Tag: reading challenge

2019 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

It’s time for New Year reading challenges, yay! The Historical Fiction Reading Challenge is hosted by Passages to the Past which is an amazing blog focusing on historical fiction. All subgenres of historical fiction are welcome so romance, young adult, mystery, whatever, all are welcome 🙂

The challenge runs from January 1st to December 31st 2019 and has 6 levels.

20th Century Reader – 2 books
Victorian Reader – 5 books
Renaissance Reader – 10 books
Medieval – 15 books
Ancient History – 25 books
Prehistoric – 50+ books

I’m going to aim for Ancient History – 25 books. In 2018 I read about 20 historical books so 25 should be attainable. 

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Historical Fiction MBR

MBR stands for “might be read”.

I often see classics being tagged historical fiction so I’m including them in my list. I’m just going to pick out 5 books now because I will most likely discover some new ones throughout 2019.

The-Lighthouse-Keepers-Daughter-by-Hazel-Gaynor-Elaine-Howlin-Literary-Blog
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The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter by Hazel Gaynor

The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter

“They call me a heroine, but I am not deserving of such accolades. I am just an ordinary young woman who did her duty.”

1838: Northumberland, England. Longstone Lighthouse on the Farne Islands has been Grace Darling’s home for all of her twenty-two years. When she and her father rescue shipwreck survivors in a furious storm, Grace becomes celebrated throughout England, the subject of poems, ballads, and plays. But far more precious than her unsought fame is the friendship that develops between Grace and a visiting artist. Just as George Emmerson captures Grace with his brushes, she in turn captures his heart.

1938: Newport, Rhode Island. Nineteen-years-old and pregnant, Matilda Emmerson has been sent away from Ireland in disgrace. She is to stay with Harriet, a reclusive relative and assistant lighthouse keeper, until her baby is born. A discarded, half-finished portrait opens a window into Matilda’s family history. As a deadly hurricane approaches, two women, living a century apart, will be linked forever by their instinctive acts of courage and love.

Get the book: Amazon | Book Depository

I received this book from Harper Collins a few months ago, started reading it, liked it but stopped for whatever reason. I recently listened to the audio of Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb and loved it so. I’m really excited to read more by both of them. Heather Webb has a retelling of The Phantom of the Opera that I will likely pick up in 2019 as well.


With This Ring (Vanza #1) by Amanda Quick

With This Ring  (Vanza, #1)

Leo Drake, the “Mad Monk of Monkcrest,” is notoriously eccentric and unquestionably reclusive. But he is also a noted antiquities expert, which is why Beatrice Poole has demanded his reluctant assistance. The freethinking authoress of “horrid novels,” Beatrice is searching for the Forbidden Rings of Aphrodite, a mythic treasure she suspects played a role in her uncle’s death. Beatrice finds Leo every bit as fascinating as one of the heroes in her novels-and she’s convinced he’s the only one who can help her. But after only five minutes in her company, Leo is sure he’s never met a woman more infuriating…and more likely to rescue him from boredom. Yet the alliance may well prove to be the biggest mistake of their lives. For a villain lurks in London, waiting for the pair to unearth the Forbidden Rings-knowing that when they do, that day will be their last….

Get the book: Amazon | Book Depository

So, I did the unspeakable and read the second and third books in this series before reading the first book. It seems like a strange thing to do but I had those two and had to wait for this one. I also read a review on the second book that said there was no tangible connection between them and could be read as a stand-alone so I went with it. Now I can read the first one and get the series straightened up.


Notorious Pleasure (Maiden Lane #1) by Elizabeth Hoyt

Notorious Pleasures (Maiden Lane, #2)

Their lives were perfect…
Lady Hero Batten, the beautiful sister of the Duke of Wakefield, has everything a woman could want, including the perfect fiancé. True, the Marquis of Mandeville is a trifle dull and has no sense of humor, but that doesn’t bother Hero. Until she meets his notorious brother…

Until they met each other.
Lord Griffin Reading is far from perfect – and he likes it that way. How he spends his days is a mystery, but all of London knows he engages in the worst sorts of drunken revelry at night. Hero takes an instant dislike to him, and Griffin thinks that Hero, with her charities and faultless manners, is much too impeccable for society, let alone his brother. Yet their near-constant battle of wits soon sparks desire—desire that causes their carefully constructed worlds to come tumbling down. As Hero’s wedding nears, and Griffin’s enemies lay plans to end their dreams forever, can two imperfect people find perfect true love?

Get the book: Amazon | Book Depository

I read the first book in this series in 2016 and loved it. I have no idea why it’s taken me so long to decide to continue with the series but here we are.


Gothic Tales by Elizabeth Gaskell

Gothic Tales

‘Such whispered tales, such old temptations and hauntings, and devilish terrors’

Elizabeth Gaskell’s chilling Gothic tales blend the real and the supernatural to eerie, compelling effect. ‘Disappearances’, inspired by local legends of mysterious vanishings, mixes gossip and fact; ‘Lois the Witch’, a novella based on an account of the Salem witch hunts, shows how sexual desire and jealousy lead to hysteria; while in ‘The Old Nurse’s Story’ a mysterious child roams the freezing Northumberland moors. Whether darkly surreal, such as ‘The Poor Clare’, where an evil doppelganger is formed by a woman’s bitter curse, or mischievous like ‘Curious, if True’, a playful reworking of fairy tales, all the pieces in this volume form a start contrast to the social realism of Gaskell’s novels, revealing a darker and more unsettling style of writing.

Laura Kranzler’s introduction discusses how Gaskell’s tales, with their ghostly doublings and transgressive passions, show the Gothic underside of female identity, domestic relations and male authority. This edition also contains a chronology, further reading and explanatory notes.

Get the book: Amazon | Book Depository

This one I will probably hold out reading until #victober in October which is a Victorian literature readathon. It’s perfect for that time of year.


Our Man in Havana by Graham Greene

Our Man in Havana

Graham Greene’s classic Cuban spy story, now with a new package and a new introduction

First published in 1959, Our Man in Havana is an espionage thriller, a penetrating character study, and a political satire that still resonates to this day. Conceived as one of Graham Greene’s ‘entertainments,’ it tells of MI6’s man in Havana, Wormold, a former vacuum-cleaner salesman turned reluctant secret agent out of economic necessity. To keep his job, he files bogus reports based on Lamb’s Tales from Shakespeare and dreams up military installations from vacuum-cleaner designs. Then his stories start coming disturbingly true.

Get the book: Amazon | Book Depository

I read The End of the Affair by Greene in 2018 and loved it so I want to pick up some more books by him. 


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Do you have any historical fiction recommendations?

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?

Victober TBR

Victober is a month-long readathon in October focusing on Victorian literature. The Victorian era spanned June 20, 1837 – January 22, 1901, so any books published during this time in the UK and Ireland are welcome. The readathon is hosted by four YouTubers, Ange- Beyond the Pages, Kate Howe, Katie- Books and Things and Lucythereader.

Challenges:

  • Ange: Read a book by one of the hosts favourite Victorian authors (Thomas Hardy, Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Gaskell and Charlotte Bronte)
  • Kate: Read a Victorian book with a proper noun in the title
  • Katie: Read a book that was published in the first ten years of the Victorian era and/or published in the last ten years of the Victorian era
  • Lucy: Read a Victorian book written by a woman anonymously or with a pseudonym
  • Group: Read a Victorian novel and watch a screen adaptation

Group Readalong: Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell

Wives and Daughters Set in English society before the 1832 Reform Bill, Wives and Daughters centres on the story of youthful Molly Gibson, brought up from childhood by her father. When he remarries, a new step-sister enters Molly’s quiet life – loveable, but worldly and troubling, Cynthia. The narrative traces the development of the two girls into womanhood within the gossiping and watchful society of Hollingford.

Wives and Daughters is far more than a nostalgic evocation of village life; it offers an ironic critique of mid-Victorian society. ‘No nineteenth-century novel contains a more devastating rejection than this of the Victorian male assumption of moral authority’, writes Pam Morris in her introduction to this new edition, in which she explores the novel’s main themes – the role of women, Darwinism and the concept of Englishness – and its literary and social context.

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

Victober Goodreads group

Victorian Novels List

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My TBR

Jane Eyre Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Fiery love, shocking twists of fate, and tragic mysteries put a lonely governess in jeopardy in JANE EYRE

Orphaned as a child, Jane has felt an outcast her whole young life. Her courage is tested once again when she arrives at Thornfield Hall, where she has been hired by the brooding, proud Edward Rochester to care for his ward Adèle. Jane finds herself drawn to his troubled yet kind spirit. She falls in love. Hard.

But there is a terrifying secret inside the gloomy, forbidding Thornfield Hall. Is Rochester hiding from Jane? Will Jane be left heartbroken and exiled once again?

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

A Christmas CarolA Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

A CHRISTMAS CAROL is a novella by Charles Dickens, first published in London on December 1843. The novella met with instant success and critical acclaim. A Christmas Carol tells the story of a bitter old miser named Ebenezer Scrooge and his transformation into a gentler, kindlier man after visitations by the ghost of his former business partner Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come. The book was written at a time when the British were examining and exploring Christmas traditions from the past as well as new customs such as Christmas cards and Christmas trees. Carol singing took a new lease on life during this time. 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.

Dickens was not the first author to celebrate the Christmas season in literature, but it was he who superimposed his humanitarian vision of the holiday upon the public, an idea that has been termed as Dickens’ “Carol Philosophy”. Dickens believed the best way to reach the broadest segment of the population regarding his concerns about poverty and social injustice was to write a deeply felt Christmas story rather than polemical pamphlets and essays. Dickens’ career as a best-selling author was on the wane, and the writer felt he needed to produce a tale that would prove both profitable and popular. Dickens’ visit to the work-worn industrial city of Manchester was the “spark” that fired the author to produce a story about the poor, a repentant miser, and redemption that would become A Christmas Carol. The forces that inspired Dickens to create a powerful, impressive and enduring tale were the profoundly humiliating experiences of his childhood, the plight of the poor and their children during the boom decades of the 1830s and 1840s, and Washington Irving’s essays on old English Christmas traditions published in his Sketch Book (1820); and fairy tales and nursery stories, as well as satirical essays and religious tracts.

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

Dracula by Bram Stoker Elaine Howlin Literary Blog Gothic Reads for Autumn
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Dracula Dracula by Bram Stoker

A true masterwork of storytelling, Dracula has transcended generation, language, and culture to become one of the most popular novels ever written. It is a quintessential tale of suspense and horror, boasting one of the most terrifying characters ever born in literature: Count Dracula, a tragic, night-dwelling specter who feeds upon the blood of the living, and whose diabolical passions prey upon the innocent, the helpless, and the beautiful. But Dracula also stands as a bleak allegorical saga of an eternally cursed being whose nocturnal atrocities reflect the dark underside of the supremely moralistic age in which it was originally written — and the corrupt desires that continue to plague the modern human condition.
Pocket Books Enriched Classics present the great works of world literature enhanced for the contemporary reader. This edition of Dracula was prepared by Joseph Valente, Professor of English at the University of Illinois and the author of Dracula’s Crypt: Bram Stoker, Irishness, and the Question of Blood, who provides insight into the racial connotations of this enduring masterpiece.

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

The Mayor of CasterbridgeThe Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy

Under the powerful influence of rum furmity, Michael Henchard, a hay-trusser by trade, sells his wide Susan and their child Elizabeth-Jane to Newson, a sailor, for five guineas.

Years later, Susan, now a widow, arrives in Casterbridge with Elizabeth-Jane, to seek her legal husband. To their surprise, Henchard is now the Mayor of Casterbridge and, following the sale of his wide, took a twenty-one-year vow not to drink, out of shame. Henchard remarries Susan and, as Elizabeth-Jane believes herself to be Newson’s daughter, he adopts her as his own. But he cannot evade his destiny by such measures, for his past refuses to be buried. Fate contrives for him to be punished for the recklessness of his younger days.

In this powerful depiction of a man who overreaches himself, Hardy once again shows his astute psychological grasp and his deep-seated knowledge of mid-nineteenth-century Dorset.

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

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte ELaine Howlin Literary Blog
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Wuthering HeightsWuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Wuthering Heights is a wild, passionate story of the intense and almost demonic love between Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, a foundling adopted by Catherine’s father. After Mr Earnshaw’s death, Heathcliff is bullied and humiliated by Catherine’s brother Hindley and wrongly believing that his love for Catherine is not reciprocated, leaves Wuthering Heights, only to return years later as a wealthy and polished man. He proceeds to exact a terrible revenge for his former miseries. The action of the story is chaotic and unremittingly violent, but the accomplished handling of a complex structure, the evocative descriptions of the lonely moorland setting and the poetic grandeur of vision combine to make this unique novel a masterpiece of English literature.

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

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Synopsis from Goodreads. Photos from my Instagram @elainehowlin_

 

BookTube-A-Thon Wrap Up

Well, I didn’t get anywhere near 7 books (not really surprising) and I didn’t even do the challenges let alone read the books I planned to read! I’m so bad at sticking to TBR’s!

So why didn’t I read as much as I had wanted to? I had a friend visiting overnight on Monday and we went away during the day on Tuesday so no reading. I then went to Killarney from Friday to Monday with my parents, drove up the mountains and was basically a tourist for the weekend. I managed to read a bit in the evenings while there but not as much as would have liked.

In the end, I read 4.5 books, two of which were on my TBR and met the first challenge which was the coin toss.

BookTubeAThon Wrap Up 2018

Blue Moon (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, #8)

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

Book 8 in the Anita Blake series and this will probably be where we part ways. I would so love to finish this series but I’m just not sure I’ll be able to. I could just skim over the orgies… Anyway, this book was pretty good other than the beginnings of all the sex stuff. I have nothing against sex in books it’s just a whole other level in this series. The overall story is really good though. Anita is a necromancer and vampire executioner who raises zombies for a living. So much fun to be had!

 

The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir

This abridged version of the book contains the Introduction, chapter 14- The Independent Woman and the Conclusion. The original book was published in 1949 and does have a few points that seem a bit dated now but sadly not many. It’s a very interesting read but Beauvoir does come across as a little bit aggressive… which isn’t really a bad thing it just felt like some of the book was being shouted at me.

The Professional by Kresley Cole

I think this book is Cole’s answer to the 50 Shades craze. If you enjoyed the sex in that book you’ll probably like this one. I haven’t read 50 Shades so I can’t say much about it really… The Professional is typical Cole style with alpha males and sassy females but without the paranormal element. It’s definitely an erotic novel but she writes a great story to go with it.

Sweet Ruin by Kresley Cole

Some more Kresley Cole, why the hell not?! I started this book months ago and wasn’t feeling the characters but I love this series so much I really wanted to push through it. I ended up really enjoying it. This is the 16th book in Cole’s Immortal’s After Dark series and expands nicely on Nix’s storyline that has been popping up throughout the series. Wouldn’t be one of my favourites in the series but I enjoyed it.

Lover’s Knot by Karen Chance

Loved this novella set in Chance’s Dorina Basarab series. I had almost forgotten how much I love Dory! I finished this on Monday, just outside the scope of the readathon, but I’m including it cause I only had 40 pages left, I was just too tired to finish it! This is set after the 3rd Dory book and definitely should not be read out of sequence. It follows Dory, Marlowe and Radu on a rescue mission in Paris. Loved it! It has all the fun and action of the Dory novels.


So, this readathon didn’t really go as planned but fingers crossed for the next one.

Do you take part in BookTube-A-Thon this year?

BookTubeAThon TBR

BookTube-A-Thon is a week-long YouTube readathon hosted by ArielBissett. It focuses on bringing the BookTube community together for a week of reading and chatting about books. Yay!

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This year the readathon runs from July 30th to August 5th and the seven challenges are…

  1. Let a coin toss decide your first read
  2. Read a book about something you want to do
  3. Read and watch a book to movie adaptation
  4. Read a book with green on the cover
  5. Read a book while wearing the same hat the whole time
  6. Read a book with a beautiful spine
  7. Read 7 books

You do not have to do all of the challenges and you can combine them as well if you want. So the book with green on it could also have a beautiful spine and so on.

There are video challenges and Instagram challenges as well but I probably won’t be doing those.

Book Stack Elaine Howlin Book Blog BookTubeAThon TBR 2018
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My TBR

In no particular order

  • The Second Sex by Simone De Beauvoir
  • The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle
  • The Surface Breaks by Louise O’Neill
  • Blue Moon by Laurell K. Hamilton
  • Obsidian Butterfly by Laurell K. Hamilton

The Second SexThe Bloody ChamberThe Last UnicornThe Surface BreaksObsidian Butterfly

Definitely subject to change cause I’m a mood reader but these are the books I would like to read. I’m not sure about The Second Sex because it’s under 100 pages and it’s really extracts from the actual book so it may not count…. I’ll probably end up listening to a 3rd Anita Blake audiobook anyway so that’ll make up the count.

BookTubeAThon TBR 2018 Elaine Howlin Book Blog

Are you taking part in the readathon? What are you planning to read this month?