About darkwoodbooks

Darkwood Books is an online bookseller specialising in books of Irish Interest, History, Art, Biography, Literature and many more subjects. View our stock at www.darkwoodbooks.com

January Book Sale – Give a book a home


It’s time to help me clear some of my clutter and for you to help me give a book a new home.

All books listed on our website can be bought for 50% off the marked price.  Please enter coupon code JANSALE in the coupon box at checkout to get your discount.

We have thousands of books on many subjects that really need to move to a new home to make way for us to buy more. You see this book buying/book selling thing really is an addiction.

On our website you can search by author, title, keyword or just browse categories you might be interested in.  There are many categories including art, history, biography, music, books of Irish Interest and much much more.  6500 books listed online at the moment and range in prices from €2 to €800 so there really is something for everyone.  Have a look!

http://www.darkwoodbooks.com

Books, Books & More Books

Sometimes it has to get bad before it gets good

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Book Review: The Spoils of Time Trilogy by Penny Vincenzi (#1 No Angel, #2 Something Dangerous, #3 Into Temptation)


Spoils of Time Trilogy by Penny Vincenzi

Spoils of Time Trilogy by Penny Vincenzi

Last year was a fairly hectic year for me trying to juggle all elements of my life.  This meant I had very little time for book buying for pleasure so I left it to my husband who does a lot of our book buying.  He has some idea as to what I read but there are always wild cards bought with great excuses like it’s set in New York, she’s an Irish author,  I thought you’d like it etc.  One day he arrived home with a pile of books to sell and also a pile for me to read. Amongst this pile was book one of The Spoils of Time Trilogy by Penny Vincenzi.  I was grumbling that it was an odd volume in a trilogy but as it was book one I didn’t rule it out completely.  Like all books in my reading pile it’s turn eventually came when there was nothing else to hand easily.

No Angel is book one in the trilogy. It is a family dynasty story with the central character being Ceila Lytton.  It is set in both London and New York during the late 19th century and runs up to the 1960’s.  Celia is a strong powerful woman who juggles a career in publishing and her family life.  I loved the literary references and social history of publishing during this time.  It’s an intriguing read from the start. It’s one of those books that totally reels you in and you just want to read more.  There was 626 pages but I read it in a couple of days as I got engrossed in the story and loved it.

The annoying bit was there I was then with book one finished and no copy of the next two books in the series so off I went to the library and ordered  books 2 and 3. I was delighted when I got the text to say they had come in. However, when I went to collect them they only had book 3 which wasn’t much good without book 2  (I did have an inner rant about how stupid that was!).  It took months for book 2 to come in and I had kind of forgotten about reading it but as soon as I got the text to say the book was in off I went and got it and abandoned the book I was reading and got stuck in.

Something Dangerous is the title of book 2 in the trilogy and it continues on where No Angel left off. It was a good read and again I finished it in a couple of days but I wasn’t as impressed as I was with No Angel.  I was still curious to know where the story would end so I got book 3 Into Temptation and wasn’t disappointed. This turned out to be another gripping page turner and I found myself carrying it around the house reading it at any opportunity that I had.  At this stage the story is into the next generations but the links and history are all still there to hold your interest.  By the time I got to the end I was disappointed it was over which is always a good sign of a book.  I could easily have read another 1000 pages about they Lytton dynasties and their dramas.

I had never read a Penny Vincenzi book before reading No Angel but I am now a fan so I have a good few books to add to my to read list.  These books will appeal to anyone who likes social history, intrigue, family dramas, romance and much much more.  They are well written and in a way that keeps you hooked until the end.  Just what you want in a book!

Book Review: If You Could See Me Now – Cecelia Ahern


When Cecelia Ahern arrived on to the worlds chick lit scene I went along with the hype and read P.S. I Love You which I thought was ok.  It wasn’t great but it wasn’t awful.  As is my usual habit I read her next book thinking it would be better so I read Where Rainbows End and this was truly awful in my opinion so I decided Cecelia had her chances with me and I didn’t have time for reading rubbish books.  Reading time is valuable so if an author doesn’t impress me I usually don’t keep giving them chances.

8 years later and one night I don’t have a book to read only a Cecelia Ahern book that has sat at the back of the wardrobe for a couple of years.  Rather than have nothing to read I started reading If You Could See Me Now and was sure it would be rubbish. I read the first chapter and while it wasn’t rivetting it wasn’t awful either so I carried on and slowly but surely I ended up enjoying the book.  It is the story of Elizabeth who sees her invisible friend and how he helps her with some life problems. Some of it is quite unbelieveable but isn’t that what makes some books a bit more different.

I would give it a 3 out of 5 rating and still wouldn’t be rushing out to buy another Cecelia Ahern book but haven’t totally written her off either.

 

If You Could See Me Now - Cecelia Ahern

If You Could See Me Now – Cecelia Ahern

Summer Reading List & Ratings


Some summer reading books

Some summer reading books

During the holidays I finally managed to move my little girl out to her own room and I must say that I have really enjoyed all the bedtime reading I’m doing. I always liked reading a chapter or two before going to sleep.  I have really gone on a light summer reading bonanza and not read a serious book all summer. Rather than review them all separately I’m just going to list them and give my opinion on them.

  • The Thief of Time – John Boyne – the story of a man living for over 250 years.  The story moves back & forth between his lives but for me the best one was his first life. By the end of the book I was starting to think he’d done enough living – 4/5
  • The Art of Friendship – Erin Kaye – a book about 4 friends and the ups and downs of their friendship. Very readable but not gripping 3/5

  • Sparkles – Louise Bagshaw – A family saga about a French jewellery family. A good story and a nice couple of twists – 4/5

  • Homecoming – Cathy Kelly – This author never fails to disappoint.  A novel about friendships, forgiveness and second chances – 4/5

  • Picture Perfect – Jodi Picoult – my first time reading a Jodi Picoult book and possibly my last!  It was only average and annoyed me.  3/5

  • Please Forgive Me – Melissa Hill – another good book from Melissa Hill but not as gripping as The Last To Know – 4/5

  • Love Match – Mary Malone – typical book of friendships and relationships. Average 3/5

  • The Drowning Girl – Margaret Leroy – a book about a troubled child whose past is trying to be heard. Well written.  3/5

  • No Angel – Penny Vincenzi – this book is definitely my favourite of all my summer reads. Over 700 pages long. A dynasty saga and book 1 of a trilogy.  It has a great story and interesting characters.  I’m on the lookout for books 2 and 3 so I can keep on reading. 5/5

  • Set In Stone – Catherine Dunne – This is kind of a strange book. It wasn’t really here nor there. It wasn’t good or bad. Only average. It had the potential to be much better but wasn’t  – 3/5

Book Review: The Last To Know by Melissa Hill


I was told by a friend to read a Melissa Hill book. Last February I went to London and took this book in my bag but brought it home again as I was reading another book.  It has been on my pile of books to read since then and finally made it to the top last week.  As I have only recently moved my little girl to her own room I have rediscovered the joy of reading in bed so I read a few chapters every night. By Saturday night I was nearly halfway through but the book totally grabbed my attention and I kept reading until I finished it at 2.30am. I can’t remember the last time a book caught me like that.  I was glad it wasn’t a night before going to work but didn’t regret it the following morning.

The Last To Know - Melissa Hill

The Last To Know – Melissa Hill

The Last to Know is the story of 4 women – Eve, Anna, Sam and Brooke and how their lives are intertwined.  Eve has been waiting for years for her partner, Liam, to marry her.  Anna is engaged but slow to set the date.  Sam is Eve’s sister who knows too much about Liam and doesn’t think he’s good enough for her sister.  Brooke is living in Australia not knowing that a secret is going to be revealed that will change her life forever.

 

What I liked about this book is that it was so different from regular chick-lit as there was a twist and while I knew there was a twist there was a few red herrings to make you think things and then I discovered I was wrong.  I love when I can’t predict the ending of the book.  I’m not going to reveal too much about the book as don’t want to give the plot away but I do recommend this book to read.  I’ll definitely be on the lookout for more Melissa Hill books.

 

Book Review: This Is How It Ends – Kathleen MacMahon


This is how it ends - Kathleen MacMahon

This is how it ends – Kathleen MacMahon

I read this book in 2 parts as I borrowed it from my local library and read about a quarter of it but was too busy to finish it at the time and had to return it.  Months later I got a copy so I decide to finish it.

It’s the story of Bruno who comes from America in search of his Irish ancestors and meets his family consisting of Addie, Della and their father Hugh.  It is set in Ireland in 2008 in the run up to Obamas election. It’s basically a love story with a few twists.  It could have done with a bit of liveliness to push the story along.  I found it’s pace quite slow at times.  It is well written but it needs something more to make it a book that you want to keep reading.

I had read a lot of reviews and they were all positive but this didn’t do it for me.  I found the story dragged and it wasn’t a page turner for me but I did finish it out to the end.  I don’t think I’ll be running off to get her next book.

Book Review: The Care of Wooden Floors – Will Wiles


The Care of Wooden Floors is  the story of a unnamed narrator who is asked to flat-sit for his friend, Oskar, who is a perfectionist when it comes to his living space especially his floors. He couldn’t have picked a worse person to mind his apartment who was only there a week but certainly managed to leave his mark.  He also had to mind Oskars two cats who like all clever cats misbehave when their owner is away.  They do add a bit of fun to the book and I think if managed right they could have played a better part in the book.

It is a very well written book with beautifully descriptive language. You can really picture what he is trying to show you.  However, I don’t think the story-line was strong enough and found myself wanting to get to the end for it to be over.  I wouldn’t recommend it or be looking to read another of Will Wiles books.

 

Care of Wooden Floors Will Wiles

Care of Wooden Floors Will Wiles

Should I Read The Great Gatsby?


I went along with the hype about The Great Gatsby film and went to see it with a friend on Wednesday night. It was a big display of splendid houses and glamorous lifestyles.  I did find the first hour was a bit long building up the story line but when it got going it was very good and held my attention.  I did enjoy it and it was a good plot.

I rarely go to see films based on books, as the film is never as good, but in this case I haven’t read the book of The Great Gatsby so now I am wondering should I read it?  I think the film missed some key details but at the same time I hate reading something that I know what happens in the end.

So what I am asking is should I read it or not?

The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby

Bookselling in a time when every book was worth something


I worked in a bookshop from 1994 to 1999.  It was the most fun job I ever had probably because I loved books, my boss was eccentric and the customers were also a bit odd so it was pure entertainment mixed with a wealth of learning as well as getting paid to do it.  I had some previous experience of books having been a great reader from a young age and also working part-time in my local library.

When I started work in the bookshop the owner was training me up and explaining all kinds of bookshop language, categories, descriptions of books and anything else I needed to know. I also went on a book-selling training course to Liverpool.  I have a good memory so that made life very easy as I was good to remember authors and if we had a particular book in the shop. There was no computer in the shop at the start.  

There was both new & second-hand (used) books in the shop. A lot of the second-hand books were bought from people who brought a bag of books in or asked for a house to be cleared out. In those days every book was worth something. The nice clean saleable books went in the shop and anything that was worn went into the bargain box outside the door which we called the coffin as it was shaped just like a coffin. People loved to poke it in and find a bargain.

Nowadays every book is not valuable. This is because of the flood of books on the internet and by what we in the trade call the dollar sellers.  It is driving down the value of perfectly good books which is good for the customer but no good for the seller or the actual value of books. I have boxes of lovely books on all kinds of subjects that just aren’t worth listing due to there being a couple of hundred copies on and some from sellers offering free shipping. I just keep them all for when I have my own bookshop.

I do miss those pre-internet days when people were glad to go to their local bookshop and see a book and buy it and when they had books to get rid of they came back to the bookshop and traded them in.  There is a home for every book but some days it’s a struggle to find the right person for the right book and vica versa.