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Opening up to let the good times roll!

By Barbara Henderson

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As you read this, book shops will be open again. There is birdsong in the air – a sense of promise.

We are ready to think about the good things! New books to explore, new places to visit. Let the good times roll, I say.

Here are a few...

Good thing number one: The spring book festivals are hitting our screens. Already under way is John O’Groats which is airing online between now and May 8, all details on the John O’Groats Book Festival Facebook page.

They feature stellar local talent like Jim Miller, James Hunter, Helen Sedgwick, Liz Treacher and a showcase of Caithness talent.

I’m also keen to dip into the event with poet Gerda Stevenson – and if your young ones like Vikings, I am doing a session on Viking themed family fun.

Later in May, Ullapool Book Festival will follow, all details on their website.

Good thing number two: Highland Crime is flying high – particularly Black Isle crime and thriller writer Neil Lancaster.

He recently hit the number one spot with his first book in the Tom Novak action thriller series – Going Dark topped the UK audiobook charts, outselling the likes of Richard Osman, JK Rowling and Matt Haig.

His chart-topping success was only improved upon when the cover and pre-order link for his latest novel was released. Dead Man’s Grave, set across Scotland and featuring a new protagonist, is now available for pre-order and will hit the shelves from July.

Good thing number three: I have long loved the writing of former Cairngorms National Park writer in residence Merryn Glover – I adore her thoughtful prose! Last week, I watched her unpack the box with the first copies of her new book, Of Stone and Sky, on social media.

Merryn Glover.
Merryn Glover.

She says: "I started this book at 4am on the summer solstice eight years ago, woken by the light and an idea I couldn't shake. 'A story. A land. A people. This place of beauty and history, of loss and hope. A shepherd.'

"The place is the upper strath of the Spey where I live, and the shepherd is the last of a long line who disappears, leaving a strange trail of his possessions heading up into the Cairngorm mountains. My journey through writing to publication has seemed every bit as long and strange, but I am finally at the end, which is, of course, a new beginning. This story is both imagined and deeply true."

Of Stone and Sky is published by Polygon Books on May 6. All are welcome to the digital launch that evening, remotely hosted by The Bookmark in Grantown-on-Spey. Merryn can be reached through her website: www.merrynglover.com

And there you have it, three good things. And as I prepare to travel the Isle of Lewis to launch The Chessmen Thief with Museum nan Eilean, Eilean Siar Libraries and E-Sgoil, I echo: Let the good times roll!

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