Category: Readathons

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.

Summerathon Wrap Up and Vlog

Loved this readathon! I read two books for it that managed to work for pretty much all of the prompts. One or two I might have stretched a bit but it’s fine 😉

Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey Elaine Howlin Bookstagram

Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey

New York Times bestseller Tessa Bailey launches a super sexy new series featuring the blue collar men who work for a HGTV-esq house flipping business.

After an injury ends Travis Ford’s major league baseball career, he returns home to start over. He just wants to hammer out his frustrations at his new construction gig and forget all about his glory days. But he can’t even walk through town without someone recapping his greatest hits. Or making a joke about his… bat. And then there’s Georgie, his buddy’s little sister, who is definitely not a kid anymore.

Georgette Castle has crushed on her older brother’s best friend for years. The grumpy, bear of a man working for her family’s house flipping business is a far cry from the charming sports star she used to know. But a moody scowl doesn’t scare her and Georgie’s determined to show Travis he’s more than a pretty face and a batting average, even if it means putting her feelings aside to be “just friends.”

Travis wants to brood in peace. But the girl he used to tease is now a funny, full-of-life woman who makes him feel whole again. And he wants her. So damn bad. Except Georgie’s off limits and he knows he can’t give her what she deserves. But she’s becoming the air he breathes and Travis can’t stay away, no matter how hard he tries…

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Roses fondant fancies tea pot book Elaine Howlin Bookstagram

The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough

The Thorn Birds is a robust, romantic saga of a singular family, the Clearys. It begins in the early part of this century, when Paddy Cleary moves his wife, Fiona, and their seven children to Drogheda, the vast Australian sheep station owned by his autocratic and childless older sister; and it ends more than half a century later, when the only survivor of the third generation, the brilliant actress Justine O’Neill, sets a course of life and love halfway around the world from her roots.

The central figures in this enthralling story are the indomitable Meggie, the only Cleary daughter, and the one man she truly loves, the stunningly handsome and ambitious priest Ralph de Bricassart. Ralph’s course moves him a long way indeed, from a remote Outback parish to the halls of the Vatican; and Meggie’s except for a brief and miserable marriage elsewhere, is fixed to the Drogheda that is part of her bones – but distance does not dim their feelings though it shapes their lives.

Wonderful characters people this book; strong and gentle, Paddy, hiding a private memory; dutiful Fiona, holding back love because it once betrayed her, violent, tormented Frank, and the other hardworking Cleary sons who give the boundless lands of Drogheda the energy and devotion most men save for women; Meggie; Ralph; and Meggie’s children, Justine and Dane. And the land itself; stark, relentless in its demands, brilliant in its flowering, prey to gigantic cycles of drought and flood, rich when nature is bountiful, surreal like no other place on earth.

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Synopsis from Goodreads. Photos from my Instagram @elainehowlin_

Jane Austen July

Jane Austen July is a month-long readathon hosted by Katie from Books and Things and Marissa from Blatantly Bookish, all about reading Jane Austen and related works. 

The Challenges

1. Read one of Jane Austen’s six novels 
2. Read something by Jane Austen that is not one of her main six novels 
3. Read a non-fiction work about Jane Austen or her time 
4. Read a retelling of a Jane Austen book 
5. Read a book by a contemporary of Jane Austen 
6. Watch a direct screen adaptation of a Jane Austen book
7. Watch a modern screen adaptation of a Jane Austen book

Readalongs

Sense and Sensibility: 1st-14th July 
Northanger Abbey: 15th-28th July

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I am so excited for this readathon! My plan is to focus on Pride and Prejudice since this will be my first reading of it. I will watch one of the adaptations and read some retellings of it as well. Very excited for a month of Mr Darcy!

I may join in the readalong of Northanger Abbey since I have it and it’s a pretty short book.

Jane Austen Book Stack Elaine Howlin Bookstagram
Reading Plan

🌺 One of Jane Austen’s Six Novels

Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice, which opens with one of the most famous sentences in English Literature, is an ironic novel of manners. In it the garrulous and empty-headed Mrs Bennet has only one aim – that of finding a good match for each of her five daughters. In this she is mocked by her cynical and indolent husband.

With its wit, its social precision and, above all, its irresistible heroine, Pride and Prejudice has proved one of the most enduringly popular novels in the English language.

🌺 Something by Jane Austen That is Not a Novel

For this one I’m thinking of reading some of her letters to her sister Cassandra. There are a bunch of them on this website.

🌺 Non-Fiction Work

Jane Austen at Home by Lucy Worsley

Jane Austen at Home

On the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death, historian Lucy Worsley leads us into the rooms from which our best-loved novelist quietly changed the world.

This new telling of the story of Jane’s life shows us how and why she lived as she did, examining the places and spaces that mattered to her. It wasn’t all country houses and ballrooms, but a life that was often a painful struggle. Jane famously lived a ‘life without incident’, but with new research and insights, Lucy Worsley reveals a passionate woman who fought for her freedom. A woman who far from being a lonely spinster, in fact, had at least five marriage prospects, but who in the end refused to settle for anything less than Mr Darcy.

🌺 Retelling

Unequal Affections by Lara S. Ormiston

Unequal Affections: A Pride and Prejudice Retelling

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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🌺 Contemporary

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

Eligible (The Austen Project, #4)

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.

🌺 Direct Screen Adaptation

For this I will watch either the 2005 movie of Pride and Prejudice with Kiera Knightly or the BBC mini series with Colin Firth. I might even watch both… It would be fun to watch Mr Firth as the original Mr Darcy since I plan on watching Bridget Jones’s Diary for my modern adaptation.

🌺 Modern Screen Adaptation

Sticking with the Pride and Prejudice theme and watching Bridget Jones’s Diary. It’s such a fun movie! I’m not a fan of any of the sequels sadly.

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What’s your favourite Jane Austen adaptation?

Smutathon Vlog

smutathon bingo

Smutathon is a week-long readathon hosted by Riley Marie and Ginger Reads Lainey running from Monday, June 3rd to Monday, June 10th. I didn’t find out about this readathon until Tuesday so I just jumped right in.

Reading Plan

Usually the most I would read in a week is about two books, three at a push. So I picked out a few that I’d like to read and then just went with what I felt like at the time.

I was already reading The Kiss Quotient prior to the readathon so I’m not really counting that but I did finish it during Smutathon and it is the perfect book for this type of readathon. I ended up reading two books for the readathon which I’m pretty with 🙂

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Fate’s Edge by Ilona Andrews

Audrey Callahan left behind her life in the Edge, and she’s determined to stay on the straight and narrow. But when her brother gets into hot water, the former thief takes on one last heist and finds herself matching wits with a jack of all trades… 

Kaldar Mar-a gambler, lawyer, thief, and spy-expects his latest assignment tracking down a stolen item to be a piece of cake, until Audrey shows up. But when the item falls into the hands of a lethal criminal, Kaldar realizes that in order to finish the job, he’s going to need Audrey’s help…

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

A heartwarming and refreshing debut novel that proves one thing: there’s not enough data in the world to predict what will make your heart tick.

Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases — a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.

It doesn’t help that Stella has Asperger’s and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice — with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can’t afford to turn down Stella’s offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan — from foreplay to more-than-missionary position…

Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but to crave all the other things he’s making her feel. Soon, their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic…

The Kiss Quotient is available on Kindle Unlimited

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The Ice Princess by Elizabeth Hoyt

SEVEN NIGHTS OF SIN 
As the madam of Aphrodite’s Grotto, the most infamous brothel in London, Coral Smythe knows everything possible about men’s needs and desires. Yet she’s never experienced the love of a single man-not even that of Captain Isaac Wargate whose hawk-like eyes stare at her with both condemnation…and lust.

SEVEN NIGHTS OF ECSTASY 
Captain Wargate heartily disapproves of the sensuous madam who always wears a golden mask. She lures his officers from both his ship and their duty. But when Coral herself is offered up as the prize in a game of chance, Wargate impulsively enters…and wins.

SEVEN NIGHTS OF LOVE 
Now the puritanical navy captain has just seven nights to learn everything he can about the mysterious madam and what she knows of a man’s desires. But when Coral is threatened by the new owner of Aphrodite’s Grotto, will Wargate take a chance on the woman beneath the mask…and on love?

Summerathon TBR 2019

I am so happy it is summer! Time to lounge outside in the sunshine with a book, lots of sunscreen, and an ice cold drink. Heaven.

Summerathon runs from June 21-27 and is hosted on YouTube by Melanie, Jen, Heather, Aimee, and Amy.

–The Challenges–

  • 1: Read a “beachy” read
  • 2: Read a book with sunrise colors on the cover
  • 3: Read a book featuring a road trip/traveling or summer vacation
  • 4: Read a book set in summer
  • 5: Read a book with food on the cover
  • 6: Drink your favorite summery drink while reading

The readathon is only a week long so I will probably only get one book maybe two read but I’m going to pick out a book for each challenge and then I will just read whichever one I feel like. Some of them will actually work for more than one challenge.

🌅 Beachy Read

NetGalley has a tonne of beachy reads at the moment so I might request one of those. I’ve never really read what I would consider to be a beachy book before so I’m interested to try one. If I don’t get a book from NetGalley I will read a cosy mystery by Charlaine Harris. I think that genre is perfect for taking it easy while reading but is still interesting enough to keep you reading.

Shakespeare’s Landlord (Lily Bard #1) by Charlaine Harris

Shakespeare's Landlord (Lily Bard, #1)

Welcome to Shakespeare, Arkansas. Lily Bard came to the small town of Shakespeare to escape her dark and violent past. Other than the day-to-day workings of her cleaning and errand-running service, she pays little attention to the town around her. So when she spots a dead body being dumped in the town green, she’s inclined to stay well away. But she was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and despite her best efforts, she’s dragged into the murder case. Lily doesn’t care who did it, but when the police and local community start pointing fingers in her direction, she realizes that proving her innocence will depend on finding the real killer in quiet, secretive Shakespeare.

🌅 Sunrise Colours on the Cover

Riveted (Iron Seas #3) by Meljean Brook

Riveted (Iron Seas, #3)

A century after a devastating volcanic eruption forced Iceland’s inhabitants to abandon its shores, the island has become enshrouded in legend. Fishermen tell tales of giant trolls guarding the land and of seductive witches who steal men’s hearts. But the truth behind the legends is mechanical, not magic—and the mystery of the island a matter of life and death for a community of women who once spilled noble blood to secure their freedom.

Five years ago, Annika unwittingly endangered that secret, but her sister Källa took the blame and was exiled. Now Annika serves on the airship Phatéon, flying from port to port in search of her sister and longing to return home . . . but that home is threatened when expedition leader David Kentewess comes aboard.

Determined to solve the mystery of his own origin, David will stop at nothing to expose Annika’s secrets. But when disaster strikes, leaving David and Annika stranded on a glacier and pursued by a madman, their very survival depends on keeping the heat rising between them—and generating lots of steam . . .

🌅 Traveling/ Summer Vacation

One of those summery/beachy reads on NetGalley would probably suit this one too. If now I might read The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough which begins with a family traveling to Australia.

The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough

The Thorn Birds

The Thorn Birds is a robust, romantic saga of a singular family, the Clearys. It begins in the early part of this century, when Paddy Cleary moves his wife, Fiona, and their seven children to Drogheda, the vast Australian sheep station owned by his autocratic and childless older sister; and it ends more than half a century later, when the only survivor of the third generation, the brilliant actress Justine O’Neill, sets a course of life and love halfway around the world from her roots.

The central figures in this enthralling story are the indomitable Meggie, the only Cleary daughter, and the one man she truly loves, the stunningly handsome and ambitious priest Ralph de Bricassart. Ralph’s course moves him a long way indeed, from a remote Outback parish to the halls of the Vatican; and Meggie’s except for a brief and miserable marriage elsewhere, is fixed to the Drogheda that is part of her bones – but distance does not dim their feelings though it shapes their lives.

Wonderful characters people this book; strong and gentle, Paddy, hiding a private memory; dutiful Fiona, holding back love because it once betrayed her, violent, tormented Frank, and the other hardworking Cleary sons who give the boundless lands of Drogheda the energy and devotion most men save for women; Meggie; Ralph; and Meggie’s children, Justine and Dane. And the land itself; stark, relentless in its demands, brilliant in its flowering, prey to gigantic cycles of drought and flood, rich when nature is bountiful, surreal like no other place on earth.

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🌅 Summer Setting

I have no idea what seasons my books are set! I had to look up a Goodreads list for some ideas for this. The only book I currently own and have yet to read from the list is Atonement by Ian McEwan.

Atonement by Ian McEwan

Atonement

Ian McEwan’s symphonic novel of love and war, childhood and class, guilt and forgiveness provides all the satisfaction of a brilliant narrative and the provocation we have come to expect from this master of English prose.

On a hot summer day in 1935, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis witnesses the flirtation between her older sister, Cecilia, and Robbie Turner, the son of a servant. But Briony’s incomplete grasp of adult motives and her precocious imagination bring about a crime that will change all their lives, a crime whose repercussions Atonement follows through the chaos and carnage of World War II and into the close of the twentieth century.

🌅 Food on the Cover

I could only think of cosy mysteries for this one! Why is it that cosy mysteries often have food on the cover???

Tea, Tiramisu, and Tough Guys by Harper Lin

Tea, Tiramisu, and Tough Guys (Cape Bay Cafe Mystery, #2)

When Francesca’s old high school crush, Todd, is accused of murder, she is convinced he is innocent. The police don’t believe Todd’s story, and neither does Matty. 

During the busy summer tourist season at Cape Bay, Francesca sets out to prove Todd’s innocence. Matty, however, investigates to prove Todd is guilty. Why does Matty detest Todd so much? But what if he’s right—what if Todd is a murderer? 

Includes two special recipes! This is Book 2 in The Cape Bay Cafe Mysteries. The books don’t have to be read in order.

🍹 My Favourite Summer Drink

My favourite drink to have in summer is definitely prosecco. Although, to be fair, I drink it for all seasons 😉 One of my favourite ways to have it during the summer is with a dash of elderflower cordial. If you have some gin and mint you could throw those in too to make a hugo cocktail. Perfect refreshing drink for summer.

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Synopsis and book covers from Goodreads

What’s your favourite summer drink?