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Friday, April 29, 2011

New Reviewer Joining Roundtable Reviews

I'm finding the more I work, the harder it is to fit in any reading. Last week's vacation didn't pan out with plenty of reading time on the beach, mainly because it rained most of the time we were there.

A friend from WAHM is joining Roundtable Reviews to help out. She'll be offering both kids and adult book reviews. Welcome Alex to the team. Her bio is below.

Alex is stay at home mom who enjoys reading and some writing. She's a member of various women's clubs in her community, where they at times discuss books, poetry and magazines.   

Alex is also a member of a teen empowerment organization, that specialize in helping at risk young girls maintain a drug free life and help them make wise choices regarding everyday issues. 

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Restorer - Amanda Stevens




Released April 2011

www.eharlequin.com
www.amandastevens.com

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

Amelia Gray sees ghosts, as does her father. She's spent her entire life following her father's rules. Acknowledging the ghost binds them to you and you'll never be free. Despite this, Amelia's career finds her in cemeteries on a regular basis as she cleans and restores old, forgotten graveyards.

Her latest project has her treading dangerous ground. A body's been found in a graveyard she's working on. The murdered woman doesn't belong there and Detective John Devlin feels Amelia's photographs may have the clues he needs to solve the case. When someone breaks into her car, she begins to worry that maybe she saw the murderer without realizing it.

On a more personal front, Amelia's trying hard to hide her attraction to Devlin. He's dark and mysterious and probably the last man she needs. Two spirits are bound to him, and Amelia's uncertain who they are or why they're so protective.

The Restorer is the first in a new series. It is creepy, fascinating, and downright sexy at the same time. Amanda Stevens' novel isn't what I was expecting, there is romance, but it's secondary to the chilling ghost story. It's a great read, one that I'm not sure I'd want to read on my Nook in the dark, but definitely one that fans of Ghost Whisperer or Supernatural will love.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Cowboy, Take Me Away - Kathleen Eagle




Released April 2011

www.kathleeneagle.com
www.eharlequin.com

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth


After her husband died, Skylar Quinn's spent her time dealing with debt, a step-son who doesn't seem motivated, and a wild horse sanctuary that means the world to her. Her hobby involving photography is equally important, and she'd like it to become more than a hobby. Even, motherhood is in the back of her mind. It's those photographs that lead her to Trace Wolf Track.

During a calf-roping competition, Skylar photographs Trace. She's spent the past year managing the ranch her husband willed to his son. The problem is Skylar's step-son doesn't seem to care. Trace's offer to help her train her mustang in exchange for spending time with him seems like the perfect solution.

Trace is a cowboy and the one person who might help Skylar both on the ranch and with moving on with her life. Before she knows what's happening, Skylar's falling for Trace. Could the carefree cowboy really be the one to help her achieve all her dreams?

Cowboy Take Me Away is packed with steamy encounters. Trace and Skylar's attraction is apparent from the start. There's little in the way of surprise, yet that didn't stop me from needing to read every detail. I was rooting for their relationship to progress. As this is a series romance, it's a quick read, but one that is very satisfying.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Midwife's Confession - Diane Chamberlain



Released May 2011

www.eharlequin.com
www.dianechamberlain.com

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

Noelle, Tara, and Emerson are best of friends and have been since college. Tara's still reeling by the tragic death of her husband. Her daughter, Grace, is distant and seems to want nothing to do with her. Emerson knows her friend is hurting and all she can do is be supportive and have her daughter be there for Grace. Noelle, a recently retired midwife, stuns all of them by committing suicide.

Tara and Emerson wonder how they missed the signs. They decide to unravel why Noelle would kill herself and that leads to a number of surprising revelations, all starting with a single letter to a woman named Anna.

The Midwife's Confession is an emotional story. It's told from a number of viewpoints, including Noelle's, Tara's, Emerson's, Grace's, and Anna's. I didn't find the outcome to be overly shocking, yet I was still glued to the pages. I started reading it on the ride home from Cape Cod and found it made the six hour trip pass in what seems like minutes. It's completely gripping from start to finish.

There's a lot of interesting material for book club discussions in Diane Chamberlain's latest. As a mother, I could understand the differing viewpoints and think the situation when it's revealed would break my heart no matter what side I was on. The Midwife's Confession is heartrending, rewarding, and one of the best books I've read this year.

Friday, April 15, 2011

A Turn in the Road - Debbie Macomber




Released May 2011

www.MIRABooks.com
www.debbiemacomber.com

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

Six years ago, Bethanne's husband walked away from her, their children, and their 20-year marriage for a younger woman. Bethanne pushed aside the shock realizing she needed to pay the bills. As a result, her party-planning business took off. Now, that their son is about to marry, Grant's back. His wife's left him and he realizes he still loves Bethanne. Their 22-year-old daughter Annie is delighted and wants to see them make a go of it. Bethanne's son is not as thrilled to have dad waltzing back into their lives.

Faced with a painful decision, Bethanne decides to drive across country with her former mother-in-law. Annie soon decides to join them. When they break down, they're forced to rely on a group of bikers. Bethanne feels an instant connection with one, yet she also feels she owes Grant a chance to make things work. All three women have decisions to make and this trip is just the catalyst they need.

I need to start by saying that I hated Annie. That young woman is selfish, manipulative, and everything I hope my daughter never becomes. There were times that I seriously wanted to stop reading just because she made me want to rip my hair out. Her father, Grant, was not much better. Despite the author feeling Grant really grew between A Good Yarn and this novel his sudden turnaround came much to late for me to like him.

Bethanne I did like. I just wish she'd show more grit when it came to her daughter. When she meets Max, the passion between them is obvious. Yet, she's determined to give Grant that chance. That made for tough reading. I actually had to peek at the end to see if it was worth the frustration I had with her indecision.

What is funny is how strong I felt for each character. Debbie Macomber brilliantly executes her characters, and once again I had strong opinions about each. That's what kept me reading. I really needed to see the growth. I have mixed feelings on certain aspects of the plot, particularly Annie's storyline dealing with her own relationship issues. Given her experiences, I'm surprised it took her so long to understand why her mom was torn.

All in all, I did love A Turn in the Road. Sure I found Annie and Grant to be utterly annoying, but in the end, I still had to keep reading. I needed to understand exactly why Bethanne made the choice she did, as well as how things would play out in the end. I'd like to see Annie return in her own book. Maybe let her heart get trampled on a little more before letting her have a happily ever after, I'd love that!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Wanda Brunstetter's "Lose Your Heart in the Amish Life" Contest

Win an Amish Quilt Hanging from Bestselling Author Wanda E. Brunstetter!

To celebrate the launch of her new website, Wanda E. Brunstetter is having a “Lose Your Heart in the Amish Life” contest. The grand prize winner will receive a beautiful, Amish-made, quilted wall-hanging. To participate, simply visit www.wandabrunstetter.com and click on the Lose Your Heart in the Amish Life Contest banner on the right-hand side of the page. Hurry! The contest ends on April 22nd!


Sunday, April 10, 2011

We All Fall Down - Nic Scheff




Released April 2011

http://www.hachettebookgroup.com

Nic Sheff follows up his memoir Tweak with We All Fall Down. I never read Tweak. Not that I really needed to. We All Fall Down captures his battle against drug addiction with brutal honesty.

The memoir covers Nic's dependency on women, drugs, and even alcohol.  I won't say I always agree with him. I never used drugs and would never abuse alcohol. I watched my alcoholic aunt pass away. I've never understood how someone can spiral so hard. Nic does delve into things and eventually a fact comes to light that clarifies a lot for me.

Quite honestly, I became enraged reading certain parts of this second memoir. He's in a counseling session and has a panic attack. If his account of the event is accurate, it sounds very much like she blamed him for having the attack saying that it was basically an avoidance technique. I've had panic attacks. I have absolutely no respect for the way she handled it. Panic attacks are very real and after years of visits to the doctor, one thing they found is there is a genetic link between all the women in my mother's side of the family. Given that, one doctor put me on birth control pills to see if there was a hormonal trigger. Sure enough, that ended them. Now that we know, life has improved drastically without medications.

Nic's had a hard life. He's made bad choices, but it's clear he is working to improve himself. I don't know how things are today, but I do hope he's continuing to grow. The book is released for teens, but I definitely think that there are many lessons for adults too.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Your Voice in My Head: A Memoir - Emma Forrest




Released May 2011

www.emmaforrest.com
www.otherpress.com

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

I dove into Your Voice in My Head knowing very little about the author. Emma Forrest is a British journalist and screenwriter who moved from England to New York City in her early 20s. In the city, she delved into cutting, depression, and eventually a suicide attempt. Her saving grace was a kindly psychiatrist who wanted to see Emma find happiness and overcome her negative perceptions of herself.

Along the way, Emma falls for a man she refers to as GH (Gypsy Husband). She never reveals him by name, but the reader is made aware that he is an actor, a popular actor that most everyone will know. Quite simply, not knowing who she had the affair with drove me crazy. I had to go online to see if I could find his name, and I did. Now that I know who he is, I plan to re-read the memoir because it puts a different spin on things.

Personally, I'm not big into Hollywood tabloid - break up information - so I never read any of the details that are covered in this book. Therefore, the revelation I came across was surprising. I read numerous articles to see what the general spin was and it looks like the author tells it as it was. Her heart, clearly broken, didn't become bitter, disillusioned sure, but I never got real bitterness from her writing. It definitely changes my opinion of said actor. Kudos to the author for not reverting to name calling.

I'm not going to reveal who the actor is. Readers, if they want to know before purchasing this book, can look it up. I do feel that his fans will look at him through a different perspective.

I hope Emma Forrest is finding the help she needs. Everyone has the right man out there, and in this case, the author simply hasn't found him yet, and I really hope she does.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Any Man of Mine - Rachel Gibson



Released May 2011

www.rachelgibson.com

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

Autumn Haven went to Vegas to burn off some steam after her mother's death. Autumn cared for her mother in the final stages of her life and really needs to unwind. She doesn't expect to have a whirlwind romance, get married, and get dumped in that short time frame.

Sam Leclaire cares about his hockey career. While he found Autumn more than sexy, he has no room in his life for a woman. It isn't until months later that he learns that one night resulted in pregnancy.

Six years later, Autumn is an established wedding planner. She has a son to support. While the child support she gets from Sam is more than enough, she doesn't want anything to do with the man who broke her heart. She's makes sure that if anything happened, she could easily support her son on her own income. Sam comes and goes from Conner's life. Autumn's sick of seeing her son's heart broken and figures keeping him out of her life is best for all involved.

When Autumn and Sam reunite, they never expect a friendship to blossom. Sam wants to be a father to Conner, despite his past mistakes. Autumn is willing to let that happen, but she knows Sam has a habit of leaving. Can Sam really prove that he's here to stay?

Any Man of Mine surprised me. I've always loved Rachel Gibson's novels, but when my Nook showed 188 pages, I feared the story would be too short to have any depth. Given that, Amazon lists the book as 384 pages, so there might be a mistake with the Nook's calculation. Either way, the book offers plenty of depth with both the main characters and Autumn's brother, who I hope gets his own book soon!

Sam does come off as a bit of a jerk at first. I wasn't sure I'd like his character. He's arrogant, a bit of a womanizer, and not the type of guy I'd want to know. Given that, his growth in the novel is impressive.

Autumn is a hard worker, great mom, and generally likable. I enjoyed her struggle--hormones versus brain--I think most of us have been there. I also liked her interactions with her son and her determination to let Conner know his dad. Not every woman is that generous, even when it is in the best interest of the child.

Because the pair have human flaws, Any Man of Mine breezed by. I curled up in the sun, thankful to be outside since a Nor'easter is predicted, and read the story in one sitting. For fans of Gibson's sports heroes, Sam definitely delivers.