Saturday, March 30, 2013

Winner - Angelopolis

And the lucky winner of a copy of Angelopolis
courtesy of Viking Books is:

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

Friday, March 29, 2013

Giveaway - The Bible on Blu-ray!!

What a fantastic giveaway to celebrate Easter!

The Greatest Stories Ever Told
Inspired by The Bible
Coming to Blu-ray, DVD & DHD April 2nd

"The Bible is one of the greatest stories ever told, and would be a great addition to any home entertainment library. Here, we’ll highlight other notable TV shows and films that re-tell epic tales and history.

From Executive Producers Mark Burnett (The Voice, Survivor) and Roma Downey (Touched by an Angel) comes The Bible — an epic 10-hour miniseries, coming to Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD April 2 from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. Breathtaking in scope and scale, THE BIBLE features powerful performances, exotic locales and dazzling visual effects that breathe spectacular life into the dramatic tales of faith and courage from Genesis through Revelation.

A People’s History of the United States
Howard Zin’s powerful and controversial look tips American history around to portray the social turmoil behind the ‘march of progress’. A People’s History of the United States tells America’s story from the view of its women, the working poor, Native Americans, African-Americans and immigrants. The story covers the arrival of Christopher Columbus through President Clinton and gives a detailed analysis of important US events through history.

Malcolm X
In the 1992 Spike Lee directed, Denzel Washington in the lead role heads Malcolm X. Malcom X is a biopic of the controversial and influential Black Nationalist leader. The film tells the story of the life of the human rights activist from his birth in 1925 until his assassination in 1965.

Ben Kingsley took on the role of Mahatma Gandhi in the 1982 Richard Attenborough directed biopic of one of the most famous men and stories in history. The film tells the story of the lawyer who became known for using his philosophy of non-violent protest to become the leader of the Indian revolts against the British rule.

Passion of the Christ
Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ focuses on the last twelve hours of the life of Jesus including the betrayal and the crucifixion. The film begins in the Garden of Gethsemane as Jesus is arrested, tried and sentenced to death by crucifixion. The depiction of the Biblical tale went on to be nominated for three Academy Awards®.

America: The Story of the US
This six-part mini series from 2010 presented the history of America over the past 400 years. The series examined how humans harnessed technology to advance their progress as part of the human race, taking in events spanning from the English settlement in Jamestown in 1607 through to the present day. With narration by Liev Schreiber, events are recreated by a combination of actors and CGI technology.

The Prince of Egypt
This film from 1998 tells the story of Moses, a Hebrew who becomes an Egyptian Prince, flees Egypt, and returns to free the Hebrew people. With an all-star cast consisting of Val Kilmer, Danny Glover and Ralph Fiennes, this Biblical tale won an Academy Award® for Best Song for the Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston duet ‘When You Believe’."
And thanks to Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, I have a copy to giveaway!!
Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Simply leave a comment to be entered!
Closes Sat. April 13/13

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Over the Counter #156

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Well, I love memoirs and a pair of them deserved a second look this week - one cold and one hot.

First up was Never Look a Polar Bear in the Eye: A Family Field Trip to the Arctic's Edge in Search of Adventure, Truth and Mini- Marshmallows by Zac Unger.

From the publisher, De Capo Press:

"Churchill, Manitoba is "The Polar Bear Capital of the World," and for one unforgettable "bear season," Zac Unger, his wife, and his three children moved from Oakland, California, to make it their temporary home. But they soon discovered that it's really the polar bears who are at home in Churchill, roaming past the coffee shop on the main drag, peering into garbage cans, languorously scratching their backs against fence posts and front doorways. Where kids in other towns receive admonitions about talking to strangers, Churchill schoolchildren get "Let's All Be Bear Aware" booklets to bring home.

Zac Unger takes readers on a spirited and often wildly funny journey to a place as unique as it is remote, a place where natives, tourists, scientists, conservationists, and the most ferocious predators on the planet converge. In the process he becomes embroiled in the controversy surrounding "polar bear science"-and finds out that some of what we've been led to believe about the bears' imminent extinction may not be quite the case. But mostly what he learns is about human behavior in extreme situations . . . and also why you should never even think of looking a polar bear in the eye. "

Next up was The Cracker Queen: A Memoir of a Jagged, Joyful Life by Lauretta Hannon.

From the publisher, Gotham Books:

"A poignant memoir of life on the wrong side of the tracks-which was a SIBA bestseller in hardcover-with a colorful cast of misfits, plenty of belly laughs, and lessons for finding joy in spite of hardship.

Move over, Sweet Potato Queens. Thanks to Lauretta Hannon, the Cracker Queens are finally having their say. From her wildly popular NPR segments to her colorful one-woman show, Hannon is showing the world a different kind of Southern girl-a strong, authentic, fearless, flawed, resourceful, and sometimes outrageous woman-the anti-Southern Belle.

The Cracker Queen takes readers from backwater Georgia to Savannah's most eccentric neighborhoods for a wild ride featuring a distinctly dysfunctional family and a lively crew of hellions, heroines, bad seeds, and renegades. Full of warmth, outrageous wit, and world-class storytelling, The Cracker Queen is a celebration of living out loud, finding humor in desperate situations, and loving life to death."

(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, March 27, 2013

The One I Left Behind - Jennifer McMahon

I read Jennifer McMahon's novel  Island of Lost Girls back in 2008 and I really enjoyed it. (my review) As well as 2011's Don't Breathe a Word (my review) So, I was happy to pick up her latest offering - The One I Left Behind.

Regina Dufrane's upbringing was turbulent and unsettled. Her mother loved her, but was manic, often leaving her to her own devices. Her only friends were the other two outcasts at school. But in 1985, when Reggie is thirteen, a serial killer strikes their town. He takes women, leaves their severed hands on the steps of the police station and then their bodies appear five days later. He is nicknamed Neptune. But Reggie's world falls apart when the killer snatches mother.  The killer is never caught.

Twenty five years later, Reggie has left town and is a successful architect. And her life is going along fine - until she receives a telephone call telling her mother Vera has been found - alive. Can she identify her killer? Where has she been all these years.

McMahon again employs her split narrative technique. We revisit the past through Reggie's memories and learn more about the case in excerpts from a book written about the killer. And of course through present day as Reggie returns to her hometown to be with her mother.

Although all the right elements are there and the style echoes McMahon's previous books, I just didn't love it as much as the first two. I found some of it far fetched - Reggie decides she can solve the crime better than the police - architect detective. The whodunit it was fairly obvious and the supporting cast all seemed to be caricatures rather than characters I cared about. The one person I did like? Vera.  The plot did stretch credibility for me, as did the ending.

I chose to listen to The One I Left Behind. The reader was Julia Whelan. She has a pleasant, expressive voice and enunciated well. She has a slightly gravelly tone to her voice that gives some weight to her reading.

I like McMahon, but this latest book, in my opinion, didn't match her previous offerings.

Read an excerpt of The One I Left Behind.  You can find Jennifer McMahon on Facebook.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The House Girl - Tara Conklin

 The House Girl marks Tara Conklin's debut novel.

The story is told in two narratives - that of Josephine a 17 yr old house slave in 1850's Virginia and Lina - a class action lawyer in 2004 New York.

The opening chapter belonged to Josephine and I was immediately captivated. She is planning to run - and it won't be the first time.

“Mister hit Josephine with the palm of his hand across her left cheek and it was then she knew she would run.  She heard the whistle of the blow, felt the sting of skin against skin, her head spun and she was looking back over her right shoulder, down to the fields where the few men Mister had left were working the tobacco.” 

Lina's law firm is looking for the "perfect plaintiff" to be the 'face' of a lawsuit being brought, seeking reparations for descendants of American slaves. She stumbles across Josephine's name through her father's work. He is an artist and there is great controversy concerning who really painted a series of paintings attributed to Josephine's 'Missus' - Lu Anne Bell. Was it Lu Anne or was it the slave Josephine?

Lina's narrative follows the search for the descendants and I found this part of the story extremely interesting. Lina is also going through her own personal difficulties - she has her own family issues that have been left untended for many years. I wanted to like Lina more than I did. Although she is a high powered lawyer, she is still a petulant child with her father. And given that she is highly intelligent and quite adept at research,  I cannot believe that she never sought to confirm the details of her mother's life and death. By the middle of the book I found myself speed reading through her sections.

It was Josephine's story that grabbed my heart and wouldn't let go. I know it's a fictionalization, but Conklin has based her novel on facts. Heartbreaking facts. Additional narrators are introduced through their letters - that of a slave doctor and a young woman whose home was a stop on the Underground Railroad. I enjoyed these sections very much as well.

I chose to listen to The House Girl. The reader was Bahni Turpin. She was excellent - her interpretation of Josephine chillingly brought her story to life. The cadence and tone she used for Lina was completely different of course, but I found it matched what I thought of Lina - a bit whiny. The accents used for other characters - especially that of Lu Anne Bell were excellent and believable.

This one is poised to be the darling of book clubs everywhere. There is a reading group guide. I did enjoy this debut effort, but there are other books dealing with slavery (and in a deeper manner) that I would recommend ahead of this title. Still, it was an entertaining listen. Listen to an excerpt. Or start off reading an excerpt of The House Girl.

You can find Tara Conklin on Facebook and on Twitter.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Leaving Everything Most Loved - Jacqueline Winspear

I picked up the first book in the Maisie Dobbs series by chance back in 2003 - and I was promptly hooked. Jacqueline Winspear has just released the tenth book in this wonderful series - Leaving Everything Most Loved.
Maisie is a psychologist and private investigator in 1930's England. Quite unusual for her time, but even more unusual is the path that has taken her to her current place in life. She started out as a maid in the great house where her father worked as a groom. But her curiosity for learning caught the eye of her employer and others and they have helped pursue and achieve her many goals. She also served as a nurse in the Great War. Her natural curiosity and quiet intelligence have served her greatly -  her investigative agency is quite successful.
Her latest case is disturbing. An East Indian woman has been shot down in the streets of London. Her brother is looking for answers that Scotland Yard seems unable to find and hires Maisie.
"That morning, as Usha Pramal had painted a vermilion bindi to signify the wisdom nestled behind the sacred third eye, she could not have know that she had given her killer a perfect target." Maisie takes on the case, with the blessing of Inspector Caldwell of the Yard.
"Because you're a terrier, Miss Dobbs. You might not be quick and you might not go about it like I would, but you never let go. Now then, you go and get your teeth into his story. See where that leads you."
What a treat it is to follow Maisie as she slowly and patiently investigates, piecing together the whodunit using interviews, intuition, deduction and legwork until the pieces fall into place.
The mysteries in Winspear's books are intriguing, involving the social fabric and mores of the time period she has chosen.  Her books are a wonderful social commentary as well.
I have enjoyed the character of Maisie from the very first book. She is patient and kind, but intuitive and not easily taken advantage of.  But while, I enjoy Maisie's sleuthing, I am just as interested in her personal life.  Leaving Everything Most Loved as a title applies to many of the characters in the book.  Maisie herself, despite having a man she loves in her life, family and friends and personal success, still finds there is something missing in her life. And so, she has decided to make a radical change. I won't spoil it for you - but wherever Winspear chooses to take Maisie from here - I'll be following.
An excellent historical mystery series and definitely recommended. (Best read with a pot of tea and a cosy chair)  Read an excerpt of Leaving Everything Most Loved.
See what others on the TLC Month of Maisie tour thought - of this title and her backlist.  Full schedule here.
Jacqueline Winspear was born and raised in the county of Kent, England. Following higher education at the University of London's Institute of Education, Jacqueline worked in academic publishing, in higher education, and in marketing communications in the UK.

She emigrated to the United States in 1990, and while working in business and as a personal / professional coach, Jacqueline embarked upon a life-long dream to be a writer. 

 Jacqueline's novels thus far—Maisie Dobbs, Birds of a Feather, Pardonable Lies, Messenger of Truth, An Incomplete Revenge, and Among the Mad are set in the late 1920s and early 1930s, with the roots of each story set in the Great War, 1914–1918. Her work has been nominated for numerous awards. You can find Jacqueline Winspear on Facebook.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Winner - Peggy Blair giveaway

           And the lucky winner of a copy of each of Peggy Blair's novels
thanks to the generosity of Penguin Canada is:
I've contacted you by email for your mailing address. Please respond within 72 hours.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Giveaway - Virus Thirteen - Joshua Alan Parry

I know - it's been a week of giveaways! And here's another one for you from the great folks at Tor Books.Virus Thirteen is Joshua Alan Parry's debut novel.

What's it about?

From the publisher:

"Virus Thirteen is an irreverent and contagious thriller from debut author Joshua Alan Parry.
Scientists James Logan and his wife, Linda, have their dream careers at the world’s leading biotech company, GeneFirm, Inc. But their happiness is interrupted by a devastating bioterrorist attack: a deadly superflu that quickly becomes a global pandemic. The GeneFirm complex goes into lockdown and Linda’s research team is sent to high-security underground labs to develop a vaccine.

Above ground, James learns that GeneFirm security has been breached and Linda is in danger. To save her he must confront a desperate terrorist, armed government agents, and an invisible killer: Virus Thirteen."

"JOSHUA ALAN PARRY is a medical resident at the Mayo Clinic. He received his medical degree from the University of Texas Medical School at Houston and holds a B.S. in molecular and cellular biology from the University of Texas at Austin, where he was also captain of the ice hockey team. Over the years, he has worked as a guide for at-risk youth in the Utah wilderness, a metal worker in Montreal, a salmon canner in Alaska, and a molecular genetics intern. He was raised in Keller, Texas."

Sound like a book you'd like to read? To be entered, simply leave a comment. Open to US only, no PO boxes please. Ends April 6/13.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Over the Counter #155

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Terrarium Craft: Create 50 Magical, Miniature Worlds by Amy Bryant Aiello and Kate Bryant. Photographs by Kate Baldwin.

Lately I've been fascinated with tiny stuff - especially homes. These 'littles' are so cute - and I have lots of glass containers I could use.

From the publisher Timber Press:

"A terrarium is nothing less than a miniature world — one that you can create yourself. It might be a tiny rainforest, with lush foliage and bright tropical flowers. Or a desert, with strange succulents planted among colorful stones. Or a Victorian fernery. Or a minimalist composition with a single, perfect plant.
Or it might not contain any plants at all. It might be made with crystals, feathers, bones, seashells, bits of wood, porcelain trinkets — anything that catches your fancy and helps create a mood or look. Whatever they contain, terrariums are the ultimate in modern, affordable, easy-care décor.
Terrarium Craft features fifty original designs that you can re-create or use as inspiration for your own design. Each entry comes with clear step-by-step directions on how to assemble and care for your terrarium. You’ll also find helpful information about selecting a container, using appropriate materials, choosing the right plants, and maintaining your terrarium. (Hint: It’s easy! In fact, many terrariums are self-sustaining, requiring no maintenance whatsoever!)
If you’ve always wanted to have a bit of nature in your own home, without the worry and labor of a garden, this book will show you exactly how to create your own unique, enchanting world."

(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, March 20, 2013

The Bughouse Affair - Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini

Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini? Each of them is an accomplished and award winning mystery author, but they also happen to be husband and wife.

The Bughouse Affair is the first novel they've written together in over twenty years.

1890's San Francisco. Sabina Carpenter, a former Pinkerton Detective Agency operative and  ex-Secret Service agent John Quincannon have joined forces and opened a successful detective agency of their own. Sabina is hunting for a female pickpocket who does more than nick wallets. John is on the lookout for a break and enter thief who is targeting the wealthy residents of San Fran.

This is a definitely a light hearted series. There's lots of  banter between the two lead characters as well as some romantic tension. But, I felt I was just getting to know this pair, when another character was introduced - a man claiming to be Sherlock Holmes. He swears he survived his last encounter with Moriarty, is laying low in America and would like to observe the Carpenter/Quincannon Agency in action. As this is the first book featuring this duo, I thought the introduction of such a well known name and character a bit distracting. Although Quincannon swears this character is a 'bughouse' impostor, readers will recognize mannerisms, language and sleuthing abilities as written by Doyle.

The mysteries are not overly complicated but are 'cozy' in tone. I did enjoy the period descriptions and settings, including slang of this time period.

I chose to listen to The Bughouse Affair. There were two readers - Nick Sullivan and Meredith Mitchell. Sullivan has one of the most precise and clearest voices I've heard in a long time. His diction is excellent - every syllable of each word is easily distinguished. He did an admirable job bringing Quincannon to life, with lots of expression in his reading. He also did a good job with his reading of Holmes, including the accent.  Mitchell's voice, although pleasant enough and well modulated, was too monotone for me. She is the more level headed of the two partners and perhaps a calming, even toned reader was chosen for this reason. She just never matched her partner for expression.

The book is written in opposite chapters - one for John, then Sabina. What I found puzzling was that each reader only read their character's chapter. So, when John is speaking to Sabina in one of 'her' chapters it is the female narrator reading all the parts. So, in effect you have two interpretations of each character. I think it would have been much better all round to have each reader do all of their character's lines, regardless of whose chapter it was.

Listen to an excerpt of The Bughouse Affair.      Read an excerpt of The Bughouse Affair.

This was an light listen for the drive back and forth to work.  

(And this is a minor quibble, but I dislike having actual faces on the cover of a book. I prefer to paint my own mental images from the author's words, rather than a marketing department's idea of what the characters should look like.)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Dying Fall - Elly Griffiths

I was hooked on this series by Elly Griffiths from the very first book. A Dying Fall is the fifth (and latest) entry in her Ruth Galloway Mystery series. I couldn't wait to get my hands on it and settle in for a great read with characters I truly enjoy.

Ruth is a forensic archaeologist at the University in North Norfolk, England.  An expert in bones, she is often called in to assist police, museums and on other digs.

Ruth receives a letter from Dan - an old friend from her university days. They haven't really kept in touch, but the letter piques her curiosity. Dan is also an archaeologist, attached to a university in Lancashire. His letter says he has discovered the bones of 'The Raven King.' Ruth tries to contact him, without result. Until that university calls asking if Ruth could come up and look at some bones for them - their archaeologist Dan Golding has been killed in a tragic accident. Or was it? Detective Chief Inspector Harry Nelson, on vacation with his wife becomes involved as well.

Why do I love this series so much? The characters. Griffiths has created a wonderful protagonist in Ruth. I just really like her. She's decidedly unique and different. She is a single mother at forty plus, overweight, messy, introverted, but highly intelligent and curious. Griffiths has not endowed her with super sleuth abilities, rather she comes off as an actual person - unabashedly and happily herself. Her only worry is raising her daughter Kate.

Kate's father is the married Harry Nelson. The evolution of his and Ruth's relationship has kept me quite enthralled from the beginning. With Harry's acknowledgment of Kate as his daughter, things have become even more entangled.

The supporting cast of characters is just as intriguing. Cathbad, the self proclaimed Druid takes a leading role in A Dying Fall. I enjoy his enigmatic ways and his pagan beliefs. His personal storyline is just as complicated as Ruth's - involving a sergeant from Nelson's staff. I have to say, he rivals Ruth for my favourite character.  Little Kate's personality is being drawn as well - it's enjoyable to see her growing and talking.

And this wonderful cast of characters carries along a clever, inventive plot involving Arthurian legends, neo-Nazi's and more  I had my suspicions as to the culprit, but Griffiths surprised me at the end this time. I always learn something in Griffiths' books - the historical facts and mythical legends woven into the narrative often send me searching the Internet to read more.

Griffiths has done it again - hooked me with a great read that I finished too quickly and left me waiting for the next in this engaging series. Definitely recommended. Read an excerpt of A Dying Fall. You can find Elly Griffiths on Twitter.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Happy Blogiversary Giveaway!

I can hardly believe it's been five years since I wrote my first post here at A Bookworm's World! Many posts later (1475 to be exact) I'm still enjoying sharing my thoughts on what I'm reading. And hopefully you're still enjoying reading them!

I want to say thank you to all of you who have stopped by or follow A Bookworm's World - be it by email, a reader, twitter, Goodreads, LibraryThing or across the library counter! So, it's the annual Happy Blogiversary Book giveaway. One lucky reader will win a selection of brand new books.

This giveaway is international! To be entered, simply leave a comment letting me know how you follow A Bookworm's World. Ends April 13/13. Here's to another year! Cheers!

Jeannette Walls Sweepstakes!!

Jeannette Walls' new novel The Silver Star releases June 11, 2013. (I'm really looking forward it!)

BUT - here's your chance to win one of ten Jeannette Walls libraries before that date! Yes, ten winners will receive copies of both The Glass Castle and Half Broke Horses, courtesy of Simon and Schuster Canada.

Enter the sweeps HERE! Runs March 18 - April 8, 2013.
And just to whet your appetite - here's the description of The Silver Star:
"From one of the bestselling memoirists of all time, a stunning and heartbreaking novel about an intrepid girl who challenges the injustice of the adult world—a triumph of imagination and storytelling.

It is 1970. “Bean” Holladay is twelve and her sister Liz is fifteen when their artistic mother Charlotte, a woman “who flees every place she’s ever lived at the first sign of trouble,” takes off to “find herself.” She leaves her girls enough money for food to last a month or two. But when Bean gets home from school one day and sees a police car outside the house, she and Liz board a bus from California to Virginia, where their widowed Uncle Tinsley lives in the decaying antebellum mansion that’s been in the family for generations.

An impetuous optimist, Bean discovers who her father was and learns many stories about why their mother left Virginia in the first place. Money is tight, so Liz and Bean start babysitting and doing office work for Jerry Maddox, foreman of the mill in town, a big man who bullies workers, tenants, and his wife. Bean adores her whip-smart older sister, inventor of word games, reader of Edgar Allan Poe, non-conformist. But when school starts in the fall, it’s Bean who easily adjusts and makes friends, and Liz who becomes increasingly withdrawn. And then something happens to Liz in the car with Maddox.

The author of The Glass Castle, hyper-alert to abuse of adult power, has written a gorgeous, riveting, heartbreaking novel about triumph over adversity and about people who find a way to love the world despite its flaws and injustices."

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Winner - The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow

And the lucky winner of a copy of The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow by Rita Leganski,
courtesy of Harper Collins Canada is:


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

Friday, March 15, 2013

Giveaway - Angelopolis - Danielle Trussoni

"Danielle Trussoni’s debut novel, Angelology received both critical and commercial success – a New York Times Bestseller, a New York Times Book Review notable book of the year, and rave reviews from People, USA Today, and O, the Oprah Magazine. In ANGELOPOLIS, Trussoni’s literary talent once again shines through the pages of an astral thrill ride for the senses.
The fantastic whirlwind of ANGELOPOLIS (on-sale 3/26/13), the highly anticipated sequel to the New York Times bestselling novel ANGELOLOGY by Danielle Trussoni, touches down in full force. This fast-paced, and terrifically clever story is an exquisite return to the inspired and seductive world of dark angels and the angelologists who hunt them.
The star-crossed hero and heroine have changed utterly in the ten years that have passed since the events of ANGELOLOGY. Verlaine has traded his Clark Kent nerdiness for the superhero power of an angel hunter; Evangeline, with her illustrious wings, is his chief target. What begins as a cat-and-mouse chase becomes a quest when clues from Russia’s imperial past suggest that a powerful elixir may actually be within reach for the angelologists—and could disarm the evil Nephilim once and for all.
ANGELOPOLIS leads readers from Paris to St. Petersburg, Russia, and deep into the provinces of Siberia and the Black Sea coast. Underground prisons, Edenic gardens full of rejuvenating herbs, and the hidden corridors of the Winter Palace form a mesmerizing backdrop for a high-octane tale of abduction, treasure-seeking, and divine warfare.  Featuring real historical figures such as English Renaissance magician John Dee and the equally mystifying Grigori Rasputin, as well as the cultish allure of the House of Fabergé’s wondrously crafted eggs, the true story of Evangeline’s origins will be cracked open.
ANGELOPOLIS is a spectacular ride through myth, biblical lore, and alternative history.  From the hidden ambitions of the Romanovs to the sensual secrets behind the Angel Gabriel’s famous visitations, the liberties Danielle takes are as audacious and captivating as ever."

Check out Angelopolis on Facebook - there are quizzes, badges, trailers and more. Danielle Trussoni is on Facebook as well. And you can find her on Twitter too.
And thanks to the great folks at Viking Books I have a copy to giveaway! Open to US only, no PO boxes please. Simply leave a comment to be entered. Ends Sat. Mar. 30/13

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Over the Counter #154

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Barn Quilts and the American Quilt Trail Movement by Suzi Parron with Donna Sue Groves.

Quilting is my favourite thing to do - after reading of course. There are many barn quilt trails in Canada as well - a friend and I went hunting this summer.

From the publisher University of Ohio/Swallow Press:

"The story of the American Quilt Trail, featuring the colorful patterns of quilt squares painted large on barns throughout North America, is the story of one of the fastest-growing grassroots public arts movements in the United States and Canada. In Barn Quilts and the American Quilt Trail Movement Suzi Parron takes us to twenty-five states as well as Canada to visit the people and places that have put this movement on America’s tourist and folk art map.

Through dozens of interviews with barn quilt artists, committee members, and barn owners, Parron documents a journey that began in 2001 with the founder of the movement, Donna Sue Groves. Groves’s desire to honor her mother with a quilt square painted on their barn became a group effort that eventually grew into a county-wide project. Today, quilt squares form a long imaginary clothesline, appearing on more than three thousand barns scattered along one hundred and twenty driving trails.

With more than eighty full-color photographs, Parron documents here a movement that combines rural economic development with an American folk art phenomenon."

(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, March 13, 2013

Jungleland - Christopher S. Stewart

Journalist Christopher Stewart first heard of the lost White City on the Mosquito Coast in the Honduras while reporting on the country's drug trade. It piqued his interest and he continued to investigate for his own curiosity. And then curiosity turned into obsession when he stumbled across the journals of Theodore Morde. Morde discovered a lost city in 1940 after four months spent hunting in the jungle. But Morde died before he revealed the location or was able to return to Honduras.

"I just kept wondering - what if? What if I really managed to retrace Morde's journey. What if I traveled to Honduras? What would I discover? Did I have the guts to try?"

Well, Stewart does. He joins forces with archaeologist Chis Begley who has spent over a decade travelling and studying the Honduran jungle. With two local guides they set off to follow in Morde's footsteps and perhaps discover the location of the Lost City.

Jungleland is told in alternating narratives - Morde's journey and Stewart's present day explorations. I found Morde's history fascinating and had great hopes for Stewart's as well. Stewart's 'adventure' fell short for me. Perhaps I came in with the wrong outlook. Based on the cover blurbs, I wanted more. The WWII spy line is misleading - it is but a small part of Morde's story. But, a lot of Jungleland is Stewart's personal struggle with settling down with a wife, a child and debt. Not what I was looking to read about, but I do appreciate his honesty is sharing these moment. For me,  Begley seems the more interesting and certainly the more knowledgeable of the duo. I would like to read more of Begley's adventures.

I have to say I was very frustrated by the last chapter. They finally discover something interesting and Stewart leaves us hanging with Chris saying "Now, this is interesting." And that's it! The epilogue takes us back to New York and Stewart's life with no further explanation of what they found.

I chose to listen to Jungleland in audio book format. Jef Brick was the reader. I thought his voice was well suited to give voice to Stewart's words. It was easy to listen, quite expressive and portrayed the mental image I had created for Stewart. Listen to an excerpt of Jungleland.   Read an excerpt of Jungleland.

I do like travel memoirs and this was an interesting premise. But I think the idea was very, very similar to David Grann's 'The Lost City of Z'.  Which I preferred. (my review)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Winners - Life of Pi

And the two lucky winners of a Blu ray copy of Life of Pi, courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment are:
1. Ethan
2. Julie S.
Congratulations! I've contacted you by email for your mailing address. Please respond within 48 hours.

Dark Tide - Elizabeth Haynes

I read Elizabeth Hayne's debut novel, Into the Darkest Corner, last summer and really enjoyed it. (my review) I was quite eager to sink my teeth into her next book - Dark Tide. Haynes returns with another suspenseful tale of a woman in peril.

Genevieve is good at her sales job but it's going to be a long time before she saves enough money to pursue her dream - to buy a boat and live on it. So she decides to ramp things up  and takes a job pole dancing at a private club in London.  Just dancing, nothing extra.

Cut to the second narrative. Dream achieved - Genevieve has done it - she  is living on and fixing up a barge. The night after a boat warming party with some old friends from London and new friends from the marina she's docked at, a strange bumping against her hull awakens her. It's a body in the water - and she knows who it is.

Through a dual set of narratives, we cut from present to past, all of it leading to the question - what happened in London?

I really enjoyed this format and the eking out of information as the back story slowly filled in and the present day hurtled forward. Haynes kept me quickly turning pages with her foreshadowing.

With Into the Darkest Corner, I became quite involved with Catherine, the lead character. In Dark Tide, I felt like more of an observer. Genevieve didn't garner quite the same emotional response from me. I found her to be self serving, shallow and I honestly questioned her decisions at times.

All the elements are here for a good read - danger, romance and unanswered questions. And it was a good read for me. It just didn't grip me as much as her first book. Dark Tide was written as part of 2010's National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Although the book has, of course, been edited since then, it still felt a bit formulaic and by the numbers. I'm not sure if North American readers will be familiar with a genre of tell all British women's magazines such as Chat.  They focus on real people telling their usually shocking true stories in a first person narrative. This is what Genevieve's recounting reminded me of.

I did enjoy the description of life on the boat and Genevieve's renovations - they sparked a daydream of a living on a houseboat! There were perhaps a few too many references to pole dancing techniques and moves.

But all in all, Dark Tide was a great escapist read, easily devoured in a day. I do like this author and will be eagerly waiting to read the North American release of her third book, Human Remains.

Read an excerpt of Dark Tide.

Elizabeth Haynes is a police intelligence analyst, a civilian role that involves determining patterns in offending and criminal behavior. Dark Tide is her second novel; rights to her first, Into the Darkest Corner, have been sold in twenty-five territories. Haynes lives in England in a village near Maidstone, Kent, with her husband and son.  You can find Elizabeth Haynes on Faceook and on Twitter.

 See what other bloggers on the TLC tour thought. Full schedule can be found here.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Room No. 10 - Ake Edwardson

Room No. 10 is the seventh entry in Ake Edwardson's Inspector Winter series, but is a first read of this author for me.

Erik Winter is a Chief Inspector in Gothenburg, Sweden. He is called to a bizarre death in a decrepit hotel - in Room No. Ten.  It appears to be suicide by hanging, but why in the world is her hand painted white - and the note left just doesn't ring true for Winter. And he is disturbed by the setting - Room No. 10 was the first homicide that he investigated as a young policeman - and the case remains unsolved.

Erik is a likable protagonist, thoughtful, quick thinking and determined. I also enjoyed the supporting cast of players  - there is a real mix between various ages, talents and personalities. This is a group who has worked together on many cases. I didn't feel too far out of the loop on catching up with who was who at all. Room No. 10 is told in a past and present format, allowing us to see the young Winter as well.

The crime is inventive and I really wanted to see if and what the connection between the two cases might be. But I found the road there indeterminately long and drawn out. The roundabout conversations and methods of investigation annoyed me. The same information and clues are dissected more than once. Perhaps it's because I prefer a little more action in my mysteries.

Edwardson employs lots of description in his writing. But it's in short bursts of sentences. I found a lot of it extraneous and by page 320 was starting to skim. For example:

"A cup of coffee and a Danish were comforting.
They walked across the street and into the café.
The line at the counter was long"

The advance reader's edition was approximately 450 pages and honestly it was about 100 too long for this reader. The last few chapters did pick up the pace.

Ake Edwardson is "one of Sweden’s bestselling authors, and his books featuring Detective Chief Inspector Erik Winter have been translated into more than twenty languages worldwide. He is a three-time winner of the Swedish Crime Writers’ Award for best crime novel."

It was an okay read for me, but not a stand out. Read an excerpt of Room No. 10.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Slim for Life - Jillian Michaels

I know, I rarely review non fiction, but Jillian Michael's latest book Slim for Life: My Insider Secrets to Simple, Fast, and Lasting Weight Loss, is one I definitely wanted to read. I have struggled with my weight for many years - up and down, up and down. I've reached the point where I am making the commitment to yes, watch my weight, but more importantly to be healthy.

There are soooo many diet, weight loss and health books on the market today and it's really difficult to know who or what information you can trust. And, I guess that's why I wanted to read Michaels' book - because in my eyes, she is trustworthy, she has a proven track record and although I don't know her and will never meet her, I just, well, like her. So I wanted to hear what she had to say.

"Bottom line, over the last several years, I've come to recognize that the more simple and straightforward I can make the information, the easier it is for you to cut through all the crap, apply the advice, and get the results you want."

I've had this book for a few weeks now, but found it was easier to take a piece of information or an idea, try to apply it to my life and only then go back for more, rather than trying to do it all at once (and expecting results in seven days or less  ;)  ) And Michaels herself says you don't have to follow all the strategies - pick and choose what works for you. Each chapter ends with a checklist that you can use to decide what tips will work for you. It's also a great reminder.

The first chapter was a great refresher on the basics.
-Clean out the cupboards. If it's not there, you can't eat it.
-Write down what you eat - it's there in black and white. Of course I've heard of this, but have I ever followed through before? This time - yes - accountability is hard to ignore. (and you won't have to do it 'forever'.
-Don't eat chemicals "If it didn't come from the ground or the ocean of have a mother - don't eat it."
-Sit down to eat. (and many, many more!)

Chapter 2  - get moving! Again, short sweet and to the point. (And did you know that simply increasing the incline on your treadmill will result in a significant calorie burn without increasing your speed?) Chapter 3 - hitting the grocery store,additives, smart choices and more. I was surprised to find cleaning  and personal care products discussed as well. Chapter 4 - parties, work, restaurants, travelling etc.

Chapter 5 - Now here's the chapter I spent the most time on  - reading and re reading. Because this is where I fall down. Staying motivated. This was one of the best chapters of the book for me. The last few chapters deal with hints, tips and more ideas. Scattered throughout the book are 'slim myth boxes' that dispel notions such as 'lifting weights will make you bulky'. There's also EZ calorie cut boxes scattered throughout suggesting alternatives that will save you calories.

I'm glad I took time to read Slim for Life slowly and think about what changes I want to incorporate in my life. Slim for Life will be a resource that I refer back to for sure. I like the fact that Michaels does not dictate, instead  she provides a wealth of suggestions for you to choose from and tailor to your life. Her no nonsense, straight shooter approach appeals to me. I would have liked to have seen some photos of the exercises she mentions though.

"I don't want this book to be a once-read, I want you to reread it and use it over and over as often as you need to for its information and or reassurance. With it you can keep the special combination that belongs only to you, one that cracks the code of how to get and stay slim for life."

Now the rest is up to me!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Over the Counter #153

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

Real Snacks: Make Your Favorite Childhood Treats Without All The Junk by Lara Ferroni.

From the publisher Sasquatch Books:

"Imagine homemade Twinkies, Ding-Dongs, Doritos, and Cheez-Its made in your own kitchen, even with gluten-free and vegan variations. Make your favorite snacks with whole grains and natural sweeteners full of wonderful flavors and nutrients not artificial colors and preservatives. Lara Ferroni shows you how with this collection of 50 nostalgic childhood treats that satisfy your junk food cravings, but without all the junk. Gluten free and vegan options are included for every recipe."

(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, March 6, 2013

Time to Play - with DK Canada

March Break is almost upon us! Are you travelling or are you planning a stay at home break with the kids this year? Looking for some ideas for things to do? Dorling Kindersley Canada has lots of suggestions! They have a great selection of kid's books - crafting, cooking, Legos, drawing and more - all on sale at 30%off. Lots of fun things to do together! You can browse the selections at the Time to Play Boutique. There are some great books for adults too. And this adult loves to create!
Craft is a great resource for those looking to try out a number of different techniques and ideas. There are six section in the book - textiles, papercrafts, jewelry, ceramics and glass, candles and soap and finally - eco crafts. Each section begins with pictures and descriptions of the tools and equipment needed.

And I easily found something I want to try in each chapter. We're doing a bathroom reno, so dying or screening new curtains is now on my list; as is reupholstering an existing small chair for the corner.

I have always wanted to try soap making. There were some great 'recipes' using goat's milk soap base that I definitely want to try. And planning ahead - soap would make really great hostess or small anytime gifts. How to present them? In one of the lovely gift boxes you've made from scrapbooking sheets. (pattern included) Accompanied by a hand made card with pressed flowers.

I really liked some of the eco craft ideas - especially the punched tin tea light holders - perfect for my new deck this summer or hanging on low branches of the surrounding trees. I saw a whimsical little wire hanging incorporating old buttons that I want to try too.

Jewelry is one craft I've never attempted, but I really want to try clay beads. Off to the local hobby store with my coupons!

There is something for everyone in Craft. I've bookmarked a few sections for programming ideas as well - papermaking might be messy, but it would be fun!

What I love about DK books are the loads of pictures they include in all their books. That, the easy to read layout and the clear, concise  step by step instructions.

What are you making?!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Giveaway - Life of Pi on Blu-ray!

You've read the book - you loved it. You've heard the movie is fantastic and want to see it. How about owning it?!! That's right - I have two Blu-ray copies to give away to two lucky readers. Open to US and Canada, ends March 12. Simply leave a comment to be entered!!

Nominated for 11 Academy Awards®
The Inspirational Epic Journey Arrives on
Blu-ray 3D
, Blu-ray and DVD March 12

"Believe the unbelievable.  Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment presents a groundbreaking cinematic experience you will have to see to believe when LIFE OF PI debuts on stunning Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray and DVD on March 12.

Based on the acclaimed best-selling novel from Yann Martel that has been published in 40 languages, and brought to life by visionary Academy Award winning director Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), this magical adventure of hope, wonder, survival, and the power of the human spirit has been celebrated by critics all over the world.  A “magnificent and moving” (Peter Travers, Rolling Stone) motion picture event that has been hailed as “a masterpiece” (Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times), taking in over $500 million in worldwide box office.  

LIFE OF PI follows Pi Patel, a young man on a fateful voyage who, after a spectacular disaster, is marooned on a lifeboat with the only other survivor, a fearsome 450 lb. Bengal Tiger named Richard Parker. Hurtled into an epic journey of adventure and discovery Pi and his majestic companion make an amazing and unexpected connection. "

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Poisoned Pawn - Peggy Blair - Review AND Giveaway

Peggy Blair introduced readers to Inspector Ricardo Ramirez of the Havana Major Crimes Unit last year with her first novel The Beggar's Opera. I loved it (my review) and so did a lot of other folks. It was the 2012 Scotiabank Giller Prize Reader's Choice Winner, the CBC Bookie Award Winner for Best Canadian Crime Novel and was shortlisted for the Crime Writers' Association Debut Dagger Award!

Needless to say, I was very eager to pick up the second book  - The Poisoned Pawn. Did it live up to the first? Absolutely - and more!

I was delighted to find that the book literally picked up where the first book left off. I had thought there was more to the story and other avenues to explore and I was right. In The Poisoned Pawn, Hillary, the wife of Michael Ellis - the Canadian cop suspected of horrific crimes in Cuba - is flying home to Ottawa. She becomes extremely ill on the plane and dies. But what killed her? Ramirez is also headed to Canada - sent by his superiors to pick up a Catholic priest being returned to Cuba to face charges for sex crimes against Cuban children. But, back in Cuba, two other women die in circumstances exactly like Hillary. Ramirez is under pressure from many factions....

There are so many things to like about Blair's novels. For me, the biggest draw is the characters. Ramirez is one of the last few honest cops left on Havana's force (although he does borrow rum from the evidence locker). He's dogged and determined and deftly weaves his way through the political mire of the department and country to achieve results. Ramirez also sees the dead. A victim's ghost will attach itself to Ricardo, until he manages to solve the death. But I enjoy his friend and colleague, pathologist Dr. Hector Apiro just as much. Apiro's mind is brilliant and his personal storyline is both unique and moving.

The setting in Cuba continues to fascinate me. The descriptions of what is not there (soap, meat and more) the limitations placed on the citizens, the city and land, as well as the customs and culture - Voodoo, Santeria and more. In juxtaposition, Ramirez's introduction to Canada at the Ottawa airport is an eye opener.

"They walked past a store with maple-sugar candy; a display of bright art painted on canvas. Another store sold purses brief-cases, scarves and ties. Ramirez already felt overwhelmed. He wondered how Canadians could pick out what to wear each day with so many choices. In Cuba, most stores had only a rack or two of wares; the other shelves were empty. Even in Havana, the bodegas generally had only one brand of canned goods. If they had anything to sell at all."

"Ramirez watched servers do the unthinkable; scrape leftovers into the garbage. It was all he could do to restrain himself from running over to grab their hands, to plead with them to stop the waste."

The title? The Poisoned Pawn is a chess move. "A player places a pawn where it can be easily captured. If the other player takes the bait, his own men are exposed to attack. Bu the ploy is risky, because it can reveal both sides' weaknesses......But few chess games are ever perfect."

Blair's plotting resembles an intricate chess game as well. She has come up with an inventive, multi-layered plot that kept me guessing as to where the next move would be.

Blair also weaves social commentary into her novel, with sharp, pointed and timely commentary, touching on the Catholic Church, Canadian First Nations, and residential schools in both Cuba and Canada. She also includes historical references that had me headed to the Web to investigate further.

The Poisoned Pawn was such a satisfying read on so many levels - I will be eagerly awaiting the next in this series. Read an excerpt of The Poisoned Pawn.

Peggy Blair has been a lawyer for more than thirty years. A recognized expert in Aboriginal law, she also worked as both a criminal defence lawyer and Crown prosecutor. She spent a Christmas in Old Havana, where she watched the bored young policemen along the Malecon, visited Hemingway’s favourite bars, and learned to make a perfect mojito. A former member of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, Blair is named in the Canadian Who’s Who. She lives in Ottawa. You can find Peggy Blair on Twitter.

Check out what other bloggers on The Poisoned Pawn tour thought:

Feb 25- The Literary Word      Feb 26- Curled Up With a Good Book and a Cup of Tea
Feb 27- Just a Lil Lost       Mar 5 - Serendipitous Readings
Mar 6 - Literary Treats      Mar 7 - Thrifty Momma's Brainfood

And thanks to the generosity of Penguin Canada, I have a copy of BOTH books to giveaway to a Canadian reader! Simply leave a comment to be entered. Ends March 23/13.