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Showing posts from October, 2013

A Beautiful Truth by Colin McAdam

Release Date - September 2013

Soho Press

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

As A Beautiful Truth was set in Vermont and Florida, I found myself intrigued with Colin McAdam's latest novel. Part of this came from a documentary I watched years ago about a Canadian sanctuary created for rescued chimpanzees. The Fauna Foundation is a real place, though last I knew they do not welcome visitors so as not to stress the chimps. I can't find the name of the documentary, but I'll update if I can find it.

Now to the novel. The Vermont setting takes place not too far from me. A Vermont couple, unable to have a child of their own, adopt a chimpanzee named Louee. Eventually, Louee grows up and attacks his owner and a friend (search Travis, a chimp in Connecticut, and the victim/Charla Nash). At that point, the couple have no choice but to send him to a sanctuary in Florida. There Louee is suddenly thrust into a world where he is surrounded by monkeys instead of humans and adapting isn't…

Cut to the Bone by Jefferson Bass

Release Date - September 24, 2013

Jefferson Bass
William Morrow

Book Review by Bob Walch

Dr. Bill Brockton, the brilliant and ambitious head of the University of Tennessee’s Anthropology Department, is ready to open a new research facility that has certainly opened some eyes. The forensic research the lab will engage will be cutting edge (no pun intended), but it has made some folks in the community uneasy.
To complicate matters, a series of murders create some uncomfortable questions for Brockton since there seems to be a link to some of his past investigations. As the corpse count mounts, not only is time of the essence but it also appears there is a pattern here that points to some shattering revelations about Brockton.
The Body Farm series has both entertained and fascinated those readers interested in forensics. This comes as no surprise because not only have the novels been well plotted and the characters believable but the science behind the series has been quite accurate.
Of cours…

Cookbook Review - Ivan Ramen by Ivan Orkin

Release Date - October 29, 2013

Ivan Orkin
Ten Speed Press

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Years ago, shortly after her death, I watched a movie (Ramen Girl) starring Brittany Murphy who, while dealing with a break up, enters a Japanese ramen shop and falls madly in love with the dish. She becomes obsessed with learning how to cook it, but the owner/chef doesn't want an apprentice. She persists and he gives her a job cleaning the restaurant. Her persistence eventually pays off, and he starts teaching her the art. I remember the one comment I had was "Why can't we have real ramen here?"

Since then, my area has seen a ramen restaurant open, very recently in fact, but I can't get past the dozens of reviews that state the chef uses dried ramen noodles. That's not what I expected, so I haven't been. My heart longs for a taste of real ramen, and thanks to Ivan Orvin's new book, I'll have that chance.

Ivan Ramen is part autobiography and part cookbook. The…

All The Pieces by Mary E. Kingsley

Release Date - May 2013

Mary E. Kingsley

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

All the Pieces tells a tale that takes some getting used to. The story starts with one character, bounces to another, and then keeps progressing until the entire tale is told.

Out of the darkness came a stranger. All Sary Ann knew was that the stranger handed her an ailing infant, and Sary Ann was determined to save that infant's life. Named Laidy, Sary Ann became a mother to that child, and no one could figure out where the child came from or why she was brought to Sary Ann's door.

Laidy goes on to have her own children. Anna Lee, nine years old, simply wants strawberry jam with her toast, but her mother is hesitant to let her have it, as it is the last jar made by the late Sary Ann.. When Laidy crumples to the floor screaming, Anna Lee takes off and ends up finding out the truth about her mother's past.

This is a short novella that doesn't take long to read at all. At 65 pages, I had the story re…

Mrs. Poe by Lynn Cullen

Release Date - October 2013

Lynn Cullen
Gallery Books

Book Review by Bob Walch

The tumultuous life of Edgar Allan Poe continues to fascinate authors and provide fodder for new novels. Lynn Cullen is the latest person to fall under the spell of the famous American poet and writer. In this story Cullen focuses on Frances Osgood, a struggling poet and mother of two children, who falls under Poe’s spell.  Osgood meets the illustrious author of “The Raven” at a literary gathering and she is surprised that Poe has some knowledge of her work. A mild flirtation is followed by a seduction and then an illicit affair. As Osgood falls for her complicated, married lover, the situation becomes rather volatile as Virginia Poe, the frail wife of the writer, befriends Osgood.  At this point the story becomes as bizarre and twisted as one of Poe’s famous short stories. With the fates of these two women now intertwined, the tale of this romantic triangle takes some unexpected and surprising turns.  In the…

Wrong Place, Wrong Time by Tilia Klebenov Jacobs

Release Date - June 2013

Tilia Klebenov Jabobs
Linden Tree Press

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

It's been many years since Tsara Adelman has seen her uncle. Now that both of her parents have died, Tsara and her brother decide to take up the uncle's invitation to visit his estate home for a weekend. Tsara has no idea of the trouble she's about to face.

Mike Westbrook wants nothing more than to have his six-year-old son returned to the safety of his arms. He kidnaps Tsara from her room one night in hopes of being able to secure the safe return of his son. Problems occur when Tsara's uncle hires two rogue cops to help him keep his kidnapping a secret and make sure both Mike and Tsara do not live to talk about his crimes. Mike must rely on his years of military training in order to keep himself and Tsara safe.

Wrong Place, Wrong Time is a fast-paced novel with plenty of twists. The copy I read was close to 500 pages, though Amazon has the book listed as being just over 40…

Delectable by Adrianne Lee

Release Date - September 2013

Adrianne Lee
Forever Yours

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

After his father's unexpected death, Quint McCoy regretted never taking the time to go fishing with him. It's not like his dad didn't ask regularly. Quint shuts everyone out of his life, including his wife, and takes off for the wilds of Alaska where he does nothing but fish.

With no word from Quint, his mother decides to expand her soon-to-open pie shop, taking over Quint's real estate office. She employs Quint's wife, Cailee to help design the shop. When Quint suddenly returns, Quint's mom has a heart attack when she overhears Cailee and Quint discussing divorce.

With the grand opening looming in the distance, Quint is not about to let his mom down. Cailee adores her mother-in-law and will not let her down either. Despite their differences, the pair team up to get the launch of the pie business off the ground. It's not the easiest task in the world when Quint's mom…

Just One Day by Sharla Lovelace

Release Date - October 16, 2013

Sharla Lovelace
Beyond the Page Publishing

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

When her boyfriend proposes to her, Andie Fremont is stunned. She's comfortable with him, but his proposal never once mentioned the word love. He gives her 24 hours to come up with an answer. She uses that time and heads off to a place that once meant the world to her.

After pulling into a diner where she plans to splurge and eat things her boyfriend doesn't allow, Andie is stunned to find herself stranded in the diner with the owner, a man she had a one night stand with in her college years. The attraction between the pair is as powerful now as it was then, and Andie soon finds making this decision is not going to be easy.

Just One Day is very short, just over 100 pages. While the author does a great job building the characters and their relationships, the ending came so abruptly that I was left wondering if I missed something. That's the biggest issue with this novel.…

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Release Date - June 2012

Gillian Flynn
Crown

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Every year, Nick's wife Amy sets up a treasure hunt for their anniversary. She leaves him the clues, and he sets off on a quest to figure out the clues. This year, their fifth anniversary, things are ominous. Nick arrives home after a neighbor contacts him to say his front door is wide open, and his cat is outside. There, Nick finds his house in shambles, and Amy is no where to be found.

Nick is desperate to find out what happened. As the public and even police begin to suspect Nick killed his wife, the reader is also left to wonder if Nick is capable of killing, especially as his lies are revealed, or if there is something more to this story.

I'd heard all the buzz over Gone Girl, but I never found time to read it until recently. Now that I have, I have sat for days trying to decide what I think.

Gone Girl is a stunning novel, but it's also maddening. The characters drove me crazy. They're dera…

Everybody's Got a Story by Heather Wardell

Release Date - July 2013

Heather Wardell
CreateSpace

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

After her boyfriend assaults and rapes her, Alexa is ready to start a new life in Toronto, far from New York City where everyone knows her story. In Toronto, Alexa soon learns that no matter where you are, you can't escape your problems. She cannot escape, so she must learn how to love and trust herself and others before she'll feel whole.

Everybody's Got a Story is such a gripping read. I didn't really know what to expect, but in the end, I was hooked. Alexa's story is graphic, but written in a way that it's paired with lighthearted moments to help break up the tension. As Alexa embraces life in Toronto, I found myself truly hoping she'd find the life she deserved.

This is the 12th book in the Toronto series. It's the first book I've read in this series, so it does work well as a stand-alone novel. Given that, I am intrigued in reading other stories. Characters from…

The Thicket by Joe R. Lansdale

Release Date - September 2013

Joe R. Lansdale
Mulholland Books

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Sixteen-year-old Jack Parker's had a little too much experience with death. His grandmother died in a tragic farm accident. His parents just lost their fight against smallpox. His grandfather dies in a vicious attack while transporting his grandchildren to their aunt's house.  Now the same men that murdered his grandfather have his 14-year-old sister, Lula, and Jack's not going to walk away. He's determined to save his sister.

At the nearest town, Jack learns that the same group of men murdered the sheriff, so it's up to Jack and a pair of bounty hunters to track them down and save Lula. One sheriff, Shorty, is a sharp-shooting dwarf, while the other Eustace brings with him an unusual traveling companion - a 600 pound hog. The trio set off to save Lula and form what becomes a lasting friendship.

From the start, the storytelling is what caught my attention. If you've se…

The Tulip Eaters by Antoinette van Heugten

Release Date - October 29, 2013

Antoinette van Heugten
MIRA/Harlequin

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

 Nora de Jong eagerly returns home after her shift as a surgeon at a local hospital. She's ready to spend time with her six-month-old daughter and relieve her mother of babysitting duties. Instead, Nora finds her mother's body, she's been shot, the body of a stranger, and her infant is gone. Police begin their investigation, but the dead man's ID was a forgery, and in the 1980s, DNA testing just wasn't the same. With little to go on, the police quickly run out of ideas.

After going through her mother's things, Nora finds her mother's been hiding a secret and that the strange man might not have been a stranger after all. To learn the truth about her family's past, Nora must head to Amsterdam and unravel events from WWII. Only then does she stand a chance of saving her child.

The Tulip Eaters blends history and the present day (though that present day is re…

Human Remains by Elizabeth Haynes

Release Date - August 2013

Elizabeth Haynes
HarperCollins

Book Review by Bob Walch

When she discovers the decomposing corpse of a neighbor, Annabel Hayer is taken aback because she realizes that apparently no one really cared enough about the elderly woman to check up on her from time to time. A bit of a loner herself, Annabel is struck by the fact that this may not be an isolated occurrence.
Since she works as a police analyst Annabel decides, out of curiosity, to check the data base and see how often this type of sad event occurs. She’s shocked to discover a surprising number of individuals of all ages and walks of life have wasted away in a manner similar to her neighbor.
Deciding to do a little investigating herself to see what is going on here, Annabel finds a circuitous trail leading to another “loner”, a man named Colin. Is this the clever mastermind behind these deaths that have remained beneath the official police radar because there doesn’t seem to be any violence involved?  Us…

God Must Be Weeping by J.D. Winston

Release Date - January 31, 2013

BoulevarDream

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Montgomery "Monty" Mason is the storyteller in God Must Be Weeping. He's a journalist who ditches his career to enlist and serve his country in WWII. His mother, she's already lost loved ones to war, is beside herself but will not stand in his way. From there, the story progresses through Monty's experiences from the round of tests to actual battle.

Along the way, he forms a lasting friendship with Hunter, a soldier with little fear and a little recklessness; Mako, a soldier whose background is a little more sheltered than the others; and Mo, a man from the south who struggles with the war due to his religion. When they're all sent to the Pacific, their friendships are put to a very real, very emotional test.

It took me a while to get into the groove with God Must Be Weeping. As the story starts out, you don't know much about the narrator, even his name. It's the scene at hi…

Self-Help Review - Why Do I Feel This Way? by Dina L. Wilcox

Release Date - December 2012

Mill City Press

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Everyone grieves differently. When my aunt died, I grieved while she was still in the hospital. I knew after seeing her that she didn't have long, and listened to other family members saying she'd pull through, though it was clear that was not going to be the case. Three years later, her husband is finally moving on, but I also listen to my mother grieving from time to time. That's one of the points that the author of Why Do I Feel This Way? is making.

Dina L. Wilcox isn't spouting professional tips in her self-help guide. She's been there. While so many books on grieving are written by psychologists or psychiatrists, it's not as common to find one written by a person going through the grieving process. To me, that makes this book stand out. Knowing the author has experienced everything she's talking about adds a layer of honesty that few self-help guides manage to tackle.

The book…

Book News: Q&A With William Gladstone

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2013 La Jolla Writer’s Conference
Dates: November 1st to 3rd, 2013
www.lajollawritersconference.com

LJWC Author Profile:
Q & A with Renowned Literary Agent, Author, and Club of Budapest trustee, William Gladstone
Sometimes accomplished people can be so understated that we often don’t know who really lives in our own backyard. Bill Gladstone is just such a person. A Yale and Harvard trained cultural anthropologist who traveled the world in search of mysteries, Gladstone is considered an international expert on indigenous cultures and the true meaning behind 2012 and its rippling impact on our world moving forward. Co-producer of the highly-acclaimed film, TAPPING THE SOURCE, as a literary agent, Mr. Gladstone has represented some of the most respected and influential authors of our time, including Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra, and Barbara Marx Hubbard. As a trustee for the prestigious Club of Budapest, Gladstone collaborates with some of the greatest thought leaders of our time. And a…