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 

 

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

 

 

 

Hello,

Apologies for the silence last Monday (and yesterday.) I tend to leave these posts to write on Sunday but I was typically tired. Typically I have a love/hate relationship with Sunday’s. I know my body needs to rest by Sunday but if I lie around all day I have a bit of an existential crisis about not doing enough. If I run around all day Monday feels almost impossible. 1st world problems. But, hello I’m back. Here’s what happened last week.

Sunday Spring Clean

I did a Spring Clean on Sunday. First, I gutted the kitchen and cleaned it top to bottom. I took out all the trash from the bookcase then minimalised the stuff in our ‘walk in wardrobe.’ It’s basically a small space where the roof dips. T took on the bathroom and the house feels, fabby. Both of us are messy by trait but it feels so much better when it’s clear. Next I want to do a little more research into minimalism. But, all good for now.

Logan

T and I went to see Logan. It was fantastic, beautiful, excellent. I can’t put into words how much it moved me. I have been a big watcher of the X-men/Wolverine films and this one, might have been my favourite. Perfection.

Batchwood and good friends

I also went to St Albans to visit three wonderful friends. We all met through University and have kept visits up over the years. We wanted to celebrate St Paddy’s and that we bloody well did. Drinks, dancing and 90’s music. Staying up till 4am the hangover was real but it felt amazing. Not the hangover ^ seeing those gals. #babes.

Time with T

I’m going to get a little soppy again which is silly.

T and I had a rough week. You know those weeks where you set each off every couple of hours. Sunday it felt like we got whatever was going on out of our system. We spend the day cleaning/tidying and cooking and then exploring Greenwich and Pokemon hunting. (YES I KNOW.) We came home, watched The Great British Painting Challenge and then went on a 9.30pm trip to Sainsbury’s to buy chocolate pudding and beer. T was dressed like a homeless person, I was dressed in leggings and a My Little Pony Jumper. We chased each other down the street, giggling, making stupid voices and just being us. Because being US is best. He is everything.

Instagram

I’ve lost 8 followers this week and I only have 300 so that’s great. I’m blaming the haggis image I posted. (Recipe to come soon.)

 

Hope you have a wonderful week

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 

 

 

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