Friday, 27 February 2015

New Adult Review: Harder by Robin York

Title: Harder
Author: Robin York
Series: Caroline and West #2
Acquired: Bought
Genre: New Adult
Publisher: Piatkus
Release date: 1st July 2014

Ever since West left Caroline hasn't been able to stop thinking about him, dreaming about him. But, when she wakes up the reality of him not being there hits her. Hard. Then one night West calls out of the blue and Caroline knows what she has to do. She has to go to the one place West never wanted her to see and help dig him out of whatever mess he's in. 

The first book in this series, Deeper, has been one of my favourite New Adult book to date and I instantly ordered to sequel after finishing it. Harder was a book I also read in one sitting. 

Harder takes place a little while after the end of Deeper, when Caroline is now all alone after West left her to go back home. She doesn't understand why he had to go and why he couldn't trust her with whatever was going on so she's left heartbroken and confused. On the night West calls her with desperation in his voice, she knows she has to go to him or she'll regret not trying to help him. 

West is a really stubborn character who doesn't want to accept help. His home back in Silt is far from perfect and he's not proud of where he's from or his upbringing. He has secrets about his past and he's been trying to protect Caroline from those things. When she does arrive in Silt he isn't the same guy anymore. Things have changed and he's harder than before and angry at the world. 

Due to West's situation in Silt we get to see a completely different sides of both characters. West's life has completely changed and he's doing something he feels like he has to do. Caroline is desperate to help but when West pushes her away, she has no idea what to do or what to say. I really enjoyed seeing West and Caroline in a different situation other than the getting to know you phase they were in before. This book is the true test for them both. 

One aspect of Harder that I really enjoyed was discovering more about West's family, his little sister Frankie in particular. She's the reason West is back at home and doing things he doesn't really want to do but as her big brother, sometimes he doesn't see exactly what's best for her. Caroline is a great influence when it comes to Frankie and I loved seeing her dig her heels into West's problems. 

Both West and Caroline's development is immense in Harder. In Deeper Caroline had a lot going on with ex-boyfriend Nate and the naked pictures he spread of her and before, she was quite a reserved and quiet kind of girl, not ready to face the world. Harder gives Caroline the chance to fight for something she believes in. She learns to find her own voice instead of letting others speak for her and she really came into her own. 

Harder is a fantastic sequel in an amazing series. The whole series is a roller coaster of emotion, it's hard hitting, emotional and beautifully written. I cannot recommend this series highly enough and I cannot wait for Robin York's next release. 

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

New Adult Review: Near and Far by Nicole Williams

Title: Near and Far
Author: Nicole Williams
Series: Lost and Found #2
Acquired: Bought
Genre: New Adult
Publisher: Nicole Williams
Release date: 28th July 2013

Jesse Walker had no doubt that he could make it work with Rowen Sterling even if they were living in different places but he soon comes to realise that long distance relationships are not easy and he had planned. Rowen is away studying art which is her dream while he's left back at home working on the family ranch. 

While Jesse spent all summer working on saving Rowen from her demons, he didn't bank on his own resurfacing. With space and time separating him and Rowen, Jesse has far too much time to think and the thoughts in his head could mean the end of everything... if he lets them! 

Near and Far is the second book in this series so this review may contain minor spoilers for Lost and Found (book 1). 

Jesse and Rowen went through quite a lot in Lost and Found before they could find their happy place together. However, at the end of that book Rowen was about to head off to college and follow her dream of being an artist, leaving Jesse back at the ranch working with his family. 

Long distance relationships are hard work but Rowan and Jesse are doing their best to make it work. Either he will go and see her in Seattle or she will go back home to see him. Although they get to see each other quite often it's not as much as either of them would like. They don't like being apart and soon the cracks in their relationship begin to show. The distance apart and time spent away from one another takes its toll on them both. 

Near and Far is told through alternating chapters so both Rowen and Jesse do get their own voice but I felt like this book was a lot more about Jesse than it was Rowan and the first book was the other way around but this was a good thing. Jesse was seemingly very together before and it was as though he had to be strong for both him and Rowen. However, in Near and Far we get to see more of what he has been through in life and the things he struggles with. Jesse's character comes a hell of a long way in this book but not without going through a lot first. 

This time around it's Rowen's turn to be strong for Jesse. Well, she tries to be anyway. She has a lot going on in her own life and being at art school in Seattle so she's not always completely clear on what the best thing to do is. She knows that she loves Jesse but is torn between following her dreams and following him. Then there are a few other obstacles thrown in her way for her to figure out as well. 

The plot, however predictable at times, was certainly enjoyable. There were enough twists and turns throughout to keep me guessing a little bit and the pace exciting. As I said, there was some predictability but not the whole way through. I also really liked the addition of new characters in Near and Far such as Rowen's roommate Alex. She was hilarious and highly inappropriate most of the time but it made her really fun to read about and she also helped to lighten up some of the more serious moments. 

Near and Far is not only a love story for Rowen and Jesse but a story about coming to terms with life, making good decisions and learning to trust the people around you. I can't say that I liked as quite as much as Lost and Found but it will still a really good read. 

Monday, 16 February 2015

Young Adult Review: What If by Rebecca Donovan

Title: What If
Author: Rebecca Donovan
Series: N/A
Acquired: Review
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Penguin
Release date: 22nd January 2015

Cal Logan moved on since high school. He's no longer the skinny, geeky looking kid but now has a new life away at college. The day he sees Nicole Bentley he cannot believe his eyes. No one has seen or heard from her since graduation. 

The girl is not Nicole though, she's Nyelle Preston; daring, bold and everything that Nicole isn't. Cal can't help but want to get to know Nyelle better seeing as he's had a crush on Nicole since they were both children but she's keeping secrets and Cal can't figure out why. 

I'm sure we've all got those friends we went to school with, were pretty close to and then grew apart from. I know I have and I've often wondered what happened to them. What If is a story about friendship and how things can change whether it be due to moving away or just finding different friends. What If tells the story of four childhood friends who live close to one another. As children they are inseparable but due to various things, they drift apart. 

Cal is the main narrator as the story really does have more to do with him. He's away at college and has stayed best friends with Rae since they were children. Richelle moved away and they didn't keep in touch but Nicole is a bit of a mystery. Cal had a crush on her for a long time and it never really stopped, even though he hasn't spoken to her for years. When he sees someone that looks exactly like her but acts differently, he can't help but wonder if it really is her and something happened between graduation and the present day. The girl goes by Nyelle though and is nothing like the Nicole Cal used to know.  

While a large part of the book is spent with Cal and Nyelle in the present, there are also flashbacks to the group's childhood through chapters narrated by each of the four characters. I really liked both aspects of What If as it was important to learn what happened to everyone over the course of many years. Children change, grow, turn into teenagers and learn different things about life that affects who they are and what they do. Cal, Nicole, Rae and Richelle are all really different people with different personalities so I enjoyed figuring out why they all became friends in the first place. 

Another thing I loved about this book was Cal and Nyelle together. Cal thinks Nyelle is Nicole and he can't get the idea out of his head but he has no way of proving it and Rae thinks he's insane. So, Cal attempts to get to know Nyelle to figure out if he's right or not and she has a completely different personality to Nicole. Nyelle is impulsive, daring, fun and crazy and Cal doesn't know what to make of her at all. Both Cal and Nyelle are really fun characters to read about especially as they get to know one another. They get up to some really silly and crazy things and it gave the story a great feel to it. 

What If is a lot more than the things I have written about in this review but writing about them would really spoil the story for others who want to read it but haven't yet. As a fan of Rebecca Donovan's other books I wasn't disappointed at all with this one. What If is super fun coming of age story but a mystery to try to solve added in. I couldn't have enjoyed this one more!

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

New Adult Review: Breaking Nova by Jessica Sorensen

Title: Breaking Nova
Author: Jessica Sorensen
Series: Nova #1
Acquired: Bought
Genre: New Adult
Publisher: Sphere
Release date: 9th October 2014

Nova Reed once had everything she thought she ever wanted but then it was all taken away. Since that day, Nova has struggled. She struggles to live, struggles to feel anything. She doesn't know why it happened and she doesn't understand. 

Quinton Carter has a second chance at life, even if he doesn't think he deserves it. He's sworn to never allow himself to be happy again but then he meets Nova. He knows he should stay away from her, knows he isn't good enough but he just can't help himself. There's something about Nova that makes him want to feel alive again. 

Jessica Sorensen is one of my go to authors. If I'm in a rut with reading or I just haven't had the time for a while, I pick up one of her books and I remember what I've been missing. She did it again for me with Breaking Nova. 

This review is a hard one to write because I don't want to give away too much about the plot. 

Nova once had a wonderful life and she was perfectly happy but her boyfriend Landon was not. The day he goes away is the day that Nova struggles to live. The book begins with her and Landon and the lead up to everything going wrong. The beginning is also an introduction to Quinton and how his life also go to be the way is for the rest of the book. Two major events happen within the first few pages and they're very dramatic. These two things are what shape the main characters and it was a good way of opening the story. 

Nova and Quinton happen to meet through a friend but they soon become inseparable. They become drawn to one another due to the events of their past. Nova wants to get to know Quinton but he is very guarded and secretive. There are things he doesn't want Nova knowing about his past no matter how much she tries to get it out of him. This is only book 1 in the series so as far as character development goes, there isn't as much as maybe some would hope for. It's clear from this book that Nova and Quinton have a lot to work on and that will come later on. However, Breaking Nova gives us glimpses of what each character could become in time. 

Although most of Jessica Sorensen's books have darker themes this one goes that little bit  
further. I have read other reviews of this book that were quite negative about the use of drugs throughout. I actually really liked this about the book. The situations characters were put in were real and not glamourised at all. Never are drugs shown to be a good thing but instead they're used as a way of coping which I can imagine people doing in real life. Quinton especially wants to be able to forget and drugs are his way of doing this. 

As plots go, Breaking Nova isn't the most exciting book in the world but it is deep, meaningful and one hell of a roller coaster of emotion. Both Nova and Quinton are heartbreaking at times because I just wanted to see them both happy. They struggle so much with themselves, life and each other and that's a lot for any nineteen year olds to have to deal with. 

If I had one little niggle about this book it would be Quinton and it really is a tiny niggle. I really wanted him to be able to see things clearly and to see that what he thought was wrong. His 'I'm not good enough' speeches got to be a little too much for me at times and I could have done with a little bit less of this. 

Overall, Breaking Nova was a really good read and I can't wait to see what happens with Nova and Quinton next. 

Friday, 6 February 2015

We're finally getting somewhere

Last April John and I moved into our very first proper home together and since then it's all been a bit manic. It only feels like we moved in 2 minutes ago though and sometimes I can't believe that we own this big, old Victorian house. The previous owners really let things go though and it needs a lot of work and a fair bit of money putting into it. John and I don't have much spare cash but we're saving as much as we can each month to get something done every year. 

Last year I spent a lot of time beginning to clear the massively overgrown garden. I got a good chunk done but I need to do a hell of a lot more this summer. I plan on making my own raised beds out of decking boards and attempting to level out the ground. Oh won't that be fun?

It's only February and we've had some major work done on two of our bedrooms. We have a four bedroom house but one room is going to be a shower room eventually and our bedroom isn't too bad right now so we started on the spare bedrooms. We have had all of the woodwork ripped out and replaced; door liners, frames and doors as well as the skirting boards. We've also had both rooms completely re-plastered and picture rails will be going up next week and then I can start decorating. I'm only going to be doing 1 room at the moment though as I'm not sure what the other one will be yet. 

I feel as though we're really making some progress now with the house even if it in two rooms we don't even use at the moment. 

We also have a new addition to the family. Jackson is our new German Shepherd puppy and he's a bit of a monster sometimes which is why we aren't doing up the rooms we do use yet. 

New Adult Review: Be With Me by J. Lynn

Title: Be With Me
Author: J. Lynn
Series: Wait For You #2
Acquired: Bought
Genre: New Adult
Publisher: Harper
Release date: 13th February 2014

Jace and Teresa grew up as friends but only by chance. Jace is Teresa's brother's best friend and is off limits. She knows that. He knows that. But, one kiss can change everything. 

Both Jace and Teresa are now in college but Teresa has never forgotten that one kiss. Circumstances force them together again and they both know they should fight their urges and attraction but will they be able to?

It was quite some time ago that I read the first book in this series, Wait For You, but this one follows different characters so it didn't really matter. I like a series where books can also be read as a stand-alone. 

Teresa is Cam's (from book 1) little sister and for years she has had a massive crush on his best friend Jace. She never thought anything could or would happen between them because she didn't think he felt the same way. Then, one steamy kiss made her question what she believed. Then, life got in the way and they both went off to college, her a bit later than Jace due to the age difference. Teresa was supposed to be a dancer but an injury forced her to rethink her future and that is what put them on the same campus. 

Teresa is such a strong and fiery character but she has no problem admitting that Jace is her weakness. The start of the book addresses the kiss they had a while back and what it meant but when Jace tries to tell Teresa is meant nothing, she calls him out on lying to her. She knows him better than he thinks and she knows he's trying to fob her off. I loved that about her. She wasn't afraid to say what she thought when it came to Jace and she'd obviously grown up a lot since he last saw her. 

Jace on the other hand was a bit of a hard character to read at times. He was so hot and cold with Teresa so I never really knew whether he was coming or going. However, I think that reflects the way he felt about Teresa. He did like her but knew it was wrong because of being best friends with her brother. He knew how Cam would feel so he tries to stay away. Jace also has his guard up around Teresa. There's things she doesn't know about him and things he doesn't want her getting close to. 

What I really loved about this book was the friendship between Teresa and Jace. For years they had been really good friends so there is none of this love at first sight rubbish here. Teresa and Jace know quite a lot about each other and clearly care about each other as friends first. The attraction between Teresa and Jace is instant though as soon as they see each other again. The fight to resist eventually gets too hard and they do get together. That's not a spoiler though as there is so much more to their story than that.

Between the character development, passion and intensity that Teresa and Jace have going for them, Be With Me is a fantastic book. The plot has so many surprises and there is no way you can see some of them coming. Some are a little more obvious as the story goes on but others shocked me. Teresa and Jace have a lot to overcome in this book and I really enjoyed reading about their journey together. The next book in the series is about a different character again but I want more of Teresa and Jace!