‘Wry humour shines through.’ Rosie’s #Bookreview of Nostalgic Fiction Lofty Issues by Mac Black

Lofty IssuesLofty Issues by Mac Black

4 stars

Lofty Issues is a family tale with touches of humour all set in Glasgow.

The story covers several generations of the Findlay family and spans roughly a hundred years through the family tree.

On a particularly hot Saturday, rather a surprise for Scotland, Tom Findlay has been summoned to her mother’s house to find a jam pan which is somewhere up in her loft. When he eventually finds the pan amongst years of hoarded and broken items, a family photograph album falls from it. Tom decides to take a closer look at the photos back at home; the photos become dislodged and when Tom and his wife Gillian and son David try to rearrange them, they discover odd words written on the backs of them.

It soon becomes obvious that this was Granny Meg’s family album, and she has used it to create a trail of signs for a family treasure hunt. So next Saturday, Tom, with the help of his son David, is back in the loft searching for further clues.

Chapters dot back and forth between the current generation of Findlays and those that went before them, as details about the family heirlooms and each family member is fleshed out.

The story is sprinkled with Scottish themes, including a set of bagpipes and ship building on the Clyde. These go well with the strong family bonds that the Findlay family have nurtured and handed down.

I enjoyed the treasure hunt as well as the historical elements. Mac Black’s wry humour shines through, but doesn’t overwhelm the writing. It’s a book filled with nostalgia for past times which would bring a smile to the face of most readers.

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The question has to be asked: was Alexander really a villain? It is worthy of note that Alexander Findlay, one of the few Scottish pipers to survive the horrors of the Great War, returned from the battlefields as an injured hero. After that ordeal, shouldn’t life have become kinder to him? Admittedly, straying from the straight and narrow was wrong, but his untimely death shortly afterwards in the centre of Glasgow seems so unfair: and his legacy? He may have been a hero, but his ill-gotten gains became a shameful family secret. Are the Findlays up for a challenge ‘from the grave’? Will there really be a worthwhile prize? The story involving six generations of the Findlay family gradually unfolds when Tom visits the loft “looking for the ‘jeely pan’…”

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Set In The Campsie Fells just north of Glasgow. @SandraFirth3 Reviews #Crimefiction Dark Is The Grave by TG Reid @tom_gillespie

Today’s team review is from Sandra. She blogs here https://www.firthproof.co.uk/index.php/book-reviews

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Sandra has been reading Dark Is The Grave by T.G. Reid

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Dark is the Grave is the first book in a gripping new Scottish crime series featuring DCI Duncan Bone. Still on sick leave after having been seriously injured in an explosion that killed the Peek-a-Boo killer, DCI Bone receives a gruesome film of another killing, and has no choice but to return to active duty, even though he may not be quite ready. This has to be the work of a copycat killer, but the clock is ticking and DCI Bone and his team must stop them before any more police officers die.

The action is set in the area around the Campsie Fells just north of Glasgow which makes an unusual and interesting setting for a crime novel; I grew up not too far away and really enjoyed revisiting the area. It made a pleasant change from big-city settings and reminded me of JD Kirk’s crime novels in this respect.    The characterisation is convincing with each member of the team quite clearly defined, and humorous dialogue often used to offset the grimly dark storyline. DCI Bone is a flawed and troubled character, but this does not stop him being an excellent detective. The pace is fairly relentless as the killer could strike again at any time. The author makes it difficult for us to determine who the killer is by introducing several red herrings, but this is only to be expected. As usual, I was almost at the end of the book before I worked it out. I read a lot of crime fiction and was very impressed with Dark is the Grave; I have already pre-ordered the next one in the series – Blood Water Falls – and look forward to reading it later in the year.

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A dead cop. A damaged detective. A copycat killer on the loose.

When the chief suspect in the notorious Peek-a-boo cop killer case blew himself up, almost taking lead investigator DCI Duncan Bone with him, the psychologically damaged detective thought his days on the force were over. But when another PC is abducted and murdered in the same deranged Peek-a-boo fashion, Bone is persuaded to return to lead the new investigation. But as Bone and his team hunt a copycat killer, and with time running out before yet another cop is slain, Bone’s terrifying past returns to tear open old wounds and push him to very edge of the abyss.

Can DCI Bone end the killing before the killing ends him?

Set among the dramatic hills and glens of Scotland’s Campsie Fells, Dark is the Grave is the first in a series of edge-of-your-seat crime thrillers that will keep you guessing right up to the nail-biting, heart-stopping climax.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Of #HistoricalFiction Daisy Chains by @MallonRitchie

Daisy Chain: a novel of The Glasgow GirlsDaisy Chain: a novel of The Glasgow Girls by Maggie Ritchie

4 stars

Daisy Chain is the story of two girls who grow up to be life-long friends. Written for historical fiction fans, this book takes place between 1909 and 1929. The story opens in a country village in Scotland; Lily and Jeanie come from differing social classes, but they are firm friends. Lily loves to paint and Jeanie wants to be a dancer.

As they reach adulthood, Lily attends art school in Glasgow, while Jeanie finds her way onto the stage. Both girls work hard and excel in their chosen careers. After the war, Lily marries and moves to China with her husband, while Jeanie goes on tour with her dance company.

Both women are very likable characters, and there is just the right amount of scene-setting about Lily’s art world and Jeanie’s dance company to  compliment the characters and add interest. There are many well-written secondary characters; some I wanted to know much more about. I really enjoyed the parts of the book that took place in Shanghai; 1920s China is a time and place that I know very little about, and I was very interested to read that the author was awarded a grant from the Society Of Authors to travel to Shanghai to complete the research for this book.

This was an easy, compelling read set in a time of groundbreaking changes for women, and it certainly kept my attention throughout.

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Lily Crawford and Jeanie Taylor, from very different backgrounds, are firm friends from their childhoods in Kirkcudbright. They share their ambitions for their futures, Lily to be an artist, Jeanie to be a dancer.

The two women’s eventful lives are intertwined. In the years before the First World War, the girls lose touch when Jeanie runs away from home and joins a dance company, while Lily attends The Mack, Glasgow’s famous school of art designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh. A chance meeting reunites them and together they discover a Glasgow at the height of its wealth and power as the Second City of the Empire – and a city of poverty and overcrowding. Separated once again after the war, Lily and Jeanie find themselves on opposite sides of the world. Lily follows her husband to Shanghai while Jeanie’s dance career brings her international fame. But the glamour and dissolution of 1920s Shanghai finally lead Lily into peril. Her only hope of survival lies with her old friend Jeanie, as the two women turn to desperate measures to free Lily from danger.

Inspired by the eventful and colourful lives of the pioneering women artists The Glasgow Girls, particularly that of Eleanor Allen Moore, Daisy Chain is a story of independence, women’s art, resilience and female friendship, set against the turbulent background of the early years of the 20th century.

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