Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year 2013!

Wishing all of you the best for 2013.
 Health and happiness foremost.
This is the time of year when we all swear off excesses, but books are the one excess I have no interest in swearing off!
Happy New Year!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Over the Counter # 143

I love tiny things, so it's no wonder that Tiny Food Party! by Teri Lyn Fisher and Jenny Park caught my eye passing over the library counter and under my scanner.

And if you're hosting or attending a New Year's Eve party - there's lots of fun ideas for appetizers!

From the publisher Quirk Books:

"In Tiny Food Party! Jenny Park and Teri Lyn Fisher share dozens of quick and easy recipes for bite-size munchies. Use mini-cupcake tins to bake up sweet little Two-Bite Cheesecakes. Turn thin slices of sweet shallots into dainty Little Onion Rings. Fill small rectangles of dough with strawberry jam, and you’ve got adorable Mini Homemade Pop Tarts! With full-color photographs of every recipe—plus tips and tricks for “downsizing” all your favorite foods—Tiny Food Party! is a celebration that everyone will want to attend!"

(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, December 24, 2012

'Twas The Night Before Christmas - Clement Clarke Moore

" 'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,

Had just settled down for a long winter's nap,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;
"Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.
His eyes -- how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night."

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Winner - Patagonia Giveaway

And the lucky winner of the e-book of her choice from

And she has chosen Closer to the Ground.
Congratulations! I've emailed you to confirm.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Boy in the Snow - M. J. McGrath

The Boy in the Snow is the second book in M. J. McGrath's Edie Kiglatuk mystery series - the follow up to her very successful fiction debut novel White Heat.

Edie is a wonderfully unique protagonist. She is half Inuit, half white and makes her home on remote Ellesmere Island, Nunavut, working as a guide. She has travelled 'down south' to Alaska with Sergeant Derek Palliser to support her ex-husband/his friend Sammy in his bid to run the Iditarod. But while out on a drive, Edie stumbles across the body of a baby, left in the forest. Her reporting the body to the police is only the beginning of her involvement - she can't let it rest and begins to investigate on her own - with the help of Derek.

Edie is canny, intuitive, dogged, determined and just a really engaging and different character. McGrath has chosen unique settings and backgrounds as well. McGrath has written non fiction on the displacement of Canadian Inuit. Her fiction narrative carries detail and descriptions that utilize that knowledge very effectively. Customs, culture and language and the landscape all play an important role in McGrath's story.

The plotting of the mystery in The Boy in the Snow is excellent as well - corrupt politicians, age old religious sects and more. But, this is truly a character driven series - one I will be adding to my must read list.

I chose to listen to this book. Now the reader was Kate Reading - not one of my favorites as I dislike her habit of drawing out her words. (She just narrated Cornwell's The Bone Bed) But it didn't bother me as much this time - I think because I was quite engrossed in both the story and the characters. Read an excerpt of The Boy in the Snow.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Over the Counter #142

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Well, it's December, so Christmas books made me stop and browse!

First up was The Farm Chicks Christmas  - Merry Ideas for the Holidays by Serena Thompson.

From the publisher Country Living:

"For Farm Chick Serena Thompson, Christmas means a house overflowing with ornaments, lights, and cherished treasures, and the aroma of baking cookies to welcome family and friends. Here, she shows us how to spread the magic of the season, with ideas for entertaining, decorating, tree trimming, charming crafts, and 17 recipes for yummy holiday sweets - plus tips for wrapping food and gifts.

As in The Farms Chicks in the Kitchens, Serena weaves delightful stories of her family and friends throughout the book, calling forth nostalgic smiles that remind us of the importance of tradition as this special time of the year."

Next up was Sweet Christmas by Sharon Bowers.

From the publisher Stewart, Tabori and Chang:

"Sweet Christmas puts the holidays back into the family kitchen with 100 recipes and projects for holiday treats for parents and children to make together. The recipes are easy to make, don’t require special equipment, and are accompanied by lush color photographs. From real homemade candy (peppermint fudge, pulled ribbon candy, sugared pecans) to edible decorations for the tree (stained glass cookies, Rice Krispie snowmen, chocolate Santa mice) to handmade gifts for special people (golden caramel sauce, dark chocolate truffles, Christmas pudding bonbons), this beautiful and inspiring book even has recipes for Christmas morning: buttery pull-apart bread in a caramel glaze, sticky buns, orange-butter pancakes, and hot maple doughnuts."

(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!)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Blind Fury - Lynda La Plante

Yes, I did just review a Lynda LaPlante title recently. (Blood Line - my review) That was my first introduction to the Detective Inspector Anna Travis series. Well, I was in need of an audio book to listen to, so I thought I would download the previous book - Blind Fury.

DI Travis is called in when a young woman's body is found in a ditch by a highway service station. With the amount of traffic passing through and by, finding a suspect will be difficult. But when further investigation turns up another young woman killed in the same manner, the team realizes they may have a serial killer on their hands. But what they don't have is any clues. Convicted killer Cameron Walsh insists he has information to share - but he will only talk to Anna - the copper who put him behind bars.

The reader was Kim Hicks. Her voice was excellent, providing lots of different voices and accents for various characters.

It's always different listening to a book rather than reading. Unless you fast forward, you hear every word. If you're reading, it's possible to skim over some passages. I enjoyed the plotting in Blind Fury crime and the solid investigation by the team. What I did find a bit tiresome was Anna's love life in this book. It was all a bit swoony for me. Now, I will rarely go backwards in a series as I find it frustrating to already know what's going to happen and where the character is going. And in this case, I was right. I knew what the shock was going to be in the final chapters and it did spoil the book a bit for me.

So, will I read/listen to another Anna Travis book? Yes, as I really enjoyed Blood Line. But I won't be hunting down any others in the back list. Read an excerpt of Blind Fury.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Mystery of Mercy Close - Marian Keyes

Irish writer Marian Keyes is a best selling author on both sides of the pond. I quite enjoyed her last book - The Brightest Star in the Sky. (my review)

So I picked up her latest novel - The Mystery of Mercy Close, expecting another fun read.

Helen Walsh couldn't find a job she could stick with until she got her private investigator's license. But jobs are hard to come by lately and her finances are suffering. So much so, that she's lost her job and has had to move back home with her parents. The one bright spot is her new boyfriend Artie, who also works in law enforcement. When her old boyfriend Jay approaches her with a missing persons gig, she takes the job - she desperate for cash.

Okay, does this whole set up/character sound familiar to anyone else? Yeah, me too.

Keyes's lead character Helen is a little darker though - she suffers from depression and anxiety and her mental state is very much a part of the plotting. Upon further investigation, I discovered that Keyes herself suffers from major depression. So the inclusion of this made a little more sense.

Keyes is known for her chick lit stories that do incorporate some darker themes (abuse was part of the plot of a previous book) I did like Helen's dark sense of humour - her shovel (not bucket) list was fun. "It's more of a conceptual thing. It's a list of all the people and things I hate so much that I want to hit them in the face with a shovel." There's some steamy romance of course with Artie, some generational humour with her parents, some sibling interaction that's amusing. The Walsh sisters are excellent characters.  The mystery part of things wasn't too hard to figure out. So, all the elements seem to be there for a good read - but sadly, it was just okay for me.  I found myself picking it up and down over the course of a couple of weeks as it didn't really hold my attention. And, at five hundred pages, it felt like it was dragged out too long. And I feel bad...'cause I really wanted to like it more.

You can find Marian Keyes on Twitter.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Astray - Emma Donoghue

My first Emma Donoghue book was The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits - a short story collection built on historical tidbits and facts that was released in 2002. I've enjoyed many more titles from Donoghue since - Slammerkin remains a favorite. I was thrilled to see that her latest book Astray was again a collection of short stories with their origins found in obscure historical realities.

In this latest collection Donoghue explores all the ways a life, a person, a path can go astray...." on and off, for the past decade and a half, I've been writing stories about travels to, within, and occasionally from the United States and Canada. Most of these travelers are real people who left traces in the historical record; a few are characters I've invented to put a face on real incidents of border crossing. Many of them stray in several senses, when in the course of their journeys across geographical and political boundaries they find themselves stepping over other ones: law, sex, or race. Emigrants, immigrants, adventurers, and runaways - they fascinate me because they loiter on the margins, stripped of the markers of family and nation; they're out of place, out of their depth."

The places and times of the stories in Astray are varied, ranging from London to New York to Texas to Canada and more  and ranging from the 1600's to the 900's.  Donoghue is able to write with different voices and outlooks, providing a fresh and unique outlook with every exploration.

It's hard to pick favourites, but I think Counting the Days - the story of a reluctant emigre and her husband who went ahead stayed with me. As did The Gift - a series of letters from a mother trying to find her child.

I absolutely adored this book. Each story was a little glimpse into a life gone before - a reminder of a life, a moment, a time. At the end of each, Donoghue provides us with the 'real' details - the names, the times and the places that these people inhabited. I found myself stopping after each tale, savouring what I'd read and wondering about what might have happened next for those captured by Donoghue's imagination. In a few cases, my interest piqued, I went online and did some research of my own. And, I also stopped in an effort to make the book last longer - I didn't want it to end. Looking for a book to spend that gift card on? Look no further. Read an excerpt of Astray.

You can find Emma Donoghue on Twitter and on Facebook.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Over the Counter #141

It's a busy time of the year and my reading has slowed you, dear reader, get an extra helping of Over the Counter this week!

What book caught my eyes this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner?

Imagining Canada:  A Century of Photographs Preserved by The New York Times. William Morassutti, Editor. (Ironic though - an American paper preserving Canadian photos....)

From the publisher Doubleday Canada:

"Sophisticated and well-curated, this photographic tour through Canada's history documents the nation's evolution over more than a century, as seen through the lens of photographers from The New York Times. The book compiles more than 100 iconic, momentous and inspiring images of Canada and includes ten commentary pieces from a range of important thinkers, historians and writers, including National Chief Shawn Atleo, MP Justin Trudeau, historians Charlotte Gray, Peter C. Newman and Tim Cook, and sports columnist Stephen Brunt. Through these pages and images, which represent a portal in time, a portrait of Canada emerges, not as seen by its own citizens, but as viewed through a distinctly American lens.
The book includes photos arranged according to the following themes:
• The Battlefield: Canada at War
• Aboriginal People
• The Changing Face of Canadian Society—Our Immigration Story
• Landscape
• The Political Arena
• Industry
• The War Machine: How the Homefront Supplied the Wars
• Hockey
• Icons (Stars, Sports Heroes, Political Figures, Royalty)"
(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!)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Over the Counter #140

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Well, I admit I was craving something sweet at the time, so the Field Guide to Candy by Anita Chu caught my eye. So did the subtitle - How to Identify and Make Virtually Every Candy Imaginable. Make?! Hmm, further investigation needed.....

From the publisher Quirk Books:

"What puts the crunch in buttercrunch toffee? How do you cook the perfect raspberry chocolate truffle? What’s the secret to making lollipops and lemon drops? Discover these answers and more in Field Guide to Candy, a handy pocket reference to more than 100 recipes, complete with serving suggestions and fascinating historical trivia (in the 1940s, gumdrop cakes were among the most popular desserts in America).

Field Guide to Candy includes traditional favorites and exotic treats from all over the world, everything from peanut butter cups and salt-water taffy to Pastelia (Greek honey candy) and Turkish Delight. Each candy is photographed in glorious full color, with step-by-step instructions on how to prepare, make, serve, and store your creations. Yummy homemade confections are just minutes away with Field Guide to Candy in your pantry!"

(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!)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Blessed Are Those Who Thirst - Anne Holt

I first 'discovered Anne Holt when I read the Edgar nominated 1222 featuring recurring protagonist Hanne Wilhelmsen last year. (and loved it! - my review)

Holt is a Norwegian author and started the Hanne series in 1993. Holt has worked for the Oslo P.D., as a lawyer and a journalist and news anchor as well. This extensive background has added much authenticity to this crime series. The first books featuring Hanne are just being released to North American markets this year. Blessed Are Those Who Thirst is the second in the series.

Oslo Detective Inspector Hanne Wilhelmsen and her colleagues are sweating it out - both figuratively and literally. Oslo is in the middle of a heat wave and crime rate is rising with the thermometer. Hanne is called out to investigate an abandoned shed - covered in blood with a series of cryptic number written on the wall. There's no body and until testing is carried out, no indication it is human blood. Hanne's caseload increases when she is given another crime to investigate - that of a brutal rape. But the rape clearance rate in Norway is appalling. And the victim and her father are aware of that....Then another blood soaked scene and set of numbers is discovered....

I was so enamoured of the middle aged Hanne in 1222 that it was a bit of a shock to encounter a young Hanne. But I enjoyed seeing the beginnings of this character - her interactions with fellow cops, her complicated relationship with her sexuality and her partner. Her initial enthusiasm has not been replaced by the cynicism that will come by 1222. What hasn't changed is Hanne's pursuit of the truth, her keen sense of observation and her dedication to justice.

Holt has two story lines running perpendicular - that of Hanne's investigation and personal life and that of the rape victim and her father. Both are intriguing. but also handled with thoughtful introspection. Holt successfully combines credible plotting with an engaging lead, as well as some social commentary, to produce an excellent read. I did find the translation a little stilted in the beginning, but it certainly didn't detract from my enjoyment of the book.

Now, normally I won't go back to the beginning of a series if I've read the latest. In Holt's case, I will be making an exception. I'm quite taken with this series and will be watching for the next release. See for yourself - read an excerpt of Blessed Are Those Who Thirst.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Art Forger - B. A. Shapiro

The Art Forger marks B.A. Shapiro's fiction debut.

Now I must admit, I have very little knowledge of the art world. So I honestly wasn't sure if I was going to enjoy this book or not.

What I found fascinating was that Shapiro wove her story around actual historical figures and events. In 1990 the Gardner Museum was robbed of a number of significant art works.  They have never been recovered. The works were collected by Isabelle Stewart Gardner - a woman who lived life on her own terms.

Shapiro's narrator and main character is painter Claire Roth. She survived a scandal personally, but the professional fallout has left her 'reproducing' famous art works for a living. When a well known gallery owner approaches her about reproducing a famous work in exchange for a show of her own work, she hesitates - but agrees. The work she'll be copying is one of Degas's - and one stolen from the Gardner. Or is it?

Shapiro's research has been carefully carried out. She describes the atmosphere, the smell, the process of painting with great detail and passion. I did actually learn quite a bit during my read, but at the end did find myself glossing over some of these passages as they seemed to cover ground already discussed. The same  process is covered multiple times.

Shapiro uses flashbacks very effectively. In bits and pieces we learn what happened to Claire three years ago and what led to her current situation.  As that story unfolds, it seems that history may be repeating itself. Has Claire made the same tragic mistakes yet again?

The third storyline is told in 1880's letters from Isabelle to her niece - her only confidant. The mystery of the current day missing paintings might be found in these missives. But, have they survived the years? I really enjoyed these letters.

But somehow, I never felt I connected with Claire on a personal level. I had a hard time buying her relationship with Aiden the gallery owner.  I found the art side of the story much more developed and richer than the characters themselves. They seemed rather wooden and somewhat cliched.

The Art Forger has been billed as a literary thriller, but I disagree. It's a good story, but isn't really a thriller at heart. The mystery aspect of the book is somewhat obvious and it was not a surprise when I was proven right. An enjoyable read, but not a standout for this reader. Read an excerpt of The Art Forger.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Giveaway - Patagonia Books

"Is Patagonia on your bookshelf? Mention outdoor clothing company Patagonia and what comes to mind? Jackets! Puffy ones, fleece ones, waterproof ones -- beloved, long-lasting, favorite ones.

How about books? That's right. Patagonia has been publishing since 2007. But their little-known secret is out, as Patagonia Books are now available in digital form. Readers can now find all 12 titles in digital form at, Amazon,, and iTunes. E-Books do right by the environment: same great stories, less environmental harm. That's why Patagonia has joined the mobile movement. Great news for Patagonia-clad readers, since print books don't really travel well. (Remember Cheryl Strayed in Wild, torching chapters on the trail?)

“Not only do eBooks have less environmental impact, they are also more portable,” says Patagonia Books Director Karla Olson. “We know that our audience is often on the move, and the convenience of having these titles available as eBooks will enhance their reading experience.”

Enjoy the thrill of the outdoors with e-Books from Patagonia – and this special giveaway!"

Preview the latest releases below, and the entire catalog at

Closer to the Ground: An Outdoor Family’s Year on the Water, in the Woods, and At the Table - Dylan Tomine describes a year of foraging in the Pacific Northwest and how living close to the earth enriches one's own life and that of one’s children.

The Responsible Company: What We've Learned From Patagonia's First 40 Years - Yvon Chouinard and Vincent Stanley offer insights into the process of reducing the impact of their company.
Paddling North is a tale of a solo kayak journey in Southeast Alaska by Audrey Sutherland that is remarkable for her self-sufficiency and powers of observation.
The Voyage of the Cormorant - Christian Beamish tells what happens when vision meets reality in his book about his building an open sailing boat and then taking it in search of surf down the Pacific Coast of Baja.

And since e-books don't have to be mailed....this one's international! Simply leave a comment with the book you'd like to read. A random winner will be chosen on Dec 22.

For more choices, go to

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Bone Bed - Patricia Cornwell

When Patricia Cornwell first started writing, I loved her books featuring forensic pathologist Kay Scarpetta. But, slowly but surely the love affair ended and I stopped following this series.  Well, recently I needed something to listen to, so I decided, what the heck, I'll give her another shot. So I picked up her latest book - The Bone Bed.

Scarpetta is now the medical examiner for the state of Massachusetts. Her niece Lucy, a talented tech wizard and investigator Pete Marino also work with/for her. Kay's husband Benton, an FBI profiler, also often works with Kay.

Scarpetta receives an email which documents a crime committed against an American paleontologist working in Alberta and now missing. Lucy finds evidence that the clip may be connected to a murder on U.S. soil. So, a good premise and I was intrigued.

But....although I enjoy personal story lines in addition to the main plot, I quickly grew tired of listening to what seemed to be the same old, same old. Benton and Kay are having relationship problems, Lucy is being secretive, Kay's staff are betraying her, Marino is in trouble again. Sound familiar? Cornwell fills out the story with endless detail - which refrigerator is the parmigiana in - number one or two? "I check my oversized titanium watch on its rubber strap and reach for my coffee—black, no sweetener—as distant footsteps sound in the corridor of my bullet-shaped building on the eastern border of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s campus. It isn’t light out yet this third Monday of October." First lines of chapter one.

The reader was Kate Reading. I have to admit she's not one of my favourite narrators. I find her habit of dwelling on final consonants and drawing out words slightly annoying. But her tone does seem to fit the character of Kay, who seems to see herself as somewhat superior and whom I find supercilious.

The ending and the 'culprit' were such a letdown. And confirmed why I will be saying goodbye again to Patricia Cornwell. If you're so inclined - read an excerpt of The Bone Bed.

(The title The Bone Bed refers to the dinosaur bone deposits in Alberta, Canada. Although they are featured in the opening scene, they truly didn't have a lot to do with the story. It almost felt like Cornwell was copying Kathy Reich's penchant for using the word bone in many of her titles that also feature a forensic pathologist.)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Over the Counter #139

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under the scanner? Well, it was all about vintage this week.

First up was Vintage Cakes by Julie Richardson. Subtitled: Timeless Recipes for Cupcakes, Flips, Rolls, Layer, Angel, Bundt, Chiffon and Icebox Cakes for Today's Sweet Tooth.

From the publisher Ten Speed Press:

"A charming collection of updated recipes for both classic and forgotten cakes, from a timeless yellow birthday cake with chocolate buttercream frosting, to the new holiday standard, Gingerbread Icebox Cake with Mascarpone Mousse, written by a master baker and coauthor of Rustic Fruit Desserts.

Make every occasion—the annual bake sale, a birthday party, or even a simple Sunday supper—a celebration with this charming collection of more than 50 remastered classics.

Each recipe in Vintage Cakes is a confectionary stroll down memory lane. After sifting through her treasure trove of cookbooks and recipe cards, master baker and author Julie Richardson selected the most inventive, surprising, and just plain delicious cakes she could find. The result is a delightful and delectable time capsule of American baking, with recipes spanning a century.

Each cake has been expertly tested and retooled using the best ingredients and most up-to-date techniques. With precise and careful guidance, Richardson guides home bakers—whether total beginners or seasoned cooks—toward picture-perfect meringues, extra-creamy frostings, and lighter-than-air chiffons.

A few of the dreamy cakes that await: a chocolaty Texas Sheet Cake as large and abundant as its namesake state, the boozy Not for Children Gingerbread eBundt cake, and the sublime Lovelight Chocolate Chiffon Cake with Chocolate Whipped Cream. With recipes to make Betty Crocker proud, these nostalgic and foolproof sweets rekindle our love affair with cakes."

Next up was My Cool Classic Car by Chris Haddon. Subtitled: An Inspirational Guide to Classic Cars."

From the publisher Pavilion Books:

"My Cool classic Car features approximately 42 vehicles from around the world, including the small but perfectly formed Fiat 500, the Bavarian Goggomobil, Willys WW2 Jeep, the Plymouth Belvedere with its extraordinary trademark wings, the popular and trustworthy Morris Minor, and the Mini, the design success of the 60s. The book also includes details of extraordinary journeys (some short and some long) that some of these cars have made – London to Mexico; 2,000-mile round trips to Italy; and forgotten time capsules untouched for decades along with heartwarming stories of how a car has become a priceless part of the family.

The book uses high-quality, stylish photography to capture the beauty of these cars set against attractive backdrops. The photography focuses on the design specifics which have earned these cars the label ‘classic’. The owners’ stories and accompanying vehicle notes (which explain the influence of car design on the wider design community) offer interesting insights as well as inspiration to the design conscious. The book is guaranteed to leave the reader contemplating the joys of embarking on a road trip in any one of the iconic cars featured."

(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, December 4, 2012

The Black Box - Michael Connelly

Oh, Harry Bosch is back! I started Michael Connelly's latest book in the series (#18) - The Black Box - and I tried really, really hard to make it last.....but it was no use.....I finished it in a day. I literally couldn't put it down.

Harry is still with the Open-Unsolved Unit of the LAPD. It's the 20th anniversary of the L.A. riots and the Unit has been asked to try and clear some cases from that time period. Harry knows the case he wants to re examine. He worked the streets during that turmoil and was there when Anneke Jespersen's body was found in an alley. The murder of the young journalist was never solved.

"In the chaos of the moment, the mission was simple; preserve the evidence, document the scene as well and as fast as possible, and collect the dead. Get in and get out. And do it safely. The real investigation would come later. Maybe."

Well, that time is now.  With today's capabilities in forensic science, Harry makes a discovery - bullets at the Jespersen scene match other crime scenes - committed after her murder. And Harry is on the trail. "Twenty years later, he got another shot at it. And it was a very long shot at that." What he also has is a new lieutenant - one determined to put Harry in his place.

This is Harry at his best, under the gun from superiors, eschewing the politicos, running solo, making connections others don't see and pursuing his cases full out. Justice for the victim is his focus. I have such a vivid mental image of Harry as I read - he is one of my favourite detectives.

As always, the plotting was intricate. I enjoyed solving the crime along with Harry as he pieced together his case from tenuous leads, intuition and dogged determination.

Connelly has given us the softer side of  Harry in the last few books with the addition of his daughter Maddie. While I enjoy Harry having a personal life and storyline, I'm still on the fence about Maddie. But not about the new love interest Hannah - she's got to go. I'm curious as to whether a new female cop introduced in this book will return in future stories. Initially I thought she was just a supporting character, but played a bigger role than I imagined.

As always, another great read from Connelly. The downside - we'll have to wait another year for his next book - The Gods of Guilt. You can find Connelly on Facebook.

"The saying is that law enforcement work is ninety-nine per-cent boredom and one percent adrenaline - screaming high intensity moments of life -and- death consequence." The Black Box? One hundred percent recommended. Read an excerpt of The Black Box.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Jack Reacher's Rules - With an Introduction by Lee Child

Reacher Creatures - Rejoice! It's here at last. All the wisdom from Jack Reacher in one handy reference guide - Jack Reacher's Rules.

And some of you many be wondering - who the heck is Jack Reacher? Well, Reacher is the creation of author New York Times best selling author  Lee Child - and one of my favourite series. (Me and a whole lot of other readers!)

"Jack Reacher, of no fixed address, is a former major in the U.S. Military Police. Since leaving he army, the authorities have not been able to locate his whereabouts, although his name mysteriously crops up from time to time in connection with investigations into murders, terrorist threats, and other breaches of the law."

Jack's credo to live by ---- "I'm a man with a rule. People leave me alone, I leave them alone. If they don't, I don't."

Child has culled from the seventeen books featuring Reacher to paint a picture of this iconic character.

You'll find the basics....."Never say no to a cup of coffee"...."After up to nine days, put clothes in trash and buy a new set"...."Carry a spare shirt and pretty soon, you're carrying spare pants. Then you need a suitcase. Next thing you know, you've got a house and a car and a savings plan and you're filling out all kinds of forms."

To the more, shall we say, specialized skills...."To set your own broken nose, smack yourself firmly in the face with the heel of your hand"...Sometimes an entire city block can be taken out with one cigarette and a book of matches...If you're swinging a weapon, get near and get near early"... and many more.

There's nothing new here, but this book will appeal to established fans, who will recognize many quotes and anecdotes from the series. Although, for those new to Lee Child's books, Jack Reacher's Rules may whet your appetite for reading the actual novels.  

"I don't want to put the world to rights. I just don't like people who put the world to wrongs" "I try to do the right things. I think the reasons don't really matter. I like to see the right thing done." Peek inside Jack Reacher's Rules.

And we like to follow Jack on his quest to do the right thing!  Reacher Creatures everywhere will be watching for the movie coming out on Dec. 21 starring Tom Cruise as Reacher. The jury's still out on that casting, but we'll see.....

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Winner - Cold City

And the lucky winner of a copy of Cold City by F. Paul Wilson, courtesy of Tor Books is:

Rheyvynn! Didn't hear back from her, so Scatoma - come on down! 
*sigh* Okay, lets try again. Michael you're next......

Congratulations! I've contacted you by email for your mailing address. Please respond within 72 hours.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Beware This Boy - Maureen Jennings

I know Maureen Jennings's name. I know she's Canadian. I know she's an award winning author. I know that the television series The Murdoch Mysteries is based on her best selling historical detective series. (I've watched every episode - and season six starts in January '13.) But, I have never physically read a book by Jennings.....until now....and I wish I had done so sooner!

Her latest novel is Beware This Boy - the second book featuring Detective Inspector Tom Tyler. The setting is England in 1940 -  and the war has begun.

Tyler is called in to Birmingham to investigate a fatal accident at a munitions factory. But, is it an accident? As he questions the staff, he begins to think not. A young American film maker may not be who he says he is. Could one of the staff have their own agenda? Are there conspirators amongst them? In addition to Tom's inquiries, there are secondary storylines involving an AWOL soldier, his family and more. But all have ties to the factory in one way or another.

There are many characters populating this book, but each personality serves a purpose and is richly and distinctly drawn. Every one has their own story, yet plays a larger part in the overall plot. The Abbott family was a standout for me - especially nurse Eileen. I quite like Tom and his quiet, thoughtful manner of investigation.

The time period is beautifully captured as well. The stalwart attitudes, courage, the sense of duty, the politeness and social mores of the day but the dark side of war as well. Living day to day with bombing, rationing, uncertainty, death and loss.

The 'whodunit' is not overly complicated and we're privy to more knowledge than Tom early on, but this really didn't matter. It was Jennings's characters and storytelling that were standouts for me.

Beware This Boy was a rich, full, satisfying read all 'round on so many levels. Definitely recommended. Read an excerpt of Beware This Boy. Although this is the second book of a trilogy, I was able to enjoy Beware This Boy on its' own. There were allusions to a past case, but it didn't detract from this story. If anything, it only encouraged me to hunt down the first book - Season of Darkness.

In the author's notes, Jennings shares the origins of the title.

"The title of this book is from A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. When the Ghost of Christmas Present appears to Ebeneezer Scrooge, he reveals two wretched children who have been sheltering inside his robe. They are the children of Man, says the Spirit.  'This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware of both of them...but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom unless the writing be erased."

I'm not sure if there are more books using this time period as a setting lately or I'm just discovering them.  (Anne Perry, Charles Todd, Jacqueline Winspear) But I am really enjoying them. If you do as well, put Jennings on your list. Beware This Boy was also the inspiration for the television series The Bomb Girls.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Over The Counter #138

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Cooking with and for kids. But, not just for kids - as I riffled through the pages, I found lots of recipes I'd like to try! You might find some ideas to try over the holidays.

First up was Weelicious: 140 Fast, Fresh and Easy Recipes by Catherine McCord. One Family. One Meal.

From the publisher William Morrow:

"Every parent knows how difficult it is to get to get kids eating happily and healthily. Catherine McCord has the answer: Weelicious! Creator of the wildly popular blog, Catherine, who honed her cooking skills at Manhattan’s Institute of Culinary Education, strongly believes in the “one family/one meal” idea—preparing a single, scrumptious meal the entire family can sit down and enjoy together rather than having to act as “short order cook” for kids who each want something different. In Weelicious, she offers dozens of recipes and tips for creating quick, easy, healthy, and fun food that moms, dads, and young children of any age will absolutely adore—from the most persnickety infants to the pickiest grade-schoolers.
More than just a cookbook, Weelicious is the ultimate cooking bible for families—a resource that will stand the test of time as the family grows! "

Next up was Everyday Kitchen for Kids by Jennifer Low.

From the publisher Whitecap Books:

"What’s the best way for children to learn about the variety and value of food? By getting into the kitchen and making all their favourite dishes themselves.

Everyday Kitchen for Kids
, the follow-up to the award-winning, international bestseller Kitchen for Kids, helps children do just that. With a chapter on organizing the kitchen, a glossary of methods and ingredients, and 100 all-new recipes, all featuring kid-friendly cooking methods, Everyday Kitchen for Kids is the cookbook for encouraging kid power in the kitchen.
And with Everyday Kitchen for Kids it’s “safety first” all the way. None of the methods call for sharp knives, stovetop cooking or small motorized appliances. All the recipes are kid tested and approved, and accompanied by a full-colour photograph.
With this book, no longer will children have to ask an adult: “Please, can you make . . .?” Adults will be saying to children: “Wow! You made this?!”
(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, November 27, 2012

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore - Robin Sloan

Robin Sloan's debut novel, Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, is one of those titles I wouldn't normally have picked up. But there has been lots of buzz about this debut, so I wanted to give it a try. The publisher's blurb intrigued me...

"A gleeful and exhilarating tale of global conspiracy, complex code-breaking, high-tech data visualization, young love, rollicking adventure, and the secret to eternal life—mostly set in a hole-in-the-wall San Francisco bookstore."

And it was the hole-in-the-wall bookstore description that clinched the deal. I love used bookstores! There are treasures just waiting to be found on every shelf.

Clay Jannon is downsized from his web design job and in order to pay the rent, he takes a job as a night clerk at Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore. There aren't many customers and the ones he does serve are decidedly...different. They have an agreement to borrow books - old, obscure volumes on towering shelves accessible only by ladder. Being a curious sort (and with lots of time on his hands) Clay decides to try and figure out what these 'customers' are doing. Is the bookstore a front for something else?

I chose to listen to Sloan's book and I'm glad I did. For me, some books are just better enjoyed listening and this was one of them. The reader was Ari Fliakos. His voice was perfect for Clay - young, kinda hip and engaging. He provided different voices for all the supporting characters as well. The old and female characters were believable. Fliakos's interpretation of Sloan's prose was excellent.

Listen to an excerpt of Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore.

How to describe the book? It's an adult adventure story with fantasy elements I would say. There are lots of 'bookish' references that had me running to check facts online. (And funnily enough, Google does play a part in the book.) Lots of fun, quirky characters let us play out that 'what if you really discovered a secret code in a dusty, mysterious bookstore' game with Clay and his pals. An enjoyable, entertaining listen for this reader.

Read an excerpt of Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Blood Line- Lynda La Plante

I read my first Lynda La Plante books earlier this year when I devoured the first three books in the Prime Suspect series featuring Jane Tennison. At the end of that review I made a note to check out her other series featuring Detective Anna Travis.

And I'm glad I did! I picked up Blood Line - the latest - released by Harper Collins's new crime imprint - Bourbon Street Books.

Anna is the new Chief Inspector for London's murder squad. Watching closely over her shoulder is her boss - and former lover - Superintendent James Langton. Anna is still dealing with the death of her fiancee and Langton is not sure she is up to the job. He gives her a missing persons case to follow up on - not a murder. Alan Rawlins has been not been seen for eight weeks. His father is pushing for an investigation, but his live in girlfriend doesn't seem too concerned. No one has a bad word to say about Alan, but there's something just 'off' about the whole situation.  As Anna grows more determined to prove Langton wrong about her abilities, she starts to question her own investigative instincts.

Anna reminds me of the Jane Tennison character. Both are strong but flawed characters trying to prove themselves in their chosen profession. They're emotionally wounded, but driven to achieve results. La Plante combines her mystery with excellent character building. The supporting cast members are all just as interesting and not all of them are 'pretty'. The personal and professional tension between Anna and Langton continues to build, with the door left open for this story to continue in future books.

I enjoy British mysteries for the pacing - a lot of them are slower and much more procedural bound, instead of rushing in with guns blazing. I feel like we're right with Anna as she puzzles through the case. And La Plante has penned an excellent plot. I had my suspicions numerous times throughout the book, but until the last few chapters I was never really one hundred percent sure 'whodunit'.

An excellent read for me. LaPlante is now firmly on my 'must read' mystery/thriller list. Read an excerpt of Blood Line.

'Lynda La Plante’s fourteen novels, including the Prime Suspect series, have all been international bestsellers. She is an honorary fellow of the British Film Institute and a member of the UK Crime Writers Awards Hall of Fame. She runs her own television production company and lives in London and East Hampton, New York.' You can find Lynda La Plante on Twitter. See what others on the TLC tour thought. Full schedule here.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Notorious Nineteen - Janet Evanovich

I used a rare three days off last weekend to get all of my Christmas decorations up. And at the end of the day, I thought I just needed something fun to read by the twinkle of my newly hung lights.

My choice? The latest in the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich - Notorious Nineteen. (For those of you unfamiliar with these books - it is indeed the 19th book!)

Stephanie is still working as a bounty hunter for her cousin Vinnie in New Jersey. Her trusty sidekicks Lula (a one time self described 'ho ), office manager Connie and her Grandma Mazur are still by her side. But not too close  - Stephanie seems to be a magnet for trouble - notably for destroying cars.

The rent is due, so Stephanie is happy to get a skip that could pay her big bucks. A local retirement home owner has embezzled millions from the facility. He went into the hospital for emergency surgery, then vanished - along with the money. Detective Joe Morelli is also looking into the case. Security expert Ranger has hired her to watch his back at a wedding for one of his staff. (A horrible pink dress is involved.) And Steph seems to growing quite attached to a Tiki statue that may or may not be giving her advice. All in all, a typical day in the 'Burg.

And yes, the sexual tension is still there - between Steph and Ranger......and Steph and Morelli. Although, Evanovich does let Stephanie have some thoughts about her future in this book. Marriage? It might be time for Steph to make a decision. And Evanovich too - the last few books are virtually copies of themselves with the names of the skips changed.

But, the Plum books are fun to read. They're light-hearted and won't tax your brain. The whodunit isn't overly difficult to figure out, but it's the journey there that's enjoyable. And we all could use a good chuckle.

Reading these books is like a bowl of your favourite candy - you keep dipping your hand in, knowing what to expect, but you still enjoy every mouthful. (Yes, there was some Christmas candy involved in my reading...) And of course there is the burning question.....who would you pick? Morelli or Ranger? I'm kinda leaning towards Ranger.....

Read an excerpt of Notorious Nineteen. You can find Evanovich on Facebook and on Twitter.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Over the Counter #137

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner. More memoirs - this time with a focus on women....

First up was Becoming Sister Wives - The Story of an Unconventional Marriage by Kody, Meri, Janelle, Christine and Robyn Brown. (I was quite surprised to find that the Browns are the stars of "popular TLC reality program - Sister Wives.")

From the publisher Simon and Schuster:

"In many ways, the Browns are like any other middle-American family. They eat, play, and pray together, squabble and hug, striving to raise happy, well-adjusted children while keeping their relationship loving and strong. The difference is, there are five adults in the openly polygamous Brown marriage—Kody and his four wives—who among them have seventeen children.

Since TLC first launched its popular reality program Sister Wives, the Browns have become one of the most famous families in the country. Now Kody, Meri, Janelle, Christine, and Robyn reveal in their own words exactly how their special relationship works—the love and faith that drew them together, the pluses and pitfalls of having sister wives, and the practical and emotional complications of a lifestyle viewed by many with distrust, prejudice, even fear. With the candor and frankness that have drawn millions to their show, they talk about what makes their fascinating family work, addressing the topics that intrigue outsiders: How do the four relationships differ? What effect does a polygamous upbringing have on their children? What are the challenges—emotional, social, or financial—involved in living this lifestyle? Is it possible for all four sister wives to feel special when sharing a husband—and what happens when jealousy arises? How has being on camera changed their lives? And what’s it like to add a new wife to the family—or to be that new wife?

Filled with humor, warmth, surprising insights, and remarkable honesty, this is a singular story of plural marriage and all the struggles and joys that go with it. At heart, it’s a love story—unconventional but immediately recognizable in the daily moments of trust, acceptance, forgiveness, passion, and commitment that go into making one big, happy, extraordinary family."

Next up was American Gypsy by Oksana Marafioti.

From the publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux:

"A vivid and funny memoir about growing up Gypsy and becoming American"Fifteen-year-old Oksana Marafioti is a Gypsy. This means touring with the family band from the Mongolian deserts to the Siberian tundra. It means getting your hair cut in “the Lioness.” It also means enduring sneering racism from every segment of Soviet society. Her father is determined that his girls lead a better, freer life. In America! Also, he wants to play guitar with B. B. King. And cure cancer with his personal magnetism. All of this he confides to the woman at the American embassy, who inexplicably allows the family entry. Soon they are living on the sketchier side of Hollywood.

What little Oksana and her sister, Roxy, know of the United States they’ve learned from MTV, subcategory George Michael. It doesn’t quite prepare them for the challenges of immigration. Why are the glamorous Kraft Singles individually wrapped? Are the little soaps in the motels really free? How do you protect your nice new boyfriend from your opinionated father, who wants you to marry decently, within the clan?

In this affecting, hilarious memoir, Marafioti cracks open the secretive world of the Roma and brings the absurdities, miscommunication, and unpredictable victories of the immigrant experience to life. With unsentimental perfect pitch, American Gypsy reveals how Marafioti adjusted to her new life in America, one slice of processed cheese at a time."

(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!)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Walnut Tree - Charles Todd

Fans of the mother/son writing team known as Charles Todd will want to add this 'holiday tale' to their Christmas reading list.

I have only recently discovered Todd's WWI novels featuring Bess Crawford - a British World War I army nurse - but quickly became a fan of the series. Todd again explores WWI with a new character.

Lady Elspeth Douglas of Scotland is in France, visiting her fiancee, when war breaks out in 1914. She finds herself stranded, but decides to make herself useful, helping out with the wounded. It is on the battlefield that she comes across old friend Captain Peter Gilchrist. Lady Douglas decides to do her part for the war effort and become a nursing sister - known only as Elspeth Douglas. (Bess makes a cameo as a flatmate.)

Todd weaves a wonderfully rich, atmospheric story of love lost and found, duty, honour, loyalty, and the mores of the time period.

I chose to listen to The Walnut Tree and really enjoyed the reader - Fiona Hardingham. She employs a very proper British accent to narrate that conjures up the time period perfectly. Her Scottish accent for Elspeth was excellent and never faltered. I had a quite definite picture of Elspeth painted in my mind, much of it gleaned from Hardingham's interpretation. Other characters were easily differentiated as she has a quite a versatile voice.

Those looking for a mystery similar to Bess's books won't find it here. (But Elspeth is just as strong minded as Bess!) Instead it's a lovely little historical (and romantic) holiday tale, perfect for a night's read by the tree. Fans of Anne Perry's Christmas tales will enjoy The Walnut Tree.

Listen to an excerpt of The Walnut Tree.   Read an excerpt of The Walnut Tree.

You can find Charles Todd on Facebook.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Racketeer - John Grisham

John Grisham's last book - The Litigators - was one of my favourites by this award winning author. (my review) I was pretty excited to read his latest - The Racketeer.

Racketeer: "A person who commits crimes such as extortion, loansharking, bribery, and obstruction of justice in furtherance of illegal business activities."

Malcolm Bannister is a former attorney, currently serving time in the Frostburg, Maryland prison camp for money laundering. Trouble is, he swears he's innocent - he just picked the wrong client. License gone, wife gone, everything he had - gone. Five years into his sentence, he may have found a way out. He knows who killed Federal Judge Raymond Fawcett, found dead in his cabin retreat beside an empty safe. Can he bargain the killer's name for his freedom? And what about what was taken from the safe? There's a lot of people after that knowledge...

I love 'heist' and 'sting' type movies such as Ocean's Eleven. Grisham weaves his own take on the heist scenario with The Racketeer. And it's a great piece of storytelling. This is still a 'legal' thriller to a degree, but I think Grisham just had a lot of fun with this one. It's not a serious book, but an entertaining tale.

As he says in the author notes at the end: " The Racketeer is indeed a work of fiction. Accuracy was not deemed crucial. Long paragraphs of fiction were used to avoid looking up facts."

I chose to listen to this book. J.D. Jackson was the reader and his voice was perfectly suited to the main character. Macolm changes his speech patterns at one point and I did find the slower pace a bit annoying. I just wanted the story to move along.

The only reason I'm giving this a four instead of a five is that there was just something about Malcolm I didn't like. He's the one we should be rooting for, but I found him to be pompous and cocky. I never did feel sorry for him. Did he get what he deserved? In his eyes, yes. In mine - not really. I almost felt sorry for the 'bad guy'. I don't know that it was Malcolm's place to mete out judgment. In the end he's no better and his protestations of innocence at the beginning of the book are moot.

Still, I quite enjoyed it. Not his best, but entertaining nonetheless. Read an excerpt of The Racketeer.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Giveaway - Cold City - F. Paul Wilson

Are you a Repairman Jack fan? (Stephen King is president of the Repairman Jack Fan Club!) Do you want to get to know this 'fix-it' man?

F. Paul Wilson is releasing three prequel books. It's a must have for established fans and a great opportunity for new readers to meet Jack.

Cold City is the first of those prequels. From the publisher Tor Books:

"The first of three Repairman Jack prequels, revealing the past of one of the most popular characters in contemporary dark fantasy: a self-styled “fix-it” man who is no stranger to the macabre or the supernatural, hired by victimized people who have no one else to turn to.

We join Jack a few months after his arrival in New York City. He doesn’t own a gun yet, though he’s already connected with Abe. Soon he’ll meet Julio and the Mikulski brothers. He runs afoul of some Dominicans, winds up at the East Side Marriott the night Meir Kahane is shot, gets on the bad side of some Arabs, starts a hot affair, and disrupts the smuggling of preteen sex slaves. And that’s just Book One."

Repairman Jack is one of the most original and intriguing characters to arise out of contemporary fiction in ages. His adventures are hugely entertaining.”
—Dean Koontz
Repairman Jack is one of the greatest fictional characters created by any thriller writer in the past half century. If you haven’t discovered him and his world yet, what a fabulous, extraordinary,
and electric reading experience awaits you.”
—Douglas Preston, cocreator of the Pendergast novels
If this sounds like a book you'd like to own, just leave a comment to be entered. One copy up for grabs, open to US only, ends Dec 2/12. You can find Wilson on Facebook as well.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Trial of Fallen Angels - James Kimmel Jr.

The Trial of Fallen Angels is James Kimmel Jr.'s first fiction book.

Brek Cuttler awakes in a train station. She's sitting on a bench in  her favourite 'power lawyer' suit. The station is deserted. Her suit is covered in blood. She is sure she is dreaming when a man comes along and welcomes her to Shemaya. She struggles to remember who she is and what she was doing before she arrived at this station. Inevitability, she discover that the man Luas is right - she is dead. And she has a job to do in Shemaya....

"You don't think God would allow souls to face the Final Judgment alone, do you? Even murderers on earth have a lawyer to represent them, and the outcomes of those trials are only temporary. The stakes are higher here, dear. All of eternity."

As Brek begins presenting the memories of the dead,  she begins to realize that the acts and events of each person have also played a part in her own life and are part of her own final choice and presentation.

Kimmel explores the themes of justice and forgiveness in The Trial of Fallen Angels with a keen eye and much thought. Kimmel has presented his philosophical viewpoints cloaked in a mystery. When this book was pitched to me for review, I wasn't fully aware of how much emphasis was placed on spirituality. I felt that the characters were used only a vehicle to carry the message, so I never really bought into Brek. As God is the Judge, this is somewhat limiting for believers of other faiths or non believers, although I do think Kimmel's views are extremely intriguing and applicable to anyone.

So while it was an interesting read, I did find it slow in parts and ended up skimming by the end to get to the conclusion.

 Kimmell "is a lawyer and advocate who focuses on the intersections of law and spirituality and law and psychology."

The Trial of Fallen Angels would be an excellent selection for a book club, sure to engender lots of discussion. Read an excerpt of The Trial of Fallen Angels.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Hollow Man - Oliver Harris

The Hollow Man is Oliver Harris's debut novel and the first release from Bourbon Street Books - Harper Collins' new imprint.

I loved the opening chapters and introduction to Detective Constable Nick Belsey. "The earth was cold beneath his body,. His mouth had soil in it and there was a smell of blood and rotten bark." Has he been attacked? In an accident? Well, yes, but Nick himself is the car wreck. He has a drinking problem, a gambling problem and at this point no possessions and no home. Once he remembers what he did last night, will he have a job?

He heads off to his station and is given an apparent suicide to investigate in a wealthy area of London. Nick finds the body and sends it on it's way to the morgue.  With nowhere to stay that night he decides to sleep in the dead man's house. And eat his food, drink his booze, wear his clothes and drive his car. As he looks in the life of (wealthy) dead Alexei Devereaux, Belsey decides to take his money as well. After all, there's no family and it will be a fresh start for him somewhere else.

"It takes the average person twelve months to discover that their identity has been stolen. That was for the living. If this was what he was doing, stealing Devereaux's identity, then it gave him some time. He felt ready to pick up where Devereaux had left off. If he was gong to be born again it would be nice to be someone rich."

But many, many others have their eye on Devereaux's business as well. Taking over Devereaux's life won't be as easy as Nick first thought. Things are getting complicated. Complicating them more is Nick himself. He's also driven by his own desire for answers. So he starts to work the investigation. Unofficially of course.

Nick is the quintessential anti-hero. He's crooked, selfish and self serving. And I couldn't help but like him. For he's also very clever and does have some soft spots. I really enjoyed the way he insinuated himself into situations, finagled what he wanted or needed and bamboozled others. A true wolf in cop's clothing. But, I found myself rooting for him, hoping he gets away with it.

I'm unfamiliar with the setting of North London, but Harris did a good job of bringing his setting to life. The plotting is complex and involved, with many twists and turns. My only complaint would be the reveal of Devereaux's master plan - I found it a bit of a let down and somewhat unbelievable.

The Hollow Man is the first book in the Nick Belsey series. I'll be curious to see where Harris can take this character after this first outing. Read an excerpt of The Hollow Man.

"Oliver Harris was born in north London in 1978. He has a first-class degree in English Literature and an MA in Shakespeare Studies from UCL, and an MA in creative writing from UEA. He has worked in clothing warehouses, PR companies and as a TV and film extra. More recently he assisted with research in the Imperial War Museum archives, and continues to act as a reviewer for the Times Literary Supplement. Oli is currently finishing pursuing a PhD on antiquity in the work of Jacques Lacan at Birkbeck’s London Consortium, and in the last few months has presented papers on obscenity at the Hayward and on conspiracy theories at Ghent’s Vooruit Arts Centre. He loves travelling, especially in cold places."You can find Oliver Harris on Twitter.

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