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

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!

Book Recommendation of the Month, Reviews, Scottish Reads

Wendy and Me

Wendy is nineteen and living alone.
All she wants is to drive the 255 bus around Uddingston with her regulars on board, remember to buy milk when it runs out and to just be ok. After her mum passed away, there’s no one to remind Wendy to eat, what to do each day and most importantly to love herself. Every week Wendy proudly shows her social worker Saanvi the progress she’s made, like the coasters she bought to spruce up the place, even if she does forget to offer her a cup of tea.

But Wendy is ready to put herself out there and really live.
She joins a writer’s group to share stories she writes including the one about a bullied schoolboy who goes to Mars. The other writers are total amateurs, unlike Diane Weston – a famous local author who likes and sometimes even comments on Wendy’s tweets.

Everything changes on a rainy day when Wendy meets Ginger.
A teenager with flaming orange hair, Ginger’s so brave she’s wearing a coat that isn’t even waterproof. For the first time, Wendy has a real best friend. But as they begin the summer of their lives, Wendy wonders if her life would be simpler if she hadn’t met Ginger. And that’s before she realises just how much of a mess Ginger is about to get them in…

I was so excited to pick up this book as it came to me with high recommendations, from people who with similar reading tastes, so I was a keen bean going in. From page 1, I was hooked. The book opened with Wendy, the protagonist, in prison. Then goes back in time to detail the events that ended with her being arrested. I thought that was so smart because I was reading the book trying to work out what she did. There were loads of little red herrings and I just found myself jumping to conclusions and just compelled to keep reading.

I absolutely loved Wendy as a character! I just loved her. She felt so realistic. She was a young woman who had lost her mother, her mother was her entire support network, so she was just lost! Ginger entered her life like a whirlwind and while Wendy wondered what would have happened if she didn’t form a friendship with her, you could see how much she cared about her. I really enjoyed the friendship between Ginger and Wendy. Two wee souls that just needed a pal. Ginger was young and at times felt…young! I kept forgetting she was only 15 and getting annoyed that she didn’t seem to understand Wendy’s obligations because in spite of their similarities, they were at different places in their lives.

I really enjoy books that feel like a slice of life. Wendy felt real. Ginger felt real. The pretentious writing club felt real. My wee heart broke while reading this as I just fell so in love with the characters that I wanted only good things for them and kept worrying that perhaps something bad may happen…because it’s a book and a twist is always coming.

I feel like the relationship (for lack of a better word, although ‘interaction’ is probably a better choice of word) between Wendy and Diane was really well described. It escalated so quickly! Only after finishing the book did I think about how creepy it was from the beginning. Both characters were so lovely but their entire interaction was rather terrifying!

I absolutely adored this book! It made me feel and I just loved the characters so much! This was my bookclub pick and I’m so excited to be able to chat about this book for days to come.

Reviews, Scottish Reads

Library of the Dead

When a child goes missing in Edinburgh’s darkest streets, young Ropa investigates. She’ll need to call on Zimbabwean magic as well as her Scottish pragmatism to hunt down clues. But as shadows lengthen, will the hunter become the hunted?

When ghosts talk, she will listen…

Ropa dropped out of school to become a ghostalker. Now she speaks to Edinburgh’s dead, carrying messages to the living. A girl’s gotta earn a living, and it seems harmless enough. Until, that is, the dead whisper that someone’s bewitching children–leaving them husks, empty of joy and life. It’s on Ropa’s patch, so she feels honor-bound to investigate. But what she learns will change her world.

She’ll dice with death (not part of her life plan…), discovering an occult library and a taste for hidden magic. She’ll also experience dark times. For Edinburgh hides a wealth of secrets, and Ropa’s gonna hunt them all down.

This book was a recommendation but I can’t remember from whom. So, huge thanks to whoever recommended this to me because I loved it and I’m excited to get the second book in this series. I’m currently on a library waiting list for it.

I absolutely loved the world building in this book. It was Edinburgh but not as we know it. The world is very much a fantastical version of ours and was somewhat medieval with bandits on every corner and a fierce loyalty to the king.

Ropa was a very interesting main character. On the outside she was tough and independent and couldn’t be swayed by emotion. On the inside, she was warm and caring and just loved her family. I really enjoyed her interaction with her granny and sister. Classic little sister always swiping her mobile phone.

Ropa speaking with the dead was so interesting. I don’t know if I believe in ghosts and spirits but I don’t want to annoy them by saying I don’t. I enjoyed the way she used her skills for speaking with ghosts as a way to make a living. The moment she refused to work for free, I knew the book was going to get even more exciting!

Something or someone had been stealing children and draining their youth, leaving them as empty husks. Nobody was looking into this so it fell to Ropa to investigate using the skills she had from being able to communicate with the other side.

This was like a fairytale. One of the creepy ones but I liked that. I loved the creepy house which was not made of gingerbread but was just as terrifying!

I would have liked a little bit more of the library. I did get to read a little about the library but it was so barely mentioned that I was a little confused about it being the title of the book to then basically be ignored. This book is the start of a series so maybe the library will feature more in future stories and I will happily read those.

I loved the way that this book mixed Scottish folklore with Zimbabwean magic. I found that to be so interesting. I love when books give me a little bit of magic and myth that I didn’t know.

Reviews, Vlogs

A Week of Murder Mysteries

I have been in a reading slump. This explains the lack of reviews being posted, I’ve just been struggling to concentrate and actually read.

This week I’m feeling like I might be on the upswing and I’m trying not to get too giddy…but I’m a little giddy about it!

I decided to give myself a whole week of reading murder mysteries, since those are some of my favourite books. Even if I got through just one book, I felt like this was a guarantee of a good week of reading. So that’s what happened, I read murder mysteries for a whole week and I had a great time!

I also managed to read more than one book which really was fantastic!

I’m absolutely delighted at being able to actually make vlog this week
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

The Final Girl Support Group

In horror movies, the final girl is the one who’s left standing when the credits roll. The one who fought back, defeated the killer, and avenged her friends. The one who emerges bloodied but victorious. But after the sirens fade and the audience moves on, what happens to her?

Lynnette Tarkington is a real-life final girl who survived a massacre twenty-two years ago, and it has defined every day of her life since. And she’s not alone. For more than a decade she’s been meeting with five other actual final girls and their therapist in a support group for those who survived the unthinkable, putting their lives back together, piece by piece. That is until one of the women misses a meeting and Lynnette’s worst fears are realized–someone knows about the group and is determined to take their lives apart again, piece by piece.

But the thing about these final girls is that they have each other now, and no matter how bad the odds, how dark the night, how sharp the knife, they will never, ever give up.

I was so intrigued by this book. I’m a huge fan of films like Scream, Halloween, and Friday the 13th. I suppose they’re slasher films but as a total wuss, I do Google all the spoilers first. I refuse to get caught out by a jump scare. This book definitely appealed to my love of slasher films!

I really enjoyed all of the main characters. They each had their own coping mechanisms, they did what they needed to in order to go on after surviving their individual massacres. They felt well rounded and felt like real characters. I loved that while they drove each other up the wall, they loved and cared for each other. I didn’t expect found family joy but I got it. A pleasant surprise! I absolutely loved the way that the character names nodded towards the characters/actors of the Final Girls of so many enjoyable scary film series. This was such a nice touch.

This book was super fast paced and so easy to consume! When the book reached just after halfway, the pace picked up even more and it was just pure excitement and danger.

I absolutely loved the first and last 45%…but the middle 10% I hated. I hated the middle so much that I genuinely considered giving up on the book entirely. I was encouraged to continue and I’m really glad that I did. Although I’d recommend skipping all of the chapters in the police station to anyone going in. I just think the book would be fantastic without those chapters.

Due to the nature of this genre, there were a lot of moments of violence. I didn’t find the violence to be too gratuitous or gory. I’m really not one for blood and gore and I feel like this book gave just the right amount of gore while remaining in the spirit of the source material.

This just felt like reading a scary movie. It was full of twists and turns and I just did not see the reveals coming. I was so sure that I knew who the baddie was, I was certain! I was also wrong, wrong, wrong. When the reveal came I audibly gasped!

I have seen a few reviews where people were unhappy with the ending of this book but I loved it. It felt like the perfect ending to this book.

This was my third book by this author so I’m feeling pretty confident about reading more books by Grady Hendrix as I’ve enjoyed each of their books that I’ve read so far.

Scottish Reads, Vlogs

Reading Scottish – October Wrap Up

As is standard, I’ve read some Scottish fiction and I’m here to chat about it. October was a very productive month for me and Scottish fiction and I read 5 books by Scottish authors. Two of these books were put aside especially for October because they felt spooky.

My Vlog

This month I read mentioned:

There’s Only One Danny Garvey – David F Ross

Things We Say in the Dark – Kirsty Logan

The Sinister Cabaret – John Herdman*

Hex – Jenni Fagan

Edge of the Grave – Robbie Morrison

*gifted

Reviews

Interview With the Vampire

This is the story of Louis, as told in his own words, of his journey through mortal and immortal life. Louis recounts how he became a vampire at the hands of the radiant and sinister Lestat and how he became indoctrinated, unwillingly, into the vampire way of life. His story ebbs and flows through the streets of New Orleans, defining crucial moments such as his discovery of the exquisite lost young child Claudia, wanting not to hurt but to comfort her with the last breaths of humanity he has inside. Yet, he makes Claudia a vampire, trapping her womanly passion, will, and intelligence inside the body of a small child. Louis and Claudia form a seemingly unbreakable alliance and even “settle down” for a while in the opulent French Quarter. Louis remembers Claudia’s struggle to understand herself and the hatred they both have for Lestat that sends them halfway across the world to seek others of their kind. Louis and Claudia are desperate to find somewhere they belong, to find others who understand, and someone who knows what and why they are.

Louis and Claudia travel Europe, eventually coming to Paris and the ragingly successful Theatre des Vampires–a theatre of vampires pretending to be mortals pretending to be vampires. Here they meet the magnetic and ethereal Armand, who brings them into a whole society of vampires. But Louis and Claudia find that finding others like themselves provides no easy answers and in fact presents dangers they scarcely imagined.

To the shock and surprise of my closest friends, I have not previously read this book. As a lover of vampire fiction and gothic fiction, it makes sense that I’d have read and loved this book way before now. However, I was always to scared to read this book.

Back in 1998, my sister and I decided to watch the film adaptation, Interview With a Vampire. I was so scared! I wanted to watch it but was so scared that I had to listen to music via headphones while reading the subtitles. I listened to Hanson’s debut album on a discman, very 90s! So Hanson will forever make me think of vampires! I did enjoy the film but I couldn’t sleep for a long time so I was very apprehensive. I’m older now and not a great deal braver but I found the book to still be scary but I knew a lot of what was going to happen, so I managed to sleep soundly without the aid of Hanson.

The entire book takes the form of an interview with flashbacks. Louis just remembering his life in New Orleans and Paris, before choosing a life of solitude. I feel like I really got to know him as a character and to feel sympathetic towards him. He worked so hard to maintain a level of humanity which was so unlike Lestat who had sired him.

Louis and Claudia had a relationship which did sometimes lean towards the ick. Mainly due to Claudia being forever in the body of a 5 year old. I found her to be the most sympathetic of the characters as she was turned at such a young age. She never really had a chance to live.

I found the sections in Paris to be so exciting and fast paced. Meeting the other vampires was just so terrifying and just felt like there was danger at every turn. My memory of the film was a bit hazy so I couldn’t remember much of the plot other than there being a lot of blood, so my enjoyment was not reduced for having seen the film.

The writing was just exquisite and I felt myself just happily consuming it.

I found this book to just be so tense and I really was kept guessing what was going to happen. I couldn’t put it down and I finished this book within a day, I regret nothing! Other than waiting so long to read this book and I will be making my way through the series as soon as I work my way through so other reading goals.