Scottish fiction

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Blog Tour – The Space Between Time by Charlie Laidlaw

Published June 16, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

There are more stars in the universe than there are grains of sand on Earth…

Emma Maria Rossini appears to be the luckiest girl in the world. She’s the daughter of a beautiful and loving mother, and her father is one of the most famous film actors of his generation. She’s also the granddaughter of a rather eccentric and obscure Italian astrophysicist.

But as her seemingly charmed life begins to unravel, and Emma experiences love and tragedy, she ultimately finds solace in her once-derided grandfather’s Theorem on the universe.

The Space Between Time is humorous and poignant and offers the metaphor that we are all connected, even to those we have loved and not quite lost.

What did I think?:

Firstly, thank you so much to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and Accent Press for providing me with a complimentary digital copy of The Space Between Time in exchange for an honest review. I very much enjoyed reading Charlie’s previous novel, The Things We Learn When We’re Dead and jumped at the chance to read something else by him. I have a personal interest in the settings of Charlie’s books, being a Scottish lass myself and so each foray into his writing becomes almost like a nostalgic experience, taking me back to my own adolescence and childhood. The author also has a real talent and intuition for writing believable female characters and for myself as a reader, I have great admiration for any author who makes their female leads authentic and refreshingly non-stereotypical.

Charlie Laidlaw, author of The Space Between Time. 

In similarity to his previous novel, the author chooses to focus on a female protagonist, Emma Rossini. From the very beginning, we delve into her interesting upbringing with a famous Hollywood actor for her father and a (celebrated in certain circles) Italian astrophysicist for a grandfather – with his own infamous theorem and book in addition to his highly intelligent and enquiring mind. We follow Emma from a young girl as she sees her father for the first time in film at the local cinema, to her relationship with both her parents, the effect on her life when tragedy strikes and how the fractured moments of her past affect the decisions she makes in her present and potentially, her future.

Aside from our female lead Emma, I think one of my favourite things about The Space Between Time was the perceptive way in which Charlie Laidlaw explored the intricacies of relationships. It evidenced the cold, hard fact that no family or friendship is perfect and we all have our little quirks and foibles that we must muddle through to become a well-rounded person in our adult life. I enjoyed that it didn’t shy away from the darker side of life – it’s challenging, it’s unpredictable and it’s vital that we all have some kind of support network around us, whether that’s family or friends so that we can make it out the other side.

Image from: https://www.express.co.uk/news/science/780101/Dark-matter-mystery-deepens-DROUGHT-universe

The author presents the murkier depths of Emma’s coming of age beautifully, with sensitivity and a light-hearted touch of humour that never feels forced or unnecessary. I thought it portrayed some difficult subjects in a sensible, thoughtful way that certainly had me thinking about the characters and their situations long after I had finished the final page. Furthermore (and very strangely), for someone who had to give up Physics at Standard Grade level (GCSE in England), I really connected with the more mathematical parts of the novel where black holes and the secrets of the universe are discussed. Anyone who knows me well might have their eyes popping out of their head right now as Maths and I do NOT get on. Somehow in this book, it worked for me and I found the ideas presented incredibly interesting and insightful.

The Space Between Time is a fascinating contemporary novel for anyone interested in family dynamics, the universe and female protagonists you can’t help but root for.

Would I recommend it?: 

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Charlie Laidlaw was born in Paisley and is a graduate of the
University of Edinburgh. He has been a national newspaper journalist
and worked in defence intelligence. He now runs his own marketing
consultancy in East Lothian. He is married with two grown-up
children.

Find Charlie on Goodreads at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16124556.Charlie_Laidlaw

on his website at: https://www.charlielaidlawauthor.com/

on Twitter at: @claidlawauthor

Thank you so much once again to Anne Cater and Accent Press for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a wonderful time doing it. The Space Between Time is due to be published on 20th June 2019 and will be available as a paperback and a digital e-book. If you fancy more information don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on this blog tour for some amazing reviews!

Link to The Space Between Time on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/45448136-the-space-between-time

Link to The Space Between Time on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Space-Between-Time-Charlie-Laidlaw/dp/1786156946/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=the+space+between+time&qid=1560702038&s=gateway&sr=8-1

Blog Tour – Worst Case Scenario by Helen Fitzgerald

Published May 7, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

A delicious dark, relentless and chilling psychological thriller by the international bestselling author of The Cry

‘The harrowing plot keeps you gripped until the final, devastating revelation’ Sunday Mirror

Mary Shields is a moody, acerbic probation officer, dealing with some of Glasgow’s worst cases, and her job is on the line.
Liam Macdowall was imprisoned for murdering his wife, and he’s published a series of letters to the dead woman, in a book that makes him an unlikely hero – and a poster boy for Men’s Rights activists.
Liam is released on licence into Mary’s care, but things are far from simple. Mary develops a poisonous obsession with Liam and his world, and when her son and Liam’s daughter form a relationship, Mary will stop at nothing to impose her own brand of justice … with devastating consequences.
A heart-pounding, relentless and chilling psychological thriller, rich with deliciously dark and unapologetic humour, Worst Case Scenario is also a perceptive, tragic and hugely relevant book by one of the most exciting names in crime fiction.

What did I think?:

First of all, thank you so much to Anne Cater for inviting me on this blog tour and to Karen Sullivan and Orenda Books for providing me with a complimentary digital copy of Worst Case Scenario in exchange for an honest review. What can I say? I wasn’t expecting this at all! I haven’t read any of the author’s previous books so had no expectations in term of style or substance and she delivered on both counts with such a unique piece of work and a different, interesting female protagonist that I was instantly hooked. It probably helped that the novel begins with such an intriguing first line that I challenge anyone not to want to read on further:

“Every time Mary tried to relax in a bath, a paedophile ruined it.”

I have no words. I just needed to read on after that!

Helen Fitzgerald, author of Worst Case Scenario.

Worst Case Scenario was a novel for me that encompassed so many different genres. It combined contemporary Scottish life with a psychological thriller and crime element but there there were wry moments of humour too which I very much appreciated. It felt much more to me like a character study of one woman, our female protagonist Mary Shields who is at a very frustrating and difficult moment in her life. She is struggling with the menopause and all the symptoms that accompany it including mood swings, hot flushes, night sweats and weight gain. Additionally, she has an incredibly stressful job as a probation officer and often has to deal with quite harrowing cases involving children and the individuals she monitors are often sex offenders, hardened criminals or drug addicts that have heart-breaking back stories of their own.

When we first meet Mary in Worst Case Scenario she is at the height of her emotional and personal struggles and is starting to get to the point where she just doesn’t care anymore. She has informed her superiors that she is planning to resign so feels a new freedom of being able to do and say whatever she wants to her clients – after all, she’s leaving, what’s the worst that could happen? Then she encounters a new client, Liam Macdowell, who has just been released from prison who causes her all kinds of new problems. The decisions that Mary ends up making now, in this uneasy and stressful part of her life have the potential to cause repercussions not only for herself but for those closest to her.

Glasgow, Scotland where Worst Case Scenario is set.

What made Worst Case Scenario such a different read for me? I think it was a combination of multiple elements. Mainly, it was our protagonist, Mary. I loved reading about an older woman going through the menopause which is often a subject you don’t see explored in fiction and should definitely be highlighted a bit more. She was grumpy, she was irrational, she made some hideously bad decisions and at some points, I just wanted to scream at the book: “No Mary, don’t!” but she was such an authentic and believable character because of these things. It was also touching to read about her vulnerabilities, her worries about her husband and her own sexuality and her caring nature towards the troubled individuals that she has to monitor. As a reader, it made you want to root for her even if at times you just wanted to cringe and cover your eyes a little bit!

Additionally, being Scottish I’m always a huge fan of a Scottish setting and Helen Fitzgerald has captured this beautifully in the novel. I felt instantly back at home and as I read this just after a short trip back to Edinburgh, it made the experience strangely comforting, despite the often dark subject matter of the story. Finally, the author has written a fantastic narrative that really makes you want to keep reading with moments that may not necessarily be conventionally “thriller-like,” but are truly gasp-worthy all the same. After this particular ending…. well, I NEED to know what happened next!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Helen FitzGerald is the bestselling author of ten adult and young adult thrillers,
including The Donor (2011) and The Cry (2013), which was longlisted for the
Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, and is now a major drama
for BBC1. Helen worked as a criminal justice social worker for over fifteen
years. She grew up in Victoria, Australia. She now lives in Glasgow with her
husband.

Find Helen on Goodreads at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4341584.Helen_Fitzgerald

on Twitter at: @fitzhelen

or on her website at: http://www.helenfitzgerald.net/

Thank you so much once again to Anne Cater, Karen Sullivan and Orenda Books for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a wonderful time doing it. Worst Case Scenario will be published on 16th May 2019 and will be available as a paperback and a digital e-book. If you fancy more information don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on this blog tour for some amazing reviews!

Link to Worst Case Scenario on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/45014364-worst-case-scenario

Link to Worst Case Scenario on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Worst-Case-Scenario-Helen-FitzGerald-ebook/dp/B07KGNC7VF/ref=sr_1_fkmrnull_1?crid=34XUU2B4I5FCE&keywords=worst+case+scenario+helen+fitzgerald&qid=1557146054&s=gateway&sprefix=worst+case%2Caps%2C204&sr=8-1-fkmrnull

Blog Tour – Fault Lines by Doug Johnstone

Published May 29, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

In a reimagined contemporary Edinburgh, in which a tectonic fault has opened up to produce a new volcano in the Firth of Forth, and where tremors are an everyday occurrence, volcanologist Surtsey makes a shocking discovery. On a clandestine trip to The Inch – the new volcanic island – to meet Tom, her lover and her boss, she finds his lifeless body. Surtsey’s life quickly spirals into a nightmare when someone makes contact – someone who claims to know what she’s done…

What did I think?:

First of all, a huge thank you to Anne Cater and Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and providing me with a copy of Fault Lines in exchange for an honest review. Well, honestly, I’ve never read anything by Doug Johnstone before but after this little blinder of a novel, I will certainly be reading more. This is a relatively short read at 300 pages in paperback form but it packs so much intrigue, betrayal and secrets into the narrative that you could be forgiven for thinking it’s a much longer novel. At the same time, it doesn’t feel long at all. I sped through this in about a 24 hour period because I did find it so difficult to put down, I had to know what happened. Being set in Edinburgh (hailing from that fair city myself), was just the icing on the cake for me and the author backed up his alternative setting with intriguing characters and an exciting plot.

Doug Johnstone, author of Fault Lines.

The author chooses to set his story rather alternatively, as I’ve already alluded to, in a modern Edinburgh with a difference. There has been a fault in the tectonic plates which make up the shell of our planet and it has caused a volcanic island to erupt in the Firth Of Forth. Our female lead, Surtsey (named after a volcano in Iceland) is a scientist who makes regular trips to the island to collect and analyse soil samples, carry out research etc. When we meet her, she is travelling to meet her boss and married lover, Tom on the island for a rendez-vous but she is shocked to discover his body instead with violent evidence that he might have been murdered. From this time on, we follow Surtsey as she makes decisions about what to do next and learns to cope with what she has discovered and her own actions following the gruesome find. Then somebody texts her on Tom’s secret phone that he only used to contact her. They know what happened and they have no qualms about making her life a complete misery, even resorting to drastic measures when the threats have little effect.

The Firth Of Forth with the Forth Rail Bridge in Edinburgh.

What a great read this was! I adored the re-imagining of Edinburgh and it was strange, even though this volcanic island is obviously imaginary, Doug Johnstone describes everything so beautifully that I could almost picture it in my mind, from the boat ride over to the island itself. Coupled with this new entity in the middle of the estuary, the residents of Edinburgh also have to deal with regular tremors which funnily enough, have become part of everyday life. It was really interesting that as the tension and action gradually increased in the novel, so too did the intensity of the tremors which only made for a more powerful reading experience.

I just have to mention the characters as well, particularly Surtsey who at times, was quite unlikeable but unlike other books I’ve read recently where the character put me off the entire book, this wasn’t the case at all with Fault Lines. I think it’s because Surtsey felt really believable to me. She wasn’t an angel, she made some AWFUL decisions where as a reader, you just want to scream at her to “stop! go back! be careful!” but of course, we all make mistakes. She drinks too much, she smokes too much marijuana and of course, the ill-advised affair with her married boss but something about her still made me want to carry on reading. It might have been the relationship with her terminally ill mother and her wayward sister but I don’t know, in the end I just ended up feeling sorry for her.

The Icelandic volcano Surtsey, from where our main character takes her name.

All in all, I was very pleasantly surprised by my first novel from Doug Johnstone. It was a thrilling read that had obviously been methodically planned and although I guessed the perp behind the mysterious texts to Surtsey, it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the novel in the slightest. If all the author’s books are like this, I want to be reading them!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Doug Johnstone is a writer, musician and journalist based in Edinburgh. His fourth novel, Hit & Run, is published by Faber and Faber on March 15th 2012. His previous novel, Smokeheads, was published in March 2011, also by Faber. before that he published two novels with Penguin, Tombstoning (2006) and The Ossians (2008), which received praise from the likes of Irvine Welsh, Ian Rankin and Christopher Brookmyre.Doug is currently writer in residence at the University of Strathclyde. Hes had short stories appear in various publications, and since 1999 he has worked as a freelance arts journalist, primarily covering music and literature.He grew up in Arbroath and lives in Portobello, Edinburgh with his wife and two children. He loves drinking malt whisky and playing football, not necessarily at the same time.

Find Doug on Goodreads at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/758942.Doug_Johnstone

or on Twitter at: @doug_johnstone

Thank you once again to Anne Cater, Karen Sullivan and Orenda Books for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a wonderful time doing it. Fault Lines was published on the 22nd May 2018 and will be available as a paperback and e-book. In fact at the time of writing it was on Amazon UK for the bargain price of 99p! If you fancy some more information don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on this blog tour for some amazing reviews!

Link to book on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/37849000-fault-lines?from_search=true

Amazon UK link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fault-Lines-Doug-Johnstone/dp/1912374153/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1527355288&sr=8-1&keywords=fault+lines

The Hangman’s Song (Inspector McLean #3) – James Oswald

Published December 3, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Book three in the Detective Inspector McLean series.

A young man is found hanging by a rope in his Edinburgh home. A simple, sad suicide, yet Detective Inspector Tony McLean is puzzled by the curious suicide note. A second hanged man and another strange note hint at a sinister pattern.

Investigating a brutal prostitution and human trafficking ring, McLean struggles to find time to link the two suicides. But the discovery of a third convinces him of malicious intent.

Digging deeper, McLean finds answers much closer to home than he expects. Something terrifying stalks the city streets, and bringing it to justice may destroy all he holds dear.

What did I think?:

I approached the third book in the Inspector McLean series with slight trepidation, I have to admit. I had finished The Book Of Souls and enjoyed it, that much was clear but I had a tiny issue with the supernatural element that was a bit of an additional surprise at the end of the second novel and to be honest, I wasn’t sure if it was going to work. If you’ve never read any books in this series before, I guess you could read this as a stand alone but I think you’d be missing out on the characters back stories and other important events that have occurred bringing them to the situation that they find themselves in during The Hangman’s Song. Therefore, I would highly recommend starting the series with the first novel, Natural Causes and going from there if you enjoy it.

Our male detective protagonist for the series, Inspector Tony McLean is back and has been seconded to the Sexual Crimes Unit after the events of the last novel. He becomes embroiled in a harrowing case involving prostitution and human trafficking but whilst he is attempting to work on this, another case comes to his attention. There is a hanging in Edinburgh, the victim is male and is, at first, assumed to be a suicide. However, when another young man is found dead in the same circumstances and then a third, Tony begins to smell a rat. Especially as he finds (amongst other evidence) that the same length of rope was used in all three deaths. Along with this, Tony is coping with some very intense circumstances in his personal life. Someone very close to him has been released from hospital but has regressed to a child-like state psychologically with little memories of past events so he is compelled to look after them and help them on the road to recovery. Will Tony manage to juggle three very complicated events in his own life and manage to find the connections? Or will he be at risk of losing everything that is important in the world to him?

I’ve tried to be deliberately vague in this review for fear of spoilers of course but I think that sums up everything you need to know about this novel. Generally speaking, I did enjoy it and I was compelled to read until the end, curious to find out exactly what was going on and how/if it would all be resolved. Luckily, I felt much more on board with the supernatural elements of the narrative. I think because it came as such a shock at the end of The Book Of Souls, I was much more prepared for it this time round and embraced it as an important part of the story. As to why it bothered me before, I’m not sure. Perhaps I thought I was reading a regular piece of crime fiction then the author threw in a magical curve ball right at the end and caught me off guard? Who’s to say? Anyway, it felt much more believable in The Hangman’s Song and I look forward to seeing how it develops in future books in the series. The one thing I’m definitely invested in the series for is the character of Detective McLean. I love his snarky humour, loyalty to his friends, traumatic events in his past and how he manages to deal with the difficult situations in his present. Hopefully I’ll be reading the fourth book in the series, Dead Men’s Bones sometime in the New Year so I’m excited to see where the story will go next.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

The Things We Learn When We’re Dead – Charlie Laidlaw

Published November 15, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

With elements of The Wizard of Oz, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and The Lovely Bones, The Things We Learn When We’re Dead shows how small decisions can have profound and unintended consequences, and how sometimes we can get a second chance.

On the way home from a dinner party, Lorna Love steps into the path of an oncoming car. When she wakes up she is in what appears to be a hospital – but a hospital in which her nurse looks like a young Sean Connery, she is served wine for supper, and everyone avoids her questions. It soon transpires that she is in Heaven, or on HVN. Because HVN is a lost, dysfunctional spaceship, and God the aging hippy captain. She seems to be there by accident… Or does God have a higher purpose after all?

At first Lorna can remember nothing. As her memories return – some good, some bad – she realises that she has decision to make and that maybe she needs to find a way home.

What did I think?:

First of all, thank you so much to the author Charlie Laidlaw for reaching out to me via email and offering me the chance to read this wonderful novel in return for an honest review. To be perfectly honest, as soon as he mentioned “a modern retelling of The Wizard Of Oz,” I was pretty much sold and when it arrived, I was completely charmed by the cover (yes, that’s a little hamster’s face in a spaceship!) but was even more delighted by the story that I found within.

Set in Edinburgh and North Berwick, The Things We Learn When We’re Dead is the story of Lorna Love who steps out in front of a car on the same day of the 7/7 bombings in London in 2005. She wakes up in what she believes to be a hospital bed but she is astounded to discover that she’s actually dead and in heaven, more specifically HVN, aboard a spaceship where they have a serious hamster problem as they continue to breed and nibble through the wiring of the ship (See, the hamsters were relevant!). Lorna has always been an agnostic but this idea of heaven is like something she could never have imagined. All the inhabitants choose to look like a celebrity of their choosing, for example, her nurse looks like Sean Connery and the chain-smoking woman who helps her adjust to life after death Irene, is a dead ringer for Kate Winslet.

When Lorna comes face to face with Captain God she learns that there is a real purpose to her being there and a reason why he has chosen her out of many people to live in the ship with the lure of being able to eat and drink whatever she wants when she wants, choose from a range of designer clothes that she never would have been able to afford on Earth and be able to transform her face and body to match any celebrity that might take her fancy. (Kate Winslet is quite popular, it turns out). However, until she recovers all her memories of her life, God will not tell her why she is there. We then follow Lorna’s life from childhood and adolescence to adventures with her best friend, the outgoing Suzie, her meaningful (and not so meaningful) relationships with men, how she juggles a menial job that she hates in a supermarket with training to be a solicitor and the struggles she has faced throughout her life. As Lorna looks back over significant events in her life, she begins to appreciate just how wonderful living is after all.

I have to admit, when I started this novel, I wasn’t too sure about whether I was going to enjoy it. I loved the fact it was set in Scotland being a Scots girl myself, and I instantly warmed to Lorna, a fantastic character who makes some bad decisions in her life but is so wonderfully endearing and an all round “good egg” that you can’t help but admire her. However, The Things We Learn When We’re Dead was a whole lot darker and infinitely more humorous than I first gave it credit for and by about one hundred pages in, I was completely hooked. This book was poignant, heart-warming and made me feel quite nostalgic as I look back over my life so far, the paths I’ve chosen to take and the people I’ve met (good and bad) along the way. It’s a quirky look at an alternative life after death and the highly charged emotional parts are perfectly balanced with some fantastic comedy moments. If you’re in the mood for something a bit different that warms the cockles of your heart this is definitely the book for you.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

The Wages Of Sin – Kaite Welsh

Published August 14, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Sarah Gilchrist has fled London and a troubled past to join the University of Edinburgh’s medical school in 1882, the first year it admits women. She is determined to become a doctor despite the misgivings of her family and society, but Sarah quickly finds plenty of barriers at school itself: professors who refuse to teach their new pupils, male students determined to force out their female counterparts, and—perhaps worst of all—her female peers who will do anything to avoid being associated with a fallen woman.

Desperate for a proper education, Sarah turns to one of the city’s ramshackle charitable hospitals for additional training. The St Giles’ Infirmary for Women ministers to the downtrodden and drunk, the thieves and whores with nowhere else to go. In this environment, alongside a group of smart and tough teachers, Sarah gets quite an education. But when Lucy, one of Sarah’s patients, turns up in the university dissecting room as a battered corpse, Sarah finds herself drawn into a murky underworld of bribery, brothels, and body snatchers.

Painfully aware of just how little separates her own life from that of her former patient’s, Sarah is determined to find out what happened to Lucy and bring those responsible for her death to justice. But as she searches for answers in Edinburgh’s dank alleyways, bawdy houses and fight clubs, Sarah comes closer and closer to uncovering one of Edinburgh’s most lucrative trades, and, in doing so, puts her own life at risk…

An irresistible read with a fantastic heroine, beautifully drawn setting, fascinating insights into what it was like to study medicine as a woman at that time, The Wages of Sin is a stunning debut that heralds a striking new voice in historical fiction.

What did I think?:

First of all, a huge thank you to Tinder Press for approving my request on NetGalley to read this extraordinary novel in exchange for an honest review. I saw Wages of Sin initially on Twitter and it ticked all the boxes for me as a reader. It’s a work of historical fiction (tick), set in Edinburgh (tick) in the Victorian era (tick) that involves a strong female lead character (tick) dealing with a mysterious murder (tick). With so much going for it, there is always the anticipation that it might not be as great as it sounds but luckily I had no worries at all on that account. This book was a fantastic and thrilling debut novel and a truly fascinating look into women in science at a time when it was slightly frowned upon in an arrogantly patriarchal society.

Our main character is Sarah Gilchrist, a highly intelligent woman who dreams of being a doctor but has to leave London after a scandal threatens her standing in the world. She becomes a medical student in Edinburgh and has to struggle on a daily basis with not only the derision of the male students but also the attitudes of her fellow women scholars who become suspicious of her past. Sarah works her fingers to the bone – studying, completing practical and written assessments for her training and then (if that wasn’t hard work enough) assisting a friend at her medical clinic, helping the poor, needy and often “women of ill repute.”

This is where she comes across Lucy, a prostitute who comes in begging for help with an unwanted pregnancy, of course completely illegal in these times. She is turned away only to turn up dead on the anatomy table the next time Sarah sees her. Sarah feels devastated at what has happened but also determined to unearth the secrets of her death, especially when she suspects foul play and discovers tenuous links between Lucy and a professor at the medical school. However, she is treading on very dangerous grounds as some people may desire the secrets that died with Lucy to remain buried and may not necessarily welcome Sarah’s interference.

The Wages Of Sin was an exciting, roller-coaster ride of a novel that had me hooked from page one. Kaite Welsh writes with such a canny eye for detail that you can sense everything in the narrative – the smells, the sounds, the sights and it is brilliantly gritty and difficult to put down once started. Sarah was a fantastic character who was flawed but inherently such a good person and I loved her dogged determination in getting at the truth behind an obviously grisly murder. One of my favourite things about this novel though had to be learning about what female medical students had to suffer when studying to become doctors. They went through abominable treatment being mocked on a daily basis for their choice of career and the lack of confidence in what they could achieve was quite honestly, disgusting. Thank goodness times have changed! For a debut novel, this is an amazing piece of work and so beautifully written. I thoroughly enjoyed every page and cannot wait to see what Kaite Welsh does next.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

Talking About The Ice Twins by S.K. Tremayne with Chrissi Reads

Published November 16, 2015 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

A year after one of their identical twin daughters, Lydia, dies in an accident, Angus and Sarah Moorcraft move to the tiny Scottish island Angus inherited from his grandmother, hoping to put together the pieces of their shattered lives.

But when their surviving daughter, Kirstie, claims they have mistaken her identity—that she, in fact, is Lydia—their world comes crashing down once again.

As winter encroaches, Angus is forced to travel away from the island for work, Sarah is feeling isolated, and Kirstie (or is it Lydia?) is growing more disturbed. When a violent storm leaves Sarah and her daughter stranded, Sarah finds herself tortured by the past—what really happened on that fateful day one of her daughters died?

What did WE think?:

CHRISSI: What were your first impressions of this book before beginning?

BETH: I was immediately intrigued by the synopsis! I love contemporary fiction with a bit of a psychological or thriller edge and this story seemed to tick all of the right boxes. I hadn’t read anything by the author before (I think!) and I really enjoy finding new people to add to my “must read in the future if they bring out another book” list. It’s a book that is on the Richard and Judy Autumn Book Club list here in the UK and as you know, we always try to read the books that they recommend so I always look forward to those and, to top it all off, this book is set on a remote island in Scotland! As a proud Scot, I get stupidly excited about books that are set in the beautiful parts of my country.

BETH: Discuss if you think the relationship between Sarah and Angus has any effect on Kirstie’s well-being.

CHRISSI: I do think the relationship had an effect on Kirstie’s well-being. From working with children, I know that the smallest (and biggest) effect them massively. I don’t think we realise how much children are drinking in at times, even when we they’re busy, they’re still soaking up so much information. With Sarah and Angus, their marriage was crumbling right from the start. It would take a strong marriage to not be affected by what they were going through.

CHRISSI: There is a terrible dilemma at the heart of this novel that leads to the question- what would you do?

BETH: Ooh, this is so hard! Okay, so the dilemma is that after the horrific death of Lydia, one of the twins, the surviving twin Kirstie suddenly turns round and tells her mother that they made a mistake and she is in fact Lydia. The twins are identical, even their DNA would match and the twin that died has been cremated so there is no way to check which twin is which in retrospect. I’m actually a scientist and I think if I was the twin’s mother I would have desperately tried to find a scientific way in which we could check which twin had died and which one survived! It’s not a nice situation to be in and I think Sarah does a good job with how she deals with the situation. It is obvious her first priorities are with the mental well-being of the child left behind.

BETH: Do you think the photographs in the novel contributed anything to the atmosphere of the story?

CHRISSI: I always think it’s interesting when author’s include photographs. It doesn’t always work, but I think it did with this particular story. I feel like photographs don’t always work because sometimes they’re not how we imagine things in our heads. However, with this story I certainly got a sense of loneliness from the photographs. They matched the story perfectly.

CHRISSI: Unless you have read about the author before, the reader isn’t aware if the author is male or female. Do you think this matters? I personally thought it was a woman!

BETH: As I mentioned before, I haven’t come across the author before and it’s always interesting when they choose to use the initials of their first and middle name to keep us guessing as to their gender. I found out the gender of the author before I read this novel quite by accident but if I had to guess at a gender from the writing I would probably guess that they were female too! I hate to presume these things but sometimes there seems to be a certain style associated with male and female authors – however, I love being surprised and proved wrong.

BETH: There is a suggestion of a supernatural element to this story – do you believe in ghosts?

CHRISSI: Ooh, interesting question. I definitely believe in all things supernatural, even though it scares me sometimes. Well… all the time. I don’t know whether I’ve just got an overactive imagination, but I definitely think there’s SOMETHING there, and the hint of supernatural in this story was fascinating and so well done!

CHRISSI: Discuss the ending of the novel without spoilers if you can! What do you think life holds for the characters?

BETH: Oh dear. The ending of the novel provides a resolution of sorts I guess but I have to say I was extremely surprised by the way in which the author took it. I wasn’t expecting it at all and it was a bit more interesting than the resolution you might expect from this sort of novel. As for what life holds for the characters, it really could go either way. There are still a lot of issues within the family and perhaps follow up issues to come as Kirstie/Lydia is still quite young. I would actually love a follow up to this story – please S.K. Tremayne?

BETH: Would you read another book from this author?

CHRISSI: I certainly would. I was really impressed by S.K. Tremayne’s writing and would love to read more, especially in the psychological thriller genre. I LOVE the genre!

Would we recommend it?:

BETH: Of course!

CHRISSI: Of course!

BETH’s star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

CHRISSI’s star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0