer stipulates that everyone must agree and sign before the offer goes through. The first half of the book introduces us to Moses and the other residents of the village. Crummey's residents are unique and unforgettable - from the woman who has not set foot outside her house in forty years to the barber who hasn't cut anyone's hair in almost that long and more. Moses's young nephew Jesse was particularly moving. But it was the character of Moses that grabbed me and simply wouldn't let me go.

Moses's crusty exterior and brusque manner disguise his emotions and 'softer side.' His self sufficiency and work ethic reminded me so much of the hardworking older generations in my life. Taciturn men (and women) who 'just got on with it'.

Crummey tells his story with bits and pieces of the past explained and explored in separate chapters. From these, we are privy to the events that have shaped Moses's life. Sweetland is divided into two parts. Crummey caught me totally unawares with the final pages of the first part - I felt like I had taken a punch to the stomach. I had to go back and reread just to make sure I had it right. This was not what I wanted to have happen! I had become totally invested and immersed in Moses's world and tangibly felt his loss and pain.

Does Moses take the offer? As this is in the flyleaf, it's not a spoiler. Yes, he does. But does he leave the island? No. And that's the second half of the book. Moses and the land he loves. Alone.

Crummey has described his setting so vividly. Crummey himself is Newfoundland born and bred and his voice captures the tone and timbre of a land and it's people. I felt like I was walking along with Moses as he heads up to the mash, down to his stage and up to the keep. The land and rocks, the ocean and the weather are all characters in the book as well. Much more so in the second half as Moses battles the elements, his memories and the thought that he might be going mad. As much as I loved the first half of the book, it was the second half that had me in tears.

I stayed up very, very late to finish this book. My house was still, the night was still. I headed outside after turning the last page. I live in a rural area and my neighbours are a ways away. I sat and looked at the stars and I thought of Moses alone on his island. Sweetland is the kind of book that will stay with me for a long, long time. A life lived. The strength and resilience of the human spirit. Those that go about getting things done without fanfare. The battle between past and present. The land and people that make up Canada.

Sweetland is such an amazing read - highly, highly recommended. Read an excerpt of Sweetland. You can find Michael Crummey on Twitter.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Winner - The Fever - Megan Abbott

And the randomly chosen, lucky winner of a copy of The Fever by Megan Abbott, courtesy of Little, Brown and Company is:

Tessa!

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

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #19

- You Can't Judge a Book By Its Cover - Which is very true.
But you can like one cover version better than another...
 
US/Canada cover
UK Cover
  I was hunting down cover art for my review of Tom Rob Smith's latest book, The Farm, and came across the Canadian/US cover on the left and the UK cover on the right. Both are good, but I'm going with the UK cover this week. The starkness just grabbed me a little more and made me wonder about this bleak building. Either way, I thought it was a really good read, although online it has very mixed reviews. Which cover do you prefer? Have you read, or do you plan to read The Farm?
 
You Can't Judge A Book By Cover is a regular Saturday feature on A Bookworm's World. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Film on Friday #19 - Grigris

This is what I love about Film Movement - the opportunity to watch critically acclaimed films that I would not have discovered on my own. This week's entry is a 2013 Cannes Film Selection - Grisgris, from Chad director Mahamat-Saleh Haroun.

Grigris loves to dance, despite having a disabled leg. He works with his stepfather, but earns extra money dancing at the local club. It is at the club that he meets and falls in love with Mimi, a prostitute. When his stepfather falls ill, Grigris needs to earn extra money to pay the hospital. And so he turns to a local criminal for a job. Despite his good intentions, Grigris runs afoul of this man and he and Mimi are in grave danger....

I was fascinated to read how Souleymane Démé ended up playing the part of Grisgris. Haroun saw Démé dancing in his country of Burkina Faso and hired him for his film. While an accomplished dancer this is Démé's first film role. Mimi is played by Anaïs Monory and this is her film debut as well. I though both actors did a great job. I was absolutely astounded by Démé's dance moves - he is an amazing dancer. But Haroun does not make the film about Grigris's disability, instead it is about controlling your destiny. Our hearts and hopes are with Grigris and Mimi as they struggle to find a life for themselves. And isn't that what any of us wants?

I loved the setting - seeing a country I knew nothing about - from both a city and a rural point of view. The soundtrack was fitting, from both the club music to the background sounds. There are parts of this film that are difficult to watch - there is some violence, but the level of poverty is just as difficult to watch. But there is joy as well - I think my favourite part is the village and the women who live there. There are a few slow scenes where the camera could have moved on fifteen seconds earlier, but I really enjoyed this film.

As always, there is a short included. This time it's a monochromatic animated film called Feral, an Academy Award Nominee. The story is a familiar one - a feral child found in the woods.

Chad/2013/French & Arabic with English subtitles / 101 min

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Over the Counter #227

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner? This week is for the cat lovers in the crowd...

First up is How to Make Your Cat an Internet Celebrityz by Patricia Carlin with photography by Dustin Fenstermacher.

From the publisher, Quirk Books:

"The Internet offers an unprecedented opportunity for cats to become superstar “personalities” with revenue-generating multimedia brands—but only if you know how to cash in. With How to Make Your Cat an Internet Celebrity, readers can unlock the secrets of grooming your kitty for success, creating a terrific viral video, managing your cat’s burgeoning stardom, and much more. Packed with practical tips and helpful diagrams, this indispensable resource shows how ordinary housecats can follow in the venerable pawprints of the Internet’s brightest stars."


And when you're done the photo session....Dancing With Cats - 15th Anniversary by Burton Silver and Heather Busch may appeal to your and your feline friend.

From the publisher, Chronicle Books:

"The cult classic is back! This petite 15th anniversary hardcover reissue keeps all the original mystery and magic of cat dancing delightfully intact. Perpetually ahead of its time, Dancing with Cats presents scores of delightful and inspiring photographs of people and cats engaging in their favorite dance routines as well as moving testimonies of the personal transformations brought about through this uniquely joyous form of human-animal connection. Dancing with Cats will have a new generation of cat lovers (and their cats) jumping for joy—and cutting a rug—in no 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 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, August 27, 2014

Making Math Fun With DK Canada!

I can't believe that summer is almost over. When I was young, summer seemed to last a long time. The older I get though, the faster time flies. But the timing of back to school doesn't change - Labour Day heralds the end of summer for kids in Canada.
 
DK Canada has some great book ideas for your back to school youngster in their
Making Math Fun Boutique! (There's some great titles for the older crowd as well)
 

I have a very special guest blogger today - Six year old Max, who is headed to Grade One, is the reviewer today! (With a little help from his Mom!) Max is reviewing Math Made Easy Expanded Edition Grade One today. 

"I like math so I wanted this book. When I opened it there was a whole page of real gold stars. Mom would give them to me when I finished a page. There were lots of easy things like connect the dots, or looking at pictures and counting. It got harder as I did more of them. I tried to get three stars everyday."

"(Note from Mom- I thought it was funny when Max picked out this book but it is a great book. Since Max is going into Grade 1 it's helpful for me to know what he'll be working on and the star stickers were a great incentive. The pages/activities were all different but close together. Activities were repeated later in the book at a more challenging level showing progress. I found he often jumped all over the book to things he liked. We limited it to 3 pages a day so he didn't get bored of it - after all it is still summer!)"

From the publisher:

"Refreshed with a new look, this bestselling workbook series is tailored specifically to the needs of Canadian children from ages 5-11. Each workbook forms part of a complete home-study program designed to make math fun and exciting as well as to help children practice essential math skills so that they can reach their full potential in school. Each book includes detailed parents notes and helpful hints to assist parents with the learning process. Each title now includes an extra 44-page practice section! Features gold reward stars."

Thank you so much Max (and Mom) for your review! Have a great time in Grade One - and I have a feeling math isn't going to be too hard for you at all!

And check out Max's review of a leveled reader from the DK Reader's Boutique.

DK Readers Boutique

 
"DK’s bestselling DK Readers are a multi-level reading program that allows beginning readers to progress from easy to follow stories with simple sentences to more sophisticated storylines and vocabulary. From science and nature to history and great Canadian subject matter like the polar bear crisis in Churchill, Manitoba and the dinosaur discoveries of Red Deer River Valley to adventures with Pokémon, Star Wars and the Marvel superheroes, there is something for readers of all levels here." And for a limited time, you can buy two and get one free from the DK Readers Boutique
 
My young friend, six year old Max, is the blogger today (with a little help from Mom). Max really likes Lego and Star Wars and has chosen to review Return of the Jedi Level 3 today.

"I love everything Lego.  I liked this book because all the people in it look like the Star Wars people but were Lego.  There was even a gross picture of Senator Palpatine.  It is a story about the Han Solo and the Rebels trying to fight Darth Vader and not let him stop the Rebellion.  I like the picture of the Death Star that looked really cool." 

"(Note from Mom- although often Max can do many of the level 3 reading alone books he found this one to be more challenging with the larger words. It was one we decided to read together.  Interestingly he helped me with pronouncing the character names which I struggled with)"

Max (and Mom) -  thank you so much for your review - it sounds like a great book!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Giveaway - The Ultra Thin Man - Patrick Swenson

I've got a copy of the newly released book The UltraThin Man by Patrick Swenson to giveaway today, thanks to the generosity of Tor Books.

From the publisher:

"In the twenty-second century, a future in which mortaline wire controls the weather on the settled planets and entire refugee camps drowse in drug-induced slumber, no one—alive or dead, human or alien—is quite what they seem. When terrorists manage to crash Coral, the moon, into its home planet of Ribon, forcing evacuation, it’s up to Dave Crowell and Alan Brindos, contract detectives for the Network Intelligence Organization, to solve a case of interplanetary consequences. Crowell’ and Brindos’s investigation plunges them neck-deep into a conspiracy much more dangerous than anything they could have imagined.

The two detectives soon find themselves separated, chasing opposite leads: Brindos has to hunt down the massive Helkunn alien Terl Plenko, shadow leader of the terrorist Movement of Worlds. Crowell, meanwhile, runs into something far more sinister—an elaborate frame job that puts our heroes on the hook for treason.

In this novel from Patrick Swenson, Crowell and Brindos are forced to fight through the intrigue to discover the depths of an interstellar conspiracy. And to answer the all-important question: Who, and what, is the Ultra Thin Man?"

"Patrick is a writer, publisher, editor, and teacher. His first novel is entitled The Ultra Thin Man, forthcoming from Tor in 2014. He has sold stories to the anthology Like Water for Quarks, and magazines such as Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Fantasy Magazine, Figment, and others."

If you'd like to win a copy of this debut novel, simply leave a comment to be entered into a random draw. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends Sept. 13/14