Thursday, December 31, 2015

The End of Another Year

I wanted to share this wonderful gift I received from my son for Christmas It's a great personalized sign with my blog's name and then overlaid (a bit hard to see) is the phrase: the world was hers for the reading. And yes it does say For My Brilliant Mother. Not sure I 100% agree with that, but I love the thought!

December 31st inevitably bring up resolutions. I've got a few personal things I want to address in the coming year, but also one for the blog...., I've been feeling pressed for time with everything that's been going on in my life lately. I've been posting (mostly) six days a week for the last couple of years. I think it's time to scale back at least one I'll be moving a couple of regular features to different days. They're so much fun to write and you've let me know how much you enjoy them. So....Over the Counter will move from Thursday to Wednesday and You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover will move from Saturday to Friday. And I'm going to give myself permission to not post if life is just too busy..

I also want to say how much I appreciate my followers and readers. 
Thank you for reading and for your comments. 

I wish you and your loved ones all the best for 2016. 
Here's to your next great read!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Over the Counter #296

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner. Well, with the end of the year around the corner, many people are looking to simplify as one of their resolutions. So here's some back to basics for you....

First up is Pogue's Basics: Life: Essential Tips and Shortcuts (That No One Bothers to Tell You) for Simplifying Your Day by David Pogue.

From the publisher, Flatiron Books:

Do you know the pinhole-finger trick for seeing without glasses? Did you realize that booking a hotel room with your phone is cheaper than doing it on your PC? Do you know how to get the last dregs of ketchup out of the bottle—in one second?

In David Pogue's New York Times bestselling book Pogue's Basics: Tech, the author shared his essential tips and tricks for making all your gadgets seem easier, faster, and less of a hassle to use. In this new book, he widens his focus—to life itself. In these pages, you'll find more than 150 tricks, shortcuts, and cheats for everyday life: house and home, cars, clothing, travel, food, health, and more. This timeless reference book will shed light on priceless bits of advice and life hacks that already exist in the world around you—you just never knew! Tips include: Insider cheats for cheap air fare, how to read signs in other languages, the three-cent trick for staying awake behind the wheel, how to know which side of the highway your exit will be on, how to quench a spicy mouth on fire, and much much more!"

And how about making things a bit easier in the kitchen with Kitchen Hacks: How Clever Cooks Get Things Done edited by America's Test Kitchen.

From the publisher:

"Innovative solutions to everyday cooking challenges from our team of test kitchen MacGyvers—the test cooks at Cook’s Illustrated magazine

A kitchen hack is an unusual, easier, and/or better way of performing a task that often saves money and time or improves the quality of the outcome. In this wacky but eminently useful collection of kitchen hacks, you will learn how to outsmart tricky tasks and face down kitchen challenges (big and small) with innovative and clever ideas from Quick Tips, the most popular feature in Cook’s Illustrated magazine (900,000 circulation). Kitchen Hacks is a beautifully designed guidebook to hacking your kitchen . . . and beyond!"

(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 29, 2015

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital

I'm a big fan of James Dashner's Maze Runner series of books. Last year's movie release of the first book was really well done in my opinion. I've been waiting to watch the second book to movie - Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials. Christmas vacation was the right time! Now, would it be as good? For this viewer, the answer is yes!

Fox Home Entertainment has just released the Blu-ray/DVD combo on December 15th.

Now, I'm just going to say right up front - if you're looking for the movie to be absolutely faithful to every incident/plot point in the book you're going to be a bit disappointed. But if you're looking to be entertained and on the edge of your seat for the entire 129 minutes, well, you're going to love it.

Scorch Trials picks up right where Maze Runner left off. I was immediately re-immersed in the story. Familiar (but not many) faces from Thomas's glade are back, having found safety at the end of the first movie. (This is a great ensemble) But have they found safety? Still running, the gladers are thrust into the Scorch - a no man's land of ruined cities of the past, heat, sand and cranks......those who have the Flare - a zombie like illness. I gotta tell ya - those with the Flare in this movie were infinitely more terrifying than the zombies from The Walking Dead. There's a lot of scary in the Scorch Trials - from the creepy undergrounds, to the abandoned buildings, but especially those infected. I had a couple of jumpy, heart tripping, gotcha moments.

The sense of danger, the pacing, the what-next, made for an edge of your seat viewing. The Scorch Trials does have more of an 'adult' feel to it than The Maze Runner - there's more overt violence and some more 'adult' situations (the drunken dance party for example). And of course, there's lots of running - lots and lots of running - from cranks, from WCKD (yep what you thought at the end of the last movie - rethink it.) and from danger of many sorts, sizes and shapes. 

There were lots of extras included as well - audio commentary, gag reel, deleted and extended scenes, added videos, documentary, visual effects and more.

So, yes I've read the books. And yes, there are differences. And no, it doesn't upset me at all. I thought The Scorch Trials was wonderfully entertaining. And yes, I can't wait for the release of The Death Cure movie, coming in February 2017. Check out the trailer for The Scorch Trials below.

Monday, December 28, 2015

This is Your Life, Harriet Chance! by Jonathan Evison

I love mysteries and thrillers, but funnily enough, the books that stay with me long after the last page is turned don't fit into that genre. Instead, it is the books that embrace and celebrate human nature, frailty, spirit, joy and more that continue to resonate with me.

This is Your Life, Harriet Chance! by Jonathan Evison is one of those books.

Seventy-eight year old Harriet Chance's husband Bernard has been dead for two years when she receives a call from a travel agency about an Alaskan cruise. Bernard purchased it - and the deadline for using it is approaching. Against her children's wishes (they think she's losing her mind as she insists Bernard is still around and talking to her) she decides to go.

But Bernard is indeed showing up and talking to her. An unknown narrator leads the reader on a tour of Harriet's life, from early years, to the present and the years in between. Along with Harriet, we discover secrets kept from her over the years and secrets she has kept over those same years...

"This is your life, Harriet Chance, for better or worse, in sickness and in health, until death do you part."

Oh I loved Harriet! I liked her determination, empathized with her sadness, urged her on in her hopes, saddened at her acceptances, was appalled at revelations and more. It was easy to believe that this was truly someone's life. I thought Evison did a great job of imagining a life lived. The author's notes at the end only confirmed this....

"...the women who have often settled for less, the women who've never quite gotten their fair share, who have soldiered on in the face of inequity, frustration and despair, who have forgiven beyond a reasonable measure, absorbed beyond reasonable expectation, and given, given, given with no promise of recompense. I wanted to thank them with this portrait of one woman, inspired by all of them..." Read an excerpt of This is Your Life, Harriet Chance!

Loved it. Well done Mr. Evison. You can connect with Jonathan Evison on Twitter and on his website.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover # 85

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

US cover
UK cover
The Widow is Fiona Barton's debut novel. The promo phrase "For fans of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, an electrifying thriller that will take you into the dark spaces that exist between a husband and a wife" has landed this one on my TBR list. The US cover ( Feb 16) is on the left and the UK cover (Jan 14)  is on the right. There's quite a difference between the two in terms of light and dark. The font for the title is somewhat the same. The blurry woman running on the US cover hints at danger. But the UK cover is quite ominous looking. And as always, the UK includes a tag line. This week I'm going with the UK cover. Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read The Widow?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular Saturday feature
at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Over the Counter #295

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Well, I was looking for a seasonal theme and found these two......

First up is We Wish You a Crazy Christmas.

From Laughing Elephant Books: Strange Christmas Cards Postcard Book.

"The images in We Wish You A Crazy Christmas were chosen from our vast collection of Victorian and Edwardian Christmas cards and postcards. Those eras produced millions of cards, for this a strong time for both mailed correspondence and Yuletide greetings. Most had traditional or religious imagery, but a substantial minority were - to our minds - malapropos, such as cow in a field, a tree blossoming in spring, a sandy beach. A smaller number goes beyond irrelevancy to weirdness, and these we have decided to share with our adventurous customers. They offer the opportunity to ponder, laugh, or to simply wonder "Why?"

Or how about this one? Scared of Santa: Scenes of Terror in Toyland by Denise Joyce and Nancy Watkins.

From the publisher, Harper Collins:

"The perfect holiday gift, Scared of Santa is a hilarious photographic collection of kids panicked, screaming and crying while posed on Santa's lap. Denise Joyce and Nancy Watkins have compiled more than 250 full-color photos of "Scenes of Terror in Toyland," and added witty commentary to make the Yuletide nightmare even brighter. Move over Bad Cat, Bad Santa has arrived!

He's huge and hairy and hulking. He dresses in strange furry clothing. He sneaks into people's homes at night. Who wouldn't be afraid of . . . Santa Claus ?!? Nothing says Christmas quite like innocent children shrieking with terror as a stranger dressed in red drags them kicking and screaming onto his lap. Now this time-honored rite of passage is celebrated with a hilarious collection of more than two hundred and fifty priceless photos of kids' traumatic trips to Santa's workshop. Scared of Santa offers a cornucopia of photographic funnies—from sixty-year-old family heirlooms to last year's howlers-along with delightful commentary on those unforgettable childhood visits to scary ol' Saint Nick."

(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 23, 2015

The Hanging Girl - Jussi Adler-Olsen

The Hanging Girl is the sixth novel in Jussi Adler-Olsen's Department Q series.

I absolutely adore this series - and it's because of the recurring characters.

Copenhagen Police Detective Carl Morck and his assistants Assad and Rose labour in the basement of Police HQ, taking on cold cases. Their success rate cannot be argued with. But their methods and idiosyncrasies do nothing but annoy those on the higher floors. (to Carl's great delight)

I'm always a sucker for characters that are left of center. And this trio definitely are. While Adler-Olsen creates inventive plots for every book,  it is the mystery of Assad (and to a lesser degree, Rose) that has me eagerly awaiting next entry in this series. Slowly but surely over the course of the previous five books, details about the enigmatic Assad have been slowly meted out.  Carl's personal life and attitude are also immensely appealing. His inner commentary in response to Assad keeps me laughing. I'm looking forward to see if newcomer Gordon will stick around - I hope so.

It's another 20 year old cold case for the team in The Hanging Girl. A seventeen year old girl on the island of  Bornholm went missing on her way to school twenty years ago. She was later found dead - hanging high in the branches of a tree. Adler-Olsen takes the investigation to a unique place. The reader is privy to the goings of a nature worshiping commune. More specifically to the machinations of one of the leaders of the commune, who is determined to have things line up as she sees fit. What, if any, could be the connection between the two? Even with 'insider' knowledge, Adler-Olsen managed to surprise me at the end.

I chose to listen to The Hanging Girl, as I saw the reader was Graeme Malcom, one of my favourites. He's done the previous Department Q books as well, so he has become the voice of Carl for me. His slightly gravelly tone and mild accent embody the mental image I've created for this character.

Another great listen for this reader. And although the case is solved, there's some lovely little loose ends that promise another book - and perhaps more answers.  If you've not read any of the Department Q novels, I encourage you to start from the beginning with the first book, The Keeper of Lost Causes. Listen to an excerpt of The Hanging Girl or read an excerpt.

"Jussi Adler-Olsen is Denmark’s #1 crime writer and a New York Times bestseller. His books routinely top the bestseller lists in Europe and have sold more than fifteen million copies around the world. His many prestigious Nordic crime-writing awards include the Glass Key Award, also won by Henning Mankell, Jo Nesbø, Stieg Larsson, and Peter Høeg."

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Saturn Run - John Sandford and Ctein

I am a big fan of John Sandford's 'Prey' series featuring Lucas Davenport as well as the Virgil Flowers novels.

Saturn Run is a bit of a departure for Sandford - it travels to sci-fi territory - not a usual genre for me. But I definitely wanted to give it a try.

It's the year 2066. Sandy, a low level intern watching the screens notices something approaching from the direction of Saturn - and it seems to be a ship. A spaceship with far greater technology than the US and China have.  And each country wants it.....the race is on  - who can get a ship to Saturn first?

John Sandford's style and voice is easy to hear in Saturn Run. Sandy is an incarnate of Virgil Flowers - I quite enjoyed his attitude and style. There's a myriad of other characters, each with detailed backstories. Saturn Run is most definitely a group effort.

I chose to listen to Saturn Run. The reader is Eric Conger - one of my favourites. (He's also the reader for the Virgil Flowers audio books) As always, he's got great inflection, expression and timing. And his voice is just plain great to listen to.

But. And yes there's a but. I got so bogged down in the details of the ship and what was needed to make it run, long-winded explanations of picture taking, nuke reactors and more. Enough that I finally pulled the plug and quit. I feel bad doing that to an author I follow faithfully (and it's rare for me), but I was zoning out, hoping the details would pass quicker so we could get back to the characters and the race to Saturn. I'm in the minority on this one I think. Listen to an excerpt of Saturn Run or read an excerpt of Saturn Run.

Instead, I'll be waiting for the 26th Lucas Davenport book, Extreme Prey, releasing in April 2016.

And who is the co-author, Ctein? According to the publisher, he's an 'internationally known photo-artist and science fiction aficionado.'

Monday, December 21, 2015

Giveaway - The Secret Wisdom of the Earth - Christopher Scotton

The Secret Wisdom of the Earth is Christopher Scotton's debut novel. It releases in trade paperback on January 5/15 And....I've got two copies to giveaway courtesy of Grand Central Publishing.

From the publisher:

"Timely and timeless, this is a dramatic and deeply moving novel about an act of violence in a small, Southern town and the repercussions that will forever change a young man's view of human cruelty and compassion.

After seeing the death of his younger brother in a terrible home accident, fourteen-year-old Kevin and his grieving mother are sent for the summer to live with Kevin's grandfather. In this peeled-paint coal town deep in Appalachia, Kevin quickly falls in with a half-wild hollow kid named Buzzy Fink who schools him in the mysteries and magnificence of the woods. The events of this fateful summer will affect the entire town of Medgar, Kentucky.

Medgar is beset by a massive mountaintop removal operation that is blowing up the hills and back filling the hollows. Kevin's grandfather and others in town attempt to rally the citizens against the "company" and its powerful owner to stop the plunder of their mountain heritage. When Buzzy witnesses a brutal hate crime, a sequence is set in play that tests Buzzy and Kevin to their absolute limits in an epic struggle for survival in the Kentucky mountains.

Redemptive and emotionally resonant, The Secret Wisdom of the Earth is narrated by an adult Kevin looking back on the summer when he sloughed the coverings of a boy and took his first faltering steps as a man. His story is one with a rich cast of characters and an ambitious effort to reclaim a once great community." Read an extended preview of The Secret Wisdom of the Earth.

“A marvelous debut…has everything a big, thick novel should have, and I hated to put it down.” —John Grisham

Christopher Scotton is an experienced public speaker, seminar leader, online marketer and technology entrepreneur. After a stint as a venture capitalist, he joined his third start-up, a computer-aided design (CAD) software company, where he is currently President and CEO. Scotton is a recognized expert and frequent speaker on search engine marketing, search engine optimization, social media marketing and online lead generation. You can connect with Christopher Scotton on his website, as well on Twitter @ScottonChris and find him on Facebook.

Sounds good doesn't it! Enter to win one of two copies using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends January 9/16.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #84

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

US cover
UK cover
The second book, Far From True, in Linwood Barclay's Promise Falls trilogy releases in March 2016 in the US/Canada and in April in the UK. It's definitely on my must read list. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Easy decision for me this week - I love the UK cover. The off-kilter kinda creepy looking house has me intrigued. And I like the tagline. Have you read the first book, Broken Promise? Any plans to read the rest? Which cover do you prefer this week? You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular Saturday feature at A Bookworm's World.

Friday, December 18, 2015

My True Love Gave to Me - Stephanie Perkins

You've heard me say it before - I love reading Christmas fiction in the days leading up to the 25th. Life is incredibly busy right now, so the 12 holiday stories in My True Love Gave to Me were just perfect. I could get my fix in short bursts.

Zoom in on the cover - twelve best-selling YA authors contributed to this collection, edited by Stephanie Perkins. You love their novels, so you just know you're going to love these stories. Perkins has drawn from diverse writers so the tales range from contemporary to fantasy and magical realism.

I must admit - I had two favourites - and they're two of my fave YA writers as well - Rainbow Rowell and Gayle Forman. Rowell's story has two friends slowly inching towards more over the course of four New Year's Eves. Clever back and forth bantering and an engaging pair of characters had me crossing my fingers as each New Year drew closer to twelve. Gayle's story has a pair of students who aren't quite fitting in at their college meeting at a holiday event and realizing that they may have found more than a new friend.

Matt De La Pena was a new to me author and I'll be hunting down more of his work. His story of a shy cat-sitting guy alone over the holidays - until he meets the girl who lives above - was charming in its simplicity.

This collection was actually a great way to sample some new authors for me as well. Love romance? Love the holidays? Then My True Love Gave to Me is a gift you'll want to buy yourself or any YA fan. I'll be re-reading this one again next year. Read an excerpt of My True Love Gave to Me.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Over the Counter #294

What books caught my eye as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner this week? Going to the dogs (and cats) again this week.

First up is Old Faithful by Pete Thorne. I've got an old girl that has the biggest heart.

From the publisher, Harper Collins:

"A stunning and indelible collection of portraits and stories that capture dogs of a certain age in all their patchy, scruffy, jowly, and devoted glory- an homage to man’s best friend, based on the popular international photography project.

The dogs in Old Faithful are well worn, well loved, and well on in years. After his grandmother’s 100th birthday party, photographer and dog lover Pete Thorne found himself taking photos of elderly dogs. In their aged, imperfect faces, he saw a depth of life, joy, and wisdom missing from more youthful subjects. He gathered these rich and powerful portraits into a web series he called “Old Faithful.” The reaction was instant—and astounding—from media outlets as diverse as Huffington Post and BuzzFeed to Esquire and ABC, to thousands of people around the globe who reached out to Thorne with their heartwarming stories of their own faithful companions. The photos triggered a wide variety of emotions, eliciting smiles and tears, and unleashing a flood of anecdotes and memories. “Old Faithful” became a shared platform for dog lovers all over the world.

Based on his web series, Old Faithful features dozens of color photographs that bring these dogs vividly into focus, accompanied by poignant descriptive sketches that capture the spirit and personality of each, illuminate his life and experiences, and celebrate the shared relationship with a beloved human companion.

A sweet and moving keepsake, Old Faithful demonstrates that aging can be beautiful, and offers profound lessons for all of us, no matter our age."

And a lighter look.... Cute Emergency by Tony Heally.

From the publisher, Three Rivers Press:

"Puppies in sunglasses. Sleeping kittens. A hedgehog in a teacup.

If the thought of animals in adorable situations makes you feel just a little bit happier, then Cute Emergency is the book for you. Based on the popular Twitter feed, it is the antidote to all of life’s little annoyances. Not even the coldest curmudgeon could stay frazzled when faced with the heart-melting animals and witty captions contained in these pages. So fulfill your recommended daily allowance of cuteness and let furry creatures come to your rescue!

(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 16, 2015

Ashley Bell - Dean Koontz

Bibi Blair is a writer, a surfer, an adventurer, a fiancee, a daughter, a friend - and a young woman diagnosed with an incurable form of brain cancer. Given a year to live by her doctor, she replies "We'll see."

Bibi is the main character in Dean Koontz's newly released novel, Ashley Bell.

I was a big fan of Dean Koontz's back in the eighties, when I enjoyed a good horror story. I let some years pass before I picked up another of his titles - the first Odd Thomas. And it's been a few more years again. I was intrigued by the marketing campaign for this newest novel. 'Who is Ashley Bell?' That's what Bibi needs do - find Ashley Bell, save her - and her cancer will be cured.

Koontz is a skilled and imaginative author. His stories are inventive and ask the reader to pay close attention. And you must in Ashley Bell, for nothing is as it seems. The past and the present mix and meld and the reader is never quite sure what is truth and what is fiction. Each new chapter brings a twist to Bibi's search for Ashley Bell.  I did have to put the book down a few times - I felt overwhelmed by the numerous descriptive passages and some lengthy diatribes. But I picked it up again as I wanted to see the search for Ashley Bell through to the end. (Although I felt a bit let down by the final pages.

Koontz's use of slithering sounds, fleeting glimpses and things that go bump in the night are just as, if not more than, frightening than full on, fully viewed terrors. (I'm a little afraid of my Scrabble board now) And it wouldn't be a Dean Koontz book without a golden retriever in it - Olaf in this case

Although it was a good read, I don't think it quite met the publisher's description as 'The Must Read Thriller of the Year." Read an excerpt of Ashley Bell. You can connect with Dean Koontz on his website, find him on Twitter as well as on Facebook.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Giveaway - Best Friends Forever - Kimberla Lawson Roby

I've got a great giveaway today for you - or your best friend. Kimberla Lawson Roby's new novella Best Friends Forever releases January 5/16 - and you could win a copy!

From Grand Central Publishing:

"Things are falling apart in the Richardson household. Angry arguments between Celine and her husband, Keith, have become routine. She resents that he's working long hours and staying out all night, and he accuses her of not giving him the attention he deserves. Their marriage is at a cross-roads and Celine worries how her 10-year-old daughter, Kassie, will be affected.

But the situation turns devastating when Celine is diagnosed with breast cancer. As her relationship with Keith deteriorates, Celine worries that she'll be left to navigate the difficult process of cancer treatment alone. But comfort and support come in the form of Celine's best friend, Lauren. They've been attached at the hip since they were children and it is Lauren who's there for Celine in her darkest moments.

Now, Celine will be forced to make tough decisions-about her marriage and otherwise-and for the first time in her life, she wants to give up. Lauren vows to help by any means necessary and makes the kind of sacrifice only a best friend can. But will it be too late?" Read an excerpt of Best Friends Forever.

Kimberla Lawson Roby is the New York Times bestselling author of the highly acclaimed Reverend Curtis Black Series. She lives with her husband in Rockford, Illinois.  You can connect with Kimberla on her website, connect with her on Twitterand find her on Facebook.

If you'd like to read (and share with your bestie!) Best Friends Forever, enter using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends January 2, 2016.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover # 83

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

US cover
UK cover
Gregg Hurwitz is another bothering to read the flyleaf. His new book, Orphan X release in the US in January 2016 and in the UK in April.  Theauthor that I pick up without US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Two very different looks this week. But both covers feature some blurbs from some big names. I'm torn this week. But I think I'm going to go with the US. If I didn't know the author and the blurbs weren't there, I wouldn't pick up the UK book based on the cover. The US cover just looks like a thriller. Do you read Gregg Hurwitz? Which cover do you prefer this week? You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular Saturday feature at A Bookworm's World.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Lost Ocean - Johanna Basford

Okay, I admit it - when I first heard about adult colouring books, I was skeptical. Could sitting down to colour be enjoyable? Relaxing? Dare I say - stress relieving? And then I tried it - and the answer is yes to all of the above.

Johanna Basford has a number of adult colouring books out - all quite amazing. I thought I would dive (pun intended!) into Lost Ocean: An Inky Adventure and Colouring Book.

I liked the gold accents on the cover - it hints at treasure within. (I'm a magpie - anything shiny catches my eye!)

Now, are you one of those people who will start at the beginning and do all the pages in order? Or are you like me - I'll pick the one that appeals to me and start with it, choosing another as the mood strikes. Lost Ocean offers a wide range of choices from intricate, to simple. Basford has touched on all things oceanic from images of creatures of the deep - fish, octopuses, mermaids, lobsters, crabs to sunken galleons and their treasures, whimsical designs and more. The last picture is a double sided four page foldout - okay I am indeed saving that one 'til last. Every page from cover to copyright page has images to bring colour to.

And then there's the added fun of trying to also find hidden images in the drawings - diamonds, rings, keys, gold coins and others. (No worries - there's an answer key at the back!)

Lost Ocean is produced on nice, clean, crisp white stock - all your colour choices will show up true. I thought I would start with imagining some brightly coloured fish under the waves.

Remember - there's no 'right' way to colour - enjoy it! Have you tried adult colouring books yet? Lost Ocean would be a good one to get your feet wet! (pun intended!)

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Over the Counter #293

What book caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Travelling cuisine this week......

First up is The World on a Plate: 40 Cuisines, 100 Recipes, and the Stories Behind Them by Mina Holland.

From the publisher, Penguin Random House:

"Eat your way around the world without leaving your home in this mouthwatering cultural history of 100 classic dishes.

“When we eat, we travel.” So begins this irresistible tour of the cuisines of the world, revealing what people eat and why in forty cultures. What’s the origin of kimchi in Korea? Why do we associate Argentina with steak? Why do people in Marseille eat bouillabaisse? What spices make a dish taste North African versus North Indian? What is the story behind the curries of India? And how do you know whether to drink a wine from Bourdeaux or one from Burgundy?

Bubbling over with anecdotes, trivia, and lore—from the role of a priest in the genesis of Camembert to the Mayan origins of the word chocolate—The World on a Plate serves up a delicious mélange of recipes, history, and culinary wisdom to be savored by food lovers and armchair travelers."

Next up is Near and Far: Recipes Inspired by Home and Travel by Heidi Swanson.

From the publisher, Ten Speed Press:

"Known for combining natural foods recipes with evocative, artful photography, New York Times bestselling author Heidi Swanson circled the globe to create this mouthwatering assortment of 120 vegetarian dishes. In this deeply personal collection drawn from her well-worn recipe journals, Heidi describes the fragrance of flatbreads hot off a Marrakech griddle, soba noodles and feather-light tempura in Tokyo, and the taste of wild-picked greens from the Puglian coast. Recipes such as Fennel Stew, Carrot & Sake Salad, Watermelon Radish Soup, Brown Butter Tortelli, and Saffron Tagine use healthy, whole foods ingredients and approachable techniques, and photographs taken in Morocco, Japan, Italy, France, and India, as well as back home in Heidi’s kitchen, reveal the places both near and far that inspire her warm, nourishing cooking."

(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 8, 2015

X - Sue Grafton

Author Sue Grafton has made a commitment to see her series featuring private investigator Kinsey Millhone through to the end of the alphabet. I read the first book, A is for Alibi, back in 1982, enjoyed it, and decided I would complete the series as well.

The latest is simply called X. (Yup, only two more to go)

In Kinsey's world it's only 1989. She's working cases using the 'old' gumshoe methods of surveillance, telephones (and payphones), calling in favours and contacts. It's quite fun to watch her solve cases 'the old fashioned way' without computers.

This latest entry brings back a former P.I. and case from Kinsey's early days. Pete is dead and a carton of his old files reveals a hidden list of women's names. The connection - a cold hearted man. Could he also be a cold hearted killer?

Picking up the latest Kinsey book is like settling down to catch up with an old friend. These characters are familiar, welcoming and comfortable. Kinsey herself is engaging and endearing. Not to mention dogged and determined. I'm also quite taken with the supporting cast - Kinsey's octogenarian landlord Henry and his extended family.

In addition to the main plot, there's a second one involving a bitterly divorced couple. This plot felt extraneous to me, like an add on to fill out the book. I never became truly invested in this plot line. There is a third involving Henry's new neighbours and water conservation. This one I loved!

Although the books have a crime in each and often a dead body, they're not overly graphic. I found myself a little taken aback by one element of the cold-hearted guy's MO. It seemed like a bit of a shock after the relatively sedate investigation to that point. The other thing I noticed was the level of described detail - a bit too much of the mundane.

As the series winds down, I wonder if the loose ends of Kinsey's romantic life will be tied up. I thought we might her get back together with Cheney Phillips. Wishful thinking maybe!

I've actually chosen to listen to the last few books on CD. Kudos to the publisher for using the same narrator for all of the book. Judy Kaye's voice has personified the mental image I've created for Kinsey. It's got a nice little rasp to it. Kaye also has great inflection and interpretation. Listen to an excerpt of X.

This isn't my favourite of the series, but it was still an entertaining listen on the drive back and forth to work.

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Edge of Lost - Kristina McMorris

Kristina McMorrris's latest book is The Edge of Lost.

The book opens with a teaser prologue from 1937 - on Alcatrez Island....."so long as they didn't find the girl."

Well, my curiosity was whetted. What girl? On Alcatrez? Who is talking?

But the answers to those questions require starting at the beginning - in 1919 Dublin when a young orphan named Shan Keagan strikes out for America.

McMorris has crafted another wonderful historical novel in The Edge of Lost, connecting these two seemingly random events in an unexpected fashion. Historically McMorris explores the penal facility on Alcratez Island, the immigrant experience in America, vaudeville, crime and life in New York and more. Thematically, love, loyalty, obligation, family, fate and second chances are explored within these settings.

Shan was a great lead character - the reader is firmly in his camp, hoping for the best. I also found the Capello family and their neighbourhood appealing. McMorris has done her research - the details of prison life and past New York were fascinating.

Kristina McMorris's writing is warm, comfortable and satisfying. Although I found the ending a bit pat and a wee bit far-fetched, it was indeed just right for this story. Historical fiction fans will enjoy this one. Read an excerpt of The Edge of Lost.

You can connect with Kristina McMorris on her website, find her on Facebook, as well as on Twitter.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #82

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

US cover
UK co
I read and enjoyed Caroline Kepnes's debut novel You. Her second book, Hidden Bodies is due out in February next year and is on my tbr list.The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. I'm going with the US cover this week. I like the title being split into above and below water. The watery font says danger. I like forming my own mental images of characters, so I don't like the woman's image on the UK cover. Do you plan to read Hidden Bodies? Which cover do you prefer? You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular Saturday feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Over the Counter # 292

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

First up is The Modern Family Cookbook.

From the publisher, Time Life Books:

"From the hit television phenomenon Modern Family comes an unconventional cookbook that invites you into the kitchen with the quirky characters you know and love. Packed with more than 100 crowdpleasing recipes, The Modern Family Cookbook is a must-have for every fan's kitchen shelf. From "Cam's Country-Comes-to-Town Farmhouse Breakfast" and the "Dunphy's Failsafe Roast Chicken" to "Manny's Spectacular Tiramisu," these delicious dishes celebrate the crazy chaos of the family table. Expertly tested recipes are appropriate for cooks of all ages, while colorful food photography and show stills make the book as fun to flip through as it is to cook from.

Of course, family meals aren't just about the food. The Modern Family Cookbook also highlights some of the show's best laugh-out-loud moments with guides, quizzes, lists, and special features. Find out whether you're a parent or a peer-ent, peruse Lily's diva tips, and swoon over Manny's love poems. Ever wondered what it looks like inside Phil's brain? Open this book to find out.

The Modern Family Cookbook is a reminder that you that no matter how crazy family can be, they are still the people you have to feed and sit with around a table. Come for the food, stay for the fun."

Next up is Inspiralized: Turn Vegetables into Healthy, Creative, Satisfying Meals by Ali Maffucci

From the publisher, Clarkson Potter:

"The definitive cookbook for using a spiralizer: the kitchen gadget that turns vegetables and fruits into imaginative, low-carb dishes.

On her wildly popular blog, Inspiralized, Ali Maffucci is revolutionizing healthy eating. Whether you’re low-carb, gluten-free, Paleo, or raw, you don’t have to give up the foods you love. Inspiralized shows you how to transform more than 20 vegetables and fruits into delicious meals that look and taste just like your favorite indulgent originals. Zucchini turns into pesto spaghetti; jicama becomes shoestring fries; sweet potatoes lay the foundation for fried rice; plantains transform into “tortillas” for huevos rancheros.

Ali’s recipes for breakfast, snacks, appetizers, sandwiches, soups, salads, casseroles, rices, pastas, and even desserts are easy to follow, hard to mess up, healthful, and completely fresh and flavorful. Best of all, she tells you how to customize them for whatever vegetables you have on hand and whatever your personal goal may be—losing weight, following a healthier lifestyle, or simply making easy meals at home.

Here, too, are tons of technical tips and tricks; nutritional information for each dish and every vegetable you can possibly spiralize; and advice for spiralizing whether you’re feeding just yourself, your family, or even a crowd. So bring on a hearty appetite and a sense of adventure—you’re ready to make the most of this secret weapon for healthy cooking.

(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 2, 2015

Rogue Lawyer - John Grisham

I've been a John Grisham fan from his first book. Now, I must admit - I haven't loved every one (last year's Gray Mountain was a miss for me.) But I really enjoyed his newest book - Rogue Lawyer.

My favourite characters are the non-conformists, those who colour outside of the lines. You just never know where such a character will take a story. Lawyer Sebastian Rudd definitely walks a questionable line. His clients are usually the ones no one else will take on, his office is a bulletproof van, his driver is his bodyguard/paralegal and he's not above chicanery and deals to get his clients off. Readers of legal thrillers may notice a resemblance to Michael Connelly's Lincoln Lawyer character. But Grisham puts his own spin and stamp on things.

Rogue Lawyer is almost a collection of short stories, but they're bound together as common threads are found in each - past cases and clients, Rudd's personal life, his ongoing dealings with the cops and prosecutors. I really enjoyed this format. Rather than one long, drawn out case, there were numerous and varied cases - all of them equally gripping - murder, abduction, death row, home invasion and more. I found myself eagerly awaiting the next trial, curious to see what Grisham would throw next at Rudd.

And yes, some of his motives are questionable, but I just couldn't help but like the guy. (I'd like to hear more from this character - a second book and a new slew of cases would be great.)

The courtroom scenes all benefit from Grisham's expertise. I am always fascinated by the behind the scenes look at the legal wrangling. And I wonder how many of the 'iffy' stratagems really do happen?

I chose to listen to Rogue Lawyer (the drive to work and back seems much shorter listening to a book instead of a radio station.) The reader was award winning narrator Mark Deakins - he has an 'attitude' to his voice that suited the mental image I had created for Sebastian. His reading is very expressive, capturing the tone, the pacing and the action of Rogue Lawyer.  Listen to an excerpt of Rogue Lawyer. I was quite surprised to see the mixed bag of ratings for this title. Me? I really enjoyed it.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Keeping Christmas - Dan Walsh

Dan Walsh's new (and timely) book is Keeping Christmas.

I love reading Christmas fiction in the weeks leading up to December 25th. Keeping Christmas was especially timely for me.

Judith and Stan Winters are empty nesters. But, for the first time, none of their three children can make it home for the holidays - Thanksgiving or Christmas. This affects Judith greatly - she has no interest in putting up a tree, listening to Christmas music or any of their usual traditions. Stan is not as affected - but he is worried about Judith as weeks go by and she is still uninspired - and depressed. Supportive friends Betty and Barney are also concerned.

Walsh has penned a story with it's roots in reality. It is incredibly hard to celebrate when family is scattered across the country. (Personally I thank goodness for Facetime!)

Through Judith's story, Walsh explores finding your Christmas spirit despite disappointments, finding new ways to celebrate and connect and thinking of others.

"What he did say was for those who loved the holidays to be mindful of those who found it harder to celebrate, and to do what they could to cheer them up. And he urged those who struggle to try to keep their minds on the 'reason for the season' rather than focusing on all the things that tend to bring them down during the holidays." Good words to take to heart.

Without giving much away, Keeping Christmas is also a love story and an exploration of friendship and family.

Keeping Christmas won't overly surprise you - the plot is somewhat telegraphed. What it will provide is food for thought, perfect for contemplating the coming holidays and how each of us can reach out and share the Christmas spirit.

It's a quick, easy read, at just over 200 pages. A heartfelt, heart-warming read, with a bit of a fairy tale ending.  Read an excerpt of Keeping Christmas.

Friday, November 27, 2015

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #81

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

US cover
UK cover
Lisa Gardner's new book Find Her releases in February 2016. I've enjoyed her writing and will most likely pick this one up too. Now let's talk covers...The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. No contest for me this week - I am not a fan of the disjointed face on the US cover at all. So UK for me this week - although it's not a standout either. Do you plan on reading Find Her? Which cover do you prefer? You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular Saturday feature
 at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Over the Counter #291

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner? I've given up processed sugar, but looking at cookbooks satisfies my sweet tooth... or eye?...

First up is Get Your Bake On: Sweet and Savory Recipes from My Home to Yours by Brian Emmett.

From the publisher, Simon and Schuster:

"Cook up some delicious, down-home goodness with this cookbook of more than seventy-five sweet and savory recipes from Brian Emmett, grand prize winner of CBS’s The American Baking Competition.

In 2013, Brian Emmett burst onto the culinary scene with his charm, confidence, and superior baking and cooking skills on season one of The American Baking Competition. He won over the hearts of Americans nationwide, who watched this enthusiastic husband and father immerse himself in his passion—and, ultimately, take home the illustrious title of “Top Amateur Baker.”

Now, in Get Your Bake On, Brian shares over seventy-five recipes that leave no doubt as to why he was crowned champion on the show. This cookbook encompasses a hearty mixture of The American Baking Competition favorites, brand-new concoctions, and Emmett family recipes passed down through generations. Staying true to the show’s theme, there are plenty of sweets: From miniature tarts to his famous Cakey Chocolate Chip Cookie, Brian’s baked goods are sure to satisfy even the most demanding of sweet tooths. But Get Your Bake On also features a strong savory element with classic, feel-good recipes such as Sunday Brunch Strada and Beef Chili with Buttermilk Cornbread.

So grab a spoon, America—Brian’s back, and he’s ready to dish!"

Next up is Milk Bar Life: Recipes and Stories by Christina Tosi.

From the publisher, Clarkson Potter:

"Go off the clock with Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar as she bakes one-bowl treats, grills with skills, and embraces simple, nostalgic—and often savory—recipes made from supermarket ingredients.

For anyone addicted to crack pie®, compost cookies®, and cake truffles, here are their savory counterparts—such as Kimcheezits with Blue Cheese Dip, Burnt Honey–Butter Kale with Sesame Seeds, and Choose Your Own Adventure Chorizo Burgers—along with enough make-at-home sweets to satisfy a cookie-a-day habit. Join Christina and friends as they cook their way through “weaknights,” sleepovers, and late-night snack attacks to make mind-blowingly delicious meals with whatever is in the pantry.

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

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Splinter the Silence - Val McDermid

Splinter the Silence is the newest (and ninth) entry in Val McDermid's Tony Hill and Carol Jordan series. (one of my favourite crime/detective series)

Splinter the Silence picks up a few months after the end of the last book Cross and Burn. (my review)

After a catastrophic case, ex-DCI Carol Jordan left the force and took refuge in restoring her dead brother's home. She's also taking refuge more and more in excessive drinking. Criminal psychologist and profiler Dr. Tony Hill is worried - very worried about Carol. Fate - and Tony - intercede and maybe, just maybe Carol has the chance to again prove why she's a brilliant DCI.

McDermid opens Splinter the Silence with the antagonist's thoughts...(and I was hooked immediately)

"Weekends were best. It was easy to avoid working then. So it was easier to watch the women he was interested in. Mostly they didn't go to work then either, so he had a chance to observe their routines and work out the best way to kill them."

McDermid uses a very current issue as the basis of her plot - on line bullying by trolls. Tony isn't looking for a case, but a recent spate of suicides just feels wrong to him. "Years of working alongside Tony had instilled in her an understanding that odd was often where the answers started." Familiar recurring members from previous books are assembled as they attempt to reunify as a team and discover if the deaths are suicide - or murder. Of course, as readers we know the answer but the thrill is in following the team's progress.

McDermid's plotting is always inventive and she is a master of the police procedural. But for this reader, it is the characters that draw me back time and time again. I truly had no idea where McDermid could take this series after the ending of the last book. I enjoy each and every player, but it is Tony and Carol's storyline is the one that intrigues me the most. It's real and raw - I sometimes feel like an interloper, inadvertently intruding on someone's private conversations and grief. Their relationship progresses two steps forward and one step back. Stacey is given a louder voice in this outing and the addition of two new players looks promising for future entries.

Splinter the Silence is brought to a satisfying end...but then McDermid throws in one last twist guaranteed to whet the reader's appetite for the next book in this absolutely wonderful series. Highly recommended.

Although you can read any of this series as a stand alone, I heartily recommend starting at the beginning with  the first book, The Mermaids Singing. A television series - Wire in the Blood - is also based on these characters. You can find Val McDermid on Twitter and on Facebook as well.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Stranger Child - Rachel Abbott

Stranger Child is the fourth book in Rachel Abbott's DCI Tom Douglas series.

I only discovered this series and author recently when I listened to the third book, Sleep Tight. I enjoyed Abbott's lead character and plotting and wanted to see what was next for Tom.

In Stranger Child, David Joseph lost his first wife and daughter in a car accident six years ago.  His wife was killed - but his six year old daughter Natasha simply disappeared. Seven years on, David is married again to Emma and has a new baby boy.

And then one day, when Emma is in the kitchen, a teenager appears behind her - and doesn't say a word. Could it be......Tasha? It is. But she won't speak, won't say where she's been and why she was able to simply reappear. While her father is overjoyed to see her, she makes Emma very, very nervous. David seems satisfied with not knowing, but Emma decides to contact her old friend DCI Tom Douglas.

I really liked Emma as a character. David - not so much. My thoughts on Natasha changed and evolved as the book progressed. Abbott manipulates the listener well, adding another piece, another revelation as the book progresses.

Abbot has penned an ambitious plot, with many twists and turns and lots of action.  I was completely caught up in wondering about the last seven years of Tasha's life. There were a few plot points that stretched credulity for me  - David not immediately calling the police when his daughter returned, no one taking her to the doctor and a few more. But.....the story is absolutely a page turner. I had my suspicions on the outcome, but was only proved partially right. Some previous loose threads from a secondary plot in Sleep Tight are tied up in Stranger Child. Well, not quite 100% - the door is open for the next entry in this series. I'll be listening.

The reader was Lisa Coleman, a different narrator from book three. I quite liked Coleman's voice. She has a strong, matter of fact kind of tone to her speaking voice. She easily conveyed male and female characters with her voice - I thought her characterization of each was distinct, suited and was easily identifiable. Coleman has a nice little gravelly undertone to her voice that is pleasant to listen to. My one suggestion would be to stick with one reader going forward to build continuity in future books.  Listen to an excerpt of Stranger Child.

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Lake House - Kate Morton

Kate Morton has done it again - her latest release, The Lake House, is an absolutely fantastic read.

I was hooked from the opening page...

1933. "Back when it first happened she'd considered confessing, and perhaps, in the beginning, she might have. She'd missed her chance though and now it was too late. Too much had happened: the search parties, the policemen, the articles in the newspapers pleading for information. There was no one she could tell, no way to fix it, no way they would ever forgive her. The only thing left was to bury the evidence."

What happened? Who is speaking?

Morton again employs a then and now narrative from 1933 to the current 2003. (I love this format - but it keeps me up very late reading 'just one more chapter'!)  One of the main characters is writer Alice Edevane, who pens "crime novels reviewers liked to describe as 'psychologically taut' and 'morally ambiguous whydunits' as much as they were whos or hows." But, the greatest mystery in Alice's life is what happened to her wee brother Theo in 1933. Alice now makes her home in London, but still owns the Edevane family's Cornwall country house, unlived in for over seventy years. Detective Sadie Sparrow is on forced leave from the London force and retreats to her grandfather's home in Cornwall. While on a run, she stumbles across the abandoned estate deep in the woods.

Delicious, delicious premise!

Morton transports us back to 1933, a time of innocence, a time of  stricter social mores, a time where duty and responsibility took precedence, a time where 'things' were kept quiet and secrets were born. Morton's description of the country estate, Loeanneth, the rooms, the halls, the grounds - and the lake house, were vivid and detailed, creating a rich backdrop for the events that take place. And in seventy years, we see the estate through the eyes of Sadie. The grounds seem to echo and exude the memories of the family and its past glory. "Something niggled about this place. An odd feeling had come over her since she'd climbed through the gate, an inexplicable sense of things being not quite right."

The characters were just as richly drawn. I had a strong mental image of every character, no matter how minor their role. (I must admit to Alice being my favourite.)

And then there's the plotting. Brilliant. The past is slowly revealed in the 1933 chapters, with bits and pieces being added as the book progresses. Morton has the reader thinking one way, then changes direction with each new revelation added. In the present, that same past is being just as slowly uncovered. The reader is lucky enough to be privy to both stories - we know more that Alice and Sadie. Or do we? I was quite sure I could predict where and what the endgame would be - and I'm happy to say I was wrong. Along with the intensely intricate plot Morton has woven, a secondary theme of mothers and motherhood is explored.

As Sadie says..."there was nothing as thrilling as unravelling a puzzle, particularly one like this..." The Lake House is absolutely, positively recommended - it's one of my fave reads for 2015. Read an excerpt of The Lake House. 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #80

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

US cover
UK cover
Tami Hoag's latest in the Kovac and Liska series releases in January in the US and March in the UK. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Both covers have a 'cold' feel that seems to suit the title. Different leaves. The font and style on the UK cover is more 'dangerous' looking and suggest a crime novel more than the US cover. But I'm not a fan of the purple. US for me this week. What about you? Will you be reading The Bitter Season? Which cover do you prefer?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular Saturday feature
 at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Over the Counter #290

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

First up is Light Years: Memoir of a Modern Lighthouse Keeper By Caroline Woodward.

From Harbour Publishing:

"In 2007, Caroline Woodward was itching for a change. With an established career in book-selling and promotion, four books of her own and having raised a son with her husband, Jeff, she yearned for adventure and to re-ignite her passion for writing. Jeff was tired of piecing together low-paying part-time jobs and, with Caroline’s encouragement, applied for a position as a relief lightkeeper on a remote North Pacific island. They endured lonely months of living apart, but the way of life rejuvenated Jeff and inspired Caroline to contemplate serious shifts in order to accompany him. When a permanent position for a lighthouse keeper became available, Caroline quit her job and joined Jeff on the lights.

Caroline soon learned that the lighthouse-keeping life does not consist of long, empty hours in which to write. The reality is hard physical labour, long stretches of isolation and the constant threat of de-staffing. Beginning with a 3:30 a.m. weather report, the days are filled with maintaining the light station buildings, sea sampling, radio communication, beach cleanup, wildlife encounters and everything in between. As for dangerous rescue missions or dramatic shipwrecks—that kind of excitement is rare. “So far the only life I know I’ve saved is my own,” she says, with her trademark dry wit. Yet Caroline is exhilarated by the scenic coastline with its drizzle and fog, seabirds and whales, and finds time to grow a garden and, as anticipated, write.

Told with eloquent introspection and an eye for detail, Light Years is the personal account of a lighthouse keeper in twenty-first century British Columbia—an account that details Caroline’s endurance of extreme climatic, interpersonal and medical challenges, as well as the practical and psychological aspects of living a happy, healthy, useful and creative life in isolation."

Next up is The Point of Vanishing: A Memoir of Two Years in Solitude by Howard Axelrod.

From the publisher, Beacon Press:

"Into the Wild meets Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man—a lyrical memoir of a life changed in an instant and of the perilous beauty of searching for identity in solitude

On a clear May afternoon at the end of his junior year at Harvard, Howard Axelrod played a pick-up game of basketball. In a skirmish for a loose ball, a boy’s finger hooked behind Axelrod’s eyeball and left him permanently blinded in his right eye. A week later, he returned to the same dorm room, but to a different world. A world where nothing looked solid, where the distance between how people saw him and how he saw had widened into a gulf. Desperate for a sense of orientation he could trust, he retreated to a jerry-rigged house in the Vermont woods, where he lived without a computer or television, and largely without human contact, for two years. He needed to find, away from society’s pressures and rush, a sense of meaning that couldn’t be changed in an instant."

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

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Midnight Sun - Jo Nesbo

Midnight Sun is the second book in Jo Nesbo's Blood on Snow series.

What ties these two together is The Fisherman, crime kingpin of Oslo. Jon worked for The Fisherman selling drugs and other 'special' jobs as needed. Except Jon couldn't do it - he couldn't kill. So now he's run to a remote village at the top of Norway where the sun never sets. And he took along drugs and money that weren't his to take - and The Fisherman wants it back....

A local woman, Lea, and her son Knut, give Jon shelter in an old hunting cabin. But after a few days of the sun never setting, the flat unending landscape and being alone in the small cabin, he craves people - and alcohol. So he heads to the village....

Nesbo's description of the village and the landscape creates an sense of otherworldly isolation that mirrors what Jon is feeling. The eclectic residents and their behavior keeps both Jon and the reader wondering what could happen next.

Even though Jon, aka Ulf, is a 'bad' guy, he's a bad guy with a good streak and a conscience. The reader can't help but hope that he escapes those after him and that maybe, just maybe, he's got another shot at a good life. Sami culture and the Laestadian religion are woven into the story - redemption is a major theme and plays a part in more than one character's life.

I love the noir, staccato pace of Nesbo's writing - think of a Tarantino movie put to print. For me, another great read from Nesbo. Read an excerpt of Midnight Sun.

(I have no idea if Nesbo will ever resurrect Harry Hole - but I do miss him.)