Category: Book Review

How Not To Be a Boy Review

How Not To Be a BoyTitle: How Not To  Be a Boy

Author: Robert Webb

Genre: Memoir

Series: n/a

Goodreads Rating: 4.26/5

Goodreads Link

Synopsis: Rules for being a man:
Don’t Cry; Love Sport; Play Rough; Drink Beer; Don’t Talk About Feelings

But Robert Webb has been wondering for some time now: are those rules actually any use? To anyone?

Looking back over his life, from schoolboy crushes (on girls and boys) to discovering the power of making people laugh (in the Cambridge Footlights with David Mitchell), and from losing his beloved mother to becoming a husband and father, Robert Webb considers the absurd expectations boys and men have thrust upon them at every stage of life.

Hilarious and heartbreaking, How Not To Be a Boy explores the relationships that made Robert who he is as a man, the lessons we learn as sons and daughters, and the understanding that sometimes you aren’t the Luke Skywalker of your life – you’re actually Darth Vader.

How Not To Be a Boy by Robert Webb Elaine Howlin Literary Blog

What I thought about the book:  I loved this! I have never wanted to reread a memoir but I will definitely be rereading this.

I listened to the audiobook narrated by Robert Webb himself (best way to experience a memoir). His narration is wonderful and the audiobook features a very entertaining and interesting interview at the end about some topics raised in the book.

It leaves you with so much to think about concerning gender and stereotyping while still being very entertaining.

“The great thing about refusing to feel feelings is that, once you’ve denied them, you don’t have to take responsibility for them. Your feelings will be someone else’s problem – your mother’s problem, your girlfriend’s problem, your wife’s problem. If it has to come out at all, let it come out as anger. You’re allowed to be angry. It’s boyish and man-like to be angry.”
― Robert Webb, How Not To Be a Boy

My Rating: 5 star review

Get the book: Amazon | Book Depository | Google | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Easons | Waterstones | Dubray

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Synopsis from Goodreads. Photos from my Instagram @elainehowlin_

I am Heathcliff – Kate Mosse Review

I Am HeathcliffTitle: I am Heathcliff

Editor: Kate Mosse

Genre: Short Stories

Series: n/a

Goodreads Rating: 3.7/5

Goodreads Link

Synopsis: 16 modern fiction superstars shine a startling light on the romance and pain of the infamous literary pair Heathcliff and Cathy.
Short stories to stir the heart and awaken vital conversation about love.

Sixteen stories inspired by Wuthering Heights.

In ‘Terminus’ a young woman hides in an empty Brighton hotel; in ‘Thicker Than Blood’ a man sits in a hot tub stalking his newly-married love on social media; and in ‘A bird half-eaten’ an amateur boxer prepares for a match.

A woman recalls the ‘Heathcliffs I Have Known’ and the physical danger she has borne at their hands; in ‘Anima’ a child and a fox are unified in one startling moment of violence; and in ‘One Letter Different’ two teenagers walk the moors and face up to their respective buried secrets.

Curated by Kate Mosse and commissioned for Emily Brontë’s bicentenary year in 2018, these fresh, modern stories pulse with the raw beauty and pain of love and are as timely as they are illuminating.

The full list of contributors is:
Leila Aboulela, Hanan Al-Shaykh, Joanna Cannon, Alison Case, Juno Dawson, Louise Doughty, Sophie Hannah, Anna James, Erin Kelly, Dorothy Koomson, Grace McCleen, Lisa McInerney, Laurie Penny, Nikesh Shukla, Michael Stewart and Louisa Young.

I Am Heathcliff edited by Kate Mosse Elaine Howlin Literary Blog

What I thought about the book:  

Fantastic collection of short stories inspired by Wuthering Heights. I enjoyed each one of the sixteen stories included which is rare for a short story collection. Some were inspired by themes in the novel and some were more like retellings but each one made a strong impression.

Some left me feeling uneasy, others made me angry and others left me feeling a bit disturbed. I highly recommend reading this whether you’re a fan of Wuthering Heights or not.

I listened to the audio version but I will be buying the print edition to reread and make notes.

My Rating: 5 star review

Get the book: Amazon | Book Depository | Google | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Easons | Waterstones | Dubray

“Nelly, I am Heathcliff…”

Synopsis from Goodreads. Photos from my Instagram @elainehowlin_

New Releases October 21st – 26th

Shadow and Ice (Gods of War, #1)Shadow and Ice – Gena Showalter

Knox of Iviland, the most ruthless warrior in All War history, has spent his life fighting others to the death, winning new realms for his king. Now the stakes are higher than ever. If he prevails in the battle for Earth, his slave bands will be removed. Victory is his sole focus…until he meets her.

On an arctic getaway with her foster sister, street tough but vulnerable Vale London is shocked to stumble upon a cave filled with ancient gods waging epic combat. When she is inadvertently drawn into their war, she is forced to team up with an unlikely ally—the sexy god who makes her burn with desire.

Though Vale is his enemy, Knox is consumed with lust and a fierce need to protect her. But only one combatant can triumph, and he will have to choose: live for freedom, or die for love.

Get the book: Amazon / Book Depository 

‘Tis the Season: Regency Yuletide Short Stories – Jennifer Ashley

‘Tis the Season, a unique Regency romance collection is sure to fill your heart with holiday cheer!

NYT and USA Today Bestselling romance authors, Jennifer Ashley, Grace Burrowes, Christi Caldwell, Louisa Cornell, Eva Devon, Janna MacGregor, and Jess Michaels are ringing in the holiday season with this limited edition collection of short stories.

You’ll be swept away by some of your favorite heroes and heroines. Delight in meeting old friends from previous books and new ones you’ll meet again in future titles!

The collection includes:
Jennifer Ashley: A First-Footer for Lady Jane (A Scottish Regency Romance)
When Grandfather MacDonald predicts Lady Jane will marry the this year’s First-Footer–the first guest into the house on Hogmany—she laughs. Her childhood sweetheart is fighting on the Peninsula, and she can’t imagine marrying anyone but staid Major Barnett.

But when the clock strikes midnight, and Hogmany begins, a knock at the front door changes Jane’s life forever.

Grace Burrowes: A Knight Before Christmas (A Rogues to Riches Story)
Chloe Thatcher’s livelihood is in peril when her late grandfather’s bookshop is doomed to be sold at auction just as the Yuletide season arrives. Aidan Ferris is a man of business for the banker most determined to gain ownership of Chloe’s property, but Aidan is also decent, honorable, and prone to lingering beneath sprigs of mistletoe. Will Aidan take possession of Chloe’s home–or of her heart?

Christi Caldwell: Home for the Holidays (The Brethren story)
Martha and Graham Whitworth are eagerly embracing their first holiday as a new family. But will a summons from Graham’s father, the Duke of Sutton steal their holiday cheer? Or mayhap Christmas might prove a time of forgiveness and new beginnings for all…

Louisa Cornell: (A Many Brides of Lord Creighton story)
Sebastian and Minerva Brightworth are prepared to celebrate a wonderful
first Christmas together. Until Minerva accepts an invitation from Sebastian’s estranged brother Will Sebastian and Minerva’s first holiday together be their last?

Eva Devon: Joy to the Duke (The Duke’s Secret story)
When the ghosts of Christmas past come to haunt The Duke of Blackstone, will he and his new duchess be able to put them to rest? In a story that revels in the joy of the holiday, join the characters of The Duke’s Secret for a festive escape.

Janna MacGregor: The Earl’s Christmas Bride (The Cavensham Heiresses)
Cameron Dunmore, the Earl of Queensgrace, is determined to win the hand of his true love, Miss Julia Lawson. Julia never forgot Cameron, but she won’t abandon her family, even if she must sacrifice her own happiness. When a Christmas angel in the guise of Julia’s little brother brings these stubborn lovebirds together, only Cam and Julia can decide if Christmas wedding bells are in their future.

Jess Michaels: Silent Night (A 1797 Club story)
Ewan and Charlotte Hoffstead, the Duke and Duchess of Donburrow, are anticipating a wonderful holiday with their children, family and friends. But when Ewan finds out a secret Charlotte has been keeping, they’ll have to face a painful past and redefine their love.

Get the book: Amazon 

Terry Pratchett HisWorld Official Exhibition CompanionTerry Pratchett HisWorld Official Exhibition Companion – Terry Pratchett

In 2017 the Estate of Sir Terry Pratchett, the Salisbury Museum and illustrator Paul Kidby joined forces to present the award winning Terry Pratchett: HisWorld exhibition – taking visitors to the heart of the world of the Discworld creator.

This comprehensive and fully illustrated guide is the official companion to that unique collection.

With additional images and extra content including essays by Rhianna Pratchett, Rob Wilkins, Paul Kidby, Colin Smythe, Bernard Pearson, Stephen Briggs, Amy Anderson for The Josh Kirby Estate, Professor Roy Jones, Jake Keen & Nick Cowan.

The exhibition won Best Temporary or Touring Exhibition in the prestigious Museum & Heritage Awards.

The judges described it as “an exhibition which demonstrated great emotional connection which resulted in a marked change in visitor demographics”.

This book is a perfect memento for those who made the journey to view the resoundingly popular exhibition and the perfect consolation for those who were unable to visit in person.

‘Meticulously crafted HisWorld shows why Terry Pratchett was his generation’s Dickens.”
-The Telegraph

I'll Be There for You: The One about FriendsI’ll Be There for You: The One about Friends – Kelsey Miller

This definitive retrospective of Friends incorporates interviews, history and behind-the-scenes anecdotes to offer a critical analysis of how a sitcom about six twenty-somethings changed television forever.

When Friends debuted in 1994, no one expected it to become a mainstay of NBC’s “Must See TV” lineup, let alone a global phenomenon. In the years since, Friends has gone through many phases of cultural relevancy, from prime-time hit to 90s novelty item to certified classic. Ross, Rachel, Monica, Chandler, Joey and Phoebe have entered the pantheon of great television characters, and millions of people around the globe continue to tune in or stream their stories every day.

I’ll Be There for You is the definitive retrospective of Friends, exploring all aspects of the show from its unlikely origins to the elusive reasons why we still watch it. Journalist and pop culture expert Kelsey Miller relives the show’s most iconic moments, analyzes the ways in which Friends is occasionally problematic and examines the many trends it inspired, from the rise of coffee-shop culture to “Friendsgivings” to the ultimate 90s haircut, The Rachel.

Weaving incisive commentary, revelatory interviews and behind-the-scenes anecdotes involving high-profile guest stars, I’ll Be There for You is the most comprehensive take on Friends, and the ultimate book for fans everywhere.

Get the book: Amazon / Book Depository

Kingdom of Ash (Throne of Glass, #7)Kingdom of Ash – Sarah J. Maas

Years in the making, Sarah J. Maas’s #1 New York Times bestselling Throne of Glass series draws to an epic, unforgettable conclusion. Aelin Galathynius’s journey from slave to king’s assassin to the queen of a once-great kingdom reaches its heart-rending finale as war erupts across her world. . .

Aelin has risked everything to save her people―but at a tremendous cost. Locked within an iron coffin by the Queen of the Fae, Aelin must draw upon her fiery will as she endures months of torture. Aware that yielding to Maeve will doom those she loves keeps her from breaking, though her resolve begins to unravel with each passing day…

With Aelin captured, Aedion and Lysandra remain the last line of defense to protect Terrasen from utter destruction. Yet they soon realize that the many allies they’ve gathered to battle Erawan’s hordes might not be enough to save them. Scattered across the continent and racing against time, Chaol, Manon, and Dorian are forced to forge their own paths to meet their fates. Hanging in the balance is any hope of salvation―and a better world.

And across the sea, his companions unwavering beside him, Rowan hunts to find his captured wife and queen―before she is lost to him forever.

As the threads of fate weave together at last, all must fight, if they are to have a chance at a future. Some bonds will grow even deeper, while others will be severed forever in the explosive final chapter of the Throne of Glass series.

Get the book: Amazon / Book Depository

The Princess Bride by William Goldman Review

The Princess BrideTitle: The Princess Bride

Author: William Goldman

Genre: Humor, Adventure

Goodreads Rating: 4.26/5

Goodreads Link

Synopsis: Beautiful, flaxen-haired Buttercup has fallen for Westley, the farm boy, and when he departs to make his fortune, she vows never to love another. When she hears that his ship has been captured by the Dread Pirate Roberts – who never leaves survivors – her heart is broken. But her charms draw the attention of the relentless Prince Humberdinck who wants a wife and will go to any lengths to have Buttercup. So starts a fairy tale like no other, of fencing, fighting, torture, poison, true love, hate, revenge, giants, hunters, bad men, good men, beautifulest ladies, snakes, spiders, beasts, chases, escapes, lies, truths, passions and miracles.

The Princess Bride by Willian Goldman Elaine Howlin Literary Blog

What I thought about the book:  I was a bit disappointed with this. Goldman tells the story of Buttercup and Westley through the story of a fictional version of himself searching for this book The Princess Bride that his father read to him as a child. His father read only the good bits of the book to him and he says that is what he has presented us with. It’s an interesting way to tell a story (inception style) but I didn’t like Goldman’s character or his constant interruptions. I like how it’s done in the movie with the young boy reacting to the story his grandfather is reading him but Goldman’s comments annoy me. Other than that the story is very enjoyable and a lot of fun to read.

The movie is better though.

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My Rating: 3 star review

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

Synopsis from Goodreads. Photos from my Instagram @elainehowlin_

The Matchmaker’s Playbook by Rachel Van Dyken Review

The Matchmaker's Playbook (Wingmen Inc. 1) [Kindle in Motion]Title: The Matchmaker’s Playbook

Author: Rachel Van Dyken

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Series: Wingman Inc. #1

Goodreads Rating: 3.99/5

Goodreads Link

Synopsis:  Wingman rule number one: don’t fall for a client.

After a career-ending accident, former NFL recruit Ian Hunter is back on campus—and he’s ready to get his new game on. As one of the masterminds behind Wingmen, Inc., a successful and secretive word-of-mouth dating service, he’s putting his extensive skills with women to work for the lovelorn. But when Blake Olson requests the services of Wingmen, Inc., Ian may have landed his most hopeless client yet.

From her frumpy athletic gear to her unfortunate choice of footwear, Blake is going to need a miracle if she wants to land her crush. At least with a professional matchmaker by her side she has a fighting chance. Ian knows that his advice and a makeover can turn Blake into another successful match. But as Blake begins the transformation from hot mess to smokin’ hot, Ian realizes he’s in danger of breaking his cardinal rule.…

The Matchmaker's Playbook by Rachel Van Dyken Elaine Howlin Literary Blog
Instagram @elainehowlin_

What I thought about the book:

This was ok. Not an amazing story and I wasn’t too keen on the main male character. He was a bit too much of a fan of himself and the book as a whole was very tropey.

I did really enjoy the banter between the characters. It was a fun relationship to watch grow and the supporting characters have a strong presence.

Ticks all the boxes for contemporary romance formula fiction so if you’re into that you will probably enjoy this.

Though it’s certainly not the best romance book I’ve read I did enjoy it enough to read the whole thing and I will most likely read the next book in the series.

My Rating: 3 star review

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

Synopsis from Goodreads. Photos from my Instagram @elainehowlin_

The Matchmaker’s Playbook has been adapted into a movie by Passionflix