Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Chalk Man - C.J. Tudor - Review AND Giveaway!

Oh, where to start! Well, here's the thing - I started reading C.J. Tudor's debut novel The Chalk Man in my jammies on a snowy day. And while starting was not an issue, stopping was. I couldn't put the book down!!! Addictive, page turning and so very, very good....... (And I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader!)

1986. Twelve year old Ed and his four friends have a great, way of communicating with each other. They chalk little stick figures at the end of their driveways and throughout their small village. It's a 'secret' way to communicate with each other. But when a set of chalk directions leads to a body, it's clear that someone else knows their secret.

2016. Ed still lives in the same house he grew up in, teaches at the school he attended and drinks a little too much. When a chalk man drawing arrives in his mailbox, he knows that the past is not finished with him......

Tudor's use of the past and present narrative in alternating chapters is soooo effective. She ends each chapter with a cliffhanger or a lovely bit of foreshadowing. You know that don't go into the basement scene in movies? Yeah, like that. This and her plotting is what kept me tucked into my reading chair for the day. There's a mystery at the heart of the book - who is the killer? But, there's so much to the plot than just that question. Tudor provides lot of alternatives for the whodunit. There's a dark undertone running through the town. Everyone seems to have secrets.

"I knew it was wrong but, like I said, everyone has secrets, things they know they shouldn't do but do anyway. Mine was taking stuff - collecting things. The crappy thing was, it was only when I tried to take something back that I really screwed up."

Oh, does Tudor ever have that 'twisty, turny' plot thing nailed down! The narrative took lots of unexpected, unpredictable directions. "Never assume. Question everything. Always look beyond the obvious."

The Chalk Man was so 'readable'! I loved it! If you're a fan of Stranger Things, Stand By Me and suspense reads, you'll love The Chalk Man. This book is so darn good, it's hard to believe it's a debut - I can't wait to see what Tudor writes next!  Read an excerpt of The Chalk Man. And, yes this is going to be one of my top reads for 2018!

"C. J. TUDOR lives in Nottingham, England, with her partner and three-year-old daughter. Over the years she has worked as a copywriter, television presenter, voice-over artist, and dog walker. She is now thrilled to be able to write full-time, and doesn’t miss chasing wet dogs through muddy fields all that much. The Chalk Man is her first novel." You can follow her on Twitter and like her on Facebook. See what others on the TLC book tour thought - full schedule can be found here.

If you'd like to read The Chalk Man, enter to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US only, no PO boxes please. Ends February 3/18.

Monday, January 22, 2018

The Wife - Alafair Burke

Oh, Alafair Burke, you have outdone yourself with your new novel, The Wife! Brilliant, addictive, full of twists - and that last line ending? Perfect!

I was hooked from the opening line: "In an instant, I became the woman they assumed I'd been all along: the wife who lied to protect her husband."

The husband, Jason, is a celebrated public figure. When one of his interns makes an accusation against him, the foundations of his public and private lives begin to crumble. His wife, Angela, has secrets in her past that she wants to keep out of the public light. And she doesn't want her son exposed to any of it. What will Angela do to keep that secret? To protect her husband? Her son? Is Jason guilty? Or is he the victim of a campaign to discredit him and his work? Ahh, a delicious premise and one I couldn't wait to dig into!

The Wife falls into the genre of 'domestic thriller'. This has fast become a favourite for me. I love not knowing who is telling the truth, the possibilities of whodunit, the turns and twists that jump out of a chapter to surprise me, and unexpected endings.

"To know something, he argued, was not the same as to be certain beyond all doubt. And to believe something was definitely not the sane as to know it."

Burke's characters are so well drawn, coming alive in my imagination. Angela is portrayed as a sympathetic character - but does she deserve it? I was happy to see Olivia Randall in this novel. She's a high powered defense attorney last seen in Burke's previous book, The Ex. (And I hope we see her again.) The dialogue flows easily, the plotting is addictive and the prose are so very 'readable.'

The Wife benefits greatly from Burke's legal background. (Burke teaches criminal law) The case, the police investigation and the legal machinations are so well portrayed and unfold in a believable manner. Suspense, mystery, police procedural and some social commentary - The Wife has it all. This is one you're going to want to pick up. I loved it!

You can connect with Alafair Burke on her website, like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Friday, January 19, 2018

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #194

- 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 enjoyed Brad Parks' last thriller (Say Nothing). It was fast paced and entertaining read. Parks's newest book, Closer Than You Know releases in March and looks to be in the same vein. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. |The US cover mirrors the previous book in the use of one bold colour, a strong, shadowed title font. We're looking at the outside of a home.The UK cover adds a tag line - "Disaster is always..." to change how the title could be read. The view is from the inside of the home in this cover. The addition of a child image (while integral to the plot) seems lurid to me. So, US cover for me this week. What about you? Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read Closer Than You Know?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Wife Between Us - Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Here's another one to add to your list psychological suspense lovers - The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen.

From the prologue: "She is oblivious to what I have done to her. She is unaware of the damage I have wrought; the ruin I have set in motion." Yes, that had me hooked....

In part one we meet a wife - a discarded wife, traded in for a newer, younger model. She drinks too much, so her judgment, thoughts and actions are often clouded and ill thought out. But the one thing she can't stop thinking about is the other woman. The other woman has her own baggage - a past that we know has secrets, but they aren't spelled out. Two women and a man. Is he everything a woman could want? Or is he too harboring secrets?

I'm being deliberately oblique, as I don't want to spoil the book for you. The publisher probably says it best: "When you read this book, you will make many assumptions. You will assume you are reading about a jealous ex-wife. You will assume she is obsessed with her replacement – a beautiful, younger woman who is about to marry the man they both love. You will assume you know the anatomy of this tangled love triangle. Assume nothing." This description is one of the main reasons I picked the book up.

And they're right - I was blindsided by the end of part one. I went back to earlier chapters and reread a few. And applauded  the authors for their cleverness - I did not see it coming. And I couldn't wait to see what would happen next. I had a few suspicions as I had read a book with a similar plot in the last few months. I was somewhat right, but Hendricks and Pekkanen put their own spin on things. I had to suspend disbelief a bit near the end and the last gotcha was a bit of a reach and didn't quite work for for me.

That aside, The Wife Between Us was an addictive page turner, guaranteed to entertain. And you'll be seeing The Wife Between Us on the big screen - film rights are sold to the folks who brought you The Girl on the Train. Read an excerpt of The Wife Between Us.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Giveaway - DIY Rules for a WTF World - Krista Suh

DIY Rules for a WTF World: How to Speak Up, Get Creative, and Change the World by Krista Suh has just released and I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader!

From Grand Central Publishing:

"From the creator of the Pussyhat Project comes a manifesto for every woman to create her own distinct and original path to joy, success, and impact.

On January 21, 2017, millions of protestors took part in the Women's March, and many of them created a "sea of pink" when they wore knitted pink "pussyhats" in record numbers. The pussyhat swiftly found its place on the cover of TIME and the New Yorker, and it ultimately came to symbolize resistance culture. Creator of the Pussyhat Project, Krista Suh, took an idea and built a worldwide movement and symbol in just two months. But like so many women, Krista spent years letting her fears stop her from learning to live by her own rules.

Now in DIY Rules for a WTF World, Krista Suh shares the tools, tips, experiences, "rules," and knitting patterns she uses to get creative, get bold, and change the world. From learning how to use your own intuition to decide which rules are right for you to finding your inner-courage to speak up fearlessly; from finding what your passions are (this might surprise you!) to dealing with the squelchers out there, DIY Rules for a WTF World not only inspires you to demolish the patriarchy, but also enables you to create your own rules for living, and even a movement of your own, all with gusto, purpose, and joy." Read an excerpt of DIY Rules for a WTF World.

"Krista Suh is a feminist, artist, Hollywood screenwriter, and creator of The Pussyhat Project. She's based in Los Angeles. She wants to make the world a safer place for women and to help everyone validate their own creativity, femininity, and intuition." You can connect with Krista Suh on her website, like her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter and on Instagram as well.

If you'd like to read DIY Rules for a WTF World, enter to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends January 27/18.

Over the Counter #401

What books caught my eye this week it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Good vibrations......

The New Bohemians Handbook: Come Home to Good Vibes by Justina Blakeney.

From Harry N. Abrams:

"The New Bohemian Handbook guides readers in beautifully simple techniques for adding good vibes and style to living spaces. Packed with hundreds of ideas for bringing positive energy to your home, the book features exercises and activities for thinking about rooms in new ways.

With Justina’s expert guidance, learn how to rearrange, paint, prop, and plant your way to a home that’s fresh and inspiring. Uncover your “spirit environment” and learn how to use color and scent to enhance mood, productivity, and relaxation. Revel in Justina’s encouraging advice (“you got this!”), and easily and affordably turn any dwelling into a personal sanctuary."

(Over the Counter is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World. I've sadly come to 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 catchy your eye as well. See if your local library has them on their shelves!)

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Nomadland - Jessica Bruder

I don't read a lot of non-fiction, but Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century by Jessica Bruder was a five star read for me.

Bruder spent three years following, interviewing and documenting a group of nomads. But the nomads aren't probably what you would initially think. This group of low-cost labourers is primarily made of an older population. They live and travel from job to job in their RV's, campers, vans or cars. The nomads are those who have lost their bricks and mortar homes, those who can't live on their social security checks, those who have no choice but to keep on working past any retirement date, and yes, those that choose this lifestyle. Working at physical, seasonal jobs at fulfillment warehouses, harvesting crops and staffing campgrounds. They're often referred to as 'workampers'.

Bruder introduces us to many of the people that make up this community. And I do mean community. There are regular meet-ups, connections and on-line communications. We are privy to the details, struggles, concerns, joys, friendships, resilience and day to day lives of a few workampers over the course of three years. A woman named Linda May is the 'lead' if you will - the book follows her closely.  Bruder herself goes on the road and manages to get hired on at many of the same jobs. The difference being that Bruder still has a bricks and mortar home to go to.

For some of the nomads, it's a lifestyle choice, but for most, its necessity. There are workers in their eighties. The workampers are made up of those from wide and varying backgrounds. Don't make assumptions until you read this book.

Nomadland is an absolutely eye-opening, fascinating read. But at the same time, its difficult and unsettling. I was quite stunned by how large this workforce is, the demand for these older workers, how they are used and the subculture. This is a group living unseen, right underneath society's nose if you will.

 Nomadland is well written and well researched. Five stars. Read an excerpt of Nomadland.

If you enjoyed Nickeled and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich or Evicted by Matthew Desmond, you'll want to pick up Nomadland. (Workampers are not just found in the US. I found sites in Canada advertising for Workampers as well.)

Monday, January 15, 2018

I Know My Name- C.J. Cooke - Review AND Giveaway!

I Know My Name is the debut novel of C.J. Cooke. And I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader!

The book opens in 2015. A woman is washed up on an isolated Greek island. She has no idea who she is or what she was doing when her boat wrecked on the island's rocky shore. And in England a man is frantic - his wife has gone missing, leaving her two small children behind.

The reader is privy to more than either lead character. We know what is happening in the England investigation. And what is happening on Kommeno Island. The island is not completely deserted, as we discover that there are four other people on the island. Their behavior is odd and they seem determined to keep our unnamed woman with them. "The only way to get off this island is to remember."

I always enjoy a back and forth narrative - it's guaranteed to keep me reading later than I had planned. Cooke inserts a third narrative about a quarter of the way into the book. It is set in 1983 - and explains much. With that information, I had a strong inkling as to how the two 2015 narratives would connect. I was partially right, but Cooke throws in a twist at the end.

I found myself drawn more to the London search than the time on the island. Perhaps because there were numerous characters and more happening. I found the island scenes and dialogue very off kilter with it's decidedly strange inhabitants. Things did make more sense in the run up to the final answer. That ending goes on a bit longer than I would have preferred. Now, being deliberately oblique - Cooke uses those last chapters to 'educate' the reader. While I appreciate this, it was more than I wanted as the pieces had already been put together. Warning to gentle readers - there are some disturbing elements to this tale.

I Know My Name is a good debut - here's an excerpt. If you too would like to read I Know My Name, enter to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends January 27/17.

Friday, January 12, 2018

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #193

- 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 always enjoy Laura Lippman's books, especially the Tess Monoghan series. Her latest book, a stand-alone titled Sunburn, releases in February on both sides of the pond. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. And the words 'psychological suspense' have landed it on my TBR pile. So, 'hot' seems to be a focus on both covers - sunglasses on the US cover and a beach setting on the UK cover. But the blue on the US cover seems oddly barren. Is it just supposed to be the sky? I tried to make out what was reflected in the sunglasses but couldn't make it out. I am not a fan of a face provided for a character. I much prefer to draw my own mental images. The UK cover features a tag line that gives you an idea of the story within. And Lee Child has left a nice blurb. I just like the overall look of the UK cover this week. What about you? Any plans to read Sunburn? Which cover do you prefer?
 You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Just Sit - Sukey and Elizabeth Novogratz

I've had it in my mind for a while that meditation is something I need to add to my bag of coping skills. I downloaded a great app and have been trying out some guided meditations over the last few months. But, I wanted to know more. Just Sit by Sukey and Elizabeth Novogratz is hands down a fantastic guide for beginners (and honestly I think anyone) looking to expand and explore their knowledge of meditation and mindfulness.

Just Sit starts with the basics and expands and builds on that starting point. You're going to want to read from front to back instead of flipping around. (which is my usual tendency with non fiction books)

What is meditation? There's a brief chapter on the history. Why would you want to meditate? The health benefits are simply put - astounding. And it's backed up by medical studies. Seriously, I could not believe what just sitting and breathing would affect. And that's the thing - it's simply sitting still and breathing. How to meditate? There are chapters on what might or might not work for you. Remember there is no set 'must do' agenda. Equipment (a cushion!) or not, time, place, postures, mantras, focus, chakras, breathing, exercises, mindfulness and so much more.

I bookmarked so many pages as I read - there is a wealth of information here that needs to read more than once.  Now, having done that first read through, I am going to start with the basics (There's an eight week plan for beginners) and only progress when I feel ready to move on. As you do progress, there's some great strategies and ideas for dealing with your crap. You know what I mean - we all have unresolved issues that needs to be dealt with - both past and present.

All of this is presented in a really great format. Lots of illustrations, text boxes and white space make the information appealing and easy to read. And its written with candor and humour.

The most important piece I've taken away so far? Yep, it's that easy - just sit. Find the time - if it's only a minute to start, that's great. You started. Do it again tomorrow. And the next day. This is an awesome book for anyone looking to explore mediation - and themselves. Absolutely recommended.

Read an excerpt of Just Sit.See what others on the TLC book tour thought. Full schedule can befound here. I received this book for review from HarperCollins and TLC Book Tours.




Sukey
Elizabeth
"Sukey and Elizabeth Novogratz are two of the founders of the celebrated newsletter The Well Daily. Together they have traveled the world to study meditation and learn from its many renowned teachers. Elizabeth is the coauthor of Downtown Chic and Home by Novogratz, and lives in Brooklyn, New York. Sukey is an executive producer of the acclaimed documentaries The Hunting Ground and I am Evidence. She sits on the board of the Joyful Heart Foundation and lives in New York City." (Photo: Adrien Broom)

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Over the Counter #400

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? An interesting inspiration for the question of what to cook tonight for dinner....

Signs and Seasons: An Astrology Cookbook by Monte Farber and Amy Zerber.

From the publisher, HarperElixir:

"Discover how to eat for your sign and nourish your soul in Signs and Seasons, the one-of-a-kind cookbook that pairs chef-driven seasonal recipes with deep insight into how astrology shapes our appetites, from iconic astrologer Monte Farber and artist Amy Zerner.

Food connects us to our families, history, culture, and to the natural world itself—to the seasons and the cycle of life. Just as our path around the sun—and through the Zodiac—dictates the seasons, the seasons dictate what will flourish, from the tender greens of early spring to late summer’s lush and impossible perfect tomatoes.

In Signs and Seasons, Farber and Zerner—along with chef John Okas—take home cooks through the four seasons and each of their astrological signs in over 95 tantalizing seasonal recipes that include starters; meat, seafood, and vegetarian mains; sides; and desserts for each sign.

Inspired by the cuisine of the Mediterranean, home of the Greco-Roman cultures that named the planets after their gods, Signs and Seasons teaches you how to:

·         Feed friends and loved ones based on their signs and the season
·         Deepen your understanding of Nature and the Universe
·         Discover how astrology shapes our personalities, tastes, and appetites

Signs and Seasons is the perfect guide for eating in a way that emphasizes both sensual nourishment and psychic satisfaction. Beautifully photographed in full color by Monte Farber and illustrated by Amy Zerner, Signs and Seasons is a one-of-a-kind source of inspiration for astrology enthusiasts and home chefs alike."

(Over the Counter is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World. I've sadly come to 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 catchy your eye as well. See if your local library has them on their shelves!)

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

A Map of the Dark - Karen Ellis

A Map of the Dark is the first novel in a new series (The Searchers) from Karen Ellis. (A nom de plume of Katia Lief)

FBI Agent Elsa Myers specializes in missing children. She's good at her job. But when she's asked to take on the case of a young woman most likely taken by a serial killer, she hesitates. Her father is dying and this is bringing the past she has tried to bury back to the surface. She does take the case, thinking she can handle both, but her carefully constructed defenses begin to crumble. Ellis's prologue opens the book with the crime.

Ellis has created a flawed lead character in Elsa. I liked her right away, but was caught off guard by her dark personal secrets. Ellis reveals Elsa's backstory through past and present chapters. (I did have some questions as to how such a wounded psych could end up in such a job). The victim of the crime is also given a voice - and the hope that she might still be found. Elsa is paired up with a new partner named Lex that only adds to her stress. Although he says and does all the right things, I just wasn't sold on him.

Ellis seems to be setting the stage for this new series in A Map of the Dark.  Establishing Elsa as a character and setting the background seemed to (for me) take more precedence than the crime. The crime itself is somewhat familiar in tone. There are some convenient plot devices that made if perhaps a little too easy for law enforcement. There is a twist at the end, but astute readers will most likely suss it out before the reveal.

A Map of the Dark is a solid read and will appeal to those who enjoy characterizations more than the mystery. Me? I like the mystery and the solving of the crimes.

Read an excerpt of A Map of The Dark. You can connect with Karen Ellis on her website and follow her on Twitter.

Monday, January 8, 2018

The Woman in the Window - A.J. Finn

Okay, this is one of the best twisty, turny psychological thrillers I've read in a long, long time. You have got to read The Woman in the Window, the debut novel from A.J. Finn.

Anna Fox is agoraphobic, unable to leave her home. She mixes alcohol with her medication and spends her days looking out her windows at her neighbourhood. Well, no that's not quite right......she spies on them, taking pictures with her camera. A new family moves in and Anna starts watching them as well. And then she sees something she shouldn't have. Or did she?

Finn has created a fantastically unreliable narrator in Anna. Can we believe what she is seeing? Saying? Her reasoning is flawed and her take on things is skewed. Or is it? The supporting cast is just as unreliable. It seems everyone has their own agenda, secrets and lies. Finn deliciously unspools his story, letting us see a little more with each new chapter.

Anna has a fondness for old black and white films, especially those by Alfred Hitchcock. Those familiar with his work (and especially Rear Window) will appreciate the references and the homage.

I am being deliberately obtuse. I don't want to reveal too much - this is a tale you need to experience. To wonder how and why, to 'ah hahing' at each new reveal and revelation, to trying to puzzle out the final whodunit. Which will be impossible as Finn has written a labyrinth of a novel. And one that is very, very hard to put down. I absolutely loved it!

Read an excerpt of The Woman in the Window. You can connect with A.J. Finn on Twitter as well as on Instagram. The Woman in the Window is to be published in thirty-six languages around the world and is already in development as a major film from Fox.

Friday, January 5, 2018

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #192

- 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 quite enjoyed B. A. Paris's previous two suspense novels and have just discovered that she has a new one releasing in June in North America and March on the other side of the pond. It's a suspense novel, which I love. So, yes it's been added to my TBR pile. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. So...the US cover has a hole in a stucco covered brick wall that seems somewhat woman shaped. (Yes there's a missing woman in the plot.) Has she broken out? Been hidden away? Kind of a guessing game on this side. The UK cover gives us a bit more with the tag line and a nice blurb from a well known mystery author. Now, the picture has me a bit baffled. I'm not sure what it is. But it's broken. And with a woman's face. For me this week, it's the UK cover. What about you? Any plans to read Bring Me Back? Which cover do you prefer?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

The Wolves of Winter - Tyrell Johnson

Ahh, Tyrell Johnson, you had me at post apocalyptic. Johnson's debut novel is The Wolves of Winter - and it's one you're going to want to read.

Nuclear war and disease have decimated society and the world as we know it. Seven years on, Lynn McBride and her family are still surviving. They fled to an isolated area of the Yukon. and Lynn's hunting and survival skills are now finely honed. When a stranger named Jax stumbles into their part of the forest, Lynn is curious and does what she shouldn't - she approaches him and takes him back to the homestead. But Jax has brought trouble with him - and now it's on the McBride doorstep.....

Johnson has created a great lead character in Lynn - she's tough physically and mentally. But, on the flip side, she's lonely and isolated - and her world is about to change - again.

Johnson's post apocalyptic world building is believable and perhaps not that far away. The cold of the Yukon seeps into the reader's fingers with Johnson's detailed descriptions. But the beauty as well.

The Wolves of Winter is action packed - the tension increases with each new chapter and plot development. There's a great cat and mouse game played out and an epic battle scene. Johnson takes his plotting in an inventive direction that I didn't see coming, but was just right.

Comparisons have been made by the publisher to The Hunger Games. And I agree, it's in the same vein, but puts it's own stamp on world building, a strong female lead, supporting male characters, danger, survival, intrigue and yes, romance.

The Wolves of Winter ends on a satisfying note. But, I wonder Tyrell......could there be there be more to Lynn's story? Pretty please?

Read an excerpt of The Wolves of Winter. An excellent debut, and I look forward to Johnson's next book. You can connect with Tyrell Johnson on his website, like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Over the Counter #399

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Well, they were in every Christmas sale flyer and I'm still kind of unsure as to how they work.....but this book might help.....

How to Instant Pot: Mastering All the Functions of the One Pot That Will Change the Way You Cook by Daniel Shumski.

From Workman Publishing:

"Master the revolutionary appliance that is changing the way we cook!

The only Instant Pot cookbook that is organized by function, How to Instant Pot is both a guide to understanding the Instant Pot basics and a foodie’s creative collection of over 100 recipes specially crafted to take advantage of the Instant Pot’s many virtues, from cooking perfect risotto in six minutes, no stirring required, to five kinds of yogurt, to creating one-hour killer chili and soups from scratch, using dried beans.

Here’s how to make incredible hands-off meals like Ziti and Italian Sausage, Maple-Mustard Pork Shoulder, and Korean-Style Short Ribs, plus plenty of sides, breakfasts, and desserts. In addition to a set of recipes for each function and master recipes with three variations each, there are surprising shortcuts—basics like quick pickles, perfect hard-boiled eggs, and a 30-minute “baked” potato. It’s the essential purchase for every instant pot owner."

(Over the Counter is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World. I've sadly come to 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 catchy your eye as well. See if your local library has them on their shelves!)

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

The Chalk Man - C.J. Tudor

Oh, where to start! Well, here's the thing - I started reading C.J. Tudor's debut novel The Chalk Man in my jammies on a snowy day during Christmas week. And while starting was not an issue, stopping was. I couldn't put the book down!!! Addictive, page turning and so very, very good.......

1986. Twelve year old Ed and his four friends have a great, way of communicating with each other. They chalk little stick figures at the end of their driveways and throughout their small village. It's a 'secret' way to communicate with each other. But when a set of chalk directions leads to a body, it's clear that someone else knows their secret.

2016. Ed still lives in the same house he grew up in, teaches at the school he attended and drinks a little too much. When a chalk man drawing arrives in his mailbox, he knows that the past is not finished with him......

Tudor's use of the past and present narrative in alternating chapters is soooo effective. She ends each chapter with a cliffhanger or a lovely bit of foreshadowing. You know that don't go into the basement scene in movies? Yeah, like that. This and her plotting is what kept me tucked into my reading chair for the day. There's a mystery at the heart of the book - who is the killer? But, there's so much to the plot than just that question. Tudor provides lot of alternatives for the whodunit. There's a dark undertone running through the town. Everyone seems to have secrets.

"I knew it was wrong but, like I said, everyone has secrets, things they know they shouldn't do but do anyway. Mine was taking stuff - collecting things. The crappy thing was, it was only when I tried to take something back that I really screwed up."

Oh, does Tudor ever have that 'twisty, turny' plot thing nailed down! The narrative took lots of unexpected, unpredictable directions. "Never assume. Question everything. Always look beyond the obvious."

The Chalk Man was so 'readable'! I loved it! If you're a fan of Stranger Things, Stand By Me and suspense reads, you'll love The Chalk Man. This book is so darn good, it's hard to believe it's a debut - I can't wait to see what Tudor writes next!  Read an excerpt of The Chalk Man. And, yes this is going to be one of my top reads for 2018!