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

 

Did I mention we now live a ten-minute walk from a beautiful bookstore where all the books are only a £1? Did I? Have you fainted? God, it’s been a struggle not to buy something new every, single, day. But T and I have been good. I already have a bookcase full of books and an entire rooms worth of books back at home and T has a growing collection. We’ve been in twice and so far we’ve bought 5 books. Yes, only five and here’s a review of one those beauties.

Fiddle City by Dan Kavanagh staring Duffy

Fiddle City by Dan Kavanagh starring Duffy

Blurb

Everyone knows a bit of petty theft goes on in the freight business at Heathrow. It is fiddle city, after all. But things have gone beyond a joke for Roy Hendrick. He suspects someone who works for him is helping themselves to more than they should. That’s when he sets Duffy on the case.

A bisexual ex-policeman, Duffy runs a struggling security firm, has an obsessive attitude to cleanliness and can often be found propping up the bar at the Alligator. Duffy agrees to work for Hendrick and goes undercover to try and root out the culprit.

But things aren’t all they’re cracked up to be and soon Duffy worries he’s trying to be bought. What’s the story behind the imperious HR manager Mrs. Boseley with her permanently frosty demeanour? And is Hendrick really as honest as he claims to be? Duffy’s up to his neck in it.

My Review

As the blurb suggests the book follows the hard-hitting but exciting investigation from the bisexual, ex-policemen and security firm owner/only employee Duffy. Hired by Roy Hendricks, following an almost hookup in a gay bar, Duffy is required to help Hendricks who is fed up with his freight going missing and his customers getting pretty annoyed. One of Hendricks employees has had a rather terrible accident on the M4 and so there’s a vacancy for Duffy. It soon becomes apparent there are a number of dirty dealings going on when a massive wodge of cash appears in Duffy’s locker. From then on we join Duffy’s investigation as he attempts to unearth what on earth is going on with the help of an incredibly downbeat security guard from Heathrow who has a surprising number of stories as to how someone can fiddle the airport and its staff.

Review of Fiddle City by Dan Kavanagh starring Duffy

Review of Fiddle City by Dan Kavanagh starring Duffy

Duffy is an incredible character; he has this brutish exterior but he’s also obsessed with cleanliness and he can’t anything ticking in his bedroom. Meaning that if there are any after-dark activities in Duffy’s bedroom they have to deposit their watching in a box in the bathroom. The writing has a coarse style that I really enjoyed and the dating of the book (the 1980’s) is very subtly working in with the use of telephone boxes and no mention of the M25. The humour is incredibly dry and basic but also a little wonderful. There are a number of scenes placed in a topless bar and the writing here is especially amusing. At one point I had to show T and we both dissolved into slightly disgusted giggles.

The writing is very distinctive and throughout it keeps a good pace and a really intriguing plot-line. The little stories woven in by the disgruntled security guy help to keep the mystery fresh and I thought that although the book was an easy read it definitely had a darker seedier side that darkened as I read to the end of the book. It’s also impossible to dislike Duffy

Final Thoughts

I thought this book was a lot of fun. I struggled a little at the beginning but it turned into a very interesting but dark humoured book. Pocketed with lots of twists and turns which Duffy helps to hold together. Incredibly glad I picked this up at the bookshop and now I think I might need to go back and add another of this author’s books to my collection.

Linnks 

Amazon 

Author Website 

Goodreads

 

“A man once said. “A bad day in London is still better than a good day anywhere else.” I might have to agree. Since I moved to London, books that revolve around the city have been cropping up on my radar more. One I’ve been dipping in and out of, not ‘reading’ in giant hunks, but one I’ve enjoyed all the same. Walk the Lines by Mark Mason.

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Blurb

The only way to truly discover a city, they say, is on foot. Taking this to extremes, Mark Mason sets out to walk the entire length of the London Underground, passing every station on the way.

In a story packed with historical trivia, personal musings and eavesdropped conversations, Mark learns how to get the best gossip in the City. Where to find a pint at 7am, and why the Bank of England won’t let you join the M11 northbound at Junction 5. He has an East End cup of tea with the Krays’ official biographer, discovers what cabbies mean by ‘on the cotton’, and meets the Archers star who was the voice of ‘Mind the Gap’.

Over the course of several hundred miles, Mark contemplates London’s contradictions as well as its charms. He gains insights into our fascination with maps and sees how walking changes our view of the world. Above all, in this love letter to a complicated friend, he celebrates the sights, sounds and soul of the greatest city on earth.

My review

As the blurb suggests the book follows Mason who has lived in around London and like many Londoner’s (I assume) has become interested in the ever changing map of the Underground. Wandering around where he lives, he travels up a side-street he hasn’t before and realizes if he continues he’ll create a triangle back to his house – a realization he hasn’t made before. He decides to walk the entirety of each length of the line in a type of homage to the city. Line by line he beings to walk these tube lines and tells us a lot about the city I bloody adore.

I just want to put in a little aside here. Mason only walks 11 of the London Underground Lines refusing to walk the Overground Line and the DLR. (I find this a little unfair – definitely still part of London.) Mason wanders the line giving snippets of local history  that might one day help on a pub quiz. He is a really entertaining narrator (especially in the beginning of the book) and I found myself desperate to undertake the walks myself especially the Circle Line Pub Crawl.

I haven’t finished this book and it’s why I’m also yet to finish a Bill Bryson book. The beginning of the book is really interesting. It’s new ground, it’s a non-fiction book written in a fiction style. As you can imagine we do end up walking through endless housing estates. As the lines cross we do get quite a bit of repetition.

img_1962

The first couple of stations take up a couple of chapters. But as we go further stations take up a quarter of this. I think a big selling point to this (unless on the DLR) is you get to pick out your station. Many don’t get the coverage unless they’re big names (ie Wimbledon or Morden.) The pub crawl is fun but it does feel as though Mason realized that he needed to make it fun. Following this certain walks are done at night (which does stop the author seeing the highlights.)

I think a main problem is that it doesn’t really reference people. It mainly references buildings and so it lacks a little passion.

So, what did I think. I really enjoyed dipping in and out of this book. Read one tube line, put the book down for a bit, read another tube line. It’s not a book I think I could physically read in one go because it’s too heavy. It’s a perfect gift for a new Londoner or a walker who might be tempted to walk the 11 lines. For me a great dip in and out but not quite there.

Amazon Goodreads Twitter