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Showing posts from May, 2012

And She Was - Alison Gaylin

Released February 2012

Alison Gaylin
HarperCollins

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Decades ago, Brenna Spector watched her sister get into a strange vehicle and drive off never to be seen again. Since that day, Brenna can remember even the tiniest details of everything that goes on in her life and the world around her. This rare disorder provides her with a photographic memory that helps her solve crimes that baffle the police.

When she's asked to help solve the disappearance of a local woman, Carol Wentz, Brenna gets caught up in another missing child case that brings her sister's disappearance to the forefront of her mind once again. Similarities between the cases are too hard to ignore.

I'll start by saying I loved And She Was, but I was also a little disappointed in the familiarity between this book, which looks to be part of a series, and the television series Unforgettable. There are many comparisons between this book and the show. At first, I thought I'd stumbled…

Summer Nights - Susan Mallery

Released July 2012

Susan Mallery
Harlequin

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Summer Nights is book 8 of Susan Mallery's popular Fool's Gold series. If you're unfamiliar with the town, don't worry, this book does stand alone. If you're a follower of the series, you'll love catching up with Heidi and Rafe (Summer Days), the Stryker brother's mom, and other favorites like Montana and Simon from Only Yours. All of the key players in the town of Fool's Gold have their spot in this book, including the pet elephant.

Shane Stryker is done with women. He's putting his heart and soul into building his horse ranch, including his new barn/stable and, perhaps less importantly, his new house. After all, a man can only live with his mother and her beau and his brother and his fiance for so long without going nuts.

Ready to let off a little steam, Shane heads to the local bars where he spots a sexy siren dancing on the bar. He can't shake off his attraction to her.…

Grammar Girl's 101 Troublesome Words You'll Master in No Time - Mignon Fogarty

Released July 2012

Grammar Girl
St. Martins Griffin

Grammar Girl is a name many online writers know and rely on for helpful hints. Her latest book, 101 Troublesome Words You'll Master in No Time, is one I highly recommend. What's in this grammar guide are many of the most common errors I come across when editing articles.

Many feel the English language is the hardest of all languages to learn. The number of verb tenses, words spelled similarly with completely different meanings, and slang throw people off. Even those who grew up speaking American-English struggle with some words. Mignon Fogarty, aka Grammar Girl, tackles 101 of the more difficult words that trip people up.

I was thrilled to see some of my favorites in here. She covers how to capitalize certain words, how to spell out certain words (email over e-mail), and discusses my favorite messed up word - lay vs. lie. You go toward a door, not towards. You live in the South, or you can live in southern New York. I was happ…

Cottage by the Sea - Robin Jones Gunn

Released July 2012

Robin Jones Gunn
Simon & Schuster

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Shortly after launching her new business as a wedding planner, Erin Bryce receives a call that her father's had a stroke. Erin rushes to his side, despite the fact that his new wife and Erin do not get along. After spending a few days with him, Erin knows he's fine and returns home.Her business takes off, and she couldn't be happier. Months later, a second call comes in. He's had a massive stroke and this time, it's serious.

Erin drops everything to be with her father. When his wife walks out and doesn't return, Erin knows she must remain and care for her father. This one choice creates potential problems. It also forces Erin to get to know her father in ways that she'd never taken the time to do before. Spending weeks in her father's cottage on the coast of Oregon may be exactly what Erin needs.

Cottage by the Sea is touching and often brought tears to my eyes. There…

Susan Mallery Q&A - Summer Days, Book 7 of Fool's Gold

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New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery has entertained millions of readers with her witty and emotional stories about women and the relationships that move them. Publisher’s Weekly calls Susan’s prose “luscious and provocative,” and Booklist says, “Novels don’t get much better than Mallery’s expert blend of emotional nuance, humor and superb storytelling.” Visit Susan online at www.susanmallery.com.

Tell us about SUMMER DAYS.Summer Days is the perfect beach read. It’s funny, romantic, sexy, and it’s light both in tone and in actual weight – you can toss the paperback into your beach bag and go. (It’s also available wherever ebooks are sold.)
Heidi Simpson had a vagabond childhood with her grandfather. The one thing she wanted most in the world was a home of her own. Now, in her late 20s, she finally has one, but her ranch is put on the line by a scam her grandfather pulled in order to pay for a friend’s surgery. Rafe Stryker is the son of the woman whose money was stol…

One Breath Away - Heather Gudenkauf

Released June 2012

Heather Gudenkauf
Harlequin MIRA

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

One Breath Away... That's how I felt reading this book. I found myself holding my breath as the armed gunman, the children, the teachers, the police officer, and the parents waiting nearby waited to see what would happen.

In a small town, a gunman walks into a school and takes a classroom hostage while the townspeople and police wait in fear not knowing who he is or what he wants. Officer Meg Barrett must follow the rules despite her instincts as a mother to rush in and save the children. A grandfather waits outside not knowing if his estranged daughter's children are okay - their mother lying miles away in a hospital room recovering from a serious accident. Inside, students don't know if it's safe to leave or if the gunman, maybe even more than one shooter, are lurking outside their classroom doors.

One Breath Away starts with one simple phone call from a frightened teen to her mother in …

Grilling Gone Wild - Peggy Couch

Released June 2012

Fox Chapel Publishing

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

With summer fast approaching, and many areas experiencing summer-like spring weather, it's time to fire up the grills and cook outdoors. Grilling Gone Wild explores a number of recipes for beef, chicken, fruit, pork, seafood, and vegetables. There are recipes for spice rubs, marinades, and basting sauces. You'll find recipes for sides, desserts, and main entrees. This cookbook contains an assortment of recipes designed to inspire and delight.

Because it was hot and sunny all weekend, I put the cookbook to the test. My teens picked out a few recipes they wanted to try, and we went shopping. On the menu was:
Cheesy Potatoes with BaconBeer Braised Grilled ChickenBalsamic Herb RatatouilleFruit and Cake Kabobs Because I have teens with wildly different tastes, I had to make some alterations. My daughter only eats boneless chicken breasts, while my son prefers thighs on the bone. My son won't touch ratatoui…

Making Piece: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Pie - Beth Howard

Released April 2012

Beth M. Howard
Harlequin

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

First off, have Kleenex handy when reading Making Piece. I admit I can tear up at the smallest things - Hallmark ads, a momentous event with my teens, a touching movie - and Beth Howard certainly had me tearing up. This really is a poignant story of love, loss, and pie.

Shortly after asking her husband for a divorce, Beth Howard received the call that I think most women fear. Her husband was dead. Not that it was her fault, but the author blamed her demand for a divorce as being the thing that "broke" his heart. While coping with her grief, Beth set off on a journey exploring one item that took her back to her childhood, pie.

Pie is how her parents met. It's something that bonded her with her father. It's also the one thing that she gave up a lucrative career to work in a bakery making pies. Pies became her way of dealing with her grief and moving on with her life.

Making Piece explores this j…

Death in the Delta - Molly Walling

Released October 2012

Molly Walling
University Press of Mississippi

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Death in the Delta: Uncovering a Mississippi Family Secret is a non-fiction mystery/autobiography that unwinds slowly as the author attempts to uncover the truth behind the death of two black men. She never knew her father had been arrested for killing two men, and many in the family would rather forget the situation. Everyone has a different story and Molly Walling wants to uncover the truth.

After serving in the military, Molly's father became an esteemed newspaper editor. One night in 1946, her father stood accused of killing two black men in the Mississippi Delta. With an all-white grand jury and the respect of many in the town, the case never got past a grand jury. Death in the Delta details the author's exploration of the case as she interviewed family members, witnesses, and sought newspaper accounts.

Death in the Delta moves slowly, yet it has to be that way. While you'…

Uneasy Fortunes - Mandi Ellsworth

Released June 2012

Mandi Ellsworth

Cedar Fort

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Uneasy Fortunes is a very enjoyable Christian historical western romance. I enjoyed getting to know the characters and watching them move past their abusive histories while learning what true love entails.

Jack's world changes when he learns his drunken father sold all of their livestock. When Jack's father dies, Jack also learns the ranch he thought he would inherit is all that's left to pay off his father's debt. Jack takes a job at a nearby ranch where he must work for free for five years to pay off the remaining debt. Something happens at that ranch that leaves Jack shaken.

Five years pass, and Jack finds himself on the doorstep of the Betteridge ranch looking for a new job. Will Betteridge takes him. Will's daughters, particularly the elder daughter, isn't as thrilled to have a man staying on the ranch. June, however, cannot deny that both her young son and her father have taken a …

Taste of Home: Cooking School Cookbook

Released March 2012

Taste of Home

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

I've been a huge fan of Taste of Home for years. The magazines are always filled with delicious recipes, not necessarily the healthiest out there, but they work and usually satisfy a craving. Plus, I find many of the less healthy recipes are easily converted to something a little healthier simply by switching things like butter with olive or grapeseed oil.

Taste of Home: Cooking School Cookbook is a huge collection of some of the best Taste of Home recipes. This selection focuses on their cooking school and each recipe contains instructions that anyone can follow. Sections in this cookbook include:
AppetizersBaking Beef and Pork Better than TakeoutBeveragesBreakfast DessertsPoultry SeafoodSide Dishes SoupsVegetarian There's also a comprehensive reference section and an index that makes it easy to find a specific recipe. Heading back to the beginning, there is a section on equipment you should have in your kitchen…

Almost Alcoholic - Robert Doyle, MD and Joseph Nowinski, PhD

Released April 2012

Robert Doyle, MD
Joseph Nowinski, PhD
Hazeldon

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Are you on the verge of becoming an alcoholic? Do you have a loved one who you feels drinks too much? Almost Alcoholic looks at stories involving people who were a few steps short of being a true alcoholic. These people needed to look at their habits and change before alcohol over took them.

Anyone who has watched a loved one dying from alcoholism is unlikely to follow that path. At least that's what I hope you'd take from that horrible experience. I spent a weekend with my aunt as she succumbed to years of alcoholism, Lyme Disease, and Hemochromatosis. The trio of diseases/conditions left her a shell of who she really was. I lost a shopping buddy, a friend, and a family member to alcohol.

I sat in the hospital room hundreds of miles from my home as doctors told my uncle they needed to find hospice care that his insurance wouldn't pay for. Home nursing agencies said she was abu…

Double Time - Jane Roper

Released May 2012

Jane Roper
St. Martin's Press

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Jane Roper's Double Time takes a very poignant and often hysterical look at parenting twins. This book made me laugh, brought tears to my eyes, and occasionally brought out the "Oh, I've been there and know..." moment.

I'm a mom, not of twins, but while pregnant for the third time, I miscarried two months into the pregnancy. A month later, I was sicker than ever before and returned to the doctor. She discovered I was still in fact pregnant. I was told that miscarrying one twin and having the second twin survive is more common than you'd think. It broke my heart that I lost a twin, especially when this was my second miscarriage - my first pregnancy ended during the fourth month of pregnancy - but I was also overjoyed at the thought that I did have one survivor who hung in there.

It's for that reason that I spent some time jealous of the author's pregnancy and resulting b…

A Callahan Wedding - Tina Leonard

Released May 2012

Tina Leonard
Harlequin

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

If you haven't read other books in the Callahan Cowboys series, I highly recommend starting from the beginning. I picked up A Callahan Wedding thinking it would be a stand-alone novel, and it really doesn't work out. There are too many things I didn't get that left me feeling like I'd wasted my time starting with this book.

Jonas Callahan never got over the fact that the love of his life, Sabrina McKinley had another man in her life. He's been in Ireland hunting for his aunt, but he returns to the family ranch with a fiancee in tow. He never expects to see Sabrina carrying a baby who is a miniature of himself.

Jonas is determined to marry Sabrina and give his son his name, but Sabrina's not ready to settle until Jonas proves he's really ready for an instant family. It becomes a battle of wits as the two butt heads.

There's also a side plot involving what really happened with the Cal…

Lonely Planet: The World's Best Street Food

Released April 2012

Lonely Planet

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Hands down, this book is a keeper. Lonely Planet's The World's Best Street Food is part travel guide, part cookbook and is filled with recipes I plan to make.

I reviewed the book for Amazon's Vine program. To read the full review, click on the book image at the top of the page.

The Back in the Swing Cookbook - Barbara Unell and Judith Fertig

Released August 2012

Barbara Unell
Judith Fertig
Andrews McMeel

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

The Back in the SwingCookbook is not only a cookbook designed for breast cancer survivors, but it's also a cookbook suitable to anyone looking to improve their diet. So far, I've tested one recipe, it's all I had on hand for ingredients, and it was a winner!

I grew up in a neighborhood where moms stayed home and generally if you got into trouble, more than one "mom" caught on. Getting away with anything was difficult. One of those "moms" lost her battle with breast cancer. I still remember the last time I saw her. I was Christmas shopping, she'd just gotten the all-clear from her doctor and was overjoyed. Five months later, I learned she'd died. The cancer had come back, in her liver this time. It broke my heart. I know during chemo and radiation that fried rice was the only food she could keep down. The rest of the time, she was a great cook and I think…

Island Apart - Steven Raichlen

Released June 2012

Steven Raichlen
Forge

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

I recently had the pleasure of reviewing Steven Raichlen's (The Barbecue Bible or How to Grill) debut fiction for Amazon Vine. If you like Nicholas Sparks books, you'll love this one.

My full review appears on the product page at Amazon.

Emory's Gift - W. Bruce Cameron

Released September 2011

W. Bruce Cameron
Forge

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Many are likely familiar with Bruce Cameron's bestselling A Dog's Purpose. I, however, adored the television show 8 Simple Rules and know him best from the book that led to the show.  (8 Simple Rules starred the late John Ritter, Kaley Cuoco of Big Bang Theory, and Katey Sagal of Married With Children). Emory's Gift is his latest release, and it's another win for fans of animal fiction.

Charlie Hall's reeling from the death of his mother and his father's withdrawal. When Charlie's dad throws himself into a new business venture, Charlie is left alone for hours a day. He doesn't fit in at school, often becoming the target of a bully, and simply doesn't have someone to talk to or offer guidance. That all changes when Charlie comes face to face with a grizzly bear while out fishing.

Emory's Gift is easily an adult or a teen fiction story. It's really Charlie's comin…