Showing posts from 2015

Welcome to Crossroads, Texas: Setting for Ransom Canyon

Jodi Thomas brings a new community to life in her August 2015 release titled Ransom Canyon. A number of characters get to tell their story in this atmospheric romance of sorts. There is a prequel that also came out in August, but at 50 pages, Winter's Camp sets things up at the Kirkland ranch and Ransom Canyon completes them.

Staten Kirkland does what his father did not do. Staten runs the family ranch, while his father is busy being a Washington politician. Staten loves his work, he loves his ranch, and it's always been the perfect distraction for Staten. You see, Staten's wife died years ago, and that tragic loss was followed by the death of Staten's son. The only thing keeping Staten from breaking down is his relationship with his deceased wife's best friend, Quinn.

Quinn's loved Staten for as long as she can remember. Being Staten's shelter in the storm is enough for Quinn. After all, she is being chased by her own demons.

Also earning his place in Rans…

Sophie Littlefield - The Guilty One

I loved author Sophie Littlefield'sHouse of Glass and Garden of Stones. Her August 2015 Gallery Books release, The Guilty One, is another thought-provoking novel.

Housewife and mother Maris never expects her world to turn upside down. Since her daughter's murder, her marriage is done. Her sister is expecting her to move in, but Maris doesn't know what she wants. Getting through each day is a challenge enough. When the father of the young man who allegedly killed Maris's daughter calls her from the Golden Gate Bridge, Maris drives to the bridge to stop him from killing himself.

This kicks Maris into action. She leaves her home, heads out on her own, and ends up in an area that's nothing like people would expect of her. She also ends up befriending people who are not people Maris would usually associate with. As she spends time with this new crowd, in a new area, Maris is able to find herself.

I cannot say I liked The Guilty One as much as I liked House of Glass, bu…

Debut from Andria Williams

The Longest Night (January 12, 2016) is the debut novel from Andria Williams. It's set in the 1950s, which makes it historical to me, but to some it may be a blast from the past. Paul and Nat Collier leave San Diego for Idaho Falls. There, Paul will work at a local nuclear plant, while Nat is to raise their daughters and become part of the military community. It isn't long before Paul realizes the issues with the plant and, perhaps more troubling, the knowledge that he's supposed to keep it quiet.

When Paul is sent to the Arctic for confronting his superior, a pregnant Nat is left in Idaho Falls with no real friends and two young girls to care for. When her car breaks down, she befriends a local mechanic, something definitely frowned upon in this era, so Nat is forced to keep her meetings with Esrom secret.

As The Longest Night ended up being a study of the times and what was expected of Paul, a military member, and Nat, a headstrong woman. Nat simply cannot understand why…

Happy Holidays

Hope everyone has a happy holiday season. Plenty of merriment, time with loved ones, and relaxation.

Those of us in the east are having a snow-free, very warm Christmas. First time I've ever gotten my idea of what winter should be like. for those who miss it, here's a picture from last year!

Jackie Bouchard's Rescue Me, Maybe

Released in August 2015, Rescue Me, Maybe shares the tale of Jane Bailey. Newly widowed, Jane is embarrassed to say that it's her beloved beagle she misses more than her husband. She's hiding that she fell out of love with him some time ago. Her mother-in-law takes over the funeral, doing things Ryan would have hated, and Jane doesn't have the energy to fight. The loss of her beagle has left her empty.

Philadelphia was Ryan's plan, so Jane's heading back to San Diego where her friends and former life are. She agrees, albeit a bit begrudgingly, to stop in Prescott, Arizona, and help run her aunt and uncle's bed and breakfast while they go across country. Two things happen. One, during her trip, Jane finds a beautiful stray, even though a replacement dog is the last thing she needs. Two, Jane finds herself enjoying Prescott, even if the guests are generally pains in the butt and the hunky handyman next door is getting on her nerves. As much as she finds herself …

Bricking It: New Novel from Nick Spalding

Imagine inheriting a large farmhouse in the British countryside. Now imagine finding the house is in horrid condition. That's exactly what happens to brother and sister Dan and Hayley Daley. They never knew their grandmother owned a house. They also have no idea how they'll be able to sell it in the state it's in. When Hayley learns renovating the house will drastically raise the amount they can sell it for, she and Dan start the tedious path of home renovations.

Along the way, Dan and Hayley begin working with a quirky architect with little to no fashion sense, a contractor who isn't as he seems, and even the host of a popular television series involving home renovations. There's even a mystery cow that comes and goes and finds herself in the oddest of places.

Nick Spalding dishes up humor, as well as a dose of the harsh realities that come with home building and renovations. I'm not sure I'd count this as a keeper, but it was definitely a humorous, enjoy…

Summer on Lover's Island - Cute Romance That Left Me With One Minor Complaint

Maine may not be my home, but it should be. Yearly trips to Bailey Island, Saco, Ogunquit, Wells, or York have been going on for as long as I can remember. I love it there and always feel sad when it's time to leave. Donna Alward's Jewell Cove novels always take me back to the coast, even if I'm not really there. The setting in Summer on Lover's Island is just part of this romance's allure.

Lizzie Howard's fast-lane lifestyle has gotten the best of her. She's in Jewell Cove to temporarily take over for her best friend Charlie who is weeks away from giving birth. As one of the town's two doctors, Charlie knows a replacement is necessary and she thinks Lizzie is perfect for the job. Lizzie, however, is used to the fast pace of an ER, so this is only temporary.

The other doctor at the family practice, Dr. Josh Collins, proves to be a tempting way to spend her personal time. Lizzie knows she's playing with fire, after all her last relationship with a d…

This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

Release Date - January 5, 2016

Marieke Nijkamp
Sourcebooks Fire

Book Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

This Is Where It Ends is completely heartbreaking, yet I could not put it down. It's a work of fiction, but it's also so real that it seems ripped from the headlines. As the parent of a teenager, I cried for each and every character in this book. I am also so thankful that the two lockdowns my teen's high school had to do ended up being minor situations.

It starts as any typical high school morning begins. Students show up, albeit begrudgingly for some, and head to the auditorium for a school assembly. They know the principal's speech, many seniors can recite it verbatim. No one expects to finally be dismissed, only to find the doors locked and a shooter among them. Trapped, these kids now face the most horrific event of their lives.

Told from the viewpoint of the shooter's sister, the shooter's ex-girlfriend, the shooter's sister's best friend, and the broth…

Catherine Ryan Hyde - Ask Him Why

Catherine Ryan Hyde, perhaps best known for her bestseller Pay It Forward, has a new release from Lake Union Publishing/Amazon. December 15th's release spends a little over a decade looking at one young man's actions and the effect is has on a family.

Ask Him Why tells the story of Ruth, a 15 year old, her 13-year-old brother Aubrey, and their older brother Joseph. Joseph is serving overseas in Baghdad when a decision he makes thrusts everyone in his family into the media and tears the family apart. This one action leads to series of events that will change Ruth and Aubrey's lives forever.

Some books grab you with the setting, and others do with the characters. In this case, it is the situation that kept me hooked. The exact details into the decision Joseph makes is really kept secret for some length of time, so there's that to keep you reading. It's the family dynamics that I found most absorbing. This isn't a likable family for the most part and Ruth cues the …

Nine Lives: One Unique Town and One Troublesome Death

Wendy Corsi Staub is back with the debut of a new mystery series. After her husband dies, Bella Jordan and her young son have no choice but to pack up and head for Chicago to live with Bella's late husband's mother. Their trip takes a bit of a detour thanks to car problems, and Bella and Max end up in the small New York town of Lily Dale, a town populated by mediums.

In Lily Dale, things seem too good to be true. Bella is offered a job managing a local inn, as the owner's mysterious death has left everyone reeling. With no one to take over the inn during the town's busy season, they need Bella. Her son's already made a friend, the inn's pregnant cat seems to have bonded with him, and this offer does seem too good for Bella to pass up, so she accepts. It quickly becomes apparent that Leona's death was no accident, and the killer's not done yet.

Nine Lives did keep me guessing. I had the killer pegged wrong, and that's something I do enjoy. Many myster…

Meet Dahlia Moss in Max Wirestone's New Novel

I'm not big into the online MMORPG world, though I know many who are. In Max Wirestone's The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss, meet Dahila Moss, a quirky 20-something who's down on her luck. She can't land a job, her boyfriend dumped her for another woman, and she has no money for rent. Dahlia's currently living with her eccentric friend and trying desperately to get back on her feet.

Enter Jonah. He approaches Dahlia at her friend's party and offers her $2k if she'll find who stole the Bejeweled Spear of Infinite Piercing from him in the online game Kingdom of Zoth. It's a weird request, but Dahlia needs the money. When Jonah turns up dead, Dahlia's offered even more money by his parents to arrange a virtual service in the game. Soon the lines of game and reality blur as the killer used a replica spear to kill Jonah and she's determined to find out who and why.

Max Wirestone's novel came out in October 2015, so you'll find it in sto…

Horror Anthology - Seize the Night by Kelley Armstrong et al

Seize The Night: 
New Tales Of Vampiric Terror
By Christopher Golden, ED.
Gallery. 97814767830930

Reviewed by Jessica Maguire

You're not ready to pack away the thrills, chills, and terror of Halloween just yet? Not to worry. You may have to pack away the decorations and work off that leftover candy, but the terror will continue when you pick up Seize The Night.

Seize The Night is a delightfully scary collection of short stories sure to delight and terrify. Featured authors include Laird Barron, Dana Cameron, Michael Koryta, and many more.

I typically do not enjoy vampire and other horror stories. I find them to be usually too bloody with little substance. However, much to my delight, I find the stories in this anthology to be intelligent, thought provoking, and scary. To me, the scariest stories leave something to my imagination, and that is what these stories do.

My favorite story of the bunch is “Up In Old Vermont”, written by Scott Smith. The creatures terrorizing the V…

I Don't Walk to Talk About It - A Touch Predictable, Yet Still Very Satisfying

Jane Lovering's latest entry to her Yorkshire Romances series brings readers into the heart of an area that is near and dear to me. It's the area where my own Mum grew up and where many relatives still live. The setting of I Don't Want to Talk About It intrigued me. In fact, the characters did too. The only downfall is that I knew what was going on from a few chapters in, so one of the big surprises wasn't much of a surprise at all.

Her boyfriend (Dan) gave an ultimatum that Winter Gregory couldn't face - him or her twin sister. With that, she packed up her things and rented a cottage in a small village in Yorkshire. There, she hopes to finish the work on her new book without Dan in her way. The problem is that in addition to being her boyfriend, Dan is also Winter's editor.

While photographing gravestones, Winter is interrupted by a precocious young girl whose mother died. Scarlet seems desperate for a female role model, and Winter admits she's intrigued b…

His Right Hand by Mette Ivie Harrison

Release Date - December 2015

Mette Ivie Harrison
Soho Crime

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Linda Wallheim is the wife of a Mormon bishop. She's raised her sons, she assists in their community as needed, but her evening is not off to a great start when she gets into a slight argument with a neighbor and fellow Mormon. Later, Carl Ashby is found dead, and that's when things really take a weird turn. Linda soon learns that Carl was, in fact, born a woman.

With police doing all they can to find Carl's killer, Linda delves into the case herself. The Mormon church's higher-ups may be trying to keep the entire case hush-hush and make it go away, but Linda feels she owes Carl and his family more. She is determined to unravel the events leading to Carl's death.

I had a friend in high school who was Mormon, and I never knew that the coffee she drank was against her religion. That tidbit is something that stuck with me as I read His Right Hand. The details into Linda and her …

Mandy Baxter Kicks Off the Holidays With a Billionaire Rancher Book

The name Mandy Baxter immediately brought to mind the character from Tim Allen's hit TV show, but this Mandy Baxter has an appealing series that kept me wanting more.

Nate Christensen wants nothing from his late father. Not the family business and certainly not a dime of his money. He's also had it with woman who are after his family's money. Enter Chloe Benson. Chloe desperately needs money to keep her charitable organization afloat, but after meeting Nate, she doesn't have the heart to ask him for a donation. She's immediately attracted to him.
After a passionate night together, Chloe's convinced Nate might be Mr. Right. That definitely creates a problem with getting the donation she needs. She knows he hates everything about his family's money, but is it possible to prove to Nate that he can have it all?
Every ounce of Holidays With a Billionaire screams - this isn't going to go over well. Yet, despite knowing that Chloe was walking on thin ice, I f…

A Taste of Sake: An Exercise in When You Just Dislike the Characters

There's one thing that always kills a book for me and that's disliking the characters. Number one of my list of complaints come characters who have a good thing in front of them, but they are apparently too blind to see it. That's my problem with A Taste of Sake.

Lyrical Shine - October 27, 2015

With a gorgeous setting, everything is set for Sauvignon St. Pierre's vineyard wedding. Her sisters, Merlot and Chardonney, are just as excited as she is. However, the crash landing of a helicopter rushes the ceremony. The St. Pierre sisters' father didn't quite nail his landing, sending his surprise guest to the hospital. Turns out he had an affair with a Japanese woman that produced one more daughter - Sake.

Sake grew up always on the move and rarely in a good situation. She's tough, not thrilled with her situation, and definitely annoyed that her one true friend, her dog, isn't allowed at the St. Pierre estate. That's where realtor Bill Diamond comes in. …

Chilling European Mystery: Mark Edwards' Follow You Home

In a chilling mystery by Mark Edwards, readers are taken on a frightening adventure across Europe. While I remained on the edge of my seat, there were definitely moments when I wondered why on earth they didn't spill their story when they reached an embassy. That's definitely impacting my overall thoughts when it comes to the book review.

June 2015 Release from Thomas and Mercer

Daniel and Laura are madly in love. Before returning to their London home where they plan to settle down and raise a family, they decide to travel around Europe and have the experience of a lifetime. Things go south in Romania when they meet another couple. Opting to take the couple up on their offer to wake them up at their stop, Daniel and Laura sneak into an empty sleeper cabin and take a nap. When they wake up, their belongings, including their passports, are gone. The female from the other couple acts as a translator when the guard comes through looking for tickets, but the trio end up getting ki…

Cozy Mysteries: One of My Secret Indulgences

Alibi Release Date - November 17, 2015

Cozy mysteries are an indulgence of mine, so it's not surprising that I am always eager to review a new entry to the genre. Caroline Fardig'sDeath by Decaf is a fun addition to the world of cozy mysteries. If you are a fan of Joanne Fluke, Diane Mott Davidson, or Jessica Conant-Park (all my favorites), check out the first novel in Caroline Fardig's A Java Jive Mystery series.

Juliet "Jules" Langley may not have made much of her music career, but she was very proud of the cafe she owned with her fiance. When he takes all of her money and runs off with her waitress, Jules is forced to return home to run a long-time friend's coffeeshop. Her first day doesn't go well. She fights with the head chef and then finds his body in the shop's dumpster.

With the police considering her their prime suspect, Jules decides to start investigating the case in her spare time. Soon, she's making enemies and up to her neck in trou…

One Nor'Easter Changes Lives in This Holiday Romance

A St. Martin's Paperbacks October 2015 Release

Here's another Christmas romance to get you in a holiday mood. The small town of Jewell Cove is in the midst of a Nor'Easter and Officer Todd Ricker is out patrolling the snowy roads to ensure no one is stranded. He does come across a stranded traveler and brings him to the only inn that might have room left. By the time Todd and his new passenger arrive at Evergreen Inn, he cannot get home either, so innkeeper Lainey Price offers to let him spend the night on her sofa in her carriage house.

The pair have known each other for a long time, and Todd's never given Lainey the time of day. Todd may still be a hottie, but Lainey no longer cares. Christmas is here, and Lainey has other things on her mind anyway. And, none of her plans involve having any holiday spirit or attempting a second chance at love.

Christmas at Evergreen Inn is a holiday novella. It's short and sweet and really won't take many readers more than an…

Disillusioned Hero Meets Determined Caregiver Heroine and Loses His Heart

Harlequin/MIRA September 2015 Release

Have you seen Hilary Swank's emotional movie You're Not You? In essence, Emmy Rossum's character in that movie reminded me a bit of Faith McCallum in Susan Wiggs' new novel.

Faith is a widowed mom of two girls and her late husband's medical bills have left her struggling to get by. Her older daughter, Cara, dreams of colleges that Faith could never afford. Her younger daughter, a very precocious child, has Type 1 Diabetes, a condition that also drives up their living expenses. Faith applies for a job caring for a quadriplegic and is stunned to get the job, even after completely missing the interview.
Mason Bellamy needs to find his mother a caregiver so that he can get back to his life in Manhattan. He bought his mom a lavish manor in the Catskills, had it fixed up to suit her needs, but she's burning through caregivers like crazy. When Alice tumbles down the stairs just before Mason's brother is heading out of state…

A Christmas Romance Book Review: Home For Christmas (Sanctuary Island)

St. Martin's - October 2015

I've been spending the past few weeks really studying SEO due to a job change. One thing I've learned is that following a strict format when it comes to articles and blogs is not ideal. Given that, I'm switching things up and skipping a more formal look.

Christmas is around the corner, and that means the rush of Christmas novels is hitting stores. Lily Everett'sHome For Christmas takes readers to a place near and dear to my heart, the eastern coast.

Libby Leeds rarely has to go out of her house. She's content with her job as a newspaper columnist, but she hides a few secrets. First, she's not happily married as she claims. Second, she cannot cook. Third, she doesn't live on Sanctuary Island, her family's home. After her parents died in a tragic accident, Libby left the island to live with her uncle, and she hasn't seen her grandfather since.

When her publisher informs her that she is going to host a warm, cozy Christm…

Heartsong Cottage by Emily March

Release Date - November 3, 2015

Emily March
St. Martins

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Heartsong Cottage is apparently the 10th entry into Emily March's An Eternity Springs Novel series. I swore I'd reach others, but I cannot find reviews, so I'm questioning myself. The town and some of the characters definitely seemed familiar to me.

In this latest entry, which does stand alone, Daniel Garrett is still reeling from the tragic death of his son and then the suicide of his wife. He left the police force and works as a private investigator specializing in missing children. Shannon O'Toole is also reeling, though her grief stems from the death of her fiance and the secret she's been hiding for far too long.

Shannon and Daniel become attracted to one another, but their pasts threaten any kind of future together. Can they overcome their fears and find true love once again?

For me, Heartsong Cottage was a little slow going in terms of building any meaningful relationship. …

Ninja Baby by David Zeltser with Illustrations by Diane Goode

Book Release - November 3, 2015

David Zeltser
Diane Goode
Chronicle Kids

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Here's a perfect choice for preparing your child for a new sibling. Ninja Baby tells the tale of Nina. From the moment of her arrival, Nina was something special, a real ninja. She's mastered many powerful ninja skills, including making herself seem invisible to mastering the art of hand-to-hand combat during diaper changes.

One day, Nina's not the only kid in the house. Her parents bring home the Kung Fu Master who is skilled in making adults carry him at all times and getting adults to ooh and ahh over him with a single look. Nina wants to know what makes this Kung Fu Master so powerful. She's determined to master his skills.

The touches of humor and doses of what it's really like being a parent make this a winner in my book. I definitely remember the speed at which a diaper change could go horribly, horribly wrong with the quick move of a little hand. I also re…

Life and Other Near-Death Experiences by Camille Pagan

Release Date - November 2015

Camille Pagan
Lake Union

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Life and Other Near-Death Experiences hooked me and hooked me hard. Right off the bat, I was angry, sad, and hopeful for Libby Miller, the story's heroine. On the same day her doctor tells her she has a rare, tough-to-beat cancer, she learns a terrible secret about her husband, one that shatters their marriage.

With little hope, Libby rents a cottage in Puerto Rico and sets off on a journey to live her final days in glorious fashion. The last thing she expects is to find the potential to start a brand new life surrounded by new friends and a man who would do anything to win her heart.

I loved Libby's story. Despite everything that's thrown her way, she approaches it with a fierce honesty that had me rooting for her. She's vibrant, courageous, and incredibly likable. The story itself has a touch of romance and lots of humor. It's a feel-good story that left me craving more.

Hot Toy by Jennifer Crusie

Release Date - October 2015

Jennifer Crusie
St. Martins

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Short and sweet, Hot Toy is perfect for filling in time between holiday baking sessions and errands, The thing with Hot Toy is that it is really short. It's a novella that appeared in 2006's Santa Baby anthology. I read it in half an hour.

Trudy is determined to get the hot toy of the season for her nephew, especially knowing his lousy father promised the boy and then put no effort into finding one. Not only is this toy turning out to be impossible to find, but Trudy's former date, a man who never called her again, shows up seeking the exact same toy. Miracles do occur and with some determined searching, Trudy finds one toy left, but that leads to more chaos than she could ever imagine. Chaos that threatens to put her in the middle of a major investigation.

Jennifer Crusie's story contains plenty of humor, sparks of romance, and lots of fun. It's just so short that it seemed over…

Damage Done by Amanda Panitch

Release Date - July 2015

Amanda Panitch
Random House

Book Review by Jessica Maguire

I'm guessing that young adult readers, ages 14 and up, will enjoy this novel as much as I did. Lucy Black is an interesting and intriguing protagonist. Sure, she's just an ordinary teenager, living with her parents, going to school, and catching the eye of the school's hottest guy. Or so it seems.
Nothing in this novel turns out to be quite what it appears to be. Lucy didn't start out life as Lucy. In another time, another place, she was Julia Vann and Julia had twin brother. But a tragedy left Julia an only child.
Just as Julia is finally getting used to being Lucy and getting settled into her new life, a person from her past shows up and starts following her. Lucy is terrified and wants to know why this figure from her past has returned.
But what is Lucy so scared of? What horrible secrets does her past hold? I won't tell you! But what I will tell you is that it may not be what you thi…

Wait for Signs: Twelve Longmire Stories by Craig Johnson

Release Date - October 27, 2015

Craig Johnson

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Longmire fans who have already binged on the latest season and all the books will be delighted by this collection of stories from the sheriff's life. Wait for Signs features a dozen short stories based on Walt's past and present, and each one is a delight.

I admit I only discovered Longmire this summer, and I binge watched every season, including season 4. The chemistry between the characters is sublime. Those same relationships carry through in the books, though there are differences between the television show and the books. I found those differences easy to adjust to, however, so it wasn't that big a deal.

With a dozen short stories, it didn't take long to work my way through Wait for Signs. While I could mention them all, I wanted to focus on my favorites.

Hands down, Ministerial Aid was my favorite story in the collection. This story captures the very essence of what I find so ende…

Chaos Theory by M. Evonne Dobson

Release Date - February 2015

M. Evonne Dobson
The Poisoned Pencil

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Chaos Theory is the first in a teen mystery series featuring 17-year-old Kami, her best friends, and a "bad boy" who was sent away after his sister overdosed. In addition, Kami's beloved grandmother died, and that's left Kami reeling. She sees the opportunity to figure out what really happened to Daniel's sister and clear Daniel's name.

There are things I loved about Chaos Theory. Each of the characters was well developed and likable. Yet, I often found myself questioning the reality. As a parent of a 19 year old, there's no way at 17 that I would have let her put herself in harm's way to go undercover and find a drug dealer. I just can't imagine parents like Kami's agreeing to that.

That said, that's not something that most teens will think about when reading this story. I think it will have great appeal with readers who are looking for a moder…

Content, Inc. by Joe Pulizzi

Release Date - September 2015

Joe Pulizzi
McGraw-Hill Education

Content marketing is something I have spent years doing. Not for myself, but I work with website design and management firms to create SEO content for their sites. Therefore, I was interested to hear what Joe Pulizzi, CEO of CopyBlogger, had to say. First off, I love his approachable, honest writing style. That drew me in.

The book is broken into eight main parts:

Starting the JourneyThe Sweet SpotThe Content TiltBuilding the BaseHarvesting AudienceDiversificationMonetizationNext-Level Content
Most of his advice is spot on and I learned a thing or two along the way. Personally, I prefer working with another company, so I'm happy where I am. But if you want to do it all yourself, this is a must-read business guide. I found myself taking notes along the way, especially with guides to helpful calendar apps and programs, I've yet to find one I love, so I stick to Google's calendar, but I don't love it.

There are…

Undertow by Michael Buckley

Release Date - May 2015

Michael Buckley
HMH Books for Young Readers

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

At 16, the last thing any teen needs is to fear her entire family being arrested. For Lyric, that is her biggest fear. The world she's living in isn't the world that used to be, not since a huge number of sea people called Alphas, came out of the ocean at Coney Island and prove to be the biggest threat the world has ever faced. Even worse, the President has made it clear that this new race will be allowed into schools, and that's not going over well.

Things couldn't possibly get more dangerous, until Lyric is forced to befriend the Alpha prince attending her school. Now taunted by her peers for being a "fish lover," she does what she can to do what she's been told to do without getting killed by the humans who are most adamantly against Alphas being part of their community. When she begins falling for Fathom, she realizes that she's in way over her head,…

The Cow Tripped Over the Moon by Jeanne Willis and Joel Stewart

Release Date - May 2015

Jeanne Willis
Joel Stewart
Candlewick Press

The Cow Tripped Over the Moon offers an unusual “take” on traditional familiar nursery rhymes. Where most readers might see just a child’s nursery rhyme, Jeanne Willis envisions a medical emergency, which means that in this picture book the Storyland ambulance and medics must rush to the scene to take care of the characters with bumps and bruises.
For example, when the cow tries to jump over the moon, she trips and falls, grazing her knees and chipping a hoof. Then there’s a little mishap involving Rock-a-Bye -Baby. The wind breaks the branch she is rocking on and Baby and her rocking bed falls into a compost heap. She isn’t hurt, fortunately, but the infant now needs a bath.
And so it goes. Humpty Dumpty takes a fall and Little Boy Blue is taking a nap when a stack of hay topples over onto him. It seems to be just one thing after another, but the ambulance crew is always able to take care of the problem.

Granted this i…

If the Shoe Fits by Sandra D. Bricker

Release Date - May 2013

Sandra D. Bricker
River North

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

If the Shoe Fits is meant to be a take of the classic Cinderella tale, but it has a bit of a twist that makes it unique. Prince Charming in this case is a mystery man. Julianne is on her way to court when she almost hits the car in front of her, and before she knows it, some tall, handsome man is running into the road to rescue a dog that's just been hit. She's certain he could be her knight in shining armor, but he's in his truck and driving away before she can even process things. All that's left behind is the man's tool box and one work boot.

Will has been Julianne's best friend since they were 10. He's fallen for her, but she considers them friends and business partners, nothing more, nothing less. As much as Will would love to be so much more to Julianne, her new goal is to find the mystery man and prove that he is Mr. Right. Much to Will's dismay, it may well be ti…

An Endless Christmas by Cynthia Ruchti

Release Date - October 13, 2015

Cynthia Ruchti

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

An Endless Christmas kicks off my start to the holiday reading season. This is a very quick-to-read, heartwarming tale of love, family, and the holiday spirit.

Meeting her boyfriend's entire family in one shot is stressful enough, but Katie never expects Micah to propose to her as soon as they walk in the door. Surrounded by strangers, Katie has to break Micah's heart and tell him no.

Surprisingly, Katie still finds herself taken into Micah's family's home and treated to one of the most memorable holiday seasons ever.

This is a charming story, though it did turn a little too preachy for my own personal tastes a couple of times. It is a religious novel, however, so I can't blame it. I just have this thing with having religion thrown into the story in a manner in which it pulls me from the story.

Woman With a Secret by Sophie Hannah

Release Date - August 2015

Sophie Hannah
William Morrow

Book Review by Bob Walch

Thanks to the Internet you can create a fantasy world and relationships with individuals you never expect to actually meet in a face to face situation. For Nicki Clements this provides the opportunity to enjoy a secret life quite different from the one she lives with her husband and children.
Nicki’s online email “connection” is with a man who wants her to share a secret or two she’s never divulged to anyone else. Perhaps because of the anonymity of the situation or because she has an urge to unburden herself , Nicki agrees. Granted this is perhaps not a sound idea, but once the emails begin flying back and forth, Nicki is hooked and becomes quite candid with information that’s been locked away for quite some time.
Then disaster strikes in a way Nicki never imagined. She is arrested for the murder of her correspondent, a man she has never met face to face. Although she isn’t guilty of this crime, Nicki’s s…

Big Bear Little Chair by Lizi Boyd

Release Date - October 6, 2015

Lizi Boyd
Chronicle Kids

There's something to be said about a children's picture book that captures both an artistic and educational aspect. The text sizes and simple word choices make it easy for a child to read without even knowing they are reading. Words like "big" and "bear" are paired with illustrations that clearly demonstrate exactly what those words are. This makes it an ideal choice for the child just learning to read.

The artistic nature is what impressed me just as much. The author/illustrator sticks to three colors in Big Bear Little Chair - red, white, and black. The white and black may combine to form gray, but generally those are the three colors you'll find. It becomes very pleasing to the eye and made this book stand out. Usually, I'd say if my children were still little, this would be a definite addition to my shelf. In this case, I can say that my daughter who is studying graphic design at Champlain C…

Crooked Little Lies by Barbara Taylor Sissel

Release Date - August 2015

Barbara Taylor Sissel
Lake Union Publishing

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

A devastating fall left Lauren Wilder with injuries and a dependence on pain killers. Numerous counseling sessions later, Lauren believes she has ended her dependency on these drugs, but memory lapses often have her doubting herself. All of this becomes a focal point when Lauren almost hits a young man while driving. She stops to make sure he's okay, and his response, while slightly unusual, makes her call the police to do a welfare check. When she spies him getting into the car with a woman he clearly knows, she thinks all is okay.

Days later, Lauren learns the young man is missing, and she's the last person police can confirm he spoke to. Lauren's memory gaps become alarming to her. As police start eyeing her as a suspect, she urgently looks into the case on her own to discover the truth behind everything she saw that day and what really happened to Bo Laughlin.

Crooked L…

Check Out These Action-Packed Board Books

Release Date - September 2015

Betsy Snyder
Chronicle Kids

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

I Can Play and I Can Dance are two new releases from Betsy Snyder. These board books have holes where parents and their children can put their fingers to act out the action taking place on the pages. Whether they're dancing the ballet, showing off their disco moves, kicking a soccer ball, or running a race, little fingers keep moving with each page.

Illustrations are bright and colorful, definitely something kids and their parents will appreciate. The story itself is enjoyable with easy phrases for beginning readers and not too many words that children will become bored before the story ends. Purchased separately or as a set, these books are ideal for children who are nearing the age where they are ready to read.

Peek-a Boo! by Nina Laden

Release Date - August 2015

Nina Laden
Chronicle Kids

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Small and very sturdy, Peek-a Boo! is the latest toddler/board book by Nina Laden. The narrative is very short and ideal for the target age group - preschoolers. Plus, it's perfectly timed for the arrival of Halloween that's just a few weeks away.

Ghosts, bubbling cauldrons, jack-o-lanterns, trick-or-treaters, and more take place in this book. Each page begins with the words "peek-a" and then embraces what is behind the cut out, all while celebrating autumn's and Halloween's typical decor. Celebrate the season with this gem that's perfect for the child who is just about ready to start reading.

Early One Morning by Virginia Baily

Release Date - September 29, 2015

Virginia Baily
Hatchette Book Group

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

WWII is affecting so many, and for Chiara Ravello, it's destroyed much of her family, leaving her to care for her sister, a girl prone to seizures. Her plan is to flee Rome and go live away from the battles in her grandparents' country home.

Chiara's world changes when she spies a mother and her young son being pushed onto trucks bound for concentration camps. Chiara announces that boy belongs to her sister and takes him from his mother. The plan to spare his life works, but her sister and even the boy are resentful of her actions.

Move forward to the 1970s in Wales. Sixteen-year-old Maria is floored when she learns the father she knows isn't her father at all. Her actual father is an Italian named Daniele Levi. Maria contacts the woman she believes was a landlady to her real father, Chiara Ravello, and wants to know as much about her father as she can get from Chiara.


A Pattern of Lies: A Bess Crawford Mystery by Charles Todd

Release Date - August 2015

Charles Todd
William Morrow

Book Review by Bob Walch

On leave and back in England, battlefield nurse Bess Crawford finds that a short visit to the home of a former patient, Mark Ashton, turns into another crime investigation for the amateur sleuth.
The Ashtons owned a gunpowder mill in a village in Kent that mysteriously blew up, killing over 100 workers. Now two years later, the family is having to deal with the threatening behavior of the locals who blame the Ashtons for the disaster. Things get even more critical when the head of the household, Philip, is arrested and charged with causing the explosion.
Bess has stumbled into a hornet’s nest of intrigue but knows that her friend’s parents are not to blame for what happened. Someone has decided to not only turn the locals against the family but also makes sure someone goes to prison for the accidental explosion.
The answer to who is seeking revenge lies back in France and as Bess tries to track down the person…

Ask the Dark by Henry Turner

Release Date - April 2015

Henry Turner
Houghton Mifflin

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Billy Zeets helped catch a serial killer and he's ready to share his story. The teenager pilots every moment of Ask the Dark, sharing his insight into the things he saw, the people he knows, and the lifestyle he leads, like it or not.

I adored Billy. The mom in me wanted to hug him, the reader in me was engaged from the start. Billy's mom died, and he's a handful to say the least. To keep his dad from losing the family home, Billy takes any odd job he can find, skips school regularly, and winds up in the path of a killer. You'll be avidly reading to find out everything you can about Billy and the things he faces.

Geared for teens, the language used is brutally honest and very gripping. This is a great start to a series I cannot wait to keep reading.

Sunday Dinner: Coming of Age in the Segregated South by Ann Boult Walling

Release Date - July 2015


Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

I admit that my draw to Sunday Dinner: Coming of Age in the Segregated South was mainly for the old-time recipes. I love to cook, but it's the recipes handed down from my grandmother that are the most cherished. I hoped I'd find the same joy from Sunday Dinner.

Author Ann Boult Walling shares her own family recipes and stories in this memoir. At first I feared the recipes I'd hoped for were absent, but they are given at the end of the book, there is not an abundance, but there are recipes I can't wait to try, such as peach preserves, scalloped asparagus, and "White Salad."

The majority of this memoir shares the author's family stories from the early history of her grandmother's home, including photos, to the 1950s when segregation ended. Photos are scattered throughout, along with very touching stories.

That said, I've often wondered how far interest in a story will stretch. I…

Fishbowl: A Novel by Bradley Somer

Release Date - August 2015

Bradley Somer
St. Martin's Press

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

The protagonist in Bradley Somer's Fishbowl is quite surprising. Ian is a goldfish, and he's about to plummet out of a 27th story window. As he rockets to the pavement below, he spies the lives of the people living in Seville on Roxy, an apartment building.

There's Connor Radley, Ian's owner. Connor seems to have it all, yet having it all doesn't seem to be enough for him. His girlfriend, Katie, and his lover, Faye, are in his thoughts the day Ian leaves the safety of his bowl. Herman, a homeschooled boy of 11, believes in time travel. Claire is an agoraphobic sex phone operator. She hasn't left her apartment in years and has no intention on opening the door when someone knocks at it. Garth is a construction worker with a secret. Petunia Delilah is on bed rest in the final trimester of her pregnancy and stress is the last thing she needs, yet it seems to be exactly wh…