Reviews, Scottish Reads

Paper Cup

What if going back means you could begin again?

Rocked by a terrible accident, homeless Kelly needs to escape the city streets of Glasgow. Maybe she doesn’t believe in serendipity, but a rare moment of kindness and a lost engagement ring conspire to call her home. As Kelly vows to reunite the lost ring with its owner, she must return to the small town she fled so many years ago.

On her journey from Glasgow to the south-west tip of Scotland, Kelly encounters ancient pilgrim routes, hostile humans, hippies, book lovers and a friendly dog, as memories stir and the people she thought she’d left behind for ever move closer with every step.

Full of compassion and hope, Paper Cup is a novel about how easy it can be to fall through the cracks, and what it takes to turn around a life that has run off course.

This was my Scottish Bookclub book for the last few months, this book came to me with very high recommendations. So many of my fellow book clubbers had raved about this book. I’d wanted to read it for so long, my mum actually gifted me this for either Christmas or my birthday (June), so I’ve had it for a while. I was delighted to be able to give this book a time to shine!

The book started with a tragic event that took place in Glasgow back in 2014. There was a crash in the city centre that deeply affected the city, I remember it well. The crash happened next to the bus stop I used to use for work (I was nowhere near the accident, it was just somewhere that I used to be on a regular basis) and it was a bit emotional for me reading about in fiction.

I really liked Kelly as a character. She was homeless, an alcoholic, was surrounded by people yet felt alone. In spite of this, I did not pity Kelly. I felt so much empathy towards her but never pity. I don’t think Kelly would have wanted your pity.

I loved the character growth that she went through. She didn’t trust anyone but slowly, she experienced kindness and started to let her guard down. I absolutely loved her relationship with Collieflower, a wee dog that she literally saved.

I enjoyed the side characters from the shelter. They added some much needed lightness. I liked how protective her case worker was of her when people tried to take advantage of Kelly.

Every interaction that Kelly had with the people she met on ber pilgrimage resulted in a little bit more of her character being revealed. She was caring and kind, she was focused, she was determined and just so brave.

Through Kelly’s eyes, her experience as a homeless woman was shown. It made for some very upsetting reading. Every so often, she would meet a character who would treat her like an actual human being and my wee heart broke. There were so many characters that didn’t treat her like a human, like a person who can make their own choices. Some points of this book were very infuriating because of the way that people treated Kelly.

I enjoyed the pilgrimage, the journey that she took. I wonder if she would have taken the journey to return the ring if the owner didn’t live in Kelly’s home town. Kelly was riddled with guilt over an event from her past. The event was revealed ever so gradually and I was so surprised! I had to go back and reread some sections as I feared that I’d missed it. The twist really got me.

I didn’t enjoy the farmer scenes at all. I really wish that she found the dog in a different way because I did consider giving up the book very early on because of him. I hated the journalist storyline too. Leave the woman alone! There was so little to be gained by Kelly meeting the man from the accident, she was a human and not a photo opportunity.

I didn’t love this book but I did like it and I got a lot out of it. It’s important to read about characters who live different lives to my own. However I’m not the biggest fan of what I describe as ‘sad sad books’. I cry at everything already so it’s no great achievement for a book to make me cry. I aim to read more uplifting Scottish fiction as this book left me with a bit of an emotional hangover. I’m glad I read it though!

Reviews, Vlogs, Wrap Ups

April Wrap Up

April was a slower reading month for me as I ended the month with 9 completed books. While this is an excellent number of books to finish in one month, this was the lowest number of books that I’d read since February 2020!

Wrap up: favourites and stats

I had an excellent amount of books that I really did enjoy.

I also declared my favourite book of the month which I think will be of no surprise to anyone I’ve spoken to recently. I really didn’t shut up about it.

I’m hopeful that I will feel more productive in May but I won’t be too upset if it’s not.

Reviews, Scottish Reads

O Caledonia

Janet lies murdered beneath the castle stairs, attired in her mother’s black lace wedding dress, lamented only by her pet jackdaw…

Author Elspeth Barker masterfully evokes the harsh climate of Scotland in this atmospheric gothic tale that has been compared to the works of the Brontës, Edgar Allan Poe, and Edward Gorey. Immersed in a world of isolation and loneliness, Barker’s ill-fated young heroine Janet turns to literature, nature, and her Aunt Lila, who offers brief flashes of respite in an otherwise foreboding life. People, birds, and beasts move through the background in a tale that is as rich and atmospheric as it is witty and mordant. The family’s motto—Moriens sed Invictus (Dying but Unconquered)—is a well-suited epitaph for wild and courageous Janet, whose fierce determination to remain steadfastly herself makes her one of the most unforgettable protagonists in contemporary literature.

This book came to me with very high recommendations. I bought this book maybe a year ago but I just forgot about it until my friend basically told me to stop what I was doing and pick it up. My pal was right, this book was excellent!

This is a very underrated Scottish modern classic which focuses on the life of a doomed protagonist. Doomed because the book started with our protagonist, Janet, being found dead at the bottom of a staircase. Not just dead but she was murdered. The book then went through Janet’s life from birth until her death at the age of 16.

Janet grew up in a Scottish castle in the 1940s/50s. We got to read about her family life and the way that the dynamics between her and her family members changed as the family expanded. Janet was the oldest child and, according to the narrative, the least favourite.

Janet rejected the expectations put upon her. She didn’t enjoy socialising and struggled to make friends. She didn’t seem overly concerned about her lack of friends, she didn’t have anything in common with her peers and she just wanted to be left alone to tend to her animal companions and read her books.

I enjoyed the way that this book started with the reveal of her murder as this enabled me to be able to try to work out whodunnit. When the reveal came, I was surprised. I was looking for hints and I hadn’t been able to work out who the killer was. So this really came as a shock!

I really enjoyed the setting. The atmosphere of this book was almost gothic. The castle, Janet’s home, was draughty and a little creepy. The castle wasn’t necessarily haunted but it very much could have been. I loved that some parts were off limits and this made me want more books set in this house.

Janet felt like such a likeable character! I could see why people found her hard to get along with but I liked her. Hi loved her relationship with her cousin Lila. Lila was a loner with an alcohol problem. She kept herself to herself and her only companion was her beloved cat. I felt like those two got on so well because they shared so many characteristics.

I really enjoyed this book and I can see myself rereading this book. I may even annotate the book next time, and I rarely do that! I just feel like this book deserves more love.

Reviews, Scottish Reads, Vlogs

Reading Scottish Wrap Up- April

While this month has been a bit of a slower reading month for me, I still managed to read some Scottish fiction. I’m super passionate about reading Scottish fiction because we have so many amazing authors and there are so many literary gems just waiting to be found!

My Reading Scottish Vlog

I read three pieces of Scottish fiction this month, two of which came to me with high recommendation. I can confirm that these recommendations didn’t lie and those books were fantastic and will definitely be getting read again (and perhaps again and again)!

I did have a book I didn’t love, a rare miss from a beloved author. That’s ok though, we can’t win them all and I do still love that author.

Reviews, Scottish Reads

The Tick and the Tock of the Crocodile Clock

Wendy just wants to be a poet. So how comes she’s on the run after an art heist?

An aspiring writer from the Southside of Glasgow, Wendy is in a rut. She tries to brighten her call-center job by shoehorning as many long words as possible into conversations with customers. But her manager isn’t amused by that and, after a public dressing-down, Wendy walks out.

Jobless and depressed, she finds consolation in a surprise friendship with another disgruntled ex-colleague, wild-child painter Cat, who encourages her to live more dangerously. It’s just what Wendy needs and it’s also brilliant for her creative juices. But a black cloud is about to overshadow this new-found liberation, as well as to put Wendy on the wrong side of the law.

This is a book I have been planning to read for ages and ages but just hadn’t had time. Well I had the time this month! I feel like such a fool, I wish I’d read this book months ago, back when I first bought it because I could have love it for longer.

Wendy was such a lovable protagonist. I absolutely loved her and wanted to give her a big hug and make her some soup. She was very reluctant to reveal parts of herself, instead she would describe moments from pop culture and claim them as her own lived moments.

I really enjoyed how she and Cat complimented each other and brought each other out of their shells. I though that the friendship between Cat and Wendy was so cute and so fun. I really enjoyed their friendship and just enjoyed their interactions. Wee Wendy was clearly hurting and I think that her hurt attracted her to Cat, who was hurting too. This book covered some very tough topics and I got quite emotional at points. The book did a great job of keeping some light within the dark. I heartily recommend this book!

Sometimes, the Wendy and Cat show resulted in some law breaking. This is obviously a bad thing…but it made for interesting reading. The book actually started with Wendy running from the law before circling back to tell the reader about Wendy and Cat. I really liked knowing that the book was going to result in running from a crime. I liked knowing that their actions were going to escalate.

There were a few moments where I wanted to do the dramatic slow clap from 00s teen movies. When Wendy stood up to her awful boss in the call centre (where I’m 95% certain that I used to work in but for a very real company and not a fictional one), I genuinely cheered! When she stood up to her awful sort of boyfriend and her university bully, I whooped and said ‘good for her’. Can I also commend the author for writing such enraging characters in the form of her gentleman friend and her uni bully? Because I hated them so, so much!

I enjoyed Wendy’s relationship with her granny. Her granny was a wee legend!

Blog, Vlogs

Book Shopping

These last few weeks have been so stressful, the end of the financial year is not a fun time. I decided that I deserved to treat myself to some new books to try to compensate for all the stress I’ve been feeling under.

I can hold them all so it wasn’t too bad!

Do new books make up for stressful work times? Sure! Let’s say they do. Treating myself to some new books did make me feel much better!

I had placed a click and collect for one book and by the time the working day ended, I’d decided to just treat myself. We don’t have a lot of bookshops in Aberdeen and our one branch of Waterstones is teeny tiny so this wasn’t as big a haul as it could be. It’s possibly for the best that we have a small Waterstones and no indie bookshops (other than university shops).

I’m so excited about these books as so many of them have been highly recommended to me by friends who know my reading tastes.

Vlogs, Wrap Ups

March Wrap Up

March was a bit of a slower reading month for me. The end of the financial year makes my working life way busier and more draining which allows for less time/energy for reading.

I read the following:

1 audiobooks

4 ebooks

3 nonfictionbooks

10 fictionbooks

So glad I can hold my TBR stack this month

I loved

Finale – Stephanie Garber

Gilded – Marissa Meyer

Legendary- Stephanie Garber

Patricia Wants to Cuddle – Samantha Allen*

I liked

The No Texting Policy – Nicki Bell

Not For Me

A Petrol Scented Spring – Ajay Close

Secluded Cabin Sleeps Six – Lisa Unger*

We Sold Our Souls – Grady Hendrix

A Witch’s Guide to Fake Dating a Demon – Sarah Hawley*


The Moving Finger – Agatha Christie

Non-Fiction (as a general rule, I don’t review non-fiction)

The Adventures of Maud West Lady Detective: Secrets and Lies in the Golden Age of Crime – Susannah Stapleton

Femina- Janina Ramírez

Strong Female Character- Fern Brady



April TBR

March has been a month! I am so happy for March to be ending although April is also going to be stressful. I love selecting my monthly TBR and I’m still loving using my TBR game to do it.

The dice were very kind to me!

Basically I have made a board and some prompts. I roll the dice and move to a prompt and select a book accordingly. This can either end up with a wonderfully varied and achievable seeming stack of books, or a stack of books that seems daunting. The dice were kind to me and I’m very grateful as my TBR is not too large which will hopefully allow time for me to go off list. Plus what a variety! A book about salmon fishing in my hometown, a slasher, and Paris Hilton’s memoir? This is perhaps my most varied TBR ever!

This game is still in beta mode so I’m still working out some issues with it but it’s still fun for me and I hope it’s fun for anyone who watches it too

Book Recommendation of the Month, Reviews, Scottish Reads, Vlogs

Strong Female Character

I preordered Fern Brady’s non fiction book over a year before it was released, I didn’t even know what it was going to be about but I knew that I loved this comedian and I was excited to see what they wrote. Let me say that this book did not disappoint!

This book deserved a dedicated vlog

This was a memoir that included multiple tales from their youth, their time working in a strip club, their early comedy career as well as Fern’s autism diagnosis.

I didn’t know a great deal about autism when I started this book and I feel like I learned a lot. I also want to go on and learn more. I feel like this is the mark of a wonderful piece of non fiction, it makes you think but also that it makes you want to go on and learn more.

I read this book with the audiobook too, like a book on tape! I feel like this was an excellent way to consume this book and is my preferred way of reading memoirs. I like to hear the book literally in the author’s own words.

I laughed, I cried, I went down google rabbit holes. This was a very easy 5 star rating!

Reviews, Scottish Reads

The No Texting Policy

I haven’t done the maths but I’m fairly certain that Nicki Bell is my go to author for a sweet wee romance. That was exactly what I was looking for. This has been a stressful month so I needed something light and this book delivered.

I enjoyed the characters.Kayleigh and Jordan were grumpy/sunshine which is my preferred romance trope. However, they were also a second chance romance as they’d known each other as teenagers.

The two protagonists worked together and I enjoyed the sort of childish office antics. I enjoyed them in fiction but oh I’d hate to work with either of them in an actual office! They were fun to read about though.

I really enjoyed the growth of their romance and was rooting for those two to get together!

This was a novella and a very quick read. It was short and sweet and made me smile. I really enjoyed it!