It’s been mentioned recently that book reviews are a little low.  Or maybe just book related bits and bobs. Apologies; I’ve been getting really into my Friday/Saturday posts. However, expect a lot of bookish bits because I’ve read some really bloody good books recently. Like this one – Death Message by Kate London.

Blurb

October 1987: the morning after the Great Storm. Fifteen-year-old Tania Mills walks out her front door and disappears. Twenty-seven years later her mother still prays for her return. DS Sarah Collins in the Met’s Homicide Command is determined to find out what happened, but is soon pulled into a shocking new case and must once again work with a troubled young police officer from her past, Lizzie Griffiths.

PC Lizzie Griffiths, now a training detective, is working in the Domestic Violence Unit, known by cops as the ‘murder prevention squad’. Called to an incident of domestic violence, she encounters a vicious, volatile man – and a woman too frightened to ask for help. Soon Lizzie finds herself drawn into the centre of the investigation as she fights to protect a mother and daughter in peril.

As both cases unfold, Sarah and Lizzie must survive the dangerous territory where love and violence meet.

My Review

As the blurb suggests the novel centres on two Met Police Officers DS Sarah Collins and PC Lizzy Griffiths. Sarah is tasked with solving the dissapearance of Tania Mills, Lizzy is returning to work at her new posting within the Domestic Violence Unit. The case Sarah has taken on is a complex case; Did Tania run away/have an accident? Or is it something more sinister? PC Griffiths is working with a young mother in dire need of help but refusing all attempts. How far will Lizzie go to protect the victim?

I really enjoyed this novel and it definitely throws up some conversations about the use of social media, texts, CCTV etc. I liked the discussion of the way the justice system operates. This would definitely be a brilliant book to debate and discuss at a reading group maybe. The writing is tough, gritty and edgy. It really throws the reader back and forth and gets you involved.

The characters are brilliant. Sarah is this cold, quite difficult character to get to know but that only makes the search for Tania more interesting. Sarah has to emphathise with Tania’s parents/friends/acquaintances and it’s fun to engage with that. I liked Lizzie less (despite sharing her name.) I found her confusing as she was both very weak and at times putting herself in terrible situations. However the constrast with Sarah was brill.

The writing is punchy and emotional with moments of great tension, it’s set in London after the great storm of 1987 and there are excellent twists and turns. I do love gritty female detectives!

Final Thoughts

I think something to note is that the stories don’t really interfere with one another that much which is a little frustrating. More correlation might have helped but both stories are brilliant stood alone. The author of the novel is an ex-met detective and it really really shows. The writing definitely questions and tries to understand what makes people commit crimes and what makes certain people more vulnerable to abuse.

Death Message is a banging novel – well worth a read.

I guess I should point out 2017 isn’t over so it’s not QUITE over. So I haven’t failed the Goodreads Reading Challenge 2017 yet.

Goodreads is something I use very rarely. I’m not sure whether it’s because of the clunky format, or because I don’t like rating books. It’s just not pivotal to my reading life/experience. However, this year I decided to try and read 100 books using Goodreads to document my books. Quite a tough number – and by May, almost half way through the year I’ve read 17.  Or maybe 18. But nowhere near the 50 I should be getting towards. At first I panicked, however, today it feels pretty good. Here’s why.

I’m reading more ‘difficult’ books

I guess difficult might be the wrong word. Basically, I’ve been reading quite intense books and it’s been harder to get through them. I’ve borrowed T’s Miklos Nyiszli’s ‘Auschwitz A Doctor’s Eyewitness Account.’ As you can imagine the writing is incredibly intense, difficult to read and v v emotional. It’s been best to read it in small chunks, but I’ll get there. (Review to come soon.)

I’ve joined a book club!

This probably shouldn’t be an excuse but I joined a lovely group of ladies and we read a book a month and then discuss over wine/gin/beer. (Also if you’re in Greenwich you should definitely come and say hi. First Wednesday of the month – Greenwich Union Pub, 7.30.) Anyway, the books we’ve read so far have been quite long and I’ve been writing questions, and notes so it’s taken longer to read the book. Saying that, I’m finding I’m doing it with all my books – which is a good thing.

I’ve started writing again

Well journalling mostly but writing as well. Although blogging is wonderful I’ve wanted to note down some bits but not online. Although it’s only a V small part of my day it’s eaten into my reading time. But, it’s a lot of fun so I’m going to keep it up. I might just fit the reading in before bed. Which brings us to the next point.

Sleep

I’ve started using a sleep cycle app and it’s basically said most of the sleep I get is crap. If it’s not crap, it’s just not enough. Which is a double whammy for Lizzy. I’ve also fallen asleep on the sofa a couple of nights last week and that’s a triple nope. So I’ve been going  up to bed earlier and sleeping earlier.  Seeing that a lot of my reading happens before bed it’s another cut in my reading time. But my sleep is definitely improving.

I’m watching too much Netflix

This is probably the main problem. Sue me.

(Also if you haven’t watched it yet – 3% is really good.)

You can follow my Goodreads Reading Challenge 2017 here. 

T and I love a wonderfully brewed coffee. This year we invested in a new caffietere, espresso cups and saucers, and filled a cupboard full of flavoured beans. It’s been a long time coming. The only wobble we’ve had is how to have nice coffee at work. Despite being a morning person I’m never up quite early enough to go to the gym/make breakfast/sort lunch and sit down and have a cup. T came up with the perfect present. Ordered from Amazon, two Zyliss Hot Mug Cafetiere’s appeared on our doorstep.

Enjoy freshly brewed filter coffee on the go with the Zyliss Hot Mug Cafetiere. All you have to do is put in the ground coffee, add hot water and press the fine mesh filter down to brew lovely fresh coffee. The double walled container will keep your drink hotter for longer, and a useful lid allows you to lock in the heat and carry your drink without spilling it.

Zyliss Hot Mug

Features and Benefits

Fresh coffee wherever you go – Brew your favourite coffee anywhere, anywhere.

Any hot drink – Suitable for all kinds of drinks as well as hot chocolate and tea.

Specifications

  • Double wall container
  • Filter mechanism
  • Dimensions: H12.1 x W8.9 x D11.4cm

Thoughts?

The main reason for investing, (does £6 count as investing?) Was to save pennies on terrible instant coffees. A pound a go I wanted something that would give me caffeine, live with the constraints of my desk without constantly breaking the bank. This is a life-saver. It works just as a regular caffetiere does. Add a spoon of coffee, fill to the brim with not quite boiling water. Let the coffee infuse by waiting a couple of minutes, then pushing down the plunger. Perfect?

Well – pretty much. The size is wonderful. It makes a large enough cup to leave you buzzing and keeps the coffee warm for much longer than a regular china/ceramic mug. Yes it’s a plastic mug but the high quality doesn’t make it seem so bad (promise.) It also comes with a lid, although I will probably lose it quite quickly. It’s good for keeping your coffee V V hot. It’s not so great for the car, the mug is a little too fat. It comes in three colours; blue, read and black. It looks high quality and feels it. Oh, and the price point is incredible.

There are LOTS of reviews that complain about having a mouthful of coffee grains towards the end of the mug. This can be very simply avoided. Before you begin make sure the cup is really dry then add a spoonful of coffee. Then gently fill with hot water but do not fill above the fill line. (Keep a cm below.) Stir gently then wait 30 seconds for the coffee to sink. THEN, put the plunger into the cup so the filter is just in the liquid. It should seal against the side of the cup. Then you can add more water (if needs be.) Brew for however long you want then push down gently. PERFECT.

Would I recommend? Yes – it’s a wonderful little present that will keep your coffee hot and your wallet heavy.

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.

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