Thursday, October 19, 2017

Unraveling Oliver - Liz Nugent

I had not heard of Liz Nugent's debut book, Unraveling Oliver, until I read about it in a publisher's newsletter. It was quickly added to my TBR list after I read the premise -  and the accolades. It was Ireland's Crime Novel of the Year in 2014. That cover image is absolutely perfect - cracks in a picture, peeling back of layers, what lies beneath that facade?

The first line of the book is killer...."I expected more of a reaction the first time I hit her."

Oliver Ryan is a successful children's book author and is happily married to his devoted wife Alice. So what would possess him to beat her into a coma? And that is the question at the heart of Unraveling Oliver. Who is Oliver really? What does the polished exterior he presents to the world hide?

Through Oliver's own ruminations and additional points of view from neighbours, friends and others from his life, we slowly see how and why he's come to be the way he is over fifty years. Each point of view was really well written. And can I say, I unexpectedly felt pity for him as I learned more and more. Nugent does a brilliant job of manipulating the reader's thoughts and emotions as the story progresses.

The publisher has promoted Unraveling Oliver promoted as a psychological suspense novel. I agree that it's an addicting, chilling exploration of a darkly drawn character. But, we know the end already and are working our way back to the beginning of the end. A clever, unique book, one I really, really enjoyed.

I chose to listen to Unraveling Oliver - and I found myself even more drawn into the story. Sam O'Mahony was the narrator. He has a lovely Irish accent that was easy to listen to and clearly understood. His understated interpretation of Oliver suited the character perfectly. His matter of fact tone is at odds with the horrible things Oliver does, but matches his mindset perfectly. He never raises his voice beyond a calm tone, which makes the revelations all the more chilling. Listen to an excerpt of Unraveling Oliver. Or if you prefer, read an excerpt.

You can connect with Liz Nugent on her website, like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter. I'm eager to get my hands on her next book - Lying in Wait.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Odd Child Out - Gilly MacMillan

Odd Child Out is the latest novel from Gilly MacMillan.

Detective Jim Clemo is coming back from a compulsory leave following his last case. His superior hands him what looks to be a simple 'welcome back' case  - a seeming accident. Two young men at the canal in the night - one falls in and is rescued, but..... A witness heard arguing and the second boy won't speak or answer questions. The first boy's mother insists that there is more to this than an accident. And she throws out the 'race' card. Noah is white and Abdi is black - a refugee from Somalia. And yes, there's much more to the case than a simple accident.

Macmillan combines a mystery with some great character studies and takes a page from current events headlines.

I initially thought the detective in the book was female. When 'he' was finally used and I realized it was a male, I went back to the opening chapter to confirm that I'd not missed something. I hadn't. I had not read MacMillan's first book, What She Knew, so I didn't realized this was the second book to feature Jim Clemo. Having not read that book, I didn't fully appreciate the references to a past case and the fallout from it. Still, you don't need to have read What She Knew to enjoy Odd Child Out. But,I found I didn't really bond with Clemo. His past angst, regrets and mistakes didn't overly engage me. The characters that did were Abdi's family. Their desire for a better life, their difficulty assimilating, the prejudice they face, the violence and hate that is visited on them and what they've left behind - both good and bad. I thought MacMillan did a wonderful job depicting this through the Mahad family. Just as well depicted is Noah's family - they too have heartache in their lives. Their anger, fear, hope, grief and frustration are just as well written.

We slowly learn what happened that night on the canal through a then and now timeline. I enjoy this technique, but it does always have me reading 'just one more chapter past my bedtime. I thought I had sussed out what the final 'whodunit' might reveal. I was right but it certainly didn't detract from my enjoyment of the book. Lots of action in the last chapters had me wanting to take a sneak peek at how things resolved, but I didn't. I expect there will be a third book featuring Clemo as there were some unresolved threads.

The title is effective - both boys can be described as the odd child out in many ways. Read an excerpt of Odd Child Out.

"Gilly Macmillan is the Edgar Nominated and New York Times bestselling author of What She Knew. She grew up in Swindon, Wiltshire and lived in Northern California in her late teens. She worked at The Burlington Magazine and the Hayward Gallery before starting a family. Since then she’s worked as a part-time lecturer in photography, and now writes full-time. She resides in Bristol, England." Find out more about Gilly at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

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

I received this book for review from HarperCollins and TLC Book Tours.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

A Far, Far Better Thing to Do - Joelle Herr - Review AND Giveaway

Here's the dilemma I always have...what do you buy a book lover for a gift? Guessing at a title they haven't read is always risky. But, what about a book about books? An interactive book? And here's the answer - A Far, Far Better Thing to Do - A Lit Lover's Activity Book by Joelle Herr with illustrations by Lindsay Spinks.

From the introduction: "If you're reading this, chances are you're a card-carrying (library card, natch), TBR-stacking, unabashed book nerd. Bibliophile or bookworm, whichever moniker you prefer, if you consider yourself a lit lover, welcome - and get ready to experience and appreciate the classics in a whole new, super-fun and interactive way."

Check! That would be me. I adore books like this - books that challenge my brain, provide some distraction from the busyness of life and celebrate the written word.

Match the famous lines, characters, actors and more with the book title, mazes, crossword puzzles, connect the dots, word searches, knowledge quizzes and much more. A Far, Far Better Thing to do is printed in two tone, black and red. But....there are many line drawings that call out for pencil crayons or markers. There are sixty five activities tucked in between the covers. And if you get stuck.....the answers are included in the back. Have a peek inside here.

(And the title? Did you guess? It's a take on a quote from Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities.)

A great gift for a friend - or yourself! And thanks to Running Press, I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader. And your choice - gift it to a friend or keep it for yourself! Enter using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends October 28/17.

Over the Counter # 388

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner. Hair stylin' this week....

Pin It!: 20 Fabulous Bobby Pin Hairstyles by Annamarie Tendler, photographs by Justin Ouellette.

From the publisher, Chronicle Books:

"Brightly colored pins styled into fun patterns and designs are the hottest new trend in hairstyling, and Pin It! gives short- and long-haired fashionistas the know-how to create 20 colorful bobby pin hairstyles for everything from an afternoon trip to the mall to an elegant party. Step-by-step photos make it easy for anyone to follow along, and the unique looks appeal to trendy teens and stylish young women as well as parents looking for a wholesome hair-styling book with fresh-faced appeal. With style tips to pull it all together and five DIY projects for personalizing bright and sparkly pins, this is the new must-have beauty book."

(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!)

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Dark Lake - Sarah Bailey - Review AND Giveaway

The Dark Lake is Australian author Sarah Bailey's debut novel.

DS Gemma Woodstock is the lead investigator in a rural Aussie town. When a woman is found dead in a local lake, Gemma recognizes her from their high school days. But she downplays this connection. Why? "It's amazing what you can keep buried when you want to." The dead woman is an enigma - her students adored her and her colleagues admired her. But as the investigation continues, Gemma discovers that no one really 'knows' Rosalind, including her own family.

Bailey sets up the reader with not one, but two mysteries - who killed Rosanind and what event occurred in Gemma's past that she is so determined to keep hidden.

Gemma was an interesting lead character. She's smart and driven to find answers. But. She's also playing a dangerous game with her personal life. I didn't agree with the choices she was making and the actions she took to pursue that choice. I can't say that I liked her partner Felix either. I was intrigued by Rosalind. We only get to 'know' her from other's memories and observations though. I would have like a peek into her life from her own point of view.

Bailey's use of the 'then and now' technique gives the reader small glimpses into Gemma's past and then flips back to the present. The book is equally divided into a search for the killer and a character driven exploration of Gemma and her life.

Bailey gives us lots of options and characters to choose from for the closing 'whodunit' and the final answer was clever. I did find the reveal of Gemma's secret to be a bit of a letdown and the resolution she finds in her personal life in the final pages to be somewhat cliched. The book weighs in at 400+ pages. I feel this could have been tightened up a bit, as Gemma's dilemma became somewhat repetitive after awhile and I found my interest slipping.

I think this may be the first in a series. If so, I would be curious to see where Bailey next takes her character. Read an excerpt of The Dark Lake.

I think The Dark Lake is a solid debut, but the publisher's comparisons to Tana French and Paula Hawkins may be a bit ambitious at this stage of Bailey's career. I think I'm in the minority on this one, so please weigh in if you've read it already.

If you'd like to read The Dark Lake, I have a copy to giveaway. Enter using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, ends Oct. 28/17.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

My Encyclopedia of Very Important Animals - DK Canada

Little Guy loves visiting the zoo, farms, pet stores and more. DK Canada has a great selection of books in their All Creatures Great and Small Boutique that seemed like it would cover a wide variety of animals. And it did!

The cover was colourful with a mixture of real and drawn picture of various animals. It invited opening up to see what was inside. The boarding used for the covers was slightly padded, making it nicer for holding. The contents are divided between four categories: All About Animals, Amazing Animals, Animal Antics and More Very Important Animals. Now, while Gramma is a front to back reader, Little Guy is not. There is an attached bookmark to keep your place if you do manage to read front to back!

The first few passes through, he just picked pages at random, looking at pictures and stopping at what caught his eye. Subsequent readings slowed down. We would finish looking at each double paged entry. He happily pointed out those he recognized. The entries are a mixture of actual photos and drawings. The majority are photos, which Gramma preferred. The drawing are well done though and not 'cartoonish'. Little Guy loves 'interesting things.' (Yes he actually calls it that) It can be something he finds outside or something he learns. There are many interesting things to be learned in the entries of this book. Gramma learned too - did you know that Dalmatian puppies are born white and only acquire their spots as they grow? And a few new names for groups of animals....a flamboyance of flamingos, a prickle of porcupines.

The publisher recommends for ages 4-8. Best suited for the younger end of that I think. Thumbs up from both Little Guy and Gramma. Gramma's only dither is the title. I'm not sure about the VIP, but have no alternatives suggestions. Still, it was what was inside that counted. Read an excerpt of My Encyclopedia of Very Important Animals. 

The Last Magician - Lisa Maxwell

I loved the age recommendation for Lisa Maxwell's New York Times bestseller, The Last Magician......14-99. Because really, who doesn't love a magical tale? At any age.

The Last Magician is set in New York City in the early 1900's. Esta has travelled back in time from the present day to steal one last artifact from a sinister group that has been killing off those that are truly magic. Can she do it - and save the magic?

Ahh, what's not to love - time travel, magic, good vs. evil, romance. Yes, romance - a lovely yes/no/maybe so attraction! Dastardly villains, thrills, dangers, intrigue, action and much more. Maxwell's world building was excellent, the plotting detailed, the characters engaging and the story moved forward at a good pace.

I chose to listen to The Last Magician. As I've mentioned many times before, I find I become more immersed in a story while listening. A magical world seemed like the perfect book to get lost in.

The reader was Candace Thaxton. She has an unusual voice - it is very, very expressive with intonations that rise and fall in tone many times in each sentence. Her voice is somewhat gravelly and quirky, if that makes sense. I liked it and thought it matched the book she was narrating. She enunciates well - her words were clear and easy to understand. She conveyed the emotions of the characters well. Actions, time, place and tone of the story as well. See for yourself listen to an excerpt of The Last Magician.Or if you prefer, read an excerpt.

And at the end I wondered.....what if there was still a bit of magic in the world? Even better - there's a sequel in the works!

Friday, October 13, 2017

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #180

- 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 20th book in the Harry Bosch series from Michael Connolly releases on Oct. 31 on both sides of the pond. I've read the entire series and will be picking this one up too.The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Two very similar looks this week. I must admit to being slightly underwhelmed by both though. Obviously a large metropolis and interstate play a part. From the UK cover I would guess somewhere warm from what looks to be palm trees. The US cover could be anywhere. I find the US cover to be bland, so this week I am going with the UK cover. The blue and yellow perk it up a bit for me. What about you? Any plans to read Two Kinds of Truth? Which cover do you prefer?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Chalk Pit - Elly Griffiths

Elly Griffiths' Ruth Galloway mysteries are hands down one of my favourite series. The ninth entry is The Chalk Pit.

The series takes place in the Norfolk area of Britain. The area is home to lots of history - and bones. (I find I always learn a little something reading these books.) Ruth Galloway is a forensic archaeologist. She is a lecturer at the university, but is often called by the police for assistance. This time 'round, Ruth is called in when bones are found in an old chalk mine tunnel that an entrepreneur is turning into an underground restaurant. DCI Nelson and his team are also busy - a number of 'rough sleepers' have disappeared - amongst rumours that they may have gone 'underground'.

Griffiths' blending of historical fact with a mystery is always fascinating. Her plotting is excellent and always captures my interest. But what brings me back, book after book, are the characters. I have become so engaged in their lives. As I've said before.."Griffiths has created a wonderful protagonist in Ruth. I just really like her. She's decidedly unique and different. She is a single mother at forty plus, overweight, messy, introverted, but highly intelligent and curious. Griffiths has not endowed her with super sleuth abilities, rather she comes off as an actual person - unabashedly and happily herself." The supporting cast is just as interesting and engaging. Cathbad, the enigmatic, self proclaimed Druid is a perennial favourite of mine.  For those that also follow this series and taking care not to spoil things....Griffiths provides some surprising twists in the lives of Ruth....and Harry. I can't wait to see what transpires next!

This is the first time I've chosen to listen to one of the series. I always find that I become more immersed in a book through listening. And it depends on the narrator doesn't it? Well, reader Jane McDowell did an excellent job of interpreting Griffiths' work. My mental image of Ruth didn't change - it was only enhanced by McDowell's voice. She provides different tones and inflections for other supporting characters. Her voice is easy and pleasant to listen to. I think I would chose to listen to the upcoming tenth novel as well. The Dark Angel, due out mid 2018.

The Chalk Pit is wholeheartedly recommended! (As is the entire series - do yourself a favbour and start at the beginning with The Crossing Places) Listen to an excerpt of The Chalk Pit.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Giveaway - Dark Signal - Shannon Baker

Dark Signal is the second entry in Shannon Baker's Kate Fox series. It releases on October 17/17 - and I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader!

From Forge Books:

"Dark Signal by Shannon Baker is the second installment in the Kate Fox mystery series, called "A must read" by New York Times bestselling author Alex Kava, starring a female Longmire in the atmospheric Nebraska Sandhills.

Reeling from her recent divorce, Kate Fox has just been sworn in as Grand County, Nebraska Sheriff when tragedy strikes. A railroad accident has left engineer Chad Mills dead, his conductor Bobby Jenkins in shock. Kate soon realizes that the accident was likely murder.

Who would want to kill Chad Mills? Kate finds that he made a few enemies as president of the railroad workers union. Meanwhile his widow is behaving oddly. And why was his neighbor Josh Stevens at the Mills house on the night of the accident?

While her loud and meddling family conspires to help Kate past her divorce, State Patrol Officer Trey closes in on Josh Stevens as the suspect. Kate doesn’t believe it. She may not have the experience, but she’s lived in the Sandhills her whole life, and knows the land and the people. Something doesn’t add up—and Kate must find the real killer before he can strike again." Read an excerpt of Dark Signal.

"Now a resident of Tucson, Baker spent 20 years in the Nebraska Sandhills, where cattle outnumber people by more than 50:1. Shannon is proud to have been chosen Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ 2014 and 2017 Writer of the Year. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, Western Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers.

Baker moved seven times in less than ten years, from the Nebraska Sandhills, to Boulder, CO, Flagstaff, AZ, back to Boulder and a short stint in southwestern Nebraska. It might be schizophrenic, but helpful for writing great western settings. She’s hoping to let a little moss grow on the rolling stone, as she’s settled in Tucson with her favorite person, and her dog, Jezebel, the crazy Weimaraner." You can connect with Shannon on her website and follow her on Twitter.

And if you'd like to read Dark Signal, I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader. Enter using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US only. Ends October 21/17.

Over the Counter #387

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? Lost words this week......

A Life Discarded by Alexander Masters.

From the publisher,  Farrar, Straus and Giroux:

"Alexander Masters, the bestselling author of Stuart: A Life Backwards, asks you to join him in celebrating an unknown and important life left on the scrap heap

In 2001, 148 tattered and mold-covered notebooks were discovered lying among broken bricks in a bin on a building site in Cambridge, England. Tens of thousands of pages were filled to the edges with urgent handwriting. They were a small part of an intimate, mysterious diary, starting in 1952 and ending half a century later, a few weeks before the books were thrown out. The anonymous author, known only as “I,” is revealed as the tragicomic patron saint of everyone who feels their life should have been more successful. Over five years, the brilliant biographer Alexander Masters uncovers the identity and real history of this secret author, ending with an astounding final revelation.

A biographical detective story that unfolds with the suspense of a mystery—but has all the dazzling originality that made Masters’s Stuart: A Life Backwards such a beloved book—A Life Discarded is a true, poignant, often hilarious story of an ordinary life."

(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, October 10, 2017

Bellevue Square - Michael Redhill

Bellevue Square is the latest book from Michael Redhill. It's also a Scotiabank Giller Prize Finalist.

The premise? A customer in Jean Mason's bookstore tells her that she has a double, a doppelganger. Jean is intrigued and heads to Bellevue Square (a park) to see if she too can see this woman.

I was intrigued by the idea of the double. And my interest was further piqued by this early line..."I put the phone away and at that exact moment a woman I would later be accused of murdering walked into my shop."

And with those two pieces, I thought I was in for a mystery. And I was - but the book certainly did not unfold in any way I could have predicted. There is so much more to Jean's tale. The facade that Jean presents to the world - and her family - has cracks in it.

Redhill's writing in Bellevue Square is fiendishly clever. The reader must pay close attention as Jean's world turns on a dime. What is truth? What is fiction? There is no way to tell as we see everything from Jean's viewpoint - and she is most definitely an unreliable narrator. Her mind is frightening, yet brilliant.

What I really enjoyed were the conversations and interactions between Jean and those that frequent Bellevue Square. While somewhat nonsensical at times, these interactions seem the closest to 'real' for Jean, often overshadowing the relationship with her husband and children.

Take your time reading Bellevue Square. There is much to consider as Jean seeks answers. There are hints and references dropped along the way that had me forming in my mind what I thought was 'the answer.' And I was wrong. I think I hooted out loud when I realized what was happening in the final chapters. I don't want to say anymore and spoil the book, but overlapping is a word I'll throw out there. I am still not sure if I completely 'got' everything that Redhill has woven into his book, as some of it is a bit confusing. In an interview with the Globe and Mail, Redhill mentions that Bellevue Square explores loss and "is about the surprising (and disturbing) plasticity of the self and what happens when the sense you've made of things stops making sense."

Bellevue Square is set in the streets and area around Kensington Market in Toronto. Redhill has lived and worked in the Toronto area for many years and his descriptions benefit from his first hand observations. References to Canadiana - Dominion grocery stores, Tim Hortons, Shopper's Drug Mart will be familiar to Canuck readers.

Inger Ash Wolfe is Redhill's nom de plume. I was delighted to find references to the Hazel Micallef books. And it was only on reading the acknowledgements that I discovered Bellevue Square is "part one of a Modern Ghost, a triptych." I will pick up the next book, as I truly want to see where and what could transpire next.

Thought provoking and fiendishly clever. Read an excerpt of Bellevue Square.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Genuine Fraud - E. Lockhart

E. Lockhart had a New York Times bestseller with her 2014 YA novel, We Were Liars. Her latest book is Genuine Fraud.

Lockhart starts her book with the ending. Jule is alone in a Baja resort, enjoying life - doing whatever she want when she wants. Then a woman appears, asking Jule about herself. Jule gives her name is Imogen. But the appearance of this woman triggers fight or flight response in Jule. Why? Is she in hiding or on the run? Who is she - Jule or Imogen?

And it is that last question that drives the book.

"If only she could go back in time, Jule felt, she would be a better person. Or a different person. She would be more herself. Or maybe less herself. She didn't know which, because she didn't any longer know what shape her own self was, or whether there was really no Jule at all, bu only a series of selves she presented for different contexts. Were all people like that, with no true self? Or was it only Jule?"

Lockhart's timeline as I mentioned, starts with the ending and weaves it way back to the beginning. I was curious to find out about Imogen. Who is she and why is Jule pretending to be her? Who is Jule really? Initially I was quite intrigued, but as the book progressed, I found myself growing somewhat bored with Jule's repetitive deceptions. What is truth and what is fiction are inextricably intertwined. I also found myself predicting what the beginning (end) would reveal. Turns out I was right - and slightly disappointed. I think I was perhaps expecting a twist such as the one in We Were Liars.

I found the timeline used a bit confusing. But it did mirror Jule's mind. Lockhart's descriptions of that mind's inner workings were quite chilling....

"Her mind was cinematic. She looked superb in the light from the streetlamps. After the fight, her cheeks were flushed. Bruises were forming underneath her clothes, but her hair looked excellent. And oh, her clothes were so very flattering. Yes, it was true that she was criminally violent. Brutal, even. But that was her job and she was uniquely qualified for it, so it was sexy."

Genuine Fraud echoes some actual cases and some other mystery works of fiction - The Talented Mr. Ripley comes to mind. But at the end Genuine Fraud was just an okay read for me. Read an excerpt of Genuine Fraud.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Matchup - Edited by Lee Child

I'm leaving the cover of Matchup a little larger this time so you can see the wealth of authors who contributed to this compilation. But if you look again, you'll see that they are paired - pairings that you wouldn't expect to see. For in Matchup, two well known authors have take their signature characters and co-written a short story featuring the two. Lee Child is the editor and he provides a small commentary before each story, giving some background on the authors as well as the collaboration.

I have read many of these authors and it was nice to see familiar characters again, but a few were new to me. Matchup  was a great way to get idea of who these characters were. Some of the pairings had me wondering how in the world two quite different leads would work together. Diana Gabaldon and Steve Berry? Sandra Brown and C.J. Box? Well, the answer is - really well. The stories are clever, fun to read and satisfying. I enjoy short story collections as you can pick them up and down, easily (and satisfyingly) finishing  a story at a short sitting.

I chose to listen to Matchup and I'm so glad I did. There are a number of narrators as well. I had listened to some of them before, but a few were new to me. This was also a great opportunity to discover some new audio  book readers.

It's really hard to pull out favourite stories, as I did truly enjoy them all. But if pressed I would say Lee Child and Kathy Reichs were a favourite. Tempe bossing Reacher around was great fun. And I also really liked Karin Slaughter and Michael Koryta. Koryta was new to me, but I am going to pick up one of his Joe Pritchard books after this introduction. Slaughter gives us a look at a young Jeffery Tolliver that was fun. I am a huge fan of both Peter James and Val McDermid. Having both Tony Hill and Roy Grace on the same case was wonderful.

I really enjoyed Matchup and hope we can see another collection such as this. Take a listen to an excerpt here. You can find out more about the readers here. Or if you prefer, read an excerpt of Matchup.

Friday, October 6, 2017

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover # 179

- 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
John Grisham's newest book, The Rooster Bar releases in late October on both sides of the pond. This is the second book for Grisham this year, following Camino Island. I listened to Camino Island, but must admit to being underwhelmed by it. This latest features a scam as well, but this time with law students. So, the US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. The first think I noticed was a dark image vs. a lighter image. The US cover hints at a nightlife or bar atmosphere. I'm not sure what the bridge image on the UK cover is meant to convey? The tagline does help. The type is all caps on the US cover, while the UK goes with upper and lower case. This week, I must admit that I find both images kind of meh. But if pressed, I would go with the US cover, simply because it seems a little more 'alive'. Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read The Rooster Bar?
 You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Film on Friday #56 - The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

I kept hearing again and again from fellow booklovers that I needed to read Rebecca Skloot's The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks - a #1 New York Times Bestseller. I never did get around to it, but jumped at the chance to watch the HBO film of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

Henrietta Lacks is at the heart of a myriad of medical breakthroughs and developments. Polio, AIDS, cancer, tuberculosis and so many more. How you ask? Her cells - cells that didn't die. Cells taken during a cancer biopsy - cancer that killed Lacks in 1951. But taken without and used without her permission. Her family received little information, respect and no compensation. Initially these cells were shared freely amongst medical communities. But later they were charged for, becoming the basis of the biomedical industry. The cells were known as HeLa, but never publicly attributed to Henrietta Lacks.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is told after the death of Henrietta as her daughter Deborah (played by Oprah Winfrey) searches for answers about what happened to her mother, as well as a sense of who that mother really was. That was also the case for Rebecca Skloot (played in the film by Rose Byrne.) Winfrey did a wonderful job conveying Deborah's heartache, confusion and loss. She came across as believable. (Although sometimes it is hard to take 'Oprah' out of her roles.) Byrne does a wonderful job as Skloot. Her dogged determination to find answers for not just Deborah and her family, but for herself and to show the world what really transpired. But at the heart of it - who was Henrietta Lacks? Young Henrietta was played by RenĂ©e Elise Goldsberry. The joie de vivre of Henrietta simply shone through in her portrayal.

And what transpired sickened me. Lacks was nothing more than cells to the medical community. The treatment of her and others like her was appalling and despicable. I found myself crying many times at the cavalier nature of their attitudes and actions and the heartache of her children. The treatment of Deobrah's older sister Lily is also a disturbing piece of medical history.

Moving, profound and a story that should have seen the light before now. This viewer loved it.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Giveaway - We Were Strangers Once - Betsy Carter

I have a wonderful giveaway today for anyone who enjoys historical fiction - We Were Strangers Once by Betsy Carter.

From Grand Central Publishing:

"For fans of The Nightingale and Brooklyn comes an exquisite and unforgettable novel about friendship, love, and redemption in a circle of immigrants who flee Europe for 1930s-era New York City.

On the eve of World War II Egon Schneider–a gallant and successful Jewish doctor, son of two world-famous naturalists–escapes Germany to an uncertain future across the sea. Settling into the unfamiliar rhythms of upper Manhattan, he finds solace among a tight-knit group of fellow immigrants, tenacious men and women drawn together as much by their differences as by their memories of the world they left behind.

They each suffer degradations and triumphs large and small: Egon’s terminally acerbic lifelong friend, bestselling author Meyer Leavitt, now wears a sandwich board on a New York street corner; Catrina Harty, the headstrong daughter of a dirt-poor Irish trolley driver, survives heartbreak and loss to forge an unlikely alliance; and Egon himself is forced to abandon his thriving medical practice to become the “Cheese Man” at a Washington Heights grocery. But their spirits remain unbroken, and when their little community is faced with an existential threat, these strangers rise up together in hopes of creating a permanent home. With her uncanny ability to create indelible characters in unforgettable circumstances, bestselling author Betsy Carter has crafted a gorgeous novel that will resonate with anyone who has ever felt adrift and longed for home. Read an excerpt of We Were Strangers Once.

"In this unsentimental yet affecting novel, intertwined tales of Irish and German immigrants to the U.S. vividly capture the characters and their eras. Taking its title from a Barack Obama quote, the book illuminates the experience of immigrants--and our conflicted promise to them--even today."--- People Magazine

"The daughter of German immigrants, Betsy Carter is the author of the novels Swim to Me, The Orange Blossom Special, and The Puzzle King, as well as her bestselling memoir, Nothing to Fall Back On. She is also the creator and editor of New York Woman Magazine, and has worked at many other magazines, including Newsweek, Harper’s Bazaar and Esquire."

If you'd like to read We Were Strangers Once, enter to win using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends October 14/17.

Over the Counter #386

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? I want one......

Fun and Fantastical Hats to Knit: Animals, Monsters and Other Favorites for Kids and Grownups by Mary Scott Huff.

From Creative Publishing International:

"Knit a hat for someone, and you'll keep their head warm. Give the hat googly eyes, floppy ears, or a prehensile tail, and you will give them and everyone they meet something to giggle about.

Do you know someone who could use a beyond-cute hat that resembles their favorite animal or character? Fun and Fantastical Hats to Knit adds a little fun to cold-weather wear. It doesn't have to be cold out for you to sport some fuzzy cuteness! You can have these amazing and easy-to-knit styles year-round! The twenty-one knit hats in this book are designed in sizes to fit everyone from babies to adults and are knit in-the-round with lots of amazing details!

Feeling a bit bonkers? Time to knit up a Tea Party topper or sport your new Rabble of Butterflies hat. Geek out with Architeuthis, Gargoyle, or Mercury hats; express your culinary inclinations with California Roll or Cherry Pie bring out your wild side with a Blue Crab cap, Frilly the frilled lizard, Baldy the eagle, or a Hedgehog helmet! Find all of these and more inside Fun and Fantastical Hats to Knit."

(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, October 4, 2017

Caroline - Sarah Miller

I've just turned the last page of  Caroline by Sarah Miller - and I'm truly sad that it's ended, as I find myself wanting more. I had hesitated when I was offered the opportunity to read Caroline, as The Little House books are childhood favourites of mine. I imagined myself as Laura in many a book (and the television series as well) and didn't want to sully my perception of 'Ma.'

Well, I needn't have worried - Sarah Miller's portrayal of Ma has only added to my love of this series and given it more depth. The Little House books are of course told through Laura Ingalls Wilder's eyes. Caroline is told through Ma's eyes, thoughts, heart and actions. It's the perfect accompaniment for adult readers who grew up reading the Wilder books.

Miller does a wonderful job of portraying Caroline - the love between her and Charles, both intellectual and physical. And of course the love for her children and her desire to raise them 'right'. Her inner dialogue is often in turmoil, but she presents a calm, measured countenance to the world.

Just as well depicted are the details of the physical and mental strength needed, moving, settling in a raw land, raising children in this time and the details of daily life. But, along with those hardships are the moments of joy. Simple things - good weather, a kind neighbour, music, family and many more 'small' things. We all need to take a step back from our consumerism and enjoy the simple pleasures that life has to offer.

As adults, we can view the prejudice and disturbing historical actions of moving the First Nations peoples to reserves with the contrition it deserves.

Miller's author notes at the end explained a few departures from Wilder's memoirs. Miller had the permission of the Little House Heritage Trust. Here's an interesting post from Miller on her decision to tell Caroline's story.

Caroline has found a place beside the Little House books on my bookshelf. Read an excerpt of Caroline.

"Sarah Miller began writing her first novel at the age of ten, and has spent the last two decades working in libraries and bookstores. She is the author of two previous historical novels, Miss Spitfire: Reaching Helen Keller and The Lost Crown. Her nonfiction debut, The Borden Murders: Lizzie Borden and the Trial of the Century, was hailed by the New York Times as “a historical version of Law and Order.” She lives in Michigan." Find out more about Sarah at her website, and connect with her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter, as well as on Instagram.

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

I received this book for review from HarperCollins and TLC Book Tours.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Deep Dark Descending - Allen Eskens

I first 'discovered' Allen Eskens in 2015 when I was lucky enough to review his first novel, The Life We Bury. I thought it was fantastic and couldn't wait to read more of his work.

Eskens' fourth book, The Deep Dark Descending, releases today - and it too, is a five star read for me.

Detective Max Rupert has figured into all four of Eskens' books. The Deep Dark Descending finally provides the answer to a question that has haunted Rupert for years - who killed his wife? (And it is here that I will say, yes you could probably read this latest as a stand-alone, but you would be robbing yourself of some great reading if you didn't start with the first book. Just sayin')

Eskens uses one of my favourite story telling techniques - then and now, back and forth. It's a short then and now - only over the course of three days - from knowledge to finale. Rupert sees himself as a law abiding, good man, but the need for revenge and retribution has taken the upper hand. Deep Dark Descending opens with an action filled scene on the frozen ice between Canada and the US. One man ready to kill another.....and then we are taken back to the what that led to this moment. The reader does know that these two paths will cross in the end, but the telling in between is so very, very good.

The plotting, mystery and police details are believable, the action non-stop, the dialogue flows easily
the characters have depth and the reader cannot help but be on their side. The book had a bit of a movie feel to it and I can see it easily on the screen. I really like Max's partner Niki as well. She's tough as nails with a sharp tongue and mind and fiercely loyal to Max.

I feel gutted that this might be the last we see of Max Rupert, but my fingers are crossed for more. A note at the end of this book says that a 2018 novel will be the follow up to The Life We Bury. Yay! I'll be watching for it. Read an excerpt of The Deep Dark Descending.

"Allen Eskens is the USA Today-bestselling author of The Life We Bury, The Guise of Another and The Heavens May Fall. He is the recipient of the Barry Award, Minnesota Book Award, Rosebud Award, and the Silver Falchion Award and has been a finalist for the Edgar® Award, Thriller Award, and Anthony Award. His debut novel, The Life We Bury, has been published in 16 languages and is being developed for a feature film.

Allen has a journalism degree from the University of Minnesota and a law degree from Hamline University. After law school, he studied creative writing in the M.F.A. program at Minnesota State University-Mankato, as well as the Loft Literary Center and the Iowa Summer Writer’s Festival. He is represented by Amy Cloughley of Kimberley Cameron and Associates Literary Agency, and published by Seventh Street Books.

Allen grew up on the hills of central Missouri. He now lives with his wife, Joely, in out-state Minnesota where he has recently retired from his law practice to devote the entirety of his energy to writing novels." You can connect with Allen Eskens on his website, follow him on Twitter and like him on Facebook.

Monday, October 2, 2017

The Child Finder - Rene Denfeld

Rene Denfeld's newest novel, The Child Finder, simply would not let me put it down. I was entranced from the opening pages and devoured it in a day.

Naomi is a private investigator with a specialty - she finds children - lost, stolen, missing and kidnapped. The police and her clients know her as the child finder. She seems to have an uncanny ability to ferret out clues and traces of a child's passing or presence. That ability is honed from experience - she too was a lost child. She escaped, but has no memory of what came before that time.

Madison Culver disappeared three years ago in Oregon's massive Skookum Forest. If still alive, she would be eight years old. Her parents hire Naomi in one last ditch effort to find her.

Denfeld's thoughtful, measured prose and passages often beg to be read again and savored for their images and ideas. Naomi's thoughts and manner are also unhurried and I found my reading slowing down to match her pacing. Well, up to a certain point. Denfeld's tale is a page turner and I desperately wanted to peek ahead at the last chapters. I didn't though - it would have spoiled an absolutely thrilling tale.

There is a child alive in the forest. That child has a voice in alternating chapters with Naomi. The child's chapters are heartbreaking, frightening and yet hopeful. This latest search has stirred something in Naomi's memory as well. Her nightmares and memories bring her ever closer to remembering what came before. The supporting cast including Naomi's foster brother and mother were also well drawn and the relationships between the three were so eloquently depicted.

Love, loss, redemption and the power of the human spirit are all are magically woven through The Child Finder. Absolutely, positively recommended. Read an excerpt of The Child Finder.

"This is something I know: no matter how far you have run, no matter how long you have been lost, it is never too late to be found."

Denfeld's writing benefits from her own personal experience.

"Rene’s lyrical, beautiful writing is inspired by her work with sex trafficking victims and innocents in prison. Rene was the Chief Investigator at a public defender’s office and has worked hundreds of cases. In addition to her advocacy work, Rene has been a foster adoptive parent for twenty years. She will be awarded the Break The Silence Award at the 24th Annual Knock Out Abuse Gala in Washington, DC on November 2, 2017, in recognition for her advocacy and social justice work.

The child of a difficult history herself, Rene is an accomplished speaker who loves connecting with others. Rene lives in Portland, Oregon, where she is the happy mom of three kids adopted from foster care." You can connect with Rene on her website and follow her on Twitter.

Film on Friday #55 - The Wizard of Lies

I don't think there's anyone who hasn't heard of Bernie Madoff and his unbelievable Ponzi scheme.....$65 billion dollars over 15 years.

HBO releases The Wizard of Lies, on DVD and Blu-ray tomorrow, October 3/17.

Although I knew some of what had transpired, it wasn't until I read Diana B. Henriques' book of the same name, The Wizard of Lies, that I had a firmer grasp on the reality and scope of the fraud and deceit of Madoff's scheme. Henriques's book is excellent, charting, exploring and dissecting Madoff's path in great detail. She ably explains how the crime was perpetrated and how it was able to continue as long as it did. Henriques was a New York Times reporter and it was she who was able to access Madoff for interviews in prison. I wondered how her book would translate to screen.

Oscar winner Barry Levinson is the director. His choice of Robert De Niro to play Madoff was absolutely perfect. His physical presence, mannerisms, arrogance and smooth talking uncannily mirror the original. Michelle Pfeiffer plays his wife Ruth very well.

Levinson brings us in at the of the end of the story with Madoff convicted and imprisoned. Through interviews with reporter Henriques - who plays herself - a nice touch I thought. We know what has happened, but Levinson tells the story leading to this moment through flashbacks. There are some details of the logistics, but the focus instead seems to be on the personal side of things. I had no idea of what befell Ruth and her two sons and their families as a result of Bernie's scam. Heartbreaking, as they truly seemed to have no idea what was going on. It seems there are still those that question the 'ignorance' of family and employees as to what was going on.

Most fascinating for me was Madoff's take on his actions. His claims that his victims had to take some of the blame for losing their money - after all, they were willing to trust him. The last line of the film (which I'm not going to spoil for you), is quite eye opening. I admit, I hadn't considered the possibility until it was mentioned. But, yes, now I think it's true.

The Wizard of Lies is a fascinating look at the perpetrator of this ignominious crime. And at the heart of it you know what they say .....if it seems too good to be true......

Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Secrets She Keeps - Michael Robotham

Michael Robotham is hands down one of my favourite authors. His latest is a stand alone called The Secrets She Keeps. And oh, it is so very good!

Agatha works in a grocery store part time. She's joyfully awaiting the arrival of her baby. And she's hoping to hear from the father of the baby who is out at sea. Meghan shops at Agatha's store and is also expecting a baby - her third. Meghan has all the advantages that Agatha doesn't - money, a large home, two other children, a successful enterprise and a husband. Agatha discovers that they are both due in the same month and and initiates a conversation. This contact looms larger in Agatha's mind, but both women are harbouring secrets....

The secrets are slowly revealed and one of the women has a secret agenda. Robotham's slow revealing of each woman's secrets and true nature makes for an absolutely addicting read/listen. And even though one of the women's actions are appalling, I found myself feeling sorry for her and hoping that maybe things would go her way. I am being deliberately obtuse as I don't want to spoil things for you. But what I can say is that this is one of my top reads for 2017. Loved it! And if you like psychological suspense this one's for you.

I chose to listen to The Secrets She Keeps in audio format. I find that some stories are even better when given a 'voice.' That was most definitely the case this time. The reader was Lucy Price-Lewis. She was wonderful. She had two very different voices for each character, making it easy to differentiate who is speaking. Her accents for each provided a vivid mental images. Her voice is easy to understand, pleasant to listen to and very expressive. She captured the tone of  Robotham's plot and characters. I felt immersed in the story.  Listen to an excerpt of The Secrets She Keeps. (scroll to the bottom)

Friday, September 29, 2017

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #178

- 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
Australian cover
Yes, this description has landed Sarah Bailey's debut novel, The Dark Lake, a spot on my TBR list...."In a suspense thriller to rival Paula Hawkins and Tana French, a detective with secrets of her own hunts the killer of a woman who was the glamorous star of their high school." The US cover is on the left and the Australian cover is on the right. Water is obviously a big part of the book. So, we have two different looks based on that idea. One is an actual shot of a lake with a gray, overcast look. Except for those red flowers that I think allude to death. And taglines giving you a further idea of what the book is about. I think I prefer the water image the US has used  - the drips and bubbles. Red also figures into this cover, as what I think might be a smear of blood. Or a red fish. Either way, I find the subtler look more appealing. So, US cover for me this week. Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read The Dark Lake?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Lie to Me - J.T. Ellison - Review AND Giveaway

Lie to Me is New York Time best selling author J.T. Ellison's newest novel. This was a first read of this author for me.

The publisher's blurbs describe Lie to Me as domestic noir and I think that's a pretty apt description.

Ethan and Sutton are 'the' beautiful couple. Both have successfully published books, they own a gorgeous home and live the lifestyle they both want. And up front, that's what people see and believe. But, a series of tragedies and unfortunate events befall the couple - their young son dies, the words dry up for Ethan, Sutton is attacked online through social media, their finances take a dive and life behind closed doors takes a violent turn. Sutton decides enough is enough. She leaves a note for Ethan asking him not to look for her - and disappears. But has she voluntarily left or has Ethan killed her?

Lie to Me opens with a puzzling prologue from an unknown author. It more than hints at dark deeds and destruction. This person appears in italicized entries throughout the book. I was sure I knew who was 'speaking', but was proven wrong.

The first part of the book is from Ethan's viewpoint after Sutton goes missing. I have to say - he's a bit of an ***. More than a bit. His actions, thoughts and dialogue all made me dislike him intensely. Is it any wonder Sutton left? But Ellison toys with the reader. She planted enough alternatives and doubts in mind that I really had no idea if Sutton was gone or dead.

Ellison employs one of my favourite writing devices, telling the story through a now and then technique. It was the 'then' chapters that had me believing I would know what was actually the truth. And......I was wrong.

Part two belongs to Sutton's voice. Her take on things is very different from Ethan's. And my thoughts and conclusions changed again. There was no way to predict where the novel would go. IMO, the 'whodunit' must be taken with a few grains of salt, as I found it a bit far fetched. But, it was inventive and unpredictable and kept me guessing.

I really liked the young female cop who investigates Sutton's disappearance. I wonder if Ellison would consider bringing her back in another book? Lie to Me was a fun porch read for me. Read an excerpt of Lie to Me.

"New York Times and USA Today bestselling author J.T. Ellison writes standalone domestic noir and psychological thriller series, the latter starring Nashville Homicide Lt. Taylor Jackson and medical examiner Dr. Samantha Owens, and pens the international thriller series "A Brit in the FBI" with #1 New York Times bestselling author Catherine Coulter. Cohost of the Emmy Award-winning show, A Word on Words, Ellison lives in Nashville with her husband." You can connect with J.T. Ellison on her website, find her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter. See what others on the TLC book tour thought - full schedule can be found here.

And if you'd like to read Lie to Me, 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 October 8/17.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Over the Counter #385

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? I keep wanting to try the 'food in a jar' thing......

The Portable Feast: Creative Meals for Work and Play Hardcover by Jeanne Kelley.

From Rizzoli:

"Brilliant solutions for making packed meals that are as inventive as they are convenient. Whether you’re planning a picnic in the park, taking lunch on the plane, making a bag for the kids, or eating al desko—there’s no reason you have to sacrifice taste or health. A packed meal can be an extraordinarily delicious meal. The Portable Feast offers up more than one hundred recipes for inventive, wholesome dishes that are ready to roam. Preparing food in advance does come with its own set of challenges, but author Jeanne Kelley has done all the work to figure out ingenious solutions. You’ll find here the secrets to packing salads so they stay crisp, layering the various components in a jar to be tossed together at the last minute.

Recipes in the book are vegetable-forward and feature a selection of brilliant grain bowls built to go—a more filling type of salad built on a heartier foundation. Behind The Portable Feast is a spirit of adventure: good food shouldn’t be limited to the dining room. The Portable Feast is about striking the right balance—between work and play, healthy and indulgent—and creating food people want to cook and can take wherever they go."

(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, September 26, 2017

The Visitors - Catherine Burns

The Visitors is Catherine Burns' debut novel. I was intrigued by the cover. Something so simple - peeling wallpaper - and yet it somehow promised a darker read.

Who knows what lies behind the face presented to the world? What goes through someone's mind? What happens behind closed doors?

Fifty something spinster Marion lives with her older brother John in the house they grew up in. Nothing much in the house has changed since their parents died decades ago. Well, a few things.......there are visitors of John's in the cellar. Marion never goes to the cellar. In fact, she chooses to try and never acknowledge that there are 'visitors' in the basement. Instead, she finds solace in her stuffed animals and imagining friendships, relationships and situations that are a far cry from the life she is living. Marion is somewhat simple people say. Not so her brother John - he's intelligent - and manipulative.

Burns is just as manipulative with the reader. My thinking was one way as I started the novel, drawn into the story, but hesitant to turn the next page. It's impossible not to though - I wanted to see what path Burns would lead me down. Her descriptions of the siblings, their personalities and their actions produce a myriad of reactions in the reader - from sadness, to sympathy, to disgust, to apprehension and more.

And it seems like life will continue along this path for Marion....until the day John falls ill and lands in the hospital. And it falls to Marion to see to the visitors. And what happens next is not at all what I expected.....

Oh my, what a dark, disturbing novel! The premise has it's roots in reality, having taken inspiration from many newpaper reports. What Burns has done is imagine the mindset of someone who knows what is happening, but doesn't act. And what could have led to this inability to act.The flashbacks to Marion and John's childhood days are saddening, disturbing and a testament as to how childhood trauma can shape a person's future. The Visitors does not focus on lurid, descriptive details of what is happening in the basement. Instead it is a character study of John and Marion, their dysfunctional relationship and what shaped them. It is through Marion's eyes and memories that we see this.

I loved The Visitors - it was a very different read - unexpected, unpredictable and so addicting. I can't wait to see Catherine Burns' second novel! Read an excerpt of The Visitors. A reading group guide is also available. You can connect with Catherine Burns on Twitter.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Friend Request - Laura Marshall - Review AND Giveaway

Friend Request is Laura Marshall's debut novel - and I have a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader!

Here's the premise. 2016. Single mom Louise gets a Facebook friend request from Maria, a girl she went to school with back in 1989. It stops her cold - for you see, Maria is dead. Who would do such a cruel thing? But there's more. Louise was a different person when she was in school. Unsure of herself and desperate to be accepted by the 'cool' kids, she became part of a group that bullied Maria. Could Maria alive? And back for revenge? After all - her body was never found......

I truly detest bullying and found the scenes and passages describing the actual cruelty very hard to read. The full extent of that behavior is only slowly meted out as the plot progresses. Marshall does a good job with younger Louise's reasoning and self justification. It's not pretty, but it is believable. Those events from 1989 have coloured Louise's life ever since. She is a different person today, with much to lose.

Marshall uses a then and now narrative in Friend Request. This was very effective, as I had to keep reading just to 'see' what happened in the past and what was going to happen in the present. There are some italized passages along the way from an unknown author. I wasn't sure how they would fit into the plot. Marshall managed to keep me guessing for most of the book. She throws in some red herrings that make a few outcomes possible, but I truly didn't see the final reveal until it arrived.

Using social media as the means to ramp up the fear factor is very current - and very real. How much of your life is visible to others? Do you really want to get in touch with that person from your past?

Now, here's my only issue. And it's down to my pragmatic nature - why not go to the police and why lie to them when she did?  But, without those omissions, the book would not work!

I like the slightly titillating and sensationalistic tone of Friend Request - a Brit book. It made for a great beach read. Here's an excerpt of Friend Request.  Friend Request was a good first novel and I will watch for Marshall's next book. You can connect with Laura Marshall on her website, like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

If Friend Request 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 October 7/17.