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Showing posts from August, 2011

Lake Eden Cookbook - Joanne Fluke

Released October 2011

Joanne Fluke
Kensington

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

Fans of Joanne Fluke's Hannah Swenson cozy mysteries rejoice because the Lake Eden Cookbook is being released on October 1st. The hardcover book contains favorite recipes from every book and a few new ones.

Even if you've never read the series, this is a cookbook first and foremost, but there's a story mixed into the pages. Every recipe has a history in Lake Eden and the characters stories, including a few secrets, are revealed along the way. Learn about Winnie's trip to the morgue or Andrea's first attempt at making Hannah's lemon meringue pie.

There are new recipes within the book. A sampling of them includes:

Razzle Dazzle Baked Brie
Bourbon Brownies
Herb's Herb Biscuits
Hannah's Chicken Salad
Peanut Butter and Jelly Pie

As usual, I went for one of the more absurd recipes to give it a shot. A couple years ago, I made Pork and Beans bread thinking there was no way it would be ed…

1105 Yakima Street - Debbie Macomber

Released September 2011

Debbie Macomber
Harlequin

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

Debbie Macomber's latest Cedar Cove novel catches readers up with a few characters from previous entries. There's actually a few different stories going on in 1105 Yakima Street, but after a few chapters, I had no problem keeping track of the different plots. There's also a summary of the characters and relationships in the opening of the book to offer some guidance along the way. I've read some of the Cedar Cove series, but not all of it, so I relied heavily on that summary.


Things start off with Rachel Peyton leaving her husband Bruce and her step-daughter behind. Rachel's pregnant and Jolene's animosity and Bruce's unwillingness to take action have caused Rachel unneeded stress. Her blood pressure puts the baby at risk, so walking away is the best thing for Rachel and her unborn child. Bruce isn't quite as willing to let go, but Jolene is thrilled that she's won.

Olivia…

Playing Dirty - Susan Anderson

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Released August 2011

Susan Andersen
Harlequin

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

Ava Spencer suffered the utmost in humiliation when Cade Gallari made it clear he'd only slept with "the fat girl" as part of a bet. Now she's 10 years smarter and she's not about to fall to his charms again. She owns a mansion where he needs to film his latest documentary and she needs the money, but she will handle this as the business transaction it is and nothing more.

Unfortunately, Ava finds herself struggling to resist his charms. Cade wants to show Ava that he's truly sorry for his actions of the past, but he isn't sure what to do to get her to believe he never meant to hurt her. As his passion for Ava grows, he finds himself desperate to get her to forgive him so that they can have the future they deserve.

There is definite sizzle between Ava and Cade. I did, at times, find her rather whiny. She was overweight as a teen and cannot move on with her life. Per the book, she&…

100 Yards of Glory: The Greatest Moments in NFL History - Joe Garner and Bob Costas

Released November 2011

Houghton Mifflin Hardcourt
NFL

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

I won't even try to compare myself to my husband when it comes to football rules and trivia. He's been a diehard fan of the Patriots and the 49er's for decades. In the 20 years I've been married to him, I've learned a lot and I'm certain I have more to learn. 100 Yards of Glory proved that there are things I never knew about football and the men who've made a name for themselves playing this popular sport.

My foray into the world of football started with a game back in 1990 between the Saints and the Patriots when I worked for a travel agency. I surprised my hubby with tickets to the game and accommodations in the same hotel where the Saints were staying. Bobby Hebert and his teammates were the exact opposite of what I was expecting.  They were incredibly friendly, the picture of manners and compassion, and my nephew had the time of his life getting autographs. The Saints chan…

How to Write a Novel In One (Not-So-Easy) Lesson - Jacqueline Diamond

Released August 2011

Jacqueline Diamond

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

If you need a guide to help you get started on your novel, you cannot go wrong with Jacqueline Diamond's How to Write a Novel In One (Not-So-Easy) Lesson. First, the $2.99 price is more than reasonable, it's actually very, very inexpensive. For many readers, that's the price of the cup of coffee you get while scouring shelves for a book or two. Second, it's one of the warmest, most conversational writing guides I've ever seen.

If you don't know Jackie's work, let me attest that she has written dozens of novels in a variety of genres from category romances to paranormal and mystery to non-fiction. She has a way with creating characters that feel like friends. It's very rare that I don't fall in love with her heroes or want to be buddies with her heroines. She also teaches writing classes, so she is experienced in creating lessons anyone will understand and put to good use.

In How to…

You Are My Only - Beth Kephart

Released October 25, 2011

Beth Kephart
Egmont USA

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

*Note that this is a young adult novel, but I think many women will be able to relate to one of the characters and therefore think it would have a great market in women's fiction, so I'm posting the review here.

Let me start by saying I loved You Are My Only, but I'm not sure I'd qualify it as being young adult. I obviously read it as an adult, a parent, and my understanding of maternal bonds really helped with the impact this story has on the reader. I'm not sure a teenager will understand those parental bonds.

Emmy Rane became a mother just barely out of her teenage years. Her baby daughter is the only thing keeping her sane, as she deals with her marriage to an abusive man. One afternoon, she brings Baby outside to the swing and then realizes she left the blanket inside and runs quickly inside to retrieve it. When she returns, Baby is no where to be found.

Fourteen-year-old Sophie has …

South of Salem - Janni Nell

Released June 2011

Janni Nell
Carina Press

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

Janni Nell's South of Salem released in an e-book format in June 2011. This is my first foray into the series and it was incredibly enjoyable. The story isn't very long, it's under 200 pages, but it felt like a solid read and never felt rushed.

Allegra Fairchild is beckoned home to help her stepfather Steven, a politician from a wealthy Boston-area family. Allegra is not close to her mother or sister, they look down on her because of her work with the paranormal. However, when Steven appears to be possessed, Allegra's mother has no choice but to turn to her daughter for help.

Allegra soon determines that her stepfather isn't possessed, but he is haunted. People from his bloodline are killing themselves while sleepwalking and it's up to Allegra to find out why and put an end to it. With the help of her guardian angel, Casper, Allegra tackles another chilling case.

The family dynamics between…

Books I Struggle to Review

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From time to time, there are books that I struggle to finish reading. Usually, I can get through them without a problem. Friday, I tried so hard to get through a book, but I simply couldn't do it. As a result, I told the publisher I refused to post a review without being able to read the entire thing.

It is food for thought, however, I read hundreds of books per year and plenty of articles as an editor for online websites. I read all the time, so it takes a lot for me to not finish something. Yet, in this case, the book received incredible praise from reviewers. It makes me wonder why I couldn't get through it.

Years ago, I sat down to read a book that was a few months from being published. I adored the book and couldn't stop raving about it. Meanwhile, I saw lots of reviews from people and had lots of comments from even more who felt it was contrived.  That book, The Lovely Bones, went on to become one of my favorite books of all times. The movie wasn't my favorite, b…

Never Enough - Lauren Dane

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Released September 2011

Lauren Dane
Penguin

I know I've said this before, but I think readers need to know that erotica is the one genre that I find very hit or miss. Many stories I read seem intent on jumping right into the sex without building much of a plot. Lauren Dane is one of two erotic romance authors that I really enjoy.

Never Enough is another story in the series surrounding the Brown siblings. Brody Brown stepped in to raise his younger siblings after their parents' deaths. In Never Enough, Brody's younger brother Adrian finds his true love and learns a few surprises along the way.

Gillian Forrester adopted her drug-addicted sister's infant when she was just 21. Thirteen years later, Gillian is the only mother Miles knows and they have an incredible relationship. When Gillian's sister dies, she makes Gillian promise that she'll find Miles' father and tell him he has a son.

While Gillian fears that she could lose her son, she also intends to keep…

Soldier on Her Doorstep - Soraya Lane

Released July 2011

Soraya Lane
Harlequin

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

Despite his military training preparing him for impossible situations, Alex Dane is as tortured a hero as you'll find. His family died when he was young leaving him to move from one foster home to another. He watched a close friend die in the field. Now he's at William Kennedy's home to deliver a bundle of personal items to William's widow. Alex's plan is to arrive, give his condolences and leave. However, William's wife, Lisa, has other plans.

Sensing that Alex has no where to go, she invites him to move into the cottage in her back yard. She needs someone to fix it up and her daughter, virtually mute since William died, seems to have taken a shine to Alex. Lisa hopes that Alex will get her daughter to talk openly again and maybe he'll start to feel at peace. What Lisa doesn't expect is to fall head over heels for the quiet man, but she does and she's confused if it's finally …

An O'Brien Family Christmas - Sherryl Woods

Released October 2011

Sherryl Woods
Harlequin

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

Readers head to Ireland for An O'Brien Family Christmas. I admit that having finished Susie and Mack's story, I was eager to join them on their honeymoon abroad. The O'Briens are not your typical family, so the entire family heads to Ireland with Grandma Nell leading the way.

If you're new to the series, you'll catch up quickly, but I highly suggest going back and reading past stories. Grandma Nell plays an important role in this family whether it is matchmaking or simply letting her children or grandchildren vent their frustrations. She's long been a favorite character. In An O'Brien Family Christmas, Grandma Nell is reunited with the man she left behind.

The main romance within the latest Chesapeake Shores novel involves Laila and Matthew. Laila's grown up with a domineering father who thinks her relationship with the much younger Matthew is bringing shame to her and her family&…

Beach Lane - Sherryl Woods

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Released June 2011

Sherryl Woods
Harlequin

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

I've absolutely loved the Chesapeake Shores series, but for some reason I struggled with Beach Lane's opening. I started and stopped a number of times before I realized I just needed to get it over. Trying again, I went through the first chapter in a rush and then found myself completely absorbed in Susie and Mack's story.

Susie O'Brien and Mack Franklin have been friends for ages and the chemistry is clear, but the O'Brien family has had enough of their "just-friends" policy. They know the couple are well matched and need to take their relationship to the next level.

Things don't go as planned though. Mack loses his job and doesn't want to burden Susie with his loss of income. Meanwhile, Susie receives devastating news that leaves her facing the hardest challenge of her life. It's up to the O'Brien family to do some meddling to help this couple realize what they need m…