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Showing posts from May, 2013

Pros of Prozac: A Faith-based Memoir - Beca Mark

Release Date - March 2013

Beca Mark
CTL Press

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Pros of Prozac is a heartfelt guide to one woman's experiences with anxiety and depression. Beca Mark doesn't gloss her experiences. She shares them with honesty and great detail. Her memoir isn't long at just over 120 pages, but it does cover a lot of her personal experiences, as well as those of some of her friends and family members.

Obviously, the book is about Prozac and how it changed her life. She makes it clear that she is not a doctor, she's simply sharing her experience. I found the book was very easy to read, filled with personality, and surprisingly enjoyable, especially given my experiences with anxiety medications and beta-blockers.

While I'm glad that Prozac worked for the author, I had a completely different experience. Therefore, I do state that anyone considering seeking help talk to a doctor, specifically one that specializes in depression and/or anxiety. My doctor first …

The Lake House - Marci Nault

Release Date - May 2013

Marci Nault
Gallery Books

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

I love books that grab you and keep you riveted from the first to the final page. That's exactly the kind of experience The Lake House offers. I admit to being saddened when it came to an end though because it meant my time with the residents of Nagog was over.

Victoria Rose grew up in the tight-knit lakeside town known as Nagog. She was one of the elite and with like her friends, she found herself falling in love with one of the local boys. The problem was that Victoria had aspirations of seeing the world, something her mother and even some of her friends simply couldn't understand. When she moved on, she became an outsider and was alienated by many, even during times of tragedy.

Heather Bregman seems to have it all. A job that takes her all over the world and a relatively wealthy fiance. What people don't see is how Heather's fiance is incredibly controlling and demands she do what he wa…

Happy! Volume 1: Grant Morrison, Darick Robertson, Richard P. Clark, Tony Avina, and Simon Bowland

Release Date - May 2013

Grant Morrison
Darick Robertson
Richard P. Clark
Tony Avina
Simon Bowland
Image Comics

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Nick Sax lost his job as a cop and now makes a living as a hit man. His problems with alcohol become the least of his issues when a hit goes wrong and both the mob and police are hot on his tail. Worse, there's a flying blue horse named Happy that keeps appearing to Nick saying that a little girl desperately needs his help. Nick knows one thing, as much as he wants Happy to disappear, Happy is equally determined to get Nick to save the day.

There are things I loved about Happy! and many of them extend beyond the actual story. Nick Sax is a dark man with many issues and many skeletons in his closet. In panels with Nick, the mood is captured perfect with darker drawings. Then Happy arrives and the little horse brings in bursts of color.

The drawings are amazing. They can be quite bloody from time to time, but that fits the story. This is not a pre…

Dandelions on the Wind: The Quilted Heart Series - Mona Hodgson

Release Date - February 2013

Mona Hodgson
WaterBrook

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Set in Missouri, following the Civil War, Mona Hodgson's Dandelions on the Wind is a short novella that is extremely affordable and a quick, sweet read. At under $2 for the Kindle edition, it's not going to drain your wallet.

Rutherford "Woolly" Wainright left his infant daughter behind when his wife died during childbirth. He figured his mother-in-law would do a better job raising the baby than he would while he was grieving. After fighting in the war, he returns four years later hoping for a new start.

Maren Jensen accepted a job with Elsa Brantenberg after her intended husband decided she was lacking as a mail-order bride. Elsa and her granddaughter became Maren's family, and Woolly's return forces her to consider moving back to her home country, Denmark.

Obviously, feelings between Woolly and Maren begin to take shape, but Maren's been burned before. Woolly's fresh…

The Favor - Megan Hart

Release Date - June 25, 2013

Megan Hart
Harlequin/MIRA

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

During her rebellious teen years, Janelle Decker is sent to live with her grandmother. In her grandmother's care, she develops a strong relationship with both her grandmother and the neighborhood boys - Gabe, Andy, and Michael Tierney. It's Gabe that Janelle falls in love with, but tragedy strikes and Janelle goes away feeling she is to blame for that tragedy. Despite her self-blame, she doesn't know the entire story of events leading up to the tragedy.

Twenty years later, Janelle learns that her elderly grandmother has a brain tumor and is opting against treatment. She leaves California with her 12-year-old son and moves into her grandmother's home to become an around-the-clock caregiver. She soon finds that two of the Tierney boys, Gabe and Andy, still live next door with their ailing father. Janelle's given a second chance to find love with Gabe, but he's so cold and distan…

Whistling Past the Graveyard - Susan Crandall

Release Date - July 2013

Susan Crandall
Gallery Books

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Long-time readers know that To Kill a Mockingbird is my favorite book of all time. When I first received an email notifying me of the upcoming release of Whistling Past the Graveyard, I eagerly honed in on the comparison of this novel to Harper Lee's classic. I was excited to read Susan Crandall's latest. I've read and really enjoyed a few of her Warner Forever releases, so I already knew I loved her writing. Whistling Past the Graveyard is a bit different though, so I wasn't sure what to expect.

Starla Claudelle is almost 10 and longs to go to Nashville, Tennessee. Her mother moved there to become a singer, and other than cards and letters Starla hasn't seen her mom in years. Her dad works on oil rigs, so she lives and is cared for her her grandmother, a no-nonsense women who expects Starla to act like a lady. Starla wants to stay on her grandmother's good side because the Fou…

The Mourning Hours - Paula Treick DeBoard

Release Date - June 25, 2013

Paula Treick DeBoard
Harlequin

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Nine-year-old Kirsten Hammerstrom watches as her older brother, Johnny, enters into his first serious high school relationship. At first, Kirsten has a level of adoration for the girl, Stacy Lemke, but soon things change. Stacy becomes almost obsessive with Johnny. Kirsten spies the pair fighting shortly before Stacy disappears during a snowstorm. As Johnny was the last person with Stacy, he immediately becomes a suspect. The resulting investigation and public scrutiny threatens to tear Kirsten's world apart.

The Mourning Hours doesn't really have much in the way of romance, but it is packed with emotion and a suspenseful storyline. The family dynamics play an important role in this story with Kirsten, her sister, her brother, and parents all trying to decide who they can trust. As the town begins turning on the family, things become unbearable for most and no one is certain what really h…

Joy-Worthy: A Mother's Guide to More Joy, Less Stress and No Guilt - Julie McGrath

Release Date - November 2012


The Joy Source

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Every mother is different, so the benefit you get out of Joy-Worthy may well be different to what I experienced. When I had my kids, I gave up a career to raise them. Some of my friends scoffed, but in the end, I have straight A students. We get along well. They never turned to drugs or went through a rebellious phase. Sure, I sacrificed a lot, but it's worth it.

In Joy-Worthy, the author gives clear examples on how to increase the joy in your life. She covers every topic from feeling no shame if breastfeeding doesn't work for you to enhancing your sex life. I definitely appreciated her honesty when it came to sexual activity, though there were also aspects I disagreed with. I'd never have rushed for a quickie when my kids were outside. If my kids were outside, I was out supervising them because it's too easy for a stranger to drive up and snatch kids, especially when you live where the police …

As Twilight Falls - Amanda Ashley

Release Date - May 2013

Amanda Ashley
Kensington/Zebra

Book Review by Bob Walch


Kadie Andrews is traveling across the country photographing ghost towns. Then one day she gets a little too far off the beaten track and discovers Morgan Creek. This quaint little place doesn’t appear on any map and is decidedly a bit eerie.  It doesn’t take Kadie long to realize there is something a little off about the few people who reside here. And when the sun sets Morgan Creek takes on a decidedly sinister air. Unable to flee, Kadie finds herself a captive guest of the community who is interested in attracting new blood to the settlement. When Rylan Saintcrow enters the picture, this attractive young woman finds herself drawn to this compelling man who desires her for a number of reasons.  Having stumbled into the lair of vampires, Kadie Andrews finds herself a very conflicted woman. On one hand she wants to escape while she still can, but on the other hand there is Rylan Saintcow, a gentleman has some v…

Notes of a Tourist on Planet Earth: Being a Collection of Hilarious Essays, Poems, and Ponderings About the Human Species - J.D. Smith

Release Date - March 2013

J.D. Smith
Cassowary Press

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Notes of a Tourist on Planet Earth takes a look at the absurdity in life. From the author's ponderings on St. Fu to the truth found in "Pre-Flight Announcement," J.D. Smith touches on some things in life that simply do prove to be humorous, if not a bit too true.

While not everything made me snicker, the list of dishes you wouldn't find at DisneyWorld - Hakuna Fritatta or Mickey Mousse to name just a couple - definitely brought a smile to my face.  Finally, the collection of "Parting Words, or Maxims for Our Time" were definitely sound and humorous.

All in all, while some of the poems and essays didn't have me snickering, many more did. For that reason, I say this is a great collection to have on hand for days when you simply need something uplifting to make you forget about the things that put you in a bad mood.




Unbridled: A Memoir - Barbara McNally

Release Date - March 2013

Barbara McNally
Balboa Press

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

For more than a decade, Barbara McNally was the perfect wife, perfect hostess, and perfect mother, but along the way she lost track of who she really was. After having an affair, her marriage is over. Needing to rediscover who she is, she takes a page from her late grandmother's life and heads off to Ireland in search of herself. There, she rediscovers the vibrancy she lost along the way and starts to make the changes needed to find herself.

As much as I dislike cheating within a marriage, I understood where Barbara McNally was coming from. I, too, gave up a career almost 20 years ago to raise my kids. Thankfully, my husband lets me do my thing online, so I have my identity writing for various online sites.

In Unbridled, she does go on an amazing journey through Ireland and later Jamaica. I think many readers will sympathize with her and the choices she makes - right or wrong.


The Great Escape - Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Release Date - April 2013

Susan Elizabeth Phillips
William Morrow

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Long-time readers of Susan Elizabeth Phillips will recognize many of the characters in The Great Escape from First Lady and Call Me Irresistible. Readers met Lucy Jorik in First Lady, when she was a scrappy teen trying to survive the streets and keep her sister safe. They saw Lucy again in Call Me Irresistible when Lucy fled from her impending wedding leaving her friend Meg to smooth everything over, only Meg started to fall for the fiance that Lucy left at the altar.

The Great Escape details Lucy's escape from Lucy's point of view. Readers learn where Lucy goes and how she struggles to figure out how to get back in her family's good graces after running away from her wedding. Little does she know, the bad boy, Panda, she hitches a ride with has his own secrets.

I really disliked Lucy for letting Meg take the brunt of everyone's anger in Call Me Irresistible, but I found mys…

Sleight of Hand - Phillip Margolin

Release Date - April 2013

Phillip Margolin
Harper

Book Review by Bob Walch

If you remember Dana Cutler from Philip Margolin’s very successful Washington Trilogy ( Executive Privilege, Supreme Justice and Capitol Murder), then you’ll be delighted that the feisty, private investigator is back on the job.  Dana seems to be spread a little thin here but, as you’ll see, the two cases she is working on do eventually merge. First there is the search for a stolen relic, a medieval scepter that dates back to the Ottoman Empire. Dana is hired by a mysterious Frenchwoman to track it down but comes to the conclusion this may be just a wild goose chase.
A more immediate concern is the problem posed by slick attorney Charles Benedict. A bit of a chameleon, Benedict is an accomplished amateur magician and a very discrete professional hit man for the Russian mob. Benedict has framed a client who hired him to handle a murder case and the slippery lawyer is convinced he can use his magic to pull off the p…

Once Upon a Gypsy Moon: A Memoir - Michael Hurley

Release Date - April 2013

Michael Hurley
Center Street

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Michael Hurley hit rock bottom after cheating on his wife, going through a painful divorce, and being voted out as partner in the law firm where he'd spend dozens of hours a week working. This all led to Hurley's decision to fix his sailboat, Gypsy Moon, and sail for two years from Maryland to the Caribbean. Things were not always easygoing, true of any adventure, and he reaches many emotional milestones along the way. Once Upon a Gypsy Moon is the account of his voyages.


Some of the details of the boating were a little over my head and made for drier reading. Thankfully, this is mainly in the fifth chapter when he talks about the repairs and why he opted for "hanked-on headsails" vs. "roller furling." It's a short chapter though. Mainly, I found the chapters where he focuses on his reflections or the people he meets along the way to be far more valuable.

Throughout On…

A Plain Scandal: An Appleseed Creek Mystery - Amanda Flower

Release Date - February 2013

Amanda Flower
B&H Publishing

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

A Plain Scandal is the second entry into the "An Appleseed Creek Mystery" series. Chloe Humphrey is immersing herself in the lives of her Amish friends, but it's not always easy. When someone beings targeting the Amish and cutting off their hair or beards, Chloe starts looking into the crimes. It isn't long before she comes across a body and is thrust into another perplexing mystery.

Meanwhile, Chloe is also torn by a growing movement to shun the family who treat her like one of their own. If remaining part of their family puts their status within the Amish community at risk, she really can't keep participating in their gatherings. But, how do you turn your back on a family that's become a strong part of your life?

A Plain Scandal kept me guessing. I thought I'd figured it out, but only part of my guess was correct. I do like mysteries that are not easily solved. Th…