Saturday, 27 February 2021

Guest Review: Forensics: The Anatomy of Crime By Val McDermid

The dead talk. To the right listener, they tell us all about themselves: where they came from, how they lived, how they died - and who killed them. Forensic scientists can unlock the mysteries of the past and help justice to be done using the messages left by a corpse, a crime scene or the faintest of human traces.

Forensics draws on interviews with top-level professionals, ground-breaking research and Val McDermid's own experience to lay bare the secrets of this fascinating science. And, along the way, she wonders at how maggots collected from a corpse can help determine time of death, how a DNA trace a millionth the size of a grain of salt can be used to convict a killer and how a team of young Argentine scientists led by a maverick American anthropologist uncovered the victims of a genocide.

In her novels, McDermid has been solving complex crimes and confronting unimaginable evil for years. Now, she's looking at the people who do it for real. It's a journey that will take her to war zones, fire scenes and autopsy suites, and bring her into contact with extraordinary bravery and wickedness, as she traces the history of forensics from its earliest beginnings to the cutting-edge science of the modern day.

Review: Val McDermid is an award-winning crime fiction writer, but this book is a factual account of the range of forensic science disciplines that are employed to assist law enforcement agencies in the investigation of crime, and courts of law in the administration of justice. As a former forensic scientist myself, I was very interested to read this book, which was first published in 2014.

Each of the chapters covers a different discipline, such as: fire examination; forensic entomology; toxicology; forensic psychology; DNA; fingerprinting; and forensic anthropology. There is an introduction to the history of each discipline followed by a discussion of the developments leading to the present. This is accompanied by interviews with leading practitioners in the various fields, along with descriptions of case histories that illustrate their discipline. I found these aspects the most interesting, knowing of, and having worked with, some of the individuals concerned. The book’s final chapter covers court procedure and the presentation of scientific testimony. There is a discussion regarding whether the adversarial system, as practised in courts in the United Kingdom and the United States, as opposed to the inquisitorial system, as practised in continental Europe, is better for seeking out the truth.

I found this a really interesting and well-researched book, and it shows the level of research to which the author must go in her fictional work. I should add a care warning. I listened to the audiobook version, which is narrated by a lady from Scotland. For the bulk of the book, this is entirely appropriate since the author Val McDermid is also from Scotland. However, when voicing the various practitioners interviewed for the book, the narrator puts on various bemusing accents (her attempt at a cockney accent must be second only to Dick Van Dyke’s in the film “Mary Poppins”). As already stated, I  know some of those individuals, and was very surprised to hear the words of one of my former work colleagues, who if my memory is correct hails from Nottingham, spoken with a posh southern English accent. If you would find this distracting, then I would recommend reading the book rather than listening to the audio version. I was more amused by the inappropriate accents, so it didn’t detract too much from a very detailed account of forensic procedures.

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

Friday, 26 February 2021

Blog Tour: Review of What The World Need Now Bees by Cheryl Rosebush @cherylrosebush @freshly_press @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours

It is my stop on the tour for What The World Need Now Bees by Cheryl Rosebush. I have a review to share with you today and if you fancy grabbing yourself a copy of the book, you can click here. Don't forget to check out the other stops on the tour for more exclusive content and reviews.

Here's what it's all about...

Inside the sprawling forests of Ontario, Canada lives a  friendly black bear named Melly. One of Melly’s favourite  things to do is EAT! And many of the delicious fruits she  snacks on wouldn’t grow without the help of some very  important little forest creatures. 

What the World Needs Now: Bees! explores the vital role  busy, busy bees play in helping plants to grow the food  people and animals love to eat.

Review: I really love the concept of this book and indeed the others in the series. STEM is such a hot topic in early reading and in education in general right now and so to introduce children to science through a friendly character like this love bear here is such a great experience. I also appreciated the amount of scientific vocabulary used throughout the book to describe the need for bees and the different kinds of bees. 

That being said I do think that some of the scientific vocabulary would have worked better as some labels or inside fact bubbles rather than as part of the narrative. The sentence structure was generally simple and the language quite accessible for an early reader to be able to access this and then along would come a few scientific terms or overly complex ways to describe things. For me this meant that the book failed to reach it target audience and also interrupted the natural flow of the book as a whole. I was also slightly thrown when the book mentioned where black bears can be found listing, Alaska, Canada and northern Mexico as well as the USA. I feel like Alaska is part of the USA, it being one of the 50 states and all.

I really loved the illustrations in this book especially when we got to talking about the different kinds of bees. The illustrations meant that there were clear definitions between the various kinds of bees. I liked the inclusion of the bear as our guide but I would have loved to have seen her pop up again at the end to kind of sign off the whole thing if you will. I really wanted to love this book and I really do applaud what it was trying to do but it just feel short of the mark for me. 

Author Bio

I was born and raised in Southern Ontario, Canada in the cities of Burlington and St. Catharines. Long before the internet and mobile phones (now I’m aging myself!), my childhood was spent in forests and parks, on bike rides, and playing hide and seek until the streetlights came on. My family did comical Griswold-style road trips in wood-paneled station wagons. We spent summers swimming in friends’ backyards. These are my very fortunate roots.

I knew from an early age that my destiny would take me far from Southern Ontario. I graduated high school and moved to Montreal to study international politics at McGill University. The subject fascinated me, but as graduation approached, I realized I didn’t know what I wanted to do with a degree in international politics. I didn’t want to become a lawyer. I didn’t want to become a politician or civil servant. The media industry, on the other hand, intrigued me. 

The West Coast of Canada also intrigued me. So, after graduating McGill, I packed up again, moved to Vancouver and took the first media job I could get at a local Top 40 radio station (Z.95.3) in Vancouver. Best job. Great bosses. I learned so much. But after a couple of years there, the winds of change came calling again. 

September 11, 2001. In a heartbeat, Z95.3 went from playing Britney Spears to reporting up-to-the-minute information on the local, national and international fallout of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. In that moment, I knew I had found my calling. I wanted to do something that was needed on a good day, and needed even more on a bad day. I wanted to become a full-time journalist. 

So, I packed my bags again (a running theme in my life), and moved to Ottawa, Ontario to do my Masters of Journalism. Another incredible two years culminated in me getting a research internship with the Canadian Broadcast Corporation (CBC) in London, England. That position helped me land back in Montreal for a second chapter there as local news reporter for the CBC. While I was there, I wore just about every hat you could in CBC’s radio and TV newsrooms. Depending on the day, I was a researcher, producer, reporter, or online writer. I even filled in for the weather reports every once in a while.

Wednesday, 24 February 2021

Guest Review: The Secret to Happiness by Jessica Redland

Danniella is running from her past, so when she arrives at the beautiful seaside resort of Whitsborough Bay, the last thing on her mind is making friends. After all, they might find out her secrets…

Alison is fun, caring and doesn't take herself too seriously. But beneath the front, she is a lost soul, stuck in a terrible relationship, with body confidence issues and no family to support her. All she really needs is a friend.

Karen's romance has taken a back seat to her fitness business. But she doesn’t want to give up on love quite yet. If only those mysterious texts would stop coming through…

When the women meet at their local bootcamp, a deep friendship blossoms. And soon they realise that the secret to happiness is where they least expected to find it…

Review: I have been enjoying catching up with Jessica Redland’s catalogue of books, having been introduced to her writing relatively recently. Many of her books, including this one, are set in the fictional Yorkshire seaside town of Whitsborough Bay. All of her stories are standalone, but many characters pop up in more than one book. I’m sure that I’m not alone in enjoying getting reacquainted with characters from previous stories. As with many of Jessica’s books, I listened to the audio version of this one, read very ably by Lucy Brownhill.

This story centres on three women who meet up in Whitsborough Bay, brought together by a local boot camp. Daniella is a stranger to the town, who is running away from a traumatic event in her past. Alison is a local resident who is becoming increasingly unhappy with her life, and in particular her relationship with a long-time partner who seems now to take every opportunity to demoralize her. Karen is a local fitness instructor who is building a business with her fiancé, but who is beginning to wonder where the romance in their life has gone and what he is hiding from her. As Karen establishes her boot camp and welcomes the others into the group, the women find friendship as well as support in their struggles to rediscover happiness in their lives.

I can highly recommend this book filled with true friendship and its power to support even the most troubled soul. It is quite an emotional read, with some shocking revelations, but with its fair share of humour and romance. I loved that the three central characters are really life-like, with the sort of problems that anyone could experience. My heart ached for each of them at different stages in the story, and I felt so relieved for them that the others were there to lend support. This is another well-written story from Jessica Redland that many will find a heartwarming read, probably shedding a few tears along the way.

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

Tuesday, 23 February 2021

February Book Haul: Books I Bought; Books For Review; Book of The Month and Bookish PJs?


Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Made Me Laugh Out Loud


Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This is such a great topic because it takes a lot for something to make me laugh actually out loud. I can find thing funny but never giggle overtly so it is a big deal if I utter an actual audible laugh...