Reviews, Scottish Reads

The Wrong Side of Kai

“Vanessa doesn’t believe in serious relationships. Come to think of it, she doesn’t believe in any kind of relationship. But when her casual fling with Harrison ends in the ultimate betrayal, she’s out for revenge.
A leaked video that’s got everyone talking. A mysterious (and hot) new guy at school.
A payback plan. What could go wrong? And what might go right?
The Wrong Side of Kai is a story of broken hearts, forgiveness, trust and vulnerability – and the breathtaking exhilaration of falling in love.”

As the author of this book is from Peterhead which is relatively close to Aberdeen (30 miles), I just expected this book to be set in Scotland. Possibly even set locally! Imagine my surprise and confusion to find that this book took place in Ohio in the USA. It took me a shamefully long amount of time to realise that the book wasn’t set in Scotland. The first hint should have been that the house party was not referred to as an ‘empty’.

I don’t think I would have picked this up had i known it was a US teen drama book. However I did have a good time with this. It was very dramatic and reminded me of so many teen comedies from the 2000s that I enjoyed. I’m particular, it gave me John Tucker Must Die vibes.

The characters were all pretty one dimensional- Vanessa was a party girl who didn’t do relationships, Kai was a bad boy, Chyna was quiet and ridiculously smart, Hunter was an arrogant rich kid. I didn’t like any of the characters, I just felt that I didn’t get to know any of them. There were a few moments where a some character development was hinted at but just felt a little lacking.

The premise of this book was that Hunter leaked an intimate video of Vanessa. Vanessa then embarked on a quest of revenge with Kai. The revenge grew dramatically more and more…illegal. My issue here was why did Vanessa not go to the police? Her dad was a police officer. She had an intimate video leaked without consent and she was underage. That’s two crimes. I know her dad had some issues so she didn’t speak to him but Chyna’s parents? No?

I was very intrigued to know Kai’s reasons for helping Vanessa. I was thinking it may be related to his father’s accident. I found it very unrealistic that Kai would be so willing to break a whole bunch of laws for the reason he did. The revenge felt extremely out of proportion for Kai. For Vanessa, I understood. Personally I’d have been getting him charged and he’d lose his scholarship (rightly so)

The romance in this book was cute. I really enjoyed it and I bought it. I saw those two falling for each other. Predictable? Yes! But also adorable and sweet. I was rooting for those kids!

The level of drama in this book made for a very exciting book while being utterly unrealistic. This was a very fun read and I laughed at the ridiculousness of it all. Thai was a very quick read and it was nice to read something by a local author.


Untamed Shore

Baja California, 1979. Viridiana spends her days watching the dead sharks piled beside the seashore, as the fishermen pull their nets. There is nothing else to do, nothing else to watch, under the harsh sun. She’s bored. Terribly bored. Yet her head is filled with dreams of Hollywood films, of romance, of a future beyond the drab town where her only option is to marry and have children.

Three wealthy American tourists arrive for the summer, and Viridiana is magnetized. She immediately becomes entwined in the glamorous foreigners’ lives. They offer excitement, and perhaps an escape from the promise of a humdrum future.

When one of them dies, Viridiana lies to protect her friends. Soon enough, someone’s asking questions, and Viridiana has some of her own about the identity of her new acquaintances. Sharks may be dangerous, but there are worse predators nearby, ready to devour a naïve young woman who is quickly being tangled in a web of deceit.

I am a huge fan of Silvia Moreno-Garcia, this was my 11th book by this author. I’m a huge fan and I always have a good time with her. I did have a good time with this book.

This took a more noir theme than most of the other books I’ve enjoyed by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. It was giving me similar vibes to Velvet Was the Night. I was excited to enjoy another noir book!

I really enjoyed the characters. I feel like each of the main characters went through a journey and changes/showed their true selves. The wealthy tourists start off being so friendly and welcoming to Viridiana, they invited her to share their home while she worked for them. It seemed as if she was going to have a really enjoyable summer job. So quickly it appeared that there was more to the tourists than met the eye, they weren’t quite the lovely people that they had seemed to be at first. Quickly the woman turned on Viridiana and she was left wondering why. I really enjoyed not knowing who I could trust. I found Viridiana to be a very sympathetic character and I really was rooting for her.

The plot point surrounding the lie that Viridiana told was a little predictable. As in the book really was taking that direction. However the impact of this twist were far less predictable. I found second half of the book to become pretty fast paced and unexpected. Like a whirlwind.

The atmosphere was fantastic. This is one of the things that I love the most about this author. They write books that just ooze atmosphere that complements the vibe of the book. The atmosphere in this book was dark and foreboding. Like something was going to happen. There was a lot of symbolism coming from the sharks and the ocean. It was so clever!

The ending was totally unexpected. I was so sure the book was going to go in a different direction and I’m so happy that it didn’t.

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I continue to be a huge fan of this author.


Only on the Weekends

Fifteen-year-old Mack is a hopeless romantic–likely a hazard of growing up on film sets thanks to his father’s job. Mack has had a crush on Karim for as long as he can remember and he can’t believe it when gorgeous, popular Karim seems into him too.

But when Mack’s father takes on a new directing project in Scotland, Mack has to move away, and soon discovers how painful long-distance relationships can be. It’s awful to be so far away from Karim, and it’s made worse by the fact that Karim can be so hard to read.

Then Mack meets actor Finlay on set, and the world turns upside down again. Fin seems fearless–and his confidence could just be infectious.

Well this book was absolutely beautifully written! I’ve never read anything by this author before but I had heard great things about Black Flamingo and had actually gone to the library to pick up a copy of that. Unfortunately they didn’t have it but I found this one instead.

This was a tale of young love told through verse. I’ve read a few verse novels and i really enjoy this format.

There were a lot of characters in this book and I did find myself getting a wee bit confused or lost at times. The characters grew so much in this book that I found myself really changing the way that I felt about the main characters. I started liking Mack and feeling suspicious towards Karim (who was referred to as ‘K’ throughout the book).

Mack and K getting together was just so sweet and lovely. It was young love. However, it was so obvious that the two boys were possibly not going to have their ‘walk into the sunset’ moment. Not because of their differences in personality but due to the fact that they wanted different things from each other. Their relationship expectations were so different. Mack wanted to share their love with the world. K wanted to keep their love life private. I wasn’t out and I felt so bad for him as he felt a little bit of pressure.

When Mack moved to Scotland he formed a friendship with Fin and Fin proudly shared their friendship online and basically started to give Mack what they wanted from K.

I just didn’t want any of the characters to get hurt and I was so tense reading this book because I could see that at least one person was going to get hurt.

I felt that the way that Mack treated his friends was pretty authentic based on my own very vague memories of being 15 and having friends in love. It was pretty sad to read at times because Mack seemed to take their friends for granted which was especially sad due to the fact that they’d previously lamented their lack of friends.

I really enjoyed this book. It was beautifully written. It was a very emotional and raw read about young love and a protagonist who just struggled to know what they wanted.

Reviews, Scottish Reads


Everyone has a Tully Dawson: the friend who defines your life.

In the summer of 1986, in a small Scottish town, James and Tully ignite a brilliant friendship based on music, films and the rebel spirit. With school over and the locked world of their fathers before them, they rush towards the climax of their youth: a magical weekend in Manchester, the epicentre of everything that inspires them in working-class Britain. There, against the greatest soundtrack ever recorded, a vow is made: to go at life differently. Thirty years on, half a life away, the phone rings. Tully has news.

Check me! Reading another book from my 23 in 2023 pile. This is a level of focus that I will be unlikely to carry on throughout the year but I’m still going to take this an an achievement. I have wanted to read this book for so long, it was on my 2022 to be read pile but I didn’t get to it. I know I put off reading this because I was worried that I just wouldn’t be hydrated enough for all the sobbing I expected.

Well I think I’m going to shock some people by admitting that I didn’t cry. I felt sad but I didn’t cry and I usually cry at everything.

This book was split into two halves- 1986 and modern day.

The first part set was in 1986 during a music festival in Manchester and this part really wasn’t for me. I almost DNF’d this book because I disliked this part of the book so much! We were introduced to the gang and got to witness their excitement at being in Manchester living their dream. I found the characters to be infuriatingly obnoxious and pretentious. It was like when you watch a film and people start dancing and singing in public and you think ‘some people are just trying to eat their dinner in peace/get home from work/enjoy a walk in the park etc’. They were annoying and loud and I really just did not like any of them. I was told to persevere because the book would pay off and I’d regret DNFing.

The second half was much better. The main characters are older but only a little less obnoxious. Tully had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and this half was about him and his plans. This was a tough and very heartbreaking section of the book. It raised some really good questions regarding end of life.

I did like this book but I didn’t love it. I feel like something was missing. Lovable characters. This book would have been absolutely heartbreaking and so powerful if I loved Tully. There was nothing in this book to show me why everyone loved him, I was just told that he was the best. I just needed to see it for myself. I wanted to love this book and I just didn’t.

I know that this book was based on the author’s friend and their life and passing . You can really tell how much the author just loved their friend, that came across.

Reviews, Vlogs

The Woman in the Library

In every person’s story, there is something to hide…

The ornate reading room at the Boston Public Library is quiet, until the tranquility is shattered by a woman’s terrified scream. Security guards take charge immediately, instructing everyone inside to stay put until the threat is identified and contained. While they wait for the all-clear, four strangers, who’d happened to sit at the same table, pass the time in conversation and friendships are struck. Each has his or her own reasons for being in the reading room that morning—it just happens that one is a murderer.

What a week I have had! I had planned to read and Vlog a specific book but I ended up hating it. Luckily, I was in a position to be able to pick up another book and The Woman in the Library really did deliver! I had planned to take this book to the library but it was closed, however I still had a fantastic experience with this book.

This book definitely deserved a dedicated vlog!

I read this book in under 24 hours. I was just so invested and eager to find out what was going to happen next. This is the first book I’ve selected from my 23 books in 2023 pile and I’m starting strong. I am a huge fan of murder mysteries and feel that this book gave me something extra and really felt fresh and exciting. I utterly adored this book and highly recommend it.

Reviews, Scottish Reads

Before Again

He’s been killing for hundreds of years.
But he reckoned without her.
Kirsty doesn’t do people, but even she can’t ignore the man being roasted alive on the banks of the Clyde. She batters in to save his life…

And accidentally tears the fabric of time.

Now an ancient serial killer is on the loose and only Kirsty can make him regret he was ever born.

Whatever the cost.

Will she live up to the pressure or will everything she loves be lost forever?

This book was a whirlwind of a book!

I enjoyed the characters a great deal. A lot of characters were introduced but the protagonist, Kirsty really took centre stage. I enjoyed her growth in this book. She was first introduced at the beginning of the book having returned home for her grandmother’s funeral . Her grandmother basically raised her and Kirsty was filled with guilt over not being there for her grandmother. Kirsty then found herself saving a hunky Viking which is the action that ripped a wee hole in the very fabric of time. Kirsty then found herself to be a very reluctant heroine.

I enjoyed the dynamic between Kirsty and her new found Viking pal/ love interest. I also enjoyed their dynamic with Kirsty’s long long grandfather. They formed this somewhat bizarre little family unit and it was charming and sweet but also full of moments of laughter and fun.

I loved the dialogue in this book. It was so refreshing to read dialogue that felt authentically Scottish. Kirsty felt like she could be a friend and the terms she used were so familiar. I think that’s part of what made her so loveable as a character.

I loved the way that this book mixed together multiple storylines involving a Viking invasion, time travel, a serial killer , as well as family drama. Kirsty’s great grandmother was the formidable head of a gang and I really wanted to know more about this.

The serial killer storyline was a little reminiscent of Bible John which was pretty terrifying! I feel like this storyline was handled in a way that left me intrigued. I enjoyed the way Kirsty tried to basically hunt him down.

There was a wee romance in this book and it got spicy! I hadn’t expected there to be spice so that was a delightful treat for me as a reader and I’m sure it was for the character too.

I laughed and I cried. This book kept me guessing throughout and ended on a cliffhanger just when I’d thought things were going to be ok. I need the second book in the series!

For full disclosure; I received a copy of this book as part of a book tour over on Instagram. However, these opinions are entirely my own. While I was asked to post about this book on Instagram, I wasn’t asked to post about it here or anywhere else. I just enjoyed it so much that I want to talk about it!


The Set Up

A perfect disaster – or a perfect match? Find out in this heartfelt rom-com novella….

“Just three dates. That’s all I’m asking. One boy shares your sense of humor. Another has similar interests and ideals. The third boy has a helpful heart like yours.”

When Aditi Gupta comes home late from work as a pediatric resident one night and her grandfather offers this pitch, she reluctantly agrees. She’s far too busy with med school to be dating, and besides, she dreams of a love for the ages, like her parents, not an arranged marriage. And yet she finds herself agreeing to three dates because she loves her grandfather. All she has to do is make herself utterly ineligible and problem solved!

And sure enough her first date with the disgustingly handsome and intriguing Krishna Lal goes exactly as planned: not well! But then the second date comes around and Aditi finds that there is more at stake than just three bad dates. Suddenly, her heart is on the line, and maybe her grandfather’s, too.

Well this was fun! I listened to this audiobook as it popped up on my audible unlimited homepage and I fancied something light and fun. This gave me just that!

At first, I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy this book. I didn’t instantly enjoy the characters. Their first date was very cringey for me to read but once I got past the first date, I was in. By the end of the book, I still didn’t overly like the two main characters but I still enjoyed the story.

I love, love, love a meddling grandparent trope. I thought the grandparents were just so fun! I wish that they would have been the central characters or at least would have featured more.

I really enjoyed the reveal of why the grandparents were meddling. I like that it was just that they were controlling or anything bad, they had very adorable reasons for meddling and I liked their history.

This was an almost insta-romance which is what I was hoping for. It was short and sweet and I got a wee happy ending. I would definitely recommend this book if you want a speedy little romance that pulls on your heartstrings because the side characters were lovely wee grandparents.

Reviews, Vlogs

Legends and Lattes

I had such a delightful time with this book

Finally! I finished a book this year and I loved it. It took me a while to get into my reading groove for 2023 and I’m so glad that this was my first read of the year. What a start!

I got this book in my office Secret Santa last year and I’ve been looking forward to reading it ever since. Yes, I was my own Secret Santa and I chose well because I had a brilliant time with this book.

I can see me reading this book over and over as it was such a comforting and cosy read. The hype definitely was real with this book!


Killers of a Certain Age

They’ve spent their lives as the deadliest assassins in a clandestine international organization, but now that they’re sixty years old, four women friends can’t just retire – it’s kill or be killed in this action-packed thriller.

Billie, Mary Alice, Helen, and Natalie have worked for the Museum, an elite network of assassins, for forty years. Now their talents are considered old-school and no one appreciates what they have to offer in an age that relies more on technology than people skills.

When the foursome is sent on an all-expenses paid vacation to mark their retirement, they are targeted by one of their own. Only the Board, the top-level members of the Museum, can order the termination of field agents, and the women realize they’ve been marked for death.

Now to get out alive they have to turn against their own organization, relying on experience and each other to get the job done, knowing that working together is the secret to their survival. They’re about to teach the Board what it really means to be a woman–and a killer–of a certain age.

I was originally a little bit apprehensive going into this book. I love a book with strong female characters but I don’t read a lot of assassin/secret agency books. I was very pleasantly surprised and I had a great time with this one!

I had been very excited to read this one as I am a sucker for a female led story and female friendship.

I really enjoyed the characters. The main characters were 60 year old women and I felt that their interactions were so reminiscent of when I’d see my mum chat to her friends. I really appreciated that the characters weren’t described as being wee old ladies! They had known each other for 40 years and when they got together they somewhat regressed and silly in jokes and their dynamic felt very realistic. I was so worried that they’d be described as being a bit doddery and delicate as so often happens when people write older characters but these characters worked for me.

I do feel like I kept forgetting one of the main characters as there was a bit of development that I felt was lacking. There was the main character, there was the woman who was mourning her husband and was ready to retire, the other two characters merged into one. I kept forgetting there were four main characters and not three.

The story was told through dual timeline. I love a dual timeline! We flipped between a modern day setting where the women were being hunted down and were unsure who to trust and 1979/80. In the flashback sections, I got to learn about the society and how the women were recruited and trained.

I could have happily read an entire book about the founding of the Sphinxes! I wish there were more flashbacks.

There was a betrayal on this book and it felt very obvious who was behind it. I also felt that I saw the twist coming very early on. This disappointed me a little as I think the book could have gone down a different route and done something shocking to the plot.

I really enjoyed this though. I enjoyed the characters, mature female friendship, and women using their skills to win the day. I enjoyed the way that they put their years of work to good use and were forced to work without their usual resources. I highly recommend this one!

Reviews, Scottish Reads, Vlogs

Two Wintery Murder Mystery Collections

I will accept murder mystery collections in lieu of turtle doves! I received Midwinter Murder by Agatha Christie last Christmas from my parents but I didn’t manage to get it read before the end of December so put it aside for this year. I know I could have read it after then but it included some Christmas stories and I don’t like reading Christmas tales outside of November/December.

Squeezing in some festive murder mysteries

I managed to finish that book way quicker than expected so had time for a second book. I had recently picked up a copy of Christmas is Murder by Val McDermid. This was to be my first book McDermid book and this was the right choice.

I have a sneaky suspicion that both of these books will make it onto future December reread reading piles!