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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Taking a Shot - Jaci Burton



Released March 2012

Jaci Burton
Penguin

Book review by Tracy Farnsworth

Jenna Riley has her own dreams, but running her parents' sports bar is all that seems to be in the cards. One thing she knows for sure, the last man she wants in her life is someone associated with sports. Sports surrounds her when she's working and when she's relaxing with her family because her brothers are professional players for the NFL and MLB. The last thing she wants is to becoming involved with Ty Anderson, an NHL player. Yet, she can't seem to keep her minds and hands off him...

Taking a Shot is a heated romance centered again on the Riley family. The novels, including Taking a Shot, all stand alone, but you'll be able to spend lots of time getting to know the family if you read them all. There are more books to come too!

 As always, Jaci Burton creates real sizzle between her leading characters. The sexual attraction is clear and their romance progresses quickly. If you enjoy very steamy romances, you won't go wrong with Taking a Shot.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Feed Your Best Friend Better - Rick Woodford



Released April 2012

Rick Woodford
Andrews McMeel Publishing

Book review by Tracy Farnsworth

Feed Your Best Friend Better: Easy, Nutritious Meals and Snacks for Dogs is a book that every pet owner should have. Increases in canine and feline cancers and diabetes prove that the food you find in stores isn't always the best option. Actually, unless you pay very close attention to the labels, most store-bought dog food is horrible stuff. While it may be cheaper, the veterinary bills you face down the road may not make it such a great deal in the long run. Learn how to prepare your own dog food and snacks so that your dog is getting food where you control the quality. Both you and your dog will be happier.

Rick Woodford created amazing recipes using advice from veterinary resources. Anyone interested in holistic treatments for dogs, or who use a holistic veterinarian, should pick up this book. I know some may scoff at that, but honestly, I think those who scoff at holistic medicine need to take a closer look. There are amazing things holistic veterinarians do that many veterinarians overlook. Case in point, our senior cat started having seizures four months ago. Trips to her vet found nothing wrong with her. Scans, blood work, etc. all turned out negative for any problems. We were told that the anti-seizure medications would likely damage her liver and that it was best to ride out the seizures since they were not frequent. After spending a lot of money, we had no idea what was wrong with her.

The seizures would hit like clockwork every three weeks, last for half a day, disappear completely, and she was back to normal. I started visiting holistic veterinary boards and stumbled across a post suggesting that sodium nitrates in some canned foods might cause seizures in older cats. We feed our cats California Natural dry food, so there were no nitrates in that food, but their canned food did in fact have nitrates in it. We immediately tossed that food out and waited. She's been seizure free for over a month now. There's a lot to be said for carefully monitoring your pet's diet.

Feed Your Best Friend Better starts with a complex look at the nutrients your dog needs. You'll learn how much to feed your dog, foods you need to avoid, and then work into recipes for meals and treats. As you feed your dog the different meals, just pay attention to what the dog does and doesn't handle. My brother's dog will throw up if he's given scrambled eggs, other dogs thrive on them.

There are recipes for dog cookies and full meals. There are pages devoted to feeding dogs with different ailments, such as arthritis, diabetes, and liver disease, With so many recipes, your dog will never grow bored, and you'll know your dog is getting healthy meals without preservatives and by-products.

I highly recommend Feed Your Best Friend Better and hope the author will consider creating a book for cats. I know I'd be first in line to buy a copy!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Upon a Mystic Tide - Vicki Hinze



Released December 2011

Vicki Hinze
Bell Bridge Books

Book review by Tracy Farnsworth

Once again, Bell Bridge Books reissued a novel from "A Seascape Novel/Romance" series. Though originally released in the 1990s under the name Victoria Barrett, each of Vicki Hinze's books still have a timeless feel, so it never seems as though they are almost 20 years old.

Upon a Mystic Tide shares the tale of Bess and Jonathan Mystic. Their marriage is over, and with the divorce comes the loss of Bess's job as a well-known radio relationship counselor. Needing to get away, Bess heads to the Seascape Inn in Maine where her close friend Maggie (Beyond the Misty Shores) fell in love.

In Maine, Bess and Jonathan find they're not quite as over each other as they hoped. Their marriage, however, has to end because Bess has had it with Jonathan's secrets, and he simply lacks the courage to tell her everything. If he can't summon the strength, there is no hope for this couple. Meanwhile, the inn's resident ghost just isn't as willing to let them give up.

The "A Seascape Romance" series spanned a number of books, including titles by Rosalyn Alsobrook. I read and fell in love with the town years ago, though in all honestly, many small towns in Maine make it easy to feel at peace. Vicki Hinze, to me, always captured the feel of a small Maine fishing town perfectly. I've spent many weeks of my life vacationing in Maine, and the characters you find in Sea Haven Village, are just as likable as those you do find in a Maine town. It really is a place where you refresh and re-energize mentally and physically.

If you like romances with a little ghostly intervention, I highly recommend reading Vicki Hinze's trilogy and then finding some of the other Seascape novels. You won't regret it!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Dispatcher - Ryan David Jahn



Released December 27, 2011

Ryan David Jahn
Penguin

Book review by Tracy Farnsworth

How far would you go to save a child most people felt was dead? Police dispatcher Ian Hunt and his ex-wife held a makeshift funeral seven years after their daughter was kidnapped. Presumed dead, everyone but Ian felt it was best to move on. His ex-wife has since remarried and has twins. He stopped talking to his now-adult son who was the only other person in the home the night his daughter was taken. For Ian, life virtually stopped the day Maggie disappeared.

During his shift at the police station, the unthinkable happens. A young woman calls asking for help. She identifies herself as Maggie Hunt. Ian's floored and dispatches help immediately, but the call ends abruptly when her captor catches up. With few leads to go on and renewed energy that Maggie is alive, Ian sets off on a journey to rescue his daughter.

The Dispatcher starts with a bang and really never lets up. The action is virtually non-stop from the first to last page. Throughout this novel, I kept thinking it has Hollywood written all over it. If Hollywood does turn it into a blockbuster, I'd be first in line to see it.

Ryan David Jahn is new to me, but his writing style and characters really drew me into the story. I think any parent would empathize with Ian. If your child goes missing, you would go above and beyond to return that child safely. It's that drive that really made me like Ian's character and had me rooting for him every step of the way.

If you're looking for a riveting thriller, you won't go wrong with Ryan David Jahn's The Dispatcher.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Beyond the Misty Shore - Vicki Hinze



Released October 2011

Vicki Hinze
Bell Bridge Books

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

Vicki Hinze's first novel in the "A Seascape Romance/Novel" series was recently reissued. Originally released in 1996 under the name Victoria Barrett, Beyond the Misty Shore impressed me just as much today as it did back then. If you've never found this series, you're missing a real treat.

Artist T. J. MacGregor has been unable to leave Seascape Inn for months. Every time he attempts to cross the property line, an icy feel overwhelms him and he collapses to the ground. He's terrified and can't figure out who or what is keeping him trapped at this Maine inn.

Maggie Wright is determined to get to the bottom of her cousin's death. The fact that her cousin's body and car were burned beyond recognition fits the accident scene, but what doesn't fit is that a painting by T. J. MacGregor wasn't harmed at all. It's this unusual piece of evidence that brings Maggie to Maine to find out if T. J. killed his fiance.

What Maggie doesn't expect is to start falling for T. J. The more time she spends with him, the more she begins falling head over heels. It isn't long, however, before both Maggie and T. J. realize there is something within the inn that is determined to keep them from leaving.

Beyond the Misty Shore is the first book what was called the "A Seascape Romance" series. It's since been renamed "A Seascape Novel" series. I highly recommend reading them in order. Vicki Hinze does a great job at building a classic love story complete with a meddling spirit, charming townspeople, and a dramatic setting. If you've ever been to Maine, you'll see the author does a great job at bringing Sea Haven Village to live. It's a fictional town, but so very much like small Maine towns that you'll feel like you're there.

I don't remember all of the details from the first time I read this series, so while I remembered bits and pieces, I didn't remember the ending. I found myself loving T. J. and Maggie's story just as much now as I did back when it was originally released. It has a timeless feel that makes it a novel I'm so glad I reread.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Cinnamon Roll Murder - Joanne Fluke



Released March 2012

Joanne Fluke
Kensington

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

Joanne Fluke's Hannah Swenson is back in her 15th book. This time, Hannah and her sister Michelle are on their way to an event with a truck filled with cookies and cinnamon rolls, hence the title Cinnamon Roll Murder, when they come across a terrible pile-up on icy roads. They decide to stop and help the passengers on an overturned tour bus.

The driver is dead, but they tend to the members of the band as well as they can. When one of the band members is later found dead in the hospital with a pair of surgical shears sticking out of his chest, Hannah, her siblings, and her mother become involved in solving another case.

Meanwhile, Hannah's ex-beau is about to get married. When her mind's not on the case, Hannah is certainly thinking about the man she loves and how he's about to make a huge mistake.

I'm going to come out and admit that I haven't been impressed with the past few Hannah Swenson books. The recipes have been amazing, the stories have had the warmth I expect, but I haven't liked the love triangle between Mike, Norman, and Hannah. Cinnamon Roll Murder takes a step on the path towards fixing that. I'm not going to give away spoilers, but I found myself intrigued with the story and by the outcome. It's nice to be excited about this series again.

I did want to note something that the author didn't suggest. If you make the cinnamon rolls, in lieu of a knife, cut the rolls with a piece of unflavored dental floss. Simply slip the piece of floss under the jelly-rolled dough, cross the ends and pull like you're tying a knot. The string cleanly cuts through the dough without squishing it. It's the trick my grandmother taught me decades ago and works perfectly for cutting any dough without ruining its shape.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Question of Trust - Laura Caldwell



Released March 2012

Laura Caldwell
Mira

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

Izzy McNeil's back and this time her boyfriend, Theo, is in hot water. He's been accused a Ponzi scheme, his business partner attempts suicide, and a major client is threatening to dump Izzy and her friend Maggie's firm if they don't drop Theo's case. Izzy isn't sure how she can really trust. Could Theo be playing her?

When Izzy's apartment is broken into, she starts to fear that there's something more to Theo's case. When a neighbor is found dead in that same apartment a short while later, Izzy knows there's something going on that she must solve to save herself and Theo.

I've never read any of the Izzy McNeil novels. While Question of Trust does recap past books, I think it would be better had I read the books in order. There seems to be a lot more to Izzy's relationships and background than the book was able to recapture.

The action is non-stop, and the case took a lot of twists making it hard to predict the outcome in advance. That was a nice change of pace because with so many mysteries, I have the case solved before I'm halfway through the novel. Laura Caldwell does a great job of throwing out potential suspects and situations that keep you guessing.

Question of Trust is a good story, but my only reservation is that I hadn't read the other books. I have a feeling I would have gotten more out of Izzy's character if I'd known her background and the situations she'd faced in the past.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

How To Eat a Cupcake - Meg Donohue



Released March 2012

Meg Donohue
HarperCollins

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

I recently finished How to Eat a Cupcake for the Amazon Vine program. If you love culinary mysteries or romances, pick up a copy. It's a good blend of mystery, romance and women's fiction. The only downfall, the author didn't include recipes.

My full review appears on Amazon.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Good Beer Guide to New England - Andy Crouch



Released May 2006

Andy Crouch
University Press of New England

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

My husband is an avid IPA fan, I prefer Hefs, pilsners and lagers. Given that, one of our favorite hobbies is touring breweries when we're on vacation. Andy Crouch's The Good Beer Guide to New England is an excellent resource for anyone who does want to visit New England's breweries.

Released in 2006, many of these breweries are still open, however you should check first before heading out. In Vermont, The Alchemist shut down because of flooding from the remnants of Hurricane Irene. They've since moved to a new location near Ben and Jerry's, and offer tours and tastings (they're only brewing Heady Topper), but there is no longer a restaurant. Rock Art Brewery has also moved to a larger facility, and Fiddlehead Brewing opened up in South Burlington. Vermont Brewers Association offers all the details and even have a passport that you get stamped at the different breweries in order to earn free prizes when you've toured at least four breweries.

I've used this book repeatedly when we've vacationed in Maine, New Hampshire or down in Cape Cod. It's an invaluable resource to the beer lover, particularly those whose tastes go behind the standard mass-production beers like Budweiser, Coors, Miller or Michelob. I highly recommend picking up a copy of The Good Beer Guide to New England and trying out the unique breweries found throughout New England.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Secrets of the Lost Summer - Carla Neggers



Released February 2012

Carla Neggers
Harlequin

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

After a friend steals her clients, the heroine in Carla Negger's Secrets of Lost Summer, Olivia Frost, returns to her hometown hoping to turn an old home into a thriving bed and breakfast. In Knights Bridge, she's dismayed to find the only other home on her remote street is littered with old appliances and overgrown shrubbery. As appearances mean everything to her business plan, she contacts the owner asking for permission to clean it up or to have him clean it up.

Dylan McCaffrey is stunned to learn he owns a home in Knights Bridge. The former hockey player has never been to the area, so he can't imagine how he came to own a home. After learning his late father, a known treasure hunter, purchased the home shortly before he died, Dylan heads to Knights Bridge to see if he can learn why his father purchased the house. This leads to a century old mystery that he becomes determined to solve.

Shortly after meeting Olivia, Dylan starts to wonder if his life in California is really what he wants. He doesn't want to tell her what he's learned about the mystery involving his home, as he's not sure who in the town knew about a crime committed in a nearby city that has ties to Knights Bridge. The longer the stays, the more he starts thinking about making Olivia a permanent part of his life, if she'd even want him around for the long run.

I love Carla Neggers books, so I do think that makes me slightly biased. I've yet to find one of her books that didn't grab me, mainly because her settings always feel personal as many books take place in towns and cities I've spent a lot of time in during my life. Secrets of Lost  Summer takes place in Massachusetts, not too far from Boston. Again having a setting I know drew me into the story.

One of the things I wasn't as fond of with this story was the inclusion of stories involving Olivia's family. I honestly found myself tired of her sister's and mother's fears interrupting the main story. I understand anxiety more than many, I've dealt with panic disorder for decades, but having it repeatedly pop up with the minor characters grew tiring.

Despite that one gripe, Olivia and Dylan's romance was amazing. I enjoyed their chemistry and liked watching them work together to solve the mystery. Another character I loved was the former owner of Dylan's home, Grace Webster. She's a former Latin teacher and highly respected within the town. As she's one of the town's original residents, her insight is key to the mystery. I loved when the book would go back to Grace's days as a young woman watching her home town demolished to become a man-made reservoir to supply Boston with water. That aspect of the story really was intriguing.

Overall, even with my complaints, Secrets of the Lost Summer is a book that drew me in and held me captive until I'd read the final page. It's the perfect book to curl up near the fire and read non-stop for a few hours.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Eating Free - Manuel Villacorta



Released May 2012

Manuel Villacorte
HCI

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

Let me start by saying that I've been caught up in many of these diet crazes. I successfully used South Beach Diet to lose 25 pounds, only to discover that the maintenance diet didn't work for me at all. I tried Atkins and it just wasn't for me. I even tried an organic diet I can across that ended up tripling our grocery bill and therefore was futile. Eating Free is one of the first diet books that starts out with the author sharing his own struggles in vivid detail.

Manuel Villacorta grew up in Peru and never had a problem with weight until he moved to the U.S. As he studied to become a dietitian, he also taught himself to cook. Unlike many of the fads that have Americans skipping carbs, he ate the foods of his childhood. What resulted from both his experiences and the experiences of his clients, showed that strict calorie counting, extreme fitness regimens and skipping carbs is futile. He shares both his story and that of his clients. One of the first stories he shares involves a lawyer who counted calories, avoided sugars and carbs, exercised daily and despite that gained weight. He also talks about a couple who moved to Italy and ended up losing weight despite eating pasta every day.

Using these, and other stories, he came up with a diet based on two principles:
  • "The body needs fuel to survive."
  • "Eating is one of life's greatest pleasures."
With that in mind, he created a diet that works, doesn't restrict the foods you eat and, most importantly, allows you to enjoy your meal in a stress-free manner. This occurs by having you eat breakfast an hour after getting up, never skipping a meal, mixing carbs and proteins, eating 70 percent of your daily calories before dinner and then 30 percent during and after dinner, drinking plenty of water and eating as late as you want, as long as your last meal is 90 minutes before bed time. It also follows a 45-30-25 ratio that dictates how much of your meal should be fats, proteins and carbs.

Unlike many self-help diet books, this one contains a helpful guide on a reasonable portion size and the best choices available. He discusses how a medium piece of fruit is the equivalent of 1 cup of berries or 1/2 cup chopped fruit. Best of all, desserts are not excluded. Instead, he shows how to incorporate desserts into your new meal plan. What you end up with is a chart that lists how many servings of grains, starches, meats, vegetables, fruits, milk and fat should be eaten per day given your target daily calorie intake. This chart, along with the portion size diagrams makes it easy to decide what you want to eat during the day.

As you work through the book, you'll find sample weekly meal plans, recipes and a Free Q questionnaire that helps you keep track of how well you are Eating Free.

If you want to lose weight and are tired of diets that ban certain foods, you really need to buy a copy of Manuel Villacorta's Eating Free. It's a great resource and full of information that helps without preaching.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

She Tempts the Duke - Lorraine Heath



Released February 2012

Lorraine Heath
Avon

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

As I read She Tempts a Duke, I really hoped this was first in a series. Thankfully, that is the case. Lorraine Heath will follow this historical romance with two more books -- all part of the Lost Lords of Pembrook trilogy.

As children, Sebastian, Tristan and Rafe fled their home after their father's death. After being locked up in a tower by their cruel uncle who wanted them dead, it was only through the daring feat of young Lady Mary Wynne-Jones that they were able to escape. Fourteen-year-old Sebastian and Mary promise to meet up in 10 years.

At this point, if you've ever been to the Tower of London, you'll know the story of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville's sons. The boys, Edward V and Richard,disappeared from the Tower and were never seen again. It's believed they were murdered, but no one knows for certain. She Tempts the Duke definitely brought me back to the day I stood in the tower and heard that story.

Ten years later, Mary is due to marry another when Sebastian and his brother's return. Mary's beau is less than amused that Mary wants to pick up their friendship. Yet despite his orders, Mary can't hide her feelings. She's in love with Sebastian and fears he may never overcome his mental and physical scars to allow him to return her feelings.

Make no mistake, I love Lorraine Heath's novels. I still have and often re-read the Rogues in Texas series. She Tempts the Duke, however, didn't grab me as strongly. I definitely felt a connection with the characters, in fact, I can't wait to read Rafe's story because he came off as really scarred and I'd like to know exactly what happened to him during those 10 years. With Sebastian, his tortures were a little more apparent. His inner conflict just didn't seem as compelling because it was obvious it wouldn't take much for him to overcome his past. From that point on, the story almost became predictable for me.

Despite this, I am very glad I have the backstory in place because I have a feeling that my disappointment with She Tempts a Duke will be a thing of the past once Rafe and even Tristan, Sebastian's twin, find their matches.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Seamus Mullen's Hero Food - Seamus Mullen



Released April 2012

Seamus Mullen
Andrews McMeel Publishing

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

Like the author, I've grown up in Vermont. The only difference is that I haven't left, yet. While part of me is very tired of the high taxes, long winters with outrageous heating bills, and insane cost of living, I know I'd miss having a berry farm a mile away, the thrill of leaning over my deck rail to pick fresh blackberries, and having a spacious yard with a garden filled with my favorites. Reading Seamus Mullen's Hero Foods really put it into perspective just how much I do love that part of life.

Seamus Mullen is a known New York City chef and finalist on the Next Iron Chef. What people may not know is that at 35, his rheumatoid arthritis got so bad he ended up in a wheelchair. That's when he began to use foods to improve his condition.

His cookbook, Hero Foods, delves into the foods that should be a part of daily life. Things like dried beans, olive oil, grains, poultry, eggs, parsley, berries, greens, meat, squash, carrots, corn, fish and almonds each have chapters in this cookbook. Some items, like fresh trout or anchovies, I can do without. Vermont trout has always tasted muddy to me and now with Lake Champlain's pollution levels and many streams and rivers being polluted, I'm just not interested. I live close to Lake Champlain and in one bay, the smell during the summer is simply nauseating. I also grew up in a farm town and even today, the cows nearest my parents are allowed to wander into a tributary of the Winooski causing high fecal coliform levels.

The rest of the recipes, however, sounded amazing. I happened to have a three-pound bag of almonds my brother had just given me because his restaurant ordered too much over the holidays, so I set to work.

The photography in this book is incredible. I found myself entranced with the photos. The cookbook is set up by season. He has an outstanding recipe for preserved lemons and I've been looking for one that isn't horribly involved. That's one of the first recipes I tested, though I did cut the recipe down because I use olive oil for everything and didn't want to use up the full two cups. I then went on to make his Almond Sable and immediately used it as the crust for another recipe I have for a Chocolate-Amaretto tart. That recipe quickly became a favorite.

I'm anxious to try the Corn and Crab salad once summer arrives. Other recipes that appealed to me include Stuffed Spaghetti Squash, Pan Roasted Brussels Sprouts (While many hate these tiny cabbage-like treats, I love them!), and Spiced Rubbed Hanger Steaks.

There are many treats waiting for your kitchen skills in Seamus Mullen's Hero Food. After viewing the pictures and scanning the recipes, I found myself longing for this odd winter to end so that my chives spring up, lawn blooms with thyme's purple flowers, rhubarb stalks appear, and the first run of vegetables are ready to be picked. This is an incredible cookbook and one I plan to purchase for my collection.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Creative Cooking for the Global Kitchen - David Marteau



Released February 2012

Chef David Marteau
Global Chef Publishing

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

I won't lie. There are some really odd combinations found in Creative Cooking for the Global Kitchen. I'm all for being adventurous in the kitchen, but some combinations I've seen in my years have been way out there. Sometimes, they really work, but there are other combinations I've tried that have been horrible. I got that feeling while looking over the recipes in Chef David Marteau's cookbook.

The chef begins the cookbook by offering insight into his travels and really what makes him tick in the kitchen. I appreciate this background. I always like to get to know a chef before I start trusting in his or her recipes. After that, the cookbook begins where many comprehensive cookbooks should - appetizers. Each recipe includes a photograph, something I find invaluable. Stand out recipes for me included the Shrimp Tempura with Japanese Coleslaw and the Crab Cakes with Cucumbers and Chipotle Mayonnaise. I wasn't sold on the Tuna Carpaccio with Mango Salsa and White Chocolate Mascarpone. Tuna with mango is fine, but throwing in white chocolate really is just overkill in my book.

The book progresses into soups (try the stock recipes), salads, dressings, risottos, pasta, meat, poultry, fish, side dishes and desserts. I highly recommend trying the recipe for Chocolate and Coconut Risotto, it's amazing. The Chicken Curry recipe is also fantastic. I'm a huge fan of monkfish (the fish that North Sea fishermen used to call garbage fish because customers wouldn't touch it) and can't wait to try the Monkfish Osso Bucco, but finding monk in my area is challenging.

Heading into the side dishes, I wasn't sure the Apricot Ratatouille would work, but it's become my favorite ratatouille recipe. That brings me to desserts. The author admits he's not a pastry chef. Pastries and baking is a hobby to me. Given that, his recipe for Chocolate Salami is incredible unique and very tasty. Serve the decadent Chocolate Salami with a recipe he includes for Chocolate Martinis and you have an amazing finish to your meal.

Despite the somewhat odd pairings, I was delighted with many of the recipes in Creative Cooking for the Global Kitchen. If you love cooking, you should pick up a copy of David Marteau's book.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Flowers of War - Geling Yang & Nicky Harman



Released February 2012

Other Press

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

Set during the Second Sino-Japanese War, Flowers of War tells the story of an American priest who does his best to keep a group of school girls safe from the atrocities being committed by the Imperial Japanese Army during the Nanking Massacre. When a group of prostitutes from a nearby brothel flee to his church, he wants them to go away but eventually offers them protection too. Soon, the American church is also harboring Chinese POWs. While the American church should be safe from the Japanese soldiers, it's clear that the Japanese are not following any rules other than their own.

Flowers of War is being re-released now that it is a motion picture starring Christian Bale. Originally published in 2006, the story offers a timeless look at the atrocities of war. It's quite heartbreaking at times and told with such honesty, that it often feels like you're reading a true story. This is likely a good thing as in my years of school, I'd never heard of the Nanking Massacre, so it became a bit of a lesson for me. One thing is hard to ignore, I've heard the stories of what soldiers do during war that is completely out of character for many of them, and obviously that hasn't changed over the decades.

The characters are well-developed, though some of them I would have liked to see a little more background. At just over 250 pages, this isn't a long story and doesn't take a lot of time to read. The ending comes quickly and left tears in my eyes. I'm glad I came across Flower of War. It's a poignant story that I feel is very important for everyone to read and learn something from.