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Showing posts from December, 2014

Vanished by Elizabeth Heiter

Release Date - January 2015

Elizabeth Heiter
Harlequin MIRA

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth


Vanished is the second book in Elizabeth Heiter's Profiler series.  The first novel, Hunted, is a book I remember well. I ended 2013 reading that compelling novel, so it's fitting that I happened to choose Vanished as one of the books to end 2014 with. I definitely did not find myself disappointed with the second book in this series!

Evelyn Baine and her best friend, Cassie, were abducted almost two decades ago. Evelyn somehow escaped, but her best friend wasn't so lucky. The disappearance has weighed heavily on Evelyn and is a key motivation for her work as an FBI profiler. When the Nursery Rhyme Killer returns 18 years later, Evelyn twists her boss's arm to make sure she is there to help try to bring the killer down. It's unlikely Cassie is still alive, but Evelyn wants justice for herself, for Cassie's parents, and most importantly for Cassie.

Once again, I couldn't…

No Weddings by Kat and Stone Bastion

Release Date - September 2014

Kat & Stone Bastion

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

No Weddings was a change of pace when it comes to romances. Cade Michaelson is a bar owner and college student working towards his master's degree. With his sisters urging him on, he agrees to their little venture of adding party planning to their business. One that he insists will not have anything to do with weddings. With that plan in mind, he knows the cakes made by Hannah Martin are the best for their clientele, but Hannah's "ice princess" attitude isn't something he looks forward too. He's had his problems with women and he's quite happy with one-night stands, or so he thinks.

Before he knows it, Cade gets talked into letting Hannah cook for him in exchange for advice on growing her bakery. Those dinners turn into more than Cade could have every imagined.

Now here is the thing with No Weddings, the book is told from Cade's point of view. That's not typical i…

The Burning Girl by Lisa Unger

Release Date - November 25, 2014

Lisa Unger
Simon and Schuster

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

The second short story in Lisa Unger's Whisper Series, The Burning Girl skips forward a few years in the future. It's been 10 years since Eloise Montgomery's husband's and daughter's deaths. She's teamed up with Ray, the detective from the first Whisper Series story, and is now working as a psychic in his private detective company.

A couple of things have been weighing heavily on Eloise's mind. A trusted friend and mentor tells her her psychic abilities have come from her family, which leads Eloise to start questioning who she really is. It also leads to the discovery that Eloise's own granddaughter has those psychic abilities. There's also the appearance of a burning girl who Eloise's granddaughter and Eloise's mentor both say is dangerous and Eloise needs to get her to go away. Eloise isn't so sure and feels she needs to find out what this an…

Bryant & May and the Bleeding Heart by Christopher Fowler

Release Date - December 2014

Christopher Fowler
Bantam

Book Review by Bob Walch

As Raymond Land, the chief of the Peculiar Crimes Unit, explains, the individuals he oversees don’t follow the usual investigative procedures most crime investigators do. “We’ve had things going on here I could never put in official reports. You know they always say there’s a fine line between genius and madness? Well. Here the line gets rubbed out.”
Never was this more true than in this latest installment of the popular series. In Bryant & May and The Bleeding Heart, Christopher Fowler has the unorthodox crime solving unit transferred over to work under the jurisdiction of the City of London.  This might represent a small geographical area where blue collar crime is more common than the type of more bizarre cases Arthur Bryant, John May and their colleagues handle, but, don’t worry, they’ll manage to find something suitably odd to deal with.
In fact, in this instance grave robbery, murder, and the kid…

Sweet Damage by Rebecca James

Release Date - December 2014

Rebecca James
Bantam

Book Review by Bob Walch

It appeared to be the perfect arrangement. Tim Ellison will receive a room that is close to his work and his favorite surfing location. In return, he has to keep an eye on the reclusive owner of the house, Anna London.
Although she’s just into her twenties, this mysterious, withdrawn young woman has some major issues that keep her in a self-imposed exile in her grand home.
As Anna begins to reveal bits and pieces of her past, her boarder becomes quite smitten by the delicate beauty but then strange things begin happening in the house. Obviously there’s something not quite right here (actually terribly wrong might be more accurate), and Tim must decide if he wants to remain here to uncover what’s happening her. Is Anna in danger or is she the cause of the mayhem?
Rebecca James’ debut, Beautiful Malice, was much praised and attracted readers in her native Australia and abroad. This second psycho-mystery that delve…

The Fine Print of Self-Publishing by Mark Levine

Book Release - January 2014

Mark Levine
Bascom Hill Publishing Group

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Over the years, I have read numerous books on publishing, and I have to say that Mark Levine's handy guide is definitely one to own. He's honest, very thorough, but doesn't bog you down in details that make the reading dull.

The Fine Print of Self-Publishing covers everything you need to know about publishing your book. He starts with a discussion of vanity printing vs. self-publishing. This is a very important place to start as I've received many books over the years that were clearly written to appease an author's vanity, particularly when it comes to memoirs or autobiographies that really would never interest more than the author's family.

The guide continues through hiring editors and graphic designers to create the cover of your book, understanding a contract, finding a publishing house to use for your self-published book, and even delves heavily into the tra…

Shadow Heart and Fire Heart by Pamela Taeuffer

Release Date - February 2014

Pamela Taeuffer
Open Heart Press

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

While I'm not exactly sure on the target readership for Shadow Heart and Fire Heart, the first two books in the Broken Bottle series, I would say this is new adult and geared towards the older teen. The main character is 17 and the man who wants to capture her heart is 24.

Nicky Young has grown up dealing with her alcoholic father for far too many years. After her sister is raped by a group of older boys, the family seems to spiral completely. Now 17, Nicky throws herself into plans to apply and hopefully get accepted into Stanford, and the cheer team she and her friends decide to form for a local baseball team.

It is in this cheer team that Nicky catches the eye of Ryan Tilton, a 24-year-old baseball player who is tired of one night stands and wants to find a woman of substance that he can give his heart to. Nicky seems to meet everything he wants in a woman, but she's und…

The Whispers by Lisa Unger

Release Date - October 27, 2014

Lisa Unger
Simon and Schuster

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

The Whispers is a very, very quick read. If you're busy with holiday cooking and errands, this is an ideal short story to fill in a short amount of time. Per my Kindle, with my reading speed, it took me just 13 minutes to read this very short story.

Eloise Montgomery's day is starting off as normal. Her younger daughter is up and ready, but her other is doing as many teens do and dragging her feet. She stays in bed well after the alarm and begrudgingly gets ready and comes down for breakfast. In the end, Eloise wishes she had more time as both her husband and oldest daughter are killed in a head-on collision.

After the family's accident, Eloise begins having psychic visions. Not sure what to do, she knows she must act on her visions, as they could be what police need to save victims or solve crimes, even if it is all frightening to her.

This short story sets the premise for additiona…

The Buried by Shelley Coriell

Release Date - November 2014

Shelley Coriell
Forever

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

It all starts with a desperate phone call. State prosecutor Grace Courtemanche never expects to hear a girl on the other end, one who has been buried alive and is begging for Grace to find her before it's too late. Refusing to give up hope on a girl who may or may not be telling the truth, Grace turns to the one man she hoped never to see again and one who has suddenly returned to town, her ex-husband.

Hatch is an FBI agent, one of the esteemed Apostles. If anyone can help unravel this crime, it's Hatch. Grace never expects to find herself facing the fact that she still in madly in love with him. He's only in town after learning a brief affair led to a son he never knew existed, and once he's done getting this boy on the right path, he plans to leave again. Can a wanderer change his very nature? Add in a cunning killer's plot and unfinished business between Grace and Hatch, and The …

Meet Wisdom Man

We can learn much from the Aboriginal people and Aboriginal Elder, Banjo Clarke, whom Camilla Chance writes about in her award-winning book, Wisdom Man. Like the white culture in the United States that had enslaved, colonized and controlled the black man, so we have the story of Banjo Clarke, Aboriginal Elder, whose Aboriginal culture in Australia was in much danger of destruction by the white man. What we find in each of their histories is that it takes a few generations to bring some sense into the powers that be to accept all colors and cultures and learn from them, not destroy them. Banjo is a symbol of kindness and compassion and how not to give up on humanity. In this book he teaches us all how to be kind to one another and accept people for who they are, not what color they are. Camilla Chance became close friends with Banjo Clarke approximately thirty years ago. They became such good friends that he and his family gave permission to tape Banjo as he talked about th…

A Life Intercepted: A Novel by Charles Martin

Release Date - September 2014

Charles Martin
Center Street

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

For the past 12 years, Matthew Rising has spent time in prison for a crime he knows he didn't commit, but the evidence was insurmountable. Now that the one-time football star has been released, he has one goal. He wants to find his wife, a woman who seemingly disappeared after his trial.

While Matthew knows returning to his hometown is not going to lead to a warm welcome, it's the place where he knows he must start his search. He soon comes across his wife and learns she's mentoring a teen with a very bright future in football. If Matthew coaches him, he'll violate the terms of his release, but he cannot turn his back on Audrey or this gifted teen.

A Life Intercepted: A Novel is a very emotional read, so you may want to have tissues in hand. Author Charles Martin travels back and forth over the span of time to show the development of Audrey and Matthew's relationship and also …

Ask Anna: Advice for the Furry and Forlorn by Dean Koontz

Release Date - October 2014

Dean Koontz
Center Street

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Known for his suspense/horror stories, Dean Koontz mixes things up with his latest book, Ask Anna: Advice for the Furry and Forlorn. His golden retriever takes center stage in this title, offering advice to dogs in need. Throughout the book are photos of dogs, including Anna. It's a whimsical book, perfect for those moments when you just want to unwind.

Dog lovers are going to thoroughly enjoy Anna's witty responses to questions that range from dealing with a dog owner to the incessant urge to chew everything. It's a change of pace, but one that is well worth the price as every penny of the proceeds from Ask Anna go to Canine Companions, an organization that pairs service dogs with men and women dealing with disabilities.

Spectrum by Alan Jacobson

Release Date - October 2014

Alan Jacobson
Open Road Media

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Karen Vail is back. This time decades pass as she tracks a ruthless serial killer who is leaving bodies throughout New York City. The story begins with a family who is targeted by the mafia, forcing them to flee into the shadows to avoid more tragedy. Jump forward in time and Karen's starting out her long career and is assigned to a homicide in which the killer carves a specific pattern into the back of each victim's head.Two decades pass while Vail chases leads and tries to target a killer who is getting closer and closer with each step she takes.

In Spectrum, there is a lot of jumping back and forth between eras. While these jumps are thoughtfully laid out, it does require the reader to shift back and forth frequently. I found it took a bit of time to get into that rhythm, but it's worth settling in. It gives exceptional insight into Karen Vail, which is helpful if you are new to the…

The Way of Tea and Justice by Becca Stevens

Release Date - November 2014

Becca Stevens
Jericho Books

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

The Way of Tea and Justice blends tea recipes, a historic look at tea and its uses, and then the foundations of a community/tea cafe dreamed up by Reverend Becca Stevens. Thistle Farms Cafe helps women who have been abused, addicted, and prostituted.

Blended throughout this book are stories of the survivors whose lives have changed because of Thistle Farms Cafe. There are also in-depth looks at the way teas are used, how they are grown, and what differentiates one tea from another. The benefits to teas are discusses, the manner in which they are properly brewed, and their impact on society over the centuries.

I come from a long line of tea drinkers. My mom's British, so tea was a normal beverage in our household. The recipes in The Way of Tea and Justice were a bonus in addition to the women's tales. As I read the recipes, there was one thing that I did want to mention. There is a recipe for…