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 

 

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)

GoodreadsAmazon 

I don’t have a To Be Read List. It’s okay – I haven’t lost my mind.

When I started blogging I learned of the sacred ‘To Be Read List.’ Book bloggers appeared to have theirs written to the t. Or tattooed on their left leg. It might be 1000+ books but they had one. I, being new was a fraud and created a TBR. It featured a lot of popular books, highly rated and classics. It sat on a piece of paper and every so often I would add to it. I would cross books off and add them back on again. I wrote multiple posts on books that were on my TBR, books I wanted to read maybe.

But here’s the fraudulent bit. There’s no list. I mean the old list is hanging around somewhere but it’s not tangible. It’s not sat waiting on Goodreads, or listed in my email inbox. It’s been years since I’ve had one. But I’m coming clean, so here’s why I don’t believe in a TBR.

I don’t have a To Be Read List. It’s okay – I haven’t lost my mind.

It puts books on a pedestal.

I will never forget the soul that told me 1984 was their favourite ever book. And that it would be mine too as soon as I read it. I shouldn’t have believed them. But I did. Stupidly. Having a TBH made me make pedestals out of books. It’s happened multiple times and ruined tens of books. (NOTE: I did like 1984 – not my fave though.)

I’m a fickle reader.

I enter a book-shop, I see a book I like the look of, I buy it. Suddenly everything on the list is shifted back. Books originally on the list has stayed there for weeks/months/years. I can remember a few. Wolfhall is still on the list, oh, and Eleanor and Park. But I don’t like the idea that they’re suspended on a list because maybe, the next time I wander into Stones it’ll be the one I pick up.

It scared me

During my early days of blogging I did have a very long list of books to read. I would add any books that interested me or I would download them on my Kindle, maybe write them in my journal. The list grew and grew. The classics part of the list felt like a monster towering over me. I will read Frankenstein, and Anna Karina. I will attempt Tolstoy. But it became something I avidly avoided. As I added more books to it I strayed further and further.

I’m constantly changing as a reader

I think reading is seen as a constrained activity. It’s old/doesn’t change/doesn’t grow. The phrase I detest is ‘reading is boring.’ You’re just reading the wrong thing. Reading does grow – and so do we as readers. Things happen – politics, natural disasters, cures for illness and these all inspire books. It could be fiction, it could be non-fiction, either way I’m constantly changing and a TBR felt too static.

The forgotten books

There’s nothing better than entering a bookshop and seeing a book that once sat on your TBR. You walk in, spot it. Think – shit yes, I meant to get round to that. You pick it up and take it home. Devour it.

I’m sorry if I gave any of you readers a heart flutter. Do you have a TBR? Should I think about creating one again. Let me know. I’m off to read some Murakami I had forgotten about.

I don’t have a To Be Read List. It’s okay – I haven’t lost my mind.

I don’t have a To Be Read List.

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