Note to Readers

Roundtable Reviews receives many galley and ARC copies for review. Please understand that the finished copy may differ from the copies we have reviewed.

I have not received any compensation for writing this post other than a free digital or galley copy of the book. I have no material connection to the publisher, agent, or author whose book/s I am reviewing. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Friday, March 28, 2014

Fly Away by Kristin Hannah



Release Date - March 2014

Kristin Hannah
St. Martin's Griffin

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

If you've read Firefly Lane, do not miss Fly Away. If you missed Firefly Lane, I recommend reading that book first. I didn't and really wish I had read the books in order.

One thing is true of any Kristin Hannah novel. It will draw you in. It will have you sniffling and shedding a number of tears. You will end up enjoying every second of the book. Fly Away is no different. It's honest, sometimes downright depressing, but you become embroiled in the characters and want to see if everything will work out for them.

Tully Hart is desperately grieving the loss of her best friend Kate. Kate lost her battle with cancer, and her death tore her family apart and left Tully feeling alone and uncertain. She made a promise to Kate that she would remain a solid part of Kate's family and offer Kate's children the support they need, but Tully is so caught up in her grief that she simply cannot do that.

Kate's husband shut Tully out after Kate's funeral. His desperation to start anew led him to accept a job miles away, but his plans went awry and eventually his 16-year-old daughter ran away. Now Marah is out there somewhere. Meanwhile, Marah believes she has fallen in love, but the guy she has chosen is not the right choice. He's leading her on a path to destruction.

Tully's mother was useless during Tully's formative years, but she's back and wants to start anew. This means revealing long hidden secrets.

Fly Away is never an easy read. Depression, grief, panic attacks... They are not fun things. They can be exhausting, frustrating, and leave you shaken. Hannah captures every second of that angst and doesn't hide from hit, she really delves into the affects it has on both the person suffering and those the person loves and is close to. I found a little of myself in some of the characters and often found myself nodding along as they struggled to overcome.

Now that I've finished this book, I am eager to find the first book, hopefully my library has a copy, and see how everything began!

Book News - Meet the Playaway All-in-One Audiobook and Win!


Listening Just Got Brighter.
The Redesigned Playaway All-in-One Audiobook Just Released!


SOLON, OH (March 11, 2014) –
For the first time since its launch, the Playaway® all-in-one audiobook has been redesigned, giving listeners the simple, pre-loaded experience they already love with new features that will allow them to go more places – even into the dark.

The updated product is the result of extensive customer feedback and user testing, and includes many notable enhancements, such as a backlit LCD screen that is three times larger than the current version. This change serves as the inspiration for the “LIGHT” launch campaign and will help listeners more easily access content day and night, regardless of surrounding light levels. The updated screen also provides key listener information including a book progress bar, chapter status and a battery life indicator – improving the overall user experience.

Keeping with the theme of enhanced product mobility, the buttons are now easily recognizable by touch and the main buttons are reserved for singular functionality. These updates go a long way towards making Playaway easier to navigate without visual interaction, a quality extremely important for people on-the-go.

The updated device closely mirrors the well-known wedge shape of Playaway, and maintains all of the signature features listeners love, such as High Definition audio, a universal auxiliary jack, five narration speeds, and automatic bookmarking.

“This is an important time in the evolution of the Playaway brand and a great opportunity to improve the user experience for both librarians and patrons,” comments Nancy Stickney, VP, Playaway Products Group. “Playaway LIGHT takes what already is the best way to listen to an audiobook, unplugged and uninterrupted, and makes it even better.”

To celebrate the launch, Findaway World is giving away a grand prize trip for two to the ALA Annual Conference in Las Vegas and $50,000 in Playaway collections. For your chance to win or to learn more about the product visit
www.playaway.com.
###

About Findaway World
Findaway World is a provider of audiobook technology solutions with one of the world's largest collections of digital audiobook content delivered either on as a pre-loaded device or a digital download.

Founded and based in Solon, Ohio, Findaway World is proud to be continually recognized both locally and nationally with awards for innovation, sales growth and workplace culture. To learn more about Findaway World's products and the Findawayers who make it all happen, visit www.findawayworld.com.

About Playaway®Playaway audiobooks are the simplest way to listen to digital audio content on-the-go. Ideal for circulation, each Playaway comes pre-loaded and ready to use with High Definition audio content. More than 4 million Playaways are currently circulated in over 30 thousand schools, libraries, and military installations across the country and abroad. Learn more at www.playaway.com.


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The In-Between Hour by Barbara Claypole White



Release Date - January 2014

Barbara Claypole White
Mira

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Will Shepard's son died in a tragic car accident. Since that day, his father, a resident of Hawk's Ridge Retirement Community, has suffered from short-term memory loss and doesn't remember that his grandson is dead. Will, a writer, pretends that his son is alive and traveling Europe for his father's sake, but it's becoming increasingly difficult  and, at times, he considers telling his father the truth in hopes it might sink in.

Hannah, a holistic veterinarian, son, a graduate student, is back in her home after threatening to kill himself. Hannah knows too much about suicide, her own father killed himself, and she's desperate to show her son that life is worth living. Hannah's friend Poppy volunteers at Hawk's Ridge, and it's that link that brings Will and Hannah together.

When Will's father creates a disturbance in his retirement community, Will must return to North Carolina to tend to the family issue. He and his father temporarily rent Hannah's cabin. Soon Hannah and Will are forming a bond, but both have their personal issues that need their full attention and finding a balance between their own lives and the problems surrounding them may be more difficult than either imagined.

This is my introduction to Barbara Claypole White and what an introduction it is. From the very start, I was drawn to Will's character. As Hannah is introduced, I found her equally appealing. Watching them grow throughout The In-Between Hour ended up being a treat, even if many tears were shed along the way.

This is an ideal beach read. It tugs at your heart and holds your attention from start to finish. It left me thinking that I need to start stocking up on other books by Barbara Claypole White in time for my own summer reading moments.


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Triburbia by Karl Taro Greenfeld



Release Date - July 2013 (Reprint)

Karl Taro Greenfeld
Harper Perennial

Book Review by Bob Walch

In an upscale New York City neighborhood a group of dads meets for breakfast after dropping their children off at school. The men range from a television producer, photographer and playwright to a sculptor, sound engineer, and even a gangster.

Each of the men obviously has a story and these tales and the family situations that exist within each character’s household emerge as you get to know the men more intimately. This is just a variation of the “housewife” dramas that television audiences are subjected to. Is the idea really original? Of course not!

But still, the interplay between these individuals and the situations that each one finds himself in are entertaining and the pieces of the puzzle here do fit together in some curious ways.

Is Mark a secret child molester? Why is Brick cheating on the woman who has made his career as a sculptor possible? What’s going to happen when Rick is exposed for his fraudulent memoir? And, why is Ranklin, the hood, even hanging out with a group of guys he holds in utter disdain?

There are plenty of juicy moments when love affairs, resentments, professional indiscretions and rivalries come to light in this urban scenario manufactured by Karl Taro Greenfeld. If you are seeking a change of pace from the mysteries, adventure reading or other types of reading you usually pursue, this might be the book to try.

Fair warning, this novel received a mixed bag of reviews from “really loved it” to “total waste of time”. You might wish to check some other sites for reader reactions before you make a purchase. Or, better still, check it out from the library!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Doing Harm by Kelly Parsons



Release Date - February 2014

Kelly Parsons
St. Martins Press

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Doing Harm, Kelly Parsons' debut novel, is just about as packed with medical expertise as one could imagine. While many things do not phase me, blood is one that does make me squeamish, and the medical detail in this medical suspense had me cringing more than once. At times, and this could be because of that squeamishness, I found the medical detail was almost too much.

The story itself is gripping. Steve Mitchell, father of two, loving husband, and surgical resident is under suspicion after a patient dies. He wants to become a surgeon at University Hospital and tries his hardest to show them just how devoted he is to his patients. Things begin to change when Steve takes performs a surgical procedure despite being told to wait. That's just the beginning of his problems. When more patients Steve expected to recover suddenly die, all eyes turn to Steve, and he becomes suspicious that someone he knows is killing his patients and making it look like he's responsible. That killer threatens not only Steve's dream job but also the family he loves. To keep from losing it all, Steve enters into a cat and mouse game where lives are on the line.

There is no doubt that the author knows his stuff. The medical detail in Doing Harm is exquisite, though as previously stated almost too detailed for this reader. The mystery itself is the part that kept me hooked. I wanted to see how Steve got out of the entire mess. That in itself was surprising because Steve is not a likeable character, at least to me. Yet, even though I could care less about him, I still became intrigued with his family, his job, and the situation from which he had to escape.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Watching the Dark: An Inspector Banks Novel by Peter Robinson



Release Date - February 25, 2014

Peter Robinson
William Morrow

Book Review by Bob Walch

The murder of a fellow detective coupled with the discovery of some rather compromising photos in the dead man’s possession get Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks assigned to a case that has more twists than a narrow, Alpine mountain road.

When it appears that the dead detective’s case is linked to the disappearance of an English girl in Estonia six years previously, Banks heads off to the Continent to do some digging. It doesn’t take him long to realize the local authorities aren’t too anxious to open the cold case and assist him in discovering what happened to the girl.

Meanwhile, in what appears to be a totally different investigation, Detective Inspector Annie Cabbot is looking into a local situation that involves a migrant labor scam. Just the tip of the iceberg, this case is far more detailed and involves much more serious crimes.

Eventually Banks and Cabbot’s investigations connect for an ending that will have the reader shaking his/her head in wonder or dismay. Previous reader reflections on this latest Banks’ caper have been very, very mixed. While many readers liked it, it seems almost an equal number were not too impressed.

What’s my advice? If you have read the other novels in the series, by all means give this one a try, but if you have never read Robinson before, don’t begin with this one. Try an earlier novel such as Strange Affair, Friend of the Devil or Innocent Graves.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Execution by Dick Wolf



Release Date - January 2014

Dick Wolf
William Morrow

Book Review by Bob Walch

Hard on the heels of The Intercept, the first thriller in this series, comes this sequel that continues the saga of Jeremy Fisk, a detective with the NYPD’s Intelligence Division of the Joint Terrorism Task Force.

Still recovering from the loss of his partner and lover who died at the hands of a Swedish terrorist, Fisk has another crazed killer to deal with. A brutal Mexican assassin known simply as Chuparosa is heading north with mayhem on his mind.

Leaving behind him a trail of bodies, including 23 beheaded victims on the border, Chuparosa may intend to make a statement during United Nations week in Manhattan. A slew of bodies found dead outside the city suggests that is just a prelude to what awaits the city itself.

Teaming up with a fiery investigator, Ceilia Garza, from the Mexican Intelligence Department, Fisk soon discovers his colleague’s “take-no-prisoners” attitude is not too far removed from their nemesis’s approach.

Whether they want to or not, Fisk and Garza are going to have to work together to keep Chuparosa from his ultimate bloody goal but it is going to be a very rocky relationship.

Like Fisk’s first assignment, there will be plenty of plot twists and surprises in what lies ahead for the detective and the final outcome will be in doubt right down to the closing pages.

Wolf is the creator of “Law & Order” and already there’s talk that Jeremy Fisk may eventually be heading for a similar small screen treatment.






Sunday, March 2, 2014

How Sweet It Is by Melissa Brayden

Release Date - November 2013 Melissa Brayden Bold Strokes Books Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth In How Sweet It Is, Molly O'Brien lost her partner in a tragic plane crash. Since that, she's avoided the dating scene, but she thinks she's finally ready to move on. It's easier said than done because she balances her personal life with her hard work keeping her struggling bakery open. When her late partner's sister returns to town, Molly is shocked to find feelings developing. This is new territory for Molly, but she can't avoid her growing attraction. The title of this book really does capture the story's main essence. This is a sweet romance. The characters feel like best friends, the banter is real and often witty, and every page keeps you intrigued in what will happen next. Add in the tempting treats Molly's character whips up for her bakery - my stomach growled more than once reading descriptions - and How Sweet It Is ends up being an addicting romance. This was my first story by Melissa Brayden, and I am certainly intrigued to read her other stories. It's just a sweet romance that leaves you feeling warm and cozy.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Badluck Way: A Year on the Ragged Edge of the West by Bryce Andrews

Release Date - January 2014 Bryce Andrews Atria Books Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth For one year, Bryce Andrews headed to Montana where he worked at Sun Ranch. Working on a cattle ranch was not new to Andrews, but this ranch was very near Yellowstone National Park. During that year, Andrews not only spent time experiencing the daily life of a rancher, but he also faced struggles when a pack of wolves began encroaching on the herds of cattle. Suddenly, Andrews was faced with protecting the herd against an animal he admired. Badluck Way is beautifully written. While Bryce Andrews recounts most of this story, some sections are told from a wolf's point of view. I loved this division. I don't have wolves in my area, that I know of anyway, but we do have a pack of coyote that have been coming closer and closer to houses over the years. If you ever see one in the open, I have, they are very majestic creates, albeit scary when it is your dog they want to turn into dinner. As I've had that experience, I really understood Andrews' story. Every detail of Badluck Way is written in a manner that draws you in. It's easy to imagine the feel of a breeze through the gaps in the wall. The sound of the wolves howling in the distance. The picturesque scenery as the sun rises or sets over Montana's mountains. I felt like I was there, and that, to me, is the sign of a truly talented writer.