Saturday, March 31, 2012

Giveaway Winner - Embrace

And the lucky winner of a copy of a copy

is:

Martha Lawson!

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

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Professionals - Owen Laukkanen

There's been lots of buzz surrounding Owen Laukkanen's debut novel The Professionals, so I was really eager to read it. Oh boy, seriously - run, don't walk to grab your copy - it releases today. Yes, it's that good. Crime, suspense and thriller fans, you're going to love it. (So did Lee Child, John Sandford and more!)

A four person kidnap crew has been touring the country, snatching affluent men and holding them for ransom. Why? Well, it's the economy. Their university degrees are practically worthless. What started out as an offhand comment has mushroomed. Now they're working the Pender Method - nothing too big - sixty grand - enough that the family can easily raise the funds and won't call the cops. In and out clean - very professional. A few more and they can retire to somewhere nice and warm. Next stop - Minnesota.

Minnesota - where Kirk Stevens has worked for the BCA (Bureau of Criminal Apprehension) for ten years. "He caught his reflection in the patrol car';s rear window as he waited and he stared at it a moment, a forty-three-year-old career cop with thinning hair and a paunch, his tired eyes betraying a mounting fatigue....Another botched robbery, Stevens thought to himself. Another day in the glamorous life." Just another professional on the job.

Until the crew hits the wrong man in Minnesota - a husband with connections to organized crime. And his wife sends in her professionals to track down the crew. Stevens is now on the case and it balloons. Then the FBI sends in Agent Carla Windermere and Stevens is called up to help these professionals.

And where things go from there is a non stop, action packed, read 'til your eyeballs hurt ride. (Really, I had the day off, couldn't put it down and finished it by that night) You would never guess that this is a first novel. You'd think that Laukkanen is a professional. The writing is smooth, the dialogue flows so easily and the characters hooked me from the beginning. The plot? Well, the plot is just freakin' fantastic. The kidnappers owned this book, but Laukkanen has plans for another book featuring Stevens and Windermere. I look forward to seeing what he has in store for book two!

Read an excerpt of The Professionals. You can find Owen Laukkanen on Facebook and on Twitter. ( and oh yeah - he's Canadian eh!)

An alumnus of the University of British Columbia's Creative Writing BFA program, Laukkanen spent three years in the world of professional poker, traveling to high-stakes tournaments across the globe as a writer for a poker website. A commercial fisherman when he's not writing, Laukkanen divides his time between Vancouver and Prince Edward Island, Canada.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Over the Counter #103

What caught my eye this week as it passed over my library counter and under the scanner? Mail-Order Mysteries by Kirk Demarais. Seriously, who didn't want to order all those cool things from the back of comic books? Spy scopes and sea monkeys!

From the publisher Insight Editions:

"Rediscover your sense of wonder!

Mail-Order Mysteries reveals the amazing truths (and agonizing exaggerations) about the actual products marketed to kids in the 60s,70s, and 80s. Pop-culture historian Kirk Demarais shares his astonishing collection, including: 100 Toy Soldiers in a Footlocker, Count Dante's World's Deadliest Fighting Secrets, GRIT, Life-Size Monsters and many more!

With more than 150 extraordinary, peculiar, and downright fraudulent collectibles, Mail-Order Mysteries is a must-have book comic book fans everywhere. Trust us."

(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 27, 2012

Blue Monday - Nicci French

Blue Monday marks the start of a new series from bestselling husband and wife team Nicci French.

Frieda Klein is a psychotherapist in London, England. She is a private person, who keeps her own emotions and life tightly in check.

One of her latest patients has been having dreams . Dreams where he 'obtains' a son - a red haired little boy that he describes in great detail.

"She thought of all the secrets she had been told over the years, all those illicit thoughts, desires, fears that people gave to her for safe keeping. ...she had always carried them with a sense of privilege, that people allowed her to see their fears, allowed her to be their light."

But when little red headed Matthew Farraday goes missing and the details are eerily like her patient described,  Frieda feels she has no choice but to go to the police with her concerns.

Detective Chief Inspector Malcolm Karlsson is the other protagonist in this series. He's a bit all over the map, but is a likable character who will grow into his role I believe.

I found the opening of this book to be a bit slow. Indeed, I started it, read about 50 pages and put it down. It was only on picking it up a second time, that it really got good for me. I did found it hard to believe that Josef, a carpenter who falls through Frieda's office ceiling becomes such an important and trusted confidante in her life. On the other hand, it does speak volumes about her personal life. Other characters, such as her niece Chloe, don't overly add to the story, but seem to have been to lay the background for further books.

French has crafted an excellent plot. I don't want to give  any of it away, but it truly was unique. The chapters written from Matthew's point of view in captivity were, as to be expected, hard to read.

I always like being able to get in on the ground floor and read the first novel in a new series. I think this will be an interesting series, focusing on more of the psychological aspects of the crimes and characters versus a 'gritty' crime series. Now that the stage has been set and the players introduced, I'm sure further books will be a bit 'smoother' and we'll get to know Frieda and Malcolm a little better.

Read an excerpt of Blue Monday. A reading group guide is also available. You can find Nicci French on Twitter.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Force of Nature - C.J. Box

Last year about this time, I picked up the latest C.J. Box novel and reminded myself how much I enjoyed Box's Joe Pickett series. Cold Wind  left me wanting to know more about the mysterious Nate Romanowski....

"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)"

Well, I got my wish.
Force of Nature picks up the story of Nate. Nate knows who's after him - Nemecek - his old commander and falconry mentor from his time in a clandestine special forces unit in '95. Nate has knowledge that Nemecek doesn't want revealed and he'll say and do anything he can to find and kill Nate. Nate goes underground again, but Nemecek has no compunction at 'questioning' those Nate cares about - including the Pickett clan.

Recurring characters return - the incompetent local sheriff, up for re election, the one deputy that Joe does trust, Joe's wife Marybeth, a strong character on her own, and Joe's daughters. I have to say though, I am getting tired of foster daughter April's attitude, despite her personal tragedy. Joe has his hands full with a Luke, a new trainee game warden, as well.

Joe Pickett is a straight talking, stick to your principles, follow the high road kind of man. "But I really do believe there's nothing wrong with doing your best and doing the right thing." But in Force of Nature, Joe is walking a thin line between honouring friendship and respecting the law.

You might be saying how is a game warden involved in hunt for a killer? "We don't have a lot of law enforcement bodies around this county. When something major happens, everybody gets pressed into the effort. Highway patrol, local cops, brand inspectors. And game wardens."

Box writes what he knows - he lives in Wyoming and is an avid outdoorsman. His setting descriptions paint vivid pictures. He's a family man as well and his scenes with Joe, Marybeth and his family all ring true.

Force of Nature does have mystery elements that kept me guessing (who are the moles working with the killer?), but for the most part it is very much action based. I enjoyed getting Nate's back story. The only false note for me was Nate's feelings for Haley, although she was integral to the plot. I thought Box did a great job incorporating falconry and it's imagery into the story. I did find the final reveal of Nemecek's secret a bit anti-climatic, but this in no way detracted from a really good read.

Settling in with the latest C.J. Box novel is like sitting down with an old friend, who has a really great story to tell you. I can't wait for the next installment with the eminently likable Joe Pickett.
Read an excerpt of Force of Nature. You can find Box on Twitter and on Facebook.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Winner - Being Flynn

And the lucky winner of
 a copy of Being Flynn
 and $25.00 from Fandango is:

BermudaOnion!!

Congratulations!
I've contacted you by email for your mailing address.
Please respond within 48 hours.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Pandemonium - Lauren Oliver

Resident teen blogger Ella is back to school after March Break, but she got in a lot of 'not school related' reading last week! Here's one of her picks....

"Pandemonium is the sequel to Delirium, a dystopian novel about a girl falling in illicit love with a hot guy who's of limits because the Man's iron, dictatorial fist and wacky rules are keeping them down. If this sounds familiar, you've either read Delirium or one of the multitude of other dystopian books with the same essential plot. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed Delirium: the idea of treating love like a disease to be hated, feared and operated away is pretty cool. Still, I wasn't particularly blown away by it. When I picked up Pandemonium, I was expecting your typical middle-of-a-trilogy YA book: as good as or worse than the first one, mostly filler, love triangle, blah, blah, blah. I was very pleasantly surprised to find myself really liking it.

The book picks up really randomly, with Lena (the heroine) pretending to be a cured girl in a New York City school. The next chapter is a flashback to immediately after Delirium, with Lena joining the resistance in the Wilds, the unregulated country between the cities where people who oppose the cure have escaped to. The story continues like that, Lena's present with the past six months explained every other chapter. All lot of others have tried this in books I've been reading recently, but Oliver pulled it off really well. Amazing pacing and character development. I was really impressed with the way she dealt with the growth of Lena's character. In Delirium, she felt kind of average, but she gets really cool in Pandemonium. Grief can be a tough one to write in a dystopian YA book, but Lena's was flawless, as was her healing process. As she grows stronger, both physically and emotionally, it never stopped being believable. There's a new male protagonist, Julian, and her feelings for him were spot on, as was her loyalty and love for Alex, her first love, who is presumed dead. He's on the enemy's side, but their relationship never enters the irritating realm of star-crossed-lover cliches. My favourite part, though, was that Lena gets tough. She's strong physically, but more than that she's self-contained, independent. She can think for and take care of herself, but knows when to accept help. A lot of heroines try for this, but don't quite meet the mark. Yay Lena!

The requisite shocking-twist-ending/hook-to-leave-you-with-bated-breath was predictable, but shocking enough to Lena that I gasped along with her. All in all, a solid read.

I would definitely suggest it to any dystopian fan! I think you could probably read it as a stand alone, but reading Delirium first might be a good idea. Nice job Lauren Oliver!"

And nice job to you too Ella! I always enjoy your refreshing take on books.

Read an excerpt of Pandemonium. You can find Lauren Oliver on Facebook and on Twitter and at her blog.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Over the Counter #102

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over my library counter and under my scanner? Unlikely Friendships by Jennifer S. Holland. Who doesn't love a good animal story?

From the publisher Workman Books:

"It is exactly like Isaiah 11:6: “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid . . . ” Written by National Geographic magazine writer Jennifer Holland, Unlikely Friendships documents one heartwarming tale after another of animals who, with nothing else in common, bond in the most unexpected ways. A cat and a bird. A mare and a fawn. An elephant and a sheep. A snake and a hamster. The well-documented stories of Koko the gorilla and All Ball the kitten; and the hippo Owen and the tortoise Mzee. And almost inexplicable stories of predators befriending prey—an Indian leopard slips into a village every night to sleep with a calf. A lioness mothers a baby oryx. Ms. Holland narrates the details and arc of each story, and also offers insights into why—how the young leopard, probably motherless, sought maternal comfort with the calf, and how a baby oryx inspired the same mothering instinct in the lioness. Or, in the story of Kizzy, a nervous retired Greyhound, and Murphy, a red tabby, how cats and dogs actually understand each other’s body language. With Murphy’s friendship and support, Kizzy recovered from life as a racing dog and became a confident, loyal family pet."

These are the most amazing friendships between species, collected from around the world and documented in a selection of full-color candid photographs."

(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 21, 2012

Giveaway - Gone Reading

I don't usually promote products or organizations on my blog at all, but Gone Reading is a bit different.....They donate 100% of the after-tax profits to help fund libraries and reading programs - world wide.  You can read their full philanthropic statement here.

To help get the word out about this wonderful organization, Brad is offering a 25% discount (excepting book ends, ends Apr 15) to anyone purchasing some of their great book related items such as:

Designer bookmarks, book journals, bookplates and book lights for e-readers and printed books. Even  games about books (there's a Pride and Prejudice trivia game!)  And their popular book shirts. Simply enter BOOKWORM25 at checkout.

And Brad has also offered up a giveaway-  $20.00 worth of product from the store and they'll ship to you! Most of their items are under $20.00 so there's lots to choose from.

Simply leave a comment with what you would choose from Gone Reading to be entered. Ends April 14.

Me?- I like the dog charm bookmark and the Check it Out tee shirt - featuring a library!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Prime Suspect Series - Lynda La Plante

British television series are incredibly popular at the library. I was familiar with Lynda La Plante's name as she is responsible for many of the much watched series check outs - including the first three episodes of the hit Prime Suspect. (originally starring Helen Mirren) I jumped at the chance to read the books.

The Prime Suspect books were all written in the early 1990's when high ranking policewomen were not the norm. Detective Chief Inspector Jane Tennison debuted in Prime Suspect.

Tennison has risen through the ranks, but has hit a brick wall (or a glass ceiling). She's on the homicide squad, but has yet to lead an investigation - until the Della Mornay case. Della is a sex trade worker, found stabbed to death by her landlady. Jane is determined to find the killer and prove that she is just as good as any man at the job. And indeed she is - or better. But the 'old boys' club is just as determined to keep her 'in her place.' Jane is not a character I immediately warmed to. Her ambition drives her at all costs, including her personal life.  She comes across as impersonal and cold at work, but it's necessary to try and gain the respect of the men she is leading. La Plante has created some particularly nasty cops for Tennison to lead - especially Otley. He does anything and everything to thwart her, including hiding evidence, sending her on wild goose chases and trash talking her. But I found myself warming up to her as the book progressed and respecting her determination to solve the cases. I preferred this persona to the personal glimpses of home life. La Plante's plotting is excellent; the mystery was believable. Once the 'prime suspect' is identified, the race is on to prove the case. Read an excerpt.

I was eager to see where Jane was in the second book Prime Suspect 2: A Face in the Crowd. Jane has earned the respect of her immediate squad, but the politicos still don't want her in charge. When a body is found buried in a backyard in a poor district in London, tension ratchets up. The residents of the district are predominantly black and the police don't have a good record with them. This time round Jane must battle not just the higher ups that want things hushed up, but the racism that rears it's ugly head in the squad room. Jane is still attempting to have a bit of a personal life, but it backfires on her with serious consequences. Again, excellent plotting. The characters are all well drawn, like them or not and Jane is starting to grow on me. The dialogue and situations spring to life, reading easily. Read an excerpt.

Prime Suspect 3: Silent Victims finds Jane in charge of the Vice Squad. A 'rent boy' is found burned to death in the apartment of a drag queen nightclub star. But this time when Jane identifies her 'prime suspect', she's in dangerous waters. A powerful public figure is the man behind the killings of young male prostitutes. And no change, the higher ups want this one hushed up at all costs. And the price could be very high this time - all Jane has worked for is on the line. Does she choose ambition or justice? La Plante excels at creating situations and characters that just make you want to shout out loud. Read an excerpt.


Now that I've read the books, I think I'll be the next patron checking out the DVD series. I want to see Mirren's portrayal of Jane Tennison. My opinion of Jane changed from book one to book three. She still isn't likable and really, it wouldn't work if she was. But her intellect and her sense of justice shine through, despite her unwavering ambition. These are the first La Plante books I've read and I really quite enjoyed them. La Plante has a number of other series - the Anna Travis books look good. See what others on the TLC tour thought - full schedule here.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Helsinkini White - James Thompson

I devoured the first two books in James Thompson's Inspector Vaara series. and was eager to pick up the latest - Helsinki White.

Vaara has never been a follow the rules kind of cop - instead he bends them, but only to see that justice was served.

But, in Helsinki White, Vaara has become the leader of a 'black-ops' unit, comprised of himself, Milo and Sweetness, his two odd, but lethal associates. All this is done at the request of his immediate superior. The idea is to fight crime with crime, with an eye to the good. But that isn't the way it's turned out...

"I run a heist gang. I'm a police inspector, shakedown artist, strong-arm specialist and enforcer. Three months ago, I was an honest cop. I'm not sure I care how or why, but I reflect on how I could have undergone such a drastic change in such a short time."

And I'm not sure either. Vaara has undergone surgery for a brain tumour. One of the side effects is that he no longer feels emotion. Perhaps this is a contributing factor? But from the second book to this one, Vaara is a radically different character. And I'm not too sure what I think of him now....

In Snow Angels, Vaara pursues a case that is racially charged - the murder of a Somali woman. In Helsinki White, the issue of racial intolerance, prejudice and hate is a tangible, ugly truth. The racist rhetoric made me feel sick.  Thompson has borrowed from headlines in Finland to create a multi layered plot involving extreme xenophobia, political corruption at the highest levels and more. Vaara pursues justice, but it is obtained by vicious and selective means.

The tone of Helsinki White is very dark and noir. The violence and situations are extreme. The characters are of course, Thompson's to manipulate, but I have to be honest, I didn't like where he took them. Vaara's American wife Kate has agreed to Vaara heading the black ops group. But, she is aware of the escalating violence, is present for some of it, all while toting along her three month old baby.

Vaara's tumour has left him without emotion and operating on a base level....

"I don't seem to care about what I do, either. My existence is binary. Want/don't want. Like/don't like. Will/won't. I have no shades of gray."

...and the writing seems to echo that - the prose are short and terse. Except for the long descriptions of the guns and equipment obtained by Milo, that I found myself skimming.

I applaud Thompson's tackling of a very real issue, but Vaara's solutions makes him no better than those he is pursuing. Will I read the next in the series? Yes, I want to where Thompson takes Vaara, but it won't be at the top of the pile.

Read an excerpt of Helsinki White. You can find Thompson on Facebook and on Twitter.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Winner - The Beggar's Opera

The lucky winner of a copy of
courtesy of Penguin Canada
is:

Zara!

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

Happy Blogiversary Box o' Books Giveaway!!

Woohoo! It's the 4th Blogiversary of A Bookworm's World! Thank you to every reader who has helped me share my love of reading over the last four years!

And to say thanks - it's the Happy Blogiversary Box o' Books! Yes, one lucky winner will receive a mystery selection of brand new, never read, current titles!

Simply leave a comment telling me how you follow A Bookworm's World. GFC? Email? Subscribe? Twitter (@LuanneO) Facebook?  Ends April 15/12. Open internationally!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Giveaway Winners - Home Front

                                     The three lucky winners of a copy of

1. Stacy
2. Chinyere
3. Mindy

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

Friday, March 16, 2012

Giveaway - Being Flynn - Book & Movie Tickets

 Being Flynn stars Robert DeNiro and Paul Dano.You can see the film in theatres today, March 16th. The film is adapted from Nick Flynn’s 2004 memoir Another Bulls--t Night in Suck City and the movie explores bonds both unbreakable and fragile between parent and child.

"Can one life story have two authors?

Being Flynn is the new dramatic feature from Academy Award-nominated writer/director Paul Weitz (About a Boy). Adapted from Nick Flynn's 2004 memoir Another Bulls—t Night in Suck City, the movie explores bonds both unbreakable and fragile between parent and child.

Nick Flynn (portrayed in the film by Paul Dano of Little Miss Sunshine and There Will Be Blood) is a young writer seeking to define himself. He misses his late mother, Jody (four-time Academy Award nominee Julianne Moore), and her loving nature. But his father, Jonathan, is not even a memory, as Nick has not seen the man in 18 years.

Jonathan Flynn (two-time Academy Award winner Robert De Niro) has long defined himself as a great writer, "a master storyteller." After abandoning his wife and child, Jonathan scrapes through life on his own terms, and ends up serving time in prison for cashing forged checks. After prison, he drives a cab for a number of years, but with his drinking and eccentricities now accelerating, he loses his job. Despite the occasional grandiose letter to his son, he has remained absent from Nick's life.
Suddenly facing eviction from his apartment, Jonathan impulsively reaches out to Nick and the two come face-to-face. The older man is eloquent and formidable; overwhelmed, Nick nonetheless prepares to integrate his father into his own life. But, as quickly as he materialized, Jonathan flits away again.

Moving on, Nick takes a job at a homeless shelter, where he learns from Captain (Wes Studi) and Joy (Lili Taylor) how to relate to the guests who arrive night after night. Seeing the homeless – some permanently, some temporarily so – and hearing their stories, Nick finds purpose in his own life and work. He also sustains a romance with a co-worker, Denise (Olivia Thirlby). Then one night, Jonathan arrives, seeking a bed, and Nick's senses of self and compassion falter. To give the two of them a shot at a real future, Nick will have to decide whom to seek redemption for first.

Evocatively told, ruefully funny, and moving in its depiction of the ties that bind, Being Flynn tells a story that reveals universal truths."

You can find Being Flynn on Facebook or check out the trailer on YouTube.

Sound good? Simply leave a comment to be entered for a paperback copy of the movie tie in version of Being Flynn AND $25.00 from Fandango Movie Tickets. Sorry, this one is open to the US only. And it's short and sweet - closes Saturday March 24th.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Gods of Gotham - Lyndsay Faye

The Gods of Gotham by  Lyndsay Faye's  is newly released novel today. And it's definitely one you want to get your hands on!

"On the night of August 21, 1845, one of the children escaped."

I was captured from that opening line - hook line and sinker. History and mystery combined is a sure bet for me and Faye did not disappoint.

1845 is a turning point in the history of New York City. Thousands of immigrants fleeing from the potato famine in Ireland settle in the city and the first formal police force is formed. That line?  It's from a report written by 'copper star' Timothy Wilde, a policeman in the Sixth Ward - home to the notorious Five Points and more.

Wilde has been hired on based on the recommendation of his bigger than life brother, Valentine. And also on his knowledge of  'flash'.

" Flash, or flash-patter, is the curious dialect spoken by foisters, panel thieves, bruisers, dice burners, confidence men, street rats, news hawkers, addicts, and Valentine.....It's not a language, exactly - it's more like a code."

Faye provides us with a mini lexicon in the beginning of the book, based on George Washington Matsell's actual book from 1859. (Take the Penguin 'Flash" quiz here.)Matsell is also a character in the book. I loved the amount of history and detail that Lyndsay Faye has woven into her book. It brought the time period to life - the political machinations, the religious unrest, the racial prejudice and the social fabric of the time provided a engrossing backdrop for a delicious plot.

Faye's prose paint vivid pictures: (It's a long passage but especially good!)

"If there's a wider street on earth than Broadway, a street more roiling, a street with a more dizzying pendulum swing between starving opium fiends with the rags rotting off of them and ladies in walking gowns bedecked like small steamships, I can't imagine it nor do I want to. Colored footmen sitting atop phaetons and wearing summer straw hats and pale green linen coats whirred past me that morning, one nearly colliding with a Jewess selling ribbons from a wide hinged box hung around her neck. Ice delivery men from the Knickerbocker Company, shoulders knotted with painful-seeming muscles, strained with iron tongs to hoist frozen blocks onto carts and then wheeled their cargo into the opulent hotels before the guests awoke. And weaving in and out, mud-crusted  and randy and miraculously nimble, trotted the speckled pigs, rubbery snouts nuzzling the trampled beet leaves. Everything begrimed but the storefront window panes, everything for sale but the cobblestones, everyone pulsing with energy but never meeting your eye"

But what really grabbed me were the characters. Timothy's life changes radically over the course of the book. From a bartender saving his coins, dreaming of marriage and a small piece of land to being consumed with solving the child murder cases that have fallen in his lap - and finding out he's very good at it.

"I wanted to know how they came to be there like very little else I've ever wanted, and I'd never felt so about a puzzle before....this was a single goal, a mountain to climb and see the top with your own eyes, and I needed to know."

The relationship between Timothy and his brother Valentine is a mystery to be solved as well. I loved the cast of eclectic supporting characters - especially Mr. Piest and George Matsell.

Lyndsay Faye has combined a great mystery with a fascinating look at history and engaging characters, all of which kept me up late, rapidly turning 'just one more page'.  I truly hope that that Faye has plans to continue on with these characters.

**Just found in an interview with Kirkus reviews...."The first draft of the sequel is finished, actually. It’s the winter of 1846, about six months later, and in it I merrily continue to do terrible, terrible things to Tim and Val."

Fans of Caleb Carr's The Alienist would enjoy this book. And author Michael Connelly says "A wonderful book. Lyndsay Faye's command of historical detail is remarkable and her knowledge of hum"A wonderful book. Lyndsay Faye's command of historical detail is remarkable and her knowledge of human character even more so. I bought into this world in the opening pages and never once had the desire to leave. It's a great read." Five stars for me!

Read an excerpt from The Gods of Gotham. (You'll be hooked...) A Reading Group Guide is available as well. You can find Lyndsay Faye on Twitter and on Facebook.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Embrace - Jessica Shirvington - Review AND Giveaway

Resident teen blogger Ella is back with her review of Embrace, the first book in a trilogy by Jessica Shirvington.

"I’m not actually sure how to summarize without giving anything away. Let’s see: Violet Eden is about to turn 17, but she’s not excited, because it’s also the 17th anniversary of her mother’s death (grim stuff, I know).  Luckily, she has her (hot,older) friend Lincoln, to distract her. Not long after though, weird changes start occurring within her, and things get a little more interesting…

I liked it, and not just because it has the coolest cover since The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer. A nice addition to the angel mythology, and, I was happy to see, the Lilith lore. It was action-packed without going too fast, and the characters were nicely fleshed out. I personally think it stands out among the many angel books that are currently floating around. Violet, the main character, is pretty cool, despite a series of terrible errors in judgement, and has huge potential to become a bad-ass, enchantingly lacking in the whining and Mary-Sue-ishness than can be found in way too many fantasy heroines. Case in point: she’s been unwittingly being trained by her friend Lincoln to be a warrior for several months, which means we get to skip the annoying ‘OMG, I wish the boys would stop protecting me, even though I have absolutely no self-defense skills of my own’ stage of the game, without an upsetting deus-ex-machina burst of magical power from the middle of nowhere.  On top of that, Lincoln is a total babe, and Phoenix is the original bad-boy (literally?). I love that Jessica managed to make this book fairly self-contained, but still leave enough loose-ends that I won’t forget to look for the sequel. So glad Australia decided to share!"

As always Ella, thanks for a great review! And if Ella has whetted your appetite, we have a copy of Embrace to giveaway! Simply leave a comment to be entered. Open to US and Canada. A winner will be randomly chosen March 31st. Or get a head start - read an excerpt of Embrace. You can find Embrace on Facebook as well.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Girl Unmoored - Jennifer Gooch Hummer - Excerpt AND Giveaway

 Girl Unmoored is Jennifer Gooch Hummer's debut novel. "This sharp, quick-witted novel follows Apron, a young woman who has come unmoored by a sea of family drama and break-ups. But when she meets Mike, she’s met her mooring. Although Mike and his cantankerous boyfriend, Chad, don’t know what to do with her at first—Apron just seems to keep showing up, usually with a fat lip—they eventually offer her a job in their flower store. And then it’s smooth sailing for Apron, until she uncovers Chad’s secret. Suddenly Apron is forced to leave behind the safe harbor of childhood and navigate the stormy seas of a young adult. She knows what her real job is now, and it has nothing to do with flowers."

Jennifer has picked an excerpt to share with readers today. From page 142...

"Grandma Bramhall’s brown car jiggled down our dirt road right on time.
“Hi, dearie,” she said screeching her car into the driveway and waving her hand
out the window. “Don’t you look pretty.”

You have to wear a dress to Handy’s so I was wearing the yellow one she gave me for Easter. Already it was so humid out that winter was starting to sound good again.
I waved back and ran into the garage to put my pogo stick away. When I came out, my dad was standing at the top of the stairs.
“Hi, Mom,” he said, one hand in his pocket and the other one lifted, palm out, in a wave. He looked tired, and tired of it, the way he always did now.
“Hi,” Grandma Bramhall said, poking her head out the window. “How’s the girl?”
“A little under the weather,” he shrugged. My lips made a U-turn. I kept my smile low when I walked to the passenger side of her brown square car.
“Well, dearie, if you’re going to make your own bed,” Grandma Bramhall sighed, throwing her hands off the steering wheel.
I knew the rest: if you’re going to make your own bed, you better be willing to lie in it, too. Grandma Bramhall said it a lot. But what it really meant was: who’s sorry now?
My dad started down the stairs, both hands in his khaki pants. “When do you think you’ll bring Apron home?”
“Oh, well, that depends,” Grandma Bramhall said, turning her head to shake it at me, sliding into the passenger seat. “On whether we decide to have dessert or not, doesn’t it, Apron? Did I tell you we are making three stops on the cruise, two in the Caribbean?”
I bugged my eyes out for her and rolled down my window. My dad said, “Sounds a lot more fun than fly-fishing.” Last summer she went to fly-fishing school and left notes all over the kitchen that said, Dear little people, I’ve gone fishing. Make yourselves at home.
Grandma Bramhall jerked the car into reverse before my dad could lean into the window. “Call me if she gets to be too much for you, Mom. I’ll come pick her up,” he said.
“Oh for God’s sake, Dennis. She’s more of an adult than you are.”
My dad tipped his head towards the stairs. “Yes. But it’d be a great way for me to get out of this shindig.”
“A man at a baby shower. Honestly,” Grandma Bramhall grumbled, turning around to see where she was backing out. Her head shook even cranked to the side like that, just a little slower, like it was up against something.
We couldn’t hear what my dad said next because of the dirt crunching under the tires. But when I looked up again, he was climbing the stairs, his hands still in his pockets.
After that, we were on our way. I punched around on her radio until I heard, “We Are the World with Cyndi Lauper and her friends.
“Oh, I love this one,” Grandma Bramhall said, putting the petal to the metal and gunning it out onto Route 88, cutting off a #1 Maine Movers truck behind us. The driver let out a huge long beep, but Grandma Bramhall just threw her hands off the steering wheel and said, “Turn this up, dearie, will you?”

You can find Jennifer on Facebook and on Twitter. And I have a copy of Girl Unmoored to giveaway! Open to US and Canada. Simply leave a comment to be entered. A winner will be randomly drawn on April 1st. (no fooling!)

And Jennifer is running a great contest as well.

"We’re inviting readers to Come Sail Away with Girl Unmoored—A Totally Rad Giveaway! Here’s how it works:  Now through April 6th, when you comment about Girl Unmoored on Jennifer’s blog at www.jennifergoochhummer.com, you’ll be automatically entered into a drawing to win a tote bag stuffed with gifts that blend the hottest 2012 e-reader with totally rad ’80s memorabilia and more! And if you purchase the book (print or e-book) and forward your receipt confirmation to contests@sparkpointstudio.com, your name will be entered to win 10 TIMES! That’s 11 chances to win the following awesome prizes:

A Kindle Fire, just in time for spring break lounging!
DVDs of Best Of 80s movies to celebrate the year of Girl Unmoored, 1985
Copies of Jennifer’s Top 5 YA books: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie; She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb; Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson; The Center of Everything by Laura Moriarty; and The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
A gift card to 1-800 Flowers in honor of Apron’s summer job at Mike and Chad’s flower shop, Scent Appeal  . The winner will be notified and announced the week of April 23rd.'

Good luck everyone!

Monday, March 12, 2012

A Room Full of Bones - Elly Griffiths

A Room Full of Bones is the newly released fourth book in Elly Griffith's Ruth Galloway series.

Ruth is a forensic archaeologist in England. She's been called in to a local museum to oversee the opening of a coffin that purportedly holds the bones of a medieval bishop. But when she arrives earlier than planned, she finds the curator dead and the body still warm. She calls for help and it arrives in the person of DCI Harry Nelson and his sidekick Clough.

We were left with a bit of a cliffhanger in the last pages of the third book, The House at Sea's End.  You see, Harry is married, but he is the father of Ruth's one year old daughter Kate. Their (non) relationship has been just as intriguing as the plots that Griffiths comes up with.

Other favourite characters are back as well. Cathbad rivals Ruth for my affection. Cathbad is a self proclaimed Druid, who always seems to appear without warning, just when one of his friends might need help. I was happy to see him have a larger piece of the plot in this book. Detective Sergeant Judy Johnson is also given a larger role in both her professional and personal story lines. Again, another character I quite like. Really, all of the supporting characters are just as interesting. Their personalities are all quite diverse and I feel like I've come to know them.

Griffith's descriptions of the Norfolk marshes always capture me. Ruth's little cottage at the edge of the salt marsh sounds wonderful.

A Room Full of Bones involves a good deal of police work, but the line between cold, hard facts and otherworldly situations, elements and solutions blurred in this latest book- especially with Cathbad's input. It was a thought provoking plot line drawing from a very real issue.

Aboriginal bones, dead Bishops, animal rights, drug runners, curses, horse racing and more are teamed up with some of the most interesting and engaging characters around. Griffiths has done it again - hooked me with a great read that I finished too quickly and left me waiting for the next in this engaging series. Definitely recommended.

Read an excerpt of A Room Full of Bones. You can find Elly Griffiths on Facebook and on Twitter.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Giveaway Winner - The Dispatcher



And the lucky winner of a copy of The Dispatcher by Ryan David Jahn, courtesy of Penguin Books is:

Pink Flip Flops!

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

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Giveaway winners - Julia's Child

And the two lucky winners of a copy of
are:

1. Carrie
2. Cory

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

Friday, March 9, 2012

What Did You Make on March Break?

March Break is almost upon us and you still might be figuring out what you can do with the kids that week. DK Canada has some great ideas.

Parents can send in photos of what their kids make on March Break and the March Break creations will be judged by Craft Guru Extraordinaire Jane Bull (author of Make It, Made by Me and the upcoming Stitch By Stitch… she also was one of the creators of DK’s perennial Eyewitness series ) and the winning entry wins a signed Jane Bull collection and a $150 DK shopping spree. Details can be found here. Ends March 31/12.

To help you get started DK Canada has 30% off some of their crafty titles in their March Break Survival Boutique. There are lots of great titles to choose from, but the one that caught my eye was Quilting Step by Step by Maggi Gordon. The daughter of a friend from work has asked if I can help her with her 'artist' badge, so although I quilt, I though this would be a great little book to review the basics before we started.

And it absolutely was. Gordon provides good, solid coverage of the basic items needed - pins, threads, needles, templates, cutters, fabric selection and more.

The next chapter goes into detail about assembling different blocks, starting from the very simple nine patch and log cabins to the more involved hexagon and cathedral windows. (This is a block I've always admired, but never gotten to yet - the instructions are crystal clear with detailed pictures accompanying) Foundation piecing and many options for applique are also covered. Indeed, there are over 75 pictures of various blocks.

And once you're done piecing your top, Gordon explains how to add a border and finish your piece. However, this quilter will not be handstitching anything in the near future! Machine finished for me!

Quilting Step by Step is a great starter book for those looking to try this time honoured art. Pair it up with some fabric and you've got a great gift. Or a way to spend some time together on March Break!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Over the Counter #101

What caught my eye this week passing over my library counter and under my scanner? Two books by Sharon Eliza Nichols. Anyone who loves the written word will appreciate these collections of "Egregious Errors, Disconcerting Bloopers, and Other Linguistic Slip-Ups".

First up was I Judge You When You Use Poor Grammar.

From the publisher St. Martin's Griffin:

"Correct grammar and proper spelling can be a challenge, and their absence can be a source of gleeful humor to everyone but the victim of a bad grammar attack. How do you react to sandwich boards, road signs, laminated instructions, and other written missives that are just not exactly what their creator meant? If you’ve ever (gently) judged anyone else for their linguistic failures, if you find yourself guffawing about the frequent confusion between “incontinence” and “inconvenience,” if you’ve ever been tempted to whip out your marker to add in or cross out apostrophes, and if you've refused to answer e-mails in which “your” and “you’re” are used interchangeably, this book is for you. With pictures culled from the Facebook group by the same name, I Judge You When You Use Poor Grammar is a hilarious and eye-opening tour through restaurants and shops, through parking lots and along winding roads, and around the world. "

And More Badder Grammar!

From the same publisher:

"MORE misspellings! MORE badder grammar! MORE than 150 photos of laugh-out-loud funny signs from the creators of the smash-hit book (and Facebook group) I Judge You When You Use Poor Grammar.
After the success of her first hilarious collection of poorly worded signs—and with 430,000 members on her Facebook page—Sharon Eliza Nichols returns with an all-new assortment of the most ungrammatical, outrageous, and ridiculous mistakes ever put into print. Featuring actual photos of actual signs in actual locations, these billboard blunders are sure to delight grammar groupies, punctuation sticklers, and pretty much anyone who can read. Whether you groan in frustration, shake your head in disbelief, or howl with laughter, this wonderful humor book will convince you that it’s just a sign of the times." (and I found it pretty funny that misspellings was misspelled on the publisher's website!)

(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!) On to the next one hundred!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Bridge of Scarlet Leaves - Kristina McMorris

Kristina McMorris follows up the success of her first novel Letters from Home - a World War II piece - with her newly released novel that explores the effects of war from many points of view - Bridge of Scarlet Leaves.

1941, California. Maddie Kern and her brother TJ are still reeling from the loss of their mother in  a car wreck and the subsequent catatonic retreat of their father into a world of his own. TJ is bent on protecting his sister and making sure she succeeds in her music career. Maddie is afraid to tell him that she has fallen in love with his best friend - Lane Moritomo - an American born son of Japanese immigrants. Determined to be together, they run away to Seattle to elope. In Seattle is is legal for inter racial couples to be married, but not in California. Doesn't that just make you stop and think? Illegal for inter racial couples...

Lane and Maddie are on their way home the next day when Pearl Harbor is bombed. And their world is torn apart. Lane's family is sent to the internment camps. (a side note - this was not confined to the US; the Canadian government also sent those of Japanese descent to camps. Eco-Activist David Suzuki was brought up in a camp) TJ impulsively joins the Army and Maddie - she wants to be with the husband she loves.

Hate, bigotry, loyalty, duty, fear and the horrors of war are explored and juxtaposed with hope, love, determination, honor, friendship and forgiveness. McMorris examines these themes through the eyes of many characters, providing alternate viewpoints for each. TJ is full of anger and a character I discounted until later in the book. Maddie's best friend, co-workers and neighbours all have a different take. But it is Lane that suffered with the most. He is torn between his love for Maddie, his love for his sister, his sense of duty towards his family and his need to prove himself as a loyal American.  He is seen as a traitor by both sides. Maddie suprised me many times - she was only nineteen when she married Lane. Her determination in this time period to go against the norm and follow her heart was stirring.

McMorris takes many factual pieces of history and weaves them into her story. Japanese Americans who were in Japan when war was declared were conscripted and forced to fight against America. There were many American Caucasian wives who refused to leave their Japanese husbands and children and chose to live in the camps as well.

While McMorris has based her book on a certain time period, as I was reading I thought - this story could be written about many time periods. The hate shown towards race, religion, beliefs and gender is unfortunately a story that continues to be written every day.

Kristina McMorris injects a keen insight into Bridge of Scarlet Leaves. "As the daughter of a Japanese immigrant father and Caucasian American mother, Kristina grew up living between these two cultures. Through Bridge of Scarlet Leaves she hopes to share with readers a unique perspective of an intriguing, and often tragic, portion of our country's history, while also honoring a diverse range of quiet heroes."

And that she has. I very much enjoyed Bridge of Scarlet Leaves. You can read an excerpt here. The book also contains a discussion guide for book clubs. You can find Kristina on Facebook, on Twitter.

Those who enjoyed Kristin Hannah's or Sarah Jio's latest books will enjoy this title.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

You're Next - Gregg Hurwitz

Gregg Hurwitz is another new to me author.  I chose to listen to his latest book You're Next.

The opening prologue is guaranteed to snare you. A young boy - 4 years old - is taken by his father to a playground....and left. Young Michael Doe grows up in foster care, not knowing who he is, but always watching out that front window for his dad to return. Another child at the home - Shep, who is partially deaf, becomes his only family. Mike is smart though and has plans to 'make it' in the world.

His dreams come true - he's a contractor with an award winning housing development. But, his picture in a local paper seems to trigger someone or something...from his past? Who knows? All he knows is that the cops won't help, his family is in danger and so he calls on the one friend he knows will never let hi m down - Shep.

Hurwitz keeps us guessing and guessing on the real reason behind Michael being a target and who he really is. In no way, shape or form would I have ever guessed it! The two 'bad guys' chasing Michael are truly frightening. Although violence is always a threat, it's even more insidious in a subtle presentation....like your daughter's stuffed animal being taken while you're all asleep in the house.

Hurwitz builds layer upon layer of tension and relentlessly ramps up the action, chapter after chapter. I liked Mike as the 'everyman' forced to defend his family. But it was Shep that I was really drawn to - I think he has his own story to tell.

The reader was one of my all time favourites - Scott Brick. Brick's voice is incredibly expressive. He easily captured the tension and action. His portrayal of the deaf Shep was done exceptionally well.

Yes, You're Next is a bit OTT (Over the Top). But those looking for a thriller that will keep them glued to page or disc will find it here.  Read the opening chapter of You're Next.  (I'll be picking up his next book  - The Survivor - due out in Aug/12) Fans of Linwood Barclay would enjoy Hurwitz.

You can find Gregg Hurwitz on Facebook and on Twitter.

Monday, March 5, 2012

No Mark Upon Her - Deborah Crombie

I knew Deborah Crombie's name and was aware that she wrote a British based detective series, but she was an author I hadn't experienced - until I raced my way through her latest book - No Mark Upon Her. And I'm kicking myself - I truly wish I had picked her up earlier - I really, really enjoyed this book. It's the 14th book to feature her recurring characters Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James, both who work for Scotland Yard.

I did feel slightly lost in the first few opening chapters as there are many characters in this established series, all with their own stories. It took a bit to keep them all straight, but I was soon on top of who was who.

Rebecca Meredith, a Met detective and talented sculler has taken to practicing on off hours when there aren't many others about. Someone is though - and that someone takes her life. As Kincaid looks into the case, he finds that Rebecca was a dedicated copper, but had made some enemies along the way. Gemma is looking into some cold cases and as she digs further, those past cases may be relevant to Kincaid's case. And those higher up would seem to prefer Duncan and Gemma keep their investigations low key and protect the reputation of the Met.

Crombie's plotting was intricate and believable. The secondary plot is seamlessly woven in. The list of suspects kept me guessing. Crombie's exploration of the elitist rowing world, search and rescue and PTSD added much to an already multi layered tale. But what will have me adding this author to my must read list are the characters. They're all quite 'real'. Although others may complain that the domestic details of the characters may detract from a good mystery, I found that they gave the story much more depth and made the characters 'real'. I became invested in their lives and want to see where Crombie takes them from here.

No Mark Upon Her was a satisfying read on so many levels - one I would definitely recommend. Fans of Louise Penny and Susan Hill would enjoy this series.

Read an excerpt of No Mark Upon Her. You can find Crombie on Facebook and on Twitter.

Harper Collins March Madness 2012

It's that time again! Yes,  Harper Collins March Madness 2012 is underway!

Harper Collins Canada March Madness is an annual book tournament. 64 books, 6 rounds, 6 weeks, 1 champion. HCC have some pretty big titles competing this year so it’ll be interesting to see who wins! Vote for your favourite books. If you vote you’ll be able to the contest to win all 64 books competing. Round One is here.

This year fans can be rewarded if they “champion” a title.

Head on over and vote for your fave!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Giveaway Winner - The Underside of Joy

And the randomly chosen winner of a copy of The Underside of Joy by SerĂ© Prince Halverson is:

Mrs. Mommy Book Nerd

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

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Over the Counter #100!

You might be saying to yourself - Hey - Luanne - didn't you already post this week's Over the Counter? Well, yes I did. But, I've been doing a lot of reading and not so much writing, so no review today. Instead  -  it's the 100th Over the Counter post! I myself am finding it hard to believe that I've been running this feature for over 2 years. I hope you're still enjoying it as much as I enjoy finding interesting books to showcase. Today? Well, it's Missed Connections by Sophie Blackall.

From the publisher Workman:

"In her first book for adults, the artist Sophie Blackall creates a deeply felt, poignant book about love—a book that captures the mystery, the yearning, at times the cosmic humor behind the “what if?” of a missed connection.

Like a message in a bottle, a “missed connection" classified (usually posted on a website) is an attempt however far-fetched, by one stranger to reach another on the strength of a remembered glance, smile, or blue hat. The anonymous messages are hopeful and hopeless, funny and sad. Ms. Blackall, award-winning illustrator of Ruby’s Wish and Big Red Lollipop, has turned some of the most evocative (or hilarious) of them into exquisite paintings.

Missed Connections is a collection of illustrated love stories. There’s “We Shared a Bear Suit.” “If Not for Your Noisy Tambourine.” “Hairy Bearded Swimmer.” Each is told in the shorthand of a “missed connection,” and then illustrated in Chinese ink and watercolor. The paintings are extraordinary: delicate yet full of feeling, each springing from one little detail of the post into a fully imagined world. Each brings the voyeuristic pleasure of watching love at first sight, and the pleasure of watching an artist discover a fresh new way to tell a story. And not all the connections are missed. Hidden in the book are three pieces that conjure up the magic of love found. "

(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!) On to the next one hundred!