Vlogs, Wrap Ups

September Wrap Up

September was feeling very kind to me and decided to make up for the last two month being a little underwhelming. This was very much appreciated!

I finished 15 books this month, 14 fiction and 1 non fiction

Can you tell that I couldn’t hold my pile of read books?

I loved

The Beautiful Ones- Silvia Moreno-Garcia https://kapowskireads.com/2022/10/01/the-beautiful-ones/

Plain Bad Heroines – Emily M. Danforth https://kapowskireads.com/2022/09/12/plain-bad-heroines/

Signal to Noise- Silvia Moreno-Garcia https://kapowskireads.com/2022/09/28/signal-to-noise/

I liked

Ace of Spades- Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé https://kapowskireads.com/2022/09/21/ace-of-spades/

The Hatmakers- Tamzin Merchant https://kapowskireads.com/2022/09/26/read-the-rainbowthon-reading-vlog/

Hear No Evil – Sarah Smith https://kapowskireads.com/2022/09/10/hear-no-evil/

The Last Graduate – Naomi Novik (book 2 in a series)

Meantime- Frankie Boyle https://kapowskireads.com/2022/09/14/meantime/

The Sound of Sirens – Ewan Gault https://kapowskireads.com/2022/09/07/sound-of-sirens/

They Came to Baghdad- Agatha Christie

The Wolf Hunters- Amanda Mitchison https://kapowskireads.com/2022/09/19/reading-scottish-bloody-scotland-debut-fiction/

Not For Me

Daughter of Darkness- Katharine and Elizabeth Corr

The Girl, The Crow, The Writer, and The Fighter- George Paterson

Welcome to Cooper- Tariq Ashkanani

Non-Fiction 👩‍🎓

I’m Glad My Mom Died – Jennette McCurdy✨

*#gifted

Book Recommendation of the Month, Reviews

The Beautiful Ones

They are the Beautiful Ones, Loisail’s most notable socialites, and this spring is Nina’s chance to join their ranks, courtesy of her well-connected cousin and his calculating wife. But the Grand Season has just begun, and already Nina’s debut has gone disastrously awry. She has always struggled to control her telekinesis—neighbors call her the Witch of Oldhouse—and the haphazard manifestations of her powers make her the subject of malicious gossip.

When entertainer Hector Auvray arrives to town, Nina is dazzled. A telekinetic like her, he has traveled the world performing his talents for admiring audiences. He sees Nina not as a witch, but ripe with potential to master her power under his tutelage. With Hector’s help, Nina’s talent blossoms, as does her love for him.

But great romances are for fairytales, and Hector is hiding a truth from Nina—and himself—that threatens to end their courtship before it truly begins. The Beautiful Ones is a charming tale of love and betrayal, and the struggle between conformity and passion, set in a world where scandal is a razor-sharp weapon.

At what point should I stop saying that I love Silvia Moreno-Garcia? At what point does it just become assumed that I have loved one of her books? It should come as no surprise that I absolutely adored this book! I have now read eight books by this author. Eight! Eight books and this is definitely a contender for my favourite. It’s top three and I am not emotionally prepared to work out podium positions right now.

This was a period drama with added supernatural elements because two of the main characters posses telekinetic abilities. I love, love, loved the drama of the period setting! Nina was being introduced to society with the ultimate aim being to end the season with a fiancé. This was the aim of her family but not quite Nina’s intent as she was just happy to take in the new scenery.

I adored Nina! She was such an endearing character. She was forthright and would then chastise herself for failing to show the level of decorum expected of her by her cousin in law. She faced very high expectations which went against her very nature. She was likeable and kind, and thoughtful. She was honest, often to her detriment. She met a mysterious man at a party. It just so happened to be Hector who was a professional entertainer, he just so happened to share her ability.

I love the way that Nina and Hector brought out the best in each other. Hector had been living in the shadow of his own past and Nina taught him to live again. Hector taught Nina how to control her ability.

Hector’s secret was revealed very early on and it really did feel like the stakes were high. I felt so tense waiting for the reveal. Wondering if it would! I just had to keep reading.

The ending of this book was amazing! I cried in Starbucks because I was not expecting it. My heart! My wee heart! I thought that it was perfection.

This was such an excellent twist on a classic sort of story. I now will insist on supernatural elements in my period dramas. Oh, the drama!

Reviews

Signal to Noise

A literary fantasy about love, music and sorcery, set against the background of Mexico City.

Mexico City, 1988: Long before iTunes or MP3s, you said “I love you” with a mixtape. Meche, awkward and fifteen, has two equally unhip friends — Sebastian and Daniela — and a whole lot of vinyl records to keep her company. When she discovers how to cast spells using music, the future looks brighter for the trio. With help from this newfound magic, the three friends will piece together their broken families, change their status as non-entities, and maybe even find love…

Mexico City, 2009: Two decades after abandoning the metropolis, Meche returns for her estranged father’s funeral. It’s hard enough to cope with her family, but then she runs into Sebastian, and it revives memories from her childhood she thought she buried a long time ago. What really happened back then? What precipitated the bitter falling out with her father? And, is there any magic left?

I am already a huge fan of Silvia Moreno-Garcia and despite only finding this author last year, I’m making my way through her back catalogue with some urgency. This book, like the others, was such an excellent read!

I was in the mood for some teen angst and this book gave me angst mixed with magic and even more drama.

I absolutely loved the alternating chapters between childhood and adulthood. I enjoyed the way that the dialogue changed between the two time periods, so that it felt authentic to the characters.

The original trio of Meche, Sebastian, and Daniela felt like such a realistic trio. I very much felt like they reminded me of my high school friends and I. The social awkwardness was giving me nostalgia galore. I really enjoyed their dynamic, it really felt familiar. I’m sure most of us had a ‘Meche’ in our teenage groups- bossy and everything had to be their way.

I feel like this was perhaps the most realistic book I’ve read by this author which was an unexpected delight!

I felt that the rules of magic in this world were really interesting. The trio cast spells using a turntable and records. This was a really fun concept. The cost of magic in this world were severe. I maybe would have enjoyed if the book included more magic by other people but the book was so short that perhaps that would have ruined the flow.

The modern day chapters (yes, I’m counting 2009 as modern day because if I think of that as being 13 years ago, I’ll get sad about the passing of time) really captured that feeling of returning back to the hometown after many years away. The reunion between the trio gave me so many questions! What happened? They were so close! I needed to know what happened!

I found this book to be so utterly compelling, I couldn’t put it down!

My favourite character was the grandmother, wee Granny Delores. I loved her! She didn’t even have a lot of dialogue but she was the care giver in the household, she was a listening ear, she was so wise. I am a sucker for a wee granny in a book.

Once again, Silvia Moreno-Garcia gave me an emotional rollercoaster of a book. I felt so attached the the characters and wanted to know what happened to them. Sometimes this author gives me the ending I deserve and not the ending that I want…in this instance, I got what I wanted and I squealed with delight!

Blog, Vlogs

Read the Rainbowthon Reading Vlog

I have had such a fun time taking part in Roll the Rainbowthon 🌈 and read more than expected which made me very pleased. So this week I took part in a Readathon which is one of my favourite things. I love a themed reading week!

I drank a lot more coffee this week than the thumbnail suggests 😸

I may have also found a new favourite book which is always lovely 💕

Who could have imagined that I would read and love another Silvia Moreno-Garcia book..? Everyone! I love this author and she did it again with Signal to Noise.

I managed to get through four books this week which was more than expected. There was no chance of me getting through the six books I’d hoped to read but four feels very good.

Reviews

Ace of Spades

An incendiary and utterly compelling thriller with a shocking twist that delves deep into the heart of institutionalized racism, from an exceptional new YA voice.

Welcome to Niveus Private Academy, where money paves the hallways, and the students are never less than perfect. Until now. Because anonymous texter, Aces, is bringing two students’ dark secrets to light.

Talented musician Devon buries himself in rehearsals, but he can’t escape the spotlight when his private photos go public. Head girl Chiamaka isn’t afraid to get what she wants, but soon everyone will know the price she has paid for power.

Someone is out to get them both. Someone who holds all the aces. And they’re planning much more than a high-school game…

I bought this book back in 2021 as I’d heard so many good things about it. I then promptly forgot what it was about as it sat on my shelf just waiting for a time to shine. I knew that it had been described a sort of cross between Gossip Girl and Get Out. I had only watched some of the earlier episodes of Gossip Girl when it was first released and I’d never seen Get Out…so here I was expecting a light a silly book about high school drama. How wrong I was! This was not light at all, it was dark and horrifying. In a good way because I was so keen to find out what happened next.

The book was split into three sections. The first section basically set the scene and introduced the main characters, Devon and Chiamaka. Devon was a scholarship kid who was a gifted pianist with dreams of going to Juilliard and giving his family a better life. He was a quiet kid who was an utter cinnamon bun of a human, I loved him! Chiamaka was the Queen Bee who ruled the school with an iron fist. She was mean, she was bossy, she’d worked hard to get where she was. She 100% would have bullied me in school. Anonymous messages were sent to the students giving pieces of gossip about the student body but mainly about Devon and Chiamaka. These two students had nothing in common apart form the fact that they were the only two black students on their entire school.

Part two involves Devon and Chiamaka discovering who is behind the messages, known only as The Aces. This part of the book was heartbreaking and infuriating to read. I felt so sorry for Devon and Chiamaka! The way that they were persecuted was absolutely disgusting. The worst part was that it felt real. It felt like these events could have taken place and that was just horrible.

In the final part, our new duo of pals work together to stop The Aces. This section was so tense, I was so worried for Devon and Chiamaka! They didn’t know who to trust and as a reader, neither did I.

I loved the tense feeling that this book evoked from start to finish. I ended up loving the two main characters and wanting the best for them. I hated everyone else at the school! I do feel I have myself a few spoilers early on by translating the school name and by noticing that 3 of the school values spelled a particular word…but this didn’t minimise my enjoyment. It only made me even more paranoid about literally everyone.

This was just a thrilling yet terrifying read. I thoroughly recommend it but do check out the trigger warnings as there are many.!

I can only express my enjoyment of this book as a white, adult woman. This is a YA book and I have really enjoyed reading some own voice reviews.

Scottish Reads, Vlogs

Reading Scottish – Bloody Scotland Debut Fiction

This month, my Scottish reads were a bit different because I had a theme. A wee while ago, Bloody Scotland announced the shortlist for the debut Scottish crime fiction novel of 2022. I decided that I wanted to read them all and see if I could predict the winner!

I try to predict the winner🔮

This month I read:

Hear No Evil by Sarah Smith

The Wolf Hunters by Amanda Mitchison

Welcome to Cooper by Tariq Ashkanani

The Girl, The Crow, The Writer, and The Fighter by George Paterson

Meantime by Frankie Boyle

While these books were all Scottish crime novels, they were all so different. This was such an enjoyable reading experience and I’m so excited to see what these authors do next.

Huge congratulations to the winner and all the nominees!

The nominees
Scottish Reads

Meantime

Glasgow, 2015. When Valium addict Felix McAveety’s best friend Marina is found murdered in the local park, he goes looking for answers to questions that he quickly forgets. In a haze of uppers, hallucinogens, and diazepam, Felix enlists the help of a brilliant but mercurial GP; a bright young trade unionist; a failing screenwriter; semi-celebrity crime novelist Jane Pickford; and his crisis fuelled downstairs neighbour Donnie.

Their investigation sends them on a bewildering expedition that takes in Scottish radical politics, Artificial Intelligence, cults, secret agents, smugglers and vegan record shops.

This is the third book that I’ve read this year that had been written by a Scottish comedian that I enjoy. As with the others, I thoroughly enjoyed this book! I really do enjoy Frankie Boyle’s comedy and found him to be a natural storyteller, so I was hoping that this would translate to his writing and I believe that it did.

I really enjoyed the setting of this book as 2015 really was a very emotional time in Scotland. We really were split with some people gloating and some broken hearted. It was quite sad reliving it and realising how little had changed since then. I think that the feelings of the time really were captured in the writing.

I didn’t necessarily like Felix as a character but I enjoyed him. He was a tragic wee soul. I liked the ragtag group that took the lead in the story. A group of people who would not usually be pals but it worked. I found myself caring so much for all of them!

I found that this book made me laugh and cry and everything in between. The utter insanity of the ceilidh, complete with Cthulhu inspired Burns’ poetry was something I didn’t know that I needed in my life.

I really enjoyed the concept of someone who has no skills in sleuthing just becoming a sleuth in order to find out what happened to his friend. Felix really wasn’t a talented sleuthed but his friends helped him along the way and he really did find out loads, way more than I’d expected.

I loved the volume of red herrings. I was kept guessing throughout the book and I really didn’t see any of the twists coming. And they did come, there were so many twists and turns. I think that the hints were there, had i been taking notes of the clues then maybe they wouldn’t have been so surprising but there were so many nuggets peppered throughout the book that it was so tricky to see what was relevant and what was distraction.

This was not the sort of book that I could just pick up for a wee half hour read, I wanted to consume it. I needed to read it with no distractions as so much was happening that I needed to concentrate.

There were some periods where I wondered if the events described were even taking place. Felix was taking so many drugs that I started to doubt whether it was real (real in the book). I found this added an extra element of enjoyment as I was wondering if he was about to wake up and I’d find out that it had all been a dream or something.

This was a truly excellent debut crime fiction novel and I can’t wait to see what Frankie Boyle writes next.

Book Recommendation of the Month, Vlogs

Plain Bad Heroines

This week, the weather turned in Aberdeen. It’s cooler and windy and a little stormy, this felt like the perfect time to start reading some of the Dark Academia that I hope to get through in August.

As one of my friends had highly recommended Plain Bad Heroines to me (and it was the biggest book on my TBR), it made sense to start with this book.

My Wee Vlog

Let me tell you that I loved this book! This week’s vlog is pretty much me just talking about how much I loved it.

In the spirit of Autumn, I also had my first pumpkin spice latte of the year. I declare Autumn to have begun once I’ve had my first sip of a PSL. Although I still can’t taste or smell anything but it still counts!

I finished my week off with a stroll around Aberdeen University which really is just stunning!

Reviews, Scottish Reads

Hear No Evil

In the burgeoning industrial city of Glasgow in 1817 Jean Campbell – a young, Deaf woman – is witnessed throwing a child into the River Clyde from the Old Bridge.

No evidence is yielded from the river. Unable to communicate with their silent prisoner, the authorities move Jean to the decaying Edinburgh Tolbooth in order to prise the story from her. The High Court calls in Robert Kinniburgh, a talented teacher from the Deaf & Dumb Institution, in the hope that he will interpret for them and determine if Jean is fit for trial. If found guilty she faces one of two fates; death by hanging or incarceration in an insane asylum.

Through a process of trial and error, Robert and Jean manage to find a rudimentary way of communicating with each other. As Robert gains her trust, Jean confides in him, and Robert begins to uncover the truth, moving uneasily from interpreter to investigator, determined to clear her name before it is too late.

Based on a landmark case in Scottish legal history Hear No Evil is a richly atmospheric exploration of nineteenth-century Edinburgh and Glasgow at a time when progress was only on the horizon. A time that for some who were silenced could mean paying the greatest price.

This was a work of historical fiction based on a real case. After reading this book, I wanted to find out more about Jean but there really wasn’t a lot to find. So I really liked that the author had sort of given Jean their story even though I knew that only the bare bones of the story were true.

I found Jean to be such a brave character. She was a poor woman in the early 19th century who had fallen in love with a catholic man. One of these factors alone would have been enough to have made her life more difficult but she was also deaf and didn’t communicate verbally. So her life was extremely tough. Even when facing the gallows or the asylum, her bravery remained.

I felt so sympathetic towards Jean. She needed to tell her story of what happened but was scared but also struggling to get the words across.

Robert was as kind and patient a character as could be expected based on the time period. He was extremely prejudiced against Jean (who lived with a man she wasn’t married to), while I knew that was of the time, it annoyed me as I wanted more from Robert. I liked that he was very passionate about teaching people sign language and spent a lot of time explaining that deafness did not impact intelligence.

hen my sister lost her hearing, I saw how difficult it could be for her to communicate at times. How frustrated she would get. So this book really did break my wee heart.

Some of the parts of this book that annoyed me were more a credit to the author for conveying the attitudes of the time towards women and poor people. It was so infuriating to feel like the baddie could get away with it just because of their position in life.

I felt that this book really embodied the atmosphere of the early 19th century. The poverty, the misery, the acceptance that things may never get better. This was a very somewhat depressing book but I really did enjoy it.

Reviews, Scottish Reads

Sound of Sirens

In a dead-beat coastal town in North East Scotland, seventeen-year-old Malky Campbell is desperate to help his pregnant and heroin addicted girlfriend.

DI Stark, a middle-aged detective, alarmed by the rise of teenage crime in Port Cawdor, uncovers the operations of a county line gang that are flooding the area with drugs and engaging in a vicious turf war with a local family.

Malky has just started working on his family’s trawler with his cousin Johnny, when their boat pulls up Johnny’s brother in its nets. The rest of the crew, the tightly-knit community and the police start to suspect that the cousins are responsible for his death.

With his brother dead, Johnny inherits the family trawler, which he plans to use to smuggle drugs into the country for the county line gang, giving him enough money to start a new life.

What’s that? I’m back again chatting about reading some enjoyable Scottish fiction. You know it! I was lucky enough to receive a wee copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, seeing as I had this book in my Waterstones wish list, I couldn’t resist!

There were two main reasons that I wanted to read this book: 1. it was set in a wee fishing village in the North East of Scotland and I live in the North East of Scotland. I was excited to read something set nearish to Aberdeen. 2. This book was long listed for the McIlvanney award (this is almost a guarantee to me of a good time).

I enjoyed this immensely! I would, however, like to point out that Aberdeen has been plagued by some pretty heavy haar since I started reading this book…coincidence? This very much enhanced the ominous vibes of the book.

The majority of this book took place during the summer break. Malky had finished high school and was trying to just work out what he was going to do. He seemed torn between his family expectations and jealousy of his peers who were heading to uni. He was lost and not sure where to go or what to do.

I really felt sorry for Malky who was just a wee guy that had been drawn into a whole bunch of trouble with no way out. He looked up to his cousins who were involved in some illegal antics and his mum just wanted the best for him. A future different to theirs.

I really liked the inspector who was struggling to find the right balance between being an inspector and being a father. He felt a bit mischievous in the way that he went sleuthing, he seemed like a nice guy. I really enjoyed the way that the lives of the characters were interwoven.

This book switched narratives between Malky (and the boat and illegal antics) and DI Stark (the person trying to stop the illegal antics). I really enjoy a multi POV tale. The writing style really brought home the sort of hopelessness of the characters who lived in a place that had basically lost their industry.

I loved that the reveal of what had happened came so early. Here I was, with my suspicions, then around 50% I got the reveal. At that point, it all went wild! The pacing that had been nice and gentle suddenly amped up and I was hooked!

I did have to get my map out for some of the travelling parts because I lost my bearings. I enjoyed witnessing bad decision after bad decision being made. The non-police characters just felt tragic with no choices left to them but the wrong choices.

This was not an uplifting or joyful read by any means but I knew that before going in and I did appreciate the ambiguous ending. I’m very grateful for my copy of the book and am excited to add it to my Scottish fiction bookcase! The haar can go away now, I’ve finished the book and no longer need the creepy on theme weather.