Tuesday 26 May 2015

Jackson's holiday

John and I are going on holiday in September for the first time since we got Jackson and leaving him at the local kennels for 7 nights was a bit much for his first time. So, as we had a couple of busy days with us being out a lot we decided to put him in for 2 nights as a trial to see how he got on. 

The staff at Norstead Hall were really understanding about it being his first time away from home and did everything they could to keep him calm while we left. Jackson seriously panicked when he saw us leaving him and it was heartbreaking to hear him cry for us and try to get to us through a fence when he couldn't. I was so very close to crying because I didn't want to leave him like that. 

John and I worried about Jackson for the whole 2 days he wasn't with us because we had no idea if he would have settled down and if he would have behaved himself. When John picked him up on Sunday morning the staff reassured him that there was a bit of whining to start with but he soon settled in and had fun running around in the big field. They also said he settled in quicker than most dogs and all of the staff loved him and loved having him there. 

I really think the staff in kennels make all the difference for how a dog reacts to the situation and I can't thank them enough for taking care of Jackson so well. 

It was also really interesting to see how Jackson would be once he came back home seeing as we'd never been away from him for that long before. He has been so loving and well-behaved and instantly wanted to go out and play in the garden with John. He's clearly showing that he missed us but doesn't seem affected by his little holiday. 

Monday 25 May 2015

YA review: Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella

Title: Finding Audrey
Author: Sophie Kinsella
Series: N/A
Acquired: Review
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Doubleday Children's
Release date: 4th June 2015

Audrey doesn't leave the house. Not since that day. She only goes out to see her therapist who urges her to take risks and face her fears. That's easier said than done though and Audrey struggles to take off her dark glasses, deal with her anxiety disorder and talk to her brothers best friend who thinks she may just like!

Although Sophie Kinsella is a very well-known name in the book world, this is the first of her novels that I've read and I had no idea what to expect. 

Protagonist Audrey has a anxiety disorder which prevents her from leaving the house apart from to see a therapist. She doesn't go to school and she stays at home with her crazy family instead wearing dark glasses all of the time. Considering everything that Audrey has going on, I would have thought that she would be more down than she was. It was so good to see Audrey's personality right from the beginning. She's a pretty quirky girl and she's funny as well. 

Characters who feature heavily in this book are Audrey's family; her mum, dad, older and younger brothers. I loved the family just as much as I loved Audrey. They're a pretty dysfunctional bunch and are all really different. Audrey's mum is obsessed with The Daily Mail and any article that's published, her older brother is addicted to games and her little brother is a bit mental while her dad just wants to stay out of it all. 

Finding Audrey is a really funny novel and it had me chuckling throughout. I think a lot of this comes from the family and what they get up to more than anything else. Not only is this book funny but it's so heartfelt and real at the same time. I cheered Audrey on the whole time and was routing for her to battle what she was going through and do something amazing for herself. 

Now that I have read a Sophie Kinsella novel I would happily give her adult work a go. I love a book that can make me laugh out loud and this one certainly did that. It was also quite different from other YA novels and even better that it is set in the UK. 

Friday 22 May 2015

Blog tour: The Happy Ever Afterlife of Rosie Potter (RIP) by Kate Winter

Title: The Happy Ever Afterlife of Rosie Potter (RIP)
Author: Kate Winter 
Series: N/A
Acquired: Review
Genre: Adult
Publisher: Sphere
Release date: 21st May 2015

When Rosie Potter wakes up one morning with what she assumes is the world's worst hangover, the last thing she expects is to discover that she's actually dead. With a frustrating case of amnesia, suspicious circumstances surrounding her untimely demise, and stuck wearing her ugliest flannel PJs, Rosie must figure out not only what happened last night, but why on earth she's still here.

Slowly the mystery unravels, but there are many other secrets buried in the quiet Irish village of Ballycarragh, and nobody is as innocent as they first appear. Aided by the unlikeliest of allies in her investigation, Rosie discovers that life after death isn't all it's cracked up to be, particularly when you might just be falling in love . . .

One morning Rosie Potter wakes up thinking everything is normal apart from the terrible hangover. It doesn't take long for her best friend to walk into her bedroom and realise she's been murdered. Not how Rosie was expecting the day to go at all! The beginning of the book is really funny because it takes Rosie a good while to figure out the whole being dead thing and what she can and can't do. Not only that but she's dead and stuck in the ugliest pyjama bottoms ever! It doesn't matter that no one can see her, she knows they're ugly and wished she'd died in something nicer. 

Rosie was a pretty wonderful character. Instead of being down and sad about being dead she's angry to begin with and wants to know what happened to her. She also doesn't really dwell on the fact that she's dead and instead embraces it. Her personality shines through and she was a joy to read about and get to know. She was funny and full of life (pardon the pun) and she really shone through Kate Winter's writing. 

The Happy Ever Afterlife of Rosie Potter is set in the small town of Barrycalagh, Ireland which makes Rosie's death the most exciting thing to have ever happened there. This bring in a whole host of characters who are extremely colourful and different from one another. As much as I liked Rosie the other characters were so interesting and really brought something fun and different to the story. 

Rosie has no recollection of her murder; she doesn't know when, why or who did it so there is a big murder mystery to solve in this book. However, it isn't all about finding out who killed Rosie which is something I loved about this one. Rosie has a lot to figure out about her life and the fact that she can watch people and conversations without being caught really helps her. I loved how Rosie changes over the course of the book due to realisations about many aspects of her life before she died. 

The Happy Ever Afterlife of Rosie Potter is a funny and original read and one I really enjoyed!

Be sure to check out other posts on the blog tour!

Tuesday 19 May 2015

NA review: At the Stars by Elisabeth Staab

Title: At the Stars
Author: Elisabeth Staab
Series: N/A
Acquired: Review
Genre: New Adult
Publisher: Self Published
Release date: 5th May 2015

Until the day she was attacked in her local and favourite music store, Cassie was just a normal teenager. When a family tragedy happened Cassie knew she couldn't stay in her home town any longer. The only option she has is to get in her car and drive, no destination in mind. Cassie's car breaks down just outside of a small town called Evergreen Grove and that's where she meets Jake, the most unexpected event on her trip. 

At the Stars begins full of tension and excitement. It's the middle of the night and Cassie is stood in the middle of the road facing off with on-coming traffic in the rain. She know exactly how it looks; crazy. She doesn't care though because she feels free and it's not like she's trying to get herself killed. Before she can move on her own though a big lump of a man knocks her out of the way. That's Jake. Cassie should feel threatened due to her past but she doesn't. Jake his this calming presence about him and actually seems to care. 

Circumstances are what throws Cassie and Jake together. Cassie's car has died and Jake works as a mechanic in near by town Evergreen Grove. The fix will be a long and expensive one forcing Cassie to stick around in a motel for a while before she can get back on the road. She even manages to get a job in the bakery for the time being until she can get herself sorted. I really enjoyed the small town feeling in this book. It's a place where people seem to know one another quite well and a place where people cared about each other which was really nice. 

Cassie and Jake do not get along well at first so there is no insta love relationship here. There's a lot of tension between the two characters for various reasons but I enjoyed the back and forth between them. Each character has issues from their past that they need to work through before they even think about starting something together. What I appreciated the most was that each of the main characters were very distinct on their own and they didn't need to be in a relationship to define them or to make them stand out as someone special. 

The plot explores both Cassie and Jake's pasts although it does focus on Jake quite a bit more. I wouldn't call At the Stars exciting exactly but there is certainly enough going on and the plot moves along at quite a steady pace. Jack has a lot of secrets about his past and they throw a lot of spanners in the works. Jake is such an interesting character because of his past. I loved watching him unravel and for certain realisations to sink in. 

At the Stars was a really enjoyable read full of emotion and tension. Elisabeth Staab gives readers fantastic characters, a slow burning romance and enough mystery to keep things interesting. 

Wednesday 13 May 2015

Blog Tour: The Chateau on the Lake by Charlotte Betts

Title: The Chateau on the Lake
Author: Charlotte Betts
Series: N/A
Acquired: Review
Genre: Adult - Historical
Publisher: Piatkus
Release date: 7th May 2015

In 1792 Madeleine Moreou is a teacher at her parent's Academy for Young Ladies and loves her life and job. But, on the night of a masquerade, tragedy hits and Madeleine is left all alone with the only option being to find her estranged family in France. 

Comte Etienne d'Aubery knows the war is coming and offers Madeleine to escort her and friend Sophie to France. His home, Chateau Mirabelle is out of the way of the Revolution and gives Madeleine a chance to figure out her life. Chateau Mirabelle has secrets though and Madeleine won't be able to be happy until she figures them out. 

One of the best things about being a blogger and getting emails about books is discovering an author you may not have read before. I'm not sure I would have picked up The Chateau on the Lake if it hadn't been for an email or a press release but I'm so glad I know about it and Charlotte Betts now. 

The Chateau on the Lake is set in 1792 when the French Revolution was just beginning. Madeleine Moreau is a teacher in a school for girls which was not the norm for a woman of her age during the time. Women were supposed to get married to someone suitable and start a family, not teach. But, Madeleine loves her job and small family and wouldn't have things any other way. After the death of her parents, Madeleine takes a risk and goes to France to seek out the family she never knew she had. It's dangerous but Comte Etienne d'Aubery agrees to escort her and even give her a place to stay at his home, Chateau Mirabelle. 

As the book beings in London there is a very strong contrast when the story moves through France. The Chateau on the Lake is spent mostly in the French countryside but we also get to see glimpses of Paris during the Revolution. Charlotte Betts' descriptions of both the setting and the atmosphere are vivid and the detail is amazing. One particular scene of a beheading sticks out in my mind. Betts captures the feelings that a woman of the time would have experienced by seeing this perfectly and also how the crowd reacted. 

In regards to the plot, The Chateau on the Lake is both a romance, mystery and historical novel all in one. Betts makes sure there is something for everyone in this book and it's also what made me not able to put it down. I really enjoyed reading about the Revolution and how things changed over time. Chateau Mirabelle and the people surrounding it were so interesting and there was a whole host of interesting characters to get to know. Then there were the secrets. Oh how I loved the mystery in this book. It was woven in to the rest of the plot so well. 

I loved Madeleine as a protagonist. She was such a strong character with an exceptionally strong voice. She's never afraid to voice her opinions and she always went for what she wanted. Madeleine stood out next other ladies around her because she wasn't like them. She wasn't only interested in finding a husband but instead wanted a life for herself first. What I liked the most about Madeleine was how brave she was. In a time when war was looming, she travelled to France and it could have been extremely dangerous for her. 

I am so glad I took a chance on a new author and The Chateau on the Lake. I couldn't put it down; I had to take it to work with me because I didn't want to wait until I got home to carry on reading. Charlotte Betts is an author I'll be looking out for in the future. 

Monday 11 May 2015

New Adult review: Nova and Quinton: No Regret by Jessica Sorensen

Title: Nova and Quinton: No Regrets
Author: Jessica Sorensen
Series: Nova #3
Acquired: Review
Genre: New Adult
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Release date: 7th April 2015

Today is the first day of Quinton Carter's new life. The toxic guilt of his past left him in pieces-but one girl unexpectedly put him back together. Thanks to Nova Reed, Quinton can finally see the world with clear eyes. She's the reason his heart is still kicking behind the jagged scar on his chest. And he would love to have her in his arms every minute of the day . . . but he's not ready yet.

Playing drums in a band and living with her best friends are just some of the highlights of Nova's life. But the best new development? Talking to Quinton on the phone each night. She wishes she could touch him, kiss him, though she knows he needs time to heal. Yet shocking news is on the way-a reminder of life's dark side-and Nova will need Quinton like he once needed her. Is he strong enough to take the final leap out of his broken past . . . and into Nova's heart?

*As final book in a series, this review will contain spoilers. 

Jessica Sorensen is one of my automatic read authors. I have her books on pre-order and I'll read her newest release before anything else. I had been dying to read this final instalment in the series since finishing book two!

Protagonists Nova and Quinton have been through a lot, both together and separately. Nova has had to get over the death of her boyfriend and Quinton has spiralled so far downhill that he now has to work to sort his life out. At the beginning of the book Quinton is just getting out of rehab and ready to start over only he has no idea who he is without the drugs blocking everything out. He isn't ready to see Nova though until he's sorted himself out properly but he can't stop thinking about her. 

The previous books in this series have been especially dark but this one is a little bit lighter for the most part. However, it's still a very complex and emotional read. Quinton has been such a fantastic character and his development has gone a long way. Now he's trying to get his life back on track, figure out who he is and what he wants to do with his life now the drugs are gone. Slowly, his life gets better but at the same time, Nova's is slowly breaking apart. Normally she is the strong one, being there to fix things, but now it's is turn if he can handle it. 

No Regrets was quite a strange book because Nova and Quinton spent most of the book apart. As I said earlier, he isn't ready to see Nova to begin with but there is still communication between them. They're still there for each other through phone calls and they begin getting to know one another again sober. The first two books are so tied up in drugs and the thought of losing yourself in them that Quinton was a bit of a mystery. You never really know the real Quinton before this book so I really enjoyed getting to know who he really was. 

Unfortunately, as much as I loved the characters, the plot was a bit of a let down in comparison to the first two books. It wasn't that the story wasn't good though, it was more that it just wasn't as exciting or dramatic as I was expecting. I wanted more from Nova and Quinton's final story and I didn't get that. Don't get me wrong, it was nice to see how each character moved on and made a better life for themselves but the tension was missing. 

I wish I could have said this was a 5 star book but it would only be 3 for me.

Thursday 7 May 2015

NA review: Reckless by Priscilla West

Title: Reckless
Author: Priscilla West
Series: Forever #6/ Reckless #1
Acquired: Review
Genre: New Adult
Publisher: Self Published
Release date: 31st July 2014

Riley has known her fair share of bad boys but no one like Jax. After her first meeting him at one of his band's shows, she knows she should stay away but she can't help how she's drawn to him. 

When Riley's newest job places her as the accountant for a rock band about to go on tour she doesn't really think anything of it apart from it being a great opportunity. What she doesn't anticipate is it being for Jax's band and the trouble she's about to get herself into. 

Now, I'm not really one for the rock star type story but I've been on a bit of a kick of reading new authors recently so thought I'd give this one a go. 

Protagonist Riley is a newly certified accountant but don't let the job fool you. She's far from a typical accountant and she has a wild side to her that she isn't afraid to show. At the beginning of the book she's on a night out with a friend with a band, The Cocks, throw an impromptu show. Riley has never heard of the band but as soon as she hears the singer's voice she's drawn to the stage, even if it means pushing people out of the way to get there. Jax screams sex and Riley can't help herself when he whispers in her ear to meet him backstage. 

The sexual tension between Riley and Jax is pretty spectacular to begin with. When Riley gets hired as the band's accountant, both she and Jax are shocked to see the other. But, they quickly begin to play off of one another. The two play games with each other and constantly try to get one up on the other and they don't care how far they go. This part of the book was really fun and I enjoyed seeing what they would both do next. 

However, there is more to the story than sexual fun and games. Riley spends a lot of time with Jax and the band so she gets to know Jax on a personal level. To begin with Riley thinks that Jax is a rock star through and through and he's all about the fame and women. He's not though and it was nice to see him and Riley get to know one another away from all of the other bullshit they're going through together. 

As characters, I certainly preferred Riley to Jax which was quite strange for me. I normally always tend to prefer the male characters, for obvious reasons, but Riley was really something else. She's smart and funny, she has fire in her and she's forward to the point of really not caring what anyone thinks. Unfortunately, the plot surrounds Jax and his issues rather than Riley's. The important plot points for Riley are sort of rushed and not as prominent as they should have been. 

Certain parts of the plot were rushed and meaningful moments are gone within seconds instead of being drawn out more. Jax was also a bit of a let down for me until the end of the book and even then I wanted more from him. Instead of the strong but enigmatic man he was supposed to be, I found him to be more of a scared boy than anything at times. 

For the most part, Reckless was a good read but not a fantastic one. I do want to read the second book though to see what happens so there is something about Priscilla West's writing that got to me.