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Showing posts from July, 2013

Get Your Kids Hiking - Jeff Alt

Release Date - May 2013

Jeff Alt
Beaufort Books

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Get Your Kids Hiking: How to Start Them Young and Keep It Fun is a handy book for parents of young children who enjoy being outdoors and active. It's pretty comprehensive and small enough to fit into your backpack or bag when you're on the go.

Each section is divided by the child's age. It starts from infancy and works up the teen years. There are sections on foods to pack, safety tips, checklists for necessary supplies, and even tips on hiking with a special needs child.

I wish everyone would read this book, kids or not, before hitting the trails. I live close enough to Mount Mansfield and sections of the Long Trail that I've hear stories of rescues through the year. While some hikers are prepared for the elements, far more are not. It does get tiring hearing of another hiker was unprepared and put the rescuers lives at risk by not knowing simple safety tips.

This is an outstanding book for …

Three Little Words - Susan Mallery

Release Date - July 30, 2013

Susan Mallery
Harlequin

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

How I love my trips to Fool's Gold. Susan Mallery's created a town I'd love to be part of. The friendly faces, neighbors knowing neighbors, and a collection of stores and boutiques that make you want to spend time outside of your home. It's a far cry than my rural town and something I'd love to be part of.

Three Little Words features the rather hunky sounding Ford Hendrix, a former Navy SEAL who got through his service thanks to the letters Isabel Beebe kept sending him. Ford was once engaged to Isabel's sister. Isabel, then 14 and in love with Ford, was shattered when her sister dumped Ford for his friend. She wrote letters to him through high school and college never knowing if he was getting or reading her letters.

Fast forward 14 years. Isabel lives in New York City, but returns home to Fool's Gold to run her late grandmother's bridal store until her parents return fr…

Half as Happy - Gregory Spatz

Release Date - April 2013

Gregory Spatz
Engine Books

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Half as Happy is a collection of short stories from Gregory Spatz. There are eight stories in all, and each is as mesmerizing as the next.

1. Any Landlord's Dream is about a couple who are grieving the loss of their infant son. They decide to rent a one-story home that's been vacant for quite some time. That new home may be what it takes for them to overcome their loss and find solace in each other once again.

2. Happy for You starts with a mother being woken up by her adult son's phone call. He needs her Easter recipes. That starts her down a path remembering the highs and lows of her life.

3. A man's lost everything close to him in No Kind of Music. First, his mother died. Next, it was his father-in-law, which was shortly followed by his wife leaving him for another man. It's his passion for classical music that seems to keep him going.

4. Luck finds Herb Zackowsky and his wife tak…

Waiting for Sunrise - William Boyd

Release Date - January 2013

William Boyd
HarperCollins

Book Review by Bob Walch

If Lysander Rief thought he had problems before he went to Vienna in 1913, while seeking psychological help for an odd sexual problem, it was nothing compared to the quandary he was in when he left the city. The English actor met Hettie Ball, a high strung sculptor, in the doctor’s office and one thing led to another.  When Hettie gets pregnant she claims Lysander raped her and he is arrested. Facing a scandalous trial, the actor manages to escape the authorities with the help of some folks at the British Consulate.
Now fast forward and Lysander is back in London and has resumed his stage career when the war breaks out. Since he speaks flawless German, Lysander becomes a translator for internees but the intelligence service quickly enlists him to work for them.  Having little choice in the matter because of the affair in Vienna, Lysander agrees since it appears to be “pay back” time. He is sent to Geneva to …

My Rant on Lazy Students

I received a post for moderation that will never get posted, but I wanted to take the time to single out this anonymous poster.

Book reports are something required of you in school. We've all written them. Many of us, from my generation, probably relied heavily on Cliff Notes, what you call Spark Notes today. I know Cliff Notes got me through Shakespeare. Other classics like To Kill a Mockingbird, I simply loved reading that book, so I never needed them.

So to get a post of you whining how my book "review" didn't help you, you've simply made me laugh. If you honestly think I feel bad for you that you could not glean enough from one of my reviews in order to write your book report, guess again. Reviews aren't reports, there is a huge difference. Suck it up, read the book, and do your own work.

The Girl Who Married an Eagle - Tamar Myers

Release Date - April 2013

Tamar Myers
William Morrow

Book Review by Bob Walch

Based on an event from the author’s own life, this is the tale of two young women, one American and the other African. Julia Elaine Newton leaves her home in Ohio to volunteer in a mission in the Belgian Congo. The beautiful young American ends up teaching in an all-girls boarding school that has become a refuge for native runaway child brides.
A far cry from her experiences in a small Mid-western Bible college, Julia is about to experience a culture she really isn’t prepared for and she’ll be working with individuals with some interesting ideas about white people.  Buakane is a young girl who has run away to avoid marriage to a tribal leader named Chief Eagle. As the youngest and newest wife of the chief, tradition demands that Buakane will be buried alive with the man when he dies and she fears that event will come sooner rather than later. She doesn’t relish the idea of a premature death, so she runs from i…

It's a Boy (The Camdens of Colorado) - Victoria Pade

Release Date - August 2013


Harlequin

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Heddy Hanrahan quit her job after the death of her infant daughter and husband. She's since launched a bakery specializing in cheesecakes, but business isn't going as well as she hoped. Things take an interesting turn when a hunky man comes into her shop, toddler in tow, and doesn't seem to know the first thing about handling a child.

Lang Camden never expected to find out that a one-night stand resulted in him becoming a father. After the two-year-old boy's mother hands him over to social services, they test the four potential dads, and Lang's DNA is the match. Despite using birth control, he's an instant dad and doesn't have the first clue about parenting, especially not with a rambunctious toddler.

Lang's at Heddy's bakery to make her an offer. His family wants to market and sell her cheesecakes exclusively through their stores. The Camden's wronged Heddy's family in the…

Bending Toward the Sun - Mona Hodgson

Release Date - April 2013

Mona Hodgson
Waterbrook Press

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Emilie Heinrich never expects to reunite with a childhood friend, Quaid McFarland, and feel a deep, immediate attraction. While Quaid fought in the Civil War, he matured and turned from a lanky teen into a man that has Emilie questioning her decision to avoid romance and spend all of her time working in her father's general store.

The more Emilie gets to know Quaid, the more smitten she becomes. Having any semblance of a courtship will not work out, however. Her very strict German father is determined that this Irishman is not the right man for his daughter, and he'll do everything in his power to make sure that their renewed friendship never ensues into a courtship.

I can't say I thought much of Emilie's father. I know times were different, but I still find it annoying. I really liked Quaid and to have a man judge him because he's Irish and not holding a job you find suitable ne…

Unseen - Karin Slaughter

Release Date - July 2013

Karin Slaughter
Delacorte Press

Book Review by Bob Walch

Their relationship has become a little strained of late, and the fact that Will Trent, a Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent, and Dr. Sara Linton, his lady love, are now on a collision course probably won’t help matters.
Will has gone undercover to get in with a lowlife drug dealer in Macon, Georgia. At the same time, Sara has been drawn to the city by the death of her stepson who was gunned down in his own home. Not the first time violence has struck her family in this manner, Sara blames Jared’s wife, a detective, for what has happened.
Without ever really realizing it, Sara is involved with the same situation that has brought Will to town and that is going to lead to some serious problems as danger swirls around both of these individuals.
Karin Slaughter has been called one of the best crime writers in the country and this thriller with its twists and shocking revelations is up to her usual standards. Th…

The Banks of Certain Rivers - Jon Harrison

Release Date - March 2013

Jon Harrison
Lake Union Publishing

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

In one moment Neil Kazenzakis' world is torn apart. He's attending a conference and brings his wife and son with him. During the presentation, a medical chopper lands in the resort's acreage and someone is whisked away. Soon police officers inform Neil that his wife's finger got stuck on a grate at the bottom of the resort's pool. She's alive but not in good shape.

A few years pass. Neil's wife remains unresponsive in a long-term care facility. His son's acclimated to the tragic events after much-needed counseling. The two visit her as often as possible and remain active in the school where Neil teaches and his son is soon to graduate.

Neil has his secrets though. He's been seeing his ailing mother-in-law's home care nurse regularly. Neil isn't sure how to tell his son that he's fallen in love. His son finds out around the same time a video is rel…

The Last Kind Words - Tom Piccirilli

Release Date - April 2013

Tom Piccirilli
Bantam

Book Review by Bob Walch

There’s not much to like about the Rands. The members of this clan of petty criminals have made a name for themselves but it wasn’t until Collie Rand went off the rails and killed eight people that the Rands made the big time.
Now Terry Rand, a smooth pickpocket and lock man, has been called home by his older brother. Facing the death penalty for his killing rampage, Collie claims that one of the murders was not of his doing. He insists the real killer is still out there somewhere and wants Terry to find the culprit. Why he is willing to honor the request of a relative he abhors is a mystery, but Terry acquiesces. Drawn back into the schemes and lives of a group of folks he doesn’t really care for and ran away to escape, Terry is about to make some startling discoveries about his family. Some skeletons are better left buried, but it looks like a lot of the Rands’ dirty laundry is about to be aired.
One of the more …

Everyone Says That At the End of the World - Owen Egerton

Release Date - April 2013

Owen Egerton
Soft Skull Press

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

There is good and bad with Everyone Says That at the End of the World. First, the writing is excellent and drew me in. I couldn't put this book down. I needed to know what was happening and how the story was going to progress. That said, there were so many characters introduced that I started to get lost. I had to keep notes to know who each person was while I became accustomed to their different stories.

In Owen Egerton's novel, earth is an asylum and it's being shut down. This leaves the inhabitants that range from Milton and his dad, a man who believes aliens are entering their world to a couple expecting their first child, and they have mixed feelings. There's even a hermit crab who appears to be the Lord.

The opening grabbed my attention. As more characters were introduced, I started to lose my footing. Then the book took a decidedly Christian/philosophical turn, and I stumbled…

Imperfect Pairings - Jackie Townsend

Release Date - May 2013

Jackie Townsend


Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Imperfect Pairings is the winner of the 2013 Indie Reader Discovery Award for Chick Lit. I, personally, am not sure I'd classify the novel as chick lit. When I think of chick lit, I think of light and humorous. With Imperfect Pairings, Jamie and Jack/Giovanni's relationship was often turbulent and rather morose.

Jamie is a business woman in America. She heads to Italy with her beau, Jack, not expecting him to suddenly change. In Italy, she comes second to his family. His mother doesn't seem overly impressed by her, she struggles to fit in due to the family's structure, and there's a bit of a language barrier too.

Soon, the couple are forced to explore their relationships and their very ideas of family. When Jack left for the U.S., he left behind his destiny on the family's vineyard. Once he's back, his passion for the land grows and Jamie becomes uncertain of her place with the family or…

The Unsinkable Herr Goering - Ian Cassidy

Release Date - March 2013


Cassowary Press

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

I have to say, I was a little confused by The Unsinkable Herr Goering. Per the description, it comes off as kind of a "histories mysteries," with the truth revealed about Hitler's deputy's suicide. As I started reading it, it became clear that this is really a satirical look at the man's greed and penchant for cross dressing.

In The Unsinkable Herr Goering, readers meet the man as he travels to the ambassador's house. He's clearly uncomfortable, dressed in silk stockings with lacy suspenders holding them up. The story progresses with comical episodes like Goering's trip to the ambassador's bathroom. What the story really comes down to, however, is that Goering plans to get out of Germany with his family and prized possessions. Finding transportation that can carry everything is a little more troublesome. From there, readers are treated to a farcical look at what really happ…

Forever, Interrupted - Taylor Jenkins Reid

Release Date - July 9, 2013

Taylor Jenkins Reid
Washington Square Press

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

It is a very, very rare occasion that a book makes it to my keeper shelf. Mostly, my keeper shelf is home to cookbooks, To Kill a Mockingbird, Earth Abides, a collection of E.E. Cummings poetry, and The Stand. Taylor Jenkins Reid pulled off an incredible feat and put her book on my shelf.

In little more than six months, Elsie Porter meets the man of her dreams and falls head over heels. The meet by chance at a local pizza parlor, go on a date the next night, and never again want to be alone. Soon, Ben Ross moves in with her, they elope, and they prepare to live happily ever after.

Exactly nine days after they get married, Ben heads off to the store to get Elsie the Fruity Pebbles she is craving. A truck crashes into his bicycle and he's dead. Elsie, obviously, is shattered.

At the hospital, Elsie meets her mother-in-law, a woman who doesn't know her Elsie exists and certainly…

We Are All Birds - Geoff Gray

Release Date - March 2013 (Reprint)


Cassowary Press

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

After Sheldon Wirth's relationship comes to an end, he's hit with news of another tragic situation. His best friend, Dent, has a rare disease that affects the bone marrow, one the doctors are saying is a precursor to cancer. When Dent disappears, leaving the country to see some of the world, Sheldon is left behind. He struggles to maintain his job and possibly even his sanity, all while trying to hook back up with his ex and reconnect with Dent before its too late.

The witty, often sarcastic narrative in We Are All Birds certainly had me chuckling from time to time. This book is nothing like I've read before, characters meandered at their pace, learning from life as they went.

Given that, there were also times when I struggled with the book. I think it's partly that the characters were younger than I, so I see things differently to them. That made it hard to understand some of their dec…