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Showing posts from September, 2015

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 ge

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

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 Createspace 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 w

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

Desert God: A Novel of Ancient Egypt by Wilbur Smith

Release Date - October 2014 Wilbur Smith William Morrow Book Review by Bob Walch Wilbur Smith’s novels set in ancient Egypt have appealed to readers who enjoy visiting the time period and relish action packed adventures. This latest effort, though, is a mixed bag. Taita, a former slave and adviser to the Pharaoh, narrates this lengthy story which will revolve around preserving the kingdom by destroying the Hyksos army and forming an alliance with Crete. An extremely egotistical hero, you’ll get the sense that Taita is the sole protector of the empire and its very continued existence rests entirely on his shoulders. That may well be true, but one tires of being continually reminded of the fact! Although there’s plenty of action in this historical adventure you’ll have to withhold judgment of its protagonist and some of his associates because, all in all, these are not very attractive or likable individuals. If you’ve read Smith’s previous novels yo

The Art of Crash Landing: A Novel (P.S.) by Melissa DeCarlo

Release Date - September 8, 2015 Melissa DeCarlo Harper Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth Her mother's dead. Her latest relationship is over. Mattie Wallace isn't sure where to go or what to do next. With her trash bags in tow, she heads to her step-father's trailer, but he's dealing with his own things and Mattie knows she cannot stay with him forever, especially not when she's pregnant and has no job, no money, and no clear future. When she learns her grandmother is dead and that Mattie is the only heir, she heads off to Gandy, Oklahoma, to talk to the lawyer who keeps calling her. In Gandy, Mattie learns that the mother she knew was not at all the woman who grew up here. Mattie becomes determined to unravel the truth and find out what happened in Gandy that changed her mother from a vibrant, music-loving teen to a woman who clearly could not keep herself together. The Art of Crash Landing is Melissa DeCarlo's first novel, and it's definitely

Smaller and Smaller Circles by F.H. Batacan

Release Date - August 2015 F.H. Batacan Soho Crime Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth Smaller and Smaller Circles begins with the discovery of a boy's body. He's been found in Payatas, a dump where people live and survive on what they can find. The teen has been murdered in a most disturbing fashion, and he's not the first. Other male teens are meeting similar fates. Father Saenz, a forensic anthropologist, and Father Lucero, a psychologist, are asked to help stop the killer. At times very gruesome, Smaller and Smaller Circles is definitely gripping. It took me a few chapters to settle in to who the characters were, including the killer whose voice is also heard. The setting (Philippines) is so very well written. I felt like I was there. The characters were equally appealing, particularly Father Saenz. He's the type of guy I wouldn't mind inviting to dinner for the conversations that I know would happen. In the end, the only bummer is that I pegged the

The Superhero Comic Kit by Jason Ford

Release Date - September 2015 Laurence King Publishing Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth Inspiring a kid's creativity should be any parents' goal. Therefore, I  highly recommend Jason Ford's The Superhero Comic Kit . There are 10 comics within this 80-page book. Each comic starts with a story and one of Jason Ford's superheroes. The rest is for children to imagine. Starting with the superhero, children are told to color the hero, given instructions to help them draw the hero, and then create their own characters and finish telling the story. It's a stunning book, one that I immediately recommended to my son's girlfriend. She's a teacher of children with special needs, and her students love activities of this nature. If her students like it, I'm game to buy half of the copies she needs, and I'm pretty sure I can get friends to get the rest. I highly recommend The Superhero Comic Kit to anyone who wants to spur a child's imagination. M

The After House by Michael Phillip Cash

Release Date - September 2014 Michael Phillip Cash Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth Her marriage is over, her husband's moved on with his new family, but his abusive tendencies have Remy Galway moving her daughter to the coastal town of Cold Spring Harbor. The moment she moves into her 300-year-old house, Remy senses there is something lurking within the home. When someone, perhaps something, begins targeting her home, Remy is left to wonder just what she's gotten herself into. The After House is a ghost story told from the perspective of the ghost. It takes place in two time periods, present day and back when Captain Eli, the ghost, was away from home on his whaling ship. Any thoughts of this being a horror novel, as I first though, were quickly tossed aside. This is a paranormal with a touch of romance. It's a fun read, though there were things I couldn't figure out. I liked Captain Eli a lot. The two ghosts watching over him, however, seemed unnecessary