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Archive for December, 2016

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Published: 25 August 2016
Reviewed: 7 December 2016

4.5 out of 5 stars

Copy supplied by Bonnier Zaffre in return for an honest review

Description:

In a remote corner of Lagos in Nigeria, a stranger delivers a homeless boy to an orphanage, where the welcoming staff hide a terrible secret.

At a squalid flat in the docks area of Cardiff, an early morning police raid goes catastrophically wrong. A plain clothes officer is shot dead at point blank range. The killer slips away.

Young and inexperienced, Will MacReady starts his first day on the CID. With the city in shock and the entire force reeling, he is desperate to help – but unearths truths that lead the team down an increasingly dark path…

My Thoughts & Review:

Mike Thomas is a new author to me, but when I heard that he had won around fans of Stuart Macbride’s with his writing I knew I had to try his books.
Ash and Bones is the first book by this author that I have read and it certainly won’t be the last.  I absolutely loved the gritty, fast paced feel of this novel, it kept me reading well into the wee hours of the morning (a victim of “just one more chapter” syndrome).

In the beginning I was stumped to see how Mike Thomas could link the events in Nigeria and Cardiff, and part of me wanted to read on to see if he actually managed to tie them together.  But thankfully the two strands weave together to form an outstanding thriller and lay the foundations for a brilliant series featuring Will MacReady.

I won’t regurgitate the plot, but suffice to say it’s gripping, gritty and so deliciously complex that the reader cannot help but be lured in.  The characters in this felt authentic and realistic, the dialogue between MacReady and Beck was brilliant and gave a great insight into the dynamic between these two.  Seeing the ways that Beck tries to keep MacReady in hand make for entertaining reading, poor lass has her work cut out there.  MacReady is a great character, desperate to prove himself but a wee bit of a rogue when it comes to bending the rules.

When reading a novel written by someone who has intimate knowledge of the police force and crimes I always think it shows in the details they are able to include.  Mike Thomas served as a police officer for many years and this translates through his writing, giving the reader a real feel of authenticity.  It’s always a treat to read these sorts of books, as a reader you are privy not only to the workings of an author’s mind but also to the functioning mind of an ex police officer who goes to great length to ensure sufficient detail so they can to enhance your reading experience.

Thankfully, book two is coming in 2017 and I cannot wait to see where Thomas plans to take DC MacReady next!  Definitely an author to keep an eye on for the future!

You can buy a copy of Ash and Bones here.

About the Author:

Mike Thomas was born in Wales in 1971. For more than two decades he served in the police, working some of Cardiff’s busiest neighbourhoods in uniform, public order units, drugs teams and CID. He left the force in 2015 to write full time.

His debut novel, Pocket Notebook, was published by William Heinemann (Penguin Random House) and longlisted for the Wales Book of the Year. The author was also named as one of Waterstones’ ‘New Voices’ for 2010. His second novel, Ugly Bus, is currently in development for a six part television series with the BBC.

His new novel, Ash and Bones, was published in August 2016 by Bonnier Zaffre.

He lives in the wilds of Portugal with his wife, two children and an unstable, futon-eating dog.

More details can be found on the website www.mikethomasauthor.co.uk

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It’s time to finally set in stone the books of the year, a list that I have created, edited and ripped up mentally for the past few days…..When you’ve read so many books over the year it’s hard to narrow down a top 5, a top 10 or even a top 20, but I will attempt to share my top books of 2016.

Top Indie Books:

In no particular order:

  • Death of a Nobody by Derek Farrell (Fahrenheit Press)
  • The Mine by Antti Tuomainen (Orenda Books)
  • Summoning The Dead by Tony Black (Black and White Publishing)
  • A Suitable Lie by Michael J Malone (Orenda Books)
  • A Man With One of Those Faces by Caimh  McDonnell (McFori Ink)
  • Casing Off by P.I. Paris (Black and White Publishing)
  • Death In Profile by Guy Fraser-Sampson (Urbane Publications)
  • Doorways by Robert Enright (Urbane Publications)
  • The Bird Tribunal by Agnes Ravatn (Orenda Books)
  • The Cleaner by Elisabeth Herrmann (Manilla / Bonnier Zaffre)

Top Crime Fiction & Thriller:

I really tried to keep this to 10…..but well I just couldn’t…..

In no particular order:

  • Strangers by Paul Finch
  • Dark Water by Robert Bryndza
  • Hide and Seek by M.J. Arlidge
  • The Killing Game by J.S. Carol
  • Before I Let You In by Jenny Blackhurst
  • The Dead House by Harry Bingham
  • All Fall Down by Tom Bale
  • Out of Bounds by Val McDermid
  • Blood Lines by Angela Marsons
  • Love You To Death by Caroline Mitchell
  • The Night Stalker by Robert Bryndza
  • In The Cold Dark Ground by Stuart MacBride

Top Books of Brilliance or Smile Inducing Wonderment:

In no particular order:

  • The Accidental Dictionary by Paul Anthony Jones
  • How To Find Your (First) Husband by Rosie Blake
  • The Last Pearl Fisher of Scotland by Julia Stuart
  • The Life Assistance Agency Thomas Hocknell
  • The Girl Who Saved Christmas by Matt Haig
  • A Very Merry Manhattan Christmas by Darcie Boleyn
  • 183 Times a Year by Eva Jordan
  • Christmas Under A Cranberry Sky by Holly Martin
  • A Home in Sunset Bay by Rebecca Pugh
  • Christmas At The Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan

What books would you rate as your top ones for this year?  Have you read any of these ones?  Let me know your thoughts below.


And just because I can, here’s ones I think will be top books for 2017….

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Published: 3 November 2016
Reviewed: 22 November 2016

4 out of 5 stars

Copy supplied by Bookouture in return for an honest review

 

Description:

Thirteen years ago someone did something very bad to Anna. Now it’s her turn to get even …

Anna lives a solitary existence, taking solace in order and routine. Her only friend is the lonely old lady next door. She doesn’t like to let people to get too close – she knows how much damage they can do.

Then one ordinary day Anna witnesses a devastating road accident and recognises the driver as Carla, the woman who ruined her life all those years ago. Now it’s Anna’s chance to set things straight but her revenge needs to be executed carefully …

First she needs to get to know Liam, the man injured in the accident. She needs to follow the police investigation. She needs to watch Carla from the shadows…

But as Anna’s obsession with Carla escalates, her own secrets start to unravel. Is Carla really dangerous or does Anna need to worry about someone far closer to home?

My Thoughts & Review:

Safe With Me is a wonderfully clever psychological thriller and one that definitely holds it’s own amongst the others in the genre.  But it is one of those books you need to turn off your mobile, ignore the dog and devote your entire attention to because you could easily lose track if you don’t concentrate.

The reader is introduced to Anna, and over the course of the book the author deftly weaves back and forth into the past to recount a tragedy that Anna witnessed, and introduce the tantalisingly brilliant building blocks of the plot.  I really don’t want to say too much about the plot of this, it’s not one you want to have spoiled!  I will say the chapters are relatively short which means you can storm through them to find out what’s going to happen next.

Anna is a well created character, incredibly realistic and very well fleshed out.  Even the details about her job add another layer to this character.  The skill of Slater’s writing really comes into its own when detailing Anna’s mental state and her foibles.  Perhaps not the most likeable character but fantastic nonetheless.

The plotting is good, the story is intricately woven and holds the attention of the reader well.  It’s a thrilling and disturbing read, and one that stays with you once you’ve finished it.  Overall a very impressive debut novel by K.L. Slater.

You can buy a copy of Safe With Me here.

 

About the Author:

For many years, Kim sent her work out to literary agents but never made it off the slush pile. At the age of 40 she went back to Nottingham Trent University and now has an MA in Creative Writing.

Before graduating, she received five offers of representation from London literary agents and a book deal which was, as Kim says, ‘a fairytale … at the end of a very long road!’

Kim writes psychological crime thrillers for Bookouture. Her first book, ‘Safe with Me’ is published on 3rd November 2016.

Kim is a full-time writer and lives in Nottingham with her husband, Mac. Between them they have three grown-up kids; Kim’s daughter, Francesca, and Mac’s sons, Nathan and Jake.

She also writes multi-award winning YA fiction under the name Kim Slater.

Author website: www.KLSlaterAuthor.com
Twitter: @KimLSlater

 

 

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I am thrilled to welcome you to my stop on the blog tour for The Girl Who Had No Fear and share an extract from Marnie’s latest thriller to feature Georgina McKenzie.

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Description:

Amsterdam: a city where sex sells and drugs come easy. Four dead bodies have been pulled from the canals – and that number’s rising fast. Is a serial killer on the loose? Or are young clubbers falling prey to a lethal batch of crystal meth?

Chief Inspector Van den Bergen calls on criminologist Georgina McKenzie to help him solve this mystery. George goes deep undercover among the violent gangs of Central America. Working for the vicious head of a Mexican cartel, she must risk her own life to find the truth. With murder everywhere she turns, can George get people to talk before she is silenced for good?

You can buy a copy of The Girl Who Had No Fear here


Extract from The Girl Who Had No Fear:

Chapter Five

‘What do we know about our man in the canal?’ Maarten Minks asked. Neatly folded into his chair, he sat with his pen in hand and his pad open, as though he were poised to take notes. Van den Bergen could deduce from the shine on his overenthusiastic, wrinkle-free face that he was on the cusp of getting a stiffy over the discovery of this fourth body. Waiting for his old Chief Inspector’s words of wisdom, no doubt. Bloody fanboy.

‘Well,’ Van den Bergen began. Paused. Rearranged his long frame in his seat, grimacing as his hip clicked in protest when he tried to cross his legs. ‘It’s interesting, actually. His wallet and ID were still on him. No money stolen, so he couldn’t have been pushed into the water after a mugging.’ He took the smudged glasses from the end of the chain around his neck and perched them on his nose. Wishing now that he’d had the scratched lens replaced when George had told him to. Trying to focus on the handwriting in his notebook. Hell, maybe it wasn’t the scuffing. Maybe his sight had deteriorated since the last eye test. Was it entirely unfeasible that he had glaucoma? ‘Ah, his name was Floris Engels – a maths teacher at Bouwdewijn de Groot Lyceum in the Old South part of town.’

Minks nodded. Pursed his lips. ‘A teacher, eh?’

‘Yes. I checked his tax records. Head of department at a posh school on the expensive side of town.’ Removing his glasses, Van den Bergen stifled a belch. ‘IT Marie’s done some background research and revealed nothing but a photograph of him on the school’s website and a Facebook account that we’re waiting for permission to access. It’s unlikely he was some kind of petty crook on the quiet, as far as I can make out, but I got the feeling he might have been dead before he hit the water.’

‘And the number of canal deaths are stacking up,’ Minks said, lacing his hands together. That fervour was still shining in his eyes.

Van den Bergen could guess exactly what he was hoping for but refused to pander to his boss’ aspirations. ‘I’m going out there with Elvis now to interview the Principal and some of his colleagues. We’re going to check out his apartment too. Marianne’s doing the postmortem this afternoon. She says, at first glance, she thinks maybe there’s been some foul play.’

‘Excellent!’ Minks said, scribbling down a note that Van den Bergen could not read. ‘Lots going on. I really do admire your old school methodical techniques, Paul.’ The new Commissioner beamed at him. His cheeks flushed red and he leaned his elbow onto the desk. ‘Will you be disappearing into your shed for a think?’

Is he taking the piss, Van den Bergen wondered? But then he remembered that Maarten Minks was neither Kamphuis nor Hasselblad. This smooth-skinned foetus had been fast-tracked straight out of grad school. At least Van den Bergen’s long-range vision was good enough to corroborate that there was a raft of diplomas hanging above Minks on the wall behind his desk. A framed photo of him posing with the Minister for Security and Justice, the Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations and the bloody Prime Minister. No sign of a naked lady statue or stupid executive toys. This youthful pretender to the policing throne was all business. But he could think again if he thought Van den Bergen was going to discuss the shed. ‘Do you have any suggestions regarding the shape the investigation should take? Any priorities I should know about?’

‘See how the autopsy pans out. But if there are any similarities with the other floaters, I think we need to consider …’

Here it was. Van den Bergen could feel it coming. He shook his head involuntarily and popped an antacid from its blister pack onto his tongue.

‘… that a serial killer is on the loose.’


Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour for reviews, extracts and some fascinating guest pieces written by Marnie.

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I am so excited to welcome you to my stop on the blog tour for A.L. Michael’s “Be My Baby” and share my review of this lovely book with you.  There’s also a wee giveaway running so be sure to add your entry for the chance to win a goodie bag of healthy foodie treats!

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Published: 7 November 2016
Reviewed: 14 November 2016

4 out of 5 stars

Copy supplied by HQ Digital as part of the blog tour

 

Description:

Two’s company…

If you asked Mollie whether she struggled as a single mum, she’d have to cover her daughter’s ears before answering. Surrounded by friends, watching Esme grow into the sassiest eleven-year-old in North London, and building her name as TV chef Mollie Makes, Mollie’s never been happier. Well, that’s what she’d tell you. But as her best friends pair off, and Esme starts getting into trouble at school, Mollie wonders whether life would be different – not better…but easier – with a team mate.

Three’s a crowd?

But Esme’s dad, Jamie, would be the last man Mollie would team up with. After all, he made it clear eleven years ago that he wasn’t interested in playing the family game. So when he suddenly reappears, Mollie can’t believe her eyes. And soon, she’s got to ask herself the hardest question yet: she knows she can succeed as a single mum. But what if her daughter doesn’t want her to?

My Thoughts & Review:

Be My Baby is the third and final instalment of The House on Camden Square series, and if I’m honest, I’m a little sad to be leaving these wonderful characters.  The first books in the series being Goodbye Ruby Tuesday  and Nice Day For A White Wedding (my review of book two can be found here).  Technically this can be read as a stand alone book, there are enough details given so that the reader can understand the character connections etc.

This book focuses on Mollie’s story.  Mollie is a single mum who has been raising her daughter Esme (aged 11 going on 30 it seems, Esme is wise beyond her years).  Mollie is still hurt that her ex Jamie left when she was pregnant with their daughter.  A chance sighting of Mollie on TV promoting her healthy eating for children “Mollie Makes” is enough for Jamie to get in contact.  Through a raft of misunderstandings and the subsequent explanations Mollie agrees that Esme can see her dad so that the pair can work on building a relationship.

As always the characters in this are wonderful, Andi Michael has created such vivid and realistic personas.  Esme is a darling, very much her own person and not one to fit in the mould.  She really comes across as realistic and quite a wise character.  Mollie is a great character, the reader really gets a feel for her struggles as she tries to accept the bond between her daughter and Jamie forming, the fact that she was a lone parent for so long means she finds this hard and it comes across well through the writing.  She’s also quite a humorous character, the dialogue in the opening chapter where she was on a date had me giggling from the get go.
The relationship between mother and daughter was very well written, their bond was strong and the sensitivity shown towards the subject of Jamie’s absence was handled well.

The writing style makes this a joy to read, it’s entertaining, light hearted and witty.  Yes, there are sad moments in the book, but there are humorous ones too.  A nice quick read that keeps a reader interested throughout.

You can buy a copy of Be My Baby here

Don’t forget to add your entry for the giveaway!  The prize is a goodie bag of healthy foodie treats inspired by one of the characters in the novel – closing date for entries is 12th December.

About the Author:

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A.L Michael is a writer and workshop leader from North London. She has a BA in Creative Writing with English Lit, an MA in Creative Entrepreneurship and is starting an MsC in Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes. She likes learning and hates essays.

She’s a fan of cheap wine, expensive chocolate and still wants to be a secret agent when she grows up, but she’ll settle for lying on the page.

To find out more about A.L. Michael and her books you can go to her website https://almichael.com or follow her on Twitter @ALMichael_

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Published: 1 December 2016
Reviewed: 5 December 2016

4 out of 5 stars

Copy supplied by Aria Fiction in return for an honest review

 

Description:

A missing husband. Mysterious calls. And the biggest lie of them all.
Read with caution – you may never want to answer your phone again…

Will and Amanda Thorne are living the dream until, one day, their phone rings. Within 24 hours, Will is missing and Amanda’s world is shattered. Who was on the phone? Where has Will gone?

Amanda is determined to find her husband and is drawn into a world of drug dealers, criminal masterminds and broken promises.

As the truth becomes clearer, she has to face the terrible possibility that she may never have known her husband at all…

My Thoughts & Review:

When I first saw this book mentioned on social media I was intrigued, the premise sounded somewhat sinister and hinted towards a thrilling read so I had to request a copy from the publisher to see how it all panned out.

Amanda Thorne has the quintessential perfect life it would seem – working from home in a job she loves, a beautiful home and a husband that adores her, what more could she want?  Except, Amanda carries an emotional wound from the death of her father, so shows that appearances aren’t all that they seem.
A wrong number one evening puzzles Amanda, assuring the caller that they are mistaken, she hangs up and thinks nothing more about it until it pops into her head later on that evening so she mentions it to her husband Will.

What then follows is a frantic game of cat and mouse, after Amanda discovers Will gone when she wakes in the morning and his work reports he never appeared she panics and tries to contact him.  Waiting the painstaking hours until she can report him missing to the police, Amanda continuously rings and texts Will’s mobile to no avail.
When the police fail to find Will quick enough Amanda decides to turn to her computer skills to track him down.
The narration of a past event being woven into the plot gives the reader an insight of something that has occurred and goes some of the way to explaining more about a certain character – once you make the connections of who is involved.

At the heart of this story is a tale of secrets and the dangers that surround them.  No secret is ever truly kept hidden and that’s something the characters in this story find out to their detriment.  Both Amanda and Will have secrets, ones that drive the plot along swiftly and although I did guess as to some of the secrets, others were not so easy to guess.

Amanda is an interesting character, determined and not averse to taking a few risks along the way to get answers to her questions.  She did sometimes come across as too keen to use her old hacking connections, perhaps she missed the cloak and dagger world of the dark net.  Will on the other hand, hard to know how to describe this character as he’s only portrayed from Amanda’s view point for the majority of the story, but something about him just seems “off”.

The only downside of the book was the ending, it felt a little too abrupt.  I did wonder if the copy I had received from the publisher was missing a page or two but soon discovered that there was a “teaser” for the next book due out in 2017 which did elaborate on some points from Wrong Number but not enough to answer the questions I had.  Definitely keen to see where this story goes and look forward to the next book.

You can buy a copy of Wrong Number here.

 

About the Author:

Carys Jones loves nothing more than to write and create stories which ignite the reader’s imagination. Based in Shropshire, England, Carys lives with her husband, two guinea pigs and her adored canine companion Rollo.

When she’s not writing, Carys likes to indulge her inner geek by watching science- fiction films or playing video games.

She lists John Green, Jodi Picoult and Virginia Andrews as her favourite authors and draws inspiration for her own work from anything and everything.

To Carys, there is no greater feeling then when you lose yourself in a great story and it is that feeling of ultimate escapism which she tries to bring to her books.

For more information about Carys please visit www.carys-jones.com or follow her on Twitter; @tiny_dancer85

Information courtesy of Goodreads

 

 

 

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Published: 1 December 2016
Reviewed: 3 November 2016

4 out of 5 stars

Copy supplied by Transworld / Penguin Random House as part of the blog tour

 

Description:

Alice has a perfect life – a great job, happy kids, a wonderful husband. Until he goes missing one night; she receives a suspicious phone call; things don’t quite add up.

Alice needs to know what’s going on. But when she uncovers the truth she faces a brutal choice. And how can she be sure it is the truth?

Sometimes it’s better not to know.

My Thoughts & Review:

What Alice Knew first caught my attention on social media, the cleverly timed tweets by the publisher giving away snippets of information were enough to pique my interest and I immediately requested a copy for review.

The first thing that struck me about this book was the fact that it begins so benignly, an artist painting a portrait, nothing sinister there, not hint towards crime, mystery or thrills but yet it draws the reader in, promising that something sinister lies ahead.
Alice and husband Ed seem the quintessential family with their two children.  Both Alice and Ed have jobs they enjoy and excel at, a wonderful home and all the trappings of a successful life, but when Ed goes missing one night their perfect existence is called into question.

The reader is then plunged into a labyrinthine series of events that boggle the mind.  The author cleverly builds tension and confusion throughout the plot with use of unreliable narration from frantic characters who struggle with the complexities of the situations they are in.  Each action, each lie, each accusation swiftly moves this book to a new level of thriller, the skill in the writing means that the attention of the reader is held captive but all the while they are thinking “what happens next?”  “why did they do that?”  “what does this mean?”

I will admit that when I finished this book I was confused by what I had read and reached out to other bloggers to see what they thought, and the general consensus was that this was a cleverly plotted book, deviously ambiguous and allowed the reader to draw their own conclusions as to the ending.  By doing so, the author allows the reader the freedom to decide which category this thriller falls into – a very nice touch.

The use of art throughout the book is a fantastic metaphor for seeing the truth, being able to look at a subject and actually “see” what’s underneath as opposed to what is on the surface.  The details included about art techniques and styles also adds an authenticity to  Alice and her profession, as well as being generally interesting.

You can buy a copy of What Alice Knew here.

 


Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour

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Published: 3 November 2016
Reviewed: 28 November 2016

4 out of 5 stars

Copy supplied by Headline in return for an honest review

 

Description:

GONE WITHOUT A TRACE by Mary Torjussen is a chilling, twisty, compulsive thriller about a woman whose boyfriend has vanished. Fans of I LET YOU GO and THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN will be gripped.

No one ever disappears completely…

You leave for work one morning.

Another day in your normal life.

Until you come home to discover that your boyfriend has gone.
His belongings have disappeared.
He hasn’t been at work for weeks.
It’s as if he never existed.

But that’s not possible, is it?

And there is worse still to come.

Because just as you are searching for him
someone is also watching you.

My Thoughts & Review:

Have you ever read a book and had no idea where it was leading you?  Or read a thriller that you “think” you know what’s going on and about to happen only to be completely thrown by the unexpected?  Well this book is both of those things, it’s cleverly deceptive, the plotting is ingenious and the levels of suspense are mind warping.

This is a very chilling read, borderline sinister at times.  It all hinges upon the moment Hannah returns home from a training course, excited to share news with her boyfriend Matt only to be faced with the realisation that he’s not there and neither is any of his possessions.
Reading this instantly had my brain on alert, where was Matt?  What had happened to him?  Did Matt exist or was he a figment of Hannah’s imagination?  Was she delusional?  Yes I tend to think too far ahead and too much sometimes, but the style of writing in the opening chapters of this book means that the reader can sit and formulate some wonderful ideas about the what and why.

Hannah is a very well created character, her charted downward spiral is skilfully written, so much so that the reader feels sympathy towards her plight, empathises with her and shares her frustrations at not being able to find out what happened, but despite all of this she was not a character I was overly fond of – the reasons for this is explainable once you’re read the book.  The chilling psychological twist that’s expertly woven into this novel really catches Hannah and the reader out, elements of the plot hint towards an unknown danger, is someone is watching Hannah?  Is someone playing with her emotions and her mind?  Her paranoia and panic feel very realistic and the reader is driven to keep going, desperate to find out what is going on, who is behind the strange events, but most of all to find out what happened to Matt.
The fact that Hannah is suffering a breakdown means she is an unreliable narrator, which works very well for this type of story.  Her feverish actions and jumbled thinking lend themselves to the increased tension and make this a gripping read.

Some other characters in this were very untrustworthy and ones that at times I found myself wondering why Hannah would be around them, perhaps I’m overthinking it a bit.  I did like the way relationship Hannah had with her parents was written, the troubled past that shaped the dynamic of the present.  It also provided food for thought later on in the plot.

I was completely gripped by this book, and by the end I was mentally exhausted.  Mary Torjussen writes some incredibly tense moments and characters that take effect on the reader in a way that I’ve rarely experienced from a book.  The toxicity of some characters leeches from the pages and the reader cannot help but feel uncomfortable with events and the shocking twists that unfold.  I think I may need to go read The Velveteen Rabbit or something similar now to recharge my head after this book.

You can buy a copy of Gone Without A Trace here.

 

About the Author:

Mary Torjussen grew up in Stoke-on-Trent. There was no television in her family home so books have always been her escape – she spent hours reading and writing stories as a child. Mary has an MA in Creative Writing from Liverpool John Moores University, and worked as a teacher in Liverpool before becoming a full-time writer. She has two adult children and lives on the Wirral, where her debut novel, GONE WITHOUT A TRACE, is set.

 

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Published: 13 October 2016
Reviewed: 30 November 2016

5 out of 5  stars

Copy supplied by Elliott & Thompson

 

Description:

How well do you know your words?

Buxom used to mean obedient
A cloud was a rock
Raunchy originally meant dirty

Brimming with hidden histories and tantalising twists, The Accidental Dictionary tells the extraordinary stories behind ordinary words.

Our everyday language is full of surprises; its origins are stranger than you might think. Any word might be knocked and buffeted, subjected to twists and turns, expansions and contractions, happy and unhappy accidents. There are intriguing tales behind even the most familiar terms, and they can say as much about the present as they do the past.

Busking, for instance, originally meant piracy. Grin meant to snarl. A bimbo was a man, nice meant ignorant, glamour was magic and a cupboard was a table…

Focusing on 100 surprising threads in the evolution of English, The Accidental Dictionary reveals the etymological origins and quirky developments that have led to the meanings we take for granted today. It is a weird and wonderful journey into words.

So, let’s revel in its randomness and delight in its diversity – our dictionary is indeed accidental.

My Thoughts & Review:

I never thought I would see the day that I would be reviewing a dictionary.  Dictionaries are books that live on the shelf, usually forgotten about and only ever used to win a game of scrabble or to settle an argument over the spelling or meaning of a word.  With the advancements in modern technology, we no longer need to know how to spell, we have gadgetry that does that for us – be it smartphones, computers etc.  But this dictionary is different, instead of the ubiquitous ‘aardvark’ at the beginning, we begin with the word ‘affiliate’ and explore the original use of the word all the way to the current uses in a light and carefree tone.

What struck me most about this book is the fact that some of the words contained within the beautifully designed covers are ones we use everyday and few of us know the true meanings of these words.  Take for instance, ‘fetish’, it originally meant ‘talisman’, the author takes care to research the first uses of the word to ensure accuracy as well as making this a very interesting read.  I particularly enjoyed ‘Tiddlywink’, ‘Ragamuffin’ and ‘Refrigerator’, words I would never have considered to have any other meaning that the ones we know of today.

This is the perfect book for fans of language, people who thrive on knowing the unique meanings of words, the origins and the history of phrases.  I would thoroughly recommend this book, it’s a fascinating read and one that you don’t have to read all in one sitting to appreciate it.  In fact, I dipped in and out of this one over the course of a week, reading a few entries at a time means you don’t feel bogged down with information  but still appreciate the time and work that went into this book.   The writing is humorous, but clear and concise.

Probably one of my favourite books this year and one that I will be sure to return to many times.

You can buy a copy of The Accidental Dictionary here.

 

About the Author:

Paul Anthony Jones was born in South Shields in 1983. He is the author of four books: ‘The British Isles: A Trivia Gazetteer’ (2012); both ‘Haggard Hawks & Paltry Poltroons’ (2013) and its sequel, ‘Jedburgh Justice & Kentish Fire’ (2014); and language fact book ‘Word Drops’ (2015). ‘Haggard Hawks’ has since been featured in both The Guardian and The Huffington Post, and has spawned its own popular word-related Twitter account, @HaggardHawks, which was named one of Twitter’s best language accounts by Mental Floss magazine in 2014. The daily word and language facts of the @HaggardHawks account inspired ‘Word Drops: A Sprinkling of Linguistic Curiosities’, published by Elliott & Thompson in April 2015.

Besides his interest in etymology and language, Paul is also a classically trained pianist. He lives in Jesmond in Newcastle upon Tyne, where he drinks far too much coffee and reads far, far too many books.

Courtesy of Amazon

 

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