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Showing posts from April, 2013

At Least You're in Tuscany - Jennifer Criswell

Release Date - October 2012

Jennifer Criswell
Gemelli Press

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

At Least You're in Tuscany details Jennifer Criswell's move from New York City to Italy. The author recounts the hassles of waiting on paperwork to receive citizenship papers, while also struggling to find work that affords her the luxury of being able to work, something necessary to survival in Tuscany. Jobs she is able to land are not the easiest in the world, and the details are vivid and enjoyable.

It shares the story of both Ms. Criswell's transition, but also that of her dog's, a Weimaraner, as the dog adjusts to the long flight, though the dog adjusts pretty easily by comparison.

I've heard in other memoirs that moving to Italy isn't as easy as you'd hope. One memoir told of the writer's struggle to get his citizenship paperwork after he married an Italian woman. It's clear to me that Italy doesn't just hand out citizenship papers or even their equiv…

Sweet Salt Air - Barbara Delinsky

Release Date - June 2013

Barbara Delinsky
St. Martin's Press

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Barbara Delinsky is not only one of my favorite authors, I also hold  great deal of respect for her. More than a decade ago, a friend of the family, someone who was like a second mother to me growing up, lost a long battle with breast cancer. Her family was stunned when they received a condolence card from Ms. Delinsky. They were also thrilled when they learned that some of Sarah's tips were in the non-fiction book Uplift. Each of her daughters cherishes their copy of that book.

Anyway, I was delighted to see her new book, Sweet Salt Air, held a setting that is very dear to me, and also to Sarah's family, as the family owns a summer home on one of the islands off the coast of Maine.

Charlotte and Nicole grew up together on the island of Quinnipeague. Since Nicole's marriage, they've stayed in touch, but haven't gotten together. Charlotte travels everywhere as a journalis…

ALA Unveils Finalists for 2013 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction

CHICAGO-The American Library Association (ALA) today announced six books as finalists for the 2013 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction, awarded for the previous year's best fiction and nonfiction books written for adult readers and published in the U.S.  Along with a medal presentation at ALA’s annual conference in Chicago, IL, on June 30, each winning author will receive $5,000 and the four finalists will each receive $1,500. 
The 2013 shortlisted titles are:
Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction:
“The Mansion of Happiness: A History of Life and Death,” by Jill Lepore. Published by Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. From board games, including one called The Mansion of Happiness, to public-library children’s rooms to cryogenics, historian Lepore’s episodic inquiry into our evolving perceptions of life and death is full of surprises, irreverent wit, and arresting perceptions.
“Short Nights of the Shadow Catch…

Living By Ear - Mary Rowen

Release Date - February 2013

Mary Rowen
Semicolon Press

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

After years of dealing with his drinking, Christine Daley divorces her husband when he has an affair with an associate. When she married him, she put her career on hold to raise their children, mostly his idea. Music was her passion, and quitting right as one of her records was hitting the airwaves wasn't ideal.

With her new divorce, Christine wants to return to her passion and attempt to break back into the world of music. Her ex-husband is less than supportive. In addition, her 13-year-old daughter is upset that her mother is even considering making a YouTube video for the world to see. Her son is supportive but dealing with his own issues following the divorce. With all of this pressure, Christine wonders if she's making the right move.

I was rooting for Christine from the start. Her ex is a jerk, and I was dying for her to realize he was manipulative and needed to be told off. Boy, did …

A Bat in the Belfry: A Home Repair Is Homicide Mystery - Sarah Graves

Release Date - May 2013

Sarah Graves
Bantam

Book Review by Bob Walch

The fans of Sarah Graves’ “A Home Repair Is Homicide” mystery series won’t want to miss this latest installment. An epic Nor’easter is heading directly towards Jacobia Tiptree’s Eastport, Maine, village and the island community is preparing for the worst.

With the weather service warning of heavy rain, 60 mile wind gusts and possible power outages, the tourists are being shuttled off the island and the locals are battening down the hatches. The local, 200-year-old Seaman’s Church and its steeple is of concern and everyone hopes it will weather the storm.

But, there’s even a greater concern about the landmark when it becomes a crime scene after a local teen girl is found murdered in the structure. An even bigger storm is brewing as one of Jake’s son’s friends is considered to be a suspect in the crime. Once again, the handy, amateur sleuth will have to set aside her tools and play detective.

An added treat on this, the…

Garden of Stones - Sophie Littlefield

Release Date - February 2013

Sophie Littlefield
Harlequin/MIRA

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

I admit to not being much of a history student. I hated the class, mostly because one of my teachers went by the opinion that if you disagreed with his viewpoint, you were wrong. He touted how Nixon was a demon from hell, and JFK was a god in disguise. Disagree and you failed. It was really that simple.

Years ago, I read a book, I can't remember who wrote it, but it was about the camps set up following Pearl Harbor. American-born men, women, and children of Japanese descent were rounded up and locked away. I was horrified. We never learned about that in our school textbooks. As an adult, I was floored that the history books called German's horrible people because of what they did to the Jews, yet the U.S. also rounded up people, Americans no less, because of their heritage.

Garden of Stones takes that piece of history and tells a stunning story from the viewpoint of a young American gi…

Into the Darkest Corner - Elizabeth Haynes

Release Date - January 2013

Elizabeth Haynes
Harper Paperback

Book Review by Bob Walch

Catherine Bailey is convinced that her new boyfriend is the catch of the century. Lee Brightman is handsome, attentive and ever so sexy. All her friends can’t believe how lucky Catherine is to find such a fabulous guy.  Unfortunately, if something seems to good to be true, it usually is. Soon Lee becomes possessive and overly secretive. Then the abuse begins. After a savage attack, Lee ends up in prison and Catherine thinks she is free of the disastrous relationship.
Four years later Catherine has slowly gotten her life back together, although she is still occasionally prone to panic attacks, nightmares and sleeplessness. She’s met a new man, a doctor, who befriends her and wants to assist her with the recovery from her past nightmare.
Then Lee is released from jail. Convinced her former lover will not stop until he finds her and exacts some form of revenge, Catherine steels herself for what will be an e…

One Step Too Far - Tina Seskis

Release Date - April 15, 2013

Tina Seskis
Kirk Parolles

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

From all accounts, Emily Coleman has the perfect marriage, a well-kept home, and a beautiful son. Why she would walk away from everything is beyond imagination.

Emily didn't have the easiest of childhoods with a twin sister who seemed to loathe her, a mother who didn't expect to have twins in the first place, and a father who loved his girls but had his own secrets. Once she leaves, the question remains - is she running from her husband, her sister, or something else entirely?

I have to say, it's not often that a book fools me, but One Step Too Far did. I had no idea why Emily left and when it's revealed, I had to go back and reread the opening to see if I missed a clue. The author is very clever, and I really liked that I couldn't guess Emily's mystery.

The writing style is different. It flows well between past and present. The pacing keeps you hooked, and the characters and…

No Mark Upon Her - Deborah Crombie

Release Date - February 2013 (Reprint)

Deborah Crombie
William Morrow

Book Review by Bob Walch

Scotland Yard superintendent Duncan Kincaid is called upon to head the investigation of the death of a high ranking detective with the Met. Rebecca Meredith was not only a member of the police force but also a highly thought of Olympic rower who was on the comeback trail.  When Meredith goes missing during a practice outing, a K9 search and rescue team is called in and finds the woman’s body in the Thames. With foul play suspected, Kincaid gets the nod to handle the delicate case.
At the same time, his wife, Detective Inspector Gemma James, is on another case that soon overlaps her husband’s investigation and widens what is already an extensive list of suspects.
An attempt on the life of the search and rescue team member who found Meredith’s corpse complicates matters even more and makes this one of Kincaid’s more puzzling cases. The addition of two police dogs to this story is not only a ni…

Keeping Secrets in Seattle - Brooke Moss

Release Date - February 2013

Brooke Moss
Entangled Publishing

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Violet Murphy has a secret. She's been in love with Gabe Parker since childhood. She's ready to confess her love, but he trumps her at a family gathering. He announces that he's engaged to his ex-girlfriend.

The torture doesn't end there for Violet. In addition to keeping her status as Gabe's best friend, he also wants her to be his best "woman." His fiancee clearly loathes Violet, but she doesn't have the heart to let her long-time buddy down.

Keeping Secrets in Seattle certainly kept my attention from start to finish. I loved the friendship, as well as the clear signs that both Violet and Gabe hoped for something more but neither really had the guts to say anything. When Vi meets a new man, Landon Harlow, and boy did I really like him! I got completely caught up in the story wondering who she'd end up with. Both men are perfect for Violet and the author k…

Summers In Supino: Becoming Italian - Maria Coletta McLean

Release Date - April 2013

Maria Coletta McLean
ECW Press

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

After her father's death, Maria and her husband Bob head to her father's home in Supino, Italy. There, they are greeted warmly and treated like family rather than visitors from Canada. Along the way, they meet unique Italians, discover delicious foods, and embrace traditions and customs that are nothing like anything they could imagine. Summers in Supino is a memoir filled with humor, love, and recovery.

I have to admit, while this isn't a long story, it truly captured my attention. I wanted to be in Supino, though I had the next best thing. I laughed, felt cravings for fresh olive oil and garlic, and certainly shed plenty of tears too.

There are situations you never see coming, so I suggest keep Kleenex on hand for both the tears of joy and the tears of sorrow. If you want an emotional, descriptive read, Summers in Supino is an excellent choice.





The Paradise Guest House - Ellen Sussman

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Release Date - March 26, 2013

Ellen Sussman
Ballantine Books

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Her life is shattered by the Bali bombings, but one year later, Jamie Hyde returns for a memorial of the events that changed her life. Jamie survived the bombings, but her boyfriend did not. She's still haunted by the white flash, deafening noise, and then resulting chaos with the injured scrambling to get to safety and many more trying to find their loved ones among the bodies.

Jamie is in Bali both to face the tragic events and to find the man who took her in while she healed. Finding Gabe may not be easy, but Jamie feels this is the part of her that most needs closure.

The Paradise Guest House is short, just under 200 pages, but also very poignant during those times. I do remember the bombings of the bars in Bali on that day, though I was half a world away. Ellen Sussman does a great job at painting the horror of that attack with realism.

Her characters fascinated me, especially the innke…

Brand Delusions - Bill Leider

Released September 2012

Bill Leider

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Brand Delusions is a refreshing change of pace. I'm used to business guides being very dry and dull to read. This book is quite the opposite. It's engaging, draws you in, and that helps really get the message across.

The message behind Brand Delusions is clear. It's time for many companies to rethink the definition of their "brand." - "Your brand isn't just your logo, product, or service, instead - "Your brand is a widely held set of beliefs and expectations about what you deliver and how you deliver it."

To demonstrate this the author introduces JoeFenington. Joe is the CEO of Kitchen Sculpture. His company is facing a product recall, and he's stressed. When a stranger enters his office and offers to help him with his "brand," Joe doesn't understand. He thought his brand was fine. However, this stranger helps show him how his perception is simply not accurate.

And Then I Found You - Patti Callahan Henry

Released April 2013

Patti Callahan Henry
St. Martin's Press

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

And Then I Found You is a touching story that's based on true-life events. Kate Vaughn and her high school sweetheart never expected she'd become pregnant, but it happened. They knew they were not prepared to become parents, so they gave the infant girl to a family who would love her. They never stopped wondering about her though.

Many years later, Kate owns a thriving clothing boutique and finds her boyfriend is planning to propose. She's kept the fact that she has a daughter somewhere hidden from him. Needing to regroup, she sets off to find her ex-beau, a man who is now a single dad. Their entire world changes when the daughter they gave up reaches out to Kate on Facebook. Kate's always wanted to meet the girl, and now she has that very chance.

Grab the Kleenex because you'll need them. Adoption is a very personal and often painful issue. One I know well because a relat…

Elaine Heffner Appearaning Today and Tomorrow on "The Open Mind"

Elaine Heffner, author of Good EnoughMothering, will be appearing on "The Open Mind" on TV CUNY channels April 7 at 9:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. and April 8 at  8:00 a.m., 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. 
Once the show airs it can be seen immediately thereafter on Thirteen.org.  About Elaine Heffner
ElaineHeffner, LCSW, Ed.D, has written for Redbook, Parents Magazine, and Disney online, as well as others. In  addition to being a psychotherapist and parent educator, Elaine is a Senior Lecturer of Education in Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College. She also co-founded and served as Director of the Nursery School Treatment Center at Payne Whitney Clinic, New York Hospital. And…she blogs.

The Look of Love - Mary Jane Clark

Released August 2012

Mary Jane Clark
Avon

Book Review by Jessica Maguire

Aspiring actress Piper Donovan's life is at a standstill, but that is about to change. Jillian Abernathy, director of the famed Elysium Spa in Hollywood, has chosen Piper to make her wedding cake. All expenses paid, Piper leaves behind the dreary winter of the East Coast for fun, sun, and relaxation, as well as work at Elysium, a "place or condition of ideal bliss or complete happiness." Between a lawsuit over a botched cosmetic procedure and an investigation into possible misconduct by a staff member, in addition to murder attempts, the bliss of Elysium is short lived.
Piper soon finds herself embroiled in the murders and mystery at Elysium. When not working on Jillian's wedding cake and going to tryouts for acting jobs, Piper becomes more and more involved with the events at the spa. Along with new friends at Elysium, Piper sets out to discover who is attempting to kill Jillian and has killed t…

Heart Like Mine - Amy Hatvany

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Released March 2013

Amy Hatvany
Washington Square Press

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth''

Every now and then, a book comes along that really moves me. Heart Like Mine is that book. Told from three points of view - Ava, Grace, and Kelli, the book's poignant story, richly drawn characters, and realistic issues really tug at the heart. Kudos to Amy Hatvany for this story!

 When Grace McAllister meets Victor Hansen, she's just dumped her drink on her latest date after he states that it's a woman's duty to procreate. Grace likes children, but she doesn't want her own. Victor is a single dad, and his two children are enough for him. Grace finally found a man who thinks it's fine that she doesn't want children, and the two end up engaged.

Victor's ex-wife, Kelli, is a great mother to Max and Ava, but she's unbalanced. Ava doesn't know what's going on, but her mother's sleeping problems and lack of any interest in eating concern her. When…

Simple Lessons for Lead Guitar - Scott Parks & Al Galvez

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Released September 2005

Simple Lessons for Lead Guitar

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

I don't play guitar, but my brothers do. In fact, my older brother was once ranked one of the best bass players in our area. I watched his band practice every week and was amazed that he'd learned to play guitar simply by reading books. That's the goal of Simple Lessons for Lead Guitar.

My son is now a guitar player. It's simply a hobby, he sees no need to join a band. It's his take on this book that I was most interested in. He followed my brother's guidance and learned using what many local guitarists tell me is the guitar bible for beginners. I wanted to see how the two compared.

Simple Lessons for Lead Guitar is short and sweet. The chord charts are perfectly laid out and easy to follow. There are 45 "lessons" in all, so it's not a book that takes a lot of time. There's also a CD for additional instruction that shows how everything fits together and lets …

Love, Water, Memory - Jennie Shortridge

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Released April 2013

Jennie Shortridge
Gallery Books

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

She's found stood in the San Francisco Bay. She has no identification. She has no clue who she is or how she got there. When her fiance spots her on the news, he immediately calls and reveals her identity, but questions remain. How did Lucie Walker get from Seattle to San Francisco and what was she doing in the water?

Back in her home in Seattle, Lucie knows nothing about her former self. Her fiance, Grady, is just as confused because the woman in his home is nothing like his fiance. She's kinder, less concerned over physical appearance, and certainly doesn't have the shopping addiction she once did. Yet, he feels guilty because he hasn't told her the truth about the events that led to her disappearance.

Love, Water, Memory is addicting. I loved the characters, the situation was plausible and involving, and I really wanted to know what triggered Lucie's disappearance. I couldn't p…