Book Review: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

17347382Title: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Length: 734 pages
Format: Paperback (15th Anniversary Ed.)
Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
Publication Date: August 27, 2013
Rating – 5 stars

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is the pivotal fourth novel in the seven-part tale of Harry Potter’s training as a wizard and his coming of age. Harry wants to get away from the pernicious Dursleys and go to the International Quidditch Cup with Hermione, Ron, and the Weasleys. He wants to dream about Cho Chang, his crush (and maybe do more than dream). He wants to find out about the mysterious event involving two other rival schools of magic, and a competition that hasn’t happened for a hundred years. He wants to be a normal, fourteen-year-old wizard. Unfortunately for Harry Potter, he’s not normal — even by wizarding standards.

And in this case, different can be deadly.

I finally read Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire! For the very first time! I have previously seen the movie (which seems to be a theme this month lol) but it’s been awhile so I forgot almost everything in it. This book was definitely a little more hefty in size than the previous Harry Potter books so it took me almost a month to read it, especially since I had to read so many other books this month so I had to keep putting it down and picking it back up.

In book four, we journey back to Hogwarts with our normal cast of characters except now our main crew is noticeable older and starting to deal with the normal growing up stuff like hormones i.e. Harry’s attraction to Cho and Hermoine/Ron’s growing feelings for each other. The brunt of the story takes place during the Tri-Wizard tournament that Hogwarts is hosting where three champions from three wizarding schools will compete for the Goblet of Fire and a large sum of prize money (not to mention bragging rights). The wizarding world is thrown in an uproar when Harry Potter’s name bursts forth from the Goblet naming him as the fourth wizard to compete when there should only be three. He is also under the age requirement of seventeen. This, unbeknownst to many, is just part of Lord Voldemort’s dark plot to return to power and Harry finds himself once again, face to face with his enemy.

I looooooooved this book! I definitely hated having to put it down and pick it back up again a few times towards the beginning but once I picked up back up for good, I COULD NOT put it down and actually stayed up until four in the morning reading it this weekend because I just couldn’t bear to put it down again.I think this is my favorite of the four I have read so far. It had everything…danger, betrayal, action, grief, death, suspense, and even a little bit of romance. I definitely feel like the first HP book was great, but the story and the writing just get progressively better and better with each book. I loved this story, loved spending more time with these characters, hated losing Cedric…but  I loved this book! Five stars! I cannot wait to start book five this month!

Book Review: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adam

11Title: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Genre: Science Fiction
Length: 216 pages
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Publisher: Del Rey Books
Publication Date:  September 27, 1995
Rating – 4 stars

Seconds before the Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor.

Together this dynamic pair begin a journey through space aided by quotes from The Hitchhiker’s Guide (“A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have”) and a galaxy-full of fellow travelers: Zaphod Beeblebrox–the two-headed, three-armed ex-hippie and totally out-to-lunch president of the galaxy; Trillian, Zaphod’s girlfriend (formally Tricia McMillan), whom Arthur tried to pick up at a cocktail party once upon a time zone; Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant, and chronically depressed robot; Veet Voojagig, a former graduate student who is obsessed with the disappearance of all the ballpoint pens he bought over the years.

In keeping with my vow this year to delve deeper into the Science Fiction genre I decided to read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. I have been wanting to read this book for so many years that I can’t even remember when I officially added it onto my TBR list. I did see the movie in the theatre when it came out in 2005. I don’t even think when I saw it that I realized it was an adaptation. It has been such a long time since I saw it so I can’t even really remember whether I enjoyed it, but I am glad that I finally can say that I read the book and enjoyed it.

I am not going to even try to summarize the plot because I feel like this is one of those books that is super hard to explain and you just need to read it to understand it. That being said, I don’t think this is a book to pick up when you’re first getting into Science Fiction. I think it’s a great read but I think if you’re not already into Science Fiction, especially Science Fiction that has a humorous twist, that a lot of it will be lost on you. I definitely enjoyed Adams’ poking fun at our very human need to seek answers to basic questions like, “Why are we here?”, “What is our purpose?” and “How did we get here?” I really enjoyed that aspect of it and just thought it was a fun read overall. This book is considered a classic Sci-Fi read, I totally get why and recommend giving it a read, if you haven’t. I do think this may be a very polarizing book, either you will get it and love it, or you won’t get it and hate it. I am on the former end of the spectrum, I loved it and will be continuing on. 4 stars!

Blog Tour Book Review: The Mermaid’s Daughter by Ann Claycomb

About The Mermaid’s Daughter

• Paperback: 448 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (March 7, 2017)

A modern-day expansion of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid, this unforgettable debut novel weaves a spellbinding tale of magic and the power of love as a descendent of the original mermaid fights the terrible price of saving herself from a curse that has affected generations of women in her family.

Kathleen has always been dramatic. She suffers from the bizarre malady of experiencing stabbing pain in her feet. On her sixteenth birthday, she woke screaming from the sensation that her tongue had been cut out. No doctor can find a medical explanation for her pain, and even the most powerful drugs have proven useless. Only the touch of seawater can ease her pain, and just temporarily at that.

Now Kathleen is a twenty-five-year-old opera student in Boston and shows immense promise as a soprano. Her girlfriend Harry, a mezzo in the same program, worries endlessly about Kathleen’s phantom pain and obsession with the sea. Kathleen’s mother and grandmother both committed suicide as young women, and Harry worries they suffered from the same symptoms. When Kathleen suffers yet another dangerous breakdown, Harry convinces Kathleen to visit her hometown in Ireland to learn more about her family history.

In Ireland, they discover that the mystery—and the tragedy—of Kathleen’s family history is far older and stranger than they could have imagined.  Kathleen’s fate seems sealed, and the only way out is a terrible choice between a mermaid’s two sirens—the sea, and her lover. But both choices mean death…

Haunting and lyrical, The Mermaid’s Daughter asks—how far we will go for those we love? And can the transformative power of music overcome a magic that has prevailed for generations?

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Happy Monday!! I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend! I was actually laid up in bed for most of it, sick. Luckily I had my dog and a great book to keep me company!

Over the weekend I read The Mermaids Daughter by Ann Claycomb. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher through TLC Book Tours. 

This book tells the story of Kathleen who has been plagued by a phantom pain in her feet and her tongue since she was little. Her mother suffered from this as well, but killed herself when Kathleen was still little. Kathleen, now an adult and an opera singer, struggles with this and travels with her partner to the country of her ancestry to find out more about herself and this issue that she is having. It is the story of multiple generations of women suffering with this curse because of the decision of one woman. It is based off the Hans Christian Anderson’s Little Mermaid tale.

In this story our main character is in a relationship with Harry, a woman she met in a vocal course in college. I love their relationship dynamic and the way in which they care for each other. Harry knows about the pain Kathleen endures, she plays the dual roles of lover and caretaker for Kathleen and sort of begins the quest to find out more about Kathleen’s situation. I enjoyed the chapters we got from her perspective and seeing Kathleen and what she goes through, through her eyes. I enjoyed pretty much all of the characters in this story and I was especially intrigued by ALL of the perspectives the story is delivered from.

I loved this book immediately and could not put it down. I love dark retellings and this was definitely dark. It was dark, atmospheric, musical, and beautifully written. I felt like I was there. Kathleen’s suffering was palpable, I could almost feel it myself. Exactly how I would imagine it in our world. This was a great blend of genre – contemporary with fantasy.  The writing was gorgeous and it seemed like every sentence was evocative of the sea.

This was an excellent debut and I cannot wait to see what else this author has in store for us. Whatever it is, I will be eagerly anticipating it.

I highly recommend to everyone but especially to readers that love retellings, especially darker ones. Five stars!

 

Photo by Brian Persinger

About Ann Claycomb

Ann Claycomb’s fiction has been published in American Short Fiction, Zahir, Fiction Weekly, Brevity, Hot Metal Bridge, The Evansville Review, Title Goes Here, and other publications. She has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has an MFA in fiction from West Virginia University

Book Review: Eric Olafson: Space Pirate by Vanessa Ravencroft

Eric Olafson: Space Pirate (Eric Olafson Series) by [Ravencroft, Vanessa]Title: Eric Olafson: Space Pirate byVanessa Ravencroft
Genre: Science Fiction
Length: 589 pages
Format: Ebook
Publisher: Inkitt
Publication Date:  March 15, 2016
Rating – 4 stars

It’s the year 5019, and the Milky Way Galaxy is teeming with exotic species.

The majority of the known civilizations have formed a multi-cultural mega organization called the United Stars of Galaxies.

This Union is protected by the brave men and women of the United Stars Space fleet against external threats.
Eric Olafson, born and raised under harsh conditions of the traditional and inward looking society of Nilfeheim, left his planet to fulfill his dreams of becoming a Starship captain.

When Eric gets kidnaped by an unknown organization and brought to Sin 4, a lawless Planet deep in free space, he slowly starts to discover his central role in an ancient conflict of cosmic proportions.

“This is what Sci-Fi is all about. Reads like early Heinlein. In the style of Space Cadets. No esoteric problems..but good ol blaster and space action with a host of relatable characters.” – Reed T

“This story has all the right things such as strong appealing characters, great world building, aliens mystery,and more.” – Fran L

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review of it.

This book is about the adventures of Erik Olafson, a space pirate who finds himself in some sticky and outlandish situations. Although it is a book that takes place within a series it can definitely be read as a standalone title, which is how I read it.

Coming off of a Sci-Fi kick that most recently had me read The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, I was definitely in the mood to read this book and I rather enjoyed it. I thought it was humorous and adventurous. It had a lot of action right off the bat which I really enjoyed. I loved the characters and learning about their relationships with and perceptions of our main character.  Another thing I really enjoyed was the inclusion of certain aspects of Norse mythology in the story. While I am not super proficient in Norse mythology and it’s major characters, I was definitely able to draw some connections and recognized some key figures so those were really great Easter eggs to discover in the story. I just thought this story was really unique and original which made me enjoy it so much. An chase through space with a character that is running for their lives and discovering new places and people is always a fun time. 

Overall, I enjoyed  this story and would definitely like to read more from the author and of these characters, four stars! If you are a Sci-Fi fan, I definitely think you will enjoy this book and get it. I do think that others who are not really into Sci-Fi may have a harder time getting the book and handling all of the information and detail that is given. 

You can purchase your own copy of this book here: Buy Eric Olafson, Space Pirate on Amazon

Happy Reading everyone! 

Vanessa RavencroftAbout the Author

It all started in 1989 when my friends and I played Role Playing Games such as AD, Midgard, Traveler etc. Not really satisfied with the selection of commercially available RPGames, I created a new one called Action World. Our RPG evolved into the Galactic Chronicles and I am now almost 22 years in that Universe. There are 34 handwritten 500-600 page books in the Galactic Chronicles series. I love to write and spend time in this universe.

Now I have dedicated readership from all over the world and this makes me prouder than I could ever express in words. (Sad testament for someone who claims to be a writer, I know)

Want to know more about my world? Ever wondered what a viking handshake looks like? Or what kind of licensing you need to carry certain cybernetic weapons? I have written over 13,000 pages about the Universe on my GalNet Wiki which you can check out here: http://galnet.wikia.com

You can also follow me on Twitter & Facebook for more information and sneak peeks into the Galactic Chronicles:

https://www.facebook.com/ravencroftvanessa/

Blog Tour Book Review: Just the Essentials by Adina Grigore

About Just the Essentials

Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: Harper Wave (March 7, 2017)

The author of Skin Cleanse returns with a comprehensive guide to the ultimate ingredient for living an all-natural, plant-based lifestyle: essential oils.

For millennia, essential oils have played a key role in health and beauty rituals. From references in the Bible (frankincense and myrrh) to Hippocrates (who documented the effects of oils from over 300 plants) to Ancient Egypt (Cleopatra pioneered the use of fragrance), essential oils have been revered throughout human history for their healing powers and their unparalleled scent.

But in modern times, they’ve often been misunderstood, underappreciated, even cast as “dangerous”—and relegated to the dusty shelves of health food stores. That is, until recently. Today they’re back in the spotlight as increasing numbers of consumers are looking for all-natural alternatives to skincare products and opting for fragrance-free detergents and soaps, natural remedies for common ailments, and toxin-free home cleaning solutions.

Enter Adina Grigore, owner and founder of the wildly popular all-natural skincare line SW Basics. A former essential oil skeptic, Grigore learned everything she could about these potent plant-based compounds when she began formulating her products. And what she learned was that essential oils are some of the most powerful, healing, health-promoting compounds found in nature. That, and they smell pretty great too.

In Just the Essentials, Grigore offers a 21st-century guide to these ancient oils, offering a fresh, fun, and authoritative overview of what they are and how they can be easily incorporated into anyone’s life. From plant-based medicine to all-natural skincare to safer and cleaner household products to aromatherapy, this handy and entertaining guide provides detailed advice for a wide array of oils, safety guidelines, and a range of do-it-yourself recipes to get started. Inside you’ll discover such fun facts as:

  • Tea tree oil is a powerful antibacterial that is proven to be as effective for treating acne as benzoyl peroxide; it also kills oral bacteria and is a life-saver for tooth infections.
  • Cinnamon oil is a circulation-booster that helps to ease everyday aches and pains as well as headaches (even migraines).
  • Peppermint oil is brimming with antimicrobial properties; peppermint oil can be used for everything from alleviating digestive problems to cleaning your kitchen counters.

With lists of the best oils for beginners; instructions for diffusing and safe handling; and DIY recipes from dish soap to toothpaste to facial masks, Just the Essentials makes it easy and enjoyable to reap the many benefits of these pure plant extracts.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Just the Essentials: How Essential Oils Can Heal Your Skin, Improve Your Health, and Detox Your Life by Adina Grigore. I received a free ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review of it.

Just the Essentials is a book all about essential oils. It covers the basics of what they are, what they can be used for, how to find quality essential oils and also includes recipes to incorporate essential oils into your every day life.

I first heard about essential oils when I started becoming interested in healthier living. I heard of them but I didn’t take it any further until I read this book. I have been curious about essential oils for about two years but felt really intimidated so I never really put forth effort to learn about them or try them so when I got the opportunity to review this book I jumped at the chance to see what kind of information this book could offer me in the hopes of starting my essential oil journey. Honestly, I had no clue where to even start.

Needless to say, I am SO glad I read this book. After reading I definitely feel ready to begin my journey with essential oils. Through reading it I learned that I actually have been using an essential oil topically, tea tree oil. I found that it helped heal my piercings faster when diluted with water, so it was cool to make that connection. 

I really loved this book. It was a really fun read which surprised me. Nonfiction books can either be really great fun reads for me or dull reads and this one was just super fun, at times humorous and it really just flew by. It is a super small book at about a little over 190 pages so it can definitely be read in a few hours but I feel like this is a book that I will keep in my collection as a point of reference to go back to when I want to refresh my memory on the benefits of certain essential oils. There are also so awesome recipes included that I can’t wait to try out like the face masks, counter cleaning product and various other skincare and hygiene type recipes that sound amazing. 

I found this book to be really helpful, fun and easy to understand and relate to, especially for an essential oil newbie like me. Most of all, it got me really excited to embark on my essential oil journey and find the oils and method of use that are for me. I am so grateful for this book and I highly recommend it if you are interesting in the topic of essential oils and healthy living. Five stars!

 

Photo by Liz Andrien

About Adina Grigore

Adina Grigore is the founder and CEO of the all-natural, sustainable skin-care line S.W. Basics, which she started out of her kitchen in 2011. A graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, Adina has worked in the wellness industry since 2007 as a private holistic nutritionist, a personal trainer, and a workshop coordinator teaching people about the DIY nature of wellness. S.W. Basics products are now sold internationally and have been featured in Vogue, O Magazine, W Magazine, the New York Times, InStyle, Real Simple, and Martha Stewart Living, among others.

Follow Adina on Instagram.

tlc logo

Blog Tour Book Review: The Drifter by Christine Lennon

About The Drifter

• Paperback: 384 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (February 14, 2017)

Megan Abbott meets M.O. Walsh in Christine Lennon’s compelling debut novel about a group of friends on the cusp of graduating from college when their lives are irrevocably changed by a brutal act of violence.

Present Day…

For two decades, Elizabeth has tried to escape the ghosts of her past…tried to erase the painful memories…tried to keep out the terrifying nightmares. But twenty years after graduating from the University of Florida, her carefully curated life begins to unravel, forcing her to confront the past she’s tried so hard to forget.

1990s, Gainesville, Florida…

Elizabeth and her two closest friends, Caroline and Ginny, are having the time of their lives in college—binge watching Oprah, flirting for freebies from Taco Bell, and breaking hearts along the way. But without warning, their world is suddenly shattered when a series of horrific acts of violence ravage the campus, changing their lives forever.

Sweeping readers from the exclusive corners of sorority life in the South to the frontlines of the drug-fueled, slacker culture in Manhattan in the ‘90s and early ‘00s, when Elizabeth is forced to acknowledge her role in the death of a friend in order to mend a broken friendship and save her own life, The Drifter is an unforgettable story about the complexities of friendships and the secrets that can ultimately destroy us.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Happy Thursday!! It’s almost the weekend which makes me incredibly be happy because I am planning to do some well deserved reading! 

Today I am taking part in the blog tour for The Drifter by Christine Lennon. I received a free copy in exchange for my honest review of it. 

The Drifter is a thriller about a girl named Betsy who lives and goes to college in a somewhat small town. During the events of this book there is a killer on the loose in her town that is murdering young women in their apartments so it sends their campus and town into high alert.

I ended up giving this book a 3 star review. I liked it and it was certainly a little creepy in my opinion. I read the brunt of it in bed at two in the morning with all the lights off and my husband and puppy asleep so that definitely increased the creep factor for me. There were some definite creepy moments that made my skin crawl which is something I look for in a thriller read. However, it was a little slow for me. The prologue definitely caught my attention and I liked the writing style and thought it was atmospheric. I think all the sorority stuff lost me and the general girl versus girl cattiness that goes on in this book. 

I did find it interesting to explore the evolution of Betsy through time. During her college days she’s very carefree, independent and bold, but after what happens she becomes understandably fearful, dependent and protective. 

Overall it was a fast, entertaining read that thriller fans may enjoy. I recommend reading it in bed at night with the lights off (except for your reading light!)

About Christine Lennon

CHRISTINE LENNON is a Los Angeles based writer. Before she moved to the West Coast and started her freelance career, she was an editor at W, Vogue, and Harper’s Bazaar. Since then, she has written for publications including, T, the New York Times Style Magazine; the Wall Street Journal; Town & Country; W; Vogue; Harper’s Bazaar; Martha Stewart Living; Sunset; C California Style; Marie Claire; Self; Net-a-Porter’s Porter and The Edit online magazine—among others. Christine lives in California with her husband, Andrew Reich, and their twins. The Drifter is her first book.

Find out more about Christine at her website.

tlc logo

Blog Tour Book Review: The Mermaids of Lake Michigan by Suzanne Kamata

About The Mermaids of Lake Michigan

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing (February 14, 2017)

Elise Faulkner is more at home in the waters of her beloved Lake Michigan than on land where her beauty queen mom is always on her back about her lack of a social life; her sister is dating the boy of her dreams; her favorite penpal–the one who wrote about mermaids in Ghana–has gotten married and ended their correspondence; and no one’s allowed to talk about her glamorous great-grandmother, the deep-sea wreck diver. Elise is biding her time with books until she can flee. But then crazy Chiara Hanover pops into her life, as does Miguel, a mysterious carnival worker whose dark future has been predicted by a gypsy.

 

“A lyrical, compelling coming-of-age story with magical elements.” — Kirkus Reviews

“Elise Faulkner drew me into her head and heart so subtly, yet with such force, that by the end I was cheering her on. Suzanne Kamata has woven an honest, aching coming-of-age story that will speak to women everywhere.” ?Kristin Bair O’Keeffe, author of The Art of Floating and Thirsty

“Suzanne Kamata has written a novel of great charm and depth, with a bit of magical realism laced with humor. Elise, its engaging narrator opens her arms and her heart to life’s complexity, including family secrets and escapades with a magnificent new bestie–the irrepressible Chiara. When an unlikely romance unfolds with a mysterious drifter/musician, Kamata steers us expertly into darker waters. A jewel of a novel, set on the shores of Lake Michigan with Kamata’s signature compassion for all of its characters.” — Margaret Willey, author of Summer of the Silk Moths

“The Mermaids of Lake Michigan is a luminous coming-of-age story about a teen struggling against social norms and her own family legacy to find her way. Elise’s journey is hardly the stuff of fairy tales, as she ends up far from home, and far from the self she meant to be. Raw, real and even a bit magical.” — Kristina Riggle, author of The Life You’ve Imagined and Vivian in Red

“Suzanne Kamata’s new novel, The Mermaids of Lake Michigan, is a beautiful story about a teenage girl who must learn to balance her idealism and belief in mermaids with the harsh realities of growing up and trying to find people to love and trust. A page-turner set in the unstable years of the 1970s, I devoured it in one sitting. It brought back memories of my own adolescence and took me beyond, in that way all good novels do, into the wonderings of circumstance and the choices we would make if faced with hard decisions. Suitable for teens and adults alike, this novel will teach readers to believe in magic even in the face of tragedy.” — Cassie Premo Steele, author of Beautiful Waters

Add to Goodreads badge

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

Hello all! Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Mermaids of Lake Michigan by Suzanne Kamata. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review of it.

The Mermaids of Lake Michigan is a coming of age story about a young girl named Elise. She is an introverted bookworm until she meets Chiara, someone who challenges her to be different and to push her own boundaries. When she sees a handsome stranger at a carnival and runs into him days after, it seems like fate and through her experiences with these two people, her life is never again the same.

The Mermaids of Lake Michigan and how much I liked it, was a surprise for me. It is super short in length and when I held it in my hands I was nervous for it because of the length as some shorter books feel like they should be longer but I really felt like this book and these characters accomplished so much in so short a page length.  

The writing was beautiful and gripped me from the very beginning. There were a few paragraphs and dialogue sentences that I just had to read over and over because of how beautiful they were and how they made me feel about the characters. It definitely has a “coming of age” story feel right off the bat and I really enjoyed that as well as the atmosphere of it being set in the 70s. That was really evident in the narrative and the writing made it just so easy to be transported to that time frame, I could almost see the clothes, hear the music, feel the heartbreak and the friendships.

I literally read this in a day, really enjoyed it and recommend it if you’re looking for a really short read that packs a pretty nice punch of a story. I enjoyed this so much, it was super relatable and evoked feelings from my own childhood/teenage years when you are just finding yourself and who you are going to become. If you like coming of age stories, this may be to your liking! Four stars!

About Suzanne Kamata

Suzanne Kamata was born and raised in Grand Haven, Michigan. She is most recently from Lexington, South Carolina, and now lives in Tokushima Prefecture, Japan with her husband and two children. Her short stories, essays, articles and book reviews have appeared in over 100 publications including Real Simple, Brain, Child, Crab Orchard Review, and The Japan Times. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize five times, and received a Special Mention in 2006. She is also a two-time winner of the All Nippon Airways/ Wingspan Fiction Contest, winner of the Paris Book Festival Award, and winner of the Half the World Global Literati Award for the novel.

Connect with Suzanne

Website | Twitter