By Therese GilardiBlurb: Narvla’s life is as precisely choreographed as the routines that have made her a national step-dancing champion. She has a loyal best friend, a devoted boyfriend, and a lock on admission to her dream college, the University of Notre Dame - until her mother is named U.S. Ambassador to Ireland, and her life unravels. First Narvla receives a disturbing picture of her boyfriend and her best friend. Then she struggles to qualify for the Irish elite step-dancing squad, and her grades plummet.
But the biggest obstacle in Narvla’s new life is Dublin Boy, a cheeky musician with a disdain for academics and a distrust of Americans. Although Narvla is upset when she’s paired with Dublin Boy for the most important semester of her life, her real concern is the growing attraction she feels toward him. As the Celtic New Year unfolds, Narvla is pushed to abandon her lifelong need for control and embrace the charm of the unexpected.
Narvla’s Celtic New Year releases on April 6th, 2015.
Genres: Young Adult Realistic Fiction
My Rating: 4 stars
This book made me want to visit Ireland, I'll admit. I've always had a desire to go there, but Narvla's Celtic New Year brought that desire out full force. I ended up really enjoying the romance, the characters, the setting...everything, really, about this book!
What immediately attracted me to the story was the fact that Narvla is an Irish step-dancer. I have been in dance since I was three, and so I love reading about all types of dance, no matter what they are; and I'd never read anything about Irish step-dancing. I loved how the dancing was described; Narvla really has to work hard at what she does, even though she's already amazing. She has passion for it, you can tell.
In fact, I loved Narvla as a character period. She was relatable and realistically painted; a lot of her goals in the story are goals that I have for myself. I was cheering for her when it came to the smallest of things; I wanted so badly for Narvla to get good grades, become the top dancer at her studio...I really liked her.
Colin...I am still in awe on how the author managed to get me to like him! I absolutely hated him at the beginning of the story. I could see the romance coming, and I was sure I would hate it because I. could. not. stand. Colin. He was very rude and presumptuous. However, his character went through a lot of development; not only that, I understood why he was so horrible at the beginning.
One thing I thought was good about the plot was the fact that it didn't only center on romance. Narvla and her family, her mother in particular, have a lot of struggles throughout the book, and they aren't pushed to the side by Narvla and Colin's relationship. There's a good mix of the two.
The culture of Ireland was so vividly described; I fell in love with it via this story. I've read books set in Ireland, but none of them paint the place the way this book does. I really wanted to hop on a plane and go there straight away after reading this book.
I'd definitely recommend this book, especially to lovers of realistic fiction, but even those that aren't; I usually don't enjoy these types of books, but I really liked this one!
Here is an excerpt from Narvla's Celtic New Year:
As you slide down the banister of life
May the splinters never point
In the wrong direction.
- Irish Proverb
The plane hits the ground so hard I’m not sure the pilot’s going to be able to stick the landing. As my seatbelt cuts into my stomach, he says, “Cead mile failte. A hundred thousand welcomes to Ireland”. Everyone around me claps.
On the edge of the runway the limousine the embassy sent is waiting for us. My mother is the new U.S. Ambassador to Ireland. That’s why I’m here in Dublin instead of back home in Connecticut, hanging out with Derek and Gabby when I’m not practicing for another step dancing competition.
I follow Mom to the limo. I stretch out across the leather seats as we ride along narrow, curvy roads, past tiny pubs and squat houses whose front doors open onto the sidewalk. Every few minutes our driver stops at a traffic light, and people peer into the car. Mom opens her window and waves. Most people wave back or smile, although a few just stare. Finally we arrive at an enormous park in the middle of the city, where we pass under an archway, through a black iron gate, and up a long driveway.
The U.S. Ambassador’s Residence looks like The White House. Tall French windows open onto a long terrace and a lawn that could double as a golf course. There are lots of chimneys, which I hope means lots of fireplaces, and dozens of rose bushes in large white planters. I wonder if I’m going to need a map to find my way around, since the house is the type of building that doesn’t just have floors, it has wings. An American flag so big it can probably be seen from the United States flutters on the roof.
“Is it true the president of Ireland is our only neighbor?”
“The president and all the animals of the Phoenix Park Zoo,” Mom says.
“Seriously? We’re living next to a zoo?”
“I promised you the experience of a lifetime, didn’t I?” Mom straightens her emerald velvet beret, which is one of her bestsellers. Mom owns “Mad Maeve’s Magnificent Millinery”, the company that makes those one of a kind lace hats that celebrities and fashion designers love. Mom has to take a leave of absence from “Mad Maeve’s” now that she’s the new ambassador, just like I’ve got to withdraw from Conrad Hill High School. Although I’m unhappy about missing senior year in Connecticut, Mom says attending an Irish school will cinch my admission to Notre Dame, which is my dream college. Plus she’s promised I can return home to go to prom with Derek, and for the occasional visit with Dad. He can’t move to Ireland full-time because he’s working on several architecture projects in California. That’s why it’s just Mom and me in the limo.
“There he is,” Mom says as our driver stops in front of a massive wooden door. “I’m so pleased you’re finally going to meet Malcolm.”
A thin guy in a lime green, pink and black leather kilt opens the car door. Mom steps out of the limo and gives him a hug. He kisses her once on each cheek.
“Sorry we’re so late,” Mom says. “Weather delay.”
“Ah, no Irish journey’s complete without a bit of turbulence,” Malcolm says. “Why else do you think Aer Lingus paint the names of saints on the sides of their planes?”
Mom laughs but I don’t think it’s very funny. She spent the flight sleeping. I spent the entire seven-hour trip strapped into my seat, my hands wrapped around the armrests so tight my fingers are still cramped. I never knew before today that there are so many shades of lightening. Although when I look up at the sky there’s no hint of the storms that shook our plane, just a bunch of cotton ball clouds and a pale sun.
“You must be Miss Narvla. Welcome to Dublin.”
About the Author:
Therese Gilardi adores blue cameos, Irish pub music and the Paris metro. She lives with her own Irish Man, fluffy dogs and Viennese hare in the hills above Los Angeles. Despite her fear of heights Therese's favorite place in Ireland is Slieve League Cliffs, near her family's ancestral home in Co. Donegal. Therese believes sticky toffee pudding, Celtic knot jewelry and Oscar Wilde are Ireland's greatest exports. She is available for guest posts and interviews. You can also find her on her
website or on Facebook and Twitter.
Links:Netgalley: available for review!
Goodreads: add to your shelf now!
Review copies: Review copies are available in .pdf, .mobi and paperback format. You can also find Narvla’s Celtic New Year on Netgalley.