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Showing posts from May, 2015

Rude Cakes by Rowboat Watkins

Release Date - June 2, 2015 Rowboat Watkins Chronicle Books Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth Rude Cakes don't say please or thank you. They never say sorry. They do not do as their parents ask. They certainly do not go to bed on time. What happens when a rude cake captures the attention of something even more horrifying than a rude cake? You're about to find out. This is a very charming picture book that explains the benefits of using your manners. It's an ideal way to teach a child about manners and the illustrations and narrative draw you in.  I snickered a lot while viewing the illustrations, and if my kids were still younger, this would be one for the keeper shelf. If you like the No, David! book series, I think you'll really love Rude Cakes .

Beard on Birds by James Beard

Release Date - March 2015 (Revised Version) James Beard Open Road Media Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth I've always been a huge fan of James Beard and am thrilled that his legacy lives on. That said, I am saddened that those who revised this classic James Beard cookbook (1944's Fowl and Game Cookery ) felt the need to make Beard's classic recipes "healthier." I remember my grandmother making her pie crusts with lard, she used butter, and she did not feel any shame over it. As she said, every now and then a little richness is good for the soul. Within the cookbook, Beard on Birds , are a number of poultry recipes. Chicken has the starring role in this culinary collection, with recipes that cover just about every method possible - frying, roasting, braising, poaching, creaming, etc. Then come recipes for turkey, duck, squab/pigeon, goose, pheasant, quail, partridge, snipe/woodcock, and dove. There's even recipes for stuffings, soups, salads, and sau

Night is the Hunter: A Harlan Donnally Novel by Stephen Gore

Release Date - February 2015 Stephen Gore William Morrow Book Review by Bob Walch It has been 20 years since Judge Ray McMullin sentenced Israel Dominguez to the death penalty. The San Francisco judge wanted to prove he could be tough on gang bangers who commit murder but now he’s not so sure he handed down the right decision. As the execution date nears, the judge shares his doubts with former homicide detective Harlan Donnally and asks him to do a little informal digging into the case. Immersing himself into the gang culture of California isn’t a task Donnally really wants to engage in, but he accepts the challenge. What he comes up with casts doubt not only on the judge’s decision but also on the nature of true justice. Not your typical thriller or crime novel, this is a story that asks some difficult questions about the legal system and the how justice is sometimes served in a manner that raises serious moral and legal questions.   

The World on a Plate by Mina Holland

Release Date - May 26, 2015 Mina Holland Penguin Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth When I was younger, we lived in city outside of San Francisco. I grew up in a home where we were asked to eat something and decide for ourselves if we liked it. There are very few things I will not eat. In fact, I've heard that the owners of a San Francisco Japanese restaurant loved when my parents would come in, because they could put any food in front of me and I'd generally love it. With that background, it's not surprising that I would absolutely love The World on a Plate . This is part travel guide, part cookbook, part memoir. It's amazing. Throughout Mina Holland's book, she picks different countries around the world and talks about their culture, the foods they eat, the wines they drink, and the recipes that they use in their kitchens. The tour starts with France, probably my least favorite (though I still like French food) area in terms of cuisine. She moves on to p

Dark Screams Volume III

Release Date - May 2015 Random House Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth Dark Screams Volume III contains five stories by authors Peter Straub, Jack Ketchum, Darynda Jones, Brian Hodge, and Jacquelyn Frank. I Love You, Charlie Pearson by Jacquelyn Frank Stacey Wheeler is the object of Charlie Pearson's affections, and he'll do anything to make her love him too. I loved getting into Charlie's head with this one. The Lone One and Level Sands Stretch Far Away by Brian Hodge Tara and her husband seem quite happy until they get a new, sexy neighbor. The characters in this short story were probably fleshed out the best of all of them, but I simply couldn't get hooked in the story for some reason. I think it wasn't as spooky/creepy as the others and that's where I lost interest. Nancy  by Darynda Jones Nancy is being haunted by a ghost. A new student in her school decides it's time to figure out what's going on. The truth is quite surprisin

The Ladies of Managua by Eleni Gage

Release Date - May 2015 Eleni Gage St. Martin's Press Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth Ladies of Managua is told from three points of view. First is Mariana. She was four months old when her father died in Nicaragua's revolution. Second is Isabela. As Mariana's grandmother, Bela ended up leaving Nicaragua and raising Mariana in Key Biscayne. Finally, there is Ninexin, Mariana's mother. She fought hard for her country, even if it meant making decisions that not everyone agreed with. Over the years, each woman has gone her own way, but now the death of Mariana's grandfather has drawn them together, and they have secrets of their own that are bubbling up and coming to the surface. I loved the premise of Ladies of Managua , but the writing just never appealed to me. I had a hard time keeping track of who was speaking. Though they are of different generations, without the beginning of the chapter announcing who was leading the chapter, I was lost. So many ti

Ellie's Story: A Dog's Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron

Release Date - April 2015 W. Bruce Cameron Starscape Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth Let it be said that Ellie's Story is spun from another W. Bruce Cameron novel. I never read A Dog's Purpose , so this was my introduction to Ellie and her handler Jakob. She's just a puppy when Elleya meets her new "father." Soon, she's devoting her days and nights learning all of Jakob's commands as part of her "work." While her job finding lost people is important, she also feels compelled to help her owners, Jakob and later Maya, who need her just as much as any lost person. Ellie's Story is told from the dog's point of view. That makes for a change of pace that I think many younger readers will love. The details into the dog training sessions, which are part of what makes Ellie, Ellie, are handled carefully and never become boring. In fact, I could see my own dog having many of Ellie's thoughts as he learned "sit," "

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Release Date - January 2015 Paula Hawkins Riverhead Books After a chapter or so of The Girl on the Train , my first impression was: "Who cares?" I honestly did not like the main character, Rachel. She's a mopey divorcee who's lost her job and does little more than drink till she blacks out and annoys her ex-husband's new wife. Rachel spends her days traveling into London on the train so that her roommate doesn't figure out that she is unemployed. During the trip, the train almost always ends up stopping near a the home of Jess and Jason, a couple about whom Rachel has made up elaborate stories about them being the ideal couple. They also happen to live near Rachel's ex-husband and his new wife. One day, Jess, whose real name is Megan, disappears. She happens to have gone missing at the same time Rachel was spotted near her ex-husband's home. Rachel was drunk and feels she knows something, but the events of the evening are all part of Rache

The Mindful Diet by Ruth Wolever PhD, Beth Reardon MS RD LDN, and Tania Hannan

Release Date - April 2015 Scribner Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth Many diet books focus on getting you to change the foods you eat. Drop any items with sugar. Stop eating fats. Cut out all white flour. Stop eating meat. No eating carbs anymore. The Mindful Diet is so different. Instead, it looks at why you eat and gets to work focusing on the bad habits that many of us have. No more thinking a cup of coffee is breakfast. Stop wolfing down a meal in a record number of minutes. Don't let your emotions dictate what and how much you eat. Within The Mindful Diet are a number of self-assessments you'll use to help understand where your dietary weaknesses lie and what you can do to change them. It then takes these issues and helps you overcome them so that you can develop better eating habits and avoid the pitfalls that lead to failed diet attempts and the gloom and depression that comes with that failure. I found much of the information within to be incredibly helpfu

Penalty Kick by Terence O'Leary

Release Date - May 2014 Terence O'Leary Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth I read and loved John Green's A Fault in Our Stars . I think part of me was expecting something along those lines. Yet, that's not really a fair estimation as Penalty Kick came out sounding like it was for a slightly younger crowd. Brooke Avery is 16, able to drive herself places, and is just finishing rounds of chemo. Her hair loss led to her nickname of Hat Girl at school. She had surgery that caused her to lose some function in her leg and left her with horrible scars. However, her oncologist has just told her that her bloodwork looks good and he's guardedly optimistic that she's in remission. Josh Connelly is a star soccer player for his school. He's 15, about to go for his license, and has a great family. All of that changes when he talks his mom into letting him drive home. The sun temporarily blinds him, he pulls out into the path of an oncoming car, and his mom is kill

Whole Body Reboot: The Peruvian Superfoods Diet to Detoxify, Energize, and Supercharge Fat Loss by Manuel Villacorta MS RD

Release Date - December 30, 2014 Manuel Villacorta MS RD HCI Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth With a slew of diet books on the market and more hitting the shelves every month, I always look for one thing when looking at a book - who is the author? In this case, I am happy to say that the author is a registered dietitian, something I feel is important. That said, as much as I found the advice and recipes in Whole Body Reboot: The Peruvian Superfoods Diet to Detoxify, Energize, and Supercharge Fat Loss to be easy to make and appealing, the cost of the superfoods might be a deterrent for some. The recipes and diet you follow in Whole Body Reboot relies on a handful of superfoods. Some are easy to obtain: Artichokes Avocados Beans Cacao nibs Chia seeds Cilantro Papaya Purple potatoes Quinoa Others are definitely not as easy. It's likely for these that you're going to have to order them online, with shipping costs adding to the expense. Aji Amaranth

Pool by Jihyeon Lee

Release Date - May 5, 2015 Chronicle Books Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth Pool tells a story without using any words. This entire book is told solely through the illustrations, and they are gorgeous illustrations. A shy young boy is at the edge of a community pool that's filled with far too many people. He's uncertain this kind of crowd will lead to any form of fun, but what he discovers below the pool's surface is amazing. It's there that he meets a girl who is just as shy as he is. Together, they'll have the adventure of a lifetime. Parents will find this to be an invaluable tool for getting children ready to tell stories. As there are no words, children and their parents can make up their own dialogue, while also discussing the artwork within. I wish this book had been around when I was teaching my children to read!

Change of Heart by Jeanne Bishop

Release Date - March 2015 Jeanne Bishop Westminster John Knox Press Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth Change of Heart is a powerful story that marks the sometimes unimaginable journey as one woman takes steps to forgive her sister's murderer. Jeanne Bishop never expects to get a call that her younger sister, Nancy, and her brother-in-law are both dead. The family had just celebrated the news that Nancy was pregnant. It's therefore even more unbelievable to learn that they were not the victims of a car accident. They went home, entered their home, and were killed by someone who had broken into their home. Even after begging for their lives, the young man shot Richard first and then shot Nancy a couple of times. Three lives ended in one horrific incident. The entire family is reeling from this murder, and it's only made worse when they learn the killer is someone the family knew. Through the trial, the anger continues to build, but what happens next is shocking.

Crossing the Horizon by Deanna Emberley Bailey

Release Date - February 2015 Deanna Emberley Bailey Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth In 2009, I remember turning on my computer, reading the headline news with WCAX and The Burlington Free Press and seeing a story that seemed almost unreal. A local family was impacted by a horrific fire on Christmas morning. A fire that would take the lives of both of their children. As a mother of two myself, I couldn't even begin to imagine how Deanna Emberley Bailey and her husband would be able to move on. Crossing the Horizon is a very personal story that Deanna Emberley Bailey used to help with the grieving process. The story details the boys final moments and their journey into their new existence. It's a journey where they will meet others who left the earth before them, discover the danger of trying to communicate with their parents, and the new powers they have in the afterlife. I think if you know the story of these boys and their parents, which you will from the momen

Killer Come Home by Louis Begley

Release Date - April 2015 Louis Begley Nan A. Talese Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth I'll admit that the writing style used in Killer Come Home took me a bit to adjust to. It's very personal and felt a little more like a memoir than a fiction book. The story begins with Jack Dana stating: "This is a true story. I have changed the names of certain persons in order to protect them from harm." It is a fictional story, however, though it still seems as though it could have been ripped from the headlines. Jack's mother died of ovarian cancer and his dad had a stroke and went into a vegetative state shortly after. The only person left in Jack's life is his Uncle Harry. Harry is there when Jack opts to enlist after 9-11, and he's there when Jack is recovering at Walter Reed following pelvic injuries received during a sniper attack. It's Harry that urges Jack to write about his experiences. After Jack's book is released, he heads off to So

A Kiss to Build a Dream On by Kim Amos

Release Date - April 2015 Kim Amos Hatchette Book Group Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth After learning that her boyfriend had lost almost every penny she owned, Willa Masterson is back in White Pine, Minnesota. This small town is far from New York City, but Willa hopes to restore her family's home and turn it into a thriving bed and breakfast. There's a problem though. Before she'd left the town, she'd hurt a large number of people, including Burk Olmstead. When Willa learns that Burk owns the contracting firm she's about to deal with, she's a little stunned. She cannot give up her dream though, as there is nothing left in New York for her. Meanwhile, Burk's been maintaining the house for so long that he planned to eventually buy it for himself. Having Willa back in town is not what he expected or even wanted to happen. While Burk is hoping she can scare Willa away, Willa realizes that the feelings she had for Burk years ago have not abated. E

Love and Miss Communication by Elyssa Friedland

Release Date - May 12, 2015 Elyssa Friedland William Morrow Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth Corporate attorney Evie Rosen decides to quit the Internet. Losing her job with a prominent law firm is one of the triggers, but it's finding the wedding announcement for a man who broke up with her because he never wanted to get married that really pushes Evie over the edge. Now that she's done, she no longer is tied to emails, Facebook posts, Twitter, or constant searches. This new page in Evie's life has her seeing life from a new point of view. Without the Internet, she's shut off from much of the world, and while face to face connections are far more appealing, learning that she's been excluded from another friends' events due to her lack of email is getting disheartening. Can she really survive in today's world without any connection to emails, social media, and websites? Love and Miss Communication is so much fun. I think many of us have been there

The Sound of Glass by Karen White

Release Date - May 12, 2015 Karen White NAL Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth I feel completely honored to have gotten to read a copy of The Sound of Glass prior to its release. Summed up in just a few words - what a delightful, emotional story. It's a real gem. Merritt Heyward's husband died two years ago. She blames herself and has been living a pretty lonely life since his death. When she learns that his grandmother died and left him her South Carolina home, Merritt takes this as a chance to start again. Merritt packs up and leaves her home in Maine and heads to South Carolina, where the humidity is the only thing that is messing with her plans. She never expects to discover that in addition to his grandmother, her late husband also had a brother who is very much alive and just as surprised to learn his brother had married. That's only the start of the changes Merritt is going to face. Her very young stepmother also shows up on her doorstep, with a 10-year-

Beach House by Deanna Caswell and Amy June Bates (Illustrations)

Release Date - May 12, 2015 Deanna Caswell Amy June Bates Chronicle Kids Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth You know the excitement of going to the beach? That's exactly what's captured in the book Beach House . After the long trip, the kids are anxious, but first there are things to do. Emptying the car, unpacking the luggage, how much longer are these kids going to have to wait? Going to the beaches in Maine is something we've tried to do yearly since our kids were born. Whether we're in York, Wells Beach, Ogunquit, Camp Ellis, or farther north on Bailey Island, the excitement of the departure, the four-hour ride, reaching our destination, and then arriving to check out the rental home, unpacking, and making beds -are all part of the fun. I've been there, both as a kid and as an adult, so I get the kids' eagerness in Beach House . The vocabulary isn't going to be challenging to a beginning reader. Sentences like "Summer's here. Doors fl

Slow and Steady Rush by Laura Trentham

Release Date - March 2015 Laura Trentham St. Martins Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth Slow and Steady Rush is the first release in Laura Trentham's Falcon Football series. Fans of sports-themed romances are going to have plenty to look forward to. Darcy Wilde is back in Alabama to care for her grandmother, who is recuperating after breaking both hips. The librarian never intended to return to a town that assumed she'd end up just like her mother, but she's back to care for the woman who raised her. Once her grandmother's okay, she's out of here! Robbie Dalton served in Afghanistan with Darcy's cousin, Little does Darcy know that her letters to her cousin Logan are what kept Robbie going. He's the new football coach for the high school team, and now that Darcy's in town, he's dying to get to know the woman behind those letters, but his upbringing has made him very hesitant about forming any attachment to anyone. The two meet and decid

Interstellar Cinderella by Deborah Underwood and Meg Hunt

Release Date - May 5, 2015 Deborah Underwood Meg Hunt Chronicle Kids Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth "Once upon a planetroid..." That's how this space-age tale of Interstellar Cinderella begins. It may start like any other fairy tale, but this story is far from ordinary. Cinderella's goal in life is to fix rockets. When she's not repairing household items, she secretly studies rocket repair. Her stepmother and stepsisters, however, are not about to let her steal their thunder at the upcoming Prince's Royal Galaxy Parade. They scoff and tell her when she fixes the broken rocket ship, she can use it to fly to the parade. They then take off with her toolbox, leaving Cinderella certain there's no hope. Murgatroyd the Mouse has other ideas. Will the mouse's idea work? Following along the same theme as Cinderella, Interstellar Cinderella takes a new look at the classic theme. This independent young woman knows what she wants from life, and

A Nest is Noisy by Dianna Hutts Aston and Sylvia Long

Release Date - April 2015 Dianna Hutts Aston Sylvia Long Chronicle Kids Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth The very first page starts with a look at the kinds of nests that a number of birds, animals, insects, and sea creatures call home. It then moves into the story. Children and their parents will learn about these homes and how some of them are crafted. You learn about their size and shape, as well as some of the habits the inhabitants practice to stay safe while raising their young. A Nest is Noisy is beautifully written with script and print. Some children may have a harder time reading the cursive, so expect to have to help. The illustrations are simply breathtaking with intricate detail put into each and every image.

The Beautiful Daughters by Nicole Baart

Release Date - April 28, 2015 Nicole Baart Atria Books Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth Five years ago, Adrienne Vogt left her father, twin brother, and friends and fled her hometown. She's spent that time in Africa, serving as the nurse for remote communities. Now, Adri has been summoned back, and the news she's delivered is not something she can ignore. Harper Penny left Blackhawk, Iowa, at the same time her best friend Adri left. Like Adri, she left with the knowledge that she killed a man and got away with it. Her life away isn't ideal, and when Adri beckons her to return to Blackhawk, Harper isn't sure it's the safest thing to do, but she cannot ignore the woman she loves like a sister. The Beautiful Daughters is a stunning story with lots of the proverbial skeletons in both Harper's and Adri's closets. There are two romances at play in the story, three I suppose if you want to count one of them. Adri's associate in Africa is one, and

Nelson Mandela by Frances Ridley

Release Date - April 2015 ReadZone Books Book Review by Bob Walch This well illustrated biography of  Nelson Mandela is ideal for young readers who are seeking basic information about the President of South Africa’s life and overview of his experiences that include his childhood, political activism and time spent as a political prisoner.  Since the author uses a magazine style format to tell Mandela’s story, this would be an ideal paperback to use with older, reluctant readers or middle school students who are not yet reading on grade level.   Teachers, librarians, and home schooling parents will want to consider adding this book to their collection of titles that will hold the attention and interest of young readers who are just beginning their study of individuals who have changed the course of history.  

Sea Bones by Bob Barner

Release Date - April 2015 Bob Barner Chronicle Kids Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth Sea Bones takes everything kids would want or need to know about sea life and presents it in a very fun, friendly manner. Do all sea creatures have a skeleton? How long is the blue whale? What do jellyfish eat? Why do clown fish live with sea anemones? For both parents and their children, Sea Bones answers a lot of questions and even includes a handy chart full if need-to-know facts about specific creatures. The illustrations are colorful and the writing is simple and to the point. This is a great book for any child who loves to talk about nature.

The Far End of Happy by Kathryn Craft

Release Date - May 2015 Kathryn Craft Sourcebooks Landmark Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth With the hard realization that her marriage is over, Ronnie Farnham is divorcing Jeffrey and he's supposed to be moving out. Things do not go as expected. Instead, Jeffrey drives to the house, incredibly intoxicated and not acting normally. With her young boys to protect, Ronnie rushes out to get the keys and notices the shotgun sitting in the passenger seat. What was already a tough morning now becomes Ronnie's own personal hell. At this point of the year, The Far End of Happy is the best book I've read. I was glued to the pages, couldn't stop reading for any reason, even dinner got ignored so it's a good thing my son and husband cook! This has to be the most emotional, powerful, and poignant look at three women's relationship to Jeffrey, the situation that they're all facing, and the possibility for finding hope in the darkest of situations. The story is

How To Read a Story by Kate Messner and Mark Siegel (Illustrations)

Release Date - May 5, 2015 Kate Messner Mark Siegel Chronicle Kids Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth How To Read a Story is a very simplistic, easy-to-follow guide for youngsters. It covers tips for reading that range from sounding out words to finding a comfortable spot, regardless if that spot is inside or outside. There's also a story within a story. As the reader learns tips for reading a story, he or she also enjoys a story about a princess and dragon that the boy within the story is reading. With colorful images, simple vocabulary, and shorter sentences, this is a great book for a beginning reader. I think many parents will find it to be a beneficial read.

Stella Brings the Family by Miriam B. Schiffer and Holly Clifton-Brown

Release Date - May 5, 2015 Miriam B. Schiffer Holly Clifton-Brown Chronicle Kids Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth Miriam doesn't know what to do. Everyone is supposed to bring their mom to school for Mother's Day, but she can't. She doesn't have a mom she can invite. What on earth can she do? Stella Brings the Family takes a look at one young girl's struggle with family structure. It's a touching look and I love the solution Stella's friends come up with. It's a touching tribute to children who are growing up with same-sex parents.