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.)

 

Hello,

Apologies for the silence last Monday (and yesterday.) I tend to leave these posts to write on Sunday but I was typically tired. Typically I have a love/hate relationship with Sunday’s. I know my body needs to rest by Sunday but if I lie around all day I have a bit of an existential crisis about not doing enough. If I run around all day Monday feels almost impossible. 1st world problems. But, hello I’m back. Here’s what happened last week.

Sunday Spring Clean

I did a Spring Clean on Sunday. First, I gutted the kitchen and cleaned it top to bottom. I took out all the trash from the bookcase then minimalised the stuff in our ‘walk in wardrobe.’ It’s basically a small space where the roof dips. T took on the bathroom and the house feels, fabby. Both of us are messy by trait but it feels so much better when it’s clear. Next I want to do a little more research into minimalism. But, all good for now.

Logan

T and I went to see Logan. It was fantastic, beautiful, excellent. I can’t put into words how much it moved me. I have been a big watcher of the X-men/Wolverine films and this one, might have been my favourite. Perfection.

Batchwood and good friends

I also went to St Albans to visit three wonderful friends. We all met through University and have kept visits up over the years. We wanted to celebrate St Paddy’s and that we bloody well did. Drinks, dancing and 90’s music. Staying up till 4am the hangover was real but it felt amazing. Not the hangover ^ seeing those gals. #babes.

Time with T

I’m going to get a little soppy again which is silly.

T and I had a rough week. You know those weeks where you set each off every couple of hours. Sunday it felt like we got whatever was going on out of our system. We spend the day cleaning/tidying and cooking and then exploring Greenwich and Pokemon hunting. (YES I KNOW.) We came home, watched The Great British Painting Challenge and then went on a 9.30pm trip to Sainsbury’s to buy chocolate pudding and beer. T was dressed like a homeless person, I was dressed in leggings and a My Little Pony Jumper. We chased each other down the street, giggling, making stupid voices and just being us. Because being US is best. He is everything.

Instagram

I’ve lost 8 followers this week and I only have 300 so that’s great. I’m blaming the haggis image I posted. (Recipe to come soon.)

 

Hope you have a wonderful week

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.

AmazonGoodreads 

After Hello by Mhairi McFarlane

After Hello by Mhairi McFarlane

You know when you buy a book for someone and they just don’t love it. Or they keep slightly quiet about it. Well, I bought this for T a couple of months back because he’s a cat person. (I’m not a cat person in the slightest.) Seeing as he was trying to read quite heavy political books at the time I thought – he would love that. Turns out he didn’t. So I decided to read it and let you know what I thought – so read on to find out.

Blurb

A couple in their thirties live in a small rented cottage in a quiet part of Tokyo. They work at home as freelance writers. They no longer have very much to say to one another. 

One day a cat invites itself into their small kitchen. She is a beautiful creature. She leaves, but the next day comes again, and then again and again. New, small joys accompany the cat; the days have more light and colour. Life suddenly seems to have more promise for the husband and wife; they go walking together, talk and share stories of the cat and its little ways, play in the nearby Garden. But then something happens that will change everything again.

The Guest Cat is an exceptionally moving and beautiful novel about the nature of life and the way it feels to live it. The book won Japan’s Kiyama Shohei Literary Award and was a bestseller in France and America.

My Review

Right, so The Guest Cat is a very simple novella with a very simple plot-line. A young couple renting a beautiful guesthouse become enamoured by a tiny cat who they attempt to entice into their home. Refusing to pick her up or invade her space the cat quickly becomes a regular visitor and soon has the young couple under her spell. The couple know that the tenure in the guesthouse will come to an end in a few short months. The older couple who own the house attached to it are becoming a little old and frail and the estate will be sold and bulldozed to be made into flats. With this in mind, the couple spends as much time with the darling cat Chibi. The story narrates the touching story of the warmth, light and meaning the little cat brings to the lives of the couple.

I might seem a little bland or a little two dimensional but this book is so much more than that; it brings a life lesson both of love, companionship and respect. The Guest Cat is written in first person narration, almost in a memoir recollection. It has both detailed paragraphs and events that pinpoint important moments in the life of the couple of the cat. (There is cause to believe this is a true story.) There is very little interaction between characters it’s really a focus on the relationship between the couple and the cat that grows beautifully throughout.

The writing is very poetic and very descriptive and I have to say it’s my very favourite writing style. I love overly descriptive text and I think at times this can cause the story to become very loose in terms of tangents and time frames. Maybe at times this could cause some readers to become bored. (I think this is where T struggled with the book) but for me, it just wove stronger the bonds between the three ‘characters,’ and as I continued through I grew quite attached despite the shortness of the book.

There are inconsistencies. Chibi the cat is described with different colourings at one point which is a minor flaw. Additionally but at one point the wife and the cat have quite a tense falling out, Chibi bites her and she, in turn, discards the bed they’ve set up, the toys they’ve accumulated; but a passage or so later they are fine the cat is back and there is no explanation. I did like however that Chibi is referred to throughout but the humans are never named. The writer, his poet wife, the friend named Y – the names referred to towards the end are all cats. I liked this.

Final Thoughts

I get why T wasn’t sure on this. On a superficial level, it’s a story about a cat and a young couple and their relationship. Underneath it’s about so much more. The trouble of housing, the relationships that are altered and damaged by the cat, the personality changes from having a new companion and the climax of the story how this can abruptly change at any moment (for multiple reasons.) This is a decent little read that will entertain, provide a little philosophical insight but will probably really you consider getting your own little Chibi.

Amazon – Goodreads