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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Home to Whiskey Creek - Brenda Novak



Release Date - July 31, 2012

Brenda Novak
Harlequin

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Adelaide Davis only returned to Whiskey Creek to help her grandmother. She left the town 13 years ago, ready to escape events that should have led to the arrest of a number of jocks, but other events kept her from ever telling the truth. Now she's back and someone kidnaps her, puts her down a mine shaft, and tells her that if she reveals the truth of the events from all those years ago, she and her grandmother will both die.

Noah Rackham can't believe it when he hears a woman crying for help. The mine shaft where his brother died years earlier had been sealed off. After pulling Adelaide out, he's shocked to see her beaten face. When she refuses to be taken to the hospital or the police, he's even more stunned, but her fear keeps him from doing what he knows is right. 

Soon, Noah is falling for Adelaide. He knows she's hiding something, but he's hoping she'll reveal the truth when she's ready. In the meantime, he'll try to keep her safe from her attacker.

Home to Whiskey Creek is the fourth novel in the Whiskey Creek series. It's the first book I've read of the series, and it works well as a stand alone.

I was hooked from the start, though I admit I don't agree with the decisions Adelaide made in the past or those she makes at the beginning of this book. Despite that, it didn't keep me from rooting for her and Noah.

There are other characters who make strong appearances within the novel. One includes a guy, Baxter, who has a crush on Noah. I get that he was Noah's best friend, but I'm still trying to figure out how that sub-plot really helped Home to Whiskey Creek. For me, it didn't seem to fit in at all with the main storyline. It would have been better off as its own story with Baxter realizing he had no chance with Noah and then moving on to telling his family and finding his own true love. Throwing it into Noah and Adelaide's story just didn't seem to mesh.

The ending to me also felt rushed. After waiting the entire story to find out who kidnapped Adelaide, the customary red herring is thrown in at the last second along with the revelation into who did it. It almost seemed like a bit of a let down at the end. Granted, I hadn't guessed correctly, but when it did come out, it felt like straws were chosen and the unlucky character to draw the short straw got chosen as the bad guy.

Even taking those two complaints into consideration, I still read Home to Whiskey Creek in (almost) one sitting. I did have to do some quick shuffling when another thunderstorm decided to join a week's worth of thunderstorms. Other than having to quickly pick up outside and get inside, I didn't take breaks from reading this latest Brenda Novak romance.


Saturday, June 29, 2013

Harper Lee & Peppermint Candy - Paula Hennessy



Release Date - July 2012


Amazon Digital Services

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

For 17-year-old Megan Murphy, cutting and outbursts are a way to get attention. Her father remarried and never has time for her. Her mother is a drama queen who must always manipulate situations so that they're about her. The only steady people in Megan's life are her grandparents, Addie and Henry Parker.

Addie and Henry see the influence their daughter's had on Megan's life. Knowing that rushing to Megan's side is only feeding her manipulative behavior, they decide to back off. When Megan's father announces he's done with her, and Megan's mother takes off for Arizona to start a new life, they're forced to step in. This time, their presence may be exactly what Megan needs to change.

When Addie starts feeling poorly, she isn't sure what could be wrong or how it might impact the progress Megan is making. Soon, the entire family will be put to the test to see just how strong Megan can be.

Harper Lee & Peppermint Candy is a breath of fresh air in the world of fiction. It made me cry, laugh, and cheer. I loved both Addie and Megan. They have a level of sarcasm that I loved. Megan clearly has a hard road ahead of her, but watching her progress through the story was uplifting.

With characters I admired, a plot that moved swiftly from beginning to end, and a realistic look at mental illness, Harper Lee & Peppermint Candy really did move me. It's a fabulous read and one that left me eager for the next Paula Hennessy novel.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Suddenly Solo - Harold "Hal" Spielman and Marc Silbert



Release Date - December 2012

Suddenly Solo

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Opening with a foreword from former AARP CEO Bill Novelli, Suddenly Solo is a book to help older men who are facing the single life again following divorce or death of a significant other. The advice is broken into five stages with an introduction and afterword, too.

The goal of Suddenly Solo is to get you used to being a bachelor again. It tackles the very beginnings, such as cooking for yourself or handling your laundry. It progresses into other more difficult issues like returning to dating again.

The stages deal with everything from separation/loss to moving on. Units covers things as basic as safe storage times for perishable food items, eating alone in a restaurant, and personal care. Personal care includes laundry, so any man who struggles with that will find all the answers he needs. The book covers entering the dating scene again, finding a new partner, and the trickier subjects like sex and moving in together.

Suddenly Solo is straightforward and covers everything a man needs to know. Some men may not struggle as much as others, but I remember my uncle's challenges after my aunt died. For close to 50 years, she'd done all the cleaning, laundry, meal preparation, bill paying, and organizing. If  you're in that spot, this book is an essential guide to moving on and being able to function by yourself.








Wednesday, June 26, 2013

His Baby Dream - Jacqueline Diamond



Release Date - June 2013

Jacqueline Diamond
Harlequin

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Safe Harbor Medical is a long-running series from romance author Jacqueline Diamond. Her latest, His Baby Dream, shares the story of Peter Gladstone. Peter, a widower, teaches high school biology, but his students aren't enough to fill the longing for a child. He decides to hire a surrogate to carry his child. After screening suitable candidates, he settles on someone, the thing is, he knows her.

Harper Anthony is also a widow, her husband and Peter taught at the same school. She finds a level of support in Peter. After all, he lost his spouse too. Harper's a single mom now, and she's seen her friends and coworkers becoming pregnant and having children. Knowing how successful the fertility program is and that they rely on donors, Harper decides to donate eggs.

Soon, both Harper and Peter are falling for each other. Peter hasn't told Harper the truth, however, and if he does it may threaten their new relationship.

First, I have to say that Harper's little girl, Mia, is so adorable. I could have read her comments and insights for hours and never gotten bored. I loved her innocence and honesty. Peter and Harper are great with her too. The growing family unit warms the heart and really involved me in their lives. I was rooting for them all the way.

If you haven't read any of the Safe Harbor Medical romances, they stand alone so don't worry about reading them in order. However, once you've started, it's a hard series to put down.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Eviction Notice - Robyn Wyrick



Release Date - September 2010

Robyn Wyrick

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Science fiction has never been my thing. I certainly find no appeal in aliens. Yet, I found myself oddly intrigued by Eviction Notice.

It all starts with a senior prank. The soon-to-graduate class want to come up with a prank that blows other historic senior pranks out of the water. Their idea is to create a crop circle in the middle of a cornfield. Everything goes smoothly, but what they don't know is that their crop circle is about to unleash a frightening chain of events.

The crop circle accidentally matches the landing signal for a ship carrying a Glen Fairy, a female alien kidnapped for her ability to magically repair the environment. She's supposed to be traded in a deal to end a war. Now that she's on earth and missing, it's time for the Galactic Council to take drastic action to correct things.

In another part of town, Alice Able has divorce papers in hand and cannot stand to live on the earth for another day. With pills in hand, she's ready to take her own life. Her plans come to an end with a knock on the door. The "investigator" is here to let her know that she's about to be evicted from her home, and this doesn't just mean her house, it means her home planet. It's up to Alice to convince the Galactic Council that humans hold a claim on their planet.

The humor in Eviction Notice is what kept me hooked. There are times when the book becomes silly, reminding me a bit of the movies my husband loves so much like Mars Attacks. The rest of the time, the characters' wit shines through and had me snickering aloud. While Alice Able seems like the most unlikely of heroines, she actually becomes a character I admire. Between her, the alien investigators, the sheriff, the teens, and even the Glen Fairy, I was hooked.




Elizabeth the First Wife - Lian Dolan



Release Date - May 2013

Lian Dolan
Prospect Park Books

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

I admit to my hesitation when I started reading Elizabeth the First Wife. Clearly unlike the author, I can't stand Shakespeare's works. I hated having to read them over and over, Romeo and Juliet was clearly a favorite of all instructors. After three years running of Romeo and Juliet followed by Hamlet, followed by Macbeth, I vowed that once I was out of school, I'd never pick up Shakespeare again. Seeing that many chapters opened with Shakespeare insights, I wasn't certain I was about to have fun. Surprisingly, Lian Dolan intrigued me with her insights, enough so that there are some Shakespeare plays I wasn't tortured with in my teens and now want to give them a shot.

Elizabeth Lancaster, an English professor with a profound love of Shakespeare, finds herself offered the chance of a lifetime. She can help her ex-husband nail his role in the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. FX was once the love of Elizabeth's life, but his dreams were all about making a name for himself in Hollywood. They divorced after just over a year of marriage, and now he's back.

Elizabeth's sister is married to an aspiring politician who has a daughter from a previous marriage. When Elizabeth's sister and brother-in-law ask Elizabeth to bring the teen with her as an intern for the summer, she's happy she'll spend time with the girl, but also nervous about keeping watch over the politician's daughter. Suddenly, Elizabeth's summer is set to involve her trying to make sure FX nails his role, completing her book on Shakespeare, and keeping her teen niece out of trouble.

The minute I picked up Elizabeth the First Wife and read a page, I was hooked. There was no putting this book down. When I did, it kept calling me to come back and finish it. When paired with household chores that really needed to get down before the potential heatwave that's about to hit Vermont, it wasn't easy.

Elizabeth is a riot. I was rooting for her, especially when I started to learn more and more about FX and the other man Elizabeth meets during this book. I had my mind made up far before Elizabeth did.

The insights into Shakespeare clearly amused me. At one point there is a table ranking many of Shakespeare's "heroes" to today's vampire hero, Edward Cullan. I laughed out loud at some of those descriptions, leading my family to throw weird looks my way, but once my daughter looked at it, she also snickered, particularly at the breakdown of Edward.

All in all, this is a great beach read, an avoid-the-heat-inside-next-to-the-AC read, or an on-the-go and keep it in your purse read. Elizabeth the First Wife really did have me from hello!





Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Barbed Crown: An Ethan Gage Adventure - William Dietrich



Release Date - May 2013

William Dietrich
HarperCollins

Book Review by Robert Walch

Ethan Gage is back for a sixth historical adventure in this series that unfolds against a backdrop of European history during the late 1700s and early1800s. 
 
Although he once fought with Napoleon in Egypt, Ethan is now bent on revenge against Bonaparte for the kidnapping of his son, Harry, and for nearly killing his wife, Astiza. Smuggled into France, the American is determined to derail his former friend’s plans to take Europe. Recruited by other foreign agents to stop Bonaparte, Ethan infiltrates the French Court and tries to sabotage Napoleon’s coronation but that plan doesn’t succeed. 
 
Fleeing for his life, Ethan barely makes it out of France and across the channel to England. There he joins a motley but interesting group of renegades including Robert Fulton, Sir William Congreve, and smuggler Tom Johnstone. As France and Great Britain square off and the Battle of Trafalgar unfolds, this indomitable hero finds himself once again right in the center of the conflict. And, as usual, he’ll requite himself admirably and continue to make a little history.

If you enjoy historical thrillers with action heroes reminiscent of Indiana Jones, this series is a must read. Ethan Gage could teach Jones a thing or two!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Close to the Bone - Stuart MacBride



Release Date - May 2013

Stuart MacBride
HarperCollins

Book Review by Bob Walch

Not the place where you’d expect a crime wave of epic portions, but Aberdeen, Scotland, has an epidemic of sorts and it is driving Detective Sergeant Logan McRae crazy.
Someone is leaving little mementos, knots of bones, outside McRae’s house and that’s got him wondering what’s going on. Then there’s the gang war that just erupted in the North Scotland city, plus someone has been going after the local members of the Asian community and doing nasty things to them. 
 
If that’s not enough of a bother, two teenage lovers have suddenly gone missing. And, to top it all off, a corpse chained to a stake, strangled, stabbed and with a burning tire around its neck has also caught the attention of the Aberdeen press. I mean really, enough is enough. 
 
When a second body, similarly arranged at the crime scene, appears, McRae wonders what more could possibly go wrong. But then, that’s a question you don’t really want to contemplate because if you do, God knows what will happen!

The eighth book in this popular, gritty crime series, Close to the Bone not only features Stuart MacBride’s likeable protagonist and gallows humor, but it is also as graphic and unpredictable as its predecessors. The Highland setting is just an added bonus that lends these stories a wee bit of Scottish local color.

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Gift of Life - Keily J. Adey



Release Date -

Keily J. Adey
Pegasus Publishers

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Keily J. Adey's The Gift of Life details her own experiences with miscarriage, pregnancy, and IVF. It's a poignant story, one that women going through similar experiences will understand. Miscarriage isn't something you should ever deal with alone. Having support is essential for your emotional wellness. If you've suffered such a loss or are struggling to become pregnant, read her book!

About 20 years ago, I suffered a miscarriage during the 14 week of pregnancy. I'd started spotting, went to my OB/GYN who said the fetus died and appeared to be about seven weeks in terms of development. She went on to tell me, words I'll never forget, "It's better this way, otherwise you'd end up with a deformed or retarded baby." Certainly not soothing words to a grieving mother. She sent me home saying at some point, the baby would come out and that when that happened, catch whatever I could without letting it hit the toilet water first and then come back and see her. Again, that's seriously what she said.

I left her office devastated, miscarried about 10 hours later, and was rushed to the ER because I started hemorrhaging. A D and C was performed, and I was again sent home with the words that it was better this way.

No one talked about miscarriages at that time. Like it was something to be ashamed of. I learned from my mother a day later that she'd suffered a miscarriage after another woman at my father's military base announced she had measles after spending hours hanging out with my mom. She was the only person I knew at that point to have a miscarriage. When a co-worker also miscarried three months later, we formed our own support group.

I was stunned by how many similarities existed between my situation and Keily Adey's. That's why I think it's an important read for any woman who's suffered a miscarriage or struggled to become pregnant. After my miscarriage, I became pregnant again about a year later. When I started spotting at 16 weeks, I was again devastated, but thankfully it wasn't a problem.

A few years later, I'd become pregnant again and miscarried at about six weeks. This experience was completely different with my new OB/GYN handing me a sheet for a grieving parents support group, after he did his exam and collected the fetal tissue for testing. I never needed that group when they discovered a few weeks later that I was still pregnant and that I'd lost a twin.

I definitely recommend The Gift of Life. It's not a long read, I had it read within an hour. It is, however, very vital when it comes to realizing you're not alone.


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Father's Day: Bunker Hill: A City, a Siege, a Revolution - Nathaniel Philbrick



Release Date - June 2013

Nathaniel Philbrick
Viking

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Did your significant other or child give you a gift card for books for Father's Day? Here's a book that I found fascinating, and that's rather surprising given my dislike of history. Bunker Hill: A City, a Siege, a Revolution is an enthralling look at the events leading up to Boston's famous Battle of Bunker Hill.

I'm not a big fan of historic non-fiction. I fully blame every teacher I had in high school who taught by the text only. If you disagreed with the way the events were written or dared find the subject matter dull, you were guaranteed a lecture and lousy grades.

With Bunker Hill, I know Boston pretty well and have been all over the Freedom Trail many times. It makes the events a little more personal. Despite that, from page one, I found myself intrigued with the writing. Nathaniel Philbrick did something pretty amazing, he caught my attention and held me captive as I read through the events.

Some events horrified me. There are things in here that never made it into the history books we were taught from, such as being tarred and feathered and dragged through Boston's streets.  I was shocked to get to the nitty gritty behind the dumping of tea in the Boston Harbor. It just comes off as pretty petty to me, though I know many a war has been based on pride and ego.

In the end, I learned a lot about the foundations of the city and the events that changed America's future. I really recommend this book to anyone with an interest in history or even Boston for that matter.

Keep an eye out in the future for the movie too. Ben Affleck optioned the rights and given his ties to Boston, I can only imagine how good his movie will be!



Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Gingerbread House - Nell Carson



Release Date - October 2012

Nell Carson
Montlake Romance

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Greta Kendall, owner of a boutique wedding shop, grew up in her grandparents' home, a Victorian painted to look like a gingerbread house. There's one problem though. A ruthless developer, Stephanie Harwood, has set her sights on the neighborhood and is forcing people out of their homes. Greta isn't about to give up without a fight, and there's a secretive helper out there who keeps arming Greta with historic information that can save her home. Unfortunately, Stephanie is always one step ahead.

Attorney Gray Daniels happens upon Greta's shop. He wants his grandmother's antique wedding dress repaired in time for his wedding to Stephanie. He never expects to feel a strong attraction to Greta. He was certain that Stephanie was his true love.

For Greta, Gray is the enemy. She can't let her growing feelings get in the way of her fight to keep her home. Plus, Greta's past makes her very cautious when it comes to men. Gray's already let her down when he helped Stephanie in court. Why can't her heart listen to her head?

I'm trying to avoid any spoilers, so I can't be too detailed.

The Gingerbread House is a sweet, satisfying romance. There are things I would have done differently. I honestly don't feel that Stephanie had the comeuppance she deserved. That ended up being my biggest pet peeve. Gray treats her too nicely and even after a big revelation, he's still nice to her.

Given that, I have my hopes that the author will return with Stephanie as her heroine and details into how Stephanie did get her just deserts and then show her having to regain her footing in a town that hates her.




Wednesday, June 12, 2013

American Indians Tell Their Untold Civil War Stories After 150 Years

The National Park Service, American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Indian Education and Eastern National release the book American Indians and the Civil War

Albuquerque, New Mexico (June 3, 2013) –The National Park Service (NPS) made a landmark commitment to include American Indian voices in the 2011-2015 150th  anniversary commemoration of America’s Civil War. To honor that commitment, NPS partnered with the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA), the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) and publisher Eastern National to produce the cultural heritage interpretive book, American Indians and the Civil War (AICW) available this month.

A little known but crucial part of Civil War stories is that more than 20,000 American Indians fought on both sides of the conflict. Most thought their participation would guarantee their survival and protect their lands. Instead, federal Indian policy became more savage during the war, and when it was over, a reunited nation turned its vision to westward expansion, overrunning Indian lands and decimating Native populations.

“AICW is an important new tool for cultural heritage tourism. Our goal at AIANTA has always been to help Indian Country link its historical interpretations to landscape,” said Sammye Meadows, AIANTA Senior Public Lands Partnership Coordinator and AICW contributing author. “Because of instrumental partnerships with NPS, BIA, BIE and Eastern National, American Indians will now be referenced in American History teachings.”

Book authors include 11 Native American and non-Native American scholars from across the country, including Editor Robert K. Sutton, Daniel Wildcat and Elliot West.

Through a cooperative agreement between the BIA and AIANTA, AICW copies will be sent to tribal colleges and universities, Indian primary and secondary schools across America and tribal museums and cultural centers. For more information, please visit www.AIANTA.org.

The book will be available later this month at www.eParks.com and in select national parks across the country for $9.95.

Stupid Sports - Leland Gregory



Release Date - June 18, 2013

Leland Gregory
Andrews McMeel

Book Review by David Farnsworth

I do love sports. Like any sports fan, there are highs and lows, frustrations and moments that have you on your feet and cheering. Stupid Sports catches some of the funnier, sometimes ridiculous moments.

Each of these snippets is short. Typically a page or two. They take no time to read and are the perfect addition to any sports fan's collection. Think of it as the Uncle John's Bathroom Reader for sports.

The opening story is about three Orioles players who found themselves all on third base together leading to a crushing end to inning.  You have classic Yogi Berra quotes like his "You can't compare me to my father. Our similarities are different."  There's also the legendary Heidi Bowl that annoyed football players from all corners of the nation. Everything in this book brought a smile to my face or reminded me of plays that had me groaning in frustration.

Stupid Sports is a great present for Father's Day or simply a thoughtful gift for the sports fan in your life.



Monday, June 10, 2013

Overcome: Burned, Blinded, and Blessed - Carmen Blandin Tarleton



Release Date - February 2013

Carmen Blandin Tarleton
RTC Publishing

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

I still remember the morning news. A woman from the other side of Vermont, closer to where my friend lives, had been badly beaten by her estranged husband, but the beating wasn't enough for him. He felt the need to douse her with industrial-strength lye, leaving burns over 80% of her body. It was a shocking case of domestic abuse, and one I've continued to watch over the years.

Overcome: Burned, Blinded, and Blessed is Carmen Blandin Tarleton's story. It goes into far more detail than press on this side of the state ever did. I found myself crying as I read her very detailed account of the attack and then her very long road to recovery. It's a very touching story about a woman that many call "brave," but I've always felt she has to be the strongest person alive.

The writing is honest. I'm sorry that the ghostwriter who agreed to help her write her story backed out. As a freelancer in this state, one who has had to hire writing teams for clients, I'm always annoyed when someone takes a job. If you can't do the work, just say so. Her story and very long recovery is touching. That she was able to forgive a man who really hasn't shown any remorse is amazing.

It's been six years now, today in fact is the six-year anniversary of Carmen Tarleton's attack, and her most recent surgery, that I know of anyway, was the face transplant. In the book, the transplant has yet to happen, but she did have the transplant back in February and it's amazing what doctors did. You can see before and after pictures here.



Sunday, June 9, 2013

Questions of Travel: A Novel - Michelle de Kretser



Release Date - May 2013

Little, Brown, and Company

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

I wanted to love Questions of Travel: A Novel. Michelle de Kretser's prose is amazing. It's descriptive, often haunting, and it's not surprising that she's winning many awards for her writing. Given that, it was often so detailed that I grew tired of all the detail and just wanted to get to the heart of the story. That made it a struggle to read.

In the 1960s, two-year-old Laura is nearly drowned by her twin siblings. Deep down, they blame her for their mother's death. While Laura had nothing to do with it, they've always linked her to their mother's death from breast cancer a short while after Laura was born. Laura's raised by her aunt and grows up hearing many stores of travel to new, exciting worlds. Years later, when her aunt dies, Laura uses her inheritance to travel around the world.

Sri Lankan Ravi has a happier life with a wife and child. Civil War, and his wife's involvement in politics, forces him to seek asylum in Australia. There, he takes a job in a publishing house, the same publishing house where Laura is employed.

As I said earlier, I really struggled with this book. It seemed like it took forever to really get to the heart of the story, and by that point, I felt that I'd wasted time. In the second half of the book, the story finally reaches the point where I became involved with both characters and couldn't wait to see how things turned out. It's just a shame it took that long.

Despite all, I still think the writing in this novel is beautiful and definitely something authors should aim for in terms of description and imagery.






Saturday, June 8, 2013

The First Rule of Swimming - Courtney Angela Brkic



Release Date - June 2013

Courtney Angela Brkic
Little, Brown and Company

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

I admit, I struggled to find a rhythm with The First Rule of Swimming. The first chapters didn't really grab my attention. I couldn't figure out where things were going or how this all tied into a plot that was about a missing girl and the quest to find what happened to her. It took a few chapters, but once I figured out who was who and what was going on, the story became addicting.

Magdalena and her sister Jadranka have never really experienced what others would classify as a "normal" childhood. They have their family and live on the island of Rosmarina in Croatia. The island life hasn't been as blissful as some might think due at first to Communism and then to civil war. Many members of the family flee their homeland and try to start life anew in New York City. When Jadranka vanishes, Magdalena sets off to New York City to unravel what happened. Along the way, she's going to learn about buried secrets regarding her family.

The narrative in The First Rule of Swimming is simply beautiful. It's very descriptive and almost poetic at times. Characters all have their own flaws and strengths that make them endearing.

While I wasn't sure about sticking with the book, I'm very glad I did. In the end it was an endearing read.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Amity & Sorrow: A Novel - Peggy Riley



Release Date - April 2013

Peggy Riley
Hachette Book Group

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Amity and Sorrow are sisters, teens who find their lives uprooted when their mother, Amaranth, takes them on the run. Amaranth drives for days, rarely stopping, because she knows her husband will hot on their trail. Amity and Sorrow have their own feelings on the issue too. Neither has ever been outside their home or away from their family, a compound where their father has dozens of wives.

Eventually, they wind up on Bradley's farm. While he's not thrilled to have them with him at first, soon they form a kind of family of their own. However, Amaranth is certain that if they don't keep running, her husband will find them. She's torn between staying where she's starting to feel comfortable or staying on the run forever.

I wasn't sure what to expect of Amity & Sorrow, but I really enjoyed it. It's a sad tale, yet also inspiring. As the girls and their mother work through layers of uncertainty, shame, and anger, the reader gets to watch them mature, become a little more comfortable in their surroundings, and also realize that life outside the compound is a wildly new experience.

There are a few secrets along the way,, some surprising and others really aren't surprising at all. As the plot worked towards the conclusion, I found myself going from not really liking Bradley, the grumpy man who takes them in, to really liking his character. Soon, I was rooting that he and Amaranth could form some kind of bond allowing the girls to stay on the farm and help him out.

This isn't a long story, it's under 300 pages, but it definitely is satisfying.


Sunday, June 2, 2013

Skinny Bitch in Love - Kim Barnouin



Release Date - June 2013

Kim Barnouin
Simon and Schuster

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

For Skinny Bitch in Love, Kim Barnouin, co-author of the Skinny Bitch series, pens a fun, gripping romance on her own. I was hooked and admit at the end, I'd hoped for recipes for some of the dishes. I'm not sure if the final version (I had a galley copy) will have them or not. If not, I highly recommend ordering the Skinny Bitch cookbook, I know that's what I'll be doing.

Clementine Cooper grew up on an organic farm and has always been vegan. That's why it is so hard to believe when the dish she serves a food critic is found to contain butter. She's been sabotaged, but the damage to her reputation is done. No vegan restaurant will touch her.

With her friends supporting her, Clementine decides to become her own boss. She'll offer vegan cooking lessons, prepare ready-made meals for busy men and women, and start saving up for her own restaurant. She never expects her ex-boyfriend to become her first customer, but that's just the beginning. Her dream restaurant space is purchased by a hunky guy, but he's opening a steakhouse right across the street from her home. When the rich bachelor asks her to come up with two dishes to add to his menu, she's secretly pleased, but equally determined not to fall for him because he seems to be a playboy and he eats meat. Plus, the vegan chef who's replaced her at her former job is British, cute, and definitely into her.

Clementine is soon up to her ears in men, drama, and a new career that could prove to be the biggest decision of her life. But, can she handle it all?

I definitely liked Clementine's no-nonsense attitude and her friend/roommate's snarky side. I admit I wasn't sure about her at first. She is definitely mouthy when it comes to veganism. I'd love to see the world simply just get along and accept other's differences, but there seems to be this thing with vegans. I've experienced it many times from some cousins who are vegan, that if you eat meat you're bad and ruining the earth. If you want to follow a vegan diet, I have no problem, but I am bothered when vegans turn around and insult non-vegans, such as what Clementine started out doing to Zach.  Eventually, he turns out to be a great verbal sparring partner for her and gives back as good as she gives. Watching them weave their way around dating was a lot of fun.

I'm clearly not vegan, but as my daughter is dabbling in becoming a vegetarian, we do mix in a few vegetarian dishes every week for her. Some of the dishes in this romance sounded fantastic.


Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Design Cookbook: Recipes for a Stylish Home - Kelly Edwards



Release Date - May 2013

Kelly Edwards
Medallion Press

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

The Design Cookbook: Recipes for a Stylish Home is the new release from Kelly Edwards, known for her work on Design on a Dime. It's a great book, but I recommend avoiding the digital version. I have decent eyesight, but this book posed an issue in the digital form. The print was small enough that I moved to my computer where I could toggle to a full-screen format and get larger print. On my Nook, I could enlarge the print, but the pictures took forever to load. Save yourself the headache and purchase the print copy.

With that issue out the way, I dove in. First, there are plenty of pictures, something I love, and handy step-by-step instructions. The book is broken down by room - living room, dining room, kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, kid's room, and office. Next, each room has a listing of styles ranging from rustic to chic.

There are things I loved with The Design Cookbook. Our house isn't particularly large. Our kitchen combines with the dining area, but it's small enough that we don't bother with the dining room because if you add a table and chairs with the computer the kids use for school, everyone is bumping elbows or hitting the glass doors. If we're entertaining, we have a covered deck with a much larger glass table. I never thought about turning that smaller area into more of a lounge/sitting area, but it's the perfect idea. Add a small loveseat and then the pewter coffee table I received for review one year, and there's a place for my husband and I to sit and relax or enjoy a meal. None of this has to be expensive either. That's what I love most.

Note: I learned after the fact that The Design Cookbook's digital version is designed specifically for the Kindle Fire. If you have the Fire, this book will work perfectly, otherwise, aim for the print version.