Note to Readers

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Make My Wish Come True by Fiona Harper



Release Date - November 2014

Fiona Harper
Harlequin

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Originally released in the UK in 2013, Fiona Harper's Make My Wish Come True is now available in the U.S. It's a fun tale of two sisters who swap lives for a couple weeks during the holidays.

 Juliet's goal has always been to make Christmas magical for her children. Since her divorce, things have gotten harder to handle, and she's looking forward to having just a little bit of help from her younger sister this year.

Gemma has no idea how to break the news to her sister that she's jetting off the Caribbean for a magical holiday in a quiet holiday resort. Gemma's job working with movie stars has her feeling burned out and ready for some R&R. She's not looking forward to hearing Juliet flip out when she tells her.

On that dreaded day, Gemma realizes that Juliet is burned out and offers to swap lives. Juliet can head the the Caribbean for some much-needed rest, and Gemma will take over planning, shopping for, cooking, and hosting the family for the holidays. It can't be that hard, can it? Even if it does mean living next door to Juliet's infuriating neighbor, Will.

Make My Wish Come True is a fun holiday tale that takes a dash of romance, plenty of humor, and the frenzy that many of us face with holiday gatherings and mixes them into a memorable story.

I loved that once Juliet's kids talked her into accepting the switch so that she'd return to being a less frazzled mom for them, she actually ran with it. Watching her start to shed her micromanaging personality, even if it was a little bit at a time, was a highlight. However, watching the more laid back Gemma realize just how much work her sister takes on was even more fun. The dashes of romance for both sisters added enjoyment and definitely fit this holiday novel.


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Christmas Ranch by Raeanne Thayne



Release Date - November 18, 2014

Raeanne Thayne
Harlequin

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Raeanne Thayne's latest brings readers back to Cold Creek. This time, she's starting a trilogy with the Nichols sisters - Faith, Hope, and Celeste.

The Christmas Ranch introduces Hope Nichols. After years of wandering the globe teaching English and other lessons to the less fortunate, Hope is back to spend the holidays with her still-grieving family. Her old sister, Faith, lost her husband in an unfortunate accident, and without his help running the family ranch, things have taken a turn for the worst. Hope is shattered when she learns they've shut down the town attraction - The Christmas Ranch.

Once a year, the ranch is converted into a magical Christmas attraction, complete with reindeer. Hope announces she alone will get the Christmas Ranch open in time for the holiday season. With a lot of work to do, it's not going to be easy.

Enter Rafe Santiago. The former Navy SEAL is disheartened to learn that his nephew threw a snowball containing a rock at Hope's truck and smashed her window. He is agreeable to her request that the boy work off the repairs by helping Hope out at her family's ranch. In fact, Rafe, himself, offers to help out, too. He never expects to start falling for Hope, especially when he's holding back a secret that could completely change her opinion of him forever.

If you enjoy holiday romances, The Christmas Ranch is a goodie. It actually takes place perfectly with the impending arrival of Thanksgiving both in the book and just a week away for those in the U.S.

 What I loved most about this romance is that Hope is not the typical romance heroine who gets all upset and doesn't think clearly. She remains level-headed at every moment and that really made me like her. I can't wait to see her sisters get their own chance at romance!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Excerpt From Tree of Water by Elizabeth Hayden

To celebrate the release of Elizabeth Hayden's Tree of Water, the publisher is sharing an excerpt of the book. Click here to read a chapter from this entry into the Lost Journals of Ven Polypheme series.



You can also win a copy of this juvenile fantasy novel by leaving a comment on this blog. To win a copy of Elizabeth Hayden's latest novel, you must be a resident of the United States or Canada, and your comment must be posted by 11/24/14 midnight EST.




Wednesday, November 12, 2014

You Have to F*****g Eat by Adam Mansbach



Release Date - November 12, 2014

Adam Mansbach
Akashic Books

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

I clearly remember the brouhaha that occurred when Adam Mansbach released Go the F**k to Sleep. For some reason, people overlooked the clear notes that this book was adult humor and not intended for children. So I'll say it again, this is a humorous picture book for adults! If the four-letter F word on the cover doesn't clue you in, let this reminder serve as your warning.

Thankfully, my kids were not very picky eaters. I have kids who happily eat broccoli, cauliflower (especially mashed), and things like artichokes and asparagus. That said, I used to babysit a girl who refused to eat anything that wasn't yellow. Corn, chicken nuggets, canned chicken noodle soup, and boxed macaroni and cheese were it. It is with that experience that led to my enjoyment of You Have to F*****g Eat.

Once again set up as a picture book, the narrator becomes overly frustrated with a child that refuses to eat what is set in front of her. Illustrations are just as enjoyable and the narrative again paints the perfect picture. In all honesty, I did enjoy Go the F**k to Sleep more, but I think that's because it was new and unexpected.

Want to experience Adam Mansbach's latest for yourself? Check out Breaking Bad actor Bryan Cranston's reading of this humorous picture book at Audible.


Monday, November 10, 2014

My Sister's Grave by Robert Dugoni



Release Date - November 2014

Robert Dugoni
Thomas & Mercer

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Once Tracy Crosswhite was a sharpshooter, alongside her younger sister Sarah. Things changed after a competition when she went off with her boyfriend and her sister promised to drive safely in the pouring rain one evening. Sarah was never seen again.

Her murderer has been behind bars for two decades, but when Sarah's remains are finally found, evidence suggests he may not be the killer. Now a detective, Tracy teams up with an attorney, who happens to be a childhood friend, to unravel the sloppy investigative work from two decades earlier.

My Sister's Grave kept me hooked to the end. I will not deny that I had a hard time putting the novel down, but there were still moments when I struggled with some aspects. The sloppy initial police work bugged me. There's also a revelation that comes later in the book, one I won't discuss in depth because it is a spoiler, but when it is made, I wanted to smack a character upside the head.

In the end, this is a solid read, but I always consider the bottom line. I got this book for free from Amazon Prime. If I had to pay for it, I do start to question if it is worth the 12 dollars. That's my biggest hang up. It's good, but not quite that good.



Sunday, November 9, 2014

Desert God: A Novel of Ancient Egypt by Wilbur Smith



Release Date - October 21, 2014

Wilbur Smith
William Morrow

Book Review by Bob Walch

If you enjoyed River God you’ll certainly really like this fifth title in the author’s “Egyptian” series. Taita, a freed slave and the Pharaoh’s advisor, is determined to destroy his country’s enemy, the mighty Hyksos.

To accomplish this feat Taita will have to travel far from home, deal with innumerable obstacles and ,for good measure, keep tabs on the Pharaoh’s two sisters. 
 
Since Wilbur Smith wouldn’t have it any other way, there’s plenty of action, passion and intrigue as his protagonist travels on this epic journey to make his master the most powerful of all the leaders in this corner of the world.

A fast read, Desert God offers a smattering of politics, religion, and sociology set on a stage that harkens back to ancient Egypt but, in many respects, resembles modern political and military stagecraft. It seems some things never change!


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Good Girl by Mary Kubica



Release Date - August 2014

Mary Kubica
Harlequin MIRA

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Mary Kubica's The Good Girl is mainly told from three perspectives and two periods of time. As you get into the flow of things, it becomes easy to keep track, but I admit I had to keep notes at first to keep the story straight.

This is a suspense about a young teacher who disappears. Her mother, Eve; the detective assigned to her case, Gabe; and the kidnapper, Colin, all tell the majority of the story. Eventually, Mia, the young teacher, joins in.

Mia is a month from her 25th birthday when she disappears. Her father is a prominent Chicago judge. She and her mother have never been incredibly close. It's before the school where she works calls them to find out where she is, and even then, Mia's father is ready to write it off as Mia being rebellious Mia. Eve isn't as convinced. She knows Mia loves her job as an art teacher and something about this just doesn't feel right.

From there, the case proceeds into a spiraling array of twists. Some I saw coming and some I definitely didn't. That made for a story that was very hard to put down. There were characters I loved, others I wasn't as thrilled with. I did find myself wanting to smack a few for being so ignorant. In the end, that just shows that the author did a good job creating characters that I could form an emotional attachment to, even if it wasn't always a positive one.