Scottish Reads, Vlogs

Reading Scottish- November Wrap Up

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.

My wee Scottish vlog

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!

Reviews, Scottish Reads

The Gloaming

Mara’s island is one of stories and magic. She knows she’ll eventually end her days atop the cliff, turned to stone and gazing out at the horizon like all the villagers that went before her, drawn by the otherworldly call of the sea. Her whole family will be there too, even her brother Bee and her sister Islay.

But the island and the sea do what they want, and when they claim a price from her family, Mara’s world changes forever.

As years pass and Mara grows into herself and her scars, a chance meeting with the magnetic Pearl brings magic to life once more in ways that Mara never thought possible, in a story that she never would have dreamed for herself before.

I couldn’t resist picking up another Kirsty Logan book!

I listened to this via audiobook and I think that was a perfect choice for this book. The writing was just gorgeous! It was dreamy and like a fairytale.

I loved the world building. This was set during modern times but the island was filled with magic and folklore which made it feel otherworldly.

The island itself felt like a character. It had human characteristics. I really enjoyed that. I did enjoy the human characters too. They weren’t all likeable, they were flawed but they were enjoyable to read about.

I think my favourite character was Pearl. Pearl had shown up on the island as somewhat of an outsider, fallen in love and started a new life. The life that she and Mara would build was so exciting and unusual.

Actually, Islay might have been my favourite character. She was ambitious and dreamed of life away from the island. She was also abrasive and rude. I did quite enjoy her interactions with Pearl who was trying so hard to impress and Islay was having none of it.

The book flipped back and forward between modern day, Mara’s childhood, and the early days of her parents’ relationship. I loved reading about the relationship between her parents, the boxer and the ballerina. It was just so sweet.

The main subject of this book was grief. The family were trying to cope with their own loss and it was affecting them all differently. I loved the way that when it came time to die, the islanders climbed to the top of the cliff where they would be turned into stone. They became statues. I thought that was quite comforting to be able to see their form.

In between the main body of this book, folklore elements were sprinkled. The book included selkies and mermaids. I love the story of the selkies! Selkies who took the form of seals but could shed their coats and take the form of a human. If their coat was stolen, they would be trapped in human form forever. An utterly heartbreaking myth!

I’d love to know if the island was alone in being magical or if the rest of the world had the name otherworldly vibes.

This is now my fourth book by this author and it’s safe to say that they are a firm favourite of mine. I’ve never been disappointed!

Reviews, Scottish Reads

The Sound at the End

On a near-abandoned research base in an Arctic ice field, a skeleton crew works to ensure the centre doesn’t collapse amid treacherous storms. Officially, Trieste Grayling arrives in order to explore and film a sunken shipwreck for a documentary film; privately, she’s working through a complicated grief. Trieste soon realises she’s not the only one who was attracted to this intense isolation in order to escape her ghosts.

Each of the crew members harbour dark secrets: Mal, the ever-competent medic conducting mysterious therapy sessions, Sweetie, the reclusive engineer with scarred hands, Thorsteinn, the aloof diver tender, Avelina, the temperamental base manager whose stories of home don’t quite add up, Grace, an underwater welder and recovering addict, and Judd, the erratic former member of a ‘90s boy band. As they begin to reach breaking point, each one’s hidden ghosts finally comes into the light.

This audiobook came to me with high recommendations from multiple friends. I was very excited to listen to this as I do enjoy a creepy read. I thoroughly enjoyed this and gave it 4 stars.

The voice acting was amazing! As a Scottish person, I find it so exciting to hear familiar accents on audiobooks (as opposed to people putting on Scottish accents that are usually terrible!). I didn’t hear my own accent but that’s ok, I got the warm and fuzzies from having two familiar sounding voices. This was such a small thing but it increased my enjoyment a great deal.

This book was an excellent example of books that I enjoy in spite of hating most of the main characters. I couldn’t stand Trieste, she was the epitome of the annoying new colleague. After one week she’s insistent on finding everyone’s secrets and generally being super nosy. I chuckled when her colleagues were telling her to just go away and she said ‘I’ll come back later’, completely oblivious to her colleagues just wanting to be left alone. I couldn’t work with her. I hated Mal, the doctor. She was completely inappropriate and dangerous. They were the two worst characters. Everyone else was annoying but to a far lesser degree.

I think that this book was better because the characters were so awful! It worked. If they were nice and likeable, I’d have spent the book worrying about their fate instead of being keen to find out what happened next.

This was the perfect audiobook as it was a full cast production. There were also recordings and moments where the audio gave out or stuttered which helped to add to the disorientation.

I loved the setting of a remote research base in the arctic. Having the characters shut off from the rest of civilisation helped to make this quite the psychological thriller! And I was thrilled. The scenes with the dives gave me chills! In an environment where you can’t be sure of who to trust, going for a wee dive in the arctic didn’t seem like a smart move. The characters weren’t making clever decisions though and I enjoyed the slow falling apart.

I felt so full of doubt while reading this book, in a good way. I wasn’t sure if the characters were imagining things or if they were really happening. I think the setting of an isolated camp really enhanced this.

This book was so creepy and chilling and I was absolutely hooked! I highly recommend it! I love being able to pass the recommendation on.

Reviews, Scottish Reads

The Gracekeepers

As a Gracekeeper, Callanish administers shoreside burials, laying the dead to their final resting place deep in the depths of the ocean. Alone on her island, she has exiled herself to a life of tending watery graves as penance for a long-ago mistake that still haunts her. Meanwhile, North works as a circus performer with the Excalibur, a floating troupe of acrobats, clowns, dancers, and trainers who sail from one archipelago to the next, entertaining in exchange for sustenance.

In a world divided between those inhabiting the mainland (“landlockers”) and those who float on the sea (“damplings”), loneliness has become a way of life for North and Callanish, until a sudden storm offshore brings change to both their lives – offering them a new understanding of the world they live in and the consequences of the past, while restoring hope in an unexpected future.

This book came to me with high recommendation and I absolutely loved it!

This book was told in dual narrative with North and Callanish having alternate chapters. The whole concept of a Gracekeeper was fascinating and it was really interesting reading about the various faiths in the world. The sections on the circus boat were just fun!

North’s backstory, the events that led to them being in the circus was really interesting and I love getting backstory for main characters, even just a teeny sentence will do, this really helped to make North feel like a well rounded character. Callanish’s backstory was a slower reveal but there were hints, I was happy to wait for it though. Knowing the history of both of the main characters really explained their actions and attitudes. There were some points where I didn’t agree with their decisions but knowing their pasts helped to explain why those choices were made and they made sense for the characters.

I absolutely adored the circus performers, there were so many characters but it was really easy to remember who was who-the characters were sort of grouped e.g. the clowns. Clowns terrify me in real life but in this book they were so funny and entertaining and not a red nose or big shoe in sight!

I absolutely adored The Bear. He was adorable and lovely and so gentle and protective.

The world building was excellent, I don’t think I’ve read many books set in a world that has become partially submerged. I really enjoyed the tension between the landlockers and the damplings which felt realistic. The author really described the environment so well, it was a world I’d be happy to read more about. I was really intrigued by Callanish’s home island and the contrast of the islanders’ beliefs.

I listened to this story via audiobook (on loan from my local library) and I listened to it in the various Starbucks of Aberdeen- as a side note, this book paired very well with a soy gingerbread latte because the festive drinks are back and I’m here for it! The author narrated the book which was a really nice touch. I really like when authors narrate their own novels and it’s always nice hearing a Scottish narration.

This book was gloriously whimsical and utterly heartwarming but also included important topics like belonging and family. This book had such strong found family vibes which is something that I’ve recently learned that I love! This was like a beautiful fairytale and I just loved it. I had extra love for this book because of the many, many recommendations that I’d received. Thanks friends, I loved it!

If you enjoy fantasy and whimsy and strong female leads, you may love this book too.