Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Over the Counter #376

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Wartime I do's......

The Marriage Bureau by Penrose Halson.

From the publisher, Harper Collins:

"About the Book

In the spring of 1939, with the Second World War looming, two determined twenty-four-year-olds, Heather Jenner and Mary Oliver, decided to open a marriage bureau. They found a tiny office on London’s Bond Street and set about the delicate business of matchmaking. Drawing on the bureau’s extensive archives, Penrose Halson—who many years later found herself the proprietor of the bureau—tells their story, and those of their clients. We meet a remarkable cross-section of British society in the 1940s: gents with a “merry twinkle,” potential fifth-columnists, nervous spinsters, isolated farmers seeking “a nice quiet affekshunate girl” and girls looking “exactly” like Greta Garbo and Vivien Leigh, all desperately longing to find The One. And thanks to Heather and Mary, they almost always did just that.

A riveting glimpse of life and love during and after the war, The Marriage Bureau is a heart-warming, touching and thoroughly absorbing account of a world gone by.

The Marriage Bureau is in development for TV with Carnival Film and Television Ltd, who produced Downton Abbey."

(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, July 25, 2017

The Inevitable Collision of Birdie and Bash - Candace Ganger



I always have one YA book tapped to be my companion at the beach for a day in the summer. Candace Ganger's debut novel, The Inevitable Collison of Birdie and Bash was that book.

Birdie and Sebastian (Bash) meet at a party. There's interest on both sides, but nothing happens that night. Well, nothing between the two of them. But something does happen that will change both their lives.... The reader knows what has transpired and can only be a silent witness as events unfold. The pair meet again and the sparks are still there.....but so is what happened....

Two great lead characters - I was happily in their corner, hoping that the fates would align for them. But Ganger has set a pretty high set of obstacles for the pair.  Maybe tragedies is a better word to use.

The supporting cast is easy to categorize - Bash's friend Kyle is very easy to - well, to hate. Birdie's grandpa Sarge says little, but has much to say when he does speak. Ms. Camilla had me in tears. But it was only on reading the author's notes that I discovered Ganger had taken inspiration from her own life for some of the characters and heartbreak. You can feel that personal connection in the writing.

Birdie is a science nerd. Ganger cleverly uses science terms and Lessons of the Day to accompany situations, relationships and developments as the book progresses.

"Lesson of the Day: There are reasons - many reasons - some particles shouldn't combine, no matter how  curious you are about the outcome. Sometimes things explode; sometimes they dissipate, evaporate, disintegrate. And sometimes they collide and become something so much more than you ever thought they could."

My only quibble is Bash's taking the blame for 'the incident' - I did have a hard time thinking that someone would actually do that. But, it's absolutely a driving point of the plot, so it's very necessary.

Loss, grief, love, friendship, coming of age and more populate this novel. It's a really wonderful debut. Read an excerpt of The Inevitable Collision of Birdie and Bash. This book has 'movie' written all over it. Fans of John Green will enjoy this one.

Cr: Merinda Buchanan 
"Candace Ganger is a young adult author, contributing writer for Hello Giggles, and obsessive marathoner. Aside from having past lives as a singer, nanotechnology website editor, and world’s worst vacuum sales rep, she’s also ghostwritten hundreds of projects for companies, best-selling fiction and award-winning nonfiction authors alike. Candace—aka—Candyland—has a severe Milky Way latter addiction + eats way too many donuts/doughnuts but all things in excess, amiright? FYI: She’s TOTALLY awkward in person (#sorrynotsorry). She lives in Ohio with her family." You can connect with Candace on her website. like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Monday, July 24, 2017

The Lying Game - Ruth Ware

If you love psychological suspense, you're going to love Ruth Ware's novels. Her third book, The Lying Game has just released and yes, I loved it!

Isa, Kate, Thea and Fatima all attended the same seaside boarding school. While there, they played what they called The Lying Game. They lied to everyone but adhered to the one rule they laid down - never lie to each other. But their game and their time together abruptly comes to an end when something tragic occurs. Expelled and split up, they go their own ways, except Kate, who stays in Salten. Now grown with careers and families, they only sporadically stay in touch. But, when Kate sends a text with the words 'I need you' to the other three, they immediately come back to Salten. You see, the past can only stay buried so long - and an omission is as good as a lie....

I am a huge fan of 'unreliable narrator' tales - I love trying to suss out what is actually the truth. This time we have multiples - four self proclaimed liars. Isa is our lead character. We see both the present and the past through her eyes and memories. More of what I love - that back and forth only heightens the tension of a book. We know something has happened in the past - unclear references hint at something terrible, but it is never completely spelled out. (And is only finally revealed in the last few chapters.) I need to know what the secret is! The book then switches back to the present - another sure fire technique for keeping me up late reading.

The Lying Game has a mystery at its core, but it is also an exploration of female friendship and familial relationships. These four wouldn't seem to be drawn together as friends - they're all very different in personality and temperament. Ware does a wonderful job portraying and exploring the bonds of friendship, loyalty and time. The same goes for the family piece - what defines a family and where does loyalty lie?

The setting is perfect - a remote coastal town, an isolated school, a ruin of a building that has housed family, friends and secrets for many years, as well as a surrounding village filled with distinctly contentious inhabitants. All of this just adds a great atmospheric backdrop for the all the possibilities, scenarios and questions I came up with.

The Lying Game is a character driven novel with a secret at the heart of it. A secret that changes the course of many lives. It's an addictive read - one I didn't want to put down - and one I finished far too fast again. This reader will be waiting for book number four. Read an excerpt of The Lying Game.

You can connect with Ruth Ware on her website and follow her on Twitter.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Zip! Zoom! On a Broom - Teri Sloat, Illustrated by Rosalinde Bonnet

Zip! Zoom! On a Broom by Teri Sloat is the latest in the Gramma and Little Guy reads.

Little Guy knows what Hallowe'en is and immediately labeled the book as a Hallowe'en read from the witches on the cover. We had to look at the witches's faces before opening the book and he found some of them to be 'mean.' Onward to the inside.....

Zip! Zoom! On a Broom is specifically a Hallowe'en themed counting book. Ten witches end up packed onto a broom - we count up as they appear and down as they leave the broom.

The prose are in rhymes that allows the reader to achieve a nice rhythm. But there are a few that seem somewhat stilted and forced and just not quite 'there'. "Seven spiral through a cloud. One witch whirls off, shrieks out loud!" Some of the words used are perhaps a bit above the reading level of those who would pick up this book - incant and plummet definitely are. Those that would perhaps understand those words are beyond counting to ten.

Rosalinde Bonnet's illustrations are quite unique, distinctive and detailed. However I found some of the pages to be just too dark, both physically and in tone. Little Guy found the witches and creatures that populate the pages to be just too mean and scary, especially the wolf that catches the last witch.

We'll try this one again later, but both Gramma and Little Guy can only give it a middle of the road rating - *** - right now.

Friday, July 21, 2017

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #168

- 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

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Two Nights - Kathy Reichs

I'm always up for a new read from Kathy Reichs. Her newest book, Two Nights, is a stand alone that introduces us to a great female lead named Sunday Night.

Sunday is ex-military and a former cop turned walking wounded private investigator in South Carolina. She's carrying a lot of baggage from her own past, both psychological and physical. She's smart, tough and tenacious with the attitude to match.

When she's asked to look for a young girl who has been missing for more than a year, she takes the job - there are aspects to the case that strike a personal chord.

Two Nights? Sunny has a brother named August - Gus for short. And he too has a wide and varied skill set. I enjoyed his laid back, smooth style. The two have worked together before and team up again for this latest. The banter between the two is quick and the dialogue is staccato and sharp. This is true of the whole book.

The plot borrows from current news headlines, but Reichs puts an inventive spin on her plotting. She keeps us guessing about Sunnie's past with memories and asides. As the book progresses, more and more is revealed until we discover the truth in the last few chapters. (And she caught me off guard....) Cut between chapters are italicized chapters from a woman being held in captivity that count down from two weeks ago to the present. Time seems to be of the essence in both plot lines.

Yes, Two Nights is a departure from the tone and tenor of the Tempe Brennan novels. It's definitely action oriented and almost read like movie. And yes, some of the plotting is a bit far fetched. But you know - I enjoyed seeing something new and different from an author I follow. I thought Sunday was a great new lead character - and you can never have enough female kick butt leads. I found Two Nights to be an entertaining read. I wonder if there will be another Night novel? If so, this reader would pick it up. Read an excerpt of Two Nights.

You can connect with Kathy Reichs on her website, like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Over the Counter #375

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Well, this one seems quite apropos.....

The Card Catalog: Books, Cards, and Literary Treasures - Compiled by the Library of Congress and Foreword by Carla Hayden. (Foreword)

From Chronicle Books:

"The Library of Congress brings booklovers an enriching tribute to the power of the written word and to the history of our most beloved books. Featuring more than 200 full-color images of original catalog cards, first edition book covers, and photographs from the library's magnificent archives, this collection is a visual celebration of the rarely seen treasures in one of the world's most famous libraries and the brilliant catalog system that has kept it organized for hundreds of years. Packed with engaging facts on literary classics—from Ulysses to The Cat in the Hat to Shakespeare's First Folio to The Catcher in the Rye—this package is an ode to the enduring magic and importance of books."

(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!)