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Publisher's Summary

Smart, surprising, and laced with a distinctly dark edge, Muriel Avenue Sluts is a provocative and ambitious story of suspense, revenge, love, and family ties - all in the most unexpected of places.

Seventeen-year-old Julia Turnbow’s mother gets paid to have sex; that’s just how it is. When Jules turns 18, she plans to follow in her mother’s footsteps and join the exclusive world of Philadelphia’s infamous Muriel Avenue Sluts. But before all that happens, she has just one wish - to fall in love.

Just when things seem to be going her way, Jules' world is knocked off its bearings. Her best friend, Anna, reveals that she’s being abused by one of Muriel Avenue’s gentleman clients. After a routine haircut and shave, Anna’s abuser falls to his death from a second-story balcony - and Jules is just one of two people who knows exactly what happened.

To complicate matters, Jules dives head first into a friendship with the daughter of the dead man. Greta’s a train wreck: She’s charming, unpredictable, and has one too many questions about Muriel Avenue. Then, Jules puts all of Muriel Avenue at risk with an ill-timed slip of the tongue, and she finds herself wanted by the FBI. Running from everything she’s ever cared about, all Jules wants is to get back to the people she loves.

©2017 Maggie Hasbrouck (P)2018 Maggie Hasbrouck

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Unique coming of age story geared for adults

Audio book review. * Note: I have avoided using the title and instead identify it as MAS because many of the vendors who sell this book won’t post my review if I use any NAUGHTY words! Ha! That’s a blog post of its own, isn’t it? *

I admit that I chose to read (with my ears) MAS based 90% on the title and 10% on the sleek cover and description. What a unique premise! I knew the book would likely be sexual in nature – edgy even – but with seventeen-year-old Jules as the main character, I assumed it was geared for a young adult audience (warning: it isn’t). In typical fashion, I plowed right in without being fully prepared, which was probably best. Had I known much more, I would likely have passed on reading it, but I am glad I didn’t. Though MAS struggles with defining its audience, it’s a well-done, intriguing story that I listened through in a day.

"If sex was better than love, we wouldn't be in business, would we?"

The name of the game on Muriel Avenue is sex, and the message is sex equals power. Though the deed itself is mostly kept behind closed doors, readers need to prepare themselves for some blunt talk about it. (The magic crisper drawer? Did we have to go there?) Sex is a commodity that’s not only endorsed/embraced by the community but protected, informally, by law enforcement. Everyone seems okay with it, and honestly, to live and work on Muriel Avenue seems appealing. This is a tight-knit, loving, supportive community of women who have it figured out. There is a hierarchy, there are rules, there are standards. The women and their children live well and have nice things. It would almost seem like an attractive lifestyle if it weren’t for the inevitable violence and abuse associated with sex for sale.

"... making Orange Zinger and contemplating love and sex and a tray of freshly baked chocolate chunk muffins."

Main character Jules’s voice is 100% teen, as are many of her impulses and decisions. She’s smart and necessarily street smart, but she’s also naïve and at times she’s maddeningly immature in her very mature world. (Again, realistic teen.) MAS reads like young adult, and then WHAM, it doesn’t. This may frustrate adult readers who crave different angles and want more from some of the adult characters (there is great potential for spin-off novellas). Adult readers have that life experience under their belts that requires more realistic emotional responses and see the cracks in the pavement.

The short chapters keep the interest level high, and the pace and action in MAS move quickly. Since I read with my ears, I cannot speak to the SPAG, but author Maggie Hasbrouk’s sentences flow nicely. How Jules thinks and the dialogue between the well-written characters is natural. Especially good is the relationship between Jules and her best friend, Anna, but it’s clear that Jules is the only one comfortable telling all in that friendship. This relationship provides some of the lightest and darkest moments in the story. Readers will be amused that Anna has to spell-out for Jules that Jules is bisexual – it hadn’t occurred to Jules, apparently, that not just getting turned-on but having make-out sessions with both males and females might be a pretty good indicator of that.

A word about the narration: EXCELLENT. (I listened at 1.25X). Julia Farmer is a gifted narrator. There is a huge cast of characters in MAS, and she voices teens and adults, male and female, gruff and soft-spoken, sassy and serious, northern and southern. Her characterization makes each person memorable and distinct from the others.

Concept aside, the language is rough, so if you blanch at the use of the F-bomb, be prepared for facial freeze. Despite the age of the main character and many of the supporting characters, I think it crosses the line for what I would recommend to young adult readers – not teenagers, anyhow. It has solidly new adult/adult content, and the book’s dark and disturbing subject matter provides lots of potential triggers for readers of any age who've suffered sexual abuse. I recommend this for mature readers who enjoy young adult characters but want to take it up a notch and experience a full range of reactions. You’ll be horrified, you’ll be heartbroken, but there are also moments of levity and hopefulness that round out MAS, making it a satisfying, engaging, and unique book. SO book club worthy.

Thank you to Audiobookworm Productions and the author for providing me an audio download in exchange for my honest opinion – the only kind I give. This full review and other features on Hall Ways Blog.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Great entertainment

While I usually prefer Sci-fi, I am glad I took a break to listen to this book. It was not predictable, which kept my attention. It is a bingeworthy story of coming of age and plays well to all interests. The plot development was rich and one can feel comfortable with the characters. I hope there is a follow up to this book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Been Through a Lot

Hasbrouck has here a very odd but interesting story. The short chapters keep the pace fast and make for a suspenseful storyline. I was highly addicted to the novel and wanted to reach the end as fast as possible! I like that this takes place with younger characters, but isn’t necessarily written for young readers. It has a lot of deep and dark themes, and the writing is adult. I found myself caught up with these characters and wanting the best for them, but also feeling sad and devastated in moments when certain things went awry. I give it a 5/5 stars!

The narration by Farmer was excellent. She did a great job with these characters and getting the voices right for them. They sounded young, but also as if they have been through a good deal. Her voice is soothing to listen to and she has good pacing as well! I give it a 5/5 stars!

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Maggie Hasbrouck. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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This Is A Wow and OMG

Let me say that the narrator is perfect for this book. It's not hard to picture Jules thanks to Ms. Farmer. She also makes it hard to listen to. This is not a story where a young girl is growing up and ready to spread her wings. Ms. Hasbrouck has written a sad story. It's hard to picture any of these characters being happy. I'm glad that I listened to the book because I'm afraid that I would probably have passed on reading the book.

The sadness starts with the title. It's hard to believe that a word with only five letter could make you sad but how can any woman be proud of that word. Who wants to be known as one or feel that they can't be anything else. Adding to the sadness was how Ms. Farmer read the story to us - you can hear the emotion in her voice. We have kids that are just trying to grow up in a very adult world. To be honest the story got so dark and sad that I had to stop listening and go on to listen to anything that made me smile and laugh. Am I sorry that I listened to Jules story? No. In some way this seems too real and may exist somewhere outside my safe little world. Parts just seemed so realistic and you end up wishing that Jules life could have been different.

I voluntarily reviewed an Audiobook copy of this book.

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A Powerful Story

I wasn't really sure going into this book if I would enjoy it or not. I definitely enjoyed it. It was a powerful story that caught my attention right off the bat and I was sad for it to end. Maggie Hasbrouck really had my emotions going all through this book, I even shed a tear or two. Even though the book is about a Community of Sluts there is no graphic sex. There is some strong language, but not enough to take away from the book in any way. The book does have some child molestation in it but does not go into much detail, just enough to give you a small idea. I could not of read it if it gave full pictures.

Julia Farmer narrates this book. She kept me fully involved in the story. I will definitely be looking for more books narrated by her. She put true depth and feeling into the book, her character voices were awesome. I love how she made it feel like she was telling me her story instead of reading to me.

The book is about coming of age 17 year old Julia. She was born and raised on Muriel Avenue in Philadelphia PA. He mother is a slut, her Grandmother was a slut, and in a very short time so will Julia, and proud of it. Muriel Avenue is not your typical hometown avenue. It is a street of sluts, literally. They have their own little community.

When Julia finds out her best friend Anna is being raped by one of the "Gentlemen", she kills him. It's the perfect crime, along with the help of Anna, she sprays him in the face with wasp spray to get the advantage, she then whacks him over the head with a frying pan, once he is knocked out she duct tapes his mouth, then squeezes his nose until he stops breathing. Then Anna and Julie after cleaning his face up and removing the tape toss him over the balcony. They tell everyone he fell. Barbara who I guess you would call the Madam has friends in high place, handles the whole mess by having her friends deal with the body. They put him in his car then drive him off a bridge, Problem solved. Right? Wrong!

Julia then meets Greta. She is the daughter of the man she killed. Julia doesn't tell her she killed him though. Greta had also been abused by her father and was happy he was dead. She convinces Julia to help her and another girl who was being molested to kill her father.

This death sends Julia on the run, when she finds out she was set up by Greta to take the fall.

Along the was you get to meet Julia's first love, feel the love of family, meet some strange people, and some really good an not so good friends.

I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

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So many twists. Perfect!

This book was perfect. Every character is wonderfully developed and I loved them all. The plot twists are constant but it all wraps up flawlessly. What a great story and what fantastic narration. I didn’t want it to end so I just listened again!! When can we get book two?? Thanks to both Maggie and Julia again for a great story.