Our Trip To The Beach (Furry Friday #2)

20160918_123323Well haven’t our little bunch had a wonderful month indeed! They’ve been on plenty of interesting walks, met some new friends and had a lot of fun overall, but the highlight was their trip to Brancaster beach (England)!

They went with some friends and although Hunter doesn’t often appreciate the joys of the beach, he still had a lot of fun! Jessie always loves the beach; sand to dig in and water to splash in, what more could a pesky terrier want?!

So what did they get up to? Well, Jessie dug a lot and rubbed her face all over the sand…Hunter ran around and attacked a lot of seaweed like some kind of monster and Shadow climbed and dug a lot of holes too! There were a lot of zoomies and a lot of charging about across the beach, and we even saw some seals!

Our squad’s friends had lots of fun too! Coco got covered in sand and enjoyed splashing around in the water, Hector had a good lie-down in the pools and looked very smug whilst doing it and an elderly greyhound called Lucy found a new wave of energy and flew around the beach like she was a puppy!

At the end, we all had ice creams (including the dogs!) but I wasn’t quick enough with my camera so there are no photos of dogs enjoying ice cream, sorry about that!

We’ll see you next month with the third Furry Friday!

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September Favourites (2016)

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This month, I started my second year of college but also spent a lot of time doing thin
gs I enjoy! One of them is listening to music and there have been a few albums that I’ve been listening to quite obsessively…The best and most listened to album is definitely Death Of A Bachelor by Panic! At The Disco because it’s just a beautiful album. I saw them live in May and it was amazing and honestly the best experience, and it gave me a much better appreciation for the songs and the way they’re put together. It’s just beautiful, buy it or illegally download it; Brendon Urie doesn’t care…

I also went to see Suicide Squad and having not been a comic fan, I wasn’t angry at it like everyone else seems to be, and I didn’t have any expectations so in my eyes, it’s my new favourite film. Harley Quinn is insane and I love her (everyone does though!) but I also really like Deadshot because of his back story and the way he handles it. I liked Suicide Squad so much that I bought a Harley Quinn Pop Vinyl figure and I have a couple posters from the film. What can I say; I’m a quick fan girl!

My favourite book of September was easily Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall because it was a beautiful but honest explanation of OCD/anxiety/agoraphobia and lots of it was helpful, if not comforting, for me. You can read my full review of it here: Review: Undsnapchat-5330640036923931416er Rose-Tainted Skies (Louise Gornall).

September and October are my favourite months in terms of weather because they’re usually not too hot or too cold, and September is the official start of autumn so I am very happy to embrace that as soon as I have the chance. So when the seasonal drinks appear in Costa/Starbucks, I am right there, ready to drink the heck out of them! I’m not a coffe-drinker usually (I drink some at home, but not quite brave enough to buy one!), but I do love a good hot chocolate, so the gingerbread hot chocolates are my slight obsession, thank you very much Costa!

Since the end of July, I haven’t worn make-up and have been trying to take better care of my skin, but I do like to try cheaper versions of branded products, because they often are at least just as good. I’ve been using Superdrug’s Vitamin E Micellar Cleanser and it’s so good. It feels so gentle (my skin is very sensitive!) and it smells nice but not too chemically-manufactured, and it has made my skin much softer and happier.20160922_172324

I’ve also been loving Zoella’s Soak Opera bath soak/shower cream because it smells amazing and feels so soft on my skin, I just love it, okay? On the theme of youtubers, Joe Sugg’s Username series is very popular with me at the moment! I love the story and artwork, they’re just great! I was so excited when Username: Regenerated arrived and I spent the night reading it of course (it’s amazing, a review will be coming in October some time! In the meantime, you can read my review of the first in the series, Username: Evie here: Review: Username: Evie (Joe Sugg)

So that’s it for this month! Hope you have a fantastic October filled with tricks and treats and pumpkins and cuddly blankets and hot chocolates etc etc…

Review: The 100 (Kass Morgan)

20160923_203442Title: The 100

Author: Kass Morgan

Publisher: Hodder

Release: Out now!

Genre: Sci-fi, dystopia

Which animal is similar to this book? For me, this book was a rainbow boa which is a type of snake found in Central/South America. It’s not commonly kept as a pet but some people do (it’s legal, just not very popular due to their costs and they’re also rarely in pet shops/bred in the UK). However, they’re lovely, affectionate snakes and will make fantastic companions to the right people. For me, this book fit that since I very rarely read science fiction, and often find it too complicated or dull to read, but I loved this and it became a book I was quite obsessed with. So, for me, I expected to be scared off by the language and descriptions I find too complicated, but I enjoyed it thoroughly.

The blurb says: No one has set foot on Earth in centuries – until now. Ever since a nuclear war, humanity has lived on spaceships far above Earth’s radioactive surface. Now, one hundred juvenile delinquents – considered expendable by society – are being sent on a dangerous mission: to re-colonize the planet. It could be their second chance at life… or it could be a suicide mission. Clarke was arrested for treason, though she’s haunted by the memory of what she really did Wells, the Chancellor’s son, came to Earth for the girl he loves – but will she ever forgive him? Reckless Bellamy fought his way onto the transport pod to protect his sister, the other half of the only siblings in the universe. And Glass managed to escape back onto the ship, only to find that life there is just as dangerous as she feared it would be on Earth. Confronted with a savage land and haunted by secrets from their pasts, the hundred must fight to survive. They were never meant to be heroes, but they may be mankind’s last hope.

Sounds fabulous, doesn’t it? The story follows the four mentioned in the blurb (Clarke, Wells, Bellamy and Glass) and the book is told from their four perspectives, which made it much more interesting and showed how their lives were linked despite living separately. I also liked the way that the characters’ stories were revealed gradually and told in italics to separate it from the present story-line.

I absolutely love the characters! Clarke is my favourite, because I wish I was as confident as her around blood/injuries, but I appreciate Bellamy’s courage for sneaking onto Earth to look after his sister as in the environment they’re in, that takes real bravery! I also really like the premise of the book as it’s scarily realistic in the future, what with all the countries armed with nuclear weapons ready to be used, so it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch for that to happen in the future.

However, I’m not the brightest bulb in the chandelier and I didn’t think to research it, so I didn’t know it was a series of books, so now I need to buy the others…so if anyone wants to send me the last three, that’d be cool… I didn’t start to watch the series until I finished the first book, and obviously I haven’t read the others, so when the first one ended on a huge cliff-hanger, I was annoyed at myself for not having the rest to instantly read because now, not knowing what happens, will annoy me a lot! So be prepared to 20160802_160912buy them all because I imagine the others end in cliff-hangers too!

All in all, I enjoyed it a lot, which, as I said, is rare because I don’t often like science fiction, but this was a very good book! I would give it 8 paw prints out of 10 and I would also recommend that everyone reads it!

Review: Username: Evie (Joe Sugg)

20160915_125625Title: Username: Evie

Author: Joe Sugg

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Release: Out now!

Genre: Graphic novel, sci-fi

Which animal is similar to this book? This book is a graphic novel, so obviously there are a lot of illustrations and they are beautiful. The artwork is extraordinary, so I would compare it to a saluki, which is a breed of dog known to be stunning (and they know it too!).They’re also very intelligent, as is this book since it’s so cleverly done and the dialogue is also very witty and funny. Salukis are also very well-known to be hilarious with a lot of what they do!

The blurb says: Like anyone who feels they don’t fit in, Evie dreams of a place of safety. When times are tough, all she wants is a chance to escape from reality and be herself. But unknown to Evie her beloved Father has been working tirelessly to create a virtual idyll just for her, and life as she knows it is about to be altered forever. Could this be the perfect world Evie has longed for? Or does the hardest journey still lie ahead…

I actually can’t say I ever read graphic novels, just because I don’t ever feel drawn to them, but I’m a Joe Sugg fan so, of course, I bought it, not knowing what to expect. It turns out it’s amazing and I loved it a lot more than I thought I would. Having been bullied as a kid, I can relate to that feeling of wanting somewhere to go to be alone and to feel safe, so the plot really touched me in that sense.

The story follows Evie, a young outcast girl who ends up in a safe world her dad created for her to give her somewhere to escape to. When the world has a negative influence, everything about it changes and suddenly it’s more dangerous than safe and Evie has to find a way out, as well as finding herself in the process. It’s lovely and full of action and I love that it isn’t blatantly aimed towards a certain gender as a lot of graphic novels can be (action directed at boys and magic/witches aimed at girls). Although it is packed full of action, it’s told from a girl’s point of view and for that reason, I think anyone20160804_163103 would enjoy this!

I love that it’s also quite a short read since there aren’t a huge amount of words, but the illustrations are so detailed that you could spend a while looking at them!

I would recommend this to anyone and I can’t wait for the release of Username: Regenerated which comes out this Thursday (22.9.16)! I can’t find any problems with this book, so it gets 10 out of 10 paw prints!

Review: The DUFF (Kody Keplinger)

20160915_124307Title: The DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend)

Author: Kody Keplinger

Publisher: Hodder

Release: Out now!

Genre: Contemporary

Which animal is similar to this book? I would say that a dolphin is very similar to this book, because dolphins are extremely intelligent and this book is very witty. They’re also very funny in the things they do, and this book made me laugh (out loud, which is very rare!) so I would go with a dolphin.

The blurb says: Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper knows she’s not the hottest girl at school, but when school jock and resident moron Wesley casually refers to her as a Duff – Designated Ugly Fat Friend – the gloves are off! If there’s a thin line between love and hate then Bianca has crossed it. She just never thought she was capable of breaking anyone’s heart…

This book is a lovely mix between a story of self-confidence, friendship and also romance. It encapsulates high school life well and the voices of the characters are so realistic and easy to relate to. At that age, it’s easy for people to feel not good enough because of the few people that are lucky enough to have perfect skin, or that have enough money to be able to go to a gym and therefore have the perfect body…especially if you feel you have none of that. The book is blunt and talks about how everyone is a DUFF for someone else in some way and that’s fine because it just means you look different and maybe don’t fit the typical beauty standards.

It’s well-written, funny and honest about life at that age. The romance isn’t the main story although it is good to read (I don’t normally enjoy romance/romantic plot lines20160802_160912) and very realistic. I like how the book plays with the ideas of hatred/love being such close feelings which can cross over, because I find that interesting.

Overall, this book deserves 8 out of 10 paw prints as I’ve read it so many times and I loved the film too! I would really recommend it!

UKYACX Blog Tour Post: Q&A With Martin Griffin

I’m very lucky to be involved with the UKYACX Blog Tour this year, I went to the UKYA Extravaganzas the past two years and loved it! This year, it’s based in Neukyacx-logo-with-newcastle-detailswcastle and to celebrate it, two blog tours are running at the same time during the run-up to the actual event (one for YA and one for MG books). Today I’m lucky enough to have Martin Griffin on my blog to talk about libraries and the importance of reading. His latest YA novel, Lifers, was out in April 2016 so you should definitely go and buy it! Here he is, discussing Lifers and some various questions related to libraries and reading.

How would you summarise Lifers?
Good question! Lifers is my near-future government-conspiracy prison-break adventure. I believe everyone’s got a near-future government-conspiracy prison-break adventure in them, and Lifers is mine.

lifersI wanted to write about how spaces imprison us, but how choices do too. Sometimes we make decisions which trap us. That’s what happens to my main character Preston; he sends a cruel text message and that mistake closes in on him. We all make these mistakes, but some of us let them define us and some of us are strong enough to move on. In the middle of the book we visit this dreadful futuristic prison called Axle 6. In there, some children become wild, and some retain their humanity. Preston has to choose which of them he will rescue, poor kid. I put him through some pretty terrible stuff…

When did you first get into reading and which book/s made you realise you wanted to be a writer?
I remember two things in particular. One: I was crazy into Doctor Who, and discovered the novelisations after watching the TV show. I ate those books up – read every single one I could get my hands on.

The second; a bunch of choose-your-own adventure books called Fighting Fantasy. You know the type – “If you want to turn left down the passageway, turn to 352. If you would rather turn right, go to 75.” I read and re-read them, making maps of the locations, adjusting the rules so they played better, trying to design my own. Pretty soon I realised they could be improved in terms of plot, character and motivation, and that started me on the journey towards telling my own stories.

How did libraries impact on your life as a young person?
I was lucky. Our living room had two banks of bookcases to browse and I spent lots of time just examining and handling books. To start with they all seemed super-weird to me; strange titles, bizarre cover art, complex vocabulary. But I read the blurb, read opening chapters, read the critics comments on the back covers and just got to know how novels work, what they’re for, how exciting they are.

In that sense, I didn’t need libraries though I still loved it when the mobile library van came to our village. But there are millions of young people – and having been a teacher I’ve spent a lot of time with them – who don’t really know what books are for. It’s sounds ludicrous but it’s true.

And those children, the vast majority of whom are bright sparky young people, are trapped by their circumstances and find it harder to develop the fluency and confidence of linguistic expression that’s going to get them good qualifications and a goal and purpose or a job they love.

Anyone shutting down a library service should lie awake at night aghast at what they’ve done.

If it were up to you, how would you encourage young people to use libraries?
Well, both examples I gave earlier – Doctor Who and Fighting Fantasy – were of books that were part of a bigger series. The same cast of characters, a lot of the same writers. Some were even numbered on their spines so you could collect them. In that sense, I knew what to look for next – what I liked.

When you know nothing, choosing that first book is ridiculously hard. You don’t know what you like, so you go random. And if the first book isn’t that great, it becomes part of a narrative that goes ‘100% of the books I tried were rubbish’. If you don’t like the second you try either… well, you can see where that ends up. I’ve watched it happen.

We need to be able to help people through those early stages. Great librarians do that. We need more great librarians, not fewer.

Do you feel that with the increase in media and with the easier access to it (YouTube, Netflix) young people are losing an interest in books?
Emphatically no. Those platforms are storytelling platforms too. Most kids aren’t on Netflix or Youtube because they love the easy access to handy information. Most of us are there for the stories. If someone tells me they don’t like books, it’s because they haven’t found the one that’s going to change their world yet.

Platforms like Netflix make finding new stories easy. They let us sample them, they tell them in thrilling little chunks. We should design online spaces where kids can do that with books too.

Finally, are there any books that you feel all young people should read and some point?Again – emphatically no! There’s this myth, maybe our education system feeds it, that there are books we should all like, or should all read. There aren’t. I could run off a list of five books that I currently love – and I will in a sec! – but I’m not saying everyone should read them.

On the other hand, if you want to study Literature; if you’re going to choose it at A level for example, that’s different. You need to know about and have read particular books if you’re going to have a real-life official qualification in the topic. (People don’t study Chemistry and say, “But can I skip the periodic table bit? I don’t like that.”)

So if you’re over fifteen and want a tense-as-hell, dark and super-thrilling read, go for these books in this order (they start YA and move into adult fiction):


Five books I’ve enjoyed recently

  1. Silver by Chris Wooding
  2. The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood and Co book one) by Jonathan Stroud
  3.  Locke and Key (Part One: Welcome to Lovecraft) by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez
  4. Into the Woods by Tana French
  5. The Secret History by Donna Tarttcqpjovtwcaqd0co

Oh – and I’m looking forward to UKYAX – I’ll see you there!

Thanks to Martin Griffin for his time and for the great answers to those questions, as well as some good recommendations for books! For more information on his books, check out his website at http://www.martingriffinbooks.com/about.html and for more information on the UKYACX event, follow @UKYACX on twitter. Click the link below to check out the blog tour poster!

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Review: Under Rose-Tainted Skies (Louise Gornall)

20160823_161617Title: Under Rose-Tainted Skies

Author: Louise Gornall

Publisher: Chicken House

Release: Out now!

Genre: Contemporary, mental health

Which animal is similar to this book? This book is a Scarlet Macaw Parrot in a land of African Grey Parrots. It stands out immensely against all the other books tackling mental health in a way which is meant to be seen as useful or easy to relate to, when there are a lot which will only romanticise it and make it seem appealing. This book shines in comparison to those and just radiates greatness, as do scarlet macaws since they are often perceived as snooty and seem to know they’re the prettiest parrots. However, they’re also one of the most sensitive species of parrots and will often pluck their own feathers (a sign of stress/worry) at just the slightest change in environment. This book resembles that in the way the main character, Norah, is so unstable and easily stressed.

The blurb says: I’m Norah and my life happens within the walls of my house, where I live with my mom, and this evil overlord called Agoraphobia. Everything’s under control. It’s not rosy – I’m not going to win any prizes for Most Exciting Life or anything, but at least I’m safe from the outside world, right? Wrong. This new boy, Luke, just moved in next door, and suddenly staying safe isn’t enough. If I don’t take risks, how will I ever get out – or let anyone in?

I don’t even know where to start reviewing this, I’m sure it’s all been said… This book made me see my own problems in a new way, which are small compared to Norah’s struggles since I don’t have agoraphobia, but it gave me new ideas of coping methods, as well as the promise that there are ways to handle it and eventually recover from it. It shows mental illness in a way which highlights every single negative, even the not so glamorous ones, which can often be overlooked in the media where they’ll show someone with OCD to have to fold paper perfectly in a straight line and that’s it. OCD is more than that and it’s difficult for people who don’t have it to fully understand it and they will often treat it as something that can just be ignored or that you can just ‘get over it’. I love that this book shows Norah’s ways of coping and how they often don’t work, and it shows the different ways her OCD and agoraphobia affect her in her life.

The characters are so likeable, especially Norah; I wish I could be her best friend or sister to be honest! I felt sympathy for her and also felt like if she was real, I would connect with her so well because we have so much in common and there aren’t many book characters I can connect to like that.

This is the kind of book I feel to be truly important and I would suggest that anyone with a mental illness (or anyone who knows someone with one) should read this. I genuinely feel that this book, and others like it, should be on future reading lists for GCSE’s and A Levels because it’s so informative, well-written and overall a good story. Or it should at least be suggested to all people of that age since a lot of people suffering with mental illness will develop it at this age and won’t know how to handle it. A book like this, making them feel more normal, teaching them ways to cope and giving them a better way to understand/explain what they’re feeling would be fantastically useful to them. I know that at that age, when my issues first developed, I felt like a freak but if I’d read a book like this, it probably would’ve changed the way I saw myself and the way I handle20160804_163103d it.

Obviously, I thought this book was amazing, so it gets a solid 10 out of 10 paw prints and I recommend that everyone read this, especially if you suffer from some kind of mental illness because it honestly will help, despite not being a ‘self-help book’.

Charity Fun Day

11111111111111111111111111111111111111As I mentioned before, my family’s part of a Facebook group/charity which helps to raise the status of sighthounds as pets rather than as just hunting companions/racers which is often what they’re expected to be used for. We got our first lurcher in 2011 and we’ve been asked if we ‘work’ or ‘race’ him more times than I can count by strangers on walks who see his lean body and well-toned muscles and assume he’s not a pet. This is why the group is needed and makes a difference.

FB_IMG_1471155686674On August 14th 2016, we held a fundraising fun day to raise money to send to other charities who need the money for vets’ bills, rehoming costs, transport costs and feed etc for the time they spend in kennels. Wait until the end to see how much we actually raised…

Me and my younger sister held a treat-baking competition called “The Greyt British Bark-Off” and we had a few entries but not very many, so next year we plan to spread the word a bit more and maybe make it a bit more appealing with a cake category possibly. Our stand raised about £30 (I think it was £31.50) because we also sold homemade dog treats.

There was20160814_111441 a lot of variety; raffles, dog portrait artists, tombolas, a dog 20160814_143557show, a ‘have a go’ agility course, food stalls, sausage bobbing and lots of things to buy! I bought a nice blue collar and a blue tag collar for Hunter from the Pink FlFB_IMG_1471285786926uffy Kitty Boutique (http://www.pinkfluffykitty.co.uk/) which he obviously loves because he looks so handsome in them!

 

Hunter’s friends, Hector and Coco, came too and it was even Coco’s 7th birthday so we made her a liver birthday cake and gave her a badge, so here is a photo of her wearing it/eating her cake…

I even ca111111111111111111111111111111ught a venonat before the show started, so it was a good day from the start! After the fun day, after selling cakes, dog coats, bandanas, badges, kids’ membership packs, t-shirts/hoodies and a lot more too, we managed to raise £2000 and it’s still counting as people continue to buy the t-shirts etc!

We beat last year’s total raised, and next year we hope to beat this year’s! If you’re interested in the group, search “Leicester Sighthounds” on Facebook and the page should pop up!

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Photo credit: Hartstone Photography