Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Reapers Are The Angels - Alden Bell

Oh boy! I stayed up way too late last night - I literally could not put down The Reapers Are The Angels by Alden Bell. I have a fondness for post-apocalyptic novels and this one grabbed and wouldn't let go of me 'til the last page.

Sometime in the future, zombies have stumbled about the land for over twenty five years, eating whatever humans they can catch. Temple has been born into this world and knows no other. She remembers living with an old man and a boy who might have been her brother. Now fifteen and with heartache and tragedy her constant companions, she travels what is left of the world that was, seeking something. Her chance encounter with a man named Maury could be her salvation - although she doesn't recognize it as such. And an encounter with a man named Moses could be her downfall.

Reapers was such a great read on so many levels. The uncertainty of what Bell would come up with next in this world and what Temple would encounter had me holding my breath and frantically turning pages. Temple as a character was fascinating. Old beyond her years, born into a world with no compass, she has her own sense of morality and direction. The conversations she has with those she meets in her travels and herself are quite philosophical.
"See it's a daily chore tryin to do the right thing. Not because the right thing is hard to do - it ain't. It's just cause the right thing - well, the right thing's got a way of eluding you. You give me a compass that tells good from bad, and boy I'll be a soldier of the righteous truth. But them two things are a slippery business and tellin then apart might as well be a blind man's guess. And sometimes, you just get tired of pokin at the issue. Those are the times you just do something because you're tired of thinkin on it. And that's when the devil better get his pencil ready to tally up a score, cause the time for nuances is gone. And you think, that's it for me on this world. You think, all right then hell is my home."
The setting is mostly in the Southern states and has a distinct Southern gothic tone. In the cover blurb, author Michael Gruber compared it to Flannery OConnor's style - an apt description. Athough the book has zombies, they are more of a supporting platform than a main focus. How they came to be is never explained. Granted, there is a fair amount of violence and blood spilled, so be warned. But it is Temple and her personal journey that captivated me.

An excellent read for me - definitely 5 stars. This novel would appeal to those who enjoyed Cormac McCarthy's The Road or Richard Matheson's I Am Legend. I can see this being made into a movie as well.

Read an excerpt of The Reapers Are The Angels.

(interesting sidenote - the title seems to be taken from the Bible - Matthew, Chapter 13, verse 39 King James version)  "The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels."

Monday, August 30, 2010

I'd Know You Anywhere - Laura Lippman

I'm a long time reader of Laura Lippman, having enjoyed every book in her Tess Monaghan series. I really enjoyed her stand alone novel Life Sentences as well, but  I'd Know You Anywhere (also a stand alone)  is now my favourite Lippman novel.

Eliza Benedict has, for the most part, packed her past away and moved on. She is married with two children and is happy being a stay at home mom. When she was fifteen and known as Elizabeth Lerner, she was abducted by a serial killer, kept by him for 40 days, then inexplicably left alive. Walter, the killer, was caught and has been on death row for 20 years.

The past won't be kept packed away though. Eliza is stunned when she receives a letter from Walter...
"I'm sure this is a shock, although that's not my intention to shock you  Up until a few weeks ago, I'd never thought I would have any communication with you at all and accepted that as fair....there was your photo, in Washingtonian magazine, not the usual thing I read, but you'd be surprised by my choice of reading material these days. Of course, you are older, a woman now. You've been a woman for a while, obviously. Still, I'd know you anywhere."
Why is he contacting her after so long? What could he possibly want? What will this do to Eliza's carefully ordered life?

Lippman alternates chapters from the past to the present very effectively. We see how Walter in the present is affecting Eliza's life. Alternatively we are transported back to 1985 and relive the abduction and the forty days of captivity. Be assured, there isn't a lot of graphic violence portrayed. It's more of a psychological study - of both Elizabeth and Walter and their time together. It also explores the repercussions of the crime on others in Eliza's life. Eliza's husband Peter knows about her past, but they have never talked about it with the children. Their teen daughter is rebellious and acting out and Eliza questions whether she has been overprotected because of her own past. Eliza's own relationships with her sister and parents were also irrevocably changed as were the family dynamics. The characterization of the mother of one of the other victims was tragic and touching. Many characters are given the chance to narrate, giving us insight into their 'take' on events.

As the story progresses, Eliza begins to question her own memories of those 40 days...

Lippman is a great storyteller and has crafted a great suspense/thriller in I'd Know You Anywhere.

Read an excerpt of I'd Know You Anywhere. You can also find Laura on Facebook.

Check out what the rest of the participants of the TLC Book Tour thought.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Winners - The I Hate to Cook Book

And the two lucky winners, courtesy of The Hachette Book Group, of a copy of The I Hate to Cook Book by Peg Bracken are:

1. Karen

2. charleydog

Congratulations! I've contacted you by email for your mailing addresses. Please respond within 72 hours. Thanks to all who entered - check the sidebar for ongoing giveaways.

Giveaway - Eating Animals - Jonathan Safran Foer

Thanks to the generosity of The Hachette Book Group, I have three copies of Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer to giveaway.

What's it about?

From the publisher:

"Like many young Americans, Jonathan Safran Foer spent much of his teenage and college years oscillating between enthusiastic carnivore and occasional vegetarian. As he became a husband, and then a father, the moral dimensions of eating became increasingly important to him. Faced with the prospect of being unable to explain why we eat some animals and not others, Foer set out to explore the origins of many eating traditions and the fictions involved with creating them."
Traveling to the darkest corners of our dining habits, Foer raises the unspoken question behind every fish we eat, every chicken we fry, and every burger we grill. Part memoir and part investigative report, Eating Animals is a book that, in the words of the Los Angeles Times, places Jonathan Safran Foer "at the table with our greatest philosophers."

Check out the Eating Animals Facebook Page.  And EatingAnimals.com.

Read an excerpt of Eating Animals.
Simply comment to be entered. Open to US and Canada, no po boxes please. Ends Sunday Sept 19 at 6 pm EST.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Winners - New Tricks - David Rosenfelt

And the three lucky winners, courtesy of The Hachette Book Group, of a copy of New Tricks by David Rosenfelt are:

1. tattwo
2. mcKim
3. tallcap

Congratulations! I've contacted you by email for your mailing addresses. Please respond within 72 hours. Thanks to all who entered - check the sidebar for ongoing giveaways.

Giveaway - Dracula in Love - Karen Essex

Want a chance to sink your teeth into Karen Essex's new book Dracula in Love?
Thanks to the generouse folks at Doubleday Publishing I have two copies to giveaway!

What's it about:

From the publisher:

"London, 1890. Mina Murray, the rosy-cheeked, quintessentially pure Victorian heroine, becomes Count Dracula’s object of desire. To preserve her chastity, five male “defenders” rush in to rescue her from the vampire’s evil clutches. This is the version of the story we’ve been told. But now, from Mina’s own pen, we discover that the story is vastly different when told from the female point of view.

In this captivating, bold act of storytelling, award-winning author Karen Essex breathes startling new life into the characters of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, transporting the reader into the erotic and bizarre underbelly of the original story. While loosely following the events of its classic predecessor, Dracula in Love deviates from the path at every turn.
From the shadowy banks of the river Thames to the wild and windswept Yorkshire coast, Dracula’s eternal muse—the most famous woman in vampire lore—vividly recounts the joys and terrors of a passionate affair that has linked her and the Count through the centuries, and her rebellion against her own frightening preternatural powers."

Read an excerpt of Dracula in Love. You can find Karen on Facebook as well.

Two copies up for grabs, US only, no po boxes please. Ends Sat. Sept 25th at 6 pm EST. Good luck!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Death's Excellent Vacation - Edited by Charlaine Harris & Toni L.P.Kelner

Summer's not over yet! There's still time for vacation...or if you can't get away, you could read about Death's Excellent VacationCharlaine Harris and Toni L. P. Kelner have teamed up to edit this great collection of short stories - all with a twist. They all feature paranormals on vacation or the flip side - paranormals intruding on mortal's vacation time.

The first story up was a brand new Sookie tale from Harris. I've become a huge True Blood fan this year and picture the HBO characters as I read. Sookie and Pam from Fangtasia are headed off to Vegas for a little R&R... as far as Sookie knows. Not quite...

I have to say that I really enjoyed Kelner's tale - Pirate Dave's Haunted Amusement Park - which closed the book. She is an author that I hadn't read before, but I quite enjoyed her style - funny and definitely quirky. Joyce, a newly turned werewolf decides to take a vacation at her childhood haunt - Pirate Dave's. Her newly acquired skills come in handy...

I'm familiar with a lot of names in the book, such as Jeff Abbott - I've really enjoyed his suspense/thriller novels. It was fun to see his take on the paranormal bent. Loved his characterization of a televison reporter out to get her story at any cost.

All kinds of paranormals were featured - leprachauns, werewolves, vampires, demons - I found the story about the gargoyle with a heart was a neat twist.

This is a genre I'm just starting to explore and this was a great  'sampler' book - a chance to read authors in the same vein (couldn't resist) - Katie MacAlister, Jeaniene Frost, Lilith Saintcrow and others. Each writer has their own take on their 'paranormal'. For example, vamps in one story may have powers that they don't in another writer's world.

I love short story collections - there's just enough time on a quick break to read one from start to finish.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Over the Counter #20

Awkward Family Photos by Mike Bender and Doug Chernack was the latest book to catch my eye as it passed over my library counter and under my scanner this week.

Usually I just skim throught the over the counter offerings, but this time I enjoyed every last page! Who doesn't have an awkward photo hanging around?

From the publisher, Three Rivers Press:

"Based on the hit website, AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com (“painful, regrettable, horrifyingly awesome snaps of family bonding, you will laugh so hard that people in adjoining offices will ask what’s wrong with you”—Esquire), this full color book features never-before-seen photos and hilarious personal stories covering everything from uncomfortable moments with relatives, teen angst, sibling rivalry, and family vacations from hell. Cringe at the forced poses, bad hair, and matching outfits--all prompting us to look at our own families and celebrate the fact that we're not alone. Nothing says awkward better than an uncomfortable family photograph!"

You really have to check out the awkward family photos website as well - continually added to.

(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 25, 2010

Ripley's Believe It or Not - Enter If You Dare!

The newest edition (#7) of the Ripley's Believe It or Not annuals is out - Enter If You Dare!

I've had this book for about a month now, but have not been the only one picking it up and reading a page here an there at random. When my son was younger he adored this type of book. He's taller than me now, but still seems to enjoy perusing random facts, oddities, bizarre stories and tales from around the world.

Pictures, lots and lots of pictures! High gloss, heavy stock is used and the pictures are very detailed! Some pages I turned quicker than others - I'm not one for bugs or snakes!

New this year are Ripley's Revealed stories - an in depth look at certain topics - I found the sword swallowing story quite interesting. As well there are Ripley's Research boxes - snippets explaining the science behind some of the entries.

The centre fold out was extremely timely -vampires. The pictures of historical vampire killing kits were fascinating. Another was a retrospective of Coney Island and it's sideshow attractions. Yet another fold out was a picture of a 16 year old teen from India. It's life size - 23 1/2 inches! Or the strongman from England who performs one armed, one fingered (!) pushups on the head of a nail.

It's an addicting book as you can pick it up and read one or two pages anytime. At almost 250 pages, it will take you awhile to digest everything.  Some of the chapter headings include Weird World, Extreme Sports, Body Oddity, Bizarre Mysteries - you get the idea. One of my favourite sections was the Artistic License section - I am amazed at people's creativity. The Invisible Man was astounding. He paints himself to blend so carefully into the background of any setting, you would never know he was there.

The creations made using matchsticks - wow - three years to build an exact replica of the Hogwarts School. The fellow who paints using his tear ducts was extreme... But that's what Ripleys is all about - the strange, the odd, the bizarre, the grotesque, the Believe it or Nots!

This book will appeal to trivia lovers, both young and old and is fun to just leave lying around!

You know you want to - peek inside at the first 16 pages!

Can't get enough? You can find Ripley's on Facebook and Ripleys' on Twitter.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The I Hate to Cook Book - Peg Bracken

Well, I am one of those who hate to cook, so the The I Hate to Cook Book by Peg Bracken definitely caught my eye!

This is the 50th anniversary edition and Peg's daughter Jo Bracken has added an especially touching forward.

The premise behind the book:
"...was born from a group of professional women who would have been much happier sipping martinis with their husbands than spending the cocktail hour in the kitchen, slaving over a hot stove. These friends decided to share their pain (and surefire recipes) with the hope that they could get back at least a portion of that cocktail hour... Two hundred recipes and a good number of Household Hints later, The I Hate to Cook Book went to press."
I enjoyed the recipes (I'll get to that in a minute) but it was Peg's sense of humour that had me chuckling out loud. She's wry,witty and oh so funny! The different chapters (entrees, leftovers - this one was priceless, potluck - strategies to avoid the entree,  birthday parties, desserts and more) are all opened with dry and droll passages. Her witticisms are part of the recipe instructions as well - read carefully.
"Never doubt it, there's a long, long trail a-winding when you hate to cook. And never compute the number of meals you have to cook and set before the shining little faces of your loved ones in the course of a lifetime. This only staggers the imagination and raises the blood pressure."
This book was originally written in the 60's, so yes, there is a lot of butter and cream. You could substitute healthier options of course, but making them as they're originally written just tasted so good! And once in a while can't really hurt, right? The keywords are quick, convenient, but still a good meal.

My garden is overflowing with tomatoes right now, so I tried one of the veggie dishes - Crisp Tomatoes. Sliced tomatoes dredged in cornmeal and fried. Guilty but good!

And my son really enjoyed French Fried Sandwiches - a version of a Monte Cristo. 

Cockeyed cake was definitely up my alley! No mixing bowl at all  - everything is put into the baking pan and mixed! Chocolaty - everyone really enjoyed this! Cottin-Pickin' Jam Tarts (4 ingredients!) also went over well.

There's great little sections at the end - over 75 household hints, and one on equivalents.

An absolutely nostalgic look back, a wonderful tribute to a mother and a lot of good cookin' too!

Read an excerpt of The I Hate to Cook Book.

And you still have time to enter my giveaway for 2 copies the I Hate to Cook Book - ends Aug 29th.

Join Blog Talk Radio as they interview Johanna Bracken, daughter of THE I HATE TO COOK BOOK author Peg Bracken.
Thursday, Aug. 26, 2 PM ET

Call-in with your questions during show time to participate in the live interview @ (646) 378-0039 

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno - Ellen Bryson

The Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno is Ellen Bryson's debut novel.

Bartholomew Fortuno works for showman P. T. Barnum at his American Museum in New York in 1865. He is billed as the world's thinnest man. He lives and works alongside a host of other 'Curiosities', including a rubber man, a strong man, Marina the fat woman, with whom he shares a close friendship and many more. Bartholomew is content with his life and sharing what he calls 'his gift' with the paying public. To Marina he says;
"We teach the world. You know how I feel about this. Nothing in the world comes close to our artistry. To manifest ideals through the body! Your abundance. Alley's strength. My clarity. Why, it's as godlike as one can become."
"There is but one thing certain. No matter when we've received our gifts, we've all been blessed. Our uniqueness alone is enough to justify our special place in the world. But even more, our destiny insists we use our gifts the show others who they really are or show them what, in an ideal world , they could become. It may shock them at first, but, deep down, we open their eyes to greater possibilities."
Bartholomew's ordered life and the family atmosphere of the Museum (the attractions live there as well) are thrown into disarray by the arrival of a mysterious new Curiosity. Barty catches a glimpse of her, but Barnum seems determined to keep her separated from the others. That little glimpse is enough to enthrall Bartholomew. His interactions with the mysterious Iell challenge his beliefs.
"Now here I would disagree. I do not believe we educate our audiences. I believe we frighten them and, in doing so, make them feel better about the dullness of their own lives. We don't open their eyes, Mr. Fortuno, we give them permission to keep them shut...Are we not the nightmare? The gargoyles at the edge of their world?"
Bryson has taken a fascinating piece of history and brought it to life. We've all had a glimpse of 'curiosities', both past and present. But Bryson brings a sense of humanity to the inhabitants of the Museum. Rather than being an exhibit, they come to life, infused with feelings, emotions, needs and wants. I liked Bartholomew very much as a character. His prim, proper ways, tempered with his burgeoning desire for more endeared him to me. Fleeting references to his past and his 'gift' heighten our desire to know more and serve to fuel his own enlightenment.

Bartholomew's transformation - his journey to step outside the carefully chosen confines he lives in is an emotionally charged story that kept me enthralled from first page to last. Those looking for a fast paced read will not find it here. Rather, the speed of the book matches Bartholomew's emerging edification.

An impressive debut. I look forward to reading what Bryson next sets her pen to. Fans of Sara Gruen would enjoy this novel.

Read an excerpt of The Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno.  For book groups, a reading guide is also available.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Giveaway - She's Gone Country - Jane Porter

Thanks to the generosity of The Hachette Book Group, I have 3 copies of Jane Porter's newest book -  She's Gone Country - releasing tomorrow.

What's it about?

From the publisher:

"Shey Darcy, a 39-year-old former top model for Vogue and Sports Illustrated led a charmed life in New York City with a handsome photographer husband until the day he announced he'd fallen in love with someone else. Left to pick up the pieces of her once happy world, Shey decides to move back home to Texas with her three teenage sons. Life on the family ranch, however, brings with it a whole new host of dramas starting with differences of opinion with her staunch Southern Baptist mother, her rugged but overprotective brothers, and daily battles with her three sons who are also struggling to find themselves."

Get a head start - read an excerpt of She's Gone Country. You can find Jane on Facebook as well.

Simply comment to be entered. Open to US and Canada, no po boxes please. Ends Sat Sept 18 at 6 pm EST.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Winner - Never Wave Goodbye - Doug Magee

And the lucky winner of Never Wave Goodbye by Doug Magee is:

K_sunshine 1977 was never heard from so Nicole C - you're the next on the list!

Congratulations! I've contacted you by email for your mailing address. Please respond within 72 hours.

Giveaway - The Broom of the System - David Foster Wallace

Thanks to the generous folks at The Hachette Book Group, I have 3 audio book copies of The Broom of the System by David Foster Wallace to giveaway.

What's it about?

"The "dazzling, exhilarating" (San Francisco Chronicle) debut novel from the bestselling author of Infinite Jest, available for the first time as an audiobook.

At the center of The Broom of the System is the betwitching (and also bewildered) heroine, Lenore Stonecipher Beadsman. The year is 1990 and the place is a slightly altered Cleveland, Ohio, which sits on the edge of a suburban wasteland-the Great Ohio Desert. Lenore works as a switchboard attendant at a publishing firm, and in addition to her mind-numbing job, she has a few other problems. Her great-grandmother, a one-time student of Wittgenstein, has disappeared with twenty-five other inmates of the Shaker Heights Nursing Home. Her beau (and boss), editor-in-chief Rick Vigorous, is insanely jealous. And her cockatiel, Vlad the Impaler, has suddenly started spouting a mixture of psychobabble, Auden, and the King James Bible, which may propel him to stardom on a Christian fundamentalist television program."

Listen to an excerpt of The Broom of the System. You can find Wallace on Facebook too.

Simply comment to be entered. Open to US and Canada, no po boxes please. Ends Sunday Sept 12th at 6 pm EST. Check the sidebar for ongoing giveaways.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Backseat Saints - Joshilyn Jackson

I first read Joshilyn Jackson last year with The Girl Who Stopped Swimming. (my review) I found her voice and style intriguing and was eager to read Backseat Saints. But when I discovered that the author was the reader on the audio book, I quickly decided to listen instead.

I was hooked from the opening lines.
"It was an airport gypsy who told me that I had to kill my husband. She may have been the first to say the words out loud, but she was only giving voice to a thing I'd been trying not to know for a long, long time. When she said that it was him or me, the words rang out like church bells, shuddering through my bones."

Rose Mae Lolley from Alabama has reinvented herself as Mrs. Ro Grandee of Texas. She cooks and cleans and keeps to herself. She also wears long sleeves most of the time. She left her daddy's anger and fists behind as a teenager only to marry Thom - a man just as bad or worse.  When the gypsy reads her cards and tells her what she already knows, Rose Mae is resurrected.

Jackson deftly explores relationships of all manner in Backseat Saints. Abused and abuser, parent and child, man and wife, individual spiritual beliefs (here's where the Saints come in) and more. Her characters are incredibly well drawn. Ro/Rose is strong, fierce and funny, but she's also somewhat unlikeable sometimes. I felt somewhat guilty feeling that as she is an abused woman. Her relationship with her mother is a minefield. Her father, initially portrayed as a hard, unfeeling man in the beginning, comes off as a pitiful wreck later. The same thing with Thom, her husband. He too is an abuser, but when seen in relationship to his father, he steps into the role of abused.

It was a treat listening to Jackson read. Being a Southern native herself, she has the accent/drawl to bring Rose Mae/Ro to life. As they are her words, the emphasis and inflections are exactly where she meant them to be.

The ending left me a bit conflicted - again a two sided page. But Backseat Saints kept me engrossed from first disc to last. This would be a great book club choice and would engender lots of discussion!
Reading guide provided.

Listen to an excerpt. Or if you prefer read an excerpt.

You've got a chance to win one of three audio book copies of Backseat Saints that I'm giving away. Open to US and Canada, no po boxes please. Enter here. Ends Sept. 4/10.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Over the Counter #19

Junk Beautiful - Outdoor Edition - by Sue Whitney was the latest book to catch my eye as it passed over my library counter and under my scanner this week.

I love flea markets, auctions and well, 'junk'. It's so much fun 'repurposing' things. And Sue Whitney has it down to an art! ( I reviewed Junk Beautiful back in 2008) I love seeing what inventive ideas she's come up with!

From the publisher Taunton Press:

"With her first book, Junk Beautiful, Sue Whitney helped millions of devotees transform junk into unique furnishings and accessories for every room in their houses.

Now, with Junk Beautiful: Outdoor Edition, she (with Kimberly Melamed) will help you reuse, recycle, refresh, repurpose and recreate discarded or discounted junk into functional, beautiful pieces for your outdoor spaces.

From creating the perfect patio and porches with panache to setting up a contemporary café for outdoor dining, the authors give you hundreds of practical, creative ideas to bring your junk beautiful dreams to the great outdoors.

Inviting and irreverent, Junk Beautiful: Outdoor Edition is a how-to book that's entertaining and quite useful at the same time, with plenty of before and after photos, and lots of fun, action shots of Sue and Kimberly in the midst of their junk madness.
If you're a garage sale, flea market or thrift store junkie -- or the high cost of living has got you thinking you should start -- here's a book that will help you expand your outdoor horizons, without costing you a fortune. "
(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 18, 2010

Still Missing - Chevy Stevens

Still Missing is author Chevy Stevens' debut novel. I'd heard good things about it, but the cover blurb from Karin Slaughter sealed the deal.

Annie O'Sullivan is a realtor on Vancouver Island. She's just finishing up an open house and is almost ready to leave when a polite, well dressed man asks if she would mind if he had a quick look around before she locks up. He seems okay, so Annie says yes. " What the hell, a few more minutes wouldn't kill me."

The okay looking guy abducts Annie and keeps her prisoner for over a year....

Still Missing opens with Annie finally seeing a psychiatrist she feels she can talk to after she escapes. Slowly but surely we learn the details of her time in captivity - her fears, resolve and will to survive no matter what. I normally don't like first person narrative, but it is absolutely the right style for this novel.  I found myself holding my breath many times as I frantically turned page after page.

For me the book was two parts - the kidnapped year and the time after Annie returns to her life. The return to her life isn't the relief you would expect. Stevens has thrown in some twists that will have you guessing right 'til the end. 

An absolutely thrilling debut from a new Canadian voice. I can't wait to read her second novel Never Knowing - due out in the summer of 2011.

I found Stevens' background on Still Missing interesting - she was a realtor on the island and between potential clients at open houses "she spent hours scaring herself with thoughts of horrible things that could happen to her. Her most terrifying scenario, which began with being abducted, was the inspiration for Still Missing."

Fans of Karin Slaughter, Chelsea Cain and Lisa Gardener would like this book.

Read the first chapter of Still Missing.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake - Aimee Bender

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender is a book I've been looking forward to reading this summer.

Rose has never stood out. At school, she has just the one friend. At home, her father is loving, but distant, unable to fully interact with his children. Her brother Joe removes himself from as much of life as possible, preferring to be alone with his scientific formulas. Her mother is like a hummingbird, flitting from one interest to another, always in motion.

When she is nine, her mother, who loves to cook, makes Rose a chocolate lemon cake. The taste of the ingredients are there, but Rose is shaken to discover that what she inexplicably finds is:
"...the taste of smallness, the sensation of shrinking, of upset, tasting a distance I somehow knew was connected to my mother, tasting a crowded sense of her thinking, a spiral, like I could almost even taste the grit in her jaw that had created the headache..."
She tries to explain to her mother, the school nurse and the doctor - and it's all brushed away with reasonable explanations. The only one who does take her seriously is her brother's only friend George.It's not a one time occurrence. Rose now tastes the feelings and emotions in any and all foods. She is able to identify the origins of any ingredient. She survives by mostly eating mass produced junk food from the school vending machine.

When she is twelve, she tastes a secret in her mother's dinner - one she doesn't want to know.

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake is utterly original and absolutely captivating. It's the story of Rose - a character I fell in love with. Her attempts to understand what is happening, her acceptance of it and efforts to have a regular life all tugged at me. But it's also the exploration of dysfunctional family relationships. Joe frightened me and I found his part of the story somewhat disturbing. Dad was a sad, touching character. Mom - well, I know she loved her children, but I just couldn't warm up to her at all.  well. I really enjoyed the characters introduced at the end and think there's a story there as well.

I think readers are either going to love this book or hate it - the magical realism may turn some readers off. You have to suspend disbelief to become fully immersed in the story. I loved it - it reminded me of  the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time crossed with Addison's The Sugar Queen.

Read an excerpt of The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake. A friend of mine is discussing this one for her book club - here's the discussion guide.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Holly's Inbox: Scandal in the City - Holly Denham

I adored Holly's Inbox when it was released last year. (my review) I was thrilled when the sequel Holly's Inbox: Scandal in the City landed in my mailbox!

Scandal picks right up where the first book left off. Holly is in love with Toby, her childhood sweetheart, she is still working as a receptionist at a London bank, still friends with Jason, Aisha and Trisha. But in Holly's world, things are never quite smooth sailing. Tanya, the catering manager at the bank, has her eye on Toby, Holly and Toby have been two ships passing in the night lately - is something going on? Holly puts her name in for a promotion at work, but will the gossip mill kill her chances?

Lots of fun chick lit scenarios, romance and laughs abound. But here's the really neat thing - the entire book  is written as emails between all the characters! An absolutely addicting format - one that had me turning pages until the entire book was consumed in one sitting. (Somewhat like eating the entire bag of chips...)

Scandal in the City provides more depth to the character of Holly. I feel like I 'know' her better now. Although the light hearted tone is present throughout, a few more serious issues are tackled. The characters aren't limited to just work. Holly's Grandma provides lots of laughs, and we wonder what is the world is going on with her brother. Jason and Trisha are my favourite supporting characters - friends you'd definitely like to have in your own circle. The office politics emails had me laughing out loud!

It had been over a year since I read the first book, so it took me about 20 pages to get on top of things again. Scandal could certainly be read as a stand alone book, but I really recommend reading the first book as well - both for background and because it's so darn good!

I'm really hoping that there is a third book in the works - I'm hooked! Unless I can figure out some way to get on Holly's contact list....

An absolute must read for any chick lit fan. Tuck this one in your beach bag for sure!

The other suprising thing about this series is the author. Holly Denham is really Bill Surie - yes a man! You can find Holly on Facebook. Or check out Holly's Inbox online. Read an excerpt of Holly's Inbox: Scandal in the City.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Winners - Red Hook Road - Ayelet Waldman

And the two lucky winners of a copy of Red Hook Road by Ayelet Waldman, courtesy of Doubleday Publishing are:


I've contacted you by email for your mailing addresses. Please respond within 72 hours. Thanks to all who entered and check the sidebar for ongoing giveaways.

Giveaway - Follow Me - Joanna Scott

Thanks to the generosity of The Hachette Book Group, I have three copies of Follow Me by Joanna Scott to giveaway. This is a title I reviewed last year and really enjoyed. It would be a great book club selection - and the reading group guide is already made for you .

From the publisher:

"On a summer day in 1946 Sally Werner, the precocious young daughter of hardscrabble Pennsylvania farmers, secretly accepts her cousin's invitation to ride his new motorcycle. Like so much of what follows in Sally's life, it's an impulsive decision with dramatic and far-reaching consequences. Soon she abandons her home to begin a daring journey of self-creation, the truth of which she entrusts only with her granddaughter and namesake, six decades later. But when young Sally's father--a man she has never known--enters her life and offers another story altogether, she must uncover the truth of her grandmother's secret history.

Boldly rendered and beautifully told, in FOLLOW ME Joanna Scott has crafted a paean to the American tradition of re-invention and a sweeping saga of timeless and tender storytelling."

Read an excerpt of Follow Me.

To be entered, simply leave a comment. Open to US and Canada, no po boxes please. Ends Saturday Sept 11th at 6 pm EST. Check the sidebar for ongoing giveaways.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Winners - Private - James Patterson

And the three lucky winners chosen at random, of a copy of Private by James Patterson, courtesy of The Hachette Book Group are:

1. Vidisha
2. FDP 4 Life
3. jsc 123

I've contacted you by email for your mailing addresses. Please respond within 72 hours. Thanks to all who entered and check the sidebar for ongoing giveaways.

Winners - The Disappearing Spoon

And the two lucky winners of a copy of The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean, courtesy of The Hachette Book Group are:

1. B. Kienapple
2. Paul Duca

I've contacted you by email for your mailing addresses. Please respond within 72 hours. Thanks to all who entered and check the sidebar for ongoing giveaways.

Join us as we interview
On BlogTalkRadio Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2 PM ET
Publisher: Little, Brown

"Sam Kean talks about love, history, death, and discovery all from the periodic table of elements. Sam Kean is a writer in Washington, D.C. His work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Mental Floss, Slate, The Believer, Air & Space, Science, and The New Scientist. He is currently working as a reporter at Science magazine and as a 2009 Middlebury Environmental Journalism fellow."

Friday, August 13, 2010

Giveaway - Rules of Betrayal - Christopher Reich

Thanks to the generosity of the folks at Doubleday Publishing, I have two copies of Christopher Reich's brand new thriller Rules of Betrayal to giveaway.

From the publisher:

"The most riveting novel yet in Christopher Reich’s New York Times bestselling series just went on sale—featuring Dr. Jonathan Ransom and his undercover-agent wife Emma, a dangerous woman with a mysterious past who has gone rogue in the high-stakes, serpentine world of international spies.
In 1980, a secret American B-52 crashes high in a remote mountain range on the Pakistan–Afghanistan border. Nearly thirty years later, and spanning locales from those peaks to New York City, a terrible truth will be revealed.

Jonathan Ransom returns as the resourceful doctor thrown into a shadowy world of double and triple agents where absolutely no one can be trusted. To stay alive, Ransom must unravel the mystery surrounding his wife—an enigmatic and lethal spy who plays by her own rules—and discover where her loyalties truly lie.

Rules of Betrayal is a masterfully plotted novel that cements Christopher Reich’s reputation as one of the most admired espionage thriller writers today."

Read an excerpt of Rules of Betrayal. You can find Christopher on Facebook as well.

Simply leave a comment to be entered. Open to the US only, no po boxes please. Ends September 4th at 6pm EST. Good luck and check the sidebar for ongoing giveaways.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Fragile - Lisa Unger - Review and Giveaway

I'm a long time fan of Lisa Unger, but I have to say, I think her new novel Fragile is my favourite thus far.

Fragile's prologue opens with a cop throwing a bundle into the bottom of an abandoned well, shoveling in dirt to cover it completely.... The story then shifts to a month earlier.

Jones is the lead detective on the police force in the small town of The Hollows, just outside of New York City. He has lived there his entire life. His wife Maggie also grew up in The Hollows, but went away to school. She chose to return and works as a psychologist. Their son Ricky is unsettled, unsure if he wants to go to college or pursue a music career. When Ricky's girlfriend Charlene vanishes, history seems to be repeating itself. Her disappearance mirrors that of an unsolved case from the past - one Jones, Maggie and many others remember well.

Fragile is a departure from Unger's earlier works. Instead of just focusing strictly on the mystery, she  has combined a suspenseful whodunit that builds slowly with an introspective look at the population of a town that seems bent on keeping secrets. I enjoyed the mystery, but for me it took a back seat to the exploration of the characters.

In flashbacks and memories, we learn how the past has shaped every character and affected their present day relationships. Jones is torn between suspecting his son and protecting him. In such a small town and as a psychologist, Maggie is privy to many secrets, some that could hurt, some that could help. The relationships between the two of them as a couple and as parents were the most compelling to explore. But each new character introduced somehow has a connection. The plot is carefully and skillfully unraveled . The small town feeling is accurately captured, with everyone knowing everyone's business. This is at the heart of Fragile...
"He could sense the mingling of the past and the present, how one couldn't exist without the other. He wanted to find his way there, to a place where could understand it all, make sense of those connections that were too fragile to be easily defined."
Fragile captures the delicacy of the ties that bind us - to lovers, family, friends and community and how those connections can be our saving grace or our downfall.

Unger loosely based Fragile on an actual incident in her life - a fifteen year old acquaintance who went missing from the small town they both lived in.

Read an excerpt of Fragile.

An excellent read and one that you have a chance to win! One copy of Fragile to giveaway - open to US and Canada. Simply comment to be entered. Ends Sunday Sept 5th at 6 pm EST. Thanks BookSparksPR for the review copy.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Innocent - Scott Turow

Innocent is the sequel to Scott Turow's bestseller Presumed Innocent.

Twenty years has passed since Judge Rusty Sabich was accused and exonerated of murder. Prosecutor Tommy Molto had tampered with evidence in that case. When Sabich's wife Barbara dies under questionable circumstances, the unthinkable happens - Molto charges Sabich with murder for a second time.

Turow combines the exploration of human nature and the legal system with equal expertise. The events surrounding and leading up to Barbara's death are scrutinized and probed from very different viewpoints. That of Rusty, his son Nat and Anna, Sabich's former law clerk as well as Tommy Molto. The battle in the courtroom is as much about the legal conflict as it is a clash between two forceful men. The plot is very, very clever and revealed in tantalizing pieces.

I listened to this in audio format. Edward Herrmann was phenomal as a reader. His voice is rich and gravelly, projecting the gravity of the case. The courtroom scenes are fantastic - the dialogue is lightning quick, yet there is no doubt as to who is speaking, prosecutor or defendant. Anna is spoken by Orlagh Cassidy. She has a clear speaking voice, but had narrated Worst Case - a book I listened to recently - and I had that voice and character connected in my mind. I also never warmed up to the Anna character at all.

I must confess I have not read Presumed Innocent, but this certainly did not detract in any way from my enjoying Innocent.

If you're a legal thriller fan, then this one's for you! Listen to an excerpt of Innocent.  Or read an excerpt.
You can find Scott Turow on Facebook as well.

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Search - Nora Roberts

Okay, I admit it - I was a Nora Roberts virgin. I know, I know, 191 books in print - 169 of them New York Times bestsellers and I hadn't read a one. So trying to be a well rounded reader, I  picked up her latest - The Search - on a hot lazy Sunday afternoon in the hammock. Perfect choice!

Fiona Bristow was the lucky one. Destined to be the 13th victim of the Red Scarf Killer serial killer, she fought back, escaped and he was captured, prosecuted and jailed. Fiona's fiancee was also a victim. She has retreated to Orcas Island where she works as a  dog trainer and also leads a volunteer canine search and rescue group.  Simon, a talented wood artist, is also looking for peace and quiet when he moves to Orcas. But his puppy Jaws needs professional help and he seeks out Fee. Well, sparks fly.... But danger is afoot as well. Although the killer is safely behind bars, someone seems to be on a mission to duplicate his work. Is Fiona in his sights?

Roberts has created a strong female lead in Fiona. Simon is the rough and ready, not looking for a relationship kind of guy (who of course just happens to be really attractive) The interactions between the two are entertaining if not wholly believable. I got a little tired of hearing Simon say shut up. There's some steamy sex scenes between the two that did a steamy day justice. For the most part, the story is more on their budding relationship with the killer taking a back seat. Yes the suspense is there, but those looking for a high level thriller won't find it here.

As a dog lover, what I did really like were the dog training scenes. Lots of good information, some I've tried - I've got one who likes to jump up on people - and it worked! I found the search and rescue operations and methodology just as interesting. Some readers may find this slows them down. Great dog quote from the book "One of the best things about dogs, to Fiona's mind, was their absolute joy in welcoming you home, whether you'd been gone for five minutes or five days. There lay unconditional and boundless love. 'And I really liked her descriptions of the setting she chose. A cute little cottage in the woods, with beaches nearby? Sign me up. Orcas Island is real.

So I enjoyed my first foray into Roberts' territory - great escapist reading that didn't tax my brain. Fans of romantic suspense will enjoy Nora Roberts. It kind of reminded me a bit of Iris Johansen's writing. I can see why she's at the top of her game.

Read an excerpt of The Search.

Roberts also writes under the nom de plume of J.D. Robb and has a highly successful 30 book series - the futuristic In Death books.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Giveaway - Off Season - Anne Rivers Siddons

Thanks to the generous folks at The Hachette Book Group I have three copies of Off Season by Anne Rivers Siddons to giveaway. This would make a great book club selection - and the reading guide is already made for you.

From the publisher:

"For as long as she can remember, they were Cam and Lilly--happily married, totally in love with each other, parents of a beautiful family, and partners in life. Then, after decades of marriage, it ended as every great love story does...in loss. After Cam's death, Lilly takes a lone road trip to her and Cam's favorite spot on the remote coast of Maine, the place where they fell in love over and over again, where their ghosts still dance. There, she looks hard to her past--to a first love that ended in tragedy; to falling in love with Cam; to a marriage filled with exuberance, sheer life, and safety-- to try to figure out her future.

It is a journey begun with tender memories and culminating in a revelation that will make Lilly re-evaluate everything she thought was true about her husband and her marriage."
Read an excerpt of Off Season.
To be entered, simply leave a comment. Open to US and Canada, no po boxes please. Ends Sunday September 5th 6 pm EST. Good luck and check the sidebar for ongoing giveaways!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Winner - How to Be an American Housewife

And the lucky winner of How to be an American Housewife by Margaret Dilloway is:


Congratulations! I've contacted you by email for your mailing address. Please respond within 72 hours. Thanks to all who entered - check the sidebar for ongoing giveaways.

Winner - The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake - Aimee Bender

And the two lucky winners of a copy of The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender, courtesy of Doubleday Publishing are:

1. Breanne

2. Joanne Gregory

Congratulations! I've contacted you by email for your mailing addresses. Thanks to all who entered - check the sidebar for ongoing giveaways.

Giveaway - Backseat Saints - Joshilyn Jackson

Thanks to the generous folks at The Hachette Book Group I have three audio book copies of Joshilyn Jackson's new book Backseat Saints to giveaway.

What's it about?

"Rose Mae Lolley is a fierce and dirty girl, long-suppressed under flowery skirts and bow-trimmed ballet flats. As "Mrs. Ro Grandee" she's trapped in a marriage that's thick with love and sick with abuse. Her true self has been bound in the chains of marital bliss in rural Texas, letting "Ro" make eggs, iron shirts, and take her punches. She seems doomed to spend the rest of her life battered outside by her husband and inside by her former self, until fate throws her in the path of an airport gypsy---one who shares her past and knows her future. The tarot cards foretell that Rose's beautiful, abusive husband is going to kill her. Unless she kills him first.

Hot-blooded Rose Mae escapes from under Ro's perky compliance and emerges with a gun and a plan to beat the hand she's been dealt. Following messages that her long-missing mother has left hidden for her in graffiti and behind paintings, Rose and her dog Gretel set out from Amarillo, TX back to her hometown of Fruiton, AL, and then on to California, unearthing a host of family secrets as she goes. Running for her life, she realizes that she must face her past in order to overcome her fate---death by marriage---and become a girl who is strong enough to save herself from the one who loves her best."

Listen to an excerpt of Backseat Saints. Or read an excerpt. You can find Joshilyn on Facebook and Twitter as well.

Simply comment to be entered. Open to US and Canada, no po boxes please. Ends Saturday Sept 4th at 6 pm EST. Good luck and check the sidebar for ongoing giveaways.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Prince of Mist - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

I'm a fan of Carlos Ruiz Zafon, having enjoyed his adult novels The Shadow of the Wind and the Angels Game. I was surprised to find that The Prince of Mist was actually the first novel Zafon wrote and this and his first four novels were all young adult offerings.

The Prince of Mist is a period piece as well. It is 1943 and the Carver family - Mom, Dad, Max, Alicia and Irina leave the city and move to a coastal town to avoid the war. They move into a house formerly occupied by a Dr. Fleishman. His son Jacob tragically drowned on the beach close by. There are many things that seem bit off for Max, the 13 yr old protagonist. Clocks that may be moving backward, a cat that seems to be staring at him, a mysterious garden of stone statues and more. Max and Alicia make friends with Roland, a boy from the nearby town. The oddities and strange happenings continue to build (no one likes an evil clown), culminating in a dramatic climax.

Although it was a young adult title, I totally enjoyed The Prince of Mist. I listened to it in audio format. The reader was Jonathan Davis. In the beginning I found the inflection a bit static. It was difficult to determine what character was talking unless you listened for the 'Max said' clarifiers. As the tension increased in the story, so did the timbre and tone.

The ambiance of the story is pure Zafon. It has a Gothic horror, mysterious feel. Magic, fantasy and yes, some romance are all part of the tale. Zafon is able to conjure up such a deliciously creepy atmosphere with his rich and evocative prose.

I enjoyed listening to Zafon's first novel  - his adult novels are an extension and growth of the style shown in this first book. A book for fans, young and older.

Read an excerpt of The Prince of Mist. Or experience an audio chapter.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Over the Counter - #18

Cooking Light - What to Eat by the Editors of Cooking Light Magazine was the latest book to catch my eye as it passed over my library counter and under my scanner this week.

Yes, you've probably seen the Eat This, Don't Eat That series. This is very similar in layout. And we all know how to eat right eh? But it's always fun to look at pictures of healthy food and get motivated. (As you eat corn chips...)
From the publisher Oxmoor House:
"Cooking Light What to Eat delivers our best secrets and everyday advice on how to make smart, healthy food choices for you and your family. Designed as your personal food shopping guide, What to Eat walks you through every aisle of the supermarket from bread to dairy, from seafood to meat, from snacks to ready-to-cook products. With more than 500 photos, illustrations, and over 1,000 tips, this handy, compact book will help you consistently make savvy food shopping choices."
(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 4, 2010

The Bishop - Steven James

The Bishop was the first book I had read by Steven James, although it is the fourth book in the Patrick Bowers thriller series.

Although previous cases and players are mentioned in the beginning, I was able to easily 'catch up'. The book opens with a pair of killers committing a horrific crime. They have a detailed plan to continue their 'game.' FBI Special Agent Bowers and his team are called in.

Bowers' speciality is fascinating - he consults with the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency for the FBI. "Using the locations related to serial offenses and sttudying the timing, location, and progression of the crimes, we can work backward to find the most likely location of the offender's home base." The degree to which this was used was intriguing.

I liked Bowers as a character. He's introspective, intelligent, confident yet fallible. He is the sole guardian of his step daughter Tessa. Their relationship is a work in progress. Tessa herself is just as interesting as Bowers. She's highly intelligent and it is some of her reveries that spur truly thought provoking. philosophical conversations between many of the characters. Good vs evil, what separates man from beast, is evil predetermined, pre emptive justice and more. James has produced some incredible chilling characters in the killers.

The main plot is intelligent and carefully crafted, drawing on cutting edge technology and news. Read carefully though as there are twists and turns just when you think you know where the story is going. There are many sub plots playing out at the same time - political machinations and Bowers' love life. Lots of foreshadowing had me reading 'just one more chapter' and I found myself sneaking a peak a few pages ahead more than once.

The Bishop is put out  by a publisher that focuses mainly on Christian books and authors. The plot of The Bishop is not for the faint at heart. It is violent and would be disturbing to many readers. How can these two jibe?

From the author:

'In my books I want people to look honestly at what our world is like, both the good and the evil. The evil in my books is not senseless; people’s lives are treated as precious and I want my readers to hurt when an innocent life is taken. The only way to do that is to let them see it on the page and then reflect on its meaning.

I think that an effective way of dissuading someone from doing something is to make them see it as deeply disturbing. And the only way to make people disturbed by evil is to show it to them as what it really is. I believe that including graphic material within the broader context of a redemptive story, just as the Bible does, is appropriate when trying to reveal the truth about human nature and our relationship with the Divine. I believe that the Bible includes graphic material to show how far we as a race can fall, and how far God came to rescue us from ourselves. That's what I hope to do in my novels as well."

All in all, a great thriller. Following a chess theme, The Queen, the next in the series is due out in the summer of 2011. I'll be picking it up.

 Steven James Launch Party! Join Steven for The Bishop book launch party on Facebook.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Switch - Grant McKenzie

Caught up with all the Harlan Coben and Linwood Barclay thrillers? Here's one you'll want to get your hands on - Switch by Grant McKenzie.

Sam White has resigned himself to the fact that's he's not going to make it as an actor. But he's doing okay - he's got a house, a loving wife and beautiful daughter. The job - well he's working nights as a security guard at a mall. But hey - it pays the bills. Life is good.... until the morning he comes home to find his house bombed out and two body bags.......Reeling from the horror in front of him, he is thrown deeper into a nightmare by a phone call. The caller tells him that the bodies aren't those of his wife and daughter. If Sam does what the caller says, they'll be returned unharmed. But what the watcher wants is for Sam to jump through hoops - the tasks he sets out for him are violent. On one of the tasks he connects with Zack. He says his family has been kidnapped as well. Can Sam trust him enough to work together? Does Zack have his own agenda? What is the connection?

I liked the character of Sam as an everyday guy trying to protect his family. How far would you go to protect your family? Zack made me suspicious and many times I wanted to yell at Sam - 'Don't trust him!'. But McKenzie has thrown in enough plot twists and turns that my suspicions and point of view changed with every chapter.  I questioned a few too convenient occurances, but overall they did not detract from the story.

Tight, fast paced prose, non stop action and a diabolical plot made Switch a one day read for me! I adore suspense thrillers and McKenzie has done a bang up job with his debut novel.

Monday, August 2, 2010

31 Bond Street - Ellen Horan

Oh, can I tell you how much I loved 31 Bond Street by Ellen Horan!

Horan first got the story idea when she came across an actual newspaper page from 1857 in a print shop. It detailed the murder of Dr. Harvey Burdell, found dead at 31 Bond Street in New York City. Horan became fascinated with investigating the case and devoured the newspapers of the time.  She has skillfully taken a sensational murder and fictionalized it, using many of the actual parties.

Harvey Burdell's nearly decapitated body is discovered by his young servant boy. No one living in the house claims to have heard a thing. Suspicion quickly falls on Emma Cunningham, Burdell's housekeeper. The city Cornoner immediately takes control, completely sequestering Emma and her two daughters. I found this piece of law fascinating. The Coroner had the right to run the case as he saw fit. The murder scene effectively became a courtroom, with a jury brought in and questioning of witnesses taking place in the home. The press were allowed full access and often took notes for the police.

Horan has created a winning character in lawyer Henry Clinton, who takes on Emma Cunningham as a client. He is dogged and idealistic, willing to use and pursue new forensic methods just coming into practice. I also enjoyed the relationship between Clinton and his wife Elisabeth, as it was much different than social mores would have dictated at the time.

The novel alternates between the present day with Henry Clinton as narrator and what led up to the murder from Emma Cunningham's point of view. We learn a little bit more each time we go back and forth. What Henry and Emma believe aren't quite the same thing. I really enjoyed this format.

Horan's research is meticulous. The details of police work, the law, society, language, mores and New York City itself are captivating. Issues of the time, including slavery and politics also figure into the plot.

For me 31 Bond Street was an absolutely delicious read, combining suspense, mystery and history into a page turner. I was surprised to learn that this was a debut novel. But glad to hear Horan is researching her next.

Read an excerpt of 31 Bond Street. Book Clubs - there is a discussion guide.

Ellen is running a fun contest - Cast the Movie  for 31 Bond Street. See how close you come to her  choices - win Bond Street Chocolates and a signed first edition.

Fans of Anne Perry's Monk/Pitt series and Caleb Carr's The Alienist would really enjoy 31 Bond Street.

Another great choice - thanks TLC Book Tours.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Winners - The Iron King - Julie Kagawa

And the two lucky winners of a copy of The Iron King by Julie Kagawa are:

1. Kailia Sage
2. Deborah Wellenstein

Congratulations! I've contacted you by email for your mailing addresses. Please respond within 72 hours. Thanks to all who entered - chekc the sidebar for ongoing giveaways.

Winners - The Imposter's Daughter - Laurie Sandell

And the five lucky winners of a copy of The Imposter's Daughter by Laurie Sandell, courtesy of The Hachette Book Group are:

1. blueviolet
2. Becca
3. Rachel G
4. Phoenix
5. John Deal

I've contacted you by email for your mailing addresses. Please respond within 72 hours. Thanks to all who entered and check the sidebar for ongoing giveaways.

Giveaway - The I Hate to Cook Book - Peg Bracken

Hands up? Me for sure! If you'd like to win a copy of The I Hate to Cook Book by Peg Bracken, courtesy of The Hachette Book Group, here's your chance! this is the 50th Anniversary Edition with a new foreword by Peg's daughter Jo.

From the publisher:

"There are two kinds of people in this world: the ones who don't cook out of and have NEVER cooked out of THE I HATE TO COOK BOOK, and the other kind...The I HATE TO COOK people consist mainly of those who find other things more interesting and less fattening, and so they do it as seldom as possible. Today there is an Annual Culinary Olympics, with hundreds of cooks from many countries ardently competing. But we who hate to cook have had our own Olympics for years, seeing who can get out of the kitchen the fastest and stay out the longest. - Peg Bracken"

"Philosopher's Chowder. Skinny Meatloaf. Fat Man's Shrimp. Immediate Fudge Cake. These are just a few of the beloved recipes from Peg Bracken's classic I HATE TO COOK BOOK. Written in a time when women were expected to have full, delicious meals on the table for their families every night, Peg Bracken offered women who didn't revel in this obligation an alternative: quick, simple meals that took minimal effort but would still satisfy.

50 years later, times have certainly changed - but the appeal of THE I HATE TO COOK BOOK hasn't.

This book is for everyone, men and women alike, who wants to get from cooking hour to cocktail hour in as little time as possible."

Read an excerpt of The I Hate To Cook Book.   On Facebook as well.

Two copies up for grabs, open to US and Canada, no po boxes please. To be entered? Do you enjoy cooking? Ends Sunday August 29th at 6pm EST.