Van-Tastic Reads

Hello readers! I’m going to use this area to post book reviews, my thoughts on the happenings in the book world, fun trips to literary locations, and all things that book nerds like myself would love! For my first post here I thought I would talk a bit about something near and very dear to my heart:

In May of 2013 four friends bonded over books, a shared love of Harry Potter, food and wine. (Fun fact: All four of us took the Pottermore quiz and came up with all four houses! I’m a Ravenclaw!) As an excuse to get together for pizza, girl talk and gushing over the books we were reading we decided to take our relationship to the next level: we created a book club! Three of us actually read the books….one of us was notorious for not. It’s me. I was that person…and if you assign me reading, I’m probably still that person. I regret nothing. The one time I attempted to read a book I hated it so much that I stopped reading it and now rank books on a scale of “Room” to “Harry Potter.” What hurts the most is that I actually paid money for a book I absolutely loath. I feel like at this point I’ve bought so many others and read them that the book knows what it did wrong and that its in a permanent “time out.” 

The four of us: Andrea (Gryffindor), Aubrey (Hufflepuff), Diamond (Slytherin) and myself were all Air Force spouses who were stationed at Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany. We were far from home and we were each other’s support system and family through deployments, spousal abuse, infertility and when three of us went through our divorces from our then spouses. One of us remarried to a wonderful man and they just had their first baby! Our book club started as a way to get together in person but with the changing of duty stations and divorces we took the book club online so that we could stay together and present in each other’s lives. It’s evolved from what it used to be with the addition of more team members (also fellow Harry Potter nerds) and book club members but it remains this life force for each of us, a way to stay connected to the family who continues to help us cope, give us strength and cheer us on during whatever we have going on in our private lives. 

For the last couple of years “A Wine Lover’s Book Club” has hosted different forms of reading challenges, so I thought I’d bring you all along for the ride! In the spirit of my “if you assign me a book I’m not going to read it” attitude we decided to go with reading prompts instead. They can be done in any order you choose and it just has to be something that you feel works for the category. A book set on or above the sea could be about Atlantis, pirates, WWII maritime history, mermaids, books teaching you how to scuba dive or perhaps about fishing, its all up to you! All that we ask is that you let us know in the group what book you’re reading and how it goes! Did you love it? Did you hate it? Does it now sit in your Kindle in a weird sort of exile while it watches how much fun the other books and I are having? We try and keep our members up with what is happening around the literary world, what new book adaptations are coming, fun book lists, quizzes, and trivia.

If you’re interested in joining or following the book club you can find it in the link below!

About Me

Hi, I’m Brandilyn. I’ve always been madly in love with reading and my taste ranges from historical romance (looking at you, Julia Quinn & Lisa Kleypas) to True Crime! When I’m not blogging about #vanlife I’m reading or cohosting the true crime podcast, Macabre Misdeeds!

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Title: Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (Book 1 in the series)

Author: Rick Riordan

Publisher: Disney / Hyperion Books

Format: Kindle Book

Page Count: 396

Genre: Children’s Greek and Roman Myths

A Wine Lover’s Book Club’s 2022 Reading Challenge: A book about Mythology, Legend, or Folklore

Stars 5 / 5 

Other books in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series:

The Sea of Monsters (Book 2)

The Titans Curse (Book 3)

The Battle of the Labyrinth (Book 4)

The Last Olympian (Book 5)

Amazon Link to the Book:

Author Website:

Author Social Media Links:

Synopsis/plot summary: 

Twelve-year-old Percy Jackson is on the most dangerous quest of his life. With the help of a satyr and a daughter of Athena, Percy must journey across the United States to catch a thief who has stolen the original weapon of mass destruction – Zeus’ master bolt. Along the way, he must face a host of mythological enemies determined to stop him. Most of all, he must come to terms with a father he has never known, an Oracle that has warned him of betrayal by a friend.  – The Rick Riordan Website


I seem to be in a bit of a reading slump lately and was a little overconfident when I decided to set my Goodreads challenge at 50 books for the year. I figured that there is no better way to push myself out of the slump like rereading some old favorites! The Percy Jackson books are similar to the Harry Potter series for me, in that reading them really transports me to another world. I can become so engrossed in the mythology and characters that the world around me goes quiet and all I really want to do is join in the battle. I’ve always been a fan of Greek mythology, but there’s something in the way that Rick Riordan writes the characters, that their personalities seem to become real. Seeing Greek gods, heroes, and villains in today’s setting really makes them come alive! There are not just epic quests, battles with classic monsters, and a fight for the sake of the world as we know it but there is also humor, friendship, struggles with coming to terms with who you are, romance, and real-world family problems of Olympic proportions.  

Disney has greenlighted a Percy Jackson series on their Disney+ streaming platform, so to say that i’m conflicted is an understatement. I’m so happy to see it being brought to life, but after the movies being less than exciting, i’m a little nervous too. I’m hoping that the series will help launch even more readers to find out more about not only Percy Jackson, but the other mythological heroes that Mr. Riordan writes about! 

I think this was the perfect book to catapult me into reading more because now that I’ve read “The Lightning Thief,” I’ve already got “The Sea of Monsters” ready on my Kindle and will be settling in to watch Percy, Annabeth & Grover’s next adventure!

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