Tag: book reviews

October & Victober Wrap Up

I Am HeathcliffThe Price of Pleasure (Sutherland Brothers, #2)Wives and DaughtersHow Not To Be a BoyA Woman of No ImportanceWhen a Scot Ties the Knot (Castles Ever After, #3)

My favourite month is over and now the Christmas silliness will begin. Costa coffee has already started using their Christmas cups. I’m just not emotionally ready for all of the Christmasness so I’m staying in Halloween mode for another few weeks. I am Grinching it up 😉

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I had hoped to read creepy books in October but I somehow managed to read less than I would when it’s not spooky season! October was pretty much all about romances and historicals.


I Am Heathcliff edited by Kate Mosse Elaine Howlin Literary Blog
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I am Heathcliff Curated by Kate Mosse ★★★★★

I Am HeathcliffShort Story Collection, Audiobook

This is a collection of 16 short stories inspired by Wuthering Heights. Some of them are inspired by a theme in the novel and others are more like retellings. I absolutely loved this collection and plan on buying the paperback to reread and annotate.

Get the book: Amazon | Book Depository

The Price of Pleasure by Kresley Cole ★★★★☆

The Price of Pleasure (Sutherland Brothers, #2)Historical Romance

A historical romance featuring a typical alpha male sassy female pairing.

Leading Lady Victoria has been shipwrecked on a remote island and Grant has been dispatched to rescue her. It’s not at all historically accurate but it was a fun read and I love Cole’s characters.

Get the book: Amazon | Book Depository

October Wrap Up Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell Elaine Howlin Literary Blog
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Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell (Victober) ★★★★☆

Wives and DaughtersClassic, Romance

This was the group read for Victober and I’m glad it was cause I probably wouldn’t have picked it up otherwise. Gaskell passed away while writing this book so it is unfinished but only a chapter away from completion. My edition included notes from the magazine the story was originally printed in which states the authors intended ending for the book so I wasn’t left in the lurch but it would have been nice to read it as part of the novel. The story follows Molly Gibson’s family life, friendships and eventual romance. It’s not a very exciting book but very pleasant to read.

Get the book: Amazon | Book Depository

‣ RELATED: Victober TBR

How Not to Be a Boy by Robert Webb ★★★★★

How Not To Be a BoyMemoir, Gender, Audiobook

I loved this! It was interesting to read something with a strong focus on gender issues written by a man. I listened to the audiobook which Webb narrated and included an interview at the end about topics raised in the book. It was so interesting and left me with a lot to think about.

Get the book: Amazon | Book Depository

A Woman of No Importance by Oscar Wilde (Victober) ★★★☆☆

A Woman of No ImportanceClassics, Play, Audiobook

This play centres around a social scandal concerning a woman and her illegitimate son. It’s very witty and has some great lines but I didn’t enjoy it as much as his other works.

Get the book: Amazon | Book Depository

When a Scot Ties the Knot by Tessa Dare ★★★★☆

When a Scot Ties the Knot (Castles Ever After, #3)Historical Romance, Audiobook

I enjoyed this even though it was a bit cheesy. The cast of characters are very endearing and the romance flows nicely (touch of instalove though). Ticks all the boxes for a good historical romance.

In order to avoid society due to her extreme shyness, Madeline invents a Scottish sweetheart away on military business. He saves her from awkward social situations until she feels she has lied long enough and claims he is killed in battle. Years later a man turns up at her door claiming to be her imaginary sweetie.

Get the book: Amazon | Book Depository


Hope you all had a wonderful October. What was the best book you read?

Books Read – August

Blue Moon (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, #8)The Second SexThe Professional (The Game Maker, #1)Sweet Ruin (Immortals After Dark, #16)Lover's Knot (Dorina Basarab, #3.5)Shadow's Bane (Dorina Basarab, #4)Sweep in Peace (Innkeeper Chronicles, #2)One Fell Sweep (Innkeeper Chronicles, #3)Devil to Pay (Night Huntress, #3.5)Shadow's Seduction (Immortals After Dark, #17; The Dacians, #2)The Matchmaker's Playbook (Wingmen Inc., #1)Shadowed Souls

Blue Moon (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, #8)Blue Moon by Laurell K. Hamilton

★★★☆☆

Book no. 8 in the Anita Blake series. In this one, Richard has been accused of rape and Anita dashes off to sort it all out. Her presence is not welcomed by the local vampire group or local law enforcement. This one kind of annoyed me. There was a bit too much relationship drama. This book is probably the real turning point for the series when it becomes nothing but group sex scenes.

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

Extracts from The Second Sex by simone de Beauvoir Elaine Howlin Literary Blog

The Second SexExtracts from The Second Sex by Simone De Beauvoir

★★★★☆

Very interesting. This edition features the original books introduction, chapter 14 and the conclusion. It’s kind of like a taster for the full book which was published in 1949 and made a big impact. The book explores the inequalities between women and men.

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

The Professional (The Game Maker, #1)The Professional by Kresley Cole

★★★★☆

The Game Maker romance series book 1. Natalie has been searching for her birth parents in Russia and discovers her father is actually a vor in the mafiya and that her life is in imminent danger. Her father dispatches Sevastyan to protect her and bring her back to Russia where things get a lot more interesting. Love this book 😍
Some elements of the plot are a little bit far-fetched but it’s fine. It’s pure indulgent book yumminess. And of course super hot!! I think if you enjoyed Fifty Shades of Grey for the kinky sex then you will probably enjoy this book.

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

Sweet Ruin (Immortals After Dark, #16)Sweet Ruin by Kresley Cole

★★★★☆

Book 16 in the paranormal romance series Immortals After Dark.  Jo and her brother are orphans and living on the streets. They’re separated through tragedy and Jo discovers she is something other than human. She spends the rest of her life simply existing until she meets an assassin on the hunt for a mutual enemy. It took me a while to get into this one. I didn’t really like the main characters but I’m glad I stuck with it. It’s one of the more interesting books in the series and borders on science fiction a bit.

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

Lover's Knot (Dorina Basarab, #3.5)Lover’s Knot by Karen Chance

★★★★★

3.5 in Dorina Basarab series and a free ebook novella available on the author’s site and the links below.  In this one, Dory is on a rescue mission in France after her beau goes missing along with the European consul. I loved this addition to the series. It really sets the tone for the next novel in the series Shadow’s Bane.

Get the book: Amazon | Kobo

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

Shadow's Bane (Dorina Basarab, #4)Shadow’s Bane by Karen Chance

★★★★★

Dorina Basarab book #4. Loved it! My full review for this book is available here. Dory is investigating fae slavers while dealing with her vampire side’s growing powers.

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

Sweep in Peace (Innkeeper Chronicles, #2)Sweep in Peace by Ilona Andrews

★★★★★

The Innkeeper Chronicles book #2. My full review is available here. Loved this! It’s so different from the usual urban fantasy fare. In this book, Dina is hosting peace talks between 3 warring factions in her inn. Tensions are high especially after the arrival of a mystery guest near the end.

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

One Fell Sweep (Innkeeper Chronicles, #3)One Fell Sweep by Ilona Andrews

★★★★★

The Innkeeper Chronicles book #3. My full review is available here. In this book, Dina must rescue her sister and niece from an extremely dangerous planet and then offers sanctuary to an endangered alien race. Her inn ends up under siege from the race determined to wipe her guests’ species from existence. Loved it again! I’ve given every book in this series so far five stars, what more do you need to know?!

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

Devil to Pay (Night Huntress, #3.5)Devil to Pay by Jeaniene Frost

★★☆☆☆

Night Huntress #3.5. This is about a guy who has been possessed by a demon trying to end his life so he won’t hurt people anymore. He’s saved by a vampire who has lost her zest for life and discovers it again through trying to help him. An ok short story. Very heavy on the instalove. I think short stories aren’t a good format for a complete romance.
Cat and Bones make a quick and kind of pointless appearance. If they hadn’t shown up this story could have been read as a stand-alone set in the same universe but their appearance makes it a little spoilery for the main series.

Get the book: Amazon | Google | Kobo

Shadow's Seduction by Kresley Cole Elaine Howlin Literary Blog

Shadow's Seduction (Immortals After Dark, #17; The Dacians, #2)Shadow’s Seduction by Kresley Cole

★★★★☆

Immortals After Dark #17; The Dacians #2 and Cole’s first M/M romance. This is a friends to lovers story following Mirceo and Caspian who were introduced in previous books. I’m not as into the Dacian’s as the other supernatural groups in the world. I miss the Valkyries and not even Nix showed up in this one which disappointed me but overall this is a great paranormal romance.

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

The Matchmaker's Playbook (Wingmen Inc., #1)The Matchmaker’s Playbook by Rachel Van Dyken

★★★☆☆

A contemporary romance about two college students that run a matchmaking service for women. Ian is trying to set up Blake with her childhood crush when he breaks the cardinal rule of Wingman Inc. and starts to have feelings for his client. This was an ok book. Good enough for me to finish. Mildly entertaining and I will probably read the next book in the series but definitely not a favourite. It’s just a bit too tropey.

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

Shadowed SoulsShadowed Souls edited by Jim Butcher

★★★★☆

I actually only read two of the stories included in this anthology because the others are part of series I haven’t read yet. The theme running through the stories is a bit… bleak.

Cold Case by Jim Butcher
Oh, that ending! Why must you constantly toy with my emotions, Jim?! This is the story that gives the collection its name. Molly’s new position as Winter Lady is weighing heavy on her and changing her in uncomfortable ways.

Sleepover by Seanan McGuire
I absolutely love McGuire’s writing. EVERYTHING I have read by her has been a treat. This story focuses on a half human half succubus woman who is coerced into searching for a young girl. There is quite a bit of world building for a stand-alone short story but it’s no less enjoyable for it. Not as depressing as Butcher’s story but still a bit bleak at the end.

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


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One Fell Sweep by Ilona Andrews Review

One Fell Sweep (Innkeeper Chronicles, #3)Title: One Fell Sweep

Author: Ilona Andrews

Genre: Science Fiction Urban Fantasy

Series: Innkeeper Chronicles #3

Goodreads Rating: 4.5/5

Goodreads Link

Synopsis: Dina DeMille may run the nicest Bed and Breakfast in Red Deer, Texas, but she caters to a very particular kind of guest… the kind that no one on Earth is supposed to know about. Guests like a former intergalactic tyrant with an impressive bounty on her head, the Lord Marshal of a powerful vampire clan, and a displaced-and-superhot werewolf; so don’t stand too close, or you may be collateral damage.

But what passes for Dina’s normal life is about to be thrown into chaos. First, she must rescue her long-distant older sister, Maud, who’s been exiled with her family to a planet that functions as the most lawless penal colony since Botany Bay. Then she agrees to help a guest whose last chance at saving his civilization could bring death and disaster to all Dina holds dear. Now Gertrude Hunt is under siege by a clan of assassins. To keep her guests safe and to find her missing parents, Dina will risk everything, even if she has to pay the ultimate price. Though Sean may have something to say about that!

One Fell Sweep by Ilona Andrews Bookstagram photo Elaine Howlin Literary Blog
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What I thought about the book:

Loved it!

This series is fantastic! Each book has been a 5 star read for me (fingers crossed for book 4) . One Fell Sweep picks up a few days after Sweep in Peace. Dina is dealing with what she discovered in the previous book when she receives a message from her sister to rescue her from a very dangerous planet.

We get some great character interactions and developments in this one and  some spaceship travel which was one of the things holding it back from feeling more like science fiction to me. Spaceships mean science fiction! The fantasy and sci-fi blend doesn’t suffer for this though.

With the Inn under siege and Dina protecting her guest, sometimes to her detriment, there are plenty of tense situations and action scenes. The love triangle (that I never felt was a love triangle really but a lot of people seem to) is resolved in a great way. I just love the ending so much!!!

It’s just great! A breath of fresh air in genre fiction.

“Yes, the princess you were expecting put on her armor and left to kill the dragon. So sorry.”
― Ilona AndrewsOne Fell Sweep

My Rating: 5 star review

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

The Innkeeper Chronicles

Clean SweepSweep in PeaceOne Fell Sweep


Synopsis and book covers from Goodreads. Photo from my Instagram @elainehowlin_

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Book Blogger Hop

The Book Blogger Hop was originally created by Jennifer from Crazy-For-Books in March 2010 and ended on December 31, 2012. With Jennifer’s permission, Coffee Addicted Writer relaunched the meme on February 15, 2013.

Each week the hop will start on a Friday and end on Thursday. There will be a weekly prompt featuring a book related question. The hop’s purpose is to give bloggers a chance to follow other blogs, learn about new books, befriend other bloggers, and receive new followers to your own blog.

August 24th – 30th – Where do you post your reviews besides your blog? Please list them all so perhaps we can find some new sites. (submitted by Elizabeth @ Silver’s Reviews)

Goodreads

I post all of my reviews here along with some mini-reviews that I don’t post here because they’re so short.

LibraryThing

I joined this site recently and have been adding my latest reviews to it. I’ll update past books soon.

BookLikes

BookLikes is a book blog hosting site. I was a member a few years ago and recently created a new shiny account and have been posting new reviews.

Facebook

Don’t really review here but I share my reviews on my page and post stories about what I’m reading.

YouTube

I post some full reviews but mostly small ones and book chats.

NetGalley

When I get a book from there.

When I really want to support an author I post on Google Play, Kobo and Barnes and Noble as well. I would post on Amazon but for some reason, it won’t lwet me.

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5 Books I Loved This Year (so far)

I kind of think of summer as reading season. It seems like everyone suddenly wants books to read for their holidays or to keep them occupied during all the extra time they plan on spending outdoors in the sun. So everyone is looking for a good book to read and to help you narrow down the list of possibilities here are the 5 books I loved this year. It’s not a list of books released this year, just ones that I read and really enjoyed.

5 books I loved this year summer reading recommendations


UprootedUprooted by Naomi Novik

Fantasy, published May 2015

This wonderful book centres on a village close to an (evil) enchanted wood that is protected from said wood by a wizard known as The Dragon (are you feeling all excited for the fairytale magic yet?). Every 10 years he visits the village and takes a girl back with him to his castle. No one in the village knows what he does with the girls just that when they return after the 10 years they are different and never stay in the village. This year he takes Agnie despite everyone believing he will take her more beautiful and skilled best friend, Kasia. But Agnie does something at the Choosing Ceremony that makes him feel he must take her.

Based on that much you’re probably expecting a Beauty and the Beast style fairytale romance but you ain’t getting it!

That wood I mentioned at the beginning is the real centre of this story. Its power is growing and it wants to consume as much of its surroundings as possible. Including people! There are creatures living inside it that torment and steal villagers from all areas around the wood. It separates one province from another and attempts to incite war between them which Agnie and the Dragon try to prevent. If you like magic and fantastical battles then this one is for you.

Asking For ItAsking For It by Louise O’Neill

Contemporary, published September 2015 Trigger warning for rape

This book follows Emma O’Donovan, an 18-year old girl from a small town in Ireland, who goes to a house party one night with her friends where something disgustingly awful happens to her. The book is more about how the characters deal with this event than the actual event itself.

One of the more interesting aspects of this novel is how unlikeable all of the characters are. Especially Emma herself who is very concerned with status, her looks and how they affect people. The only character that may be a bit likeable is her neighbour and childhood friend Conner though he annoys me a bit as well because he’s very interested in her romantically and is often telling her she’s beautiful. He’s focusing on her in a romantic physical way which is not something that helps her. But I guess he can’t help how he feels and other than that he’s a good guy.

RELATED: Asking For It by Louise O’Neill Full Review

Anyway, after this party, Emma is found by her parents dumped in front of their home her clothes askew, her underwear missing and burning in the sun. She has no memory of what happened to her but she soon finds out because a Facebook page titled Easy Emma reveals all. The page features photographs of her seemingly unconscious and 3 boys performing various acts to her. Many people are commenting on them, some of them people Emma knows, and what they’re saying is not good. A lot of them seem to be of the mind that these boys are just treating her they should be treated.

Suddenly everyone is against her and she tries to make it all go away (she doesn’t remember any of it after all) but it becomes too big. She ends up pursuing it legally. The book doesn’t follow the case exactly, it focuses on the emotional upheaval and strain on Emma and her family. It’s about how this act affects people and how they react to it happening to someone they know and by someone they know. How rape is so bad people try to pretend it doesn’t exist. How boys they know aren’t like that so the girl must be lying and afraid of being thought of as slutty. And if they can see her as a slut then it doesn’t matter what’s done to her. She’s just some slut.

The story is very emotional and hard-hitting but it’s an extremely important one that I hope will reach people far and wide.

I saw the play version last week in Cork and it was utterly amazing. The production was fantastic, they did a great job adapting it. It will be showing at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin soon, I highly recommend going if you can.

Mom & Me & MomMom & Me & Mom by Maya Angelou

Memoir, published April 2013

I listened to an audiobook of this read by Maya Angelou, the best way to read a memoir in my opinion. (Check out John Cleese’s audio memoir as well it’s very funny)

In this memoir, Angelou explores her relationship with her mother which was pretty non-existent in the early years of her life but grew into something resilient and empowering later.

Her mother was essentially a stranger to her as a child, she chose to call her Lady instead of Mom which says a lot about the distance she felt. It also shows how she saw her as no ordinary woman but as someone to look up to, someone refined and feminine but still in charge.

This book really shows how love grows between people and how it makes us stronger.

Ride the Storm (Cassandra Palmer, #8)Ride the Storm by Karen Chance

Urban Fantasy, published August 2017 (part of a series)

This is the 8th book in the Cassie Palmer series, Touch the Dark is book 1.

I can’t go into too much detail about this one without spoiling the whole series since it’s a series full of cliffhangers (but lucky you, all the books are out so you don’t have to wait) and has an ongoing plot. The series follows Cassie Palmer, a clairvoyant who was raised by a gangster vampire after the death of her parents. She’s on the run from that vampire when she’s thrust into the position of Pythia, the supernatural world’s chief seer because it suits certain people to have someone they perceive as pliable in the position. She ends up the target of several factions, good and bad, and of some extremely powerful ancient beings.

RELATED: Reader Problems Tag

The series is mostly based around Greek mythology with some of the more popular supernatural beasties thrown in for good measure. As opposed to a lot of urban fantasy, the individual books don’t really follow the monster-of-the-week formula but do have their own stories. There’s a larger plot that the entire series follows but it can be broken down into two main storylines that are 4 books each.

Chance knows how to create a story that grabs attention so this series is perfect if you want several books to binge read in the sunshine.

An Artificial Night (October Daye, #3)An Artificial Night by Seanan McGuire

Urban Fantasy, published September 2010 (part of a series)

This one is 3rd in the October Daye series but follows the monster-of-the-week style. Rosemary and Rue is book 1. There is, of course, a larger plot throughout but it isn’t really necessary to enjoy the book (I do recommend reading the whole series though it’s brilliant!). This formula is still very enjoyable to read cause it doesn’t leave you chewing at the bit for the next book (I don’t mind cliffhangers as long as I don’t have to wait years for the next book).

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

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

This book focuses on The Wild Hunt which has been taking children, human and fae, to its realm to convert them to beings possible of joining the Hunt. They take some children connected to Toby and she chases after them to get them back.

McGuire is amazing at writing urban fantasy that is full of all the magic and action you expect but also fills it with real human emotion that is completely relatable despite the events being so fantastical.

There are moments in this book where Toby feels isolated and frightened that really resonated with me.


I’ve read around 50 books so far this year but choosing these 5 was actually pretty easy, I loved them that much! I’m off to continue rereading Reap The Wind as part of Jazzy June in the sunshine now. Thanks for reading and have a great day!

What books have you read this year that stand out from all the rest? What are you planning on reading this summer?