Category: BookTube

Week One of Vlogmas

Well, the first week of vlogmas and blogmas is done. I’m amazed I’ve managed to keep up with videos so far. Fingers crossed for the next two weeks 🤞 This week I posted my December TBR, November Wrap Up, Cloak and Dagger Christmas TBR, The Nightmare Before Christmas tag, Decorating my Christmas Tree, and 2018 Travel Diary.

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There’s still time to avail of Amazon’s Audible offer until December 14th.  Join Audible for £3.99/month for the first four months instead of the usual £7.99/month.

I think this is such an amazing offer! Check it out here.

Audible Black Friday 2018 Offer

With your Audible membership, you get a monthly credit that can be used to get any audiobook no matter what length or price AND you get to keep the book for life even if you cancel your membership.

November Wrap Up

Red Queen (Red Queen, #1)Do You Want to Start a Scandal (Spindle Cove, #5)Racing Hearts Box Set 1: First HeatSpinning SilverA Night to Surrender (Spindle Cove, #1)Poison Princess (The Arcana Chronicles, #1)Endless Knight (The Arcana Chronicles, #2)Dead of Winter (The Arcana Chronicles, #3)Image result for chimes at midnight audiobookThe Winter Long (October Daye, #8)Glass Sword (Red Queen, #2)Last Christmas in Paris: A Novel of World War IA Christmas CarolOnce Upon a Christmas Eve (Maiden Lane, #12.6)The Bite Before Christmas

I mentioned in my November TBR that I wanted to read more fantasy this month and I definitely managed it. I barely read anything else! I read Poison Princess for the group read in My Vampire Book Obsession and got totally sucked into the world and devoured the next two books as well. I’m trying to pace myself now and wait till closer to the release of the final book in the series next year.

Nonfiction November was happening this month too but I didn’t manage to read anything for it. I very much enjoyed my little fantasy binge though.

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Audiobooks

Image result for Do You Want to Start a Scandal by Tessa DareDo You Want to Start a Scandal by Tessa Dare ★★★★☆

Historical Romance

Very enjoyable historical romance with a mystery thrown in for good measure. The story follows Charlotte (who has crossed over from Dare’s Spindle Cove series to Castles Ever After) who attempts to warn Piers (who has crossed over from Dare’s Castles Ever After series to Spindle Cove) of her mother’s scheming ways but instead they end up entangled in a scandal and a mystery.

 

Image result for a night to surrender by Tessa DareA Night to Surrender by Tessa Dare ★★★☆☆

Historical Romance

This is the first book in Dare’s Spindle Cove series and it’s a bit lacking. It’s not as well written as her later books but works fine as an intro. The story follows Susanna who essentially runs a safe haven for women who are sick of society or don’t blend well into it and Victor who finds himself saddled with a position in the area.

 

Image result for spinning silverSpinning Silver by Naomi Novik ★★★☆☆

Fantasy

I had super high expectations for this one that it didn’t quite meet but it was still a very good book. It’s a retelling of the Rumplestiltskin tale but with a lot more going on. My main issue with this was the number of points of view. There were a few occasions where I wasn’t sure who was speaking and it took me out of the story for a bit while I figured it out. The story closely follows Miryem who is a money lenders daughter that gains a reputation of being able to turn silver into gold which attracts the attention of this fairy being and Irina who’s father is scheming to marry her off to a tsar who isn’t quite what he seems.

 

Image result for chimes at midnight seanan mcguireChimes at Midnight by Seanan McGuire ★★★★★

Urban Fantasy

This is the 7th book in McGuire’s October Daye series and it was fantastic! This book follows Toby trying to deal with the goblin fruit problem when she receives a serious amount of backlash from the Queen of the Mists. One of my favourite things in this book is the mystical library they visit to do research. Magical libraries are the best!

The Winter Long (October Daye, #8)The Winter Long by Seanan McGuire ★★★★★

Urban Fantasy

Fantastic again! This book picks up some plot points from the first book and expands on them. I can’t really mention what happens in it without spoiling so much of the series but it’s great!

The Bite Before ChristmasThe Bite Before Christmas by Lynsay Sands ★★★★☆

Paranormal Romance, Short Story

I actually only read the first story The Gift by Lynsay Sands from this because the story from Jeaniene Frost that’s included is ahead of where I am in the Night Huntress series. The Gift is a sweet fluffy kind of story following vampire Katricia and chief of police Teddy. They both get snowed in over Christmas while staying in a mountain cabin.

Last Christmas in Paris: A Novel of World War ILast Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb ★★★★★

Historical Fiction

This was fabulous. It’s an epistolary novel consisting of letters and telegrams between friends and lovers during World War 1. It’s beautiful and heartbreaking and made me shed a few tears at the end. I just loved it. The story focuses mainly on the romance between Evie and Thomas. Thomas has gone off to fight while Evie stays home and writes a column about the war from a woman’s perspective.

Once Upon a Christmas Eve (Maiden Lane, #12.6)Once Upon a Christmas by Elizabeth Hoyt ★★★★☆

Historical Romance, Short Story

This is another fun fluffy read for Christmas. Adam Rutledge is travelling with Grandmother to the country for Christmas when their carriage breaks down and they are stranded in the snow. They take refuge in Sarah St. John’s home while they have several guests visiting for the holidays.

A Christmas CarolA Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens ★★★★☆

Classic

You must know this story!! It’s a pleasant read but one I’m so familiar with I can’t say that it stirred anything in me… It’s just a nice story to read.

 

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eBooks

Image result for racing hearts first heatRacing Hearts: First Heat by Ruth Gowan ★★★☆☆

Contemporary Romance

I received a copy of this collection in exchange for a review. Each one centres on a different couple in the world of rally racing. The stories were good but the writing was lacking especially in the first book.

 

Image result for poison princessPoison Princess by Kresley Cole ★★★★☆

Young Adult, Fantasy, Dystopia

I LOVE Kresley Cole but I had been putting off reading her YA series cause I just couldn’t see her writing YA. Her books are very mature normally but she really makes it work here. We do get her usual alpha male stuff but I’m totally fine that 🙂 Poison Princess is the first book in The Arcana Chronicles which is about a group of teenagers that each represents a card from the major arcana in tarot in a battle to the death after an apocalyptic event. With this book, we follow mainly Evie and Jack in the days before the flash and 6 months later when the world is completely different and Evie discoveries she has strange powers.

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via Wattpad

 

Image result for endless knightEndless Knight by Kresley Cole ★★★★★

Young Adult, Fantasy, Dystopia

Book 2 in Cole’s Arcana Chronicles picks up immediately after Poison Princess and we get a lot of world expansion in this one especially with the other Arcana characters. We learn a lot about Death in particular. There’s a definite love triangle in the series from this point but it isn’t annoying.

 

Image result for dead of winter kresley coleDead of Winter by Kresley Cole ★★★★★

Young Adult, Fantasy, Dystopia

Book 3 in the Arcana Chronicles and the love triangle gets annoying but I still loved this book. I really got invested in the characters and oh my god the cliffhanger at the end of this!!! I’m trying to pace myself with the books from here though or I will go insane waiting for the final book to be published.

 

Image result for red queenRed Queen by Victoria Aveyard ★★★★☆

Young Adult, Fantasy, Dystopia

Red Queen is the first book in Aveyard’s Red Queen series. It’s YA dystopia about a future earth where certain humans have developed silver blood and powerful abilities. Regular red-blooded humans still exist but they are subservient to the silvers. We follow Mare, a red, who discovers she has an ability and is taken by the silver king to conceal her true identity from the people. She finds herself caught up in a world of political intrigue on the cusp of a red rebellion.

I enjoyed this way more than I expected to as well. This always happens me with YA I have got to stop saying I’m not a fan of it cause I almost always end of enjoying the books!

Glass Sword (Red Queen, #2)Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard ★★★☆☆

Young Adult, Fantasy, Dystopia

This book picks up directly after Red Queen. I was a bit disappointed with this one. I found it be even more predictable than the previous book and it felt like mostly filler. In this one Mare discovers how far reaching the Red Guard actually is and she looks for more people like her to join the fight.

 

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What did you read this month? Did you take part in Nonfiction November?

 

Cloak & Dagger Christmas Readathon TBR

Cloak and Dagger Christmas is a mystery genre readathon hosted by Kate HoweCarolyn’s Reading Ramblings, The Novel Nomad, and Mel’s Bookland Adventures.

The books don’t have to Christmasy but they do need to be mystery. I don’t really read a lot of mystery but I really liked the sound of this readathon. I’m due to receive Cocaine Blues (the first book in Karen Greenwoods Phryne Fisher series) from the library this month which I reserved in October so I might as well join in. There are four prompts for the readathon but they’re not to be taken as tasks and can be interpreted however you like.

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-Prompts-

Prompts can be interpreted any way you like

🗡 Sugar and Spice

For this prompt, I’m thinking a cosy mystery would suit. Since I’ve been patiently waiting on Miss Fisher I’ll read Cocaine Blues for this one. I think Phryne is a bit of a spicy character as well.

Cocaine Blues (Phryne Fisher, #1)Cocaine Blues (Phryne Fisher #1) by Karen Greenwood

The London season is in full fling at the end of the 1920s, but the Honorable Phryne Fisher—she of the gray-green eyes and diamant garters—is tiring of polite conversations with retired colonels and dances with weak-chinned men. When the opportunity presents itself, Phryne decides it might be amusing to try her hand at becoming a lady detective in Australia. Immediately upon settling into Melbourne’s Hotel Windsor, Phryne finds herself embroiled in mystery. From poisoned wives and cocaine smuggling, to police corruption and rampant communism—not to mention erotic encounters with the beautiful Russian dancer, Sasha de Lisse—Cocaine Blues charts a crescendo of steamy intrigue, culminating in the Turkish baths of Little Lonsdale Street.

Get the book: Amazon | Book Depository

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🗡 Summer and Winter

For this one, I’m thinking of reading Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris because it’s set in a hot place and it’s winter while I read it… I’m taking this prompt a bit loosely but feck it, it works for me. This will actually be a reread for me but it’s been about 10 years since I read it the first time so I don’t remember much.

Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse, #1)Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse #1) by Charlaine Harris

Sookie Stackhouse is just a small-time cocktail waitress in small-town Louisiana. Until the vampire of her dreams walks into her life-and one of her coworkers checks out….

Maybe having a vampire for a boyfriend isn’t such a bright idea.

Get the book: Amazon | Book Depository

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🗡 Old and New

With old and new I’m thinking a paranormal mystery with an old ass vampire and a modern PI should work nicely.

Blood Trail (Victoria Nelson, #2)Blood Trail (Vicki Nelson #2) by Tanya Huff

For centuries, the werewolves of Toronto have managed to live in peace and tranquility, hidden quietly away on their London, Ontario farm. But now, someone has learned their secret—and is systematically massacring this ancient race.

The only one they can turn to is Henry Fitzroy, Toronto-based vampire and writer of bodice rippers. Forced to hide from the light of day, Henry can’t hunt the killer alone, so he turns to Vicki Nelson for help. As they race against time to stop the murderer, they begin to fear that their combined talents may not be enough to prevent him from completing his deadly plan.

Get the book: Amazon | Book Depository

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🗡 Home and Travel

Home for me is Ireland and mystery set in Ireland tends to border a bit too closely to modern crime fiction which I’m not really in to (though I have heard great things about Tana French’s books). So I had to hunt down something for this and I found a cosy mystery series set in the 1900s about an Irish woman who travels to New York. Perfect 🙂

Murphy's Law (Molly Murphy Book 1)Murphy’s Law (Murphy’s Law #1) by Rhys Bowen

Meet Molly Murphy, a resourceful young woman who lives by her own set of laws…

Molly Murphy always knew she’d end up in trouble, just as her mother had predicted. So when she commits murder in self-defence, she flees her cherished Ireland for the anonymous shores of America. When she arrives in New York and sees the welcoming promise of freedom in the Statue of Liberty, Molly begins to breathe a little easier. But when a man is murdered on Ellis Island, a man Molly was seen arguing with, she becomes a prime suspect in the crime.

If she can’t clear her name, Molly will be sent back to Ireland where the gallows await, so using her Irish charm and sharp wit, she escapes Ellis Island and sets out to find the wily killer on her own. Pounding the notorious streets of Hell’s Kitchen and the Lower East Side, Molly undertakes a desperate mission to clear her name before her deadly past comes back to haunt her new future.

Get the book: Amazon | Book Depository

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I’ve chosen only four books but there are other things I want to read this month as well. I may not even read all of these. I’d be happy with just reading Cocaine Blues since I’ve been waiting for it for so long.

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Do you read mystery books? Are you taking part in any readathons in December?

December TBR

May and October, the best-smelling months? I’ll make a case for December: evergreen, frost, wood smoke, cinnamon.
― Lisa Kleypas, Love in the Afternoon

I’m so happy that it’s December. I love when the year starts to wind down and I can finish up all of my annual reading challenges and start making plans for next years. I have already completed my Goodreads challenge which I will write a full post on soon. I surpassed my goal of 100 books, woohoo!

But the years not over yet! For December I would like to read some Christmas themed books and with my book group, Castle Dracula, on Goodreads we plan on doing the Victorian tradition of reading a ghost story at Christmas but I don’t know which one yet. It will either be A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens or The Willows by Algernon Blackwood. After that, I have a few books I’d like to get to this month.

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Christmas Reading

A Mackenzie Family Christmas: The Perfect Gift (Mackenzies & McBrides, #4.5)A Mackenzie Family Christmas: The Perfect Gift

(Mackenzies & McBrides #4.5) by Jennifer Ashley

Revisit the Mackenzies in this heartwarming Christmas tale of the New York Times bestselling Mackenzies series.

The Mackenzies gather for a clan Christmas and Hogmanay in Scotland. In the chaos of preparations for the celebration–the first of Hart and Eleanor’s married life–one of Ian’s Ming bowls gets broken, and the family scrambles to save the day. Daniel busily runs a betting ring for everything from the hour Eleanor’s baby will arrive, to whether Mac’s former-pugilist valet can win a boxing match. Ian begins a new obsession, and Beth fears that the loss of one of his precious bowls has made him withdraw once more into his private world.


A Christmas CarolA Christmas Carol

by Charles Dickens

A Christmas Carol is a novella by English author Charles Dickens. It was first published by Chapman & Hall on 19 December 1843. Carol tells the story of a bitter old miser named Ebenezer Scrooge and his transformation resulting from a supernatural visit by the ghost of his former business partner Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present and Yet to Come. The novella met with instant success and critical acclaim. The book was written and published in early Victorian era Britain, a period when there was strong nostalgia for old Christmas traditions together with the introduction of new customs, such as Christmas trees and greeting cards. Dickens’ sources for the tale appear to be many and varied, but are, principally, the humiliating experiences of his childhood, his sympathy for the poor, and various Christmas stories and fairy tales.


Audiobooks

Vox

by Christina Dalcher, narrated by Laurence Bouvard

Set in an America where half the population has been silenced, VOX is the harrowing, unforgettable story of what one woman will do to protect herself and her daughter.

On the day the government decrees that women are no longer allowed more than 100 words daily, Dr. Jean McClellan is in denial—this can’t happen here. Not in America. Not to her.

This is just the beginning.

Soon women can no longer hold jobs. Girls are no longer taught to read or write. Females no longer have a voice. Before, the average person spoke sixteen thousand words a day, but now women only have one hundred to make themselves heard.

But this is not the end.

For herself, her daughter, and every woman silenced, Jean will reclaim her voice.


The Strange Case of the Alchemist's DaughterThe Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter

(The Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club #1) by Theodora Goss, narrated by Kate Reading

Based on some of literature’s horror and science fiction classics, this is the story of a remarkable group of women who come together to solve the mystery of a series of gruesome murders—and the bigger mystery of their own origins.

Mary Jekyll, alone and penniless following her parents’ death, is curious about the secrets of her father’s mysterious past. One clue in particular hints that Edward Hyde, her father’s former friend and a murderer, may be nearby, and there is a reward for information leading to his capture… a reward that would solve all of her immediate financial woes.

But her hunt leads her to Hyde’s daughter, Diana, a feral child left to be raised by nuns. With the assistance of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, Mary continues her search for the elusive Hyde, and soon befriends more women, all of whom have been created through terrifying experimentation: Beatrice Rappaccini, Catherin Moreau, and Justine Frankenstein.

When their investigations lead them to the discovery of a secret society of immoral and power-crazed scientists, the horrors of their past return. Now it is up to the monsters to finally triumph over the monstrous.


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Bridget Jones's Diary (Bridget Jones #1)Bridget Jones’s Diary

(Bridget Jones #1) by Helen Fielding

Meet Bridget Jones—a 30-something Singleton who is certain she would have all the answers if she could:

a. lose 7 pounds
b. stop smoking
c. develop Inner Poise

“123 lbs. (how is it possible to put on 4 pounds in the middle of the night? Could flesh have somehow solidified becoming denser and heavier? Repulsive, horrifying notion), alcohol units 4 (excellent), cigarettes 21 (poor but will give up totally tomorrow), number of correct lottery numbers 2 (better, but nevertheless useless)…”

Bridget Jones’s Diary is the devastatingly self-aware, laugh-out-loud daily chronicle of Bridget’s permanent, doomed quest for self-improvement — a year in which she resolves to: reduce the circumference of each thigh by 1.5 inches, visit the gym three times a week not just to buy a sandwich, form a functional relationship with a responsible adult, and learn to program the VCR.


The Turning (Blood Ties, #1)The Turning

(Blood Ties #1) 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.


eBooks

The Invisible Library (The Invisible Library, #1)The Invisible Library

(The Invisible Library #1) by Genevieve Cogman

Irene must be at the top of her game or she’ll be off the case – permanently…

Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, which harvests fiction from different realities. And along with her enigmatic assistant Kai, she’s posted to an alternative London. Their mission – to retrieve a dangerous book. But when they arrive, it’s already been stolen. London’s underground factions seem prepared to fight to the very death to find her book.

Adding to the jeopardy, this world is chaos-infested – the laws of nature bent to allow supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic. Irene’s new assistant is also hiding secrets of his own.

Soon, she’s up to her eyebrows in a heady mix of danger, clues and secret societies. Yet failure is not an option – the nature of reality itself is at stake.


Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1)Throne of Glass

(Throne of Glass #1) by Sarah J. Maas

Meet Celaena Sardothien.
Beautiful. Deadly. Destined for greatness.

In the dark, filthy salt mines of Endovier, an eighteen-year-old girl is serving a life sentence. She is a trained assassin, the best of her kind, but she made a fatal mistake: she got caught.

Young Captain Westfall offers her a deal: her freedom in return for one huge sacrifice. Celaena must represent the prince in a to-the-death tournament—fighting the most gifted thieves and assassins in the land. Live or die, Celaena will be free. Win or lose, she is about to discover her true destiny. But will her assassin’s heart be melted?


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What are you reading this month?

November Book Haul

This is probably my biggest book haul. In October I took part in an event called Secret Vampire in My Vampire Book Obsession which is basically Secret Santa but we play at Halloween and call ourselves vampires. My Secret Vampire lived in the US so it took a while for the books to arrive and they missed my October Haul but do not fear I will show you all of the awesome books she sent me now. I also received an ARC from Harper Collins Ireland and I visited a few more second-hand shops.


From My Secret Vampire

Sparrow Hill Road (Ghost Roads, #1)Sparrow Hill Road by Seanan McGuire

Rose Marshall died in 1952 in Buckley Township, Michigan, run off the road by a man named Bobby Cross—a man who had sold his soul to live forever, and intended to use her death to pay the price of his immortality. Trouble was, he didn’t ask Rose what she thought of the idea.

It’s been more than sixty years since that night, and she’s still sixteen, and she’s still running.

They have names for her all over the country: the Girl in the Diner. The Phantom Prom Date. The Girl in the Green Silk Gown. Mostly she just goes by “Rose,” a hitchhiking ghost girl with her thumb out and her eyes fixed on the horizon, trying to outrace a man who never sleeps, never stops, and never gives up on the idea of claiming what’s his. She’s the angel of the overpass, she’s the darling of the truck stops, and she’s going to figure out a way to win her freedom. After all, it’s not like it can kill her.

You can’t kill what’s already dead.

Get the book: Amazon | Book Depository


Final GirlsFinal Girls by Riley Sager

First there were THREE.

The media calls them the Final Girls – the infamous group of survivors that no one wants to be part of.

Then there were TWO.

But when Lisa dies in mysterious circumstances, Sam shows up unannounced and angry.

Can there only ever be ONE?

All Quincy knows is one thing: she is next.

Get the book: Amazon | Book Depository


BelindaBelinda by Maria Edgeworth

The lively comedy of this novel in which a young woman comes of age amid the distractions and temptations of London high society belies the challenges it poses to the conventions of courtship, the dependence of women, and the limitations of domesticity. Contending with the perils and the varied cast of characters of the marriage market, Belinda strides resolutely toward independence. Admired by her contemporary, Jane Austen, and later by Thackeray and Turgenev, Edgeworth tackles issues of gender and race in a manner at once comic and thought-provoking. The 1802 text used in this edition also confronts the difficult and fascinating issues of racism and mixed marriage, which Edgeworth toned down in later editions.
About the Series: For over 100 years Oxford World’s Classics has made available the broadest spectrum of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford’s commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, voluminous notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.

Get the book: Amazon | Book Depository


The Turning (Blood Ties, #1)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.

Get the book: Amazon | Book Depository


Grimm Fairy Tales Presents: Vampires and WerewolvesGrimm Fairy Tales: Vampires & Werewolves by Pat Shand and Mark L. Miller

Collect the Unleashed tie-in stories that feature Roman putting down the werewolf packs, and Liesel Van Helsing taking the fight to the vampires on their path to send these monsters back to the Shadowlands! Collects Grimm Fairy Tales: Vampires #1-3 and Grimm Fairy Tales: Werewolves #1-3.

Get the book: Book Depository


Audible amazon Harry Potter collection

Harper Collins Ireland

One Minute LaterOne Minute Later by Susan Lewis

It’s takes one minute to change everything…

Vivienne Shager has it all. A highflying job. A beautiful apartment. Friends whose lives are as perfect as her own. But on the afternoon of her 27th birthday, Vivi has a heart attack.

Now Vivi’s life shrinks back to how it begun, as she moves back to the small seaside town she grew up in. With her time running out, there is one thing she wants to know the truth about.

Some secrets are best left in the past…

Thirty years earlier, Shelley’s family home, Deerwood farm, bursts full of love and happiness. But one family member has hidden a secret for all these years. Until Vivi comes home demanding answers, and it takes just a moment to unravel the lie at their heart of their lives…

Preorder the book: Amazon | Book Depository


November Book Haul Elaine Howlin Literary Blog
Instagram @elainehowin_

Second-Hand Shops

'Tis; a Memoir‘Tis by Frank McCourt

The sequel to Frank McCourt’s memoir of his Irish Catholic boyhood, Angela’s Ashes, picks up the story in October 1949, upon his arrival in America. Though he was born in New York, the family had returned to Ireland due to poor prospects in the United States. Now back on American soil, this awkward 19-year-old, with his “pimply face, sore eyes, and bad teeth,” has little in common with the healthy, self-assured college students he sees on the subway and dreams of joining in the classroom. Initially, his American experience is as harrowing as his impoverished youth in Ireland, including two of the grimmest Christmases ever described in literature. McCourt views the U.S. through the same sharp eye and with the same dark humor that distinguished his first memoir: race prejudice, casual cruelty, and dead-end jobs weigh on his spirits as he searches for a way out. A glimpse of hope comes from the army, where he acquires some white-collar skills, and from New York University, which admits him without a high school diploma. But the journey toward his position teaching creative writing at Stuyvesant High School is neither quick nor easy. Fortunately, McCourt’s openness to every variety of human emotion and longing remains exceptional; even the most damaged, difficult people he encounters are richly rendered individuals with whom the reader can’t help but feel uncomfortable kinship. The magical prose, with its singing Irish cadences, brings grandeur and beauty to the most sorrowful events, including the final scene, set in a Limerick graveyard. –Wendy Smith

Get the book: Amazon | Book Depository


On Canaan's SideOn Canaan’s Side by Sebastian Barry

From the Man Booker short-listed author of The Secret Scripture comes a magnificent new novel that is the story of twentieth-century America.

Sebastian Barry returns with the extraordinary story of Lilly Bere, the youngest daughter of the Dunne family. Forced to flee Ireland with her fiancé as a teenager under threat of death from the IRA, Lilly discovers herself in America. Her rich and tragic life takes her from Chicago, where her fiancé is brutally murdered, to Cleveland where she marries and finds happiness even as she survives the Great Depression and World War II. Joyfully pregnant at forty-three, Lilly moves to Washington, D.C., her husband mysteriously disappears, and she finds work as a cook for one of the most prominent families in the country. Lilly follows the family to Bridgehampton, New York, and there she brings up her son, Ed, who at eighteen is called up to Vietnam and vanishes on his return to America. Mr. Nolan, a close friend, is dispatched to find him and returns from the Smoky Mountain wilderness not with Ed but with Ed’s young son, Bill, whom Lilly will raise and adore until tragedy strikes.
Told in the first person as a narrative of her life over seventeen days, On Canaan’s Side is the heartbreaking story of a woman whose capacity to love is enormous and whose compassion, even for those who have wronged her, is extraordinary.

Get the book: Amazon | Book Depository


WinterWinter by Ali Smith

The dazzling second novel in Ali Smith’s essential Seasonal Quartet — from the Baileys Prize-winning, Man Booker-shortlisted author of Autumn and How to be both.

Winter? Bleak. Frosty wind, earth as iron, water as stone, so the old song goes. The shortest days, the longest nights. The trees are bare and shivering. The summer’s leaves? Dead litter.

The world shrinks; the sap sinks.
But winter makes things visible. And if there’s ice, there’ll be fire.

In Ali Smith’s Winter, lifeforce matches up to the toughest of the seasons. In this second novel in her acclaimed Seasonal cycle, the follow-up to her sensational Autumn, Smith’s shape-shifting quartet of novels casts a merry eye over a bleak post-truth era with a story rooted in history, memory and warmth, its taproot deep in the evergreens: art, love, laughter.

It’s the season that teaches us survival.
Here comes Winter.

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AutumnAutumn by Ali Smith

Autumn. Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. That’s what it felt like for Keats in 1819. How about Autumn 2016? Daniel is a century old. Elisabeth, born in 1984, has her eye on the future. The United Kingdom is in pieces, divided by a historic, once-in-a-generation summer.Love is won, love is lost. Hope is hand-in-hand with hopelessness. The seasons roll round, as ever.
Ali Smith’s new novel is a meditation on a world growing ever more bordered and exclusive, on what richness and worth are, on what harvest means. It is the first installment of her Seasonal quartet–four stand-alone books, separate yet interconnected and cyclical (as the seasons are)–and it casts an eye over our own time. Who are we? What are we made of? Shakespearean jeu d’esprit, Keatsian melancholy, the sheer bright energy of 1960s pop art: the centuries cast their eyes over our own history making.
Here’s where we’re living. Here’s time at its most contemporaneous and its most cyclic.
From the imagination of the peerless Ali Smith comes a shape-shifting series, wide-ranging in time-scale and light-footed through histories, a story about aging and time and love and stories themselves.

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Eligible (The Austen Project, #4)Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

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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Chocolat (Chocolat #1)Chocolat by Joanne Harris

When the exotic stranger Vianne Rocher arrives in the old French village of Lansquenet and opens a chocolate boutique called “La Celeste Praline” directly across the square from the church, Father Reynaud identifies her as a serious danger to his flock. It is the beginning of Lent: the traditional season of self-denial. The priest says she’ll be out of business by Easter.

To make matters worse, Vianne does not go to church and has a penchant for superstition. Like her mother, she can read Tarot cards. But she begins to win over customers with her smiles, her intuition for everyone’s favourites, and her delightful confections. Her shop provides a place, too, for secrets to be whispered, grievances aired. She begins to shake up the rigid morality of the community. Vianne’s plans for an Easter Chocolate Festival divide the whole community. Can the solemnity of the Church compare with the pagan passion of a chocolate éclair?

For the first time, here is a novel in which chocolate enjoys its true importance, emerging as an agent of transformation. Rich, clever, and mischievous, reminiscent of a folk tale or fable, this is a triumphant read with a memorable character at its heart.

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The Thirteenth TaleThe Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

Angelfield House stands abandoned and forgotten. It was once the imposing home of the March family – fascinating, manipulative Isabelle, Charlie, her brutal and dangerous brother, and the wild, untamed twins, Emmeline and Adeline. But Angelfield House conceals a chilling secret whose impact still resonates …

Now Margaret Lea is investigating Angelfield’s past – and the mystery of the March family starts to unravel. What has the house been hiding? What is its connection with the enigmatic author Vida Winter? And what is it in Margaret’s own troubled past that causes her to fall so powerfully under Angelfield’s spell?

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