Friday, November 20, 2015

Book review: Every Word (YA/mystery) by Ellie Marney

I took a bite of my breakfast omelet. 

Knock. Knock. Knock. 

I chewed quickly but not quick enough. Bim, our self appointed guard dog, beat me to the door. He barked a greeting that sounded more like a threat. My translation:  Don't bother her; she's eating. 

I reached the door, turned the knob and... 

My husband stood there with a package in his hands. "I was outside cleaning eavestroughs when this was delivered. It feels like a book." 

Days before I'd signed up to participate in the Tundra blog tour for Ellie Marney's new book - Every Word. Could this be her book?

One envelop removed. Then another. Finally... Yes!

James Mycroft has just left for London to investigate a car accident similar to the one that killed his parents without saying good-bye to this partner in crime, Rachel Watts.
Rachel is furious and worried about his strange behavior -- not that Mycroft's ever exactly normal, but London is the scene of so many of his nightmares. Unable to resist, Rachel jumps on a plane to follow him and lands straight in a whole storm of trouble.
The theft of a copy of Shakespeare's First Folio, the possible murder of a rare books conservator and the deaths of Mycroft's parents... Can Watts help Mycroft make sense of these events -- or will she lose him forever?

Bim transformed from guard dog into reading companion. 

Time was I read for entertainment. That all changed when I decided to become a writer. Sure, I still want to be entertained but now I also want to collect how-to tips for my own writing. I want to learn what works and what doesn't. So, now, I always take notes while I read...

The Prologue
There's a theory being passed from new author to new author -- publishing houses don't like prologues. Well, obviously Tundra doesn't mind them. 

Together we take in the crinkling underexposed world that will soon become the day (prologue)
The descriptions are delicately handled and sensory-rich. Marney's bio explains that she writes short stories as well as YA. Did she learn how to craft such fine descriptions by writing those story stories?

The Beginning
I'm immediately plopped into the story with no establishment of setting. I find this jarring. And I wonder why Marney choose to begin these chapters with dialogue. She's already demonstrated her command of description.

The Middle
Marney has found a solution for the saggy middle--action. She writes nail biting scenes very well.

Marney skillfully weaves references to her first book into her second -- not enough to upset me (a newcomer to her work), just enough to make me wish I had read book one. (Hmm, could there be a trip to the bookstore in my future?)

The End
The cliff hanger in the second to last chapter made me devour the final chapter in a single gulp. 
The story ends with a surprising reveal -- it explains a lot and at the same time leads the way for even more mysteries in book three.

The setting
Much of Every Word is set in England -- a country I long to visit and thanks to Marney I feel like I have. The London she describes is like a comfortable old shoe.

The main character (protagonist)
Rachel Watts flies half-way around the world to support the guy who she thinks may still be her boyfriend. Pathetic? Right?
Rachel is resourceful, compassionate, intelligent and courageous, but never pathetic.

Sure there is a intriguing mystery. But that's not what makes me read on. No, I'm hooked on Rachel and Mycroft's relationship. (This from a reader of mysteries, never hardly ever romance.)
My mind goes on vacation, and my breathing catches, so I'm gasping every time he does simple things -- putting his arm around my shoulders, or touching his lips gently to mine, like now (p. 13)
Favourite quotes
I enjoyed Marney's Australian turn of phrase...
'I pull up my drooping footy socks.' (p. 4)
'I'm so bush-whacked.' (p. 40)

And her prose that reads like poetry...
'[The moon] swims in a halo of golden light, like an egg yolk floating in a pale sway of foam.' (p. 62)
'We sink lower and lower, our eyes closed together, the warmth at each shoulder, and we wait for this ride to end.' (p. 334)

The Author

Ellie Marney was born in the tropical northeast of Australia, and has lived in Indonesia, Singapore and India. Now she writes, teaches, talks about kids' literature and schools, and gardens when she can, while living in a country idyll (actually a very messy wooden house on ten acres with a dog and lots of chickens) near Castlemaine, in north-central Victoria. Even though she often forgets things and lets the housework go, her partner and four sons still lover her. 
Ellie's short stories for adults have won awards and been published in various anthologies. Every Word is her second novel for young adults. 

Visit Ellie Marney's author website. (Link)


Click this link to visit the other bloggers participating in this blog tour.

Next post:  (Monday, November 30th) 
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Sharing my author journey...

Quotes from my latest published story...

It was an ordinary day, until  I read an email from a literary journal. That's when my head exploded. After re-assembling all the pieces, I told my husband, "My submission is going to be published."
"It is?"
I waved at the computer screen.
"It is." He sounded more amazed than impressed, but I choose to ignore that.
"They're asking the contributing authors to read their work at the issue launch. We have to go," I told him.
Weeks passed, the day arrived. Everything was great until...
"I can't read. I'll trip over my tongue. I'll say the wrong word. Then they'll know. They'll all know I'm dyslexic."
"What's your reading about?"
"Being dyslexic."
"And you're worried that they'll learn you're dyslexic?"
"Yes." Brief pause. "That doesn't make sense, does it?"
"Hmm, no." He held me in his strong arms.
And then what happened?
Hmm, maybe... You bought a copy of...

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