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.