Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Margaret From Maine by Joseph Monninger (Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with AToMR Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews welcomes Joseph Monninger, author of Margaret From Maine!

About The Author

Joseph Monninger is the author of Eternal on the Water and The World as We Know It, as well as several award-winning young-adult novels. A professor of English literature, he lives in New Hampshire.

Joseph Monninger ~ Margaret From Maine ~ Virtual Book Tour Page ~ AToMR Tours

Virtual Book Tour Contest Giveaway

Win 1 of 19 Print Copies of Margaret From Maine

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Book Review

Margaret From Maine by Joseph Monninger
Publisher: Plume (Penguin)
Publication Date: December 24, 2012
Format: Paperback - 368 pages / Kindle - 777 KB / Nook - 2 MB
ISBN: 0452298687
Genre: Contemporary Romance / Women's Fiction

BUY THE BOOK: Margaret From Maine

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by AToMR Tours.

Book Description:

The end of Maine Guardsman Sgt. Thomas Kennedy’s conscious life is ushered in by a flash of light on a plain in Afghanistan. While he languishes in a veterans’ hospital, Thomas’s devoted wife, Margaret, is raising their son on a dairy farm in rural Maine. She receives an invitation to Washington, DC, to meet the President of the United States as he signs a bill in support of wounded veterans with war veteran and West Point graduate Charlie King as her appointed escort. Charlie and Margaret’s shared circumstances inspire them to confide in one another. Suddenly, the pair creates a private world all their own, leaving the effects of war behind them. Margaret’s vows to her husband linger, raising a series of harrowing choice.

Book Excerpt:

Chapter One

The last sound Maine Guardsman Sgt. Thomas Kennedy heard was the whine of a mosquito. At least he thought it was the last sound, although what he thought and what actually occurred had little to do with each other. He raised his right hand to brush it away, conscious of the heat under his helmet, the dry, sweltering sweat that soaked his uniform. And now a mosquito.

As his hand lifted, he saw a glint—just a fracture of light—and he glanced down at Private First Class Edmond Johnson, who happened to be changing the back rear tire of the team’s Humvee. In that instant, many things did not make sense.

What were they doing here, in Afghanistan, to begin with? How had he come all this way—from Bangor, Maine—to be standing beside a beached Humvee, beside a private named Johnson who had arrived at this point in time from Solon, Maine? And where, after all, had the flash of light come from? They were in a dry, featureless plain, and the mountains, arguably the most rugged mountains in the world, were too far away to provide a sniper with sufficient height. So how could there be a flash of light, gunfire, when all the world lay flat and even and empty?

That’s when it occurred to Sgt. Thomas Kennedy that a mosquito is not always a mosquito.

Because he felt his hand shatter, the bones flying apart under his skin, his cheek exploding so that he tasted teeth and blood in the same instant. Oh, he thought. Just that. What they had feared, what they had all feared, had finally arrived. They were pinned down and a mosquito is not a mosquito and he turned and spread his arms—ridiculously like a crossing guard—and tried to protect Private Johnson.

The second bullet went through his shoulder and he only felt it spin him. It didn’t hurt. It felt like a bird. Someone yelled at him to get down, but Johnson still kneeled behind him, completely exposed, and Sgt. Kennedy spread his arms to expand his protection, and he knew that was a bad idea. He hardly even knew Johnson. The kid had arrived a month and a half ago from Basic, and he was supposed to be an excellent mechanic, a diesel engine mechanic for Freightliner, but taking a bullet for him was another matter. But Sgt. Kennedy was fourth-generation Maine, and it was part of his Yankee nature to use things up, so it made no sense to him to let two people get shot when one was already plugged. It would be like punching a hole in a second bucket when the first was already punched, and so when the third bullet hit him, in the right knee, he figured he was done for anyway.

He kept standing, shielding Johnson.

Strangely, Sgt. Kennedy knew, absolutely knew, that what he was doing would be called brave. And that was simply curious. Because it didn’t feel brave. It all felt stupid, and he thought of Margaret, the new baby, the dairy cows plodding quietly into their milking stations, and he wondered why the sniper couldn’t see how the entire thing was absurd. Why were they shooting at each other? He had no idea what an Afghan wanted in this world, but he figured that most humans wanted to live a peaceful life, and so as he held out his arms to protect Johnson behind him, he could not imagine that the sniper would not cease. Couldn’t the sniper put the situation together? They were just grunts, just stupid soldiers doing what they were told, and if the milk prices hadn’t fallen through the floor, Sgt. Kennedy would still be on the sweet dairy farm in Maine, watching his herd. But the farm had debt, and the military promised to help, and now here he was with a man shooting at him.

Sgt. Kennedy held up his hand to tell the shooter to stop, but instead he felt the fourth bullet go into his shin.

And then it became a perverse game.

See if you can knock me down.

My Book Review:

Margaret Kennedy is married to Thomas, a Sergeant and Medal of Honor recipient who returned from Afghanistan in a vegetative state. She lives with their son, Gordon, and her father-in-law Grandpa Ben on a dairy farm near Bangor, Maine. When she’s invited to Washington for a veterans’ bill signing, another wounded soldier and Foreign Service officer, Charlie King, volunteers to escort her. On their journey to Washington, Margaret and Charlie become close and fall in love with each other, but she is committed to Thomas and their marriage vows. Margaret must decide whether to follow her heart and choose a second chance at happiness and love, or remain true to her marriage vows and live with the remnants of a marriage to a man who is just a shell of who he used to be. What are two star-crossed lovers to do? What choice will Margaret make?

Margaret From Maine is a poignant and heart wrenching tale of honor, love, responsibility and second chances. Author Joseph Monninger weaves an emotional tale written in the third person narrative with alternating points of view. With rich and detailed descriptions of the various settings: the Afghan war zone, the countryside of Maine and the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia, the reader is transported into the lives of Margaret, her family and Charlie as their story unfolds. You can't help but feel for Margaret as she was faced with a traumatic heartbreak when her husband was injured in the war. But after six long years of selflessly loving and taking care of her husband, can you imagine being in her shoes and having to choose what to do when another man comes along and puts a smile back on her face? This is such a gut wrenching and emotional story that it simply tugs at your heartstrings and doesn't let go. The author has written a wonderful story that delves into the difficult issues that war veterans and their families have to face and deal with, especially when the veteran is critically injured or killed, and the families are left to pick up the pieces of their lives. Yet this is also a passionate and romantic story that delves into getting a second chance at love and happiness. This lovely story is reminiscent of the classic, Bridges of Madison County.

With a cast of characters who are realistic and complex; engaging dialogue and interactions that have a genuine emotional pull; and a storyline that has a mixture of family dilemma and a forbidden romance that is passionate yet bittersweet; Margaret From Maine is a beautiful and timeless love story that will resonate with you long after the last page has been read.


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