I’ve been reading from the Pigeonhole App again.

This time it’s the intense You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott. Abbot has been on my list to watch for a while now. I’ve read a lot of good reviews but never quite got round to it. Today I finally did. Onto the review!

Blurb

Katie and Eric Knox have dedicated their lives to their fifteen-year-old daughter Devon. A gymnastics prodigy and Olympic hopeful. But then a violent death rocks their close-knit gymnastics community weeks before an all-important competition. Everything the Knoxes have worked so hard for feels at risk. As rumors swirl among the other parents, revealing hidden plots and allegiances, Katie tries to hold her family together. But she finds herself drawn, to the crime itself, and the dark corners it threatens to illuminate.
 
You Will Know Me is a breathless rollercoaster of a novel about the desperate limits of desire, jealousy, and ambition.

My Review

You get a jist from the blurb, this is a murder mystery. BUT, it revolves around family and the anchor that is Devon. Devon is a gymnastics prodigy. Her family have given everything to make her dream come true. When a supposed hit-and-run rears it’s ugly head, rumours begin to swirl. The novel details the hows, the whys, the confusion, melted into the intense mania of elite gymnastics.

The characters are intensely written. Katie is a mother overwhelmed and terrified by her daughter who is changing in ways she can’t control. Eric, the father, is obsessed with Devon’s dream – he’ll do anything to make her success a probability. Drew, the little brother notices the smallest details. He’s often forgotten and left in Devon’s shadow. He’s written wonderfully. Finally Devon – she’s a whirlwind that keeps her feelings close to her chest. She’s described regularly as a hard, perfectly smooth nut. It’s a perfect description of a teenage girl caught up in the stressful world of elite gymnastics.

The writing is sublime. Abbot is brilliant at writing about the psychotic world of teenage girls. The pain, the hurt, the secrets. Abbot has a way of manipulating the reader so you never quite know where to point the finger. I like the fact that the secret could be given away and you would still read on. The execution of the writing is spot on. The death brings a lot of secrets to the light and Abbot perfectly understands how to manage each character as it slowly unravels.

Final Thoughts

I loved the exploration of claustrophobia, secrecy and female adolescence. The story is full of suspense, and I liked the perspective of transition between girl and woman. Watching Katie try and control her daughter, whilst trying to push away multiple characters that wear on Devon. It’s exhausting and exciting. I like the theme of greatness and sacrifice and how to two mix, and how it affects little Drew. It creates a destructive but very exciting narrative, which I loved.

Abbott also manages to capture tiny moments (with a lot of meaning) in perfect clarity. Here’s an example.

He’d never woken up, and the only sound now was his breathing, hoarse and ragged. For a second she thought she saw his lashes lift, the white of one eye looking at her, but she was wrong.

It’s a brilliant story that had me hanging onto every word. Read it.

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Perhaps you are already aware of the healthy benefits of coffee. From lifestyle diseases such as diabetes to complicated cardiovascular conditions, coffee has been scientifically proven to contain antioxidants that keep such diseases at bay. Unfortunately, you can still brew your perfect cup from fresh roasts but ruin it by using unhealthy additives. Here are some of the things you should avoid adding to your java.

Sugar, Milk, And 5 Other Things That Can Ruin Your Coffee Brew

Sugar

While sugar makes your drink sweet, it is not the best sweetener you need for your java. In fact, coffee is at its best when served without any additive. What sugar can undo the benefits of coffee. It is associated with all manner of health complications such as type 2 Diabetes, weight gain, cancer, and heart diseases. So, if you make your java as sweet as candies, then you are doing more harm to your body. Use healthier options such as natural honey and stevia extracts to sweeten your drink.

Skim Milk

This highly processed milk is fat-free. Compared to full-fat milk, skim milk has been found to increase the risk of getting type two diabetes. On the other hand, full-fat milk contains healthy fatty acids that can protect from the disease. So, there you have it. If you have to add milk to your java, then using full-fat milk is your best option.

Artificial Creamers

Non-dairy creamers used as coffee additives are synthesized to look like dairy creamer. One of the downsides of using these creamers is that they have trans fats which trigger the increase of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol in your body. They also suppress the levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol which offers protection against heart ailments. This increases the risk of contracting diabetes and cardiovascular complications, including stroke. This is clearly not what you want to consume on a daily basis as it can end up by damaging your health.

Artificial Sweeteners

While artificial sweeteners do not cause blood sugar spikes, they are associated with impaired glucose breakdown. This can lead to skewed cravings which can adversely affect your eating habits. In essence, these sweeteners eventually alter the way your body reacts to sugar’s taste.

Synthetic Coffee Flavors

There are several flavoring syrups in the market today. While it is fun to flavor your java, it pays to do so in a healthy way. Most of the synthetic flavors are laden with chemicals such as propylene glycol and potassium sorbate.  Propylene glycol is widely applied in the cosmetics industry as an antifreeze. It is highly linked to cancer, stunted growth, and reproductive complications. On the other hand, Potassium sorbate is commonly used as a food preservative. Some of the known side effects of this chemical compound include nausea and stomach upsets. To protect yourself from such, it is wise to use natural unprocessed extracts to flavor your coffee.

Butter

You may be familiar with this common practice of adding butter to coffee. While it is arguably health to do so, it is important to choose your butter wisely. It comes in two forms: salted or unsalted. Also, it can be organic or grass-fed. These variations differ significantly in flavor and nutritional value. Salt is used to keep butter fresh for longer. Also, the fresher the butter, the better it will taste. So make your choice wisely to make sure you maintain a great taste of your java.

Canned Whipped Cream

Whipped cream comes in many versions. In most cases, they contain artificial creamers and harmful chemicals such as nitrous oxide. Unknown to many, nitrous oxide can cause serious cognitive impairment and also affect your vision. To protect yourself from such chemicals, avoid these creams and rather stick to healthy habits of preparing your brew.

Taking too long to drink your coffee

Coffee is best taken while fresh. If you let your brew settle for long, agents of nature such as oxidation start working on it.  In no time the acid levels in your coffee start to rise. If you drink that brew, you ingest more acid to your body and with that you are increasing the risk of getting heartburns. The bottom line is to brew your java when you need it and in small quantities.

Are you ruining the best coffee of your life?

Sugar, Milk, And 5 Other Things That Can Ruin Your Coffee Brew

Sugar, Milk, And 5 Other Things That Can Ruin Your Coffee Brew

Sugar, Milk, And 5 Other Things That Can Ruin Your Coffee Brew

Rudy Caretti has more than 15 years of experience in the coffee industry, a passion that started in Italy within the family business and brought him to found Gimoka Coffee UK and G Coffee Pod with a group of friends, who share the same passion.

Since he roasted his first batch of coffee seeds as a teenager, he was fascinated by the many ways it can be processed to get the many different distinctive flavors we all love.
As a coffee connoisseur, Rudy has always been aware of the vital role played by coffee in most people’s social life and he is especially active through the company’s social media and blog

He loves sharing his knowledge with readers around the world, writing and posting articles that range from the coffee brewing techniques to raising awareness of the importance of responsible production to help protect the rights of farmers and protect the environment.

I make a lot of rusty coloured soups. Carrots/butternut squash/tomato or pepper they look gorgeous but samey. So imma switching it up for a green recipe/ Specifically one with broccoli, pea and basil. It’s bustling because it takes no time at all to create. Mainly because you don’t want to over-cook the broccoli! Enjoy.

Bustling Broccoli, Pea and Basil Soup

Put in your trolley

(Would properly feed a dozen hungry mouths.)

Low cal cooking spray

2 large onions, roughly chopped

2 garlic cloves, diced

3 celery sticks, roughly chopped

A large pinch of dried oregano

80 g fresh basil (chopped the stalks and leave the leaves)

1,5 kg broccoli

1,5 l vegetable stock

500 g frozen peas

juice of 1/2 lemon

a sprinkling of Parmesan

One Slice of Campbells Bacon for garnish 

Black pepper

Step One

Heat up the low cal cooking spray and cook the onion on a low heat for around 10 minutes. Stir every often so they don’t brown so much. After the 10, add the garlic, celery and oregano and basil stalks (only) and stir well.

Step Two

After 6-10 minutes (ish) add the broccoli, vegetable broth and salt and pepper to taste. Keep stirring.

Step Three

Let it cook for 15 minutes and taste. You don’t want over cooked broccoli! At this point fry the bacon slice (chopped up till crispy) Remove from the heat and add the frozen peas, lemon and basil leaves. Blend until you have the consistency you desire. (Add more stock if you want it thinner.) And serve! Oh and sprinkle the bacon!

Numbers (If you’re bothered.)

This comes in at almost spot on 300cals. If you add on a delicious crust of bread and some tzatziki you’re up to 400 cals. Perfect for a lunch at your desk or as a lighter dinner.

Recommended Reading

I recommend reading COLORLESS TSUKURU TAZAKI By Haruki Murakami. I’ve read 1Q84 and thought it was really wonderful but not, well perfect. T recently read this and adored it so I’m looking forward to it too. T suggested that this would work quite well with this recipe. Lavely.

Bustling Broccoli, Pea and Basil Soup

Bustling Broccoli, Pea and Basil Soup

I believe that 76% of the internet is made up of quotes.

Okay maybe not quite 76%. But there’s a lot; a lot of gooduns. Quotes you want to tattoo on your right foot. Quotes your teenage self scawled into desks and ones you want to print out and stick on your walls. When Cosy Prints asked if I would like to order a couple of their prints I couldn’t say no.  After perusing their Etsy Shop this is what I picked.

Flat decorating when you rent really does constrain things. You often can’t paint walls. Bang in nails or really put your mark on a place. But, I find that prints allow you to make a space personal without cluttering. (or upsetting your landlady.) Cosy Prints offer a wide range of quotes but they also offer custom prints for the same price. Perfect for a Valentines gift or a midweek purse friendly treat.

The prints come in both A4 and A3 sizing costing £4.50 and £8.75 respectively. Average shipping is £2.75 with a courier company so you can track where you darling package is at the drop of a hat. Each order arrives rolled and securely fastened, but it’s packaged beautifully. String and labels guys. It’s the small things.

Print quality is really high. Cosy Prints use 250gsm paper and genuine inks to create true blacks. The colour prints are also a fantastic quality. I’ve used print companies in the past and these are some of the best that have arrived. Prints don’t come with frames allowing you to personalise how you display the print. But, if you are buying this as a last minute present it’s something to remember.

Prints from Cosy Prints

Messy Bun Getting Stuff Done

The first print I purchased was the ‘Messy Bun Getting Stuff Done.’ It’s a quote that describes me to a T of a Saturday morning. Most Saturday’s I’ve been to the gym, thrown a bulk of dirty clothes in the washer and cleaned the kitchen. By 9am. I know, I know. But it’s the way I’ve always been. Mornings are my get up and go time. This quote felt like the right one.

Wake up – Make up

The second print quotes ‘Wake-up – Make-up.’ Not only is a system of a down lyric it’s a girlboss kinda quote. I wanted to print quotes that would inspire me and this one certainly does. Plus, I love the contrast between the colour and B+W print. They just look brilliant. I would definitely recommend these prints. They are MLBB approved.

Where to find Cosy Prints

Cosy Prints have an Etsy store that can be found here/ You can also follow them on twitter at @CosyPrints and Instagram @cosyprints. Annnnnnd all My Little Book Blog readers can get a 10% discount with code: cosy10.

Don’t say I don’t treat you?

Prints from Cosy Prints

Prints from Cosy Prints

Prints from Cosy Prints

Is there a better feeling than getting hold of a free book?

No, I thought not.

When I invested in my new Kindle I immediately searched the Kindle store for new free books. It’s not that I don’t like paying for books (I really do.) Free books on the Amazon tend to be the first step into a new series of books, and I wanted to find my new series. The one you buy all 56754 books from and read in under a week. Just me? I thought Breaker by Rob Aspinall was right up my street. Here’s what I thought.

Blurb

Can the villain become the hero?

Meet the tough new antihero with a very particular set of skills. Charlie Cobb – aka ‘Breaker’ – is a mafia enforcer on the gritty, crime-ridden streets of Manchester, England.

He’s the guy the mob send in to scare the worst of the worst. The legendary underworld ‘fixer’ who keeps the peace between rival gangs. But after his idealistic daughter, Cassie, makes him swear to give up his life of crime, Breaker finds himself torn between two futures. Be the merciless assassin who pulls the trigger on young murder witness, Danny Platt? Or act as protector, taking on vicious crime boss, Ivan Rudenko?

Breaker (Charlie Cobb: New Crime & Action Thriller Series)

My Review

The book follows the life of Charlie Breaker who is frequently getting into scraps and scraped. Named after preference of breaking people limbs (nice,) he has a new job. But it’s not going to be easy. With Rudenko breathing down his neck and his daughter giving him a stern look, he needs to get out of this without a bullet in his chest.

This book was described as ‘frantic fun’ on Goodreads and I have to agree. Charlie is a dirty character who can’t help but like. His rough language and inability to leave anything alone he’s a gem. The book is a non-stop action thriller full of mean characters and gripping gripes. It has a smidge of humour and sarcasm and the use of Manchester as the location allows for a lot of slang. I for one loved this.

In terms of narrative the story is (fairly) plausible. You will need to accept that Charlie is comic-like in terms of character. Whether kicked, shot, smashed into he’ll get up and carry on ten minutes later. But, it’s all part of the fun. The characters are written with depth. Frogger (one of the bad guys) is very well written. Although a secondary character Aspinall gives all of his characters guts. They have quirks that help to give depth to the storyline.

Only gripe would be it’s quite short. I would have like a little more. Maybe Cassie involved more than giving her Dad a stern eye. Although I’m sure this will come with books later in the series.

Final Thoughts

Overall this is a really well written book. It’s got bite, drive and danger. Mix in with the brilliantly written main and secondary characters and you’ve got a winner.

Breaker (Charlie Cobb: New Crime & Action Thriller Series)

Breaker (Charlie Cobb: New Crime & Action Thriller Series)

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