Posts Tagged ‘Elliott & Thompson’

  • Title: The Cabinet of Calm
  • Author: Paul Anthony Jones
  • Publisher: Elliott & Thompson Ltd
  • Publication Date: 14th May 2020

Copy received from publisher for review purposes.


Sometimes we all need a little reminder that it’s going to be okay… Open The Cabinet of Calm to discover a comforting word that’s equal to your troubles.

The Cabinet of Calm has been designed to be picked up whenever you need a moment of serenity. Just select the emotion listed that reflects whatever you’re feeling and you’ll be offered a matching linguistic remedy: fifty-one soothing words for troubled times.

These kind words – alongside their definitions and their stories – will bring peace, comfort and delight, and provide fresh hope.

Written with a lightness of touch, The Cabinet of Calm shows us that we’re not alone. Like language, our emotions are universal: someone else has felt like this before and so there’s a word to help, whatever the challenge.

So much more than a book of words, The Cabinet of Calm will soothe your soul and ease your mind. It’s the perfect gift.

My Thoughts:

Books are often the thing that many people turn to in a time of need; they provide a means of escape, a form of comfort and indeed they are way to cope when in an uncertain world. And I definitely think that The Cabinet of Calm is a book that deserves its place on the shelf of “books for the soul”.

I am a huge fan of Paul Anthony Jones’s books, each of them has a place on my bookshelf and I’ve worked my way through them more than once, enjoying the luxurious feel of the language within, learning new things and allowing myself to be carried off on a wave of pure escapism and joy.

A heartfelt introduction from the author at the beginning of this book makes you stop and think about the importance of words, the power they hold and the comfort they bring. And as you weave through the pages of the delights in the book, so many resonate …

Take for instance “mooreeffoc”. Jones writes “when we become bored by the everyday world and the sights and sounds in it, taking a step back and appraising it with a fresh pair of eyes can be all that is needed to revitalise our thinking, gain a better understanding of it and revive our interest or approach to it“, a timely reminder to change the way we look at things, or change the way we think about things, may in turn change the way we feel.

A spellbinding and almost melodic collection of words, there is quite likely a word for whatever you’re feeling at the moment. As I flicked through the pages initially I was drawn to certain words and terms, feeling that I agreed with many or thought “so that’s what that feeling is called”. I love a book that gives me knowledge and Jones’s books always do that. Often it’s those phrases you’ve always wondered about but never taken the time to stop and look up, or you’ve just long accepted a meaning for the phrase without question.

A hugely recommended book, and one I would say would make the perfect gift for the word lover in your life.

Now to go and deal with a child with a case of the bocksturrocks

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Hello and welcome along to another Friday post to share another brilliant offering from the world of independent publishing! Today I have a review of Around the World in 80 Words written by Paul Anthony Jones, it was published in October 2018 by Elliott and Thompson Ltd and is available to purchase now.

Book Feature:


around the world 80 days PC final.indd

From Monte Carlo to Shanghai, Bikini to Samarra, Around the World in 80 Words is a whimsical voyage through the far-flung reaches of the English language.

What makes a place so memorable that it survives for ever in a word? In this captivating round-the-world jaunt, Paul Anthony Jones reveals the intriguing stories of how 80 different places came to be immortalised in our language.

Beginning in London and heading through Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia and the Americas, you’ll discover why the origins of turkeys, Brazil nuts, limericks and Panama hats aren’t quite as straightforward as you might presume. You’ll also find out what the Philippines have given to your office in-tray; what an island with more bears than people has given to your liquor cabinet; and how a tiny hamlet in Nottinghamshire became Gotham City.

Surprising and consistently entertaining, this is essential reading for armchair travellers and word nerds. Our dictionaries are full of hidden histories, tales and adventures from all over the world – if you know where to look.


My Thoughts:

I’ve been a fan of this author ever since I discovered his book The Accidental Dictionary in 2016, and have enjoyed the books that have followed. For those who don’t know who Paul Anthony Jones is, he is the man behind @HaggardHawks on Twitter and http://www.haggardhawks.com which pulls together blogs, quizzes, newsletters, a Youtube series and details of his books full of etymological delights. I would recommend checking out the website and the Twitter page, each day there is a new forgotten word posted each day.

In this latest offering, the author takes readers on a wonderful literary journey without them having to leave the comfort of their own homes. Around the World in 80 Words informs and educates readers about the names of 80 destinations that have been absorbed into the English language, and are so commonly used that we might not give them a second thought.
I love the way that this book can be picked up and flicked through without having to follow each chapter as you would with an “ordinary” book. This is a fascinating read, and the author has evidently put a lot of time into researching the material, his passion for etymology pours from the pages and it’s almost infectious. I had no idea of the origins of phrases such as being sent to Coventry, and you can be sure that Paul Anthony Jones takes great delight in sharing this knowledge. It also leaves the reader feeling that wonderful sense of having learned something new, you almost feel like you want to attend a quiz night, just in the hopes that a question may come up so that you can use your new knowledge.

This would make the perfect stocking filler for fans of etymology, I’ve already bought a copy to wrap as a Christmas gift.

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Today’s Celebrating Indie Publishing features a brilliant book that I have thoroughly enjoyed reading and I am so thrilled to share an extract from Rebellious Spirits with you.

Rebellious Spirits was published by Elliot and Thompson on 19th April 2018 and is available to purchase now via:

Amazon UK
Book Depository

Description:Rebellious Spirits PC rev.indd

A delicious taste of the secret, exciting and often dangerous history of illicit spirits

Britain has always been a nation of enthusiastic drinkers. Any attempt to regulate, limit or ban our favourite tipple has been met with imaginative and daring acts of defiance: selling gin through pipes in a London back alley; smuggling brandy across Cornish clifftops; or dodging bombs and shrapnel running whisky in the Blitz.

The history of spirits in Britain has more illicit in it than licit – and that history has shaped these isles. Packed with wild stories, as well as authentic recipes from the past, Rebellious Spirits reveals the colourful characters and tall tales behind Britain’s long and lively love affair with booze.

The extract that I have to share with you today is on wartime cocktails, so sit back and enjoy!

We’ll Drink Again extract – Rebellious Spirits by Ruth Ball

It wasn’t just alcoholic drinks that were in short supply: production had stopped of most fizzy drinks and cordials too, leading to a terrible shortage of mixers for long drinks. Creativity and substitution came into their own here as well. No lime cordial to make a gimlet? Try a teaspoonful of lime curd! None of that either? Luckily the Ministry of Food were offering a recipe that made the best of a limited supply of citrus and egg to make an economy curd.

Lemon Curd:

1oz margarine; 1 level tablespoonful cornflour; 1 lemon (2, if small); ¼ pint water; 5oz granulated sugar; 1 egg

Peel the rind off the lemons, put into the water and bring to the boil. Beat the egg and cornflour, add the lemon juice and strain the boiling water over. Return to the pan, add the sugar and stir over heat 3 mins. Add the margarine and stir it in well, bottle immediately.

Ministry of Food advisory (1943)


For the gimlet:

2 tsp lime curd (you can make the wartime curd below, or use shop-bought)

25ml water

50ml gin

Spoon the lime curd into the bottom of a short tumbler and add the water slowly, stirring well as you do. Add the gin and give it another good stir, then add ice and serve. It’s not quite the same as it was before the war, but it’s not too bad.

For the lime curd:

Zest and juice of 2 limes

150ml water

1 egg

1 tbsp cornflour

150g sugar

30g margarine

Put the lime zest and water into a large pan and bring to the boil. While it is coming to the boil, beat the egg and sprinkle over the cornflour a little at a time, stirring continuously to prevent lumps. Then add the juice of both limes, a little at a time. Once the water has boiled, pass it through a sieve into a jug, then immediately add it to the egg while stirring. Transfer everything back to the pan and add the sugar. Heat gently until the sugar has dissolved, then bring back to the boil and simmer for 3 mins. Mix in the margarine and then bottle as for carrot marmalade (see page 188), or simply pour into a small bowl for immediate use.

Technically, for authenticity, your margarine should be made of whale oil; but since this is both disgusting and now illegal, it is fine to stick with something based on vegetable oil.

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As we close out the year and look forward to the approaching New Year, I wanted to round up all of the posts I’ve been lucky enough to feature from independent publishers and authors this year.  There have been so many brilliant books, wonderful authors and lovely publishers who have been part of my Friday feature and I cannot begin to thank them enough for entrusting me with their books and tales, it’s an honour to be asked to review any book and I always feel so privileged.

I’ve recapped the posts from Urbane Publications, Orenda Books and No Exit Press so far, and due to flu I’ve not had a chance to pull together the posts for the other publishers who have been part of Celebrating Indie Publishing yet, but here goes!  A huge end of year round up of Indie Publishing on The Quiet Knitter.

Bloodhound Books:

Review of Death Parts Us & Author Feature with Alex Walters

Review of End of Lies by Andrew Barrett

Bombshell Books:

Review of The Trouble With Words & Author Feature with Suzie Tullett

Elliott & Thompson:

Review of The Classic FM Musical Treasury by Tim Lihoreau

Review of Foxes Unearthed: A Story of Love and Loathing in Modern Britain by Lucy Jones

Review of Sweet, Wild Note: What We Hear When the Birds Sing by Richard Smyth

Review of Hitler’s Forgotten Children by Ingrid Von Oelhafen and Tim Tate

Review of Worth Dying For: The Power and Politics of Flags by Tim Marshall

Review of Travellers in the Third Reich: The Rise of Fascism Through the Eyes of Everyday People by Julia Boyd

Review of What’s Your Bias? The Surprising Science of Why We Vote the Way We Do by Lee De-Wit

Review of The Cabinet of Linguistic Curiosities by Paul Anthony Jones

Cranachan Books:

Review of Fir For Luck & Author Feature with Barbara Henderson

Review of The Beast on The Broch & Author Feature with John K. Fulton

Review The Revenge of Tirpitz & Author Feature with Michelle Sloan

Review Buy Buy Baby & Author Feature with Helen MacKinven

Review Charlie’s Promise & Author Feature with Annemarie Allan

Review Nailing Jess by Triona Scully

Review Punch by Barbara Henderson

The Dome Press:

Review Sleeper & Author Feature with J.D. Fennell

Black and White Publishing:

Review The Ludlow Ladies’ Society by Ann O’Loughlin

Modern Books:

Review De/Cipher: The Greatest Codes by Mark Frary

Review Literary Wonderlands Edited by Laura Miller


And not forgetting the wonderful authors who have been involved:

Anne Goodwin

Review of Underneath & Author Feature

Carol Cooper

Review of Hampstead Fever & Author Feature

Clare Daly

Review of Our Destiny is Blood & Author Feature

Ray Britain

Review of The Last Thread & Author Feature 


Wow, what a year it’s been!  I can honestly say that I’ve discovered some absolutely brilliant books this year, some were ones that I might not have noticed if I had not been making such an effort to read more indie books – just shows you, there are hidden gems out there, you just have to open your eyes to the possibilities of brilliance!

Thank you authors, publishers, readers, bloggers, everyone who has taken time to read my Celebrating Indie Publishing feature, everyone who has commented on the posts, your support this year has been immense and I definitely would not have managed this without you all.

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Hello and happy Friday!  And you all know what Friday brings, yes,  its time to share another post to celebrate Indie Publishing and this time it’s Elliott & Thompson in the spotlight!   Today the book being featured is The Cabinet of Linguistic Curiosities by Paul Anthony Jones.


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A whole year’s worth of linguistic curiosities, just waiting to be discovered.

Within these pages you might leap back in time, learn about linguistic trivia, follow a curious thread or wonder at the web of connections in the English language.

1 January quaaltagh (n.) the first person you meet on New Year’s Day

1 April dorbellist (n.) a fool, a dull-witted dolt
12 May word-grubber (n.) someone who uses obscure or difficult words in everyday conversation

25 September theic (adj.) an excessive drinker of tea

24 December doniferous (adj.) carrying a gift

Paul Anthony Jones has unearthed a wealth of strange and forgotten words: illuminating some aspect of the day, or simply telling a cracking good yarn, each reveals a story. Written with a light touch that belies the depth of research it contains, this is both a fascinating compendium of etymology and a captivating historical miscellany. Dip into this beautiful book to be delighted and intrigued throughout the year.


My Thoughts & Review:

Forgotten words are something of a fascination for me, actually if I’m honest, words in general are a love of mine.  I was that kid who kept a notebook of my favourite words, ones that sounded exciting or mystical, words that were funny to pronounce or just ones that I liked the look of written down.  I think I still have some of the notebooks somewhere, and occasionally I read something and think that I should start a new notebook to collect the new words I’ve found.  But then  I discovered the books bu Paul Anthony Jones, and now there’s someone out there making a book of words for me to enjoy!

Like most readers, the moment I got hold of this book I instantly went to see what word appeared on my  birthday, it’s just one of those things you do isn’t it?

hiemate (v.) to spend the winter

Derived from hiems, a Latin word for ‘winter’, hiemate is a seventeenth-century word meaning to spend or see out the winter.

What does seeing out the coldest season of the year have to do with a date at the height of summer? Well, despite the fact that the summer solstice typically takes place around 20–22 June – so that from now until the end of the year the nights are drawing in – today’s date is linked to an unfortunate incident in global exploration that led to the mutiny and death of one of England’s greatest explorers.

In April 1610, Henry Hudson set sail on his fourth trans- atlantic voyage, hoping to locate a long-sought-after easterly route through the Arctic and on to Asia. Sailing north to Iceland and Greenland, Hudson’s ship Discovery reached the Labrador
Peninsula on the far east coast of Canada in June, and from there sailed into a vast, open bay. Believing they had found the fabled Northwest Passage, Hudson spent the following months carefully mapping the bay’s shoreline – but as winter set in, no passage to Asia ever materialised. Before long the Discovery had become trapped in the ice and her crew were forced to head to the shoreline to see out the winter on land.

During the long Canadian winter, discontent began to grow among Hudson’s crew and the following year they mutinied.
When the ice retreated and the Discovery was freed, on 22 June 1611, Hudson, his teenage son John and a handful of loyal crewmembers were set adrift in a small, open-topped boat. They were never seen again.

Hudson’s fate remains unknown – but the vast bay he dis-
covered, and into which he was eventually cast adrift, still bears his name to this day.

Learn something new every day eh?

The best things about this book, and indeed the other books by Paul Anthony Jones is that you can dip in and out of them at your leisure to unearth some wonderful treasures.  If you don’t want to check up each day for the particular word, why not head to the index and randomly pick one?  For instance, lunette or yule-hole and then flick to the corresponding page to find out what they mean.  This was something I particularity enjoyed, then reading them out to my bemused husband after quizzing him on what he thought they might mean.  There were also a few that had us giggling like scugways or beaglepuss, the words themselves just funny to say and then finding out the meanings just made us smile even more.  The discovery that I could be classed as a theic did give us a laugh too.

I would say that 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, and it would probably make a great Christmas present (just in case you’ve started to think about shopping).

It’s obvious that a lot of time and effort has gone into the research for this book, each nugget of information has an explanation to go with it and a beautiful image of an ornate key.  It’s the small things that capture the eye sometimes, and although not small, the cover is exceptionally beautiful.  It needs to be seen to be fully appreciated, as do each and every one of the entries in this awesome book.

I think it’s safe to say that this is a book that I will be returning to regularly throughout the year and perhaps be appearing on my top books of 2017.


You can buy your copy of The Cabinet of Linguistic Curiosities via:

Amazon UK
Book Depository


** My thanks to the lovely Alison Menzies and the folks at Elliot and Thompson for my copy of this wonderful book and for taking part in Celebrating Indie Publishing **

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Hello and happy Friday!  And you all know what Friday brings, yes,  its time to share another post to celebrate Indie Publishing and this time it’s Elliott & Thompson in the spotlight!   Today I have a review of What’s Your Bias? The Surprising Science of Why We Vote the Way We Do by Lee De-Wit.



Pundits, pollsters and politicians are queuing up to tell us, but do they really know? More importantly, do we really know?

Psychologists have been studying how we make political decisions for years, and the truth is we’re a lot less rational than we think we are; sometimes we vote for reasons we’re not even consciously aware of.

Delving into the science and psychology of politics, What’s Your Bias? gets under the skin to reveal what really drives us – whichever way we vote. In this absorbing book, psychologist and neuroscientist Lee de-Wit explores the subtle – and often surprising – factors that could be influencing our votes, from our personality traits and unconscious biases to our susceptibility to campaign targeting and fake news.

Whether we’re debating nationalism, immigration, welfare or equality, psychology can help us to better understand the decisions we make in modern politics. If you want to know more about yourself, your friends and family, or the bigger political picture, this is essential reading.

My Thoughts & Review:

This is a book that jumped out at me after reading the blurb, I’m not sure why really as it’s not something I would normally pick up and I tend to leave books that are more politically based alone, but there was something about this book that grabbed my attention enough to make me want to give it more attention.

From the opening pages this takes on a easy to read stance, the author stating “I’m not intending to offer an academic overview of political psychology…” helped to allay my worries that this would turn out to be “too high brow” for me to understand or enjoy.
I found this to be quite a thought provoking read, and regularly pulled my head out of the book to quote passages to my (long suffering) husband, finding that some sparked interesting debate between us or gave information on things we’d wondered about but never thought to research personally.
The chapter titled “Silent Majority” was one that I read with much interest, voting turn out is always something I look at when election results have been declared – for no other reason than it fascinates me.  I enjoyed that the author wrote from personal perspective throughout this book but especially in this chapter.  “One of the most common explanations for low vote turnout is that people are lazy or apathetic.  As a psychologist, I struggle with this explanation.”  This gave me the impression that the author actually cared about the research carried out and  wanted to address misconceptions as well as expand upon the psychology of the politics being discussed.

Breaking down the science behind voting makes this quite informative and does give great food for thought, and offers information to help understand the concept of nationalism from the perspective of those who support it.  It won’t necessarily change your mind about it, but it might just help you see the idea from another angle.
It is interesting to see that the author chooses to give examples from both UK and American politics to emphasise his points or illustrate them, there have been plenty instances both sides of the Atlantic Ocean recently.

I would say this is a good book to start with if you want to look into the psychology of politics and voting, it certainly offers plenty to facts to whet the appetite of the audience.

You can buy a copy of What’s Your Bias? The Surprising Science of Why We Vote the Way We Do via:

Book Depository

My thanks to Elliott & Thompson, especially Alison Menzies for sending me a copy of this book to read and enjoy.


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Hello and happy Friday!  And you all know what Friday brings, yes,  its time to share another post to celebrate Indie Publishing and this time it’s Elliott & Thompson in the spotlight!   Today I have a review of “Travellers in the Third Reich: The Rise of Fascism Through the Eyes of Everyday People” by Julia Boyd.



Without the benefit of hindsight, how do you interpret what’s right in front of your eyes?

The events that took place in Germany between 1919 and 1945 were dramatic and terrible but there were also moments of confusion, of doubt – of hope. How easy was it to know what was actually going on, to grasp the essence of National Socialism, to remain untouched by the propaganda or predict the Holocaust?

Travellers in the Third Reich is an extraordinary history of the rise of the Nazis based on fascinating first-hand accounts, drawing together a multitude of voices and stories, including students, politicians, musicians, diplomats, schoolchildren, communists, scholars, athletes, poets, journalists, fascists, artists, tourists, even celebrities like Charles Lindbergh and Samuel Beckett. Their experiences create a remarkable three-dimensional picture of Germany under Hitler – one so palpable that the reader will feel, hear, even breathe the atmosphere.

These are the accidental eyewitnesses to history. Disturbing, absurd, moving, and ranging from the deeply trivial to the deeply tragic, their tales give a fresh insight into the complexities of the Third Reich, its paradoxes and its ultimate destruction.

My Thoughts & Review:

From the very outset, I want to say how incredibly detailed this book is.  It is clear from the way that it is written that there has been an unfathomable number of hours of research poured into this book and it pays off.

The reader is given a rare insight into Germany in the 1930s from travellers who had no idea of what was to become of the country in later years through a collection of diaries and letters that have not been published.
The propaganda machine that Hitler utilised is brought to life through the fascinating writing, there’s rich detail that conveys a clear picture of a segment of history that is often forgotten about, the run up to WWII.  Details of the rivalries within the Nazi party are mentioned, one of Ribbentrop’s parties being over shadowed by Göring hosting lavish events at his Air Ministry all in the name of impressing the senior British diplomat, Sir Robert Vansittart who was in Germany to attend the Olympics is just one such example.

I appreciate that Julia Boyd has taken the approach to include the horrors of this time too.  Some travellers describing the bombings as hellish times, and making the point that social status mattered not during air raids, everyone was in the shelters together for safety.  The hardships endured by ordinary people are sobering reading, as was the propaganda rife at the time.  Looking back with hindsight we can see what was the end goal, but there, in that moment in the 1930s, it must have seemed so persuasive and left people with views they were uncertain of.  Germany had a lot to offer visitors, spectacular scenery, rich culture, and a wonderful idealism.  I do find the idea that travellers who questioned the treatment of Jews unsavoury in terms of never getting answers.  It would seem that along with the patriotic devotion came naivety and a blinkered view, the juxtaposition of a hard working and friendly nation, family orientated that then shows such barbaric cruelty toward their fellow countryfolk would undoubtedly have left many travellers baffled.

An enlightening and captivating read that will leave many readers thinking.  It’s quite possibly one of the most inclusive sets of information I have read to date about life in Germany under the Third Reich and I applaud Julia Boyd for ensuring that her sources are varied.  Whilst some authors would chose to feature politicians, diplomats and notable public figures, Boyd has instead included the voices of artists, journalists, students, children and views from both fascists and communists to give a well rounded and incredibly real image of Germany.  This in turn gives readers something very rare, a glimpse of something we rarely see, but it also allows us in a way to experience the turbulent times that were the beginning of the destruction of Germany and the Reich.


You can buy a copy of “Travellers in the Third Reich: The Rise of Fascism Through the Eyes of Everyday People” via:

Book Depository


My thanks to Elliott & Thompson, especially Alison Menzies for sending me a copy of this book to read and enjoy.


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Hello and happy Friday!  And you all know what Friday brings, yes,  its time to share another post to celebrate Indie Publishing and this time it’s Elliott & Thompson in the spotlight!   Today I have a review of “Worth Dying For: The Power and Politics of Flags” by Tim Marshall.



When you see your nation’s flag fluttering in the breeze, what do you feel?

For thousands of years flags have represented our hopes and dreams. We wave them. Burn them. March under their colours. And still, in the 21st century, we die for them. Flags fly at the UN, on the Arab street, from front porches in Texas. They represent the politics of high power as well as the politics of the mob.

From the renewed sense of nationalism in China, to troubled identities in Europe and the USA, to the terrifying rise of Islamic State, the world is a confusing place right now and we need to understand the symbols, old and new, that people are rallying round.

In nine chapters (covering the USA, UK, Europe, Middle East, Asia, Africa, Latin America, international flags and flags of terror), Tim Marshall draws on more than twenty-five years of global reporting experience to reveal the histories, the power and the politics of the symbols that unite us – and divide us.

My Thoughts & Review:

“Worth Dying For” is an interesting book which presents the history and ideologies behind a variety of flags.

The chapter on the Union Jack was particular interesting, it is a flag that I am so accustomed to seeing but have never really given much consideration towards its complicated history and so found this to be an enlightening and informative.
The political overtones of the flags within Europe and the Balkans make for fascinating reading, giving pause for thought at some of the discoveries made.  Flags of Revolution is an intriguing chapter and one I will most definitely do some further reading on.   What I like about this book is the fact that it plants the seeds of thought in the brain of the reader, imploring them to read on and find out more or to check out the additional sources of information mentioned in the bibliography.

Whilst this is not an all inclusive reference book to all flags it is still informative and fascinating.  The writing is clear and concise, Marshall demonstrates his knowledge well and the interjection of humour and wit adds light relief and entertainment for the audience.
I do feel that this is perhaps a book that is best read in chunks as opposed to reading in one sitting.  I certainly found that I took more from this when dipping in and out of it.

You can buy a copy of “Worth Dying For: The Power and Politics of Flags” via:

The Book Depository

My thanks to Elliott & Thompson, especially Alison Menzies for sending me a copy of this book to read and enjoy.

About the Author:

Tim Marshall is a leading authority on foreign a­ffairs with more than twenty-five years of reporting experience. He was diplomatic editor at Sky News, and before that was working for the BBC and LBC/IRN radio. He has reported from forty countries and covered conflicts in Croatia, Bosnia,  Macedonia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Israel. He is the author of the Sunday Times bestseller Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps that Tell You Everything You Need to Know About Global Politics; “Dirty Northern B*st*rds!” and Other Tales from the Terraces: The Story of Britain’s Football Chants; and Shadowplay: The Overthrow of Slobodan Milosevic (a bestseller in former Yugoslavia). He has written for­ The Times, Sunday Times, Guardian, Independent and Daily Telegraph, and his blog Foreign Matters was shortlisted for the Orwell Prize 2010. He is founder and editor of the current a­ffairs site TheWhatandtheWhy.com.


If you are an independent publisher or author and would like to feature on “Celebrating Indie Publishing” Friday please get in touch – email and twitter links are on the “About Me & Review Policy” page.




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Hello and happy Friday!  And you all know what Friday brings, yes,  its time to share another post to celebrate Indie Publishing and this time it’s Elliott & Thompson in the spotlight!   Today I am honoured to share my review of “Hitler’s Forgotten Children” written by Ingrid Von Oelhafen and Tim Tate and I’m equally excited that this post is also part of the blog tour for this book.



‘More than 70 years ago I was a “gift” for Adolf Hitler. I was stolen as a baby to be part of one of the most terrible of all Nazi experiments: Lebensborn.’

The Lebensborn programme was the brainchild of Himmler: an extraordinary plan to create an Aryan master race, leaving behind thousands of displaced victims in the wake of the Nazi regime.

In Hitler’s Forgotten Children Ingrid von Oelhafen shares her incredible story as a child of the Lebensborn: a lonely childhood with a distant foster family; her painstaking and difficult search for answers in post-war Germany; and finally being reunited with her biological family – with one last shocking truth to be discovered.


My Thoughts & Review:

The Lebensborn programme was not something I was familiar with before reading this book.  I was aware of the Nazi desire to create a “master race” through carefully planned marriages within the SS etc but “Hitler’s Forgotten Children” has opened my eyes to the true scale of the horror and devious lengths that would be aspired to by such villainous perpetrators.

Ingrid von Oelhafen tells the painful story of how she ended up “stateless”, taken as a young child from her homeland and placed into various homes until being fostered by an approved German family to be “Germanised”.  In essence this is part memoir and part history book, Ingrid recounting the memories of her childhood, the journey she undertakes to find out her identity and her roots, but she also provides detail on a chapter of history that many people may not have heard about.  The inclusion of text from Nazi documents, orders and letters provides readers with a glimpse of the shocking truth about what happened during those dark years.

The heartbreaking subject matter of this book can make for difficult reading at times, there were times I was horrified at what I was reading, shocked at the events that had taken place but I was also found this a compelling and addictive read.  I wanted to know how Ingrid would discover her true identity, I needed to know what happened when she met her long lost biological family, but more than that, I was enthralled by the way in which this was written.  Many times I paused whilst reading and considered how I would have reacted to the revelations that Ingrid had discovered during the course of her investigations.  I enjoyed the way that this book challenged my perceptions of nature versus nurture, and reading the accounts of the Lebensborn children certainly gave me pause for thought.

This was a very thought provoking read, that is well researched and thought out.  The struggles Ingrid faced to find out her true roots are similar to many of the victims of the Lebensborn programme, many of them being unable to reconcile the findings.

A highly recommended read!

You can buy a copy of “Hitler’s Forgotten Children” via:

The Book Depository

My thanks to Elliott & Thompson, especially Alison Menzies for sending me a copy of this wonderful book.


If you are an independent publisher or author and would like to feature on “Celebrating Indie Publishing” Friday please get in touch – email and twitter links are on the “About Me & Review Policy” page.

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Hello and happy Friday!  And seeing as it’s Friday, that means its time to share another post to celebrate Indie Publishing, this time it’s Elliott & Thompson in the spotlight!   Today I am honoured to share the fantastic “Sweet, Wild Note: What We Hear When the Birds Sing” by Richard Smyth.



Birdsong is woven into our culture, our emotions, our landscape; it is the soundtrack to our world. We have tried to capture this fleeting, ephemeral beauty, and the feelings it inspires, for millennia.

In this fascinating account, Richard Smyth asks what it is about birdsong that we so love. Exploring the myriad ways in which it has influenced literature, music, science and our very ideas of what it means to be British, Smyth’s nuanced investigation shows that what we hear says as much about us, our dreams and desires, as it does about the birds and their songs.

At a time when our birdsong is growing quieter, with fewer voices, more thinly spread, A Sweet, Wild Note is a celebration of the complex relationships between birds, people and the land; it is also a passionate call to arms lest our trees and hedgerows fall silent.


My Thoughts & Review:

The very first thing that grabbed me about this book, and indeed with any of Elliott and Thompson’s publications is the exquisite cover design.  This is a beautifully eye catching cover that really sparks the imagination of the reader and gives an insight into the wonders that are housed inside.

Living in a rural setting I am often surprised by the different bird sounds that I hear, many I’ve come recognise over the years but I am not a birdwatcher or birder, I can no more tell you a chaffinch from a blackbird.  However, I find the sound of bird song soothing and will admit that I have sometimes wondered just what they are communicating to other birds in the vicinity, whether they are merely singing because the sun in shining etc.

Richard Smyth takes the reader on an investigation through both literary and musical culture, quoting numerous sources to try and explain the answers to a multitude of questions surrounding bird song.  Discussing the works of some of the great poets and their descriptions of bird song, as well as looking at how musicians try to imitate the sounds using instruments and how the sound is being included in music.   This coupled with the lovely introduction primed with humour and warmth where Symth explains the reasons for writing this book.

Through his book, Smyth reminds the reader that birdsong should be appreciated for what it is and is keen to point out the experience of it “the way a bright bird song on a lonely street can lift our mood, or leaven our loneliness, or bring a little bit of countryside into the brick canyons and concrete precincts of the N5.”  And he is right, sometimes hearing the tweeting/cheeping/warble of a bird can lift your mood,

The writing is fantastic, each chapter gives great insight as well as provides entertainment and where relevant sources quoted to allow readers to go off and explore further.  There is also a helpful “further reading” section at the back of the book where Smyth gives a brief explanation of the resources linked to the separate chapters of the book.

For me, “Celebrating Indie Publishing” is about discovering new things; new books, new authors, new information and I can happily say that this book has done that.  Whilst I may not be about to head out birdwatching or learn the difference between a pigeon and a sparrow, I appreciate the sounds of birds more after reading this book.  I certainly look out for the familiar chirps, cheeps and songs whilst I am out and am more aware that they are there.

You can buy a copy of A Sweet, Wild Note: What We Hear When the Birds Sing via:

The Book Depository

My thanks to Elliott & Thompson, especially Alison Menzies for sending me a copy of this wonderful book.

About the Author:

Richard Smyth writes about nature, history, books, philosophy, art, sport and anything else that occurs to him. His latest book, ‘A Sweet Wild Note: What We Hear When The Birds Sing’, is an acclaimed cultural history of birdsong.

Richard’s first book, ‘Bum Fodder: An Illustrated History Of Toilet Paper’, was featured on BBC Radio 4 and on national radio in Ireland and Australia; his books on English history have been decribed as “Horrible Histories for grown-ups”.

His first novel, ‘Wild Ink’, was published in 2014, and his prize-winning short stories have appeared in magazines including Structo, The Lonely Crowd, The Fiction Desk, The Stockholm Review, Riptide, Litro, The Stinging Fly, Vintage Script and Firewords Quarterly.

When he is not writing books, he works as a journalist, compiles crosswords, draws cartoons, wastes time on Twitter, and sets questions for the iconic BBC quiz show ‘Mastermind’ (he was a finalist on the show in 2009).


If you are an independent publisher or author and would like to feature on “Celebrating Indie Publishing” Friday please get in touch – email and twitter links are on the “About Me & Review Policy” page

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