#USofBooks-Once Upon a River-Michigan

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Reviewer ~ Teri at Sportochick’s Musings
Once Upon a River
by Bonnie Jo Campbell
Audible and eBook
~ Synopsis ~
Bonnie Jo Campbell has created an unforgettable heroine in sixteen-year-old Margo Crane, a beauty whose unflinching gaze and uncanny ability with a rifle have not made her life any easier. 
 
After the violent death of her father, in which she is complicit, Margo takes to the Stark River in her boat, with only a few supplies and a biography of Annie Oakley, in search of her vanished mother. But the river, Margo’s childhood paradise, is a dangerous place for a young woman traveling alone, and she must be strong to survive, using her knowledge of the natural world and her ability to look unsparingly into the hearts of those around her. Her river odyssey through rural Michigan becomes a defining journey, one that leads her beyond self-preservation and to the decision of what price she is willing to pay for her choices. 
~ Review ~
I am not sure where to start with this review. I had a very hard time listening to Margo make bad decision after bad decision in this story line. I understand her upbringing and that she didn’t have choices like most 16 year olds do. Margo had a mother who didn’t function well in life and a father who had checked out of life because of her mother leaving and the loss of his job. She only had two people who showed her the love she deserved. One whose husband raped her and a man who honestly loved her, treated her like a queen but she lost him because of what she did in front of him with one of her rapists.
 
The author did a phenomenal job in the area of describing the scenery and setting up the story. What I had a hard time with is the roughness of the characters. Not that they weren’t well written they were. For me it was about something I dislike reading about or witnessing. I don’t want to read about the raping of a minor, being raped, murdering and taking revenge by death of those that do it to you. Though I understand why one would want to do it. For me it wasn’t realistic that she would get away with so much and never get caught. 
 
For many people they will enjoy this book, for me I did not. It did cause me to think about what and how I would of reacted in the same situations. Also it made me wonder why is it that some people can overcome what she went through and others keep repeating the cycle of dysfunction.
 
For the overall impact I give this 2-1/2 STARS

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#US of Book~Empire Falls by Richard Russo

Empire Falls by Richard Russo
H. C. at The Irresponsible Reader (where you can find a longer, more rambly and personal version of this post)

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It is just daunting to try to talk about this book — especially in something that’d make a decent-length blog post and not a full-fledged dissertation. Empire Falls won Richard Russo his (seemingly) inevitable Pulitzer Prize in 2002 and stands as one of the greatest achievements in his storied career. It is at once a story about a town and a man, microcosms for the state and the nation; it’s both sweeping and epic while being personal and intimate.

The story centers on Miles Roby, manager of the Empire Grill in Empire Falls, ME. He has an ex-wife (who I truly despised), a daughter (who I wanted more of), an ex-mother-in-law that seems to like and respect him a lot more than her own daughter, s (even if they don’t see eye to eye much lately). But more importantly he has a patron — the town matriarch, owner of the Empire Grill, and most of the various places of employment in town. She’s a patron, a would-be surrogate mother (for a select few), and petty tyrant over the city. It’s one of those small towns where the mayor/council/etc. have real power, but it’s only the power she lets them have, you know? Francine Whiting isn’t evil — well, I’ll let you decide for yourself — but at the end of the day, she thinks she’s doing what is right for Empire Falls, the Whiting legacy and her daughter — whether or not anyone wants what she thinks is best. She still could be evil, I guess, and I could very likely made a case for it. Anyhow, let the reader decide.

The trials and dreams and efforts of Miles and his family as he tries to do something different with his life are the core of the novel — but they’re not all of it. The town is full of interesting people — many aren’t vital to the overall story (but you can’t know until the end who those are), but they all add flavor. Most are so fleshed out that you could imagine a short story/novel centered on them. While reading Song in Ordinary Time a few months back, I kept asking myself what made the people in that novel so unlikeable when in many ways they reminded me of Empire Falls‘ cast. I came to this conclusion (and have since reconsidered and still think it’s basically right): Russo uses the flaws in his characters to emphasize their humanity, Morris uses the flaws to emphasize their flaws.

But I come not to bury Morris (again), but to talk about Empire Falls, so let me focus on this a bit more: the flawed humanity isn’t pretty, it’s frequently ugly, people who make mistakes (some tragic, some dumb) are usually trying to do the right/moral/noble thing and it doesn’t work. But it’s real. This could all be real. Even Janice, Miles’ ex, is a well-developed character — and I think I’ve met a handful of people just like her — and I wouldn’t dislike her as much as I did if Russo hadn’t nailed the writing.

There’s an event towards the end — one of the two or three that you ultimately realize the whole novel has been leading up to — that in 2001 would’ve been truly shocking (shocked me a few years ago), but in many ways it’s de rigueur now. 2016 readers might be bored by it, but I can’t imagine that many readers in 2001 were. I’m not going to say more — just if you read this, put yourself in the shoes of readers from 15 years ago when you get to that bit.

Yes, Empire Falls is slow (sometimes), ponderous (sometimes) but it’s also inspiring (sometimes), heartwarming (sometimes) and many other things that I could parenthetically qualify. But every negative about it is utterly worth it for the positives.

What I learned about Maine: (haven’t done this in awhile, whoops). It’s a beautiful state, filled with people who could be better educated, who aren’t vocationally ready for what’s coming for them thanks to the technological shift in jobs. It’s a state where people, nature and industry who have been damaged by reckless policies and practices. It’s a state where nature exerts itself every now and then to remind people how powerful it is. Basically, Maine’s just like every other state in the union — just a little different.

One more thing, not that this’ll surprise many, but I’d advise skipping the HBO miniseries — yeah, it’s a fairly faithful adaptation, it just doesn’t have the heart.

I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t read this book for this series of posts — breaking a personal resolution. There were 3 reasons for this: 1. Time; 2. I really wasn’t up for the emotional punches this delivers, and 3. I didn’t need to — I still remember it well enough to discuss at a length greater than I have despite being 4 years and change since I read it. That right there should tell you something about the book — hundreds of books later and I almost feel like I read it a couple of weeks ago. I’m not sure that this is the Russo novel I’d tell people to start with (probably Straight Man), and I don’t think it’s his best (probably Bridge of Sighs (tells a story almost as epic in scope, with greater economy and greater depth when it comes to individual characters), but there’s no denying the talent on display here, the greatness of the execution, the vibrancy of the characters, or the impact it has on the reader. No brainer, 5 Stars from me.

USBooks-Maine

#BookReview of A Fighting Chance by

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MY REVIEW

This book involves the relationship of Tiffani and Tyler. Tiffani, formerly from Texas, now lives in Boston, working as a television news anchor. She has done everything possible to hid her tainted past, including changing her name. Tyler has just returned from overseas as a Marine. (Yep, this book had me at Marine)

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While Tiffani is traveling back to Texas to settle her mother’s estate, her fiance, Richard, is vacationing in Bermuda with his family. Needless to say, Richard, does more than vacation in Bermuda and decides Tiffani isn’t as much fun as his new fling he picks up in Bermuda. I guess that’s over!
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Back driving in Texas, Tiffani gets distracted and almost hits an oncoming truck. Tiffani ends up off the road and into the truck of our hot, sexy, Marine, Tyler. “This man was sin, wrapped in temptation, mixed with a whole lot of heart. It wasn’t a combination I needed to be involved with.” 

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Tiffani is hiding from her past and Tyler is dealing with issues of his own past. However, this doesn’t stop Tiffani and Tyler from hitting it off, and I mean, Hit If Off Over, and over and over again.

Throughout their passionate affair, Tiffani’s past comes back to haunt her, causing potential harm to Tyler, his family, and her best friend.

Is Tiffani able to save herself from her past, will she let Tyler help her, or will Tyler just walk away? You will have to read the book.

Favorite quote from the book: “Your flaws are what make you beautiful. Every scar that you carry tells a story. Where you’ve been, what you’ve done, it’s all part of the puzzle that makes you who you are.”

I give this book four out of four “douche canoes”. See rating system HERE.

I highly recommend this book and you can get your copy at AMAZON. Kindle Unlimited subscribers can read this for FREE!

I was given this book in exchange for an honest review. My review is based solely on my personal experiences of reading the book and are my opinions alone.

*About A Fighting Chance*

Tiffani was called back home to Texas to settle her deceased mother’s estate. It was the last place on earth she wanted to be. She’d put thousands of miles between her and her horrible childhood memories, and didn’t think she’d ever find herself back in the Lone Star State. A twist of fate put her in the path of Tyler Bradford and turned her life upside down. Again. Can she finally forgive herself for her troubled past, or will the stubborn walls she’s erected around her heart keep everything and everyone she’s ever cared about at arm’s length?

A Fighting Chance is the third book in the erotic romance Chances Are Series by C.D. Taylor.

*About C.D. Taylor*

C.D. Taylor began writing as an item to check off her bucket list. After putting words on paper, she decided that being an author was where she needed to be. She resides on a farm in southern Illinois with her husband, son and a plethora of animals. C.D. is a huge kid at heart. She loves playing practical jokes, challenging her son to a game of Super Mario and rarely rolls out of bed before noon. She enjoys dancing, is perpetually clumsy and has a horrible green thumb. C.D. believes that if you work hard, you must play even harder.

To learn more, visit her at:
Website: http://authorcdtaylor.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/CDTaylor_Author
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorC.D.Taylor
Instagram: https://instagram.com/booksareglitterforthesoul/
Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4908299.C_D_Taylor
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/C.D.-Taylor/e/B00J3KELS0/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

*Find the Book*

Goodreads
Barnes & Noble
iTunes

#Book #BloggerHop: December 25 – 31

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The Book Blogger Hop is a weekly hop hosted by Rambling of a Coffee Addicted Writer.

Rules

1. Post on your blog answering the weekly question.
2. Enter the link to your post in the linky list found on Rambling of a Coffee Addicted Writer. (enter your Blog Name and the direct link to your post answering this week’s question. Failure to do so will result in removal of your link).
3. Visit other blogs in the list and comment on their posts. Try to spend some time on the blogs reading other posts and possible become a new follower.  The purpose of the hop is to give bloggers a chance to follow other blogs, learn about new books, befriend other bloggers, and receive new followers to your own blog.
This Week’s Question:

What is your preferred format for reviews? Do you tell the story or do you focus on characters and the reason someone would like the review?

I like to give a summary of the story and the characters and what I thought of the book with a little sarcasm and wit, here and there. Or at least I try………

Random on Tour: Los Angeles by Julia Kent book blitz

Random on Tour: Los Angeles
Julia Kent
(Random Series #7)
Publication date: July 19th 2015
Genres: Comedy, New Adult, Romance

BOOK SEVEN IN THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING RANDOM SERIES:

I guzzled another flute of Champagne and froze, the liquid in my throat, waiting to be swallowed.

Tyler was here.

We’d met a few times before, in passing. He was the substitute bass player for the band; I was the lead guitar player’s girlfriend’s best friend. In that weird sort of social circle thing where Venn diagrams get laid over different groups, Tyler and I were bound to be in the crossover once in a while.

He looked so hot. Short brown hair. A few days of beard. Bright green eyes that were more guarded than a Russian mobster’s. He was sleeved, the colorful tattoos a tapestry, but every time I met him I couldn’t quite see them. We only saw each other in dark concert halls, or tonight, under the stars.

He gave Sam a rare smile and a hearty handshake, forearm muscles bulging. I wondered what it would be like to have those hands on me. My fingers tracing those tats. Listening to him tell me the story of his body while he forgave mine.

Forgave it for failing me.

I shook my head fast to banish the thoughts that drew me into places so dark they became black holes of the soul. The gravity of trauma had a way of sucking all the good into it, and tonight I wasn’t going to let that happen. The opposite, in fact.

Tonight I was going to sleep with Tyler.

He didn’t know it yet, but that was okay. He would. Soon.

* * *

Random on Tour: Los Angeles is the 7th book in the New York Times bestselling Random series, the ongoing story of the up-and-coming rock band, Random Acts of Crazy. When the band’s bass player, Joe Ross, gets injured in an unfortunate sex act that gains nationwide coverage, it’s tatted-up Tyler (aka “Frown”) to the rescue for their first big concert.

There’s only one problem: the morning of his flight to L.A. he wakes up to find someone’s stolen all his money, his bass, his ID, and his pride. When he shows up at Maggie’s doorstep to ask her to drive him from their hometown of St. Louis all the way to L.A., these two damaged people learn quickly that being independent doesn’t always mean being free…

Warning: This book deals with the very difficult topic of sexual assault and rape, and I’ve taken great care to address this with the sensitivity and respect it deserves.

None of the scenes in the book contain sexual violence, though the characters do tell their stories of past sexual violence. None of those descriptions is graphic or gratuitous. This book is about hope and healing, but the characters do have past trauma that they discuss.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble

On sale for 99¢ from Dec 3-10!

EXCERPT:

Maggie

I guzzled another flute of Champagne and froze, the liquid in my throat, waiting to be swallowed.

Tyler was here.

We’d met a few times before, in passing. He was the substitute bass player for the band; I was the lead guitar player’s girlfriend’s best friend. In that weird sort of social circle thing where Venn diagrams get laid over different groups, Tyler and I were bound to be in the crossover once in a while.

He looked so hot. Short brown hair. A few days of beard. Bright green eyes that were more guarded than a Russian mobster’s. He was sleeved, the colorful tattoos a tapestry, but every time I met him I couldn’t quite see them. We only saw each other in dark concert halls, or tonight, under the stars.

He gave Sam a rare smile and a hearty handshake, forearm muscles bulging. I wondered what it would be like to have those hands on me. My fingers tracing those tats. Listening to him tell me the story of his naked body while he forgave mine.

Forgave it for failing me.

I shook my head fast to banish the thoughts that drew me into places so dark they became black holes of the soul. The gravity of trauma had a way of sucking all the good into it, and tonight I wasn’t going to let that happen. The opposite, in fact.

Tonight I was going to fuck Tyler.

He didn’t know it yet, but that was okay. He would. Soon.

“Maggie?” Charlotte handed me another drink and gave me a half-smile. “You look like you’re a million miles away.”

I ran one hand through my orange hair and drank some more courage. Not too much, but not too little. The only action I’d seen in five years involved my own hands and devices with batteries, and that had been torture. I didn’t quite count a few kisses with guys in bars on dance floors that smelled like sour alcohol and bleach. Those furtive attempts to prove I could let someone touch me sexually had been more like mini therapy sessions than anything arousing.

Tyler was definitely arousing.

“I’m ready,” I whispered, willing the shake to leave my voice.

Her already-big eyes widened, like white globes with brown pools in the middle. Charlotte’s dark, straight hair was cut with bangs that were so perfect they were like a blade.

“Tyler? You’re picking a guy whose nickname is Frown for your first…oh, Maggie, are you sure?”

My eyes met hers.

“You are sure,” she hissed, sucking air in through her teeth. Charlotte was nothing if not tactful and cool under pressure as long as she was dealing with someone else’s crisis. She was clearly weighing her judgment. “I know you were thinking about doing this, but…him?”

I just nodded, then shrugged. “It has to be someone, right? He’s nice. Kind of rough in an appealing way. Non-judgmental. Not at all hard on the eyes.”

“No, not at all,” Charlotte said, interrupting me. She rolled her lips in as if fixing her lipstick. I knew she was curating Tyler. Evaluating him. Biting her lips and assessing him like a specimen. Was he Maggie worthy? She was deciding.

“And he doesn’t talk. No feelings to worry about. Easy peasy. How many guys get a one-night stand offer from a chick?” I asked, my tone far lighter than my heart. My palms began to sweat. My face, too. I felt a drop trickle between my breasts. I’d worn actual lingerie today, a bra and panties that were made in this decade and that matched.

Just in case. Just…in case.

Author Bio:

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Julia Kent writes romantic comedy with an edge. From billionaires to BBWs to new adult rock stars, Julia finds a sensual, goofy joy in every contemporary romance she writes. Unlike Shannon from Shopping for a Billionaire, she did not meet her husband after dropping her phone in a men’s room toilet (and he isn’t a billionaire).

She lives in New England with her husband and three sons in a household where the toilet seat is never, ever, down.

She loves to hear from her readers by email at jkentauthor@gmail.com, on Twitter @jkentauthor, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/jkentauthor . Visit her at http://jkentauthor.com

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