Thursday, February 26, 2015

Over the Counter #253

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner. This seems to happen to me fairly often....lunch was on my mind.....

First up is You Gotta Eat Here Too! by James Catucci and Michael Vlessides.

From the publisher, Harper Collins Canada:

"More great joints and recipes from the hit Food Network series!

You Gotta Eat Here Too! showcases the great joints and legendary local restaurants that many of us have never heard of. You’ll discover the most delicious, mouth-watering food in Canada and meet the colourful characters that have turned these places into neighbourhood institutions. And you’ll visit some of the country’s best eateries—so get ready for a coast-to-coast road trip with outrageously good food, from the best Caribbean food in the Yukon to pulled-moose sandwiches in Labrador and much, much more." (And there's some fairly close to me!)

And if you don't want to eat out, how about brown bagging it? Find some new ideas in Love Your Lunchbox: 101 recipes to liven up lunchtime by James Ramsden.

From the publisher:

"Save money and eat more healthily with 101 recipes to replace the daily purchased sandwich, drink, and snack.There is a new trend toward lunch boxes as people are cutting back on daily spending, trying to eat more healthily, and aspiring to use things up, creating less waste. Fitting perfectly into this trend, this cookbook is a creative, inspiring source of lunch box recipes and ideas for urbanites, with quirky, original yet practical ideas. Each of the 101 recipes are healthier and cost less than the average café-bought sandwich and drink. As well as recipes for eating straight out of the box, there are ideas for utilizing the office kettle, toaster, or microwave to finish off. From super noodles with tofu and lemongrass, to smoked mackerel salad, there are ideas for winter warmers, light summer lunches, and delicious snacks as well as recipes for the budget conscious. Includes dual measurements."

(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, February 25, 2015

The Devil You Know - Elisabeth de Mariaffi

The Devil You Know is Elisabeth de Mariaffi's first novel. Her previous short story collection was longlisted for the Giller Prize.

de Mariaffi sets her book in 1993 Toronto. Paul Bernardo has just been arrested and young reporter Evie Jones has been assigned to the story. It's suspected that Bernardo is also the Scarborough rapist that terrorized Toronto women in the late eighties before moving on to murder.

Evie's childhood friend Lianne was also abducted when the girls were young, with her body found eleven days later. This past event is never far from Evie's mind and colours much of her present. When she looks out her apartment window one night and sees a hooded man standing on the fire escape staring back, her anxiety levels ratchet even higher. As she continues to investigate Lianne's death, she finds disturbing connections to her own life. But is she really seeing someone or imagining it?  Are those footsteps someone behind her? Did she leave her door unlocked? Is there someone else in the room with her? de Mariaffi does a great job ratcheting up the tension with seemingly innocent sounds and innocuous actions taking on sinister tones and meaning.

Evie was a difficult character for me. Although I knew I should feel some greater sense of sympathy or empathy for her, she made me angry with her careless actions. Some of her decisions seem at great odds with her mental state and fears - especially in the last few chapters. I did enjoy the voice of reason from David, Evie's friend. David's father was especially creepy.

de Mariaffi does capture time and place extremely well. She herself grew up in Toronto during this time period. And de Mariaffi's best childhood friend Sharin' Morningstar Keenan was indeed murdered. And this is where I start having a problem with the book.  I'm old enough to remember these crimes, the warnings and the increased dangers associated with being a woman in Toronto at that time. But I also remember the victims of Bernardo's crimes. de Mariaffi uses those facts and names in her book. The murder and possible suspect of Lianne's killing is also drawn from Keenan's case. I can't imagine the families of Leslie Mahaffy, Kristen French or Allison Parrot need reminders of their daughters deaths used in a fictional work.

de Marriaffi's blending of fact and fiction just didn't work for me. Inserting her own character and her experience into borrowed real life situations seems a bit too easy. Can I also mention that Charles Manson also figures in a plot that stretched incredulity to the breaking point by the end. I found de Mariaffi's exclusion of quotation marks and one person point of view narrative annoying. Overall, this was a miss for me and just didn't live up to the publisher's blurbs "In the vein of Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects". If you're so inclined - here's a link to an excerpt of The Devil You Know.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Long and Faraway Gone - Lou Berney

I listened to Lou Berney's second book, Whiplash River a few years ago. (my review) I remember I really enjoyed the characters, the plot and the dialogue - well, yes - everything!

I was eager to read his newly released third book, The Long and Faraway Gone .

Summer of 1968. Oklahoma City. Six employees of a small movie theatre are brutally executed. Inexplicably, the seventh staff member is spared. That same summer, a teenage girl disappears from the state fair - her body is never found.

Twenty five years later, Genevieve's sister Julianna is still pursuing the case and looking for her sister on her own. The lone survivor of the movie theatre killings is now a private investigator who has renamed himself Wyatt.

Initially, it was the mysteries in the The Long and Faraway Gone that intrigued me - why was Wyatt spared? Did Genevieve leave town on her own or was she taken? Yes, those questions are the basis of Berney's plot, but it is the exploration of the past and the search for those answers that was the standout for this reader.

I mentioned that the characters and dialogue captured me in a previous book of Berneys. The same is true in The Long and Faraway Gone. From the opening pages, I was drawn in to Berney's story. His prose are easy,engaging and definitely entertaining. Berney has a quirky sense of humour, but is just as adept in bringing the poignant moments to the page as well. Loss on many levels for almost every character is a theme running throughout the book. There are many supporting characters that were fully fleshed out. I really enjoyed Candace - a woman who inherits a bar in Oklahoma City that ties into the past as well. I almost wish I knew what life held for her 'after'.

Berney himself lives and works in Oklahoma City. His first hand knowledge shows in the descriptions of time and place.

The final whodunit reveals are really good, but the journey there is even better. I'll be watching for Berney's next book.  Read an excerpt of The Long and Faraway Gone.  (and one last note - I really liked this cover!)

"Lou Berney is an accomplished writer, teacher, and liar who has written feature screenplays and created TV pilots for Warner Brothers, Paramount, Focus Features, ABC, and Fox, among others. His short fiction has appeared in the New Yorker, Ploughshares, the Pushcart Prize anthology, and other publications. His first novel, Gutshot Straight, was named one of the ten best debut crime novels of the year by Booklist and nominated for a Barry Award. Find out more about Lou at his website, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter."

See what others on the TLC book tour thought. Full schedule can be found here.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Giveaway - The Turnip Princess and Other Newly Discovered Fairy Tales

Here's a great giveaway today for you, courtesy of Penguin Classics - The Turnip Princess and Other Newly Discovered Fairy Tales by Franz Xaver von Schonwerth, edited by Erika Eichenseer, who discovered the tales, translated by Maria Tatar, a Harvard folklore scholar and illustrated by Engelbert Suss.

From the publisher:

"With THE TURNIP PRINCESS, the holy trinity of fairy tales—the Brothers Grimm, Charles Perrault, and Hans Christian Andersen—becomes a quartet. In the 1850s, Franz Xaver von Schönwerth traversed the forests, lowlands, and mountains of northern Bavaria to record fairy tales, gaining the admiration of even the Brothers Grimm. Most of Schönwerth’s work was lost—until a few years ago, when Erika Eichenseer uncovered thirty boxes of manuscripts in a German municipal archive.

Now, for the first time, Schönwerth’s lost fairy tales are available in English. Violent, dark, and full of action, and upending the relationship between damsels in distress and their dragon-slaying heroes, they bring us closer than ever to the unadorned oral tradition in which fairy tales are rooted, revolutionizing our understanding of a hallowed genre."

Violent, dark, and full of action, and upending the relationship between damsels in distress and their dragon-slaying heroes, Schönwerth’s fairy tales as collected in THE TURNIP PRINCESS bring us closer than ever to the unadorned oral tradition in which fairy tales are rooted, revolutionizing our understanding of a hallowed genre."

Fairy tale fans, simply leave a comment with the name of your favorite fairy tale to be entered. Open to US only, no PO boxes please. Ends March 7/15.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #44

- 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
Laura Lippman's newest book, Hush Hush, releases soon and is on my TBR list. The US/Canadian cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. It's interesting that a child's shoe(s) appears on both covers. I'm going to call it a tie for me this week. The tag line on the UK version gives you an idea of the plot. But the US version lets us know that it's a Tess novel. (Yay!) Is Hush Hush a book you 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

Friday, February 20, 2015

Film on Friday # 33 - Gone Girl

Gillian Flynn's novel Gone Girl is one of the twistiest thrillers I've ever read. When I heard there was a movie being made, I got excited....and then nervous. How would the book translate to the big screen? Would they 'adapt' from the book? Or would it stay true to Flynn's premise. I always worried that a loved book will be ruined for me by a bad adaptation. Well, with one thing and another, I never did get to the theatre to see it. But the reviews were fantastic!

Gone Girl is newly released on Blu-ray from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, so I finally sat down to watch it last weekend. O.M.G. I loved it!!! All the worries about ruining the book were put to rest - Gillian Flynn actually wrote the screenplay! And director David Fincher nails it.

For those of you who haven't read the book or seen the movie (and you really should) here's a quick synopsis. On the morning of their fifth anniversary, Nick Dunne's wife Amy cannot be found. When signs of violence are found, a massive Find Amy campaign is mounted in addition to the police investigation. And of course, Nick becomes a suspect. He swears he's innocent and that he's being set-up.....

Great casting! Ben Affleck plays his part well - his attitude, demeanor and actions change quickly depending on who he's with - and he's believable. What persona is the truth? The supporting cast is just as stellar. Tyler Perry and Neil Patrick Harris always turn in great performances. I really enjoyed Carrie Coon as Nick's sister and Kim Dickens as the detective looking into Amy's disappearance. But Rosamund Pike as Amy stole the show for me. She was the perfect choice - she too is a chameleon changing with whatever situation she's in or who she's 'performing' for. And does it all with a smile on her face....that doesn't reach her eyes......

What a fantastically devious cat and mouse game. The viewer is pulled in one direction and then abruptly the rug is pulled out from underneath you - and the game changes - and then changes again. Absolutely, positively recommended! Gone Girl is one of the few movies I would watch again. Watch the trailer below and you'll see what I mean.....

The Blu-ray includes a director's commentary and an 'Amazing Amy Tattletale' book - a delightful little book that is so wrong - and so right for the movie.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Over the Counter #252

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner?  The similar colours on these two covers caught my eye - that and the baking....

First up is Josey Baker Bread: Get Baking Make  Great Bread Be Happy.

From the publisher, Chronicle Books:

"This is the first true entry-level bread-baking cookbook, from Josey Baker (that’s his real name!), a former science teacher turned San Francisco baking sensation. Josey Baker Bread combines step-by-step lessons with more than 100 photographs, offering easy-to-follow guidance for aspiring bakers. Recipes start with the basic formula for making bread— requiring little more than flour, water, time, and a pan—and build in depth and detail as the user progresses to more complex loaves, including Josey’s cult favorite Dark Mountain Rye. With chapters dedicated to pizza, pocketbreads, and treats, Josey’s playful, encouraging tone makes for a fun read full of great advice for bakers of all levels.
Recipes include: Your First Loaf of Bread, Your First Sourdough Loaf, Seed Feast, Dark Mountain Rye Plus pizzas, pocketbreads, cookies, and more!"

Next up is Honey and Oats: Everyday Favorites Baked with Whole Grains and Natural Sweeteners by Jennifer Katzinger.

From the publisher, Sasquatch Books:

"This whole grain, low-sugar baking book is filled with 75 recipes for light, moist, and flavorful cakes, pies, scones, cookies, muffins, bars, and breads proves that baking with healthy ingredients doesn’t have to mean sacrificing flavor or texture. Author Jennifer Katzinger created these classic baked-good recipes replacing sugar with honey, coconut palm sugar, maple syrup, and Sucanat; she uses oats and whole grains, such as teff, kamut, spelt, buckwheat, einkorn, barley, and whole-wheat flour to make delicious and more nutritious baked treats. For those who aren’t quite ready to go “all the way,” this book also provides recipe adaptations that incorporate some whole grains into their favorite baked goods. Katzinger also includes some gluten-free options."

(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!)