Book Reviews & Feature: Wait for the Rain and Bridges by Maria Murnane

Happy Thursday everyone! I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend. I hope your work week hasn’t been too stressful like mine has. I, for sure, am ready for the weekend! Luckily, I was able to read some really great books this week and am in the middle of reading some pretty good ones as I type this post!

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of reading both Wait for the Rain and Bridges by Maria Murnane. I’d like to send her a big thank you for giving me the chance to read her books in exchange for my honest review of them.

Wait for the RainDaphne White is staring down the barrel of forty—and is distraught at what she sees. Her ex-husband is getting remarried, her teenage daughter hardly needs her anymore, and the career she once dreamed about has somehow slipped from her grasp. She’s almost lost sight of the spirited and optimistic young woman she used to be.

As she heads off to a Caribbean island to mark the new decade with her best friends from college, Daphne’s in anything but the mood to celebrate. But when she meets Clay Hanson, a much younger man, she ignores her inner voice warning her that she’s too old for a fling. In fact, this tropical getaway might be the perfect opportunity to picture her future in a new sun-drenched light.

With the help of her friends, Daphne rediscovers her enthusiasm for life, as well as her love for herself—and realizes that her best years are still ahead.

I kicked off the week by reading Wait for the Rain which is a contemporary fiction novel about Daphne, a recent forty year old divorcee who is still grieving for the loss of her marriage and the life she built. In this book, she reunites with her college best friends, the other two members of the “Three Musketeers”. They embark on a girls vacation to the Caribbean and it happens to be just what Daphne needs to reignite her spark!

I loved this book! I am totally in the mood for contemporaries at the moment and after reading this book (and Bridges), I have come to the realization that I really enjoy contemporary stories centered around groups of female friends. I love the friendship dynamic in these books and how the women are so uplifting to each other. Sure, like any group of friends, they have their rocky moments but they are ALWAYS there for each other.

I literally finished this book in a day and had alot of fun reading it. I was hooked almost immediately and just really fell in love with these characters, especially with Skylar…she’s the woman I want to be. This book pretty much had everything in it that I want to read in a contemporary.  I was SO happy that Daphne and Clay happened. But what I love most of all is that although what happened with Clay was great, it wasn’t ever the central focus of the story. I really appreciated that. I loved the bit of romance thrown in but I appreciated that the book stayed true to the core theme of friendship, empowerment and self discovery.  This is a PERFECT summer read so if you are looking for a book to take with you while you sunbathe at the beach, this is definitely one that I would recommend. 4.5 stars.

34602230It’s a piece of news Daphne never expected to hear: Her globe-trotting friend Skylar, who vowed never to get married, is engaged! Time to celebrate in Manhattan—Skylar’s treat, of course. After years scaling the corporate ladder, she can more than afford it.

Daphne arrives in NYC with news of her own—the novel she’s finally finished appears to be going nowhere but the trash bin of every publishing house around. She’s devastated but plans to keep her disappointment under wraps, something that becomes trickier when she sees Skylar’s spectacular apartment. Could her life have been like this if she’d chosen a different path?

What Daphne doesn’t know is she’s not the only one with a secret. Skylar and their friend KC are also holding something back, but what? As the trip unfolds, the truth about each woman emerges, along with tears.

And laughter. And love.

The fun-loving trio readers fell for in Wait for the Rain is together once more. Here’s to the power of friendship!

Immediately after reading Wait for the Rain, I dove right into Bridges where we follow the same set of friends during a Bachelorette weekend for Skylar, my favorite of the three. For various reasons, the girls have just gotten busy and fallen just a bit out of touch so another reunion is definitely due. They each are at seemingly pivotal and different stages of their lives and reconnecting with each other in Skylar’s home of New York where she has basically built herself an empire seems like the fun filled vacation that they all need. It is a weekend filled with fun, cocktails, messy date stories, reunions with former flings, tears, and lots and lots of love.

While I loved Wait for the Rain, I think Bridges is my favorite of the two and it may be because, even though Daphne is our main character, I still love love love Skylar and this story is set during her bachelorette weekend. After having read the book prior to this one, I knew that I was in for a treat when I started reading this book and I was right. I loved being back with the girls again. I swear that I feel like these girls are my best friends which I think is a testament to the great writing of these books. Also, I did want to make sure to mention that you don’t have to read Wait for the Rain in order to full enjoy Bridges. While there are allusions to events from the first book, they are completely explained and you never feel like you missed anything. Bridges can definitely stand on it’s own.

Both of these books are super fast reads. I started Bridges in the evening and before I knew it, it was four in the morning…I just couldn’t go to sleep without finishing it. Once again, I appreciated that through Daphne’s struggles she finds happiness and hope in herself, her friends and in her future – never in a man which I think is freaking awesome.

Bridges was released just this week so if you are interested in purchasing it, you can do so over at this Amazon link: Purchase Bridges by Maria Murnane. I definitely recommend both of these books if you love contemporary fiction especially those that have heartwarming female friendship, female empowerment themes and self discovery. They’re both full of laughs, drama and feels. I want to be them when I’m in my forties. 5 stars to Bridges!!

I hope everyone has a wonderful Thursday and Friday…and an even better weekend. Thank you for stopping in and as always, Happy Reading!

 

 

 

 

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!

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: This is Not Over by Holly Brown

About This is Not Over

• Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (January 17, 2017)

You’ll have your deposit within seven business days, just like it says on Getaway.com. I’ve put through a refund to your credit card for the full amount, minus $200 to replace the stained sheets…

Miranda

When 30-year-old Dawn reads Miranda’s email, she sees red. People have always told Dawn she’s beautiful, and she just hopes they don’t see beneath—to how she grew up, to what she’s always tried to outrun. She revels in her getaways with her perfect (maybe too perfect) husband, the occasional long weekend in luxurious homes, temporarily inhabiting other people’s privileged lives. Miranda’s email strikes a nerve, with its lying intimation that Dawn is so dirty you need to throw out her sheets.

Beware of your “host”

I wouldn’t have left a review at all, if I didn’t feel it was my civic duty to warn others…

57-year-old Miranda thought she’d seen it all, but she can’t believe her eyes when she reads Dawn’s review. She’s a doctor’s wife but she needs that rental money, desperately. People might think her life is privileged, but they don’t know what’s really going on. They don’t know about her son. She won’t take this threat to her livelihood—to her very life—lying down.

Two very different women with this in common: Each harbors her own secret, her own reason why she can’t just let this go. Neither can yield, not before they’ve dredged up all that’s hidden, even if it has the power to shatter all they’ve built.

This is not over.

This is so not over.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Happy Thursday! I’m excited because tomorrow is Friday and also because I’ve been reading some pretty great books so far this year. That always makes me happy!

I just finished This Is Not Over by Holly Brown. I’d like to thank both TLC Book Tours and Harper Collins for giving me the chance to be a part of this book tour and read the book in exchange for an honest review of it.

This Is Not Over told in the alternating perspectives of our two main characters Dawn and Miranda. When the story starts Dawn and her husband have just returned from vacationing in Santa Monica where they rented Miranda’s home for a short while. Not satisfied with the rental and incensed by an email she has received from Miranda advising that she would be deducting the cost of ruined sheets from Dawn’s security deposit, Dawn decides to leave a review of the rental (and the owner) on the site she booked it on. This is the start of a furious back and forth between both women and it quickly becomes personal.

I wasn’t sure at all what to expect from this story. When I read the description, it intrigued me instantly and I just really wanted to see what it was all about and upon reading the premise, where the story would go. I did read a few reviews for it and saw it had mixed reviews so I was nervous going into it but I ended up really liking it. I was not a fan of either main character but that didn’t stop me from being able to enjoy the story.

I really liked the short chapters and the mix of formats used in this book, it was a pretty fast read for me once I got settled and buried my nose in it. I went into this book thinking that it was a psychological thriller and I think that may be where people are getting confused, it’s more of a light suspense novel I would say. I definitely would not try to compare this to some of the heavy psychological thrillers that are out there because if you expect that of course, you will be disappointed when you don’t get that. It definitely is a book that keeps you on your toes just interested in what these characters are going to do to each other next, it kept me wondering what was going to happen and where the story was going. Although I didn’t love either character, I was interested in what they did and seeing the inner workings of their brains, the assumptions and misunderstandings they made.

Overall, I thought this was an entertaining read. I think fans of reality TV, specifically the housewives shows, might really enjoy this book. These two characters are VERY dramatic and take things really personal, although they both do have some very serious things going on in their lives so I can kind of see why they’re fixating on this one thing. It’s something they are both fighting to control and everything just spins out of whack. When you sit there and read it, it seems so ridiculous but it is actually something that could very well happen in real life which is why I really liked it.

3.5 stars

About Holly Brown

Photo by Yanina Gotsulsky

Holly Brown lives with her husband and toddler daughter in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she’s a practicing marriage and family therapist. She is the author of the novel Don’t Try to Find Me, and her blog, “Bonding Time,” is featured on the mental health website PsychCentral.com.

Connect with Holly on Facebook.

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Book Review: The Vegetarian by Han Kang

25489025Title: The Vegetarian by Han Kang
Genre: Adult Fiction
Length: 192 pages
Format: Print – Hardcover
Publisher: Hogarth
Publication Date: February 2, 2016
Rating – 4 stars

Before the nightmare, Yeong-hye and her husband lived an ordinary life. But when splintering, blood-soaked images start haunting her thoughts, Yeong-hye decides to purge her mind and renounce eating meat. In a country where societal mores are strictly obeyed, Yeong-hye’s decision to embrace a more “plant-like” existence is a shocking act of subversion. And as her passive rebellion manifests in ever more extreme and frightening forms, scandal, abuse, and estrangement begin to send Yeong-hye spiraling deep into the spaces of her fantasy. In a complete metamorphosis of both mind and body, her now dangerous endeavor will take Yeong-hye—impossibly, ecstatically, tragically—far from her once-known self altogether.
 
A disturbing, yet beautifully composed narrative told in three parts, The Vegetarian is an allegorical novel about modern day South Korea, but also a story of obsession, choice, and our faltering attempts to understand others, from one imprisoned body to another.

I did have a small idea of what the book was about going into it from hearing a non-spoiler review of it and I do know that this book has been praised and enjoyed by omnivores and herbivores alike, which intrigued me even more. It also won the Man Booker International Prize, which is of course a wonderful honor and I’m glad to have finally read a book that did. I need to make more of a habit of that.

The Vegetarian is told in three acts. Each act is told by a different narrator but connected by Yeong-Hye, our main character. After a dark, hellish, traumatizing nightmare Yeong-Hye renounces meat and essentially all other animal derived ingredients. This decision does not sit well with her husband and the rest of her family and as she changes, all of their lives are changed drastically as well. Interspersed throughout the sections we get snippets of thoughts from Yeong-Hye represented in Italics that give us a look into what she is going through and I really appreciated that.

It definitely was very dark and shocking. In some ways it was beautiful but also brutal and haunting at the same time. There were things in it that made me incredibly angry and then incredibly sad, which to me is evidence of some really great writing. It made me incredibly angry that she was immediately deemed crazy for her choices by literally everyone around her.

I do love the commentary that this book is making about social norms and what happens to those that “shirk” them, how they are viewed and treated by even loved ones. When Yeong-Hye decides to make this life altering change, the way she is treated was incredibly maddening and heartbreaking. As a Vegan who was for two years the sole plant based eater in my family and friends(my husband joined me after and I met my first vegan friend IRL), what our main character experiences was so far from my own personal experience BUT I have definitely heard stories quite similar in ways to how she gets treated though not as extreme as in this book. I also found it a little disturbing that Yeong-Hye pretty much withers when adopting this lifestyle change when I have only seen so many flourish and I had a hard time with that because it made me feel like people who read this book would think that is what happens to people when they make a change like this. But I think it’s important to understand that Yeong-Hye and the rest of her family had some really deep rooted family issues. So there are alot of deep issues playing underneath this story – mental illness, abuse,  PTSD, obsession and more.

I wasn’t sure what this book could accomplish in 192 pages as that is so brief but even though it is short, it definitely packs a big punch and is definitely a book that will stay with me for a long time. This book has been translated and I think that it is one of the best translations that I have ever had the pleasure of reading since it was able to evoke such emotion and thoughts from so many people. 4 stars.

Happy reading everyone.

Book Review: November 9 by Colleen Hoover

25111004Title: November 9 by Colleen Hoover
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Atria, an imprint of Simon and Schuster
Page count: 310 pages
Format: Paperback
Publication Date: November 10, 2015
Rating – 5 stars

Beloved #1 New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover returns with an unforgettable love story between a writer and his unexpected muse.

Fallon meets Ben, an aspiring novelist, the day before her scheduled cross-country move. Their untimely attraction leads them to spend Fallon’s last day in L.A. together, and her eventful life becomes the creative inspiration Ben has always sought for his novel. Over time and amidst the various relationships and tribulations of their own separate lives, they continue to meet on the same date every year. Until one day Fallon becomes unsure if Ben has been telling her the truth or fabricating a perfect reality for the sake of the ultimate plot twist.

It’s been a little over a month since I read November 9 and I have now had enough time to process my abundant feelings about it. I started the book on November 9th with the intention of reading it on that one day but I ended up taking a few days to finish because I didn’t really want to finish it, if that makes any sense at all.

November 9 was actually my first Colleen Hoover book. I don’t know if it was the best one to start off with but that’s okay, because I really loved it. I ended up giving it five stars.

So, November 9 is a contemporary romance novel about a Fallon, who is a former actress turned voice actress. When Fallon was younger, her father’s house caught fire with Fallon in it and as a result she is scarred on half of her body. She is really self-conscious about her scars until she meets Ben, who is the first guy to make her feel as though her scars make her beautiful. They are both travelling two very different roads in their lives but there is not denying that sparks fly between them, unable to commit to a steady relationship for reasons of their own, they agree to live their lives (with one homework assignment each) and meet up every November 9.

Wow! So I really loved this story. It was definitely a very unique plot, or at least one that I haven’t yet read. I was instantly intrigued when I read the synopsis but it was actually better than the synopsis lead me to think it would be. It is told in the alternating perspectives of both Fallon and Ben. I loved them both as our main characters. They are both far from perfect, which I loved about them. They each have their unique set of problems that we got to see as they separated and lived their lives up to the next November 9th when they would meet again. It was wonderful how they would separate and pick right back up where they left off the year before. I loved seeing the different journey’s they both took during their time apart and how meeting each other shaped their lives and who they became while the years went by.

This book definitely went places that I didn’t think it would go when I started reading it and even towards the middle half. I am not going to spoil anything in case you haven’t read it yet, but yeah…I was surprised, which is a good thing. This book gave me a lot of feels…warm, fuzzy ones and then it also broke my heart and crushed it into tiny pieces. It definitely has some of my new favorite quotes in it. ❤

Needless to say, I loved this book and gave it five stars. If you haven’t read this book, you totally should! Especially if you are into contemporary romances, I believe this one qualifies as a New Adult Romance although I am not too well versed on that genre. It’s definitely possible to read this in one sitting, for sure! I am ready to read more Colleen Hoover, let me know if you have any recommendations on which of her books to read next. I do have It Ends with US ready to go on my shelf but I will probably read that one in January!