US of Books~Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver~Arizona

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Source: Public Library
Paperback, 342 pgs.

Entertainment Weekly says, “In this richly moving novel about a woman who returns home to take care of her father, Kingsolver draws heavily on the state’s Native American and Hispanic cultures.” (Arizona)

Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver on its surface is about a broken young woman who finds that she is drawn back into the web of her childhood in Arizona. It’s a childhood that she doesn’t look back on fondly and one that she barely remembers, other than two tragic events and the distance between herself and her father. She had taken the best part of her childhood with her when she moved away, and that was her sister, Hallie. Codi is forced to return home to care for her father because Hallie has taken it upon herself to delve into the political jungles of Nicaragua to help people with their agriculture, despite the danger to herself.

“All morning I’d felt the strange disjuncture that comes from reconnecting with your past. There’s such a gulf between yourself and who you were then, but people speak to that other person and it answers; it’s like having a stranger as a house guest in your skin.” (pg. 40)

Codi is faced with some hard truths about her past and her father’s mythology about who her family is and was, but she also must face the harsh truth that she’s been running away from home since she was 15. She must learn to re-see the beauty in the Arizona dessert, mesas, farmland, and its people, who have a rich Native American history and connection to the land that is dying all around them. She’s a deeply flawed character who pursued a medical degree because she wanted to please her father, only to shy away from becoming a certified doctor by failing to complete her residency. She’s gun shy about relationships and she walks away at a moments notice, but it shouldn’t surprise those around her because she never really settles in — there are no pictures on the wall.

“Pay attention to your dreams: when you go on a trip, in your dreams you will still be home. Then after you’ve come home you’ll dream of where you were. It’s a kind of jet lag of the consciousness.” (pg. 9)

Readers should not expect the issue of the dying land or the environmental issues raised in the book to be resolved, and even the relationships Codi has with her father and her past boyfriend Loyd are a bit murky, though expected given the landscape and how little people speak to one another about their feelings. The weaving of Native American and Hispanic culture is well done, and it is through her time with Loyd that she begins to realize that she is not an outsider and that she never was. Home is where you belong, even if there is pain and heartache attached to it.

Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver is meditative, disjointed, and almost dreamlike in places, but at its core, it is a journey through the heart of family and finding a place in it.

Rating: Quatrain (4 stars)

About the Author:

Barbara Kingsolver is an American novelist, essayist, and poet. She was raised in rural Kentucky and lived briefly in Africa in her early childhood. Kingsolver earned degrees in Biology at DePauw University and the University of Arizona and worked as a freelance writer before she began writing novels. Her most famous works include The Poisonwood Bible, the tale of a missionary family in the Congo, and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, a non-fiction account of her family’s attempts to eat locally. Her work often focuses on topics such as social justice, biodiversity, and the interaction between humans and their communities and environments. Each of her books published since 1993 have been on The New York Times Best Seller list.

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RELEASE BLITZ✰✰Scoring with Santa Theresa Roemer & Renee Rose

Book Title: Scoring with Santa
Author: Theresa Roemer & Renee Rose
Genre: Sports Romance
Release Date: December 20, 2016
Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions

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book blurb

A career-driven mom. Houston’s most eligible heartthrob. The irresistible attraction could destroy both their careers.

Rick Morehouse doesn’t date single moms. As the former quarterback for the Houston Texans, he’s Houston’s most eligible bachelor. But after the heartache of abandonment by his own mother’s string of boyfriends, he never wants to hurt anyone’s kids that way. When he meets Brandy Love, the drop-dead gorgeous owner of Phenomenal Physiques, he’s totally taken by the confident career woman. It’s too bad she has kids.

Brandy Love doesn’t have room in her life for a relationship. Opening a chain of gyms and parenting her kids already takes more time than she has. But when Coach Charming drops in on her gym, she’s sorely tempted.

When a vengeful columnist roasts Rick to bring down his team at the playoffs, Brandy must decide if he’s worth fighting for. But even if she can save him, will he accept her and her kids in his life?

Devour this sexy and sweet holiday page-turner today!

“Flaming hot sports romance with a dash of Desperate Housewives–Roemer and Rose truly delight!” ~USA Today Bestselling Author Lee Savino


Interesting Fact: The heroine and some of the material for this book was based on co-author Theresa Roemer’s life. Theresa owned a chain of fitness clubs called Body by Design and personal training services called Phenomenal Physiques, took the U.S. Open title in bodybuilding at the age of 40, and held the titles of Mrs. Houston U.A., Mrs. Texas U.A., and was the 1st runner up for Mrs. United America concurrently.

excerpt

Damn, she bet no woman had ever told him no in his life.

She’d have to be the first. Folding her arms across her chest, partly to keep him from seeing her erect nipples, she held firm. “I’m sorry. I’m happy to have you both here, but not until the proper documentation is in place.”

He smirked, like he thought she was full of shit. Or was it because he knew her nipples were hard?

Damn, was she blushing?

The youth looked at her with an innocent, easygoing appeal.

Was she really capable of throwing them out?

“I’ll bet you’re pretty confident you can sweet talk your way into anything, aren’t you?”

The corners of his mouth twitched. “Is this about money, because I’m happy to pay for both our memberships. It’s just that we only need it for a few weeks and I thought you were interested in supporting the community—”

“I am interested in supporting the community.” Her voice had gone up a notch. How did she end up being the bitch here? “And no, it’s not about the money. It’s just about having the proper liability forms signed by all the parties.”

Rick stepped closer, rather than drawing away. They probably taught him that in Flirting 101. “I’ll tell you what,” he said, flashing that heart-stopping smile at her. His voice was deep and resonant and seemed to go right into her body, activating every cell. “I’ll fill mine out right now, and I’ll have Donnie’s mom sign his tonight so that next time we are set up properly.”

She put her hands on her hips. “Somehow I don’t think you’re taking this—me,” she spluttered. “As seriously as you should.”

Obviously she was right because his smile only increased. He cocked a brow. “How serious do you want to take this?”

Her tummy fluttered at the innuendo. Her brain stomped its foot. “Rick Morehouse, that flirty act might work with Houston Socialites, but it’s not going to work with me.”

His lips twitched. “I wasn’t flirting. I’m just being friendly.”

Half of her wanted to kick him in the shin, the other half considered jumping the sexy man. It was hard enough to run a business as a female entrepreneur in a good ‘ol boys state without having Coach Handsome throwing her off her game.

A fire burned in his green eyes, lighting her from head to toe. As if he had some mesmerizing power, she realized she really didn’t want to tell him no. Her shoulders dropped in defeat. “Fine.” She really hoped nobody got hurt today or it would be her ass on the line.

His smile widened. He had sensual lips, and she imagined he must be the most expert kisser in all of Texas. He’d probably already done toothpaste commercials. She should find time to watch more TV.

“But I will need that liability waiver from his mom here by tomorrow—and yours right now.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

She wanted to wipe that smirk right off his face. Why didn’t he take her seriously?

She whirled around, her ponytail flipping in their direction as she stalked off. And ran right into the leg press machine.

“Ow.” Damn, her shin. That would be a bruise.

“You okay?”

Shut up, Coach Perfect.

“Fine.” She rubbed it, hopping on one foot and trying to walk away at the same time. “You just worry about yourself over there.”

She heard the deep rumble of laughter following her out of the room.

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meet the author

Theresa Roemer is an author, media personality, entrepreneur and small business owner based in Houston, Texas.

Theresa’s passion for health started at a young age. As a child Theresa was diagnosed with rheumatic fever many times over, which caused her to have a heart murmur; she was sickly and her doctors diagnosed her with a lifetime of physical constraints. Determined to prove the doctors wrong, Theresa began her lifelong journey to stay active, healthy, and physically fit. Theresa took the U.S. Open title in bodybuilding at the age of 40, and held the titles of Mrs. Houston U.A., Mrs. Texas U.A., and was the 1st runner up for Mrs. United America concurrently.

Theresa’s passion for health inspired her to write Naked in 30 Days to empower women to feel as vibrant and healthy at 45 and beyond as they did at 25. This is her first work of fiction.

Visit Theresa on www.theresaroemer.com, Instagram Theresa_Roemer, Facebook Theresa Roemer LLC and Twitter @TheresaRoemer

USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR RENEE ROSE is a naughty wordsmith who writes kinky romance novels. Named Eroticon USA’s Next Top Erotic Author in 2013, she has also won The Romance Reviews Best Historical Romance, and Spanking Romance Reviews’ Best Historical, Best Erotic, Best Ageplay and favorite author. She’s hit #1 on Amazon in the Erotic Paranormal, Western and Sci-fi categories. She also pens BDSM stories under the name Darling Adams. To receive FREE Renee Rose books, click here.

Renee loves to connect with readers! Please visit her on:

Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest | Instagram

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US of Books~Black Hills by Dan Simmons~South Dakota

 

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The week takes us to South Dakota with Black Hills by Dan Simmons (audio book narrated by Erik Davies and Michael McConnohie)

Entertainment Weekly says – Black Hills breathes life into the tale of a Sioux warrior believed General Custer’s ghost entered him at Little Big Horn.

3.5 Stars

buffalo-running Black Hills was a very interesting listen. It follows Paha Sapa a 10 year-old Sioux boy as he rides through the aftermath of the battle of Little Big Horn, to his time working on the construction of Mt. Rushmore, to his last days. Now interesting doesn’t necessarily mean good or bad, it was different. The first thing to note is the time line of the story. It begins when he is 10 then the next chapter he is in his late 60’s, then he is a man in his 20’s. It took a few chapters to figure out the time line and honestly it would have made an easier time of it if the tale had not jumped back and forth as it did. The second thing to note is that Paha Sapa believes that the ghost of General Custer enters him at the battle and he spends his life listening to the voice in his head. Okay…. that happened. It actually detracted from the main story and the letters from Custer to his wife were pretty graphic and not in a good way. I’m not sure if they were included to add some spice to the tale, but I don’t need to hear about Custer’s sex life and manhood *shudder*. Item three, was the immense length. The audio book was well over 20 hours and at times I grew frustrated with the needless antidotes and facts ( the Chicago’s World Fair had lots of stuff and you will hear about it all). Now on to the good things, the world building was superb and the images the story created were vivid. Paha Sapa is a character that felt deeply and I loved the emotion in him.

Black Hills is a book to read if you have a lot of time and are okay with being bogged down by details. The lush scenery it evoked was superb and I truly felt a part of Paha Sapa’s life. At the end I really did enjoy it, but a good 1/3 of the book was unnecessary to get the heart of the story across.

Favorite lines – Then the young men, streaming blood on their painted chests and backs, would stand and begin their dancing and chanting, leaning back from or toward the sacred tree so that their bodies were often suspended totally by the rawhide and horn under their muscles. And always they stared at the sun as they danced and chanted.

 

 

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Fall with Me (Sixth Street Bands #2) by Jayne Frost Release Blitz

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Book Title: Fall With Me (A Sixth Street Bands Novella)
Author: Jayne Frost
Genre: Romance
Release Date: December 15, 2016
Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions

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book blurb

As the bassist for the band Caged, the last three years have been one, long non-stop party. Sure, I’ve had some regrets. Everyone does. But getting trapped in a relationship isn’t one of them. I know good and well what happens when the attraction fades. I’ve seen it first hand. Love is a zero sum game, so why play? As long as I’m upfront about my feelings, no one gets hurt. Besides, I’m never in one place long enough to worry about tomorrow.

That is, until the band decided to take an extended hiatus in our hometown. That’s when I met Melody Sullivan. She’s the full-package. Whip smart and beautiful, with enough determination to take on anything life has in store. And the best part? Melody shares my philosophy on the fleeting nature of attraction. She doesn’t buy into the whole “happily ever after” crap anymore than I do. We’re perfect for each other. For now. And now is all I want.

With the expectations off the table, I can let my guard down and enjoy her company until the spark dies. And we both know it will. In a week, or a month. But until then, we’ll just keep having fun. The good kind, with lots of sex and no strings attached. And when it’s time to move on, we will. No drawn out goodbyes and no remorse.

That’s the plan, at least.

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I guess I should start with the basics: the backstory. I was born and raised in California. At this point, I’m usually asked what it was like to grow up near the beach, but sadly, I don’t know. I grew up in the “other” part of California. Perfect for an aspiring writer, if you ask me. You learn a lot about keeping yourself busy when the nearest house is a mile away…and it belongs to your grandparents.

I spent all my time with my nose in a book, living vicariously through the characters, until I wrote a book of my own. I was ten at the time. It was a scintillating piece that cast the family pet as the protagonist.

By the time I went to high school, I moved on to romance. Why? Because I met my very own prince charming. I wrote love poems in my journal about the green-eyed boy who stole my heart. He promised, the way all storybook heroes do, to sweep me away and take me on a grand adventure. And he did.

We picked up and moved to the Lone Star State and began the story of us. The best stories begin without a road map or a compass. Veering off course makes the journey so much more interesting.

True to form, just when I thought my life was set, we started the next adventure. I traded in my cowboy boots and followed my green-eyed boy to Las Vegas. My home will always be in Texas, but my heart is anywhere that he is. Our beautiful daughter made the journey with us. Our son stayed in Texas, to write his own story.

Somehow, in the midst of the chaos that is our life, I find time to write. Writing is what I love. I might stray from romance every now and then if that is what moves me…but I always come back. Some of the stories don’t seem romantic at all. They are gritty stories about flawed characters that find each other and hold on tight. Those are the stories that speak to me. Because that’s life. I believe that every story should have a happy ending—even the difficult ones.

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#USofBooks~ Jim the Boy~North Carolina

 

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This week takes us to North Carolina. Entertainment Weekly says – “A boy named Jim come of age during the depression in a secluded North Carolina hamlet where the state’s history looms large and maps of the Confederacy still hang in his classroom.”

baseballboygifJim the Boy by Tony Earley is a sweet tale of a young man that begins on his 10th birthday and ends on his 11th. Jim Glass has a mother and three uncles that raise him in tiny Aliceville, North Carolina. Jim is an ordinary boy, obsessed with baseball, fascinated with the train that comes through the town, and palling around with his friend Penn. His father died just before he was born and he relies on his uncles for his manly needs and his mother for love and comfort.

It was very interesting to me how the location played almost a separate character. Earley ensured that the landscape was detailed and well described.

The closer they drew to the mountain, the more uneven the land became. White outcroppings of quartz began to spill from the red banks along the side of the road. The road pitched up and down over short, steep hills, on the sides of which clung upland farms. Corn and sweet potatoes and small, cash patches of tobacco and cotton grew in terraced fields that carefully followed the contours of the hills.

Jim is a character that is simple and sweet. He feels deeply and is not afraid to show his emotions. I particularly enjoyed the internal dialogue he had while trying to figure out what to say to a boy stricken with polio. The vivid descriptions and picture of a small, mostly idyllic, town made me enjoy the book more than I thought I would. This was a quick read and while I enjoyed it, I will not read the second in the series as it did not suck me in enough.
Favorite lines – Once Amos died, Jim’s father would become as ancient and faceless as a man in the Bible, a man walking away until he is finally impossible to see. Once Amos was gone, Jim would be alone in the world in a way he had never been alone before.

 

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