Note to Readers

Roundtable Reviews receives many galley and ARC copies for review. Please understand that the finished copy may differ from the copies we have reviewed.

I have not received any compensation for writing this post other than a free digital or galley copy of the book. I have no material connection to the publisher, agent, or author whose book/s I am reviewing. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Year Up - Gerald Chertavian



Released July 2012

Gerald Chertavian
Viking

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

College graduates in many areas struggle to find jobs after graduation. Facing college loan payments, these young adults find themselves on shaky ground and unemployment rates remain high, and many older, more experienced workers are flooding the market. Students who simply cannot afford college are in a more precarious position as many employers simply won't touch a resume if a college isn't listed. A Year Up is an ingenious program that helps these students learn essential job skills so that they can hit the ground running.

A Year Up discusses how students can get ahead, especially if college is out of reach.  The foundations of this handy guide started with the group, Walk for Opportunity, a workforce development program the author founded in 2000. Instead of being a true self-help guide, Gerald Chertavian's book uses personal accounts of students who have completed the Year Up program. It details where they came from and what they've achieved. That personal touch makes this book incredibly easy to read.

Personally, I think every high school student and even their parents need to read A Year Up. When my teen was searching for a college he could afford, he ended up going with a local technical college that had a 100% job placement rate for the field he wants to get into. His friends and teachers ridiculed him for choosing a technical college over a prestigious university given his SAT, AP, and ACT scores, but money was a primary concern. He stuck with what he could afford after four years, worked as hard as he could to land scholarship funds, and now he's into his freshman year and loving everything about college. Armed with the education he's receiving and tips from A Year Up, I think he'll be in good shape four years from now.


Saturday, September 29, 2012

That Thing Called Love - Susan Andersen



Released August 2012

Susan Andersen
Harlequin

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

I'd love to say I adored That Thing Called Love, but the truth is I tossed it aside far too many times. It was a story with a plot that would usually grab me and hold me entranced, but something was lacking. I never really connected with Jenny, Jake, or even Austin. In fact, there were times I thought all three of them needed a smack upside the head. It's been a long time since I struggled to finish a book, but sadly That Thing Called Love took me a while to complete.

Jenny Salazar has been a big sister to Austin since toddlerhood. When Austin's grandparents took her in and gave her a chance, she became a dedicated employee and virtual family member. After they die and leave Jenny as temporary guardian to their grandson, her goals are to file for custody. She never expects Austin's long-absent father to suddenly reappear, but that's exactly what Jake Bradshaw does.

What's worse is that Jake plans to take Austin across the country with him. The boy Jenny loves like a brother may be leaving her life forever, and she's not happy about it. She can't fight Jake though because he is Austin's blood relative. With that in mind, Jenny decides to help Austin adjust to this dramatic change.

I'm a sucker for single-parent story lines and really that's what is found in That Thing Called Love. I never connected with any of the characters. Austin is rude, which teens can be sure, but his grandparents spoiled him and that makes him a billion times worse. Jenny's not much better. I'm a parent, and if my kids were lucky enough to own their own expensive power boat, there's not a chance they'd be going out on the bay alone, not even with all the training and safety equipment in the world. They'd never be allowed to talk to another adult like Austin does, and he certainly wouldn't be manipulating me on a regular basis.

Jake ran away from his son and hasn't matured much over the years from what I could see. How a man who hadn't seen his son in over 10 years figured his son would happily go along with a cross-country move, away from friends and really the only family he knows, is beyond me. How he could be so blind to the hurt he was causing Jenny was equally baffling. Bottom line, Jake is an idiot.

In the end, I just didn't like the characters and that led to the big issue. I honestly didn't care if they ever got together or not. By the end of the book, I was simply glad to be done. If anything, I was more intrigued with Jake's half-brother, Max. Max is the only character I really liked in this book. Max really is the only reason I'll eagerly read other books in this series.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Peaches for Father Francis - Joanne Harris



Released October 2012

Joanne Harris
Viking

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

I never read Chocolat, nor did I read the follow-up to that book, The Girl with No Shadow. I have, however, watched the movie Chocolat dozens of times, so I know the story well. 

Peaches for Father Francis finds Vianne faced with a challenge. A letter arrives from beyond the grave. Armande Voizin is dead and wants Vianne to return to Lansquenet knowing that the town needs Vianne again. Armande urges Vianne to return to the town and put flowers on her grave and help herself to the peaches from her peach tree. Vianne seems happy with her daughters and Roux living on a houseboat in Paris, but the call of Lansquenet is too much to ignore, so she, Anouk, and Rosette return with Roux opting to stay behind.

Vianne's return is certainly timely, and it's clear the town is not doing well. In the eight years since she left, the "river rats" have left, but in their place came Muslim families who set up a school in the old Chocolatier. Someone's burned it down and Father Francis, the same man who battled Vianne over her chocolates, is blamed for the fire, only he swears he didn't do it.

As Vianne gets to know the Muslims and also revisits old friends, a second mystery rears its head. Josephine, a woman who Vianne saved from an abusive husband, has an eight-year-old son. Vianne's shocked to learn her friend never told her she had a child. Vianne is pretty certain that that boy is Roux's, but she needs proof to confirm her suspicions.

This third book in the Lansquenet series really dives into the secrets people have been keeping and returns to the intolerance the French townspeople show towards any outsiders, just as they did with Vianne and her daughter years ago. The writing is lyrical and really pulls you in. I found myself heartbroken that it did come to an end. I really would like to move to this little town and enjoy the tight-knit community, something that seems to be vanishing here in the U.S. as people work longer hours and stay inside to do chores on days off.

If, like me, you've only watched the movie and missed the first book, there are things that don't quite fit. The movie is set in the 1950s, so I was a little shocked at first when the book was talking about cell phones and Facebook. You simply have to remember the movie does have its differences.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

NO HOPE, NO CHANGE: Lack of Enthusiasm Challenges Presidential Campaigns

FOUR YEARS AFTER “HOPE AND CHANGE”,
LACK OF ENTHUSIASM AND EXCITEMENT
CHALLENGES PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGNS

“It’s time for a new political party,” according to John F. Kimberling, author of WHAT THIS COUNTRY NEEDS

“An interesting book and a fascinating idea...”
— Warren Christopher, 63rd U.S. Secretary of State

While the presidential election is just a few weeks away and both major presidential campaigns are trying every effort to capture the vote, people are increasingly asking: where is the enthusiasm? Last month’s nationwide USA TODAY/Gallup Poll found that Americans have a negative view of both candidates, and that only 12% of Americans believe either candidate have what it takes to be president. Given this dearth of voter confidence in the persons they are choosing to lead their country, the question must be asked: what do voters want or need from their leaders? Or even more specific, what does the country need?

John F. Kimberling has the answer: a new political party. “The Republican and Democratic parties are really very much alike, and neither party is willing or able to offer a substantive and acceptable alternative to the status quo politics,” says John F. Kimberling, author of WHAT THIS COUNTRY NEEDS: A NEW POLITICAL PARTY (REVISED EDITION ELECTION 2012, Polimedia Publishing, 2012, www.whatthiscountryneeds.net). He continues, “But as we can see, there is a definite hunger and a need in this country for a new approach to governance, and I predict that the next decade will see the rise of the several compelling alternative—a third political party.”



Kimberling goes into great detail in his book about the most pressing issues a new political party must solve if it were to succeed. His book refuses to accept that powerful political and financial forces can take the country away from its people. It lays out a blueprint for a new third party to give the voters the tools they need to reshape the political process and point the way in a new direction and to a better future for the entire country.

ABOUT THE BOOK


“An interesting book and a fascinating idea...” — Warren Christopher, 63rd U.S. Secretary of State

“This is a refreshing new book that deserves a wide audience for the thoughtful agenda it proposes.” — Thomas Ehrlich, Senior Scholar at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and President Emeritus, Indiana University

“What this country needs is a good five cent cigar,” said former U.S. Vice President Thomas Marshall. But in this frank, outspoken book, author John Kimberling argues that what this country really needs is a new political party. Both the Republican and Democratic parties have failed the American people.
WHAT THIS COUNTRY NEEDS refuses to accept that powerful political and financial forces can take our country away from us. It lays out a blueprint for a new third party to give the voters the tools they need to reshape the political process and point the way in a new direction and to a better future for all of us.

WHAT THIS COUNTRY NEEDS is available directly from Polimedia Publishing and major digital bookstores such as iTunes, Amazon Kindle, and Barnes & Noble Nook.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


John F. Kimberling volunteered to serve in the U.S. Navy on his 17th birthday in World War II and served again in the Korean War. A highly respected lawyer for over three decades, he retired as a senior partner in one of the large Wall Street law firms. He was referred to in The American Lawyer as one of the country’s top jury trial lawyers. He was honored to be chosen as a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers. After retiring from active practice, he taught as an adjunct professor of law at the Indiana University School of Law for several years. He was the recipient in 2001 of the Distinguished Alumni Service Award of Indiana University. Kimberling has been active throughout his career in many civic affairs. He has been a member of civic groups, served on boards of directors of charitable boards and been active in various community affairs in California over the years. He has also been active and held leadership positions in both the Republican and Democratic parties at different times. He is also the author of How to Try a Jury Case. Now retired, he lives in Palm Springs and San Diego, CA.

Midnight Alley - Miles Corwin



Released April 2012

Miles Corwin
Oceanview Publishing

Book review by Tracy Farnsworth

Midnight Alley is the second book in the Ash Levine series, and my introduction to this character. The book opens with Ash and his ex heading out on a romantic weekend away, hopefully to rekindle things before divorce is the final option. Nothing goes Ash's way when he gets a call from his boss that he's needed to drop his vacation plans and return to L.A. to investigate a double murder.

This is a pressing case because one of the victims is the son of a councilman who has little positive to say about the LAPD's investigative skills. The other had just returned from a tour of duty in the Middle East. The LAPD wants to prove him wrong and find out who would kill a boy who seems to have gotten his life together while in the military. Solving the case isn't as easy as it seems. Ash soon finds the case may go far beyond the boundaries of California.

I'd heard lots of good things about Miles Corwin's first novel, Kind of Blue. I started reading Midnight Alley and was instantly drawn into Ash's activities, but then I started to question things. He's a man determined to have a romantic weekend with the woman he supposedly loves, yet he insists on stopping to surf before they continue on their way. That certainly sent a mixed message to me, and I'm surprised her character didn't walk right out.

Once the murder-mystery kicks in, I was intrigued, but not enough to hold my attention from beginning consistently. I found it a little too easy to walk away and return to the story, and for that reason, it took me weeks rather than days or even hours to finish it. As the story turns to the theft of a highly valued mask and how many people want to get their hands on it, I really lost interest. I'm not sure exactly why this book didn't grab me though, it was fast paced, writing seemed solid, but it just didn't pull me in enough to hold my attention.

In the end, I think Midnight Alley will appeal to those who enjoy murder-mystery novels with a strong leaning towards military intrigue and mafia-type plots. It turned out to just not be my figurative cup of tea.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Wisdom Rising II - Vaishali



Released June 2012

Vaishali
Purple Haze Press

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Wisdom Rising II: The Ultimate Guide to Self-healing, Personal Growth, and Life Management surprised me. There seems to be an influx of self-help guides out there, and I've been sent quite a few in recent months. I was expecting the same-old, same-old and instead found myself drawn in with the very personable tone.

This is a book for anyone who wants to improve their physical and mental health. It you're tired of feeling like the world is out of control and there's nothing you can do, you need to pick this book up. Changing your outlook on life really starts with you. What others say or do only impacts you if you let it and that's one of the key points in this book. Take charge of your life and find improvements almost instantly.

There are over 30 chapters, and each one is packed with useful information and plenty of pop culture references to help drive points home. I can't stand shock jocks and the story relating how Vaishali turned the tables on a shock jock had me giggling. I wish I could hear that interview! The chapters are divided into three sections: Mind, Body, and Spirit. Thanks to this thoughtful set-up, you can easily read a section, take a few days or weeks to ponder the material, and then return later without feeling like you've been away too long. I read the book over a two-month period, taking time to do other things in between, and each time, I didn't feel like I'd lost any impact by waiting.

Cartoons are scattered throughout the book. If you're reading on an e-reader like I did, the cartoons did take a long time to load, about two minutes per image, but much of this is because it's designed for the Kindle and I was reading a galley version on my Nook. Hopefully, that's not a situation that others will experience.




Monday, September 24, 2012

Beverly Hills Book Awards Debuts with Cache

Focusing on Exceptional Presentation of Print Books
Sold in the United States

The inaugural Beverly Hills Book Awards is now open for submissions through January 31, 2013. The Winners and Finalists will be announced March 15, 2013. Beverly Hills is synonymous with excellence, the best of the best.
Submission guidelines allow nominations of any English language printed books available for sale in the United States.
The competition is judged by publishing industry leaders including publishers, editors, writers and book cover designers. Books are judged for overall excellence in book presentation, including cover design, interior layout, and aesthetic components that are all key to an overall outstanding printed book. Fiction, non-fiction, mystery, romance and many other genres are eligible for consideration.

“Why the Beverly Hills Book Awards? After decades in the publishing industry and listening to our colleagues talk about the ever-growing challenges when promoting books, we decided that there were so many books being done well we wanted to celebrate the physical book that has always and will always be a part of American culture. And in Beverly Hills we truly value excellence. We welcome submissions of English language books on any topic, sold anywhere in the United States,” said Ellen Reid, sponsor of the Beverly Hills Book Awards. Books on any subject by authors from any city are welcome…this is an international contest.

Books published from 2008 to 2013 are eligible. For more information, please visit the website:
www.beverlyhillsbookawards.com

A.K.C. Star Puppy: A Positive Behavioral Approach to Puppy Training - Mary Burch



Released August 2012

Mary Burch
Direct Book Service

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

You've seen plenty of books on training your puppy, but I think A.K.C Star Puppy is one of the best books on the subject. We brought a new Rat Terrier puppy into our home this summer, and I've tested lots of books and advice on training. Our puppy is a smart little guy and he picks up things almost instantly, and that's made training fun and rewarding.

One thing that sets A.K.C. Star Puppy apart is the friendly, almost conversational tone. This guide isn't just a "do-it-this-way"-type guide, it gives real accounts in how the training rule can be useful and how it works. Everything is presented with the honesty you need, training takes time and repetition. It also starts with an important look into the dog breeds and how to choose the one that best fits your family. In our case, we knew Rat Terriers needed plenty of activity, and as my teens walked a walking/jogging partner, he was a great choice.

This puppy training guide covers everything. Learn all about crate training, simple commands like sit/stay/come, games to play, housebreaking, tips to get your puppy accustomed to nail trims, and more important lessons like food dominance. I won't say our puppy is perfect, he's housebroken, amazingly it only took six weeks, he knows basic commands, and he's crate trained. He still does jump up to say hi, which we're working on and A.K.C. Star Puppy has given me new tips to try.

I think partnered with tips I've gotten watching It's Me or the Dog, I have everything I need to make sure our puppy is an amazing friend and protector. We're still contemplating dog obedience classes, I'm leery on them because of a past experience with the teacher pinning our puppy to the floor until she peed herself. When that's the only class offered in your area, it doesn't make you eager to return. I really think A.K.C. Star Puppy is a must-have resource for anyone with a puppy.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Free Books Through October 1st

Starting tomorrow and running until October 1st Premier Digital Publishing is hosting an End of September Thriller Promotion on our titles. Check out the list below and visit http://www.premierdigitalpublishing.com/ to get a FREE Chris Wiltz eBook!

Chris WIltz – (Neal Rafferty New Orleans Mystery Series)

A Diamond Before You Die – Free AMZ KDP – Sept. 21 & Sept. 22 – reg. 4.99
The Killing Circle – Free AMZ KDP – Sept. 23 & Sept. 24 – reg. 2.99
The Emerald Lizard – Free AMZ KDP – Sept. 25 & Sept. 26 – 4.99
Shoot The Money – Free AMZ KDP – Sept. 27 & Sept. 28 – 4.99
Glass House – Free AMZ KDP – Sept. 29 & 30 – 4.

Sweet Laurel Falls - Raeanne Thayne



Released October 2011

Raeanne Thayne
Harlequin

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Sweet Laurel Falls is the third book in the Hope's Crossing series. In this sweet romance, Maura McKnight-Parker is reeling from her younger daughter's tragic death. While she'd like to curl up, she does have an older daughter, Sage, who needs her. When Sage shows up with a man from Maura's past and announces she's found her dad, Maura's life is turned upside down. Sage is angry that Maura never told her, and Maura's caught up in a past she'd rather forget.

Jackson Lange walked out when Maura was a teenager and broke her heart. Maura never had the chance to tell him she was pregnant. Almost 20 years later, she's not sure where to go from her, but she can't deny Sage the chance to get to know her father. Being together, however, is bringing up feelings that Maura thought had died long ago.

Jack left 20 years ago to escape his father's control of both his family and the town. His father seems to want to make amends, but one thing Jack knows is that  you cannot trust the ruthless businessman. There's a lot of healing going on, and whether relationships can be repaired is yet to be seen.

Obviously, there is a lot going on in Sweet Laurel Falls, with multiple relationships in need of repair. Watching each character grow and take a closer look at their life and the mistakes they made. I had a great time getting to know them, especially Jack's father.

I didn't read the first two books and wish now that I had, but this latest Hope's Crossing novel does stand alone. Brief recaps into other character's lives do appear, and for the newcomer, they really didn't make much impact because I didn't know their backstory. The rest of the story embraced me and had me staying up late to see how things played out.

Here's to hoping that Sage gets her own story in the future, and I wouldn't mind seeing Jack's dad get a new lease on life either!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Nightwatcher - Wendy Corsi Staub



Released September 2012

Wendy Corsi Staub
HarperCollins

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

September is Kiss and Teal month. The goal is to make women aware of the symptoms of ovarian cancer and to contact your doctor if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Bloating
  • Difficulty eating/feeling full quickly
  • Pelvic or abdominal pain
  • Urinary issues (frequent or sudden urination)
In Nightwatcher, September 11th hits, but not without a shocking revelation. While many in NYC mourned, one madman was out murdering innocent women. His sights are set on Allison Taylor, whether she knows it or not.

Allison is busy supporting her neighbor, Mack MacKenna, a man whose wife was in one of the towers before it collapsed. Mack is beyond himself with grief and will take any help he can get from Allison to see if his wife is possibly still aliv

More than ten years have softened the impact of the horrific events of September 11th. I'm thankful for that, but even so, I still felt that shock reading of the towers' collapse and the panic that hit the city. Wendy Corsi Staub captures that part of it well.

The killer's identity isn't really a huge secret, it's made pretty apparent from the start, but then there are some twists even I didn't see coming. Now I'm eager to read the next book in this series, it's set 10 years later with Allison and Mack married and raising their children. Sleepwalker is next on my reading pile!

Nightwatcher is just one of the HarperCollins releases supporting the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance. Other books include:

Eloisa James - The Ugly Duchess

Mary Jane Clark - The Look of Love: A Piper Donovan Mystery

Tessa Dare - A Lady by Midnight (Spindle Cove 3)

Caroline Linden - The Way to a Duke's Heart: The Truth About the Duke (Truth About the Duke 3)

Sable Grace - Chosen: A Dark Breed Novel

Anna Randol - Sins of a Virgin



Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Realm of the Unknown - James McPike



November 2012

James McPike

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

At the scene of a brutal murder in the Middle East, Vince Ramsey, Ritual Investigator for the Ministry, comes across a pendant in a buried skeletal hand. Knowing little about this pendant, he heads to the local museum to discuss the pendant with the director of the Antiquities Department. There he meets an attractive woman, April, who is assistant to the director, and learns the pendant is much older than first imagined.

Teaming up with April, Vince sets off on a quest to uncover the significance of this pendant. It soon becomes clear that people are willing to kill to get their hands on this item, and it's up to Vince to keep both himself and April safe while trying to solve the murder.

At first, I wasn't sure where Realm of the Unknown was headed. It starts in the past and then jumps to present day. Usually, this trips me up, but the distinction between past and present was clear. The introduction to Ramsey's character took a bit for me to get used to. I couldn't really decide what exactly his role was because he's not a police detective, and therefore I couldn't understand why he had any power at all when it came to gaining access at crime scenes.

Once I got past that, I started to really enjoy Realm of the Unknown.




Monday, September 17, 2012

Off Limits: Tales of Alien Sex - Edited by Ellen Datlow

Open Road is offering a reissue of a sci-fi/fantasy anthology for those who are fans of the Fifty Shades of Grey type novel.



From the publisher:

It¹s time for fifty shades of green: master anthologist Ellen Datlow pushes the limits with genre-bending science fiction stories from authors such as Joyce Carol Oats, Neil Gaimon, and Richard Christian Matheson ­ who surprise and delight in their explorations on themes such as gender, fetishism and sexuality, from a human and alien perspective. 



Alien Sex; Off Limits: Tales of Alien Sex; and Sirens and Other Daemon Lovers are being released as ebooks for the first time this week. Upon its print release, Publishers Weekly wrote, ³a provocative read not just for science fiction fans but for all those who sometimes feel that the opposite sex is just too strange to be from the same planet.²



Sunday, September 16, 2012

Introducing Paula Priamos, Author of The Shyster’s Daughter: A Memoir

Roundtable Reviews doesn't often have guest bloggers, but it's due time we started adding them! Welcome to Paula Priamos, author of The Shyster's Daughter: A Memoir. Details about the book follow her post.



I was raised in and out of courtrooms all throughout Southern California. In his day, my father represented white collar criminals, murderers, rapists and the occasional politician caught literally red handed with his pants down in a very public park. But years spent distorting and working around the truth as a criminal defense lawyer turned my father into a criminal himself. He was disbarred for what the State Review Board called “committing acts of moral turpitude,” a generous term for embezzlement. In my memoir, The Shyster’s Daughter, I defend the man, my father, who spent his entire career defending others.

The book begins with the last time I spoke to him. He called to tell me he’d just cheated death. A gunman in a ski mask approached the driver’s side door and threatened to blow his brains out. My father, a stereotypical big mad Greek, flipped the guy off, then drove away. Eight hours later my father was found dead. Part of my memoir investigates the time between my father’s final phone call to me and when he died. The other story is our story, his and mine. 

When my parents broke up, my mother gave me forty-five minutes to decide whether I wanted to go with her, my older sister and younger brother to our much nicer second home on thirty acres two thousand miles away or stay with my father. I chose to remain with my father because I was afraid of what he might do if he had no one to come home to. I was afraid the hunting rifles he kept in his walk-in closet would be all the more visible now that the closet was half empty. I was afraid my mother leaving would give him ammo.

My personal story is about being raised by a father whom I found (on the day my mother left) sprawled face down on the floor of his office with the lights turned off. It is the story about a girl who instructed her father to get up, then shut the door so he could collect himself. And it is the story of a father who told his daughter in a moment of deep vulnerability that she had no idea just how strong she was. But more than the story of the girl, it is the story about the woman I’ve become, for better or for worse, by being a shyster’s daughter. 

--------------------------

To learn more about The Shyster's Daughter or to purchase a copy, click below:



One Mountain Away - Emilie Richards



Released August 2012

Emilie Richards
Harlequin

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

She grew up in a poverty-stricken farm, raised by her grandmother, but after her grandmother dies, Charlotte Hale left her home and her drunken, no-good dad and to start life anew. She built a thriving real estate development firm and made enemies in the process, including her own daughter who Charlotte alienated when her her daughter had a child in her teens.

Eleven years have passed. Charlotte's ready to make amends with the world, especially her daughter and ex-husband, after receiving tragic news. The question becomes: is the world ready to forgive Charlotte? She certainly hopes to change opinions, and not by throwing money at past issues, she plans to undo all of her wrongs of the past through hard work and dedication.

One Mountain Away is a very touching book. It's not hard to see why so many hate Charlotte based solely on her past, but the reader sees a gentler, kinder Charlotte, so you root for her almost immediately. She is an incredibly tough woman, and as she meets new faces and begins working on her goals, you get caught up in the story. I found myself loving every character in this book, from the pregnant young waitress to the Charlotte's granddaughter who has major problems of her own.

A lot of the theme behind this book involves unwanted/unplanned pregnancies and how they can change the course of your life. Watching Charlotte, her daughter, and the waitress work their way through their decisions is a touching experience. It's hard to finish One Mountain Away without shedding a few tears, so have Kleenex handy!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Are Books Doomed to Extinction?

Publishers Must Innovate to Save the Book as We Know It,
Says Best-Selling Author

Michael Levin says he can see the writing on the iPad.

“Unless something changes, books as we know them are doomed, and not simply because people prefer to read on their iPads or Kindles.” says Levin, (www.BusinessGhost.com), a New York Times best-selling author, as well as editor, publisher, co-writer and ghostwriter.

“You’ll see the major publishing houses starting to go away in three to five years,” Levin says. “Their business model is in free fall. Already, we’re seeing books becoming shorter, cheaper, and diminishing in quality. You’ll soon see fewer really good authors bothering to write books, because books are no longer a meaningful source of revenue.”
Levin points to several developments he says foreshadow a sad ending for books:
• Attention spans are diminishing. Three-fourths of teachers said their students’ attention spans are shorter than ever, according to a poll released in June. By 11 years old, nearly half of the kids had stopped reading for pleasure. The poll, by publisher Pearson UK, is just the most recent survey/study documenting shrinking attention spans and a corresponding drift from books. “Part of the problem is children don’t see their parents reading,” Levin says. “Obviously, the kids’ aren’t the only ones with diminishing attention spans.”
• Major publishers are producing lower-quality books. The big publishing houses today are more interested in a quality marketing plan than in the quality of the book, so we’re being deluged by low-quality books. One reason is that many large publishers have stopped taking on the expense of marketing books, but they know it’s necessary for sales. So they take on authors with a marketing plan and budget. They’re also less interested in “star” authors, who demand higher royalties. They also lost authors when they eliminated advances in response to the 2008 recession.
• Books are moving to devices, where content is free and time is thin-sliced. Online, you don’t expect to pay for content. People will expect books available online to be either free or very inexpensive, and if those books turn out to be one chapter of ideas and eleven chapters of Hamburger Helper, they will be less willing to pay for them. Also, people don’t spend much time going into depth online; books are supremely inappropriate for the surface-skimming nature of the Internet. Once people have bought a bunch of ebooks they’ve never started, they’ll stop buying them altogether.
• Authors have a more difficult time earning a livable wage. Fewer authors can earn enough to make writing a full-time job. The audience is shrinking and fewer people are willing to pay $15 for a paper book when cheap alternatives are available. “We’ve already seen more books written to promote a product, service or company, or to brand the writer so he or she can pursue a more lucrative field,” Levin says. “Most books of the future will be marketing tools, since that’s the only way they’ll be profitable.”
Levin does find reason for hope, but it will require publishers to change how they do business.
“They need to stop trying to go after the mass market, which doesn’t exist anymore, settle on a niche and develop a brand. Publishers that stand for something in the reader’s mind – like Harlequin stands for romance – are built for the long haul,” he says.

Instead of publishing 500 low-quality books every year, major publishers should bring out only 50 top-quality winners and actually market them, he says. And publish how-to and other guidance and instructional books in concentrated form: short, powerful and to the point,
The rest of us have a job to do, too, Levin adds.

“People need to read, and they need to read to their kids or buy them books. If people stop demanding good books, there eventually will be none available,” he says. “The winners, going forward, will be that minority who still read and think for themselves. It’s a lot easier for government, the military, and the corporate world to control the way people think if they aren’t reading for themselves.  That ought to be reason enough to save the book.”

About Michael Levin
Michael Levin, founder and CEO of BusinessGhost, Inc., has written more than 100 books, including eight national best-sellers; five that have been optioned for film or TV by Steven Soderbergh/Paramount, HBO, Disney, ABC, and others; and one that became “Model Behavior,” an ABC Sunday night Disney movie of the week. He has co-written with Baseball Hall of Famer Dave Winfield, football broadcasting legend Pat Summerall, NBA star Doug Christie and Hollywood publicist Howard Bragman, among others. As a publishing consultant, Michael’s best-selling clients include ZigZiglar, Michael Gerber and Jay Abraham. He was the editor for Ziglar’s most recent book, “Born To Win.”

Friday, September 14, 2012

Ponderables™ 100 Breakthroughs That Changed History Who Did What When


Introducing an exciting new series of beautifully designed illustrated essential histories from Shelter Harbor Press

Ours is a very material world, have you ever wondered what it is made of, what it is deep down? If so you are not alone, and centuries of pondering have come up with a great many answers over the years.

The thoughts and deeds of great thinkers always make great stories. Each story relates a confounding puzzle, a “ponderable”, a weighty problem that became a discovery and changed the way we understand the world and our place in it.

Our high-tech, inter-connected world is built on these Ponderables™, growing, changing step-by-step into an ever clearer picture of reality.

Ponderables™ is a new series of beautifully designed illustrated books tackling some of the oldest most important subjects in history. Beginning with The Elements: An Illustrated History of the Periodic Table, Mathematics: An Illustrated History of Numbers, and The Universe: An Illustrated History of Astronomy, each authoritative and lively text, using 100 milestone facts and lavish illustrations combined with stories to enhance understanding. A removable fold-out concertina is neatly housed at the back of each book, with a 12-page timeline and more.

Knowledge does not arrive fully formed. We have to work at it, taking it in turns to consider the evidence and offer our take on it. In hindsight even the most cutting-edge opinions can look utterly wrong, if not bizarre and laughable:

Hennig Brand, a 17th-century German alchemist, is the first on record to discover a new element. As he boils down his urine it begins to glow in the dark. He names the magic powder phosphorus. (from The Elements)

Joseph Priestley, an 18th-century English theologian and chemist, notices that mice become unconscious when dangled over brewing beer, and that the fumes mixed with water also make a refreshing drink. He calls it soda water.  (from The Elements)

One of the central tools of statistics was developed in 1898 when Ladislaus Bortkiewicz, a Russian mathematician, computed the odds on a Prussian cavalryman being killed when kicked by a horse. (from Mathematics)

As they watched Scorpio sent by Apollo to chase Orion the Hunter across the sky each night, ancient astronomers imagined they were inside a perpetually turning crystal sphere. (from The Universe)

“We are living in a time when people want to learn, to know.  We are all deeply curious about the sciences, about the world around us. I feel the Ponderable™ series speaks to this desire. The series focuses on key moments,” explains publishing industry veteran and publisher, Jeanette Limondjian. “We enter a subject through the minds of its most passionate people – what were they thinking and what were they doing? Ponderables™ is a curated and illustrated celebration of the creative genius of mankind’s greatest thinkers.”

Written by Tom Jackson, a science writer who has the gift of making intellectual topics easy for every reader to access, Ponderables™ offers an unintimidating dip into the information – and inspiration – that define history.

Coming next in the Ponderables™ series: Physics, Philosophy and Computing.

For more information about the Ponderables™ series and to request review copies or author interviews, please contact Newman Communications.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR AND EDITOR:
Tom Jackson is a science author based in the United Kingdom. He has written more than 80 books and contributed to many more, covering everything from axolotls to Zoroastrianism. He studied zoology at the University of Bristol, and still lives in that city with his wife and three children, where he can be found mainly in the attic.

PONDERABLES™
100 Breakthroughs that Changed History
Who Did What When

From Shelter Harbor Press
Distributed by Mark A. Adams, Inc.

Specifications for all books:
Trim Size: 9.25 x 11.20
Extent: 144-page book plus a 24-page removable fold-out concertina filled with 1000s of facts
Illustrations: approx. 300
Publication Date: October 9, 2012
Retail Price: $24.95 / $29.95 CAN


The Elements
An Illustrated History of the Periodic Table
By Tom Jackson
978-0-9853230-3-5

    Mathematics
An Illustrated History of Numbers
Editor: Tom Jackson
978-0-9853230-4-2

    The Universe
An Illustrated History of Astronomy
By Tom Jackson
978-0-9853230-5-9
   

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

What Would Our Founding Fathers Do?

“The New Founders” Book Explores How Our Country’s Founders Would Handle Today’s Polarized Washington


 

Los Angeles, Calif. (August 29, 2012) — If he were alive today, what would George Washington think about the United States of America? What would the likes of Jefferson, Madison, Franklin, Hamilton and the Adams cousins say and do about the state of our nation? These compelling questions and more are tackled in The New Founders, a new novel written by Joseph Connor and Michael Duncan, with a Foreword by Dick Morris. (Published by Dunham Books). The book will be available in both trade paperback and ebook formats.

In The New Founders, authors Connor and Duncan bring the father of our country back to life in modern day America. With a blend of humor, intrigue and imagination, The New Founders takes readers of all ages on an adventure with the Founding Fathers as present day people. In the book, six unsuspecting Americans are drawn together in Philadelphia. While touring Independence Hall, a mysterious man dressed in colonial garb takes both our tour group and readers on a crash course in US history and a whirlwind tour of our nation’s capital. Our powdered wig friend turns out to be George Washington, reintroduced into today’s world.  With his tour group in tow, he evokes the spirit of the founders and explains how the principles that built this great nation need to be applied today in order to save it. Our founding fathers’ reactions are recorded as they witness the growth of our federal government, today’s volatile political environment, massive federal debt and economic malaise.

Readers will be amazed that many of the today’s challenges were foreseen and addressed over two hundred years ago by this select group of men. Authors Connor and Duncan lay out a thesis for every American to consider: How would Washington react to today’s “entangling alliances?” Would Jefferson and Madison now be comfortable with either party?  How would Hamilton, the apostle of a strong central government, react to modern America featuring a Washington-centric system? What would the first Secretary of State have to say about the United States, its fiscal policies and staggering debt load? Although fictional, the authors spent considerable time researching documents, speeches and writings, and other historical sources, providing accurate reactions from each of our founding fathers.

The book not only gives the reader a better understanding of democratic ideas, but proves that our Founding Fathers still have much to teach us.

About the Authors: Joseph F. Connor’s articles have been published in the New York Post, Human Events, Los Angeles Times, Newsmax, National Review Online, and The Wall Street Journal. He has appeared on many television news shows including Hannity & Colmes, Fox & Friends, NBC Nightly News, Hardball, America Live, as well as radio programs hosted by Dennis Miller, Tom Marr, Mark Levin and Sean Hannity. A graduate of Villanova, Connor is active in the local Tea Party movement while currently contributing to Breitbart.com (BigPeace) and Redstate.com. Michael S. Duncan works in the financial services industry and is a frequent guest speaker on merger and acquisition industry trends. Duncan has written numerous articles on shareowner services for trade publications as well as an article on stock options in the Spring 2009 edition of The Journal of Employee Ownership Law and Finance published by the National Center for Employee Ownership. Like Connor, he is also married father of two, an active member of the Tea Party and graduate of Villanova University. For complete information on the authors and the book, visit www.thenewfounders.net.

About LCO: Levine Communications Office was founded in June of 1983. The mantra of the company, Passion, Focus, Results, has seen it grow into one of the leading entertainment Public Relations firms in the world. LCO has represented Hollywood’s biggest and most powerful names and brands including Dave Chappelle, Michael Jackson, Bill Clinton, Nike, Playboy, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Suzanne Sommers, Paul Stanley, The Laugh Factory, Prince, David Bowie, Peter Guber, Pizza Hut, George Michael, Cameron Diaz, and hundreds more.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The ADD Myth - Martha Burge



Released September 2012

Martha Burge
Conari Press

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

The first line of The ADD Myth caught my attention. In this line, the author, a mother of two children diagnosed with ADHD and a woman who holds a BA in psychology, states: "I know I have very few standing beside me in my stance that there is no such thing as ADHD." That's all it took to win me over. I have been saying for years that ADHD is a cop-out of sorts. I don't disagree that there are children out there who do act differently than other children, but why is that a bad thing? If we all walked around acting and behaving as others our age, the world would become a boring place.

In The ADD Myth, Martha Burge examines who our culture's solution to these children who behave differently is to keep them drugged. It's wrong, and I'm thrilled to see the author take this very personal, honest approach. Her arguments are sound, and I think many readers may be shocked to discover that homosexuality was once considered a psychiatric disorder. I knew it, but only because of my teens who learned it in school.

Through the book, the author discusses methods other than medications, such as meditation. She talks about the "symptoms" of an ADHD child, many of which even I answered "yes" to. She talks about understanding the moods and behaviors. Everything in this book is written honestly, and in a casual manner that draws you in.

I recommend any parent first look at this book before putting their children on ADHD medications. I know four children who were "diagnosed" with ADHD. Years ago, I wrote an article for a site about the usage of fish oil in ADHD children. While reading many articles and reports about this possible connection, I realized that each of the four children I knew hated seafood with a passion. When I suggested the link to their parents, only one bothered to talk to their doctor, who immediately blew it off as being a wives' tale. She gave her son flavored cod liver oil pills anyway and did see an improvement. She also started to look into his diet and realized that he ate a lot of sugar between his daycare and his school. Altering his diet made a huge difference.

I do agree with the author that ADHD needs a closer look before you go giving a child or adult medications. Another child I know is in a home where the parents, particularly the mother, explodes if he's not behaving as she expects. Living in fear of being screamed at, I can see that causing tremendous emotional issues.

Please read The ADD Myth and take the information to heart. Doctors are not always right. I think malpractice suits over the years have proven that. If you want a more personal case, I spent two years on heavy-duty heart medications for anxiety attacks that a former doctor prescribed because they couldn't find anything else wrong with me, so it must be my heart. Only after I pushed my doctor and health insurance company into sending me to a cardiologist was it determined that I was having panic attacks. It took two years of fighting to get to that point and then six months to wean off the heart medications. Doctors can make mistakes, so always ask questions.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Line Between Here and Gone - Andrea Kane



Released July 2012

Andrea Kane
Harlequin

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Andrea Gleason's become desperate to save the life of her newborn who needs a bone marrow transplant. Doing what any desperate mom would do to save her child, Andrea contacts Forensic Instincts to find the father of her newborn child. Andrea's infant is dying and the only hope now is to find the father and find out if he is a match.

The team at Forensic Instinct know they have to help her, but they never expected the case to become so dangerous and take so many turns. The clock is ticking and with each passing day the infant's health deteriorates more and more. Will they find the father in time?

The Line Between Here and Gone is an edge-of-your-seat suspense. There are romantic trysts within the novel, but I didn't find they were essential to the storyline. I think had I read the other books in the series, the hook ups would have been more intriguing. Bottom line is that I wanted to see if Andrea's infant survived or not, and that kept me glued to the pages.


Saturday, September 8, 2012

Fix Your Relationship in One Minute - Jay Fleming-Smith

E-book 'Fix Your Relationship In ONE Minute' offers advice to women who ask themselves:
"Should I stay or should I go?"
Insightful author, Jay Fleming-Smith, offers readers life-changing tips on how to recognize true love.
See the Chapter 1 video below about the emotional roller coaster of dating an indecisive man.


fyriom cover
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Fix Your Relationship in ONE Minute helps women get on the right track to true love, offering up answers to the top recurring questions in today's relationships. It will show readers why they need to avoid or leave unsuitable men, how to analyze themselves (and not him), how to tweak their own actions and how not to make the same emotional mistakes in the future. This book will help women find their next and hopefully final love partner in crime. 
CHAPTER 1 VIDEO: The emotional roller coaster of dating an indecisive man. What to do when he can't say "I love you". Should she stay or should she go? 




fyriom 1.png
Advice excerpt from ‘Fix Your Relationship In ONE Minute’:
"There comes a time for couples to take it to the next level. This always tends to be a little more challenging for the man because of his perceived loss of freedom. But if he truly loves you, he will tell you that he loves you, commit to you, live with you or marry you. If, however, there is constant doubt or indecisiveness, you just need to go. Doubt is a soft no! And most of the time, these men don’t even have the courage to tell you because they are afraid of confrontation. With these types of men, you cannot build a solid future. So you can do two things. Give him an ultimatum or leave!”
 
Fix Your Relationship In ONE Minute
Kindle edition on Amazon: http://amzn.to/Q4zP6x
 
Official site: www.FYRIOM.com
Connect with the Author!
Facebook: www.facebook.com/jayflemingsmith
 
Twitter: www.twitter.com/jayflemingsmith

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Willow Springs: A Destiny Novel - Toni Blake



Released July 2012

Toni Blake
Avon

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

I wanted to love Willow Springs. In the end, however, I just liked it. Would I keep my copy, not really. I found I didn't really like the heroine. She made weak choices throughout much of the book and came off as a nag the rest of the time. Logan's not any better.

Amy Bright and Logan Whitaker have been buddies for as long as they can remember. As one of the local firefighters, Logan's life changes when he can't save a local couple during a fire. He quits his job, takes to the bottle, and is quite happy to live life as a recluse. Amy hopes she can get Logan to return to the land of the living. A drunken kiss changes Amy's world, and she begins to wonder if she and Logan could possibly have a future together.

Logan's embarrassed that he kissed Amy while drunk. That action makes him realize he needs to sober up and find a new career. While joining Amy in the town, he spies the long-missing sister of his best friend and is instantly smitten. He asks Amy to play matchmaker.

Amy cannot stand that Logan's interested in someone else. She devises a plan to write steamy secret admirer notes to Logan and eventually reveal her crush. Her plan is the only thing she has left to get Logan's attention, and she certainly hopes it will work.

Willow Springs isn't a horrible book. It is, at times, quite sensual and steamy. I wanted things to work for Logan and Amy, I really did. But, Amy doesn't seem to believe in herself at all. Even when another guy starts paying attention, she still doesn't get it. When things turn in her favor, she starts nagging Logan to return to firefighting, even though it's so clear that he needs grief counseling first. Nagging him only pushes him away, and it drove me mad that she didn't get that.

Characters from other Destiny Novels make an appearance in Toni Blake's latest. They don't steal the show, but are included enough that you can catch up on their lives now.

My bottom line is that this is a good story, but it's not a keeper for me. I'm not sure I'd rush out to buy a copy, but if I found it at a book sale or at the library, I'd definitely feel I got my money's worth.


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A Knitter's Home Companion - Michelle Edwards



Released March 2011

Michelle Edwards

Abrams

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Fall's quickly coming and that leads to long, chilly winters for many of us. Knitting is a hobby I've been considering taking up in the winter months when it's hard to go outside for more than a few minutes at a time. If you're like me, A Knitter's Home Companion, is a great read.

Michelle Edward's book contains reflections on what started her interest in knitting, her interest in getting her daughter's involved, and patterns for some of the mittens, blankets, and socks she makes. It's going to appeal to someone who has a basic knowledge of knitting, but I didn't find the actual patterns useful without knowing how to knit. Thankfully, there are websites and videos you can find online if you're at that stage.

This isn't quite a "how-to" book, instead it's a collection of patterns, recipes, and insight into knitting and even life. I do love to cook, and one recipe quickly caught my eye and made it to the front of my fridge. This jam recipe sounds easier than any jam I've made before, and it also sounds incredibly good. Cooking dried apricots, water, sugar, and canned crushed pineapple is all it takes. I'll be back with pictures once I have tested the recipe.


Monday, September 3, 2012

Small-Space Container Gardens - Fern Richardson



Released March 2012

Fern Richardson
Timber Press

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

While Small-Space Container Gardens was a spring release, I think there is benefit to the book year-round. It's for this reason that I wanted to bring the book up now.

Many think of fall as the end of the gardening season, but this doesn't have to be the case. Many plants successfully negotiate the transition from being outside on patios and becoming part of your in-home houseplants. You can have fresh herbs year-round when you container garden.

Fern Richardson, author of the Life on the Balcony blog, shares her tips on creating colorful, beneficial patio gardens using containers. You should start your container gardens in the spring, so you can use the winter to plan ahead. Unless you live in the warmer states, and then year-round container gardening is possible. Should you happen to get frosty nights from time to time, you can easily bring your plants inside for a nice or cover them to prevent any frost damage.

In Small-Space Container Gardens, the author discusses everything that is pertinent to creating a garden. Color schemes, furnishings, the planter pots themselves, flooring, your gardening zone, insects, weather, it's all discussed in easy-to-follow detail. She also discusses the vegetables that grow well in planter pots, some might surprise you!

For those who have never gardened before, there is an in-depth look at developing a green thumb. It discusses common issues gardeners have, including harmful insects and diseases. She also gives a thorough list of additional resources at the end of the book.

If you don't know a thing about gardening, you'll find your answers within Small-Space Container Gardens. If you have some skill, but need a little creative guidance, this is the book to own!