You might have guessed I’m a big reader.

Give me a rainy day, and I’ll read till I’m blue in the face. Or until I’ve read all of the words. As many words as my tiny brain can take in. But, I don’t just read fiction. I read A LOT of articles. I’ve always read Narratively, but recently I discovered Medium.

Read Medium, get smarter

Welcome to Medium, a place where everyone has a story to share and the best ones are delivered right to you.

^ Best description. Better than I could come up with. (I tried to re-write it, I couldn’t.)

Every day thousands of people turn to Medium to publish their ideas and perspectives. They might be personal essays, they might talk about tech. They might be 21 minutes long they might be 3. It’s a new type of news, that comes straight from the people living and making it. And it’s bloody beautiful. Here are 5 articles you need to read. (Because they’re brilliant.)

Medium Articles

‘It’s Because You’re Fat’ — And Other Lies My Doctors Told Me

This article really struck a chord with me. I’ve struggled in the past with PCOS. Too many times I’ve been told to lose weight. It will solve all ills. Needless to say at the time of my PCOS diagnosis I had lost 20lbs and was at a healthy BMI. (Shrugs – explain that.) Martina’s story has made me think about people that have more destructive illnesses that could be gravely misdiagnosed because of prejudice towards weight. It’s not cool and needs to stop.

Cooking with Sarah

This series is fantastic. It’s all about sharing the joy of cooking with your partner. Both Sarah and her partner Aaron have profiles and they have created a very special slice of the Internet in the process. Sarah tends to write the recipe, Aaron tells you the reasons behind it. It’s a two step story and it’s wonderfully done. The posts end up being a mixture of learning to live in the midst of being a couple and some really  bladdy good recipes. I’ve signed up for updates from both. (You should too.)

This is what I want for losing weight

I’ve recently lost 24lbs and counting for the second/third time. (Yes I am a yoyo dieter.) This article talks about rewarding yourself for hitting certain weight-loss goals. Not in food treats (step away from that treat day.) But, in tangible things. A lipstick maybe? A trip away. It’s a positive post about self-love and coping with your body.

I wanted to see how far I could push myself creatively. So I redesigned Instagram.

FOR MY GEEKY GALS. I love Instagram. It’s a recent love and I’m currently trying to post once a day. But I have discovered SOME faults. Kim went a step further and decided to redesign Instagram and I like what she suggested. One of the things I love about Medium is how it encourages us to think more about what we could do. How could we push ourselves to develop our skills. After reading this post I saw that 3 people had taken inspiration from Kim and had written/designed their own improvements to Instagram. Medium creates an ever-moving discussion.

6 non-intuitive lessons I learned from living on Airbnb for 365 days

Finally a bit of fun (and something I now really want to do.) Chenyu lived in AirBnb’s for a year. I’ve done one in my lifetime (SO FAR,) and do definitely want to learn more. I love how this article is constructed. Plus, it’s seriously increased my travel bug. Ergh I wanna go now.

Do you use Medium? If not here’s 5 to get you started! (And if you know any good articles, link a gal up.) 

Medium Articles

Medium Articles

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 

 

Perhaps you are already aware of the healthy benefits of coffee. From lifestyle diseases such as diabetes to complicated cardiovascular conditions, coffee has been scientifically proven to contain antioxidants that keep such diseases at bay. Unfortunately, you can still brew your perfect cup from fresh roasts but ruin it by using unhealthy additives. Here are some of the things you should avoid adding to your java.

Sugar, Milk, And 5 Other Things That Can Ruin Your Coffee Brew

Sugar

While sugar makes your drink sweet, it is not the best sweetener you need for your java. In fact, coffee is at its best when served without any additive. What sugar can undo the benefits of coffee. It is associated with all manner of health complications such as type 2 Diabetes, weight gain, cancer, and heart diseases. So, if you make your java as sweet as candies, then you are doing more harm to your body. Use healthier options such as natural honey and stevia extracts to sweeten your drink.

Skim Milk

This highly processed milk is fat-free. Compared to full-fat milk, skim milk has been found to increase the risk of getting type two diabetes. On the other hand, full-fat milk contains healthy fatty acids that can protect from the disease. So, there you have it. If you have to add milk to your java, then using full-fat milk is your best option.

Artificial Creamers

Non-dairy creamers used as coffee additives are synthesized to look like dairy creamer. One of the downsides of using these creamers is that they have trans fats which trigger the increase of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol in your body. They also suppress the levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol which offers protection against heart ailments. This increases the risk of contracting diabetes and cardiovascular complications, including stroke. This is clearly not what you want to consume on a daily basis as it can end up by damaging your health.

Artificial Sweeteners

While artificial sweeteners do not cause blood sugar spikes, they are associated with impaired glucose breakdown. This can lead to skewed cravings which can adversely affect your eating habits. In essence, these sweeteners eventually alter the way your body reacts to sugar’s taste.

Synthetic Coffee Flavors

There are several flavoring syrups in the market today. While it is fun to flavor your java, it pays to do so in a healthy way. Most of the synthetic flavors are laden with chemicals such as propylene glycol and potassium sorbate.  Propylene glycol is widely applied in the cosmetics industry as an antifreeze. It is highly linked to cancer, stunted growth, and reproductive complications. On the other hand, Potassium sorbate is commonly used as a food preservative. Some of the known side effects of this chemical compound include nausea and stomach upsets. To protect yourself from such, it is wise to use natural unprocessed extracts to flavor your coffee.

Butter

You may be familiar with this common practice of adding butter to coffee. While it is arguably health to do so, it is important to choose your butter wisely. It comes in two forms: salted or unsalted. Also, it can be organic or grass-fed. These variations differ significantly in flavor and nutritional value. Salt is used to keep butter fresh for longer. Also, the fresher the butter, the better it will taste. So make your choice wisely to make sure you maintain a great taste of your java.

Canned Whipped Cream

Whipped cream comes in many versions. In most cases, they contain artificial creamers and harmful chemicals such as nitrous oxide. Unknown to many, nitrous oxide can cause serious cognitive impairment and also affect your vision. To protect yourself from such chemicals, avoid these creams and rather stick to healthy habits of preparing your brew.

Taking too long to drink your coffee

Coffee is best taken while fresh. If you let your brew settle for long, agents of nature such as oxidation start working on it.  In no time the acid levels in your coffee start to rise. If you drink that brew, you ingest more acid to your body and with that you are increasing the risk of getting heartburns. The bottom line is to brew your java when you need it and in small quantities.

Are you ruining the best coffee of your life?

Sugar, Milk, And 5 Other Things That Can Ruin Your Coffee Brew

Sugar, Milk, And 5 Other Things That Can Ruin Your Coffee Brew

Sugar, Milk, And 5 Other Things That Can Ruin Your Coffee Brew

Rudy Caretti has more than 15 years of experience in the coffee industry, a passion that started in Italy within the family business and brought him to found Gimoka Coffee UK and G Coffee Pod with a group of friends, who share the same passion.

Since he roasted his first batch of coffee seeds as a teenager, he was fascinated by the many ways it can be processed to get the many different distinctive flavors we all love.
As a coffee connoisseur, Rudy has always been aware of the vital role played by coffee in most people’s social life and he is especially active through the company’s social media and blog

He loves sharing his knowledge with readers around the world, writing and posting articles that range from the coffee brewing techniques to raising awareness of the importance of responsible production to help protect the rights of farmers and protect the environment.

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.

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