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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Fall From Pride - Karen Harper



Released July 26, 2011

Karen Harper
Harlequin

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

Fall From Pride is a gripping romantic suspense, but it almost has a strong mystery/suspense storyline that makes me think mystery readers will enjoy it.  It's also the first book in Karen Harper's "A Home Valley Amish" series. I'm thrilled there will be two more stories because I'm curious to see how the author resolves a few things in future novels.

Sarah Kauffman loves painting and her series of Amish quilt square paintings done on the side of local barns is drawing attention. However, when an arsonist burns down one of the barns, arson investigator Nate MacKenzie heads into Amish country to investigate. When a second barn burns to the ground, it becomes clear that someone holds a grudge, but is that grudge with the Amish or with Sarah?

Nate being an Englisher and Sarah being Amish poses a problem in terms of their developing any kind of relationship. If Sarah and Nate decide to test the waters of their growing attraction, Sarah must abandon her family and face being shunned by the Amish community. Nate being an Englisher with a job that keeps him on the move can't abide by Amish rules. It poses a conflict that romance fans will really enjoy.

All in all, I loved the story and the characters in Fall From Pride. There are two more stories to come, and I can't wait to see who appears in the next story and what challenges they will face. Now that I'm done reading, I can't wait to get into the kitchen to test out the recipe for Half-Moon Pies provided on the author's website. After reading so much about them, my mouth has been watering.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Last Icon - Steven Travers



Released November 15, 2011

Tom Seaver
Steven Travers
Taylor Trade

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

Many baseball fans know the name Tom Seaver. I won't call myself a MLB fan, but I grew up with a brother who followed the Red Sox almost religiously and later married another die-hard fan. For virtually all of my life, like it or not, I've been immersed in baseball since I was a young child. Tom Seaver really played for the Mets. While his career ended with the Red Sox, he was a Met's player from 1967 to 1977. What follows in The Last Icon is a look at Seaver's childhood, college years and progression into a very long run in MLB.

There are things in The Last Icon that really kind of shocked me. It's hard not to pay attention to the salaries some athletes make.  In comparison, Seaver was one of the lowest paid I've come across. Author Steven Travers, also a MLB player, lists Seaver's salary over the 20 years he was with the Mets, Reds, White Sox and Red Sox and it came to just under $5.9 million. There are baseball players earning far more than that after just a few years, and some I don't feel deserve what they earn. Granted, 25 years have passed since Seaver retired, but still. Look at the Yankees' contract with A. J. Burnett, one that cost them $82.5 million over five years and he went 32-35. By comparison, Seaver was making a paltry amount.

The Last Icon covers all of Seaver's years in baseball and progress into where he is now. For me, that's one of the best parts. By the end of the book, you learn about his vineyard and the wines he and his family produce. All in all, it's a comprehensive look at both the MLB player and the man. There's more to this biography than just the sporting side thanks to this very personal, in-depth look.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Craving Perfect - Liz Fichera



Released July 25, 2011

Liz Fichera
Carina Press

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

It's short and sweet, but I really did enjoy Craving Perfect. At under 300 pages, it takes little time to read this romance, but I like quick stories, especially in the busy holiday season. I think many readers will understand the main character, Grace Mills, she's not perfect but really wants to be. Anyone, teen or adult who's ever muttered "I wish I looked like her..." has been in Grace's shoes.

Grace Mills, owner of a popular bakery/coffee shop, is tired of having big feet and an extra 30 pounds that just won't go away. She wants to catch the eye of the gym hottie, Max, but falling off the treadmill isn't the best way to do it. Humiliated, she heads home to hide out for a few days before trying again. What she doesn't know is that she has caught the eye of Carlos, one of the gym's employees, and he just wishes she would notice him and not that arrogant Max who does little more than ridicule Grace behind her back.

Soon Grace finds herself in an alternate reality thanks to a seemingly magical treadmill. In this new world, she's not only a perfect size two, but she's also engaged to Max. Sometimes, being perfect isn't as much fun as it seems...

Craving Perfect is a fun read. I find it annoying when size eight women think they're too fat, so I was afraid I'd dislike Grace, but she turned out to be someone I felt a connection with from virtually the first page. I think you need to keep an open mind as to how Grace g travels between the two realities because it's highly implausible, especially in the beginning, that she did bounce back and forth between the two worlds simply by hopping on a treadmill, but towards the end I came up with an explanation that worked for me and that's really all that mattered.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Freebies from Oceanview Publishing

Oceanview Publishing is offering three e-books for free. Head to Amazon and grab your free Kindle downloads ASAP.





Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Happy Haul-idays from Chronicle Books

With the holidays approaching faster than many of us would like, it's time for Chronicle Books "Happy Haul-idays" contest. For those who didn't hear of this amazing festivity last year, Chronicle awards one lucky reader and one lucky book review blogger with the chance to win $500 in books. This year, they're adding a third winner - the blogger chooses a favorite charity to receive $500 in free books.

Most children and adults love books, so if you're anything like me, the thought of $500 in free books is enough to make me giddy! However, I learned about 10 years ago that not every child receives encouragement to read. My neighbor's son was 10 years old and had bounced from school to school without learning how to read more than toddler books. His reading and spelling skills were atrocious. By spending a lot of time in our house surrounded by books, he discovered Gary Paulsen's books and developed a passion for reading. The Children's Literacy Foundation strives to help children in Vermont and New Hampshire learn to read and develop a passion for reading. The organization does not receive state or federal funding, so all books come from generous donations from area residents and businesses. I feel they deserve a batch of books in time for Christmas.

It's up the blogger to create a list of books they'd love to be able to buy, something I have no problem doing! Given that, here is this year's list:

Cookbooks:
Fiction:
Non-Fiction:
Children/Young Adult:
Miscellaneous:

Ready to enter? All you have to do is comment on this post. Feel free to list any books I may have overlooked! There are lots of exciting options at Chronicle Books.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Bull Rider's Secret - Marin Thomas



Released July 2011

Harlequin

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

Brody Murphy's secret is what keeps him on the move. He doesn't call any specific place home and he's as happy as he can be traveling from rodeo to rodeo. His winnings provide him with just enough cash to move to the next location. He never expects to befriend a teen boy and end up working for the boy's mother.

When Kat's ranch hands walk off the job because they refuse to take orders from a woman, she fears she could lose her job as the ranch foreman. Hoping to keep up with her duties, she offers Brody a job. She never expects to fall in love with him, however, and he's not exactly the staying kind.

The Bull Rider's Secret is a short and sweet romance that takes little time to read but leaves you happy you spent time with Brody, Kat and her son. There's some conflict, but it doesn't mask the growing attraction between Kat and Brody. Over all, this is a fun read that most Harlequin fans will definitely enjoy.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Until There Was You - Kristan Higgins



Released November 2011

Kristan Higgins
Harlequin

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

In high school, Posey Osterhagen fell head over heels for the high school bad boy, Liam Murphy, until the day he completely ruined her prom. Though the pair never even dated, the things Liam said stuck with Posey. Now he's back in town with a daughter in tow and Posey fears she'll fall for him all over again. Staying away from him would be so much easier if her parents hadn't opened their arms and German restaurant to both Liam and his daughter.

The harder Posey tries to avoid Liam, the more she finds herself spending time with him and falling all over again. Now he's a widower, and he definitely puts his daughter first, so even if things fell into place, would Liam even want someone like Posey in his life?

Until There Was You is not a bad read, but I don't know that it's one of my favorites by Higgins. The chemistry between Liam and Posey works well. I loved the many of the minor characters, including her brother and his partner. It was Liam's in-laws that drove me nuts. For a "bad biker boy," I really expected to see him stand up for himself more often. The other issue is that Posey, very similar to Liam, also lets everyone take center stage and never puts herself first. From her witchy cousin who I really never liked to Posey's idiot ex-boyfriend, everything she does is to please them. She's almost too nice and I really would have liked to see her completely flip on someone, just once.

The wit and humor that go hand in hand with Higgins writing is still strongly in place. That's half of what makes me love her books so much. Many of her characters call it as they see it and don't mind saying so and it's for those moments that I couldn't stop reading.