Vlogs, Wrap Ups

August Wrap Up

August was a slower month for me. I still got through 12 books but this is a little lower than my average month.

August Wrap Up Vlog

I am loving being able to see my reading stats. Thank you StoryGraph! No way do I have the patience to draw them up myself.

I had three top reads this month so I’m chatting about those: Influencer Island by Kyle Rutkin, Glowglass by Kirkland Ciccone, and The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia.

I also announce my book recommendation of the month 💕

I’m hopeful that I’ll get through some more books in September. Mainly because my intended TBR is around 5,000 pages. Wish me luck!

Blog, Vlogs

September Reading Goals

I don’t usually do anything fun when deciding my reading goals for the month. I basically choose a day to pick a bunch of books that I fancy reading soon, add any books I need to read for readalongs and that’s basically it.

September is a little different as I got to have some fun picking my TBR pile. There are two different TBR games that I am participating in this month as two creators over on YouTube are opening up their TBR games and I just had to join in. I do love a TBR game!

Timings and links to creators

Setting my ridiculous reading goals

First up, I’m joining in with Becca’s Bookopoly and playing Bookoplathon. This is a month long list of intended reads. I decided to roll as many times as it took me to do a loop of the board, this ended up being eight rolls.

Secondly, I’m joining in with Christy Reads’ Roll the Rainbowthon which lasts one week of September. I’ve ended up with six options, most of which overlap with my Bookoplathon picks because no way will I be able to read six books in one week!

So I ended up with eleven books…but this isn’t my full TBR . I have my Agatha Christie pick for Read Christie and a book tour, plus I have another four books that I have been planning to read in September. This brings my total number of books I plan to read in September up to seventeen and over 5,000 pages.

Doable? Who knows! All I know is that I’m giddy with excitement about reading all of my hopefuls so I feel like September is going to be a good month.

Scottish Reads, Vlogs

Reading Scottish- August Wrap Up

August’s Reading Scottish Wrap Up is my round up of all the Scottish literature read this month and this month feels a little less successful when compared to previous months. I feel this way as I read fewer books this month overall.

With my Scottish books, I had two books that were also one book which was confusing. Two different stories but in one physical book that you had to flip upside down to read the other story. So I count this as one but could it be two? Goodreads thought so but I disagreed. I also had a DNF which feels a little bit like a fail. However, I still found some excellent reads and it really is a good thing to put down a book that isn’t working.

My Reading Scottish Wrap Up Vlog

Books included in this week’s vlog are:

Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe by Jenny Colgan

Xstabeth/The Towers, The Fields, The Transmitters- David Keenan

Bury Your Secrets- M.R. Mackenzie*

Glowglass- Kirkland Ciccone

*gifted

Book Recommendation of the Month, Reviews, Scottish Reads

Glowglass

Starrsha Glowglass is on the front page of every newspaper. She isn’t a model, Vlogger, or reality TV show contestant. Starrsha is famous for something darker: she survived a massacre that claimed her Brothers and Sisters.

Hers was no ordinary family. They were The Family Glowglass – a religious order set up by an eccentric businessman as a tax dodge. One morning the parishioners sat down to breakfast; most didn’t get back up.

Only Starrsha and her mute Brother, Simon, survived. Both now have a chance to lead an ordinary life. And for Starrsha, that means high school.

Can a videotape bring back the dead? What’s behind the red door? Why won’t Starrsha’s best friend reveal her true sexuality? When is a poster on a wall actually a trap? Will My Chemical Romance reform? Why is Father obsessed with vintage tech? Why does Barbie freak out Starrsha? How many rich husbands has Aunt Imelda bumped off? And why is God crank-calling Starrsha?

For Starrsha, the path to enlightenment is a one-way trip to murder and madness…

After reading Happiness is Wasted on Me a few months ago, I fell in love with the way that Kirkland Ciccone writes characters. I instantly requested this book from the library and it only recently became available, I was giddy to read it!

I have to admit that in the time between requesting this book and reading it, I had covid and may have completely forgotten what the book was about. So I knew I was excited but allowed myself to ignore the blurb and to just go in with no expectations and just excitement.

As expected, I absolutely loved the main character Starrsha and her best friend Dan. Starrsha was just a wee soul! She had lost most of her family and was just trying to navigate high school while lacking any of the social awareness needed to get through it. Dan was a huge Gerard Way and My Chemical Romance fan which is something that I can definitely relate to! I cracked a rib seeing MCR live in 2005, totally worth it. The other high school girls felt so realistic, I hated them.

I really enjoyed the sort of treasure hunt element of this book. The Father, the cult leader, had left video tapes for Starrsha and Simon. Like a will but they felt more like just a way of tormenting his family from the grave. He had left money, a lot of money, which led to unpleasant absent family members returning to the home in order to claim the inheritance. This turned very messy, very quickly. I hated the auntie and uncle so much and I hoped that they would meet messy ends.

All the while, Starrsha found herself feeling watched. Like there was someone else in the house. It was like a locked room mystery at times and was such an exciting read.

I did not see any of the twists coming. It was such a wild ride of a book!

The format of this book was a surprise. A treat! It took the format of a transcript of vhs recordings and the book took place over a 3 hour recording that Starrsha had made. The book was part family saga, high school drama, mystery, and just twisty turny wildness. The chapters were very short as each chapter of was a single recording.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and am so happy that it was as enjoyable as I’d hoped it would be. I definitely need to get my own copy of this book for my collection and I will be reading more books by this author.

Vlogs

A Wee Holiday Reading Vlog

My boyfriend and I went on holiday! Sort of. We needed some work done to the house and it would take less time if we weren’t there off we popped to a hotel for 3 days. The hotel was also 2 miles from our house and about 30 seconds away from my office but it counts as a holiday. If you get a buffet breakfast and aren’t responsible for washing the towels then it’s a holiday!

My reading vlog

My main plans for this trip were to read. As I’d been unwell with covid at the end of July and start of August, I felt like I’d fallen behind on my reading. I hadn’t, you can’t fall behind in a hobby. I had books I’d wanted to read and some were seasonal as the second that Pumpkin Spice Lattes come out, I go into Autumn mode (I also drink one, remember they’re far too sweet and sprinkle cinnamon on my espresso instead). But I wanted to get my summer reads finished and my boyfriend had some reading he wanted to get done too.

His and hers TBR

In addition to reading, we watched a lot of The Commonwealth Games as we don’t watch live tv at home. Who knew that I would love bowls? Because I loved it. It was just a very nice and relaxing trip away. I acknowledge that we were very lucky in being able to afford a trip away, even if it was to a hotel that was a walkable distance from our house.

I finished 3 books in 3 days

We are both very much homebodies so our plans for this holiday were also built around a desire to visit the museums and art gallery. Despite living in Aberdeen for almost a decade, I’d never visited the Maritime Museum nor Provost Skene House. I had, however, visited the Art Gallery quite a lot but there was a new exhibit that I wanted to see.

Provost Skene House is basically a celebration to all things Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire. It’s a gorgeous and very old building in the city centre. I believe it was closed for a really long time as it was getting some maintenance. This is my excuse for never having visited before. The greatest joy was actually bumping into my in-laws! An unexpected treat. I really enjoyed finding out about the local literary talent, even though there was an homage to Sunset Song and I hated that book.

Aberdeen is on the coast, we have a beach and most people know someone who has some sort of link to the offshore industry. I’d never visited this museum either. This museum was filled with information on both Aberdeen’s shipping history and the offshore industry. I really enjoyed the boats and the massive sculpture of an offshore rig!

We also visited the Art Gallery because there was a new exhibit that I wanted to see- Viking Gold that had been unearthed in Galloway. It was fascinating. We also went through the entire museum as we do every time. My favourite parts were the portrait gallery where my favourite painting can be found.

Kitty of Frying Pan Alley by Oswald Hornby Joseph Birley

I just love this gallery! There’s also an outside area on the top floor but we didn’t go outside that day as it was threatening to rain.

Before I finish my recap of our weekend trip, I just need to share a picture of my boyfriend’s dinner. We have been giggling about this chip topped pizza ever since. The verdict was that it was delicious but felt strange. As we live in Aberdeen, we don’t often go out for dinner so it was fun to go out and try something fun (I was less fun, I just had mushroom risotto).

I threw caution to the wind and ordered a dairy laden desert and regretted nothing , it was worth it!

This was such a fun trip and I highly recommend that people enjoy a few days of being a tourist in the city in which they live. This trip happened shortly after my boyfriend and I recovered from covid…9 days after this trip, we tested positive for covid again. Despite being super cautious.

Reviews

The Cats We Meet Along the Way

Seventeen-year-old Aisha hasn’t seen her sister June for two years. And now that a calamity is about to end the world in nine months’ time, she and her mother decide that it’s time to track her down and mend the hurts of the past. Along with Aisha’s boyfriend, Walter and his parents (and Fleabag the stray cat), the group take a roadtrip through Malaysia in a wildly decorated campervan – to put the past to rest, to come to terms with the present, and to hope for the future.

I read this book as part of the Summer Mixtape Readathon that I was participating in. I chose this book as my ‘free space’ pick as the suggestion was to choose a book that reminded you of a summer bop. The front cover of this book made me think of We Like to Party (The Vengabus), because I cannot look at a cool campervan without thinking of the Vengabus!

This was a cover buy a wee while ago because I just felt that the cover was so cute! Then the blurb sounded utterly charming. I had to take it home with me.

I enjoyed this book. I really enjoyed the characters and despite the book being quite short, I really felt like I got to know Aisha and her sister, June. I felt like they really went through a character arc and really grew. They felt like fully rounded characters. Walter’s parents just seemed so nice, with a healthy obsession with juicers.

I really enjoyed the plot of this book. The world was ending and Aisha really just wanted to be reunited with her sister. June had left their family home some years ago and Aisha hadn’t heard from her since. I felt that the book handled family estrangement and grief really well. I appreciated the different ways that people handled the impending end of the world; some were angry, some were accepting, and some decided to try to survive. I’ve read a few end of the world books but this felt different.

There were a lot of flashbacks which helped to explain the family breakdown and various relationships. This also helped to explain why Aisha felt that she knew where June would be found. I really enjoyed learning about the history of the sisters and their grandparents. I enjoyed the description of the grandparents’ home as it just sounded like such a dream home with the adorable door!

I must admit that I had hoped for some more cat action from a book titled The Cats We Meet Along the Way but there was just Fleabag. Fleabag was a very entertaining kind of cat but I had expected him to play more of a role or for maybe more cats to be found on the road trip.

I had a good time reading this book and despite it taking place at the end of the world, Malaysia really sounded absolutely gorgeous as a location. I enjoyed the ending of the book too as it was ambiguous and didn’t take the route that I did suspect that it might. I really like when a spontaneous purchase ends up being very much worth the risk.

Reviews

The Daughter of Doctor Moreau

Carlota Moreau: a young woman, growing up in a distant and luxuriant estate, safe from the conflict and strife of the Yucatán peninsula. The only daughter of either a genius, or a madman.

Montgomery Laughton: a melancholic overseer with a tragic past and a propensity for alcohol. An outcast who assists Dr. Moreau with his scientific experiments, which are financed by the Lizaldes, owners of magnificent haciendas and plentiful coffers.

The hybrids: the fruits of the Doctor’s labor, destined to blindly obey their creator and remain in the shadows. A motley group of part human, part animal monstrosities.

All of them living in a perfectly balanced and static world, which is jolted by the abrupt arrival of Eduardo Lizalde, the charming and careless son of Doctor Moreau’s patron, who will unwittingly begin a dangerous chain reaction.

For Moreau keeps secrets, Carlota has questions, and in the sweltering heat of the jungle, passions may ignite.

Silvia Moreno-Garcia is an author that I only found last year, this is the 5th book that I have now read by this author. I think it’s fair to say that they’re an autobuy author as I know I’m going to have a good time with them.

I have fond memories of reading The Island of Doctor Moreau which influenced this book, so expectations were high and I was giddy. I really did enjoy this book!

The atmosphere was so sinister and creepy. This is something I’ve grown to almost expect from a book by this author. The story took place on a remote island (which is actually a peninsula) in Mexico which was surrounded by conflict. So for anyone to reach The Island they would need to take a very risky journey. This really added to the haunting atmosphere. I really enjoy a good book set on a creepy island which is a very specific niche but this book fulfilled that requirement.

The story was told through dual narrative with Carlota and Laughton taking alternate chapters. I loved this delivery! When one chapter ended the next would often pick up where the previous had started so that differing opinions were received and this helped me to try to work out whether I felt the new comers had genuine intentions or were silly little rich kids (I went with the latter).

I hated almost every human character. Definitely the male characters, I’m still unsure about Laughton. The timing of this book was in the late 19th century, not a good time for women. With Carlota growing up so cut off from others, I was so worried for her safety! I found Carlota to be quite annoying due to the way that she was so trusting but I felt that this was exactly how this character would have been. It was annoying but right for the character. I absolutely loved the hybrids and their little found family!

I didn’t guess the twist! I maybe saw it the chapter before it was revealed but that doesn’t count. I was so taken aback and I really loved it.

While this book was inspired by The Island of Doctor Moreau, it really was only loosely inspired. I don’t feel like anything was spoiled for me due to my familiarity with the inspiration. I loved the addition of the war as there was danger in the forest that wasn’t the hybrids.

This was such a fascinating book and was enjoyable on so many levels. I will definitely be rereading this and will no doubt find more to love about it.

Silvia Moreno-Garcia continues to be one of my favourite authors.

Vlogs

I Finished a Readathon and Feel Very Accomplished

The Summer Mixtape Readathon is over and these are my results. I ended up getting The Rona in the last week of July, I’ve been struggling to read as much as I usually would, so I was worried that I may not manage to finish this readathon as intended. I didn’t manage the 5 books that I’d planned to read but I did read 5 separate books so I count this as a win!

My wee Vlog, I’m so proud!

This vlog features the following books:

The Cats We Meet Along the Way by Nadia Mikail

Love & Gelato- Jenna Evans Welch

The Daughter of Doctor Moreau- Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Some books were enjoyed more than others but I ended up achieving my goals so I’m so happy with this!

Reviews, Scottish Reads

Bury Your Secrets

One Saturday afternoon, three friends head north for a long weekend. On Monday, they will return home, having buried a body in the woods.

For Hazel, reeling from the discovery of her long-term partner’s infidelity, a getaway to a remote coastal village with her best friends, Mickie and Claire, seems like the ideal remedy. And when a local man, Aidan, takes a shine to her, Hazel wonders if she’s ready to move on.

Within hours, however, Aidan is dead, leaving Hazel and her friends with a dreadful choice: to come clean or mount a cover-up. Determined to protect Hazel at all costs, the friends forge a desperate pact.

But secrets have a habit of catching up with you – and of testing the bonds of friendship to their limits. And Hazel is about to find out that, no matter how much she might wish otherwise, you can’t bury the truth forever.

If you’ve known me for any amount of time, you’ll know that I love reading Scottish fiction. I absolutely leapt at the chance to read this psychological thriller! I must admit that I have been getting more and more into the darker side of Scottish fiction and I’m loving it. This was a rather dark novel; more than just being about a murder, there were so many dark moments within all of the relationships in this book.

The book started with a trio of pals being involved in the death of a man who was a walking red flag. I actually liked that as I’d have been pretty sad if the victim didn’t seem like a baddie. I don’t enjoy books where the victim is a nice person as then I’m just sad. This set my mind whirring with all of the possibilities to come.

I didn’t like any of the characters. In this sort of book, the enjoyment came from the unravelling of the story so it wasn’t important to have likeable characters. Hazel was boring and so passive. Mickie was very intense and annoying. Claire was passive aggressive and controlling. In addition, Hazel’s partner was also a total tool. Aidan’s sister was also creepy. Full of unpleasant characters.

The characters kept making such terrible decisions which I feel made them feel very realistic. Humans are flawed and I can totally forgive these choices based on the super stressful situations that they were in. Although Hazel honestly did just seem like a liability from start to finish.

I must admit that I guessed about 6 different endings and was wrong EVERY TIME! This made me so happy as I really was kept guessing right up until the end. There were a fair few moments where I gasped and shouted at the characters (who couldn’t hear me based on this being fiction!).

I was left with a few questions regarding how some characters knew things that they had no way of knowing. I felt like there were some missed reveals.

This was a very thrilling read for me and I really enjoyed it! Thank you to Love Books Tours for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Blog, Vlogs

Reading Vlog

This last week I have been participating in the Summer Mixtape Readathon. This has been such a fun week and I’m so excited that there’s one more week to go.

My weekly reading vlog

This readathon involves reading books that match up to some very summery songs. I’m not a summer loving person, so this has been an excellent way of feeling involved in the summer excitement that my friends have had.

Unfortunately, shortly after filming my previous vlog, I tested positive for coronavirus. This meant that I didn’t manage to read as much as I usually would. However, I did manage to read two books which ticked off 2/5 of the book related prompts so I’m very much on track! Plus, the two books that I read also technically tick two more of the prompts so I’m entering a new week feeling very positive about reaching my reading goals.

The Readathon Prompts