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!


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.


Book Review: Forgive Me by Lesley Pearse

When I worked in a bookshop back in the 1990’s I discovered Lesley Pearse and was instantly hooked.  After reading the first book, I immediately ordered all her other books and loved them. They were the good old days when I was paid to read. Of course I argued that I had to have read books to be able to recommend them to customers. After leaving the bookshop I used to always look out for new books written by Lesley Pearse. She only releases one book a year on average but I always know when it’s due out and what it’s about.

This years book is called Forgive Me which tells the story of Eva Patterson whose Mum commits suicide not long before Evas 21st birthday.  As Eva deals with the aftermath of the suicide and searches for reasons why her mother took her own life, she discovers many secrets from the past.  The search for answers takes Eva on a journey to her mother’s past where she discovers things she never knew about her mother.  The book has plenty of twists and turns so you want to keep reading to know where the story goes.

Lesley Pearse always writes stories that are emotional and you can feel the highs and lows with the characters.  It is a gripping story and it’s one of those books that you just want to keep on reading.  I read it over a couple of evenings and didn’t want it to finish which is a sign of a good book.  I was pleased with this book as her last book was the first one to slightly disappoint me so I was afraid she was losing her touch. This book proves she still is a super writer.

I’m looking forward to the next book already.  Reading Lesley Pearse always makes me want to be a writer myself.


Forgive Me - Lesley Pearse

Forgive Me – Lesley Pearse

The Time Travellers Bookshop – a new sister shop

Yesterday I went to see a lovely new bookshop that has opened in Skibbereen, Co. Cork.   It’s a second shop as a sister shop to the already established Time Travellers Bookshop which has been in Skibbereen for a few years and has a gorgeous array of books on all subjects.

The new shop is specialising in books on music, poetry and the art of illustration.  What a fantastic display of books.  The art books are so colourful that they decorate the shop.  It is a pure paradise for a book lover, especially those interested in rare books.

The shop is also doing records and music accessories like guitar strings as well as many books on musicians, bands and all kinds of music genres.

I wish Holger and Nicola much success with this new venture.


Apologies for Absence

Sorry I have been off radar for a while. I have a long list of excuses ranging from being busy at work, holidays, then visitors to stay combined with everyday life. I haven’t had much time for reading but have stayed tuned in to what is going on in the bookselling world.

As the weather is so bad this summer in Ireland I am almost heading into my winter routine so will be starting listing new stock on my website as well as hopefully reading some new books to review. I have a list of books that I’d like to read.

So, I am sorry for neglecting the few followers I have but I promise there will be new content added soon.

Re-launch of Darkwood Books at Bantry Book Fair

After a break from doing book fairs Darkwood Books will be at the Book Fair at Bantry House, Bantry, Co. Cork on 8th July as part of the West Cork Literary Festival week events.

This may seem like an ordinary piece of news but to us its a bit like getting ready for our debutante dance.  Like all debutantes preparing for their night ranging from dress to fake tan to jewellery we are just the same.  We are busy choosing what books to take and display. We haven’t done a book fair in 7 years due to personal circumstances but are now ready to re-launch ourselves back on to the book-selling scene.

It is with a degree of uncertainty that books are being chosen.  Book selling has changed so much in the last few years. A lot of bookshops closed when internet selling became an easier way of life and in due course internet sellers are getting pushed out by the rise of the e-reader so it’s hard to pick what books potential customers might want to buy.

We have two tables which can take four bookcases so we can display a broad range of our books.  We always like to have one bookcase of books of Irish Interest as there are some collectors who like Irish history, literature, art, poetry and anything to do with Ireland.  We also like to cater to all people so take books priced from 5 euro to 500 euro.  We like to see regular book buyers there as well as serious collectors.  It’s always nice to see a book going off to a new home with a new owner and a bit like a pet we hope the book gets a good home.

So, a few hours of sorting books and choosing which ones get a day out and more annoying wondering which ones will have to be packed up and brought home again.

If any of you are in the Bantry area on 8th July, please call and see us.  Admission is free and with a lot of book-sellers there, there is sure to be something for everyone.

A PDF catalogue is available also with some books that will be on offer there. If you’d like one please email me and I’ll forward it to you.

Networking at the Network of Enterprising Women Cork

I got an invite to attend a meeting of the Network of Enterprising Women in Cork.

I was a little bit nervous going to this event on my own and knowing no-one but as soon as I arrived at Vertigo I was made feel welcome by the organizers.  There was a nice food table which was a good place to start as there was many people on their own also. There was a broad range of businesses from nutritionists, photographers, artists, shop-owners and of course and online bookseller (me!).

The guest speaker was Sam Rathling who has a book written on networking.  She gave a good presentation on the art of networking and made us do tasks to connect with the new people.  She is very successful at networking.

It was interesting to meet so many other women in business as while the businesses vary most peoples goal was the same – to make new contacts that might help their business.

I’m not sure if networking will do a lot of good for my business as used books are hard to market as normally I just have one copy of a book and when a customer finds it and buys it it’s gone so that’s the end of that connection and I have to start again with another book looking for an owner.  It’s worth a try though as you’d never know who I might meet that could change the direction of my business.

The Joys Of Sorting Books

When I was first told that blogging might be for me, I thought I couldn’t do it. Eventually I took the step and started and found that I enjoyed it and planned to blog once or twice a week.  This last week has been very busy for me and I had no time to blog but found myself thinking about it a lot and getting annoyed that I had no time to do it.  A person told me it gets addictive and it looks like she was right. I was starting to fidget like someone going cold turkey from an addiction.

Books, Books & More Books

Sometimes it has to get bad before it gets good

Part of my reason for being so busy is that a man asked me to supply a collection of books to him so I was sorting through boxes of books not knowing what I’d come across. There are always lovely books and of course some strange ones.  That is part of the joy of selling on the internet as it makes it easier for readers to find the books they are after no matter what subject it is.  To sort books to specific subjects it usually involves a mess being made so it has to get worse before it gets better. Slowly but surely I went through this process and finally got to the stage where I could start to pick out what he wanted.  I got a nice mix of History, Art, Biography and Hobbies which is what he requested.

The good thing about having a big sorting session is that it leaves room for more books. I can’t believe I have just said that after being so pleased at all the space I made!

I hope to be back to a regular blog about books, authors and all things literary this coming week.

Review: Edna O’Brien Life Stories

I had seen this programme advertised & put it on my list of things to watch.  Last night (Tuesday 8th May 2012) I tuned into it and must say I found it amusing.  I decided she was a bit eccentric but very clever.   Really she’s a bit dafter than eccentric but in a likeable way.  The programme gave an insight into some sad things in her life but her bubbly personality shone through along with her love for her 2 sons.

There were little excerpts of her books read during the programme. These reminded me of when I worked in a bookshop and read “The Country Girls”.  I really read it to see what all the fuss had been about when it was published and subsequently banned.  I read it in 1995 and thought it was mild but rewind 30 years I can see how it caused a scandal.  It’s basically 1960’s chick lit.  My mother recalls that she wasn’t allowed read it at the time.

I also thought her writing room in her house was lovely.  Wall to wall bookshelves and red walls for a splash of colour.  I was amazed that she still writes her books by hand and on stolen hotel paper.  Her quirky personality just shone through the whole programme.

The programme made me want to poke out some more of her books and read them so that will be another few books added to my books to read list.  I look forward to her memoirs book coming out later in the year as there are bound to be much more interesting things in it.


Book Addict Turned Book Seller

I am a book addict who collects books. Collecting books started as a hobby but grew into an addiction and then into a business.

I decided to start selling them and was born.  I now have a large stock of books specialising mainly in books of Irish Interest, Art, History, Biography and Literature but have books on many subjects.