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Showing posts from August, 2013

Memoir Review: Mr. Joe - Tales from a Haunted Life by Joseph Barnett

Release Date - August 2013


Bettie Youngs Books

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Mr. Joe: Tales From a Haunted Life is a memoir written by an elementary school janitor who's seen ghosts for decades, since his grandfather's funeral. It is non-fiction, so readers need to be aware it is a true story.

As a memoir, the story covers many chapters and layers of Joseph Barnett's life. Readers learn about his relationship with an alcoholic parent, his close bond to his grandparents, the loss of his grandfather, his own failed marriage and entry into the world of being a single parent, and losing his job and having to start over as a school janitor.

Having read the title and blurb, I was expecting a story filled with ghost stories. In this case, many of the ghosts are his own life experiences. As a result, the book ended up feeling like a chat with a close friend. It was light, fun, and a book easily read in just a few hours.





Chick Lit/Romance Review: The Star Attraction by Alison Sweeney

Release Date - May 2013

Allison Sweeney
Hyperion

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Much of The Star Attraction is set in a place where I've visited, though it's been years, and is about as far from my own hometown as you can get. Set in L.A., the book shares the story of Sophie, a Hollywood publicist, who has just about everything a woman could want. Her long-time beau is a hottie, and she's just been signed on to represent Billy Fox, one of Hollywood's most attractive stars.

Representing Billy means lots of social events and evenings out with Mr. Gorgeous himself. Things go astray when Billy's personal attention causes a few too many flutters. Sophie is suddenly on the verge of losing the man she adores, the job she loves, and the lifestyle she's grown accustomed to.

While the book is set in L.A. amidst warm, sunny days, I did find it funny that we're rolling into autumn here, some trees are already starting to show signs of their fall foliage, and I know it&…

Mystery Book Review: Question of Honor by Charles Todd

Release Date - September 2013

Charles Todd
William Morrow

Book Review by Bob Walch


The memory of a horrendous crime, the murder of five people, resurfaces when a dying soldier on the battlefields of France tells nurse Bess Crawford that the man responsible for the crimes and thought to be dead is still alive.
Not only is this unwelcome news a shock, but Bess also takes some time off while on leave to investigate to see if there is any truth to the dying man’s claim.
Years earlier when Bess was living in India while her father served in the military, one of his officers was accused of committing a series of murders in England and India. Lieutenant Wade, the supposed murderer, tried to flee and disappeared trying to reach Afghanistan. Bess’s father has had to live with the thought that one of his trusted men was a disgrace to his uniform.
Now, a decade later, Bess is going back to the English village where three of the killings took place. While many locals think Wade was innocent, the pr…

Between You and Me - Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus

Release Date - June 2013

Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus
Simon & Schuster

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Wow, just wow! Do I have mixed feelings about Between You and Me. I loved most of the story and also wanted to throw the book through the window and call it done. This makes for a tough review.

Cousins Logan and Kelsey Wade were thick as thieves until the day Kelsey's parents suddenly packed up and left without Logan really understanding why. Years later, Logan turns 27 and is invited to reunite with Kelsey, now a major star.

Soon, Logan is offered the chance to become Kelsey's assistant. It's a job Logan can't pass up. It also gives her the perfect view into Kelsey's unpleasant, paparazzi-laden existence, a life her parents seem unwilling to let her escape.

I loved The Nanny Diaries, so I had really high hopes for Between You and Me. Instead of finding any humor in the story, I found myself depressed. This story really just is a retelling of what stars l…

Thursday Morning Breakfast (and Murder) Club - Liz Stauffer

Release Date - June 28, 2013

Liz Stauffer
Sartoris Literary Group

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Every week, women in Mount Penn gather for breakfast and their weekly club meeting. Lillie Mae Harris, leader of the club, is overly concerned for another member, Clare Ballard, who they all suspect is being abused by her husband, Roger. Meanwhile, Lillie Mae gets dragged into another situation when another club member learns her grandson has been arrested in a nearby town. The young man insists the drug charges are absurd and that he's been set up. In addition to the local drug dealer (Carl Lewis), one person he suspects is Roger Ballard.

When Lillie Mae finds Carl's body while hiking in the woods and Roger disappears, all fingers point Roger's way. Soon, Roger's body is found too and Clare confesses. Lillie Mae is convinced Clare is covering for someone and plans to uncover the truth. Unfortunately, the women of the breakfast club may be targets. Lillie Mae needs to work …

The Autobiography of Jack the Ripper - James Carnac

Release Date - September 2013

Sourcebooks

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

After the death of S.G. Hulme-Beaman, an unpublished manuscript containing the supposed autobiography of one James Carnac was found in Hulme-Beaman's possessions. With no way to know if the autobiography was Hulme-Beaman's work or truly the admission of the man behind the Jack the Ripper murders, it is left to the reader to decide if this book is fact or fiction.

The Autobiography of Jack the Ripper is definitely detailed. There are aspects of Carnac's life that fit with my image of the killer. He supposedly knows facts about the killings that were never revealed. The story is gripping and definitely kept my interest, but in the end, there really is no way to know if this supposed autobiography closes the case. It also doesn't really shed any light on who James Carnac was.

The story behind this "autobiography" seems odd, too. Hulme-Beaman, creator of popular children's character &quo…

The Paris Deadline - Max Byrd

Release Date - October 2012

Max Byrd
Turner Publishing

Book Review by Bob Walch


It is the Jazz Age of the 1920s and Toby Keats may well be the only American working in Paris who doesn’t know Hemingway. No matter, though. Toby relishes his quiet life after serving in the Great War. But unfortunately this calm existence is about to change radically when he discovers an automaton dubbed Vaucanson’s Duck.  Containing a small gyroscope that a number of people are interested in because it could be the key element in creating unmanned rockets, Toby’s new plaything becomes the center of a nasty struggle to see which group of “baddies” can capture it.  From the Left Bank to the prehistoric caves of southern France, the chase is on and the winners will possess technology that will tilt the next European conflict in their favor.  Rich in historical detail, The Paris Deadline is a fun read and a nice diversion from more traditional suspense novels.

Jenny Rat - Martin Simons

Release Date - January 2013

Martin Simons
Amazon Digital Services

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Challenging is a good word for my feelings towards Jenny Rat. One the one hand, the writing is mesmerizing, the characters are incredibly well developed, but then I reach that point where my mothering instincts kick into overdrive. I wonder why on earth the social services department do what they do. As Jenny Rat takes place in Australia, maybe there are legal differences at play, that's all I can think.

Michael, 28, is very shy and keeps to himself. He's an architect and works from home. Outside of occasional work meetings, his only interaction with other adults is his weekly visit from a prostitute. One night, he finds a freezing, battered young girl in the drainage ditch in front of his home. Despite his prostitute's warnings, he brings the girl inside and tends to her until the ambulance arrives.

From the start, Michael can't get the young girl out of his mind. He heads…

The Artisan Jewish Deli at Home - Nick Zukin and Michael Zusman

Release Date - September 2013

Kenny & Zuke's
Andrews McMeel Publishing

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Burlington, Vermont, lacks a good Jewish deli. We had one, for a short while anyway, but it shut down not too long after it opened. I truly miss the pastrami hash with rye and soup and sandwich deal that came with a steaming bowl of matzo soup and a sandwich with far more pastrami than bread. Having a good cookbook is the next best thing, and that's exactly what The Artisan Jewish Deli at Home accomplishes. It has recipes for me to test out, and first on my list is going to be the homemade pastrami.

In addition to narrative by Nick Zukin, co-owner of Kenny & Zuke's, and Michael Zusman, a state court judge and food writer, the cookbook is packed with recipes. There are recipes for bagels, bialys, latkes, blintzes, breads, meats, and much more.

There were certain recipes that caught my eye and made it to the top of my "must-make" list. The aforementioned pa…

White Trash Beautiful - Teresa Mummert

Release Date - July 2013

Teresa Mummert
Gallery Books

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Growing up with a single mom and now living with a devoted boyfriend may sound like a dream come true, but for Cass Daniels its a living hell. While her boyfriend used to be her everything, his addition to drugs has turned him into an abusive, dangerous man. Her mother is no better, always looking for the boyfriend to supply her next fix. Cass is saving up to get out, but she needs to have enough money for both her and her mother.

When Tucker White enters the diner where Cass works, she never imagines she'll be swept off her feet. He seems too good to be true. When she learns he's the lead singer of a rock band, she's convinced that there is nothing between them that could ever be permanent. After all, he's got money, she's scraping to get buy, and no one wants trailer trash in their life. Tucker, however, wants to prove to Cass that she's got it all wrong.

White Trash Beautiful…

Reese's Leap: An Island Mystery - Darcy Scott

Release Date - 2013

Darcy Scott
Maine Authors Publishing

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Having slept wrong the night before, I was dealing with one of the worst lower backaches I've ever had. I never in a thousand years thought a book would be the cure. I started reading Reese's Leap and couldn't put it down. Before I knew it, it was dinner time, then it rapidly progressed to bedtime, but I was too hooked to stop reading. Suffice it to say, I had Darcy Scott's book next to the bed and didn't move this morning until I'd read the last page.

Once a year, a group of women gather and enjoy a week together on a remote Maine island without the benefit of modern conveniences. Adria Jackson owns the 200-acre retreat, and she and her friends use this time to refresh, catch up, and enjoy being away from it all. They never expect to be in danger.

Gil Hodges doesn't expect to end up on Mistake Island. He accompanies his friend there, but the plan is to stay the day and …

Take Me Back - Kelli Maine

Release Date - June 2013

Kelli Maine
Forever Yours

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Take Me Back is a very short read. It's just under 100 pages, so you'll easily read through it in an hour or two. It's also a novella connected to Taken By Storm. I'd never read that romance, so I did feel that I was missing some background into the characters.

There's a ghost on Turtle Tear Island that is very determined to get its message through. Rachael DeSalvo is pretty sure she knows what the ghost wants, but she can't figure out how to make the ghost's wishes come true. Her obsession with this situation has her pushing her true love Merrick Rocha away. She can't lose Merrick, but she also wants to make sure this ghost's last wish is granted.

With its gothic feel, I can see the Take Me Back becoming a favorite, especially with followers of the Give & Take series. The writing takes a little getting used to. It's told from first-person and second-person view…