Friday, April 29, 2016

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #103

- 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
Laura Lippman is an author I read regularly - I'm looking forward to picking up her latest, a stand alone titled Wilde Lake. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Easy choice for me this week - I'm going with the US cover. I am drawn to the eerie setting and the isolated house. The letters on the UK make me think of college and a letter jacket. It wouldn't entice me to pick it up at all. So, any plans to read Wilde Lake? Which cover do you prefer this week?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Twenty Questions for Gloria - Martyn Bedford

Twenty Questions for Gloria is the new YA read from Martyn Bedford.

Fifteen year old Gloria is drawn to Uman, a newcomer at her school. He's unlike the other boys, in both manner and mind. He sees through her 'perfect' life to the boredom that simmers below the surface. And it is that boredom that has her rashly accepting his offer to go on an 'adventure'.

And here's where the great tag line on the cover comes in to play...."Two go missing - one comes back."

It is Gloria who returns. What happened?  Gloria's family and friends, the reader - and the police want to know. The answers are to be found in the twenty questions of the police interview.

I thought this way of telling Gloria's story was unique. Each question reveals a little more and we slowly learn the truth. But we are also privy to Gloria's thoughts - and some of the things she decides to keep private.

There is the mystery of what happened of course, but the thrust of the book is an exploration of young love, self examination and an emotional snapshot of teen life, angst, hopes and dreams.

I too, was drawn to Uman - Bedford has created an unusual, intriguing protagonist. His dialogue is witty, his actions - although somewhat rash - are true to his own self.  His background is sad, but for me he has a resilience that is innate. So, for this reader, it was Gloria's slow self realization that I became invested in. With each question and answer, we see how her awareness grew over the time away.

When I was young, I was offered a chance to go on an 'adventure' as well. I said no, but after reading the book I wondered - what if I'd said yes? The ending was just right - and what I had hoped for. Read an excerpt of Twenty Questions for Gloria. You can connect with Martyn Bedford on his website.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Over the Counter #312

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

First up is Slice Harvester: A Memoir in Pizza by Colin Atrophy Hagendorf.

From the publisher, Simon and Schuster:

"One of NPR’s Best Books of 2015.

Over the course of two years, a twenty-something punk rocker eats a cheese slice from every pizzeria in New York City, gets sober, falls in love, and starts a blog that captures headlines around the world—he is the Slice Harvester, and this is his story.

Since its arrival on US shores in 1905, pizza has risen from an obscure ethnic food to an iconic symbol of American culture. It has visited us in our dorm rooms and apartments, sometimes before we’d even unpacked or painted. It has nourished us during our jobs, consoled us during break-ups, and celebrated our triumphs right alongside us.

In August 2009, Colin Hagendorf set out to review every regular slice of pizza in Manhattan, and his blog, Slice Harvester, was born. Two years and nearly 400 slices later, he’d been featured in The Wall Street Journal, the Daily News (New York), and on radio shows all over the country. Suddenly, this self-proclaimed punk who was barely making a living doing burrito delivery and selling handmade zines had a following. But at the same time Colin was stepping up his game for the masses (grabbing slices with Phoebe Cates and her teenage daughter, reviewing kosher pizza so you don’t have to), his personal life was falling apart.

A problem drinker and chronic bad boyfriend, he started out using the blog as a way to escape—the hangovers, the midnight arguments, the hangovers again—until finally realizing that by taking steps to reach a goal day by day, he’d actually put himself in a place to finally take control of his life for good."

Next up is Mess: One Man's Struggle to Clean Up His House and His Act by Barry Yourgrau.

From the publisher W.W. Norton:

"Hilarious and poignant, a glimpse into the mind of someone who is both a sufferer from and an investigator of clutter.

Millions of Americans struggle with severe clutter and hoarding. New York writer and bohemian Barry Yourgrau is one of them. Behind the door of his Queens apartment, Yourgrau’s life is, quite literally, chaos. Confronted by his exasperated girlfriend, a globe-trotting food critic, he embarks on a heartfelt, wide-ranging, and too often uproarious project—part Larry David, part Janet Malcolm—to take control of his crammed, disorderly apartment and life, and to explore the wider world of collecting, clutter, and extreme hoarding.

Encounters with a professional declutterer, a Lacanian shrink, and Clutterers Anonymous—not to mention England’s most excessive hoarder—as well as explorations of the bewildering universe of new therapies and brain science, help Yourgrau navigate uncharted territory: clearing shelves, boxes, and bags; throwing out a nostalgic cracked pasta bowl; and sorting through a lifetime of messy relationships. Mess is the story of one man’s efforts to learn to let go, to clean up his space (physical and emotional), and to save his relationship."

(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, April 26, 2016

The Art of Calm - Rebecca Ascher-Walsh

Life is busy - sometimes that's a good thing and sometimes its just overwhelming. I've tried many tips, techniques and strategies for stepping back out of the fray to catch my breath, unwind and re-centre.

Rebecca Ascher-Walsh's new book is The Art of Calm - the cover made me want to take a closer look.

From the preface:

"The following passages, tips, and tricks are meant to offer inspiration, provide an outline for 'you' time, and allow time to reflect. The words of wisdom and advice from inspirational figures are aimed to remind you how to be your own best friend, to go ahead and allow space for calm and the possibility of magic that comes with it."

So, what did I find inside? A wonderful wide range of ideas - from recipes for brownies, bath salts, hot cocoa, pasta and more.

To quotes - many from books such as this one from Ann Brashares' Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants: "Maybe happiness didn't have to be about the big, sweeping circumstances, about having everything in your life in place. Maybe it was about stringing together a bunch of small pleasures."

And this one from Michelle Obama: "You may not always have a comfortable life. And you will not always be able to solve all the world's problems all at once. But don't ever underestimate the impact you can have, because history has shown us that courage can be contagious, and hope can take on a life of its own."

To suggestions - Keep a beautiful flower in a bud vase where you can see it - be it your home or work desk. Say something nice to a stranger. And I loved this one - once a week, go to bed early with a book! To activities - try a headstand, volunteer.  To proverbs, advice and so much more. There's lots of food for thought, all accompanied by full colour, peaceful photos.

A ribbon bookmark is bound with the book, perfect to keep your place from day to day if you're a front to back reader. Me - I like to jump around, see what's at the end first and surprise myself. I'm just going to open it to a random page every day. Now, not every idea and suggestion appealed to me, but I can see something for everyone in the pages of The Art of Calm.

The most valuable one? "Start with this thought, every morning, even when your alarm goes off too early: Every day is a gift." This one I'm going to repeat to myself each and every day.......

"Rebecca Ascher-Walsh is a journalist who covers celebrities and lifestyle. She contributes to many newspapers and magazines, including Entertainment Weekly, The Wall Street Journal and The L.A. Times." See what others on the TLC book tour thought - full schedule can be found here.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Black Rabbit Hall - Eve Chase

I absolutely adored this book!! Black Rabbit Hall is Eve Chase's debut novel. I can't imagine how she will follow it up - but I will be waiting for her next book.

1969: Amber and her siblings live with their parents at Pencraw Hall, affectionately called Black Rabbit Hall by the children. Life is idyllic, until a single stormy night irrevocably changes the direction of their lives forever.

30 years later: Lorna and her fiancé John are driving the back roads of Cornwall (England) hunting for a Pencraw Hall, that advertised itself as a wedding venue. When they finally come across it, Lorna feels a odd sense of.....something....recognition?

I love dual narratives, past and present being slowly revealed, until the stories inevitably collide, revealing the final connections and resolution.

Amber and Lorna are both wonderful protagonists, each with a distinct voice. I found myself more caught up in the past. Perhaps because it is these events that shape the future? I grew so invested in the lives of the Alton children and found myself cursing the antagonist of the book out loud. I'm trying to not give away too much, but oh my goodness - she is truly, truly nasty.

All the absolutely delicious elements of a Gothic tale are in place - a creaky, crumbling old mansion filled with the detritus of its glory days, a cantankerous old woman in situ who has been hanging on to her secrets for many, many years and a housekeeper who has lived her whole life in that mansion as well. Dark woods and overgrown gardens surround the house, adding to the wonderful atmosphere Chase has created.

Chase drops clues along the way - single sentences that say so much about what has happened. I found myself talking out loud again - quite saddened by some of those past events. And just as some of those past events are revealed, the narrative changes to the present day. For me, this always guarantees being tired in the morning, as I just have to read 'one more chapter'.....and then another and another.

Black Rabbit Hall is hands down one of my fave reads for 2016. Read an excerpt of Black Rabbit Hall. Recommended for Kate Morton fans. You can connect with Eve Chase on her website, as well as on Twitter and find her on Facebook.

Friday, April 22, 2016

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #102

- 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
Here's another one on my TBR list - Watching Edie by Camilla Way. I'm a sucker for this type of description ...."For fans of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train: A dazzling work of psychological suspense that weaves together the past and present of two women’s twisted friendship." So, the US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Easy choice for me this week - UK. As I've said more than a few times before, I'm tired of the 'girl through a window' type of cover. I like the tagline on the UK cover and the cover picture would have me picking it up to look at the flyleaf. What about you? Which cover do you prefer?
Any plans to read Watching Edie?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Precious Cargo - Craig Davidson

Craig Davidson's latest book is a memoir entitled Precious Cargo: My Year Driving the Kids on School Bus 3077.

Davidson has achieved success as an author numerous times. But at one point, he was struggling to keep the coffers filled. And so...."I took a job driving a school because I was penniless; it was that simple."

But Davidson ended up finding more than monetary gain. He drove Route 412. "Special needs. Six students. One wheelchair, five walks."

Davidson started keeping notes (with permission from the families) on his charges, his thoughts, their interactions - and the changes that year brought. Those notes are this book. "Anytime those kids said something hilarious or quizzical or profane or insightful or humane - well, I'd rush to my notebook (not while active driving!) and jot it down."

In the beginning Davidson is unsure as to how this job will work out,  but he soon becomes invested in his charges - and more involved with one student outside of the bus. We come to know each student, their personalities and their peccadilloes. Davidson is a staunch vocal (and physical) defender of the 3077 kids, but soon comes realize that that it is his own perceptions, uneasiness and awkwardness around the disabled that are fueling his temper. When he lets that go, the 'disabled kids' that he's driving lose that descriptor for him and simply become 'kids.' Kudos to Davidson for being so honest in describing his own behaviours - a few of actions did surprise me. In some ways, Davidson is just as fragile that year as some his charges.

And over the year, Davidson finds himself changed..."If I was broken, then the bus fixed me. You guys fixed me. The physical truth is that I drove you. The deeper truth is that you drove me. Drove me to step out of my own sickened skin, to stop feeling sorry for myself and to see the world for its beauties more than it's agonies..."

Excerpts from an unpublished novel called The Seekers are interspersed between chapters - it's easy to see the inspiration and metaphorical matches for the kids on Route 412.

I'm a bit disappointed that Davidson's contact with the riders ended at the end of that school year. I would have liked to know where the kids are today - especially Jake, who described Craig as his 'older brother.'

As they say, the best stories in life are the real ones. And this recounting of a year in the life of a school bus driver and his riders is a darn good one. Read an excerpt of Precious Cargo.

Davidson's last book Cataract City, was shortlisted for the Giller Prize and the Trillium Book Prize, and was a Globe Best Book and national bestseller. Hi novel Rust and Bone was made into an Oscar nominated film of the same name. Davidson also writes horror and thrillers as Nick Cutter. (Loved The Troop) You can connect with Craig Davidson on his website.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Over the Counter #311

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

First up is Driving Hungry by Layne Mosler.

From the publisher, Pantheon Books:

"A delicious memoir that takes us from Buenos Aires to New York to Berlin as the author, driven by wanderlust and an unrelenting appetite, finds purpose, passion, and unexpected flavor.

After putting her dream of opening her own restaurant on hold, Layne Mosler moves to Buenos Aires to write about food. But she is also in search of that elusive something that could give shape to her life. One afternoon, fleeing a tango club following a terrible turn on the dance floor, she impulsively asks her taxista to take her to his favorite restaurant. Soon she is savoring one of the best steaks of her life and, in the weeks that follow, repeating the experiment with equally delectable results. So begins the gustatory adventure that becomes the basis for Mosler’s cult blog, Taxi Gourmet. It eventually takes her to New York City, where she continues her food quests, hailing cabs and striking up conversations from the back seat, until she meets a pair of extraordinary lady cab drivers who convince her to become a taxi driver herself. Between humbling (and hilarious) episodes behind the wheel, Mosler reads about the taxi drivers in Berlin, who allegedly know as much about Nietzsche as they do about sausage. Intrigued, she travels to the German capital, where she develops a passion for the city, its restlessness, its changing flavors, and a certain fellow cab driver who shares her love of the road.

With her vivid descriptions of places and people and food, Mosler has given us a beguiling book that speaks to the beauty of chance encounters and the pleasures of not always knowing your destination."

Next up is Woman-Powered Farm: A Self-sufficient Lifestyle From The Homestead To The Field by Audrey Levatino.

From the publisher, The Countryman Press:

"Women are leading the new farming revolution in America. Much of the impetus to move back to the land, raise our own food, and connect with our agricultural past is being driven by women. They raise sheep for wool, harvest honey from their beehives, grow food for their families and sell their goods at farmers' markets. What does a woman who wants to work the land need to do to follow her dream? First, she needs this book. It may seem strange to suggest that women farmers need a different guide than male farmers, but women often have different strengths and goals, and different ways of achieving those goals. Audrey Levatino shares her experiences of running a farm and offers invaluable advice on how to get started, whether you have hundreds of acres or a simple lot for an urban community garden. Filled with personal anecdotes and stories from other women farmers, from old hands to brand new ones, from agricultural icons like Temple Grandin, to her own sister, this book is a reassuring and inspirational guide.

Tips for keeping your mind, body and spirit healthy while undertaking the demanding nature of farm work It's all here, in the same warm and friendly voice that readers embraced in The Joy of Hobby Farming. Full-color photography throughout provides step-by-step instructions for anything you’ll need to do on your farm."

(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, April 19, 2016

Giveaway - Greenpeace Captain - Peter Willcox

I've got a fantastic giveaway  for those who love memoirs - and the planet.

Greenpeace Captain: My Adventures in Protecting the Future of Our Planet by Peter Willcox with Ronald B. Weiss, releases today.

From the publisher, Thomas Dunne Books:

"Peter Willcox has been a Captain for Greenpeace for over 30 years. He would never call himself a hero, but he is recognized on every ocean and continent for devoting his entire life to saving the planet. He has led the most compelling and dangerous Greenpeace actions to bring international attention to the destruction of our environment. From the globally televised imprisonment of his crew, the "Arctic 30," by Russian Commandos to international conspiracies involving diamond smuggling, gun-trading and Al-Qaeda, Willcox has braved the unimaginable and triumphed.

This is his story--which begins when he was a young man sailing with Pete Seeger and continues right up to his becoming the iconic environmentalist he is today. His daring adventures and courageous determination will inspire readers everywhere." Read an excerpt of Greenpeace Captain.

And if you'd like to read Greenpeace Captain, I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader. Enter using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US only, no PO boxes please. Ends May 7/16.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Lacy Eye - Jessica Treadway - Review AND Giveaway

Jessica Treadway's latest novel is Lacy Eye. The cover's tag line......What if you began to suspect your child of an unspeakable crime...had me intrigued.

Hanna and Joe's  youngest daughter Dawn, was always socially awkward and a step behind, "like there's something missing." When she goes away to college, they have high hopes that she will settle in and find her place in the world. What she does find is an older boyfriend, one who isn't quite what he says he is. Shortly after a visit by Dawn and Rud, Hanna and Joe are the victims of an unthinkable crime. Rud is convicted, but with an appeal looming, the crime must be revisited. Hanna's memory of that night is completely blanked out. While others question if Dawn was involved, Hanna steadfastly defends her daughter.

Steadway does a great job of drawing the reader into Hanna's mindset - the fear of reliving what happened, the frustration of not being able to remember and worst of all, the uncertainty that clouds her relationship with Dawn. Treadway takes us from present to past and back again as she slowly reveals more about Dawn, Hanna, Joe, their relationships and what might have led to where they are now. I was conflicted about the characters - I had a hard time liking Hanna and her husband, despite them being victims. Dawn is just as much a victim in many ways. I think it would have been interesting to 'see' things from Dawn's point of view as well.

The title? Lacy eye - "trying to make something prettier than it actually was." Choosing to see only what we want to see, not necessarily reality. Turning a blind eye you might say.

Treadway has taken inspiration for her book from a real life case. Those looking for a mystery or fast paced thriller won't find it in Lacy Eye. Instead, it's a slow building read to the final (expected) answer of whodunit.  Read an excerpt of Lacy Eye. You can connect with Jessica Treadway on her website.

If you think you'd like to read Lacy Eye, I have two copies to giveaway to two lucky readers. Enter using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, ends May 7/16.

Creatures Great and Small with DK Canada

To celebrate the release of their new Pocket Birds of Canada and Super Bug Encyclopedia, DK Canada has put together a Creatures Great and Small Boutique, with books to satisfy your curiosity about many other members of the animal kingdom.

What caught my eye? Well, I've got a wee grandson who just adores books. He'll be making his first trip to a zoo this summer, so My First Zoo: Let's Meet the Animals was a must read for us.

It's a board book, more specifically it's a tabbed board book. See all those pictures across the top and sides? Little fingers can pull on the tab and the book will easily open to the two sided page for more pictures and info. Kids will easily start to 'bookmark' their favourites with the tabbed picture.

The pictures are realistic - it's going to be easy to recognize some of the more exotic animals when he actually does see them in person. The colours are bright and attractive. And the book is sturdy - just right for a toddler.

As you can see, there are many pictures on each page, providing lots to look at and talk about. My wee one has farm animals down pat, so he was quite happy to read the petting zoo pages many times. At the Zoo, Primates, African Safari, Tropical Animals, Cold Zone, Bird House (this was also a favourite) Creepy Crawlies (not Gramma's favourite) Reptile House, Aquarium, Australian Animals and Nocturnal Animals are the other 'chapters'. I must admit, there were a few animals I didn't recognize! (I'd never heard of a genet)

You can also make a quick game out of finding the tabbed picture in the larger grouping. There's some questions on each page as well, such as what animal would you like to pet? Count the fish, etc.

We've been reading mostly stories so far, so this is his first 'non-fiction' book. It might be a good jump off point for more exploring as he gets older as well. (DK has a great online resource called for children ages 7-11 who are curious about just about anything - it's worth checking out.)

Gramma and little guy vote thumbs up on My First Zoo - and we're looking forward to seeing the animals in person this summer!

Friday, April 15, 2016

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #101

- 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 Crow Girl is a Scandinavian thriller from Erik Axl Sund. It looks a little dark, but is getting rave reviews from around the world. So, I've got a hold on it at my library to have a look. "A no.1 International Best Seller". The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Both covers are creepy, but I'm going with the UK cover this week. It's quite clever - look at the image again. What do you see first? The crow or the girl? So, have you heard of this book yet? Which cover do you prefer? You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Journey to Munich - Jacqueline Winspear

I read the first book in Jacqueline Winspear's wonderful Maisie Dobbs series back in 2003 - and was promptly hooked. The latest entry (#12) - Journey to Munich - is newly released.

Maisie has been many things - housemaid, student, nurse, psychologist, private investigator and an agent for the British Secret Service. Maisie is such a wonderfully drawn character - her intellect, determination, courage, kindness, loyalty and stalwartness have all endeared her to me. Winspear has moved Maisie's personal life along from that first book - although not always in a direction I wanted - and I have happily followed along.

But I also appreciate Winspear's plotting. She draws on historical fact, social mores and customs of the time periods and mixes in an always intriguing mystery.

The series began in the years of WW1 and Journey to Munich finds us on the cusp of WWII. A British citizen has been held captive for two years in Dachau. The Germans have agreed to his release - but only to a family member. Maisie is sent in to facilitate that release, appearing as the man's daughter. I found the impetus for this plotline fascinating....

"Journey to Munich was inspired by a story told by my mother of a man she worked for in 1944, when she was seventeen years old.......told her that before the war he had been set free from a German concentration camp into the hands of the British government after they had paid for his release."

A secondary plotline involving someone from Maisie's recent past tests her personally. There were a few plot points that thought were a bit unrealistic, but they didn't detract from my overall enjoyment of the book.

Winspear does a fantastic job of bringing time and place to life - the months just before all out war is declared again and the danger that was Nazi Germany.

And the ending is just perfect - I can't wait for the next installment in this series. Although this book could be read as a stand alone, I recommend starting with the first book. Read an excerpt of Journey to Munich.

"Jacqueline Winspear is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Leaving Everything Most Loved, Elegy for Eddie, A Lesson in Secrets, The Mapping of Love and Death, Among the Mad, and An Incomplete Revenge, as well as four other national bestselling Maisie Dobbs novels. Her standalone novel, The Care and Management of Lies, was also a New York Times bestseller. She has won numerous awards for her work, including the Agatha, Alex, and Macavity awards for the first book in the series, Maisie Dobbs, which was also nominated for the Edgar Award for Best Novel and was a New York Times Notable Book. Originally from the United Kingdom, she now lives in California." Find out more about Jacqueline at her website and find her on Facebook. See what others on the TLC book tour thought about Journey to Munich and all of the past Maisie Dobbs books as well. Full schedule can be found here.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Over the Counter #310

What books caught my eye this week as they passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Going to the dogs this week.....rescues and royals.....

First up is Rescue Road: One Man, Thirty Thousand Dogs, and a Million Miles on the Last Hope Highway by Peter Zheutlin.

From the publisher, Sourcebooks:

"How far would you go to save a life? This is the extraordinary story of one man who has driven more than 1 million miles to rescue thousands of dogs from hunger, abuse and neglect and give them a second chance at life and love.

For years, Greg Mahle struggled to keep the last of his family-run restaurants afloat in Ohio. When it finally closed, he was broke and unsure what to do next. Then a stranded van-load of puppies changed his life forever.

Join journalist Peter Zheutlin as he travels with Greg from Ohio to the Gulf Coast on his Rescue Road Trips to bring hard-luck dogs from the deep South to loving "forever families" up north looking to adopt a pet, with the help of many selfless volunteers along the way. From Houston's impoverished Fifth Ward--where thousands of strays roam the streets--and high-kill animal shelters in Louisiana, to joyous scenes of adopters embracing their new pups in the Northeast, Rescue Road is full of heart: an inspiring story about the unique bond between dogs and humans, and how going the extra mile can make a life-changing difference for these loyal canines-and for us all.

A heartwarming, awe-inspiring story of how one man can impact so many lives, human and puppy alike. Fans of Marley and Me, Oogy: The Dog Only A Family Could Love, and You Had Me At Woof will be inspired and touched by this story."

Next up is Pets by Royal Appointment: The Royal Family and their Animals by Brian Hoey.

From Robson Press:

"The Royals say they can do without many things, but not their animals. They are suspicious of practically everyone outside their own family, so the only creatures they really trust are not of the human variety. For countless monarchs and their consorts, cats, dogs, horses, even the occasional parrot, have acted as constant, faithful companions, unquestioning allies and surrogate children for generations. The only time The Queen and Princess Anne have been known to shed tears in public was when one of their favourite horses died. And Her Majesty’s corgis, the most disliked creatures at Court, even have their own ‘Royal’ cemeteries in all the Royal residences and each has its own ‘minipalace’ immediately outside their mistress’s sitting room in Buckingham Palace.

Members of the Royal Family, from The Queen to her youngest grandchild, are taught to ride almost as soon as they can walk and, even at the age of eighty-six, Her Majesty still rides every weekend at Windsor – and refuses to wear a hard hat. This engrossing book traces the fascination of the Royals with their animals with intimate details of each of the present and early members of the family’s favourite pets, with anecdotes relating to each of them and their idiosyncrasies. Pets by Royal Appointment makes essential reading for Royal watchers and pet lovers alike."

(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, April 12, 2016

Giveaway - Pound for Pound by Shannon Kopp

I've got a great giveaway for you today - Shannon Kopp's memoir, Pound for Pound: A Story of One Woman's Recovery and the Shelter Dogs Who Loved Her Back to Life.

From the publisher, William Morrow:

"The dogs don't judge me or give me a motivational speech. They don't rush me to heal or grow. They sit in my lap and lick my face and make me feel chosen. And sometimes, it hits me hard that I'm doing the exact thing I say I cannot do. Changing."

Pound for Pound is the inspirational tale of one woman's journey back from the brink of self-destruction, and a heartfelt homage to the four-legged heroes who unexpectedly saved her life.

For eight years, Shannon Kopp battled the silent, horrific, and all-too-common disease of bulimia. Stuck in an endless cycle of bingeing and purging, Shannon was overwhelmed by broken promises: to herself, to her family, to her future. Finally, at twenty-four, she got a job working at the San Diego Humane Society and SPCA, where in caring for shelter dogs, she found the inspiration to heal and the courage to forgive herself. With the help of some extraordinary homeless animals -- dogs like Sweet Pea, Big Girl, Abby, Stewie, and countless others -- Shannon realized from her suffering, something beautiful had been born. Compassion.

Shannon's poignant memoir is a story of hope, resilience, and the spiritual healing animals bring to our lives. Pound for Pound vividly reminds us that animals are more than just friends and companions -- they can teach us how to savor the present moment and reclaim our joy. Rich with emotion and inspiration, Pound for Pound is essential reading for animal lovers and everyone who has struggled to change." Read an excerpt of Pound for Pound.

Cr: Leslie Patrice 
"Shannon Kopp is a bestselling writer, eating disorder survivor, and animal welfare advocate. She has worked at various animal shelters throughout Southern California, where shelter dogs helped her to discover a more present and compassionate way of living. Her story has been featured on NPR, The Huffington Post, Psychology Today, Salon and more. Today, Shannon carries a profound message about the healing power of the paw across the globe." You can connect with Shannon Kopp on her website, find her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

If Pound for Pound sounds like a book you'd like to read, I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader. Enter using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US only, no PO boxes please. Ends April 30/16.
  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, April 11, 2016

The Passenger - Lisa Lutz

I've read Lisa Lutz's Spellman series in the past. They're award winning light-hearted whodunits à la Janet Evanovich.

Her latest book, The Passenger, is a bit of departure from her previous books. I loved the cover of the book and was curious to see the change in tone.

Tanya Dubois is on the run after her husband accidentally dies. Now, why wouldn't she stick around - it was an accidental fall after all? But Tanya was someone else before and now that she's on the run - again - she'll be another new someone. Tanya's past is alluded to - the original reason she left her childhood town and took off - and as the story progresses, we are privy to emails that slowly point us in the final direction.

As Tanya flees, she crosses paths with Blue - another woman on the run. The two join forces for a while - with deadly repercussions. And their identities change again. And again.

I thought this was a great premise. But sadly, I found it just didn't deliver the punch I was hoping for. After awhile, the constant reinvention just became expected and somewhat tiresome. I found some plot points a bit far fetched. (For anyone else who has read it - the school? Really?) I never really bought into this deadly duo. While their actions are murderous, I never felt the frisson of fear I would have expected from them. And honestly, I just didn't like either of them. But, I really wanted to know what the original impetus was for Tanya's flight, so I saw the book through to the end. But, I was let down by the somewhat pedestrian reason- and the last plot 'twist' was just unbelievable.

The publisher uses 'blistering thriller' and "amazing psychological thriller" as descriptors for The Passenger. For this reader, they're a bit ambitious. This was just an okay read for me. I think I'm in the minority on this one, but see for yourself - read an excerpt of The Passenger.

Friday, April 8, 2016

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #100

- 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 Last One by Alexandra Olivia is on my TBR list - I'm intrigued by the premise. The US cover is one the left and the UK cover is on the right. Both are July releases. "For readers of Station Eleven and The Passage". Hmm, so the dark blue of the US cover, the stark font and the lone person standing  would have me opening the flyleaf to see what the book was about. Normally, I'm not a fan of actual 'people' pics. I like to form my own mental image of the characters. But I find the UK shot unusual, different and it makes me curious about the contents. I also like the tagline...Welcome to the woods. So, I am going to go with the UK cover this week. What about you? Any plans to read The Last One? Which cover do you prefer? You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Over the Counter #309

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

First up is The Apple Cookbook: 125 Freshly Picked Recipes by Olwen Woodier.

From Storey Publishing:

"From sweet to savory and from breakfast to bedtime, apples take center stage in this fun volume. With recipes ranging from traditional apple pies and crisps to unexpected surprises like Ground Lamb Kebabs with Apple Mint Raita, this new edition of the best-selling classic has been completely revised and redesigned to feature more than 30 new apple-themed goodies. With plenty of vegan and gluten-free options, you’ll be cooking apple-based dishes that you can enjoy with all of your friends."

Next up is Eat Better, Live Better, Feel Better: Alkalize Your Life...One Delicious Recipe at a Time by Julie Cove.

From the publisher, Appetite by Random House:

"Clean up your diet and detoxify your body with the alkaline lifestyle. This beautifully packaged book, complete with more than 150 inspiration recipes and an easy-to-follow four-step program, is focused on long-term health and well-being. Eat your way to better health! In Eat Better, Live Better, Feel Better, Julie Cove explains how having too many acid-forming foods in your body creates an environment that can cause inflammation, resulting in everything from headaches to muscle pain to chronic illness. But, she argues, by adapting to an alkaline-based lifestyle you can ward off ill health, aid digestion, eliminate acid reflux and increase your energy. In this beautiful book, Julie gives you everything you need to quickly feel the benefits of the alkaline way of life.

Julie's personal story of overcoming illness is behind the writing of this book. Now a holistic nutritionist and certified plant-based cook, she is the picture of an energetic, healthy and balanced lifestyle, and she wants to give you the tools to get there, too. Eat Better, Live Better, Feel Better is a book that will help balance your body and revitalize your life, and will be your blueprint for improved good health for years to come."

 (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, April 6, 2016

Giveaway - True Stories at the Smoky View - Jill McCroskey Coupe

True Stories at the Smoky View is Jill McCroskey Coupe's first novel. It has just released - and I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader!

From the publisher, She Writes Press:

"After attending the funeral of her estranged friend Skip in Knoxville, Tennessee, Vrai (short for Vraiment), a forty-something art history librarian with sons of her own, rescues ten-year-old Jonathan, who has been abandoned with no shoes in the funeral home parking lot. The Blizzard of 1993 strands this unlikely duo at the Smoky View Motel, where, motivated in part by the unsolved murders of Jonathan’s parents, they begin to uncover the truth about Skip’s death. With elements of mystery and intrigue, True Stories at the Smoky View is primarily a novel about relationships: the love Vrai feels for her husband and sons, all of whom have left home; her friendship with Skip, which she begins to see in a new light; and her deepening bond with Jonathan. For Vrai and Jonathan, this is a story of mutual rescue―one that results in new lives for them both." Read an excerpt of True Stories at the Smoky View.

“…riveting….Coupe handles this complex tale of troubled romance, broken families, redeeming friendship, and inexplicable evil with intelligence, grace, and grit. This exhilarating debut novel brims with honesty, charm, heart, and good humor.”—John Dufresne, author of No Regrets, Coyote

"A former librarian at Johns Hopkins University, Jill McCroskey Coupe has an MFA in Fiction from Warren Wilson College. She grew up in Knoxville, TN, and now lives in Baltimore." You can connect with Jill on her blog and follow her on Facebook.

Enter to win a copy of True Stories at the Smoky View using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends April 23/16.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Giveaway - Island in the Sea - Anita Hughes

Anita Hughes' sixth novel, Island in the Sea: A Majorca Love Story, releases April 12/16 and I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader.

What's it about? From the publisher, St. Martin's Griffin:

"Juliet Lyman is a senior executive at Yesterday Records. Music is her passion and she's very good at her job. That's why her famously philanthropic boss Gideon sends her to Majorca, Spain to work with a very tortured, but talented client. Lionel Harding is one of the best song writers of the 20th century, the multi-Grammy award-winning lyricist of the third most recorded song in history. But now he's 42 and six months overdue on the his latest paid assignment. Juliet is not leaving Majorca without either new lyrics or a very large check.

To Juliet, business comes first. Emotions are secondary, and love isn't even on the menu. But to Lionel, love is everything, and he blames Gideon for his broken heart. He's determined to show Juliet that nothing is more important than love, but Juliet is just as determined to get Lionel to create the music that made him famous. If she can sign up local talent, even better. Her new friend Gabriella has a voice like an angel, but she's not interested in fame. Her grandmother, Lydia, wants the world for Gabriella, and she wants Juliet's help to give it to her. As her professional and personal lives start to mix for the first time, Juliet is forced to reevaluate her priorities. Gideon hasn't been totally honest, and love may be the only thing that gives them all what they need.

Island in the Sea is Anita Hughes' captivating sixth novel, filled with exotic descriptions of food, fashion, and romance." Read an excerpt of Island in the Sea. A reading group guide is also available.

Photo by Sheri Geoffreys
"Anita Hughes was born in Sydney, Australia and had a charmed childhood that included petting koala bears, riding the waves on Bondi Beach, and putting an occasional shrimp on the barbie. Her writing career began at the age of eight, when she won a national writing contest in The Australian newspaper, and was named "One of Australia's Next Best Writers." (She still has the newspaper clipping.) She lives in Dana Point, CA with her family, where she interrupts her writing to watch the glorious sunsets." You can connect with Anita Hughes on her website, find her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

And if you'd like to add Island in the Sea to your summer reading list, enter to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. One copy available, open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends April 23/16.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Glory Over Everything - Kathleen Grissom

I read Kathleen Grissom's book, The Kitchen House back in 2010 when it was first released. In re-reading my review, I see that "I literally could not put The Kitchen House down. It's destined to be a keeper in my library". It's still there - and I'm happy to add the long awaited follow up to my library as well.

Glory Over Everything: Beyond The Kitchen House takes us back to the 1830's. In Philadelphia, Jamie Pyke has started a new life as James Burton. The son of a slave and her master, James is light-skinned - and is able to pass as white. But when a young boy in his care goes missing, James risks going back to the South to search for him. Pan's father saved James' life when he escaped the South.  James' past and present converge with grievous repercussions for not just himself, but many others.

The first book dealt with the depiction of slavery and those forced into such a life. I became so invested in those characters, their struggles and their hopes for a different life. Glory Over Everything explores some of those different lives, with James in the lead role.

I was torn about James - I knew I should really like him as he's doing the right thing by Pan. But he hesitates one too many times for me in his decision making and his choices. I recognize his struggle to escape the shackles of his past, both literally and figuratively, but I was disappointed by his initial, selfish choices at the expense of others. Others who have nothing, but willingly help him. So for me, it was the supporting cast who captured me - new characters Pan, Robert and recurring characters from the first book, notably Sukey. Sukey's chapters were the most poignant for me.

As much as some lives and circumstances have changed, most have not. The brutal ugliness that is slavery is still described, but not to the extent is was in The Kitchen House. Instead, there is a glimmer of hope in the Underground Railroad and the supporters of abolition. But the main thrust of the book is James' struggle to reconcile who he truly is with himself.

What hasn't changed is Grissom's ability to write a heck of a good read. You could easily read Glory Over Everything as a stand-alone, but I think it would resonate even more knowing the story that came before. Read an excerpt of Glory Over Everything.  Or listen to an audio excerpt. For book clubs, a discussion guide is available as well. Make sure you check out the rest of the blog tour spots listed on the picture to see what other thought of Glory Over Everything.

Oh, and the title? It's a quote from Harriet Tubman. "I looked at my hands to see if I was the same person now I was free. There was such a glory over everything. The sun came up like gold through the trees, and I felt like I was in heaven."

"Born and raised in Saskatchewan, Kathleen Grissom is now happily rooted in south-side Virginia, where she and her husband live in the plantation tavern they renovated." You can connect with Kathleen Grissom on her website, follow her on Twitter and find her on Facebook.

Friday, April 1, 2016

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #99

- 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
Julie Myerson's new novel is The Stopped Heart. The US cover is on on the left (releases next week) and the UK cover is on the right(already released) An easy choice for me this week - US. I like the worn window with a foggy view to the old tree. It would definitely interest me enough to pick it up. The UK cover I would pass by - the image of the child doesn't appeal to  me at all. What about you? Which cover do your prefer this week? You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Giveaway - Orchids and Stone - Lisa Preston

Orchids and Stone is Lisa Preston's debut novel. It releases today - and I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader!

What's it about?  From the publisher, Thomas and Mercer:

"Daphne Mayfield is enjoying some solace in the park one afternoon—a break from city life, a tense relationship, and chronic overwork—when an elderly woman rushes up to her with a desperate plea, "They’re trying to take me. Help! Help me, please." Daphne, whose own sister was murdered twenty years earlier, always thought someone must have seen something and she realizes that she now may be in a similar situation. What if she fails to intervene in a highly suspicious situation if not a serious crime, and that because of her negligence a helpless old woman’s life is now in grave danger?

Even though everyone—her boyfriend, her friends, a retired homicide detective—tells her not to get involved, Daphne's suspicions are confirmed when she traces the victim’s name to a house, and upon investigating it, is assaulted, robbed, and dragged on a cat-and-mouse car chase through Seattle’s streets that ends with the assailant escaping and Daphne being arrested for reckless driving. Now determined to uncover the truth and stop the criminals herself, Daphne plunges into an increasingly treacherous web of deceit and danger. As the layers of the conspiracy peel away, she will have to overcome the demons of her own past and summon previously-untapped inner reserves of courage and trust in others if she is to save an innocent person and stay alive herself." Read an excerpt of Orchids and Stone.

"Lisa Preston turned to writing after careers as a fire department paramedic and a city police officer. Experience in her earlier professions enhance the medical and legal passages of her fiction. Away from her desk, she spends hours on backcountry trails as a runner and rider. She lives with her husband on Washington State's vast Olympic Peninsula." You can connect with Lisa on Facebook or find her on Goodreads.

And if Orchids and Stone sounds like a book you'd like, enter to win a copy using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to continental US only, no PO boxes please. Ends April 16/16.