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Showing posts from May, 2011

I Used to Know That: Civil War - Fred DuBose

Released April 2011

RD Trade Publishing

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

I Used to Know That: Civil War offers a detailed look into facts regarding the Civil War. The book begins with the Antebellum Period and continues to the Civil War and the Reconstruction. Not only do you get a who's who of key figures, but you also get a glimpse into details usually skipped in history books, such as the types of clothing worn by certain people.

I hated history in school. It wasn't until I started reading books voraciously that I found myself fascinated with the past, the Civil War being a favorite time period. Reading I Used to Know That: Civil War helped me understand the events leading up to the war and the affects of the war and the country following the war. This really is a useful guide that students and adults alike will both enjoy and walk away having learned a lot.

She Makes It Look Easy - Marybeth Whalen

Released June 2011

www.marybethwhalen.com

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

Moving to a new neighborhood with three rambunctious boys isn't easy for Ariel Baxter. Her husband's new job means he's away on business trips frequently. Things pick up when her new neighbor Justine Miller befriends her.

Justine is seemingly perfect. Her house is organized. She bakes constantly. In fact, she makes everything she feeds her family. There's no packaged food at Justine's house. Soon Justine invites Ariel into her clutter-free world by setting Ariel up with her organizational book for managing everything.

Justine's not as perfect as she seems though. Her marriage isn't all it's cracked up to be. As Ariel soon learns, Justine doesn't really know a thing about friendship and certainly has flaws that force Ariel to realize who her true friends are.

I really enjoyed She Makes It Look Easy. I started reading it during a thunderstorm that had my cats freaking out in the we…

Blindsighted Karin Slaughter

Released June 2011

www.karinslaughter.com

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

Dr. Sara Linton splits her days as a pediatrician and working as Grant County's coroner. She's forced to work closely with her ex-husband, Police Chief Jeffrey Tolliver. Running late for lunch with her sister, Sara receives a cryptic postcard that brings back memories she'd like to forget. Brushing things aside, she heads to the local diner. There she stumbles upon a local professor named Sibyl Adams who's been raped and butchered. Sibyl dies in Sara's arms.

Sibyl's twin sister Lena happens to be a police officer. Despite his reservations, Jeffrey allows her to work the case under his supervision. When a second victim is found on Sara's car, they realize they're working with a serial killer who will stop at nothing.

I read lots of mysteries and love to try to guess the killer's identity before it's revealed. About half way through Blindsighted, I had the killer nailed. I admi…

My Family Table - John Besh

Released November 2011

www.andrewsmcmeel.com
www.chefjohnbesh.com

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

Until I came across My Family Table, I thought I was the only person in the world who didn't enjoy the craze of cooking shows on television. The only show I will watch, and if I miss it I'm not heartbroken, is Alton Brown's Good Eats. I learned to cook by watching my mom and certainly by watching my grandmother. In both cases, they taught that family should eat together and that homecooking is always best.

In My Family Table, Chef John Besh teaches a few simple basics to have on hand so that no matter how busy, you can have a homecooked meal. I totally agree. I keep stock in the freezer, along with cooked chicken or beef that I can quickly throw into soups. We grow a garden and freeze as much extra produce as possible for the winter. Yes, it's time consuming, but it's well worth it.

Each chapter delves into harder recipes that cover everything from breakfast foods to dess…

Welcome to Last Chance - Hope Ramsay

Released March 2011

www.hachettebookgroup.com

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

On the run from another troublemaker beau, Jane Coblentz hops on a bus heading to Last Chance, South Carolina. There she's welcomed into the town by an array of locals. However, her attraction to Clay Rhodes is definitely not something she wants or needs. She just wants to hide out and try to move on with her life, a life that's proven she's good at picking the wrong man.

Clay Rhodes is back in Last Chance to mend a broken heart. The last thing he needs is a woman obviously hiding something. His mother, owner of the Cut 'n' Curl salon, has other ideas.

Welcome to Last Chance is the first in a series about the Rhodes family. My understanding is that the books will each feature one of the three brothers, though I wonder if their sister will also get her story.

As for the story itself, I'm on the fence. I liked the small town. It felt homey and drew me in. Clay seemed like an idiot quite hon…

I Used to Know That Shakespeare - Liz Evers

Released May 2011

www.rdtradepublishing.com

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

Are you studying Shakespeare in school or simply love his works? I Used To Know That Shakespeare is a must-have! I hated Shakespeare with a passion in high school, now I don't actually mind his plays. My biggest issue back then was the language. Teachers expected us to get it without issue, and I never did. Cliff Notes were my saving grace back then.

I Used To Know That Shakespeare breaks it all down into easy-to-understand summaries. The book starts with a biography of Shakespeare. It delves into all of his plays and sonnets, giving a summary that makes it simple to understand exactly what's going on. There's also a listing of key players and important quotes.

While this book won't help you pass intricate exams on Shakespeare's works, it does break the story down so that you know exactly what is going on. The author's easy-to-follow guide is written in a very user-friendly style that draws…

And Then There Were None - Agatha Christie

Reissued April 2011

www.harpercollins.com
www.agathachristie.com

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

"One little solider boy left all alone; he went and hanged himself and then there were none."

This poem about solider boys sets the stage for Agatha Christie's classic mystery And Then There Were None. In eighth grade, our English teacher assigned this book to our class and then let us watch the movie. I've never forgotten this story, also known as Ten Little Indians, because the twist ending is something I didn't see coming. This is where I learned the term "Red Herring" and developed a life-long fascination with mysteries.

And Then There Were None tells the story about ten strangers. Each person receives a letter from an old friend, or in some cases the letter is a job offer, inviting them to come to Soldier Island off the coast of Devon. When they arrive, they're told their host, U. N. Owen, has yet to arrive, but they're to make themselves at home. Eac…

Inside - Brenda Novak

Released July 2011

www.brendanovak.com

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

I'll start by saying I really loved Inside, but the book also drove me crazy. It's one of those novels that keeps you on the edge of your seat hoping that everyone deserving a comeuppance has karma really get them.

Peyton Adams' father was killed in prison. Serving a five-year sentence for embezzling money to help her mother's fight against cancer, he was stabbed by another prisoner. It's his unnecessary death that's driven Peyton to become a determined deputy warden at Pelican Bay. Peyton is not happy with the new prisoner who's going to be joining the prison population. He's served years in prison for a crime he didn't commit.

Virgil Skinner has spent plenty of time behind bars. Sentenced for killing his stepfather, Virgil's recently been released after evidence proved his innocence. The only reasons he's returning to a prison setting is to help law enforcement uncover who…

Original Sin: A Sally Sin Adventure - Beth McMullen

Released July 2011

www.hyperionbooks.com
http://bethmcmullen.com/

Years ago, I read a book series revolving around a stay-home mom who turned detective, but after a while the series grew stale and I gave up. I'm delighted with Beth McMullen's new novel. I hope she can keep this series going because it's a winner.

Original Sin introduces Lucy Hamilton. She's a busy mom to a typical three-year-old son. Her husband's a successful businessman, working to save the environment. Lucy's days are spent cleaning applesauce off walls and playing Matchbox cars, heading to the park or hitting the beach.  None of her current social circle know of Lucy's former life as a spy for United States Agency for Weapons of Mass Destruction. As a former spy, Lucy is extremely protective of her son and generally trusts no one.

After learning the enemy she thought was dead is very much alive and in San Francisco, Lucy's defensive mode kicks into overdrive. This time, her own life …

Black Ties and Lullabies - Jane Graves

Released July 2011

www.hatchettebookgroup.com

Black Ties and Lullabies was supposed to be out in February (I read it in December, so the actual publication is a half a year away). The publishers opted to revamp the cover, so the release was delayed for a few months. I'll admit, I like the new cover better, but the wait is definitely going to disappoint Graves' fans. Given that tidbit, if any of the storyline is also changed with the repackaging, I apologize.

Bernadette "Bernie" Hogan is a no-nonsense bodyguard. She's former military and doesn't take crap from anyone. Jeremy Bridges is the CEO of a multi-million organization. Though he doesn't feel he needs protection, others do and Bernie is his bodyguard at the moment. The pair get along as well as oil and water.

Bernie's sick of Jeremy's repeat conquests and Jeremy's sick of Bernie's snide comments. Yet, during a robbery, they find themselves alone in Jeremy's panic room where a quick…

A Texan's Promise - Shelley Gray

Released October 2011

www.abingdonpress.com

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

After her father died and her mother remarried, Vanessa Grant never dreamed she'd be unsafe. When her stepfather attacks her, Vanessa runs off to the barn. That's where Clayton Proffitt, Circle Z's foreman, finds her. When he hears her story, he knows he must take her as far away from the ranch as possible. Her wounds, both physical and mental, will never heal if she stays near her stepfather.

Clayton heads off to his sister's ranch with Vanessa in tow. When a friend announces that the best way to keep Vanessa safe is by marrying her, Clayton and Vanessa decide to marry. That may not keep her stepfather from hunting them down, but it offers Vanessa a level of protection because she now belongs to Clayton. With God's help, the pair may turn this tragic event into the basis for a long, happy marriage.

I've always loved historical western romances. A Texan's Promise is a great read. The s…

Sweets to the Sweet - Jennifer Greene

Released May 2011

www.jennifergreene.com
www.carinapress.com

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth


New mom Laura Anderson is on her way to the doctors to hopefully find answers. Her newborn screams constantly and Laura's convinced there's something horribly wrong. Distracted, Laura ends up running into a classic Austin-Healey.
Owen Reesling is instantly attracted to the single mom. Determined to be part of her life, Owen starts wooing her with chocolates from his company, as well as a helping hand with the baby. However, Laura's fear of entering another relationship has her pushing Owen away. Can he help her overcome her fears and take a chance on love?
Sweets to the Sweet was previously published under the name Jeanne Grant. Carina Press is reissuing Jennifer Greene's older titles as e-books. This isn't a long read, it's actually a little over 120 pages, yet the story is solid and never seems rushed.
If you enjoy series romances, Sweets to the Sweet pits a determined man ag…

Falling for the Nanny - Jacqueline Diamond

Image
Released June 2011

www.harlequin.com
www.jacquelinediamond.com

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

Now that she's bowed out of the force, Patty Hartman's busy working as a private investigator. She never expects to be reunited with her high school sweetheart, Alec Denny.

Alec needs Patty's help. His ex-wife is threatening to take their daughter out of the country despite the fact that he has full custody and she only has supervised visitation. He'll do anything he can to keep his daughter safe, even if it means spending most of their time under Patty's close watch. Soon, sparks ignite and the pair must look back at their teen romance and wonder if it was meant to be.

Anyone who's been reading the Safe Harbor Medical series has met many of the characters in Falling for the Nanny. Patty's ex-partner Leo and his fiancee Nora Kendall from Officer Daddy (Harlequin American Romance) get married in this latest offering. Other characters from past books also make regular a…

Friendship Bread - Darien Gee

Released April 2011


I recently reviewed Darien Gee's Friendship Bread for the Amazon Vine program. It's such a fantastic book that I just had to share it with RTR readers.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0345525345

Don't Breathe a Word - Jennifer McMahon

Released May 17, 2011

www.jennifer-mcmahon.com
www.harpercollins.com

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

Don't Breathe a Word is a creepy, yet romantic tale involving fairies and family secrets. The opening introduces Phoebe, a young woman who lives near a town where a young girl disappears. Fifteen years later, Phoebe and the missing girl's brother, Sam, are in a steady relationship. Sam receives a clue that his sister is still alive. Soon, they're invited to spend time with Sam's cousin in a remote cabin, only they learn the person they're with is not Sam's cousin. A mysterious girl tells police Sam and Phoebe were holding her hostage, and the owner of the cabin denies they were staying there. Neither know what to make of the situation, but that's only the start of the strange occurrences that will reveal what really happened all those years ago.

Because Don't Breathe a Word is set in Vermont, it really drew me into the book. While Reliance is a fictional town…