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

 

 

 

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.)

 

I am slowly falling back in love with my Kindle.

Physical copies of books are the bomb, but they take up a lot of room. Especially if you read close to 100 books a year. I’m 23 – 2300 books is too many to store. The Kindle is definitely a method of space control. Oh, and it’s tangerine coloured which is also cool. This is one one of the first books I downloaded on my new Kindle and it’s a stunner. Shall we dive in? (Or surf in?)

The Wave at Hanging Rock

Blurb

Jesse tells the story of his coming-of-age on the wild Atlantic coast, where he fails to notice the disturbing behaviour of his best friend.

Natalie’s husband goes missing at sea in circumstances which don’t make sense. And while she searches for him, it seems she also has something to hide.

You’ll be shocked at how Jesse and Natalie’s stories come crashing together. And at the end, you won’t see the twist coming.

The Wave at Hanging Rock is a powerful and intelligent thriller that will grip you from the first line, and keep you guessing till the very last page.

The Wave at Hanging Rock

My Review

The book follows two seemingly unrelated stories. Jesse and his friends surfing in sublime Wales and Natalie a psychologist whose husband has oddly disappeared. We follow the first person perspective from Jesse during childhood. He spends most of his days surfing with Darren and John. Fishing for crabs and fighting for the best waves. Natalie’s story is told from the present. After her husband fails to arrive home she continues her life the best she can. Only for eight years later the disappearance of Jim raises its ugly head. Jesse and Natalie’s are about to collide and there’s nothing to stop it.

The writing is dark and foreboding. The sections of surfing really drew me into the writing and are writtrn really well. Throughout it has an intense feeling – Jesse has a cloudy and murky personality. John and Darren also have quirks. Darren struggles to keep up with the other two and John is downright terrifying. His dominating personality kept me on edge throughout. All of the character dialogue was written well – it felt real which I liked. Natalie’s character is well built too. She has bite and drive but also a vulnerability. The transitions from present to past work well and don’t jar. Thumbs up there.

At the beginning it’s slow read and takes time to build speed but it builds. The second half of the book I galloped through and found myself desperate to get to the end. The ending will probably upset you – it has many on Goodreads. I’m going to let you decide whether it works. (But let me know in the comments.)

The Wave at Hanging Rock

Final Thoughts

This is a dark psychological thriller. It will keep you second guessing and trying to put your finger on the final ending. The characters are dark and brutal but ultimately likeable. I definitely want to read into this author more. He’s one to watch I think.

Goodreads Amazon 

2017 is the year I fell for the Pigeonhole App. I am a voracious reader. I have all the symptoms; always

1)     A book on ‘the go’

2)     A book in my bag

3)     A next book to read

But life gets in the way. There are bedsheets to wash, pots to scrub and partners to love. My reading fixation often takes a second seat. And then I met Pigeonhole. I’ve written all about it here but I wanted to touch on taking part in their DISAPEARING serialisation.

All classic books on Pigeonhole are free. New books are charged from £2. These live books (released daily in staves) have free spots for the 200 readers or so who sign up. I snagged one of these spots and looked forward to the first stave. The next morning my phone pipped up – “You have 24 hrs to read the first stave of ‘All the Missing Girls.’ Ignoring it I turned over and slept. But, no the nightmare was realised later when I took another look. You have 24 hours to read each stave. Then it disappears FOREVER.

Okay, that’s not strictly true. Once the live reading is over the book reappears in its entirety. But, if you miss a stave you then have to wait. Readers of a good book do not like waiting.

I wanted to share taking part in a live disappearing serialization and why you should too.

All the PROS

It made the book like a book club. At the end of stave one I disagreed on the coldness of a character with another reader. We discussed whether he was controlling or if his personality was to contrast with another. It felt exciting to have an instant reaction.

We all miss things when we read. That tiny bit of symbolism, the usage of a certain word. Being able to comment and then read these created another dimension to the book.

The author/Pigeonhole can add in titbits. A photograph that gives a visual of the scene. Or, a snippet or fact that explains a deeper meaning. It helped me to step into the book and look around. I could see the claustrophobic mountains. The decaying houses and the characters more deeply.

Finally, the book is written backwards. It begins at the end and works back. It’s very difficult to do and shows the merit of the author. Problem is that reading this in such short sections not only did you have to read it in snippets you had to remember exactly what had been written the day before. Not always easy to do. Obviously you can’t go back because it’s not there anymore.  But, I did enjoy the mental gymnastics. It made me think – a lot.

Okay, there were some CONS

Spoilers. SO MANY SPOILERS. Mebbe I should have turned off the notifications but the comments were at times. Well, they ruined things. A commenter posted ‘Oh this is exciting – especially when we learn XYZ.’ XYZ wasn’t explained during that stave and it FRUSTRATED me no end. If you’ve read the book already and you’re re-reading be careful.

The staves were only 20 minutes long. It’s nit-picking but I felt that some of the staves didn’t have quite enough to go on. The stave was cut too short to really push that hungry emotion from a reader.

Technically (and this is mentioned on the app website) my app kept malfunctioning. It often refused to update meaning I couldn’t read the next stave until I was connected to a strong Wifi connection. Several days during the read I was terrified I would miss a stave!

But,

I loved the excitement. The stress of reading it in such a short space of time and the comments from authors really R E A L L Y made it. Certain plot twists I hadn’t noticed, characters that other readers thought were fine but I thought more unsavoury. It boosted the reading experience. I’m signing up for the next one as we speak.