Friday, April 20, 2018

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #207

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
"In this twisty psychological thriller from the New York Times and Sunday Times bestselling author of The Girl Before, an actress plays both sides of a murder investigation." That's the premise of JP Delaney's forthcoming novel, Believe Me. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right.So....two different looks. Red vs. White. A person vs. a place. Snap judgement - I would pick the UK cover as I am v. tired of women's faces on covers. But that US cover looked somewhat familiar to me. It took me a bit, but I finally remembered the book it reminded me of - In the Blood by Lisa Unger. The UK cover is very similar in tone to Delaney's first novel, The Girl Before. Just a different shot of the same house. So, this week is kinda been there, done that for me. But if pushed to choose, it would be the UK cover. What about you? Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read Believe Me?

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

Thursday, April 19, 2018

I'll Be Gone in the Dark - Michelle McNamara

I love a good, fictional murder mystery and rarely read true crime. But I was eager to read I'll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara. It was the subtitle that grabbed me: "One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer."

McNamara was a journalist and the founder of TrueCrimeDiary.com. I say was, as she passed away before her book was published.

Michelle's instincts and drive for answers led her to delve deeply into the decades old case of a serial rapist and murderer who terrorized California for over the course of ten years.

It was truly fascinating to see the timeline, clues and hypothesis she built from her painstaking search.  McNamara pursued the tiniest of leads, coming up with connections that kept moving her forward. Her investigative skills were truly impressive. And along with fascinating, I'll Be Gone in the Dark is just as frightening. Definitely don't listen to this at night. Alone. By yourself.

The timeline of the book does jump around - keep an eye or an ear on the heading for each chapter. Despite that, it's not a problem to follow the story at all - it makes for riveting reading or listening.

McNamara offers up pieces of her own life in I'll Be Gone in the Dark. And for this reader, it was this personal aspect that had I'll Be Gone in the Dark encompassing more than simply a 'true crime' label.

I did choose to listen. Gabra Zackman was the narrator. She has a clean, crisp, no nonsense voice that matched the mental image I had for the author. Her inflection captures the tone and tenor of the content. An 'easy to to listen to' narrator that did a great job interpreting a not so easy narrative. Listen to an excerpt of I'll Be Gone in the Dark.

Gillian Flynn provides a great introduction to the book. And the title? "He pointed a knife at her and issued a chilling warning: "Make one move and you'll be silent forever and I'll be gone in the dark."

The case remains unsolved......

(Gentle readers, this is not the book for you -  the cases are somewhat graphic in their detail.)

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Over the Counter #414

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Oh, that cover image....

Cringeworthy by Melissa Dahl.

From Portfolio Books:

"New York magazine's "Science of Us" editor explains the compelling psychology of awkwardness, and asks: what if the moments that make us feel most awkward are actually valuable?

Have you ever said goodbye to someone, only to discover that you're both walking in the same direction? Or had your next thought fly out of your brain in the middle of a presentation? Or accidentally liked an old photo on someone's Instagram or Facebook, thus revealing yourself to be a creepy social media stalker?

Melissa Dahl, editor of New York magazine's "Science of Us" website, has. After a lifetime of cringing, she became intrigued by awkwardness: a universal but underappreciated emotion. In this witty and compassionate book, Dahl explores the oddest, cringiest corners of our world. She chats with strangers on the busy New York City subway, goes on awkward friend dates using a "Tinder-for-friendship" app, takes improv comedy lessons, and even reads aloud from her (highly embarrassing!) middle school diary to a crowd of strangers.

After all of that, she realizes: Awkward moments are opportunities to test yourself. When everyone else is pretending to have it under control, you can be a little braver and grow a little bigger--while remaining true to your awkward self. And along the way, you might find that awkward moments unite us in our mutual human ridiculousness."

(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!)

Monday, April 16, 2018

Then She Was Gone - Lisa Jewell

Then She Was Gone is Lisa Jewell's newest novel.

Laurel's fifteen year old Ellie Mack disappeared without a trace ten years ago. The loss of a daughter and sister has affected all members of the Mack family. When Laurel meets a man named Floyd and decides it's time to date again, she is stunned when she meets his young daughter. Poppy is the spitting image of Ellie.

All kinds of roads that this story could go down, isn't there? Astute readers will suss out the most obvious one as the story plays out.

There are multiple points of view in Then She Was Gone. Laurel and Ellie, but also Floyd and another protagonist. The timeline goes from a past to present narrative as well. All of the characters are strongly depicted and the reader will have no problem making up their minds about them. I did find Laurel's decision making to be a bit iffy. But, without those bad choices, there wouldn't be a story!

The plotting of Then She Was Gone was a bit predictable. But, I was surprised by the way Jewell chose to end the book. I wasn't sure about it, but it's fitting.

Then She Was Gone is an entertaining, easy read, perfect for the beach bag this summer.

Friday, April 13, 2018

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #206

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
"A remote lodge in upstate New York is the perfect winter wonderland getaway... until the bodies start piling up." That's the premise of Shari Lapena's forthcoming book, An Unwanted Guest. And yes, it's been added to my TBR list. The US/Canadian cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Okay...so the colour tones used on both covers are in the blue/black spectrum. Title fonts are in white. But, I like the red of the UN on the US cover. I feel like we've seen the 'mysterious lit window in a house with birds flying by a dark tree' cover before. I much prefer the androgynous head in the armchair. It's ominous in it's simplicity. So, easy choice for me this week - US/Canadian. What about you? Which cover to you prefer? Any plans to read An Unwanted Guest?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

The Beloveds - Maureen Lindley

I love the cover of Maureen Lindley's new novel, The Beloveds. Those overgrown vines covering the door hint at a tangled tale within.

And it is. Sisters Betty and Gloria have never really got along. Everything seems to come easy to the sunny-natured Gloria, but not so for Betty. Betty is not one of the "Beloveds". In her own words..."I am not one of the Beloveds. You know those people with a star above their heads: loved and admired, lucky in love, lucky in everything."

Betty yearns for the day when Pipits, the family home will be hers by birthright as the oldest child. The house speaks to Betty and she loves it and the gardens surrounding it. But when the girls' mother dies, she leaves the estate to Gloria - and that does not sit well with Betty. Not at all.

What follows is a dark and twisted tale of Betty's attempts to regain what she sees as her birthright. Initially I could understand Betty's anger and resentment. But Lindley takes Betty further down the path of animosity and obsession than I could have imagined. Her schemes to take back Pipits grow darker and more dangerous. As does Betty's mindset. The reader is along for the ride as she descends into what can only be termed madness. And yet.....I still felt sorry for her.

"It's true that I have learned how to appear calm when I am angry. But that doesn't mean I don't feel things. To have my way, I practice charm, keep my true nature hidden. People find it hard to deal with a person who doesn't emote in the way they expect. The want you to empathize with their trivial problems. They shy away from superior intellects, so I find it easier to act the part of loving sister, forgiving sister-in-law, accepting friend. I'm a good actress."

The Beloveds is told through Betty's point of view, with Gloria's actions and dialogue as seen by her. I wondered about Gloria - is she really the 'Beloved' she appears to be? Or is she aware of what losing the house has done to Betty?

I quite enjoyed the descriptions of Pipits and the grounds. The house is also a character in the book, not just a setting.

Deliciously dark and disturbing. The publisher has described The Beloveds as "An exploration of domestic derangement, as sinister as Daphne Du Maurier’s classic Rebecca, that plumbs the depths of sibling rivalry with wit and menace." Quite apt I would say. Read an excerpt of The Beloveds.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Over the Counter #413

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Looking for a vacation destination?

Holidays in Soviet Sanatoriums by Maryam Omidi

From Fuel Publishing:

"Architecturally diverse and ideologically staunch, Soviet sanatoriums were intended to edify and invigorate

Visiting a Soviet sanatorium is like stepping back in time. Originally built in the 1920s, they afforded workers a place to holiday, courtesy of a state-funded voucher system. At their peak they were visited by millions of citizens across the USSR every year. A combination of medical institution and spa, the era’s sanatoriums are among the most innovative buildings of their time.

Although aesthetically diverse, Soviet utopian values permeated every aspect of these structures; Western holidays were perceived as decadent. By contrast, sanatorium breaks were intended to edify and strengthen visitors: health professionals carefully monitored guests throughout their stay, so they could return to work with renewed vigor. Certain sanatoriums became known for their specialist treatments, such as crude-oil baths, radon water douches and stints in underground salt caves.

While today some sanatoriums are in critical states of decline, many are still fully operational and continue to offer their Soviet-era treatments to visitors. Using specially commissioned photographs by leading photographers of the post-Soviet territories, and texts by sanatorium expert Maryam Omidi, this book documents over 45 sanatoriums and their unconventional treatments. From Armenia to Uzbekistan, it represents the most comprehensive survey to date of this fascinating and previously overlooked Soviet institution."

(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 10, 2018

Giveaway - If We Had Known - Elise Juska

Elise Juska's new novel, If We Had Known, releases on April 17th and I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader!

From Grand Central Publishing:

"A literary tour de force from the acclaimed author of The Blessings-a riveting new novel about one of the most urgent crises of our time.

One August afternoon, as single mother Maggie Daley prepares to send her only child off to college, their world is shattered by news of a mass shooting at the local mall in rural Maine. As reports and updates about the tragedy begin to roll in, Maggie, an English professor, is further stunned to learn that the gunman had been a student of hers. Nathan Dugan was an awkward, complicated young man whose quiet presence in her classroom had faded from her memory-but not, it seems, the memories of his classmates.

When a viral blog post hints at the existence of a dark, violence-tinged essay Nathan had written during Maggie’s freshman comp seminar, Maggie soon finds herself at the center of a heated national controversy. Could the overlooked essay have offered critical red flags that might have warned of, or even prevented, the murders to come? As the media storm grows around her, Maggie makes a series of desperate choices that threaten to destroy not just the personal and professional lives she’s worked so hard to build, but-more important-the happiness and safety of her sensitive daughter, Anna.

Engrossing and provocative, combining sharp plot twists with Juska’s award-winning, trademark literary sophistication, If We Had Known is at once an unforgettable mother-daughter journey, an exquisite portrait of a community in turmoil, and a harrowing examination of ethical and moral responsibility in a dangerously interconnected digital world." Read an excerpt of If We Had Known.

"Elise Juska‘s fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Ploughshares, Gettysburg Review, The Missouri Review, Good Housekeeping, The Hudson Review, and many other publications. She is the recipient of the Alice Hoffman Prize for Fiction from Ploughshares and her work has been cited in The Best American Short Stories. She lives in Philadelphia, where she is the director of the undergraduate creative writing program at the University of the Arts." You can connect with Elise Juska on her website and follow her on Twitter.

If you'd like to read If We Had Known, enter for a chance to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends April 21/18.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Need to Know - Karen Cleveland

I initially passed over Karen Cleveland's debut novel, Need to Know. I saw the phrase "CIA counterintelligence analyst." I'm not a fan of espionage/spy novels. But, I kept reading great reviews and realized the premise wasn't quite what I had imagined.

Vivian Miller is an analyst working on finding Russian sleeper agents in the US. She's hacked her way into a Russian handler's computer. And what she finds stuns her - a photo of her husband Matt. What will she do? Turn him in? Protect him? After all they have four children together.

Cleveland has penned a fast paced thriller, one that moves forward very quickly with each development. Along the way, the reader's assumptions and deductions will change with each new twist Cleveland adds.

The focus of Need to Know is not so much about the espionage - in fact I questioned whether Viv could have actually gotten away with some of the things she does.  But, then I discovered that Cleveland was herself a CIA analyst, so I will defer to her inside knowledge. Need to Know instead focuses more on the choices Vivian has to make and what she will do to protect her family - especially her children.

I chose to listen to Need to Know. The reader was Mia Barron. She was a good choice. Her voice is clear and concise. Her voice 'moves', conveying the emotion and action of the story easily.  Listen to an excerpt.

"Charlize Theron will produce and star in the spy thriller “Need to Know” for Universal Pictures."

Friday, April 6, 2018

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #205

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
I was so excited to see that Emma Healey has a new book coming out. I really enjoyed her first book, Elizabeth is missing.  Two very different looks this week for the forthcoming Whistle in the Dark. (And I love that title) The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. The blue of the US cover is appealing. There are faces hidden in the wash of colour. The blue has movement, the font used is simple and suits the tone of the cover. The UK cover is busier. It too has movement with the birds in flight. I'm not a fan of the colours used though. But the tagline would definitely have me picking up the book. "How do you rescue someone who has already been found?" If the books were side by side on a bookstore table I would pick up the US version first. So, US for me this week. What about you? Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read Whistle in the dark?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Over the Counter #412

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the counter and under my scanner? I'm fascinated by vintage trailers.....

Trailerama by Phil Noyes.

From the publisher, Gibbs-Smith:

"A celebration of the travel trailer’s unique place in twentieth-century America.

Trailerama provides a visual wonderland filled with fascinating and diverse imagery that will surprise the average reader. From sheet music to greeting cards, postcards to Hollywood, the travel trailer figured prominently in twentieth-century American pop culture. It’s put on grand display in this kitschy celebration culled from the coffers of Trailer Travel’s Phil Noyes.

Phil Noyes has been a television and film producer in Los Angeles for two decades, and produced a PBS special on the history of the RV in America called Mobile America. He cowrote the Gibbs Smith book Trailer Travel and also writes a regular column for RV Magazine called “Trailer Tribe.” He owns many vintage trailers, and his backyard could pass for a trailer park."

(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 3, 2018

All the Beautiful Lies - Peter Swanson

I would pick up All the Beautiful Lies on the cover alone - but it's Peter Swanson's writing and plotting that is the real draw for me.

When Harry's father Bill dies, he travels back to Maine to the home Bill shared with his second wife Alice. Harry doesn't know Alice very well, but he feels obligated to stay with her right now. He does find Alice - and her behaviour - a bit unsettling. When the police reveal that Bill's death was not an accident, his unease increases....

All the Beautiful Lies unfolds in a then and now timeline. We get to to know Alice from her childhood through to current day. No spoilers, but there are reasons she makes Harry uneasy. Her chapters were decidedly unsettling. There is another 'past' POV from someone in Alice's life that adds much to why and who Alice is. Again, I don't want to reveal too much. The present is the investigation into Bill's death and Harry's POV.

Oh, Swanson is a master of manipulating the reader. Just when you think you have things figured out, the story takes a sharp left. I honestly didn't see the first turn coming - or the ending twist. Another great read from Swanson. Here's an excerpt. (Gentle readers may find parts of this book disturbing.)

Monday, April 2, 2018

Thirteen - Steve Cavanagh

You know that little thrill you get when you realize you've stumbled onto a fantastic read? I had that from the first pages of Steve Cavanagh's latest novel, Thirteen.

This is the fourth book featuring Eddie Flynn - con man turned defense lawyer. Eddie is a great lead character - dogged and clever. He's impossible not to like.

A Hollywood star is accused of killing his wife. He protests his innocence, but the evidence against him is damning. Eddie is added to the defense team - but if things go south, it's Flynn who will take the blame. As the trial gets underway, Eddie has more than a few doubts about the case against Bobby Solomon....

Cavanagh's plot premise is just as clever. "The serial killer isn't on trial. He's on the jury." Uh, huh. Now how did that happen? The reader gets inside the killer's mind and motives through his own POV chapters that alternate with the trial.

Oh my gosh. Thirteen is so very, very good. The killer is truly devious - and downright terrifying. Eddie is everything you want in a lead character. (I'm going to be looking up the first three books in this series for sure) The supporting cast is just as well drawn - Judge Harry Ford was a favourite for me. The crime is fiendishly clever. The investigation is meticulously plotted. The legal scenes are riveting. Cavanagh's writing is so very, very readable. And edge of your seat. What more can I say - I absolutely loved it. If you enjoy legal thrillers, you need to read Thirteen. Start now - Here's an excerpt of Thirteen.

Who else likes Steve Cavanagh's writing?  "I've been tracking Steve Cavanagh for a few years now and Thirteen is his best, a dead bang beast of a book that expertly combining his authority on the law with an absolutely great thrill ride. Books this ingenious don't come along very often." - Michael Connelly

You can connect with  Steve Cavanagh on his website, like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter. 


Friday, March 30, 2018

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #204

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
I am fan of Ruth Ware and am looking forward to her forthcoming novel, The Death of Mrs. Westaway, releasing the end of May in NA and the end of June in the UK. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. The first thing I notice is black and white vs a colour cover. The images are also very different, subtle vs. a somewhat overt image - mysterious old mansion. And a lone figure walking into danger. And if you were still unsure, the tagline spells it out for you. Easy choice for me this week - US. I like the black and white and the more restrained image. The 'danger' is still there in the spider web, the iron gate and the ravens. And the title speaks for itself. What about you? Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read The Death of Mrs. Westaway?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Bring Me Back - B.A. Paris

B.A. Paris returns with a third psychological twister. Bring Me Back releases on June 19/18.

Paris opens the book with a great prologue from twelve years ago, guaranteed to capture the reader from the first pages. A police report details the disappearance of Layla at a roadside stop. Finn, the narrator ends it with an inner dialogue. "That was the statement I gave to the police, sitting in the police station somewhere off the A1 in France. It was the truth. But not quite the whole truth."

Present day. Finn has moved on with his life, but not quite as expected. And then comes the day where a small Russian nesting doll is left for him to find. And there's only two people who would know the significance of that doll - Layla and her sister Ellen. Could Layla really be alive after all these years?

Bring Me Back is told from three POV's with each character's entry adding a little more to the big picture. That narrative flips from past to present as well. But is everyone telling the truth? Or the truth as they want it to be?

For this reader, Finn was not a likable lead. His actions, inner thoughts and dialogue had me prejudiced against him from the opening pages. He has a perpetual simmering edge of anger to him that lets the reader know he is capable of much more than he shows to the world. Ellen's doormat personality doesn't serve her well. But, I was drawn to the long gone Layla.

Paris provides lots of red herrings and alternative paths along the way the final reveal. Some plot developments do ask the reader to suspend disbelief. Go ahead and take a grain of salt. As the end crept closer, I started to firm up my suspicions. I was partially right, but Paris still surprised me with how she ended the book. For this reader, Bring Me Back was not quite as good as the first two books. That being said, Bring Me Back is a good read to tuck in your beach bag this summer.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Over the Counter #411

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? I wonder what the fare might have been.....

It's On the Meter:  One Taxi, Three Mates and 43,000 Miles of Misadventures around the World Paperback by Paul Archer, Johno Ellison and Leigh Purnell

From Skyhorse Publishing:

"When three friends, fueled by an alcohol-induced dream to travel the world, clicked “buy” on an iconic London cab they name Hannah, little did they know what they were getting themselves into. Leaving the Big Smoke in their vintage taxi, Paul, Johno, and Leigh began a 43,000-mile trip that would take them off the beaten track to some of the most dangerous and deadly places on earth. By the time they arrived home, they would manage, against all the odds, to circumnavigate the globe, and in doing so, break two World Records.

It’s On the Meter is an honest account of what it’s like to drive a Black Cab around the world. From altercations with the Iranian Secret Police to narrowly escaping the Taliban, the trio’s adventure is filled with hair-raising escapades. The traveling trio will give an impression of each country the taxi passed through and its people and will help readers understand how to survive fifteen months on the road. Feel the fear, frolic in the fun, and meet the hundred passengers the taxi picked up along the way, as the authors take you on their action-packed journey."

(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, 2018

Poison - John Lescroart

Poison is the 17th entry in John Lescroart's long running Dismas Hardy series.

A former client of Dismas has been charged with murder. Her employer has been poisoned - and she stands to benefit from the will. But, there are a myriad of other suspects. It's a family business and any of the man's relatives had an opportunity to kill him. And as Dismas digs into their lives, looking to clear his client, he discovers they all have secrets - and motives.

I've always enjoyed Dismas as a lead character - he's intelligent, cagey and driven to find answers. The supporting cast has always included now retired SFPD Lieutenant Abe Glitsky. They play well off of each other, with differing personalities and styles, but with an eye on the prize - catching the guilty. (Glitsky has a few novels where he is the lead character.) PI Wyatt Hunt is also a fave supporting player of mine.

The murder method in Poison was unusual and clever. Dismas's sussing out of the murderer was just as clever. The whodunit is somewhat revealed before the final aha, but the path to those final answers was enjoyable and entertaining.

I enjoyed the return to Hardy's roots - murder, defense and the courtroom. Some of the previous entries became too convoluted and a bit far fetched for my taste.

Lescroart has moved the series along in real time, with the players aging and evolving. The Hardy family life has figured into the plots over the years. Dismas is now looking at making a change as well and has been contemplating retirement. I will be curious to see where Lescroart takes him in the next book. Although Posion is part of a series, it can be read as a stand-alone.

I chose to listen to Poison. The reader was Jacques Roy - a narrator I've quite enjoyed in other books. He has a calm, quiet voice that suits the character of Dismas. His speaking is well paced, well modulated and easy to understand with a slight gravelly tone. That measured pace draws the listener into the story. Listen to an excerpt of Poison.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Giveaway - The Lemonade Year - Amy Willoughby-Burle

I love the cover of Amy Willoughby-Burle's new book, The Lemonade Year. It releases April 3/18 - and I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader!

What's it about? From Shadow Mountain Publishing:

"Nina's once-sweet life has unexpectedly turned sour. Her marriage is over, her job is in jeopardy, and her teenage daughter is slipping away from her. Then her father dies and issues with Nina's mother come to a head; her estranged brother, Ray, comes home; and her sister, Lola, is tempted to blow a big family secret out of the water. They say the truth will set you free, but first it will make a huge mess of things.

All Nina's got left is her final photography assignment shooting images for the book 32 Ways to Make Lemonade. Well, that and the attention of a younger man, but Oliver's on-again-off-again romantic interest in her ebbs and flows so much she is seasick. And then Jack, her ex-husband, shows up, wanting to get back together.

As Nina struggles to find a way through her complicated relationships and to uncover her true path, she discovers just how valuable a second chance at life and happiness can be." Read an excerpt of The Lemonade Year.

"Amy Willoughby-Burle is a writer and teacher living in Asheville, North Carolina, with her husband and four children. She writes about the mystery and wonder of everyday life. Her contemporary fiction focuses on the themes of second chances, redemption, and finding the beauty in the world around us. She is the author of a collection of short stories entitled Out Across the Nowhere and a contributor to the anthology Of Mist and Magic." You can connect withAmy on her website, like her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter or check in on Instagram.

And if you'd like to read The Lemonade Year, enter to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US only, no PO boxes please. Ends April 7/18. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Embroider Your Life - Edited by Nathalie Mornu

Gramma and Little Guy spent time in the kitchen with a great kid's cookbook titles last week. March Break might be over, but 'making' never grows old. I love to create and although quilting is my favourite hobby, I've dabbled with embroidery over the years. With the nice weather just around the corner (please!), I am looking to have something a little more portable. Something I can do while sitting in the sun!

DK Canada has some great ideas for adult makers too!  #DKMakerMarch 

Embroider Your Life, 
edited by Nathlie Mornu caught my eye.

I am familiar with the basic techniques and tools needed, but appreciated the refresher that Mornu starts the book off with. Floss and Thread, Hoops, Fabric, Other Tools, Transferring Motifs. Newcomers to embroidery will also appreciate the detailed 'how to stitch' diagrams accompanied by colour photos of the real thing. I picked up some refreshers in this section.

Mornu has  found fresh ideas and designs for embroidery. Clothing, combining paint and floss, modern artwork and more. Stitching on photos and paper. I liked this idea for personalized cards. Stitching on jeans is a retro idea - I think I will revisit this using the idea of working on the turned up cuff. The ideas and concepts in the book are courtesy of 21 designers, artists and makers from North America and England.

Motifs for many designs within the cateogories of communication, the natural world, the designed world and patterns. They are in black and white and could be easily photocopied to transfer to your chosen medium.

Embroider Your Life was a fresh, modern take on an old skill. This art form can be incorporated into and onto many everyday objects and pieces. Eye catching and inspiring. Peek inside Embroider Your Life.


Friday, March 23, 2018

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #203

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
"In this riveting tale of psychological suspense, a divorce lawyer risks her career, her sanity, and her life when she falls into an illicit, all-consuming affair with her client—who becomes the primary suspect in his estranged wife’s sudden disappearance." That's the premise of JL Butler's forthcoming novel, Mine. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Okay, so black is the dominant colour with red in the title of both covers. A woman's silhouette appears on both as well. The overall tone indicates danger. But, I have to say, I am very tired of the 'woman on the cover' shots. So an easy choice for me this week - UK. The window shot is a bit cheesy, but I really like the sky and trees above the building. What about you? any plans to read Mine? Which cover do you prefer this week?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Love Unleashed - Rebecca Ascher- Walsh

I read Love Unleashed by Rebecca Ascher-Walsh in one sitting. And right beside me was my fifteen year old dog. She's deaf, terribly arthritic and sleeps most of the day away now. But she still gets up to greet anyone coming in, wags her tail and shares her love every day.

The subtitle of  Love Unleashed is: Tales of Inspiration and the Life-Changing Power of Dogs. And these tales truly are inspiring.

Ascher-Walsh profiles thirty-five remarkable rescue dogs. Dogs who have been given a second chance and a new life. Dogs who have changed the lives of not just their owners, but many, many others. And in a myriad of ways. A nursery companion dog - in a zoo. A dog who doles out hugs to anyone who needs one in NYC. Police dogs, therapy dogs. Even a courthouse dog who helps children during testimony. A retired bomb sniffing dog who now sniffs out the deadly C-difficile bacteria in hospitals. Dogs who raise money for shelters through their on line presence. Storm chasers and so many more. Every profile is accompanied by a colour photo and full write-up.

Each dog has a unique story. And every one of them was a rescue. Yes, the dogs are amazing, but so are the people who work with the dogs, own the dogs and champion rescue dogs. They too are inspiring.

My old girl is a rescue. Full of fleas, ticks, mange, worms, she had been abused. She was also a black dog, who get passed over in many adoptive situations. We met her just as her quarantine ended and took her home that day. She has given us nothing but love and devotion each and every day. I know her time with us is coming to an end, but the time with us and the love she has given will never be forgotten.  I encourage anyone contemplating having a dog in their lives to check out their local shelter.

Love Unleashed was such a wonderful little read. Absolutely recommended. Peek inside Love Unleashed.


Credit: Mark Mann
"Rebecca Ascher-Walsh is a writer who specializes in celebrity and lifestyle coverage, but who also loves dogs and telling stories about amazing animals. She contributes to many newspapers and national magazines including Entertainment Weekly, Adweek, and the Los Angeles Times. She is a volunteer at a high-kill shelter in Manhattan and a founding director of the Deja Foundation, devoted to funding the medical care and training costs of dogs rescued from high-kill shelters." See what others on the TLC book tour thought - full schedule can be found here.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Notes From a Public Typewriter - Michael Gustafson - Review AND Giveaway

Notes From a Public Typewriter, edited by Michael Gustafson and Oliver Uberti, releases on March 27/18 - and I have a copy of this delightful book to giveaway to one lucky reader, courtesy of Grand Central Publishing.

Notes is a collection of  missives left in the typewriter at Gustafson's business - The Literati Bookstore - an indie bookshop in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

When Gustafson opened his store in 2013, he included a typewriter as a community building experiment.

"What if people could walk into a bookstore and type anything they wanted? Would they write Haikus, confessions, or declarations of love?Would they contemplate the meaning of life? Would they make fart jokes? Would people even know how to use a typwriter?"

The answer is yes to all of the above. Notes From a Public Typewriter is a collection of those thoughts, desires, confessions, hopes, dreams and more. The notes range from heartbreaking to joyful with some laughs mixed in. There are many poignant entries, connections made and lost. All left anonymously. And it's impossible to put down. I read each entry and imagined who would have wrote it? Why they wrote it? Did things change in their lives?

Here's a sampling:

"So much more effort. And no delete key. Kind of how life used to be..."
"Why does this thing have a hashtag symbol? They didn't have Twitter then. #weird"
"Sometimes I get lost just to assure myself someone cares enough to find me."

Gustafson includes his own thoughts in short essays throughout the book. I like his voice and ideas.  And to those who live in Ann Arbor, lucky you - this sounds like a wonderful bookstore - and more.

Notes From a Public Typewriter is a slim volume at just over 150 pages. But, there is lots of food for thought between the covers. What do you think you would type?

Fans of PostSecret and Found would enjoy this book. Enter to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends March 31/18. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Over the Counter #411

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Learning new languages this week.....

How to Speak Chicken by Melissa Caughey.

From Storey Publishing:

"Best-selling author Melissa Caughey knows that backyard chickens are like any favorite pet — fun to spend time with and fascinating to observe. Her hours among the flock have resulted in this quirky, irresistible guide packed with firsthand insights into how chickens communicate and interact, use their senses to understand the world around them, and establish pecking order and roles within the flock. Combining her up-close observations with scientific findings and interviews with other chicken enthusiasts, Caughey answers unexpected questions such as Do chickens have names for each other? How do their eyes work? and How do chickens learn?"

(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 20, 2018

The French Girl - Lexie Elliott

The French Girl is Lexie Elliott's debut novel.

Six Oxford students spent a summer vacation together in France ten years ago. They were friends - and friends with benefits.. Their getaway doesn't go quite as planned - a beautiful French girl named Severine who lived next to the villa changes the dynamic of the group. And now she's changing the future. Ten years on, the police have found Severine's body in a well on the vacation property. The group is now part of a murder investigation by the French police.

Kate Channing is one of those six and she is our narrator.  Elliott slowly ekes out the details of what happened that summer week. Something happened that irrevocably changed each of the six. Kate herself sees Severine as a presence and although she does not speak, Kate gives her emotions.

"Severine glances at him with disdain, and suddenly I wonder: if Severine is a creation of my mind, are her reactions my own deeply hidden feelings?"

The friends are still in contact with each other. Our sense of who they are is coloured by Kate's views. I found them to all be flawed and not overly likable. But could one of them be a murderer? It is the relationships between them that takes center stage in the book. Elliott's depiction of those bonds, memories, interactions and current sparring is excellent. She is a gifted writer.

The publisher has described The French Girl as "exhilarating psychological suspense". I enjoyed The French Girl, but found it to be a bit of a slow burn rather than a fast paced suspense read. But, that slow burn absolutely works for exploring the relationships. For this reader, that was more of a draw that the actual whodunit.

"One of...RealSimple.com's and Cosmopolitan's Best Books of the Month."Read an excerpt of The French Girl.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Let Me Lie - Clare Mackintosh

Let Me Lie is the third book from Clare Mackintosh. I devoured the suspense and twists in her first two books and was eager to dig into this latest.

Anna's parents both committed suicide within a year. On the one year anniversary of her mother's death, someone drops a card through her mail slot. Inside is a cryptic message ... "Suicide? Think again."

Anna always questioned their deaths. The bodies were never found and she can't believe her beloved mother would leave her. She decides to check in with the local constabulary on the case. Retired detective Murray Mackenzie is on the desk, now working in a civilian capacity. But old instincts die hard and he decides to look into the case further - on his own.

Murrary ended up being my favourite character. His personal story (his wife is mentally ill) was very well depicted and drew this reader in. Their relationship and how Murray copes were some of my favourite bits of the book. He's kind and intelligent as well as being a clever investigator. Anna's emotions and mental health are also explored. However, I wasn't as drawn to Anna, despite her being the lead character. I questioned some of her actions and decisions plot wise. But on the flip side, without some of those decisions, we wouldn't have as many  questions and avenues to explore. Mackintosh does give us lots of characters that may or may not have suspicious motives, keeping us guessing.

Interspersed are italicized chapters from, well, someone. These are deliberately vague and let the reader decide who it might be. In the beginning, these missives had me thinking things were going to unfold in a certain way (one I wasn't interested in). (Sorry, being deliberately obtuse. )As these entries continue, more and more detail is added, so that their identity becomes evident and the direction changes. Clues to the past are found in these narratives.

Let Me Lie was not as fast paced as the first two novels. I found the first part of the book to be a bit of a slow burn. Things do pick up in the last few chapters and one last final twist was a real 'gotcha'!Read an excerpt of Let Me Lie. I'll be watching for Mackintosh's next book.

Friday, March 16, 2018

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #202

 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
Squeee! Linwood Barclay has a new book coming out in July called A Noise Downstairs! Perfectly creepy without even knowing what the plot is@The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Okay, lets get to it. Black on both covers, white title and a difference with the author's name in size and colour. Now when I first looked at the US cover, I thought the image was of blinds with a bit of light seeping through. But on looking at the UK cover, I can see typewriter keys - with a wee bit of blood on one of them. Both covers feature tag lines that entice the reader, but I think the US line appeals to me more. Another hard call this week. I like the colours of the US cover better, as well as the tagline. But I like the image of the UK cover better. A tough choice, but I'm going to go with US this week. No matter the cover, it's going to be a great read!
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Zero Day - Ezekiel Boone

Zero Day is the last entry in Ezekiel Boone's Hatching trilogy.

It's the final showdown. Man against the carnivorous spiders that are threatening the extinction of the human race. The first book was the outbreak, the second the continuing fight and in this last book it's do or die.

"The world is on the brink of apocalypse. Zero Day has come."

Yes, the premise reads like a B-movie plot, but it's great fun to read. And cringe -worthy, creepy, crawly spiders skittering all around.....

 Boone has created an ensemble cast that I've come to know and enjoy over the course of the first two books and this is what kept me coming back. They are an eclectic group with many different outlooks and personalities and I'm hard pressed to pick a favourite. No surprise that there is an ending to this ongoing battle. And I have to say, I quite enjoyed the 'wrap-up' of where the lives of the large cast went. (And in that wrap-up I wonder if I'm the only one that thinks one or two of them might make appearances in the future?)

This trilogy could probably have been told in fewer pages, as the fight against the spiders seems a bit repetitive over the course of three books. That being said, Boone does have a way with words and does spin a good tale. I enjoyed his a wonderfully dark sense of humour. Boone fleshes out his narrative with lots of descriptions and side stories that I enjoyed.

I chose to listen to Zero Day, as I did with the previous books. The narrator was George Newbern, one of my favourites. He has a unique voice - clear, pleasant to listen to and easy to understand. He has a wry tone that matches the book and captures Boone's dark humour. His inflections rise and fall, giving the tale movement. Listen to an excerpt of Zero Day. 

You can connect with Ezekiel Boone on his website or follow him on Twitter. He has a new book coming out later in 2018 called The Mansion - it looks like another fun read.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

If I Die Tonight - Alison Gaylin

If I Die Tonight is Alison Gaylin's newest release. This was a first read of this author for me, but it won't be the last.

Small town USA. An aging pop star who goes by the name Amie Em stumbles in the local police station, saying she was carjacked by a teenaged boy. Another boy named Liam tried to stop the theft and was critically injured. But her story keeps changing and there are gaping holes in her recounting of the crime. The finger is inevitably pointed at Wade - a high school outcast.

Gaylin mirrors today's society - much of the case is debated online in various social forums. The presumption of innocent until proven guilty doesn't figure into the diatribe.. A young man's life is irrevocably changed and the injured teen becomes a downed hero to the town.

But is Wade guilty? He refuses to speak about that night. His mother Jackie knows he is not capable of such an act. Or is he? Gaylin tells this story through many points of view, giving the reader options as to what the outcome might be. I felt for Jackie as she struggled to clear her son's name. Gaylin's depictions of her emotions and relationships with her sons was well done. But my favourite supporting character was Officer Pearl Maze. She has her own issues, but was the clearest thinking character for me. (And I'd really like to see her in another book.)

Gaylin provides red herrings and alternative outcomes along the way to the final whodunit. I admit to having my suspicions about one character, who was just a little too calm and helpful for me. And yes, they did figure into the final reveal. But, that in no way detracted from my enjoyment of If I Die Tonight.  An entertaining read and I will be picking up Gaylin's next book. Read an excerpt of If I Die Tonight.

"Alison Gaylin is the award-winning author of Hide Your Eyes and its sequel, You Kill Me; the standalones Trashed and Heartless; and the Brenna Spector series: And She Was, Into the Dark, and Stay with Me. A graduate of Northwestern University and of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, she lives with her husband and daughter in Woodstock, New York." Find out more about Alison at her website, friend her on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter.  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.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Over the Counter #409

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? As someone who enjoys sewing the pun in the title caught my eye....

Pattern Behavior: The Seamy Side of Fashion Hardcover by Natalie Kossar.

From Running Press:

"For those who like their humor droll, deadpan, and hysterically funny, Pattern Behavior features more than 100 vintage McCall's patterns--with captions that will leave you in stitches.

Feeling nostalgic for your grandmother's old sewing patterns? Stitch some humor into your distant childhood with Pattern Behavior, featuring vintage covers from the McCall Pattern Company's archives. Based on the popular Tumblr blog, this droll comic collection brings the McCall's models back to life--in a way you haven't seen before! Combining retro fashion and modern wit, Pattern Behavior shines a light on the outdated social ideals of yesteryear--all with a big dose of humor."

(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!)

Monday, March 12, 2018

Closer Than You Know - Brad Parks

Closer Than You Know is the latest stand-alone from author Brad Parks. Last year's Say Nothing was the first time I'd read Parks and it was a book I couldn't put down. (my review) I was eager to read this latest - and I couldn't put it down either!

As he did in Say Nothing, Parks' premise preys upon a parent's worst fear - their child disappearing.

Melanie Barrick goes to pick up her infant son Alex from the childminder, only to be told that Social Services has taken the child. A large amount of cocaine has been found in Melanie's house. Police are on their way to find her - and Alex is gone. Melanie protests her innocence, but at every step of the way, the evidence against her grows - and her chances of ever seeing her son again lessen.

Great premise and Parks only builds the tension with every new plot development, ensuring that I stayed up much too late, reading 'just one more chapter.' Parks manipulates the reader with some red herrings, alternate paths and more than one 'whodunit' to choose from along the way to the final pages. There were a few plot points that I thought were perhaps a bit far-fetched, but I didn't think too hard about them - instead I just kept turning pages. And although my suspicions were proven out in the end, I really enjoyed the journey to the final reveal.

Closer Than You Know is told from more than one viewpoint. I was drawn to Melanie and her inner thoughts. I did find her a bit calm in situations that I would have been losing it. The background Parks has drawn for her addresses this. The next door neighbor Bobby Ray was also a character I quite liked. Amy, the Assistant DA was a character I initially had high hopes for, but as the story progressed, her tunnel vision frustrated me. But my hands down fave was Melanie's rumpled, unprepossessing lawyer Mr. Honeywell.

All in all, Closer Than You Know was a fast paced, entertaining read. Fans of Linwood Barclay and Harlan Coben will enjoy this one. (And this reader will be eagerly awaiting Parks' next book.) Read an excerpt of Closer Than You Know.

You can connect with Brad Parks on his website, like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Cooking Step by Step with DK

Little Guy has recently expressed interest in the kitchen - helping to make supper and bake desserts.

Cooking Step by Step from DK Canada seemed like the perfect starting place for Gramma and Little Guy to cook together. (Check out the other great book suggestions in the 'Maker March' boutique.) #DKMakerMarch

There are fifty recipes included under the headings Light Bites, Main Dishes, Sweet Treats and Baked Goods.

Musts for a children's cookbook - colour photographs and lots of easy to understand instructions. Check. Cooking Step by Step has a simplified ingredients list that employs pictures of the ingredient and a plus symbol. Perfect for little ones. Basics such as hygiene and safety etc are covered and are good beginner foundations. Measurements are given in both imperial and metric.

Little Guy is at the younger end of the recommended age range (6-8), so we stuck to some simpler recipes. Ones he was interested in eating! Pancakes, Spaghetti and Meatballs. And then the baking section - his favourite. The Lemon Muffins were really good. (Little Guy decided to leave out the poppy seeds though) The favourite of all though, was the Clever Cookies recipe. The dough is a good basic recipe - and the fun comes in adding different bits. We divided the dough into four portions, then added chocolate chips, dried cranberries, raisins and blueberries. Tada! Four different cookies.

There are more recipe choices that would appeal to a more experienced palate and an older child such as Gazpacho, Falafels, Salmon Parcels and a few others. I actually liked some of them for myself - there's a quick and easy Fried Rice, a Quiche recipe and super simple flatbread I'll most likely make for myself.

STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) is a focus in learning in school systems today. Cooking is a great way to explore many STEM principles. So much can be learned and experienced in the kitchen. Measuring, techniques, tasting, new foods and the satisfaction that comes with creativity and sharing. And spending time together! Cooking Step by Step is a book that will grow with Little Guy. Thumbs up.


Friday, March 9, 2018

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #201

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
"A gripping thriller about a man who may or may not have dementia—and who may or may not be a serial killer—from a master of twists and turns, in the tradition of Laura Lippman and Gillian Flynn." Sigh, another one for the teetering TBR pile. Paper Ghosts is Julia Heaberlin's forthcoming novel. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Okay, so both covers employ the colour red - which connotes danger and death. The UK cover illustrates a woman who may or may not be dead with fallen leaves covering her. I'm kind of meh on this pic. But I quite like the image that the US cover has. The black and white definitely evokes a ghostly feel, fitting with the title. Twins make it even more eerie. Hands down the US cover for me this week. What about you -which cover do you prefer? And plans to read Paper Ghosts?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Halfway: A Memoir - Tom Macher

Halfway is Tom Macher's newly released memoir.

Macher came from a dysfunctional home, was an alcoholic youth, a petty criminal and lived in a string of communes, boy's homes, rehabs and halfway houses. All this before he's twenty.

Halfway is a documentation of these times and places with an emphasis on two halfway houses. Macher's recollections are sharp and focused, rattled off with machine gun rapidity. His honesty is admirable, baring his life for all to see. I hurt for the young child ignored by his birth father. Understood the anger and acting out of a growing boy. And the inevitability of the path his life was taking. Macher seems to have given in and given up, but he never loses the hope for something better for himself. He falls many, many times, but keeps getting back up.

We meet other residents, all with a nickname and a story. The groups, interactions and tenacity of the boys/men living together. The expectation that they will fail from those meant to help them. And the hope that they won't. I work in a low income neighborhood of a mid sized city. I interact with many addicted, homeless and marginalized people each day. Macher's memoir gives us a window into what life might be like for some of these people.

I chose to listen to Halfway. The reader was Corey Brill and he was the perfect choice. His voice has a defiant attitude to it and captures the tone and tenor of Macher's memories. His inflection is a perfect match for Macher's story. His voice is clear and easy to understand and the speed at which he speaks captures that machine gun delivery of Macher's almost stream of consciousness narrative. Here's an audio excerpt of Halfway.

Can you put a rating on someone sharing their life story? No, but if pressed, someone's life can be no less than five stars. Halfway is a dark and gritty memoir - one I'm glad I listened to.

"Tom Macher grew up in Georgia, New York, and California and spent his teenage years bouncing around from boys’ homes to halfway houses to communes in Montana, New York, and Louisiana. He attended Riverside City College, San Francisco State University, and The University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he was a Teaching-Writing Fellow. He has twice received fiction fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. Halfway is his first book."