Events in the bookshop – what’s been happening and what’s coming up?

October: BOOKMARK’s Book of the Year Award for 2020

We were very pleased to host a photo shoot for the Courier and Blairgowrie Advertiser on October 3rd (Bookshop Day), ahead of BOOKMARK announcing the winner of their inaugural Book of the Year Award.

The criteria for the award were that the book has to be engaging, original and ideal for all book group discussions. It also had to be published within the previous twelve months (or within reasonable limits outwith that) and the writer must live in either England, Wales or Scotland – so that BOOKMARK can invite the winner to the next Festival.

Along with Gail Wylie and Christine Findlay from BOOKMARK, Pat Richmond from Booklore, Rosemary Goring and Alan Taylor, Kate was delighted to be asked to be part of the small committee asked to select a winner. The winner received a beautiful silver bookmark made by Sarah Cave


We’re delighted to add our congratulations to the the winning author, Rachael Joyce, for her book Miss Benson’s Beetle

Rachel Joyce, Miss Benson’s Beetle (Doubleday)
A new novel from this writer is always something to look forward to, and this certainly exceeds expectations. Leaving a drab 50s Britain, its title character sets off for New Caledonia to discover a rare beetle and is joined on her journey by the extrovert Enid Pretty, who has her own reasons for disappearing. They are followed by Mundic, another fugitive from life itself who is traumatised from his experiences as a Japanese POW on the Burma railway. A novel of flight and sanctuary; danger and safety, Joyce’s damaged characters take on whatever fate puts in their way – will they succeed in fulfilling their dreams?

Runners-up for the 2020 award were:

Sarah Armstrong, The Wolves of Leninsky Prospekt (Sandstone Press)
Set in 1970s Moscow, the main character Martha has married Kit for the sole purpose of leaving an unpromising life in England, and with the hope of some adventure. Her innocence however is a danger as she is ill-equipped to deal with all the mistrust, deceptions and lies that she encounters in Moscow on a daily basis. The novel too takes its reader down various avenues of deception so we are never quite sure, like Martha, what the real story is.

S G Maclean, The Bear Pit (Quercus)
This is historical fiction at its very best. London 1656: Captain Seeker is out to thwart an assassination attempt on Oliver Cromwell. Terrific characters (many based on ‘real’ people), an authentic evocation of time and place all help to transport the reader to a dark and dangerous world. The build-up of suspense is particularly good. This is the fourth in the ‘Seeker’ series but stands well on its own. It will however make you want to read more of not just this series but her Alexander Smeaton one too: those are based in 17th century n-e Scotland.

Abir Mukherjee, Death in the East (Vintage)
The fourth instalment in the Sam Wyndham series, but this has quite a distinctive and different feel to it.  There are two timelines; one is in London in 1905 and tells the story of Sam before he joins the Police in Calcutta. The other story sees him in the hills in India in 1920s, recovering from his opium addiction. But his two different lives clash in the most unexpected and riveting way. This novel cements the reputation of Mukherjee as a crime writer with a real difference.

Struan Murray, Orphans of the Tide (Penguin Random House)
This book, marketed for ‘young adults’ but a fascinating read for all ages, has created quite a stir. This fantasy adventure takes place in the last city on earth which survived the Drowning – and the people of the City blame the Drowning on a being they call ‘The Enemy’. But who is this? The Enemy can take possession of any living person so how can you tell friend from foe? The Times called this book ‘unputdownable’ and it rightly deserves that adjective!

C J Schüler, Along the Amber Route (Sandstone Press)
From St Petersburg to Torcello, this outstanding travel book follows the road the amber trade followed at the height of its popularity. And what a fascinating trip the writer takes us on – through layers of history, geography, memoir, observation – to bring to life not just the incredible substance that amber is, but the overlooked histories of the road the amber trade followed. Our word ‘electricity’ comes from the Greek for ‘amber’ and that is just one of the dozens of interesting insights this book holds. A fascinating read.

16-22 November: Book Week Scotland

Scotland abounds with a richness of writers and stories. Here are just a few – some new, some long-established, some very local, some a bit further away – all books either we or our customers have read and can recommend.

The Nicht Afore Christmas from the original Christmas poem by Clement Clarke Moore, translated into Scots by Irene McFarlane – ‘Faither Yuletide’ is on his annual journey round the world and has just arrived over Scotland. One dad is in for a big surprise! A delightful and seasonal must for the family.

Thorfinn and the Putrid Potion by David MacPhail – These books are a lot of fun – in addition to a mostly rough, tough and hairy crew of Vikings (Thorfinn being the exception), there are loads of pranks, a very angry bunny and a lot of roaring going on. Great for young readers or to read together!

The Enigma Game by Elizabeth Wein – Windyedge Airfield, Scotland. World War II. Louisa Adair, newly orphaned and shunned for her mixed-race heritage, has come here to the edge of the world to look after an old lady with a dark past. A thrilling story of three young heroes, wartime secrets, international intrigue and wild courage.

Summerwater by Sarah Moss – Powerful, intelligent and beautifully written, this story is set over the longest day of summer in the Scottish Highlands. The endless rain leaves the small band of holiday-makers with little to do but watch each other. Tensions rise and tragedy looms.

The Crown Agent by Stephen O’Rourke – A ship adrift, with all hands dead. A lighthouse keeper murdered in the night. The Crown needs man to find the truth. Colourful and fast-paced.

A Song For Dark Times by Iain Rankin – Rebus needs little introduction – but this story is personal. His calls in the middle of the night. Her husband is missing. She’s a suspect. Does Rebus go to her as a father or a detective. Superb storytelling, as always.

Chocolate Soldier by David W. Millar – With its themes of love, guilt, friendship, and redemption, this novel weaves the inter-twining stories of Neil, Oleg, Sheila and Harry –  a young man caught on the wrong academic path, an elderly survivor of the Siege of Stalingrad, the manager of the care home and her son. A gripping page-turner.
Christmas Eve: ‘Christmas Book Flood’

We’re definitely in favour of this Icelandic Christmas Eve tradition of gifting books to each other on Christmas Eve and spending the rest of the night reading. The tradition dates back to the Second World War when paper was one of the few items not rationed, creating a nation of book lovers. See our Goods Reads page for recommendations!



Closed – for a bit

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the bookshop will be closed from 25th December until further notice.

We hope to be able to open again soon in the new year when it’s safe for us to do so. In the meantime, we know lots of our customers will have loads of books to keep them company over the coming weeks, but if you do run out, you can now buy from us through our page by following this link.

Stay safe and well, and we hope to be back together soon.

World Book Day 2021

We’re excited to be supporting World Book Day on 4th March 2021.

World Book Day tokens will be valid from 18 February to 28th March, and can be used to purchase one of 12 great children’s titles for just £1, or you can get a £1 off any other title in our bookshop.

We’ll be sharing more about all of this when we get a bit further into 2021, and you can find out more by following this link.


Once social distancing rules are no longer needed we will be holding storytime at 9.30 on Wednesdays for half an hour of stories and rhymes (term time).

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