Thursday, March 31, 2011

Over the Counter # 48

How could Zombie Cupcakes by Zilly Rosen not catch my eye as it passed over my library counter and under my scanner!?

From the publisher Andrews McMeel:

"Conjuring up her inner George A. Romero, professional cake designer Zilly Rosen focuses her creative attention on crafting a legion of edible undead inside Zombie Cupcakes: From the Grave to the Table with 16 Cupcake Corpses. With a nod to Romero's zombie franchise, Rosen offers instructions for crafting 16 terrifying treats, including:

•Toxic Bite •Zombie Rising •Keep an Eye Out •Destroy the Brain

and more! Readers can raise their own macabre multitude of Zombie Cupcakes creations from the undead with an average creation time of less than one hour. Each Zombie Cupcakes design includes a full-color photograph of the zombie creation at hand, as well as an illustrated instructional overview and a convenient sidebar list of every item you will need to complete the cupcake."

Or if Zombies aren't your style, what about Two Bite Cupcakes by Viola Goren?

From Charlesbridge Publishing:

"Enjoy the deliciousness--but avoid the guilt! These cupcakes are a yummy pleasure, but because they're only a few nibbles each, they're not TOO much of an indulgence. In fact it's even possible to enjoy two or three without going overboard. And that's a good thing, because with cupcakes this scrumptious, who would want just one?

Viola Goren, a renowned pastry chef, cooking teacher, and restaurant owner, teaches all the cupcake essentials, and provides basic recipes for a variety of frostings and fillings. From luscious creams to crunchy nuts and sweet fruits, these tiny treats provide a surprise in every bite.

There's something here to please all ages and tastes: kids will go wild over the Oreo cupcakes, while adults will savor such sophisticated fare as the Crème Brulée or Plum Cobbler varieties. An entire chapter devoted to "Nothing but Chocolate" will have chocolate lovers swooning over Chocolate Soufflé and Nutella Surprise cupcakes.

And though we generally think of cupcakes as sweet, these savory bakes are great afternoon snacks or delectable appetizers. Finally, celebration recipes will make holidays, including Christmas, Passover, and Easter, as well as occasions like baby showers and birthdays."
(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, March 30, 2011

The Raising - Laura Kasischke

Here's the publisher's description of Laura Kasischke's new book The Raising.

"Last year Godwin Honors Hall was draped in black. The university was mourning the loss of one of its own: Nicole Werner, a blond, beautiful, straight-A sorority sister tragically killed in a car accident that left her boyfriend, who was driving, remarkably—some say suspiciously—unscathed.

Although a year has passed, as winter begins and the nights darken, obsession with Nicole and her death reignites: She was so pretty. So sweet-tempered. So innocent. Too young to die. Unless she didn’t. Because rumor has it that she’s back." The back cover blurb was also intriguing - "...part Stephen King, part Donna Tartt..."

 I enjoyed the opening chapters, but it took at least 100 pages for me to get totally interested. I picked up and put down The Raising many times before finally finishing.  The narrative flips back and forth between present day and the past, allowing us further glimpses and clues into what may have happened to Nicole.  This part of the plot was well done and caught my interest. Where I got bored was the character development of Mira and Shelly, the two professors pursuing answers in this campus death. Yes, their personal lives play parts in the endgame, but some extraneous details, such as Mira's twin's language skills breakthrough with a fellow prof seem useless. My thoughts on Nicole's friend Perry and her boyfriend Craig changed many times throughout the book. Kasischke does a good job of manipulating the reader`s expectations and keeping us off kilter as she reveals more and more about the death and the circumstances surrounding it. I did find the commentary on sororities and hazing thought provoking.

The last 100 pages had me turning more rapidly as the conclusion was nearing and I expected some answers and resolutions. However, that was not to be. The ending left me definitely unsatisfied. For me, The Raising was a read that was okay, but not great. (and never lived up to the Stephen King comparison) I always wait to read what others think of a book until after I've read it. For other opinions check out what these bloggers thought.

Good Choice Reading
Life in the Thumb
Red Headed Book Child
The Literate Housewife
Life With Books

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Giveaway - The Sweetest Thing - Jill Shalvis

I have three copies of Jill Shalvis' latest book The Sweetest Thing to giveaway, courtesty of The Hachette Book Group.

From the publisher:

"Two Men Are One Too Many . . .

Tara has a thousand good reasons not to return to the little coastal town of Lucky Harbor, Washington. Yet with her life doing a major crash-and-burn, anywhere away from her unfulfilled dreams and sexy ex-husband will do. As Tara helps her two sisters get their newly renovated inn up and running, she finally has a chance to get things under control and come up with a new plan for her life.

But a certain tanned, green-eyed sailor has his own ideas, such as keeping Tara hot, bothered . . . and in his bed. And when her ex wants Tara back, three is a crowd she can't control-especially when her deepest secret reappears out of the blue. Now Tara must confront her past and discover what she really wants. If she's lucky, she might just find that everything her heart desires is right here in Lucky Harbor."

"USA Today bestselling author JILL SHALVIS lives in a small town in the Sierras also run by quirky characters. Any resemblance to the quirky characters in her books are, um, mostly coincidental. Look for Jill's bestselling, award-winning books wherever romances are sold and visit her website at for a complete book list and daily blog detailing her city-girl-living-in-the-mountain adventures."
You can find Jill on her website, Twitter and Faceboook and Goodreads!

Get a head start - read an excerpt of The Sweetest Thing. Jill is also coming out with a cookbook which will be available only as an eBook.  It ties in to The Sweetest Thing, whose heroine is a cook. It will be on sale April 15th

Simply comment to be entered - open to US and Canada, no po boxes please. One winner per address. Closes Sat. April 23 at 6 pm EST. Good luck!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Staying at Daisy's - Jill Mansell

When I want something light, easy and fun to read, Jill Mansell is always a sure bet. Staying at Daisy's was a winner.

Daisy MacLean manages a small hotel owned by her father Hector is a village in England. The hotel is the setting for a wedding that seems to touch off events for the friends, family and employees of Daisy's hotel.

Daisy has been burned before in love and has no interest in best man Dev - mind you he is awfully handsome... And Daisy's best friend and chambermaid Tara just happens to have dated the groom before....and Hector - well, he's never met a guest he couldn't charm ...but he's got a secret...and so does Tara's Aunt Maggie...and the new porter at the hotel....and who is his mystery girlfriend...and...

Well, you get the idea. Lots of madcap situations, miscommunications and missed signals make for a amusing, light hearted read. Staying at Daisy's is populated with the kind of characters Mansell is known for - warm, funny and unique personas. They're all a little bit quirky and you can't help but be charmed. Daisy is the kind of person you'd love to know and have as a friend. The supporting characters are all clearly drawn roles, filling out the roster.  Hector is the one individual who struck a sour note with me - I didn't think he deserved his happy ending. And of course, there are happy endings for all involved. And that's the fun of Mansell's books - the journey there is delightfully entertaining. Staying at Daisy's is a bit longer than previous books. About 50 pages too much in my opinion - one too many missed opportunities with Daisy and Dev stretched out the ending.

A lovely diversionary read, perfect for fans of the chick lit genre.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Winner - One Bird's Choice

And the lucky winner of a copy of One Bird's Choice by Iain Reid, courtesy of House of Anansi Press is:

John Mutford

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.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Over the Counter # 47

Okay, it was the cover of I Love Macarons by Hisako Ogita that caught my eye this week as it passed over my library counter and under my scanner this week.  Yummy! And cute. (And it's not a typo - macaroons are a different treat)

From the publisher Chronicle Books:

"Cute-as-can-be, buttery macarons capture the whimsy and elegance of Paris, where they're traditionally served with tea or wrapped up in ribbon to give as a gift. But the secrets of making perfect macarons have long eluded home bakers—until now! In I Love Macarons, renowned Japanese pastry-maker Hisako Ogita brings her extensive experience to the art of baking macarons with fully illustrated foolproof step-by-step instructions. This charmingly designed guide is sure to have pastry lovers everywhere whipping up these colorful confections at home, using ordinary baking equipment and simple ingredients to create myriad flavors of perfection. Hisako Ogita is a Japanese pastry chef and author of 3 cookbooks on French pastry."

(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, March 23, 2011

Cold Wind - C. J. Box

I read C. J. Box when he put out his first Joe Pickett novel in 2001. I thought it was a great debut and picked up the next few as they came out. Well, then I kind of missed a few. I just finished the brand new book ( #11) in this series - Cold Wind - and I'm kicking myself. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed this character.
Joe Pickett is a game warden in Wyoming. But Joe does a lot more than check hunting licenses and monitor wildlife.

Joe is out patrolling the high ridges - home to the newest kind of farming in wind swept Wyoming - wind farms. He notices that one turbine seems to be turning slower than than the others - the dead body tied to it could be the reason. The body turns out to be Earl, the fifth husband of Joe's mother-in-law Missy. Missy and Joe have never gotten along, but when Missy is charged with murder, both she and Joe's wife Marybeth ask him to look into things on his own. It looks like the local sheriff has already tried and convicted Missy.

Box has taken a very current and very hot topic and woven a great mystery around the whole issue of wind farms. (There's lots of debate in my part of the world about them right now)

Joe Pickett is a wonderfully likable character who tries to do the right thing by everyone, every time. Think white hat. The supporting characters are just as well drawn - the sheriff and his cronies are eminently unlikeable. As is Joe's cold, calculating mother-in-law. Joe's personal life has evolved throughout the novels as well - I wonder how much of the trials of raising three daughters mirrors Box's own life with three daughters. Joe and Marybeth's relationship seems very real as well. The secondary storyline involving Joe's friend Nate Romanowski totally grabbed me. Nate is a master falconer and fugitive. He has gone off the grid and underground in the hills of Wyoming. There are those that want him dead. More Nate please! (Fans of Joe Pike and Jack Reacher would like this character)

Box writes what he knows. His descriptions of the land, the politics, social issues and the people of Wyoming all ring true. The plotting is tight, the story flows seamlessly and the ending was great.

I definitely won't be missing any more books by C. J. Box! Read an excerpt of Cold Wind.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Giveaway - Born Under a Lucky Moon - Dana Precious

I have two copies of Dana Precious' debut novel Born Under a Lucky Moon to give away to two lucky readers!

Don't you love that cover? What's it about you ask? From the publisher Harper Collins:

"Born Under a Lucky Moon is the tale of two very important (but distant) years in the lives of Jeannie Thompson and her (embarrassing, crazy) colorful family members to whom "things" just seem to happen. From the Great Lakes of Michigan to Los Angeles and back again, it is a story of surprise marriages, a renegade granny, a sprinkler system cursed by the gods, and myriad other factors Jeannie blames for her full-tilt, out-of-control existence. But it's also about good surprises—like an unexpected proposal that might just open Jeannie's eyes to her real place among the people she loves most in the world . . . the same ones she ran far away from to begin with."

Get a head start - read an excerpt of Born Under a Lucky Moon. There's a reading guide available also.

You can find Dana on Twitter and Facebook as well.

Sounds good doesn't it? Simply comment to be entered. Open to US and Canada. Ends Sat. April 30th at 6 pm EST.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Mapping of Love and Death - Jacqueline Winspear

The Mapping of Love and Death is the 7th book in Jacqueline Winspear's series featuring Maisie Dobbs.

This wonderful series is set in the past in England. The first novel began in the 1920's and this seventh offering is set in 1932. Maisie Dobbs is a unique creation. She began as a servant in a mansion at age thirteen. When her employer took an interest in Maisie and her intelligent, inquisitive nature, she sponsored her education. Fast forward to 1932. Maisie has had psychological training, served as a nurse in the war and now owns and runs an Investigative Agency.
"The path from there to here had been far from straight, had looped back and forth, yet always with an imagined place ahead - that she would be a woman of independent means would rise above her circumstances."
This latest outing finds Maisie employed by the Clifton family. Their son Michael's  body has just been recovered - he was killed during the war. With his body were unsigned letters from a nurse he seems to have fallen in love with. The family would like to connect with her. Maisie is hired to track her down. But examination of Michael Clifton's body reveals that he was murdered before his unit was bombed and killed.  Could his mapping skills and land purchase just before the war have something to do with his death? The case involves much more than first thought.

The Maisie Dobbs series are such a comfortable, almost genteel read, if you will. The social customs, manners and mores of the times are all faithfully observed in Winspear's writing. I enjoy being transported to this time period. The Great War brought many changes to England. Class and gender lines are changing. It has been interesting to watch Maisie's growth as she acquires knowledge, confidence and skills over the last 6 books. Of course, detection methods during this time are greatly different from the modern day detective novel. It is refreshing to see crimes solved the 'old fashioned' way, with a lots of legwork, questions and thought. I admire Maisie's quiet intelligence and her calm demeanor.

Winspear also includes an ongoing secondary storyline in addition to the mystery of every book. Maisie's personal life - her search for love and happiness- is just as interesting.

Read an excerpt of The Mapping of Love and Death. The 8th book in this series - A Lesson in Secrets- releases this week.

Maisie Dobbs is perfect for curling up under a quilt with a pot of tea - just a great historical mystery series with an intriguing protagonist.
Check out what others on the TLC Book Tour thought - full schedule here.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Happy Blogiversary Giveaway #1 - A $60.00 CSN Gift Certificate

Today is the 3rd Blogiversary of A Bookworm's World!! I really can't believe that three years has passed since I started with the idea of just keeping track of what I'd read.

Time has become a little harder to come by with work commitments, so I don't get around to commenting as much as I would like to. I seem to have become a bit of a lurker. But I do want to let everyone know how much I appreciate each and every reader, commenter, follower, subscriber and all my bloggy friends out there! Thank you so much for helping to make A Bookworm's World the blog it is today.

And to help celebrate I have a $60.00 gift certificate from CSN stores to giveaway. They have lots of great items to choose from. I was looking at table lamps for yet another reading snug in the upstairs hallway. Because you really can't have enough comfy places to read can you?

Open to US and Canada, just comment to be entered! Ends Sat. Apr. 16th at 6 pm EST.
(The small print - CSN only ships to the US and Canada, and there may be international shipping taxes to Canada that the gift code cannot cover.)

But...there's more! Enter Blogiversary Giveway #2 The Blogiversary Box O' Books - an international giveaway!

Happy Blogiversary Giveaway #2- The Blogiversary Box O'Books!

And one more giveaway to include my international readers as well!

It's the Happy Blogiversary Book Box! Yes, one lucky winner will receive a mystery selection of brand new, never read, current titles! Simply comment to be entered, ends Sat. April 16th at 6 pm EST!

You must be a follower or subscriber to A Bookworm's World to enter this giveaway. Just leave a comment. Ends Sat. April 16 at 6 pm EST. comment to be entered.

Again, thank you so much!! Don't forget to enter Happy Blogiversary Giveaway #1 - a $60.00 gift certificate to CSN stores.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Lucifer's Tears - James Thompson

I read James Thompson's first Inspector Vaara novel - Snow Angels- last year. (my review) I loved it and was thrilled to see the next book  - Lucifer's Tears - in the series. (It releases today!)

Inspector Kari Vaara has moved from the far north of Finland to Helsinki. His American born wife Kate is expecting their child any day. Their first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage and Vaara is terrified that the same will happen again. He is trying to stay close to home and keep reasonable hours, but he is the new guy on the Homicide squad and he hasn't exactly been welcomed with open arms. He's on the graveyard shift with the other new guy- a wunderkid who seems a, somehow. But then again, so does Vaara.

He and his new partner Milo are called out to what appears to be a domestic murder. A husband wakes up and realizes he's been sleeping with a corpse - his dead wife. He pleads innocence, that it's her lover they should be after, but the powers that be seem to have the case already solved  - with the verdict they want.

At the same time, the Interior Minister wants Vaara to investigate a 90 year old man for war crimes. He wants an innocent verdict, but Germany wants the man extradited as a Nazi war criminal. It gets more complicated when Vaara realizes he has a family connection to the old man's story.

Vaara is battling crippling headaches, insomnia and corrupt leaders on every level. And his wife's brother and sister have just arrived from the US to help with the baby.  They're not much help.

Inspector Kari Vaara is just a great flawed character. He's highly intelligent, but sometimes acts without thinking. He constantly defies his superiors, but he gets results. His personal demons drive him, but he is a dedicated husband and soon to be father. Supporting characters are just as well drawn. Milo kept me off balance and I really disliked Kate's family.

The plot has enough twists and turns to keep you guessing until the end. Nothing is straight forward and the two cases intersect in a way I didn't see coming. A word of warning to readers - the crimes are graphic in nature.

The setting is yet another character. The history and politics of Finland play a large part in this book. I also found the culture and food references interesting. The cold and the weather are tangible as well.
"My home, Finland. The ninth and innermost circle of hell. A frozen lake of blood and guilt formed from Lucifer's tears, turned to ice by the flapping of his leathery wings."
 James Thompson's story is interesting as well. He was born and raised in eastern Kentucky, but has lived in Finland for 12 years now. He is also fluent in both Swedish and Finnish.

Fans of Michael Connelly would love Kari Vaara. And yes - if you've finished all the Steig Larssons,  you'd enjoy this series as well.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Over the Counter # 47

Two books about mail caught my eye this week as they passed over my library counter and under the scanner.

First up was Good Mail Day by Jennie Hinchcliff and Carolee Gilligan Wheeler.

From the publisher Quarry Books:

"What is a good mail day?” A good mail day is a day when, instead of just bills, catalogs, and advertisements, your postal carrier delivers artful, beautiful, personal mail from friends and acquaintances all over the world. Mail art is a collaborative art form with a long and fascinating history populated by famous artists as well as everyday practitioners. The term “mail art” refers to pieces of art sent through the mail rather than displayed or sold in traditional venues. Mail artists often use inexpensive and recycled materials including postcards, collage, rubber stamps, and photocopied images. Mail art is a truly international activity and a fun way to connect with people in every corner of the globe. Readers will learn to create decorated and illustrated envelopes, faux postage and artistamps, find penpals, make a mail art kit, and much more!"

And Mail Me Art by Darren Di Lieto.
From the publisher How Books:

"This inspiring book showcases the 200 best illustrations from the Mail Me Art project ( --a popular online designer challenge to create a piece of art on the outside of an envelope or package and send it through the mail. You will enjoy the variety of unique art produced by artists around the world and will be inspired by the challenge of shipping art through the mail. Interviews with sixteen of the illustrators included in the book offer insight into the process and challenges of creating the art. "

(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, March 15, 2011

Home to Woefield - Susan Juby

Normally, I would begin by telling you a bit about the plot and what I though would follow....But - I cannot wait 'til the end of the post to tell you how much I ADORED Home to Woefield.

Susan Juby is a Canadian author who has previously written award winning young adult novels, but Home to Woefield is her first book written specifically for adults.

Prudence Burns is a young, idealistic New Yorker, determined to do the right thing for the earth - she makes her own bread (even hand milling the ancient grains) recycles everything, shares a car service, buys from local co-ops and even has a worm composter.
"I don't know about you, but for me there came that moment during every visit to the farmers' market when I wanted more. I wanted to be the one standing behind the folding table, a truck of organic produce at my back, displaying my heirloom tomatoes and baby potatoes. I want to be the one handing over glossy sheaves of swiss chard at a reasonable price and talking knowledgeably about my mushroom patch. The one looking cold and somewhat chapped about the face and hands, yet more alive than anyone else in unfashionable rubber boots and dirty pants."
Her enthusiasm has not rubbed off on her live in boyfriend Leo. In fact, those worms were the final straw.  When she gets a call telling her that she has inherited a farm from her only remaining relative, Great Uncle Harold (whom she's never met) she packs up and moves to Vancouver Island, Canada. She'll be able to make those dreams come true!
Dreams and reality collide when she arrives. Farm is an enthusiastic term for what she finds, and apparently she has inherited a 'negative asset' according to the bank.  But our Prue is eternally optimistic...
"The property was spectacular. So rugged and untouched. All that wonderful grass. The beauty of stray stones in a field." "A farm is nothing but limitless potential, waiting to be uncovered."
She has also inherited Earl, a sometime handyman who has lived on the property for 35 years. Her planned strawberry social memorial to Uncle Harold introduces her to a few more of the neighbours. Seth from across the way ends up asking if she has a room to rent. His mother wants him out of the house as he's been in hiding since that incident with the drama club, writing celebrity gossip and heavy metal blogs from the confines of his basement bedroom. And he might have a wee bit of a drinking problem. Prudence takes him in in exchange for chore duty. And during that strawberry social she also meets Sara's mother, who asks if she would mind building a coop and housing her daughter's chickens - they just can't keep them in their residential neighbourhood any longer. They'll pay of course - so the answer is yes.

And these are the residents of Woefield Farm. The story is told in chapters from the viewpoint of each of the characters. All four of them leap off the page - each voice is funny, unique and sometimes heartbreaking. Eleven year old Sara especially grabbed me. There are lots of problems at home and she spends more and more time at the farm, trying to live her life according the the guidelines and principles of the Junior Poultry Club - Getting Started, Take Action and Leaders Are Even Tempered.

Prudence is unfailingly optimistic. Her view is sunny when there isn't a ray in sight. Really, she's the kind of person you would love to know and have as a friend. And someone you just can't help cheering for.

Juby is a very funny woman. It takes a lot for me to laugh out loud while reading, but  Prudence's forays into Home Depot, and a disastrous attempt at sheep shearing and many other scenes had me laughing out loud at work - prompting more than one read aloud session to my co workers.

Four diverse personalities band together to save the farm and in the process - save themselves. Home to Woefield is a hilarious, heartwarming, heartbreaking, heartfelt heck of a read. I was going at breakneck pace  and had to put the book down and save the final 50 pages. I just didn't want it to end. Maybe...we'll hear more from the farm in the future? What do you think Susan?

Read an excerpt of Home to Woefield. Book clubs looking for a fun read- there's a reading group guide as well.

Canadian readers can find this book under the title 'The Woefield Poultry Collective'. Ontario readers who have seen the Wingfield Farms theatre plays would identify with this book as well.

Have a gander at what others on the TLC book tour thought- stops listed here.  Check out Susan's blog. You can find Susan on Twitter as well.

Late breaking news - Susan will be on Blog Talk Radio with Book Club Girl discussing Home to Woefield on Tues. April 5th at 7 pm EST. Here's the link to join in.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Review AND Giveaway - Death of a Chimney Sweep - M.C. Beaton

M.C. Beaton is the author of two very light hearted  mystery series set in Scotland. Of the two, I enjoy the Hamish Macbeth tales just a tad bit more than Agatha Raisin, although they're both wonderful. Death of a Chimney Sweep is the 26th book in the Hamish series.

Hamish is the local policeman in the isolated Scottish village of Lochdubh. (Which seems to have had more than it's fair share of dead bodies popping up over the years!)

Chimney sweeps are still employed in this rural village, but someone did a job on the latest homeowner to employ Pete Ray. Captain Davenport is found quite dead, stuffed in his chimney. Hamish can't believe that local  Pete Ray is capable of such a crime. And he's proven right when Pete's body is the next one found. So who is doing the killing - and why?

The crimes, although interesting, aren't the draw for me in this series. It is the recurring characters. The town of Lochdubh is populated with more than a few eccentric characters. This quirkiness that draws me back time and time again. But Hamish is the best character of all. He has no desire to be promoted and leave his beloved pets (Sonsie - a feral cat and Lugs the dog) and his tiny live-in police station. In fact he does his best to make sure it doesn't happen, having let others take the credit for cases he has solved in the past. He has no respect for authority and his ongoing battle with nemesis Chief Inspector Blair is a source of constant conflict for Blair but a source of amusement for readers.  Hamish's willingness to work outside the law a wee bit to take care of his villagers doesn't endear him to the powers that be. Women are drawn to the tall, lanky red haired bobby, but he always seems to mess up his romantic involvements.

I have chosen to listen to the last few books in audio format. The reader, Graeme Malcolm, has a wonderfully expressive voice and a good thick brogue. He has solidified the image of Hamish for me.

Hamish Macbeth also ran as a BBC television series in 1995-1997 starring Robert Carlyle. Read an excerpt of Death of a Chimney Sweep. (Fun fact - M.C. Beaton is only one of the pseudonyms of prolific author Marion Chesney)

I don't read a lot of 'cozy' mysteries, but I just adore this series! Want to see if you'll love it too? Thanks to the generosity of The Hachette Book Group, I have two hardcover copies of this latest title to giveaway. Open to US and Canada, no po boxes please. One winner per address. Simply comment to be entered. Ends Sat. April 9th at 6 pm EST. Good luck and check the sidebar for ongoing giveaways.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Winner - So Close the Hand of Death

And the randomly chosen winner of a copy of So Close the Hand of Death by J.T. Ellison is:

Susan B

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.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Make the Most of Your Time on Earth - 2E- Rough Guides

Subtitled - 1000 Ultimate Travel Experiences.

I just love this cover - that little red and yellow micro bus just calls out 'Get in and let's go find an adventure'!

When younger, more adventurous or those seeking a different agenda for their trip come into the library looking for travel books, I try to put a "Rough Guide" in their hands. Why?

From editor James Smart:
"When we started writing Rough Guides we wanted to share the kind of travel we had been doing ourselves. We wanted to push travel a bit further, inspiring our readers to get away from the established routes, even if that meant getting lost occasionally, and seek something that little bit more special and authentic - in short, to settle for nothing less than an ultimate travel experience."
Well, Make the Most of Your Time on Earth has detailed 1000 of those unique travel experiences. Thirty years of Rough Guide writers' personal recommendations are included, with 200 new additions in this 2nd edition. And indeed, the world is covered!

 I've been reading this book off and on for a couple of months now. The fold out front cover has a colour coded legend to the geographical areas. The bottom right corner of the pages have that same colour block, allowing you to flip quickly to a certain section. A map begins every section (I must admit, I read in no particular order, I just jumped to whatever grabbed my interest.) Full colour photographs punctuate the descriptions. The writing style is informal and breezy, reflecting the overall tone of the book. Each chapter ends with a Need to Know page that includes phone numbers and web addresses for the attractions listed. A Good to Know page includes general facts about that particular region, as well as interesting notes about etiquette, quotes and odd facts. (There's only one country in the world with a three dollar bill - answer at the end of the post!)

The focus of each experience can vary greatly. Sometimes it's the scenery, the culture, wildlife, nightlife, festivals, sport, food, adventures and the unusual. Booklovers might want to visit Hay-on-Wye in Wales where the ratio of bookstores to humans is 40:1! It's been estimated that there are over a million books in this tiny town. I discovered countries I had not heard of before. The smallest nation in Africa is Sao Tome and Principe - home to some of the best chocolate (coca beans) the world produces. I was thrilled to see that I had done many of the things listed in the Canadian section - I've skated on the Rideau Canal, been to the Calgary Stampede, cruised Georgian Bay, seen Niagara Falls many times and a few more. I'm hoping to travel to the East Coast this year and there were lots of suggestions for that side of the country.

There was just so much to see and read about. Our world truly is amazing. Make the Most of Your Time on Earth does a fantastic job of showcasing 1000 things to see and do. Great reading for the avid traveller - armchair or otherwise.

(That three dollar bill? Found only in Roratonga!)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Over the Counter # 45

The latest book to catch my eye as it passed over my library counter and under my scanner this week was The Girl in the Song by Michael Heatley and Frank Hopkinson.  Subtitled: The True Stories Behind 50 Rock Classics. I am a classic rock fan and had lots of fun leafing through this one!

From the publisher Chicago Review Press:

"Women have long inspired rock artists, but what do fans really know about these muses? The Girl in the Song focuses on the girlfriends, wives, rivals, exes, groupies, celebrities, mothers, children, and even complete strangers who inspired 50 of rock’s greatest songs. Who was the Emily in Pink Floyd’s “See Emily Play”? Did life change for Prudence Farrow after John Lennon wrote “Dear Prudence”? And whatever happened to “the girl with mousy hair,” an ex-girlfriend David Bowie sings about in “Life on Mars”?

Songs are typically short and one-sided, and rarely do justice to their subjects. But author Michael Heatley explains how each woman inspired the song written about her, when the song was released, and the impact it had on the charts, the performer, and the woman. He also includes a mini biography of the song’s muse. Music buffs will also appreciate sidebars on the performers who wrote about the women in their lives--Pink Floyd’s Syd Barrett would include as many as four girls in the same song--as well as trivia from recording history. It’s the perfect book for anyone who’s ever wondered, “Who was the girl in that song?”

(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, March 9, 2011

Gideon's War - Howard Gordon

I am a fan of the television series 24. Sadly it has come to an end. But writer and producer Howard Gordon has donned yet another hat and written his first novel Gideon's War.

Gideon Davis is a skilled political negotiator. He believes in peace without violence. His skills are recognized and appreciated by the current White House administration. Family friend Earl Parker - also deputy national security advisor - calls on Gideon to put those talents to use. A rogue agent has agreed to surrender, but only to Gideon. The agent - his estranged brother. When the planned surrender goes awry, Gideon is forced to choose between his beliefs and the need to stop terrorists who have taken an oil rig in the South China sea hostage. Their plan could start a war. His only ally - oil rig manager Kate Murphy.

This was a great read! I have to admit - I immediately pictured Jack Bauer as Gideon. The action is non stop, the escapes, twists and turns are over the top, but provide a thrill ride of a read. Kate Murphy should not be ignored either. She's tough as nails and rivals Gideon for nerve and determination. The political intrigue and terrorist angle is current but doesn't overpower or bog down the story at all. This is where I usually get glassy eyed and flip forward. Not this time.

Over the top - yes. Great escapist reading - definitely yes! I can see future books featuring Gideon - and maybe Kate too? Fans of 24 will love it. Read an excerpt of Gideon's War.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Giveaway - Miss Scarlet's School of Patternless Sewing - Kathy Cano-Murillo

The blog tour for Miss Scarlet's School of Patternless Sewing by Kathy Cano-Murillo stops here for a GIVEAWAY!

From the publisher Grand Central:

"Sometimes to find your life's true path, you have to stray outside the lines . . .

Scarlet Santana is never happier than when creating fabulous fashions for women of all shapes and sizes. Now, after years of hard work, she finally has the chance to live her dream and study under the hottest designer in New York. To raise money for her move, Scarlet opens an after-hours sewing school in a local record shop, teaching a type-A working mom whose rigid parenting style is causing her family to unravel and an enigmatic seamstress with a mysterious past. But as stitches give way to secrets and classmates become friends, the women realize an important truth: There is no single pattern for a good life. Happiness is always a custom fit. A reading group guide is available for book clubs.

"With a life motto of “Crafts! Drama! Glitter!” Crafty Chica Kathy Cano-Murillo is a creative force of nature. A former syndicated columnist for The Arizona Republic, she is the founder of the award-winning Web site, and the author of seven nonfiction craft books and a Web series on Kathy has a Crafty Chica line of art supplies that are sold nationwide. She also has been featured in numerous media outlets such as The New York Times Magazine, NPR’s Weekend Edition, USA Today, Bust, and Latina magazine. She has shared her crafty ideas on local television, as well as on Sí TV, HGTV, and DIY network. She has been writing stories longer than she has been crafting. Inspired by Judy Blume and Erma Bombeck, she caught the literary bug in grade school, where she used to draw a picture and then write a colorful story to go with it. It’s a creativity exercise she still practices to this day! Kathy lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with her husband, two kids, and five Chihuahuas."

You can find Kathy on Twitter, on Facebook and on her website Crafty Chica. She has her own You Tube channel  and you can check out her craft photos on Flickr.

Prize pack consists of BOTH of Kathy's Books - Miss Scarlet's School of Patternless Sewing AND Waking Up in the Land of Glitter! One lucky reader will win both books. Open to US and Canada, no po boxes please. One winner per household. Simply comment to be entered. Ends Sat. April 2nd at 6pm EST. Good luck!

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Water Wars - Cameron Stracher

I have this addiction to young adult dystopian fiction lately. I've been listening to them in audio format, but read Cameron Stracher's debut YA novel - The Water Wars. Kudos to the publisher - this was a great cover..

Vera and her brother Will live with their family sometime in the future. North America has had the borders redrawn. There are eight republics in what used to be the US and the evil Empire of Canada to the north. What this world lacks is clean drinking water. Indeed, the hopsital will not treat you if you drink tap water - it is considered a self inflicted injury. When Vera meets Kai he is standing in the middle of the road upending a cup of clean water. She is shocked but intrigued. How could he possibly waste water? They become friends, bordering on the romantic. When Kai and his father disappear, Vera and Will set out to find and rescue them.

Along the way they encounter water pirates, good guys, bad guys, get wounded, keep going and save their world.

I almost felt like Stracher had laid out plot ideas on a whiteboard and connected the dots as he wrote.  The characters were never really developed. I found it hard to believe the siblings would run off after someone they barely knew, leaving their sick mother behind. The relationship between Kai and Vera is never developed enough to believe she would chase after him. Their budding romance needed fleshing out. Some of the situations they landed in defied plausibility. The King of the water pirates was an excellent character, one that was fleshed out and that I did really enjoy.

Stracher has chosen a current and very possible reality for his novel. The idea of a world without clean water is a distinct reality. This novel would prompt discussion of water conservation.

Now, maybe it's just that I don't read and review a lot of YA or that I am looking for a more adult novel in the wrong place. Maybe it's because I listened to The Hunger Games and Matched and found they came alive when narrated. But...The Water Wars just didn't live up to my expectations. The cover blurb "A rousing adventure story in the tradition of The Hunger Games" just didn't deliver. I am sure that a younger reader would find the non stop action appealing.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Winners - 21 Day Weight Loss Kickstart

And the two lucky winners of a copy of 21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart by Neal D. Barnard MD, courtesy of The Hachette Book Group are:

1. Molly K
2. Chisum Crew

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.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Review and Giveaway - One Bird's Choice - Iain Reid

As Thomas Wolfe said " You can't go home again." Or can you? Iain Reid is 27, highly educated and highly unemployed. He accepts a summer job with CBC radio. But it really doesn't pay a lot....and his parents live very close the decision is made to move in with them for the summer. The summer comes and goes ...and before you know it  - a year has passed.

One Bird's Choice is the memoir of that year. What struck me first was Iain's descriptions of his parents, their conversations, actions and idiosyncrasies. The affection her feels for them is very evident is his writing. Never identified by name, Mom and Dad are the headliners in this book. They are quirky and slightly eccentric, but oh so comfortable with their lives and each other. I couldn't get enough of their everyday life. The common and mundane take on a whole new look.  Mom and Dad really do live life on their own terms.

Their rural property- Lilac Hill - is home to many and varied animals. The book takes it's title from Lucius - the last guinea fowl left on the farm. Guinea fowl are communal birds. Mom is relieved when Lucius chooses his new flock - the family. Iain - not so thrilled. The bird follows him around and makes him late for work many times.

One Bird's Choice is divided into four parts, based on each season. Iain's state of mind and emotions during his year at home seem to mirror the seasons.  Although definitive words such as depression are never used, his descriptions of not wanting to see friends, sleeping and eating too much and 'hibernating' populate the Winter chapters. But by the time Spring rolls around, Iain finds contentment  in seeing the farm come to life, lambs being born and the simple joy in sitting outside in the sun.

There was just one small sour note for me. I'm not sure if Reid was taking literary license in describing a scene with a hen reluctant to give up her eggs, but really Iain - not cool to punch a chicken.

Nothing earth shattering happens in One Bird's Choice, there are no great aha! moments or epiphanies. Rather, it a slow gentle read filled with lots of humour, warmth and the realization that yes - you can go home again.

Congratulations to Iain Reid for winning a CBC Bookie for Best Non Fiction book for One Bird's Choice.

Check out what everyone else on this TLC Book Tour thought. I thoroughly enjoyed One Bird's Choice, and you can too! Thanks to the publisher House of Anansi Press, I have one copy to giveaway. Open to US and Canada. Simply leave a comment to be entered. Ends Sat. Mar. 26 at 6 pm EST.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Over the Counter - #44

The latest book to catch my this week as it passed over my library counter and under the scanner was Undateable by Ellen Rakieten and Anne Coyle. And I have to admit - I did more than glance at this one - it was pretty funny!

From the publisher Villard, an imprint of  Random House:


Did your date show up wearing socks with sandals? Are tighty-whities a deal-breaker for you? Do fanny packs make you want to run for the door? Now, for the very first time, we’re revealing the secret list of things that so many perfectly eligible guys manage to wear, say, or do to make themselves completely undateable. With an essential rating system that ranges from minor red-flag offenses all the way to the irreversible kiss of death, this hilarious handbook exposes the many common mistakes that can turn an otherwise acceptable man from a “maybe” into a “no way.” From pleated shorts and soul patches to ordering girly drinks and owning more than one cat, the evidence is painfully funny to behold. No more double denim, corporate swag, or exclaiming “Booya!” No more jogging in place at stoplights, and definitely no more “going dutch” on the first date. This book is for every woman who’s ever wondered where to draw the line, and every guy who’s ever asked, “What did I do wrong?”

Here’s what you did."

Here's the book trailer....

(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, March 2, 2011

Now You See Her - Joy Fielding

In Joy Fielding's latest novel Now You See Her, we meet 50 year old  Marcy Taggart as she's on a tour bus in Ireland. This trip was supposed to have been a 25th anniversary trip with her husband Peter.  However, their marriage fell apart after their daughter Devon died. Marcy has never accepted that her bipolar daughter committed suicide - her body was never found. Peter has left her for another woman and divorce proceedings are underway. Marcy has taken the trip anyway - why not?

While sitting in a pub, looking out the window after the tour, Marcy is stunned - she is sure she has seen Devon walking by. But as she races into the street, the girl has disappeared. Could it be true - could Devon still be alive? Maybe she faked her own death?  Marcy is determined to track her down. New acquaintances such as the local bartender and another passenger from the bus tour are eager to help Marcy with her search. Too eager?

Fielding does an admirable job with Marcy's character, weaving the spectre of mental illness, grief and anguish into her storyline with thought and consideration.

Many red herrings and plot twists keep the story moving along very quickly.  Although Marcy may be blinded by her desperation, I did question some of the decisions and choices she makes - some of them were downright dangerous. But this added to the question - is Marcy of sound mind herself?

An engaging read that will keep you turning pages to see if Devon is alive or not.

Read an excerpt of Now You See Her.

Fans of Mary Higgins Clark and Iris Johansen would enjoy Joy Fielding.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Secret Soldier - Alex Berenson

Alex Berenson is an author new to me. The Secret Soldier is the 5th book in Berenson's successful John Wells series.

In The Secret Soldier, Wells has left the CIA and is now working freelance. When he receives a call about a prospective employer willing to pay big bucks for his expertise, he accepts. The employer just happens to be the King of Saudi Arabia. The King's family is conspiring against him and colluding with terrorists. Overthrowing the King is not enough, they also want war with the West, namely the USA.

As someone new to this character, I was initially quite taken with John Wells. His sense of loyalty, justice and honour created a mental image of a strong character. And he is, the book went on, I wasn't as enamoured as I was in the first half. Wells has converted to the Muslim religion, but I found many of his actions inconsistent with the teachings of his chosen faith.

The plot has lots of twists and turns and is non stop action packed. Some of the plot machinations seem a bit implausible - once you can get over the King of Saudi Arabia asking for one ex CIA operative to save his kingdom it really does move along quickly.

It was an okay read for me, co worker Michelle was jumping up and down when her hold for this title came in. I asked her why she was so enamoured of this series and author.

" I love spy novels. Berenson's writing is current - we've left the Cold War era and Al Qaeda is the new enemy. In this latest book, Berenson shows more knowledge of the religions he's writing about. John Wells has more understanding of who he's fighting now that he's converted. I enjoy the conflict in John Wells - he's at war with his past and past actions but wants to make the world safer. And ...I've read them all!"

Thanks Michelle - so between her 5 and my 3, The Secret Soldier gets a 4 on A Bookworm's World.

See for yourself - read an excerpt of The Secret Soldier.

Fans of the television series 24 or of author Vince Flynn or Christopher Reichs would enjoy this series.