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Tuesday, August 02, 2022

Top Ten Tuesday: TBR Reads Set in My Ancestral Homeland

When I saw today's prompt—Top Ten Books Set in Places I'd Love to Visit (Real or Fictional)—it sounded familiar. I was sure I'd done this topic before sometime in the past and yet, no matter how hard I searched my blog, I couldn't find a list with that theme. Although a few settings came immediately to mind (Hogwarts, Avonlea, Narnia, etc.), I struggled to come up with a bigger list than that, even though there are many settings that come alive so vividly in books that I long to step foot inside them. Nevertheless, I decided to focus on just one of those places: Scotland. You may remember that I traveled to the U.K. last year for sightseeing and family history exploration and that I did, indeed, visit the country. It enchanted me so much that I've been planning a return trip ever since I got home (in fact, we've been putting a lot of our new home purchased on a British Airways credit card to rack up travel points). So, today, I'm going to cheat a little and share with you ten books on my TBR that are set in a place I would love to revisit. 

If you want to join in the TTT fun, head on over to That Artsy Reader Girl for all the details.

Top Ten Books On My TBR Set in a Place I Would Love to Revisit (Scotland):
- in no particular order - 

1.  Knots and Crosses by Ian Rankin—As much as I love his homeland and mysteries, I've never read anything by this Scottish author. Knots and Crosses is the first installment in his well-known Inspector Rebus series and I think it's high time I read it!

2. Women of the Dunes by Sarah Maine—Libby Snow's third great-grandmother was obsessed with the legend of Ulla, a Viking maiden who washed up on shore with the almost lifeless body of her husband, inspiring fantastical tales and epic poems. When Libby, an archaeologist, receives permission to dig in the place Ulla allegedly appeared on Scotland's western coast, she discovers the bones of a much newer corpse. The stories of Ulla and Libby entwine with that of the dead woman as Libby searches for answers to explain the murder that caused her death.

3. Loch Down Abbey by Beth Cowan-Erskine—Another murder mystery, this one revolves around the Inverkillen Family, residents of the titular home. With a mysterious illness running rampant through Scotland, the whole country is in a panic. The Inverkillens are already dealing with an alarming toilet paper shortage and Nanny's inconvenient death when Lord Inverkillen is found dead. Because of the lockdown keeping everyone at home, the only suspects in his murder are members of his family and staff. It's up to the head housekeeper to figure out who did him in.

4. 500 Miles From You by Jenny Colgan—Colgan is a Scottish author who writes fun, upbeat rom-coms. This one is the third entry in her Scottish Bookshop series. I enjoyed the first two and am looking forward to this newest installment. 

5. Sunset Song by Lewis Grassic Gibbon—Written in the 1930s, this if the first book in a trilogy about a woman whose quiet pastoral life in Scotland is changed forever by World War I.

6. Lockdown by Peter May—Speaking of lockdowns, I'm intrigued by the premise of this novel by one of my favorite Scottish mystery writers. I thought it was set in Scotland, but it's actually set in London. Oops! Oh well, it still sounds compelling, especially since it was written over 15 years ago but so closely mirrors what we've all experienced recently with the global pandemic.

7. The Cracked Spine by Paige Shelton—This is the first installment in a cozy mystery series set in an Edinburgh bookshop. It features an American armchair traveler who makes an impulsive decision to accept a position at a bookstore in Scotland. Things get off to a cracking start when a valuable artifact goes missing and her boss's sister gets herself murdered. 

8. The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley—Another series opener, this one revolves around a woman who retreats to Scotland to write a novel based on a 1708 Jacobite effort to return an exiled James Stewart to his homeland in order to reclaim his crown. Writing from the perspective of one of her own ancestors, the writer soon realizes her strange obsession with the story may be a case of ancestral memory, making her the only person who knows what really happened that fateful day...

9. The Distant Echo by Val McDermid—McDermid is another Scottish mystery writer that I somehow have not read yet. This novel is the first in her Inspector Kate Pirie series and centers around a cold case homicide that opens old wounds and exposes long-buried secrets. 

10. Bone Deep by Sandra Ireland—Mac is working on a compilation of local folktales and legends when her only child, Arthur, insists she needs an assistant to help her. Lucie, who moves into a cottage on Mac's property, seems a little too interested in the secrets Mac's working hard to protect. Unbeknownst to Mac, Lucie has secrets of her own.

There you go, ten (okay, nine) books on my TBR list that are set in beautiful Scotland. Have you read any of them? What did you think? Are there any others I should add to my list? Which books did you highlight today? I'd truly love to know. Leave me a comment on this post and I will gladly return the favor on your blog. 

Happy TTT!  


  1. I have visited Scotland, but I would love to go back and spend a lot more time there. I love that you concentrated on one place.

    1. Same! There are still so many places I want to see in the country.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Wendy!

  2. Scotland would be fun to visit for sure!

    My post:

    1. It's a beautiful place with lots to see. I can't wait to go back!

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Lydia!

  3. I have two of those on my tbr mountain, The Cracked Spine and The Winter Sea. I bought the latter in a lovely little bookshop in Fowey in Cornwall recently.

    1. Nice! Cornwall is one of those places that I wanted to visit when I was in England but didn't get a chance to. Next time, hopefully :)

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Cath!

  4. Great idea to focus on a place that means so much to you.

    A lot of my friends love "Outlander", that might also be a good book for you. Or try the "44 Scotland Street" series by Alexander McCall Smith. They were both not my favourite reads but that's because they were not my genre. But well written and many really like them.

    Thanks for visiting my TTT this week.

    1. I read the first Outlander book a number of years ago and enjoyed it, but never continued on with the series for some reason. I would have to go back and re-read it before moving on at this point and that sucker was huge! Ha ha. The Smith series sounds fun. I'll have to try that one out. Thanks for the recs!

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Marianne!

    2. No problem. We don't always read the same stuff but from time to time, there are some good books for the both of us.

  5. Such a great spin on this weeks topic! I love reading books set in Scotland, even though I haven’t read any of these. Helen S Fields writes some amazing ones though, and you’ve expanded my TBR this week!

    1. Oooh, I"ve never even heard of Fields. I'm going to go look up her books now. Thanks for the rec!

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Leah!

  6. Good location! No, I haven't read any of these, but I did know about Peter May's book and how odd it was that he wrote it 15 years ago and no one would publish it. Said it was too unbelievable. Wow. Anyway, I will say that Ruth Ware's new book, The It Girl, is partially set in Scotland. Just FYI. Have a good week!

    1. Isn't that so ironic? The whole pandemic thing has been pretty crazy and something I never would have dreamed could happen, so I get the publishers' reluctance, but wild.

      I have read THE IT GIRL. Ware's books always appeal to me and that one was no exception!

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Kay!

  7. The Colgan series looks so sweet and like a fun rom-com. Very interesting premise for the Kearsley novel! Scotland is still on my bucket list. :)

    1. The Colgan books I've read have been exactly that—sweet and fun. I need to read more of hers because they just make me smile :)

      And, yeah, isn't that an interesting premise? I wonder how convincing it will feel...

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Tanya!

  8. Great list, I’ve added a few to my TBR. That’s really cool you got to go to Scotland as a part of a family history exploration.

    1. My husband and I are both really into family history, so we were excited to visit places our ancestors lived in the U.K. It was awesome to feel that connection to our ancestral homelands. We especially enjoyed visiting Culzean Castle in Scotland, which was the seat of my clan at one point.

      Thanks for popping in!

  9. These look fabulous. And Scotland is at the top of my list of places t go so I smiled when I saw your list. :)

    1. It's a fun place to visit! I'm planning to go back sometime next year with a list of places to re-visit and a bunch of new ones to explore. Can't wait.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Greg!

  10. Got to love those travel points! I hope you make it there soon!

    1. Thank you! We've already got enough points for a free ticket. It doesn't take long when you're buying all new appliances and lots of building materials for remodeling :)

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Deanna!

  11. I love this topic! I want to go to Scotland since it looks amazing on Outlander. lol! I do remember that trip and I'm so glad you intend to return! I hope the house is coming along!

    1. My hairdresser was just telling me all about the Outlander-themed trip she took to Scotland because she loves the show so much. Ha ha. I've read the first book, but I never moved on with the series and I've never seen the show either. I know lots of people who are obsessed with it, though.

      Things on the house are moving right along. All of our sinks are working, we have all of our appliances in, we should get window coverings installed this week, and my pantry shelves are being built as we speak. Lots of progress!

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Leslie!

  12. Great list! I would love to visit Scotland, but haven't been yet. Someday! In the meantime, I've just put a hold on The Cracked Spine at my library because it sounds like a really fun read. :)

    1. I hope you do get to visit Scotland. We had such a lovely time there that I can't wait to go back.

      THE CRACKED SPINE does sound fun, doesn't it? I mean you can't go wrong with the Scotland/mystery/books combo!

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Nicole!

  13. I love a list on one place! I'll probably bookmark this for future reference. So far Loch Down Abbey has my attention because come on, the title alone made me smile. If they have a name like that, I already think I'll like it's style. :)

    1. Right? It's a great title. Between it and the tongue-in-cheek plot summary, I can tell LOCH DOWN ABBEY is going to be a super fun read! I hope we both love it.

      Thanks for stopping in, Jennifer!

  14. Oh my, I'm loving your list of books. They sound marvelous. Family history exploring is a marvelous thing to do
    Can't beat traveling to learn and discover new things.

    1. So true! Traveling can be such an eye-opener. Everyone needs to do it just for the real-life education.

      Family history is near and dear to my heart, so visiting the places my ancestors and my husband's ancestors lived was an awesome experience. It definitely helped us feel connected to our pasts!

      Thanks for popping by, Deanne!

  15. I want to go back to Scotland as well, Susan. Some great books on this list.

    1. There are so many more places I want to see in Scotland. I'm definitely going back. Can't wait! I hope you make it there again as well.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Carla!

  16. Scotland sounds like a fabulous place to visit!!! What a fun list! Have a great week!

    1. It really is! I loved my visit there and can't wait to return.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Cindy!

  17. Replies
    1. Thanks, Rajani! I'm headed over to see what's new on your blog. I'm hoping for some new poetry...

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting!

  18. I always love books that are set in Scotland. I have ancestors from there ,too, and I even got to go there once. I'd love to go back someday. :)

    1. It's especially fun to visit when you have Scottish ancestry. I felt very connected and proud to be a Scot, especially when the workers at my clan castle bowed to me upon hearing my maiden name! LOL.

      Thanks, as always, for coming by and commenting, Lark!

  19. I love Jenny Colgan so it made me happy to see her on your list. I might have to check out The Cracked Spine, that sounds fantastic

    1. I've really enjoyed the Colgan books I've read so far. I need to read more of them, for sure.

      Thanks for popping in, Cassie!

  20. A great list. I want to go to Scotland someday. I live in South East England so it is quite a journey to make with a 3 year old. I want to go to Edinburgh specifically for the bookshops and zoo!

    Have a great weekend!

    Emily @ Budget Tales Book Blog

    1. Traveling ANYWHERE is a challenge with a 3 year old! We took our youngest two kids (both teens) with us to the U.K. and it was great. Definitely better than traveling with little ones.

      I want to return to Edinburgh. When we were there, it was freezing cold and raining like crazy. We did some sightseeing and shopping, but not as much as we would have done in better weather. I hope you get to visit sometime. It's a beautiful city.

      Thanks for stopping by, Emily!

  21. I adored The Winter Sea, and The Cracked Spine is on my list. Women of the Dunes needs to go on my list. Scotland didn't make my top ten this week, but I'd love to go there!

    1. Oh, I'm glad to hear THE WINTER SEA is a good one. Yay! That makes me even more anxious to read it.

      Scotland really is a great place to visit. I'm excited to go back.

      Thanks for popping in, Lisa!

  22. I'd love to visit Scotland. It's one of the places near the top of my bucket list. :D

  23. Love your spin on this topic. Scotland is a bucket list trip for me so your whole list is calling to me.


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