Category: BookTube

Summer Romance TBR

There’s something about sunshine and contemporary romances that just goes so well together. There’s nothing like lounging outside with a chilled drink while reading a sweet fun story.

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The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.

As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working…but only on herself. She’s hopelessly smitten with a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection.

With Esme’s time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he’s been wrong all along. And there’s more than one way to love.

The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez Elaine Howlin Bookstagram

The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez

Kristen Petersen doesn’t do drama, will fight to the death for her friends, and has no room in her life for guys who just don’t get her. She’s also keeping a big secret: facing a medically necessary procedure that will make it impossible for her to have children.

Planning her best friend’s wedding is bittersweet for Kristen—especially when she meets the best man, Josh Copeland. He’s funny, sexy, never offended by her mile-wide streak of sarcasm, and always one chicken enchilada ahead of her hangry. Even her dog, Stuntman Mike, adores him. The only catch: Josh wants a big family someday. Kristen knows he’d be better off with someone else, but as their attraction grows, it’s harder and harder to keep him at arm’s length.

The Friend Zone will have you laughing one moment and grabbing for tissues the next as it tackles the realities of infertility and loss with wit, heart, and a lot of sass.

Grin and Beard It by Penny Reid Elaine Howlin Bookstagram

Grin and Beard It by Penny Reid

Sienna Diaz is everyone’s favorite “fat” funny lady. The movie studio executives can’t explain it, but her films are out-grossing all the fit and trim headliners and Hollywood’s most beautiful elite. The simple truth is, everyone loves plus-sized Sienna. 

But she has a problem, she can’t read maps and her sense of direction is almost as bad as her comedic timing is stellar. Therefore, when Sienna’s latest starring role takes her to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park she finds herself continually lost while trying to navigate the backroads of Green Valley, Tennessee. Much to her consternation, Sienna’s most frequent savior is a ridiculously handsome, charming, and cheeky Park Ranger by the name of Jethro Winston. 

Sienna is accustomed to high levels of man-handsome, so it’s not Jethro’s chiseled features or his perfect physique that make Sienna stutter. It’s his southern charm. And gentlemanly manners. And habit of looking at her too long and too often. 

Sienna has successfully navigated the labyrinth of Hollywood heart-throbs. But can she traverse the tenuous trails of Tennessee without losing her head? Or worse, her heart?

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The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren Elaine Howlin Bookstagram

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Ami, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.

Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.

Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of… lucky.

The Prenup by Lauren Layne Elaine Howlin Bookstagram

The Prenup by Lauren Layne

My name is Charlotte Spencer and, ten years ago, I married my brother’s best friend. I haven’t seen him since.

Charlotte Spencer grew up on the blue-blooded Upper East Side of Manhattan but she never wanted the sit-still-look-pretty future her parents dictated for her. Enter Colin Walsh, her brother’s quiet, brooding, man-bun-sporting best friend, and with him a chance to escape.

He’s far from Charlotte’s dream guy as but they need each other for one thing: marriage. One courthouse wedding later, Charlotte’s inheritance is hers to start a business in San Francisco and Irish-born Colin has a Green Card.

Ten years later, Colin drops a bombshell: the terms of their prenup state that before either can file for divorce, they have to live under the same roof for three months.

Suddenly this match made in practicality is about to take on whole new meaning…

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Synopsis from Goodreads. Photos from my Instagram @elainehowlin_

Jane Austen July Wrap Up

I’m a little sad that it’s over. I really enjoyed my month of Darcy and Lizzie.

JANE AUSTEN JULY VLOG PART 2 \\ The second half of the month was taken up mostly with family and friends but I managed to get a bit of reading in. I tried out a new recipe, pizza in a mug! and we went out for an Italian dinner as well. Also got up to some crafting fun 😄

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Books Read
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen title page tea cup elaine howlin bookstagram

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen ★★★★★

This was wonderful. Such a pleasure to read.

Synopsis: First published in 1813, “Pride and Prejudice,” Jane Austen’s witty comedy of manners – one of the most popular novels of all time – tells the story of Mr and Mrs Bennet’s five unmarried daughters after the rich and eligible Mr Bingley and his status-conscious friend, Mr Darcy, have moved into their neighbourhood. “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” So begins the novel, that features splendidly civilized sparring between the proud Mr. Darcy and the prejudiced Elizabeth Bennet as they play out their spirited courtship in a series of eighteenth-century drawing-room intrigues.

Unequel Affection by Lara S Ormiston Elaine Howlin Bookstagram

Unequal Affections by Lara S. Ormiston ★★★★★

Fantastic retelling! Felt a bit faster paced than the original but the characters felt like honest portrayals.

Synopsis: When Elizabeth Bennet first knew Mr. Darcy, she despised him and was sure he felt the same. Angered by his pride and reserve, influenced by the lies of the charming Mr. Wickham, she never troubled herself to believe he was anything other than the worst of men until, one day, he unexpectedly proposed.Mr. Darcy’s passionate avowal of love causes Elizabeth to reevaluate everything she thought she knew about him. What she knows is that he is rich, handsome, clever, and very much in love with her. She, on the other hand, is poor, and can expect a future of increasing poverty if she does not marry. The incentives for her to accept him are strong, but she is honest enough to tell him that she does not return his affections. He says he can accept that but will either of them ever be truly happy in a relationship of unequal affection?

Diverging from Jane Austen’s classic novel “Pride and Prejudice” at the proposal in the Hunsford parsonage, this story explores the kind of man Darcy is, even before his proper humbling, and how such a man, so full of pride, so much in love, might have behaved had Elizabeth chosen to accept his original proposal.”

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Pride and Prejudice by Sicks ★★★☆☆

Really short but also really cute.

Synopsis: Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is interpreted by the Italian illustrator Sicks. This graphic novel is the first English ebook released by Zandegù. It belongs to the series I Bignè, our super-short graphic synopsis of famous classic novels in a funny ebook version.
In order to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Pride and Prejudice since its first release in 1813, Sicks – an illustrator and painter based in Rome, graduated from the ‘Scuola Internazionale di Comics’– revisits the story in an ironic way, with a sepia look and a feminine and yet modern touch … 

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld Elaine Howlin Literary Blog

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

I can’t make up my mind with this one. It was sometimes tiresome to read despite the insanely short length of some of the chapters. I think the characters were realistic portrayals of what they’d likely be like in a contemporary setting though.

Synopsis: This version of the Bennet family and Mr. Darcy is one that you have and haven’t met before: Liz is a magazine writer in her late thirties who, like her yoga instructor older sister, Jane, lives in New York City. When their father has a health scare, they return to their childhood home in Cincinnati to help and discover that the sprawling Tudor they grew up in is crumbling and the family is in disarray. 

Youngest sisters Kitty and Lydia are too busy with their CrossFit workouts and Paleo diets to get jobs. Mary, the middle sister, is earning her third online master’s degree and barely leaves her room, except for those mysterious Tuesday-night outings she won’t discuss. And Mrs. Bennet has one thing on her mind: how to marry off her daughters, especially as Jane’s fortieth birthday fast approaches. 

Enter Chip Bingley, a handsome new-in-town doctor who recently appeared on the juggernaut reality TV dating show Eligible. At a Fourth of July barbecue, Chip takes an immediate interest in Jane, but Chip’s friend, neurosurgeon Fitzwilliam Darcy, reveals himself to Liz to be much less charming. . . . And yet, first impressions can be deceiving.

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I loved all of the movies I watched except maybe Pride and Prejudice and Zombies…. That one was a bit meh. I feel like maybe the two plot lines didn’t quite gel well together.

Pride and Prejudice 2005

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Pride and Prejudice BBC Mini Series

Bridget Jones’s Diary

These are some of my favourite videos about Jane Austen and the readathon that I came across over the month.

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

N.E.W.T.’s & August TBR

I didn’t really want to do a readathon in August but then the N.E.W.T.’s were announced and how can I not join in?! The N.E.W.T.’s readathon is hosted by Book Roast on YouTube and she has a very informative video on her channel along with links to all the stuff you may need/want.

My chosen career for the O.W.L.’s was Journalist/Writer so I will be continuing this path with the N.E.W.T.’s.

This time we need to get a certain grade in the subjects instead of just doing the subject. It means a little bit more reading depending on the grade required.

To reach my career I need an E in History of Magic, A in Muggle Studies, and an A in one more subject of my choice. The grades are stacked by value. A is acceptable which is the first grade, then E which is Exceeds Expectations and then O for Outstanding. In order to get an E you must first get an A and in order to get an O you must first get an A and an E.

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Reading Plan

✒️ E in History of Magic

As I write my TBR I’m not really in the mood for Fantasy books so these might change when I actually go to read especially the book with a map. That option doesn’t have to be fantasy but I couldn’t think of any other type of book that usually includes a map. Unless I read an atlas…

A: Read a Fantasy

In an Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire

This is the story of a very serious young girl who would rather study and dream than become a respectable housewife and live up to the expectations of the world around her. As well she should.

When she finds a doorway to a world founded on logic and reason, riddles and lies, she thinks she’s found her paradise. Alas, everything costs at the goblin market, and when her time there is drawing to a close, she makes the kind of bargain that never plays out well.

For anyone . . .

E: Read a Book that includes a Map

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight—she’s a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king’s thug. 

She never expects to fall in love with beautiful Prince Po. 

She never expects to learn the truth behind her Grace—or the terrible secret that lies hidden far away . . . a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone. 

With elegant, evocative prose and a cast of unforgettable characters, debut author Kristin Cashore creates a mesmerizing world, a death-defying adventure, and a heart-racing romance that will consume you, hold you captive, and leave you wanting more.

✒️ A in Muggle Studies

I thought this would be super easy to find a book for but it’s amazing how many book covers are just illustrations.

A: Cover that includes an Actual Photo Element

Visions of Heat by Nalini Singh

Used to cold silence, Faith NightStar is suddenly being tormented by dark visions of blood and murder. A bad sign for anyone, but worse for Faith, an F-Psy with the highly sought after ability to predict the future. Then the visions show her something even more dangerous – aching need…exquisite pleasure. But so powerful is her sight, so fragile the state of her mind, that the very emotions she yearns to embrace could be the end of her.

Changeling Vaughn D’Angelo can take the form of either man or jaguar, but it is his animal side that is overwhelmingly drawn to Faith. The jaguar’s instinct is to claim this woman it finds so utterly fascinating and the man has no argument. But while Vaughn craves sensation and hungers to pleasure Faith in every way, desire is a danger that could snap the last threads of her sanity. And there are Psy who need Faith’s sight for their own purposes. They must keep her silenced – and keep her from Vaughn.

✒️ A in Herbology

This is an easy one. It just needs to an audiobook! I will probably listen to a few audiobooks during the month so whichever one I pick up first will go here. For now I’ll add in one of the romance books I want to read this summer.

A: Mandrake! Quick, put your Headphones on! Listen to an Audiobook. (or green cover)

Grin and Beard It by Penny Reid

Sienna Diaz is everyone’s favorite “fat” funny lady. The movie studio executives can’t explain it, but her films are out-grossing all the fit and trim headliners and Hollywood’s most beautiful elite. The simple truth is, everyone loves plus-sized Sienna. 

But she has a problem, she can’t read maps and her sense of direction is almost as bad as her comedic timing is stellar. Therefore, when Sienna’s latest starring role takes her to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park she finds herself continually lost while trying to navigate the backroads of Green Valley, Tennessee. Much to her consternation, Sienna’s most frequent savior is a ridiculously handsome, charming, and cheeky Park Ranger by the name of Jethro Winston. 

Sienna is accustomed to high levels of man-handsome, so it’s not Jethro’s chiseled features or his perfect physique that make Sienna stutter. It’s his southern charm. And gentlemanly manners. And habit of looking at her too long and too often. 

Sienna has successfully navigated the labyrinth of Hollywood heart-throbs. But can she traverse the tenuous trails of Tennessee without losing her head? Or worse, her heart?

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General TBR

I made these little book page envelopes last month with reading prompts inside to help me get through the pile books I already own. My goal is to read one or two books each month from these.

For August I picked two envelopes and my prompts were ‘read a book with a white cover’ and ‘read a book I was gifted’.

For my white cover I chose a book I was sent by Harper Collins and for my gifted book I chose one sent to me during My Secret Vampire.

A Tapestry of Treason by Anne O’Brien

Her actions could make history – but at what price? 

1399: Constance of York, Lady Despenser, proves herself more than a mere observer in the devious intrigues of her magnificently dysfunctional family, The House of York.

Surrounded by power-hungry men, including her aggressively self-centred husband Thomas and ruthless siblings Edward and Richard, Constance places herself at the heart of two treasonous plots against King Henry IV.  Will it be possible for this Plantagenet family to safeguard its own political power by restoring either King Richard II to the throne, or the precarious Mortimer claimant?

Although the execution of these conspiracies will place them all in jeopardy, Constance is not deterred, even when the cost of her ambition threatens to overwhelm her.  Even when it endangers her new-found happiness.

With treason, tragedy, heartbreak and betrayal, this is the story of a woman ahead of her time, fighting for herself and what she believes to be right in a world of men.

The Turning by Jennifer Armintrout

I’m no coward. I want to make that perfectly clear. But after my life turned into a horror movie, I take fear a lot more seriously now. I finally became Dr. Carrie Ames just eight months ago. Then I was attacked in the hospital morgue by a vampire. Just my luck.

So now I’m a vampire, and it turns out I have a blood tie to the monster who sired me. The tie works like an invisible leash and I’m bound to him no matter what I do. And of course he’s one of the most evil vampires on earth. With my sire hell-bent on turning me into a soulless killer and his sworn enemy set to exterminate me, things couldn’t get much worse–except I’m attracted to them both.

Drinking blood, living as an immortal demon and being a pawn between two warring vampire factions isn’t exactly how I’d imagined my future. But as my father used to say, the only way to conquer fear is to face it. So that’s what I’ll do. Fangs bared.

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

Reading Journal Flip Through

A flip through my reading journal for 2019.

I love this reading journal!! It’s kind of a reading scrapbook. If I had a printer I would include book covers and stuff like that but sadly I have no printer.

The patterned papers I use are from Santoro.

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Jane Austen July Reading Vlog | Part One

We’re just past the halfway point in the month now so it’s time to check in with how I’ve been doing with Jane Austen July. So far I have finished two novels, Pride and Prejudice and Unequal Affections. LOVED them both and I’ve watched two adaptations, the 2005 movie and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies which was ok…

I also read a comic adaptation by Sicks which was really sweet.

I have very little time for reading this week but I hope to get at least one more book read and I’m leaning towards Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld.

I spotted a few audiobook retellings on Scribd as well which sound very interesting.

Reading Plan
Death Comes to Pemberley

Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James

It is 1803, six years since Elizabeth and Darcy embarked on their life together at Pemberley, Darcy’s magnificent estate. Their peaceful, orderly world seems almost unassailable. Elizabeth has found her footing as the chatelaine of the great house. They have two fine sons, Fitzwilliam and Charles. Elizabeth’s sister Jane and her husband, Bingley, live nearby; her father visits often; there is optimistic talk about the prospects of marriage for Darcy’s sister Georgiana. And preparations are under way for their much-anticipated annual autumn ball.

Then, on the eve of the ball, the patrician idyll is shattered. A coach careens up the drive carrying Lydia, Elizabeth’s disgraced sister, who with her husband, the very dubious Wickham, has been banned from Pemberley. She stumbles out of the carriage, hysterical, shrieking that Wickham has been murdered. With shocking suddenness, Pemberley is plunged into a frightening mystery.

Pride

Pride by Ibi Zoboi

Zuri Benitez has pride. Brooklyn pride, family pride, and pride in her Afro-Latino roots. But pride might not be enough to save her rapidly gentrifying neighborhood from becoming unrecognizable.

When the wealthy Darcy family moves in across the street, Zuri wants nothing to do with their two teenage sons, even as her older sister, Janae, starts to fall for the charming Ainsley. She especially can’t stand the judgmental and arrogant Darius. Yet as Zuri and Darius are forced to find common ground, their initial dislike shifts into an unexpected understanding.

But with four wild sisters pulling her in different directions, cute boy Warren vying for her attention, and college applications hovering on the horizon, Zuri fights to find her place in Bushwick’s changing landscape, or lose it all.

Mary B: An Untold Story of Pride and Prejudice

Mary B by Katherine J. Chen

What is to be done with Mary Bennet? She possesses neither the beauty of her eldest sister, Jane, nor the high-spirited charm of Lizzy. Even compared to her frivolous younger siblings, Kitty and Lydia, Mary knows she is lacking in the ways that matter for single, not-so-well-to-do women in nineteenth-century England who must secure their futures through the finding of a husband. As her sisters wed, one by one, Mary pictures herself growing old, a spinster with no estate to run or children to mind, dependent on the charity of others. At least she has the silent rebellion and secret pleasures of reading and writing to keep her company.

But even her fictional creations are no match for the scandal, tragedy, and romance that eventually visit Mary’s own life. In Mary B, readers are transported beyond the center of the ballroom to discover that wallflowers are sometimes the most intriguing guests at the party. Beneath Mary’s plain appearance and bookish demeanor simmers an inner life brimming with passion, humor, and imagination–and a voice that demands to be heard.

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I have really been enjoying my Pride and Prejudice month, I’m so happy I decided to do the readathon this way! Next year I might focus on another one of her books like this too.