8 Strange things I saw while I was definitely not stalking Ailish Sinclair

What Ho, Wee Readers, well it’s certainly been a while now, hasn’t it? I know, I know. I did put up a small post last month crowing about the social media platform I just joined; but as far as long haul, involved posts go this is the first in a while.

Don’t worry, I promise, it was worth the wait.

Now I’m sure you all remember my good friend Ailish Sinclair – the fellow writing lassie I first interviewed here, when she published her first book back in 2019. And then again here, when she published her second book.

And if you don’t remember those posts, you should certainly remember her books:

The Mermaid and the Bear

Set in a fictional castle in Aberdeenshire, Ailish’s debut novel, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR, blends an often overlooked period of history, the Scottish witchcraft accusations, in particular the 1597 Aberdeen witchcraft panic, with a love story.

Fireflies and Chocolate

FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE, was inspired by the 600 children and young people who were kidnapped from Aberdeen during the 1740s and sold into indentured servitude in the American Colonies. The story follows the adventures of Elizabeth Manteith from the castle and her determined efforts to get back home. There’s love. There’s proper derring-dos on the high seas… And there’s chocolate!

Available where all good books can be found.

But plugging aside, the point is Ailish and I are good friends, and I admire her greatly as a writer – I wouldn’t have interviewed her, not once but twice, if I didn’t. So you see I am not stalking her, because I don’t need to stalk her. I know this is a strange thing to focus on, but I feel this is an important fact to establish before we start our story. Despite what any authorities may try to tell you, I was not stalking her.

Right now that that’s settled, sit back and enjoy as I recount the strange tale of  “The 8 strange things I saw while I was definitely not stalking Ailish Sinclair”.

8. Chocolate

Look the whole thing sort of spiralled out of control. When I saw her in that shop a week ago I never intended to follow her at all, let alone well…well I suppose if I’m to explain myself, I should really start at the beginning.

And the beginning, I have to say, is really quite mundane. You see I didn’t start out that day knowing I’d see her at all. In fact, all I’d intended to do that day was go for my weekly food shop. So, there I was doing my own shopping, minding my own business, thank you so very much. And who do you think I suddenly saw in the next isle over – that’s right, Ailish Sinclair. After having told me she was out of the country that week.

I thought about going up to her. Saying hello, you know normal not creepy stuff.

But I stopped in shock when I saw what was in her trolley…

Chocolate.

Bars and Bars of Chocolate.

Big Bars, small bars – a whole trolley full of bars of Chocolate.

No judgement or anything.

But…

Really…

That’s weird, right?

I mean that is seriously…not normal.

But whatever, not judging.

But I decided not to go up to her; she seemed annoyed – almost bothered by something. Maybe nervous, she does have a new book recently out. Sisters at the Edge of the World, available at Amazon now.

It’s her first self-published title.

Maybe that was it.

Whatever the case, I finished my own shopping, and decided to put the weird occurrence behind me.

7. Crazy Driving

As I was loading my shopping into my car, I saw Ailish Sinclair again. Just by chance you understand.

She was shoving her bags and bags of Chocolate into her own boot, nibbling on one of the smaller ones as she did so. And she looked so upset, my heart went out to her. I almost went over too, but she suddenly darted into her car – her massive, massive car and skidded out of that car park like she was suddenly on fire.

Or maybe she’d seen a ghost.

It couldn’t be me, could it?

Nah, I’m a nice person. Why would anyone run away from me? In fact, I’m such a nice person that in my concern, I hopped in my own car and went after her.

I followed her calmly down the highway, keeping back just enough so that she probably couldn’t see me in her rear windows – but not so far back that I couldn’t still watch as she…well it’s kind of hard to explain.

It was technically driving I suppose – she was moving her car down the highway. But I was certain that it was no form of driving that would have passed a driving test, of any kind.

To say the whole thing looked erratic at best was like saying a hurricane was just a bit of wind.

Back and forth she skittered across the road, from one lane to the next, as if she couldn’t make up her mind which way she wanted to go. And then with a skidding shriek she suddenly made her choice and shot down a side road.

I followed at a more sedate pace – which meant that from the safe advantage of several car widths away, I could see her shooting down that road. It wasn’t a particularly narrow road, as side country roads go, but because her car is just that big she took up the whole god damn thing.

Thank Goodness we didn’t meet anyone coming the other way, otherwise this wild driving would be significantly less funny and more, well tragic. And I have to tell you Wee Reader, I don’t feel like writing one of those today.

For the next, oh let’s say an hour and a half we drove like that, her metres in front of me taking up the entire width of the road, and me just following like any decent person would when they see a friend, or at least someone they know, start driving like a maniac. We drove like that so long I was lulled into compliancy, so I didn’t really notice where we were driving …that is until we passed the sign.

Welcome to Brodie Castle.

6. Staring at Castles

Followed her up the drive.

Parked behind a tree so she wouldn’t see me, and waited for her to get out of her own car.

Nothing creepy there, I was just concerned is all – besides I like a good castle myself and Brodie is certainly one of the best ones in my oppion.

Maybe I wouldn’t even mind going on one of those guided tours, they’re informative and I haven’t been on one in a while.

I just had to make sure Ailish was okay first. And I’d only know that, when she let go of her steering wheel and got out of the car.

Which, she did, after about twenty minutes.

She got out of her car, and she stood there in front of that castle and stared at it.

Just stood there, still as a ramrod, and stared up at that castle.

And she did that for the next three hours.

Perhaps even longer than that, for I set my car in reverse, turned and drove away when it started to get dark.

Look I’m all for helping, but I think this is just a bit beyond my capabilities.

I mean, I’ve never seen a writer that took what they said on their bio so seriously.

5. Swimming in the Ocean

Thoroughly creeped out, I decided to go to the beach to clear my head.

You know get a bit of blue mind going.

Clear my thoughts.

Maybe I shouldn’t have left her there, just staring at that castle – but come on, that was weird.

Maybe I should have just gone up to her and asked what she was doing but to be completely honest Wee reader, I was afraid to. Afraid of what she might tell me, or maybe I was just afraid of what she might accuse me of.

I’m not a stalker.

I’m not.

It didn’t take me long to find a beach

We’re in the north of Scotland, there’s at least one all the way up the coast.

So it had only taken me about ten minutes to drive away from that castle, and reach that beach.

I tell you this now, because it’s highly relevant to what I say next.

You see when I stepped up to the blue water and gazed out onto its shinning surface, I realised that there was someone already standing on the beach.

I think you can guess who by this point in the post.

That’s right, it was Ailish Sinclair

She’d beaten me to the beach.

The woman who I’d left staring at a castle, had beaten me to a beach that was a ten minute drive away.

And the strangest thing of all Wee Reader, I couldn’t see any sign of her car.

She’d apparently beaten me here without a car.

And if you can believe it Wee Reader, that wasn’t even the strangest thing about the whole situation.

Oh no, that happened when I turned back from trying to catch a glimpse of her car.

Turned back round to the sound of a splash.

She’d jumped into the sea Wee readers, with all her clothes on.

For a moment I could see her there, her arms caught for a brief moment in that over head stroke people get so good at when they’re learning to swim.

And then another splash, and something like a flick of a tail, the flick of a mermaid’s tail and she was gone

Okay…what the fuck?

4. No one lives here – this is a wild Forest

Look…I ran then, I’m not afraid or ashamed to admit it.

I mean wouldn’t you do the same thing?

She had a freaking mermaid tail.

I mean I knew she loved them, but like…whatever I saw then, that was a bit excessive.

Okay maybe I was a little ashamed of myself.

I mean I see one, okay a couple of weird things while I was certainly not stalking my good friend Ailish Sinclair, and all I can do is run away?

I mean I’m not crazy, I certainly saw something. But I’m still not one hundred percent sure what I did see.

All I know is something odd was happening with Ailish.

And so racked with guilt, I drove to her house the next day. I found it on the internet, I’m not a stalker I’m just a very concerned friend. Although I have to say, I thought I’d gone up the wrong road. Because this place…no one could live here, it was in the middle of the freaking woods.

Seriously the track was broken, and pot-holey but I didn’t find one house at the end it. 

Sure I found something that looked a little like a garden, but only because it had a lawn of cut grass and a giant pink bench. 

There was no house, not anymore.

It was almost as if someone was hiding it from me.

So I left the garden, abandoning my car behind a hedge of wild rhododendrons.

And made my way further into the woods, hoping to find some sort of life there.

I didn’t find any life, but I found a lot of flowers.

Got lost for hours trying to find that house, but to be honest I think all I found was myself deeper in a pine plantation than any sane person should go.

I think the house may have been somewhere in the garden, but there was no finding it now.

I was lost.

Lost my car.

Lost my way. 

Possibly even lost my mind.

And that dear reader is when I heard it.

The roar, no the growl, no the scream, of a wild animal.

Oh Christ, I thought to myself, I’m going to die.

All because I was not stalking Ailish Sinclair.



3. Bears…wait no foxes

Look, that noise I heard – it was a growl, I was 99% sure of that. Or at least it was a noise I had never really heard before.

It was a bear.

I was certain of it.

Because Ailish Sinclair loves bears and after what I’d seen her do at the beach, and the castle for that matter, I would have believed her capable of anything.

Certainly releasing a bear…a wild bear back into the forests of Scotland. Sure, why not? Good promotion for her newest book, Sisters at the Edge of the World.

I swear I’m not crazy – I heard a bear growl at me then.

Bears are all over her books – you should see what they get up to in newest one.

I’m not crazy.

I swear I heard a bear.

I just didn’t see one.

And the thing that jumped out of the bush by my feet…wasn’t a bear.

It was a fox.

And a line of her adorable cubs.

I know… I know I heard something in those woods.

Something, that didn’t sound natural. Maybe it wasn’t a bear, but it wasn’t something that belonged in this world either.

And as I stood there, waiting for the large line of fox cubs to finish crossing that forest path, I thought back to all I had seen, to all I had witnessed while I had been innocently not stalking someone. I couldn’t stop the thin sliver of fear crawling up my spine.

I can’t even understand it, after all, nothing I’d seen had been threatening, just weird….and really, who I am I to judge someone for being weird.

And that dear reader is when I heard the voice.

2. Wild Singing

At first, I didn’t know what I was hearing. It sounded a bit like a bird song, but then bird songs don’t have words to them.

I can’t begin to tell you, word for word the song I heard then – for as I turned and followed it up that hilled forest path, the thing kept fading in and out. Not as if the singer kept stopping and starting, but as if their voice and the notes they sang kept getting mixed up with the noises of nature. One second I was listening to a clear line of how much the singer loved nature, and the next it was just the twittering of little birds.

It was almost like, instead of her voice fading in and out, it was the singer herself.

Which is mad right?

I mean, people don’t do that.

Surely, I was just dehydrated from all the not stalking I’d been doing.

Yeah that was it.

And surely once I’d reached the top of the hill, all would be answered. And for the first time in weeks Ailish and I would be able to sit down and have a real conversation about all this madness.

Right?

Right?!

1.    Magic and Witch Stones

It had been sunny when I’d first started up that hill, one of the sunniest days in an already sunny year. I’d been sweating. But I have to say, Wee Reader, it wasn’t like that when I reached the top of the hill.

A thick fog coated everything, trees, rocks, creatures, the sky – it was so thick it almost hid the sun itself. And the song that I’d followed up here, well that had melted into the sound of a cloud over head. Yet still I marched on.

Because I knew where this path lead.

And do you know why?

Because I’ve been here before.

And if you follow Ailish Sinclair’s blog – which you should, check it out here – you should know where we are too.

It’s called the Witch Stone – though I don’t believe it’s actually marking anything to do with witches. Well… historical witches anyway.

Look I’m not saying that Ailish Sinclair is a witch, she’s never said she is. And despite some of the odd things I’ve heard and seen over the course of this little adventure of mine, I’ve seen no evidence of that. At least I don’t think so.

And yet as I clear the top of the small flat hill the stone sits on, I can’t help but notice that this whole place looks like it’s the site of some kind of ritual.

The whole place is covered in the petals of flowers, none the sort that grow here naturally. The stone itself is wearing a crown of the strange flowers 🌸. The air feels smoky as if someone’s lit a fire 🔥 but there’s no smoke, or in fact any sign of a fire at all. And at the centre of the place sits a blue and purple cloth, made of a kind of scratchy, shimmery fabric that feels strange in my fingers when I try and pick it up.

I can still hear the song, but it’s more in the distance now as if it was never really here at all. And as I stand there, holding that strange cloth I can almost swear that I can see Ailish. Just over there by the Witch Stone, I can see her walk towards the stone, and then she’s gone. It’s almost….and I admit that this is really gonna sound crazy. But it’s almost like she’s just walked into the stone.

And I think to myself…. why would she do that?

Now how.

Why?

Why would she step into a stone, standing or otherwise?

I mean maybe she’s using the witch stone as a means to travel to a distance point in the past, probably to the battle of Mons Graupius – that’s where her latest book is set anyways – but it could be anywhere. Anytime. Maybe to Culloden, or back even farther to the trials of the Aberdeen witches, maybe even to a place not yet written about.

It would explain why all her historical fiction is so eerily accurate.

Heavy research, my arse.

She’s using Time Travel Magic!

Which is what we in the buiz call… cheating.

I must be going mad surely, a time traveling author who writes historical fiction about the times she travels back to.

I mean it’s not even a reference to a book she’s written.

What do you think, a crazy reality, or just a mad story? If you’ve enjoyed this strange little trip of mine, don’t forget to follow the Wee Blog if you haven’t already. And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook, Goodreads and TikTok. Also why not subscribe to the Wee Mailing List by October 14th to find out exactly what happened on that hill top from Ailish herself. Also if you’re concerned that she basically vanishes into thin air at the end of my story, why not pop on over to her blog and give it a wee follow. Also check her out on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Goodreads , LinkedIn , Facebook ,Kofi, and TikTok as well. Why not subscribe to her newsletter while you’re at it. And remember, Ailish Sinclair’s latest book ‘Sister’s at the Edge of the World‘ is available now on Amazon. Why not buy a copy, maybe she’ll come out of the stone if you do 😁

Guess What I’ve just joined

What Ho, Wee Readers – I know I’ve been away too long. I could give you some pithy explanation why, including but not limited to hectic work schedule, exhaustion from said work schedule, and this really exciting new blog post that in no way involves Ailish Sinclair and may or may not mention her new book “Sisters at the Edge of the World”. Out now on pre-order at Amazon. But I don’t belive in giving explanations for such things, so I won’t bother you.

Instead let’s get on to the meat of the post – such as it is. Guess who finally joined TikTok?! That’s right, me! Please enjoy my first three videos.

If you’ve both been able to see these videos and enjoyed them, why not check out the rest of my work on TikTok. Also as per usual, follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, GoodReads and Facebook. And why not sign up for the Wee Mailing List if you haven’t already. As always Wee Readers, keep safe, stay positive, and have a very bonny day.

The Wee Writing Lassie’s Top Ten Audiobooks

What ho, wee readers, yes I’m back – not dead, just suffering from a bit of Blogger’s block. For the longest time I could not figure out what I wanted to write about next. I mean usually it’s a tv series I’ve been binging after work – at least lately – but I’ve sort of moved away from those in favour of films. And while I could do a list of those, ranking the top ten – and I may yet in the future – I had a better idea for a post to break my writer’s block.

A while back – after the terrible storm Arwen – we lost power for an entire day. And this was back in December, so it was dark and cold and most of our phones had not been well charged beforehand. During the light hours of the day this was manageable – we had books ( for entertainment), a fire (for warmth), and a gas cooker (for cooking). Really we were all set. But remember this was Scottish winter, and there really wasn’t a lot of light hours in the day at all. Which left large chunks of the afternoon and evening shrouded in darkness. We still had the fire and the cooker, so we were a lot better off than most people – but that still left us swimming in our own boredom.

The only device that still had some power in our house, was my Mum’s iPad.  No internet of course, but she had the books in her kindle library, but only one person at a time could read them. Looking back now we could have read them out to each other, but hindsight is twenty twenty. But to cut a long story short we didn’t have to, for we found an audiobook already  downloaded. Wow, that was a slightly long-winded and first world whining  way to tell you my family’s started listening to an audiobook after dinner each night. Oh well, we got there eventually.

By now we’ve listened to too many audiobooks to possibly list them all here, so instead this will be a list of our top ten audiobooks. We will take into account strength in story, narration, production, and all round enjoyment. Rounding up each to a score out of ten.  But since I’ll be polling my family members we might end up as slightly more than that – a perfect score should be 30 out of 30.

Let’s begin.

10. Northanger Abbey

One of Jane Austen’s earliest books. In theory it’s a bit of a parody of gothic literature of the time – with the main heroine convinced some heinous plan is a foot in the house she’s staying at. Which would be fine, if that was the main action of the story – instead we spend half our time in Bath, at diff balls and gatherings and the whole thing feels like it’s just running in place until she gets the invite to visit Northanger Abbey. It’s bad people, it’s really bad.

My Brother’s Scores

  • Story: 0.5/3
  • Narration: 3/3
  • Production: 2/3
  • Overall enjoyment: 0.5/1
  • Final Score: 6

Additional Notes: I can see why the publishers of the time refused to publish.

My Mum’s Scores

  • Story: 1/3
  • Narration: 3/3
  • Production: 2/3
  • Overall enjoyment: 0/1
  • Final Score: 6

My Scores

  • Story: 0/3
  • Narration: 3/3
  • Production: 1/3
  • Overall enjoyment:0/1
  • Final Score: 4

High Score: 16/30

9. The Mermaid’s Sister

A fun story, with a clever fairy tail energy to it.

My Brother’s Scores

  • Story: 2.5/3
  • Narration: 3/3
  • Production: 3/3
  • Overall enjoyment: 0.97/1
  • Final Score: 9.47

Additional Notes: It lost points due to violence. I liked the supernatural elements and the romance.

My Mum’s Scores

  • Story: 2/3
  • Narration: 2/3
  • Production: 2/3
  • Overall enjoyment: 1/1
  • Final Score: 7

My Scores

  • Story: 2/3
  • Narration: 2/3
  • Production: 2/3
  • Overall enjoyment: 1/1
  • Final Score: 7

High Score: 23.47 / 30

8. Station Eleven

A fascinating take on the post-apocalyptic genre, emphasizing the importance of art on people’s lives no matter what age you’re living in. As the book itself says ‘Survival is not enough.’

My Brother’s Scores

  • Story: 2/3
  • Narration: 3/3
  • Production: 3/3
  • Overall enjoyment: 1/1
  • Final Score: 9

My Mum’s Scores

  • Story: 2/3
  • Narration: 2/3
  • Production: 3/3
  • Overall enjoyment: 1/1
  • Final Score: 8

My Scores

  • Story: 3/3
  • Narration: 3/3
  • Production: 3/3
  • Overall enjoyment: 1/1
  • Final Score: 10

Additional Notes: Wow. Very well written, but heartbreakingly sad at certain parts.

High Score: 27/30

7. Grown Ups

A solid addition to the Marian Keyes Bibliography – telling the story of  a very large and slightly dysfunctional family, and all the heartbreak and hijinks that go on in their lives. My only criticism – if you can really call it one – is that because there are so many characters, the opening scene at the family dinner is going to leave you a little confused, and trying to desperately remember all their names and who the heck they are. It does revisit that same scene again at the end, after an entire book getting to know these people, so I’m guessing that initial confusion was an intended reaction.

My Brother’s Scores

  • Story: 2/3
  • Narration: 3/3
  • Production: 3/3
  • Overall enjoyment: 1/1
  • Final Score: 9

Additional Notes: I liked the inclusion of a Syrian immigrant (Perla), even if she only had a minor role. It’s also good that it calls attention to abuse. It would have got a ‘3/3’ for story, if Nell and Ferdia had got a happy ending (I’m a hopeless romantic). It would also have been nice, if Mum was able to listen it with us.

My Mum’s Scores

  • Story: 2/3
  • Narration: 3/3
  • Production: 3/3
  • Overall enjoyment: 1/1
  • Final Score: 9

My Scores

  • Story: 2/3
  • Narration: 3/3
  • Production: 3/3
  • Overall enjoyment: 1/1
  • Final Score: 9

High Score: 27 / 30

6. Room

This is a Fantastic Book, stop reading this post – or rather pause reading this post – and go out and buy this book now. (Or search your library) Either way, find this book, and read it. Go ahead, we’ll all wait for you.

My Brother’s Scores

  • Story: 3/3
  • Narration: 3/3
  • Production: 3/3
  • Overall enjoyment: 1/1
  • Final Score: 10

Additional Notes: I liked the innocence of the child narrator.

My Mum’s Scores

  • Story: 3/3
  • Narration: 2/3
  • Production: 2/3
  • Overall enjoyment: 1/1
  • Final Score: 8

Additional Notes: Needed more than one male voice – all the men sounded like ‘Old Nick’ to me.

My Scores

  • Story: 3/3
  • Narration: 3/3
  • Production: 2/3
  • Overall enjoyment: 1/1
  • Final Score: 9

Additional Notes: Behold my new favorite book 🙂

High Score: 27 / 30

5. Rachel’s Holiday

I wouldn’t go out of my way to say that ‘Rachel’s Holiday’ is a better book than ‘Gown Ups’ – Marian Keyes’ other book on this list – because they’re very different books, about different topics. So in the end all I’ll say is, there is a reason that this is higher on the list.

My Brother’s Scores

  • Story: 2.9/3
  • Narration: 3/3
  • Production:3/3
  • Overall enjoyment: 1/1
  • Final Score: 9.9

Additional Notes: I liked how it addressed the issue of addiction.

My Mum’s Scores

  • Story: 3/3
  • Narration: 3/3
  • Production: 3/3
  • Overall enjoyment: 1/1
  • Final Score: 10

My Scores

  • Story: 3/3
  • Narration: 3/3
  • Production: 1/3
  • Overall enjoyment: 1/1
  • Final Score: 8

High Score: 27.9 / 30

4. The Hundred Secret Senses

I can’t say why – because spoilers – but this book moved me to tears.

My Brother’s Scores

  • Story: 2/3
  • Narration: 3/3
  • Production: 3/3
  • Overall enjoyment: 0.97 / 1
  • Final Score: 8.97

My Mum’s Scores

  • Story: 3/3
  • Narration: 3/3
  • Production: 3/3
  • Overall enjoyment: 1/1
  • Final Score: 10

My Scores

  • Story: 3/3
  • Narration: 2/3
  • Production: 3/3
  • Overall enjoyment: 1/1
  • Final Score: 9

High Score: 27.97 / 30

3. Am I Normal yet?

Myself, and many of the members of my family have OCD tendencies – nothing like what this girl has of course, but still – so I felt greatly moved by this book.

My Brother’s Scores

  • Story: 2.9 / 3
  • Narration: 3/3
  • Production: 3/3
  • Overall enjoyment: 2.9/3
  • Final Score: 11.8

Additional Notes: I enjoyed the sweet romance and empathized with Evie’s condition.

My Mum’s Scores

  • Story: 2/3
  • Narration: 2/3
  • Production: 3/3
  • Overall enjoyment: 1/1
  • Final Score: 8

My Scores

  • Story: 3/3
  • Narration: 3/3
  • Production: 2/3
  • Overall enjoyment: 1/1
  • Final Score: 9

High Score: 28.8 / 30

2. Piranesi

This is my favorite book. Go out and read it now.

My Brother’s Scores

  • Story: 2.7/ 3
  • Narration: 3/3
  • Production: 3/3
  • Overall enjoyment: 0.99/1
  • Final Score: 9.69

Additional Notes: It lost points due to overall slow pace at the start. I liked the mystery and the existence of different universes.

My Mum’s Scores

  • Story: 2/3
  • Narration: 3/3
  • Production: 3/3
  • Overall enjoyment: 1/1
  • Final Score: 9

My Scores

  • Story: 3/3
  • Narration: 3/3
  • Production: 3/3
  • Overall enjoyment: 1/1
  • Final Score: 10

Additional Notes: This book was an experience – but I can’t really tell you about it, without taking that experience away from you. So go out and buy this book now, and don’t look to the end, just enjoy the journey getting there😁

High Score: 28.69 / 30

1. Longbourn

Basically this was Pride & Prejudice told from the servants’ point of view. This was a very good book, adding historical context which the original story – as good as it is – didn’t really have.

My Brother’s Scores

  • Story: 2.9 / 3
  • Narration: 3/3
  • Production: 3/3
  • Overall enjoyment: 2.9 / 1
  • Final Score: 11.8

Additional Notes: I like the alternative perspective on the Bennetts, Bingley owning slaves was intriguing and makes sense. I liked the sympathetic depiction of the lower classes.

My Mum’s Scores

  • Story: 3/3
  • Narration: 3/3
  • Production: 3/3
  • Overall enjoyment: 1/1
  • Final Score: 10

My Scores

  • Story: 3/3
  • Narration: 3/3
  • Production: 3/3
  • Overall enjoyment: 1/1
  • Final Score: 10

Additional Notes:

I loved this book. It’s one of the few, if only, retellings of Pride & Prejudice in which you leave liking Mr. Collins far more than Elizabeth Bennet.

High Score: 31.8 / 30

If you enjoyed this long delayed post of mine, why not follow the Wee blog if you haven’t  already. Also check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Goodreads, Facebook and Kofi for the good stuff. Also sign up for the Wee Mailing list before the 31st of July to find out what Audiobook we’re currently listening to. Until next time, Wee Readers, stay safe, stay sane, and most of all have a very Bonny day.

The Ultimate Lockdown Reading List

What Ho, Wee Readers – well it’s been a very long – what’s it been? Three Months of Lockdown here in the United Kingdom – and while some of us have used that time to better themselves with online courses or learning a new skill, I personally have set my sights on getting through my Goodreads Reading Challenge. All one hundred books. I’d been planning to write this post at the end of the year after I’d completed the whole challenge, but since we are more or less still locked in our homes, I thought it would be an interesting task to note down what I’ve been reading. Below you will find a list of all the books I’ve read and the reviews I’ve given them during Lockdown, or at least most of them. I didn’t include any I didn’t give a review to or whose reviews consisted of less than two words since…well, that wouldn’t be very interesting to read. There’s no worst to best, the numbers in the list simply note in what order they were read in – with 18 being the most recent, and 1 being the least. With that said, Wee Readers, onto the list.

18. The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared

By Jonas Jonasson

Finished on: June 21st

A very entertaining, funny and fascinating story – I highly recommend this book to anyone who’s feeling a bit depressed during the Lockdown.

17. Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files: Wild Card

By Jim Butcher

Finished on: June 17th

The story wasn’t great, the art wasn’t good at all (Marcone’s eyes weren’t even green) and there wasn’t nearly enough John Marcone in it. I know that last thing wouldn’t really be an issue for everyone – but it was an issue for me.

16. Bring Up the Bodies

By Hilary Mantel
Finished on: June 11th

This is even better than the first book, and I loved that. With, and I must say this, a far better title.

15. The Mirror & the Light

By Hilary Mantel

Finished on : June 12th

An excellent book, with a very sad ending.

14. The Handmaid’s Tale: The Graphic Novel

By Renee Nault

Finished on: June 6th

I loved this, a must read for anyone who liked the show or the original book. The art style was a little off putting – but giving the subject matter that was properly the point.

13. Wolf Hall

By Hilary Mantel

Finsihed on: June 9th

I’d enjoyed the BBC version when it came out a while back, and I was pleased to find that the book not only meets it in quality but surpasses it.

12. The Man With the Golden Gun

By Ian Fleming

Finished on: June 2nd

This is depressing

11. Thrawn: Alliances

By Timothy Zahn

Finished on: June 3rd

Is this book making me like the blue space Nazi? This feels slightly self defeating on the part of Star Wars – having said that, I can’t wait till Thrawn gets his first live action appearance, if its anything like this book it is going to be awesome.

10. The Neanderthals Rediscovered: How Modern Science is Rewriting

By Dimitra Papagianni

Finished on: May 30th

A fascinating look through the study and findings of research into the Neanderthals. And although they clearly don’t mean to, when they get to the bit describing Neanderthals in popular culture, they give a good list of novels to read next. I would recommend this book to anyone who is even the least bit interested in history or culture. Although I will say that it left me feeling rather sad, but then most things do in Lockdown, so I wouldn’t blame the book for that.

9. Mythos: The Greek Myths Retold

By Stephen Fry

Finished on: May 27th

A very well done stitching together of the sometimes contradictory myths of ancient Greece. I would certainly recommend this book to anyone who has even the most passing of interest in that fascinating realm of mythology.

8. Joss Whedon’s Names: The Deeper Meanings behind Buffy, Angel, Firefly, Dollhouse, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Cabin in the Woods, The Avengers, Doctor Horrible, In Your Eyes, Comics and More

By Vallerie Estelle Franked

Finished on: May 11th

A fantastic look into the names of the works of Joss Whedon. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in writing, mythology, history, or like myself – all of the above.

7. The Woman who Stole My Life

By Marian Keyes

Finished on: May 9th

This is a very well written book, which is why I’m giving it such a high mark – however, it was just too depressing for me, I couldn’t finish it.

6. Fool Moon

By Jim Butcher

Finished on: April 30th

An excellent addition to a series with a very flawed hero.

5. Bloodline

By Claudia Gray

Finished on: April 20th

This is an excellent book – I would recommend this not just to anyone who felt a little lost during the Force Awakens, or to avid Star Wars fans (like myself) eager to see the next Chapter of Princess Lea’s life; but to anyone who loves a good political thriller/ mystery.

4. This Charming Man

By Marian Keyes

Finsihed on: April 9th

Just a fantastic book – but I’ll be honest I really hope this isn’t representative of real Irish politicians behavior 😁

3. From a Certain Point of View

By Elizabeth Schaefer (Editor),

Finished on: April 1st

This book was fantastic, I would read it over and over again if I could…which seeing as I bought the audio-book, I guess I can. A must-read for anyone even a little interested in the star wars franchise, just brilliant 🙂

2. The Mystery Knight

By George RR Martin

Finished on: March 30th

** spoiler alert ** “I begin to understand why your father was so willing to be rid of you.” – I don’t care if he’s creepy as all seven hells, Blood-raven is the best 😁

1. The Iron Heel

By Jack London

Finished on: March 18th – not actually in the Lockdown, but a relevant enough book that I decided to count it anyway.

So…apparently Jack London was a witch who could see into the future. A well written and thoughtful book, who’s anti capitalist message is really needed in our times of terribleness. But I’ll be honest, it was so close to reality I found it a little depressing.

Well, that’s the last of them. So if you’ve enjoyed this reading list of the basically imprisoned autistic writer / editor in training why not follow the Wee Blog if you haven’t already. Also don’t forget to check me out on Twitter, Instagram, Pintrest, Tumblr, Facebook and of course, my Goodreads account. Where I am 59 books into my 100 book reading challenge. Also take a look at the Wee Mailing List for – eventual – brand new content. I am going to get it to it eventually, I promise. If you want check out the complete list of books in my Goodreads Reading challenge, click on the link and have a look. Until next time Wee Readers, get plenty of sunshine, and have a bonny day.

Just a brief note before we leave, if you’ve enjoyed this and other posts like it on the Wee Writing Lassie, why not buy me a Wee Cup of Coffee, or drop me a tip over on Ko-fi. Which is linked to the image below.

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Memories of a 2019 GoodReads Challenge: or, the top ten books to read while you’re social distancing

What ho Wee Readers, how are you all doing? Are you trapped at home in quarantine? Or practicing social distancing to protect yourself and or your family? Yeah, my Mum’s got a damaged lung, so I’m right there with you. At times like these the world can seem a terrifying place, almost overwhelmingly so – and I find the best cure for such depressing thoughts, can be found in the pages of a good book.

Wow, that was a far more depressing opening than I thought it would be. Anyway, if you’ve been following my Goodreads account, then you’ll know that I really enjoy their Reading Challenge. At the beginning of 2020, I challenged myself to read a hundred books, which is quite a step up from the thirty I read in 2019. I’m well on my way to completing this year’s challenge, so I’d just thought I’d take a look back at my favorite reads of last year, to try and forget about this year.

10. Finding Serenity: Anti-Heroes, Lost Shepherds and Space Hookers in Joss Whedon’s Firefly

This is a collection of essays about the cancelled tv show Firefly, one of two I read over the course of 2019 – though by far this is the superior volume. Mainly because unlike its sequel, it didn’t go on and on about how not having aliens in it made Firefly the greatest sci-fi show ever to exist. Or sneering at the notion that anyone would ever put an alien in their space fiction, let alone actually believe in life on other planets. Which, as someone who is patiently waiting for the mother-ship to return, I find slightly offensive. Anyway, you won’t find any of that nonsense in this book – at least, none that I can remember.

9. Jeff Wayne’s The War of the Worlds: The Musical Drama

So…Michael Sheen’s voice…wow. Anyway, back on topic…I started this post quite a while ago, and then got pulled away to write another essay (I know I’ve said that before, but it’s not just an excuse, it really is what I’ve been doing all this time) and during that interval the world kind of…exploded. Basically, we somehow woke up one day and found ourselves living in a dystopian novel, which is…well…bad whatever, but if it was going to happen, why couldn’t it be ‘The War of the Worlds’ instead? Look I’m not trying to be crass here, I’m well aware how terrible the coronavirus, the mass panic buying of loo roll…for some unexplained reason…and well everything the British government has been doing lately, is. All I’m saying is that I would rather watch Boris Johnson be disintegrated by a Martian, than worry about the bloody coronavirus.

8. Coffee at Luke’s: An Unauthorized Gilmore Girls Gabfest Edited by Jennifer Cruise

So, this is a thing. Rather like the first book on this list, this is a collection of essays; except this time on the topic of Gilmore Girls. Gilmore Girls is one of those shows in which I have a… complicated relationship with. On the one hand I loved the original show, and yet like many of you out there I found the revival lacking in the charm that made the original so appealing. Also, the characters were all awful, and by that, I mean they were all awful people. Where they like that in the original, I don’t remember that. Still the book is well worth a look, even for the most disappointed of Gilmore Girls fans, and I highly recommend it for anyone who enjoys digging deeper into their favorite shows.

7. The Silmarillion by J.R.R Tolkien.

J.R.R. Tolkien’s least enjoyable book…there I said it. I’m of two minds about this book, on the one hand nowhere else is J.R.R. Tolkien’s genius most evident, and yet the only way to describe how I manged to finish this is: with great difficulty. Whether or not you enjoy this book really depends on how much you’re invested in the Elves as a people – for you see The Silmarillion is not just the history of Middle-Earth, it’s the History of Middle-Earth as told by the ruling class of Elves. It’s why we never really get a look into the other races unless they’ve had direct contact with the elves. Notice how it’s only the men who live under the Elves sovereignty who are in anyway explored in a meaningful way. This isn’t the story of Middle-earth but rather how the elves perceive it. And nowhere is this more apparent than the story of the petty Dwarves. The petty dwarves were a diminutive race that lived in the continent of Beleriand (the north most tip of middle-earth) during the first age (or at least round about that time, Middle-earth calendars are a lot less straightforward than you’d think). In fact, they were the first people to live in Beleriand, even before the elves – and what did the elves do when they got there? Come on, we all live in a post-colonist world, you know what they did. That’s right, they massacred them…hunted them for sport actually. Claiming all the while that they thought they were animals. While they do stop doing this once they meet the larger dwarves, and realize the creatures they were gleefully slaughtering – which had worn clothes, and held weapons – were not in fact a strange kind of boar. However, they don’t actually seem to feel guilty about what they’d done. In fact, the text itself implies that the petty dwarves had it coming, because they were…unpleasant, and didn’t like anyone. My Valar of the Forge and Earth, why would a people that have been hunted to near extinction, and smeared in the history books, not have a sunny disposition? Madness, don’t they know that the feelings of their murders come first above all things.

Yes, I am a Tolkien nerd, why do you ask?

6. Last Shot: A Han and Lando Novel by Daniel Jose Older

They should have let the cooking robot kill Ben Solo. Out of context that sentence sounds like nonsense, doesn’t it? But trust me, after you read this book, you’ll know what I mean. Anyway, getting down to business. Despite my first impressions of the film I can freely admit that ‘Solo’ is by far and away probably one the weaker members of the Star Wars franchise. Many people have tried to pinpoint the exact reason for this – raging from the sensible to the outright ludicrous – but I have come to the conclusion that ultimately, it was the pacing that let Solo down. Namely, it was originally supposed to be three films, but got squished into one for…some reason…and you can really tell. Despite this, the film had many positive qualities, not least among which was being the only film to note the cruelty many heroes casually throw at droids – I mean it didn’t do it well, but at least it mentioned it. Last Shot is everything Solo should have been: it explores Han Solo’s past but only so much as it pertains to the story, and it gives characters that had previously been killed off before they could do anything more than snark a chance to shine. And most of all, droid abuse and activism was made a central theme and story plot, rather than just something to be giggled at.

5. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

The book is better than the show. Yeah, I’ll say it, the show was needlessly dark and depressing and… that second season, oh my god, did I hate that second season. I couldn’t even watch it to the end. Look I know both the book and the show cover heavy topics that need to be taken seriously, like abuse, possible murder and body issues, but somehow the book was able to do that without making every single character completely unlikable. I mean what was with that story-line of Madeline cheating on Ed? She didn’t need more drama in her story, her book story-line was dramatic enough and unique. It wasn’t just another copy and paste affair arch. In conclusion, read the book and skip the show.

4. Revenge of the Sith by Mathew Stover

I love this book. I’ve read it more than once, more than thrice really, and each time it just gets better. A common trend when praising this book, is to imply that it vastly improves upon the original film. However, I’m not going to say that, because quite frankly not only is that kind of petty prequel hate repugnant to me in every way but, I found nothing to hate in the original film. In fact, it’s one of my favourites. What I will say is Mathew Stover’s take on the fall of Anakin Skywalker and the rise of Darth Vader is interesting and new, not better just different – but I found his description of the force, particularly how Obi-Wan experiences it, the most fascinating I’ve ever encountered in any Star Was franchise media, films included.

3. Snape: A definitive Reading by Lorrie Kim

Awesome, just awesome. Severus Snape is the essential base-breaking character. You either love him or loathe him, there doesn’t seem to be any neutral ground on this issue, but that doesn’t matter because Snape a Definitive Reading is the book for both sides of the argument. Whether you love him and want a conformation of why he is so awesome, or you absolutely hate him, but want an insight into what all your crazy friends see in him, this is the book for you.

2. Room by Emma Donoghue

I love this book. I was so, so about the film – since as a visual medium it lost much of the magic that was Jack’s misunderstanding about his situation in the beginning of the story – but the book was fantastic. Now I’m assuming, Wee Readers, that each of you fall into one of two categories. Either you’ve already read this book/watched the film, and know each of the ins and outs of the story, and therefore don’t need me to tell you what you already know; or you have no idea what I’m even talking about. In which case I don’t want to ruin the story for you. So I’ll just say this, if you’re stuck at home at this strange time, pick up a kindle or audible version of this book, sit back and enjoy.

1. The Mermaid and the Bear by Ailish Sinclair

Speaking of good books to read while you’re waiting out the coronavirus. This is, and I don’t think I’m overstating this, the best book published in 2019, hands down. If you’ve been following my blog for a while – hello early Wee Readers – you’ll remember I interviewed the author herself a few months back. If you’re interested go check that out here, or Ailish’s own blog here. There now the plugging is done, onto the real talk of the book.  Without giving away the end – because as we all know, only gypes give out spoilers on the internet – this a book that will not end how you think it will. Whether you are a fan of sweeping Romance, accurate Historical Fiction, Heroines that aren’t a size two, or like me an accurate portrayal of a Scottish accent… this is the book for you. Trust me, Wee Readers, you will not be thinking about the coronavirus while you’re reading this book. Seriously go out and buy this book.

If this wee post has distracted you at all from the ongoing dystopian narrative, we’ve all somehow found ourselves living through, then don’t forget to follow the wee blog if you haven’t already. Also check me out on Twitter – where I am hilarious – Facebook, Pinterest, GoodReads, Tumblr and Instagram. Also check out my Wee Mailing List ,for brand new content. Until next time my Wee Readers, have a bonny day.

Just a brief note before we leave, if you’ve enjoyed this and other posts like it on the Wee Writing Lassie, why not buy me a Wee Cup of Coffee, or drop me a tip over on Ko-fi. Which is linked to the image below.

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7 impertinent questions for Ailish Sinclair

Set in the the late sixteenth century, at the height of the Scottish witchcraft accusations, The Mermaid and the Bear , by Scottish Author Ailish Sinclair – out now in paperback and Kindle – is a story of triumph over evil, hope through adversity, faith in humankind and – above all – love.

Now I know what you’re thinking – well that sounds terrific Wee Lassie, I would really like to read that! But why are you talking about it? Well, never fear my Wee Readers , I shall explain all. Recently I’ve received some very exciting news – fellow Author, Ailish Sinclair, has had her book – The Mermaid and the Bear – published. I was very excited anyway, as I am when any fellow writing Lassie gets her book published – especially when they mention me in the acknowledgements ( buy it and check it out, I’m mentioned under my birth name Charlotte) – and then something occurred to me. Ho, ho, I said, this is something my Wee Readers should know about, after all by your very nature you are readers. So thus, with the idea in place I approached Ailish herself, and formed a plan.

The basic idea for this post was an interview, which is kind of what we ended up with, but with a bit of twist. As we already knew each other, the questions didn’t have to be quite so formal, they could be…down right impertinent even. Okay, let’s start with a Wee Introduction: Ailish Sinclair is an author from the north of Scotland – like yours truly – who was trained as a dancer in London; before returning back up North, where she taught ballet and met her husband. She now lives beside a loch with said husband and two children, surrounded by castles and stone circles, where she writes and dances (yes, still) and apparently eats a lot of cake.

Ailish loves Stone Circles

Her book is refreshingly also set up North in the region of Aberdeenshire, in the late sixteenth century – during a period of our history that’s not often talked about by the wider world, or indeed Scotland itself: the Aberdeen Witchcraft panic of 1597. There’s a real feeling of authenticity when it comes to Sinclair’s writing: from the clear amount of research that has gone into every aspect of late sixteenth century life, right down to the accurate Scottish dialect that many of the characters speak in. I’m not going to harp on too long about this, since it’s neither the focus of the book nor this post , but it’s very rare to find Doric in a modern book – which if you’re like me and live in a place where that’s just how people talk , it’s nice to not be left out for once. Another inclusive detail in Ailish’s novel is the fact that her heroine – Isobell – is a plus sized women, and this is never treated like a problem, or something about her that needs to be fixed, by the narrative. All body type inclusion, yeah!

Alright, enough with the introductions already, on with the impertinent questions.

7. As a fellow Writing Lassie from up here in Scotland, would you say your book has something more, or deeper, to say about Scottish culture than can be found in other books?

I live in Aberdeenshire, where the book is set, and have done so for most of my life. I hope my deep love for the countryside comes across in the narrative, and that I’ve captured the way people speak and behave towards one another here. I had to tone down the local language somewhat to make it easier to understand. ‘Ken fit like?’

6. You’ve mentioned before in other interviews that you become quite intense with your research when you’re writing a Historical Novel. So, my question is, what’s the maddest thing you’ve ever done in the name of research?

Eating primroses? Sliding down dangerous cliff sides in bare feet? Cross examining the poor wardens in St Nicholas Kirk? I’m not really sure about the maddest. The hardest part was knowing when to stop. When is enough information enough? Research could go on forever, but once the story has formed firmly round it, and you know what sort of underwear everyone was wearing, it’s probably time to write the book.

5. Now that you’re getting published, and you can look back on your career with a clinical eye – what would you say was the first moment you felt like a real writer?

I actually think the most precious writing time is well before publication is even being considered. It’s that first draft. Anything is possible then. Fall in love with your story and your characters and they will lead you to all sorts of places you never imagined possible. So, to answer your question: when I was working on the first draft, and wanting to write it ALL the time, rushing home to get back to it, thinking about it ALL the time… that’s when I felt like a real writer.

4. As a confessed recovering Chocoholic, was it terribly difficult to leave the substance out of The Mermaid and the Bear?

Well, I felt deeply sorry for my poor characters that they couldn’t have any chocolate of course, but not so sorry that I withheld it from myself. I have to confess that I am, in fact, not in recovery, and have no intention of ever being so!

3. Your new novel – The Mermaid and the Bear – deals with the long-forgotten Aberdeen witchcraft panic of 1597. By choosing this subject you have brought the voices of women unjustly forgotten by history into the public eye again. What I want to ask is, is there a feminist undertone to your choice of subject matter; and if not, is there some other reason you were drawn to that particular area of Scottish history?

Given that 85% of those accused of witchcraft in Scotland were women, yes, there is definitely a feminist side to the novel. Women supporting each other, standing strong against misogyny, and believing they have the right to aspects of life that were the dominion of men at the time, and even now, do come into the story.

2.Okay, let’s dig a little deeper. If you were put on the spot, like I’m doing to you now, and you were forced to choose a person or persons (plural), that you really admired in that part of history. Who would it be?

Anyone who stood up to oppression and abuse. These people rarely make it into the recorded history of the time, so historical fiction provides scope to write about bravery, love and heroic acts as they might have happened. When bad events occur there are always those who stand strong and true, often among those who are persecuted themselves.

1. Alright final question, and then I’ll let you go. Would you say that the romantic hero of The Mermaid and the Bear – The Laird – resembles anyone you know in real life?

While aspects of his character were inspired by a local historical Laird, my fictional Laird is a little bit like my own husband. I am lucky to be married to a man who accepts people as they are, doesn’t judge anyone on outward appearance, and has an open heart and mind, just like Thomas Manteith!

Ailish Sinclair and Husband
Ailish and Husband house shopping

I love that final answer, it always make me well up – especially if you’ve read her mention of him in the acknowledgments.

If you’ve enjoyed these impertinent questions to the emerging Author Ailish Sinclair, remember to follow my wee blog if you haven’t already, and check me out on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, and my Tumblr account – or sign up to the Wee Mailing List. However if you’ve also enjoyed the long suffering answers of Ailish herself, remember to follow her wee blog here and sign up to her Mailing List here. Also check her out on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest , Facebook and Goodreads. And don’t forget to check out the The Mermaid and the Bear, now out on Kindle and Paperback where all decent books are sold. Until next time my Wee Readers, have a bonny day.

Just a brief note before we leave, if you’ve enjoyed this and other posts like it on the Wee Writing Lassie, why not buy me a Wee Cup of Coffee, or drop me a tip over on Ko-fi. Which is linked to the image below.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com