A fascinating read – whether you like a dram or not

Don’t worry – The Language of Whisky is not a book which takes an oaky sip of Scotland’s finest and turns it into a seven-verse poem. No, this is about the extraordinary journey of whisky: from the Scottish Highlands to New York and Tasmania. This surprising book also takes us to the origins of our…

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Jenni Fagan’s latest novel is the most compelling yet

Prize-winning author Jenni Fagan does not disappoint with her latest novel, Luckenbooth, which is easily her most compelling yet. In her usual poetic style, Fagan tells of a nine-storey Edinburgh tenement just off the Royal Mile that is creaking with secrets. Throughout this haunting novel, characters’ secrets and memories live on in the howling gales…

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Some holistic ponderings about life in new book

On opening this book, it becomes clear that the title, A Quiet Wife, gives away nothing about the nature of our protagonist.  And thank God for that. The opening sentence – ‘Sheila enjoyed her reputation as a ruthlessly efficient PA’ – is far more fitting. Sheila is 60, newly retired and dissatisfied with her self-indulgent…

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Stories from the people who live in Blair Atholl

As most Scots will know, Blair Atholl is a pretty patch. This book compiles stories of Atholl from the people who inhabit it, although this is not just a book for Atholl residents – the stories have such a touching humility to them, it would be a shame for them not to receive a wider…

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Brookmyre’s latest thriller is a Cut above the rest

Dark humour and jittering suspense underlines the twisting narrative of Chris Brookmyre’s latest thriller. Expertly crafted, our unconventional characters Millicent and Jerry narrate us through their turbulent lives. Scarred by and scared of the world around her, we are introduced to Millicent, who has spent 25 years in jail for murder, but who is now…

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A celebration of our beautiful trees and outdoors

For The Love of Trees: A Celebration of People and Trees is not just for 21st-century hippies or ‘forest bathers’, it is a beautiful reminder of the benefits of the outdoors. A host of household names including Judi Dench, Aldo Kane, Miranda Hart and Chris Packham contributed to this book, heralding the benefits of being…

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The lost letters of two literary legends are assembled

Until recently, JM Barrie’s letters to Robert Louis Stevenson were presumed lost. In this fascinating book, Shaw compiles these lost letters into a chronological record of the pair’s written correspondence. He sheds light on their friendship, careers and shared love for Scotland. Their friendship would not have been so remarkable nor the book so readable…

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Fascinating places and facts from the Kingdom of Fife

Have you heard the tale of Elie’s Janet Fall, who demanded a village be flattened to improve her own views?  Or seen Gateside’s The Bunnet Stane, an Aeolian sculpture from aeons past? How about visiting the resident ghost at St Rule’s Tower in St Andrews? This book is crammed with short, sharp snippets on Fife’s…

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Another success for Alexander McCall Smith

Alexander McCall Smith, the most prolific British author since Barbara Cartland (who penned 720 novels), returns to his hugely popular 44 Scotland Street series. This is the fourteenth novel set in Edinburgh’s most famous fictional location. With its vividly surreal cast of outlandish characters – including ‘aphorism-coining socialite nun’ Sister Maria, and ‘chino-wearing narcissist’ Bruce…

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MacCloud falls is an absorbing and pleasant read

Scottish antiquarian Gilbert travels to British Columbia to research an early settler he believes may have been his runaway grandfather. Here, he strikes up an unexpected connection with a woman he meets on the plane. Beautifully descriptive and almost lyrical in parts, I was transfixed by the vibrant scenery. If you like short, punchy chapters…

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