Renee Conoulty: October 2014

Books

Friday, 31 October 2014

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

freeding, books
Set in seventeenth century Amsterdam-a city ruled by glittering wealth and oppressive religion-a masterful debut steeped in atmosphere and shimmering with mystery, in the tradition of Emma Donoghue, Sarah Waters, and Sarah Dunant.

"There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed…"

On a brisk autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives in Amsterdam to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt. But her new home, while splendorous, is not welcoming. Johannes is kind yet distant, always locked in his study or at his warehouse office-leaving Nella alone with his sister, the sharp-tongued and forbidding Marin.

But Nella's world changes when Johannes presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. To furnish her gift, Nella engages the services of a miniaturist-an elusive and enigmatic artist whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in eerie and unexpected ways . . .

Johannes' gift helps Nella to pierce the closed world of the Brandt household. But as she uncovers its unusual secrets, she begins to understand-and fear-the escalating dangers that await them all. In this repressively pious society where gold is worshipped second only to God, to be different is a threat to the moral fabric of society, and not even a man as rich as Johannes is safe. Only one person seems to see the fate that awaits them. Is the miniaturist the key to their salvation . . . or the architect of their destruction?

Enchanting, beautiful, and exquisitely suspenseful, The Miniaturist is a magnificent story of love and obsession, betrayal and retribution, appearance and truth.
 



Hey! Here's my review.

I enjoyed this book but was a little let down by the ending. It was driven by mystery and suspense, which kept me interested. It wrapped everything up at the end, by didn't really explain why.

The characters seemed quite superficial to start, but we got to know them more throughout the book. I liked the main character, which I think is the most important thing. If I don't like the main character I usually don't like the book.
★★★
  • Where: Local Library request
  • Format: Paperback
This book was one of the Books of the Month in NBRC. Here is a link to our discussion.

This book is available to purchase from Amazon here:  The Miniaturist: A Novel

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Freeding with Borrowbox

Hey Everyone!

I love reading 24/7, but the lovely staff at my local library like to go home occasionally. Luckily for me, they also have an eLibrary from +Bolinda. This gives me access to ebooks and audiobooks at any time of the night or day. I can download them to my computer or access them via the Borrowbox app. Borrowbox is a free app and is available for both Android and Apple. I think that Bolinda have a fantastic range of Australian authors. I have found the Borrowbox app a little slow to load sometimes, so I usually download on my desktop computer then transfer the files to my ereader or audio book app on my phone.

I really like the Borrowbox eLibrary as the advanced search functions are really versatile.  It has the ability to look for books by page number and audio length. This feature came in really handy when I was trying to read as many short books as I could over a few weeks for one of the group challenges in NBRC.

Some books I read this year through Borrowbox are the Corinna Chapman series written by Kerry Greenwood and narrated by Louise Siversen.

freeding, audiobookfreeding, audiobookfreeding, audiobook
freeding, audiobookfreeding, audiobookfreeding, audiobooks

The narrator is great, speaking clearly and at a good pace. This is a contemporary cosy mystery series, with a baker and her P.I. boyfriend solving the crimes. The novels are all set in inner city Melbourne, with a variety of interesting and likable characters. I gave each of the books 4 stars.

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

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Wool Omnibus by Hugh Howey


This Omnibus Edition collects the five Wool books into a single volume. It is for those who arrived late to the party and who wish to save a dollar or two while picking up the same stories in a single package.

The first Wool story was released as a standalone short in July of 2011. Due to reviewer demand, the rest of the story was released over the next six months. My thanks go out to those reviewers who clamored for more. Without you, none of this would exist. Your demand created this as much as I did.

This is the story of mankind clawing for survival, of mankind on the edge. The world outside has grown unkind, the view of it limited, talk of it forbidden. But there are always those who hope, who dream. These are the dangerous people, the residents who infect others with their optimism. Their punishment is simple. They are given the very thing they profess to want: They are allowed outside.


Hey! Here's my review.

A dystopian novel that poses the question, is it worse to be lied to or to know the truth? 

I was drawn into this book and found it hard to put down. It is made up of 5 sections. The first two are shorter, and each from the perspective of a single, but different character. The last three bring in more characters and have multiple POV. I found the characters relatable, and even changed my opinion of different characters as the story unfolded.

This is the first book in the Silo series, also known as the Wool Trilogy. I am planning to read the second book as a buddy read in late November. 
★★★★
  • Where: Local Library
  • Format: Paperback
This book is available to purchase from Amazon here:  Wool

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Audiofreeding the Classics

Hey Everyone!

I LOVE AUDIOBOOKS! I listen to audiobooks in the car on my way to and from work. I listen to them while doing housework. I listen to them while walking the dog. I listen to them while watching the kids play at the playground. I like to listen here and there. I like to listen everywhere!

I often struggle with the classics, but I have found them much easier to follow if somebody reads them aloud to me. There are lots of people from all over the world who volunteer their time to record audiobooks for Librivox. These books are all in the public domain (no longer under copyright) so are free to download.  One I have read recently is:


Treasure IslandTreasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A classic adventure full of action. Part of the Guttenberg Project, this book is available free from many places. I obtained an audio from Librivox, version 2, which had a great narrator. No need to spend pieces of eight on this book, just enjoy it yo ho ho with a bottle of rum.

I read this one as a Book of the month in the NBRC Goodreads group. In September we had a Pirate takeover in celebration of Talk like a pirate day and had lots of pirate themed fun.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Freeding the Classics

Hey Everyone!

Another great place to find free books is Project Guttenberg. This is a collection of books that are in the public domain, which means they are no longer under a copyright. There are over 46,000 books available to download. Some of the most popular books available are: 
These four are ones I plan to read one day..... One day never seems to come, and more and more books pile up in my to-read shelf.

freeding, classics, project guttenberg



Friday, 24 October 2014

Efreeding

Hey Everyone!

If Freeding is reading for free, then Efreeding is reading ebooks for free.

I love reading in any format available. A good thing about ebooks is that they don't take up much room. With the many different ereaders, tablets and apps available, it's easy to carry a book with you all the time. There are lots of great ebooks available for free too. Some authors offer the first book in a series for free to get you hooked and encourage you to buy the next one. One book that fits that category for me is:

Silence (Silence, #1)Silence by Natasha Preston
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book. The story is told from the perspective of Oakley, a girl who has chosen not to speak for the past eleven years. There is lots of internal dialogue rather than two way conversations. As the story progresses, we find out why she has chosen not to speak.

It was compelling, easy reading. I devoured the book in two days. It would have been in one sitting, but real life gets in the way. There is a sequel, which I plan to read sometime.

I have a +Kobo ereader, so I got my copy from Kobo. You can also get it from many other ebook stores, search your prefered one and see. I have seen it in Amazon if you have a Kindle and Barnes & Noble if you have a Nook.


  • Cost: $0
  • Where: Kobo, Amazon and Barnes & Noble
  • Format: ebook

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Baby Got Book

                

Duration: You set the pace

Rules: Read fat books! Books over 450 pages. Paper books, ebooks or audiobooks are O.K. 
For audiobooks, use the default page count or books over 12 hours.

Levels:
  • In for a penny, in for a pound : 1 books
  • Two's company, three's a crowd: 2-3 books
  • Four or five to feel alive: 4-5 books
  • 2, 4, 6, 8, bog in, don't wait: 6-8 books
  • 9, 10, read it again: 9-12 books
  • Baker's dozen; 13+ books
Example:
At Home: A Short History of Life by Bill Bryson
497 pages or Audible narration 16 hours 38 minutes



Hey! Here's a challenge

To spice up my reading a bit I also love to do reading challenges. This is the latest one that I wrote for NBRC. I'm planning to go for the Bakers dozen. Follow the link below to join this challenge on Goodreads. 

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

NetGalley vs local library - round 1

Hey Everyone!

So the clock was ticking. The buddy read date was looming, two book requests in, but no book. My pro freeding attitude had me waiting until the last minute before handing over any money to buy a copy. Tick....tick....tick...and the winner is.......local library, with the bonus of a few days to spare before the buddy read started. +NetGalley did come through in the end, just in time for the last days questions on the buddy read. The book in question was:

Cop TownCop Town by Karin Slaughter
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book is set in Atlanta in 1974. The author has done a lot of research on what it was like in that time and reading this book I felt like I was stepping right into the city and experiencing it all. Atlanta was rife with sexism, racism, homophobia, violence and corrupt cops. This is all portrayed so well that the descriptions and derogatory language used made me feel uncomfortable.

The story focusses around Kate, a new recruit in her first week on the job. The big case at this time is a cop killer.

Honestly, not worth all the angst I felt waiting for it. You can find the Book of the Month (BOM)  buddy read discussion in the NBRC group on Goodreads. I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
  • Where: Local library request and NetGalley
  • Format: Paperback and ebook
This book is available to purchase from Amazon here:  Cop Town: A Novel

Freeding with ENT

Hey Everyone!

Another great resource I use to find free and discount books is Ereader News Today. I let them do the hard work of finding the free books, then I can pick and choose which ones I want to read. Every day they put out lists of bargain books and books that are free. Often these specials are for a limited time only. I follow them on Facebook and Twitter but you can also sign up for an email newsletter. I have noticed that most of the books are for Kindle, but sometimes they have Kobo and Nook listed as well. Sometimes there are location restrictions, so make sure you check the price before you click "buy".

I picked up this one earlier in the year.

Champagne and Lemon Drops (Blueberry Springs #1)Champagne and Lemon Drops by Jean Oram
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An easy, light read.
Who am I really, and which man do I want.
I picked up this book free. I enjoyed it, but not drawn in enough to buy the next on in the series.

It's still available for free from 

Monday, 20 October 2014

Mr Squirrel & the Moon by Sebastian Meschenmoser

childrens book, netgalley, ebook, review, freeding
When Mr. Squirrel awakens to find that the moon has landed on his tree, he frantically tries to get rid of it before someone suspects him of stealing it and puts him in jail. But when he rolls the moon off of his tree, it's gets stuck on Mrs. Hedgehog's bristles and when the billy-goat arrives and butts it with his horns . . . Will the moon ever be the same again? Sebastian Meschenmoser's hilarious illustrations and rollicking tale will be a bedtime favorite.




Hey! Here's my review.

**Interview with my 3 year old**
Me: Did you like the story?
Her: Yes.
Me: What was your favourite bit?
Her: The moon and the teeny tiny toilet for the mouses.

**Interview with me 5 year old**
Me: Did you like the story?
Him: Yes.
Me: What was your favourite bit?
Him: The moon getting flung into the sky.

Mr Squirrel and the Moon is a beautifully illustrated picture book for children. Some pages are just illustrations that tell the story on their own. A fun story about a squirrel who mistakes a wheel of cheese for the moon.

I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
★★★★
This book is available to purchase from Amazon here:  Mr Squirrel and the Moon

Can You Keep a Secret? by Caroline Overington

freeding, book, ebook, arc, review
How well do you really know the one you love? 

With her customary page-turning style and potent themes, this is Caroline Overington at her thought-provoking best. 

'Why do some people decide to get married when everyone around them would seem to agree that marriage, at least for the two people in question, is a terrifically bad idea?'

The year is 1999, and Lachlan Colbert - Colby - has the world at his feet. He's got a big job on Wall Street and a sleek bachelor pad in the heart of Manhattan. With money no object, he and his friends take a trip to Australia to see in the new millennium. And it's there, on a hired yacht sailing the Whitsundays, that he meets Caitlin. 

Caitlin Hourigan has got wild hair and torn shorts - and has barely ever left the small patch of Queensland where she grew up. But Colby is smitten and for Caitlin, a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, a blissful future awaits - marriage, a big house, a beautiful little boy.

But nothing is ever as perfect as it seems. And for Lachlan and Caitlin the nightmare is only just beginning.


Hey! Here's my review.

This is the third book I've read by Caroline Overington. When I saw it on Netgalley I jumped up and down shouting "Pick me! Pick me!" (maybe I just clicked the request button, but I was jumping on the inside) and was very excited when I received a copy. I gave her other books 4 stars, but this one appealed to me a little more (probably all the blogging talk now that I've started my own blog), so I gave 5 stars.

It is a plot driven book. I felt at an arms length from the characters rather than inside their heads. The story begins in North Queensland in Australia then moves to New York. It covers topics such as Y2K, 9/11, blogging, international adoption, mental illness and adultery.

I found it quite compelling reading and didn't want to put it down. I won't give anything away, but the ending caught me by surprise.

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

★★★★★
This book is available to purchase from Amazon here:  Can You Keep a Secret?

Sunday, 19 October 2014

NetGalley

Hey Everyone!

The last couple of books I reviewed were from +NetGalleyNetGalley is a website where "professional readers" (people of influence who review and recommend books) are  able to request books for free. The books are often advance reading copies (ARC) that are yet to be published. Once approved for a book, you can download an ebook copy of the book to read on your favourite device. It is expected that if you are approved for a book, that you will read it and give an honest review.

For more tips on NetGalley, read my popular post Top Ten Tips for Netgalley Newbies.

I joined NetGalley to supplement my freeding. A friend of mine recommended NetGalley to me and told me Australians were being approved for one of the books we were both planning to read. I signed up, started reviewing my recent reads on Goodreads and clicked "request". Nothing happened for days......... I read some more suggestions and realised that publishers prefer you to have a good ratio of approved books to books you've given feedback on. My ratio was zero as I had no books yet. I had another poke around the site and found the "read now" option. This listed all the books I could download immediately without needing approval. I clicked away, stuck my nose in a couple of books (well in front of a small screen) and read away. I stumbled upon:

Trading SecretsTrading Secrets by Melody Carlson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A sweet YA story about friendship, secrets and following your heart. The Christian element isn't preachy and the book makes a good point about how focused on mobile phones people are in today's society. There is a very chaste romantic feel to the story but it is more about coming of age self discovery. I found the characters likable and was drawn into the story.

Purchase links
Amazon |  Kobo icon

and

The Returning TideThe Returning Tide by Julia Sokota
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The first part of the story develops characters that I like and can relate too. As the story continues, it is alluded to that the main character is hiding something, that she has a skeleton in her closet. The book slowly reveals more clues and does a good job of explaining what happened and why. The past and the present are covered well, though the future is left up to the reader to decide.

Purchase links
Amazon | Kobo icon

These books may not be listed as "read now" anymore. Many books on NetGalley have an "archive"date. If you haven't downloaded them before that date, then you miss out because they get locked in the archive. You can still add you review feedback though.
I digress.....anyway, I waited some more. The online buddy reading date was looming closer and closer. I decided to put in a request at my local library, initiating NetGalley vs my library - round 1.



Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty



Book cover, #1 New York Times Bestseller, paperback, book
Sometimes it’s the little lies that turn out to be the most lethal. . . .
A murder… . . . a tragic accident… . . . or just parents behaving badly?
What’s indisputable is that someone is dead.  
But who did what?
Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:
Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).

Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.
New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.
Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.


Hey! Here's my review.

LOVED this book. Liane Moriarty has quickly made it to the top of my favorite author list. I have read all her books, this is the latest one. They are all stand alone novels.

Big Little Lies has characters I could relate to. It is set in Australia and full of all those familiar little things that I love. The story is focussed around three preschool mums who become friends and covers topics such as bullying, gossiping and domestic violence. And just to spice things up a bit, there is a mystery involving a death of a preschool parent.....

I was drawn into the story and wanted to know what would happen next. At the end I was satisfied that everything had been explained.

All I can say is read it, it's awesome!


★★★★★
  • Where: Local library request
  • Format: paperback
Purchase links


**Update** 
This book was selected to be a Book of the Month in NBRC in June 2015
You can join the discussion HERE

Freeding

Hey everyone!
The Urban Dictionary definition of Freeding
Freeding: (verb) To read magazines in a shop with no intention of purchasing the magazine.
I don't stand around in newsagents reading whole magazines (O.K. I might browse a little) but I do love to read for free.

The most accessible place to get books for free is your local library. You don't need to be tech savvy to access it. You don't need to download anything. Membership is free. Borrowing is free. At my local library, everything is free, but I have been a member of libraries in the past where they charge late fees if you book is overdue, or fees to request a book.

My local library is fairly small so I don't usually have to wait very long if I put a book on hold or request a book. This year they have bought a few books just for me. Well, I did have to give them back so they weren't really just for me. I often request new release books or books that I plan to read as part of a buddy read with NBRC. Some I have requested this year are:

 description description description description description
  • Where: Local library request
  • Format: paperback

Saturday, 18 October 2014

The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion

Book cover, book, paperback, AustralianTHE ROSIE PROJECT WAS COMPLETE BUT I WAS UNPREPARED FOR THE ROSIE EFFECT.

GREETINGS. My name is Don Tillman. I am forty-one years old. I have been married to Rosie Jarman, world's most perfect woman, for ten months and ten days.

Marriage added significant complexity to my life. When we relocated to New York City, Rosie brought three maximum-size suitcases. We abandoned the Standardised Meal System and agreed that sex should not be scheduled in advance.

Then Rosie told me we had 'something to celebrate', and I was faced with a challenge even greater than finding a partner.

I have attempted to follow traditional protocols and have sourced advice from all six of my friends, plus a therapist and the internet.

The result has been a web of deceit. I am now in danger of prosecution, deportation and professional disgrace. 

And of losing Rosie forever.


Hey! Here's my review

I loved The Rosie Project, a 5 star read. The Rosie Effect is the sequel. It's wasn't quite as good as the first one, but better than alot of the 4 star books I've read recently, so I'm giving it 5.

Set in New York, it's lacking the Aussie feel I loved in the first book. Don and Rosie are settling into married life and Rosie is pregnant. Don is as good as ever. I love the writing style that puts me inside his head. A great insight into a highly functioning person on the autism spectrum. Rosie is lacking the spark she has in the first book,  but I could still relate to her even though I found her behaviour frustrating at times.

★★★★★
  • Where: Local library request
  • Format: paperback
This book is available to purchase from Amazon here:  The Rosie Effect: A Novel

Goodreads

Hey Everyone!
I've always loved reading but over the past few years I haven't read as much. Life gets busy when you get married, have kids and move interstate. Last year I decided I wanted to join a book club, but I couldn't match up the time's my husband could watch the kids with the time's the book club was on. This led me to an online search and I stumbled upon the idea of an online book club, where I could read what I wanted and contribute when I had time.

I decided to join NBRC, a book club in Goodreads. I described Goodreads to my Mum as Facebook for books. Goodreads is a great place to track what you are reading, find recommendations, review books, participate in discussions, challenge yourself and have fun. Goodreads has the most features when accessed via computer, but there is also a mobile web page, an android app and an i tunes app. Follow the links above and check it out.


NBRC, online book club, goodreads, reading challenges, BOTM, book discussion

  • Where: Online, Playstore, i tunes (links above)