Saturday, August 30, 2014

Winner - The Fever - Megan Abbott

And the randomly chosen, lucky winner of a copy of The Fever by Megan Abbott, courtesy of Little, Brown and Company 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!

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #19

- You Can't Judge a Book By Its Cover - Which is very true.
But you can like one cover version better than another...
US/Canada cover
UK Cover
  I was hunting down cover art for my review of Tom Rob Smith's latest book, The Farm, and came across the Canadian/US cover on the left and the UK cover on the right. Both are good, but I'm going with the UK cover this week. The starkness just grabbed me a little more and made me wonder about this bleak building. Either way, I thought it was a really good read, although online it has very mixed reviews. Which cover do you prefer? Have you read, or do you plan to read The Farm?
You Can't Judge A Book By Cover is a regular Saturday feature on A Bookworm's World. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Film on Friday #19 - Grigris

This is what I love about Film Movement - the opportunity to watch critically acclaimed films that I would not have discovered on my own. This week's entry is a 2013 Cannes Film Selection - Grisgris, from Chad director Mahamat-Saleh Haroun.

Grigris loves to dance, despite having a disabled leg. He works with his stepfather, but earns extra money dancing at the local club. It is at the club that he meets and falls in love with Mimi, a prostitute. When his stepfather falls ill, Grigris needs to earn extra money to pay the hospital. And so he turns to a local criminal for a job. Despite his good intentions, Grigris runs afoul of this man and he and Mimi are in grave danger....

I was fascinated to read how Souleymane Démé ended up playing the part of Grisgris. Haroun saw Démé dancing in his country of Burkina Faso and hired him for his film. While an accomplished dancer this is Démé's first film role. Mimi is played by Anaïs Monory and this is her film debut as well. I though both actors did a great job. I was absolutely astounded by Démé's dance moves - he is an amazing dancer. But Haroun does not make the film about Grigris's disability, instead it is about controlling your destiny. Our hearts and hopes are with Grigris and Mimi as they struggle to find a life for themselves. And isn't that what any of us wants?

I loved the setting - seeing a country I knew nothing about - from both a city and a rural point of view. The soundtrack was fitting, from both the club music to the background sounds. There are parts of this film that are difficult to watch - there is some violence, but the level of poverty is just as difficult to watch. But there is joy as well - I think my favourite part is the village and the women who live there. There are a few slow scenes where the camera could have moved on fifteen seconds earlier, but I really enjoyed this film.

As always, there is a short included. This time it's a monochromatic animated film called Feral, an Academy Award Nominee. The story is a familiar one - a feral child found in the woods.

Chad/2013/French & Arabic with English subtitles / 101 min

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Over the Counter #227

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner? This week is for the cat lovers in the crowd...

First up is How to Make Your Cat an Internet Celebrity by Patricia Carlin with photography by Dustin Fenstermacher.

From the publisher, Quirk Books:

"The Internet offers an unprecedented opportunity for cats to become superstar “personalities” with revenue-generating multimedia brands—but only if you know how to cash in. With How to Make Your Cat an Internet Celebrity, readers can unlock the secrets of grooming your kitty for success, creating a terrific viral video, managing your cat’s burgeoning stardom, and much more. Packed with practical tips and helpful diagrams, this indispensable resource shows how ordinary housecats can follow in the venerable pawprints of the Internet’s brightest stars."

And when you're done the photo session....Dancing With Cats - 15th Anniversary by Burton Silver and Heather Busch may appeal to your and your feline friend.

From the publisher, Chronicle Books:

"The cult classic is back! This petite 15th anniversary hardcover reissue keeps all the original mystery and magic of cat dancing delightfully intact. Perpetually ahead of its time, Dancing with Cats presents scores of delightful and inspiring photographs of people and cats engaging in their favorite dance routines as well as moving testimonies of the personal transformations brought about through this uniquely joyous form of human-animal connection. Dancing with Cats will have a new generation of cat lovers (and their cats) jumping for joy—and cutting a rug—in no time."

(Over the Counter is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World. I've sadly come the realization that I cannot physically read every book that catches my interest as it crosses over my counter at the library. But... I can mention them and maybe one of them will catch your eye as well. See if your local library has them on their shelves!)

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Making Math Fun With DK Canada!

I can't believe that summer is almost over. When I was young, summer seemed to last a long time. The older I get though, the faster time flies. But the timing of back to school doesn't change - Labour Day heralds the end of summer for kids in Canada.
DK Canada has some great book ideas for your back to school youngster in their
Making Math Fun Boutique! (There's some great titles for the older crowd as well)

I have a very special guest blogger today - Six year old Max, who is headed to Grade One, is the reviewer today! (With a little help from his Mom!) Max is reviewing Math Made Easy Expanded Edition Grade One today. 

"I like math so I wanted this book. When I opened it there was a whole page of real gold stars. Mom would give them to me when I finished a page. There were lots of easy things like connect the dots, or looking at pictures and counting. It got harder as I did more of them. I tried to get three stars everyday."

"(Note from Mom- I thought it was funny when Max picked out this book but it is a great book. Since Max is going into Grade 1 it's helpful for me to know what he'll be working on and the star stickers were a great incentive. The pages/activities were all different but close together. Activities were repeated later in the book at a more challenging level showing progress. I found he often jumped all over the book to things he liked. We limited it to 3 pages a day so he didn't get bored of it - after all it is still summer!)"

From the publisher:

"Refreshed with a new look, this bestselling workbook series is tailored specifically to the needs of Canadian children from ages 5-11. Each workbook forms part of a complete home-study program designed to make math fun and exciting as well as to help children practice essential math skills so that they can reach their full potential in school. Each book includes detailed parents notes and helpful hints to assist parents with the learning process. Each title now includes an extra 44-page practice section! Features gold reward stars."

Thank you so much Max (and Mom) for your review! Have a great time in Grade One - and I have a feeling math isn't going to be too hard for you at all!

And check out Max's review of a leveled reader from the DK Reader's Boutique.

DK Readers Boutique

"DK’s bestselling DK Readers are a multi-level reading program that allows beginning readers to progress from easy to follow stories with simple sentences to more sophisticated storylines and vocabulary. From science and nature to history and great Canadian subject matter like the polar bear crisis in Churchill, Manitoba and the dinosaur discoveries of Red Deer River Valley to adventures with Pokémon, Star Wars and the Marvel superheroes, there is something for readers of all levels here." And for a limited time, you can buy two and get one free from the DK Readers Boutique
My young friend, six year old Max, is the blogger today (with a little help from Mom). Max really likes Lego and Star Wars and has chosen to review Return of the Jedi Level 3 today.

"I love everything Lego.  I liked this book because all the people in it look like the Star Wars people but were Lego.  There was even a gross picture of Senator Palpatine.  It is a story about the Han Solo and the Rebels trying to fight Darth Vader and not let him stop the Rebellion.  I like the picture of the Death Star that looked really cool." 

"(Note from Mom- although often Max can do many of the level 3 reading alone books he found this one to be more challenging with the larger words. It was one we decided to read together.  Interestingly he helped me with pronouncing the character names which I struggled with)"

Max (and Mom) -  thank you so much for your review - it sounds like a great book!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Giveaway - The Ultra Thin Man - Patrick Swenson

I've got a copy of the newly released book The UltraThin Man by Patrick Swenson to giveaway today, thanks to the generosity of Tor Books.

From the publisher:

"In the twenty-second century, a future in which mortaline wire controls the weather on the settled planets and entire refugee camps drowse in drug-induced slumber, no one—alive or dead, human or alien—is quite what they seem. When terrorists manage to crash Coral, the moon, into its home planet of Ribon, forcing evacuation, it’s up to Dave Crowell and Alan Brindos, contract detectives for the Network Intelligence Organization, to solve a case of interplanetary consequences. Crowell’ and Brindos’s investigation plunges them neck-deep into a conspiracy much more dangerous than anything they could have imagined.

The two detectives soon find themselves separated, chasing opposite leads: Brindos has to hunt down the massive Helkunn alien Terl Plenko, shadow leader of the terrorist Movement of Worlds. Crowell, meanwhile, runs into something far more sinister—an elaborate frame job that puts our heroes on the hook for treason.

In this novel from Patrick Swenson, Crowell and Brindos are forced to fight through the intrigue to discover the depths of an interstellar conspiracy. And to answer the all-important question: Who, and what, is the Ultra Thin Man?"

"Patrick is a writer, publisher, editor, and teacher. His first novel is entitled The Ultra Thin Man, forthcoming from Tor in 2014. He has sold stories to the anthology Like Water for Quarks, and magazines such as Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Fantasy Magazine, Figment, and others."

If you'd like to win a copy of this debut novel, simply leave a comment to be entered into a random draw. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends Sept. 13/14

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Farm - Tom Rob Smith

Tom Rob Smith is the award winning author of the Child 44 trilogy, but an author I hadn't read until now. His newest release is The Farm.

Daniel's parents,Tilde and Chris, for personal and financial reasons, have decided to move from England to Sweden - Tilde's birth country. They buy a small farm in an isolated community and look forward to a bucolic retirement.Daniel keeps meaning to visit, but for his own reasons, keeps putting it off, believing his parents are happily pursuing their dream.

But when his father calls saying his Mum isn't well and has in fact has been hospitalized, he is shaken. Then his Mum calls, saying she has fled Sweden - and Chris - and is on her way to see him in England. She is cryptic, saying she will only reveal what has been going on in when she gets there. But, he must believe her.....his father is dangerous and her life is in danger....If he doesn't believe her, he is no longer her son.

What a great premise! Smith slowly lets Tilde tell her carefully documented story, complete with her proof. The reader is inexorably caught up in Tilde's slowly built case. But Daniel is torn - this is not the father he knows. Could his mother be mistaken? The reader is never sure of what is the truth - Tilde's 'evidence' seems quite plausible, but her manic paranoia makes her an unreliable narrator.

I really enjoy this style of book - not knowing who is telling the truth, trying to find the thread of what has truly happened in the narrative. I thought Smith did a fabulous job with this.

It was only after I finished the book and was reading more about Tom Rob Smith, that I discovered that the inspiration for The Farm was his from his own life. (Spoiler if you click through). In fact, this book is a mirror of that situation - underlining why I thought the writing was so compelling. While Smith's personal situation was resolved much quicker, the fictional tale had me wondering until the final pages what was real and what would happen.

I really enjoyed The Farm - read an excerpt. I thought the book trailer was excellent as well.... You can keep up with Tom Rob Smith on Facebook and on Twitter.


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Giveaway Winners!

And the randomly chosen lucky winner of a copy of Someone Else's Skin by Sarah Hilary, courtesy of Penguin Books is: Sue F.

And the winner of a copy of... The Pearl That Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi, courtesy of Harper Collins is: KAS

Congratulations! I've contacted you by email for your mailing address. Please respond within 48 hours. . Keep your eye on the sidebar for other great giveaways!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #18

- 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
I was hunting down cover art for my review of Linwood Barclay's latest book, No Safe House and came across the Canadian/US cover on the left and the UK cover on the right. Both are good, but I'm going with the North American cover this week - The colour just grabbed me a little more and I think the red is quite effective at saying 'danger'! Either way it's a really good read! Which cover do you prefer? Have you read or do you plan to read No Safe House?

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular Saturday feature on A Bookworm's World.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Tea Beyond

Now, it's very rare that I post anything but book related posts. But honestly, I don't think I ever sit down to read without a cup of tea! So when Tea Beyond offered me the opportunity to try a couple of their products, in exchange for an honest review, I agreed.

The package arrived safely, well packed (with recyclable materials) I was excited to see what the Clear Glass Butterfly Teapot with Tea Cosy  would look like! It's a delicate glass teapot, with a beautiful pink glass butterfly on the lid, said to represent 'change to a better life.' The handle has a non slip grip with raised glass knobbies. There's a design around the bottom that designer Jane London has added to represent tea drops. The spout is non drip and the entire thing is top rack dishwasher safe. Myself, I would prefer to hand wash it. Glass just seems that much more delicate than clay or porcelain.

Now, what you see on the inside is really clever glass infuser - no mesh at all, just barely there slits in the glass. It's a really pretty teapot, nice to look and it would feel 'special' to make yourself a 'cuppa' in this pot. It holds about 24oz. For this tea granny, just enough for me alone!

It wasn't until I went to fold up the box to recycle it, that I noticed the sticker on the bottom with some information and pictures. I think it would have been much wiser to include this information on a paper insert inside the teapot itself or at least in the box.  The bottom of the box isn't where I would look for info.

So you've made your tea - how to keep it warm? This particular unit comes with a glass bottomed warmer with a metal plate on top to set the pot on. There are holes to allow ventilation. The candle was included. This is a very pretty way to keep the tea warm and adds to the overall 'ceremonial' feel. However the instructions for this were also slapped on a sticker on the bottom.

What you see in the pot is one of  the 12-Pack Fab Flowering Blooms Tea that was also offered for review. Okay, these blew me away! Flowering tea was new to me. They are absolutely amazing. And it's so much fun to sit and watch them unfurl! More tea was consumed simply to watch them bloom! (Advertising says 10 brews can be made from one bulb - I think that would be a bit of stretch - the last pot would be very weak) 'Silver needle green tea' surrounds a flower (carnation, lily etc. - chosen for their Chinese medicinal properties), they're sewn together, dried and vacuum sealed. Now, I like tea a lot, but am by no means an aficionado, so I asked a friend what they thought. "It's a delicate flavour, light tasting and lightly flavoured." However, the labelling on some of the packets was so tiny, it was only possible to identify it by the picture. But this time, there is a lovely instruction book included IN the box - much better.  Now, being an inveterate reader, I read everything included in the shipment. These products are made in China and unfortunately the translation/syntax/spelling is very clumsy in spots.... "helps relief depression"..."helps eliminate bad odors in your month" (I have to believe they were going for mouth) This detracts from the professionalism of the product.

These products are stamped with AKA - Ashley Koff Approved. Having no idea who this was I searched and found she is a 'celebrity' registered dietitian who has appeared on Dr. Oz  amongst other things. "The Ashley Koff Approved (AKA) Personal Shopper is a tool you can easily create a shopping list of better quality products with because - as every qualitarian knows - better quality means better health."

For me, the teapot was lovely and will make having a cup of tea feel 'special' and is just nice to look at. The infuser is great - I will be using it for loose leaf tea. The blooming teas are amazing, but not something I would regularly consume. Thank you to Tea Beyond for the review products.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Over the Counter #226

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner? It was the covers that caught my eye this week and had me taking a second look.

First up was I See You Made An Effort: Compliments, Indignities, and Survival Stories from the Edge of 50 by Annabelle Gurwitch.

From the publisher, Blue Rider Press:

"Actress and humorist Annabelle Gurwitch returns with I See You Made an Effort, a book of essays so wickedly funny it may make you forget your last birthday. Not one to shy away from the grisly realities of middle age, the “slyly subversive” (O, The Oprah Magazine) Gurwitch confronts the various indignities faced by femmes d’un certain age with candor, wit, and a healthy dose of hilarious self-deprecation.

Whether falling in lust at the Genius bar, navigating the extensive—and treacherously expensive—anti aging offerings at a department-store beauty counter, coping with the assisted suicide of her best friend, negotiating the ins and outs of acceptable behavior with her teenage kid, or the thudding financial reality of the “never-tirement” generation that leads her to petty theft, Gurwitch’s essays prove her a remarkably astute writer in her prime (in so many ways). Is this the beginning of the Eileen Fisher years? Where does one conduct an affair with a younger man? Is 50 the new 40? Or is 50 still just…50?

Scorchingly honest, surreally and riotously funny, I See You Made an Effort is the ultimate coming-of-middle-age story and a must-read for women of all ages. Reading glasses not included."

Next up was Of Dice and Men: The Story of Dungeons and Dragons and the People Who Play It by David M. Ewalt.

From the publisher, Scribner:

"A fascinating and personal look at Dungeons & Dragons that “tracks D&D’s turbulent rice, fall, and survival, from its heyday in the 1980s…to the twenty-first century” (The Wall Street Journal).

Even if you’ve never played Dungeons & Dragons, you probably know someone who has: the game has had a profound influence on our culture, and 2014 marks the intriguing role-playing phenomenon’s 40th anniversary. Released decades before the Internet and social media, Dungeons & Dragons inspired one of the original nerd subcultures and is still revered by more than 30 million fans. Now, the authoritative history and magic of the game are revealed by an award-winning journalist and lifelong D&D player.

In Of Dice and Men, David Ewalt describes the development of Dungeons & Dragons from the game’s origins on the battlefields of ancient Europe through the hysteria that linked it to satanic rituals and teen suicides to its apotheosis as father of the modern video-game industry. As he chronicles the surprising history of the game’s origins (a history largely unknown even to hardcore players) and examines D&D’s lasting impact, Ewalt weaves laser-sharp subculture analysis with his own present-day gaming experiences, “writing about the world of fantasy role-playing junkies with intelligence, dexterity, and even wisdom” (Ken Jennings). An enticing blend of history, journalism, narrative, and memoir, Of Dice and Men sheds light on America’s most popular (and widely misunderstood) form of collaborative entertainment.

(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, August 20, 2014

Giveaway - The Mathematician's Shiva - Stuart Rojstaczer

I've got a copy of Stuart Rojstaczer's debut novel, The Mathematican's Shiva to giveaway today, courtesy of the generosity of Penguin Books.

From the publisher:

"A comic, bittersweet tale of family evocative of The Yiddish Policemen's Union and Everything Is Illuminated.

Alexander "Sasha" Karnokovitch and his family would like to mourn the passing of his mother, Rachela, with modesty and dignity. But Rachela, a famous Polish émigré mathematician and professor at the University of Wisconsin, is rumored to have solved the million-dollar, Navier-Stokes Millennium Prize problem. Rumor also has it that she spitefully took the solution to her grave. To Sasha's chagrin, a ragtag group of socially challenged mathematicians arrives in Madison and crashes the shiva, vowing to do whatever it takes to find the solution--even if it means prying up the floorboards for Rachela's notes.

Written by a Ph.D. geophysicist, this hilarious and multi-layered debut novel brims with colorful characters and brilliantly captures humanity's drive not just to survive, but to solve the impossible.When the greatest female mathematician in history passes away, her son, Alexander “Sasha” Karnokovitch, just wants to mourn his mother in peace. But rumor has it the notoriously eccentric Polish émigré has solved one of the most difficult problems in all of mathematics, and has spitefully taken the solution to her grave. As a ragtag group of mathematicians from around the world descends upon Rachela’s shiva, determined to find the proof or solve it for themselves—even if it means prying up the floorboards for notes or desperately scrutinizing the mutterings of her African Grey parrot—Sasha must come to terms with his mother’s outsized influence on his life.

Spanning decades and continents, from a crowded living room in Madison, Wisconsin, to the windswept beach on the Barents Sea where a young Rachela had her first mathematical breakthrough, The Mathematician’s Shiva is an unexpectedly moving and uproariously funny novel that captures humanity’s drive not just to survive, but to achieve the impossible." A hugely entertaining debut - Publishers Weekly" Read an excerpt of The Mathematician's Shiva.

The Mathematician's Shiva releases on Sept 2/14. If this sounds like a book you'd like to read, simply leave a comment to be entered. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends Sept 6/14

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

After I'm Gone - Laura Lippman

I'm a long time Laura Lippman fan. My favourites are the Tess Monaghan novels, but Lippman's last few books have been stand alones. The latest is After I'm Gone.

Sandy is a retired Baltimore cop, currently on contract with the BPD as a consultant, handling cold cases. When searching his files for the next case to handle, a picture of dancer Juliet Romeo falls out. and the next case is chosen.

Juliet was the girlfriend of Felix Brewer in 1976. She was found dead ten years later and her murder was never solved. Felix also had a wife named Bambi and three daughters. When the feds decided Felix was going to prison for fraud, he decided he couldn't do the time - and disappeared. He left behind the two women and three girls, all who never knew where he went or what happened to him. Twenty six years later Sandy re-opens the case.

Lippman's story flips from past to present and from the viewpoint of each of the women throughout the years. We're there at the beginning, meet the girls as they have grown, the women as they have aged and are with Sandy every step of the way as he explores the present, trying to find answers in the past. Although no one is very forthcoming.

Lippman has created a rich story. The characters are very real, their emotions and actions tangible. Although I wondered 'whodunit', I was just as intrigued by the lives of these women and how Felix, even when absent, affected each of their paths. The secrets, lies, loves and hopes of each character was very well portrayed and explored. But the character I enjoyed the most by far was Sandy. He too has a rich back story that fleshed out his character. He's not a super sleuth solving everything with clever (and impossible) deductions, but is instead a very human, fallible man determined to find answers. I liked his voice and his way of thinking.

I was pretty sure where the story was headed (and was quite happy about the journey there) when Lippman threw in one last twist, just to keep readers on their toes. Lippman herself lives in the Baltimore area which adds greatly to her settings and descriptions.

When I finished the last pages of the book, I stopped and wondered about someone 'disappearing'. Is it possible? Are they ever successful at staying gone? And then I read the author's notes and discovered that the novel uses the true case of Julius Salsbury as inspiration. Read an excerpt of After I'm Gone.

Devoted Laura Lippman fans will enjoy Crow's cameo (and Tess's too). By the final pages, I was thinking to myself that Sandy is a character I'd like to see more of.  I may just get my wish - Lippman's next book, Hush, is due out in February 2015.

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

"Since her debut in 1997, Laura Lippman has been heralded for her thoughtful, timely crime novels set in her beloved hometown of Baltimore. She is the author of twenty works of fiction, including eleven Tess Monaghan mysteries. She lives in Baltimore, New Orleans, and New York City with her family." You can keep up with Laura Lippman on Facebook and on Twitter.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Linwood Barclay - No Safe House

Linwood Barclay's latest novel, No Safe House, has been sitting on my kitchen table looking at me for over a week now. I resisted - knowing that I had some vacation time coming and I would binge read it until I literally couldn't keep my eyes open. I did - and it was worth it!

Barclay usually writes one off suspense novels, but this latest is a follow up to 2008's No Time For Goodbye.

Barclay grabs the reader from the get go with a prologue that just sets the breakneck pace for the rest of the book. You'd think that after what Terry, Cynthia and their daughter Grace went through seven years ago, life would leave them in peace.

"I don't know where I got the idea that once you've come through a very dark time, after you've confronted the worst possible demons and defeated, them, that everything's going to be just fine."

Uh-uh, it's not... When Grace goes along with a bad idea her sketchy date has to take a Porsche out for a joyride, it starts a domino effect that plunges the family into yet another nightmare.

Barclay cuts the narrative between Terry and others with their own agenda. It did take me bit to figure out that there was more than one group - these chapters are initially quite cryptic. I do enjoy this style of storytelling, but have to hold myself back from flipping ahead 'just to see'.

Barclay's plot is quite inventive - I had no idea where things were going to. The little click when things start to fit together is quite satisfying, but there are many, many pieces to Barclay's puzzle and just as many twists and turns. I did think that the one of the plot devices was a bit far fetched, but it didn't detract from my enjoyment of the book at all.

The writing shoots straight from the hip -  there no unnecessary descriptions or involved self explorations, just fast paced dialogue and action. Barclay does the 'regular guy thrown into a crazy situation' story extremely well.

No Safe House was excellent escapist reading. See for yourself - read an excerpt or see the book trailer below.

...And one last thing - you might want to think twice about who has a key and the alarm code to your house - the neighbour, the dog walker, the babysitter, the cleaning lady....

You can keep up with Linwood Barclay on Facebook and on Twitter. Canadian peeps - this just hit number one on the Globe and Mail's bestseller list this week.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Winner - Sisters of Treason - Elizabeth Fremantle

And the randomly chosen winner of a copy of Sisters of Treason by Elizabeth Fremantle, courtsy of Simon and Schuster 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!

A Killer Conversation....

Sarah Hilary

Alex Marwood

Penguin Books (@PenguinPbk) will be hosting a killer Twitter chat between two wonderfully talented British suspense/mystery authors—

Sarah Hilary (@sarah_hilary),
author of Someone Else's Skin
(I've read it and loved it)


Alex Marwood @AlexMarwood1),
author of The Wicked Girls (also loved it) and her forthcoming book The Killer Next Door (can't wait to read it!)
 This killer conversation will take place on
Wednesday, August 20
from 12-1 pm EST under the
hashtag #killerfiction.

Don’t miss your chance to ask questions to these up-and-coming authors in the genre!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #17

- 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 review of Sarah Hilary's debut novel, Someone Else's Skin and came across the US/Canadian cover on the left and the UK cover on the right. Both are good, but I'm going with the UK cover this week - a little more lurid, but I appreciated the cover blurb from Mark Billingham as well - it would encourage me to pick the book up. At first glance I didn't realize it was roses on the US cover, although they are part of the book. Either way it's a really good read! Which cover do you prefer? Have you read or do you plan to read Someone Else's Skin?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular Saturday feature on A Bookworm's World.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Film on Friday #18 - Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?

As with all of Film Movement's releases, Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow by Arvin Chen is an official selection of numerous film festivals. (Chen both wrote and directed the film.)

Weichung works as an optometrist and lives a quiet life with his wife and six year old son. His wife is pressing to have another child and his sister is getting married - well, maybe - she's still unsure about committing. And then a handsome young male flight attendant walks in the shop - and all that Weichung has suppressed for many years is awakened. You see, Weichung is gay, but has resisted since marrying his wife Feng.

Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow is billed as a "madcap and lighthearted comedic romp", but I think that's a bit of a misnomer. I thought the film was more poignant than comedic. Mind you, there are some comedic bits, much of it provided by the gay wedding photographer and his friends. But the exploration of love, where we find it, what happens when doing the wrong thing feels right and when doing the right thing is no better is more of the focus. I thought Chen handled this theme very well. There are no judgement calls or morality lessons in the film - rather just a thoughtful look at modern life and love.

I found the mix of Taiwanese and Western culture fascinating. The string musical soundtrack seemed very appropriate and mirrored what was happening on screen. The Shirrell's musical fantasy scene went on a little too long for me. (Although that is of course where the title is derived from.) I thought the acting was good all round, with the sister and photographer standing out for me.

The short film (always included in Film Movement releases) was also from Arvin Chen. Mei is a short also set in Taiwan,about a restaurant helper who can't tell the owner's daughter he loves her. It won awards for Chen and seems to have been the testing ground for this full length feature.

2013 /Mandarin with English subtitles / 106 min

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Over the Counter #225

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

First up is The Art of Tinkering: Meet 150+ Makers Working At The Intersection of Art, Science And Technology by Karen Wilkinson and Mike Petrich.

From the publisher, Weldon Owen:

"This is not your average art book. Brought to you by the Exploratorium's Tinkering Studio, The Art of Tinkering is an unprecedented celebration of what it means to tinker: to take things apart, explore tools and materials, and build wondrous, wild art that's part science and part technology. Join 150+ makers as they share the stories behind their beautiful and bold work–and learn a few lessons in tinkering yourself.

The Art of Tinkering is a collection of exhibits, artwork, and projects that celebrate a whole new way to learn, in which people create their own knowledge through making and doing, working with readily available materials, getting their hands dirty, collaborating with others, problem-solving in the most fun sense of the word, and, yes, oftentimes failing and bouncing back from getting stuck.

Each artist featured in The Art of Tinkering goes through this process, and lovingly shares the backstory behind their own work so that readers can feel invited to join in on the whimsy. Whether it’s sharing their favorite tools (who knew toenail clippers could be so handy?) or offering a glimpse of their workspaces (you’d be amazed how many electronics tools you can pack into one pantry!), the stories, lessons, and tips in The Art of Tinkering offer a fascinating portrait of today’s maker scene."

Next up was Tinkerlab: A Hands-On Guide for Little Inventors by Rachelle Doorley.

From the publisher, Roost Books:

Design, Build, Concoct, and Discover—55 creative experiments for curious kids! Kids are natural tinkerers. They experiment, explore, test, and play—and learn a great deal in the process through problem-solving and hands-on experiments. From art making to simple robot building, magic potion testing, and nature exploration, this book is about creative experiments, in all fields, that help kids explore the world. Perfect for young children up to age six."

 (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, August 13, 2014

The Fever - Megan Abbott - Review AND Giveaway

Megan Abbott's latest book, The Fever, is the first title I've read from this author.

Abbott starts off her book with a group of girls discussing "The first time, you can't believe how much it hurts." My initial thoughts were okay, teenage girls and sex - this isn't going to hold my attention. But the next chapter changed the way I though the story was going to go - and my interest was piqued.

Deenie's friend Lise has what seems to be some sort of seizure at school. And then so does another girl - and another. The cause isn't clear - is the polluted lake the teens were swimming in? Is it the vaccination the girls have all had? Is it an STD? Is it...?

The cause remains a mystery as the the town struggles to deal with more and more girls getting sick. Except Deenie. Beneath that layer, the teens have their own ideas, struggles and sly machinations going on. Secrets are everywhere.

Abbott tells her tale from multiple viewpoints - that of Deenie, her father Tom (a teacher at the high school) and heartthrob brother Tom. Abbott draws her characters well - these are a pack of teens, not a group of girls. They are backbiting, manipulative and self absorbed, but could they be dangerous as well? Abbot's portrayal of teenagers is by turns frightening and troubling, yet probably very accurate. The addition of an adult perspective from Tom gave the book balance.

Abbott manipulates the reader as well - snippets of information, connections and background are slowly revealed as every character reveals a little more every time its their chapter.

Abbott's writing style is excellent and the premise had me eager to get the to end. I was so very curious - what could the cause be? I admit to being slightly deflated by the end result, but had enough warning in the final chapters as what the endgame would be. And I can see why all my young adult pages at the library love her books! Read an excerpt of The Fever.

Abbott has said that this story was a loose inspiration for The Fever. You can keep up with Megan Abbott on Facebook and on Twitter.

If you think The Fever is a book you'd love to own, I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader, courtesy of Little, Brown and Company. Open to continental US only, no PO Boxes please. Simply leave a comment to be entered. Ends August 30/14.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Table of Less Valued Knights - Marie Phillips

Oh my goodness - Marie Phillips's new book - The Table of Less Valued Knights - was soooo much fun to read!

You know the story of King Arthur and his brave, valiant Knights of the Roundtable right? But have you heard the tales of those demoted to the (rectangular) table of less valued knights - the elderly, the infirm, the cowardly, the incompetent and the disgraced.

One member of that lesser table is Sir Humphrey. Lagging behind to leave after one gathering, he is the only witness to a young woman looking for a Knight to accept her quest. And against all the rules - he accepts the maiden's mission to find her kidnapped fiance.

And that's the beginning of a rollicking romp of a tale featuring a small giant, a magical sword, an elephant, dwarfs, an evil King and his oafish brother, a crone's apprentice, a lady of the lake, a beautiful maiden, a runaway Queen, a castle or two, more than a few duels and.....

What sets this book apart is Phillip's clever, clever writing. The dialogue had me in stitches the entire time. Phillips weaves modern day situations such as customs forbidding transport of food products across borders into her tale to great effect. The absurdity of some of it reminded me of Monty Python skits. And I have to say The Princess Bride as well. (Quite frankly, I think The Table of Less Valued Knights would make a great film as well!) Of course being a fairy tale type of story, there is a happy ending, but I'm wondering Marie, if perhaps there are further adventures in store?

This was such a delightfully fun read, absolutely guaranteed to put a smile on your face. It's one of my fave summer 2014 reads. Read an excerpt of The Table of Less Valued Knights.

You can keep up with Marie Phillips on Twitter. #LessValuedKnights

What would your knight name be? Try this Knight Name Generator! Mine is: Sir Cumnavigate Fallenhoof, Runner of Errands.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Someone Else's Skin - Sarah Hilary - Review AND Giveaway

Someone Else's Skin is Sarah Hilary's debut crime novel featuring Detective Inspector Marnie Rome.

Hilary introduces us to Rome in a crime scene involving a stabbing from five years ago - one that was personal. Fast forward to present day. Rome and her partner are heading to a women's shelter to interview a witness. But when they arrive, they walk in on a murder - a stabbing. The eight women in the shelter all saw something, but none of their stories match. Who is telling the truth? Why would anyone lie? What secrets do these women have?

Great premise, great characters. Rome is a strong female lead - smart and preferring to operate on her own terms - sometimes to her detriment. The past effects her view of the present and she often makes judgement calls with those memories colouring her decisions - not always the wisest move. Rome's partner, DS Jake is a great character as well - not a cookie cutter supporting character. He has his own back story and plays a major role in this first book

I thought I had a good inkling of where Hilary was taking her story, but she offered up more than one twist that changed the direction of the story. Her exploration of domestic abuse and our perceptions and misconceptions of this crime are thought provoking. Racism and homophobia are also up for discussion.

Hilary's writing is sharp, the dialogue believable, the investigation flawed enough to keep things moving forward and the reader interested and the final chapters are an action filled finale - all adding up to a cracking good read. See for yourself - read an excerpt of Someone Else's Skin.

In the author's notes at the end of the book, Hilary thanks her agent 'who refused to let the slush pile have me." My thanks to her agent as well - I really enjoyed this character and Hilary's writing. I'll be watching for the second in the series - No Other Darkness - due out in the UK in Spring of 2015.

You can keep up with Sarah Hilary on Facebook and on Twitter.

And thanks to the generosity of Penguin, I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader. Simply leave a comment (and a contact method) to be entered. Open to continental US only, no PO boxes please. Ends August 24/14.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Winner - Awesome Giveaway! Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella Prize Pack!

And the very lucky randomly chosen winner of a Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella Prize Pack, including their newest book - Have a Nice Guilt Trip, courtesy of St. Martin's Press is:

Virginia P! Tara!

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, August 9, 2014

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #16

- 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
U.S. cover
I was hunting down cover art for my review of Sandra Newman's latest book - The Country of Ice Cream Star and came accross the Canadian cover on the left and the U.S. cover on the right (not releasing until Feb. 2015). The Canadian cover focuses on the lead character while the US version depicts the landscape and desolation. Both are good, but I'm going with the Canadian cover this week - the colours are stark and definitely eye catching. Either way it's a really good read! Which cover do you prefer? Have you read The Country of Ice Cream Star?

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular Saturday feature on A Bookworm's World.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Giveaway - The Pearl That Broke Its Shell - Nadia Hashimi

I have an absolutely wonderful giveaway for you today.... The Pearl That Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi.

From the publisher, Harper Collins:

"Afghan-American Nadia Hashimi's literary debut novel is a searing tale of powerlessness, fate, and the freedom to control one's own fate that combines the cultural flavor and emotional resonance of the works of Khaled Hosseini, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Lisa See.

In Kabul, 2007, with a drug-addicted father and no brothers, Rahima and her sisters can only sporadically attend school, and can rarely leave the house. Their only hope lies in the ancient custom of bacha posh, which allows young Rahima to dress and be treated as a boy until she is of marriageable age. As a son, she can attend school, go to the market, and chaperone her older sisters.

But Rahima is not the first in her family to adopt this unusual custom. A century earlier, her great-great grandmother, Shekiba, left orphaned by an epidemic, saved herself and built a new life the same way.

Crisscrossing in time, The Pearl the Broke Its Shell interweaves the tales of these two women separated by a century who share similar destinies. But what will happen once Rahima is of marriageable age? Will Shekiba always live as a man? And if Rahima cannot adapt to life as a bride, how will she survive?"

"Nadia Hashimi's parents left Afghanistan in the 1970s, before the Soviet invasion. In 2002, she made her first trip to Afghanistan with her parents who had not returned to their homeland since leaving in the 1970s. It was a bittersweet experience for everyone, finding relics of childhood homes and reuniting with loved ones. She lives with her family in suburban Washington, D.C., where she works as a pediatrician." You can find Nadia Hashimi on Facebook as well as on Twitter.

I have one copy to giveaway to a randomly chosen reader. Simply leave a comment (and a way to contact you) to be entered. And this one's international! Ends August 23/14.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Over the Counter #224

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner? This weeks it's obvious I was hungry....all about food I'd happily have for lunch! Dessert first of course...

First up is Pies and Tarts: The Definitive Guide to Classic and Contemporary Favorites from the World's Premier Culinary College by The Culinary Institute of America and Kristina Petersen Migoya.

From the publisher, Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt:

"With easy-to-follow instructions, stunning photography, and more than 150 can’t-fail recipes, Pies and Tarts packs the expertise of America’s top cooking school into one comprehensive, must-have collection. Pies and Tarts features all the beloved classics you’ll want to make again and again—apple pie, lemon meringue pie, French-style fruit tarts, pumpkin pie, and pecan pie. But don’t stop there—you’ll want to try every outstanding recipe, including crowd-pleasers like Fudgy Walnut Brownie Pie and sophisticated new twists like Roasted Ginger Plum Tart. Mix and match the versatile crust recipes, and follow the suggested variations to play around with favorite ingredients or seasonal flavors. A chapter on savory dishes such as pot pies, empanadas, and quiches offers brilliant new options for entertaining or family dinners. Whether you’re an expert baker looking to perfect your craft or a novice seeking to master the basics, Pies and Tarts is sure to become one of your most treasured volumes."

Next up was Comfort Food Made Easy by Southern Living.

From the publisher, Oxmoor House:

"Family-favorite recipes with quick-and-easy shortcuts are the perfect way to put hearty, homestyle meals on the table-even when time is at a premium. This book offers busy home cooks comfort food dishes that are delicious, fast, and easy to prepare in 30 minutes or less. The chapters are organized by cooking methods-such as slow cooker, no-cook, pressure cooker, one-dish--and are rounded out with simple sides and desserts. Smart Shortcut tips from the Southern Living test kitchens help get meals on the table with ease, while With a Twist sidebars offer fresh and flavorful variations on traditional recipes."

Whether it's a slow-cooker favorite, a one-skillet meal, or a no-cook dinner-on-the-go--busy cooks can serve up down-home meals complete with all the cozy feelings that go with them-any day of the week."

(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, August 6, 2014

We Were Liars - E. Lockhart E. Lockhart's latest book We Were Liars is one of this summer's hottest YA titles - although it will appeal to adults as well.

My adult daughter brought it to the cottage to read this summer on the recommendation of a friend and she really enjoyed it. So, I picked up the audio version for the commute back and forth to work.

The publisher's synopsis says it all:

"A beautiful and distinguished family. A private island. A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy. A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive. A revolution. An accident. A secret. Lies upon lies. True love. The truth."

Our narrator is Cadence, one of the Liars. She is struggling to remember what happened that summer, but can't quite put the pieces together.....

Lockhart is very clever. After the final chapter,  I realized that much is revealed along the way if you pay close attention. There are fairy tales interspersed that also mirror real life. Pay attention to these as well. I must admit to figuring out the twist before the final pages, but still really enjoyed the story. But, to say anymore would be to spoil the book.

I chose to listen to We Were Liars. The reader was Ariadne Meyers. Her voice was totally believable as a teenager. She captured the confusion of Cady well. She provided different voices for numerous characters that suited and were easy to differentiate. Her voice was clear and easy to understand. You can listen to an excerpt here. Or if you prefer, you can read an excerpt of We Were Liars.

This was a good read, with a nice twist, but I'm in the minority I think - I wasn't completely blown away.

You can follow E. Lockhart on Twitter.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Catch - Taylor Stevens

The Catch is Taylor Stevens' fourth entry in her Vanessa Michael Munroe series.

Vanessa Michael Munroe is....well, she's deadly, with incredible physical skills and she's brilliant - she speaks many languages and easily assimilates into the situation or culture she finds herself in. She can read people and situations and think three moves ahead. For a living, she hunts people, finds information and fixes things. After her last case resulted in a horrific personal loss, Michael has retreated to the continent that seems to draw her back time and time again - Africa.

She's laying low, having taken a job with a small company that provides security for ships travelling the waters that Somalian pirates troll, providing information and greasing palms. When the owner pressures her to join the latest security job as a guard, she finds herself in the middle of a mess. The owner is lying, the hold is full of Russian guns, but it seems to be the captain that the pirates are after. And Michael's quiet retreat is no more.

Stevens has again crafted another intricately plotted thriller. Munroe is on her own this time, with no back-up. The action slowly builds through the first few chapters and then hits high gear for the rest of the book. The details of the settings and culture are vivid and detailed.

But, it is the character of Michael that is the real draw of this series. It's so much fun to have such a kick*** female character. The action scenes are great, but there's a deeper level to this character as well. She is the walking wounded and Stevens does a fantastic job depicting Munroe's inner emotional turmoil and her physical struggle to control herself. Each book out, we learn a little bit more about Munroe and her background. Having read of Stevens' background, I wonder how much of her own life has been woven into her books.

The Catch has a satisfying ending, but the door is open for the next entry is this I'll pick up for sure. Read an excerpt of The Catch. You can keep up with Taylor Stevens on Facebook and on Twitter.

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Country of Ice Cream Star- Sandra Newman

I am invariably drawn to post-apocalyptic fiction, fascinated with an author's imagining of what life may be if the world as we know it ends. Sandra Newman's depiction of a ruined world is brilliant in her novel, The Country of Ice Cream Star.

Ice Cream Star lives with the rest of the Sengles in the woods, scratching out a living by hunting or scavenging in 'evac' houses. Life is hard - and short. By the time a person reaches eighteen, the 'posies' set in - and death is inevitable. When a white man is flushed from an evac house, he brings the possibility of a cure, for he is old - at least thirty years. Ice is determined to find the cure to save her brother Driver, who has just turned eighteen, as well as the rest of her people.

This was such an amazing book on so many levels. Newman's plotting is rich and wide and so very, very inventive. The story is told in first person narrative from Ice Cream Star's viewpoint. I was completely captured by her voice, her attitude, her fears, her strengths and so much more.

I think readers will either choose to stay up late or put the book down after the first few chapters of The Country of Ice Cream Star. Newman's prose are amazingly original - it's language you will recognize, but words have changed and evolved over the course of the intervening years since the collapse of our time. From the back cover blurb:

"My name be Ice Cream Fifteen Star. This be the tale of how I bring the cures to all the Nighted States, save every poory children, short for life. Is how a city die for selfish love, and rise from this same smallness. Be how the new America being, in wars against all hope - a county with no power in a world that hate its life. So been the faith I sworn, and it ain't evils in no world nor cruelties in no read hell can change the vally heart of Ice Cream Star."

I enjoyed discovering the meanings of  'new' words and finding the remnants of the old tucked among them. I was able to imagine the words spoken aloud, the cadence and the rhythm and patterns of the Sengle patois. The Country of Ice Cream Star would not be the same book told in everyday English. That being said, I can see it frustrating some readers - mores the pity.

Factions of all sorts have sprung up in this new world and remembered faiths, traditions, societies and their mores have been bastardized. Newman's descriptions, dialogues and settings were so very vivid. And again, I loved finding the remnants of the past hidden in the rubble of this world. The action and tension is palpable as Ice races to find a cure before her brother succumbs. Newman also deftly explores Ice Cream Star's sexuality.  I found myself drawn into the hunt for the cure, only climbing out when forced to. (Darn job gets in the way of serious reading time!)

The Country of Ice Cream Star is an epic read with a unique hero, a brilliant plot, oodles of adventure and ingenious world building. I loved it. Who else did? Another of my favourite authors, Kate Atkinson, has a one word blurb on the front cover..."Astonishing.." Yep, that sums it up in one word.

Read an excerpt of The Country of Ice Cream Star.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Winner - Save the Date

And the lucky winner of a copy of Save the Date by Mary Kay Andrews, courtesy of St. Martin's Press is:

Jennifer H!

Congratulations!I've contacted you by email for your mailing address. Please respond within 72 hours. After that time, a new winner will be chosen. Check the sidebar for other great giveaways.