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.

AmazonGoodreads 

 

In horrible news my old Kindle died. 

I went to charge it up and it took 6.5 hours to charge to 30%. Thinking it was being glitchy, I left it overnight. 12 hours later it was still at 30%. Ergh. Oddly, a twitter conversation later, I found out that the new(ish) Amazon Fire 7 inch was selling for £35. So I bought another, using vouchers from leaving my old job, and then managed to get freeeee Amazon Prime delivery. My new Kindle all in all cost me £5. Bang on. Plus it’s tangerine in colour. Gah it’s gorgeous. Is it worth investing in? Read on.

Specifications

Beautiful 7″ IPS display (171 ppi / 1024 x 600). Available in four colours.

Fast 1.3 GHz quad-core processor and rear- and front-facing cameras.

Amazon Underground: All-new, one-of-a-kind app store experience where thousands of apps, games, books etc. 

Up to 7 hours of reading, surfing the web on Wi-Fi, watching video and listening to music

Stay connected with fast web browsing, e-mail and calendar support

115 x 191 x 10.6 mm

313g

First Thoughts

I love how thick and chunky this Fire tablet feels. It has a weight, is sturdy and is covered in a textured (tangerine) plastic. Weighing 313g it feels weighty in my hand. Apparently it’s twice as durable as a Apple iPad Air 2. I believe that, but it is a lot, (lot) smaller in size.

Is it my eyes?

The 7in screen isn’t HD. The resolution is only 1024 x 600 pixels, so it can be a little blurry. But, the screen is pretty bright, and although the blacks are a little grey and it’s not as crisp as an Ipad it’s a 6th of the price. Plus for reading (which I’m mainly using it for) it’s brilliant.

Lag?

I’ve played numerous games on my new fire and I really love it. Although a little slow sometimes to load, all the games I’ve played, have been lag-free. SimCityBuilder (definitely worth a download) played seamlessly and Doodle Jump also. Switching between apps can be sluggish but not frustrating.

Battery lasts around 5 hours when just watching Video playback with maximum brightness. Obviously will last longer when dimmed. Charging takes a while but I just charge it overnight. (No biggie.)

Shall we go shopping?

Yes you only have access to the Amazon store but all main apps are available including video streaming services (I.e Netfix.) The camera is poor as like my old Kindle. Don’t bother downloading camera editing software use your phone instead. (I have an Iphone 5S and it is four times as good – maybe.)

Final Thoughts

Definitely worth buying. It’s not an incredible tablet and to be honest that’s not why I purchased it. The screen resolution isn’t incredibly high and moving between apps can be clunky but for reading it’s fantastic. Yes the battery isn’t crazy strong and yes it might be a little chunky (which I really like.) But I love this not only for the price but for  the colour. Oh my life – the tangerine colour is lit.

(+ it’s so good to photograph.)

 

You know when you buy a book for someone and they just don’t love it. Or they keep slightly quiet about it. Well, I bought this for T a couple of months back because he’s a cat person. (I’m not a cat person in the slightest.) Seeing as he was trying to read quite heavy political books at the time I thought – he would love that. Turns out he didn’t. So I decided to read it and let you know what I thought – so read on to find out.

Blurb

A couple in their thirties live in a small rented cottage in a quiet part of Tokyo. They work at home as freelance writers. They no longer have very much to say to one another. 

One day a cat invites itself into their small kitchen. She is a beautiful creature. She leaves, but the next day comes again, and then again and again. New, small joys accompany the cat; the days have more light and colour. Life suddenly seems to have more promise for the husband and wife; they go walking together, talk and share stories of the cat and its little ways, play in the nearby Garden. But then something happens that will change everything again.

The Guest Cat is an exceptionally moving and beautiful novel about the nature of life and the way it feels to live it. The book won Japan’s Kiyama Shohei Literary Award and was a bestseller in France and America.

My Review

Right, so The Guest Cat is a very simple novella with a very simple plot-line. A young couple renting a beautiful guesthouse become enamoured by a tiny cat who they attempt to entice into their home. Refusing to pick her up or invade her space the cat quickly becomes a regular visitor and soon has the young couple under her spell. The couple know that the tenure in the guesthouse will come to an end in a few short months. The older couple who own the house attached to it are becoming a little old and frail and the estate will be sold and bulldozed to be made into flats. With this in mind, the couple spends as much time with the darling cat Chibi. The story narrates the touching story of the warmth, light and meaning the little cat brings to the lives of the couple.

I might seem a little bland or a little two dimensional but this book is so much more than that; it brings a life lesson both of love, companionship and respect. The Guest Cat is written in first person narration, almost in a memoir recollection. It has both detailed paragraphs and events that pinpoint important moments in the life of the couple of the cat. (There is cause to believe this is a true story.) There is very little interaction between characters it’s really a focus on the relationship between the couple and the cat that grows beautifully throughout.

The writing is very poetic and very descriptive and I have to say it’s my very favourite writing style. I love overly descriptive text and I think at times this can cause the story to become very loose in terms of tangents and time frames. Maybe at times this could cause some readers to become bored. (I think this is where T struggled with the book) but for me, it just wove stronger the bonds between the three ‘characters,’ and as I continued through I grew quite attached despite the shortness of the book.

There are inconsistencies. Chibi the cat is described with different colourings at one point which is a minor flaw. Additionally but at one point the wife and the cat have quite a tense falling out, Chibi bites her and she, in turn, discards the bed they’ve set up, the toys they’ve accumulated; but a passage or so later they are fine the cat is back and there is no explanation. I did like however that Chibi is referred to throughout but the humans are never named. The writer, his poet wife, the friend named Y – the names referred to towards the end are all cats. I liked this.

Final Thoughts

I get why T wasn’t sure on this. On a superficial level, it’s a story about a cat and a young couple and their relationship. Underneath it’s about so much more. The trouble of housing, the relationships that are altered and damaged by the cat, the personality changes from having a new companion and the climax of the story how this can abruptly change at any moment (for multiple reasons.) This is a decent little read that will entertain, provide a little philosophical insight but will probably really you consider getting your own little Chibi.

Amazon – Goodreads 

 

 

My Perfect Reading Spot

As some of you know; I live in an awesome new flat. Might be the only one that does this? But when I move somewhere new, I need to make sure that the place I sit has everything I need to make reading as comfortable as possible. I never wrote about my reading spot in my last houses. Probably because I had to make do with whatever I could salvage in shared housing. In this house I definitely have made the lounge my reading spot – as such. It might not look like a lot but this is the set-up I’m rocking (currently.)

My Perfect Reading Spot

Where?

I’ve mentioned before I’m not a huge sofa reader; this might sound odd but in the last three places I’ve lived the sofas have been horrible, leather sofas. I’m pretty much an exclusive pyjama short and woolly top reader (unless I’m in public – like on the train or the bus because other humans,) and bare legs on leathers seats makes me shiver. So I’ve always retreated upstairs but here the lounge will finally be okay.

What’s there?

When we moved in we had minimal furniture at all. The ‘furnished lounge’ consisted of the sofa and two wall lights; furnished my ass. I did however find a tiny foldaway table that I insisted (T wasn’t sure) would fit nicely next to the sofa. Perfect for snacks, diet cokes (or water maybe) and other sweet treats I fancy demolishing. It also currently has a bonsai tree (slowly dying) sat upon it which I’m trying not to kill. It looks pretty too.

Fairy Lights in my perfect Reading Spot

Pajamas of choice?

If you follow my twitter/Instagram or read the opening paragraphs of my reviews, you will have seen I’m on a weight loss mission. At this point I’ve lost over a stone and finally feeling more comfortable in my own skin. So I’ve bought a nightie – for some reason I just didn’t feel comfortable to buy one before (this might seem odd.) The ones I’ve bought are very similar this one, and they have a Christmassy feel with the words ‘let it snow.’ Gah I really want it to snow.

Blankets?

Right – so one of the problems of renting (minus bills) is that every time you put the heating on you have to make the decision of; do I want to be cold or do I want to be able to afford diet cokes for the months. (SERIOUS DILEMMA.) So, in turn T and I have three blankets we rotate. There’s a fluffy one I’ve had for years (currently on the bed,) there’s a crotched one my Nana gave me that she made and, there’s a MERMAID TAIL blanket on the sofa that is currently my favourite. It keeps my legs warm, it’s super cute and it’s not too warm. #instagrammable #merlady.

What else?

I guess so far it’s a little obvious but I just want to make clear the last two places I lived the best place to read was the bath. JUST TO GET AWAY FROM PEOPLE.

ADDITIONAL EXTRAS FOR MY READING SPOT

As you can imagine the reading spot has a number of additional items for increased comfort. These include but are not limited to

Fluffy Hot Water Bottle – brilliant for when you’re cold/under the weather/feeling generally miserable.

Minstrels. There are a packet of these constantly in the cupboard (although T keeps EATING and NOT REPLACING.)

Sour Maoam Stripes. I adore sour sweets and I love Moan Stripes so these are pretty much my sweet of choice at the moment.

Snacking on sour sweets

Green Tea with Pomegranate from Twinnings. Apparently my Mum has had this at home for me the last two times I’ve visited but I’m not sure I was listening. This stuff is just, delicious. I actually really like the taste of green tea but with the Pomegranate it definitely makes it sweeter and yummier. Definitely on the hunt now for different options.

Long socks – I’ve had these Primark babes for about a year or so, they’ve cropped up many of a time and they are so so so cosy.

Fairy Lights – they’re both pretty and calm inducing.

After writing that list I now feel the desperate need to settle down in my reading spot and get a good chunk of the book I’m devouring read. What constitutes your reading spot and what do you think of mine? I think it’s pretty bloody great.

My perfect reading spot

 

While searching through our bookshelves while writing the bookcase tour post I stumbled across this Philadelphia book. I love cooking and having my own kitchen has made that so much easier. I’ve made a dozen of the recipes from this book many times, especially when I’ve had to make dinner for lots of people on a tight budget. Today, I thought I would share my favourites with you.

Blurb

Everyone adores cool, creamy Philadelphia, and it’s not just for spreading in a bagel. It’s an incredibly versatile cooking ingredient. Here for the first time are 110 fabulous recipes from the Philly team, from Party bites, Breads and bagels, Soups and light lunches, to Salads, Pasta, Fish and seafood dishes. Oh and don’t forget the Divine cheesecakes.

Philadelphia Book Review


Every single recipe has a handy Top Tip, and there are easy-to-follow, step-by-step instructions. Perfect for Philly novices and cooking experts alike. Packed with beautiful colour photography throughout, The Philadelphia Cookbook makes an invaluable addition to any kitchen.

My Review

I guess the main thing I’ve got to get across,  is that this shouldn’t be another cookery book that just sits on your shelf. Since I got my tiny mitts on this book every time I’m lacking some inspiration it’s one of the first ones that I pick up. The book is split up into lots of sections including, soups, light lunches, breads & bagels, dinners, (including pasta, fish, rice, chicken and vegetables,) sweet treats and a separate section for cheesecakes if you’re into that thing.

So, how is it to use? The book is really easy to use and there are never too many ingredients. I always find cookery books have incredible looking dishes but they just have too many things going on. The most ingredient heavy recipe is the butternut, cauliflower and chickpea curry (which is delicious.) Once you’ve bought the vegetables, other ingredients are things you’ll find in your cupboard (such as chopped tomatoes, stock, olive oil etc.) The top tips are actually really good. Some are a little obvious but it does explain some cooking styles (like sweating) or how to change up the dish for different tastes. Plus the photographs are brilliant.

I think the book is really versatile. When I bought this I was a little suspicious about the bagels breads and the cheesecakes. There are the usual suspects (the classic smoked salmon bagel,) but other interesting combinations like roast vegetable and roast pumpkin bruschettas and also some fruit bagels (which don’t taste as odd as they sound,) are also included.

My favourites from the book include the thai green curry which has only a handful of ingredients
and can be whipped up in only 15 minutes. The creamy mushroom risotto is also a goodun and although takes a bit of cooking tastes incredible. The baked sweet potatoes which are super healthy and also delicious are also a fave. All have only a few number of ingredients and taste like they’re kinda difficult (but they’re super easy.) The desserts are also extensive and go beyond cheesecakes including summer berry charlotte, a carrot cake and even a tiramisu.

Philadelphia Book Review

I have to make a quick aside and mention that each of the recipes has a calorie and macro count. I realise for a lot of people that this probably isn’t important. But, for me, and for anyone that is trying to keep an eye on their weight it is SUPER HELPFUL. Additionally, cream cheese tends to be pretty bad for you, but I find that a lot of the recipes, especially the soups are really reasonable.

Final Thoughts

So would I recommend this? Hella yes I would – although I guess if you don’t really like cream cheese it might not be for you? But if it is, then definitely invest in this book. I’m off to make a massive batch of creamy bean soup. I don’t know about you but that sounds amazing.

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