Sport. It’s a minefield isn’t it?

I love watching sport. Well, some sports. Tennis, the Olympics, especially curling. I regularly attend the gym and at times run. (when my knees aren’t being a bugger.) But I haven’t played a sport since I left high-school. I was never top of the class at netball/hockey/800m but I enjoyed it. Really enjoyed it.

Recently I signed up for a staff netball team and saw that this book was being advertised by the Pigeon Hole App. Being a competitive person who’s never R E A L L Y been encouraged to enjoy sport through work/university I wanted to find out more. I wanted to feel inspired because I don’t want to give up on sport. This book (Eat, Sweat, Play,) is a life-line to those who want to re-kindle or inspire a love of sport.

Blurb

What does it mean to be a sporty woman in the 21st century? From the launch of Net-A-Sporter, serving up sports clothing for fashionistas, to the introduction of #plankie as the new Instagram selfie for yoga bunnies; exercise for women has finally gone mainstream.

But if sweating has never been so hot for female celebrities, then why are there still so many obstacles for girls and women when it comes to sport? Why do girls still hate school sports lessons? Why is sport consistently defined as male territory, with TV cameras replicating the male gaze as they search out the most beautiful women in the crowd? Will women ever flock to watch football, rugby and boxing in their millions? Or turn up to the park with friends for a Sunday morning kickabout? How long do we have to wait to see the first multi-millionaire female footballer or basketball player?

My Review

 Eat, Sweat, Play, is written by sport’s journalist Anna Kessel. It’s a bunch of essays/chapters that look at women in sport. Not just the professionals, but you and me too. Anna discusses why women have lost interest in sport and how we can encourage women, especially teenagers. Not only for their health but help increase interest to continue through to adulthood. Anna encourages us not to worry about how we look but to move, and enjoy it

The book focuses on lots of different themes;

1)     Talk of how pregnancy (before and after) affects mum’s. Should you exercise at X many weeks. How much can you do. By using scientific theory Anna helps to dispel confusion.

2)     Role Models are a big part of the book. Kessel discusses how different professional athletes have delt with coming back to their sport while giving their bodies time to recover.

3)     PERIODS. This theme was so refreshing to read. Throughout my time at school periods were a bloody bug bare especially during sport. Yes it helped but I always thought – shouldn’t my body be in recovery right now. The book discusses the struggles of competing whilst your body is painting the town red. When to excercie, how it can fuck up your performance and how to overcome it. Bloody brilliant.

4)     Women in sport: Kessel being a sports journalist has heard the worst of it. I found her discussion of being a woman in a man’s world very insightful. From sportswomen being perceived to how we move forward and encourage women to take part in everyday sport and ENJOY IT.

Final Thoughts

This review is already long but quick discussion of the writing style. I thought this was going to be a lot more story-like but it reads a little like an essay or dissertation. But that’s no bad thing. It’s easily digestible in chunks which I read on my commute. It also has a lot of a lot of facts and I found myself really discussing the books with others. T had an earful a couple of times as I got frustrated with the ways women are ostracised from sport.

In short this is a fantastic book about women in sport. Written with guts, power and knowledge it’s a stunner. I’m off to find a football.

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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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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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I’m addicted to free crime thrillers.

I got picky with my reading and decided to download another free crime fiction book onto my Kindle. IT FELT like the right thing to do. The problem with being a reader is that you’re always looking for the next thing to dig your teeth into. I struggle after reading one genre to skip to another. There’s something comforting about sticking your finger into another plum pie (so to speak.) That sounded rude. I’ll move on- THIS is the last free crime thriller I download*.

Violence in the Blood by Mark Newman

Blurb

Crime Lord Malkie Thompson’s spent 25 years killing, maiming and blackmailing his way to the top. He’s got everything he ever wanted, except his health. The knives are out. His rivals sense blood. Their time is now. But Thompson’s not going down without a fight.

Violence in the Blood documents Thompson’s rise to power from the backstreets of Glasgow to the industrial heartland of the Midlands.

Join the rampage as Malkie and his crew blaze a trail of mayhem and destruction north and south of the border.

My Review

Why did I download this? I like the idea of a tale about a criminal gang. Question is, did I enjoy it?

Yes, yes I did. Writing about criminal gangs can become bogged down. There are often a lot of things to fit and bob in. Detail is important to immerse the reader in the tale. This worked well. The pace is frantic and hectic. It moves with pace, and all the writing is spritely if stomach churning. The rival mobsters feel real and threatening. They are violent, use any method possible (baseball bat anyone?) and are brought vividly to life.

Malkie is told in brilliant technicolor. He’s a menace, a monster and a brilliant character creation. I felt both sorry for him at times and appalled. The ability of the author to play with the reader’s emotions despite the questionable behavior of the main character shows a lot of skill.

But, there are problems. The writing is very good at describing police procedures and the like and the torture scenes are very graphic. There’s a lot of blood, guts and gore. A lot of death too. But, because the book is so short, you don’t really care for the characters because we barely know them. Other than Malkie everyone is a whitewash of a character. A couple of minor details poke through but other than that, very little character distinction.

There are plots and subplots which I enjoyed but this book felt like a spoiler to the big event. This happens a lot with free books. They tend to have a killer starting read that gets the reader involved which then spans into a series of 15 books. This one just didn’t have quite enough to encourage me to continue with the series.

Final Thoughts

Gritty gang warfare is a great way to describe this book, but I wanted double the content. Probably double the gore too.

* For now.

Violence in the Blood by Mark Newman

Violence in the Blood by Mark Newman

 

 

 

I think this will be the last of the free kindle books I review for a while.

Every couple of months I choose around five and review them all, to find the next series I’ll read. Some are super fab, some lack something. Whether that be depth, character strength or writing style with this one, something about it just didn’t strike enough of a chord with me, but, for now let’s dive into Dan and Eva’s story.

Luck and Judgment Book Review

Blurb

Gail Everett must have justice from the corporation which destroyed her father’s life. No courtroom has ever found against them. But beyond the courtroom there are many kinds of justice…

Gail gives private investigators Eva Roberts and Dan Bradley a secret file supplied by her father. The PIs start to unpick the mystery – but some seriously bad people know about the file and they want it gone. As a violent gangster closes in Eva and Dan discover just how deadly this case has become…

Friends are divided. Young women are murdered on the streets. Private detectives Roberts and Bradley are snared in the dark heart of a thirty-year-old nightmare.

My Review

You get the gist from the blurb. Dan and Eva our intrepid private eyes, who along with their apprentice Mark get themselves into a sticky spot. Investigating the dirty dealings within a personal case the trial involves a number of threads. Yes, there are red-herrings, dangerous moments and car chases. It’s your stereotypical private detective trail. They get into more trouble and because they don’t waver to any red tape it makes for an exciting read.

The plot is straightforward, characters are likeable and I like the contrast between Dan and Eva. Eva is forward thinking and sensible. Dan is definitely more likely to go rogue. Their compatibility as partners in the company and in their own relationship added another dimension to the narrative. The writing is strong and punchy. The interweaving story lines are constructed well and the writing moves with speed. There is enough interest throughout and untrustworthy characters to make this an exciting read.

Final Thoughts

The reason I struggled was the use of Neuro-linguistic programming or NLP. NLP is an approach to communication and psychotherapy that I not recognized anymore due to lack of scientific proof and is quite outdated. Yes, numerous practitioners still believe certain language can be used to achieve goals and influence behavior. But resting a lot of the case, or majority on this I was underwhelmed. It just wasn’t sharp enough for me and left a lot of grey areas. I didn’t feel consumed with the story line mainly because I didn’t believe in it. With a crime/thriller book you need to believe in the case otherwise, why.

Buy this if you’re looking for a quick thriller read, but it’s not quite interesting and in-depth enough to really want to shout this book from the rooftops.

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Luck and Judgment Book Review

Luck and Judgment Book Review