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!
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.
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
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
My sister came home on holidays and was telling me about this great book she had been reading on the plane. She couldn’t remember the name of the book but knew the author was Sebastian Barry. On the way home, she had stopped off in London for work. She said she was dying to finish the book when she got to her hotel but couldn’t find it anywhere and realised she had left it on the plane. This made me laugh as it could only happen to her. She stayed at home a couple of days and then set off on a shopping trip to Cork and landed home with the book called The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry. She finished it and gave it to me to sell or do whatever I wanted with it. It was on the pile of books that was supposed to go down to my book store but I was curious as to what had got my sister so hooked so I decided to read it myself.
The book is the story of a nearly 100 year old woman, Roseanne, who is in a mental hospital. She goes back and tells her life story and how she ended up in the mental hospital. At the same time her doctor, Dr. Grene, is updating his records and trying to learn more about his patient so that he can move her to another hospital. The book is written from both Roseanne and Dr Grenes’ point of view. It is a well written book and it’s descriptive language gives a picture of what the author is trying to show. It covers back to the 1930’s in Ireland so there are the different social aspects through the years. Roseanne is an amusing character and made me laugh on a few occasions. At times I wished it gave some more information but I think they way it’s written makes you stay curious right to the end.
I did find myself drawn back to the book, wondering what was going to happen next and kept on reading until the end. It was also one of those books that I wished had a few more chapters. I can see why my sister had to go and buy another copy. We rarely read the same books so I was surprised to enjoy it.
Last year I got Tarquin Blakes Abandoned Mansions of Ireland and it revived my interest in history but especially the history of the old houses and castles in Ireland. I then saw a gorgeous new book that came out before Christmas called Irish Country Houses: A Chronicle of Change by David Hicks. I had hoped someone would buy it for me but alas no one took my hints about it.
I finally got a copy a few weeks ago and started reading it straight away. It’s a large book, what we call a coffee table book as it’s so big it has to be read on a table. It’s a lovely book illustrated with beautiful photos. It covers houses in all provinces of Ireland but I was particularly interested in the Cork ones especially Castle Bernard in Bandon and Castle Freke, both in Cork.
What makes this book different from the rest is that the author and photographer have gone to the trouble of finding the old pictures and then taking a photograph of how the place looks now and how they were in the past for comparison. It’s sad to see the state of some of these gorgeous old houses but it’s a long and sometimes bitter history as to how some of them became the way they did. As I also work for a builder I was interested in the architectural details and cost of building at the time.
The book is very simply written but with a wealth of detail. I only read a chapter per night so that I could enjoy whatever house I was reading about and digest the historical detail. There is a lot of Irish social history in the book and makes me want to read many more books about people, places and periods of history. That is the best and the worst thing about these books. They make you want more.
I hope there will be a follow up to this book as it is one of the best presented books on Irish country houses that has come out with a while. David Hicks blog is certainly one to follow if you are interested in Irish country houses.
I hadn’t long finished reading Irish Country Houses when the TV3 series The Big House started on television. This was more country house history but more from the servants side of things. Again, it’s great social history and very well researched. There are three more episodes to air and I don’t think they will disappoint me.
I’m embarrassed to admit it took me two months to read the book I have just finished. I really enjoyed it though and would have finished it a lot faster if I had time.
Capital by John Lanchester
I went to London in February to celebrate my birthday with some new friends and one of the girls gave me a book called Capital by John Lanchester which is set in London. It is about the residents of Pepys Road who are all getting the same postcard which says We Want What You Have.
It has very short chapters which makes it a very easy read. It moves through the different houses and introduces us to the characters which are a broad range of ages and backgrounds. They all have in common the postcards they are receiving and how they react to them. We spend a lot of the book wondering who is sending the cards and it is interesting how the mystery is unravelled and holds the reader until the end. The cards are the common theme but we learn so much about the different house owners.
It is a well written book and the use of descriptive language paints an image of London that you could picture. It is humorous in places and brings a smile to your face. What is always a test of a new author for me is whether I would read another book by them and the answer this time is yes I would.