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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A handy guide on teaching yourself new life skills

When this breezeblock-sized hardback book – subtitled ‘214 Things You Can Actually Learn How to Do’ – slammed onto my desk I must admit that I almost laughed. This is like one of those pre-internet general interest books we used to have in the seventies. Unlike tongue-in-cheek retro tomes such as The Dangerous Book For…

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The incredible life of Scottish icon Stanley Baxter

This authorised biography has generated headlines because in it 95-year-old Stanley Baxter comes out as gay, yet there is so much more to this account of the actor’s life than that revelation. This jauntily-written book is a veritable treasure trove of anecdotes that shine a light on one of Scotland’s most beloved, yet most enigmatic,…

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It’s a dog’s life with internet sensation Labradors

The moment this book, Olive, Mabel & Me: Life and Adventures with Two Very Good Dogs landed on the desk, there were gasps of excitement. Written by one of the most recognisable voices in sports broadcasting, Andrew Cotter tells of his adventures with his two faithful Labradors, Olive and Mabel, who became internet sensations during…

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REVIEW: Regatta Men’s Birchdale Waterproof Jacket

What is it? Regatta Men’s Birchdale Waterproof Jacket (RRP £100) I want it because: With its waterproof and breathable Isotex 10000 100% polyester stretch fabric this shell jacket is light and breathable yet completely waterproof so it’s perfect for summer showers. Useful for: It’s a good summer all-rounder so I keep this jacket in my…

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The fascinating story of one Scottish river’s song

If Rivers Could Sing, a delightful little book, is subtitled ‘A year in the life of the River Devon as it passes through the counties of Perthshire, Kinross-shire and Clackmannanshire’. It and covers the 33 miles between the river’s origins at 1,800ft above sea level in the Ochil Hills before running in a U-shape through…

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Hearts that vie for the hearts and soul of Scotland

In the last instalment of a weighty trilogy that attempts to give John Knox a Hilary Mantel-style makeover, we see the Protestant firebrand return to a Scotland that in 1559 was on the brink of civil war. Back in Edinburgh, Knox immediately does battle with Mary, Queen of Scots, who is seeking to claim the…

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Weaving fact and fiction to create a thrilling read

Delving more into historical fiction, The King’s Beast: A Mystery of the American Revolution weaves facts and fiction seamlessly. We journey across the Atlantic with Duncan McCallum as he is tasked with retrieving and protecting ancient bones unearthed in America, while mystery and murder ensue all round him. Beautifully immersive, Eliot Pattison has a way…

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