Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Tuesday Reviews Day - Books

Thank you all so much for all the beautiful and caring comments on my last post, and for messsages sent privately, regarding the passing of our last little doggy, Jack. They were so appreciated. Cody and Jack will be forever in our hearts and it comforts me to think that they are together now.

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I'm trying to get back into a routine so here I am with more Tuesday book reviews. I am currently at 62 books of my 80 book goal for the Goodreads Reading Challenge. I do love to read and I am a fairly fast reader, especially since getting my Kindle last year, so there's still hope I will meet the goal by the end of December.

On with the reviews - 

First up is - Have You Seen Luis Velez by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Raymond feels like he doesn't belong. He lives with his mother's new husband and step-siblings and sees his father and his new wife on weekends. His father's wife doesn't seem to like Raymond at all. His best friend has moved away and Raymond feels even more alone. He meets a 92 year old blind woman living in his building who seems persistent on asking anyone who passes if they have seen Luis Velez? Raymond also finds a stray cat that touches his heart and, worried about its safety, takes it to Mildred's apartment. Mildred, though reluctant at first, takes in the cat and a friendship starts to grow between her and Raymond.

It turns out that Luis Velez was Mildred's caretaker until he didn't show up one day leaving her to fend for herself. Raymond steps in to help her as he is concerned for Mildred and worries that she is giving up. So he sets himself a mission to track down Luis Velez.

My thoughts - I'm a big fan of Catherine Ryan Hyde's heartwarming stories. I shed quite a few tears throughout this book as Raymond crosses paths with lots of people in his quest to find Luis Velez. He and Millie become very close and their friendship helps him cope with his own feelings of not belonging. I gave this one a 5 star rating.

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Next up - The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

At the start, this book takes us to France in 1939. Vianne bids farewell to her husband when he leaves for the front never believing that the Nazis would invade France. She is devastated to find out she was wrong, especially when an enemy officer takes up residence in her home. She has a young daughter and she also has friends who are Jews so, when the Nazis start rounding up Jews for the camps, the situation reaches crisis point.  Vianne makes some high risk decisions which could put them all in imminent danger.

Vianne's sister, Isabelle, is only 18 years old and lives with Vianne until she can no longer cope with an enemy living in the house. Her outspoken attitude could prove dangerous for them all. The sisters have a bit of a rocky relationship and criticise each other. Isabelle ends up moving away and working undercover for the Resistance. 

My thoughts - I LOVED this book! I LIVED in this book! Both sisters had to deal with some horrific circumstances. The relationship with Isabelle and her father was non-existent but further things come to light on that score as the book progresses. The author portrays the heroic natures of 'ordinary' people in times of crisis. I cried, no, I sobbed, on quite a few occasions so be forewarned to have those tissues handy. It scored a 5 star rating from me!

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Lastly - Becky: The Heartbreaking Story of Becky Watts by Her Father Darren Galsworthy

In 2015, 16 year old Bristol schoolgirl, Becky Watts, was murdered and dismembered by her own stepbrother, Nathan Matthews. The crime shocked the nation and totally devastated her family. Darren, her father, writes this heartfelt and heart-wrenching account of Becky's life and the ultimate betrayal by a boy he had raised as his own. 

I had previously watched a crime video about Becky's murder on YouTube so, when this book showed up in my recommended reading list via Amazon Kindle, I bought it.  Understandably, Darren Galsworthy's world fell apart after learning of the unspeakable crime that stole his daughter from him. He was clearly a devoted and loving father.  Darren's book takes us back to the beginning, to before Becky was born.  He shares many fun and happy times that the family experienced together before it all came to a shocking end years later.

I felt heartbroken for Darren, his wife, Anjie (step mum to Becky), and for Becky's brother, Daniel. I gave this book 5 stars!  

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On that sad note, I will wrap up the reviews for this week.

Thursday, 17 October 2019

Goodbye to our precious boy, Jack

This year has been a tough one in more ways than one. I lost my fur-kid and best-friend, Cody, in February after a battle with Cushing's Disease. Then my LARS hip tendon surgery was in early May of which I'm now halfway through the recovery period of ten months. This was followed by Bradley's wisdom teeth removal surgery in June. I then came down with a severe chest infection that was very painful and debilitating which took two months to recover from. We then learned that my sister-in-law (ex-husband's sister) passed away on August 27th which came as quite a shock. Colleen was only a year younger than me. I still can't get my head around it. Cancer sucks!

Then on October 2nd, we said a very sad and tearful goodbye to our last little doggy, Jack. He was around 14 years old, 90% blind, had bad teeth and arthritis among other things, and he was suffering. We knew it was time but it was still a hard decision to make nonetheless.

Jack found his way to our door on my Dad's birthday back in September of 2010. I had been preparing for my daughter's upcoming wedding on October 2nd which turned out to be the date on which Jack passed away 9 years later. Jack was severely malnourished and riddled with fleas and ticks. I also felt Jack had suffered abuse to some degree because he became very fearful whenever voices were raised. He was also favouring his rump area which was very stiff. I remember wondering if he'd been kicked hard and/or injured. The vet felt the same. Jack had no microchip which made it near impossible to find his owner. We asked around, notified local vets and visited pet shops, leaving our details just in case but it was all to no avail. In the end, we figured we would keep him as the vet had advised. We didn't want him ending up at the high kill shelter because they give them only three days to be collected before they put them to sleep.

So Jack was then micro-chipped and officially became a much loved member of our family. The vet estimated his age to be between 4 and 6 years old which meant he was around 14 years old when he passed. He bonded quite well with Cody too.


Jack had clearly been an outdoor dog in his previous home as he was not house-trained. He learned quickly thanks mostly to watching Cody. I remember that Jack loved to play tug 'o war in his younger years. He would pick up a toy and continually nudge it into someone's leg until they played with him. He was also known as the 'squeak destroyer' because he would destroy every squeaker toy within seconds of getting it. Poor Cody loved his squeaker toys too and we did try to keep Jack away from Cody's favourite ones but we usually lost the battle.

Jack was clearly a Jack Russell terrier/Shih-Tzu mix, hence his name, and like the breed in general, he was very territorial. In his eyes, no other dogs, or people for that matter, were allowed to walk past our house even if they were on the opposite side of the road. He would bark and carry on like they were a threat to his home and family. Cody soon followed suit and we then had two barking maniacs whenever they spotted other dogs or people, and even cars parking, in view of our house.

Jack tended to be an all round family dog until the last five years of his life when he started to follow my eldest son, Bradley, around. He would even sleep in Bradley's room every night. He became Bradley's shadow as Cody had been mine. Jack definitely classified himself as Bradley's best friend and vice versa. He would even stand outside Brad's door waiting patiently to go in. He will be greatly missed, that's for sure.




Dearest Jack,
Thank you for all the many special moments you gave us. We were blessed to have you in our lives. No doubt, you are now running free of pain with your 'brother', Cody. We love you both so much and know that neither of you will ever be forgotten. Our hearts are forever stamped with your names. I hope to see you again some day. xo


Jack Lewis 
19/9/2005 approx. to 2/10/2019
Forever in our hearts

“A dog has no use for fancy cars, big homes, or designer clothes. A water logged stick will do just fine. A dog doesn't care if you're rich or poor, clever or dull, smart or dumb. Give him your heart and he'll give you his. How many people can you say that about? How many people can make you feel rare and pure and special? How many people can make you feel extraordinary?” — John Grogan
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