Thursday, March 31, 2016

Giveaway - Titans - Leila Meacham

Leila Meacham's new novel, Titans, releases April 12/16 - and I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader, courtesy of Grand Central Publishing!

"A sweeping new drama from the beloved, bestselling author of Roses. Texas in the early 1900s, its inhabitants still traveling by horseback and barely familiar with the telephone, was on the cusp of an oil boom that, unbeknownst to its residents, would spark a period of dramatic changes and economic growth.

In the midst of this transformative time in Southern history, two unforgettable characters emerge and find their fates irrevocably intertwined: Samantha Gordon, the privileged heiress to the sprawling Las Tres Lomas cattle ranch near Fort Worth, and Nathan Holloway, a sweet-natured and charming farm boy from far north Texas. As changes sweep the rustic countryside, Samantha and Nathan's connection drives this narrative compulsively forward as they love, lose, and betray. In this grand yet intimate novel, Meacham once again delivers a heartfelt, big-canvas story full of surprising twists and deep emotional resonance." Here's an excerpt or you can read the first ten chapters now!

"The novel has it all: a wide cast of characters, pitch-perfect period detail, romance, plenty of drama, and skeletons in the closet (literally). Saga fans will be swooning.” —Booklist

"Leila Meacham is a writer and former teacher who lives in San Antonio, Texas. She is the author of the bestselling novels Roses, Somerset, and Tumbleweeds." You can connect with Leila on Facebook or on her website.

Enter to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends April 16/16.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Over the Counter #308

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Sugar, evil sugar this week......;0)

First up is My Confection: Odyssey of a Sugar Addict by Lisa Kotin.

From the publisher, Beacon Press:

"She doesn’t drink or do drugs, but like millions of other Americans, Lisa Kotin has a substance abuse problem. Kotin is addicted to sugar. My Confection is a darkly funny and candid memoir of where sugar took this teenage mime when she left her San Francisco Bay Area home in pursuit of artistic greatness. From the strict macrobiotic house where she is kicked out for smuggling Snickers, to her early days of Overeaters Anonymous meetings where she is bewildered by the idea of submitting to a higher power, to the stylish shrink who suggests she figure out how many minutes of tennis equal the calories in one jelly donut, to the men she unwraps and consumes like cheap chocolate bars, Kotin careens from romantic disasters to caloric catastrophes. Original and surprisingly affecting, this portrait of a sugar addict has nothing to do with losing weight or getting fit but rather with coming out of the (sugar) closet, finding allies who understand, and learning how to live healthfully, in spite of her compulsion."

And next up is some help for that addiction...... The I Quit Sugar Cookbook: 306 Recipes for a Clean, Healthy Life by Sarah Wilson.

From the publisher, Clarkson Potter:

"When Sarah Wilson gave up sugar for good, she developed a new repertoire of creative, go-to dishes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. With 306 satisfying recipes for one-pan wonders, grain-free breakfasts, leftover makeovers, smoothie bowls, and more, this comprehensive cookbook makes living sugar-free simple and sustainable.

Start quitting now, with recipes that include: Bacon ’N’ Egg Quinoa Oatmeal**Gift-Wrapped Miso Cod**Caramelized Leek, Apple, and Rosemary Socca**Green Spaghetti and Meatballs**Two-Minute Desk Noodles**Broc Bites and Cauli Popcorn**Carrot "Bacon"**Red Velvet Crunch Bowl**Chocolate Peanut Butter Crackles**Strawberry Cheesecake Mug Cake"

(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, March 29, 2016

Fool Me Once - Harlan Coben

Harlan Coben's latest book is Fool Me Once.

Coben returns to a format he does very well - a lead character thrust into an impossible situation that couldn't be possibly be true....could it?

Special-ops vet Maya has returned home from war, suffering from PTSD. Her sister was murdered while she was overseas and that only adds to her burden. Unbelievably, her husband is also murdered four months later. A caring friend gives Maya a nanny cam to keep an eye on the woman looking after her young daughter Lily while she goes back to work. Ready? While reviewing the footage from the camera, she sees Lily with someone - her dead husband Joe.

I love the impossible situations Coben imagines and following along with the lead character as she tries to unravel the mystery and find the truth. Coben has concocted another inventive plot, sure to keep the reader engaged. And in trademark Coben fashion, there's a nice little twist at the end.

But, what took this one from five stars to four for me was Maya. Unfortunately, I just didn't connect with her, even though I felt like I should. I also found Joe's family to be a bit cliched. And some plot points stretched credulity.

Fool Me Once isn't my favourite by Coben, but definitely an entertaining read for the beach. Read an excerpt of Fool Me Once.

You can connect with Harlan Coben on his website, find him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Far From True - Linwood Barclay

Oh, I have been eagerly awaiting the release of Far From True - the second book in Linwood Barclay's Promise Falls trilogy.

The first book, Broken Promise, had a missing baby, a rapist on the prowl at the local college, someone obsessed with the number 23 (and not in a good way) and so much more. The town is a hotbed of activity beneath its seemingly bucolic facade. Barclay brought in some of my favourite characters - David Harwood from Never Look Away and Detective Barry Duckworth from Too Close to Home, Never Look Away and Trust Your Eyes - to live in Promise Falls and tackle the strange goings-ons. Book one left the readers with some questions answered, but not all.....

Far From True takes the reader back to town - and immerses them into the strangeness that is Promise Falls. Murder, deceit, lies, secrets, cover ups.....and more number 23 madness.....

Oh yes! I dived into the first pages and didn't come up for breath for many, many hours! Barclay's writing simply grabs the reader and doesn't let go. I find Barclay's storytelling so engaging. Backgrounds and personal story lines of the characters are detailed - some more than others. The reader is never sure who is going to play a part - and how large and in what capacity. I loved the detail and the ensemble cast - it somewhat reminded me of Stephen King's narrative style. (King calls Barclay "A suspense master.")

Barclay wonderfully manipulates the reader into just one more chapter - and then another - by leaving us with cliffhangers at the end of chapters, foreshadowing and switching narratives from one character to another. The multiple story lines are simply addicting.

This is one lovely, convoluted, complicated, imaginative, sprawling plot that has me totally caught up in the seedy underbelly of Promise Falls. I truly have no idea where things will go next - and I love being unable to predict a plot. Now, you must read the first book before you read Far From True - you'll be hooked too. Make sure you mark  your calendar for the release of the third and final book, The Twenty-Three, in November 2016. There's a preview chapter included at the end of Far From True.  I can't wait for the 'final reveal.'! Read an excerpt of Far From True.

You can connect with Linwood Barclay on his website, follow him on Twitter and find him on Facebook.

Friday, March 25, 2016

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #98

- 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
I'm looking forward to Eve Chase's forthcoming debut novel, Black Rabbit Hall. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Although children and time figure into the story, I'm not keen on the UK cover. It looks too juvenile to me and I probably wouldn't pick it up if I was browsing. The US cover I would - I find the dark ominous sky, the wrought iron gate and the in your face title appealing. So, US is my choice this week. What cover do you prefer? Any plans to read Black Rabbit Hall? You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery - Jenny Colgan

Jenny Colgan's newest book is Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery. Now, it's a follow-up to Little Beach Street Bakery, but you don't need to have read it to enjoy 'Summer'. (Although you might want to pick it up as well and tuck both into your summer reading beach bag)

Polly Waterford has made a place for herself in the tiny Cornish town of Mount Polbearne - she's running a successful bakery (she doesn't own it yet, but...) has bought a home (yes an operating lighthouse!), has a fabulous boyfriend (Huckle, a transplanted American honeybee keeper) and a pet puffin named Neil. Life is good. Until....

.....a new owner takes over the bakery - and that changes everything.....Polly faces uncertainty again on every front....

Colgan has created a wonderful backdrop and setting for her characters. I love quaint little towns and quirky characters and Mount Polbearne is just that. (I think I'd be quite happy living there) Polly is a great lead character - she's someone you'd love to have as a friend. And it's impossible not to cheer her on. Huckle is great, but it's Neil the puffin who takes best supporting character. Without saying much more than Eep, he'll steal your heart. (He does have his own twitter account @neilthepuffin) I wasn't completely sold on friends Kerensa and Reuben - they were a bit over the top. But they play their designated roles perfectly.

Colgan's description of the breads and baking had me salivating as I read. I've always dreamed of having my own business and enjoyed following Polly's start-ups.

Summer at Little Beach Bakery has everything you want in a great chick-lit book - love, loss, drama, humour and yes - a just right ending. There are many more stories waiting to be told in Mount Polbearne - I hope Colgan has plans for another book set here.

Jojo Moyes contributes a blurb to the cover - "Deliciously warm and sweet." I absolutely agree. Tuck Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery in your beach bag - it's perfect summer reading! Read an excerpt of Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery. 

"Jenny Colgan is the New York Times bestselling author of numerous novels, including Little Beach Street Bakery, Christmas at Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop, and Christmas at the Cupcake CafĂ©, all international bestsellers. Jenny is married with three children and lives in London and Scotland." You can connect with Jenny on Twitter @jennycolgan and find her on Facebook. See what others on the TLC book tour thought - full schedule can be found here.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Over the Counter #307

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner? This week it was the similarity in the tone of the covers, although they're two quite different memoirs....

First up is Knitlandia: A Knitter Sees the World by Clara Parkes.

From the publisher, Stewart, Tabori and Chang:

"Knitting aficionado and notable artisan Clara Parkes delves into her storied travels with this inspiring and witty memoir on a creative life enriched by her adventures around the world.

Building on the success of The Yarn Whisperer, Parkes’s rich personal essays invite readers and devoted crafters on excursions to be savored, from a guide who quickly comes to feel like a trusted confidante. In Knitlandia, she takes readers along on 17 of her most memorable journeys across the globe over the last 15 years, with stories spanning from the fjords of Iceland to a cozy yarn shop in Paris’s 13th arrondissement.

Also known for her PBS television appearances and hugely popular line of small-batch handcrafted yarns, Parkes weaves her personal blend of wisdom and humor into this eloquently down-to-earth guide that is part personal travel narrative and part cultural history, touching the heart of what it means to live creatively.

Fans of travel writing, as well as knitters, crocheters, designers, and fiber artists alike, will enjoy the masterful narrative in these intimate tales from a life well crafted. Whether you’ve committed to exploring your own wanderlust or are an armchair traveler curled up in your coziest slippers, Knitlandia is sure to inspire laughter, tears, and maybe some travel plans of your own."

Next up is How Can I Help? A Week in My Life as a Psychiatrist by David Goldbloom and Pier Bryden.

From the publisher, Simon and Schuster Canada:

"A humane behind-the-scenes account of a week in the life of a psychiatrist at one of Canada’s leading mental health hospitals. How Can I Help? takes us to the frontlines of modern psychiatric care.

How Can I Help? portrays a week in the life of Dr. David Goldbloom as he treats patients, communicates with families, and trains staff at CAMH, the largest psychiatric facility in Canada. This highly readable and touching behind-the-scenes account of his daily encounters with a wide range of psychiatric concerns—from his own patients and their families to Emergency Department arrivals—puts a human face on an often misunderstood area of medical expertise. From schizophrenia and borderline personality disorder to post-traumatic stress syndrome and autism, How Can I Help? investigates a range of mental issues.

What is it like to work as a psychiatrist now? What are the rewards and challenges? What is the impact of the suffering—and the recovery—of people with mental illness on families and the clinicians who treat them? What does the future hold for psychiatric care?

How Can I Help? demystifies a profession that has undergone profound change over the past twenty-five years, a profession that is often misunderstood by the public and the media, and even by doctors themselves. It offers a compassionate, realistic picture of a branch of medicine that is entering a new phase, as increasingly we are able to decode the mysteries of the brain and offer new hope for sufferers of mental illness."

(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, March 22, 2016

The Killing Forest - Sara Blaedel - Review AND Giveaway

The Killing Forest is the latest (8th) book in Sara Blaedel's Louise Rick series.

Rick is an investigator with the Special Search Agency, a unit of the National Police Department in Denmark.

The Killing Forest opens with fifteen year old Sune preparing for his 'coming of age' ceremony, to be held in the forest by an ancient sacrificial oak tree. Sune's family practices an ancient religion, drawing direction and inspiration from the ancient Norse Gods.....with their own interpretations. Sune is horrified as the ritual progresses and runs into the forest to escape his father and the group. Louise Rick is called in a week later - the boy is still missing. This case brings the past into the present for Louise - her boyfriend was killed in this same town years ago.

Ancient beliefs, an old crone who knows the secrets of the past, an insular group determined to thwart any attempt to undermine them with any means necessary and a young boy on the run, combine to make a great plot.

The setting is different, both the town and forest are ominous and full of secrets, the plot is inventive, drawing on unfamiliar territory that had me quite curious and the main character is one I really like for her tenacity and drive. I enjoy a continuing storyline and am pleased with the direction Louise's personal life in present day is taking. I'm even warming up to her best friend, Camilla, who has annoyed me in the past. The tie in to the past with this case offers up answers to unanswered question from previous books. The danger builds slowly and even though the reader is aware of 'whodunit', my interest never flagged.

The Killing Forest is another great entry is a series I will continue to follow. Read an excerpt of The Killing Forest.

Mark Kline has done a great job with the translation - the reading is smooth, without any 'wooden', clunky text.

"Sara Blaedel is the author of the #1 international bestselling series featuring Detective Louise Rick. Her books are published in thirty-three countries. She lives in Copenhagen, and was voted Denmark's most popular novelist for the fourth time in 2014. She is also a recipient of the Golden Laurel, Denmark's most prestigious literary award." You can connect with Sara on her website and find her on Twitter.

And if you'd like to read The Killing Forest, I have two copies to giveaway to two lucky readers, thanks to Grand Central Publishing. Open to US and Canada, no po boxes please. Enter using the Rafflecopter form below. Ends April 2/16.

Monday, March 21, 2016

The Watcher in the Wall - Owen Laukkanen

I've been a fan of Owen Laukkanen right from the beginning, with the release of his debut novel, The Professionals. His newest book, The Watcher in the Wall, is the fifth in the Stevens and Windermere series. (It can be read as a stand-alone)

Kirk Stevens and Carla Windermere are partners on a joint FBI and BCI task force. It's Stevens' daughter who brings their latest case to them. A classmate has committed suicide. Tragic enough on its own, but the death is being shown on the internet. The boy was a member of an online suicide forum, where members share their thoughts, tips and ------ encouragement.

A bit of a difficult and dark premise, but one that is unfortunately real. The antagonist that Laukkanen has created is truly despicable and twisted. And just like the suicide forums, not that far from the truth. Who are you really talking to in chat room? And how do you know that photo is real? Ugly, chilling and oh, so very creepy.

The relationship between the two lead characters has evolved and changed over the course of the books. They have very different personalities which bring a different view, attitude and approach to their cases. The Watcher in the Wall sees Windermere take the lead - and some risky moves. This case has become personal for her, triggering memories from her teenage years. (But I have to admit, the cooler headed Stevens remains my favourite)

The action doesn't stop and the pacing is frantic as the pair race to save another teen before they make a terrible, final decision. As I read the final run up to the ending, I was envisioning an action film. (and it would make a good one) But, some of the final plot situations do ask the reader to suspend disbelief. So, I did. Here's an excerpt of The Watcher in the Wall.

The author's notes at the end were compelling:

"The Watcher in the Wall is inspired very loosely by real-life incident, but it's also a fairly personal book for me. I've dealt with depression and suicidal thoughts since I was a teenager, and it's only now, two decades later that I've started taking real steps to deal with it. In some ways, this book is a response to the dark stuff......Please don't suffer in silence. There's no shame in speaking up and I promise, you're not alone."

There's a nice little cover blurb from John Sandford..."Laukkanen is slam-bang brilliant." And yes, if you like Sandford's books, you're going to like Laukkanen. You can connect with Owen Laukkanen on his website and find him on Facebook.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Happy 8th Blogiversary to me!

I can hardly believe it's been eight years since I wrote my first post here at A Bookworm's World! Many posts later (2,476 to be exact) I'm still enjoying sharing my thoughts on what I'm reading. And hopefully you're still enjoying reading them! I appreciate every visit and comment.

I want to say thank you to all of you who have stopped by or follow A Bookworm's World - be it by email, Bloglovin', Twitter, Goodreads, LibraryThing, Google Friend Connect or across the library counter! And a big hello to all the friends I've made in the blogosphere over the years. Here's to more great reads - and a ninth Blogiversary. Cheers!

Friday, March 18, 2016

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #97

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

UK cover
US/Canadian cover
Elly Griffith's Ruth Galloway books are one of my favourite mystery series. The latest (8th) book is The Woman in Blue. The US/Canadian cover is on the left (releases May 3rd  and I am so looking forward to it!) and the UK cover is on the right. (already released) Two distinctive styles from each country.....this week I'm going with the US cover. It's atmospheric with the muted, misty colours and I love the somewhat ominous stone marker.  Lately I just don't like actual people on the covers - I like to hold onto my own mental image of recurring characters, so the UK cover is a miss for me. What about you? Which cover do you prefer? Have you read this series? You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Free Men - Katy Simpson Smith

Katy Simpson Smith opens her latest novel, Free Men, with a quote from Albert James Pickett's 1851 book, History of Alabama, and Incidentally of Georgia and Mississippi, from the Earliest Period.

"About this time, a bloody transaction occurred in the territory of the present county of Conecuh....The part consisted of a Hillabee Indian, who had murdered so many men, that he was called Istillicha, the Man-slayer --- a desperate white man, who had fled from the States for the crime of murder, and whom, on account of his activity and ferocity, the Indians called the Cat --- and a blood-thirsty negro, named Bob."

And this is the jump off point for Smith's novel. 1788. She puts this unlikely trio together, on the run from not just their pasts, but a murder they all have a hand in. Smith creates detailed back stories for each of them even as they run towards what they hope will be a better life. Chasing them is another white man, just as determined that they be captured.

I loved that Free Men was based on documented historical fact. Each man is given a chapter and a unique voice. Smith's prose are rich with details, descriptions, emotions, hopes, dreams, fears and more. Freedom, guilt and relationships with women are themes Smith explores through each set of eyes. Free Men is not a book you can rush through. Smith's pacing is slower and her work is quite beautiful, but I did find myself having to put the book down every so often, returning later to pick up the story, as I found it to be a heavy read. But a good one.  Read an excerpt of Free Men.

"Katy Simpson Smith is the author of a study of early American motherhood, We Have Raised All of You: Motherhood in the South, 1750-1835, and a novel, The Story of Land and Sea. She lives in New Orleans." Connect with Katy Simpson Smith through her website. See what others on the TLC book tour thought - full schedule can be found here.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Over the Counter #306

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

First up is The Gratitude Diaries: How a Year Looking on the Bright Side Can Transform Your Life by Janice Kaplan.

From the publisher, Dutton Books:

"In this New York Times bestseller, Janice Kaplan spends a year living gratefully and transforms her marriage, family life, work and health. Her pioneering reseach was praised in People and Vanity Fair and hailed on TV shows including Today, The O’Reilly Factor, and CBS’s The Talk.

On New Year’s Eve, journalist and former Parade Editor-in-Chief Janice Kaplan makes a promise to be grateful and look on the bright side of whatever happens. She realizes that how she feels over the next months will have less to do with the events that occur than her own attitude and perspective. Getting advice at every turn from psychologists, academics, doctors, and philosophers, she brings readers on a smart and witty journey to discover the value of appreciating what you have.

Relying on both amusing personal experiences and extensive research, Kaplan explores how gratitude can transform every aspect of life including marriage and friendship, money and ambition, and health and fitness. She learns how appreciating your spouse changes the neurons of your brain and why saying thanks helps CEOs succeed. Through extensive interviews with experts and lively conversations with real people including celebrities like Matt Damon, Daniel Craig, and Jerry Seinfeld, Kaplan discovers the role of gratitude in everything from our sense of fulfillment to our children’s happiness.

With warmth, humor, and appealing insight, Janice’s journey will empower readers to think positively and start living their own best year ever."

Next up is Pretty Happy: Healthy Ways to Love Your Body by Kate Hudson.

From the publisher, Dey Street Books:

"I didn’t just wake up one day understanding how to take care of myself. I had to learn how to do so over time, and I continue to learn—each and every day. This is a process, and my body is constantly changing. So is yours. And when I learned how to accept that I will always be like this, I relaxed. Our bodies do not stand still for time.

When you understand yourself and connect to how you can become body smart, you realize pretty quickly that the perfect, the ideal is not the goal. Instead, the goal is feeling good in your body. That’s what leads to confidence, to feeling and looking fit, and being pretty happy. Doesn’t that sound great? I think so!

In almost every interview she gives, Kate Hudson is asked the same questions: What do you eat? How do you stay so fit? What workout do you do? What’s your secret? Well, the secret is that the sound bites the media loves so much don’t tell the story, and the steps you need to take to have a healthy, vibrant and happy life can’t be captured in a short interview. The key to living well, and healthy, is to plug into what your body needs, understanding that one size does not fit all, all the time, and being truly honest with yourself about your goals and desires.

Like everyone else, Kate is constantly on the move, with a life full of work, family, responsibilities and relationships. In Pretty Happy, Kate shows how she honors her relationship with herself through exercise, making the right choices about what she eats, and constantly going back to the drawing board and starting fresh, instead of holding herself to unrealistic standards of perfection and giving up when she falls short. Focusing on the Four Pillars of Health to enhance her well-being, Pretty Happy shows the benefits of: Cultivating an Intuitive Relationship With Your Body, Eating Well, Awakening Your Body through movement and The Miracle of Mindfulness.

Full of questionnaires to help you assess your Body Type and your stress levels, advice about cleanses and keeping your diet and body balanced, and plenty of interactive Drawing Board exercises, Pretty Happy is a beautiful, insightful, and personal look at health from the inside out, an authentic plan for an authentic life from a woman who truly lives what she speaks."

(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!)

Giveaway - No Escape From Greatness - Jeffrey John Eyamie

Jeffrey John Eyamie's new novel No Escape From Greatness releases March 24/16 - and I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader!

From the publisher, Turnstone Press:

"Fame can be fickle. Nobody knows that better than overnight sensation Gabriel Pegg . . . you know, Port-o-Potty Guy . . . from Erratic Automatic. Remember him? He went from the penthouse to the outhouse, and now Gabriel is persona non grata in the entertainment biz. Broke, behind on his child support payments, and a wanted man, Gabriel heads to the only place he has left: Greatness, Manitoba, population... I don't know, but there's one traffic light. Returning to sever all family responsibilities so that he can assume his rightful place as a world-venerated artist, he somehow manages to sign himself up for six-days-a-week custody of his 11-year-old daughter. Gabriel realizes there might just be no Escape From Greatness." Sounds like a fun read!

"Jeffrey John Eyamie is a Winnipeg screenwriter and novelist who worked in the writers’ room of Less Than Kind (HBO Canada). His comedy pilot Split Level was accepted by the National Screen Institute's Totally Television program. Jeff spent his formative years catching gophers in Virden, Manitoba. "You can follow him on twitter: @eyamie

And if No Escape From Greatness sounds like a book you'd like to read, enter to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends March 26/16.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Britt-Marie Was Here - Fredrik Backman

Fredrik Backman's first book, A Man Called Ove, remains on my list of all time favourite  reads. But Ove has been bumped down a spot by Britt-Marie.

Britt-Marie Was Here is Backman's forthcoming (May 2016 in the US and August 2016 in Canada) novel. I'm giving you lots of warning - this is one you absolutely have to read.

Britt-Marie's marriage has broken up. After forty years of looking after Kent, she's alone and needs to find a job. Not an easy task, given her age and well - her personality and mannerisms. Britt-Marie is a bit awkward and uncomfortable in social situations and conversations. Britt-Marie's coping mechanisms are cleaning - (baking soda and Faxin - a brand of window cleaner, can do it all) as well as list making.

"A year turned into several years, and several years turned into all the years. One morning you wake up with more life behind you than in front of you, not being able to understand how it's happened.

Britt-Marie in fact does land a job - a three week stint in a run down little town named Borg, looking after their soon to be closed recreation centre. Borg is full of quirky inhabitants, odd little shops and a group of rag-tag children who love to play soccer - and I loved it all. (And you know, I kind of want to live there too.)

But it is Britt-Marie who will steal (and break) your heart. Her stubbornness, her anxieties and her tentative steps in making a life for herself will by turns have you laughing and crying. Brilliant.

Backman is a clever, clever writer - his soccer to life analogies are brilliant and the characters immediately won me over (or in the case of Kent - had me immediately despising him)

"Kent always pushed the shopping cart, while Britt-Marie walks at his side and holds on to a corner of it. Not because she's trying to steer, only that she likes holding on to things while he is also holding on to them. For the sake of the feeling of going somewhere at the same time."

It's simply impossible not to be in Britt-Marie's corner, urging her on and hoping that......well, I had my hopes for her (and Borg). Backman's ending, although not what I expected, is just right.

All I can say is that you must read this book - and recommend it to your friends.

Monday, March 14, 2016

The Girl in the Red Coat - Kate Hamer - Review AND Giveaway

The Girl in the Red Coat is Kate Hamer's debut novel. It's garnered lots of attention as a finalist for both the Costa Book Award for First Novel and the Dagger Award.  And this is what I love about debuts - there's no history, no expectations of what the story is going to be, no familiarity with the author's style or storytelling - it's a story just waiting for the reader to discover it.

Eight year old Carmel is a dreamer, often getting lost - both physically and mentally. Her single mother, Beth, struggles to keep Carmel with her in public places as the girl likes to hide. And then one day, Carmel hides too well. Her mother cannot find her.......but an older gentleman does. He says he's her grandfather and that her mother has been hurt - Carmel must come with him.....and she does. (The foreshadowing and foreboding that leads up to this is wonderful.)

The Girl in the Red Coat is told in alternating viewpoints/chapters - between Beth and Carmel. Beth's chapters are marked in days - and then years as the search for Carmel continues to turn up nothing. But as readers we know where Carmel is and what has happened to her.

Now, those looking for an intense suspense/mystery novel won't find it here. (Indeed, I could not slot this book into any genre.) Instead, Hamer deftly and intimately explores the aftermath of such a loss/crime/event from two very differing viewpoints. How does life go on? For both. Carmel's chapters were hard to read as they are from a child with no immediate clear picture of the deception that has occurred. But as a mother, I found Beth's just as wrenching as she tries to cope.

Hamer throws in a bit of a unexpected bit with Carmel. Her 'getting lost' has a reason - and her 'grandfather' believes it has a purpose as well. I'm not quite sure how I felt about this part of the plot, but as I said at the beginning, I do like being surprised as I read. And I couldn't stop reading - I wanted to know what happened and if the two would ever be reunited. Are they? You'll have to read the book to find out. (Scroll down to the bottom to enter to win a copy!)

The Girl in the Red Coat was a great debut. I'll be watching for Hamer's next novel.  Read an excerpt of The Girl in the Red Coat.

"Kate Hamer is a winner of the Rhys Davies Short Story Prize. Girl in the Red Coat is her first novel. It is shortlisted for the Costa Book Award for First Novel and a finalist for The Dagger Award. She lives in Cardiff, Wales with her husband and two children." You can connect with Kate on Twitter @kate_hamer. See what others on the TLC book tour thought - full schedule can be found here.

And if you'd like to read The Girl in the Red Coat, I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader. Enter using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, no po boxes please. Ends March 26/16.

Giveaway - Midnight Special movie money vouchers

Midnight Special opens in select theatres on March 18 - and I have a pair of Movie Money vouchers to giveaway to one lucky reader!

That poster is pretty, what's the movie about?

Synopsis: "A father goes on the run to protect his young son, Alton, and uncover the truth behind the boy’s special powers. What starts as a race from religious extremists and local law enforcement quickly escalates to a nationwide manhunt involving the highest levels of the Federal Government. Ultimately his father risks everything to protect Alton and help fulfill a destiny that could change the world forever."

The film is written and directed by Jeff Nichols and stars Michael Shannon, Kirsten Dunst, Joel Edgerton, Adam Driver, Sam Shepard, and Jaeden Lieberher. Check out the trailer below.

If Midnight Special sounds like a movie you'd like to see, I have a set of two vouchers to giveaway – each voucher holds up to a $12 value and can be redeemed for a movie ticket at participating theaters. Valid until April 21/16. Enter using the rafflecopter form below. This one's short and sweet - ends March 19/16.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Giveaway - A Place Called Winter - Patrick Gale

Patrick Gale's new novel, A Place Called Winter, releases March 22/16 - and I have 2 copies to giveaway to two lucky readers!

From Grand Central Publishing:

"A privileged elder son, and stammeringly shy, Harry Cane has followed convention at every step. Even the beginnings of an illicit, dangerous affair do little to shake the foundations of his muted existence - until the shock of discovery and the threat of arrest cost him everything.

Forced to abandon his wife and child, Harry signs up for emigration to the newly colonised Canadian prairies. Remote and unforgiving, his allotted homestead in a place called Winter is a world away from the golden suburbs of turn-of-the-century Edwardian England. And yet it is here, isolated in a seemingly harsh landscape, under the threat of war, madness and an evil man of undeniable magnetism that the fight for survival will reveal in Harry an inner strength and capacity for love beyond anything he has ever known before.

In this exquisite journey of self-discovery, loosely based on a real life family mystery, Patrick Gale has created an epic, intimate human drama, both brutal and breathtaking. It is a novel of secrets, sexuality and, ultimately, of great love." Read an excerpt of A Place Called Winter.

"Patrick Gale has written a book which manages to be both tender and epic, and carries the unmistakable tang of a true story. I loved it.” —Jojo Moyes

Patrick Gale was born on the Isle of Wight in 1962. He spent his infancy at Wandsworth Prison, which his father governed, then grew up in Winchester. He now lives on a farm near Land's End. He's a passionate gardener, cook, and cellist and chairs the North Cornwall Book Festival each October. His fifteen novels include A Perfectly Good Man and Notes From an Exhibition - both of which were Richard and Judy Bookclub selections, The Whole Day Through and Rough Music. His latest, A Place Called Winter, draws intriguingly on his family history."You can find out more on his website  and connect with him on Twitter: @PNovelistGale.

And if A Place Called Winter sounds like a book you'd like to own and read, enter to win one of two copies using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, ends March 26/16.

Friday, March 11, 2016

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #96

- 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 am sooooo looking forward this final book in Justin Cronin's Passage trilogy. The City of Mirrors releases in May in North America and mid June in the UK. The Canadian/US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Each country's trilogies have had their own style and these latest covers reflect that. I'm going with the Canadian/US cover this week - it reflects the series for me, I like the colour -the first book was blue, the second red - and the gold just seems right for the final book. I can't wait to see what and where this city is. The UK's previous covers have featured a picture of this same girl, who is the main focus. But, I like to imagine what a character looks like myself, without having a picture put in front of me. And, add to that I'm sick of girls on covers. What about you? Will you be reading The City of Mirrors? Which cover do you prefer? 
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

The Crooked Heart of Mercy - Billie Livingston

The Crooked Heart of Mercy is Billie Livingston's latest novel.

Ben and Maggie are an estranged couple. The unthinkable happened - their small son Frankie died in a tragic accident. But that accident was preventable - and both parents are more than aware of that. How do you carry on living after such a death? And this is what Livingston explores in The Crooked Heart of Mercy - loss, love, redemption and salvation.

The Crooked Heart of Mercy is told in alternating chapters from both Maggie and Ben.

Relationships of all sorts are explored in the novel - spousal, parental, fraternal, and many more. Ben and Maggie both have brothers and they too are struggling to find their way in life. Well, not just them - every character in the book is having a hard time. Most of them are marginalized - wounded or broken in one way or another - substance abuse, loneliness, isolation, aging, health and more. I found myself feeling incredibly sad as I read. And yes, the book heads towards that redemption and salvation ending, but even when I reached the last page, I couldn't shake the sadness. The sadness that comes with the repetition of the phrase...."We'll survive. That's what we do." And yet, that's what we all do, isn't it? Read an excerpt of The Crooked Heart of Mercy.

"Billie Livingston is the award-winning author of three novels, a collection of short stories, and a poetry collection. Her most recent novel, One Good Hustle, a Globe and Mail Best Book selection, was nominated for the Giller Prize and for the Canadian Library Association’s Young Adult Book Award. She lives in Vancouver, British Columbia." Find out more about Billie at her website and connect with her on Twitter. See what others on the TLC book tour thought - full schedule can be found here.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Giveaway - Iris and Ruby - Rosie Thomas

I've got a wonderful giveaway for you today - three copies of Rosie Thomas's award winning novel, Iris and Ruby!

From the publisher, Overlook Press:

"Fragility and forgetfulness have made 82-year-old Iris vulnerable; she lives in the care of her manservant, Mamdooh. Stiflingly quiet and claustrophobic, Iris's Cairo house is suddenly disturbed by the unexpected arrival of her troubled and willful granddaughter, Ruby, who, laboring under a strained relationship with her family, has run away from England to seek solace with the grandmother she hasn't seen for many years. Grasping for the family connection she lacks, Ruby feels consoled by the bond she forms with Iris.

Ruby begins documenting Iris's deteriorating memories, especially the story of the mysterious Captain Xan Molyneux, who Iris lost to the ravages of World War II. With their judgment colored by the lens of memory, Iris and Ruby's journey into the glittering Cairo of the past lures the women into dire circumstances in the present-day Egyptian desert. A story of finding, and losing, and finding oneself again, Iris and Ruby portrays three generations of women who must learn how to handle the complicated relationships that have the power to either strengthen or destroy them.

Rosie Thomas, an inveterate world-traveler and explorer, has created a characteristically atmospheric novel, rich and alive with authentic descriptions of the vast and changing city. Iris and Ruby is a gripping tale that explores how women in the same family grapple with love and acceptance." Read an excerpt of Iris and Ruby.

"Rosie Thomas is the author of numerous critically acclaimed, bestselling novels. She has won the Romantic Novel of the Year Award twice, for her novels Iris and Ruby and Sunrise. Born in a small village in northern Wales, Thomas discovered a love of traveling and mountaineering when her children were grown. In the years since, she has climbed in the Alps and the Himalayas, competed in the Peking to Paris car rally, trekked in the footsteps of Shackleton on South Georgia Island, and spent time on a tiny Bulgarian research station in Antarctica. To research The Kashmir Shawl, she traveled to Ladakh and Kashmir." You can connect with Rosie on Facebook.

And if you'd like to read Iris and Ruby, I have three copies to giveaway, courtesy of Overlook Press. Enter using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US only, no PO boxes please. Ends March 26/16.

Over the Counter #305

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

First up is The Hairy Dieters: How to Love Food and Lose Weight Book One by Hairy Bikers Dave Myers and Si King.

From Orion Publishing:

"The Hairy Bikers have lost almost 6 stone between them and you can lose weight too...

Si King and Dave Myers are self-confessed food lovers. Food isn't just fuel to them, it's their life. But, like many of us, they've found that the weight has crept on over the years. So they've made a big decision to act before it's too late and lose some pounds. With over 1.3 million copies and counting, Si and Dave have come up with tasty recipes that are low in calories and big on flavour in this groundbreaking diet book. This is real food for real people, not skinny minnies."

Next up is Stir: My Broken Brain and the Meals That Brought Me Home by Jessica Fechtor.

From the publisher, Avery Books:

"A national bestseller and winner of a 2015 Living Now Book Award, Stir is an exquisite memoir about how food connects us to ourselves, our lives, and each other.

At 28, Jessica Fechtor was happily immersed in graduate school and her young marriage, and thinking about starting a family. Then one day, she went for a run and an aneurysm burst in her brain. She nearly died. She lost her sense of smell, the sight in her left eye, and was forced to the sidelines of the life she loved.

Jessica’s journey to recovery began in the kitchen as soon as she was able to stand at the stovetop and stir. There, she drew strength from the restorative power of cooking and baking. Written with intelligence, humor, and warmth, Stir is a heartfelt examination of what it means to nourish and be nourished.

Woven throughout the narrative are 27 recipes for dishes that comfort and delight. For readers of M.F.K.Fisher, Molly Wizenberg, and Tamar Adler, as well as Oliver Sacks, Jill Bolte Taylor, and Susannah Cahalan, Stir is sure to inspire, and send you straight to the kitchen."

(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, March 8, 2016

Still Mine - Amy Stuart

Still Mine is Amy Stuart's debut novel.

Clare is on the run - from a past that slowly comes to light as the story progresses. She is on her way to a rundown, remote mining town called Blackmore. Why? She's there at the direction of a man named Malcolm - to see if she can discover anything about a missing local woman named Shayna.

Stuart is spare with details in the beginning - it absolutely ensures the reader will keep turning pages, eager to see who and why. And I did, but I felt a wee bit annoyed at the pacing of it. Malcolm is alluded to many times, without any idea of who he is and why Clare is following his directions until we're a fair ways into the book.

The setting was good - dark, atmospheric and totally mirroring the tone and plot of the book. It had the feel of a cross between Justified and Winter's Bone - rundown town off the beaten track, poverty, drugs, violence and simmering undercurrents.

And I held onto that image as I read - it allowed me to ignore my pragmatic nature and not question Clare's decisions. Her past seems to let her easily slip into the town's underbelly. I did have a harder time with some of the other locals - why they 'adopted' her so fast. An old man letting a woman he just met look after his dementia stricken wife alone was a bit of stretch for me.

There are two stories running concurrently through Still Mine - Clare's and Shayna's. Journal entries interspersed between chapters give the reader a good idea what has happened to Shayna even as Clare continues to try to find her.  Although Shayna's disappearance is at the centre of the plot, I found myself much more invested in Clare's story.

I liked that I couldn't predict what was going to happen next in Still Mine. Stuart keeps the reader guessing right to the end. And the ending was perfect - opening up the door to the sequel that Stuart is working on - and I will be watching for.

The title is very clever - no spoilers, but it can be taken two ways.  Read an excerpt of Still Mine.

You can connect with Amy Stuart on her website, as well as on Twitter and Facebook.

Monday, March 7, 2016

In Real Life - Jessica Love - Review AND Giveaway

In Real Life is the new young adult novel from Jessica Love.

Hannah is the quintessential 'good girl' - good grades, listening to her parents and never breaking the rules. Her biggest vice is talking online to her friend Nick. Nick from Las Vegas that she's never met in four years. Nick that really knows her and gets her. Nick that maybe she maybe likes as more than a friend......

"My best friend and I have never met. We talk every day on the phone or online, and he knows more about me than anyone."

So when Spring Break rolls around Hannah decides it's finally time to break some rules. Hannah, her friend Grace and her older sister decide to head to meet Nick.

Love has come up with a great premise - someone's online presence can be completely different from 'real life.' (and have you watched Catfishing?!) I was completely taken with Hannah. I loved her voice and her thoughts and found myself casting back to those uncertain teenage years. And Nick reminded me of someone from those teen years as well - kind, quiet and a keeper. The supporting cast is somewhat cliched, but serve as perfect foils for the main plot.

Love captures the so dynamic perfectly. Missed cues, missed opportunities and missteps populate the pages of In Real Life. Is In Real Life based in reality? Parts of it yes and parts of it no - some of the Vegas behaviour was a bit over the top risky. But putting that aside, it was a fun, cute, escapist piece of light contemporary teen romance that I quite enjoyed. With a few little nuggets of wisdom thrown in that anyone can appreciate...

"You don't have to choose Hannah. It's not success or fun. It's not life or love. You don't have to just pick one door to walk through." Read an excerpt of In Real Life.

And if you'd like to read In Real Life, I have a copy to giveaway courtesy of St. Martin's Griffin! Enter using the Rafflecopter form below. 
Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends March 19/16.

"Jessica Love is a high school English teacher who lives in Southern California with her husband, her son, and their two tiny dogs. She's working on her Master's Degree in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Spalding University, and her big love is contemporary YA romance. Jessica spends all of her free money on concerts, constantly tries to prove that blondes have more fun, and is pretty much always on the internet." You can connect with Jessica on her website, on Facebook, as well as on Twitter.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Food and Drink with DK Canada!

I must admit, I'm not the best cook, but I do enjoy baking. (And the consuming of baked goods!) DK Canada has put together a Food and Drink Boutique showcasing some of their great titles.

"With comprehensive wine encyclopedias and clear, easy-to-follow cookbooks – this selection of our illustrated epicurean titles will be sure to please your favorite foodie!"

Which one caught my eye? Baking with Mary Berry: Cakes, Cookies, Pies and Pastries from the British Queen of Baking. I'm not sure how I haven't come across Berry's cookbooks before - she has "six decades of cooking experience and more than 80 cookbooks to her name and is considered Britain's queen of baking. And I've only just discovered The Great British Bake Off, where Berry is a judge.

This a perfect cookbook for those looking for basic, satisfying recipes perfect for beginners or experienced bakers.

The first chapter deals with techniques - most of the basic skills I was familiar with but others were new to me, such as steaming a pudding and different types of pastry. Berry really does cover it all, from muffins, loafs to cakes, pies, tarts, cookies - and British favourites. This was my favourite chapter! Devon scones, treacle tarts, Banoffi pie, sticky toffee pudding and more. Absolute comfort food that reminds me of my gran. Every recipe looks delicious and there are some unusual pairings I have to try - Chocolate and Beet cake!?

The layout of the book is clean and easy to read. The recipes call for ingredients most bakers will have in the fridge or cupboard. The methods are also clear and easy to follow with only 3-7 steps in each. My only wish is that colour photos had been included with every recipe. Those that are look delicious. No nutritional info is included. But butter, sugar and chocolate are, so it's probably better to just enjoy a treat without worrying.

This is a cookbook I'll be using and enjoying for many years.  Here's Mary Berry's Apple Strudel recipe and the treacle tart recipe. See an excerpt of Baking With Mary Berry.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

The Hatching - Ezekiel Boone

I wanted to share this great bookmail package I received yesterday...........

Here's the envelope, with a wonderfully intriguing sticker.... "There's a reason you're afraid of spiders." #theywantout

And here's the book... The Hatching by Ezekiel Boone. Yes, it arrived covered in spider webs and spiders! Clever, clever marketing Penguin Random House Canada!

From the publisher:

"An astonishingly inventive and terrifying debut horror novel about the emergence of an ancient race of carnivorous spiders, dormant for ten thousand years but now very much awake. There's a reason we're afraid of spiders...

A local guide is leading wealthy tourists through a forest in Peru when a strange, black, skittering mass engulfs him and most of the party. FBI Agent Mike Rich is on a routine stakeout in Minneapolis when he's suddenly called by the director himself to investigate a mysterious plane crash. A scientist studying earthquakes in India registers an unprecedented pattern in local seismic readings. The US president, her defence and national security advisers and her chief of staff are dumped into crisis mode when China "accidentally" drops a nuclear bomb on a desolate region of its own country. As such unsettling occurrences mount, the president's old friend (and her chief of staff's ex-wife), spider expert Melanie Guyer, receives a box at her lab at American University that contains an ancient egg unearthed at a South American dig.

So begins The Hatching, the hair-raising saga of a single week in which an ancient, frighteningly predatory species of spider re-emerges in force. When the unusual egg in Melanie Guyer's lab begins to vibrate and crack, she finds herself at the epicentre of this apocalyptic natural disaster. Working closely with her ex-husband and his very powerful boss, she has to find some way to stem the brutal tide of man-eating arachnids." Releases July 5, 2016. Watch for my review!

Friday, March 4, 2016

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #95

- 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
I adored A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. (But I didn't
love My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She's Sorry as much.) But I'm looking forward to his new book, Britt-Marie was here, releasing in May in the US and July in the UK. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. It's an easy choice for me this week - US. The colors appeals to me, I'm curious about the soccer ball and the cleaning kit and it's just generally appealing. Not so for the UK cover. Bland, trying way too hard to be quirky and I wouldn't pick it up if I didn't know the author. Any plans to read Britt-Marie Was Here?
Which cover do you prefer?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.