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. 

Monday, 4 May 2015

NA review: Whatever Life Throws at You by Julie Cross

Title: Whatever Life Throws at You
Author: Julie Cross
Series: N/A
Acquired: Bought
Genre: New Adult
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Release date: 21st October 2014

When Annie Lucas' dad is offered a job he can't refuse, her life is completely changed. She was too young to remember him as a ball player but being a pitching coach for the Kansas City Royals is the perfect job for him... even if it means moving to Missouri. 

Annie's new life means being at an all girl's school with a uniform, doing homework in the locker room and trying to stay away from Jason Brody, the Royals' newest rookie pitcher!

I was a massive fan of Julie Cross' Tempest series but I had no idea she wrote contemporary young adult novels so I was surprised when I came across this one. 

In Whatever Life Throws at You Annie Lucas's dad ends up taking a fantastic job as a pitching coach for a baseball team which means they have to move and start over somewhere new. Annie doesn't mind though as she and her dad are super close and she wants him to do something amazing. Annie was a really good protagonist and I thoroughly enjoyed reading about her and her life. She's 17 but acts a lot older and I think this has got a lot to do with having to grow up without a mother and her dad knowing she's responsible. Annie always thinks about the consequences of her actions and about others around her which I liked about her. She wasn't a silly teenager who would do anything for a boy. 

Annie finds it hard to not notice Jason Brody, especially when she first meets him in the locker room! At the beginning of the book it becomes clear that he's not what he first appears to be. At first you think he's a smooth talking player but there's so much more to him than that. Brody is this sweet and caring guy who people tend to think badly of due to his past but it was so good to see him prove people wrong. 

Something that I love in books is people actually getting to know one another before a relationship starts and this is exactly what we get with Annie and Brody. They are not defined by their feelings for one another. Instead, Julie Cross gives them both fantastic personalities that you cannot help but love and make them shine on their own before they do together. Annie and Brody spend a lot of time getting to know each other before anyone acts on their feelings. 

However, the chemistry between Annie and Brody was always there and it was smoking hot. The tension throughout the book was amazing. Due to the early friendship between the two characters, there is a lot of playful banter which makes things both fun and funny at the same time. Each character gives as good as they get and the build up to anything happening was quite dramatic and full of suspense. 

Whatever Life Throws at You is not just about Annie and Brody though. There is so much more going on than that which is what made this book so good. It's refreshing to read something that isn't just about a relationship or sex. 

I'll definitely be looking out for more like this from Julie Cross. 

Friday, 1 May 2015

YA review: Nowhere But Here by Katie McGarry

Title: Nowhere But Here
Author: Katie McGarry
Series: Thunder Road #1
Acquired: Review
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: MIRA Ink
Release date: 26th May 2015

Seventeen year old Emily loves her life with great parents, good friends and living in a safe neighbourhood. But, she has a biological dad who she's curious about, even if she doesn't want to admit it. Instead of being her dad he chose life as a member of Reign of Terror, a motorcycle club.

An unexpected visit turns into a stay Emily never thought she would do and nothing is what she thought it was; not her dad, not the club and certainly not Oz, the guy she seems to be stuck with. 

Katie McGarry is one of my go to authors. I have loved every single book in her Pushing the Limits series so I couldn't wait to get my hands on her new series. 

Protagonist Emily comes from a pretty conservative family but she knows that her biological father is a member of a motorcycle club. She's intrigued and curious about him but doesn't want to admit that in case she hurts her mother and father. Honestly, Emily came across as a bit bland to begin with. She has a normal life, normal friends and a normal family if you don't count her absent biological dad. That was the most intriguing thing about her to begin with and I wanted her to have a bit more to her than that. 

Luckily, Emily really comes into her own over the course of this book. Unexpected circumstances force her to spend time with Eli, her biological dad and the club he belongs to. She soon proves that she is someone not to be messed with and she is actually quite feisty... not what I was expecting at all. As the story panned out I found myself liking Emily more and more for proving me wrong. 

The Thunder Road series is very different from Pushing the Limits for many reasons, not that it's a bad thing. In fact, it's a really good thing. Honestly, some of the subject matter in the Pushing the Limits novels is quite depressing and there are many broken families. What I loved about this book was the sense of family and community within Reign of Terror. Emily doesn't really understand what she's told about the club and how they are with one another but Katie McGarry really shows this throughout the whole book. 

Oz was a part of that family and the one made to look after Emily while she was in town. I loved Oz from the beginning. He had that smoking hot bad boy thing going for him but through his narrative, you could also see there was a hell of a lot more to him than that. I think a lot of that came from being so close to the club and knowing what it meant to be a part of it all. When it came to Emily, he knew things he shouldn't about her but was also torn because of everything else he thought he knew about her. Oz was a pretty perfect main male character for me as he had everything I could possibly want. 

In regards to the plot, Nowhere But Here has a hell of a lot going on. Not only do we have to learn of Emily's real story, the truth about her dad and a million other things but there is some serious drama and heartbreak in these pages. I was not expecting to feel so much while reading this one and I just could not put it down. McGarry's writing is utterly addictive and I cannot get enough of her books. This one is absolutely fantastic!

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Blog tour: The Confectioner's Tale by Laura Madeleine

Title: The Confectioner's Tale
Author: Laura Madeleine
Series: N/A
Acquired: Review
Genre: Adult
Publisher: Black Swan
Release date: 23rd April 2015

It's 1909 and Guillerme du Frere is about to start his new life working on the railways of Paris. He leaves his family in Bordeaux to do better for himself but he never imagined the life he was about to find. 

In 1988 Petra Stevenson is struggling with her PHD thesis but when a photo of is found in her late grandfather's possessions with the words 'forgive me' and 'Clermont' written on the back. Instead of writing her thesis, Petra is determined to find out what her grandfather did. 

It's no secret that I'm a bit obsessed with books set in Paris so I jumped at the chance when I was offered The Confectioner's Tale for review. 

The Confectioner's Tale alternated between two different time lines, one set in 1909 and one set in 1988. In 1909 Guillerme du Frere is embarking on a new adventure while in 1988 Petra Stevenson is determined to uncover a family secret. The two times are very different but the story is weaved together perfectly. 

Within moments of arriving in Paris, Guillerme's life is changed completely. In the busy station he accidentally knocks into a beautiful woman with amazing blue eyes. Before he knows it though he's up on his feet and whisked off to start his new job working on the railway. When his first pay check arrives, Guillerme and his friends go for a night on the town which unexpectedly leads him straight back to the beautiful woman at the Patisserie Clermont. From here, Guillerme's life in Paris changes once again and a love affair begins. 

Laura Madeleine's descriptions of Paris are absolutely magical. As a working man Guillerme does not live a glamourous life but Madeleine makes his life seem like one big adventure which had me hooked. There is a wonderful mix of the working class and wealthy families of Paris. At times we get dirty, dusty streets where men work and then we also get Patisserie Clermont which is completely different. Having been to Paris myself I could imagine what certain places were like.  I was glad that the book started with Guillerme in 1909 rather than Petra in 1988 because it really got me gripped to the story. 

We then have Petra Stevenson's part of the story which is set in 1988. A biography is being written about her late grandfather and she finds a mysterious photo with only the words 'forgive me' and 'Clermont' written on the back. Petra and her grandfather were really close so she has no idea what he could have been asking forgiveness for. The secret takes over her life really and she pushes aside her PHD work in order to find out more about the photo. I have to be honest and as much as I liked reading about how Petra and her research, I did prefer reading about 1909 more. It wasn't that this part of the story was bad in any way, I just felt like Paris had more magic about it. 

The Confectioner's Tale is a book with so much mystery, intrigue and excitement and Laura Madeleine has written it exceptionally well. 

Be sure to check out the other posts on the blog tour which you can see below!

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

2nd wedding anniversary

This year John and I will be celebrating two years of marriage on 30th September. Last year we went to London for a few days to celebrate. We couldn't afford to do anything amazing as we were doing a lot to the house but this year I wanted it to be different. As we got married in America I wanted to go back there although not to Florida again. 

This year we are going to New York!!

It was a bit hit and miss as to whether or not we could go due to how much it would cost but after some fantastic advice from a friend at work, the holiday is booked. We're not actually staying in New York though but we're staying in Newark instead. It cut the holiday price in half which is the only way we've been able to afford it. 

Neither of us have ever been to New York and we're both stupidly excited! I go straight into planning mode when I know we're going on holiday because there's just so much to do. 

We're on a bit of a budget with this holiday so I need to figure out how to have an amazing time in NYC without spending too much (not including shopping, of course)! It will be tricky but we're both doing everything we can to earn some extra money at the moment so we can get some attractions booked and paid for in advance. 

For those of you who have been to NYC, what must we do while we're there?!

Thursday, 23 April 2015

YA review: Breaking the Rules by Katie McGarry

Title: Breaking the Rules
Author: Katie McGarry
Series: Pushing the Limits #1.5
Acquired: Bought
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: MIRA Ink
Release date: 1st January 2015

Noah and Echo are having an epic summer road trip before Echo heads off to college. She needs time away from home and she needs to spend time with the one guy who will never judge her. But, the road trip turns into something else entirely and instead of bringing the couple together, it threatens to push them apart. 

Echo and Noah have been one of my favourite couples in a young adult series in such a long time so going into this book was a bit nerve racking!

Echo and Noah are on the road trip of a lifetime and they are enjoying some much needed time away from everything back home and concentrating on each other. Katie McGarry writes some really wonderful and beautiful scenes which really capture how Echo and Noah feel about each other. They are breathtaking together and are put into some pretty amazing situations during the beginning of the book. 

However, their summer is running out and this brings up questions about the couple's future and where they are heading. Each character has some pretty major insecurities because of their pasts and they both have problems talking to each other about what's going on in their heads. While Echo and Noah are a pretty solid couple at times, their lack of trust in one another annoyed me a little bit. After everything they had already been through I was hoping that they could trust each other a bit more instead of keeping things to themselves. 

A large proportion of this book focuses on family and what that can mean to someone. Noah has issues with his family, as does Echo and these things come back to haunt them both. The things that have happened before with family members have a huge effect on how Echo and Noah approach different situations and it was hard to see them act in the ways they did. This book raises a lot of questions about what a family really is and who is part of that family. 

Breaking the Rules is very busy plot wise. As previously mentioned, Echo and Noah have a lot going on and an unsure future ahead of them. They both have dreams that they want to pursue but they are so different. Noah is a musician while Echo is an artist and their dreams are threatening to pull them in different situations. It was heartbreaking to see these two struggle with their feelings for each other and want they wanted out of life, especially when they both thought those things didn't work together. 

Breaking the Rules is a highly emotional read but a must for fans of the series and of Noah and Echo. 

Monday, 20 April 2015

NA review: Trust In Me by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Title: Trust In Me
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: Wait For You
Acquired: Bouught
Genre: New Adult
Publisher: William Morrow & Company
Release date: 26th November 2013

When Cameron Hamilton wants something, he's used to getting it, especially when it comes to women. But, when Avery Morgansten literally crashes into him, she does not fall for his charm and his amazing blue eyes. She's different and he wants her. Now, if only he can get her to admit that she wants him too. 

Trust In Me is a retelling of the first book in this series, Wait For You which was one of the books that got me hooked on the new adult genre. It seems that a lot of books are told from the female's point of view so I couldn't wait to read this from a male perspective. I really liked Cam in the original book but I felt like I was missing quite a lot from him.

Cam is a confident guy and definitely someone who goes for what he wants. Avery Morgansten comes crashing into his life and she's very unexpected. The minute they run into one another, he can't get her out of his head and it frustrates him that she doesn't seem affected by him at all. Avery is like no one else he's ever been with and it seems like she won't ever be interested in him either. I really liked reading about how Cam felt about Avery and how he couldn't get her out of his head. This is exactly what I was missing in Wait For You. 

However, I didn't think that Trust In me added much else to the original story. There are a couple of additional scenes which were great but I didn't feel like I was reading something new. This was really unfortunate because I was looking forward to this book so much. I think that a retelling should be able to work as a stand-alone, which this one does but it should also have something to offer readers of the original book. I read Wait For You a long time ago though (2013) so I really didn't remember too much about the story. In this case, I didn't mind re-reading the story but if I had read these books closer together, I would have been even more disappointed. 

Trust In Me is a nice addition to the series although it could have been much better. 

Friday, 17 April 2015

Series wrap up - Bloodlines 4, 5 & 6

My wonderful husband bought me the final three books in the Bloodlines series by Richelle Mead for my birthday last month. It had been a very long time since I read the first three books though and I was a little worried that I wouldn't be able to get back into the series. Boy, was I wrong! After picking up book 3, The Fiery Heart I was hooked once again and I read all three books within a couple of days. 

Protagonists Sydney and Adrian are trying to find their feet in their secret relationship. Adrian is a Vampire and Sydney is an Alchemist which really means that they shouldn't be together, especially in the eyes of the Alchemists. These two characters are the reasons why I started reading this series in the first place. Sydney is so different and the last three books really see her coming into her own and realising that she can be her
own person and not what other people think she should be. Then there's Adrian who is just wonderful. He didn't have the best reputation in the Vampire Academy series but he's so different in these books and he turns into someone I loved!

The romance between Sydney and Adrian was pretty awesome. Each character has so much to overcome before they can finally be happy together and their journey of discovery is such a good one to discover. There are also many more romances in the last three books of this series though. A whole host of other characters are finding their own feet in the relationship department and while some are just a nice back story, some are much more important to the overall plot of the series. Richelle Mead writes fantastic chemistry between her characters and I think that's partially why I love her books so much. 

A lot happens plot wise over the course of these final three books so it's kind of hard to write about. However, I will say that I loved the changes in the dynamics of vampires and Alchemists. The things that happen affect the way a lot of people see the world and the changes are definitely for the better. Another thing I loved was the development of human magic. This added a whole other dimension to the story and it was something that made it stand out to the first three books. 

The Bloodlines series is very different from the Vampire Academy series but equally as enjoyable. I absolutely loved the final half of the series and I really couldn't put each book down once I'd started. 

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Rough and tough

A little while ago I wrote a post about Jackson and his ability to destroy his toys no matter how tough they say they are. I was extremely disappointed in a particular brand of toys so the lovely people at Petface sent Jackson some other goodies that should have been better suited to him... and his teeth. 

Jackson was very excited when the package arrived for him and he couldn't wait to see what was inside. Petface had sent him a really tough rope toy and a plastic bone that you put treats in. The certainly felt tough to touch and looked great. 

The real test though was seeing if Jackson could destroy them and if he could, how long would it take him. 

The bone and treats are absolutely amazing and he loves them. He finds it a little hard to get to the treat once he's chewed off the top but as I always let him have it under supervision, I can push it up a little bit when the time comes. The treats smell really meaty so Jackson was interested in them immediately. 

The real surprise though was the rope toy. I have had another rope toy by Petface and it was destroyed in 2 seconds flat. This one has been going strong for 2 weeks now and it only has a little bit of wear and tear where Jackson is starting to unpull the rope. He plays with this one quite a lot and it has already taken quite a lot of chewing. 

I am so happy that Petface were able to find me some really strong toys for a dog with extremely strong teeth. Jackson and I are both extremely happy with the toys. 

If you would like to find out more about what Petface has to offer you can find them at the various places below:

Twitter: @PetfacePets

*I received these products for free

Friday, 10 April 2015

New Adult review: The Virgin Romance Novelist by Meghan Quinn

Title: The Virgin Romance Novelist
Author: Meghan Quinn
Series: N/A
Acquired: Review (NetGalley)
Genre: Adult - Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Hot-Lanta Publishing
Release date: 2nd April 2015

Rosie Bloom is a budding romance novelist. The only problem is that she can't get past writing a sex scene because she has no experience in that department whatsoever. Once she admits her shortcomings to her roommates, they're on board to help her sort out her life and finally have some experience in the bedroom. 

Now, I had heard a couple of people say something good about this book on Twitter so when I saw it on NetGalley I had to request it. I started reading this quite late on Saturday evening, promising my husband I wouldn't stay up to finish it but I broke that promise. 

Rosie Bloom is 23, works for a crazy cat publication, lives with her two best friends and is a virgin. Unlike her best friends, Rosie seems to have very little luck. They have fantastic jobs and even better love lives. She doesn't mind her bad job though because she really wants to be a romance writer and sees it as her way out. However, as a virgin Rosie struggles to write sex scenes because she has no idea what she's talking about. She knows she's got to do something or the book will never get finished!

I loved Rosie from the very beginning. She's attempting to write a romance novel using phrases such as 'heaving bosom' and has characters called Fabio and Mayberry. It sounded like the most clich├ęd romance novel ever written. Her narrative is wonderful as she admits she doesn't know what she's talking about and asks herself would people really refer to things like that. The poor girl was extremely sheltered and didn't know anything at all when it came to sex and anything to do with it. 

In steps her best friends Delaney and Henry who she has known and loved for years. Although shocked to hear Rosie is still a virgin, they're there to help her out and to give her advice on all things sexual. Delaney is there for her in the 'lady-scaping' department while Henry is there for all other kinds of advice and life lessons. Rosie's friends are there for her the whole time and I loved that. It makes a change to read a book about friends who would do absolutely anything (and I really do mean anything) for one another no matter what. Anyway, Rosie sets out to get herself some experience and from there the laughs really start. 

Rosie is put into some pretty awkward and horrifying situations while on her quest and honestly, if you cringe easily then this book may not be for you. My face literally hurt from laughing while going on Rosie's journey with her because it was so funny but so tragic at the same time. What I loved the most about this was the fact that the situations were real. Well, kind of anyway. While Rosie's experiences were blown a bit out of proportion at times, it was so good to see that it wasn't a case of ''perfect' sex first time like we get in a lot of novels. 

The Virgin Romance Novelist is gross-out funny but it's also pretty sweet and romantic at the same time. Rosie is a bit in love with love and I wanted something more for her than just casual sex. Not only does this book have a hilarious plot that is extremely well paced but it has a whole host of characters to fall in love with, especially Rosie. 

I read this in one sitting because I couldn't put it down. It's easiest the funniest book I have ever read and I'm already dying to read it again. 

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

NA review: Damaged Goods by Nicole Williams

Title: Damaged Goods
Author: Nicole Williams
Series: The Outsider Chronicles
Acquired: Bought
Genre: New Adult
Publisher: Nicole Williams
Release date: 8th September 2014

When Liv Bennett left home she thought it would be the start of a brand new life for herself. She planned on never going back but that only lasted for three years. Liv is forced back home to look after her younger sisters who her addict mother has abandoned. 

Liv has one rule: don't date local guys and do not fall in love with one. 

Will Goods grew up in the trailer next door but all Liv remembers is that the Goods boys were trouble. Will has changed though and Liv can't quite figure him out but she knows he might be worth breaking her rule for. 

You may have noticed that I review Nicole Williams' books quite often and that's because I love them. I've been through a bit of a catch up recently and read a fair few that I was behind on. 

Damaged Goods is told from protagonist Liv's point of view. She knows she hasn't had the best upbringing and is trying her best to move on from her trailer park life. After moving to the city and branching out on her own, Liv finally feels like she is living the life she wants for herself, even if she has to send money back home to look after her little sisters. It was so nice to see what Liv would do for her sisters in the hopes that they wouldn't go without like she did when she was growing up. 

This book throws Liv's quite happy life into shock when her mother abandons her two younger sisters. Liv is forced to go back home and take care of them because it's clear that no one else will. Problem is, Liv is far from happy about being back in a place where she instantly dislikes people due to her preconceived notion of them. She judges people before she gets to know them and this was one of her characters traits that I really disliked. I could kind of understand why she was that way though but I just found her to be a bit harsh at times, especially when people are nothing but nice to her when she returns home. 

Living next door in a trailer with his mother is Will Goods, one of the boys Liv stayed away from growing up. The Goods boys have reputations and she wants no part of it. However, Will quickly becomes a surprise as he's looking after his ill mother, has returned from being in the army and constantly works on cars. Will challenges Liv in so many ways and this was one of the best aspects of the book for me. There is a lot in this one about identity and self perception and Will makes Liv question everything about herself and the people around her. 

There is a massive twist in this book that I did not see coming at all. I actually read this particular part and said 'What?!' out loud because I couldn't believe what I was reading. Going back through the story though the twist makes a lot of things make more sense and it was so well done. I can't really say more than that without giving it away but I loved the twist. 

Unfortunately, there are a few things about Damaged Goods that didn't really work for me. The pacing seemed to be a bit off at times as some things were rushed when they could have been drawn out a bit more, making certain things more believable. However, this was still a really good read although not my favourite Williams book so far. 

Friday, 3 April 2015

YA review: No Place to Fall by Jaye Robin Brown

Title: No Place to Fall
Author: Jaye Robin Brown
Series: N/A
Acquired: Bought
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Harper Teen
Release date: 9th December 2014

People think that Amber Vaughn is a good girl. What they don't know is that she spends her summer evenings being someone else completely. She's not the church going choir singer. She's not sweet and innocent. She has dreams bigger than the small town she grew up in. 

Just when Amber thinks she may have the chance of getting out and making something of herself, her secrets spiral out of control and could ruin everything. 

If I hadn't have been in Foyles one day, I would have never known about this book, let alone pick it up to buy it. Honestly, the cover is what got me but this is a debut novel and I didn't really know what to expect. 

Protagonist Amber is supposedly a good, church going girl who sings in the choir and this is how the synopsis (the official one, not the one above) portrays her. However, right at the beginning of the book we learn that she is spending the evenings during summer break at a local cabin where hikers stay and she ends up hooking up with quite a few of them. This obviously instantly ruins the idea of her being the girl she's made out to be. That bugged me. 

It's not that Amber wasn't likeable though, because she was in a weird way. This book sees her do a lot of pretty silly things and she doesn't think anything through at all. Amber is one of those characters who you really want to hit with a 'get real' stick and make her realise that there's a lot going on around her that she's not even thinking about. I wanted her to sort herself out, to grow a bit more but unfortunately there isn't as much character development as there could be. I really liked Amber's passion for music which ran throughout the story. While she was a bit messed up over a number of things, music was the one thing that stayed clear and that was a nice touch. 

In regards to the plot, No Place to Fall is a bit all over the place. There's so much going on from stealing, cheating and drugs that I didn't really know whether I was coming or going. I do like some twists and turns in a book but this just had too much going on. Characters got lost in multiple plot lines and were never able to reach their full potential. Separate plot lines lacked excitement because they weren't given enough time. It's a shame really because this could have been a really great book. 

I really liked some of the secondary characters even if they were sort of forgotten about at times. Just like the plot, there were too many characters and if there had been a couple less, the others would have been given more time to shine. There were also quite a few stereotypes thrown in like it was for good measure which was a bit of a shame as it was unnecessary. 

Although I haven't written a review full of really nice things about this book, I did like it in a strange kind of way. No Place to Fall is a very easy read and shows potential from the author. I would definitely give this author another try. 

Thursday, 2 April 2015

It's the little things

At four months old, Jackson is a pretty hyper puppy. He has energy all of the time apart from when he's asleep. Even then, if we're home we have to put him in the kitchen to sleep as he doesn't seem to like doing that when John and I are around. He wants to be with us constantly and play with us every second that he can. That obviously makes it hard to get anything done around the house. Jackson likes to sit next to me on the couch and play so that means not being able to use my laptop and not being able to write blog posts. 

The only thing that has stopped Jackson from wanting to play lately is a big bone or his yellow octopus (which has now died). 

When out playing in the garden Jackson is addicted to a really cheap and thin purple Frisbee. He carries it around in his mouth and will not drop it for you to throw it to him. We kick a football around for him which he chases but not without that Frisbee in his mouth at the same time. 

Little did we know that letting him bring it in the house would calm him down a lot! He tries to bring it inside with him anyway after being outside so the other day we let him. Instead of wanting to play like we thought he would he happily laid on the couch with it and stayed there for quite a while. If I had known he would do this earlier I would have got him one for in the house. 

It's strange how the most simple toy can keep him so happy when he has loads to choose from and some a lot more expensive than a purple Frisbee. 

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Teething puppy

Jackson is now 17 weeks old and that means he's teething. We thought he'd hit quite a bad time of it a few weeks back but that was nothing compared to how he is now. 

The poor thing is so unhappy right now and howls and whines because his mouth is hurting. Toothache is the worse so I can only imagine how he is really feeling and he's letting us know when he's in pain. I hate it! I feel so bad for him. 

The only way to help his pain is to help him relieve it and that means him having something in his mouth or chewing on something most of the time. We've found that knuckle bones are a really good thing for Jackson as they keep him occupied for a very long time and he doesn't get bored very quickly. 

Another thing that helps him is to be sat next to me on the couch and for me to help him and hold a chew toy in his mouth. He can't seem to get these at the right angles on his own so this means he can get to his back teeth easily. It's a pain in the arse having to hold a toy for him but if it helps them I'm willing to do it. 

Jackson's favourite chew at the moment is his DuraChew® Double Bone - Bacon by Nylabone. 

There are two different kinds of raised shapes on the white bone bits which help clean teeth. Jackson loves to go from one bit to another and then to the red middle as the texture is changing all of the time, helping to relieve the pain in his gums. I wasn't sure he would like this when I bought it but I'm so glad I did. It's a lifesaver if you've got a teething puppy, especially one as big as Jackson. 

Friday, 27 March 2015

NA review: Stay With Me by J. Lynn

Title: Stay With Me
Author: J. Lynn
Series: Wait For You #3
Acquired: Bought
Genre: New Adult
Publisher: Harper
Release date: 4th December 2014

Calla Fritz has been hiding from something for most of her life whether it be the scar on her face, the burns on her body or the life she once knew from all of her college friends. 

When her mother clears out her bank account leaving Calla unable to pay for school she is forced to go back home to face her past and figure out who her mother is running from. She didn't bargain for Jax though, the one person who seems able to see past every one of her defenses. 

Although Stay With Me is the third book in a New Adult series it can also be read as a stand-alone novel. There are characters from previous books who pop up in this one but you don't need to have read the other books in order to understand what is going on. 

We first meet protagonist Calla in book two, 'Be With Me' but never really get to know much about her apart from that she has a scar on her face. I wanted to know more about her then so I was glad to see her get her own story. It's clear that Calla has been through a lot. She has a scar covering a lot of her face, she has burns covering a lot of her body and no real parents to speak of. Her mother is a complete flake and a massive screw up. Calla knows she's better off being away from her. 

The plot follows Calla as she is forced to go back to her home town. She doesn't want to go back but her mother has stolen all of her savings for college and she needs to find out what is going on. Calla's home town is a small town where everyone knows everyone else's business. Her mother is very well known in town but not for very good reasons at all. I really enjoyed learning about Calla's past and why certain things have helped her to become who she is in this book. 

As Calla begins to settle back in to a place she never wanted to go back to, fun and interesting characters make themselves known. There were so many people willing to help Calla even though they barely knew her. She quickly forms strong friendships with some people around her and what fantastic, colourful people they were. These characters lightened up the story which was idea because the main plot is quite heavy going and the subject matter is pretty serious. 

Then there is Jax. He knows more about Calla when she arrives than he should be he is always there for her when she needs someone. Jax comes with his own set of problems and a past but when it comes down to it, he pushes that aside to be there for Calla. He was such a sweetheart but also hard as hell when he needed to be. Jax had that soft side to him that made my heart melt but he's also intense and smoldering at the same time. What's not to love about that?

Although J. Lynn writes amazing characters, the best thing about this book was the plot. It was so different from anything else I've read recently and it was exciting as hell. Just when you think things have calmed down a bit and are better for Calla something else happens to mix things up again. The pacing was great because I never knew what to expect or when to expect things to happen. 

I honestly couldn't put this book down!