Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Taking a Shot - Jaci Burton

Released March 2012

Jaci Burton

Book review by Tracy Farnsworth

Jenna Riley has her own dreams, but running her parents' sports bar is all that seems to be in the cards. One thing she knows for sure, the last man she wants in her life is someone associated with sports. Sports surrounds her when she's working and when she's relaxing with her family because her brothers are professional players for the NFL and MLB. The last thing she wants is to becoming involved with Ty Anderson, an NHL player. Yet, she can't seem to keep her minds and hands off him...

Taking a Shot is a heated romance centered again on the Riley family. The novels, including Taking a Shot, all stand alone, but you'll be able to spend lots of time getting to know the family if you read them all. There are more books to come too!

 As always, Jaci Burton creates real sizzle between her leading characters. The sexual attraction is clear and their romance progresses quickly. If you enjoy very steamy romances, you won't go wrong with Taking a Shot.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Feed Your Best Friend Better - Rick Woodford

Released April 2012

Rick Woodford
Andrews McMeel Publishing

Book review by Tracy Farnsworth

Feed Your Best Friend Better: Easy, Nutritious Meals and Snacks for Dogs is a book that every pet owner should have. Increases in canine and feline cancers and diabetes prove that the food you find in stores isn't always the best option. Actually, unless you pay very close attention to the labels, most store-bought dog food is horrible stuff. While it may be cheaper, the veterinary bills you face down the road may not make it such a great deal in the long run. Learn how to prepare your own dog food and snacks so that your dog is getting food where you control the quality. Both you and your dog will be happier.

Rick Woodford created amazing recipes using advice from veterinary resources. Anyone interested in holistic treatments for dogs, or who use a holistic veterinarian, should pick up this book. I know some may scoff at that, but honestly, I think those who scoff at holistic medicine need to take a closer look. There are amazing things holistic veterinarians do that many veterinarians overlook. Case in point, our senior cat started having seizures four months ago. Trips to her vet found nothing wrong with her. Scans, blood work, etc. all turned out negative for any problems. We were told that the anti-seizure medications would likely damage her liver and that it was best to ride out the seizures since they were not frequent. After spending a lot of money, we had no idea what was wrong with her.

The seizures would hit like clockwork every three weeks, last for half a day, disappear completely, and she was back to normal. I started visiting holistic veterinary boards and stumbled across a post suggesting that sodium nitrates in some canned foods might cause seizures in older cats. We feed our cats California Natural dry food, so there were no nitrates in that food, but their canned food did in fact have nitrates in it. We immediately tossed that food out and waited. She's been seizure free for over a month now. There's a lot to be said for carefully monitoring your pet's diet.

Feed Your Best Friend Better starts with a complex look at the nutrients your dog needs. You'll learn how much to feed your dog, foods you need to avoid, and then work into recipes for meals and treats. As you feed your dog the different meals, just pay attention to what the dog does and doesn't handle. My brother's dog will throw up if he's given scrambled eggs, other dogs thrive on them.

There are recipes for dog cookies and full meals. There are pages devoted to feeding dogs with different ailments, such as arthritis, diabetes, and liver disease, With so many recipes, your dog will never grow bored, and you'll know your dog is getting healthy meals without preservatives and by-products.

I highly recommend Feed Your Best Friend Better and hope the author will consider creating a book for cats. I know I'd be first in line to buy a copy!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Upon a Mystic Tide - Vicki Hinze

Released December 2011

Vicki Hinze
Bell Bridge Books

Book review by Tracy Farnsworth

Once again, Bell Bridge Books reissued a novel from "A Seascape Novel/Romance" series. Though originally released in the 1990s under the name Victoria Barrett, each of Vicki Hinze's books still have a timeless feel, so it never seems as though they are almost 20 years old.

Upon a Mystic Tide shares the tale of Bess and Jonathan Mystic. Their marriage is over, and with the divorce comes the loss of Bess's job as a well-known radio relationship counselor. Needing to get away, Bess heads to the Seascape Inn in Maine where her close friend Maggie (Beyond the Misty Shores) fell in love.

In Maine, Bess and Jonathan find they're not quite as over each other as they hoped. Their marriage, however, has to end because Bess has had it with Jonathan's secrets, and he simply lacks the courage to tell her everything. If he can't summon the strength, there is no hope for this couple. Meanwhile, the inn's resident ghost just isn't as willing to let them give up.

The "A Seascape Romance" series spanned a number of books, including titles by Rosalyn Alsobrook. I read and fell in love with the town years ago, though in all honestly, many small towns in Maine make it easy to feel at peace. Vicki Hinze, to me, always captured the feel of a small Maine fishing town perfectly. I've spent many weeks of my life vacationing in Maine, and the characters you find in Sea Haven Village, are just as likable as those you do find in a Maine town. It really is a place where you refresh and re-energize mentally and physically.

If you like romances with a little ghostly intervention, I highly recommend reading Vicki Hinze's trilogy and then finding some of the other Seascape novels. You won't regret it!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Dispatcher - Ryan David Jahn

Released December 27, 2011

Ryan David Jahn

Book review by Tracy Farnsworth

How far would you go to save a child most people felt was dead? Police dispatcher Ian Hunt and his ex-wife held a makeshift funeral seven years after their daughter was kidnapped. Presumed dead, everyone but Ian felt it was best to move on. His ex-wife has since remarried and has twins. He stopped talking to his now-adult son who was the only other person in the home the night his daughter was taken. For Ian, life virtually stopped the day Maggie disappeared.

During his shift at the police station, the unthinkable happens. A young woman calls asking for help. She identifies herself as Maggie Hunt. Ian's floored and dispatches help immediately, but the call ends abruptly when her captor catches up. With few leads to go on and renewed energy that Maggie is alive, Ian sets off on a journey to rescue his daughter.

The Dispatcher starts with a bang and really never lets up. The action is virtually non-stop from the first to last page. Throughout this novel, I kept thinking it has Hollywood written all over it. If Hollywood does turn it into a blockbuster, I'd be first in line to see it.

Ryan David Jahn is new to me, but his writing style and characters really drew me into the story. I think any parent would empathize with Ian. If your child goes missing, you would go above and beyond to return that child safely. It's that drive that really made me like Ian's character and had me rooting for him every step of the way.

If you're looking for a riveting thriller, you won't go wrong with Ryan David Jahn's The Dispatcher.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Beyond the Misty Shore - Vicki Hinze

Released October 2011

Vicki Hinze
Bell Bridge Books

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

Vicki Hinze's first novel in the "A Seascape Romance/Novel" series was recently reissued. Originally released in 1996 under the name Victoria Barrett, Beyond the Misty Shore impressed me just as much today as it did back then. If you've never found this series, you're missing a real treat.

Artist T. J. MacGregor has been unable to leave Seascape Inn for months. Every time he attempts to cross the property line, an icy feel overwhelms him and he collapses to the ground. He's terrified and can't figure out who or what is keeping him trapped at this Maine inn.

Maggie Wright is determined to get to the bottom of her cousin's death. The fact that her cousin's body and car were burned beyond recognition fits the accident scene, but what doesn't fit is that a painting by T. J. MacGregor wasn't harmed at all. It's this unusual piece of evidence that brings Maggie to Maine to find out if T. J. killed his fiance.

What Maggie doesn't expect is to start falling for T. J. The more time she spends with him, the more she begins falling head over heels. It isn't long, however, before both Maggie and T. J. realize there is something within the inn that is determined to keep them from leaving.

Beyond the Misty Shore is the first book what was called the "A Seascape Romance" series. It's since been renamed "A Seascape Novel" series. I highly recommend reading them in order. Vicki Hinze does a great job at building a classic love story complete with a meddling spirit, charming townspeople, and a dramatic setting. If you've ever been to Maine, you'll see the author does a great job at bringing Sea Haven Village to live. It's a fictional town, but so very much like small Maine towns that you'll feel like you're there.

I don't remember all of the details from the first time I read this series, so while I remembered bits and pieces, I didn't remember the ending. I found myself loving T. J. and Maggie's story just as much now as I did back when it was originally released. It has a timeless feel that makes it a novel I'm so glad I reread.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Cinnamon Roll Murder - Joanne Fluke

Released March 2012

Joanne Fluke

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

Joanne Fluke's Hannah Swenson is back in her 15th book. This time, Hannah and her sister Michelle are on their way to an event with a truck filled with cookies and cinnamon rolls, hence the title Cinnamon Roll Murder, when they come across a terrible pile-up on icy roads. They decide to stop and help the passengers on an overturned tour bus.

The driver is dead, but they tend to the members of the band as well as they can. When one of the band members is later found dead in the hospital with a pair of surgical shears sticking out of his chest, Hannah, her siblings, and her mother become involved in solving another case.

Meanwhile, Hannah's ex-beau is about to get married. When her mind's not on the case, Hannah is certainly thinking about the man she loves and how he's about to make a huge mistake.

I'm going to come out and admit that I haven't been impressed with the past few Hannah Swenson books. The recipes have been amazing, the stories have had the warmth I expect, but I haven't liked the love triangle between Mike, Norman, and Hannah. Cinnamon Roll Murder takes a step on the path towards fixing that. I'm not going to give away spoilers, but I found myself intrigued with the story and by the outcome. It's nice to be excited about this series again.

I did want to note something that the author didn't suggest. If you make the cinnamon rolls, in lieu of a knife, cut the rolls with a piece of unflavored dental floss. Simply slip the piece of floss under the jelly-rolled dough, cross the ends and pull like you're tying a knot. The string cleanly cuts through the dough without squishing it. It's the trick my grandmother taught me decades ago and works perfectly for cutting any dough without ruining its shape.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Question of Trust - Laura Caldwell

Released March 2012

Laura Caldwell

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

Izzy McNeil's back and this time her boyfriend, Theo, is in hot water. He's been accused a Ponzi scheme, his business partner attempts suicide, and a major client is threatening to dump Izzy and her friend Maggie's firm if they don't drop Theo's case. Izzy isn't sure how she can really trust. Could Theo be playing her?

When Izzy's apartment is broken into, she starts to fear that there's something more to Theo's case. When a neighbor is found dead in that same apartment a short while later, Izzy knows there's something going on that she must solve to save herself and Theo.

I've never read any of the Izzy McNeil novels. While Question of Trust does recap past books, I think it would be better had I read the books in order. There seems to be a lot more to Izzy's relationships and background than the book was able to recapture.

The action is non-stop, and the case took a lot of twists making it hard to predict the outcome in advance. That was a nice change of pace because with so many mysteries, I have the case solved before I'm halfway through the novel. Laura Caldwell does a great job of throwing out potential suspects and situations that keep you guessing.

Question of Trust is a good story, but my only reservation is that I hadn't read the other books. I have a feeling I would have gotten more out of Izzy's character if I'd known her background and the situations she'd faced in the past.

So Long, Chester Wheeler by Catherine Ryan Hyde

 Genre: General Fiction Release Date: December 6, 2023 Walmart doesn't have this title available, but So Long, Chester Wheeler: A Novel ...