Sunday, 15 February 2015

The Clanachan Bereavement by Mark Ryder-Jones

Started: 4th Feb
Finished: 6th Feb

Photo of my Kindle, it's made the background go a bit dark...

This was my February free book from the Kindle Lending Library and it was a pleasant surprise. You can search the library, and I think I found this by using the search term 'Scotland' or maybe 'Scottish Fiction'.

The story begins with a woman dying in childbirth. It then cuts to a bachelor, ex-army, Captain Daniel Pelham, who has answered an advertisement in the paper for a holiday in a remote manor house in the Scottish Highlands. He plans to keep himself to himself, avoid the other guests as much as possible, and get in plenty of walking and reading.

He requests to stay in a part of the house which is normally not available to the guests; the new maid unwittingly finds him a suitable room. During his first night, he hears a strange noise coming from the attic rooms which are situated above his own, and he becomes obsessed with trying to gain access to them to find out what could've made the sounds he heard.

I really enjoyed this story and I must admit, the ending came as quite a surprise to me, yet it was quite believable and not beyond the realms of possibility. It was well-written, with likeable characters, and each chapter ended with me wanting to read another one to find out what happened next. And of course, it ticked the 'set in Scotland' box!

Friday, 13 February 2015

One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson

Started: 25th Jan
Finished: 3rd Feb

This is the second book in the Jackson Brodie series. I had reasonably high hopes for it after enjoying the first one.

Jackson (ex-police, ex-private investigator) is in Edinburgh during the Fringe, supporting his girlfriend who is an actress in a show. While she is rehearsing, he has a wander around the town and surrounding areas, and somehow seems to find himself getting into trouble wherever he goes. He doesn't want to be involved, and yet he can't quite switch off his 'police brain'.

To be honest, I found it a bit of a slog, as evidenced by how long it took me to read it. I felt like not a lot happened for maybe the first two thirds, and there were some characters I didn't like too. In the final third, all the various strands of the story came together in quite a clever way, so it did get better at the end.

I've got two more Jackson Brodie novels to read - I'm hoping the next one will be better, as one of the characters from this one who I didn't like is, I think, not going to be appearing any more.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult

Started: 23rd Jan
Finished:25th Jan

I've said it before and I'll say it again, you can't go wrong with Jodi Picoult! (Unless it's Songs of the Humpback Whale, I can't get into that one at all).

Married couple, trying unsuccessfully to have kids, several failed rounds of IVF later the husband just can't take it any more and they end up getting divorced. He becomes a born-again Christian, she realises she's a lesbian and gets married. Her wife suggests that she tries to get pregnant with the frozen embryos that are still in storage, ex-husband refuses on religious grounds. They go to court to battle it out to see who is entitled to the embryos.

As always, a well-written, emotional, thought-provoking novel from Jodi Picoult, although I thought the ending was a bit convenient. Probably no other way to end it though.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015


...urprised by how well my Amaryllis has grown!

Isn't it beautiful?

My auntie bought us this for Christmas. There was the bulb, in the container, with two or three compacted blocks of compost, and a plastic bag. You put the blocks into the bag with some water, where they expanded into compost, and then simply planted the bulb in the container.

I'm not at all green-fingered, but I did it all by myself, a couple of days after Christmas, and this is what it looks like now. It lives on the bathroom windowsill, but I moved it to take the photo.

I'm amazed that it's still alive!

* Did you see what I did there, in the subject line? It helps if you say it quickly. It was either that or "Is This The Way To Amaryllis?"...

Monday, 9 February 2015

The Ice Cream Girls by Dorothy Koomson

Started: 20th Jan
Abandoned: 23rd Jan

This book is about two high school friends who are linked to the murder of one of their teachers. They claimed self-defence at the time, but the evidence suggested that the victim had been tortured. The story begins with one of the friends who is now happily married with children; the other one is just being released from prison. If I remember correctly, I believe each girl accused the other one of delivering the fatal blow.

I didn't get much further than that, I'm afraid. My guess is that the one who served time probably turned out to be innocent, and the one with the happy-ever-after lifestyle was carrying the guilty secret about what had happened. I don't know if that's actually how the story was going to pan out, and to be honest, I wasn't really interested in finding out, so I called it a day at that point.

I've read a couple of Dorothy Koomson books previously, and enjoyed them, but as I mentioned in an earlier post, I think my tastes have changed now, and this really isn't my kind of book any more.

Sunday, 8 February 2015


I'm a day late posting it, but this was the sunset on the 7th Feb.

I didn't notice the spindly branch on the left of the photo when I took it - it's from a climbing plant that is growing up the side of the garage - I was standing on a wall next to it to take the photo.

Sunday, 1 February 2015



The new series on Sky Atlantic is my latest obsession - I actually can't stop thinking about it!

Fortitude is a town (population 713) on Svalbard, in the Arctic Circle. There has never been any serious crime there; everyone has a roof over their head, and a job to do, so nobody has ever needed to break the law. The Sheriff, therefore, mostly deals with search and rescue missions, so nobody actually knows how good he is at his job. They are about to find out though, when the town is struck by a terrible tragedy.

I've only seen the first episode so far, but flippin' heck, it was good! This is my kind of tv series - as mentioned previously, I have a bit of a thing about books set in Scandinavia, Norway in particular, and the same goes for tv programmes, up to a point. I loved The Bridge (Sweden/Denmark), although The Killing passed me by for some reason (I may still buy it on DVD one day). Anyway, the bleak but beautiful setting of Fortitude (which was actually filmed in Iceland) is right up my street, and there was enough mystery in the first feature-length episode to hook me in and keep me watching. I've no idea what direction the plot is going to go in in the upcoming episodes, but for now I can't wait for next week!

Interestingly, this series comes just a few days after I finished reading Dark Matter, which was also set in Svalbard, albeit in 1937. The author of Dark Matter set the scene perfectly, so I could really imagine what Gruhuken Bay looked like. If that hadn't been the case though, just the opening scenes of Fortitude would've given me a good idea of the ice-packed sea crashing against the shore, and the huge expanse of the glacier pouring down into the bay. So if you're also enjoying Fortitude, and you want to read an eerie ghost story set in the same bleak landscape, I wholeheartedly recommend Dark Matter.

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