Monday, November 28, 2016

#USofBooks REVIEW A Map of the World by Jane Hamilton



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The United States of Books the State of Wisconsin

A Map of the World by Jane Hamilton
Reviewer ~ Teri at Sportochick's Musings


~ Synopsis ~
One unremarkable June morning, Alice Goodwin is, as usual, trying to keep in check both her temper and her tendency to blame herself for her family's shortcomings. When the Goodwins took over the last dairy farm in the small Midwestern town of Prairie Center, they envisioned their home a self-made paradise. But these days, as Alice is all too aware, her elder daughter Emma is prone to inexplicable fits of rage, her husband Howard distrusts her maternal competence, and Prairie Center's tight-knit suburban community shows no signs of warming to "those hippies who think they can run a farm." 

A loner by nature, Alice is torn between a yearning for solitude coupled with a deep need to be at the center of a perfect family. On this particular day, Emma has started the morning with a violent tantrum, her little sister Claire is eating pennies, and it is Alice's turn to watch her neighbor's two small girls as well as her own. She absentmindedly steals a minute alone that quickly becomes ten: time enough for a devastating accident to occur. Her neighbor's daughter Lizzy drowns in the farm's pond, and Alice - whose own volatility and unmasked directness keep her on the outskirts of acceptance - becomes the perfect scapegoat. At the same time, a seemingly trivial incident from Alice's past resurfaces and takes on gigantic proportions, leading the Goodwins far from Lizzy's death into a maze of guilt and doubt culminating in a harrowing court trial and the family's shattering downfall.

~ Review ~
An outstanding depiction of dairy farm life in Wisconsin. I am from the state of Wisconsin and was curious of how this book could represent our fine dairy state. I can say that the descriptions and the feel of Howard's daily farm life run true for dairy farmers. I was raised on a dairy farm and slipped back into my childhood where I milked cows by hand. I could smell the farm smells she was describing and I felt nostalgic for a time in the past that many people will never know or understand. To this day I have friends who are farmers who feel like Howard. Who yearn to smell the dirt, till the soil and have mannerisms much like him.

In my experience there is also a small mindedness in small towns as well and this story shows how this can effect and destroy families. During the course of this book the story brought up old feelings from the past and it was a hard read for me. I will say that it is well written and speaks truth of subjects most don't talk about. It shows how some people who have been wronged have a huge capacity of forgiveness and that some can't or never will forgive themselves or others.

This book is about being afraid to say the truth or not wanting to hear the truth. Even more it's about standing behind someone even if you don't know the truth. It shows that love can be taken for granted, felt but never shared and it can be renewed over time through the fires of life. That sometimes the people you fear the most are the ones with the saddest story. 

Though there were times I felt it got a tad slow the overall book is very emotional and in the end I was still wondering "is this considered a happy ending" because all I could do was cry for Howard, Alice and Theresa.
I give this 4 STARS and recommend it for all readers of fiction.


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#USofBooks Guest Reviewer Geek Love by Katherine Dunn


Entertainment Weekly chose Geek Love for Oregon. The magazine said, "A twisted couple populate their freak show with their own children in this modern classic. It's weird, carnivalesque, and unnerving: not unlike Portland on a given night. Need more? Kurt Cobain was a fan."


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Geek Love by Katherine Dunn, narrated by Christina Moore, is a family saga of love, obsession, and revenge among the freaks at the Binewski traveling show. In many ways this novel reminded me of American Horror Story: Freak Show. Al and Lil populate the show with their own children, those they have disfigured by ensuring Lil drinks and subjects herself to all manner of poisons, insecticides, and other torturous devices. Their efforts to save the traveling carnival from bankruptcy requires more than traditional dwarfs and extraordinarily tall men and women. The Binewskis have concluded that the rise of basketball and other entertainments have made these traditional freak show participants obsolete. Much of this is narrated by Oly, an albino hunchback, as she recalls the past and her brother Arturo the Aquaboy, who became so consumed with jealousy, that he would do anything to be on top and take over the carnival from his father. Oly, despite being a hunchback, is on the outside of the clan, and she's treated more as a servant than a family member, even by the brother she loves beyond all reason. While her relatives seek to get by under Arturo's reign or escape it, Oly seeks to bind herself to him in the only way she knows. Dunn's novel examines the love inside an family of freaks, but it really could apply to any family, especially if jealousies are allowed free reign and grow out of control. What's interesting is how much Oly is unlike her family in that she sees the "norms" as not something to be despised, but as something that could be loved. Her transformation and distance from her family is complete later on in the novel when she gives birth. Christina Moore does an admirable job with the narration, and it is easy to follow each character. However, the setting in Oregon is not front-and-center and many times, readers will forget that the carnival is even in the state, particularly when other cities in other states are more frequently mentioned like Spokane. Geek Love by Katherine Dunn, narrated by Christina Moore, takes a while to get used to, and there is some very strong language and sexual content that some readers would not prefer. Overall, the novel was just plain odd.

RATING: Tercet


About the Author: Katherine Dunn is best known for her beloved novel "Geek Love," which was a finalist for the National Book Award in 1989. She is also the author of the novels "Attic" (1970) and "Truck" (1971). A fourth novel, entitled "The Cut Man," has been in-progress for decades and was purportedly scheduled for a September 2008 release. Dunn is also known as a prolific sports journalist in the field of boxing, and has written several articles on the subject.


Sunday, November 27, 2016

Review Duke of Pleasure (Maiden Lane #11) by Elizabeth Hoyt

Sportochick's Musings ~ I love, love, love ALF. I always have throughout this series when she appears. But this book it is amazing and a very hot, hot read.


Duke of Pleasure

(Maiden Lane #11)

by Elizabeth Hoyt


Find This Book At ~ Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads
Publisher ~ Forever (Grand Central Publishing)
Categories ~ Historical Romance




IN THE ARMS OF DANGER

Bold. Brave. Brutally handsome. Hugh Fitzroy, the Duke of Kyle, is the king's secret weapon. Sent to defeat the notorious Lords of Chaos, he is ambushed in a London alley—and rescued by an unlikely ally: a masked stranger with the unmistakable curves of a woman.


IN THE HEAT OF DESIRE


Cocky. Clever. Courageously independent. Alf has survived on the perilous streets of St. Giles by disguising her sex. By day she is a boy, dealing in information and secrets. By night she's the notorious Ghost of St. Giles, a masked vigilante. But as she saves Hugh from assassins, she finds herself succumbing to temptation.


ONE KISS WILL CHANGE THEIR LIVES FOREVER


When Hugh hires Alf to investigate the Lords of Chaos, her worlds collide. Once Hugh realizes that the boy and the Ghost are the same, will Alf find the courage to become the woman she needs to be—before the Lords of Chaos destroy them both?




I love, love, love Alf. I always have throughout this series when she appears. But this book it is amazing and a very hot, hot read. Her character is so different from every female main character. She's tough, fearless, decisive, quirky, and a survivor strong beyond belief. The authors portrayal of her as a boy was handled with delicate precision drawing the reader into her life on the streets.


Hugh is a very interesting man who shows up in several of the earlier books to this series and has always intrigued me with the question of what makes him tick. This book explains the mystery behind the man and expands on who he is as a man and father.


Unorthodox is what I think of when I match Alf and Hugh. For so many reasons they should not work together as a couple but the author spins a beautiful web and draws the reader into their lives where we must make a decision. Can this work?


For me the character that stuck out the most beside the two main characters is Iris, Lady Jordan. Now this lady has tons of admirable traits and her interaction with Alf was just so unique and so unheard of that it will warm the readers heart. The interchange between Iris and Raphael is the perfect setup for the next book to this series and I am really looking forward to reading that book when it comes out.


This book is about surviving against all odds, death, healing, forgiveness, overlooking the obvious and making the right decisions based on oneself and not society.


I give it 5 STARS for adding twists to the storyline that are unexpected.



Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review. 



My Reviews of the Maiden Lane Series
Wicked Intentions (#1) ~ My Review   Amazon
Notorious Pleasures (#2) Review to Follow   Amazon
Clever John (#2.5) Review to Follow   Amazon
Scandalous Desires (#3) Review to Follow   Amazon
Thief of Shadows (#4) Review to Follow   Amazon
Lord of Darkness (#5) Review to Follow   Amazon
Duke of Midnight (#6) Review to Follow   Amazon
A Maiden Lane Christmas Special (#6.5) Review to Follow   Amazon
Darling Beast (#7) Review to Follow   Amazon
Dearest Rogue (#8) Review to Follow   Amazon
Sweetest Scoundrel (#9) Review to Follow   Amazon
Duke of Sin (Maiden Lane, #10) ~ My Review   Amazon
Once Upon a Moonlit Night (#10.5) ~ My Review   Amazon
Duke of Pleasure (#11) ~ My Review   Amazon
Once Upon a Christmas Eve (#11.5) ~ My Review   Amazon
Duke of Desire (#12) ~ My Review   Amazon
Once Upon a Maiden Lane (#12.5) ~ My Review   Amazon


Elizabeth Hoyt is a New York Times bestselling author of historical romance. She also writes deliciously fun contemporary romance under the name Julia Harper. Elizabeth lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with three untrained dogs and one long-suffering husband.

Find The Author At ~




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REVIEW Sweetest Regret by Meredith Duran

Sportochick's Musings ~ A quick romantic read during the bustle of the holidays this Christmas Novella centered around the mistletoe, a country party, stolen documents and an old lost love is just want the romantic needs to take away the stress. 


Sweetest Regret
by Meredith Duran

Find This Book At ~ Amazon | B&N | Goodreads

Publisher ~ gallery books
Categories ~ historical romance, christmas


The spirit of the season is festive—and clouding even the sharpest of judgments—in this Victorian era romance, perfect for fans of Jude Deveraux and Sabrina Jeffries.

At a house party in the countryside, the joyful spirit of the Christmas season threatens to sweep Georgiana Trent under the mistletoe—and back into the arms of the dashing rogue who broke her heart two years ago. Little does she know that Lucas Godwin has no intention of leaving until he has reclaimed her as his own.



A quick romantic read during the bustle of the holidays this Christmas Novella centered around the mistletoe, a country party, stolen documents and an old lost love is just want the romantic needs to take away the stress. There are a lot of examples of Christmas traditions woven into this book that makes the story an enjoyable and instructive read. 

Speaking of Christmas traditions one has to chuckle at how Lucas uses the mistletoe to get his way with Georgina. It was also entertaining to see how Georgina outsmarts Lucas regarding his taking advantage of this mistletoe custom. 

Having no idea about the true mistletoe custom I looked it up. According to Slate "It wasn't until the 18th or 19th centuries, though, that the British started hanging mistletoe as part of Christmas celebrations. Charles Dickens paints a scene of mass sub-mistletoe kissing: Young women "screamed and struggled, and ran into corners, and did everything but leave the room, until … they all at once found it useless to resist any longer and submitted to be kissed with a good grace." In this context, mistletoe was supposed to bring luck to two people who kissed underneath it and bad luck to those who didn't. Some say proper etiquette is to pick a berry off for every kiss and stop when all the berries are gone."

Lucas's character is romantic and though he is hurt by their past he moves forward with his life to become higher up in the government. I truly enjoyed his relentless pursuit of Georgina and the truth that they finally uncovered but if you want to know if they have an HEA you will have to read the book.

The reader will enjoy this read because it deals with tradition, lost love, lies, redemption and forgiveness. 

I give it 4 STARS for being delightful to read.

 Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.



MEREDITH DURAN grew up enamored of British history. At thirteen years old, she made a list of life goals that included writing romance novels, trying sushi, and going to London to see Holbein’s portrait of Anne Boleyn. Now she is happy to report that all three goals have become her favorite things to do. When not studying, doing fieldwork in India, or working on her next novel, Meredith can be found in the library, browsing through travelogues written by intrepid Englishwomen of the nineteenth century.
Find The Author At ~ Website | Twitter | Goodreads 


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REVIEW 4 the Holidays ~ The Heiress and the Hothead by Sabrina Jeffries

Sportochick's Musings ~ A brilliantly written yuletide love story between an outspoken American heiress mill owner and radical Lord Stephen Corry who spends his time writing hard nose articles about injustice and reform.

The Heiress and the Hothead
(Sinful Suitors #1.5)
by Sabrina Jeffries



Find This Book At ~ Amazon | B&N | Goodreads

Publisher ~ Gallery Books
Categories ~ Historical Romance, Regency, Christmas


Return to the beloved Sinful Suitors series from New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Sabrina Jeffries in this delightfully sexy winter-themed novella!

Stunned by the heat of an unexpected kiss on a cold winter’s eve, two strangers from vastly different worlds turn hotheaded principles into burning passion in Sabrina Jeffries’s delightful yuletide story, The Heiress and the Hothead.


A brilliantly written yuletide love story between an outspoken American heiress mill owner, Amanda Keane and radical Lord Stephen Corry who spends his time writing hard nose articles about injustice and reform. I loved how the author setup the main characters and worked the reader through their difference of opinions while creating a beautiful love story.

One of the parts I enjoyed was the center point of the mistletoe tradition and how both Amanda and Stephen used it's presence in the house to their advantage throughout the book. This book is not just a fluffy love story. It shows some of the dangers of the mills and how it effected peoples lives but it also shows that not everyone who was a miller was cruel and inattentive to their workers safety.

Both main characters are fully developed and make fun sparing partners keeping the reader smiling as they read.

I give this 4 STARS and know everyone will enjoy reading this romantic read.

 Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.


My Reviews of the Sinful Suitors Series ~
The Art of Sinning #1 ~ My Review
The Heiress and the Hothead #1.5 ~ My Review  
The Study of Seduction #2 ~ My Review
The Danger of Desire #3 ~ My Review
The Pleasures of Passion #4 ~ My Review


Sabrina Jeffries is the NYT bestselling author of over 50 novels and works of short fiction (some written under the pseudonyms Deborah Martin and Deborah Nicholas). Whatever time not spent writing in a coffee-fueled haze of dreams and madness is spent traveling with her husband and adult autistic son or indulging in one of her passions—jigsaw puzzles, chocolate, and music. With over 8 million books in print in 20 different languages, the North Carolina author never regrets tossing aside a budding career in academics for the sheer joy of writing fun fiction, and hopes that one day a book of hers will end up saving the world. 

She always dreams big.

~ Find The Author At ~ Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Facebook


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