Under Blue Skies
Summer Reading Recommendations
Hopefully this month many of you will be packing your suitcases and heading off to wonderful destinations across the country and beyond, and you're going to need some good reading for your travels. If you're struggling to choose, let BooksfromScotland offer some recommendations of the best new releases in fiction, crime writing, YA, travel and picture books. You might need a bigger suitcase!
Ducks, Newburyport By Lucy Ellmann Published by Galley Beggars Press
Ducks, Newburyport is full of love and grief. Its 1020 pages of stream-of-consciousness plunge in and out of the lives of a middle-aged American woman and a mountain lion. I’d just finished it when Lucy Ellmann emailed to say she’d prefer to let the book speak for itself and talk instead about the custom of sending writers to public readings and book festivals.
Fine—but I predicted we were destined to disagree. Book events are my natural habitat. I programme the Granite Noir festival, on behalf of Aberdeen Performing Arts, and frequently chair book events.
Lee Randall: I was struck by the strength of your feeling that festivals and other events don’t serve writers. Why not?
Lucy Ellmann: For one thing, writers need money. If you entice writers away from their desks, at least use it as an opportunity to shove money at them. It would also be good to give them a chance to talk to each other more. I don’t think most festivals provide for that enough, except maybe in the green room, by accident.
Randall: What would constitute a useful dialogue?
Ellmann: A conference for only writers, where you have time to talk to each other about books and the book business, and how it’s all gone to pot. The collapse of the ...
Breakers by Doug Johnstone (Orenda Books)
Doug Johnstone’s latest novel has been generating the kind of reviews every writer dreams of, has been longlisted for the McIllvanney Prize, and comes recommended from the likes of Mark Billingham, James Oswald and Ian Rankin – we’re not going to argue with those plaudits!
The novel follows the troubled seventeen-year-old Tyler, who lives in one of Edinburgh’s most deprived areas, is caring for his sister and his drug-addict mum, and is bull...
‘Shipped to Italy to help liberate the country from German occupation, and make sure that Mussolini and his acolytes remain out of power, Frank finds himself in a strange land where his uniform create …
‘He failed to notice the figure leaning on the wall just outside the bar who pulled the collar of his heavy jacket tight around his neck, threw a darting glance to his right and his left and then fell …
‘Nina ran a mobile bookshop in the Highlands of Scotland. This was about to become temporarily tricky given that she had also fallen in love with a very attractive farmer, and it had been a particular …
‘”I thought you were interesting, that’s all. That is—” There was a liberating, thrilling quality about telling the truth. Careful, she thought, once you start, you might not be able to stop. “You str …
‘We set out only to come back again, and every departure involves a return until we make the pilgrimage that awaits each and every one of us as we depart from this world.’
‘I’ve always been fascinated by the possibility of giving voices to those who have been ignored throughout history, especially the women.’
‘Sometimes oor Sonny’s no the brightest. He’s lucky he’s got me tae keep him right. I tap my temple and Sonny does the same. It’s oor wee code tae let the other yin ken we’re on the same wavelength.’
‘The little seal looked at the great waves as they crashed on the rocks. The big sea is far too big for me, he thought.’
‘The tensions between them grow just as the thunderstorm brews on the horizon, and we’re all waiting for it to come and clear the air – which it does, in a surprising and emotional climax.’
‘Singapore is a city of glass and light but it isn’t friendly to us. The Ma’ams stare us down like lions and work their maids too hard.’
‘A ripple of fear travels the length of my spine as I try to assess just how scared I should be of this man who has me here at his mercy. So far, he hasn’t done anything to hurt me, physically. He has …