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...

Monday 22 February 2021

Bog Blitz: Say Hello Not Goodbye by Andrea Office @FilmFan06 @lovebooksgroup

Today I am part of the blog blitz celebrating Say Hello Not Goodbye by Andrea Office. I am sharing the bkurb, the cover and the author info with you today and keep your eyes out for the blog tour for this book coming up soon!

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

The last few years have been hard for Catherine Lothbury. Suffering from agoraphobia she's never left the sanctuary of her house, and with no friends to help her, she starts to think that she'll be stuck inside forever.

Enter Elliot Farringdon, a soldier in the British army, who vows to help Catherine overcome her fears, and reintroduces her to the outside world.

Their friendship quickly turns into something more, but when Elliot is sent away on deployment, Catherine finds herself feeling far more alone than she did before. And when he doesn't return home, she starts to believe that she's lost him forever.

Author Bio
As someone who grew up reading any book she could get her hands on it wasn't long until Andrea realised she wanted to be an author. She's been writing stories since she was in school and over the many years has developed her craft into what it is today.

After studying journalism at university she found her inspiration to become a writer and her debut novel "Who We Are" tries to answer one important question- can someone who's been a criminal for nearly his whole life turn his life around and be seen as the hero he wants to be?

Updates on new releases can be found on her blog:

Or you can follow her on Twitter at FilmFan06

Friday 19 February 2021

Review: The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins

 A girl looking for love…

When Jane, a broke dog-walker newly arrived in town, meets Eddie Rochester, she can’t believe her luck. Eddie is handsome, rich and lives alone in a beautiful mansion since the tragic death of his beloved wife a year ago.

A man who seems perfect…
Eddie can give Jane everything she’s always wanted: stability, acceptance, and a picture-perfect life.

A wife who just won’t stay buried…
But what Jane doesn’t know is that Eddie is keeping a secret – a big secret. And when the truth comes out, the consequences are far more deadly than anyone could ever have imagined…

Review: Oh my goodness how did it take me so long to realise this was a Jane Eyre retelling even though it sys so on the back of the blurb and in the synopsis. So if you're wondering whether you have to be a Jane Eyre fan to read this book, no you don't! And also if you're expecting this to be just another retelling that does the same thing as the original-think again. This doesn't read like a straight retelling and I loved it for the twisty drama-filled read that it was without any mention of it's inspiration. 

Jane is such a mysterious character. Her whole persona reminded me of the characters created by Liane Moriarty or the mysterious characters in a Lisa jewell novel. I was so pleased to be spending the book with her because she is one of those characters that isn't necessarily likable but is definitely intriguing and those are the best kind of characters. I also loved how driven and scrappy she was. She has definitely made her own luck and found herself in the position that she's in because she has worked for it. 

The setting of this one was also something I really liked. I don't feel like I've read many books set in Alabama and the fact that this is set in an affluent neighborhood in Alabama makes this even more unique. My knowledge of Alabama is limited having only visited there once but I definitely recognised the talk of the college sports teams as they were everywhere during our visit. The neighborhood that the story centres around is also full of intrigue. It goes hand in hand with the old saying that you really don't know what goes on behind closed doors. 

This was a definite page turner of a novel. I started and ended the book reading the physical copy and I listened to the audiobook in the middle because I was out and about in the car for the day but I did manage to finish this in less than 24 hours. The whole thing played out in front of me like a movie and this would absolutely make an excellent adaptation to screen. I really enjoyed this novel, I loved the retelling and that over is just stunning isn't it? Highly recommended. 

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

Thursday 18 February 2021

Book Vs Movie: Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah Netflix Series | Spoiler-Free & Spoilers Included


Cover Reveal: Tsalix Silverthorn and the Desert of Desolation by Richard Siddoway @CayellePub @rmsiddoway @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours

Today I have another exciting cover reveal for you: Tsalix Silverthorn and the Desert of Desolation by Richard Siddoway. The book comes out on February 23rd and you can order your copy now by clicking here! Here's what it's all about...

Having retrieved the first talisman from the top of Mount Jinee, Tsalix and his friends are faced with another daunting task.  They must cross Shayeksten, the Desert of Desolation to reach Mount Tsood and find the second talisman.

Shayeksten is formidable, dry, hot, and covered with drifting sand.  Compounding their problem is their nemesis, Captain Nash Doitsoh and his band of soldiers, who are patrolling the desert and are determined to capture Tsalix and bring him to Prince Abadon. If they are successful in crossing Shayeksten and reaching Mount Tsood they must find where the talisman is hidden and then return to Mount Deschee to deliver it to the King. 

Are you ready for that cover? 

Author Bio

Siddoway was born in Salt Lake City and raised in Bountiful, Utah. He and his wife Janice have eight children. He has been an educator for over forty years and for a time was the principal of the Electronic High School for the Utah State Department of Education.

In 1998 The Christmas Wish was adapted into a CBS movie. Siddoway has also written several other books with Christmas themes such as Twelve Tales of ChristmasChristmas of the Cherry Snow, and The Christmas Quest. He has also written other books such as Degrees of GloryMom and Other Great Women I Have KnownHabits of the Heart and The Hut in The Tree in The Woods.

From 1996 to 2005 Siddoway served as president of the Bountiful Utah Val Verda Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). Prior to his call as a stake president Siddoway had served as a bishop in the LDS Church.

Tuesday 16 February 2021

Unboxing February's Enchanted Drinking Vessel Subscription Box & Cocktail Making


Top Ten Tuesday: Purple, Yellow, and/or Green Book Covers (in honor of Mardi Gras, which is today!)

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 cute idea for a top ten. I definitely have more of one of these colours than others but I think I'm going to head to my physical book shelves now and see what books I have in these colours over there...

Oh and we're not going to limit this to 10, I'm just going to find a selection I have read to share with you!