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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Ghosts of Belfast - Stuart Neville



Released July 2012

Stuart Neville
Soho Crime

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Ghosts of Belfast is a book I wholeheartedly recommend. It's not quite a mystery, not quite horror/paranormal, kind of a mix of the two. It keeps you on the edge of your seat wondering who is next.

Gerry Fegan, a retired hit man for the Irish Republic Army, never expected his "retirement" to go so off course. He's followed by the ghosts of the people he killed. Their spirits won't rest until he kills the people behind their deaths. He'll keep seeing them and hearing their screams until he does their bidding, but that means committing crimes he swore he'd never commit again.

I never would have imagined finding Gerry to be such a likeable character, but he really was. The ghosts that haunt him play an important part in the story, and you learn more about them as the story progresses. That's where the mystery comes into play. You don't know who is next or why they ordered the hit until it's their time.

The ghosts themselves aren't really horrific, but the horror of knowing what they want is pretty creepy. I'd like to think some of the serial killers on death row are haunted by those they killed, but who knows. It's an intriguing premise though.

Originally published in Ireland as The Twelve, Ghosts of Belfast certainly dished up the wow factor I was craving. Part of me would love to see it turned into a movie, but the other part of me knows that Hollywood has a way of turning an excellent book into a dud of a movie, so I do have those mixed feelings.


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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Sparrow River - Kevin J. Garrity



Released March 31, 2012

Kevin J. Garrity
Smashwords

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Sparrow River: Death and Intrigue in the North Woods is set in Michigan, not Maine. I know around here North Woods is associated with upstate Maine, and the show North Woods Law might add to the confusion, so I figured I'd put the clarification out there for my local readers.

On an average day, Walt Pitowski isn't the most positive of men. Things don't general go his way. It's his dream of competing in a canoe marathon and the companionship of his dog Doofus that seems to bring the most joy to his life. During his normal work day, Walt finds a body in Sparrow River. This kicks off a chain of events that will leave Will experiencing things he didn't expect and delving into a possible murder that seems impossible to solve.

Walt comes off as pretty gruff, but despite this I found him quite endearing. While there is the mystery to solve, I felt a bigger portion of the book's appeal is in the setting. The author captures the small town feel and at times I found myself thinking about one of my favorite movies - Fargo. It's the setting and characters that ended up being more appealing than the mystery at hand. That's not a bad thing!






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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Waking Up Married - Mira Lyn Kelly



Released December 2012

Mira Lyn Kelly
Harlequin

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

I don't know how long it will last, but at the time of this review, Amazon Kindle is giving away Waking Up Married. At that price, there's no reason you shouldn't read this book. When the paperback version comes out in April, I still think it will be a worthwhile read.

Megan Scott wakes up on the morning of her cousin's Vegas wedding and finds herself married to a complete stranger. It takes a little thought to try to recall the events from the night before, but it's clear she's married and her new husband doesn't want the quick annulment she's after. He wants to give their new marriage a trial run.

This poses problematic for Megan. She's tired of not finding Mr. Right and, as a result, made arrangements to have a baby through a sperm donor. Her new husband, Connor Reed, is offering her the chance to have a baby, and that's almost too tempting to pass up.

 Obviously, long-time romance readers can see where this story is headed. There is the push and pull of "am I making a huge mistake," but watching Megan and Connor is still fun. Just when you think they're falling into step with each other, things change and the question if they'll make it does pop up again.

If you believe in love at first sight, this is a romance that won't let you down. It may not be a unique plot, but it's heartwarming nonetheless.

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Monday, January 21, 2013

This Is How I Save My Life - Amy B. Scher



Released January 2013

Amy B. Scher

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Author Amy B. Scher lived in pain for years without doctor's coming up with any idea what was wrong. Test after test provided no relief. Eventually, they discovered she had Lyme disease, and that meant heavy-duty antibiotics, up to 44 pills a day and intramuscular injections. Seeking a better answer, Scher headed to India for embryonic stem cell therapy. That was the beginning of a huge change in her health. This is How I Save My Life is her journey, as written in a blog she wrote during her experience.

For anyone not familiar with Lyme disease, it's preventable, but only if you avoid all deer ticks or get the tick that's biting you off within 24 hours. Even then, many doctors feel it's best to take a course of antibiotics if you've been bitten. The ticks don't have to bite in an obvious place. After a bite from a tick with the bacteria behind Lyme, a bright red, circular rash may appear, but if the tick's bitten you in a hard to reach place, you may never see that rash. Some people never develop a rash at all.

My aunt had Lyme disease. I know about the disease far too well. It lead to her enlarged heart, joint pain, and in her case it also affected her moods/psychological health. Whether that played a part in the alcoholism that would end her life, no one really knows. It's this personal history that made me intrigued with the author's journey.

I found myself amazed at the improvements in not just Amy Scher, but also the patients undergoing stem cell therapy who were paralyzed. It's amazing to read just how much improvement they were seeing. I realize stem cell therapy is a touchy subject, but it's really a shame. I lost a baby at 14 weeks of pregnancy and would have happily donated that fetus if I knew it might save someone's life. There are infertility clinics with unused embryos that get thrown out. Why not use them to help save a life?

This is How I Save My Life is an amazing story of one woman's struggles and achievements. It's uplifting and certainly brought tears to my eyes.
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Friday, January 18, 2013

Start At The End - Dave Lavinsky



Released November 2012

Dave Lavinsky
Wiley

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Start at the End offers insightful advice into starting and growing your business. What impressed me most is that the author, co-founder of Growthink, starts with the thing that most businesses seem to overlook: What do your customers expect? This is followed by What would investors expect? Once you have that information down, you move on to other steps: setting goals, reaching financial goals, forming lasting customer relationships, creating your HR team, etc. Every step of this business guide is backed by solid narrative/instruction and worksheets that you print out at Growthink.com.

The advice is spot-on, and I found myself, from a customer viewpoint, nodding my head more than once. It's nice to hear a business guide putting customers first. I'm finding that many businesses are all about the bottom line and treat customers appallingly.

I just dealt with Sears, a company that has such a long history, it's sad to see them declining but also not surprising. We simply wanted a set of tires, but they only had three and sold three. Two weeks later, their online inventory showed they had them in stock again, so we went to order one. The clerk said they will not sell tires unless it's a full set of four. We showed the invoice from the earlier tire purchase and they balked but finally agreed to sell one tire, only to then say they didn't have any, but would order one from another store. The day the tire was due to arrive, they claimed we never placed an order and that they wouldn't sell a single tire. After showing the invoice, they said they'd order it immediately, meanwhile, the check had cleared so they were sitting on the money. It took another week of them losing, finding, and losing our tire again before we had it in hand. We'll never shop with them again.

If your business is struggling, or you're not sure where to start, you need to read Start at the End. It's one of the most helpful books I've seen.


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Monday, January 14, 2013

The Death of Bees - Lisa O'Donnell



Released January 2013

Lisa O'Donnell
HarperCollins

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

I received a copy of The Death of Bees, but I'd already reviewed it for Amazon's Vine program. Rather than form a completely new review, here's the link to my Amazon reviews.

In a nutshell, The Death of Bees is the story of a very dysfunctional family and the girls who are trying to survive a life where their parents are more involved in their drug use than they are the well being of their daughters. It's dark, addicting, and kicks this year off to a great start in the world of fiction.

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Saturday, January 5, 2013

Trust No One - Laurel Bradley



Released June 2012

Laurel Bradley
Storyteller Publishing

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Taylor Wilson receives the shock of her life when a bomb destroys her house minutes after her husband leaves. He's vanished and the FBI suspect he's behind the bombing. Taylor can't believe that the man she loves would do something like this, yet his absence is odd.

Soon, she receives a strange text message from him stating that she should "trust no one," and then he leaves her cryptic clues as to his whereabouts. Ditching the FBI isn't easy, but Taylor truly believes the key to her safety involves finding her husband.

Trust No One keeps you on the edge of your seat. Taylor's strength is apparent and makes her a very riveting character, and her husband is a little more secretive and has the reader wondering if he is the loving man she thinks he is.

If you enjoy suspense/thriller with a touch of romance, you will not want to miss Laurel Bradley's story.


Friday, January 4, 2013

Three River Ranch - Roxanne Snopek



Released August 2012

Roxanne Snopek
Entangled Publishing

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Rory McAllister left everything to start a new life at Three River Ranch. Her realtor certainly didn't bother to tell her that the guesthouse she was leasing was dirty, run down, and in desperate need of an overhaul. Rory's pregnant, alone, and not sure what to do next.

Carson Granger is shocked to find a pregnant woman on his family's ranch. He has dreams of turning the ranch into a sanctuary for wild horses. His late father put certain provisions into his will, however, that has it either reverting to a cattle ranch or finding Carson married before Carson can inherit the land. Carson's lawyer thinks Rory might be the answer to their prayers. Carson's views on marriage are skewed and that's the last thing he'd do to Rory.

As the pair get to know each other, sparks fly, but is a relationship truly best for either of them? Rory's still nursing a broken heart after the father of her unborn child told her he didn't believe the child was his. Carson's fighting his own personal demons from a failed relationship. With both hesitant to give their heart away, all may be lost.

Three River Ranch is a shorter, but very satisfying contemporary romance. It's under 200 pages, yet nothing feels rushed. In generally, it's a short, satisfying contemporary romance with a strong hero and an even stronger heroine. I certainly enjoyed it and kind of hope that Roxanne Snopek returns to Three River Ranch for future romances.


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Free Book: Gail Thackray’s Spiritual Journeys

John of God is world renown for healing people from life-threatening diseases, such as cancer and other ailments. Oprah has visited him. Acclaimed author Wayne Dyer credits him with healing his leukemia.

Gail Thackray, a powerful healer and medium herself, has experienced this life-altering healing firsthand, as well as having her own psychic abilities increased many times just from being in his presence. In her book Gail Thackray’s Spiritual Journeys: Visiting John of God, Gail shares stories of not only the physical healings, but emotional, relationship, and financial help, as well. Readers report actually feeling the energy coming through the book and some even say that they have received a healing just from reading it. Reviewers say you cannot put this book down and some say reading it has changed their lives.

The book follows one woman’s personal journey as she travels to the spiritual healing center of John of God in Brazil. However, this is no “ordinary” woman. Gail Thackray is a powerful medium who sees, feels, and hears things that most “normal” people do not. As she shares this journey with us, we experience miraculous healings, paranormal activity, and astonishing psychic events that occur daily in the work of John of God, the transmedium who allows spirits to take over his body and heal people.

Available on Amazon in paperback for $12.95 and on Kindle for $7.99 but for one day only, from January 2nd at midnight (pacific time) until January 3rd at midnight (pacific time), Amazon is giving away this book FREE to its Kindle readers. Go to http://www.Amazon.com/author/gailthackray to get your free Kindle book.


 If you love the book, you can come and see Gail and John of God, live in Toronto March 15th -17th 2013. Gail is one of the organizers of the event at the Metro Convention Center, expecting 12,000 people over 3 days. Gail says, “Some people will come who have difficult health issues, but others will come to just open up spiritually and experience the incredible energy.”  Tickets are now on sale at http://www.JohnOfGodLive.com


Gail is the author of several books on spirituality. She is the host of the documentary film, John of God, Just a Man. Gail is a wonderful speaker, traveling all over the world, demonstrating healings and spiritual connection. For more information about going with Gail to Brazil, John of God Live in Toronto, and Gail’s other books and workshops, please visit: http://www.GailThackray.com
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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

How To Get Over Your Ex - Nikki Logan



Released January 22, 2013

Nikki Logan
Harlequin Kiss

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

One of the first releases in Harlequin's new Kiss line, you can't beat the price. At under $3, you enjoy a short and sweet romance that's available in Kindle or paperback format. How to Get Over Your Ex is a good story, not amazing, but well worth the price. What is worthwhile is the general message behind the story - one about following your dreams and doing what inspires you and not what  you feel others want from you.

Georgia Stone is humiliated when her on-air Valentine's Day proposal is rejected by her boyfriend. She's humiliated, simply wants to get home unnoticed, and still has a radio station to get out of. Thankfully, a stranger offers to let her follow him out of a back entrance.

Zander Rush feels horrible that his idea turned into a disaster for Georgia. The contract he'd offered that would last a year with monthly follow-ups into the wedding planning is now useless. Instead, he comes up with an idea to put the promotion's money towards allowing Georgia to reinvent herself. She'll try new things, travel to places she's always wanted to visit, and basically do whatever it takes to regain a sense of herself and not let the rejection ruin her life.

Georgia's game for this new plan, but hesitantly so. Her first plan of action is to sign up for things the viewers would like - spy classes, dance lessons, etc. However, along the way, she realizes that to be true to herself, she needs to think of herself and not the listeners. In doing so, she might just find the confidence she needs to start over.

I loved the premise behind How to Get Over Your Ex, but the chemistry between the characters for me never really clicked. I was thrilled to see Georgia try new things and develop confidence. Zander pushed her away so often, doing the hot one moment and cold the next, that I felt she could do better for the majority of the book. Not liking Zander's attitude turned out to be a distraction that made it hard for me to see them as a couple. I won't give too much away, but I do have this to say. If you're falling into the same issue I had, stick with the book. The ending definitely made it all worthwhile.