Reviews, Scottish Reads, Vlogs

The Witch and the Tsar and Raising the Alarm

My festive Vlog with full reviews

I’ve made a start on my Christmas film bingo board and checked off my first prompt. I’m feeling very accomplished! I finished the prompt for White Christmas which was a book featuring snow on the cover. For this prompt I chose The Witch and The Tsar by Olesya Salknikova Gilmore.

I also managed to squeeze in a wee novella and picked up Raising the Alarm by Nicki Bell which was short and sweet. I have preordered the second book in this series and I’m so excited about it!

So far, my plan to read at least 9 books by Christmas is going well. I hope these aren’t m famous last words!

Vlogs, Wrap Ups

November Wrap Up

November didn’t get off to the best start for me. I found myself in a big reading slump and just couldn’t concentrate for long and didn’t feel compelled to pick up any books. I knew it was coming, I could feel a reading slump on the air!

The slump started to ease towards the middle of the month and thanks to that, and to audiobooks which accounted for almost half of my reads, I managed to get through 11 books. I know that this is a great number of books to get through in a month but I had such grand reading plans for November, instead I went full mood reader.

My Wrap Up and Stats

I loved

Ginger and Me – Elissa Soave https://kapowskireads.com/2022/11/26/wendy-and-me/

The Gloaming – Kirsty Logan https://kapowskireads.com/2022/11/05/the-gloaming/

One Dark Window – Rachel Gillig* https://kapowskireads.com/2022/11/14/finding-a-new-favourite-and-book-haul/

I liked

An Act of Foul Play – T E Kinsey* https://kapowskireads.com/2022/11/16/an-act-of-foul-play/

Library of the Dead – T.L. Huchu https://kapowskireads.com/2022/11/23/library-of-the-dead/

A Suspension of Mercy – Patricia Highsmith https://kapowskireads.com/2022/11/09/a-suspension-of-mercy/

Not For Me

The Cloisters – Katy Hays*

The Rats – James Herbert

Reread

4:50 from Paddington- Agatha Christie

Dracula – Bram Stoker

Non-Fiction

Urbanshee- Siaara Freeman*

*#gifted

Reviews

An Act of Foul Play

November 1911. Lady Emily Hardcastle is celebrating her birthday by seeing a play at the Duke’s Theatre in Bristol with her maid and confidante, the inimitable Flo. Act One is a triumph. Then Act Two opens with a body on stage—a real one. One of the cast has been brutally murdered during the interval.

When other matters get in the way of Inspector Sunderland overseeing the case himself, he asks the ever-resourceful Lady H to keep a watchful eye on the suspects—and his police colleagues. Rustling up some cunning disguises of their own, she and Flo are soon in deep cover among the cast and crew, pulling back the curtain on some shocking secrets and rivalries…

The problem is, everyone seems to have a motive, and everyone seems to have an alibi…In this locked-room mystery in which nothing is as it seems, the amateur sleuths need to put on the performances of their lives if they’re to stand a chance of shining a spotlight on the truth…

I love the Lady Hardcastle series so imagine my joy at being able to get my wee mitts on a copy of the newest instalment on NetGalley! This book whizzed to the front of my tbr queue.

I thought that this book was just so fun! Yes it was a murder mystery but it was a very light and fluffy one. While this is book 9 of an existing series, I strongly feel like this book could work as a standalone. Anything you need to know about the characters has been included. I do enjoy that in a series, where it doesn’t matter if you remember the previous editions.

The double act of Lady Hardcastle and Flo (who I decided long ago was her lover and I’m going with this) was just so fun. I love their dynamic and the way that the interact with each other. It’s such a caring partnership that they have and you can tell how much they care about each other. In this book, Flo’s twin sister arrives for a visit and some identical twin high jinx ensued.

The theatre troupe was jam packed with suspects which is something that I want from a murder mystery. I want options for my suspects! It felt like everyone had a motive and I really enjoyed trying to put the case together. I did guess the murderer and motive though. I feel that there was one chapter that made it so obvious who the villain of the story was. That was a little disappointing because I’d been really enjoying the book up until then. I did enjoy the sheer volume of motives supplied, the theatre troupe was so interesting. I loved the drama of their relationships!

There was a wee side quest of Lady Hardcastle and Flo which was just as fun as their big theatre case. Although this one got me in the feels a little.

This was a quick and enjoyable read and I’m still very much into this series. Huge thank you to NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Reviews, Vlogs

Finding a New Favourite and Book Haul

This month has not been a good reading month for me so far. I’m in a slump! I’ve read very little compared to previous months and just haven’t been enjoying the books I’d chosen.

Well this week I may have reached a turning point as I not only was able to finish a book…but I also found a new favourite! Needless to say, I am delighted

My reading vlog

I also had a very mini book haul. Clearly I’m ignoring my self imposed book buying ban. But if I can’t read the books, I might as well buy them. That’s flawless logic!

Reviews, Vlogs

Reading Spooky Books

I was either super smart or super silly as I decided to spend a week reading a seasonal read every day. Seven spooky or at least, Halloween-esque books! Anything scary, spooky, creepy, or vaguely Halloween themed was eligible for this self imposed challenge.

I also went on a wee book haul that I couldn’t resist! In my defence, the majority of the books were holiday purchases but I can easily find an excuse for breaking my book buying ban. I was doing so well!

My vlog

Books included in this blog are:

Carmilla by Sheridan le Fanu

Cutthroat Cupcakes byCate Lawley

Interview With the Vampire by Anne Rice

A Pale Box on the Distant Shore by P.J. Nwosu *

Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice

The Final Girls Support Group by Grady Hendrix

How to Kill Men and Get Away With It by Katy Brent

*gifted

Reviews, Scottish Reads

Hex

IT’S THE 4TH OF DECEMBER 1591.
On this, the last night of her life, in a prison cell several floors below Edinburgh’s High Street, convicted witch Geillis Duncan receives a mysterious visitor – Iris, who says she comes from a future where women are still persecuted for who they are and what they believe.

As the hours pass and dawn approaches, Geillis recounts the circumstances of her arrest, brutal torture, confession and trial, while Iris offers support, solace – and the tantalising prospect of escape.

I have previously read two books by Jenni Fagan- I really enjoyed Luckenbooth but I didn’t overly enjoy The Panopticon. So I wasn’t too sure whether I was going to enjoy this or not. I had received so many recommendations from friends so I was excited but also apprehensive. Well, this book goes into the pile of ‘books I really enjoyed’, I may go as far as to say that I loved this. I think I did.

This was such a short book. A teeny, tiny novella of around 100 pages but it still packed such a punch! I was almost overwhelmed by emotions. I sobbed pretty constantly for the last 20 pages or so.

I really enjoyed the characters of Geillis and Iris. I feel like I really got to know Geillis, she was a young woman who helped people. She made the mistake of drawing attention from the wrong person and then found herself convicted of witchcraft and sentenced to death. She was such an endearing character and I just found myself really warming towards her. She was such a sympathetic yet strong character. Iris was a modern woman but another tragic soul. I would have enjoyed getting to know her a little bit more but there is a limit to what can fit in a wee novella.

I really enjoyed the mystical elements of this book. I enjoyed the magic and the use of magic in this story.

I loved the way that the two women bonded in such a short amount of time. I loved their relationship and the way that they brought each other comfort in a time of great need.

Despite knowing that this book was set the night before Geillis was to be put to death, I just found the ending to just break my heart. I am always seeking a happy ending and I suppose I hoped for one from this book despite being aware enough of the last to know that I was maybe setting myself up for disappointment.

I found the descriptions of the torture that Geillis suffered to be really upsetting to read. This book was so well researched and the factual elements just made me so angry that they ever happened.

I just through that this was such an emotional book. It showed that while separated by centuries, the women faced similar struggles and as a society we haven’t really moved as we perhaps like to think we have. This really made me think and feel.

Reviews

Hex Appeal

It’s just a bunch of hocus pocus…

Essie Winterscale lives in a huge and ever-changing house in the village of Good Winter, in deepest, darkest Essex. She lives with various witches of various ages, one of whom is still a bit salty about having been burned at the stake in 1635, one who keeps accidentally casting fertility spells, and one who knits things that create the future.

All Essie ever wanted was to have a normal life but in the end she found herself drawn back to Beldam House because she just can’t stop her witchiness (although the ability to instantly chill wine is pretty awesome, even she has to admit).

Into this coven of chaos stumbles gorgeous, clueless Josh, their new landlord – and he’s just discovered his tenants haven’t paid rent since the 1700s! As Josh is drawn further into the lives of the inhabitants of Beldam House, Essie is determined to keep him at broomstick’s length. That is, until a family secret, lying hidden for centuries, puts Josh firmly under her spell…

I wanted something fun and seasonally appropriate and this book gave me just that. It was fun!

I am a sucker for a witchy story involving a found family. I adored the found family vibes from this book, all of the witches were just such good characters. I liked them all, even Essie’s mum who could be a bit…abrupt but it sort of felt a little justified under the circumstances.

The magical world felt really well explained. I understood the rules and the stakes. I feel like that is so absolutely imperative in a magical book, I need to know if there are repercussions.

Essie was a wee lamb. She deserved way better than Josh who was limp lettuce personified. You know, the old bag of salad leave at the back of the fridge that was Josh. He was boring, he was unbelievably passive, and he was annoying. The time to ask questions is not when you’re facing death, make a mental note to ask later. After survival. I hated Josh, he was such a strange love interest as he had almost no personality but he had a cool sister. I know I hated Josh but the other characters more than made up for him being super dull.

The twists were really enjoyable and I found myself wanting to know what was going to happen. You know it’s a good book when you want to keep going. I read this for some reading sprints because I was not going to bed without closure.

The setting of a quaint little village in England was such a perfect setting. I loved Bedlam House, I love an almost sentient building. That’s a bit of a scamp and likes to join in with the fun

There was a moment, half way through the book where I felt that it was going in a specific direction. In the direction of one of my most hated tropes and I would have been so disappointed if it did…but a twist happened and it didn’t go where I thought it was going.

This book had spice. I thought it was a clean romance book at first, which it totally fine. Although, around the 70% mark, that all changed! This was no longer the sweet romance I thought it was. It got steamy and as is tradition, I performed a dramatic reading of the sexy bits to my partner who struggled to make out the words through my cackles.

This book make me cackle with laughter which felt right for an October read. It was fun, it was lovely, I whizzed thought it and it was really enjoyable. This book made me very happy. Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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

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!

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.