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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Vivian Apple at the End of the World by Katie Coyle

Release Date - January 2015

Katie Coyle
HMH Books for Young Readers

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

The end of the world is coming and Vivian Apple's parents have bought into it. Vivian doesn't believe it, however, nor does her friend Harp. Yet, thousands if not millions are buying into the words of the Church of America, including Vivian's parents. When rapture happens, true believers will be taken to heaven and everyone else will stay and watch the earth come to an end.

After a New Year's Eve party, Vivian returns home the next morning to find her mother and father gone. Two holes in the roof are the only things that remain. Thousands of other believers also vanished, thought not all of them.

Vivian is stunned, and soon finds herself with the maternal grandparents she barely knows. It's there that she gets a weird phone call where the caller never speaks a word, but she's convinced it must be her mother. She teams up with Harp and a boy she met at the party named Peter. They begin a cross-country trip to uncover the truth behind the reclusive founder of Church of America and find out what happened to all of the people who disappeared.

Vivian Apple at the End of the World is a bit post-apocalyptic, but not completely.  With so many people left behind, things keep going, but there's definitely a shift too. It becomes an intriguing mystery to find out what happened, if there even is an explanation. You'll find  yourself turning pages rapidly as Vivian, Peter, and Harp unravel the truth.

By the end of the book, I didn't really know how I felt. I can't give away spoilers, but there are aspects that from an adult viewpoint left me shaking my head. Definitely read this one and see what you think!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt by Kate Messner and Christopher Silas Neal

Release Date - March 2015

Kate Messner
Christopher Silas Neal
Chronicle Books for Kids

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Up in the Garden, Down in the Dirt is such a fascinating and creative way to teach children about the aspects of gardening. Most kids think of the seeds, the water, and then the sprouts. This book delves into the insects preparing the soil below ground, the creatures that rely on the insects for sustenance, and even goes into the different seasons.

The illustrations are vivid and help paint the picture that children will love reading about. It's also a great way to start getting kids excited for the gardens to come, as hard as it is for many dealing with a frost line that's reaching five-feet deep or more.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to School by Davide Cali and Benjamin Chaud

Release Date - March 3, 2015

Davide Cali

Chronicle Books

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

One teacher's simple question leads to an exciting tale of the adventures a boy encounters on his trip to the school. From blobs to dinosaurs and ninjas to giant ants, the boy weaves an incredible saga of everything he encountered while simply trying to get to school on time.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to School reminded me a little of Dr. Seuss's And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street. It had the same imaginative story weaving. That's one aspect I loved about this book. The illustrations by Benjamin Chaud are visually pleasing and will have kids exploring every page to see what the boy has encountered. All in all, if my kids were young, I'd have this book for my keeper shelf.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Baby Bonanza by Jacqueline Diamond

Release Date - March 2015

Jacqueline Diamond

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

The latest release in the Safe Harbor series finally gives Lucky Mendez, the male nurse I've been rooting for, his chance for true love. Zora Raditch is carrying twins following a last-minute fling with her soon-to-be ex-husband. She's not told him she's pregnant, nor does she want to since he's happily moved on with his new wife. With the support of her friends, she's ready to be a single mom to her twins.

In addition to a tiring pregnancy, there's a lot more on Zora's plate. She's haunted by her past, she has a troublesome patient at the hospital who is becoming too much to handle, and then there is the whole issue with her ex-husband. It's not surprising that Zora has to lean on Lucky for support, but it is surprising to her that she finds herself falling for him, the last thing she really wants to do.

The Baby Bonanza is the 15th book in the Safe Harbor Medical series. A lot of time is spent catching up with past characters, a few new revelations come out that will surprise long-time fans of the series, and then there is the romance bringing Zora and Luke to the forefront. As I read, I kept thinking that it was about time they finally realized they were in love. The situations thrown at them were maddening, but read it and you'll get what I mean.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Accept This Dandelion by Brooke Williams

Release Date - January 2015

Brooke Williams

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

If you're looking for a quick, passionate romance, Accept This Dandelion is a good choice.  Renee Lockhart really wants the position that's opened up for a morning show co-host, but she needs to get her name out there if she's going to get noticed by the show's host. With that in mind, she signs up for a local dating show, but she doesn't expect she'll actually be chosen. When she is, she's stunned, but happy that her plan may work out.

Ben McConnell is ready to show the world he's more than the playboy people think he is. This local dating show is his chance to show he's ready to fall in love and settle down. He's not just a man whose only goal is to find another woman for a one night stand. When he spies Renee's audition, he's instantly charmed by her no-nonsense, down-to-earth attitude.

As the show gets underway, both Renee and Ben begin realizing they may have found the person that completes them, but neither has been completely truthful. Can two complete strangers, opposites at that, really stand a chance at true love?

Accept This Dandelion is a lot like the short Harlequin romances I've always enjoyed for moments when I want a quick read. The passion between Renee and Ben is well-developed and only gets better. The other women competing in the dating show are less developed, but that's okay, I wanted them out of the picture anyway.

There's a bit of humor, plenty of sizzle, and a romance that you quickly root for. I can't say this is a story I'd read over and over again, but for a bitter cold afternoon, it definitely satisfied my need for a good book I could curl up with in front of the fire and enjoy in one sitting.

Seed by Lisa Heathfield

Release Date - March 10, 2015

Running Press Kids

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

For all intents and purposes, Seed is a cult. To the women, girls, and boys living within Seed, it is a caring community where nature guides Papa S. into making the rules and ordinances the community lives under.

For Pearl, her period is her transition into womanhood, something she's excited to have happen. She's ready to become one of Papa S.'s companions. That is until strangers come to Seed and she begins learning of the outside world from the teen boy, Ellis. The more she learns, the more she begins to wonder if Seed is really nature's ideal community.

From some of documentaries I've watched, Lisa Heathfield does a good job at building each and every character in Seed. There's the intense love for the community leader and the two "kindreds" who are essentially the second in command. There are all the key community members - young Pearl, the woman she knows to be her mother (Elizabeth), her siblings, etc. Each is fleshed out to be incredibly likable. There's also a mysterious character kept hidden away that reveals some of the truth about Seed.

As the story progresses, especially when Linda and her children Sophie and Ellis enter the community, readers get to see just how dangerous Papa S. is. The mysterious character reveals a lot of it, but Ellis is really the catalyst to getting Pearl to see that things are horribly wrong.

Seed is a pretty gripping story that has you rooting for Pearl and her family. It's one that is certain to stir up some lively discussions in book reading groups.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Book Release News - Kyle Prue's The Sparks

Release Date - February 2015

Kyle Prue
Barringer Publishing


This February, Kyle Prue released the first of his The Feud series. While Roundtable Reviews simply did not have the time to fit it in for a review, we did feel it worthy of mention, especially for fantasy/sci-fi fans. Meanwhile, we have the first chapter to share with you. You'll find it below.

In addition to a sample chapter, we have great news. Order your copy of The Sparks from the author's website and receive a 25% discount! Simply visit Kyle Prue's online store and enter the coupon code BLOG25 during checkout. Note that this coupon is only good at Kyle Prue's store, it will not work at Amazon or other online booksellers.


To read the first chapter of Kyle Prue's The Sparks, a PDF file has been set up with Dropbox. Click here to read The Sparks.