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.”

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Forgive Me by Daniel Palmer

Angie DeRose, a private investigator, is on her latest case trying to locate a missing teen whose alcoholic mother seems to be a key reason for a teen to want to run away. That's not the only thing on Angie's plate, however. Since her mother's sudden death, Angie was shocked to find a picture hidden in her mother's things. On that picture is a message that says "May God forgive me."



With one case on her mind, Angie also delves into her mother's past to reveal the truth about this young girl's identity. What is her mother's connection to this little girl and why did she seek forgiveness? Perhaps more terrifying, what about this past has caught the attention of a mysterious person and why do they want the secret to remain hidden, no matter the price?

Forgive Me had me on the edge of my seat from the first page. The two mysteries hold your attention from start to finish. This was my introduction to Daniel Palmer's books, and I've been really missing a gem of an author! His writing is gripping. The plot, absorbing. Best of all, I loved how it all came together and didn't leave me wanting more.


Monday, June 27, 2016

Changes to Come

As an update, I try my hardest to keep up with reviews. Last month, my boss notified me that he's quitting his job. As his virtual assistant of five years, it means I'm out a job too. I've been trying to balance my time focusing on my other client's needs, my job hunt, and even did a stint outside the home in a job that turned out not to be at all what I was expecting.

If you have any need of a virtual assistant or know of anyone who does, please feel free to send them my way: https://wordpress.com/pages/tracyfarnsworthwriting.wordpress.com

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I am considering taking a part-time position with my local library. It won't be high paying, but it's better than nothing. Plus, it puts me in a realm I love - books and readers.

The History Major: A Novella by Michael Phillip Cash

After a fight with her boyfriend and a night of way too much drinking, Amanda awakens to what seems like the start of a bad hangover. Things take an unusual turn when she discovers her college roommate has been replaced by a stranger claiming to be her roommate. Worse, Amanda's college schedule is not the same. She's now enrolled in history, a class she despises. That's only the start of the weirdness that follows and makes Amanda question what is going on.



The History Major is one of those books that I liked but didn't love. It flowed swiftly from scene to scene, but it never fully captured my attention. After a while, I started to wonder if it is because I, like Amanda, cannot stand history class.

Michael Phillip Cash's novella is short and carries a strong message. It's got touches of history, philosophy, and coming of age all rolled into one.


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Since She Went Away - David Bell

Netgalley lists the release date as June 28th, while Amazon states it is the 21st. Either way, this is a gripping suspense/mystery that I recommend to fans of books like Clare Mackintosh's I Let You Go.



Unavoidable events kept Jenna Barton from meeting up with her best friend three months ago. Since that fateful evening, no one knows what happened to Celia. Nothing but one of Celia's diamond earrings was ever found. Jenna searches message boards seeking sightings, clues, and anything else that might help her unravel what happened to Celia. Soon, Jenna's son befriends a new girl at school, a girl with plenty of her own secrets that could be the break Jenna and the police need.

Really, Since She Went Away is two mysteries in one. I had part of the case pegged very early on. The other was a little more surprising and held my interest from the very moment the situation reveals itself. I stayed up far too late to see how things end.

The writing is fast and engrossing, while the characters are very likable, with the exception of the media who I am generally annoyed with anyway. This story could be taken from the pages of a newspaper, and the way the press handle it came off as very authentic - potential for a big break, aka money, vs. feelings and emotional well-being of those waiting for answers.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Bluestone Homecoming (Welcome to Bluestone) by MJ Fredrick



Bluestone Homecoming is not going to cost you a penny if you have a Kindle, so there's no risk in reading this delightful contemporary romance. I found myself enchanted by the small town and wanting to keep reading until I knew for certain young Max was going to have the family he needed.

Leo Ericson is only back in Bluestone long enough to get his son settled. Since his wife died, Max has struggled with grief. Leo felt having Max live with his grandparents was the right choice, but when Max has a hard time making friends and fitting in, Leo takes some time from his work as a war correspondent.

Trinity Madison struggles to keep her feelings regarding Leo from surfacing. She's furious that a parent would so easily walk away from a hurting child. Yet, the more she watches Leo trying to make the right choices, the more she begins to fall in love with him. She has her own secrets, however, that she must reveal if she really wants to enter into a relationship.

Then, there's the town itself. Tourism is not helping this struggling town become viable. The townspeople are banding together to get ideas on what to do to bring tourists to their town. With Leo's help, they may finally find themselves on the right path.

The atmosphere in Bluestone is one of the reasons I kept reading. I love romances where the town takes on a role as a character, making the reader root for it. I wanted to see this small town survive and that became as important as seeing Trinity and Leo figure things out.

Friday, June 17, 2016

A Sworn Virgin: Broken Promises by Kristopher Dukes



I'm generally not a big fan of historical fiction, because plots, especially in historical romances, always mimic a classic movie or novel. Sometimes a plot sounds unique and fills me with hope. I will say that A Sworn Virgin did prove to be a pleasant surprise.

In Kristopher Duke's novel, Diana is an 18 year old whose father is killed on a street in Albania. She's left to travel back to her mountain home where her stepmother tries to sell her into a marriage. Diana will not have anything to do with that; she dreams of becoming educated. In order to prevent being forced into a marriage she doesn't want, she declares herself a sworn virgin. Sworn virgins gain the same respect as men, so that makes Diana the ruler in their home, and her stepmother now must do her bidding. The one problem is that a sworn virgin must never fall in love with a man or she may be killed.

When an injured man comes to Diana's home and she helps heal him, she begins to fall in love with him. However, if she really does give in to her passions, she risks her own life.

It took a bit of adjusting to the details of the story, especially the Albanian names and number of characters introduced in the first couple of chapters. Once I settled into the story, I was fascinated by Diana's strength, the unique setting, and the power that a sworn virgin carries. If you're looking for something different to the typical historic romance, A Sworn Virgin is an excellent choice.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Jodi Thomas - Rustler's Moon: A Ransom Canyon Romance



I'd tried to get into Rustler's Moon a while back and failed. I tried again and this time I loved it. It's proof positive that sometimes you just have to be in the right mood.

After her father is murdered, Angela Harold finds a cryptic note from him telling her to run. Her home is soon burglarized, so she takes off to Ransom Canyon to take over as curator to the town's museum. There she meets Wilkes Wagner, a local rancher. She never expects to fall for him, but that's exactly what happens.

It is not long before danger finds Angela. Wilkes is determined to keep her safe, even if they have no idea who is after her or why.

I liked the passionate romance that builds between Angela and Wilkes, but it's the town that really drew me in. The mystery is a little predictable, but the interactions with the characters and the way they drew Angela into their fold was incredibly satisfying.  I am dying to see what happens with Yancy. I adore his character and want him to find happiness. I'm happy to see that his story comes out in August. I'll be in line to grab a copy of that summer romance release!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

After You - The Sequel to Me Before You

Before I even begin, if you have not yet seen the movie or read Me Before You, DO NOT read this review. After You is the continuation of Me Before You, so there are clear spoilers. Those spoilers follow this Amazon ad.



So here come the spoilers...

Will's committed suicide and now Louisa is left to pick up the pieces of her very, very broken heart. She's living in a flat in London trying to seek new adventures as Will wanted her to, but it's hard. She's been to Paris as Will requested, and now she's working as a bartender at an Irish-themed airport bar. After arriving home in the wee hours, Louisa has a glass of wine, climbs up to her rooftop terrace, and is startled by a voice and falls off the edge.

Somehow, Louisa survives multiple bone breaks and moves back home with her parents to recuperate. Eventually, she joins a grief support group and reunites with the paramedic who saved her life. Things are finally looking up, until Will's past finds its way into Louisa's present and leaves her reeling once again.

I think I cried just as much with After You as I did with Me Before You. Jojo Moyes has a real knack for getting into your head and leaving you thinking things through for days and weeks after you've finished the last page. This is book group fodder at its best. I had so many feelings while reading it. I laughed, I cried, and I felt at times as though I wanted to reach into the pages and make a few characters see reason! There were parts I loved, parts I hated, and parts I wondered why they were even included. Eventually, I finished it and still find myself thinking about it. This time, I find myself really wanting more. I'm not done with Louisa. I am not ready to let her go and really hope the author returns to Louisa's life for one more story.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Roy's House by Susan Goldman Rubin

Explore the world of Roy Lichtenstein's art through Susan Goldman Rubin's clever children's picture book. Roy's House takes the art of Roy Lichtenstein and puts it onto each page of this book. From the Cherry Pie oil painting done in 1962 to the painting of the house itself that was done on aluminum, the artwork and intertwining story in this novel are brilliant.



The story is short and easy to read, but there is a biography of Roy Lichtenstein at the end that may have more challenging vocabulary for advancing readers. I see this book becoming an excellent resource for elementary school art teachers and parents who are homeschooling their child. Art is vital to a child's growth, and I love the friendly manner in which this story brings art to life.

Monday, June 6, 2016

If I Could Turn Back Time by Beth Harbison

Your 38th birthday is imminent, and you learn your friend is pregnant. You don't have a true love, no kids are in your future, and you're starting to wonder if you made the wrong choices somewhere down the line. What if you had the chance to make different choices?



Ramie Philips is a successful business woman, but at 37 she feels something is missing. Her life may involve partying with the elite and no worries of debt, but maybe that's not all that life is about. In a whim, she dives off the yacht she's on and wakes up in her bed, but it's not the bed you'd imagine. Ramie is 17 again, in her own childhood bedroom, and under her parent's roof and control. It's invigorating and maddening at the same time. Ramie gets to go back through her 18th birthday, but this time she has the wisdom of an adult backing her decisions.

Beth Harbison really had my thinking about the "what if" aspect. While I wasn't always enamored with the main character, I did envy her chance to go back in time. There are so many things I'd love to be able to do as an adult. The "friend" I had who liked to tell one person one thing and then spin it around and tell others another in order to create conflict - I'd love to be able to kick her to the curb. The 1980's clothes and electronics I ditched would have been stored away for the day they became trendy. Then I would love to go back and tell teachers a thing or two. On a more tragic note, I'd like to go back and tell teachers how creepy the guy who owned the locker near me really was and maybe prevented him from raping women later in life or stop an underclassman from getting in the car of her father's associate and end up being raped and murdered. Those are just a few of the things I'd like to do. I'm sure you readers have your own "what ifs..."

This story was addicting. It had it's light, whimsical moments, but it also had poignant experiences that brought tears to the eyes. It definitely did have me contemplating what I'd change first if given the chance!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Mystery Child (Mission: Rescue) by Shirlee McCoy

Quinn Robertson never expects her sister to show  up on her doorstep, especially not begging for Quinn to take her daughter and bring the young child to her biological father. Yet, that's exactly what happens. Quinn is suddenly fleeing mysterious strangers who seem intent on getting the child back.



It isn't long before Quinn's been detained by a team whose job is to rescue the young girl who was kidnapped years earlier. Quinn may be innocent, but it looks like her sister is extremely guilty, which confuses Quinn, as she's no longer sure who she can trust.

Mystery Child is a quick read. There's a touch of romance, though the bigger draw in the story for me was how did Quinn's sister end up with a kidnapped child, if the child really is the girl who went missing years earlier. Nothing is certain and the twists in the story kept me hooked.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Where the Memories Lie by Sibel Hodge

Olivia is happily married with a teen daughter, but she's never forgotten about the disappearance of her best friend. More than two decades have passed, and she hopes wherever Katie ran away to that she's happier than she was in the care of her alcoholic parents. Everything spirals when Olivia's father-in-law, a man in the latter stages of Alzheimer's, states he had no choice but to kill her.



Not wanting to believe this gentle man could have killed someone, Olivia soon learns where the body is hidden. When a body is found, Olivia is left with more questions than ever before. Is her father-in-law truly a murderer? Why was Katie killed? Will their solid family be able to survive the investigation and shocking revelations that follow?

Part of Where the Memories Lie was pretty obvious to me. There was one "twist" in particular that did not surprise me. I felt it was really obvious. That said, I did have the final outcome wrong, so the author did a good job of keeping me on my toes as I read the story.

As my own mom is dealing with a form of dementia, I totally sympathized with Olivia, her family, and her father-in-law Tom. I understand the frustration from all angles.

Where the Memories Lie is a solid mystery by Sibel Hodge with likable characters for the most part. I may not have always agreed with Olivia's choices, but they were her choices to make. I did like the flow of this mystery and had a hard time putting it down.