Saturday, May 27, 2017

If You Ever Want to Bring a Circus to the Library, Don't! - Elise Parsley

If You Ever Want to Bring a Circus to the Library, Don't! is the third book in the 'Magnolia' series by Elise Parsley. Parsley is both the author and illustrator.

Magnolia has previously brought an alligator to school and a piano to the beach. So is a circus in the library a good idea? Well, the poster says...."You Can Do Anything at the Library!"

I work in a public library and have a small grandson who adores being read to as well as visiting the library so this newest book was a great fit for us.

He was interested in the book right away - the cover caught his eye - and it held his interest 'til the last page.

He started to remember the 'chorus' line with repeated readings...."You can do anything at the library - except......" and shouted the lines as they came up. There's a wonderful rhythm to reading this book out loud and so many opportunities to be vocally expressive. I do wonder if another word could have been found for 'concessions' (used in the food sense) as I ended up paraphrasing. There's a countdown moment that he loved as well.

Subsequent readings had us stopping to look at the pictures more closely (Library Gramma quite enjoyed the posters!) to see details more closely. There's lots of opportunity for discussion based on the book -  talking about what his library looked like and what he does at the library and what he might like to do - both 'approved' and over the top like Magnolia. I do want to say as a library employee that things have changed over the years. Things do get 'loud' at the library sometimes and we do bring in 'events'. Not a circus so far though....

Magnolia as a lead character is wonderful - she is full of life, enthusiasm and imagination. The illustrations are colourful and quirky. The facial expressions allow a little one to interpret what the characters might be thinking or feeling.

Gramma and Little Guy both enjoyed this book. You can connect with Elise Parsley on Twitter.

Friday, May 26, 2017

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #160

 You can't judge a book by its cover - which is very true.
 But you can like one cover version better than another....

Canadian/US cover
UK cover
Two Nights is a new stand alone from Kathy Reichs releasing at the end of June in the UK and beginning of July in North America. The  Canadian/US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Two very different 'tones' between the two this week - cool and hot if you will. The UK cover includes a tagline, giving us a bit more bout the book. And the reflective picture of the woman is much better than 'woman in danger' images. But I think I prefer the US cover this week - the worn jetty, the gray, ominous tones in both water and sky hint at something dark. Any plans to read Two Nights? Which cover do you prefer? You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

A $500 House in Detroit - Drew Philp

I was born across the river from Detroit. As a child we often crossed the border to shop. I watched the fireworks on the river and my male relatives loved checking out all the new cars that Detroit was producing. Driving the tunnel under the river was an adventure.
That was many years ago and as everyone knows, the boom went bust for Detroit. We've read about Detroit's problems in the news, but what about the regrowth that is happening? Or the people that never left? Drew Philp. is one of those who believes in the city and wants to part of the regrowth. His book is called A $500 House in Detroit: Rebuilding an Abandoned Home and an American City.

Yes, fresh out of college, he bought a $500 abandoned house in an east Detroit neighbourhood called Poletown. He knows no one, has no steady job when he arrives, no money in the bank and is white. Poletown is predominantly a black community.

What follows is an absolutely fascinating memoir. Philp details his journey to rebuild the house bit by bit, by himself, as he can afford to. I used the word community above - and that's what he finds Poletown to be. There is crime, abandoned buildings, racial tension etc - but there is so much more to this neighbourhood. There are those who have persevered, those who believe as Drew does that the neighbourhood and city can be saved. We also learn the history of the downfall of this once great city and what contributed to it. I admit to be quite surprised (and appalled) by some of the facts presented.

I love old houses and rarely pass an abandoned house without exploring. Old houses have charm, personality and history. Personally though, I cannot imagine doing what Drew did. However, I am envious of his drive and appreciate his conviction and beliefs. And as Drew's belief in his community grows, so does he personally.

Philp's words flow so easily and his narrative is such an addictive listen. The audiobook narrator reader was Jacques Roy. His voice is well modulated and easy to listen to with a nice little gravelly undertone. The matter of fact tone to his voice seems to interpret Philp's prose and story as it was meant to be. Factual, but with conviction and feeling. Listening to a book seems to draw you deeper into the narrative.

As much as I love reading fiction, real life is so much more interesting. Absolutely recommended! Listen to an excerpt of A $500 House in Detroit.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Over the Counter #367

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? It was the picture that first stopped me.....

All Birds Have Anxiety by Kathy Hoopmann.

From Jessica Kingsley Publishers:

"Life as a bird can be stressful! From worrying about airplanes, windows, and getting enough worms to eat, it is clear that birds can be anxious beings. Through a light-touch, quizzical depiction of bird behaviour, All Birds Have Anxiety uses colourful images and astute explanations to explore with gentle humour what it means to live with anxiety day-to-day, and how to begin to deal with it.

Following the style of the best-selling All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome and All Dogs Have ADHD, wonderful colour photographs express the complex and difficult ideas related to anxiety disorder in an easy-to-understand way. This simple yet profound book validates the deeper everyday experiences of anxiety, provides an empathetic understanding of the many symptoms associated with anxiety, and offers compassionate suggestions for change.

The combination of understanding and gentle humour make this the ideal introduction to anxiety disorder for those diagnosed with this condition, their family and friends and those generally interested in understanding anxiety."

(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, May 23, 2017

The Only Child - Andrew Pyper

The Only Child is the newest book from Andrew Pyper.

Dr. Lily Dominick is a forensic psychiatrist, specializing in the 'worst' cases and the most dangerous offenders. Much of her motivation for her chosen profession is the unsolved murder of her mother. Lily was there, but has only hazy, dream-like memories of the first six years of her life. Her latest patient, Client 46874-A, has committed a horrific crime and claims to over two hundred years old. What he also claims is knowledge of Lily's past - and her mother. When he escapes, Lily is driven to find him - and the answers she so desperately seeks.

The cover of The Only Child gives you a good idea of the story within. Gothic feel - foggy, old building, mysterious fleeing men wearing a black, somewhat capelike coat..... Uh huh, you got it. Pyper takes inspiration for his story from classic horror literature such as that from Stevenson, Stoker and Shelley. Indeed, they play a role in his tale.

Lily was a complicated lead to like. I never felt drawn to her, but rather questioned her choices and motivations. But her decision to pursue Client 46874-A are akin to those horror movies where you shout at the screen....'Don't go in the basement!" We know she is heading into danger, but are curious as to where and what Pyper has planned for her. Pyper has created his own monster with a modern twist. I did find Client 46874-A to be what I expected - he wasn't an overly original creation IMO.Is Client 46874-A truly dangerous? Or are the men hunting him the danger? Lily is torn by what to believe - especially after Client 46874-A reveals more and more of his connection to Lily.

The exploration of family and the need to know ourselves figure prominently into Lily's search. But, the sexual tension between the two leads is, well, just icky. Pyper's descriptions of characters and settings are dark, chilling and creepy. The tension escalates as the cat and mouse game progresses. Pyper ends The Only Child with a nice little twist that suits perfectly.

For this reader, The Only Child was an okay read, but not a stand-out. Was it my love for those classic tales? My feeling that I had read this story before? Not sure, but this was only a middle of the road read for me.

Read an excerpt of The Only Child. You can connect with Andrew Pyper on his website, like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Into the Water - Paula Hawkins

Paula Hawkins' first novel, The Girl on the Train, was a runaway success. Her much anticipated second novel is Into the Water.

Jules is returning to her hometown, not because she ever wanted to see the place again, but because her sister has died and her fifteen year old daughter Lena is alone. Nel died in the Drowning Pool - a bend in the river that has claimed the life of more than one woman in Beckford. (The prologue opens with the death of one of those other women.) The question is - did Nel jump or was she pushed? Her death follows on the heels of a teenager who also recently died in the Drowning Pool.

"Beckford is a place to get rid of troublesome women."

Into the Water is told from many, many different voices - there are actually 14 different points of view, which I admit I did find a bit confusing in the beginning, until I sorted them all out in my head. There are lots of unreliable narrators to choose from! The narrative also switches from present to past for the key players. We slowly find out what has happened in the past that may, no - does, have an impact on the present.

There are many secrets in this village as well. The reader slowly becomes privy to them as they are revealed by the salient characters. The choices for those with a reason to kill Nel are many. But why the teenager? There is a character included who claims she is a psychic and more. Her inclusion had me wondering if there would be a mythical element to the current day deaths. There are other mentions of smells and glimpses of someone there, but not, that added to that ethereal feeling.

"Some say the women left something of themselves in the water, some say it retains some of their power, for ever since then it has drawn to its shores the unlucky, the desperate, the unhappy, the lost. they come here to swim with their sisters.

I found I was not as drawn to lead character Jules as much as I was to some of the supporting players. She is emotionally wounded from her childhood in Beckford, but despite her past, I found it hard to connect with her. (There are many wounded souls in this village.) I did find myself quite drawn to Lena and old Nicky, the psychic. The water is a key character in the book as well - water imagery flows throughout the book.

...they never saw what the water really was, greenish-black and filled with living things and dying things."

The path to the final whodunit is clever. With so many characters with reason and motivation to kill, it's impossible to determine who the final whodunit might be. And I'm happy to say I was wrong - Hawkins includes a nice little twist at the end that negated my guess.

For this reader, Into the Water didn't quite reach the same level of suspense as The Girl on the Train, but I still found it to be a page-turning read, as I could not predict where the story was going to go. It's slower paced, but no less addicting. Add this one to your summer reading list.

Read an excerpt of Into the Water. Film rights to Into the Water have already been sold.

You can connect with Paula Hawkins on her website, like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Backyard Living with DK Canada

Well, it's the Victoria Day weekend (aka May 24) and for Canadians that means it is summer - no matter what the calendar says.

And with summer comes porch sitting, campfire viewing and get-togethers with friends and family. And of course a few liquid libations. Now, I don't drink alcohol, so I was quite excited to discover Mocktails Punches and Shrubs from DK Canada. Subtitled: Over 80 Nonalchoholic Drinks to Savor and Enjoy. Vikas Khanna is the author.

As a chef, Khanna has explored flavors, tastes and scents. Taking that knowledge...."This collection of drinks is a fruition of all those experiences and insights."

Khanna has ten different categories for drinks, depending on your mood and your guests: Fruity Flavors, Cool and Refreshing, Sparkle and Fizz, Superfood Burst, Tangy Shrubs, Smoothies and Slushies, Floral and Fragrant, Sugar and Spice, Time for Tea and Tradition with a Twist. There are also appendices detailing essential ingredients, techniques and equipment.

I jumped right to the Tangy Shrubs chapter as I really wanted to know what a shrub was! Other than a tree in my yard. "Shrub is a fruit and vinegar based drink." Hmm, I will definitely had to try one of these. But first, Fruity Flavors!

Cherry Cherry Everywhere was quick, easy and I had the ingredients already on hand. Cherries, cranberry juice, coconut cream and a bit of lime and vanilla extract. Next I tried Cucumberade as I also had the ingredients on hand. I've dropped cucumber slices in my water before but hadn't considered adding sugar and lemon juice to make a '...ade'. I liked it. Khanna encourages the reader to 'play with your imagination' and do some creating of your own.

There are color photos accompanying many of the recipes, but not all. The paper stock used is not glossy stock, but is instead a matte finish.The pictures are a reminder that presentation is just as important. The recipe page is clear and easy to read. Ingredients, method and a short blurb from Khanna are on every recipe page. See the example below. (And the sangria is on my short list)

This is a collection of unusual and inventive drinks. There are some recipes that call for ingredients I would have to seek out. But, I'll be having fun this summer trying to see how many I can concoct. Cheers!


Friday, May 19, 2017

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover # 159

- You can't judge a book by its cover - which is very true.
 But you can like one cover version better than another....

US/Canadian cover
UK cover
I am sooo looking forward to Ruth Ware's latest novel, The Lying Game. She writes fantastic psychological suspense. It releases in late June in the UK and late July in North America. The US/Canadian cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. The UK cover seems a bit lurid to me, although the colours used are eye catching. And truthfully I'm tired of girl in danger pictures on covers. The US/Canadian cover intrigues me. The letters caught in the netting suggest something sinister. So, US/Canadian cover for me this week. Do you plan to read The Lying Game? Which cover do you prefer? You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Giveaway - Mr. Right-Swipe - Ricki Schultz

Looking to fill your beach bag with summer reading? I've the perfect book to start you off - Mr. Right Swipe by Ricki Schultz. It releases June 6th - and I just happen to have a copy to giveaway!

From Grand Central Publishing:

"Rae Wallace would rather drown in a vat of pinot greezh and be eaten by her own beagle than make another trip down the aisle--even if it is her best friend's wedding. She's too busy molding the minds of first graders and polishing that ol' novel in the drawer to waste time on any man, unless it's Jason Segel.

But when her best friends  stage an intervention, Rae is forced to give in. After all, they've hatched a plan to help her find love the 21st century way: online. She's skeptical of this electronic chlamydia catcher, but she's out to prove she hasn't been too picky with men.

However, when a familiar fella's profile pops up--the dangerously hot substitute teacher from work (Nick)--Rae swipes herself right into a new problem...

Sarcastic, irreverent, and uproariously funny--the painfully-true, so-insightful-it-hurts kind of funny--Ricki Schultz's wry debut will speak to fans of Bridesmaids or Trainwreck, and to anyone who's ever been on a bad date." Read an excerpt of Mr. Right Swipe.

You can connect with Ricki Schultz on her website, like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

And if you'd like to read Mr. Right-Swipe - enter to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends June 3/17.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Over the Counter #366

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? My son would have loved this one when he was younger....he still might....

Rubber Band Engineer: Build Slingshot Powered Rockets, Rubber Band Rifles, Unconventional Catapults, and More Guerrilla Gadgets from Household Hardware by Lance Akiyama.

From Rockport Publishers:

""Whoa, that shot a lot farther than I thought it would!"

Shooting far, flying high, and delivering way more exciting results than expected are the goals of the gadgets in this book.

Discover unexpected ways to turn common materials into crafty contraptions that range from surprisingly simple to curiously complex. In vivid color photos, you'll be guided to create slingshot rockets, unique catapults, and even hydraulic-powered machines. Whether you build one or all 19 of these designs, you'll feel like an ingenious engineer when you're through.

Best of all, you don't need to be an experienced tinkerer to make any of the projects within. All you need are household tools and materials, such as paper clips, pencils, paint stirrers, and ice pop sticks.

Oh, and rubber bands. Lots of rubber bands.

So grab your glue gun, pull out your pliers, track down your tape, and get started on the challenging, fun, and rewarding journey toward becoming a rubber band engineer."

(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, May 16, 2017

Giveaway - Final Demand - Deborah Moggach

I'm sure you know Deborah Moggach's name. She's the author of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and many other books. Well, the North American release of her novel Final Demand is June 6/17. And.....I have five copies to giveaway to five lucky readers!!

What's it about? From the publisher, Overlook Press:

"The beautiful, bright, and ambitious Natalie should be doing something with her life. But instead, she’s stuck in a dead-end job and instead of improving her place in the world by her own efforts, takes advantage of the honesty of those around her, ultimately leaving them damaged and broken. Of course she denies responsibility, even when confronted with undeniable evidence that she is involved. So, when she sees a chance to change her life, she doesn’t hesitate to take it, even if it’s at the expense of someone else. After all, it’s only a minor crime. Nobody’s going to get hurt.

But Natalie’s actions actually do have unforeseen and tragic consequences, and the ultimate question is will she be capable to meet the final demand to own up to what she has done? Emotionally taut and beautifully written, Final Demand is a cautionary tale about the battle between greed and love, and our own frailty in the face of temptation."

photo credit: Urszula Soltys
"Final Demand is receiving praise as a "chilling, impeccably plotted novel" (Cosmopolitan), that goes "inside the mind of a pretty, freckled villain..." (Kirkus Reviews)."

"Deborah Moggach is the author of many successful novels, including Heartbreak Hotel and In The Dark, both published by Overlook. Her novel Tulip Fever has been adapted for film and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was made into popular movies starring Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, and Maggie Smith."

If Final Demand sounds like a book you'd like to read, enter to one of five copies being offered using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to continental US only, no PO boxes please. Ends May 23/17.

Monday, May 15, 2017

The Stranger in the Woods - Michael Finkel

I remember being fascinated by the story of Christopher Knight when I heard it on the news. When I saw that Michael Finkel had released a book about Knight, (a New York Times bestseller) I knew I wanted to listen to it. The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit.

Knight was twenty years old when he left everything he owned behind and disappeared into the woods in Maine. He survived the weather, the isolation and more until the day he was 'caught' twenty seven years later, during one of the break-ins he committed to obtain the food and goods he needed to survive. There are many questions - why would he choose to disappear and how in the world did he survive?

Finkel found answers (and more questions) through interviews with Knight as he writes about his life before he left, his time in the woods and his struggle to reintegrate into society.

I am always fascinated by real life stories. Stories that almost seem too fantastic to be true - but are.

Knight is reluctant to talk about himself and to reveal much about his thinking. But what he does express will make the reader think. And wonder if they could have done what he did.  Finkel expands his book with stories of other hermits, religious and historical loners and those of others who have chosen to live apart from the world.

The narrator was Mark Bramhall. He did a great job with the Maine accent and conveying Knight's taciturn manner of speech.

A fascinating look at a man who chose to live the way he wanted, rather than the way the world thought he should. Listen to an excerpt of The Stranger in the Woods. Or read an excerpt of The Stranger in the Woods.

Friday, May 12, 2017

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #158

- You can't judge a book by its cover - which is very true.
 But you can like one cover version better than another....

US cover
UK cover
The end of August is the release date for Glass Houses, the 13th entry in Louise Penny's Inspector Gamache series. It is definitely on my must read list.  The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Both covers feature broken glass. At first glance, I though the US cover had ice on it. Adn what is the ground looked like water to me. I prefer the looking out through broken glass on the UK cover. That bench is a fixture in Three Pines - where Gamache often sits and thinks. So, easy choice for me this week - the UK cover. Do you have plans to read Glass Houses? Which cover do you prefer? You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

In This Grave Hour - Jacqueline Winspear

In This Grave Hour is the thirteenth novel in Jacqueline Winspear's wonderful Maisie Dobbs series.

Winspear set the first book in 1929 England, ten years after the Great War. Maisie worked as a nurse in WWI, but has since trained as a psychologist and private investigator, opening her own agency.

The cases that Winspear creates in her novels are always interesting, timely and well plotted. This latest finds England on the cusp of  WWII. Hence the title....

"In this grave hour, perhaps the most fateful in our history....for the second time in our lives for most of us, we are at war. King George VI, September 3, 1939."

Maisie has worked with government agencies in the past and is approached by a Secret Service agent. The assignment? To quietly investigate the death of a Belgian refugee who landed in England over twenty years ago. Winspear always includes a secondary plot as well. This time, it's the unknown identity of a child evacuee who is billeted with Maisie's father. No one knows her name and she won't speak.

I so enjoy the cases being solved the 'old-fashioned' way - with legwork, interviews, intuition and the careful piecing together of clues.

These books are 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. Winspear does a bang-up job of bringing time and place to life. The sense of duty, loyalty and 'can-do' in the face of adversity and hardship.

But ultimately it is the character of Maisie that has me anticipating every new book in this series. Her quiet confidence, intelligence, compassion and bravery have endeared her to me. The supporting characters - family and co-workers are just as well drawn. It is that sense of settling down with an old friend that prefaces turning the first page in every new enter.

In This Grave Hour was another excellent read for me.  Read an excerpt of In This Grave Hour.

If you've not read Winspear before, I recommend starting with the first book, simply titled Maisie Dobbs, to fully appreciated the continuing timeline. This is an excellent historical mystery series and definitely recommended. (Best read with a pot of tea and a cosy chair)

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Over the Counter #365

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? What wood you make......

The Man Who Made Things Out Of Trees by Robert Penn.

From the publisher, Particular Books:

"Robert Penn cut down an ash tree to see how many things could be made from it. After all, ash is the tree we have made the greatest and most varied use of over the course of human history. Journeying from Wales across Europe and Ireland to the USA, Robert finds that the ancient skills and knowledge of the properties of ash, developed over millennia making wheels and arrows, furniture and baseball bats, are far from dead. The book chronicles how the urge to understand and appreciate trees still runs through us all like grain through wood."

(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, May 9, 2017

The Last Neanderthal - Claire Cameron

The Last Neanderthal is the newly released third book from Claire Cameron. Each book from Cameron has been completely different from the last. This latest springs from Cameron's fascination with Neanderthals.

Research has shown that some modern humans have inherited 1- 4% of their DNA from Neanderthals, indicating that 'rather than a more evolved version of Neanderthals, we are close cousins."

The Last Neanderthal is Cameron's imagining of that time - the end of the Neanderthals and the beginning of humans.

Cameron's story is told through the eyes of Girl and her family far in the past. In the present it is Rose's voice. She is the archaeologist who has just uncovered the skeletons of a human and a Neanderthal buried together - facing each other.

Girl's voice was first and I was so drawn to her. Cameron imbues Girl and her family with, well - humanity. They care and respect each other. But the drive is to survive - to find enough to eat, to procreate and to see another season. I became so invested in this family, notably Girl, Runt and Big Mother. The reader knows what happens to the Neanderthals, but it is Cameron's imagining of Girl's thoughts, feeling and actions that brings the book to life. I enjoyed the description of their language, customs and culture. (And found myself reading more about Neanderthals on the web)

In present day, Rose's discovery of the skeletons is the pinnacle of her career and her research. But it coincides with major changes in her personal life and creates upheaval at home and at work. As Rose's life moves forward the similarities with the past become evident. Girl and Rose are not that different, despite the time separating them. "I know that if I had ever been fortunate enough to meet her, I would look into her eyes and know her. And maybe she could know me. We were so much the same."

The book ends on a great note, but I didn't want it to - I wanted more of Girl's story. The Last Neanderthal is another great read from Cameron - one that will make you feel, make you think and make you wonder.......

Read an excerpt of The Last Neanderthal. You can connect with Claire Cameron on her website, follow her on Twitter and like her on Facebook.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Ginny Moon - Benjamin Ludwig

Benjamin Ludwig's debut novel, Ginny Moon is already one of my favourite reads for 2017.

Fourteen year old Ginny is autistic. After some false starts, she is in what is hoped to be her Forever Home with her new Forever Mom and Forever Dad. At nine, Ginny was removed from her Birth Mother's care after she  was found physically and mentally abused. She likes things precise - time, questions, the order of things. But most of all she wishes she had her Baby Doll from her mother Gloria's house. She worries constantly about it and won't accept any substitutes. She needs to look after Baby Doll and will do anything to make sure it is okay. To do that, she must find Gloria.

In the author's words: "...the rawness of her hunger - the utter fierceness of her desire to return to the place from which she'd come..."

Ginny Moon is told entirely from Ginny's viewpoint - and in Ginny's voice. That voice is compelling and heart-breaking. There is something in her past that the adults in her life do not seem grasp. I had a looming sense of dread as to what that might be. Ginny's view of the world makes perfect sense when seen through her eyes. The frustration of the adults around her is voiced through her observations. And as readers, we can see what Ginny cannot intuit.

Ginny is one of those characters you just want to sweep up into your arms and look after. But at the same time we can see why that might be difficult. We can see it because Ludwig has done an absolutely fantastic job of portraying this wounded, gifted child. He's done such a bang-up job because he is writing from experience. He and his wife are themselves the adoptive parents of an autistic teenager. (Who loves Michael Jackson as much as Ginny does)

But at the root of it all, we all want the same thing as Ginny..."I need to belong somewhere..."

Absolutely, positively recommended. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll hope, you'll wish - and you'll not be able to put the book down. Read an excerpt of Ginny Moon.

You can connect with Benjamin Ludwig on his website, like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

The Cutaway - Christina Kovac

The Cutaway is Christina Kovac's debut novel.

Washingon, DC. Attorney Evelyn Carney goes missing after an argument with her husband at a local restuaurant. Despite there being no evidence of a serious crime, the Criminal Investigations Division has immediately taken charge of the case. Virginia Knightly is an executive producer at a struggling news station. Desperate for a story to bolster ratings, Knightly becomes fixated on the case and begins investigating on her own.

Setting the novel in 'Washington opens up lots of avenues - corruption, political ambitions and machinations.

Kovac has taken her experience working in the television news industry and put it to the written page. The details and tone of the novel benefit greatly from that insider knowledge. That drive to get the story, beat the competition and the personal drive to be the face of the news figure prominently into Kovac's plot and characters. I liked the details of the processes going on behind the scenes.

Virginia's personal life is fairly detailed as well. But, I somehow just didn't find myself connecting with Virginia though. Some intimate detail is needed when drawing a character, but in The Cutaway I found myself more interested in the front of the story, rather than the behind the scenes life of the lead.

I chose to listen to The Cutaway. The reader was Madeleine Maby. She has an well modulated voice and uses inflections effectively to illustrate the novel with her voice. I did find that her voice for all characters to be somewhat the same though. A simple lowering of tone is the signal that another character is speaking. And her tone is somewhat 'full' if that makes sense. It's not as crisp as I would have liked.

It was the publisher's description that drew me to listen to The Cutaway. "The Cutaway draws you into the tangled world of corruption and cover-up as a young television producer investigates the disappearance of a beautiful Georgetown lawyer in this stunning psychological thriller, perfect for fans of Paula Hawkins and Gillian Flynn." While I don't think Kovac is quite there yet, I enjoyed The Cutaway and thought it was a solid debut. More mystery than thriller but a nice whodunit with some twists and turns along the way. Listen to an excerpt of The Cutaway. Read an excerpt of The Cutaway.

Friday, May 5, 2017

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #157

- You can't judge a book by its cover - which is very true.
 But you can like one cover version better than another....

US cover
Canadian cover
UK Cover
Australian cover
Peter Robinson writes of my favourite series - The Inspector Banks novels. The latest, Sleeping in the Ground releases in the summer or fall of 2017, depending on where you live! Well, a plethora of cover choices today - I found four different ones! The US cover is on the top left, the Canadian cover is on the top right, the UK cover is on the bottom left and the Australian cover is on the bottom right. Whew! Right off the bat, I find the US cover to be too pastoral for me. The cobblestones and red font appear on both the Canadian and UK covers. And I do like the Aussie picture of a graveyard, which seems to fit with the title, but I find the blue font a bit dull.  I'm torn between the Canadian and UK cover this week. I'm not too sure about the dead bride on the Canadian cover. But it does say murder mystery doesn't it? So, which cover to you prefer this week? Any plans to read Sleeping in the Ground.You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Giveaway - HBO's Divorce - Season One on DVD

You loved her in Sex and the City, but have you watched Sarah Jessica Parker in her new series Divorce? No? Well, here's your chance! I have a DVD of Divorce Season 1 to giveaway, courtesy of HBO Home Entertainment. Divorce Season 1 will be coming out on Blu-ray and DVD May 9th.

"Sarah Jessica Parker earned a Golden Globe nomination, Best Actress in a Comedy Series, for her new role in the new hit series. Divorce centers on Frances (Sarah Jessica Parker), who more than a decade of marriage and two children, has suddenly begun to reassess her life and her strained relationship with her husband Robert (Thomas Haden Church)."

Check out the trailer below! Enter to win a copy of Divorce Season 1 using the Rafflecopter form. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends May 13/17.

  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Giveaway - Mr. Rochester - Sarah Shoemaker

Calling all Jane Eyre fans! I have a giveaway that you're going to want to enter! Sarah Shoemaker's latest novel is Mr. Rochester. It releases on May 9/17 - and I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader!

What's it about? From Grand Central Publishing:

"Reader, she married me."

For one hundred seventy years, Edward Fairfax Rochester has stood as one of literature's most romantic, most complex, and most mysterious heroes. Sometimes haughty, sometimes tender-professing his love for Jane Eyre in one breath and denying it in the next-Mr. Rochester has for generations mesmerized, beguiled, and, yes, baffled fans of Charlotte Brontë's masterpiece. But his own story has never been told. Now, out of Sarah Shoemaker's rich and vibrant imagination, springs Edward: a vulnerable, brilliant, complicated man whom we first meet as a motherless, lonely little boy roaming the corridors and stable yards of Thornfield Hall. On the morning of Edward's eighth birthday, his father issues a decree: He is to be sent away to get an education, exiled from Thornfield and all he ever loved. As the determined young Edward begins his journey across England, making friends and enemies along the way, a series of eccentric mentors teach him more than he might have wished about the ways of the men-and women-who will someday be his peers.

But much as he longs to be accepted-and to return to the home where he was born-his father has made clear that Thornfield is reserved for his older brother, Rowland, and that Edward's inheritance lies instead on the warm, languid shores of faraway Jamaica. That island, however, holds secrets of its own, and not long after his arrival, Edward finds himself entangled in morally dubious business dealings and a passionate, whirlwind love affair with the town's ravishing heiress, Antoinetta Bertha Mason. Eventually, after a devastating betrayal, Edward must return to England with his increasingly unstable wife to take over as master of Thornfield. And it is there, on a twilight ride, that he meets the stubborn, plain, young governess who will teach him how to love again.

It is impossible not to watch enthralled as this tender-hearted child grows into the tormented hero Brontë immortalized-and as Jane surprises them both by stealing his heart. Mr. Rochester is a great, sweeping, classic coming-of-age story, and a stirring tale of adventure, romance, and deceit. Faithful in every particular to Brontë's original yet full of unexpected twists and riveting behind-the-scenes drama, this novel will completely, deliciously, and forever change how we read and remember Jane Eyre."

"With flair and heart, Mr. Rochester tells the story that legions of Jane Eyre fans have been waiting more than a century to hear. Sarah Shoemaker's impressive novel takes readers into the mind of one of literature's most vexing and compelling romantic heroes and paints a nuanced portrait of a man torn between responsibility and passion. Packed with historical detail and a fresh look at a classic story, Mr. Rochester is a page-turning delight.” —Tara Conklin, New York Times bestselling author of The House Girl

Sarah Shoemaker is a former university librarian and currently lives in northern Michigan. You can connect with Sarah Shoemaker on Facebook.

If Mr. Rochester sounds like a book you'd like to read, enter to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends May 13/17.

Over the Counter #364

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? One for the television watchers in the crowd......how many have you watched?

TV (The Book): Two Experts Pick the Greatest American Shows of All Time by Alan Sepinwall and Matt Zoller Seitz.

From Grand Central Publishing:

"Is The Wire better than Breaking Bad? Is Cheers better than Seinfeld? What's the best high school show ever made? Why did Moonlighting really fall apart? Was the Arrested Development Netflix season brilliant or terrible?

For twenty years-since they shared a TV column at Tony Soprano's hometown newspaper-critics Alan Sepinwall and Matt Zoller Seitz have been debating these questions and many more, but it all ultimately boils down to this:

What's the greatest TV show ever?

That debate reaches an epic conclusion in TV (The Book). Sepinwall and Seitz have identified and ranked the 100 greatest scripted shows in American TV history. Using a complex, obsessively all- encompassing scoring system, they've created a Pantheon of top TV shows, each accompanied by essays delving into what made these shows great. From vintage classics like The Twilight Zone and I Love Lucy to modern masterpieces like Mad Men and Friday Night Lights, from huge hits like All in the Family and ER to short-lived favorites like Firefly and Freaks and Geeks, TV (The Book) will bring the triumphs of the small screen together in one amazing compendium.

Sepinwall and Seitz's argument has ended. Now it's time for yours to begin!"

(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, May 2, 2017

The Fire Child - S.K. Tremayne

I enjoyed S.K. Tremayne's (a pseudonym) last suspense novel, The Ice Twins. (my review) Tremayne's newest release is The Fire Child.

Rachel is excited to move to Carnhallow House with her new husband and stepson. It's a long way from where she started. Rachel's past is alluded to and the details are slowly revealed as the book progresses. But there would be no story without....

A secluded old mansion in need of repair. A widowed, handsome, wealthy owner who has swept his new second wife off her feet. A young stepson who seems to be alright with his new family - until his behaviour takes a scary turn. The shadow of Nina, the dead first wife and mother hanging over everything. The circumstances surrounding her death. The dotty mother-in-law who may know more than she lets on....and more. All the hallmarks of a Gothic tale.

The setting plays a large part in the book - in addition to the secluded house and ominous isolation, there are the mines. Tin has been mined in the Cornwall area for thousands of years. The author has included actual photos of the mines and miners to accompany this fictional tale. The history of these mines is fascinating - I ended up looking up more about them online.

Tremayne does a good job of building the tension. Sightings of Nina, sounds in the house and Jamie's insistence that his mother is alive make Rachel question if she is going crazy. Her husband's behaviour has changed as well. The danger and tension builds and builds, culminating in a great scene in a snowstorm.

But the story continues past that scene. There were a few plot twists at the end that ask the reader to suspend disbelief. I did, but wasn't entirely sold on the ending. The journey there was more enjoyable for this reader. An entertaining light read, good for a dark and stormy night. Read an excerpt of The Fire Child.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Miss You - Kate Eberlen

Miss You is Kate Eberlen's absolutely wonderful debut novel.

I loved the cover as it reminded me of a patchwork quilt. And then I looked a little closer at the pictures in the letters. It is two people who always seem to be headed in a different direction, never quite meeting. And that is the premise of Miss You.

Miss You opens in 1997 when both Tree (short for Teresa) and Gus are on holiday in Italy. They both happen to visit a church at the same time, exchange a few words and then go on with their lives.

Eberlen has created rich, full lives for both Tree and Gus. But not perfect -  their lives are also filled with loss, grief, anger along with the happy moments. Miss You is told in alternating chapters, in the same time frame, from the two as the years progress. And unusually for me, I didn't have a favourite - I liked them both the same. I became so caught up in each of their lives and kept reading 'just one more chapter' to see what might happen next.

What happened next, but also where. For you see, in every new time period, there's a moment when their paths cross. Not directly at first, but in passing, without recognizing that they've already met.

"We think we choose our friends, but perhaps it's only just a matter of chance."
"Do you believe in the one? As in, there's one person out there who's destined for you?"

With every new entry and years passing, I found myself hoping for that 'star-crossed lovers' moment that their paths would cross. Do they? Will things come full circle? I'm not saying - you'll have to read Miss You to find out. Here's an excerpt of Miss You.

I adored this book - it's warm, witty, heartwarming and real - with a touch of just maybe.......I'm looking forward to what Kate Eberlen writes next!

Cr: Leanne Dixon
"Kate Eberlen grew up in a small town thirty miles from London and spent her childhood reading books and longing to escape. She studied Classics at Oxford University before pursuing various jobs in publishing and the arts. Recently, Kate trained to teach English as a Foreign Language with a view to spending more time in Italy, a country she loves and has visited many times. Kate is married with one son." Find out more about Kate at her website, and connect with her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter, and on Instagram.

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

I received this book for review from HarperCollins and TLC Book Tours.

Giveaway - Silent Rain - Karin Salvalaggio

Have you read Karin Salvalaggio's Macy Greeley series yet? No? Well, here's your chance! The newest entry, Silent Rain, has just released - and I have a copy to give away to one lucky reader!

From the publisher, Minotaur Books:

"Grace Adams has spent three years trying to move on—mentally, physically, emotionally—from the traumatizing events of her past. But it’s not easy when the world is morbidly curious about the crimes that shaped her childhood, when despite her changed name, people still track her down for the sensational details. Now in college in Bolton, Montana, the one person Grace has trusted with the truth about her past has betrayed her. The bestselling novelist Peter Granger wants to use Grace’s story in his next book, regardless of how desperate Grace is to keep the details to herself. And then, on Halloween night, Peter Granger’s house burns to the ground and his and his wife’s bodies are found inside.

Montana state detective Macy Greeley is sent to Bolton to handle the investigation into the fire and deaths…which soon appear to be arson and murder. It doesn’t take Macy long to realize that Grace isn’t the only one whom Peter Granger has betrayed. What at first looked like a straightforward investigation is poised to expose some of Bolton’s darkest secrets, and the fallout may put more than one life in danger." Read an excerpt of Silent Rain.

“Salvalaggio is a stunning new voice in crime fiction, and her heroine Detective Macy Greeley is the kind of tough and complex character that I can't wait to see more of.” —Deborah Crombie

"Karin Salvalaggio received an MA in Creative Writing from Birkbeck at the University of London. Born in West Virginia and raised in an Air Force family, she grew up on a number of military bases around the United States. The author of Bone Dust White, Burnt River, and Walleye Junction, she now lives in London with her two children."You can connect with Karin Salvalaggio on her website, like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

And if you'd like to read Silent Rain, enter to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends May 13/17.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Red Leaves - Paullina Simons

I was intrigued by the description of Red Leaves by Paullina Simons...

"In the tradition of Ira Levin’s A Kiss Before Dying and Donna Tartt’s The Secret History comes a suspenseful thriller from the international bestselling author of The Bronze Horseman—an utterly captivating story about four Ivy League students whose bizarre friendship leads to a twisted maze of secrets, lies, betrayal, and murder."

Sounds good right? Kristina is a star basketball player for Dartmouth. We meet her and her four friends playing a pick up game. There's an odd dynamic between the four from the opening chapters - not what you would expect of friends. Kristina leaves as the game is over to make an appointment with a Howard. Again, a very odd dynamic and a reveal. (I'm not going to spoil it in case you plan to read this book.) More oddness - Kristina happens to catch the eye of a police detective as she flounces around without a coat in the cold. (Much is made of her going without warm clothing throughout the book.) The cop's behaviour is not believable at all. Or is Kristina's or anyone else's for that matter.

So, part one is a (repetitive) rehash of the relationship between the four, both past and present that seems to go on and on. I grew tired of the enigmatic, evasive and mysterious circumstances of their friendships, the philosophical wordplay and bantering. (Stop here if you are going to read Red Leaves - spoiler ahead. I can't help it) Part two finds Kristina dead. And guess who's in charge. Yes, that detective. His police work is slipshod and so far removed from actual police procedure that it's laughable. (More spoiling....at one point he has about a dozen Saturday night specials (guns) in his trunk that he hasn't turned in yet from a bust two or three weeks ago.)

Okay, so the murder is (poorly) investigated. But along with that, every character cannot remember or later (two years in one case) admits they lied. This felt like a very convenient plot device much of the time. And the book continued on long after it should have ended. (The whodunit is not surprising)

I found the writing choppy, stilted and clumsy. That comparison made to Secret History the publisher made? Nope, not even close.

What I subsequently discovered was that Red Leaves was originally published in 1996. I'm sure that Simons' work has become more polished as she has since written thirteen more bookS since Red Leaves and garnered much praise. Sorry to say, but this book was a (big) miss for me. Read an excerpt of Red Leaves.

Cr: Renaissance Studio
"Paullina Simons is an internationally bestselling author whose novels include Bellagrand and The Bronze Horseman was born in Leningrad in 1963. As a child she immigrated to Queens, New York, and attended colleges in Long Island. Then she moved to England and attended Essex University, before returning to America. She lives in New York with her husband and children." Find out more about Paullina at her website, follow her on Twitter, and connect with her on Facebook.

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

I received this book for review from HarperCollins and TLC Book Tours.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #156

- You can't judge a book by its cover - which is very true.
 But you can like one cover version better than another....

US cover
Canadian cover.
I've always enjoyed Jo Nesbo's gritty crime novels, especially the Harry Hole series. The newest entry is The Thirst. The US cover is on the left and the Canadian cover is on the right. This week is interesting in that the picture is the same, but the font colour, placement and the taglines are the differences. I find myself drawn more to the Canadian cover this week. The red seems to promise a dangerous read. And I wonder about the pattern in the words The Thirst. So Canadian cover for me this week. Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read The Thirst? You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Giveaway - I'll Eat When I'm Dead - Barbara Bourland

Barbara Bourland's new novel, I'll Eat When I'm Dead, releases May 2/17 - and I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader! What's it about?

From Grand Central Publishing:

"Every weekday morning, as the sun rose above Sixth Avenue, a peerless crop of women - frames poised, behavior polished, networks connected, and bodies generally buffed to a high sheen - were herded by the cattle prod of their own ambition to one particular building. They're smart, stylish, and sophisticated, even the one found dead in her office.

When stylish Hillary Whitney dies alone in a locked, windowless conference room at the offices of RAGE Fashion Book, her death is initially ruled an unfortunate side effect of the unrelenting pressure to be thin. But Hillary's best friend and fellow RAGE editor Catherine Ono knows her friend's dieting wasn't a capital P problem. If beauty could kill, it'd take more than that.

When two months later, a cryptic note in Hillary's handwriting ends up in the office of the NYPD and the case is reopened, Det. Mark Hutton is led straight into the glamorous world of RAGE and into the life of hot-headed and fiercely fabulous Cat, who insists on joining the investigation. Surrounded by a supporting cast of party girls, Type A narcissists and half- dead socialites, Cat and her colleague Bess Bonner are determined to solve the case and achieve sartorial perfection. But their amateur detective work has disastrous results, and the two ingénues are caught in a web of drugs, sex, lies and moisturizer that changes their lives forever.

Viciously funny, this sharp and satirical take on the politics of women's bodies and women's work is an addictive debut novel that dazzles with style and savoire faire." Read an excerpt of I'll Eat When I'm Dead.

"Barbara Bourland lives in Baltimore, MD. Formerly, she was a web producer for O, The OprahMagazine, and OWN, The Oprah Winfrey Network. I'll Eat When I'm Dead is her first novel. She is currently at work on a sequel, entitled Maniacs. Her third novel, Pine City, is also forthcoming from Grand Central Publishing." You can connect with Barbara on her website and follow her on Twitter.

And if you'd like to read I'll Eat When I'm Dead, enter to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends May 13/17.

Over the Counter #363

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? One for the feline fans this week....

Cat Castles: 20 Cardboard Habitats You Can Build Yourself Paperback 16
by Carin Oliver.

From Quirk Books:

"Build your cat “paw-some” homemade habitats with easy instructions and common materials.

Shoeboxes and paper bags are fine for other cats. But your favorite felines deserve luxurious living spaces! This DIY construction guide includes fun and easy instructions for making cardboard trains, ships, food trucks, rockets, and other hideouts. Also included are tips for climbing towers and scratching pads that they can use to stay sharp.

All twenty projects are quick to assemble and require inexpensive and easy-to-find materials. You can customize them to match your cat’s wildest desires!"

(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, April 25, 2017

Beartown - Fredrik Backman

Fredrik Backman's books have always affected me - made me laugh, made me cry and made me think. A Man Called Ove and Britt-Marie Was Here are my two favourites. His newest book, Beartown, has just released. And it is a powerful and compelling read.

Beartown's opening chapter makes it impossible to not keep reading....

"Late one evening toward the end of March, a teenager picked up a double-barreled shotgun, walked into the forest, put the gun to someone else's forehead and pulled the trigger. This is the story of how we got there."

Beartown is a small town nestled deep in the forest. What you must know is that Beartown is a hockey town. The residents (well most of them) live and breathe hockey. They have their hopes pinned on the junior team. They've made it to the semi finals. But if they win - it could mean new hope for the dying town - jobs, a new rink, tourism, a hockey school, a shopping centre - and hope.

"We need to feel, just once, that we're the best. I know it's a game. But that's not all it is. Not always."

Backman excels at characterizations. But the scope of Beartown is simply amazing. There are a core group of players and their families, but the supporting cast is just as well fleshed out. Every character in Beartown has a story. The setting is just as much a player as well. I could hear the pucks, feel the cold and picture the trees.

It is impossible not to be drawn into the story of Beartown. As we come to know the characters, it is their attitudes, outlooks, plans, schemes and dreams that drive the story forward. Forward to that first chapter.

An ugly event occurs that changes the lives of the players, their families and the townsfolk forever. Part two deals with the fallout from that event. As I mentioned, Backman's books make the reader feel - and again I was moved to tears, shaking my fist in anger and my head in disgust. I wanted so badly to skip to the last chapter to see what ending and resolution Backman had planned, but I managed not to. And I am glad I didn't - for it's all about storytelling in Beartown. To know the ending and not the path there would have robbed me of a fantastic read.

There are so many moments, truths and 'aha's' throughout Beartown. Although hockey is the focus of this book, you could easily substitute another sport - football comes to mind. And the question should be in every reader's thoughts - what price is too high to ensure a win?

From the book..."Why does anyone care about hockey? Because it tells stories." With Beartown, Backman tells one helluva of a story. Read an excerpt of Beartown.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Giveaway - The Resurrection of Gavin Stone - DVD/Blu-ray Combo Pack

Flash giveaway!! I had a chance to watch and review The Resurrection of Gavin Stone last week. In case you missed it, you can read my review here. It's a wonderful film - and I have two Blu-ray/Dvd combo packs to giveaway courtesy of Universal Pictures Home Entertainment!

Synopsis: "Gavin Stone (Brett Dalton, Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) is a former child star whose hard-partying ways get him in trouble, forcing him to do 200 hours of community service at a church in his hometown. Gavin pretends to be a Christian to land the part of Jesus in the church's annual Passion Play and discovers that the most important role of his life is far from Hollywood in this inspirational comedy about faith, forgiveness and second chances from the director of What If…. Also starring Neil Flynn (The Middle), D.B. Sweeney (The Cutting Edge) and WWE legend Shawn Michaels."

Check out the trailer below for The Resurrection of Gavin Stone. May 2nd is the home release date. Scroll down to enter the Rafflcopter giveaway! This is short and sweet readers - you have until midnight Tuesday, April 25th EST to enter. Open to US only, no PO boxes please.