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Showing posts from July, 2014

Basil Instinct by Shelley Costa

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Release Date - June 24, 2014

Shelley Costa
Pocket Books

Book Review by Jessica Maguire

Eve and Maria Pia Angelotta are back in the second installment of Shelley Costa's mystery series. This time Maria Pia finds herself summoned to be a member of Belfiere, a secret society of female chefs. As part of the induction into the society, Maria Pia, like all Belfiere members, must get a “B” tattooed on her wrist.

While Maria Pia is busy with Belfiere, granddaughter Eve finds herself teaching a cooking class to troubled youths. However, one of her students is not like the rest. Georgia Payne shows interest and skill in the kitchen and Georgia is soon a sous chef at Miracolo, the Angelottas’ restaurant.

It does not take long, however, before "the prosciutto was about to hit the fan." Eve finds Georgia dead in the restaurant the day that Maria Pia is set to host a grand  dinner for Belfiere. Not wanting to ruin Maria Pia's dinner, Eve decides to hide Georgia's body until a…

Taste of Beirut by Joumana Accad

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Release Date - September 2014

Joumana Accad
HCI

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

I'm sure I've mentioned it before, but when I was young, I lived outside San Francisco for a couple years. There, my parents raised us to try every cultural cuisine put in front of us and decide if we liked it or not. Apparently, I brought joy to the owners of a Japanese restaurant as I would delight in everything they fed me. My kids were raised the same way, and there are few cultures where they do not find the food enjoyable.

While I've had Turkish, Greek, and even African cuisine, Lebanese is something I don't see in my area. Taste of Beirut makes it possible to enjoy a sampling of Lebanese at home.

After glancing through the more than 175 recipes, I found several to try. The dumpling-like creations filled with different fillings are first on my list, especially the sfeeha that are filled with a spicy meat mixture and pine nuts. The issue is finding the ingredients. Sumac is something I…

The City by Dean Koontz

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Release Date - July 2014

Dean Koontz
Bantam

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

It's been a number of years since I've read a book by Dean Koontz. The City is definitely a change of pace, straying from the horror I knew him for, and delving into a part paranormal, part coming of age, and strong suspense. I do have mixed feelings. It took me a bit to get into the book. Eventually, the slow opening turned into a riveting novel that I couldn't put down.

Coming from a line of musicians, Jonah Ellington Basie Hines Eldridge Wilson Hampton Armstrong Kirk was almost destined to be a musical great. His father walked out on him when he was just eight months old, but returned later on. While Jonah's mother was a talented singer, Jonah's dreams involved the piano. Dreams his father would squash, until a mysterious woman calling herself Miss Pearl came into his life. He soon learned to play piano and play it very well.

This is not the only thing Miss Pearl showed him. He had two ve…

The Dog Park by Laura Caldwell

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Release Date - July 29, 2014

Laura Caldwell
Harlequin/MIRA

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

When I first began reviewing, the one thing my editor told me was to only reveal the plot as is found in the first three or four chapters. Going beyond that she said can give away spoilers. The problem with this general rule of thumb is that so much more happens in The Dog Park, there are really three or even four plots at play, but I'll stick to the basic premise.

Jessica Champlin and her ex-husband Sebastian share custody of their dog, a mini labradoodle named Baxter. It's Jessica's time with Baxter, and they're doing their favorite thing. She takes Baxter to a nearby dog park. Her life changes on the way home. Baxter ignores her command and takes off running for young child. What she doesn't realize is that Baxter senses trouble and saves the young girl's life.

Soon, a video of Baxter saving the girl from the path of truck goes viral and Jessica's life is turned upsi…

The Chase by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg

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Release Date - March 2014

Janet Evanovich
Lee Goldberg
Bantam

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

I didn't read the first novel in the Fox & O'Hare series. Despite that, I didn't feel lost at any point, so that's always a good sign. The Chase was most everything I hoped for. There's plenty of action and plenty of humor.

Special Agent Kate O'Hare partners with con artist Nick Fox to retrieve a priceless bronze rooster that was stolen from the Smithsonian 10 years earlier.. Chinese authorities are heading to the U.S. to pick up this artifact, and the U.S. government doesn't want to hand them a fake.

Nick knows who has the rooster, a former White House chief of staff (Carter Grove), but getting it back must be handled very carefully. Carter runs a prominent private security firm and also knows some top secret information about the government's black ops, information they cannot afford to have leaked.

Lee Goldberg wrote for three of my favorite shows: The Gla…

How to Tell Toledo From the Night Sky by Lydia Netzer

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Release Date - July 2014

Lydia Netzer
St. Martins Press

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

While I loved the premise, How to Tell Toledo From the Night Sky fell short of my expectations. It's not a bad book, it's just disjointed enough that I struggled to keep up with the story of George and Irene.

George works for the Toledo Institute for Astronomy and works to find a link between the stars and God. Irene left Toledo and her drunk mother years ago, but after creating a black hole, she accepts a position back in Toledo with the same institute where George works. What they don't know is that their mothers orchestrated a plan before they were born to have them become soul mates, though they were raised separately after reaching their toddler years. They cannot ignore the attraction they have for one another.

The topic is interesting, but there were segments of the story that I simply couldn't connect with, so I found it to easy to put the book down. Irene's current boyfr…

Talking to the Dead by Harry Bingham

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Release Date-September 2013

Harry Bingham
Bantam

Book Review by Bob Walch

It was a sad story but not that uncommon. A drug addicted prostitute was found dead in a squalid house, murdered by an unknown assailant. What makes the case a bit more interesting is that the platinum credit card of a very wealthy man is found at the crime scene.  Although he’s also been dead for a while, the authorities want to know what the tycoon’s connection with this woman was. Taken on face value, did she receive or take the card for services rendered or is there more to the story?
It is up to rookie Welsh Detective Constable Fiona Griffiths to delve into this mystery and find an answer. Over-intense and intuitive, Fiona has earned a reputation as being a bit odd at police headquarters in Cardiff, Wales, but, no matter, she is intent in learning all she can about the victim and her young daughter who was also found dead at the scene of the crime.
Before she is finished, Fiona will uncover secrets about this co…

Robogenesis: A Novel by Daniel H. Wilson

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Release Date - June 2014

Daniel H. Wilson
Doubleday

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

One of the hardest things I face when reviewing a book is dealing with a sequel when I didn't read the first book. That's the case with Robogenesis. This is a time when I felt I really needed to have read the series from the start.

Robogenesis takes place after a war between alien intelligence (AI), specifically the mastermind behind it all, Archos 14, and humans. Some of the survivors return for this new book sharing the story of what happens next. Not only are they trying to rebuild the world, but there are issues presenting themselves that threaten mankind's existence. The part-human, part-robot creations of Archos 14 aren't happy with things and there's a new robotic creature proving to be a big threat. What's to become of the world is truly undecided.

The story is told from the viewpoints of Cormac (human), Mathilda (half-human, half-robot), and Lark Iron Cloud (a zombie-like…

Jack Strong: A Story of Life After Life by Walter Mosley

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Release Date - July 29, 2014

Walter Mosley
Open Road Media

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

I know Walter Mosley's writing from his Easy Rawlins series. His other work is new to me. Jack Strong: A Story of Life After Life was probably the best choice I could have made when it comes to discovering his science fiction/fantasy work. As this is a novella, it was short enough to give me a taste, yet intriguing enough that I find myself curious to see if he develops this character into a new series.

Jack Strong isn't just a man, he's a patchwork man made up of the parts of dozens of different people. Each of these people have unfinished business and Jack becomes the vessel for which they can see things come to fruition. In his dreams he hears the 86-year-old grandmother who longs for her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. He dreams of the plots created by an Indian/Goan against another caste. There's a woman feeling freed by an affair she's having. A racist …

A Wedding in Provence by Ellen Sussman

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Release Date - July 15, 2014

Ellen Sussman
Ballantine Books

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

No family is perfect. Everyone has secrets, fears, and misgivings they keep hidden. This is very true of the characters in Ellen Sussman's latest novel - A Wedding in Provence.

Brody, a widower, and Olivia, a divorcee, are throwing caution to the wind and getting married. This 50-something couple feel they're better prepared for marriage now and plan an intimate wedding at Olivia's friend's inn on the Mediterranean coastline in Cassis, France. While it seems impossible to imagine anything going wrong in this idyllic spot, Olivia and Brody soon find themselves wondering what they've gotten themselves into.

Olivia's friend and husband (the inn owners) are the first to display signs of trouble when a woman shows up and causes serious tension between them. Next, Olivia's oldest daughter, Nell, arrives with a stranger on her arm, a man she just met on the plane. Olivia'…

Since You've Been Gone by Anouska Knight

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Release Date - July 29, 2014

Anouska Knight
Harlequin

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Holly Jefferson has made it two years following her husband's tragic death, but she still cannot figure how to move on. She focuses her attention on her bakery and her sister's pregnancy, but things go haywire when Ciaran Argyll enters her world.

Ciaran's former step-mother hires Holly to make and deliver a cake to Ciaran's dad. From the moment he sees her, he wants to know her better. Something draws him to her. In his world of woman who want to get to know him only for his family's money, Holly is a breath of fresh air.

With Holly battling her demons of moving on, and Ciaran uncertain that there is a woman out there that can look him and not see dollar signs, the two must decide if falling in love is worth the potential risk.

Since You've Been Gone is packed with just enough humor to keep things light. The characters are memorable, especially Holly's baking assistant who I…

Cop Town by Karin Slaughter

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Relelase  Date - June 24, 2014

Karin Slaughter
Delacorte Press

Book Review by Bob Walch

They come from totally different backgrounds but Kate Murphy and Maggie Lawson end up partners on Atlanta’s Police Force. Maggie comes from a dysfunctional law enforcement family, her uncle and brother are cops, while Kate, whose husband was killed in Vietnam, crew up in a sheltered, wealthy Jewish household.  It is 1974 and not only are the two women facing hostility within a department that isn’t ready to accept women officers, but a serial killer has gunned down five of their colleagues and Atlanta’s finest are out for blood.
Although they are not included in the official man hunt, Kate and Maggie are determined to follow their own instincts and see if they can solve the case. It doesn’t take Maggie long to realize that members of her own family are going to be key players in what unfolds here. Also we’ll discover that Kate is, unwittingly, being stalked by the killer and that adds another personal…

The Millionaire Affair by Jessica Lemmon

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Release Date - June 24, 2014

Jessica Lemmon
Forever (Grand Central)

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

He's been burned before, so love is the last thing on his mind. She's just out of a relationship where she paid a very dear price, and she's ready to show the world that she can just have an affair without falling head over heels in love. It should be so easy, but both Landon Downey and Kimber Reynolds may have bitten off more than they can chew.

When Landon realizes he cannot balance babysitting his six-year-old nephew with running his company, he takes his sister's advice and calls Kimber Reynolds, his sister's friend, to become a nanny for the week. Landon and Kimber met when he was in college and she was 16, so they are not complete strangers, but neither is prepared for the intense attraction they feel. Kimber's ready to prove to everyone that she can have a sizzling affair and walk away, so she and Landon agree to a no-strings affair that will satisfy their …

Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian

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Release Date - July 8, 2014

Chris Bohjalian
Doubleday

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Chris Bohjalian is a well-known name in Vermont, and he gained national attention when Oprah Winfrey chose his novel Midwives as an Oprah book selection. For Vermonters, Chris had been writing for far longer, as a columnist for the Burlington Free Press. His daughter Grace was born not too long after my first child, and I enjoyed and found myself empathizing with his experiences as a new parent. When it comes to his fiction, some I haven't liked, while others I've loved, and Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands is a definite love it!

A nuclear reactor melt down in the Northeast Kingdom greatly changes 16-year-old Emily Shepard's life. Both her mom and dad worked at the nuclear plant and both are now dead. With the Northeast Kingdom evacuated, Emily ends up on the streets fending for herself and eventually a 9-year-old boy she comes across. She's suddenly forced to make tough decisions, all whil…

One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

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Release Date - July 1, 2014

Jojo Moyes
Pamela Dorman Books

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Jojo Moyes burst onto the U.S. bestseller charts with her poignant Me Before You. I'd heard of the book, but I haven't read it. Therefore One Plus One is my introduction to Jojo Moyes writing. What an introduction it was!

Jess is the mother to a math-whiz daughter, step-mom to a boy whose mother and father both abandoned him, and barely scraping to get by working as a bartender by night and cleaning houses by day. When her daughter is given the chance to attend a private school, Jess is told she just needs to come up with the other 10 percent of the tuition. Jess's ex balks saying he is still struggling to find work, so that leaves her to come up with the money by herself. A once-in-a-lifetime math Olympiad contest comes up, but Jess must get her daughter to Scotland in a matter of days. With no car and no money, that isn't as easy as it seems.

Enter Ed. He's a business owner,…