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Showing posts from January, 2015

A Fine Summer's Day by Charles Todd

Release Date - January 2015

Charles Todd
William Morrow

Book Review by Bob Walch


Shattered Secrets by Karen Harper

Release Date - September 2014

Karen Harper
MIRA

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Tess Lockwood was just six years old when she was kidnapped. While she somehow managed to escape, her memories of the kidnapping are still vague. She never remembered enough to help police capture her abductor, and ten years later, another young girl vanished in the same manner.

Now that Tess is back in Cold Creek to sell her mother's home, she is disheartened when another girl disappears. It's been 20 years since Tess was kidnapped, and police are hopeful Tess might be able to remember enough now that she's home to help solve these kidnappings.

Gabe McCord, the sheriff's son, is now the sheriff. The day Tess was kidnapped, he was the one responsible for watching her. He's never forgiven himself. It's his goal to bring the missing girls home safe, and that means working closely with Tess, a woman he cannot help but admit he's growing very fond of. Will he be able to get Tess to r…

Good Health, Good Life by Joyce Meyer

Release Date - December 2014

Joyce Meyer
FaithWords

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Joyce Meyer, Bible teacher/TV and radio host, offers incredible insight into improving your health, body, and mind in Good Health, Good Life. This 12-step plan breaks down into:

1. Asking for God's help
2. Learning to love yourself
3. Changing your metabolism
4. Fitting in exercise
5. Learning to eat balanced meals
6. Drinking plenty of water
7. Avoiding overindulgence
8. Satisfying your spiritual hunger
9. Reducing stress
10. Embracing the right goals/visions
11. Laughing at pitfalls and obstacles
12. Taking responsibility for yourself

Each step is a chapter that branches out into subtopics, such as altering your metabolism by ensuring your eat breakfast, getting enough sleep, and hydrating with water throughout the day. Some of these may be common sense to you, but you may learn from other snippets of information.

I find that now is the perfect time to put all, or even some, of Joyce Meyer's s…

Sea Air by Jule Meeringa

Release Date - February 24, 2015


Amazon Crossing

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

The premise of Sea Air, given the back cover blurb, is supposed to be Nele falls in love with a mysterious, much older man during a North Sea getaway. The single mom quickly falls in love, but then her ex, a doctor, reenters the picture making her question who is the right man for her.

That said, I found the return of the ex was mostly glanced over. The real heart of this romance is the battle of wills as Nele, age 35, is certain that Mathis, 60, is Mr. Right, but he's more hesitant and isn't convinced that a 60-year-old man is what Nele, mom to an energetic, precocious 7-year-old, needs in her life.

The settings used in Sea Air made me feel like I was there at the North Sea. The author does well painting the coastal region in her novel. My issue became that I liked the setting more than the characters. Nele seems to jump from man to man, giving her heart away fully each time. Not once does she se…

Carbide Tipped Pens: Seventeen Stories of Hard Science Fiction - Edited by Ben Bova and Eric Choi

Release Date - December 2014

Tor Books

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Carbide Tipped Pens pays tribute to a sci-fi writing group that Ben Bova and Eric Choi were part of a couple decades ago. The focus of this book is on sci-fi stories wrapped around a specific aspect of technology. As there are 17 stories in all, which is a little much to cover in one review, I read this collection and then sat back to see which stories really stood out for me after time passed. These are the ones that still linger in the back of my mind.

The Blue Afternoon That Lasted Forever is a short story by Daniel H. Wilson. In this story, readers meet a single dad, who is a scientist, and he finds the end of the world is coming. His parental love kicks in as he rushes to keep his daughter as safe as he can during the resulting apocalypse.

Ben Bova's Old Timer's Game takes a look at baseball and where it can go. Anyone who follows baseball knows all about the scandals of steroids, but what happens if ne…

The Same Sky by Amanda Eyre Ward

Release Date - January 20, 2015

Amanda Eyre Ward
Ballantine Books

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

After six-year-old Carla's mother left her children behind and headed to the U.S., young Carla has been the primary caregiver to her twin brothers. Her hopes are that her mother will return to Honduras for them or send for them to join her. Two things happen that start to change Carla's mind. One of her twin brothers is whisked away by strangers and then her grandmother dies. It's clear to Carla that she and her brother must flee their town and make the dangerous, illegal trip to Texas.

Meanwhile, in Texas, Jake and his wife Alice are prominent restaurant owners who are madly in love, but at the same time, know something is missing from their lives. Alice is a breast cancer survivor, and Jake has always been supportive of her, but it just doesn't feel like it's enough.

The Same Sky: A Novel is told from the viewpoints of both Carla and Alice. The chapters alternate and m…

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Release Date - January 2015

Jennifer Niven
Knopf

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

There are a few things I can say about All the Bright Places with a level of certainty. First, this book is amazing, not easy, but amazing. Second, it's not surprising Hollywood has noticed the story's potential for becoming a blockbuster movie and has already cast Elle Fanning. Third, it's going to be a while before I get over Finch and Violet.

Finch and Violet meet in the six-story bell tower on their high school campus. Finch, referred to as his peers as "the Freak," knows why he's up there, but Violet is a popular girl, everyone loves her, and Finch knows one thing, she's terrified. He talks her down from the ledge and then covers for her by saying she went up to stop him from jumping. With her reputation intact, Violet is free to go on with her life, but that one event changed both her and Finch. They begin working on a class project that involves touring their area, seei…

The Bodies We Wear by Jeyn Roberts

Release Date - September 2014

Jeyn Roberts
Alfred Knopf

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Heam (Heaven's Dream) is a drug engineered to attack the central nervous system and shut down your body. During that brief moment of death, you experience heaven and then revive. For 11-year-old Faye, she saw hell and her best friend died. Her goal in life now is to avenge Christian's death by killing off the men who forced them to take the drug.

With nothing left, Faye attends school by day and trains with her guardian, once a police detective, at night. Her plans seem on track until someone from her past returns. Now Faye is questioning her goals and if she might have a reason to look forward to the future after all.

The Bodies We Wear is instantly addicting. Faye is tough as nails and when she does take someone down, I found myself cheering her one. There's a little bit of say Jessica Alba's Dark Angel to her. I really liked Faye, especially when she started having to reconsider he…

The Reluctant Psychic by Suzan Saxman and Perdita Finn

Release Date - January 27, 2015

Suzan Saxman

St. Martin's

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

The writing style in The Reluctant Psychic pulled me in. It's warm, friendly, and definitely introduces you to Suzan Saxman in manner that makes her feel like a longtime pal who is sitting next to you telling you one hell of a story.

Suzan Saxman started seeing the spirits of the dead at a very young age. She grew up confused by what she saw, and the circumstances and her mother's utter disapproval did not help. Suzan's childhood was dysfunctional at best and her forays into adulthood also led to some decisions that were not ideal for her, though they would teach her a lot.

The Reluctant Psychic details Suzan's life through memories of her childhood and adulthood, with snippets of the psychic readings she's done over the years. I thought the bouncing back and forth would throw me off, but it never did. I actually couldn't put the book down, though even I wondered about t…

At the Beach by Anne & Harlow Rockwell (Children's Book Review)

Release Date - June 2014 (Reissue)

Anne Rockwell
Harlow Rockwell
Aladdin

Book Review by Bob Walch

Granted this may not be a book you want to read with your child in the heart of winter, but, on the other hand, it is also nice to remind the youngster that when the snow and ice melt and the temperature goes back up there are some good times ahead.
Reissued by Aladdin, this picture book first appeared in 1987. It chronicles a child’s day at the beach and all the cool things she encounters. The illustrations are simple but effective plus the text is simple enough to manage for beginning readers.
Frankly, there are perhaps glitzier picture books about a day at the beach but this classic will work well with younger children and there is something refreshing about its simplicity.

A Love Undone by Cindy Woodsmall

Release Date - September 2014

Cindy Woodsmall
Waterbrook Press

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

I actually read A Love Undone about two months ago and thought I'd done the review. Yet, in going through my emails, I found the publicist's request and cannot find the review for this one anywhere. Given that, I'm surprised still by how much I enjoyed the book, even weeks later when I've read so many other books.

It's a stormy night that takes Jolene Keim's parents from her. She's spent the past decade raising her younger siblings and putting her own life on hold, even breaking things off with her own fiance who was not thrilled to be raising a family right off the bat.

Andy Fisher's wife walked away from both Andy and their son many years ago, but Amish customs dictate he is still married - a grass widower. When Jolene comes into his life, he cannot help but fall for her, but his situation is bound to keep them apart. The last thing he wants to do is to have …

The Genome by Sergei Lukyanenko

Release Date - December 2014

Sergei Lukyanenko
Open Road Media

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Generally, science fiction is not a genre I crave, yet I was completely hooked in The Genome. Sergei Lukyanenko's characters drew me in and kept me reading late into the night.

Alexander Romanov has never seen such a clear blue sky, it's rather unusual, but he's being released from the hospital where he's spent the past five months recovering from devastating injuries. Now that he's out, as a "spesh," he must find a job with his experience as a master pilot. In Alex's case, his modifications that turned him from human to spesh involved helping him handle gravity overloads. He also is genetically imprinted to make sure his crew are always kept safe.

On the train, Alex sees a young girl about to be accosted by a doper punk. Surprisingly, she is well equipped to take care of herself. Alex helps her escape the train before authorities arrive and then offers her a…

The Doctor's Diet Cookbook by Travis Stork M.D.

Release Date - October 21, 2014

Travis Stork M.D.
Bird Street Books

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Find a diet that works for me is a goal I've set. After many discussions with my doctor, her suggestion, one I've recently seen in the newspapers, is that the Mediterranean Diet is really the best outline to follow. Better yet, she suggests using the guidelines set forth specifically for me given my propensity to develop anemia during a certain time of the month due to heavier than normal periods that have plagued many generations of my family. That's where The Doctor's Diet Cookbook comes in.

Dr. Travis Stork, best known as one of TV's The Doctors, has a series of books designed to help you lose weight and keep it off. From what I can tell, his advice is pretty spot on. It deals with learning the better foods to eat, avoiding the fear of fat as not all fats are bad, boosting intake of legumes, nuts, fruits, and vegetables, and creating healthier versions of your crav…

Tangled Lives by Hilary Boyd

Release Date - July 2014

Hilary Boyd
Hachette Book Group

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

When she was 19, Annie Delancey gave up her infant son. She really had little choice. Her mother, headmistress of a respected girls' school, essentially gave her an ultimatum. She loved her newborn son though.

More than three decades later, Annie is happily married with two daughters and a son. Her children are all in their 20s and seem to be doing well with their lives. One morning a letter arrives - her firstborn wants to meet her.

Annie and her family are thrown into turmoil. While Annie is eager to connect with the son she had to give up, her husband, son, and daughters are not as convinced. Jealousy rears its head with both her son and husband, especially when Annie must approach the man she had a one-night stand with so many years ago and tell him that he has a son who wants to meet him.Annie is torn. She wants everything in one tidy package, but it appears that having it all could tear h…

Dark Screams Volume One - Edited by Brian James Freeman and Richard Chizmar

Release Date - December 2014

Stephen King
Kelley Armstrong
Bill Pronzini
Simon Clark
Ramsey Campbell
Random House

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

The stories within Dark Screams Volume One may not be new to you at all. The first story in this anthology, Weeds by Stephen King, is well-known, whether it's from the 1970's release or from the movie Creepshow (one of my favorite '80's movies.) In this story, the rather dimwitted Jordy Verrill burns his hand on a meteorite that lands on his land, and he's about to learn that not everything in nature is all that nice.

Kelley Armstrong, author of bestsellers that includes the books in the very popular Darkest Power series, offers The Price You Pay. In this creepy little gem, loving mother Kara reunites with her former high school friend Ingrid. After a girl's night out, Ingrid's car stalls on a dark road and the pair are kidnapped by a sadistic madman who knows way too much about their past transgressions.

Bill Pronzin…

Finding Hope by Stacy Finz

Release Date - January 2015

Stacy Hinz

Lyrical Press

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

After the tragic disappearance of her young daughter, cookbook editor Emily Mathews is ready to get away from the press. Spending time on McCreedy Ranch, away from everyone, is exactly what she needs. She never expects to find herself falling for Clay McCreedy or his sons.

After Clay's wife died, he's struggled to help his sons grieve. Emily is just the person he needs living in the empty barn. She's quiet, studious, and certainly isn't aware of the scandal that led to his wife's death. The one thing he's certain of is that he really doesn't need another woman in his life - or does he?

Finding Hope is a charming romance with two underlying mysteries of sorts. The facts surrounding Clay's wife's death is the minor mystery. However, it was the mysterious disappearance of Emily's daughter that I really wanted to see resolved. The romance builds slowly and honestly. T…

Rewire Your Anxious Brain by Catherine M. Pittman and Elizabeth M. Karle

Release Date - January 2015

Catherine M. Pittman
Elizabeth M. Karle
New Harbinger Publications

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

I know a lot about anxiety and panic attacks. First, they run in my family. I've had them, my mom did for many years, my maternal grandmother did, and so do many of my aunts. Sadly, my own children have also had them. Therefore, I picked up Rewire Your Anxious Brain to see what these experts would have to say.

After many botched attempts at using medications - from beta blockers to antidepressants - I sought a therapy that would get me off these horrible pills and all their side effects. Instead, I spent many months in therapy, and the book my psychiatrist had me read included many of the exercises and techniques presented in Rewire Your Anxious Brain. Not every method works for every person. While yoga, Tai Chi, and deep breathing work for me, they didn't help my son at all. He found positive self-talk techniques were far better for his needs.

I found …