Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Book review: Winged Descent - by Heather Allen Dencker

Sometimes, just like bumping into people, you happen to bump totally by chance into books you’d never thought you’d be reading and you end up falling in love with them.

This is what has just happened to me. The author started following me on Twitter and, since I noticed she was a writer too, I decided to follow back and check her website. That was about it for a few weeks, until all her tweets about her book and this Kendrick guy started making me curious and I decided to download it on my Kindle. A couple more weeks passed before I managed to find some “me time” to simply sit down and read and it happened over the weekend.

I woke up on Sunday morning at 5:30, groaned for a while when I realised what time it was and when I finally understood I wasn’t going to fall asleep again, I decided to pick up my Kindle and start reading. It was a cold, cloudy day and being in bed with my duvet pulled up to my chin was one of the most inviting ways of spending the day.

I’m not that much into fantasy, I have to say it; I’m much more of a romance fan and so far I’ve only read the Twilight saga and the Fallen saga because there’s a love story in it… All these new books coming out about vampires and supernatural creatures don’t really catch my attention on the shelves of a bookstore. So when I started reading Winged Descent I honestly didn’t know what to expect. I had read the synopsis on Amazon and I wasn’t sure I’d be liking a story with mythological creatures and this is probably why it took me so long to start reading it (when I buy a new book, I usually HAVE to start reading it straight away, as I can’t keep curiosity at bay).

But boy, was I wrong! I was hooked by page three and when my stomach started grumbling at 10:00, I realised I had been reading non-stop for at least three hours. I had to put it down and eat something, but then I went back to my room and carried on reading until lunch time. A friend of mine sent me a text saying she’d come visit me in the afternoon and I was terribly tempted to make up some excuse like “I’ve got some contagious illness, please don’t come by”, so that I could go on reading… But then it felt bad, so I unwillingly took a two-hour break and went back to reading it as soon as she was gone.

It sounds silly, I know, but I was so engrossed in the story I just couldn’t go to bed without knowing how it all ended; every time I reached the end of one chapter, I told myself I’d read only one more and then I’d put it down, but it never worked… It was 11:00 pm when I finished it and by that time I was totally, hopelessly in love with Kendrick and wished so hard he was real. I personally would’ve gone to Centaura with him any time, needing no second bidding.

You’re probably wondering what I’m talking about, so here’s an idea of what the story is about: Savannah is an ordinary woman, who lives an ordinary life in Folly Beach, South Carolina; until one day she meets someone on the beach, a stranger sitting on the sand like any other tourist she’s so used to seeing around only… he has wings! Although she’s startled by him at first, his eyes have a soothing effect on her and after they start chatting and she understands she can trust him, she ends up inviting him over to her house. Kendrick, that’s his name, is a mythological creature who comes from a planet called Centaura but he isn’t a normal half-horse, half-man centaur, as his mother was a human; he has a human body and white fluffy wings attached to his back and he has come to Earth to find a human wife who can give him a child, because the half-bloods like him are not able to reproduce among themselves.

From that moment on, Savannah’s life changes and, when her best friend Conner comes back to Folly Beach from Atlanta, determined to ask her to marry him, things get quite complicated.
I won’t tell you more than this, but I can assure you that you’ll love it.

I reckon the first person point of view is a great choice, because every chapter is told by one of the three main characters (Savannah, Kendrick, Conner), so the reader is able to feel what each of them feels and see things through different eyes and perspectives. I guess that’s why I got so engrossed in the story, because it felt as if I was living it myself.

The author has a great way of describing feelings and building dialogues; the story doesn’t lack action and sometimes it will keep you hanging from one chapter to the other, making you want to read more.
I was quite happy to have discovered this book and the author (if you’re reading this: you did a great job, Heather, and I can’t wait to read more!) and this also gave me a further proof that you don’t have to be an internationally renowned author with a six-figure publishing contract to write a good book: if you’re serious about what you do and you put your heart and soul into it, you’re just bound to be successful, with or without an agent or a contract with a big publisher.

So, if you want to be swept away, you definitely should buy Winged Descent; just make sure you have a whole day off and enough food and water by you (so you don’t have to put it down to make lunch).
You’ll be hooked by the end of the first chapter, even if fantasy isn’t your genre, trust me.

Have you read Winged Descent already? Leave a comment and let me know what you thought of it.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Book review: Breakfast at Darcy's - by Ali McNamara

How would you like living on a small uninhabited isle in the Atlantic Ocean, miles away from the coast of Ireland and light years away from chaos and traffic? honestly? I’d love that, right now: it would be the perfect place for writing a novel and reading, with no stress whatsoever and only the sound of the waves lapping the shore and the wind whistling in your ears. so, if that’s how you feel too, read on to find out more about this book.

It was a rainy day when I walked into the bookshop and I immediately felt better – the lovely smell of printed paper is better than caffeine to lift my spirits! And as I browsed the shelves, the cover of the Italian version of the book almost sparkled in the distance, begging me to pick it up. I noticed the title and I thought: “Cool, this reminds me of breakfast at Tiffany’s!” – did I mention I love that movie?? – and I wondered if Darcy was actually Bridget Jones’s Mr. Mark Darcy – I really like Colin Firth! But when I read the blurb I was pleasantly surprised, because Darcy is actually a girl, who has to move from London to Glentara (Tara), a small Irish isle and live there for a year, as stated in her aunt’s last will. The two words Irish and isle were enough to convince me that I had to buy the book – did I mention my love for Ireland? Hmm… I think I did, didn’t I? – and as I started reading it I thought: wouldn’t it be awesome if the isle of Tara really existed? And if people could actually move there and be part of the small local community? That’s exactly how I felt while I was reading this book; I often tend to get very much involved with a main character’s life and, as I was reading Darcy’s daily events on Tara, I frequently found myself wishing it was all real, and I could almost feel the strong, cold wind blow in my face and ruffle my hair.

I have to say it: Ali McNamara knows how to describe a place in a way that you feel you’re actually there; and the characters do come alive in the pages, they almost jump out of the book and come face to face with you. I could very well imagine Darcy’s best friend, Roxie, striding around the isle in her high heels and fancy clothes, or Dermot the builder, with his rough attitude and handsome looks, or even old Eamon, the “guardian” of the isle, who plays an important part in Darcy’s life on Tara.

So, just to give you an idea of what the book is about and why you should read it: Darcy is the main character, as you may have guessed, and she is a young woman who lives in London and works in a magazine, although she’s not particularly happy there. When her beloved aunt Molly dies, Darcy finds out she has left basically everything to her, but she will only be able to inherit if she can manage to live on the isle of Glentara for a year, and start a new community of people there too. Leaving London and moving to an isle in the Atlantic Ocean doesn’t seem like a good idea to her at first, no matter how much money she will get if she does, but when the apartment she shares with Roxie is badly damaged and she’s forced to move in with a colleague, she decides she will at least give it a try.

Among the first people to move on the island with her are Niall, the shy attorney who’s taking care of her aunt’s last will, her inseparable, and a bit crazy, friend Roxie, good-looking Conor, a local Irish guy with a mysterious past and Dermot, the contractor who’ll take care of building cottages and equipping the barren isle with modern amenities.

As modern life mixes with celtic legends and Darcy starts settling in, the bolted safe in her heart starts to open and all of her childhood memories, which she had safely stored in there, will slowly crawl back and help her understand who she really is.

I obviously won’t tell you what happens while she’s living on Tara, as I don’t want to spoil all the fun, but get ready for some funny and romantic moments, that will keep you glued to the pages.

And if once you’ve reached the last page you’ll start looking for Tara on google maps and in your old school atlas, wishing with all your heart that you’ll be able to locate it somewhere, well, don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Have you read Breakfast At Darcy's already? Leave a comment and let me know what you thought of it. 
Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Book review: Something from Tiffany's - by Melissa Hill

Wouldn't you love to go to New York on a romantic Christmas trip and get a special present bought at Tiffany's? But what if the present turns to be totally different from what you had expected? And do you believe fate sometimes guides our actions and can lead us to the one who's really meant for us?

I’ll be honest: I bought this book because I LOVE Tiffany (although I’ve never actually been there, but I’d love to, and I’m sure I’d feel like Holly Golightly when I’d finally manage to walk through those doors), and because I liked the cover. Never judge a book by its cover, I know, shame on me, but a book cover is the first thing that catches my eye when I check the shelves in a bookshop and, even though it happened a few times that I was attracted towards a book by its cover but then, after reading the blurb on the jacket cover, I ended up putting it back onto the shelves, in this case I put it in my shopping bag.

It sounded just right: a romantic Christmas trip to New York, an engagement ring bought in Tiffany’s, in short everything a girl dreams of (or is it just hopelessly romantic me who does?). Please don’t be biased though: it’s definitely NOT the ordinary love story, set in a nice New York Christmas setting with an obvious ending. It might sound like it, because it opens with Ethan, an English widower, who is spending the Christmas holiday with his daughter and his girlfriend in New York and goes to Tiffany to buy her an engagement ring, to surprise her on Christmas day; but what happens after he leaves Tiffany’s will turn his life upside-down, as well as the lives of another couple holidaying in New York, and will make the most unpredictable and hilarious things happen.

The story is so entertaining, you won’t get bored and won’t feel like skipping ahead; page after page, you’ll be so engrossed in the story and in the events that involve the characters, that you’ll be sorry to have to put it down to go to sleep – well, I was.

Expect the unexpected, right until the very last page.

Have you read Something From Tiffany's? Leave a comment and let me know what you thought of it. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Book review: From Notting Hill with Love Actually - by Ali McNamara

If you could live in a movie, which one would it be? If you're a fan of movies, know most of the lines of your favourite ones by heart and never stop dreaming you'll eventually bump into a movie star in a bookshop (Notting Hill), meet the man of your dreams on the top of the Empire State Building on Valentine's day (Sleepless In Seattle) or have two guys fight for you in a fountain (Bridget Jones's Diary), then I guess this is the book for you!

I bought this after discovering Ali McNamara from Breakfast at Darcy’s (see review page), which is actually her second novel: I loved her writing style and I wanted to read more from the author. I ended up reading it over a weekend: I just couldn’t put it down, as if my hands were glued to the book. I guess I was sort of involved in the story because Scarlett, the main character, reminded me a lot of a person... well, myself. She lives in a sort of dreamworld populated by movie characters and she believes that movie moments can happen in real life too, although everyone else around her has a different opinion and thinks she should grow up and stop living in a world of her own (and here’s where I realised that Scarlett was me!).

When, only months away from her wedding, she gets the opportunity to house-sit a friend’s house in Notting Hill (the setting of her favourite movie!), she is determined to prove that she is right and that she will be able to live movie moments, while she’s there. The very minute she sets foot in Notting Hill and bumps into the funny and eccentric Oscar, her whole life changes and, although she finds it hard at first to get along with her next-door neighbour, grumpy Sean, it won’t be hard for her to prove her point that movie moments do happen in real life, too. And while she lives in a parallel world for a while, she also gets the chance to start looking for her mother, who abandoned her and her father when she was only a few months old.

It will be a long, complicated and very funny journey, which will help Scarlett discover her inner self and be free to be herself.

This book is absolutely a must read.

Have you read From Notting Hill With Love...Actually already? Leave a comment and let me know what you thought of it.