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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Is there a better feeling than getting hold of a free book?

No, I thought not.

When I invested in my new Kindle I immediately searched the Kindle store for new free books. It’s not that I don’t like paying for books (I really do.) Free books on the Amazon tend to be the first step into a new series of books, and I wanted to find my new series. The one you buy all 56754 books from and read in under a week. Just me? I thought Breaker by Rob Aspinall was right up my street. Here’s what I thought.

Blurb

Can the villain become the hero?

Meet the tough new antihero with a very particular set of skills. Charlie Cobb – aka ‘Breaker’ – is a mafia enforcer on the gritty, crime-ridden streets of Manchester, England.

He’s the guy the mob send in to scare the worst of the worst. The legendary underworld ‘fixer’ who keeps the peace between rival gangs. But after his idealistic daughter, Cassie, makes him swear to give up his life of crime, Breaker finds himself torn between two futures. Be the merciless assassin who pulls the trigger on young murder witness, Danny Platt? Or act as protector, taking on vicious crime boss, Ivan Rudenko?

Breaker (Charlie Cobb: New Crime & Action Thriller Series)

My Review

The book follows the life of Charlie Breaker who is frequently getting into scraps and scraped. Named after preference of breaking people limbs (nice,) he has a new job. But it’s not going to be easy. With Rudenko breathing down his neck and his daughter giving him a stern look, he needs to get out of this without a bullet in his chest.

This book was described as ‘frantic fun’ on Goodreads and I have to agree. Charlie is a dirty character who can’t help but like. His rough language and inability to leave anything alone he’s a gem. The book is a non-stop action thriller full of mean characters and gripping gripes. It has a smidge of humour and sarcasm and the use of Manchester as the location allows for a lot of slang. I for one loved this.

In terms of narrative the story is (fairly) plausible. You will need to accept that Charlie is comic-like in terms of character. Whether kicked, shot, smashed into he’ll get up and carry on ten minutes later. But, it’s all part of the fun. The characters are written with depth. Frogger (one of the bad guys) is very well written. Although a secondary character Aspinall gives all of his characters guts. They have quirks that help to give depth to the storyline.

Only gripe would be it’s quite short. I would have like a little more. Maybe Cassie involved more than giving her Dad a stern eye. Although I’m sure this will come with books later in the series.

Final Thoughts

Overall this is a really well written book. It’s got bite, drive and danger. Mix in with the brilliantly written main and secondary characters and you’ve got a winner.

Breaker (Charlie Cobb: New Crime & Action Thriller Series)

Breaker (Charlie Cobb: New Crime & Action Thriller Series)

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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.)

 

Before we went to France I downloaded a lot of books onto my Kindle. I had just bought my new Tangerine Fire and wanted to try it out. I had read the very popular You Had Me At Hello a long while back and hadn’t come back to the short story sequel. Wanting a couple of short reads for the holiday I downloaded this to let you know what I thought. I also want to update you on my Kindle purchase. I still love it – maybe more than my old fire. The thinner design makes it feel more like a book and the colour is just beautiful. More on my Kindle in a post soon let’s dive in.

After Hello by Mhairi McFarlane

Blurb

A short story sequel to the bestselling romcom You Had Me At Hello!

In You Had Me At Hello, the one who got away came back… but what happened next?

Together, apart and then back together again, Rachel and Ben had a rollercoaster ride to get here. But now happily in love and partners in crime once more, it feels like it’s all been worth it.

But when a face from the past reappears, misunderstandings come between them once more.

Can they hold on to their happy ever after?

My Review

After Hello is the epilogue to You Had Me at Hello, McFarlane’s first novel. I was a little worried I had forgotten the characters in the book but I shouldn’t have at all. Each came back to me with clarity. McFarlane is great a reworking information into the story without bogging it down. I was soon up to speed with anything I had forgotten.

It is a really short read which dissapointed a little. It does pack a punch – the writing is fun as always. This isn’t the type of book you pick up for an intense read, it’s a short and flirty in style. It was nice to re-visit the characters and see how their lives are progressing after the ending. As with the first novel McFarlane dives into the realities of a relationship. Often books skim how relationships form and all the little arguments that can bubble under the surface. They are pivotal in this read and I liked the realism.

It was quite easy to guess the ending – it was a very smooth, or soft read. I think it could have been drawn out and played with more. As a reader who left the first book a while ago, more twists and turns would have made this a more grabbing read. It’s a brilliant book for a commute or a ferry ride. It feels satisfying but not electric. It has also made me want to read more from McFarlane – I have my eye on ‘It’s not me it’s you.’ I gave up romantic books towards the end of 2016. This author has made me want to rethink that.

Although it was quite an ordinary chick-lit, it drew me in, in a way a number haven’t. There was a homely, comforting feel which I don’t get from the thriller/crime books I’ve been reading.

Final Thoughts

The book After Hello is an easy read and if you’ve read the book You Had Me At Hello definitely give this a go. It’s a flirty fun book with a lovely ending. Perfect for a lunch-break or just a moment on the sofa with a glass of Merlot.

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After Hello by Mhairi McFarlane

After Hello by Mhairi McFarlane