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!)

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Breakdown - B.A. Paris

I loved B. A. Paris's debut novel, Behind Closed Doors. (my review) I was very excited to see what she had in store for readers in her newest book, The Breakdown.

Cass takes a shortcut home late one rainy night through a  dark wooded area. She comes across a parked vehicle and wonders if the woman driver needs help. She pulls over, but the woman never exits her vehicle, so Cass drives on, thinking she will phone the police to let them know there's a possible breakdown. But she forgets to call and is stunned to find out that a woman named Jane was murdered on that same shortcut road last night. Cass seems to forget a lot these days and she is terrified that she has the same early onset dementia that her mother had. And she is just as terrified that the murderer may have seen her license plate as she drove by. And then things start happening....

"It's hard to believe that my split-second decision to take a shortcut through the woods that fateful Friday night has had such a devastating impact on my life. Jane may have been in the wrong place at the wrong time but so was I. So was I."

Wonderful premise! And a decidedly unreliable narrator - are the 'things' happening all in her own mind? Or are they real?  Is the murderer after her as well? And her memory seems to be rapidly deteriorating....

Paris introduces a set of friends and family and because we only meet them through Cass, I was suspicious of them all. The tension builds and builds as Cass becomes even more paranoid and terrified. The last one hundred pages turns everything upside down, providing the twist that psychological suspense lovers like myself are just waiting to discover. Read carefully as Paris drops little snippets of dialogue along the way that will point the reader in the right direction for the final whodunit. There are one or two pieces of the resolution that require a few grains of salt to be taken, but this didn't detract from my overall enjoyment of the book in any way. (In fact it ended up being read in a day on the weekend!) The Breakdown was another great read for me and I will be looking forward to Paris's next book. Read an excerpt of The Breakdown.

I always enjoy a clever title - Breakdown can be interpreted a couple of ways in this case.  You can connect with B.A. Paris on Twitter.

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Marsh King's Daughter - Karen Dionne

Karen's Dionne's newest novel, The Marsh King's Daughter has been getting so much press - I was eager to listen to it.

Helena was born to her sixteen year old mother and her mother's kidnapper, a survivalist known as The Marsh King. The three lived deep in the marsh, in a rustic cabin, hidden for twelve years. Helena did escape and is now a mother to two little girls. She has changed her name and hidden her history - not even her husband knows her background. But when she hears a news report about her father's escape from prison, she knows he is coming for her. He trained her in wilderness survival and she will now need all her skills to find him and......

There seems to be more and more of these real life abduction stories in the news, with movies and books following. And somehow it is hard not to want to know more. Dionne takes a real life situation and puts her own (great) spin on things.

The Marsh King's Daughter is told from Helena's viewpoint, both past and present. Because she has only her mother and father as references, her early views of the world and relationships are skewed. She adores her father, not realizing that their family unit is not normal. Her treatment of and attitude towards her mother is not pretty. We get to 'know' her father better through her adult memories. Those memories are triggered by the need for adult Helena to find and capture her father. Are her skills equal to his? Or better.....

Dionne has written an addictive thriller - I ended up listening to 'just one more chapter' long into the night. And the final few chapters made it impossible to stop listening. Readers will be firmly in Helena's camp, holding their breath as a cat and mouse game plays out - in both the past and the present.

Cut between chapters are excerpts from Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale - The Marsh King's Daughter. The excerpts used often mirror what is currently happening in the book.

I was thinking as I was listening to The Marsh King's Daughter that it would make a great movie. Dionne just announced last week that screen rights have been sold.

Emily Rankin was the narrator for this audiobook. Her voice suited both young and adult Helen - innocence and later determination. She communicates the tension, danger and suspense of thise novel well. Her voice is easily understood and pleasant to listen to.  Listen to an excerpt of The Marsh King's Daughter. Or read an excerpt.