Note to Readers

Roundtable Reviews receives many galley and ARC copies for review. Please understand that the finished copy may differ from the copies we have reviewed.

I have not received any compensation for writing this post other than a free digital or galley copy of the book. I have no material connection to the publisher, agent, or author whose book/s I am reviewing. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Superhero Comic Kit by Jason Ford



Release Date - September 2015

Laurence King Publishing

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Inspiring a kid's creativity should be any parents' goal. Therefore, I  highly recommend Jason Ford's The Superhero Comic Kit. There are 10 comics within this 80-page book. Each comic starts with a story and one of Jason Ford's superheroes. The rest is for children to imagine.

Starting with the superhero, children are told to color the hero, given instructions to help them draw the hero, and then create their own characters and finish telling the story. It's a stunning book, one that I immediately recommended to my son's girlfriend. She's a teacher of children with special needs, and her students love activities of this nature. If her students like it, I'm game to buy half of the copies she needs, and I'm pretty sure I can get friends to get the rest.

I highly recommend The Superhero Comic Kit to anyone who wants to spur a child's imagination. My only hope is that additional books of this nature will be released for the child who needs a little guidance with the art and storylines.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The After House by Michael Phillip Cash



Release Date - September 2014

Michael Phillip Cash

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Her marriage is over, her husband's moved on with his new family, but his abusive tendencies have Remy Galway moving her daughter to the coastal town of Cold Spring Harbor. The moment she moves into her 300-year-old house, Remy senses there is something lurking within the home. When someone, perhaps something, begins targeting her home, Remy is left to wonder just what she's gotten herself into.

The After House is a ghost story told from the perspective of the ghost. It takes place in two time periods, present day and back when Captain Eli, the ghost, was away from home on his whaling ship.

Any thoughts of this being a horror novel, as I first though, were quickly tossed aside. This is a paranormal with a touch of romance. It's a fun read, though there were things I couldn't figure out. I liked Captain Eli a lot. The two ghosts watching over him, however, seemed unnecessary to me. I liked Remy, though she seemed a little naive, and her daughter Olivia was a precocious gem.

In the end, I did enjoy Captain Eli's story and, by connection, Remy's too. It's not a long read, I had it finished in an hour, but it is a great escape from the stresses of life.


Saturday, August 29, 2015

Earmuffs for Everyone by Meghan McCarthy



Release Date - January 2015

Meghan McCarthy
Paula Wiseman Books

Book Review by Bob Walch

If you live in earmuff country and use them to keep warm during cold winters, this book may be of interest. You’ll learn more than you probably wish to know about these ear protectors and their supposed inventor (Chester Greenwood).

Of course, you will also discover that Charles Greenwood really didn’t invent earmuffs (but that’s another story), but the folks up in Maine pretend he did, so they have a special day in his honor. Oh well, what else is there to do in Maine? Right?

This picture book is rather bizarre but still fun if you are looking for a rambling tale about ear warmers and how they came to pass. While most adults would probably elect to “pass” on this volume, many youngsters like silly stories; hence they find this book appealing. It certainly is silly (some might actually call it dumb), but if it gets a child to read and laugh a bit, it can’t be all bad now, can it?


So, if earmuffs are your thing or you like very odd stories that have a ring of truth to them, this book might be a satisfying read. 

Friday, August 28, 2015

What Doesn't Kill Her by Carla Norton



Release Date - July 2015

Carla Norton
Minotaur Books

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

It's been years since Reeve LeClaire was kidnapped and held captive by Daryl Wayne Flint. She's now in her early 20s and in college, but her world is shaken when she learns Flint escaped. She's certain he'll soon stalk his next victim, and after being his captive for so long, she's convinced she's the only one who knows his patterns enough to be able to stop him.

Thus begins a chase to find and put an end to Flint. With the support of the FBI and the former FBI agent who investigated her case, Reeve has a solid support team backing her, but they still lack the insight Reeve has into Flint's mind.

What Doesn't Kill Her is mostly a suspense novel, but there is a touch of romance that I'm pretty sure will be a little more prevalent in future Reeve LeClaire novels. I actually was hooked from the start. Reeve is tough, takes no grief, and though she's young and has some to learn, I can see her series becoming a favorite of mine.

This is apparently the second book in the Reeve LeClaire series, something I never knew until now. It stands alone well, but I'm eager to read the first and then continue on with future novels as they are released.


Monday, August 24, 2015

The Bones of You by Debbie Howells



Release Date - July 30, 2015

Debbie Howells
Kensington

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Many years ago, I sat down with a copy of book that was coming out later that summer and I fell completely in love. That book was Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones.  Having a murder mystery told from the deceased victim's POV was a new and refreshing take for me. Enter The Bones of You, a new book by British author Debbie Howells. This had that same poignancy.

The story begins with Rosie Anderson, a teen who vanishes, reflecting on her final moments. It then flips to a family friend, Kate, whose daughter is the same age as Rosie. Kate is shocked and becomes wrapped up in Rosie's disappearance and murder. The more Kate spends time with Rosie's mother, the more she becomes involved in solving this horrific crime.

Along the way, there are other characters and voices. Rosie's younger sister has a few chapters. There are also characters like Rosie's abusive father, the boy she'd fallen in love with, Rosie's mother, Kate's husband and daughter, and then Kate's childhood friend, a journalist who comes back to town to write a story on Rosie.

I hate to say it, but I pegged the killer pretty early on. I had the reasoning as to why she was killed wrong, but I did have the killer figured out. Normally, this becomes kind of a let down, but I was so absorbed in the story that I didn't care.

I won't say The Bones of You grabbed me as intensely as The Lovely Bones, but it was pretty close. I'm pretty sure this book will be getting a lot of buzz in the weeks and months to come.


Sunday, August 23, 2015

If You Only Knew by Kristan Higgins



Release Date - August 25, 2015

Kristan Higgins
Harlequin

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Now that her ex-husband has become a father, Jenny Tate is tired of being his and his new wife's buddy. Packing up and leaving the city to open her bridal boutique in her hometown is exactly what she needs. Maybe her hunky neighbor Leo is another thing she needs. A fling with no strings sounds perfect.

While Jenny is starting over, her sister Rachel is in a state of turmoil. Having her sister back is wonderful, but learning her husband is having an affair while Rachel stays at home with their triplets shatters Rachel's world. She might also need to take a step back and examine what she really wants from her life and her marriage.

There's a bit of a romantic aspect to If You Only Knew, but it goes far beyond that. It's really two women's looks at their pasts, their presents, and their futures. I immediately liked Jenny, and her pairing with Leo was ideal. He has his own past to come to terms with and that makes him the delightful tortured hero that I always root for. I like him paired with Jenny, who also clearly has her own issues where it comes to her husband and his ex-wife.

I felt a little less enthusiastic about Rachel. As soon as she learned her husband was having an affair, her naivety became an annoyance. Maybe it's just me, but I would have kicked a cheating husband to the curb and not trusted a word he said. It took time for me to really appreciate her, but when I did, I found myself cheering her on, too.

In the end, this is a sweet story, kind of a coming to terms with both their own and their parents' relationships. I found it highly enjoyable.


Monday, August 17, 2015

Book News: Library of Congress National Book Festival Announcement


More Than 175 Authors to Participate
in Library of Congress National Book Festival


The 2015 Library of Congress National Book Festival will be the most expansive one in its 15-year history, with more than 175 authors, poets and illustrators in its 18 pavilions and programs.
The festival is Saturday, Sept. 5, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. (doors open at 9). The event is free and open to the public.

The theme of the festival is “I cannot live without books,” which is a quote from a letter that Thomas Jefferson wrote to his friend John Adams in 1815 following the third president’s sale of his personal library to the Library of Congress. Jefferson sold his 6,487 books to replenish the Library that was burned by the British during the War of 1812.

The festival website is www.loc.gov/bookfest. Author schedules and other information can be found there.

Following are the pavilions and presenters in each of them:

YOUNG PEOPLE’S AUTHORS:

Children
Buzz Aldrin, Mac Barnett, Cece Bell, Gennifer Choldenko, National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Kate DiCamillo, U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera, Jennifer Holm, Jarrett J. Krosoczka, Naomi Shihab Nye, Lin Oliver, Lynne Rae Perkins, Trevor Pryce, Rachel Renee Russell, Jon Scieszka

Teens
Kwame Alexander, David Baldacci, Libba Bray, Michael Buckley, Jenny Han, Phillip Hoose, Cynthia Levinson, Sonia Manzano, Ellen Oh,  Laura Amy Schlitz, Sabaa Tahir, Meg Wolitzer,  “Letters About Literature” and the “A Book That Shaped Me” contest winners

Picture Books
Tom Angleberger, Cale Atkinson, Tad Hills, William Joyce, Tom Lichtenheld,  Steve Light, Diane Muldrow, Elise Parsley, Jean Reagan, Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Dan Santat, Stephen Savage, Peter Sís, Hervé Tullet, Audrey Wood, Don Wood

NONFICTION WRITERS

Biography & Memoir
Maureen Corrigan, Harlyn Geronimo, Walter Isaacson, Mary Jordan, David McCullough, John Riordan, Bryan Stevenson, Kevin Sullivan, Jeanne Theoharis, Evan Thomas, Amy Wilentz, Richard Zoglin

Contemporary Life
Manuel Castells, Yochi Dreazen, Robin Givhan, Tom Gjelten, Morton Kondracke,  Nicholas Kristof, Erika Lee, David Maraniss, Shelia P. Moses, Al Roker, Lisa Scottoline, Francesca Serritella, Ray Suarez, Barry Svrluga, Héctor Tobar, Sheryl WuDunn, Julia G. Young

Food
Najmieh Batmanglij, Bridget Lancaster, Patrick O’Connell, Nora Pouillon, Bryan Roof

History
Danielle Allen, Joseph Ellis, Elizabeth A. Fenn, Edward J. Larson, Anne-Marie O’Connor, Evan Osnos, Cokie Roberts, Jan Jarboe Russell, Jay Winik, Lawrence Wright

Science
Norman Doidge, Judy Foreman, Paul Halpern, Terrence Holt, David Quammen, Jeffrey D. Sachs, Casey Schwartz, Rachel Swaby, Edward O. Wilson, Andrea Wulf

FICTION WRITERS

Fiction
Stephen L. Carter, Library of Congress Fiction Prize winner Louise Erdrich, Ha Jin, Ward Just, Phil Klay, Thomas Mallon, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Marilynne Robinson, Jane Smiley, Lalita Tademy

Graphic Novels
Lalo Alcaraz, Keith Knight, Miss Lasko-Gross, Diane Noomin, Stephan Pastis, Trina Robbins, Scott Stantis

Mysteries, Thrillers & Science Fiction
David Baldacci, Jeffery Deaver, David Ignatius,  Marlon James, Jane Lindskold, Laura Lippman, Walter Mosley, Lisa Scottoline, David Weber, Dan Wells

Poetry & Prose
Daniel Alarcón, Jerome Charyn, Marilyn Chin, Lynn Freed, Jane Hirshfield, Azar Nafisi, Eric Pankey, Claudia Rankine, Ishmael Reed, Kevin Young, Poetry Out Loud

Poetry Slam featuring young poets from Houston, Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington, D.C.

Romance Fiction
Sarah MacLean, Beverly Jenkins, Paige Tyler

SPECIAL PROGRAMS

International  
Homero Aridjis, Álvaro Enrigue, Cristina Rivera Garza, David Good, John Hemming,  Donald S. Lopez Jr., Valeria Luiselli, Jane McAuliffe, Jack Miles, María José Navia, Andrés Neuman, Mark  Plotkin, Santiago Roncagliolo, Juan Gabriel Vásquez, Alejandro Zambra

First Nations Authors of Australia
Tony Birch, Jeanine Leane, Dub Leffler, Melissa Lucashenko, Bruce Pascoe, Jared Thomas,  Ellen van Neerven

The Human Side of War
Elliot Ackerman, Christian G. Appy, Rick Atkinson, Tom Brokaw, Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Joseph Ellis, Annette Gordon-Reed, Phil Klay, Jon Meacham, Roxana Robinson, Elizabeth D. Samet, Henry Wiencek

Books to Movies
A. Scott Berg, Anne-Marie O’Connor, Lawrence Wright

Eight authors will launch books at the festival: Tom Gjelten, “A Nation of Nations”; Erika Lee, “The Making of Asian America”; Thomas Mallon, “Finale”; David Maraniss, “Once in a Great City”; Stephen Pastis, “Pearls Get Sacrificed”; Casey Schwartz, “In the Mind Fields: Exploring the New Science of Neuropsychoanalysis”; Jay Winik, “1944: FDR and the Year That Changed History”; and Andrea Wulf, “The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World.”

The National Book Festival (www.loc.gov/bookfest) is funded by private donors and corporate sponsors who share the Library’s commitment to reading and literacy. Since 2010, National Book Festival Board Co-Chairman David M. Rubenstein has been the festival’s lead benefactor and has pledged funding for the festival for five more years. Charter Sponsors are AARP, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, The Washington Post and Wells Fargo; Patron sponsors, The James Madison Council and the  National Endowment for the Arts; the Contributor-level sponsors are C-SPAN2 Book TV, The Junior League of Washington, Jacqueline B. Mars, National Geographic, Scholastic Inc. and WAMU 88.5 FM; and, in the Friends category, Australia Council for the Arts, the Marshall B. Coyne Foundation Inc., The Embassy of Peru in the United States of America, Georgetown University’s Department of Spanish and Portuguese, the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction, The Hay-Adams, the Inter-American Development Bank, The Jefferson Hotel, Susan Carmel Lehrman, the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute with support from board chair Roger A. Strauch, the Mensa Education & Research Foundation, the Mexican Cultural Institute, Lissa Muscatine and Bradley Graham, the National Endowment for the Humanities, NPR, Small Press Expo and Split This Rock. Those interested in supporting the National Book Festival can contact the Library at devofc@loc.gov.

Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress (www.loc.gov) is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world. The Library seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs, publications and exhibitions.

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