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: 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

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

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

Book Review: The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry


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.

The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry

The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry

Irish Country Houses – Books & TV Programmes


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.

Book Review: The Paper Dolls by Julia Donaldson


 

The Paper Dolls

 

The Paper Dolls by Julia Donaldson Illustrated by Rebecca Cobb
ISBN: 978-0-230-74108-9

A cousin of mine bought this for my little girl, who is nearly three, for Christmas.  From the first reading both my girl and my 5 year old boy loved it. I have lost count of how many times I have read it since getting it.

It’s a simple story about a girl whose mother makes her paper dolls – “They were Ticky and Tacky and Jackie the Backie and Jim with two noses and Jo with the bow”.  The story is all about the adventures of the five paper dolls.  It’s a lovely story and the children loved the repetitive rhyme with the names of the dolls.   The dolls have quite an adventure and encounter lots of things which are great to make children think and talk about a book.

The first day we opened it I had to read it about ten times in a row. Over the days during the holidays it was presented to me numerous times for reading and after a few days my little girl came with it and said Ticky and Tacky to me. That’s what she calls the book. My 5 year old boy has learnt the story and now tries to read it to his little sister.

I would highly recommend it for the 3 to 5 year age group and I must say I enjoyed it myself too.

Book Review: The Story of Chicago May by Nuala O’Faolain



This book is a biography of May Duignan who was born in Longford, Ireland. She stole her family’s savings and ran off to America to start a new life. Her new life was a life of crime and she soon earned the name Chicago May.  Her adventures took her to Chicago, New York, Paris and London.  Her crimes and jobs varied from theft, prostitution, showgirl and outlaw.

Within the first few pages of reading this book, Nuala O’Faolains devotion to writing a correct account of Chicago Mays life was clear.  Because the time covered is from 1890-1929, some details are missing but O’Faolain is quick to fill in what she thinks happened.   May kept using different names which must have made research hard. O’Faolain has done an amount of research into re-creating Mays journey from Longford to America and her new life and events that happened including visiting the places herself which makes the book so good.  I liked that she went to the places May lived so she could paint a true picture of the time.

There is so much detail in the book it is easy to picture it all.  It is a great social history of Ireland, America and London at the time.  It covers an escape from rural Ireland to America and then various moves to cities in America.  May had bad taste in men which led to a lot of her troubles.  She did end up in prison in the UK.  This was a very interesting chapter as it was during her time in prison that she met Constance Markieviez, one of the famous women in the 1916 rising in Dublin.

While some of the things May did are not admirable she is still a likeable character.  She lived a life full of experiences, some good and a lot bad but this was all part of her character.

It is a great book. It is so detailed.  It’s not one that can be quickly scanned over as there is information in every line.  I really enjoyed it as there was a broad range of life experience, history and tales of crime.  I can highly recommend it as something different to read. It wasn’t at all what I was expecting. I picked this book up as I wanted to read something different from what I usually read and this proved to be an exceptional choice.  It also makes me want to read other books on events raised in this book.

The Story of Chicago May – Nuala O’Faolain
Penguin, 2006
ISBN: 0141006587

My First Reading Experiences


I can’t remember when I started reading but my mother said I always had my head stuck in a book.  Books have always been part of my life.

One of my earliest memories is running up to the library most nights.This was before I decided running wasn’t for me but that’s another story.  The library was only up the street from where I lived and used to open at 5.30 and I’d be waiting outside the door. The librarian was a little grumpy and used to say you can’t have your books read already but I used to have them read.  I’d get new books most nights and come down home and sit and read them.

Enid Blyton Books

Enid Blyton was a favourite author of mine and I read my way through many of her books from The Secret Seven series, The Famous Five and many others. I remember going on a school tour and I got spending money for the trip and I bought 3 Famous Five books that weren’t available in the library. I still have them, among many more, and hope my children will read them some day.

I read many books including girls and boys adventure stories.  I loved mystery stories and as I got older read Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. Our library was small so you couldn’t have the snobbery of saying the book was for a boy or a girl. The childrens section was only about two bookcases in size so I read anything I could find that I could read.  What a thrill it was when the library van came and bought a few new books.

Reading is such a learning experience from learning new words to learning about new places and experiences.  I also found that with books set in different places it broadened my mind to travelling, the world and cultures.

I am bringing my children up to love books and while I am a bookseller I take my children to the library as it’s a lovely experience to chose from such a selection of books and try all different genres.

After I started writing this blog, I looked up the full title list of Enid Blyton books. I can’t believe how many of them I have read and I am really looking forward to reading them all again with my children.  This amuses me greatly as I am one of these people who only reads a book once as I think there are so many books to read why read one twice.

Reading has always been part of my life. I find great comfort in a good book and am never bored when I am reading.  I don’t have as much time for reading since I had my children but I’ll get back to it as they get bigger.  Just because I can’t read them doesn’t stop me buying them.

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.