Category: Book Review

Beneath the Sugar Sky – Seanan McGuire Review

Beneath the Sugar Sky (Wayward Children, #3)Title: Beneath the Sugar Sky

Author: Seanan McGuire

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Series: Wayward Children #3

Goodreads Rating: 4.09/5

Goodreads Link

Synopsis: Beneath the Sugar Sky returns to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children. At this magical boarding school, children who have experienced fantasy adventures are reintroduced to the “real” world.

Sumi died years before her prophesied daughter Rini could be born. Rini was born anyway, and now she’s trying to bring her mother back from a world without magic.

Beaneath the Sugar Sky Seanan McGuire Elaine Howlin Literary Blog
Instagram @elainehowlin_ & @elaine_reads_romance

What I thought about the book:  I think this one would be 3.5 stars (probably the lowest rating I’ve ever given a Seanan McGuire book). I just didn’t find the story as interesting as the others but it was still very enjoyable.

My Rating: ★★★★☆

Get the book: Amazon | Book Depository 

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“Children have always tumbled down rabbit holes, fallen through mirrors, been swept away by unseasonal floods or carried off by tornadoes. Children have always traveled, and because they are young and bright and full of contradictions, they haven’t always restricted their travel to the possible.”

― Seanan McGuire, Beneath the Sugar Sky

Wayward Children Series

 Every Heart a Doorway

Down Among the Sticks and Bones Down Among the Sticks and Bones

Beneath the Sugar Sky Beneath the Sugar Sky

In an Absent Dream In an Absent Dream

Synopsis from Goodreads. Photos from my Instagram @elainehowlin_

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard Review

Red Queen (Red Queen, #1)Title: Red Queen

Author: Victoria Aveyard

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Series: Red Queen #1

Goodreads Rating: 4.07/5

Goodreads Link


Graceling meets The Selection in debut novelist Victoria Aveyard’s sweeping tale of seventeen-year-old Mare, a common girl whose once-latent magical power draws her into the dangerous intrigue of the king’s palace. Will her power save her or condemn her?

Mare Barrow’s world is divided by blood—those with common, Red blood serve the Silver- blooded elite, who are gifted with superhuman abilities. Mare is a Red, scraping by as a thief in a poor, rural village, until a twist of fate throws her in front of the Silver court. Before the king, princes, and all the nobles, she discovers she has an ability of her own.

To cover up this impossibility, the king forces her to play the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks everything and uses her new position to help the Scarlet Guard—a growing Red rebellion—even as her heart tugs her in an impossible direction. One wrong move can lead to her death, but in the dangerous game she plays, the only certainty is betrayal.

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard Elaine Howlin Literary Blog
Instagram @elainehowlin_ & @elaine_reads_romance

What I thought about the book: Ok, I’m not (usually) a fan of YA but I really enjoyed this. It was so suspenseful with lots of action and intrigue that kept me guessing. The love triangle didn’t even annoy me.

My Rating: ★★★★☆

Get the book: Amazon | Book Depository 

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Synopsis and book cover from Goodreads. Photos from my Instagram @elainehowlin_

Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire Review

Rosemary and Rue (October Daye, #1)Title: Rosemary and Rue
Author: Seanan McGuire
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: October Daye #1
Goodreads Rating: 3.75/5

Synopsis: October “Toby” Daye, a changeling who is half human and half fae, has been an outsider from birth. After getting burned by both sides of her heritage, Toby has denied the Faerie world, retreating to a “normal” life. Unfortunately for her, the Faerie world has other ideas…

The murder of Countess Evening Winterrose pulls Toby back into the fae world. Unable to resist Evening’s dying curse, which binds her to investigate, Toby must resume her former position as knight errant and renew old alliances. As she steps back into fae society, dealing with a cast of characters not entirely good or evil, she realizes that more than her own life will be forfeited if she cannot find Evening’s killer.

Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire Elaine Howlin Literary Blog
Instagram @elainehowlin_ & @elaine_reads_romance

What I thought about the book:

This series is based on fairies such as the Tuatha Dé Danann (the narrator pronounced Tuatha as “tootha” and drove me crazy!!!!) which I grew up with and just loved having them feature in modern adult stories.

Toby (October) is a fae halfling or changeling who works as a knight and has to constantly prove her worth and strength to full-blooded fae. The ongoing plot of the series centres around her life in this position, she has many experiences and undergoes many changes.

My Rating: ★★★★☆

Get the book: Amazon | Book Depository

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Synopsis and book cover from Goodreads. Photos from my Instagram @elainehowlin_

Top 5 Books of 2018

I expected this list to be a lot harder since I enjoyed most of the 100 plus books I read this year but it was actually pretty easy to pick out these 5.

These are my 5 favourite books that I read this year not published this year.

Shadow's Bane by Karen Chance Dorina Basarab 4 Elaine Howlin Bookstagram

Shadow’s Bane by Karen Chance

Shadow's Bane (Dorina Basarab, #4)

I am a total fangirl for this author. I love everything by her, check her website regularly for updates and I’m in fan-pages on Facebook and Goodreads. Yeah, I like her books.

Shadow’s Bane is the 4th and long awaited book in Chance’s Dorina Basarab series. It’s hard to go into detail about this book because it would spoil the series but basically Dory is a dhampir (half-human and half-vampire) and she is hunting down slavers from fairy when she gets tangled up in a whole load of other stuff.

I mainly love this series for how Chance writes. It’s like a good supernatural TV show in book form, there’s a lot of action and stuff going on.

I have a full review of this book here.

One Fell Sweep by Ilona Andrews Bookstagram photo Elaine Howlin Literary Blog

One Fell Sweep by Ilona Andrews

One Fell Sweep (Innkeeper Chronicles, #3)

This series totally surprised me. I was a bit taken aback when I realised it was science fiction and then I ended up really enjoying it. Andrews managed to blend urban fantasy and sci-fi really well together.

The Innkeeper Chronicles follows Dina who is an innkeeper of this almost sentient and inter-dimensional inn. In this book which is the third in the series, Dina is on a rescue mission for her sister and then ends up under siege from a warrior race. There were so many elements in this book that I didn’t see coming and thoroughly enjoyed.

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne Elaine Howlin Literary Blog

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

The Hating Game

This is another book that took me by surprise. I was totally judging it by its cover and thinking it would be boring chick lit but I loved it! It was such a fun read!

It’s about Lucy and Joshua who work together in an office and play these little games with one another throughout the day to annoy each other. It gets a bit serious though when they are both up for the same promotion and the tension grows and grows.

I enjoyed reading it so much. I’m looking forward to rereading it soon.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik Elaine Howlin Literary Blog

Uprooted by Naomi Novik


LOVED IT! It’s often marketed as YA but it’s completely free of those YA tropes that are often so annoying. It’s a great story that was so much more than I expected.

The story follows Agnie who has been chosen by the local wizard to live in his castle for the ten years. No body knows what he does with the girls, they have their suspicions of course and they’re not great. Turns out he just wants a housemaid but gets a bit more than he bargained for with Agnie.

But the real story of this book centres around the forest Agnie’s village is next to. It’s full of strange creatures and a force that is a deadly threat to the villagers.

October Daye by Seanan McGuire

An Artificial Night (October Daye, #3)

So, this one is actually a series not a book (maybe a cheat…) I just couldn’t decide which book out of the series was my favourite, I love them all equally! The series follows Toby Daye who is half-human and half-fae. In the very first book she is turned into a fish for 15 years and returns to find her world is quite different. Before she was changed, she was married with a small daughter living happily in the human world but now she’s no longer welcome there and must return to the fae.

If I was pushed, I would probably say An Artificial Night is my favourite which is the third book in the series. In this one Toby is investigating the disappearances of human and fae children which leads her into an ancient realm of fairy where she encounters the Wild Hunt. I love this one because it has a lot to do with fear and I think McGuire has written the emotion so well into the story.

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A Night to Surrender by Tessa Dare Review

A Night to Surrender (Spindle Cove, #1)Title: A Night to Surrender

Author: Tessa Dare

Genre: Historical Romance

Series: Spindle Cove #1

Goodreads Rating: 3.78/5

Goodreads Link

Synopsis: Welcome to Spindle Cove, where the ladies with delicate constitutions come for the sea air, and men in their prime are… nowhere to be found. Or are they?

Spindle Cove is the destination of choice for certain types of well-bred young ladies: the painfully shy, young wives disenchanted with matrimony, and young girls too enchanted with the wrong men; it is a haven for those who live there.

Victor Bramwell, the new Earl of Rycliff, knows he doesn’t belong here. So far as he can tell, there’s nothing in this place but spinsters… and sheep. But he has no choice, he has orders to gather a militia. It’s a simple mission, made complicated by the spirited, exquisite Susanna Finch—a woman who is determined to save her personal utopia from the invasion of Bram’s makeshift army.

Susanna has no use for aggravating men; Bram has sworn off interfering women. The scene is set for an epic battle… but who can be named the winner when both have so much to lose?

A Night to Surrender by Tessa Dare Elaine Howlin Literary Blog
Instagram @elainehowlin_ & @elaine_reads_romance

What I thought about the book: Maybe 2.5 stars. I found this quite boring but I really enjoyed her other books so I think this one is the exception, not the rule.

It’s a very fluffy book so if that’s what you’re looking for, you got it.

My Rating: ★★★☆☆

Get the book: Amazon | Book Depository 

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Synopsis and book cover from Goodreads. Photos from my Instagram @elainehowlin_