I recently went to Crete and it was fantastic.

Time to relax, time to take a minute, try and get a tan and read. Lots of reading. I downloaded The Memory of Water novel onto my Kindle purely because of the cover. I was desperately downloading books before my holiday and didn’t have time to really go through and look at every single one. The Memory of Water appearing under the search Free Romance, but that’s not strictly what is was. Here’s what I thought (either way.)

Blurb

Slade Harris will do anything for a story, including murdering the woman he loves.

Slade doesn’t think twice about jumping out of a plane or conducting disastrous love affairs to gather material for his work, but his self-indulgent life is catching up with him. Stumbling through his late thirties hopeless and a little drunk, Slade has a dazzling, dangerous idea which will change his life forever. It’s going to be Slade’s ultimate story … and all he’s hoping for is to survive it.

My Review

I didn’t read the blurb before beginning the book, but it goes a little like this. Haunted by his past and struggling with writer’s block novelist Slade Harris plans a theoretical murder in order to the get words flowing again. When the events of his outline begin to play out he can’t control where fiction and reality blur. Set in modern day South Africa the action moves between rich suburbs and seedy towns. The plot moves with pace and constantly keeps you on your toes guessing what is real and what is only in Slade’s head.

Slade Harris is an author who likes to experience life high’s and lows to feed his writing. He carries around a car load of baggage from a family tragedy and the author documents it sublimely. The style has a contemporary crime novel feel with modern and classic culture references. The twist at the end left me off guard but I had an inkling. I liked the hints of the locale language that helped place me as a reader in South Africa. The place depicted add a flavour without too much focus on the country and its recent history.

The writing is phenomenal (and I don’t say that too often.) It has a melancholic, deliciousness to it. Slade is a hedonist who is too self-absorbed but definitely lovable. He sees himself as a Jay Gatsby character; a little shady, with brushes with the law and a vagueness about his sister’s death. We do in the end have the stories of Eve and Emily tied up. I had to definitely re-assess Slade, but I still thought he was wonderful. It’s a crime novel but the sex scenes are evocative, dark and delicious. Big fan.

Final Thoughts

The ending isn’t perfect. We have a double ending which is interesting but doesn’t quite get pulled off. Otherwise, I adored this. I couldn’t stop myself from reading it. The plot is excellent, the characterisation is fantastic, the themes and writing are a storm. It’s one of those books I find super difficult to review because it’s everything I was from a book. Just go read it. It’s bloody gorgeous.

Amazon Goodreads 

 

I’m really pleased with the photographs of these books today. Must admit I’m not the greatest photographer but I snapped these on the train home recently. I’m kinda super proud of them. The tale inside though is filled with pain, hurt, disgust, human destruction and perseverance. I’m going to try to do it justice. I probably won’t so just read the book.

Blurb

When the Nazis invaded Hungary in 1944, they sent virtually the entire Jewish population to Auschwitz. A Jew and a medical doctor, the prisoner Dr. Miklos Nyiszli was spared death for a grimmer fate: to perform “scientific research” on his fellow inmates under the supervision of the man who became known as the infamous “Angel of Death” – Dr. Josef Mengele.

Nyiszli was named Mengele’s personal research pathologist. In that capactity he also served as physician to the Sonderkommando, the Jewish prisoners who worked exclusively in the crematoriums and were routinely executed after four months. Miraculously, Nyiszli survived to give this horrifying and sobering account.

My Review

Auschwitz A Doctor’s Eyewitess Account by Dr. Mik­lós Nyis­zli is a non-fiction memoir of a Jewish Hungarian Medical Doctor who performed research on other Jews under Dr. Josef Mengele also known as the ‘Angel of Death.’ Not an easy read but a super super important one.

Mik­lós was sent to Auschwitz when the Nazi invaded Hungary in 1994 but was picked by Mengele to perform scientific research on inmates. He later became Mengele’s personal research pathologist. Surviving the war  but having to live with knowledge that you’ve helped one of the biggest criminals is a struggle Mik­lós constantly discusses.

Dr Nyiszli describes the terrible things he’s seen and done and stories he’s witnessed. The horrors of the gas chambers. (There is a terrifying account of girl that survives the chamber only to be brought back to life to then be shot immediately) The stories of the twelfth Sonderkommando, the Jews who had to work in the crematoria (something I hadn’t known) and revolted before being brutally murdered. The Nazi’s replaced the Sonderkommando every four months. The new Sonderkommando getting rid of the bodies from the previous group; it will later be their turn. (Horrendous.)

A comment on the style?

There’s a little controversy as to the clinical telling of  Dr. Nyiszli’s experience. I don’t think we can really comment from our comfortable lives. Yes the writing is cold, but if Dr. Nyiszli’s had poured his heart out, maybe he wouldn’t have survived. It is a clinical telling from a doctor who wanted to get down on paper what the horrors he personally experienced. Yes there are no surviving witnesses that can corroborate the story, but this is a story of survival. What would any of us have done in his place.

Final Thoughts

This book was a struggle to read but one I’m glad to have. It’s like nothing I’ve read before about the experiences at Auschwitz and I definitely recommend it.

GoodreadsAmazon 

I read somewhere that you should have one signature dish that you can always whip up.

Writing this I think Hannah Gale wrote in one of her very fab blog posts. The idea being that on a Saturday at midnight, when you’ve missed the last train home, you can still make this recipe. You can perfectly create it every damn time. You don’t need to weigh out 59603059220 different ingredients. You’ve made it so many times it’s inscribed on the cookery book you keep inside your noggin.

For me that did is homemade pizza. It started last year when I oddly had all the ingredients in the cupboard. I then lived off homemade pizza for six months. (Almost.) So I’m sharing how you can do the same.

The Ultimate Homemade Pizza Recipe (from scratch.)

Put in your trolley (For the dough.)

200g strong white flour

50ml of lukewarm water (Give or take.)

1tbsp of olive oil

For Toppings

Tomato and basil passata

Sweetcorn

Deli Chicken (We used chicken tikka, T had quorn.)

An egg

Mozzerella

Anything else you fancy topping your masterpiece with.

You may have noticed there is not yeast in this recipe. I like very, very thin and crispy pizza bases so I don’t wait for the dough to rise. I’ve done it before and (with yeast and proving,) and found it unsuccessful. (If you were wondering.)

Step One

Measure out the flour into a bowl, spoon in the oil. Make a well in the middle and pour in the water bit by bit. I add very little amounts at a time – you don’t want it too sticky. Stir with a spoon until it comes together and then use your hands.

Step Two

Put the oven on to pre-heat at 200C.

Take the dough from the bowl and knead. Youtube helps if you’re struggling with the motion. Knead until it resembles mashed potato. Then roll out using a rolling pin. (Or a bottle of tomato sauce.) It will spring back, so keep rolling until it’s circular(ish) and the thickness of a pound coin. Liberally sprinkle a baking tray with flour and place the dough on-top.

Step Three

Top with the passata (quite a lot) and then add your toppings (minus the egg.) We added a mixture of the toppings featured but just use your favourites. Mushrooms, olives, artichoke – whatever you fancy. Pop in the oven and cook for 7 minutes.

Step Four

Once the base is cooked – give it a prod, crack the egg on top and then whip back in the oven. T likes his quite cooked so he put his on a couple of minutes earlier. Once egg is cooked take out, slice and devour.

Numbers (if you’re bothered.)

Depending on how many toppings you use this comes to between 450 – 500 calories which is higher than a lot of the recipes I’ve been posting. But compared to ordering a large dominos you’re onto a winner. It’s a brilliant way to treat yourself without ruining your healthy eating mission.

Recommended Reading

I’m not going to suggest reading for this one. Pop on Project Runway with a glass of diet coke and while the evening away. Perfection.

The Ultimate Homemade Pizza Recipe (from scratch.)

The Ultimate Homemade Pizza Recipe (from scratch.)

The Ultimate Homemade Pizza Recipe (from scratch.)

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.

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