Category: Book Review

Uprooted by Naomi Novik Review

UprootedTitle: Uprooted
 
Author: Naomi Novik
 
Genre: Fantasy
 
Series: N/A
 
Goodreads Rating: 4.11/5
 
 

Synopsis: “Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik Review Elaine Howlin Literary Blog

 
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What I thought about the book:

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This wonderful book centres on a village close to an (evil) enchanted wood that is protected from said wood by a wizard known as The Dragon (are you feeling all excited for the fairytale magic yet?). Every 10 years he visits the village and takes a girl back with him to his castle. No one in the village knows what he does with the girls just that when they return after the 10 years they are different and never stay in the village. This year he takes Agnie despite everyone believing he will take her more beautiful and skilled best friend, Kasia. But Agnie does something at the Choosing Ceremony that makes him feel he must take her.

Based on that much you’re probably expecting a Beauty and the Beast style fairytale romance but you ain’t getting it!

That wood I mentioned at the beginning is the real centre of this story. Its power is growing and it wants to consume as much of its surroundings as possible. Including people! There are creatures living inside it that torment and steal villagers from all areas around the wood. It separates one province from another and attempts to incite war between them which Agnie and the Dragon try to prevent. If you like magic and fantastical battles then this one is for you.

 
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My Rating: 5 star review

One Fell Sweep by Ilona Andrews Review

One Fell Sweep (Innkeeper Chronicles, #3)Title: One Fell Sweep

Author: Ilona Andrews

Genre: Science Fiction Urban Fantasy

Series: Innkeeper Chronicles #3

Goodreads Rating: 4.5/5

Goodreads Link

Synopsis: Dina DeMille may run the nicest Bed and Breakfast in Red Deer, Texas, but she caters to a very particular kind of guest… the kind that no one on Earth is supposed to know about. Guests like a former intergalactic tyrant with an impressive bounty on her head, the Lord Marshal of a powerful vampire clan, and a displaced-and-superhot werewolf; so don’t stand too close, or you may be collateral damage.

But what passes for Dina’s normal life is about to be thrown into chaos. First, she must rescue her long-distant older sister, Maud, who’s been exiled with her family to a planet that functions as the most lawless penal colony since Botany Bay. Then she agrees to help a guest whose last chance at saving his civilization could bring death and disaster to all Dina holds dear. Now Gertrude Hunt is under siege by a clan of assassins. To keep her guests safe and to find her missing parents, Dina will risk everything, even if she has to pay the ultimate price. Though Sean may have something to say about that!

One Fell Sweep by Ilona Andrews Bookstagram photo Elaine Howlin Literary Blog
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What I thought about the book:

Loved it!

This series is fantastic! Each book has been a 5 star read for me (fingers crossed for book 4) . One Fell Sweep picks up a few days after Sweep in Peace. Dina is dealing with what she discovered in the previous book when she receives a message from her sister to rescue her from a very dangerous planet.

We get some great character interactions and developments in this one and  some spaceship travel which was one of the things holding it back from feeling more like science fiction to me. Spaceships mean science fiction! The fantasy and sci-fi blend doesn’t suffer for this though.

With the Inn under siege and Dina protecting her guest, sometimes to her detriment, there are plenty of tense situations and action scenes. The love triangle (that I never felt was a love triangle really but a lot of people seem to) is resolved in a great way. I just love the ending so much!!!

It’s just great! A breath of fresh air in genre fiction.

“Yes, the princess you were expecting put on her armor and left to kill the dragon. So sorry.”
― Ilona AndrewsOne Fell Sweep

My Rating: 5 star review

Get the book: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

The Innkeeper Chronicles

Clean SweepSweep in PeaceOne Fell Sweep


Synopsis and book covers from Goodreads. Photo from my Instagram @elainehowlin_

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The 4 Books I dnf’d this Year (so far)

Since I posted the 5 Books I Loved This Year I decided to post the ones I disliked enough to abandon. Thankfully there were only 4.

the 4 books I dnf'd this year Elaine Howlin Literary blog

Hot and Badgered by Shelly Laurenston

It’s not every day that a beautiful naked woman falls out of the sky and lands face-first on grizzly shifter Berg Dunn’s hotel balcony. Definitely they don’t usually hop up and demand his best gun. Berg gives the lady a grizzly-sized t-shirt and his cell phone, too, just on style points. And then she’s gone, taking his XXXL heart with her. By the time he figures out she’s a honey badger shifter, it’s too late.

Honey badgers are survivors. Brutal, vicious, ill-tempered survivors. Or maybe Charlie Taylor-MacKilligan is just pissed that her useless father is trying to get them all killed again, and won’t even tell her how. Protecting her little sisters has always been her job, and she’s not about to let some pesky giant grizzly protection specialist with a network of every shifter in Manhattan get in her way. Wait. He’s trying to help? Why would he want to do that? He’s cute enough that she just might let him tag along—that is, if he can keep up . . .

Hot and Badgered (Honey Badger Chronicles, #1) I got an ARC of this from NetGalley to review. I can’t remember how far I got into the book but it was far enough. I thought the story was a mess and didn’t connect with the main characters who were meant to be having the romance. Not something you want in a paranormal romance book. There were too many character introductions and way too much going on. I also was not into the honey badger shifter thing. I think there were weasels in it too…

It’s been highly rated by a lot of my friends on Goodreads so maybe I will come back to it at some point… It probably sorts itself out after the first few chapters.

The Third Policeman by Flann O’Brien

The Third Policeman is Flann O’Brien’s brilliantly dark comic novel about the nature of time, death, and existence. Told by a narrator who has committed a botched robbery and brutal murder, the novel follows him and his adventures in a two-dimensional police station where, through the theories of the scientist/philosopher de Selby, he is introduced to “Atomic Theory” and its relation to bicycles, the existence of eternity (which turns out to be just down the road), and de Selby’s view that the earth is not round but “sausage-shaped.” With the help of his newly found soul named “Joe,” he grapples with the riddles and
contradictions that three eccentric policeman present to him.
The last of O’Brien’s novels to be published, The Third Policemanjoins O’Brien’s other fiction (At Swim-Two-BirdsThe Poor MouthThe Hard LifeThe Best of MylesThe Dalkey Archive) to ensure his place, along with James Joyce and Samuel Beckett, as one of Ireland’s great comic geniuses.

The Third Policeman This book confused the hell out of me. I had no clue what was going on. In fairness, I was listening to an audiobook and I kept getting distracted, missing bits and rewinding. In the end, I gave up and returned it to the library. The looming due date on library books usually pushes me to finish a book but this time it was to drop it.

Judging by other Goodreads reviews it seems like a bit of a pretentious book so it’s unlikely I’ll pick it up again.

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Sanders

In his long-awaited first novel, American master George Saunders delivers his most original, transcendent, and moving work yet. Unfolding in a graveyard over the course of a single night, narrated by a dazzling chorus of voices, Lincoln in the Bardo is a literary experience unlike any other—for no one but Saunders could conceive it.

February 1862. The Civil War is less than one year old. The fighting has begun in earnest, and the nation has begun to realize it is in for a long, bloody struggle. Meanwhile, President Lincoln’s beloved eleven-year-old son, Willie, lies upstairs in the White House, gravely ill. In a matter of days, despite predictions of a recovery, Willie dies and is laid to rest in a Georgetown cemetery. “My poor boy, he was too good for this earth,” the president says at the time. “God has called him home.” Newspapers report that a grief-stricken Lincoln returned to the crypt several times alone to hold his boy’s body.

From that seed of historical truth, George Saunders spins an unforgettable story of familial love and loss that breaks free of its realistic, historical framework into a thrilling, supernatural realm both hilarious and terrifying. Willie Lincoln finds himself in a strange purgatory, where ghosts mingle, gripe, commiserate, quarrel, and enact bizarre acts of penance. Within this transitional state—called, in the Tibetan tradition, the bardo—a monumental struggle erupts over young Willie’s soul.

Lincoln in the Bardo is an astonishing feat of imagination and a bold step forward from one of the most important and influential writers of his generation. Formally daring, generous in spirit, deeply concerned with matters of the heart, it is a testament to fiction’s ability to speak honestly and powerfully to the things that really matter to us. Saunders has invented a thrilling new form that deploys a kaleidoscopic, theatrical panorama of voices—living and dead, historical and invented—to ask a timeless, profound question: How do we live and love when we know that everything we love must end?

Lincoln in the Bardo This was another audiobook that I kept drifting away from. I only picked it up because everyone was talking about it. Seriously couldn’t escape the dang book! I’m not particularly interested in Abraham Lincoln’s life which is probably why I found it hard to pay attention.

It has been highly rated by many Goodreads readers though few people I know have read it. A heck of a lot of people have added it to their TBR though.

 

 

Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier

The coachman tried to warn her away from the ruined, forbidding place on the rainswept Cornish coast. But young Mary Yellan chose instead to honor her mother’s dying request that she join her frightened Aunt Patience and huge, hulking Uncle Joss Merlyn at Jamaica Inn. From her first glimpse on that raw November eve, she could sense the inn’s dark power. But never did Mary dream that she would become hopelessly ensnared in the vile, villainous schemes being hatched within its crumbling walls — or that a handsome, mysterious stranger would so incite her passions … tempting her to love a man whom she dares not trust.

Jamaica Inn

This one I will definitely get back to at some point. I think I just wasn’t in the right mindset for this type of book at the time. I’ve loved the other books by du Maurier that I read and want to give this one a proper try.

It’s been highly rated by several of my Goodreads friends.

 

 

 


Hopefully, this list won’t grow too much in the last few months of the year.

Think I should give any of these books another try? What books have you struggled to finish so far this year?

Synopsis and book covers from Goodreads. Photo from my Instagram @elainehowlin_

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Sweep in Peace by Ilona Andrews Review

Sweep in Peace (Innkeeper Chronicles, #2)Title: Sweep in Peace

Author: Ilona Andrews

Genre: Science Fiction Urban Fantasy

Series: Innkeeper Chronicles #2

Goodreads Rating: 4.35/5

Goodreads Link

Synopsis: Dina DeMille isn’t your typical Bed and Breakfast owner. Her inn defies laws of physics, her dog is secretly a monster, and the only permanent guest of the inn is a former Galactic tyrant with a price on her head. The inn needs guests to thrive and guests have been scarce, so when an Arbitrator shows up at Dina’s door and asks her to host a peace summit between three warring species, she jumps on the chance. Unfortunately, for Dina, bridging the gap between space vampires, the Hope-Crushing Horde, and the merchants of Baha-char is much easier said than done. To make the summit a success, she must find a chef, remodel the inn, keep her guests from murdering each other, and risk everything, even her life, to save the man she might fall in love with. But then it’s all in the day’s work for an Innkeeper.…

Sweep in Peace by Ilona Andrews Bookstagram Photo Elaine Howlin Literary Blog
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What I thought about the book:

Sweep in Peace picks up 6 months after the events of Clean Sweep and life has returned to normal for Dina….but not for long 😉 Her Inn is set to host the volatile peace talks between three warring species. Her livelihood hinges on the outcome and she ends up being pushed into a precarious position to protect her guests.

This book features 4 characters as adults who were kids in The Edge series. It isn’t necessary to read The Edge books before this one but you should anyway cause those books are great!

Andrews manage to blend urban fantasy and science fiction so well with this series. Magic and technology don’t usually go together but it’s something they make work. Here they’ve blended the two genres without ever having one take over or feel out of place.

The story doesn’t follow the Whodunit style that’s very often in urban fantasy books. Instead, we’re following the peace talks and the very tricksy Arbitrator wreak havoc in Dina’s Inn. It made for much more interesting reading within my favourite genre and I gobbled it up!

“This is blasphemy!” Odalon declared in the same way Gerard Butler had once roared “This is Sparta.” Sadly, Odalon had nobody to kick into a bottomless hole for emphasis, so he settled for looking extremely put out.

My Rating: 5 star review

Get the book: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

The Innkeeper Chronicles

Clean SweepSweep in PeaceOne Fell Sweep


 

Shadow’s Bane by Karen Chance

Shadow's Bane (Dorina Basarab, #4)

 

Title: Shadow’s Bane

Author: Karen Chance

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Series: Dorina Basarab #4

Goodreads Rating: 4.37/5

Goodreads Link

          Midnight's DaughterDeath's Mistress

Synopsis: Half-human, half-vampire Dorina Basarab is back–and facing her biggest challenge yet in the next urban fantasy in the New York Times bestselling series.

Dorina Basarab is a dhampir–half-human, half-vampire. As one of the Vampire Senate’s newest members, Dory already has a lot on her plate. But then a relative of one of Dory’s fey friends goes missing. They fear he’s been sold to a slaver who arranges fights–sometimes to the death–between different types of fey.

As Dory investigates, she and her friends learn the slavers are into something much bigger than a fight club. With the Vampire Senate gearing up for war with Faerie, it’ll take everything she has to defeat the slavers–and deal with the entirely too attractive master vampire Louis-Cesare….

Shadow's Bane by Karen Chance Dorina Basarab 4 Elaine Howlin Bookstagram
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What I thought about the book: Loved every minute of this rip-roaring ride of a book!

With typical audacious Dory style and humour, we’re back in Chance’s world of vampires and fae. In this instalment, we follow Dory on her first job with the Senate searching for smugglers looking to benefit from the upcoming war.

As with all of Chance’s books, this is full of action and so fast paced you will be on the edge of your seat!… if it’s possible to be on the edge of your seat reading a book… The book is quite a bit longer than previous instalments but with such a long gap between publications, the extra bit of recapping at the beginning was greatly appreciated but does slow progression of the plot for the first 100 or so pages.

Once that’s out of the way we’re treated to the most entertaining book in the series that also does a lot to expand the universe of both the Dorina series and the Cassandra Palmer series. I absolutely loved the glimpses into Mircea’s past as a young vampire and the growing dynamic between Dory and her alter ego vampire self Dorina. There’s a lot going on there I never suspected and I can’t wait to see where it goes. We get a lot of growth in relationships and in who the characters are in this one as well especially with Dorina, Mircea and Caedmon.

Loved every minute of this one and can’t wait for the next. Dragon’s Claw, a Dorina/Pritkin crossover novella is due out the end of this month.

Favourite Quote: “There are a thousand ways to die,” he told me quietly. “There are so few really to live. I would gladly risk the former for the latter, and it is my choice, is it not? To risk whatever I must, my heart, my body, my soul, in order to be with you. Is that not what love is? – Louis-Cesare

My Rating: 5 star review

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