Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Looking Back......and Forward

There are a million 'best of' lists for 2014 books. I thought I would recap some of my favourites from this year - in no particular order.

The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce
Sweetland by Michael Crummey
The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
The Tilted World - Tom Franklin and Beth Ann Fennelly
and best audio book - Bird Box - Josh Malerman 
There are others (including a lot of mysteries) but I'll stop at five!

This year, I read/listened to 141 books - which actually surprised me! I think I'll set the bar a little lower this year. I'm expecting my first grandchild at the beginning of 2015 and as much as I love reading, this little person will be at the top of the list! And although I'm a type A personality, I'm just going to have to keep reminding myself - this is a hobby, not a job. So I will review the books I accept - but I may accept fewer - and if the review isn't out on publication day, I won't worry - it will get done. Balance. I have lots of other interests that sometimes take a backseat while I blog. I hope to strike a better balance between all my interests. And as I age, those health resolutions are also at the top of the list.

Best resolution everyone can make? Enjoy each and every day! So, what are your top reads for this year? Any resolutions for next year?

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Saving Grace - Jane Green - Review AND Giveaway

I've been reading Jane Green for a number of years now. I would have classify her earlier works as  'chick lit'. But as the years have passed, Green's protagonists have gotten a little older and she has tackled more serious topics. But one thing has not changed - Green's ability to write a great, entertaining story.

Here latest ( #16) book - Saving Grace - releases today from St. Martin's Press.

From the outside looking in, Grace and Ted have it all - Ted is a successful novelist, Grace is the ultimate hostess and works with charities, they have a beautiful home and a loving marriage. But, from the inside, the view isn't so great.

"After almost twenty-five years of marriage the only thing that Grace is ever able to predict is the unpredictability of her husband's moods. He can throw his keys at the wall in a rage, then reappear twenty minutes later with a sunny smile, as if nothing had happened, as if Grace hadn't spent the prior twenty minutes quaking with nerves."

When Ted's long time assistant leaves, Grace tries to do even more, but can't keep up. When Beth, a seemingly perfect applicant asks about the position, Grace is more than happy to hire her immediately. She's exactly what they need. But....maybe she's a bit too first it's just little things.....

Oh yes, you know what's coming don't you? Yep, that woman wants Grace's life. And the only person who sees it is Grace. Or is she imagining things?

Woven within this insidious unraveling of a tale are the very real issues of spousal abuse, mental illness and recovery, a look at pharmaceuticals and a woman's desperate journey to try and reclaim herself and her life. And it wouldn't be a Jane Green book without some romance also interwoven.

Saving Grace (cute pun on the title) was a good read for me. I really liked Grace. But just like those scary movies, I found myself mentally shouting " No, she's (Beth) too good to be true!" and "Leave the jerk!" Beth was a deliciously drawn antagonist - and yes, I was shouting at her too. And Ted.

Grace also works as a caterer, and many of her recipes are included at the end of chapters. Green herself also loves to cook - her descriptions of food and cooking demonstrate that through the book.

Saving Grace was a page turner of a read - full of suspense, yet some real food for thought as well. Read an excerpt of Saving Grace. You can keep up with Jane Green on her website, on Facebook as well as on Twitter.

Sound like a book you'd like to read? Well, I have a copy to giveaway to one randomly chosen reader. Simply leave a comment to be entered, open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. One entry per person. Ends January 11/15.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Giveaway - Bred to Kill - Franck Thilliez

It's no secret that I love mysteries and thrillers. Franck Thilliez's new thriller, Bred to Kill releases on January 8/15 - and I've got a copy to giveaway to one randomly chosen winner!

From the publisher, Viking Books:

"In the shocking sequel to runaway international bestseller Syndrome E, Lucie Henebelle and Inspector Sharko have reunited to take on the case of the brutal murder of Eva Louts, a promising graduate student who was killed while working at a primate research center outside Paris. But what first appears to be a vicious animal attack soon proves to be something more sinister. What was Eva secretly researching? Was she tracking three fanatical scientists who control a thirty-thousand-year-old virus with plans to unleash it into the world?

 With his unmatched ability to inject cutting-edge science into his novels, Thilliez draws on genetics, paleontology, and the dark side of human nature to create this smart, adrenaline-fueled thriller. Bred to Kill moves from the rain-slicked streets of Paris to the heart of the Alps to the remote Amazon jungle as Lucie and Sharko work to solve the murder—before whoever killed Eva comes for them."

Sound thrilling to you?! Simply leave a comment to be entered. One per person please. Open to US/Canada - no po boxes. Ends January 10/15. 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Winner - The Good Lie on DVD

And the randomly chosen winner of a copy of The Good Lie, courtesy of Warner Brothers Home Entertainment is:

Doug W!

Congratulations! I've contacted your by email for your mailing address. Please respond within 48 hours - after that time a new winner will be chosen. Keep your eye on the sidebar for other great giveaways!

Winner - Moth and Spark - Anne Leonard

The randomly chosen winner of a copy of Moth and Spark, by Anne Leonard, courtesy of Penguin Books is:


Congratulations! I've contacted you by email for your mailing address. Please respond within 48 hours. After that time, a new winner will be chosen. Keep your eye on the sidebar for other great giveaways!

Winner - Tempting Fate Prize Pack

And the randomly chosen winner of the Jane Green Tempting Fate prizepack is:


Congratulations! I've contacted you by email for your mailing address. Please respond within 48 hours. After that time a new winner will be chosen. Keep your eye on the sidebar for other great giveaways!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

You Can't Judge a Book By Its Cover #36

- You can't judge a book by its cover - which is very true.
 But you can like one cover version better than another...

US/Canadian cover
UK cover
There are so many great books coming out this winter! Here's a debut thriller by Paula Hawkins that's on my list - The Girl on the Train. The US/Canadian cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right.  Both employ movement on the cover to illustrate the train. But I think I like the UK cover better this week. I like the lettering better - and the blurb hints at a great suspense read. Will you be picking this debut? Which cover do you prefer? 
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular Saturday feature on A Bookworm's World.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Film on Friday #31 - 1000 Times Good Night

Film Movement has has just released 1000 Times Good Night on DVD. As with all their titles, 1000 Times Good Night is a multiple winner and official selection of numerous film festivals.

Academy Award winner Juliette Binoche stars as Rebecca, a war photojournalist. Rebecca is fearless, going to the front lines in war torn zones, putting herself in extremely dangerous situations. While documenting a suicide bomber in Afghanistan, she is badly hurt. It is only when she is in the hospital that we learn she is a wife and mother - and that her husband has had enough. An ultimatum is issued - her job or her family....

I was drawn in from the opening scenes of this film, fascinated and then horrified as I realized what was happening. The juxtaposition between the chaos of the opening few scenes and then cutting to the peaceful Irish countryside is jarring. And it mirrors Rebecca's feelings, emotions and state of mind.

Conflict, desire, want and need are wound throughout the film - the wars Rebecca covers, the struggle between staying at home and capturing conflict and exposing it to the world, to tamp down her desire to be where the action is, the need to document these atrocities for the world, the wanting to be a good mother, wife and friend and more.

Binoche is a brilliant actor. Her performance in this film is remarkable - moving and oh so believable. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau plays husband Marcus. He too, turned in a good performance  - I understood his need to protect his daughters, but I grew angry with his behavior. Young Lauren Canny plays daughter Stephanie. The scenes between her and Rebecca are poignant, as Steph slowly comes to understand what it is her mother does - and why.

As I watched, I was thinking to myself how well this film was done - the cinematography, the attitudes, the passion and the drive to expose atrocities to the world. It was only in the film's bio section that I discovered that director Erik Poppe was a war photojournalist himself in the 1980's. He too went through the same personal and professional conflicts he's given to Rebecca.

Excellent acting, compelling topic, eye-opening situations - and definitely recommended.

Norway/2104/English/111 min.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Over the Counter #244

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Some seasonal choices to help you plan for next year this week...
Merry Christmas!!

First up is 55 Christmas Balls to Knit: Colorful Festive Ornaments by Arne and Carlos.

From the publisher, Trafalgar Square Books:

"Who doesn’t love Christmas decorations? They are colorful and festive and bring joy to many both in the making and the decorating. Now Norwegian knitwear design stars Arne and Carlos bring fun-filled holiday crafting to knitters everywhere with their ornamental balls. They are easy to knit, easy to stuff and once you get knitting you won’t want to stop. Inspired by traditional Norwegian patterns each ball is a unique handmade creation ready to become a holiday heirloom. They are ideal for the tree, wreaths, mantels, centerpieces and window dressings, and make perfect gifts for friends and family. This book is bursting with creativity and inspiration, with one set of instructions and 55 patterns pick up your needles and start knitting."

And how about Rock Your Ugly Christmas Sweater by Anne Maria Blackman and Brian Clark Howard.

From the publisher, Running Press:

"This fun and portable gift book includes 200+ full-color photos of people in hilariously awful Christmas sweaters accompanied by funny captions. Some of the amazing categories include festive fun, vintage ugly, homemade hits and misses, pets rocking ugly Christmas sweaters, and much more." Check out rockyouruglychristmassweater

(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 24, 2014

Giveaway - The Maze Runner on Blu-ray AND the novel!!

Happy Holidays to you readers! Here's one last (fantastic!) giveaway for you this week!

I participated in the Twitter viewing party of The Maze Runner on Blu-ray with author James Dashner last Friday night. I always wait with bated breath to see if a great book can make the leap to film without losing the original premise and everything I loved. Director Wes Ball's adaptation absolutely did.

There were a few minor differences, but Ball nailed it - helped along by a marvelous cast of characters that captured the mental images I'd created for these characters. The setting brought the Glade and the maze to life, the Grievers were suitably frightening and the action non-stop. And if you've read the book - the twist is beautifully played. And if you haven't read the book - well I have a copy of that to give away as well!

"Will you make it out alive? Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment invites you to unlock the mysteries of the maze on December 16 when THE MAZE RUNNER hits Blu-ray™ and DVD. Based on the book by James Dashner that made The New York Times best-sellers list for more than 100 weeks, THE MAZE RUNNER brings together an up-and-coming cast of young talent including Dylan O’Brien (“Teen Wolf,” The Internship), Thomas Brodie-Sangster (“Game of Thrones”), Will Poulter (We’re the Millers), and Kaya Scodelario (“Skins”) that do whatever it takes to survive. In this heart-pounding survival thriller based on the best-selling novel, Thomas (Dylan O’Brien of MTV’s “Teen Wolf” ) wakes up trapped in a massive, ever-changing maze with a group of boys who have no memory of the outside world. Facing dangerous obstacles at every turn — especially the deadly Grievers that roam the concrete corridors at night — Thomas and the others must race to piece together clues in order to discover their true purpose… and find a way out before it’s too late!

 THE MAZE RUNNER Blu-ray™ comes in a 2-Disc Combo Pack, including two hours of pulse-stopping bonus features that make for the ultimate fan gift this holiday season. Created especially for this release by BOOM! Comics, dive into the backstory world of the Gladers before Thomas’ arrival, with the limited-edition, twenty-four page prequel comic book written by director Wes Ball and co-screenwriter T.S. Nowlin. Fans will also receive a limited time offer for the mobile game featuring a bonus runner “Newt” plus free in-game currency on Blu-ray™ and DVD.

 SPECIAL FEATURES ● 24-Page Prequel Comic Book ● Deleted Scenes with Commentary from Wes Ball ● Navigating The Maze: The Making of The Maze Runner (A Five Part Documentary that includes: The Maze is Born, Creating the World, Finding the Gang, The Movie Inside the Maze, and The Digital Details) ● The “Chuck Diaries” ● Gag Reel ● Visual Effects Reels ● Ruin Wes Ball Short Film in 2D and 3D with Commentary from Wes Ball ● Audio Commentary by Wes Ball and T.S. Nowlin ● Galleries"

Sound like a movie you'd like to watch and own?! Simply leave a comment to be entered. One lucky reader will receive a Blu-ray copy of The Maze Runner AND a copy of the book by James Dashner. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. One entry per person. Let's let this one run until next year - ends January 4/15.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Good Lie - Reese Witherspoon - Review AND Giveaway

The countdown to Christmas is on - there's a flurry of buying, a plethora of ads and a huge sense of urgency to be 'ready'. But at this time of the year, I think we also need to slow down and think just how fortunate we are and of those who have not been so blessed, to celebrate the joy in being alive and to remember the best gifts cannot be unwrapped.

The Good Lie starring Reese Witherspoon releases today. And it's a movie you need to watch.

In my place of work, I have met and had conversations with Sudanese refugees. Their stories are horrific, but need to be told, so the world knows. The Good Lie tells the story of some of the lost boys of Sudan.

Who are the lost boys? In 1983 civil war broke out in Sudan - approximately 2.5 million people were killed - and thousands of children were left orphaned. Over 20,000 children trekked over 1000 miles, looking for safety. Ethiopia was not the safe haven they had been told of, so instead they journeyed to Kenya - and the Kakuma refugee camp.

The Good Lie is the story of three boys and one girl, who spent 13 years in the camp and were then sponsored to relocate in the US. Witherspoon plays Carrie,  a hardened job counselor whose life become inextricably entwined with these four.

Oh boy, my emotions ran the gamut on this movie - horror at the war, fear for the children, hope for a new life and sadness for those still in the camps, awe at the courage shown and joy. I laughed out loud in many parts (the chicken crossing the road joke gets new life) and I cried many times. (The reason behind the title will break your heart.)

 The Good Lie lets us see North American life through the eyes of a newcomer as they try to learn and navigate the rules, regulations, customs and everyday life we take for granted, but still live by their own core values. I think one of the most telling scenes was when Jeremiah, one of the four, is sent out to throw away the 'old food' to make room for the 'new food' at his grocery stocking job. He helps a homeless woman pick through the food destined for the dumpster - and is promptly berated by the boss. Jeremiah's reaction is one we should all have.

Witherspoon is one of my favourite actresses. She was perfect in this film. The actors playing the four (and their younger selves) all had personal ties to the Sudan either as refugees themselves or children of refugees.

Sadly, I don't think this movie has received the press it should have while at the theatres. It's a five star, thumbs up watch for this viewer. If you're looking for a film that celebrates the human spirit and that will resonate with you after the credits have rolled, The Good Lie is for you. I have a copy of The Good Lie to give away to a randomly chosen reader. Enter at this post.

There's a lovely quote at the end of the movie: "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together."

Monday, December 22, 2014

Angels Sing

I love that moment when I realize I have finished my shopping, the wrapping is done, the work week has ended and Christmas is around the corner.

And this is when I load up on Christmas cheer, with holiday books, music - and movies!

Angels Sing is a new addition to my holiday shelf. The movie is based on the book When Angels Sing by Turk Pipkin. I had read the book - and enjoyed it. As always, with book to film adaptations, I was curious to see how close the movie would stick to the original story.

Harry Connick Jr. stars as Michael Walker, a family man who refuses to celebrate Christmas. His reason is understandable - and heartbreaking. When the family unknowingly moves to a street known for its elaborate Christmas celebrations and tragedy strides, Michael is forced to confront his past as the impact on the present is too great to ignore.

There's a great cast in Angels Sing - most with a musical bent - notably Willie Nelson as an angel, Lyle Lovett as an neighbour and Kris Kristofferson as Grandpa. All of them contribute musical moments to the film.

And this is a feel good film for the family. (Although there is one sad event that parents should be prepared to discuss with younger children) But there are some funny bits as well. (watch for the snowman's smile turning into a frown) The music is great, the decorations on the street lovely and the overall sentiment can't help but put you in a festive mood. The family interactions are positively portrayed and families viewing together will find lots of food for thought. The plot is somewhat obvious, but that's what I'm looking for in my holiday viewing - happy endings.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Winner - Angels Sing prizepack!

And the randomly chosen winner of the Angels Sing prizepack - the Angels Sing DVD and the book, When Angels Sing, by Turk Pipkin is:


Congratulations! I've contacted you by email for your mailing address. Please respond within 48 hours. After that time a new winner will be chosen. Keep your eye on the sidebar for other great

Saturday, December 20, 2014

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #35

- You can't judge a book by its cover - which is very true. 
 But you can like one cover version better than another...

Canadian/US cover
UK cover
There are so many great books coming out this winter! Here's one I can't wait to read - As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust by Alan Bradley. Flavia is coming to Canada!
The latest installment in this delightful series releases in North America on Jan 6/15. The Canadian/US cover is on the left. UK readers will have to wait until April 23/15. UK cover on the right. Hands down winner for me is the Canadian cover. I own all of these book and this fits in with the bright colours and images used in the previous six entries. As you wait for #7, there's a short story available now -
  The Curious Case of the Copper Corpse.
Have you read the Flavia books? Will you be picking this latest?Which cover do you prefer?
 You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular Saturday feature on A Bookworm's World.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Over the Counter #243

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Well, these seemed quite appropriate, given the date.....

First up is Everything I Needed to Know About Christmas, I Learned From a Little Golden Book by Diane Muldrow.

From the publisher, Random House:

"The Poky Little Puppy, the Gingerbread Man, and many other classic Golden Books characters help illustrate this wise and witty guide to the holidays! Delightfully retro yet utterly of the moment, this companion to the bestselling EVERYTHING NEED TO KNOW I LEARNED FROM A LITTLE GOLDEN BOOK will delight fans of those gold foil-spined treasures. Featuring iconic art from Golden Books luminaries including Eloise Wilkin, Richard Scarry, J.P. Miller, Garth Williams, and more — this collection is a must for maintaining ever-important holiday cheer!"

Next up is A Merry Christmas Cookbook from Disney Publishing:

"Treat your taste buds to a feast of traditional holiday delights! With simple step-by-step instructions, helpful cooking tips, color photographs, and charming character art, this book is the perfect way for parents and children to make holiday magic in the kitchen! A rating system lets kids know how difficult the recipes are, and cooking tips are sprinkled throughout. Kids will enjoy making Rolly’s Spotted Cranberry Pancakes, Sugar Rush Popcorn Gumdrop Garland and Anna’s Frozen Ice Candy!"

(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!)

The Maze Runner Twitter Viewing Party

What am I doing Friday night you ask? Well, I will be glued to my Blu-ray player watching the newly released The Maze Runner and live tweeting with other fans....and @JamesDashner!

You're welcome to join the fun! Keep up with the conversation at


Don't own the movie yet? No worries - I'll be posting my review in the near future......AND I'll be giving away a Blu-ray copy of The Maze Runner with that review to one lucky reader!!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Moriarty - Anthony Horowitz

Well, mystery buffs, fiction fans and television lovers will all recognize this name - Professor Moriarty - the arch nemesis of Sherlock Holmes.

Anthony Horowitz's new book, Moriarty, takes place mere days after the final confrontation of Holmes and Moriarty at Reichenbach Falls that resulted in both men's deaths.

Pinkerton Detective Frederick Chase arrives from the US. He is tracking an American criminal kingpin who was to join forces with Moriarty. Could there be a clue left on the body pulled from the bottom of the falls? Scotland Yard Inspector Athelney Jones (who appeared in Doyle's story The Sign of Four) is also at the falls to view the body pulled from the bottom. Jones is a devoted fan of Holmes' methods and escapades. The two join forces to hunt down the kingpin. Chase is the narrator of Moriarty

I had read Horowitz's book The House of Silk (a Sherlock Holmes mystery - my review) and knew I would love this novel as well. The tone, the language and the settings all capture the feel of Doyle's writing style. But Horowitz does not try to mimic or copy the originals. He does put his own stamp on the book. Doyle's estate has approved Horowitz to write these novels.

I felt a delicious frisson of anticipation as the phrase "The game is afoot" was uttered. The clues are there, the deductions are made and twining together of the threads begins as the mystery is slowly pieced together, then the action starts to ramp up as the pair get closer and closer to their quarry and....

....and the final few chapters were fantastic. I had a small little voice saying...'maybe' I read, but Horowitz still caught me unawares. And then I had to go back and read the beginning again! Absolutely loved it! Moriarty is definitely recommended. (And I'm really hoping there's another book in the works.)  Read an excerpt of Moriarty.

"Anthony Horowitz is the author of the international bestseller The House of Silk and the New York Times number one bestselling Alex Rider series for Young Adults. As a television screenwriter he created both Midsomer Murders and the BAFTA-winning Foyle’s War, both of which were featured on PBS’s Masterpiece Mystery. He regularly contributes to a wide variety of national newspapers and magazines, and in January 2014 was awarded an OBE for his services to literature. He lives in London." You can keep up with Anthony Horowitz on Twitter.

See what others on the TLC book tour thought. Full schedule can be found here.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Giveaway - Deep Secret - Diana Wynne Jones

Tor Books has just released a new edition of the  classic adult fantasy novel, Deep Secret by Diana Wynne Jones. Wynne Jones was a winner of many awards, including the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement.

"From the publisher:

"The Magids, powerful magicians, are at work to maintain the balance between positive and negative magic, for the good of all in the multiverse. Rupert Venables is the Magid assigned to Earth and to the troublesome planets of the Koyrfonic Empire. While helping with the transition after the death of the Koyrfonic Emperor, Rupert is also in desperate search of a junior Magid. Rupert attends a SF convention in England to meet the prospective Magids, but he discovers that other forces, some of them completely out of control, are there too...." 

"A clever, funny fantasy with appeal for both adult and YA audiences, this is the perfect gift for life-long fans or fantasy readers who have yet to discover the enchanting Diana Wynne Jones." Read an excerpt of Deep Secret.

Sound like a book you'd enjoy? Simply leave a comment to be entered. One randomly chosen winner will receive a copy of the newly released paperback edition of A Deep Secret. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends Jan 3/15. One entry per person please. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Giveaway - The Good Lie Blu-ray DVD starring Reese Witherspoon!

I've got an amazing giveaway for you today! The Good Lie, starring Reese Witherspoon, releases on DVD/Blu-ray on December 23/14. This is an absolutely perfect film for this time of the year -  heartwarming and uplifting. And one lucky, randomly chosen reader will receive a copy of this amazing, inspiring, TRUE story, courtesy of Warner Brothers Home Entertainment.

"They were known simply as “The Lost Boys.”

Orphaned by the brutal civil war in Sudan, which began in 1983, these young victims traveled as many as a thousand miles on foot in search of safety. Fifteen years later, a humanitarian effort would bring 3,600 lost boys, as well as girls, to America.

Mamere and Theo are sons of the Chief in their village in Southern Sudan. When an attack by the Northern militia destroys their home and kills their parents, eldest son Theo is forced to assume the role of Chief and lead a group of young survivors, including his sister Abital, away from harm. But the hostile, treacherous terrain has other dangers in store for them. As the tattered group makes the difficult trek to Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya, they meet other fleeing children, forging a bond with Jeremiah, who, at 13, is already a man of faith, and Paul, whose skills become essential to their survival.

Thirteen years later, the now young adults are given the opportunity to leave the camp and resettle in America. Upon arriving in Kansas, they are met by Carrie Davis (Reese Witherspoon), an employment agency counselor who has been enlisted to help find them jobs—no easy task, when things like light switches and telephones are brand new to them.

Although Carrie has successfully kept herself from any emotional entanglements, these refugees, who desperately require help navigating the 21st century and rebuilding their shattered lives, need just that. So Carrie embarks on her own uncharted territory, enlisting the help of her boss, Jack (Corey Stoll). " See what others are saying on the Good Lie Facebook page.

I can't wait to watch this movie - watch for my review! And if you too would like to own and watch The Good Lie, simply leave a comment. One lucky reader will be randomly chosen on Dec. 28/14. This is an international story - and so is the giveaway! One entry per person please. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Giveaway - Angels Sing - DVD AND Book!

Do I have the perfect holiday giveaway for you today!!

I adore Christmas movies. (Feel good movies at this time of the year are the best!) I'm really looking forward to sitting by my tree to watch Angels Sing!

"Harry Connick, Jr. stars as Michael Walker, who, as a child, wished every day was Christmas. That is, until a tragic accident crushed his holiday spirit. Thirty years later, Michael still can’t muster any joy for Christmas, despite encouragement from his playful wife (Connie Britton) and well intentioned parents (Kris Kristofferson and Fionnula Flanagan). But when his young son (Chandler Canterbury) faces a tragedy, Michael needs to make amends with his past. A mysterious man named Nick (Willie Nelson) gives Michael a gift that instills in him the courage to find the Christmas joy that he lost." Perfect holiday viewing! Watch for my review!

Angels Sing is based on the book, When Angels Sing, by Turk Pipkin.

"Writer and actor Turk Pipkin has had a career like no other. A former stand-up comedian who gave Read an excerpt of When Angels Sing.
up performing after a long run on the road with Rodney Dangerfield and many others, he's since published eight books, including two well-received novels, and written a hundred hours of primetime television. He's also traveled around the world for thirty years, writing as he journeyed for a dozen national magazines. In his latest incarnation, Turk can be seen as a recurring character in the third season of HBO's hit series, "The Sopranos."

Here's a quick Q and A with Turk Pipkin! 

 1. You're a man who has worn many hats - author, actor, comedian, director and activist. And you've met many people in those roles. Who has left their mark on you or impacted your life the most?

---I owe so much to so many, it's hard to choose who's influenced me the most. It's hard to top Desmond Tutu telling me, "The sea is made of drops of water. What you do, where you are, is of significance." Even so, I think Willie Nelson has taught me more than anyone else - in how to respect family, friends and those in need, in being open every day to the possibilities of Love, and in how to make conscious decisions in the way you live your life. In One Peace at a Time, a feature documentary I directed for The Nobelity Project, Willie told me, "The answer is there if you look for it. You know what to do. Right and wrong is not that hard. It’s what you choose to do."

 2. Angels Sing is a great movies for families to watch at Christmas. What do you love most about Christmas?

---The thing I like most about Christmas is probably the same as almost everyone else - the way it brings families together; the way it ties them together across generations. That's the core message contained in Angels Sing, and also in my novel that it's based on, When Angels Sing.

 3. How can readers support the Nobelity Project?

---The Nobelity Project has made three feature films and fifty short films about global problems and solutions. These are hopeful films about a better way, and I love it when new people find them at, on our youtube channel, or any other way. We often have specific fundraising projects for a particular school in Kenya, for tree-planting in the States or for our library and bookmobile project in Honduras, but the engagement almost always comes through our films and photos. So a great place to start is to join the mailing list and like us on Facebook.

 4. What's next for Turk Pipkin?

---We built 50 classrooms, libraries and water projects in Kenya last year. We'll do more this year and that works keeps me fairly busy with community engagement, contracting the construction work and reporting on it all. Outside of the Nobelity Project, I'm still writing books and screenplays, doing my best to tell stories that I love, and that I think will have some meaning and some entertainment factor. It's nice when you end up with a movie with Willie Nelson, Connie Britton and Harry Connick, Jr., but you have to remember, it all starts with the story.

Sound like a DVD and book you'd like to enjoy?! Simply leave a comment to be entered. One randomly chosen winner will win a copy of the DVD and book! Open to US and Canada, one entry per person. Ends Dec 21/14.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Giveaway - Moth and Spark - Anne Leonard

Anne Leonard's debut novel, Moth and Spark, releases in paperback on December - and I have a copy to giveaway to a randomly chosen winner!

What's it about?  From the publisher, Penguin Books:

"A prince with a quest, a beautiful commoner with mysterious powers, and dragons who demand to be freed—at any cost.

Filled with the potent mix of the supernatural and romance that made A Discovery of Witches a runaway success, Moth and Spark introduces readers to a vibrant world—and a love story they won’t soon forget.

Prince Corin has been chosen to free the dragons from their bondage to the power Mycenean Empire, but dragons aren’t big on directions. They have given him some of their power, but none of their knowledge. No one, not the dragons nor their riders, is even sure what keeps the dragons in the Empire’s control. Tam, sensible daughter of a well-respected doctor, had no idea before she arrived in Caithenor that she is a Seer, gifted with visions. When the two run into each other (quite literally) in the library, sparks fly and Corin impulsively asks Tam to dinner. But it’s not all happily ever after. Never mind that the prince isn’t allowed to marry a commoner: war is coming. Torn between his quest to free the dragons and his duty to his country, Tam and Corin must both figure out how to master their powers in order to save Caithen. With a little help from a village of secret wizards and rogue dragonrider, they just might pull it off." Read an excerpt of Moth and Spark. The author has also put together a great book club kit.

credit Judith Love Pietromartire
"Leonard began MOTH AND SPARK while attending the University of California-Hastings College of Law (where she graduated cum laude) eking out a few hours on weekends or a half hour on the bus, or wherever she had the chance. After 3 years, she had a draft, but ultimately decided to practice law first.  At last readers will be introduced to the deadly harsh steppe lands of Sarian, to the white-barked tree-lined streets of Caithenor.  Every last element of Leonard’s lush, extraordinary world carries the heft of cinematic detail with pitch-perfect vision." You can find Anne Leonard on her website and on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Sound like a book you'd like to read? Well, I have one copy of Moth and Spark to giveaway to a randomly chosen winner. Simply leave a comment to be entered. Open to US only, no PO boxes please. One entry per person please. Ends Dec. 28/14.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #34

- You can't judge a book by its cover - which is very true. 
 But you can like one cover version better than another...

US/Canadian cover
UK cover
I was hunting down cover art for my upcoming review of Anthony Horowitz's new book - Moriarty and came across the Canadian/US cover on the left and the UK cover on the right. I'm torn this week! Both covers address how Holmes died at Reichenbach Falls with water on the cover. (That's two men plunging down a waterfall in the US cover.) The US cover has a period feel to it with the curlicues in the corners. But I like the font and colour of the UK cover.  Which cover do you prefer? 
Do you plan to or have you read Moriarty?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular Saturday feature on A Bookworm's World.

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Maze Runner - "Survive the Night"

Fox Home Entertainment releases The Maze Runner on Dec 16th. While you wait for the 16th to roll around, check out Survive the Night on Snapchat Saturday Dec 13......

"THE MAZE RUNNER - “Survive the Night" They say no one survives a night in the Maze. Starting at sundown, two Snapchat influencers will try to master the challenges beamed in from WCKD HQ. Only the fans will decide who comes out as the true winner. 

In anticipation of the Blu-ray/DVD release of The Maze Runner Movie, FOX is partnering with Snapchat influencers for an overnight activation, beginning at dusk on Saturday the 13th and ending at dawn on Sunday the 14th.

Called "Survive the Night," the activation will have Snapchat influencers competing in Maze Runner-inspired Snap challenges on the hour, every hour from dusk until dawn. Challenges posed by the Maze Runner handle on Snapchat will trigger the influencers to post their own original responses. Fans are then invited to vote for their favorite influencer each round via Twitter using the #SurviveTheNight hashtag. The influencer with the most votes will have exclusive MazeRunner intel to give their fans in return at the close of the activation.

Participating influencers are Amymarie Gaertner (Snapchat handle: xoxoamymarie) and Kenny Holland (Snapchat handle: kennyholland)."

Film on Friday #27 - Lines of Wellington

Today's film on Friday feature is Lines of Wellington from director Valeria Sarmiento. As with all Film Movement features, it has been an official selection of numerous film festivals.

This historical film is set in the time of the Napoleonic Wars. The lines are Wellington's fortifications, built over 18 months to turn back the invading French.  The film is told through the eyes of numerous characters - a British major, a Portuguese sergeant, and some of those following the war - a prostitute, a mute beggar, a travelling merchant, a wealthy pair of siblings and more.

We are treated to vignettes, both past and present as Sarmiento explores war and its effects on all classes. I became caught up in many of the stories, particularly that of the mute beggar and the Portuguese sergeant. Some of them seemed awkward though, and not to belong - such as the sister of the siblings and her sexual appetites.

I didn't know much about this time period and actually learned quite a bit.

Although John Malkovitch has been given front and centre on the cover, he is really only onscreen for a small amount of time - part of that is reciting the recipe for Beef Wellington. I found it very hard to take him seriously. The other actors, none of whom I knew, were really good. As was the setting and the extras. (although their clothing seemed a little too clean for being on the road)

The film is 150 minutes long, and I ended up watching in two sittings. And honestly, my attention was starting to wander a bit. I enjoyed Lines of Wellington, but not as much as other viewers.  As always, there is a bonus short film included. Two Laps was quite funny - a story of two older gentleman and their annual swimming match.

France and Portugal/2012/Portuguese, English and French with English subtitles/151 minutes.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Over the Counter #242

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner? A pair of cookbooks this week...

First up is The Messy Baker: More Than 75 Delicious Recipes From A Real Kitchen by Charmian Christie. (This one went home with me - there were some great recipes!)

From the publisher, Harper Collins:

"The Messy Baker offers food made and enjoyed in a kitchen not unlike your own. Charmian Christie has worked in many professional kitchens but prefers the realities of a home setting to a stainless steel "test" kitchen every time. It just makes things taste better! There is nothing trendy or artful about real baking; it's honest, sticky, humble and moreish.

The Messy Baker is an antidote to the precious perfectionism of today's baking, where every cookie on the plate is just like the next, each layer of cake is exactly the same height, and impeccably scalloped pie crusts dare you to cut into them. To the uninitiated, all this fastidious, spotless baking is intimidating. The rest of us, out here in the real world, cook and bake in space-challenged kitchens where floors aren't always waxed and there's cat hair to consider. Lopsided cookies and interestingly shaped pies are the norm, and, in The Messy Baker, they are celebrated. Recipes here are down to earth, incredibly delicious and often rather pretty. In chapters with names such as "Smudgy," "Crumbly," "Flaky" and "Drippy," The Messy Baker redefines perfection, on achievable terms."

Next up was Sweet Paul Eat and Make by Paul Lowe.

From the publisher, Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt:

"It began as a little blog highlighting the recipes and crafts of the Norwegian-born food and prop stylist Paul Lowe. Six years later, Sweet Paul is an online magazine followed by millions and a print quarterly sold nationwide in specialty stores. Praised by the New York Times as “ a trove of seasonal delights,” it is turning heads with its easy, elegant food and style-setting aesthetic.

 Divided into Morning, Brunch, Noon, and Night, with color palettes to match, Sweet Paul Eat and Make includes breakfast dishes like Morning Biscuits with Cheddar, Dill, and Pumpkin Seeds and brunches like Smoked Salmon Hash with Scallions, Dill, and Eggs. For lunch, there’s a super-quick Risotto with Asparagus, and for dinner, Maple-Roasted Chicken and a stunning Norwegian specialty, World’s Best Cake. Rustically chic craft projects—paper flowers made out of coffee filters, a vegetable-dyed tablecloth, and a trivet from wooden clothespins—will captivate even those who are all thumbs."

(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 10, 2014

Creatures of the Rock - Andrew Peacock

A young friend of mine has just started her professional career in Newfoundland, leaving behind friends and family, knowing not one soul in her new home.

When I saw Andrew Peacock's newly released memoir, Creatures of the Rock: A Veterinarian's Adventures in Newfoundland, it struck a chord. Hailey, this one's for you!

In 1982 newly minted veterinarian Andrew Peacock and his physician wife (also recently graduated) move from Ontario to Newfoundland to start their professional careers. They too, knew no one. The plan - stay two years.

In Creatures of the Rock, Peacock recounts those first days and the ensuing years in a practice that spanned twenty eight years on the Avalon Peninsula. Peacock was the only vet for 130 miles, on call night and day - and on his own.

His patients ranged from the smallest house pet to one of the largest animals you could imagine - a whale! And of course the owners of those animals are a large part of the story as well. We meet the neighbours and the clients as Peacock and his wife settle into life on the Rock and raise their three children in the small community of Freshwater. I enjoyed the glimpse into life in Newfoundland and I also picked up some animal husbandry knowledge!

Peacock's writing has an ease to it, a tone of conversation almost. His warmth, humour and compassion and love of his profession are evident in his recounting of his years tending to the creatures in his territory. He's a very engaging storyteller.

There are photographs included with the book - it was nice to put a face to a voice I really enjoyed reading. There will be inevitable comparisons to British vet, James Herriot. Peacock acknowledges that those tales were a model for his own. My advice? Pick up Peacock's book - it's homegrown and a really great read. Here's an excerpt of Creatures of the Rock.

Andrew and Ingrid still make their home in Newfoundland. And Hailey's adventures are just beginning....

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Giveaway - Tempting Fate - Jane Green

Did you miss reading Jane Green's New York Times bestseller Tempting Fate? Well, it's newly released in paperback - and I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader. Along with two sets of custom Tempting Fate wine charms! (You supply the wine!) There are four charms per set - a purse, a shoe, sunglasses and a goblet.

"From the New York Times bestselling author of such beloved novels as Jemima J, The Beach House, and Another Piece of My Heart comes an enthralling and emotional story about how much we really understand the temptations that can threaten even the most idyllic of relationships….

Gabby and Elliott have been happily married for eighteen years. They have two teenaged daughters. They have built a life together. Forty-three year old Gabby is the last person to have an affair. She can’t relate to the way her friends desperately try to cling to the beauty and allure of their younger years…And yet she too knows her youth is quickly slipping away. She could never imagine how good it would feel to have a handsome younger man show interest in her—until the night it happens. Matt makes Gabby feel sparkling, fascinating, alive—something she hasn't felt in years. What begins as a long-distance friendship soon develops into an emotional affair as Gabby discovers her limits and boundaries are not where she expects them to be. Intoxicated, she has no choice but to step ever deeper into the allure of attraction and attention, never foreseeing the life-changing consequences that lie ahead. If she makes one wrong move she could lose everything—and find out what really matters most.

 A heartfelt and complex story, Tempting Fate will have readers gripped until they reach the very last page and have them thinking about the characters long after they put the book down." Read an excerpt of Tempting Fate.

Jane's newest book Saving Grace releases on December 30/14. Watch for my review (and another great giveaway!)

"Grace and Ted Chapman are widely regarded as the perfect literary power couple. Ted is a successful novelist and Grace, his wife of twenty years, is beautiful, stylish, carefree, and a wonderful homemaker. But what no one sees, what is churning under the surface, is Ted’s rages. His mood swings. And the precarious house of cards that their lifestyle is built upon. When Ted’s longtime assistant and mainstay leaves, the house of cards begins to crumble and Grace, with dark secrets in her past, is most vulnerable. She finds herself in need of help but with no one to turn to…until the perfect new assistant shows up out of the blue. To the rescue comes Beth, a competent young woman who can handle Ted and has the calm efficiency to weather the storms that threaten to engulf the Chapman household. Soon, though, it’s clear to Grace that Beth might be too good to be true. This new interloper might be the biggest threat of all, one that could cost Grace her marriage, her reputation, and even her sanity. With everything at stake and no one to confide in, Grace must find a way to save herself before it is too late.

Powerful and riveting, Saving Grace will have you on the edge of your seat as you follow Grace on her harrowing journey to rock bottom and back." Read an excerpt of Saving Grace.

Jane is running a great pre-order promotion for Saving Grace, giving away a free copy of her brand new, full-color, e-cookbook, Happy Food to anyone who orders the new novel by Dec 29/14. Happy Food contains 60 recipes, each with an introduction penned by Jane and loads of never-before-seen color photographs. You can find Jane on her website, Facebook and Twitter.

To be entered for a copy of Tempting Fate and two sets of wine charms, simply leave a comment - open to US only, ends Dec 27/14.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Abattoir Blues - Peter Robinson

For me, Peter Robinson is one of those authors that can't write a bad book. I've enjoyed the few stand alones that he's written, but the Inspector Banks series is my favourite. Abattoir Blues is the newly released 22nd entry.

The new Commissioner has made rural crime a priority, so Banks's team is investigating, although the crimes seem a bit pedestrian for them - a stolen tractor and a break in at a seemingly abandoned airplane hangar. But when human blood stains are found on the hangar floor, the case takes a more serious turn. And when ties between the stolen tractor and the hangar are found......

Although Banks is on the case, he takes a bit of a backseat in this outing, with team member DS Winsome Jackman taking the lead. Winsome is a character I've always enjoyed and it was great to have her take a bigger investigative role, as well as getting to know her a bit better personally. DS Annie Cabbot also has a louder voice in this book. I'm very glad she's still around, even though the relationship between her and Banks has ended. I enjoy her prickly observations of life.

We still get a look at Banks's personal life - I have to say that I don't see his latest relationship lasting. He seems to be pondering his future in this book - wondering what it holds for him. I always enjoy Banks's musical choices and have often gone and looked them up to listen myself.

This is what I enjoy so much about Robinson's books - the characters change and develop with every book. I've feel I've come to know them and sitting down with the latest is like catching up with old friends.

Old friends with some rather disturbing stories. In addition to the great personal development of his characters, Robinson always crafts a great mystery. I wondered how these two diverse cases were going to be woven together. Gentle readers may be disturbed by the descriptions of what happens in an abattoir (slaughterhouse). But it provided a suitably gruesome setting for this latest crime outing.

Abattoir Blues was another great read for me - can't wait for the next in the series! Read an excerpt of Abattoir Blues. You can find Peter Robinson on Facebook.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Winner - If I Stay prize pack

And the randomly chosen winner of a Blu-ray copy of If I Stay, courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment AND a  copy of the book If I Stay by Gayle Forman is:


Congratulations! I've contacted you by email for your mailing address. Please respond within 48 hours. After that time, a new winner will be chosen. Keep your eye on the sidebar for other great giveaways!

Winner - My Sister's Grave

And the randomly chosen winner of a copy of My Sister's Grave by Robert Dugoni, courtesy of Thomas and Mercer is:


Congratulations! I've contacted you by email for your mailing address. Please respond within 48 hours. After that time a new winner will be chosen. Keep you eye on the sidebar for other great giveaways.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #33

- You can't judge a book by its cover - which is very true.
 But you can like one cover version better than another...

Canadian cover
UK cover
I was hunting down cover art for my review of Peter Robinson's new book - Abattoir Blues and  came across the Canadian cover on the left and the UK cover on the right. Both covers give you an isolated, bleak sense of time and place, but I think the UK cover is the winner for me this week. I like the black and white photography  Which cover do you prefer? Do you plan to or have you read Abattoir Blues? 
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular Saturday feature on A Bookworm's World.

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Polaroid CUBE

Have you finished your Christmas shopping yet? No? You might want to put this fun little item on your list for someone - or yourself.

Half the fun of buying gifts is seeing what's new, different - and quite frankly, catches my eye. (And yes, some of them do end up on my own list) The Polaroid CUBE certainly did!

I mentioned little - the CUBE measures out at 1 1/4 inches square. But it packs a lot into that small little case - it takes both pictures and HP video (resolution can be switched to 720 or 1080p), with a microphone as well. It accommodates a 32 GB SD card (purchase separately), the battery lasts about an hour and half (recharge by plugging in to computer or use a wall adaptor and transferring to my computer was easy. (USB cable included) Set up and learning to use it literally took minutes - instructions were clear and easy. One button on top controls everything - off, on, video and camera.

Being this small, there is no viewfinder - instead you can point and shoot. Polaroid is marketing this as a "lifestyle action video camera". And this is why it caught my can mount and attach the CUBE to just about anything. I also got the strap mount - in one and two meter lengths. What? Yep - there's a rotating mount that fits on the straps. So, think about it - you can strap it on anything and video film. Back of your backpack, dog's leash, on your wrist out walking, and really - anything, anywhere.  It's winter in my part of the world - so it's going outside with me - on the snowmobile. (It's weatherproof and splashproof). I think I might get the bicycle mount for summer. The CUBE's case is sturdy and seems pretty shockproof, with a grip proof finish.

Why would you want to film this you ask? Why not? It's fun and action shots would be a neat perspective - I'm thinking of a friend who is a serious mountain biker. (Helmet mount) The magnet on the camera is incredibly strong, so you could attach it to anything metal. (The outside of the fridge comes to mind, inside on the dash of the vehicle on road trips and maybe even the hood of the car driving slowly)

I also got the tripod mount - it's headed to the staff Christmas party on Saturday. It's unobtrusive and I won't have to hold anything. It will sit nicely in the center of the table and I'll just turn it every so often. Plus, it fits in my purse!

The photo and video quality is of course not going to the same quality as a full size camera. But you know, it's really good for a one inch camera. Keep in mind that it's a wide angle lens, so there is a rounding of the edges of the images. Low lighting inside did result in somewhat grainy photos - to be expected. Outside, both video and images were very, very clear.

Lots of fun in a little package - for all ages. And the price is right. Two thumbs up.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Over the Counter #241

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Getting crafty this week....

First up is Candy Aisle Crafts by Jodi Levine.

From Crown Publishing:

"The ultimate materials for fun, whimsical crafting are right in your grocery store!

 From party decorations to children’s toys, from wearable art to cute gifts, you need look no further than your supermarket shelves for the materials to make these unique (and kid-friendly) food crafts. For special celebrations, rainy-day activities, and much more, treat yourself to the sweetest projects.

 Colorful candy canes are fashioned into heart-shaped necklaces, melted peppermints are molded into a festive bowl, cookies and ice cream cones are transformed into a fanciful castle, marshmallows are snipped into a polar bear, and gumdrops become everything from adorable frogs to bumblebees and ducks. Candy Aisle Crafts is packed with simple ideas for charming crafts that both kids and parents will love."

Next up was Lazing on a Sunday Crafternoon by Eliza Muldoon.

From the publisher, Allen and Unwin:

"Lazing on a Sunday Crafternoon is a collection of 52 blissfully simple craft ideas to make with a child helper. This beautiful book will have you creating delightful things out of everyday household items using nothing more than your own time and ingenuity. You and your child can while away hours of crafting fun with Eliza Muldoon as she helps you make these easy projects - from a child's head band or aprons, to peg dolls, to skirts and shoe adornments, to practical bags and tool belts, felt toys and unique artworks to adorn your home."

(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, December 2, 2014

Little Black Lies - Sandra Block

I love looking at the 'coming soon' lists for fiction. Sandra Block's debut novel, Little Black Lies, releases on February 17/15 and is on my TBR list. BUT you can read the first five chapters today!

What's it about? From Grand Central Publishing:

"She helps people conquer their demons.

 But she has a few of her own... In the halls of the psychiatric ward, Dr. Zoe Goldman is a resident in training, dedicated to helping troubled patients. However, she has plenty of baggage of her own. When her newest patient arrives - a beautiful sociopath who murdered her mother - Zoe becomes obsessed with questions about her own mother's death. But the truth remains tauntingly out of reach, locked away within her nightmares of an uncontrollable fire. And as her adoptive mother loses her memory to dementia, the time to find the answers is running out.

 As Zoe digs deeper, she realizes that the danger is not just in her dreams but is now close at hand. And she has no choice but to face what terrifies her the most. Because what she can't remember just might kill her.

Little Black Lies is about madness and memory - and the dangerous, little lies we tell ourselves just to survive."

Read the first five chapters of Little Black Lies here.  You can find Sandra Block on her website, on Facebook and on Twitter.

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Secret Place - Tana French

Tana French is one of those authors I'm aware of, but haven't managed to read yet. I recently picked up the audio version of her latest - The Secret Place - to keep me company on the drive back and forth to work. This is the fifth book in the Dublin Murder Squad series.

Chris Harper was found murdered a year ago in a secluded grove on the grounds of St. Kilda's boarding school. The case is still open with no new leads.....until a card with a photo of the dead boy is found on the school's 'secrets board'. It's enough to reignite the investigation.

The book takes place over the course of a day as Detectives Stephen Moran and Antoinette Conway re-interview the students.

I quite like the two detectives and would be interested in reading more of this pair. What had me somewhat bored was the repetitiveness of the girls' conversations. You can only listen to so many OMG's, Hellloooo's, Excuse me's and more. Yes I believe it's quite true to teenage conversation, but in audio format it just started to grate. And I found myself tuning out and thinking of throwing in the towel on this one. Then French threw in a bit of a different element - otherworldly if you will. Intrigued again, I kept listening.

French is a good writer and some of her turns of phrase and descriptive phrases are really well done. Nuance and intuition are a large part of Moran's personality and investigative style. These nebulous concepts are given concrete descriptors that really painted vivid images and settings. The exploration of cliques and the world of teenagers is vividly portrayed. French paints a frightening 'mean girl.'

The book is quite long - at 464 pages, I think it could have been pared down a little. Much of the narrative seemed to repeat itself  with the clues as to who the killer is (very) slowly doled out. I kept listening as I really wanted to know which girl was the culprit And the answer is there, but the actual ending was a bit confusing - I had to go back and listen a few times. And at the end, I really wondered why the supernatural element was included. It would have been a good book without it.

There were two readers - Stephen Hogan and Lara Hutchinson. Both are Irish actors, so the accents are real. Hogan embodies the mental image I had created for this character. Hutchinson captures the toughness of Conway. Both narrators read the voices of the teenage girls and caught the sarcasm, the anger and the nastiness of them.

On reading other's reviews, I'm seeing the recommendation to not start with this book if you're new to Tana French, that it is decidedly different  from other books in the series. Fair enough - I'll try the next book French releases. (I'm one of those readers who can't won't go backwards in a series)

Listen to an excerpt of The Secret Place.  Or read an excerpt of The Secret Place.