Tag: Irish literature

The Irish Readathon Challenges Recs

The Irish Readathon is a readathon (or reading challenge) running for the whole month of March. The main goal is to read at least one form of Irish literature but we have some challenges that you can do as well if you want.

This year I am co-hosting the readathon with Aoife (Fred Weasley Died Laughing) and Leanne Rose who very kindly asked me to join them.

 The Challenges

  • Read a book with a green cover
  • Read a book by a female Irish author
  • Read a book by one of the hosts favourite Irish authors; Louise O’Neill, Marian Keyes, Sarah Rees Brennan
  • Read a book that isn’t a novel
  • Read a book older than you are

☘ Challenge 1: Read a Book with a Green Cover

This one doesn’t necessarily need to be an Irish book, it just needs to have a green cover but it would be better if you picked an Irish book for it 😉

Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married by Marian Keyes

Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married by Marian Keyes

Lucy Sullivan Is Getting Married

What happens when a psychic tells Lucy that she’ll be getting married within the year? Her roommates panic! What is going to happen to their blissful existence of eating take-out, drinking too much wine, bringing men home, and never vacuuming?

Lucy reassures her friends that she’s far too busy arguing with her mother and taking care of her irresponsible father to get married. And then there’s the small matter of not even having a boyfriend.

But then Lucy meets gorgeous, unreliable Gus. Could he be the future Mr. Lucy Sullivan? Or could it be handsome Chuck? Or Daniel, the world’s biggest flirt? Or even cute Jed, the new guy at work?

Maybe her friends have something to worry about after all….

The Good People by Hannah Kent

The Good People

From the bestselling author of the multi-award-winning Burial Rites

County Kerry, Ireland, 1825.

The fires on the hills smouldered orange as the women left, pockets charged with ashes to guard them from the night. Watching them fade into the grey fall of snow, Nance thought she could hear Maggie’s voice. A whisper in the dark.

“Some folk are born different, Nance. They are born on the outside of things, with a skin a little thinner, eyes a little keener to what goes unnoticed by most. Their hearts swallow more blood than ordinary hearts; the river runs differently for them.”

Nóra Leahy has lost her daughter and her husband in the same year, and is now burdened with the care of her four-year-old grandson, Micheál. The boy cannot walk, or speak, and Nora, mistrustful of the tongues of gossips, has kept the child hidden from those who might see in his deformity evidence of otherworldly interference.

Unable to care for the child alone, Nóra hires a fourteen-year-old servant girl, Mary, who soon hears the whispers in the valley about the blasted creature causing grief to fall upon the widow’s house.

Alone, hedged in by rumour, Mary and her mistress seek out the only person in the valley who might be able to help Micheál. For although her neighbours are wary of her, it is said that old Nance Roche has the knowledge. That she consorts with Them, the Good People. And that only she can return those whom they have taken…

☘ Challenge 2: Read a Book by a Female Irish Author

It’s a real shame that the male authors (Joyce, Wilde, Yeats, etc.) are usually the ones people think of when they think of Irish literature. We have some amazing contemporary female authors but classics can be very hard to find.

Falling for a Dancer by Deirdre Purcell

Falling for a Dancer

If the bus hadn’t broken down that August afternoon on the road between Dublin and Cork, Elizabeth Sullivan would never have met George Gallaher, a travelling actor of infinite charm and fatal weakness. She would not have been forced to marry, nor found herself trapped in an alien landscape.

(If you can find it 2nd hand I highly recommend this book. It’s out of print and there isn’t an ebook)

Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor

Last Christmas in Paris: A Novel of World War I

New York Times bestselling author Hazel Gaynor has joined with Heather Webb to create this unforgettably romantic novel of the Great War.

August 1914. England is at war. As Evie Elliott watches her brother, Will, and his best friend, Thomas Harding, depart for the front, she believes—as everyone does—that it will be over by Christmas, when the trio plan to celebrate the holiday among the romantic cafes of Paris.

But as history tells us, it all happened so differently…

Evie and Thomas experience a very different war. Frustrated by life as a privileged young lady, Evie longs to play a greater part in the conflict—but how?—and as Thomas struggles with the unimaginable realities of war he also faces personal battles back home where War Office regulations on press reporting cause trouble at his father’s newspaper business. Through their letters, Evie and Thomas share their greatest hopes and fears—and grow ever fonder from afar. Can love flourish amid the horror of the First World War, or will fate intervene?

Christmas 1968. With failing health, Thomas returns to Paris—a cherished packet of letters in hand—determined to lay to rest the ghosts of his past. But one final letter is waiting for him…

☘ Challenge 3: Read a Book by One of the Hosts Favourite Irish Authors

Louise O’Neill, Marian Keyes and Sarah Rees Brennan I chose Marian Keyes for my favourite author because she’s the first author whose books I automatically bought and got really excited about reading. I was a teenager at the time though and I haven’t read much of her recent work but I still love her. She posts regular chatty vlogs on YouTube and her pure Irishness is just fantastic.

Asking for It by Lousie O’Neill

Asking For It

It’s the beginning of the summer in a small town in Ireland. Emma O’Donovan is eighteen years old, beautiful, happy, confident. One night, there’s a party. Everyone is there. All eyes are on Emma. 

The next morning, she wakes on the front porch of her house. She can’t remember what happened, she doesn’t know how she got there. She doesn’t know why she’s in pain. But everyone else does. 

Photographs taken at the party show, in explicit detail, what happened to Emma that night. But sometimes people don’t want to believe what is right in front of them, especially when the truth concerns the town’s heroes…

Unspoken (The Lynburn Legacy #1) by Sarah Rees Brennan

Unspoken (The Lynburn Legacy, #1)

Kami Glass loves someone she’s never met… a boy she’s talked to in her head ever since she was born. She wasn’t silent about her imaginary friend during her childhood, and is thus a bit of an outsider in her sleepy English town of Sorry-in-the-Vale. Still, Kami hasn’t suffered too much from not fitting in. She has a best friend, runs the school newspaper, and is only occasionally caught talking to herself. Her life is in order, just the way she likes it, despite the voice in her head.

But all that changes when the Lynburns return.

The Lynburn family has owned the spectacular and sinister manor that overlooks Sorry-in-the-Vale for centuries. The mysterious twin sisters who abandoned their ancestral home a generation ago are back, along with their teenage sons, Jared and Ash, one of whom is eerily familiar to Kami. Kami is not one to shy away from the unknown—in fact, she’s determined to find answers for all the questions Sorry-in-the-Vale is suddenly posing. Who is responsible for the bloody deeds in the depths of the woods? What is her own mother hiding? And now that her imaginary friend has become a real boy, does she still love him? Does she hate him? Can she trust him?

The Break by Marian Keyes

The Break

‘Myself and Hugh . . . We’re taking a break.’
‘A city-with-fancy-food sort of break?’

If only.

Amy’s husband Hugh says he isn’t leaving her.

He still loves her, he’s just taking a break – from their marriage, their children and, most of all, from their life together. Six months to lose himself in south-east Asia. And there is nothing Amy can say or do about it.

Yes, it’s a mid-life crisis, but let’s be clear: a break isn’t a break up – yet . . .

However, for Amy it’s enough to send her – along with her extended family of gossips, misfits and troublemakers – teetering over the edge.

For a lot can happen in six-months. When Hugh returns if he returns, will he be the same man she married? And will Amy be the same woman?

Because if Hugh is on a break from their marriage, then isn’t she?

The Break isn’t a story about falling in love but about staying in love. It is Marian Keyes at her funniest, wisest and brilliant best.

☘ Challenge 4: Read a Book that isn’t a Novel

So this could be a play, poetry or non-fiction. Just something that isn’t a novel.

Wild Irish Women by Marian Broderick Elaine Howlin Literary Blog

Wild Irish Women by Marian Broderick

Wild Irish Women: Extraordinary Lives from History

Writers, killers, nuns, patriots, artists, healers, pirates, politicians, entertainers, saints, courtesans, leaders, revolutionaries, lovers, warriors, witches, record-breakers, and eccentrics are among the eclectic roster of Irishwomen resurrected from the dustbins of history by this “rollicking read” (according to Books Ireland).
In times when women were expected to marry and have children, they traveled the world and sought out adventures. In times when women were expected to be seen and not heard, they spoke out against oppression and used every creative means available to express their ideas and beliefs. Editor and writer Marian Broderick provides us with a series of lively portraits of seventy-five unorthodox Irishwomen. In these pages you will meet women you will never forget: Maria Edworth, Lady Jane Wilde, Lady Augusta Gregory, Peig Sayers, Nora Barnacle, Kitty Kiernan, Anne Bonny, Anne Devlin, Mother Jones, Countess Constance Markievicz, Hanna Sheey Skeffington, Fanny and Anna Parnell, Maud Gonne, St. Brighid, Margaret Leeson, Lady Betty, Queen Maeve of Connacht, Molly Brown, Kathleen Behan, Lola Monez, Daisy Bates, Greer Garson, Lilly and Lolly Yeats, and many more.

Old Ways, Old Secrets: Pagan Ireland by Jo Kerrigan

Old Ways, Old Secrets: Pagan Ireland: Myth * Landscape * Tradition

In a land like ours, the old beliefs bring pleasure and wisdom…

Exploring the legends, special places and treasured practices of old, Jo Kerrigan reveals a rich world beneath Ireland’s modern layers.

So many of today’s Irish traditions reach back to our ancient past, to the natural world: climbing to the summit of a mountain at harvest time; circling a revered site three, seven or nine times in a sun-wise direction; hanging offerings on a thorn tree; bringing the ailing and infirm to a sacred well.

Old Ways, Old Secrets shows us how to uncover the wisdom of the past, as fresh as it is ancient.

☘ Challenge 5: Read a Book Older than You are

This one basically means read a classic. I think when people think of Irish literature the classics are probably what comes to mind first. Yeats or Wilde would be perfect for this one and you could double up and use them for this and challenge 4.

Irish Fairy and Folk Tales by W.B. Yeats

Irish Fairy and Folk Tales

— Nobel Prize winning writer and poet W.B. Yeats included almost every sort of Irish folk in this marvelous compendium of fairy tales and songs that he collected and edited for publication in 1892.
— Yeats was fascinated by Irish myths and folklore, and joined forces with the writers of the Irish Literary Revival. He studied Irish folk tales and chose to reintroduce the glory and significance of Ireland’s past through this unique literature.

The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

The Importance of Being Earnest

Oscar Wilde’s brilliant play makes fun of the English upper classes with light-hearted satire and dazzling humour. It is 1890’s England and two young gentlemen are being somewhat limited with the truth. To inject some excitement into their lives, Mr Worthing invents a brother, Earnest, as an excuse to leave his dull country life behind him to pursue the object of his desire, the ravishing Gwendolyn. While across town Algernon Montecrieff decides to take the name Earnest, when visiting Worthing’s young ward Cecily. The real fun and confusion begins when the two end up together and their deceptions are in danger of being revealed.

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So those are just some of the books you could read for The Irish Readathon. Most of these I have already read but some are books that I might read for the readathon. I had never heard of Sarah Rees Brennan before this and her series seems to be quite popular so I will have to check out her books.

You could also read something by Nora Roberts. She’s American but bases a lot of her books in Ireland or with Irish characters.

What books by Irish authors or set in Ireland have you read?

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

The Love Story of W.B. Yeats and Maud Gonne Review

The Love Story of W.B. Yeats and Maud GonneTitle: The Love Story of W.B. Yeats and Maud Gonne

Author: Margery Brady

Genre: Nonfiction

Series: n/a

Goodreads Rating: 4/5

Goodreads Link

Synopsis: Set in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, this romantic tale unfolds against a background of political unrest and tenant agitation in Ireland. The poet William Butler Yeats in a central figure in the Irish literary revival, while Maud Gonne, a political activist, is passionately involved in the struggle for Irish independence. But this is not a dissertation about Yeats’ work, nor is it about the history of the day or the political involvements of Maud Gonne. It is a love story, containing some of the most poignant poems ever written.

The Love Story Of W.B. Yeats and Maud Gonne by Margery Brady Elaine Howlin Books Blog bookstagram photo
Instagram @elainehowlin_ & @elaine_reads_romance

Review:  First of all, how pretty is this book? Very!

This book chronicles the relationship between W.B. Yeats and the inspiration behind many of his poems, Maud Gonne. I wouldn’t go as far as to call their story a love story because it seems to be pretty one-sided but it’s a very interesting story.

I learnt a lot about these fascinating people and the turbulent time in Irish history that they lived in.

My Rating: ★★★★☆

Get the book: Amazon | Book Depository 

Image result for amazon audible banner

Synopsis from Goodreads. Photos from my Instagram @elainehowlin_

Reading Vlog 4 | June 2018 | Falling For a Dancer & Asking For It Stage Adaption

In this months vlog I chat about going to see the stage adaption of Asking For It by Louise O’Neill, I’m reading Falling For A Dancer by Deirdre Purcell and Reap The Wind by Karen Chance, and I’m watching Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries on Netflix.

Falling For A Dancer by Deirdre Purcell TowerHouse Dublin MacMillan publishers

I set myself a reading goal of 400 pages for the weekend I recorded. Not a huge goal but I’m a slow reader so it is a good bit for me to read.

The Irish Readathon Wrap Up

Hi Ho!!! Here are the books I read for The Irish Readathon. I’m a bit disappointed with the amount I read. I really hoped to read at least 4 books but I got lazy. Story of my life.

Salomé Mammy Walsh's A-Z of the Walsh Family Marian Keyes Asking For It Louise O'Neill

 

Salome by Oscar WildeSalome by Oscar Wilde

This is a bit of a strange one. It’s quite different to Wilde’s other plays. I did enjoy it though. I’m not familiar with the original story of Salome but I believe Wilde changed it a bit.

Synopsis: Outraged by the sexual perversity of this one-act tragedy, Great Britain’s Lord Chamberlain banned Salomé from the national stage. Symbolist poets and writers — Stéphane Mallarmé and Maurice Maeterlinck among them — defended the play’s literary brilliance. Beyond its notoriety, the drama’s haunting poetic imagery, biblical cadences, and febrile atmosphere have earned it a reputation as a masterpiece of the Aesthetic movement of fin de siècle England.
Written originally in French in 1892, this sinister tale of a woman scorned and her vengeance was translated into English by Lord Alfred Douglas. The play inspired some of Aubrey Beardsley’s finest illustrations, and an abridged version served as the text for Strauss’ renowned opera of the same name. This volume reprints the complete text of the first English edition, published in 1894, and also includes “A Note on Salomé” by Robert Ross, Wilde’s lifelong friend and literary executor. Students, lovers of literature and drama, and admirers of Oscar Wilde and his remarkable literary gifts will rejoice in this inexpensive edition.

Mammy Walsh's A-Z of the Walsh Family by Marian KeyesMammy Walsh’s A-Z of the Walsh Family by Marian Keyes

So entertaining!! And since Mammy Walsh is unlikely to get a novel of her own it was a great insight into the head of the family. Full of wonderful Irish wit.

Synopsis: For all fans eagerly awaiting Marian Keyes’ new novel The Mystery of Mercy Close – featuring Helen Walsh and out in September – here is a laugh-out-loud ebook-only short guide to everyone’s favourite dysfunctional Irish family, Mammy Walsh’s A-Z of the Walshes.

It does exactly what it says on the tin but here’s a brief word from its author, Mammy Walsh herself:

‘There’s this woman I know from bridge, Mona Hopkins, a lovely woman she is, even if I must admit I’m not that keen on her myself, and she said a great thing the other day. I was expecting her to say “Two no trumps,” but instead she comes out with a saying about her children. She says, “Boys wreck your house and girls wreck your head.” Isn’t that a marvellous bit of wisdom – “Boys wreck your house and girls wreck your head!” And God knows it’s the truest thing I’ve heard in a long time. I should know. I have five girls. Five daughters. And let me tell you, my head is wrecked from them.

Although, now that I think of it, so is my house . . .’

Asking for It by Louise O'NeillAsking For It by Louise O’Neill

Amazing book. So haunting. Read my full review here.

Synopsis: In a small town, where everyone knows everyone, Emma O’Donovan is different. She is the special one – beautiful, popular, powerful. And she works hard to keep it that way.
Until that night…
Now, she’s an embarrassment. Now, she is a slut. Now, she is nothing.
And those pictures – those pictures that everyone has seen – mean she can never forget.


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Asking For It by Louise O’Neill Full Review

Asking For It
Title: Asking For It
 
Author: Louise O’Neill
 
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult
 
Series: n/a
 
Goodreads Rating: 4/5
 
 

Synopsis: It’s the beginning of the summer in a small town in Ireland. Emma O’Donovan is eighteen years old, beautiful, happy, confident. One night, there’s a party. Everyone is there. All eyes are on Emma.

The next morning, she wakes on the front porch of her house. She can’t remember what happened, she doesn’t know how she got there. She doesn’t know why she’s in pain. But everyone else does.

Photographs taken at the party show, in explicit detail, what happened to Emma that night. But sometimes people don’t want to believe what is right in front of them, especially when the truth concerns the town’s heroes…

 
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What I thought about the book: Amazing book. So haunting. I have a feeling it will stay with me forever. Watch my full review below.
Buy me a coffee with Ko-fi
 
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My Rating: 5 star review

Discussion Questions:
Emma’s Beauty is very important to her. She thinks it makes her the most remarkable girl in Ballinatoom. In what way does it inform her identity? Hoe does it affect her relationships?

Emma observes the women around her extremely closely. How does she see other women? Do you think she is sexist?

What values has Emma learned from her mother? What do you think of them?

They’re good boys really. This all just got out of hand.
What does Nora mean by this? How does this statement impact on Emma?

What do you think of Emma’s father? How would you describe his relationship with Emma before the rape and afterwards?

Bryan plays a pivotal role in the novel. Would you agree that he is one of the few characters who treats Emma with respect while at the same time not putting up with her more selfish behaviour?
Do you think Bryan will forgive Emma for not going through with the trial, or is it important for him to see her as a victim?

Why did the boys put the images of their attack on Emma online? Why weren’t they afraid of the consequences of showing what they had done?


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