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.)

 

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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“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.

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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.

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Looks a little different doesn’t it – I have an update post coming on updating my little book blog and it’s not PERFECT yet but I’m getting there. It’s a Saturday and I’m currently cosy in bed. I was supposed to go the gym but I didn’t quite make it. Instead I’m (eventually) going to get up and make my way to eat pancakes and explore the Tate Modern, but for now here’s an author interview, because I’m that nice.

Author Interview

If you were to describe your book in three sentences what would you say? (They can be long sentences!)

In three sentences: A woman who made sacrifices for her family, refuses to believe that she’ll ever be the recipient of the love she has seen her friends experience. Her childhood crush has to fight through her disbelief to convince her that the life she always wanted is possible.

A Picture Perfect Romance (Ashbrook, Montana Book 5) by [Maywether, Merri]What was the most important thing you learnt during writing this book? How did you feel when the book was completed?

When the book was finished this book I was sad. I fell in love with this group of characters. I learned through Genevieve how to recognize the various ways people help me with the day to day struggles we have in life.

Is there anything in the book you wish you had changed now that it’s out there in the world – (I love this question!)

I wish I brought Aunt Tee from the first and third books into the story. She is the voice of wisdom for the family. But then again that may have shortened the story .

Could you give us an insight into your writing process?

When I write a book I usually dream the beginning and the end. I write an outline for the middle, but the characters always have different ideas–which makes the writing fun.

Who’s your favourite character and why?

My favorite character in this book is Genevieve. I admire her strength and what she is willing to do for her family.

Is there a message in your novel that you wanted your readers to grasp?

The message I want my readers to remember is there is more to love encompasses all the virtues.

How can readers discover more about you and you work?

Readers can find me at www.merrimaywether.com