With February coming to an end, it’s time for me to wrap up all of the Scottish fiction read this month. It’s been a very good and varied month for me and Scottish fiction. This month I read two romances, for ‘tis the season, one fantasy, and one…I have no idea what genre Lanark belongs to!
In this video, I chatted about the following books;
I didn’t ask to be a bridesmaid. And I didn’t expect it meant co-ordinating with my best friend’s uptight lawyer brother.
But I’ll do anything to make it perfect. Which means smiling even when I want to scream.
Until my psycho ex decides it’ll be fun to start stalking me, and Matt agrees to be my fake boyfriend to put him off.
So I guess he’s not all bad. But falling for the best man-or any man- is not on my agenda.
Thanks to my sharp instinct and work ethic, I’ve been successful in life. Except in relationships.
Ever since my perfect woman dumped me I can’t look at anyone else. But she’s coming to the wedding, and I can’t let her see me alone.
When I find my sister’s bridesmaid crying under a table, I figure out a way we can help each other. After all I’m a lawyer and I know how to draw up a contract: pretend to date without cuddling, kissing, or falling for each other.
It sounds simple enough, but I’m tempted to break my own terms.
What’s this? Me reading another romance novella? Yes it is! It’s February, I had to read another romance. Nicki Bell is my go to author for a happy ever after.
I really enjoyed the characters in this book, I got my grumpy/sunshine romance. Grumpy/romance is one of my favourite romance tropes! I found the relationship between Ashley and Matt was so cute and had me cheering for them.
Of course there was some conflict which felt very realistic and I just felt for the characters.
This was a short and sweet romance and I just ate it up. I really enjoyed it, it was cute and fun. The book was predictable but not in a bad way, I got the ending I hoped for and I really like knowing I will get a happy ending from this author.
This book was an exclusive story available by being on the author’s mailing list so while I did get this book for free, I wasn’t obliged to review it (or like it! But I did)
When Ropa Moyo discovered an occult underground library, she expected great things. She’s really into Edinburgh’s secret societies – but turns out they are less into her. So instead of getting paid to work magic, she’s had to accept a crummy unpaid internship. And her with bills to pay and a pet fox to feed.
Then her friend Priya offers her a job on the side. Priya works at Our Lady of Mysterious Maladies, a very specialized hospital, where a new illness is resisting magical and medical remedies alike. The first patient was a teenage boy, Max Wu, and his healers are baffled. If Ropa can solve the case, she might earn as she learns – and impress her mentor, Sir Callander.
Her sleuthing will lead her to a lost fortune, an avenging spirit and a secret buried deep in Scotland’s past. But how are they connected? Lives are at stake and Ropa is running out of time.
I’m very proud of myself for making some progress in my series with this book which is book two in the Edinburgh Nights series. Dare I say that I enjoyed this book more than the first one!
I absolutely love Ropa as a character. She’s so strong and tough but with such softness and love when it comes to her friends and family. I enjoyed finding out more Ropa’s grandmother and her history and magic.
I found the world building in this book to be fantastic! In the first book I thought the world was like a sort of medieval version of Edinburgh but I was wrong. This book revealed so much more of the world which was actually the modern world…just a different timeline.
The magic system is so cool. I loved getting to know more about the magic system and the rules surrounding it. I got so excited by the magical bank and the archive (possibly extra excited about the archive because it was next to a shopping centre I used to frequent as a teenager!). I feel like a have a really good understanding of the magical system and the risks involved in using magic.
This book had two different story arcs which I enjoyed to different levels.
I didn’t enjoy the storyline with the mysterious stranger as much. Mainly because I didn’t like the stranger. He seemed dodgy and untrustworthy and I just wasn’t overly into his tale.
I loved the storyline with Max, the unwell child. This story took us to one of Edinburgh’s oldest magic school. That magical garden gave me everything!
This was a wonderful continuation of the series and I’m buckled in for book three!
“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.
As it’s almost the end of January, it’s time for me to wrap up all of the Scottish fiction that I’ve read this month. If you’ve been here for a while, you’ll maybe know that I love Scottish fiction and make a conscious effort to read books by Scottish authors every month.
This month I only read 3 books by Scottish authors. Sort of. I only finished 3 books by Scottish authors because I’m doing a buddy read of Lanark by Alasdair Gray and am only half way through it. So maybe it’s 3.5 books?
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.
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!
In 1976, a heatwave hot enough to melt concrete punishes Scotland. While everything burns, a woman arrives in Little Denny Road with a set of keys for her new council flat. She isn’t alone. Her two daughters are always by her side, except at night when they watch their mother drive off in a stranger’s car. Sadie, the youngest of the two daughters, thinks nothing of this until she’s asked a question at school. The answer will unleash consequences that echo through the decades. At the root of Sadie’s life is a disturbing secret that must be confronted. Evil, she’ll discover, is waiting seven miles south in a nice house… Sadie, Call The Polis is an offbeat story about a Scottish family as seen through the eyes of the indomitable Sadie Relish, whose journey from childhood to adulthood is rendered in hilarious, crushing detail. Her disastrous first date, the late nights at the bus stop with a bottle or two, running away from home, the many hangovers, her first and last job, grief, Covid, and all the drama and darkness squeezed in between.
This was my third book by Kirkland Ciccone and I was very excited to pick this up. It came to me highly recommended after a whole bunch of pals read it last year (I’m late to the party. This is standard).
This book covered Sadie’s life from the 1970s to the modern day. Sadie from primary school, to high school, to work, to married life, and parenthood. I really enjoyed getting to see the character grow in both age but in maturity. She learned from her mistakes and I think that was pretty important for her.
I love the way that this author writes characters. They felt realistic and rounded and I just utterly loved Sadie. Sadie was introduced as just a lonely wee lamb. I enjoyed her stories of early family life. I grew up with my mum and sister in a single parent household so it was nice to read about a similar set up to my own childhood home. However, my mum just worked in a shop, very different to Sadie’s mum! It’s always nice to find something in a book that is familiar.
I absolutely loved the first half of this book. The first half for me was probably 5 stars. I really enjoyed Sadie’s early life and her growing into an adult. The shenanigans and drama. The moment where Sadie met her husband, my enjoyment reduced a little. I hated him. I hated who Sadie turned into when she was with him. She lost herself and just became ‘wife’ and ‘mother’. There’s nothing wrong with being a wife and mother, it was just that Sadie lost everything that made her lovable and existed solely for domestic life. The second half lacked the heart that I had been reading about in the first half. It was still an enjoyable second half but nowhere near as much as the first half.
The book took some really tough moments and difficult subjects and mixed them with moments of light and laughter. This made for a very enjoyable book and I’m excited to see what Kirkland writes next!
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.
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!