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

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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