There are two things I love about being on holiday somewhere that doesn’t have Scottish weather:
- The heat. The dip of a roasty toasty me in a cooling sea and the cold beers at the end of a water-sports filled day.
- I get time to read a lot of books.
This Summer was no different. As much as I prefer to hold an actual book in my hand, the flying gods have other ideas when it comes to how heavy my suitcase can be so I dust off my first-gen kindle and I download books until my heart’s content. Here’s my thoughts on the pages that joined me in the sun this year:
Marnie Riches – Book 4 of The George McKenzie series ‘The Girl Who Had No Fear‘. I’m a huge fan of Marnie Riches crime novels and the amazing characters she creates, so I was delighted that another of George’s stories was being published this year.
George McKenzie finds herself caught up in the world of crime once again. It seems wherever she goes, trouble is not far behind. The volatile relationship she has with her partner, who is also the Chief Inspector of the cases she seems to unwillingly get herself involved in, leaves me sitting on the edge of my seat as they both travel the literary globe dicing with death and everything that is thrown their way. From bodies afloat in the canals of Amsterdam to the humid cartel-driven lands of Central America searching for her father, when I open a Riches book, I know I am about to go on a wild adventure filled with blood, gore and a huge dollop of suspense. There may be the odd sleepless night because I don’t want the story to end but a few cups of tea can easily sort that out. Read them all though, not just book 4, her story is amazing and I hope there will be more to come.
Natalie Fergie – The Sewing Machine
For many years I used to watch my granny push the iron pedal on her Singer sewing machine. I’m the youngest of five so she made a lot of our clothes to help out my mum and dad. I was delighted to hear that Natalie was writing this novel and meeting her in person this year just confirmed exactly what I had hoped. A wonderful author who loves the old machines as much as I do.
What I love about this book, is the attention to detail. Spanning generations across the families of Jean, Connie and Fred, I was slowly but surely shown their connections along the way. Natalie has a brilliant knack of making sure little nuggets of info leave you guessing right to the very end. I loved the historical nod to the actual Singer factory and how, over the years, one machine saw so many events and predicaments its owners would face – some sad and some overwhelming with joy. An absolute belter of a book.
Ross Sayers – Mary’s The Name
There aren’t many books with my mum’s name in the title so this debut immediately grabbed my attention. I also smiled to myself when I realised it’s set in Skye, a place I have visited many times and loved.
This book will amaze you as it’s told from the point of view of 8 year-old Mary. How Ross managed to do this, I will never know but as soon as I read the first page, her voice jumped out at me and took me by the hand, leading me on the tumultuous journey she made with her grandad.
Ross manages to capture the innocence of Mary and the relationship she has with her grandad as if I had known them all my life, not just mere characters in a book. I nodded a lot while I read this book as it made me reminisce about the ‘gone but not forgotten’ relatives I was fortunate to grow up with and love. I’m not going to lie, it made me cry but it also made me belly laugh too in equal measures. I really felt for Mary as she was taken from the city she knew to live in the rural landscape of Skye and its unforgiving weather. Her feisty character shines through and her naivety along with her grandad’s sense of humour and optimistic outlook on life after everything has gone a little awry, are a match made in heaven, A must for everyone out there who craves adventure with the ones you love, against all odds. Family is the heart of this story and I can’t wait to read whatever comes next from him. I am not surprised Mary’s the Name has been shortlisted for the Saltire Society First Book Award 2017. Good luck, Ross!
Moira McPartlin – Wants of the Silent
If you’d asked me a few years ago which Young Adult stories I liked, I would probably have struggled to name them as it’s not a genre I read a lot of. Until now. I was introduced to Moira’s writing through her award-winning debut The Incomers – one of my all time favourite reads. Moira has since turned me into a fan of dystopian novels that Hunger Games and the like failed to do. The imagery and language used in her story transports me to another world set in the not so distant future and its remaining inhabitants are running out of time to survive. Flood waters have risen, governments have been overturned and replaced with dictatorships that are not that dissimilar to what we are experiencing at the moment. Those that are left, survive on sheer determination and guts alone.
The second in her Sun Song trilogy, ‘Wants of the Silent’ took me on the next stage of the story of Sorlie and his vagabond friends and the miscreants that he seems to collect along the way. They try to uncover the mystery of the Prince and save their own skin at the same time. Warning!!! – there is no getting away from holding your breath at the underwater scene, just fantastic! Sorlie’s adventure only brings death, unrelenting longing for his family as Moira creates it all wrapped up in a superb coming-of-age tale that will leave you wanting to know when the third part of this epic trilogy will be released! Hurry up Moira (in a nice way).
Gail Honeyman – Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
There’s something about a quirky title that really catches my eye. I knew the moment I saw the burnt-tipped matches and the wording on the cover that I was going to enjoy this book. As ever, the blurb on the back just drew me in even more and I read the first three chapters as I walked home from the book shop. It’s been years since a book has held my attention in that way.
Eleanor is not like everyone else. And I’m glad about that. I think the world would be a very dull place if we were all the same. I’d like to think Eleanor would allow me to be her friend but only if I followed her rules of life, a path I’d be willing to take as a refreshing change to the cruel and heartless society we live in and which is portrayed so well in this novel. Eleanor’s views of the world are taken one step further as there is no limit to the uncensored literal dialogue that comes out of her, to surprise and sometimes shock, those she meets. Emotional and psychological damage from a horrific childhood event left me wondering whether she was going to make it and I rooted for her with every step she took and every page I turned. Outstanding book. Go and buy it now, in fact run and buy it and start it on the way home, you’ll miss your stop on the bus but it will be worth it. There should be more Eleanor’s in the world, it would be a much happier place. And yes, I got the ending I wanted. Thank you, Gail.
I leave you with the literary memories of my Summer. The words from these books are with me still, echoing around me as I write and read. Whether you’re a George, an Eleanor, a Sorlie, a Jean, Fred or Connie or a Mary – there’s a story out there for you somewhere.