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.


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.

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.