Saturday, November 30, 2013

Book News: From Martin to Despallier by Ramus Dahlqvist

On February 25, 1836, just one day after sending his famous "Victory or Death" letter, Colonel William B. Travis sent another letter from the Alamo. He wrote to Major-General Sam Houston, Commander-in-Chief of the Texas Army, citing his men for bravery. He wrote: "Charles Despallier and Robert Brown gallantly sallied out and set fire to houses which afforded the enemy shelter, in the face of the enemy fire." Until now, young Charles remained but a name in the list of the Immortal 32.
From Martin to Despallier takes you on a journey through four hundred years of colonization, invasions, revolutions, and secret treaties. Charles never visited France, nor did his father Bernard ever see the shores of his ancestors' native land, the ancient region of Normandy.  Starting off as clerks and mariners in France, then colonists in Haiti, and military men in Louisiana, the Martins changed their surname. Now known as Despallier, they became rebels and U.S. frontiersmen, while their kin in France made it to the ranks of consuls and, eventually, generals. 
Dahlqvist's book tells the incredible story of men making careers in the Royal Navy and Army, in politics, and in justice. It is the first work ever describing the full and detailed family history of one of the men who died at the Alamo: Charles Despallier. 
Title From Martin to Despallier
Subtitle "The Story of a French Colonial Family" (1610-1914)
Author Rasmus Dahlqvist
Publ. Nov 2013, 438pp, Amazon/Barns&Noble/bookshops
ISBN 978-1493603251 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Surprise Dad by Jacqueline Diamond

Release Date - January 2013

Jacqueline Diamond

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

After her sister's death, Adrienne Cavill became her nephew's guardian. That little boy is everything to Adrienne, and news that his deadbeat father is coming back to town has Adriennne on high alert.

Wade Hunter only learned he was a father when his former girlfriend went into labor. He showed up at the hospital only to have her kick him out and threaten to charge him with abuse, something this new police officer didn't need on his record. Over the years, he paid child support, but he's always wanted to see his son. When he learns his ex is now dead, he's back in town and ready to become a father.

Soon, Adrienne and Wade are testing the waters to see how they can both raise the boy without stepping on each others' toes.

The Surprise Dad takes place around the holidays. I loved having the time period match the current season, though with the January release, readers will be getting this book after Christmas is over. It's still going to be a worthwhile read. I loved Wade's character. He hasn't had it easy between his domineering grandfather, alcoholic dad, and then bipolar ex. Adrienne is level headed too, and I liked that she usually considered her nephew's feelings over her own.

This is the 12th book in the Safe Harbor Medical Romance series. All of your favorite characters make appearances.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Win Your Own Copy of F. Paul Wilson's Dark City

Just in time for the holidays, win a copy of F. Paul Wilson's Dark City (A Repairman Jack: Early Years) novel.

Entering is easy.

1. Post a comment on this page or on the Dark City review by December 1st, 11:59 p.m. EST. Comments are moderated, so don't worry if it doesn't automatically appear. Make sure you check back on December 2nd to see if you are a winner. Winners will be given 24 hours to email me with a mailing address. If I do not get a response within the 24 hour period, I will select another winner.

2. For your safety, do not post your contact information online. If people do post contact information in a post, I do not have a way to edit posts, so I will not approve the comment.

3. The winner will be chosen at random. Winner must reside within the United States or Canada. Book is shipped from the publisher.

Dark City (Repairman Jack: Early Years) by F. Paul Wilson

Release Date - October 2013

F. Paul Wilson

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Dark City is the second book in the Repairman Jack: Early Years trilogy. I have a long history with F. Paul Wilson novels. Growing up, my Mom was a huge fan and read and reread The Keep on what seemed like a monthly basis. F. Paul Wilson had another series, the Repairman Jack series, that was also a mainstay in our home.

A year or so ago, I read the young adult series that introduced Jack as a youngster. The Early Years trilogy takes a step forward in time and introduces Jack in his early 20s. Dark City finds Jack trying to stay out of the way of a Dominican gang who is intent on making Jack pay for hurting one of them. He's also desperately trying to save his friend's bar, all while trying to keep a very low profile.

I've seen Dark City classified as both a horror and a fantasy. I don't really agree with either take. What this book is is a fascinating character study. Jack is the reason to read. Watching his character fight for justice, attempt to remain as off-grid as possible, and bond with the men and women in his life made for fun reading.

F. Paul Wilson is always a master at description. When Jack is sliced by a machete, I felt it. His joy driving around his new used car with he top down, even though it was March, and March in the Northeast is not usually warm. I could feel the wind chilling every bone in my face.

Should you read Dark City? I definitely say yes, but you'll also want to start  investing time in bookstores or the libraries reading other Repairman Jack books to see how all of these books work together to form a complete picture of one of the best heroes in fiction.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Just What Kind of Mother Are You by Paula Daly

Release Date - September 2013

Paula Daly
Grove Press

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

I actually received this book to review through Amazon. However, the site felt my first review contained an offensive word. Had they really read the context, they'd understand there was no offense intended, but since they wouldn't post it, I am putting it here instead.

Just What Kind of Mother Are You? threw me at first. Somehow, I missed the author was British. This isn't a bad thing. I find that British mysteries tend to capture the emotional side better, without glossing things over. There are great American mystery writers, but a lot of the books I have try so hard to bring everything to a happily ever after, that they lose the authenticity of the story. Paula Daly's debut novel blew me away.

Lisa Kallisto's world is shattered when her friend's daughter (Lucinda) disappears. Lisa blames herself because Lucinda was supposed to be with them for an overnight, but Lisa's daughter woke up and was sick, so they cancelled plans prior to the start of the school day. While Lucinda said she would inform her mother before going to school, it turns out, she never did. Now Lucinda is missing, and Lisa's kicking herself for not having contacted Lucinda's mother personally.

When Lisa learns Lucinda is missing, she heads to her friend Kate's house to talk to both Kate and the police. Kate is understandably shattered by Lucinda's disappearance and asks Lisa to find her daughter. Detective Constable Joanne Aspinall has her hands full investigating both Lucinda's disappearance and that involving a second local girl who vanished and was later found dumped after being raped. Lisa doesn't want to impede in the investigation, but as more is revealed, Lisa finds herself unprepared for some of the skeletons that have been hiding in closets in her small town.

I loved  all of the "days" (aka chapters) in Just What Kind of Mother Are You. The terminology and spellings are British, so readers will have to understand that one word that some find offensive, starts with an "F", simply means cigarette. I heard one person at a local library mention how offensive it was, but that's definitely not the case. It's simply a case of that person being ignorant to the differences between English and American terminology.

There are points in the story where the reader is taken into the abductor's mind. Those parts did creep me out. I didn't want to be told anything by that child-loving sicko, but it also added a new layer to the story that kept me on the edge of my seat.

Bottom line is that there are plenty of twists. As each secret is revealed, it becomes harder and harder to put the book down. I was riveted to every word and can't wait to see what Ms. Daly crafts in the future!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Book News: The Water Daughter by Marta Gottfried



Atlanta, GA, November 18, 2013 – An immortal, mythical man instructs a young woman through  ancient alchemical formulas in “The Water Daughter,” a New Age super-fiction by Marta Gottfried  Wiley.  As one of the Illuminati, St. Germain removes the mental and spiritual blockages built up throughout  this woman’s lifetime. He then initiates her into the higher realms of knowledge and secrets, by  discovering the water of life. 

The New Age knowledge within “The Water Daughter” is in depth, but written in an easy-to-read,  conversational style. Her mentor examines gravity, molecules, and the holistic world view of mind,  body and spirit. 
“Because we use only 10% of our minds, I believe anything is possible,” the author says. “The beauty of it is that there are spiritual laws that can be learned.” 
This book is an attempt to explore the hidden potential of man’s enlightenment through fiction. Marta Wiley’s extensive educational and personal experiences are evident. Each chapter, such as Elementals, Synthetic Stone, and The Black Hole, can be enjoyed individually, as they could easily 
stand alone. 
“The Water Daughter” interweaves mythology, personal history and fictional alchemical formulas  dealing with Gnosis and the true essence of life. With insightful and sometimes humorous episodes,  Marta adeptly shows that the Quintessence of knowledge has power and that power has laws. 
The 235-page books is released by Entry Way Publishing and is available in paperback and e-Book  at these onlinestorefronts:,, and
 About Marta Wiley
 Marta Gottfried Wiley is an accomplished multimedia artist of thousands of paintings. Of Mexican descent, she is unique as a figure painter, an innovator of styles and techniques, and a master  of various media. Marta also has hundreds of songs hitting the top charts on the radio, such as “Beggar” and “Signal.” She is the published author of “Ring of Light,” and now her newest, “The  Water Daughter.” She is working on her third book.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Thanksgiving by Ellen Cooney

Release Date - September 2013

Ellen Cooney

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Thanksgiving is a book that is going to stick with me for some time. I liked that each chapter was its own short story. There were times when the main character's story didn't pull me in as well as others, but the separation of time periods made it easy to put the book down, refresh, and then pick it back up.

 The book begins in 1662. Patience Morley is newly married, pregnant, and her relationship with her in-laws seems tedious at best. It's clear that while the couple were forced to marry, Caleb's father is not thrilled by this pairing. This is the start of the Massachusetts' Morley's that become the focal point of Thanksgiving.

Each chapter moves forward about a decade in time, working all the way up to present day. Along the way, the family lore is passed from one generation to the next. Families, particularly the woman telling each chapter, are all busy getting ready for Thanksgiving, so food usually makes an appearance, too. Family joys, tragedies, and triumphs all have their part in this book.

Anyone with a history in genealogy will adore Thanksgiving. I've read stories written by ancestors and the book captures the amazement I've felt while reading true accounts of things my ancestors have experienced. In the end, Thanksgiving made me think of those stories and how easy it is for people to forget what others went through to give us the freedom we have today.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Science, Statistics, and Skepticism - Fourat Janabi

Release Date - May 2013

Fourat Janabi

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Science, Statistics, and Skepticism is a tough book to review. It's very short, just 89 pages, but the price is well suited for a book of that size, so I definitely feel that readers get their money's worth. That said, I can't see this book appealing to a large market. It's highly specialized and based a lot of opinion and statistics that are already out there if you know where to look.

In Science, Statistics, and Skepticism, the author points out many situations where the statistics used to prove certain cases are flawed. He discusses whether GMO foods are really bad for  you, if vaccines are truly linked to autism, and whether or not climate change is affecting our world. This is only a small sampling.

That said, there are definitely times where I agree with the author. The increasing number of measles outbreaks, 159 in the U.S. as of August, this year is alarming. Polio is also on the rise. I know people who will dispute it saying vaccines are still unsafe, but I do find myself wondering what they'll say if their children develop one of these diseases.

There are other places where I'm not as convinced. Homeopathy remedies often contain ingredients not on the labels or in smaller quantities than the buyer believes. I will not argue that. However, I know for anxiety that I took medications for years, and these prescriptions didn't help. I switched to Rescue Remedy and the change was huge. It may be a case of mind over matter, but either way, homeopathic treatments made a difference. Would I solely use homeopathic now, certainly not, but for some things it works.

In the end, I think you really have to be interested in the subject matter for Science, Statistics, and Skepticism to be worth purchasing. It's one of those books that I read but never felt a "wow" factor.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Trial of Dr. Kate by Michael E. Glasscock III

Release Date - October 2013

Michael E. Glasscock III
Greenleaf Book Group Press

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Dr. Kate Marlow's impending trial has the town of Round Rock buzzing. Lillian Johnson, a young woman diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, was found dead in her wheelchair from a barbiturate overdose, and the needle next to her had Dr. Kate's fingerprints on it. Dr. Kate has no memory of the events, and that's not helping with her murder defense.

Journalist Shenandoah Coleman, a long-time friend of Kate, plans to cover the trial and unravel the truth. Shenandoah is certain Kate would never intentionally kill a patient. Someone wants Shenandoah out of town, however. Being sent clear messages like having all four tires slashed and getting run off the road, Shenandoah needs to stay on her toes to discover the truth and avoid harm.

This is the second book in the Round Rock series by Michael Glasscock III. The first novel, Little Joe, was a solid read, but The Trial of Dr. Kate is ever better. This one blends mystery with the stunning setting and quaint town.

I got caught up in the mystery. It's not one that is easily solved, and the twist ending definitely fit well with the rest of the story. With two more books to go in the Round Rock series, I can't wait to see what happens next. Don't worry about reading the books in order, each one contains new characters with minimal crossovers, so you can read them alone or together and not miss a beat.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Little Joe by Michael Glasscock III

Release Date - June 2013

Michael Glasscock III
Greenleaf Book Group Press

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

I admit to being pleasantly surprised by Little Joe, the first in the Round Rock series. Little Joe Stout and his parents are in the middle of a move when their car goes off the road. Little Joe's parents die, and he's left with minor injuries. Filled with grief and shock, Little Joe is sent to his maternal grandparents' farm.

At the farm, the boy's grandparents seem unprepared to raise a nine-year-old boy. The trio struggle with grief, new responsibilities, and forming an unconventional family unit. Things seem far harder on Little Joe who is thrown into a new world of rules unlike those he was raised to follow, chores that take up much of his free time, and grandparents who try their hardest but still seem not to have a clue on how to be a parent to a young boy.

I wasn't sure what to make of Little Joe as I started reading. It seemed to me that his grandparents needed to be a little more lenient when it came to all the rule changes - no radio before homework, eat this food even if it is much fattier than what your mother prepared, etc. Despite this, the trio forged an amazing relationship that kept me engrossed as I'd read Joe's next adventure and his grandparents' reactions and incorporation of a lesson to be learned from the behavior.

Before long, I'd finished the novel and was so happy I did. It captures the times nicely, and often I found myself reminiscing of my own grandmother who seemed very much like Frances. It's a feel-good story that creates a setting and mood that make you want to stay with the family for a long time.

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Founding Fathers Cookbook

Release Date - October 29, 2013

Founding Fathers
Andrews McMeel Publishing

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Founding Fathers are restaurants located in Maryland and Washington D.C. The goal is for all foods served within the restaurant to come directly from the farm to the diners' tables. Menu items vary, but there are delicious appetizers like Maine lobster Devil-ish Eggs to Low Country Shrimp and Grits.

The Founding Fathers Cookbook takes some of the best recipes from the restaurants and makes them available for anyone to make at home. The cookbook starts with a little about the restaurants and delves into pantry supplies to keep on hand. Recipes are broken down into these categories:

  • Pickles, Seasonings, and Sauces
  • Starters and Snacks (Find the aforementioned Devil-ish Eggs recipe in here)
  • Fresh Garden Salads
  • Sandwiches and Burgers
  • Signatures (Find Low Country Shrimp and Grits here)
  • Fresh Catches
  • Handmade Pasta (Not all of the recipes use homemade pasta, so that threw me off a little)
  • From the Ranch
  • Holidays on the Farm
  • Crop List Sides
  • Desserts and Baked Goods
  • Breakfast and Brunch
  • Meat Free
  • Soda and Sippers

I love the recipe for Red Flannel Hash, something that always takes me back to my childhood. The other recipe that I plan to try this week - Cabbage, Kale, and Pears. I imagine all three will be an amazing side dish.

The recipes are clear and appear to be easy to follow. I think anyone with a little experience in the kitchen will have no problems putting these dishes together. With a huge variety of recipes to choose from and helpful tips along the way (such as how to poach an egg), this is a great addition to any cookbook collector's library or a nice treat for someone looking to cook farm-to-table.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Temptation Bay by Anna Sullivan

Release Date - December 2013

Anna Sullivan
Hatchette Book Group

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Temptation Bay, A Windfall Island Novel, is the first in a new series set in Maine. It's no secret that I love Maine. I love the people, the scenery, and the foods. Anna Sullivan's new novel captures the magic of Maine.

Charter pilot Maggie Solomon loves the island she calls home. She had a bit of a tough upbringing with a military father who disliked her independent nature. She never expects to find herself falling for a man who drives her crazy. Especially when that same man really won't tell anyone why he's come to their island.

Dexter Keegan is on Windfall Island to research the kidnapping of an infant decades ago. The missing infant's ancestors believe she may have survived an explosion that officials believed killed the infant. Dexter's case involves determining if the infant did in fact survive and if she may have left heirs. If she did survive, anyone heirs are worth a lot of money.

It isn't long before Maggie's hard shell is softening and letting Dexter in. She's falling in love with a man who is completely wrong for her, and who plans to leave the island as soon as his case is solved.

It took me a bit to get into the story. I didn't enjoy Maggie. She came off as a little too bitchy, especially with a stranger. As the story progressed, however, I did grow to like her, and I certainly adored Dex. Before long, I was hooked and couldn't put the book down.

I am really looking forward to the next novel. Maggie's business partner, a single mom, is ready for love, and it looks like she's about to find the perfect match!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

A Fool's Gold Christmas by Susan Mallery

Release Date - October 29, 2013

Susan Mallery

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

It's Evie Stryker's turn for finding true love in the charming town of Fool's Gold. Evie grew up never fitting in with her older brothers, and she certainly never felt much in the way of affection from her mother. Following an injury, Evie is back in Fool's Gold, with no intentions on sticking around. She gets a little more than she bargained for when the head of the dance studio she's working at takes off. There are just weeks to the annual Christmas presentation and Evie doesn't know a thing about the production.

Evie has another struggle to deal with. Her mom wants to make amends, and Evie isn't sure she's read or willing. Add in the attraction to her brother Rafe's business partner, Dante Jefferson, and Evie quickly finds her life being turned upside down.

There are two things I love about the Fool's Gold series. First, I adore getting to see how couples from previous books are progressing. Then there are the main characters who find themselves in a relationship, but not sure if it's the right thing for them at the time. It's so much fun seeing these characters you've met in previous books find their own chance at lasting romance.

I liked Evie. She's tough, but also jaded because of her past. Dante's a bit of an idiot at times, but he's a good match for her. I also liked seeing some characters who have their own stories out there, just waiting to be read.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Night Tide by Michael Sherer

Release Date - September 2013

Michael Sherer
Cutter Press

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Blake Sanders is not having the best of days. Smelling gas and watching the homeowner run back into the house just as it explodes, isn't a great start. Things get worse when he learns his former best friend is out of jail and may be gunning for him.That's a lot for any man to deal with, but it gets even better when he reaches home and finds Keeley Radcliffe on his doorstep.

Keeley's sister was killed in the same event that put Blake's former best friend in jail. She's convinced there is more to the story and wants Blake to find out what really happened 20 years ago. He immediately refuses. Later, at a dinner with a friend and his friend's parents, Blake is stunned when gunmen approach the home and shoot his friend while his friend's supposedly loving parents flee. When the parents' disappearance and events from 20 years ago seem to link up, Blake has no choice but to look into a history he's been trying desperately to forget.

There are so many characters in Night Tide! I admit, I had to rely on a technique I use when I start to get bogged down by too many characters at once. Eventually, keeping notes paid off and I could focus on the story without having to backtrack and figure out the who's who angle.

After becoming adjusted to the characters, past storyline and present day storyline, I settled in and found this to be a very enjoyable suspense. I do think I would have enjoyed it more had I read the first Blake Sanders novel. I felt, at times, like knowing Blake's background would have been beneficial. Still, this is a fine suspense story that kept me hooked.

The Road to Christmas: A Sweet Holiday Romance Novel by Sheila Roberts

Release Date - September 20, 2022  Sit down and explore the holiday season through four sets of eyes in Sheila Roberts' latest holiday...