Thursday, October 30, 2014

This Dark Road to Mercy - Wiley Cash

Wiley Cash's first novel A Land More Kind Than Home was a New York Times bestseller. It garnered rave reviews, and I remember putting it on my never ending must read list. Well, I never did get to it, but his second novel, This Dark Road to Mercy, has just released in trade format - and I jumped at the chance to review it.

Twelve year old Easter and her six year old sister Ruby are now living in a foster home. Their mother has died and their father Wade signed away his parental rights years ago. But it is something in the way the man watching the ballgame Easter is playing that rings a is Wade and he wants his girls to come with him. There's another man watching too - Wade has something that belongs to someone else. Pruitt will do whatever it takes to get that something back - and extract vengeance on Wade for an event from both their pasts. Easter, older and wiser beyond her years, makes a decision -and the three are on the run. There's a third man as well - Brady is the girls' court appointed guardian - and he too is on the trail of Wade and the girls.

I loved Easter's voice from the first line...."Wade disappeared on us when I was nine years old and then he showed up out of nowhere the year I turned twelve." She presents a hard exterior to the world, shielding herself and her sister from further hurt. Small vulnerabilities - wondering if a boy likes her for example, were all the more poignant as she is feeling her way through life without a parent.

Each of the characters in the book has a past - a past that influences the direction their present is taking. Wrongs that need righting, hopes, dreams, what could have been and what could be are entwined in the narratives of the three main characters. And somehow, to all three, this moment in represents redemption.

From the author's notes "....As a six-year-old, you're called a liar when you tell a story that you know isn't true. But if you can keep telling stories and wait just a few more years, people will eventually call you a writer. Even when they know your stories aren't true."

I think Cash is a great storyteller. This Dark Road to Mercy had mystery and suspense elements, but it was the characters themselves that captured me - especially Easter, with Wade a close second. The ending was absolutely perfect. (And I quiet enjoyed the baseball references.) Read an excerpt of This Dark Road to Mystery.

"Wiley Cash is the award-winning and New York Times bestselling author of A Land More Kind Than Home. A native of North Carolina, he has held residency positions at Yaddo and The MacDowell Colony and teaches in the low-residency MFA program at Southern New Hampshire University. He and his wife live in Wilmington, North Carolina. Find out more about Wiley on his website, connect with him on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter."

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

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Over the Counter #236

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Well with Hallowe'en in a few days, these seemed appropriate.....

Extreme Pumpkins: Diabolical Do-It-Yourself Designs to Amuse Your Friends and Scare Your Neighbors by Tom Nardone.

From the publisher, Penguin Books:

"Pumpkins are supposed to be scary!

Based on his popular and addictive website, Tom Nardone has created a full-color guide to pumpkin carving that's truly frightening. Featuring the website's signature Puking Pumpkin, and spanning everything from Drowning Pumpkin, Crime Scene Pumpkin, and Cannibal Pumpkin to Electrocuted Pumpkin and other never-before-seen designs, this gleefully gory guide is nothing short of a manifesto to take back Halloween from the cheerful, the cutesy, and the parent-sanctioned. For the egg-throwing, toilet tissue- streaming, window-soaping teenager in all of us, finally- a whole new way to celebrate October 31."

But wait - there's more. Also from Tom Nardone is Extreme Pumpkins II: Take Back Halloween and Freak Out a Few More Neighbors.

From the publisher, Penguin Books:

"From the power-tool wielding author of the national bestselling Extreme Pumpkins and the popular website comes a new collection of even darker, creepier, and more outrageous do-it-yourself designs to impress friends and horrify neighbors. The demented designs include Projectile Sneeze Pumpkin, Baseball-in-the-Eye Pumpkin, Doll-Eating Pumpkin, and Full-Diaper Baby Pumpkin, along with cool gourd designs, practical jokes, and more. This gleefully gory guide reclaims Halloween from the cheerful, the cutesy, and the parent-sanctioned."

(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!)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Giveaway - Watched - C.J. Lyons

I've got a chilling giveaway today.....Watched, the latest from C. J. Lyons.

What's so chilling? From the publisher, Sourcebooks:

"Based on actual crimes, WATCHED is a chilling thriller/mystery that is ripped from the headlines. Any teen’s cellphone or computer can provide access to hackers who remotely control webcams. These web cappers thrive on grabbing incriminating screen capture photos and videos and using them to blackmail unsuspecting victims. In WATCHED Jesse is leading the life of a normal sixteen-year-old until he finds himself the victim of a capper known as King. So far, he’s given in to King’s demands in order to protect his family. But now King wants something from Jesse that’s too horrible to contemplate—and if he doesn’t get it, he’ll kill Jesse’s little sister. Terrified and helpless, the answers to Jesse's prayers arrives in the form of a plain manila envelope. Inside there's a phone number and a note: I can help." Read an excerpt of Watched.

"CJ Lyons has lived most of her life on the edge. New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of twenty-one novels, former pediatric ER doctor CJ Lyons has lived the life she writes about in her cutting edge Thrillers with Heart.

She has assisted police and prosecutors with cases involving child abuse, rape, homicide and Munchausen by Proxy. She has worked in numerous trauma centers, on the Navajo reservation, as a crisis counselor, victim advocate, as well as a flight physician for Life Flight and Stat Medevac.

Her novels have won the International Thriller Writers prestigious Thriller Award, the RT Reviewers’ Choice Award, Golden Gateway, Readers’ Choice Award, the RT Seal of Excellence, and Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery and Suspense." You can keep up with C.J. Lyons on Facebook.

If Watched sounds like a book you'd like to read, simply leave a comment to be entered into a random draw for one copy. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends Nov. 8/14.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Loop - Karen Akins - Review AND Giveaway

Every so often, I just need to read something that's light, fun and fresh. Karen Akins' debut book Loop was the perfect fit.

Bree Brennis lives in the future. But she visits the past quite often. You see, she's a shifter - someone able to travel back in time. On a midterm assignment to the past she kinda blows it - she doesn't complete her assignment. - and somehow manages to, well not quite...take a boy named Finn hostage. And the little side deal she was supposed to deliver? Well, she messes that up too. So, she heads back to the past a second time to fix the mistakes - and misses the mark by three years. But she finds Finn again. And discovers that her future self has been back before. Finn is all grown up (!) and apparently has sworn to Future Bree to protect this Bree. So, he hangs on tight when Bree shifts back to the future...where things just aren't right....

Time travel books are fun because there are no rules - the author is free to make them up. Akins has a great imagination - her future gadgets are fun. (Flying pet cows anyone?!) Finn's happiness at finding out light sabres and the Jetson's flying people pods are real had me laughing. As did much of the book. Loop is written with humour, in both dialogue and situations.

And being a YA novel, of course there's a romantic storyline included. But I enjoyed the way Akins wrote it - it wasn't over the top with smoldering, longing gazes but was again written with humour.

The book is written from Bree's POV. I liked her a lot as a main character - she's feisty, funny and fallible. Finn was written just as well. They played off each other well.

The plotting had me circling back more than once, just to keep straight who knew what in the past - or was it the future? A little complicated, as were some of the 'science' explanations. I found myself glossing over some of these just to get back to the story. The push me, pull me between Bree and Finn was dragged out a tad too much. But overall this was a entertaining read and a good debut and the scene is set for the next adventue. Read the first chapter of Loop. This is the first of a planned series,with the second book, Twist, due out in March 2015.

"Karen Akins lives in the MidSouth where she writes humorous, light YA sci-fi. When not writing or reading, she loves lightsaber dueling with her two sons and forcing her husband to watch BBC shows with her." You can keep up with Karen Akins on Twitter.

Sound like a fun read to you? Well, thanks to St. Martin's Press, I have a copy to giveaway to a random reader. Simply leave a comment to be entered. Open to US only, no PO boxes please. Ends November 8/14.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

You Can't Judge a Book By Its Cover #27

- You can't judge a book by its cover - which is very true.
But you can like one cover version better than another...
Canadian cover
US cover
I was hunting down cover art for this week's review of her Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy. (Loved it! My review) and came across the Canadian cover on the left and the US cover on the right. I found it interesting
that it was only simple changes - font, font size and colour tone that changed between the two. But having read the book, I prefer the Canadian cover this week. I don't like the red curlicue font at all. And I thought the subtle colour tones captured Queenie's story better. Which cover do you prefer? Do you plan to read The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy? (Canadian peeps - it's out now. US peeps - it releases Feb.24/15)

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular Saturday feature on A Bookworm's World.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Film on Friday #25 - For a Woman

For a Woman is newly released from Film Movement. As with all of their films, it was a selection at numerous film festivals.

Many of (Academy Award nominee) director Diane Kurys's film are autobiographical in subject matter. She has used her parent's divorce and her relationship with her sister as inspiration for previous films.

For a Woman found its origins in a picture Kurys found in her mother's (Lena) things after her death. It showed her, her mother and her father's (Michel) brother - Uncle Jean - a name and a man not discussed in the family.

For a Woman is begins in the 1980's when one of two sisters, Anne, finds that same picture. Kurys imagines what is behind that photo, exploring her parent's lives from their escape from a Nazi concentration camp, to their life in Lyon, France, her father's political leanings, the aftermath of WWII - and the mysterious Jean.

This was a wonderful period piece, exploring a point in history from a very personal and intimate view. The setting, the clothes, the attitudes were all exceptionally well done, supporting the director's view and transporting the viewer to the past.

But, what shines in this film are the relationships between the three main characters. The actors were superb, each portraying their role believably. I was caught up in the story immediately and remained so until the credits rolled. This is one of my favourite releases this year.

As always there is a short film included. Le Ballon de Rouge was just as good as the main feature. A young man offers an unhappy young woman a look at the life she could have - if she walks away with him immediately,

2013 / French with English subtitles / 110 min

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Over The Counter #235

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Nostalgia and collecting this week.....(I remember saving up those Bazooka Joe comics to send away!)

First up was Bazooka Joe and His Gang by The Topps Company.

From the publisher, Abrams Books:

"Bazooka Joe and his Gang have been synonymous with bubble gum ever since their debut in 1953, providing an irresistible combination of cheap laughs wrapped around pink, sugary sweetness. This book celebrates the iconic mini-comics that are recognized the world over. The story of Bazooka Bubble Gum is also detailed with extensive essays, including a profile of Wesley Morse, the original illustrator of Bazooka Joe. Included are reproductions of more than 100 classic comics spanning six decades—including the complete first series, reprinted in its entirety for the first time—as well as jokes, fortunes, and tiny ads for mail-order merchandise. Like Bazooka Bubble Gum itself, the book is pure nostalgia and guaranteed to appeal to kids and adults alike.

 Includes 4 bonus trading cards and a genuine wax wrapper that evokes the original bubble gum packaging—like holding an actual piece of Bazooka in your hands!"

Next up was Hockey Card Stories by Ken Reid.

From the publisher, ECW Press:

"Hockey Card Stories reveals what was really going on in your favourite old hockey cards through the eyes of the players depicted on them. Some of the cards are definitely worth a few bucks, some a few cents — but every story told here is priceless. Sportsnet’s Ken Reid presents the cards you loved and the airbrushed monstrosities that made you howl, the cards that have been packed away in boxes forever, and others you can’t believe ever existed. Whether it’s a case of mistaken identity or simply a great old photo, a fantastic 1970s haircut and ’stache, a wicked awesome goalie mask or a future Hall of Famer’s off-season fashion sense, a wide variety of players — from superstars like Bobby Orr, Denis Potvin, and Phil Esposito to the likes of Bill Armstrong who played only one game in the NHL — chime in on one of their most famous cards."

(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!)