Renee Conoulty: 2014

Books

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

My books - 2014

Hey Everyone!

Well, we have reached the last day of 2014. I took some time to look back over what I read this year. I track all the books I read on Goodreads. Here is a link to all the books I read in 2014.

  • This year I read a total of 63,562 pages over 209 books.
  • About 60% of them were new to me authors. 
  • About 17% of them were published in 2014.
I read a huge variety of books. Here are some of my favourites that I read in 2014.

Adult fiction
Children's fiction

I'm ready to turn the page on 2014 and see how many great books 2015 has for me.


Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Forecast by Jane Tara

The Shakespeare women were what the locals of Greenwich Village called “gifted.”

Sure, Rowie’s predictions were helpful for forecasting the weather or finding someone’s lost grandkid. But when it came to love, her abilities were more like a curse. Why bother dating a guy if you knew at the first kiss he was destined for some blonde from New Jersey? Nope, Rowie was much happier bringing together the people she knew were a perfect match. Until the day she kissed the man whose future she couldn’t foresee.



Hey! Here's my review.

Corny romance full of nice characters who all live happily ever after. Fun to read but very predictable. 

★★
Purchase links  
Amazon | Kobo icon

Monday, 29 December 2014

For Valentine's by Kat & Stone Bastion

This steamy nightcap novella, the fifth book in the No Weddings Series, takes us on a post-happily-ever-after adventure as Cade attempts to rewrite Valentine’s Day with his new wife, Hannah.

Wedded bliss. After everything Hannah and I have been through, we finally have it. Yet dark dreams from my troubled past continue to escalate as we approach Valentine’s Day.

Determined to fill our present with great memories that overtake all others, I plan a trip to New York—down to every scheduled detail. Yeah, there will even be a musical.

But Mother Nature has a few tricks up her sleeve. And the universe keeps throwing us curveballs…

*** PLEASE NOTE ***
Scorching (explicit) sex scenes.
Fire extinguisher highly recommended.



Hey! Here's my review.

This is the 5th book in the No Weddings series. Told from Cade's point of view, it is basically Cade and Hannah's dirty weekend. They steam up the windows and pretty much everywhere else they go. The epilogue wraps it all up nicely and let's us know that they are living happily ever after.

I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

★★★

My reviews for books 1 & 2
My reviews for books 3 & 4
This book is out now. Kat and Stone are not just in it for the money. Book one is available free. The rest of the series are only a few dollars each and a portion of the profits go to charity.

Purchase links
Amazon Kobo icon

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Goodreads reviewer

Hey Everyone!

I started reviewing books on Goodreads before I began blogging.  I usually review books on Goodreads first, then copy the review here.  

I aim to keep my reviews short and simple.  I don't generally give in-depth reviews. I figure you can read the synopsis yourself, I don't need to rehash the plot. I make sure I don't post spoilers. A couple of paragraphs usually cover what I want to say.

For more in-depth discussion, I often participate in Buddy Reads and Book of the Month discussions in Goodreads groups such as NBRC.

It was the requirement to review books for NetGalley that first prompted me to start posting reviews. I'd never seen myself as qualified to write a review before. Since writing reviews, I realised that everyone is qualified to write a review - it's your personal opinion. Everyone has an opinion.

Some of my reviews have even made it to the "NetGalley members say" section, such as Still Alice and Reluctantly Charmed.  Now I love stopping to think about a book after I have finished.  I also love when people "like" my review our "+1" my blog post. It's that little bit of feedback that lets you know someone is listening.

I was excited to see that this week, for the first time, I had enough "likes" on my Goodreads reviews to make it into the Best 100 reviewers in Australia for the week (number 84 at the time of posting) .  I  have been in the top Top 100 reviewers in Australia few times for the number of reviews I post (number 66 at the time of posting).

If you want to check out all my reviews on Goodreads, you can find them here.



Saturday, 27 December 2014

We Should Hang Out Sometime by Josh Sundquist

A bright, poignant, and deeply funny autobiographical account of coming of age as an amputee cancer survivor, from Josh Sundquist: Paralympic ski racer, YouTube star, and motivational speaker.

Josh Sundquist only ever had one girlfriend.
For twenty-three hours.
In eighth grade.

Why was Josh still single? To find out, he tracked down the girls he had tried to date and asked them straight up: What went wrong?

The results of Josh's semiscientific, wholly hilarious investigation are captured here. From a disastrous Putt-Putt date involving a backward prosthetic foot, to his introduction to CFD (Close Fast Dancing), to a misguided "grand gesture" at a Miss America pageant, this story is about looking for love--or at least a girlfriend--in all the wrong places.



Hey! Here's my review.

This is an autobiographical collection of anecdotes where the author looks back on his awkward adolescence to try to work out why he never had a girlfriend. To try to understand, he even tracks them down ten years later to ask them if they liked him and what went wrong. Full of awkward moments and shy misunderstandings that make you just want to shout at him, "Just tell her how you feel!" I could relate to that shyness as I was too scared to tell boys how I felt when I was that age too. 

I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase links

Friday, 26 December 2014

The Maxwell Sisters by Loretta Hill

From the author of the bestselling The Girl in Steel-Capped Boots comes a heartwarming romantic comedy about three extraordinary women on a journey to find love and rediscover family.All families have their problems. No more so than the Maxwells of Tawny Brooks Winery. Situated in the heart of the Margaret River wine region, this world-renowned winery was the childhood home to three sisters, Natasha, Eve and Phoebe.Today all three women are enmeshed in their city lives and eager to forget their past - and their fractured sibling relationships. Until Phoebe decides to get married at home . . .Now the sisters must all return to face a host of family obligations, vintage in full swing and interfering in-laws who just can't take a hint. As one romance blossoms and others fall apart, it seems they are all in need of some sisterly advice.But old wounds cut deep. Somehow, the Maxwell sisters must find a way back to one another - or risk losing each other forever. 




Hey! Here's my review.

A fun story set around a wedding in the family vineyard in Western Australia. Full of family drama and misunderstandings with a smattering of romance. It started out as a 5 star read, but just went a little bit too far so I dropped a star. Still a great read if you don't go into it expecting something too serious. Great characters that I could relate to and a happy ending with everything wrapped up.

I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

★★★
Purchase links 
Amazon Kobo icon

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Seasons Greetings

Hey Everyone!

Seasons Greetings, Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas or whatever your preferred greeting is this time of year.


I've just eaten way too much and I'm ready to sit down and read a book. What are you reading this Christmas?  If you are looking for inspiration, here's a Christmas themed short story I read recently.


Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Clementine Rose

Hey Everyone!

I think I have found my new favourite kids books. The Clementine Rose series. I have been on a mission to find chapter books to read aloud to my 4 and 5 1/2 year old kids. There don't seem to be many books aimed at this market. There are lots for beginner readers that are shorter and many of the longer ones are aimed at an older audience and are a bit scary for my sensitive kids. Other books such as the Milly Molly Mandy series or books by one of my favourite authors, Enid Blyton, have language that is antiquated and concepts that are too old fashioned for my kids to understand. I also love supporting Australian authors. The Clementine Rose books tick all the boxes for me. Here are my reviews of the first two.


Clementine Rose and the Surprise VisitorClementine Rose and the Surprise Visitor by Jacqueline Harvey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is book one in the Clementine Rose series. Clementine Rose is a 5 year old girl who lives in a country town. I read this aloud to my 4 and 5 1/2 year old children. They found it easy to relate to the characters in the book. It is written in modern language but has an old fashioned moral feel to it. This book introduces all the main characters who appear throughout the series. I plan to continue reading this series to my kids.


 Clementine Rose and the Pet Day Disaster (Clementine Rose, #2)Clementine Rose and the Pet Day Disaster by Jacqueline Harvey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is book 2 in the series.
**Interview with my 5 1/2 year old son**
Me: Did you like that book?
Him: Uh huh (while nodding)
Me: Which bit did you like the best?
Him: When the cat got out of the cage by itself. 
Me: Which pet did you like the best?
Him: The teacup pig.
Me: Would you like to read another one about Clementine?
Him: Yes.

I really enjoyed this book too. Perfect for reading aloud to my 4 and 5 1/2 year old kids. This books deals with Clementine starting school, dealing with bullies and the adventures of a pet day at school.
  • Where: Local library
  • Format: paperback
** Here are my reviews of the other books in the Clementine Rose series**

Purchase links

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder― much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It's hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing―not even a smear of blood―to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?

This is Clary's first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It's also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace's world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know... 

Exotic and gritty, exhilarating and utterly gripping, Cassandra Clare's ferociously entertaining fantasy takes readers on a wild ride that they will never want to end.


Hey! Here's my review.

This is the first book in the Mortal Instruments series. I listened to the audiobook. The narrator was good and her youthful voice suited the story. I enjoyed the fast paced story but it didn't draw me in enough to continue with the series. As I was reading, I thought it would translate well to the big screen, and it has been made into a movie which I may watch one day. I can't put my finger on any particular faults with the book, so maybe I just wasn't really in the mood for this after all.

★★
  • Where: Local library
  • Format: audiobook
Purchase links
Amazon | Kobo icon

Monday, 22 December 2014

The Girl in Steel-Capped Boots by Loretta Hill

Let me burst your city bubble for you. This is the Pilbara. And it’s the Pilbara that makes the rules’

Lena Todd is a city girl who thrives on cocktails and cappuccinos. So when her boss announces he’s sending her to the outback to join a construction team, her world is turned upside down.

Lena’s new accommodation will be an aluminium box called a dongar.

Her new social network: three hundred and fifty men.

Her daily foot attire: steel-capped boots.

Unfortunately, Lena can’t refuse. Mistakes of the past are choking her confidence. She needs to do something to right those wrongs and prove herself. Going into a remote community might just be the place to do that, if only tall, dark and obnoxious Dan didn’t seem so determined to stand in her way ...
 



Hey! Here's my review.

I've read lots of Aussie outback romance set in cattle stations, so it was great to read one set in the Pilbara in a fly in fly out mining related construction setting. I love that the main character was a female engineer and that the author had personal experience in this industry. Engineering and the construction industry are generally a male dominated area and it was great to see how the main character carved out a place for herself in that setting. A bit of romance made it even more fun. A fun read and I plan to continue the series sometime soon.
★★★

  • Where: Local library
  • Format: paperback
Purchase links  
Amazon Kobo icon

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Refreeding

Hey Everyone!

Refreeding of course means reading a book for free again. I used to reread my favourite books a lot, but I haven't been doing it so much lately as there are so many books I haven't read that I want to. As Frank Zappa said "So many books, so little time". I have just read a book again that I read last year. I decided to do that when I found out that a movie version is to be released in Australia in late January 2015. It was a 5 star read that has stayed with me since and then I spotted it on NetGalley. Here are both my reviews.

Still AliceStill Alice by Lisa Genova
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book. The story is told from the perspective of Alice, an academic woman who is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's Disease. This story gives insight into what it is like for the person who has Alzheimer's. The writing style drew me in and caught me up emotionally. It is a story that has stayed with me long after I finished reading and one I have personally recommended to many of my friends.


Still Alice Still Alice by Lisa Genova
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the second time I have read this book. It drew me in emotionally just as much this time around. The story is told from the perspective of Alice, but not in the first person. This slight distance and the slightly clinical descriptions really suit the character and are an effective writing style. I read this again because I found out a movie is being released soon.

I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
  • Where: Local library and NetGalley
  • Format: paperback and ebook
Purchase links
Amazon Kobo icon

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Looking for Alaska by John Green


Before. Miles "Pudge" Halter's whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the "Great Perhaps" (Fran├žois Rabelais, poet) even more. He heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.

After. Nothing is ever the same.


Hey! Here's my review.

This is the second John Green book I've read. It took me a few chapters to get into it, then I was sucked right in. This is young adult fiction with realistically flawed characters and a storyline that gets you emotionally involved. Friendship dynamics, peer pressure, underage drinking, school pranks and young love are some of the things entwined in the story. Anything else I say would spoil the plot, so my last comment is "read it".
Purchase links  
Amazon Kobo icon

Friday, 19 December 2014

Not happily ever after

Hey Everyone!

I was scrolling through Overdrive, looking for another book to read to my kids and downloaded this one. After reading the first page, it was so sad and scary for my super sensitive kids that I had to put it away and find something else to read them. I did read the rest of it myself and from an older perspective I could appreciate the story more. Here's my review.


The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #1)The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is book one in a series entitled "A Series of Unfortunate Events", so do not expect a positive story with a happy ending. It took me a little while to get into this book, as it was so depressing. I did find the humour in the "Murphy's Law - everything that could go wrong, did" after a while. I enjoyed the definitions of words scattered through the story - a good way to increase the vocabulary, but I think it would get on my nerves if it continues throughout the whole series.
Purchase links
Amazon |  Kobo icon

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Reluctantly Charmed by Ellie O'Neill

Kate McDaid is listing her new-year’s resolutions hoping to kick-start her rather stagnant love life and career when she gets some very strange news. To her surprise, she is the sole benefactor of a great great-great-great aunt and self-proclaimed witch also called Kate McDaid, who died over 130 years ago. As if that isn’t strange enough, the will instructs that, in order to receive the inheritance, Kate must publish seven letters, one by one, week by week.

Burning with curiosity, Kate agrees and opens the first letter – and finds that it’s a passionate plea to reconnect with the long-forgotten fairies of Irish folklore. Almost instantaneously, Kate’s life is turned upside down. Her romantic life takes a surprising turn and she is catapulted into the public eye.

As events become stranger and stranger – and she discovers things about herself she’s never known before – Kate must decide whether she can fulfil her great-aunt’s final, devastating request ... and whether she can face the consequences if she doesn’t.

Witty, enchanting and utterly addictive, Reluctantly Charmed is about what happens when life in the fast lane collides with the legacy of family, love and its possibilities … and a little bit of magic. 



Hey! Here's my review.

This debut novel was a delight to read. It's set in modern day Ireland with a magical twist, plenty of humor and a hint of romance. The main character discovers her own potential and is in the position to change the world. There is good character development throughout the book with characters to like and loathe. The ending wraps up the story nicely but leaves a possibility for another book. 

I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

★★★
  • Where: NetGalley
  • Format: ebook
Purchase links 
Amazon Kobo icon

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Ho Ho Hachette

Hey Everyone!

I was enjoying the school holidays this morning, lying on my bed reading aloud to both my kids. My dog started barking and raced to the front door. Thank goodness I have a dog as I didn't hear the doorbell. It was Santa's biggest helper at this time of year - the parcel delivery postman. He handed me 5 boxes from Hatchette. Squeee!!! More books for me!!!!

I knew I had won some books from  Hachette's "It's the thought that counts" Christmas giveaway, and here they were. On closer inspection, one of the boxes was not for my address. The postie had mixed up someone elses parcel from Hachette with all mine. A quick Google maps search, and I found they were only a couple of streets away. I jumped in the car (it's way to hot and humid to walk at the moment) and I popped around the corner to deliver the parcel. When I got back home, I topped off my good deed feel good vibes with my excited I won free books vibes and opened all the parcels. This is what I found.


A picture book for my daughter, a novel for my son (might have to save it for a couple of years) and two books for me. Poor hubby missed out this time - I did think of him and chose a book for him too. Out of the ten books I nominated, I got seven of them and poor hubby was one that missed out. But he is eyeing off the Karen Rose book, so I may share it. Each book came with a lovely letter explaining who nominated them for a free book. Thank you Hachette! Reviews to follow.
  • Where: Hatchette's "It's the thought that counts" Christmas giveaway
  • Format: paperback

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

His and Theirs point of view

Hey Everyone! 

Yesterday I posted my reviews of the first two books in the "No Weddings" series. I have just inhaled this series and read all four books in a row. Here are my reviews of the second two books.  A fifth novella length book is due out in January 2015 - plenty of time to read by Valentine's Day.


Two Bar Mitzvahs (No Weddings, #3)Two Bar Mitzvahs by Kat Bastion
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is book 3 in the "No Weddings" series. This book picks up where book 2 left off. It switches back to Cade's male POV, as we had in the first book. The contemporary romance between Cade and Hannah continues and is steamier than ever. This time there is the added mystery of someone trying to sabotage their business. This one is even better than the first two. I plan to read book 4......now!


Three Christmases (No Weddings, #4)Three Christmases by Kat Bastion
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is book 4 in the "No Weddings" series. Three Christmases picks up a few days after the previous book finishes and the POV alternates between Cade and Hannah. In this steamy contemporary romance, Cade and Hannah find a way to deal with their baggage as well as balance their relationship and their career aspirations. I like and respect the main characters in this series and they feel like friends of mine after reading all four books in a row.

I received these book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
These books are available for a few dollars and a portion of the profits go to charity.

Purchase links
Amazon Kobo icon

Monday, 15 December 2014

His and Hers point of view

Hey Everyone!

I've just been reading a contemporary romance series written by a husband and wife team. I think they have worked really well together and have been able to bring both the male and female point of view into the story. I really enjoyed reading the developing friendship and budding romance from a male perspective. Here are my reviews of the first two books in the series.

No Weddings (No Weddings, #1)No Weddings by Kat Bastion
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is book 1 in the "No Weddings" series. Contemporary romance from male POV. Lots of sexual tension and flirting. Not too raunchy. I found the characters likable, they were real people I may actually meet in real life. This is the first book in a series. I plan to read the next one soon.



One Funeral (No Weddings, #2)One Funeral by Kat Bastion
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is book two in the "No Weddings" series. Book one was from the POV of Cade, now this book is from the POV of Hannah. Rather than rehashing the same story from a different perspective, this book picked up moments after book one finished.

Contemporary romance with likable and relatable characters. I really like that this is a romance built of a bond of friendship and that everyone is respectful of each other. This one gets a bit steamier than the first book.

I received these book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
  • Where: NetGalley
  • Format: ebook
These books are available for a few dollars and a portion of the profits go to charity.

Purchase links
Amazon Kobo icon

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Thoughtful freeding

Hey Everyone!

I posted earlier about the Christmas giveaway from Hachette. I entered several times and found out the other day that I had won a few books. Today a got an excited phone call from my Mother-in-law telling me that the postman just gave her two books (and on a Sunday - they are working overtime in the lead up to Christmas). The books came with a card and a note explaining where the books came from and who nominated her to receive them. By now I'd forgotten which books I'd picked for her, so I found out that she won these two.


 

My Mother-in-law already had "When the night comes" on request at the library and had planned to read "Bert" sometime too, so she was pretty happy. 
  • Where: Hachette Christmas Giveaway
  • Format: Paperback
Purchase links - When the Night Comes
Amazon | Kobo icon

Purchase links - Bert
Amazon Kobo icon