I recently went to Crete and it was fantastic.

Time to relax, time to take a minute, try and get a tan and read. Lots of reading. I downloaded The Memory of Water novel onto my Kindle purely because of the cover. I was desperately downloading books before my holiday and didn’t have time to really go through and look at every single one. The Memory of Water appearing under the search Free Romance, but that’s not strictly what is was. Here’s what I thought (either way.)

Blurb

Slade Harris will do anything for a story, including murdering the woman he loves.

Slade doesn’t think twice about jumping out of a plane or conducting disastrous love affairs to gather material for his work, but his self-indulgent life is catching up with him. Stumbling through his late thirties hopeless and a little drunk, Slade has a dazzling, dangerous idea which will change his life forever. It’s going to be Slade’s ultimate story … and all he’s hoping for is to survive it.

My Review

I didn’t read the blurb before beginning the book, but it goes a little like this. Haunted by his past and struggling with writer’s block novelist Slade Harris plans a theoretical murder in order to the get words flowing again. When the events of his outline begin to play out he can’t control where fiction and reality blur. Set in modern day South Africa the action moves between rich suburbs and seedy towns. The plot moves with pace and constantly keeps you on your toes guessing what is real and what is only in Slade’s head.

Slade Harris is an author who likes to experience life high’s and lows to feed his writing. He carries around a car load of baggage from a family tragedy and the author documents it sublimely. The style has a contemporary crime novel feel with modern and classic culture references. The twist at the end left me off guard but I had an inkling. I liked the hints of the locale language that helped place me as a reader in South Africa. The place depicted add a flavour without too much focus on the country and its recent history.

The writing is phenomenal (and I don’t say that too often.) It has a melancholic, deliciousness to it. Slade is a hedonist who is too self-absorbed but definitely lovable. He sees himself as a Jay Gatsby character; a little shady, with brushes with the law and a vagueness about his sister’s death. We do in the end have the stories of Eve and Emily tied up. I had to definitely re-assess Slade, but I still thought he was wonderful. It’s a crime novel but the sex scenes are evocative, dark and delicious. Big fan.

Final Thoughts

The ending isn’t perfect. We have a double ending which is interesting but doesn’t quite get pulled off. Otherwise, I adored this. I couldn’t stop myself from reading it. The plot is excellent, the characterisation is fantastic, the themes and writing are a storm. It’s one of those books I find super difficult to review because it’s everything I was from a book. Just go read it. It’s bloody gorgeous.

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If you don’t like the F word maybe don’t read on.

See, the Thug Kitchen book is like nothing I’ve read before. Vegan recipe with bite might be the best description.

Thug Kitchen recipe book

Blurb

Thug Kitchen started their wildly popular website to inspire people to eat some Goddamn vegetables and adopt a healthier lifestyle. Beloved by Gwyneth Paltrow (‘This might be my favorite thing ever’) and with half a million Facebook fans and counting, Thug Kitchen wants to show everyone how to take charge of their plates and cook up some real f*cking food.

Yeah, plenty of blogs and cookbooks preach about how to eat more kale, why ginger fights inflammation, and how to cook with microgreens and nettles. But they are dull or pretentious as hell -and most people can’t afford the hype.

Thug Kitchen lives in the real world. In their first cookbook, they’re throwing down more than 100 recipes for their best-loved meals, snacks and sides for beginning cooks to home chefs. (Roasted Beer and Lime Cauliflower Tacos? Pumpkin Chili? Grilled Peach Salsa? Believe that sh*t.) Plus they’re going to arm you with all the info and techniques you need to shop on a budget and go and kick a bunch of ass on your own.

This book is an invitation to everyone who wants to do better to elevate their kitchen game. No more ketchup and pizza counting as vegetables. No more avoiding the produce corner of the supermarket. Sh*t is about to get real.

My Review

This book really took me by surprise. The extreme profanity is woven throughout out the book. It’s a big concept  and it’s a lot of fun. It’s definitely found a niche in the market. Yes it might turn some people off, but I liked the contrast because this is a vegan cookbook. I think veganism has a bad rep for being a little, nice? But this takes it to another level. Love it.

The recipes are split into six sections, each with an equally rude name. But basically, we have breakfasts, lunches (salads and sandwiches,) stews, munchies (salsa, snacks) mains, and motherfucking desserts. Yes, it’s actually called that. The recipes are fantastic. Favourites include baked spanish rice, pozole rojo, and creamy ravioli with house marinara.

They are in American cup sizes which can be confusing but a quick google will help.

I love the bowl recipes. The idea is you pick a grain or starch, then add vegetables, a protein, and a sauce or dressing. The book then lists combos from the book, from different sections to help you out (with helpful page numbers and whether it’s a veggie, protein etc.) It’s a wonderful way of making the book more versatile. Yes you could make quick pickled vegetables and serve it with your own recipe, or helpfully you could mix it with sweet citrus baked tofu and make a bowl. The book becomes a lot more personal.

The book doesn’t just do recipes it also breaks down different ways of cooking an ingredient. Tofu is something I have struggled to cook at times. The book has two pages that give different marinades, and different ways of baking the tofu. It’s really helpful. There’s also a page on how to make a vegetable broth which is used in numerous recipes. Which again was V helpful .

Additionally any confusing ingredients have a *, (****) depending on how many confusing ingredients there are. It might link to another recipe or explain other ingredients you could use. It’s brilliant. So instead of teaspoon oil you could use coconut/grape seed/olive oil. Wonderful.

Final Thoughts

It’s a bloody brilliant book. If you’re vegan definitely buy it. If you want to try cut out a little meat definitely buy it. It’s a wonderful book for mixing up what you make in the kitchen!

Thug Kitchen recipe book

Thug Kitchen recipe book

 

 

 

It’s been mentioned recently that book reviews are a little low.  Or maybe just book related bits and bobs. Apologies; I’ve been getting really into my Friday/Saturday posts. However, expect a lot of bookish bits because I’ve read some really bloody good books recently. Like this one – Death Message by Kate London.

Blurb

October 1987: the morning after the Great Storm. Fifteen-year-old Tania Mills walks out her front door and disappears. Twenty-seven years later her mother still prays for her return. DS Sarah Collins in the Met’s Homicide Command is determined to find out what happened, but is soon pulled into a shocking new case and must once again work with a troubled young police officer from her past, Lizzie Griffiths.

PC Lizzie Griffiths, now a training detective, is working in the Domestic Violence Unit, known by cops as the ‘murder prevention squad’. Called to an incident of domestic violence, she encounters a vicious, volatile man – and a woman too frightened to ask for help. Soon Lizzie finds herself drawn into the centre of the investigation as she fights to protect a mother and daughter in peril.

As both cases unfold, Sarah and Lizzie must survive the dangerous territory where love and violence meet.

My Review

As the blurb suggests the novel centres on two Met Police Officers DS Sarah Collins and PC Lizzy Griffiths. Sarah is tasked with solving the dissapearance of Tania Mills, Lizzy is returning to work at her new posting within the Domestic Violence Unit. The case Sarah has taken on is a complex case; Did Tania run away/have an accident? Or is it something more sinister? PC Griffiths is working with a young mother in dire need of help but refusing all attempts. How far will Lizzie go to protect the victim?

I really enjoyed this novel and it definitely throws up some conversations about the use of social media, texts, CCTV etc. I liked the discussion of the way the justice system operates. This would definitely be a brilliant book to debate and discuss at a reading group maybe. The writing is tough, gritty and edgy. It really throws the reader back and forth and gets you involved.

The characters are brilliant. Sarah is this cold, quite difficult character to get to know but that only makes the search for Tania more interesting. Sarah has to emphathise with Tania’s parents/friends/acquaintances and it’s fun to engage with that. I liked Lizzie less (despite sharing her name.) I found her confusing as she was both very weak and at times putting herself in terrible situations. However the constrast with Sarah was brill.

The writing is punchy and emotional with moments of great tension, it’s set in London after the great storm of 1987 and there are excellent twists and turns. I do love gritty female detectives!

Final Thoughts

I think something to note is that the stories don’t really interfere with one another that much which is a little frustrating. More correlation might have helped but both stories are brilliant stood alone. The author of the novel is an ex-met detective and it really really shows. The writing definitely questions and tries to understand what makes people commit crimes and what makes certain people more vulnerable to abuse.

Death Message is a banging novel – well worth a read.

I guess I should point out 2017 isn’t over so it’s not QUITE over. So I haven’t failed the Goodreads Reading Challenge 2017 yet.

Goodreads is something I use very rarely. I’m not sure whether it’s because of the clunky format, or because I don’t like rating books. It’s just not pivotal to my reading life/experience. However, this year I decided to try and read 100 books using Goodreads to document my books. Quite a tough number – and by May, almost half way through the year I’ve read 17.  Or maybe 18. But nowhere near the 50 I should be getting towards. At first I panicked, however, today it feels pretty good. Here’s why.

I’m reading more ‘difficult’ books

I guess difficult might be the wrong word. Basically, I’ve been reading quite intense books and it’s been harder to get through them. I’ve borrowed T’s Miklos Nyiszli’s ‘Auschwitz A Doctor’s Eyewitness Account.’ As you can imagine the writing is incredibly intense, difficult to read and v v emotional. It’s been best to read it in small chunks, but I’ll get there. (Review to come soon.)

I’ve joined a book club!

This probably shouldn’t be an excuse but I joined a lovely group of ladies and we read a book a month and then discuss over wine/gin/beer. (Also if you’re in Greenwich you should definitely come and say hi. First Wednesday of the month – Greenwich Union Pub, 7.30.) Anyway, the books we’ve read so far have been quite long and I’ve been writing questions, and notes so it’s taken longer to read the book. Saying that, I’m finding I’m doing it with all my books – which is a good thing.

I’ve started writing again

Well journalling mostly but writing as well. Although blogging is wonderful I’ve wanted to note down some bits but not online. Although it’s only a V small part of my day it’s eaten into my reading time. But, it’s a lot of fun so I’m going to keep it up. I might just fit the reading in before bed. Which brings us to the next point.

Sleep

I’ve started using a sleep cycle app and it’s basically said most of the sleep I get is crap. If it’s not crap, it’s just not enough. Which is a double whammy for Lizzy. I’ve also fallen asleep on the sofa a couple of nights last week and that’s a triple nope. So I’ve been going  up to bed earlier and sleeping earlier.  Seeing that a lot of my reading happens before bed it’s another cut in my reading time. But my sleep is definitely improving.

I’m watching too much Netflix

This is probably the main problem. Sue me.

(Also if you haven’t watched it yet – 3% is really good.)

You can follow my Goodreads Reading Challenge 2017 here. 

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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