Book Review: Breakfast at Darcy’s by Ali McNamara

Book number 26 of my Goodreads Reading Challenge (and book number 7 of the summer holiday) was Breakfast at Darcy’s by Ali McNamara.

‘When Darcy McCall loses her beloved Aunt Molly, she doesn’t expect any sort of inheritance – let alone a small island! Located off the west coast of Ireland, Tara hasn’t been lived on for years, but according to Molly’s will, Darcy must stay there for twelve months in order to fully inherit. It’s a big shock. And she’s even more shocked to hear that she needs to persuade a village full of people to settle there, too.

Darcy has to leave behind her independent city life and swap stylish heels for muddy wellies. Between sorting everything from the plumbing to the pub, Darcy meets confident, charming Conor and sensible, stubborn Dermot – but who will make her feel really at home?’ (Thanks Amazon!)

Firstly, I bought this book quite some time ago, and then didn’t re-read the blurb so it was not what I was expecting at all.  This is classic chick lit (something I needed after The Two of Us) except that it’s set on the tiny Irish Island of Tara. In order to inherit from her Aunt Molly, Darcy must give up the city life that she knows and loves to set up a new community on Tara.

I enjoyed the concept of setting up a new community on an island where the total inhabitants equal one (think Ben Fogle in Castaway 2000).  It’s a little different from your usual chick lit.  Darcy however was a little too stereotypical city girl for my liking, and a number of details were often glossed over (her extensive debt for example – where did that go??  I know my credit card bill wouldn’t just disappear because I decided to take a year out!)

This book has all the classic elements of a good chick lit: a story of growth for the heroine; two very different men vying for her attention; a BFF to stand by and support her and a challenge to overcome.

I read this book on the beach, and it was the perfect easy read for that situation.  It wasn’t  a thought provoking novel but that wasn’t what I needed.  This fitted the bill perfectly, and if that is what you’re looking then please read this book!

Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Book Review: The Two of Us by Andy Jones

My Goodreads Reading Challenge continues with book number 25 (and book number 6 of the summer holiday) – The Two of Us by Andy Jones.

‘Falling in love is the easy part. What matters most is what happens next…

Fisher and Ivy have been an item for a whole nineteen days. And they just know they are meant to be together. The fact that they know little else about each other is a minor detail. Over the course of twelve months, in which their lives will change forever, Fisher and Ivy discover that falling in love is one thing, but staying there is an entirely different story.’ (Courtesy of Amazon)

Fisher and Ivy have been together for nineteen days.  Long enough to know that they love each, but not long enough to know a great deal about each other.

I don’t actually want to talk too much about this book – I did not know what was going to happen and I don’t want to spoil it for you, as I genuinely did not expect the track that the plot eventually took.  But I will say that love, uncertainty, joy and loss are all covered in a genuine, sincere, funny and sometimes heart wrenching way.  I sometimes found Fisher a little too annoying, and Ivy a little too aloof but not not enough to detract from the story.  The supporting characters were great, with El and Phil’s story being particularly heart wrenching but dealt with in a sensitive and sometimes funny well.

I  most definitely recommend this book.  It’s not fast paced and it deals with some serious issues so don’t expect a light and breezy read, but do read it.  It’s refreshing to read about the emotional issues raised from a male perspective, something I have found to be rare.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5


Book Review: Mr Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

Book number 24 of my Goodreads Reading Challenge (and book number 5 of the summer holiday) was Mr Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan.

‘Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon out of his life as a San Francisco Web-design drone – and serendipity, coupled with sheer curiosity, has landed him a new job working the night shift at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. But after just a few days, Clay begins to realize that this store is even more curious than the name suggests. There are only a few customers, but they come in repeatedly and never seem to actually buy anything, instead they simply borrow impossibly obscure volumes from strange corners of the store, all according to some elaborate, long-standing arrangement with the gnomic Mr. Penumbra. The store must be a front for something larger, Clay concludes, and soon he’s embarked on a complex analysis of the customers’ behaviour and roped his friends into helping to figure out just what’s going on. But once they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, it turns out the secrets extend far outside the walls of the bookstore…’ (Thanks Amazon)

As previously mentioned, I am a fan of books about books, so Mr Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore was an obvious choice.  If you have read and enjoyed Genevieve Cogman’s The Invisible Library series, then this is a book to read.  It contains an intriguing bookstore full of mysterious books, and a secret organisation who are seeking the answer to a centuries old question – how to achieve immortality.  Amidst all of this, modern technology is introduced to ancient traditions by Clay Jannon and his friends as they search to unlock the secrets of The Unbroken Spine, the ancient society that the bookstore owner Mr Penumbra belongs to.

This book is mysterious with a plot that twists and turns.  I enjoyed the mix of the old with the new, although I felt that the journey to the answer by The Unbroken Spine was, perhaps, more important than the answer itself.  The clashing of modern technologies with ancient traditions was touched on but could maybe have been explored a little more, highlighting the impact such technology can have, not just on processes but also on people.

I do recommend this book, particularly to those of you who love books about books like I do.  There is also now a prequel to this book – Ajax Penumbra 1969.  I will be adding that to my To Be Read list.

Rating: 3 and a half out of 5 stars

Book Review: The Year of Taking Chances by Lucy Diamond

We’re up to book number 23 of my Goodreads Reading Challenge (and book number 4 of the big holiday read) – The Year of Taking Chances by Lucy Diamond.

‘Because love is always worth the risk . . .

It’s New Year’s Eve, and Gemma and Spencer Bailey are throwing a house party. There’s music, dancing, champagne and all their best friends under one roof. It’s going to be a night to remember.

Also at the party is Caitlin, who has returned to the village to pack up her much-missed mum’s house and to figure out what to do with her life; and Saffron, a PR executive who’s keeping a secret which no amount of spin can change. The three women bond over Gemma’s dodgy cocktails and fortune cookies, and vow to make this year their best one yet.

But as the months unfold, Gemma, Saffron and Caitlin find themselves tested to their limits by shocking new developments. Family, love, work, home – all the things they’ve taken for granted are thrown into disarray. Under pressure, they are each forced to rethink their lives and start over. But dare they take a chance on something new?’ (Blurb taken from Amazon – thanks!)

Gemma, Saffron and Caitlin meet by chance on New Years Eve, each with their own hidden problems, but feeling hopeful for the year ahead.  This novel is told from each of their points of view, as we learn more about the secret demons they face whilst forging a budding friendship with each other.

This novel has everything a chick lit novel should have: main characters faced with adversity, female solidarity, family issues and a will they/won’t they romance.  Lucy Diamond certainly ticks all the boxes with The Year of Taking Chances.  There are no surprises in this novel, however sometimes that is what we want from a novel.  This is a great beach read, showing just what women are capable of when they pull together and help one another.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Book Review: The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf

Book number 22 of my Goodreads Reading Challenge (and book number 3 of my holiday reading) is The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf.

‘  “Two little girls are missing. Both are seven years old and have been missing for at least sixteen hours.”

Calli Clark is a dreamer. A sweet, gentle girl, Callie suffers from selective mutism, brought on by a tragedy she experienced as a toddler. Her mother Antonia tries her best
to help, but is trapped in a marriage to a violent husband.

Petra Gregory is Calli’s best friend, her soul mate and her voice. But neither Petra nor Calli have been heard from since their disappearance was discovered.

Now Calli and Petra’s families are bound by the question of what has happened to their children. As support turns to suspicion, it seems the answers lie trapped in the silence of unspoken secrets.’ (Thanks to Amazon for the blurb)

This is a story about two seven year old best friends, Calli and Petra, who disappear from their beds one fateful night.

Firstly, this is not a light read.  This novel is about the traumatic experiences of two families when they realise that their beautiful daughters are missing.  You experience the horror of this discovery, their fears, anger and helplessness along with them.  Each chapter is written from the viewpoint of an involved character, which helps give a greater understanding of them as individuals, and the actions that they take throughout the course of the story.

You learn throughout the course of the novel of the close relationship Calli and Petra have, with Petra speaking on Calli’s behalf due to her selective muteness.  They know what each other thinks and feels, looking after each other as only best friends can.

As a mother this is a difficult read, with the concept being every parents worst nightmare. Heather Gudenkauf, writes with true feeling about the anxiety and fears of those closest to such a situation.

I definitely recommend this novel, please read!

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars