This month I have been in a bit of a reading slump. In spite of this, I still managed to read three books by Scottish authors. I’m absolutely delighted as I also thoroughly enjoyed each of my Scottish reads this month.
I think that these three books could all become firm favourites and that’s more than I could have hoped for! I’m now extra excited to see what next month brings!
GLASGOW, 2019. Sharon has rushed home at the news her mother has been admitted to hospital. It’s clear Senga’s life is coming to an end. As Sharon gathers family and friends together to say goodbye, Senga, as always, does things in her own mysterious way. She instructs Sharon to find the red diary she kept in the 1970s and to read it. There’s something Senga needs to talk about while she still has time. The journey into her mother’s past is both shocking and surprising, forcing Sharon to re-evaluate her own childhood, her marriage and what she wants her own future to hold.
GLASGOW, 1976. Life in the tenements of Shettleston is a daily struggle. You need your wits about you to survive, and your friends. Senga has both in spades: she is part of the Shettleston ‘menage’ alongside her friends Bunty, Sandra, Philomena and Isa, and whatever life hands to them – cheating husbands, poverty, illness, threats and abuse – they throw something back just as hard. These women are strong because they need to be. And they never, ever walk away in times of crisis – as Sharon is about to find out.
I don’t want to shock anyone but I preordered this book and read it during the month in which it was received. I’m feeling very proud right now. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and gave it a hearty 4 stars (4.5 on StoryGraph because I love a half star).
I am a huge fan of Janey Godley and I enjoy her comedy a great deal. She, to me, feels like a natural storyteller and this made me feel a little apprehensive about reading this book. I wasn’t sure if a skill for storytelling on social media would translate to fiction and I feel like it really did.
I can’t resist a dual narrative tale. It’s very much something that I really enjoy. This was sort of dual narrative as the chapters flipped between Sharon in the modern day and Senga’s diary entries from the 1970s. It’s so long since I’ve read a book that relied on diary entries and this brought me back to my youth when I enjoyed Adrian Mole. I didn’t expect to get the warm and fuzzy glow of nostalgia from this book but the diary format gave me just that.
This was a very quick read. It was written in a very conversational way which made it so easy to read 100 pages before realising that you’d just read 100 pages. While it’s not important for me to enjoy the characters in a story, I loved the characters in this book. I especially loved all of the women from the 1970s diary entries. While this book was filled with moments of laughter, it also had moments of sadness with the women experiencing great difficulties such as poverty, domestic violence, alcoholism etc. This book could so easily have been a very depressing read but it felt full of hope. Those women were just so strong and supportive of each other and this made my heart so happy.
I really enjoyed the way that the diary seemed to help Sharon deal with her marriage coming to an end. I would like to say that if you’re on a break and your husband is off getting romantic with a yoga teacher, that’s probably more of a break up than a break. It was basically like accidental therapy for Sharon.
I loved the element of mystery that arose from the diary entries. I did see the reveal coming but I didn’t mind that because I enjoyed the journey to the reveal. It wasn’t a huge spoiler (to me, from me).
I am very much a fan of having old lady characters in fiction. Perhaps because I never had grandparents, I just love a wee old lady character! This book was filled with them and this made me so happy.
I have never read any fiction by this author before as this was their first fiction book but it was a really enjoyable, at times, emotional read. I’d definitely read more from them. Also, the diary was written in a big red book…and the hardback, when removed from the jacket (I can’t read a hardback while in it’s jacket) was also red! Coincidence or design? I’m not sure but I loved that!
Monique is a preacher’s daughter who detests the impossible rules of her religion. Everyone expects her to wait until marriage, so she has no one to turn to when she discovers that she physically can’t have sex.
After two years of trying and failing, her boyfriend breaks up with her. To win him back, Monique teams up with straight-laced church girl Sasha–who is surprisingly knowledgeable about Monique’s condition–as well as Reggie, the misunderstood bad boy who always makes a ruckus at church, and together they embark upon a top-secret search for the cure.
While on their quest, Monique discovers the value of a true friend and the wonders of a love that accepts her for who she is. Despite everyone’s opinions about her virtue, she learns to live for herself, inspiring us all to reclaim our bodies and unapologetically love ourselves.
This book was an absolute delight to read. When I started the book, I wasn’t too sure about it as the mum and boyfriend seemed to be just awful, like your classic mean mum and manipulative boyfriend. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to get past that. I needn’t have worried as by 8% I was hooked and I realised that first impressions of some of the characters were not accurate.
I absolutely loved Monique and how much she grew as a character. I really liked Sasha and totally understood her character and she felt super relatable. Reggie was silly and fun and I think 17 year old me would have wanted to be his friend. I loved the friendship story and it felt so authentic and was really supportive and sweet.
The amount of strong female representation in this book made me just so happy! Monique’s mum didn’t make a good first impression on me but by the middle/last third of the book I was cheering her on. I also absolutely adored Monique’s auntie and Reggie’s mum, it was so nice having their friendship along with the teenage friendship.
I got so annoyed during this book as some of the actions of the characters were so terrible yet were so realistic. I was enraged by Monique’s father. Monique’s (ex) boyfriend was a sleazy sleazebag and I could see that straight away. I think that’s the perk of being an adult reading Young Adult, I can see situations with my adult eyes when I know 100% I fell for some ridiculous lines in my teens (and 20s).
This book covered some very serious topics and raised awareness of a condition that affects many people who don’t even realise that it is a thing. I genuinely think that this book could change lives. I think that the way that this book discussed sex was really healthy. This is a book that I would definitely encourage my step kids to read when they’re a little older as it was a really good story about attitude towards sex and knowing your own body.
I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I really enjoyed reading this book and will be looking out for more books by this author as I lived their characters and their writing left me feeling warm and fuzzy. I also happy cried during this book.
Enter Vicky Romeo: lover, actor, bullshitter. Romeo is a slick, serial heartbreaker who is determined to land the lead in an all-women rendition of The Importance of Being Earnest. She thinks she has life figured out, but then she falls in love…
Enter Julie Turner aka Joolz: sexy, sarcastic, femme fatale and a cheerleader to boot. Stamping on hearts and traditional stereotypes she plays girls like Vicky Romeo at their own game.
Set in Glasgow in 2001, our heroines and their cohorts take on the world one incredibly gay step at a time.
I picked this book up when I was in Category Is Books, in Glasgow, at the start of the month. I’m still basking in the pride of reading a book in the month that I bought it. This has very much been the month for it but I have no faith in my ability to keep that up. I absolutely adored this book, I gave it 4 stars on Goodreads but it would have been 4.5 if Goodreads allowed halves.
This book was prefaced by a statement from the author who said that the book was written in 2001 which is the year that it was set. The attitudes and terminology used are that of the scene at the time and the book would have been totally different were it written today. I appreciated this because otherwise I’d have probably been a bit put off by some of the attitudes. As this book was about a community that I wasn’t part of in 2001, I’m taking the author’s word.
I absolutely loved that this was a story about a romance between Vicky Romeo and Julia Turner as I loved the nod towards Romeo and Juliet. While there is drama in this book, it’s very much not a rewrite of Romeo and Juliet. It was very much it’s own romance. It was a quite sweet romance which I really enjoyed.
At first I didn’t really like either of the main characters. I thought that Vicky Romeo was arrogant and reminded me so much of an old flatmate who used to boast about never being turned down by a romantic partner…and then one time they were and they were a wreck as they’d never faced rejection. However as the book went on, I could see through their shell and she was a sweetheart who just wanted to love and be loved and really wasn’t as confident as they appeared. Joolz annoyed me at first as they seemed to be playing games with Vicky despite saying they weren’t their type. There was a great deal of her being hot one moment and blanking her the next. Although I had to remind myself that these characters were 20/21 .
I really liked the strong parental role models in this book. I loved Mama Romeo and Sam! There were a lot of side characters that I did get a bit confused with. I enjoyed Kat but I didn’t like the other flatmate.
There were a few twists and turns in this book that I just did not see coming. They were very well done and really helped to make the characters feel real. I feel like I could have been friends with these people, I’d have gone to see their play!
I absolutely loved the setting of 2001 Glasgow. I loved the references to Nokia phones and a whole bunch of scenes in an Internet cafe. It was very nostalgic in places.
This was my second book by Ely Percy and it won’t be my last. I’m adding them to my autobuy author list! I’m so glad that I didn’t wait too long to read this book because I really did enjoy it.
Last week I decided to start my bookclub book a little early. This was due to my bookclub book being a memoir, Educated by Tara Westover. I expected that this book might be a little upsetting so I decided to sandwich it between some books that felt likely to spark joy. I have a large collection of books that sound like they might be heartwarming and last week they got a chance to shine.
This week I read:
Empress and Aniya- Candice Carty-Williams
Call Me Maybe – Cara Bastone
Educated – Tara Westover
You Should See Me in a Crown – Leah Johnson
I really think that this is the perfect way for me to read books that are potentially sad or distressing. I need to read books that make me feel warm and fuzzy inside.
Jaded-by-love Amara Hart owns a retro-style gaming arcade in the local shopping mall that is bustling full of people who’d rather play Pac-Man than have a candlelit dinner with the charming Casanova store owner next door. Despite her cynicism toward anything roses, Amara finds herself agreeing to help Valentino Rossi when his store is robbed a few days shy of Valentine’s Day—his biggest annual moneymaker.
Valentino believes in endless love and has made it his mission in life to help others express that love through romance and custom-made jewelry. Silly little love songs are what make him get out of bed in the morning, and meeting the anti-Valentine Amara has thrown him for a loop. Determined to prove love me tender is more than a retro ballad, Valentino sets out to give Amara a Valentine’s Day she’ll never forget.
As Amara feels her rough edges begin to soften, she begins to wonder what would happen if she asked the man next door to…be mine, Valentino.
What a super fun read! I was really in the mood for lovely sweet romance and this gave me exactly what I was looking for. I gave this book 4 stars because I just really enjoyed it and can see me reading more books by this author as this was so delightful and quite an innocent little romance.
I honestly think that grumpy sunshine romances may be my new favourite trope and this book gave me that. Val was a Casanova who had been linked to various women within the shopping mall, he was almost arrogant and definitely standoffish. Mara was whimsical, friendly, and chirpy. They seemed like such an unusual pairing but they really brought out the best in each other. Despite this being a novella, the main characters of Mara and Val were full of layers. I was rooting for them from the beginning.
I really enjoyed the two main characters having to work together which let them get to know each other. They were thrown together as they had to work overnight security at the mall…I only know of the shopping centres we have in Scotland but they tend to have security staff. Especially the big ones but I didn’t mind that this was perhaps a little unrealistic because the setting of the mall was very enjoyable. I love the shop names – Barber Streisand, Tequila Mockingbird, Son of a Bun Bakery. Plus the mall had an arcade and a cheese based food truck…it sounded dreamy!
The epilogue me happy cry because that’s what I hoped would happen. I thought this was a nice addition to the story as it still would have worked without the epilogue but it made me so very happy. I am such a sucker for a happy ending and with romance stories, I expect them and this really did leave me feeling warm and fuzzy. It wasn’t realistic at all but that’s ok!
This book just made me so happy! I smiled throughout the whole book and am very glad that I read it. For full disclosure, I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I’m now almost up to date with my ARCs, like a lot of people I’ve spoken to, I requested way more than I had budgeted time for and now I feel really behind. This book comes out on 11 February 2022 so I’m super pleased with myself for finishing this gem before it comes out.
When a reaper comes to collect Wallace Price from his own funeral, Wallace suspects he really might be dead.
Instead of leading him directly to the afterlife, the reaper takes him to a small village. On the outskirts, off the path through the woods, tucked between mountains, is a particular tea shop, run by a man named Hugo. Hugo is the tea shop’s owner to locals and the ferryman to souls who need to cross over.
But Wallace isn’t ready to abandon the life he barely lived. With Hugo’s help he finally starts to learn about all the things he missed in life.
When the Manager, a curious and powerful being, arrives at the tea shop and gives Wallace one week to cross over, Wallace sets about living a lifetime in seven days.
I’ve had this book since it was released last year as I preordered it the moment I heard about it. However after reading (and utterly adoring) The House in the Cerulean Sea last year, I was a little nervous about reading this book. I had loved my last TJ Klune so much and I still talk about it regularly, I was worried that I may not enjoy this book as much. I thought I may have set my expectations for TJ Klune too high. I shouldn’t have worried because I absolutely adored this book. This book made me just feel. I gave this book 5 shiny stars and it was my favourite read of January.
Grief and death are always a tough topics to include in book but I think that this book did a great job. With the topic of this book, there was a risk that it could have been a miserable read but it wasn’t. While the book was about death, it was also about hope. I found so many moments of sheer joy in this book. I already want to reread it!
I instantly got that Wallace was a horrible human being with no regard for other people, no empathy, he was such a nasty man. I really loved seeing him soften and realise the mistakes that he’d made and started to treat people like human beings. I think that his growth was just excellent and enjoyable to follow.
I loved Mei instantly! I loved the whole being a new reaper and making mistakes that Wallace would have seen as completely unacceptable. I loved how her relationship with Wallace grew especially after their initially awkward first meet. Her past was so sad but I loved that she used it to help her be a better reaper, I loved how protective she was and her passion towards scones was endearing.
Nelson was so funny! I loved how he played with Wallace and called him on his nonsense behaviour. I loved that he was like a guardian angel kind of ghost, teaching the ways to the newcomers. He made me laugh so much! I absolutely loved his reasons for staying at the tea shop, elderly characters are my secret weakness and I just loved him. He was an amazing grandfather and I’m going to have him as my fictional grandfather.
Hugo was adorable! He was a young man who had experienced pain and tried to use his experience to help others. He was so patient and kind but had his own battles. He just wanted to help and heal everyone even if it caused him pain. TJ Klune really knows how to write character than I love with my entire heart and I just wanted nothing but the best for Hugo!
I liked the hopefulness of this book. I didn’t feel like this was a book about the tea shop between the world of the living and whatever comes after we die, I felt a lot of joy reading this book. This was a very emotional read for me. While reading this I just kept thinking how much the people I’ve lost would have enjoyed a lovely tea shop before passing. As silly as it sounds, that gave me some peace
I ugly sobbed so hard during this book, the last few chapters took so long to read because reading through tears is difficult. I loved the characters so much and this book made me feel! When I say I sobbed, what I mean is that I open mouth sobbed and had to silence my tears with a t-shirt to prevent having to explain to the neighbours that I was hysterically sobbing at a book. This book joins the rank of books that I can’t describe the plot of without my eyes filling up (the list includes Atonement and Goodnight Mister Tom)
I thought that this book was just beautifully written and I was left feeling hopeful with a sort of sense of peace for those that have left us. I cannot even find the words to say how much I loved this book. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to read something heartwarming that leaves them feeling full of hope and happiness. However please be aware that this book does include death, suicide, murder, and death of a child so please take care of yourself.
Veronica McCreedy can’t resist the promise of adventure . . .
Nine-year-old Daisy and nearly ninety-year-old Veronica make an unlikely pair of friends.
Fiercely independent and impeccably dressed, Veronica has lived an incredible 87 years. Most of them alone, in her huge house by the sea. But with the arrival of brave and resilient Daisy into her life, Veronica finds she has a renewed thirst for adventure – and that they both share a passion for penguins!
So when Veronica and Daisy are invited to travel to the other side of the world together and visit the penguins of the southern hemisphere, they both jump at the chance.
Veronica had thought her days of new friendships, family and love were over, but perhaps it’s never too late for one more adventure?
I read Away with the Penguins in December as a buddy read and we enjoyed it so much that we decided to buddy read the second book. This time Veronica popped off to The Falklands to film penguins for a documentary which was a nice way for the original story to progress. While I did enjoy this story, I actually preferred the first book as this book seemed to have missed a few opportunities for excitement.
The original characters were all in this book but Daisy got more of a starring role and we were formally introduced to Sir Robert. Sir Robert was was sort of a cross between the glorious Attenborough and a basic outdoorsy presenter, initially charming and charismatic but I found him to be quite creepy and passive aggressive. Half way through the book, after an argument, he turned and was really horrible to Veronica for most of the rest of the book and the reason behind it made me so mad. I disliked him so much that I referred to him only as Sir Penguin.
This book, like the first book, had multiple narratives and followed the points of view of Veronica, Patrick, and Terry. I absolutely loved the multiple narratives, I think it worked so well in this book.
Patrick was tasked with finding out more about his father which took him off to the USA and to Canada. He met family he didn’t know he had and really struggled to piece his father’s life back together. Patrick even found an old friend of his father’s and learned the truth about his father. I felt so sorry for Patrick who learned so much about his father and really found it hard to handle, which was completely understandable. I actually found myself feeling more sympathetic towards Patrick than in the last book as I learned more about him and just want good things for him.
Veronica went through so much during this book, I just wanted someone to give her a huge hug. Her relationship with Daisy was just lovely to read about. She may not have had the opportunity to be a granny to Patrick when he was wee but it really felt like Daisy taught her how to be a granny and helped her to open herself up and to allow people into her life again after being hurt so much in the past.
Like in Away with the Penguins, this book was filled with lovely penguin moments and descriptions of beautiful scenery. It was like a lovely nature documentary. It was so lovely reading about Daisy falling in love with the penguins just like Veronica did.
The reason I didn’t enjoy this book as much as the last book was because there were multiple points during this book where I thought the book was going to take an exciting twist but then nothing happened. There were a few points where the book was building to a big reveal and the reveal was very disappointing. While I did really enjoy this book, I felt disappointed by it at points. It wasn’t a bad book, not at all. I did give this book 3 stars because I gave the last book 4 stars and I enjoyed that book so much more.
If there’s a third book in this series then I would definitely read it. I do enjoy Veronica as a character and the more I read about her, the more I warm to her. I thought that this book was a lovely heartwarming read and I thoroughly enjoyed unravelling the details of Patrick’s father. I definitely recommend this book but do read the first one first as this does pick up shortly after the last book ended.
You are about to read the true story of Father Christmas. It is a story that proves that nothing is impossible. If you are one of those people who believe that some things are impossible, you should put this book down right away. It is most certainly not for you. Because this book is FULL of impossible things.
Are you still reading?
Then let us begin . . .
This book was just the most perfect Christmas Eve read! It was short but utterly heartwarming and magical! This was my fourth Matt Haig read and, like the previous three, it was a 5 star read. I could not fault this book at all, not that I’d want to.
I read the audiobook which was narrated by Stephen Fry and that felt like the perfect choice. It also meant that I could do boring things like wrapping presents, my most hated festive activity, while listening to a darling story.
The entire book was told in such a beautiful way. With an all seeing narrator which i felt worked really well in this book.
I am such a sucker for a Santa origin story and this is among my favourites. Nikolas was such a lovely child and I really liked him as a main character. He loved his family, was kind to animals, and was grateful for what he had-he wasn’t greedy. I also really enjoyed the Truth Pixie, who I think has their own book as part of this Christmas series. I loved how mischievous and blood thirsty she was. I thought this was a wonderful addition to the story! I also absolutely adored the reindeer because I love an origin story.
This book was just such a magical and atmospheric story. The world building was beautiful. The forests sounded so dreamy and lush and the Elf Village sounded absolutely glorious. I too would have loved to be there. I know it was about Father Christmas so it is probably obvious but the atmosphere felt so wintery.
This was a children’s book so I didn’t expect it to include any tough moments but there were some pretty emotional parts in this book. Not in a bad way but in a character development way. Obviously I cried reading this book because that’s who I am. If a book is heartwarming, I will cry.
This book reminded me so much of Roald Dahl, who will always be one of my favourite authors so I mean this as a massive compliment. I fully intend to read the other books in this series because it was a wonderful adventure of a book. I didn’t really have many expectations going into this book, I enjoy Matt Haig’s writing but I wasn’t sue how I’d feel with it being a children’s book but I loved it! I will happily read a children’s book but do acknowledge that since I’m not the target audience, sometimes it might just not do it or me.
I thought that this book was absolutely perfect and gave me everything I wanted from a Christmassy read- excellent characters, wintery setting, and a heartwarming story. I was so sad when it ended as I just wanted more, not that it was incomplete. I just was greedy and wanted to read more about Nikolas and his friends. I think I’m going to be adding this to my Christmas re-read pile as I definitely want to read this book again.
Veronica McCreedy is about to have the journey of a lifetime . . .
Veronica McCreedy lives in a mansion by the sea. She loves a nice cup of Darjeeling tea whilst watching a good wildlife documentary. And she’s never seen without her ruby-red lipstick.
Although these days Veronica is rarely seen by anyone because, at 85, her days are spent mostly at home, alone.
She can be found either collecting litter from the beach (‘people who litter the countryside should be shot’), trying to locate her glasses (‘someone must have moved them’) or shouting instructions to her assistant, Eileen (‘Eileen, door!’).
Veronica doesn’t have family or friends nearby. Not that she knows about, anyway . . . And she has no idea where she’s going to leave her considerable wealth when she dies.
But today . . . today Veronica is going to make a decision that will change all of this.
This book was such a treat to read. I got to read this book as part of a buddy read-we read the book over one week in 50/60 page chunks and shared our thoughts along the way. I felt that this was a perfect way to read this book as there were so many hidden nuggets that were easy to miss.
I remember being recommended this book but I cannot remember who was responsible for bringing this book to my attention. Whoever that mystery recommender was, I owe them a huge ‘thank you’ as I really enjoyed this book and gave it 4 stars. This story also included one of my favourite formats of having a dual narrative- Veronica and Patrick.
I really enjoy books with older protagonists and there’s something about Veronica that just endeared her to me. She was cranky, snappy, very set in her ways…but I really likes her. I absolutely adored the whole concept of her just deciding to trot off to The Antarctic and not taking ‘no’ for an answer. In real life, I’m sure I’d strongly dislike Veronica but as a protagonist I found her to be really interesting. I really enjoyed her character development and the flashbacks really helped to understand why she was the way she was.
We were introduced to Patrick when he was at his absolute lowest and he wasn’t likeable at first but by the end of the book I was rooting for him and cheering on his achievements.
TheMy favourite characters were Terry, the penguin scientist, and Patrick/Pip the penguin. Every character in this book seemed to have a full character development, they felt very well rounded and it was great to get to know everyone.
The flashbacks in this book were a brilliant way of discovering Veronica’s secret. It was utterly heartbreaking and I shed a fair few tears. This was one of those books where I knew what was coming as this book included a topic that I knew a bit about so could see it coming (totally cryptic but I don’t want to give a huge spoiler) but I was still hoping that the book wasn’t going to take that route since I always want happy endings.
I found this book to be utterly heartwarming. It also made me want to visit The Antarctic…for approximately 3 minutes before I remembered that I find Aberdeen too cold sometimes. I would not have a good time in The Antarctic! This book described The Antarctic so well that I forgot about how much I hate being cold!
I enjoyed this book so much that I’ve bought the next book as I want more Veronica, Patrick and Terry. If you are looking for a heartwarming read about love and loss and finding yourself, I recommend this book