Review: Winter’s Fairytale by Maxine Morrey

Awww…this book was yummy! Oh so yummy. It doesn’t matter what type of book you read. Romance, Contemporary, Thriller, Mystery, Science Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Historical…it doesn’t matter what type I’m currently reading…this is the type you want…The kind that it’s past midnight, your eyes are burning, your head is all fuzzy, but you JUST HAVE to push through and finish it! I started this book yesterday afternoon and finished it at 2:08 am. I haven’t been so proud and so ashamed of myself in so long! Bliss!

This was a totally g rated book as well…well, maybe pg-13…but it didn’t need lots of steamy sex to hook you or make you go weak in the knees…All of the characters were likable if not lovable.

If I had one complaint (and I must confess, I was a bit off put at it) it was that the ending was too much HEA too soon. Once you read the novel and the characters are speaking at the very end perhaps you’ll understand. I would have much rather Maxine Morrey added an epilogue if she felt that she needed to progress the HEA that far ahead…One had to take in to account that for all purposes, even though they knew one another longer, they had only reconnected for two weeks at this point..a nice half page epilogue would have set any irritation on my part aside and made this a perfect book…

Even as it is, I still loved it…and couldn’t wait to zoom through it…and am already looking for more to read from this author…

Until next time…
Urania xx

ARC provided by Netgalley for an honest review

Buy it now Winter’s Fairytale by Maxine Morrey

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Review: Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman has a few different spots in my heart…the first is that he writes brilliantly and beautifully as so few can do. His style is both unique and refreshing. The second thing is the sound of his voice. It makes me near swoon. I could listen to him speak all day. I never get tired of it. Finally, he is one of the only writers that I actually enjoy a great deal of his short stories. I’m not a short story person really. However, I really do find myself enjoying some of his tales. I also love that he takes the time to explain where the stories come from. Sometimes those super short blurbs are more interesting than the actual story! They certainly almost always add to the story as well. If I had a complaint about the formatting of this novel it would only be I wish the blurbs came right before each story (or perhaps the end). Instead they are all in the start of the book so you have to go back and forth…or if you read the book from start to finish, you forget what little blurb inspired the story in the first place. Yes I know you can go flip back and forth…however, if you’re trying to listen to the audiobook (AGAIN! The second thing! HIS VOICE!!!) it’s not as easy to do.

Some of my all time favourite short stories can be found in this collection. I shall only mention one…”The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury”. If you can find a copy or a recording of Neil reading it PLEASE DO!!! (it’s also on the An Evening with Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer cd, which is where I first heard it)

Finally Trigger Warnings…The term. I find it hard to express how I feel about trigger warnings and how silly it has sometimes became in social media. I’ve seen trigger warnings posted such as “dog”, “fat”, “diet”, really this list is endless. And no these were not instances of someone trying to be funny…these were honest to goodness trigger warnings….I’m no one to judge….however, I don’t believe we do ourselves or anyone else living in a censored world of padded rooms full of insulated words…

Again, I’m not a judge or an expert…and I’m not a writer, but my friend, Mr Gaiman is…I found his introduction was spot on for me. It’s exactly how I wish I could explain how I fell about “trigger warnings”…yeah, it might be a bit of an overkill, and you might not want to read it, but I am going to include it anyways…hahaha…if you decided to read it, I hope you’re lucky enough to be able to imagine Neil reading it (I pretty much do his voice inside my head ANYTIME I read one of his books now). Here it is…the introduction of the book:

There are things that upset us. That’s not quite what we’re talking about here, though. I’m thinking about those images or words or ideas that drop like trapdoors beneath us, throwing us out of our safe, sane world into a place much more dark and less welcoming. Our hearts skip a ratatat drumbeat in our chests, and we fight for breath. Blood retreats from our faces and our fingers, leaving us pale and gasping and shocked.

And what we learn about ourselves in those moments, where the trigger has been squeezed, is this: the past is not dead. There are things that wait for us, patiently, in the dark corridors of our lives. We think we have moved on, put them out of mind, left them to desiccate and shrivel and blow away; but we are wrong. They have been waiting there in the darkness, working out, practicing their most vicious blows, their sharp hard thoughtless punches into the gut, killing time until we came back that way.

The monsters in our cupboards and our minds are always there in the darkness, like mould beneath the floorboards and behind the wallpaper, and there is so much darkness, an inexhaustible supply of darkness. The universe is amply supplied with night.

What do we need to be warned about? We each have our little triggers.

I first encountered the phrase Trigger Warning on the Internet, where it existed primarily to warn people of links to images or ideas that could upset them and trigger flashbacks or anxiety or terror, in order that the images or ideas could be filtered out of a feed, or that the person reading could be mentally prepared before encountering them.

I was fascinated when I learned that trigger warnings had crossed the divide from the internet to the world of things you could touch. Several colleges, it was announced, were considering putting trigger warnings on works of literature, art or film, to warn students of what was waiting for them, an idea that I found myself simultaneously warming to (of course you want to let people who may be distressed that this might distress them) while at the same time being deeply troubled by it: when I wrote Sandman and it was being published as a monthly comic, it had a warning on each issue, telling the world it was Suggested for Mature Readers, which I thought was wise. It told potential readers that this was not a children’s comic and it might contain images or ideas that could be troubling, and also suggests that if you are mature (whatever that happens to means) you are on your own. As for what they would find that might disturb them, or shake them, or make them think something they had never thought before, I felt that that was their own look out. We are mature, we decide what we read or do not read.

But so much of what we read as adults should be read, I think, with no warnings or alerts beyond, perhaps: we need to find out what fiction is, what it means, to us, an experience that is going to be unlike anyone else’s experience of the story.

We build the stories in our heads. We take words, and we give them power, and we look out through other eyes, and we see, and experience, what they see. I wonder, Are fictions safe places? And then I ask myself, Should they be safe places? There are stories I read as a child I wished, once I had read them, that I had never encountered, because I was not ready for them and they upset me: stories which contained helplessness, in which people were embarrassed, or mutilated, in which adults were made vulnerable and parents could be of no assistance. They troubled me and haunted my nightmares and my daydreams, worried and upset me on profound levels, but they also taught me that, if I was going to read fiction, sometimes I would only know what my comfort zone was by leaving it; and now, as an adult, I would not erase the experience of having read them if I could.

There are still things that profoundly upset me when I encounter them, whether it’s on the web or the word or in the world. They never get easier, never stop my heart from trip-trapping, never let me escape, this time, unscathed. But they teach me things, and they open my eyes, and if they hurt, they hurt in ways that make me think and grow and change.

I wondered, reading about the college discussions, whether, one day, people would put a trigger warning on my fiction. I wondered whether or not they would be justified in doing it. And then I decided to do it first.

There are things in this book, as in life, that might upset you. There is death and pain in here, tears and discomfort, violence of all kinds, cruelty, even abuse. There is kindness, too, I hope, sometimes. Even a handful of happy endings. (Few stories end unhappily for all participants, after all.) And there’s more than that: I know a lady called Rocky who is upset by tentacles, and who genuinely needs warnings for things that have tentacles in them, especially tentacles with suckers, and who, confronted with an unexpected squid or octopus, will dive, shaking, behind the nearest sofa. There is an enormous tentacle somewhere in these pages.

Many of those stories end badly for at least one of the people in them. Consider yourself warned.

Until next time…
Urania xx

ARC provided by Edelweiss for an honest review

Buy it now Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman

Review: The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

I bought this book when it was first announced as an Oprah Book Club® Selection in 2001. I picked it up more than a few times and tried to read it. I just couldn’t get in to it. When I first bought a kindle in 2011, I again tried to read this novel…still couldn’t get into it. Picked it up again in 2016…you guessed it…STILL couldn’t get far…well if you don’t know me, it’s time you know…I’m hard headed. I’ve had so many of my mates tell me this is the best book ever…Every time I cried about giving up once again on reading the book I would have yet one more person tell me to try again. I became determined to finish this book…if only to ease the guilt I felt of letting other people that loved the book down.

FINALLY!!!!! I finished the book this year. I’m glad I finished it…now I can move on and put this troubled relationship behind me. I mean, seriously, it’s been over 15 years of me asking for fulfilment and getting nothing in return except wasted space and gathering dust…

The first 2/3 of the book continued to piss me off in more ways than I thought were possible. Every time something else happened I found my blood pressure building. However, the last 1/3 of the book was simply marvellous and I loved it so very much.

Does this review make you unsure how to proceed? Well, I don’t know what else to say except that you’ll have to deal with it and come to terms so you too can move on with your life…

Until next time…
Urania xx

Buy it now The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

Review: A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

How does one review this book? Looking at near 250k ratings and over 10k reviews on Goodreads.com I reckon I don’t have to. However, you all know I’m a glutton for punishment so I will say a few words…

With all the foreshadowing in the first 100 pages of the book you can pretty much figure out how it’s to end…you might even think you know the whys. I mean it’s all there…however, as in life, this book demonstrates that it’s all in the details…and in perhaps what is never said as well…

This book made me laugh out loud in more than a few places. It’s a wonderful telling about two boys growing up. How they help one another in ways that they are unable to even ask for. I found at times I was a bit irritated with the back and forth of the memories. The 1st person narrator would have a memory and then the novel would go back in time to expand on that memory. As the novel progressed and I became used to this, it really proved interesting. Especially since many of the memories were reminisced over a few times. Experiencing something vs looking back at a memory vs looking back at a memory after a traumatic event can all be very different experiences for the same person. “After the fact” we can all imagine how things might have been different if we had picked up on the clues we were given.

I should note that this is a novel full of wonderful secondary characters. Some of them truly do help make this an extraordinary read.

I admit, Owen really annoyed me during much of the novel…however, some part of me thinks that’s part of the point.

I also leave myself wondering how different Johnny would be if Owen was still his best mate living down the street. Or if Owen hadn’t thrown that ball…

Finally, I have to say that at times I might have wished greatly that this book would just move along faster. The slow pace was just as annoying as Owen was. Reading this book really was a test of my discipline. Some novels are just like that for me…My reward wasn’t the ending….it was all the time spent with so many wonderful characters, getting to know them in a way that just wouldn’t have been possible if the novel was written any other way…

Until next time…
Urania xx

Buy it now A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

Review: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

There are many reasons why I stopped reading the blurbs listed for books. For one, I started seeing more than a few authors/publishers feel the need to give a detailed outline for the entire book in the blurbs published on Amazon and Goodreads. That’s the same reason I try not read any review or even publicity postings for books I intend to read. It’s always a fine line to walk to see what’s being talked about without hearing too much of the talk! The main reason, for me, to avoid blurbs is that I honestly sometimes feel like I no longer need/desire to read the book if I’ve read so much information and I don’t go into the story “blind”. This is something that’s happened in the last 5 or so years. So it’s true to say that I go into the majority of my reads with little more information that the title of the novel and the author’s name.

Why do I tell you all of this? The danger of this is that I often avoid a book far too long because I assume it’s something it isn’t. Bel Canto is one fine example of this. I’ve never read Ann Patchett before. I went into this thinking it would be…well I don’t want to label anything or make a label sound bad, when that isn’t my intention. But I basically thought this would be a family drama with some difficult every day issues to deal with and at the end of the day it would be a HEA.

This wasn’t at all like that. I really enjoyed this novel. Part of that love was that it was so opposite of what I was expecting.

If you’re looking for detailed descriptions on what occurs in this novel…well….go read the blurb or some of the reviews…hahahahahaha…

I will say I felt the ending was a bit abrupt…buuuuttttt….if it had ended any other way it would have just been because the book was exactly like the reason I avoided it for years in the first place…hahahaha…really, I’m not sure how the novel could have ended differently and stayed true to the story…

I certainly understand why some people love Patchett and others don’t care for her…I’m not so sure that everyone has a literary heart that is strong enough to take an ending such as this…so many of us use novels to escape the reality of the world…we want only HEA endings…

Some might see this novel as a HEA, many others will not…

Until next time…
Urania xx

Buy it now Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

Review: The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare

I’ve been on a historical romance kick for the past year. To make up for being a late in life reader I am trying to read as many books as I can and these types of books are like crack to me. I’m totally addicted. I can’t get enough. So when my book club girls rave about them, I am quick to jump on my Overdrive and see if they have them and if not I add them to my wishlist and save for them. I need all of them. I really do.

I must say, this is probably one of the most funny historical book, but not in an over the top way. The hero and heroine are positively hilarious together. The banter felt real and not forced. The snark was perfect. The romance was even more perfect. I don’t remember the last time I smiled so much while reading a book.

When a seamstress is made into a duchess, there’s bound to be few mishaps. Emma tried so hard to be a good wife and duchess, but with a prickly husband, she has to work harder than she ever imagined.

The Duke suffered greatly in the war and now wears those scars for all to see. He hides himself away from the world and would rather be in the dark than the sun. But he has no idea that this wife he chose was going to flip his world upside down. Do his scars affect her? Yes, but not in the way he thinks. All he wants is an heir then she’ll be off to another of his homes, but the more they are around each other, the more she can chip away at his shell and show him what real is about.

If the next books are anything like this one, this will be one of my most recommended series. My heart is happy.

~Melpomene

Buy The Duchess Deal http://amzn.to/2xw3D8Y

Review: Three Wishes by Liane Moriarty

three-wishesHave you ever read a book by a new (to you) author and love it so much that you had to go out and buy something else by her? When I read What Alice Forgot (see my review here) I knew I had to read more from Moriarty. So I figured I would start with her first book.

Did I love the book? No, maybe not. But I didn’t hate it either…

The book really read (to me) like a first attempt at a book. Easy to tell it was a debut novel. It wasn’t a bad story…it just felt very disjointed to me and wasn’t always easy to follow. I loved the ending. However, it was complete chaos at times, but I reckon being a part of triplets can be that way in real life 😛 On to bigger and better reads, but really glad I made myself finish this one…and I really appreciate how far Moriarty has came as a writer….

Sometimes it’s scary when a debut novel is amazing and wonderful. I am a cynic at heart…It’s not that I wish the worst, I just prepare myself for the worst. It’s so much easier (so I lie to myself) to not be gutted when you’re disappointed. So when I read a fantastic debut, I also fear it’s a one hit wonder…I actually am more leery of reading a second book after a fantastic debut…so yea…I am glad this wasn’t a perfect novel…I am glad Moriarty is growing as a writer. As her books continue to come out, I still see her evolving…and that, my fellow book nerds, is a wonderful thing!

If anything, reading Moriarty’s first novel has sealed me as a true fan…

Until next time…
Urania

Buy it now Three Wishes by Liane Moriarty