Renee Conoulty: January 2015

Books

Saturday, 31 January 2015

The Girl with All the Gifts by M. R. Carey

Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don't like her. She jokes that she won't bite, but they don't laugh.



Hey! Here's my review.


That synopsis doesn't give much away, so I'll try not to as well. 

I don't usually read horror books, but a few people I know really enjoyed this one, so I thought I'd give it a go. I found it more of a dystopian science fiction thriller. Exciting more than scary. 

It is a well thought out fast paced book. The characters had depth and I felt none of them were purely good or evil. Lots of grey areas around the ethics. Some characters were more likable than others, but I was able to understand the motivations of each of them. The writing style is quite descriptive. It is a book I stopped to think about once I finished.

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

Friday, 30 January 2015

RIP Colleen McCullough

Hey Everyone!

As I was scrolling through my Facebook feed this morning, I discovered that Colleen McCullough had passed away. I don't watch the news and rarely listen to the radio, so Facebook has become my main source of current affairs. I remember reading The Thorn Birds many years ago. It was first published in the year I was born. It was the first Australian saga I had ever read.  I also remember reading Tim not long after, but I don't think I've read any others since then. To celebrate the life of this iconic Australian writer, I would like to read another of her books. There are many available from my local library, Overdrive and Borrowbox. Does anyone have a recommendation?

Author Colleen McCullough. Photo: Danielle Smith

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne's fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick's clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn't doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife's head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media--as well as Amy's fiercely doting parents--the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he's definitely bitter--but is he really a killer? 
As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn't do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?



Hey! Here's my review.

If you're looking for a light fun romance, look somewhere else. This book is a very dark psychological thriller with lots of twists. I made lots of predictions while reading, but the author managed to surprise me on every one. The story is told in alternating points of view between Amy, who goes missing, and her husband Nick. They were both complex characters who were not written to be likeable.

★★★
  • Where: Local Library
  • Format: paperback
Purchase links 
 Amazon | Kobo icon

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Fly In Fly Out by Georgina Penney

Originally published as Unforgettable You

After months working on an oil rig in the Atlantic Ocean, engineer Jo Blaine can't wait to get home. Her job is tough, and she is desperate for some long-overdue girl time. When she walks through her front door to find an unexpected man in her house, she's tempted to head straight back out to sea.

Stephen Hardy has always felt guilty for the part he played in ruining Jo's leaving home years earlier and jumps at the chance to make amends. It takes some fast talking, but he finally convinces Jo to let him look after her apartment and her giant cranky cat while she's away on the rig. And by the time she leaves for her next shift, they're both eagerly anticipating her return.

But balancing family and friends with a new relationship when you're never around is tricky, and Jo is also keeping secrets about her past. After a lifetime of taking care of herself, Jo isn't used to sharing her problems – especially when they involve her messy family history. Picking up the pieces every time she comes home is getting harder, and Jo begins to wonder if a fly-in fly-out lifestyle is really worth it . . 



Hey! Here's my review.

This was the first book I've read by this author. I really enjoyed the Australian references. I liked reading about a successful female engineer and the little details about working a fly in fly out job on an oil rig. The romance was quite raunchy. I liked the main character Jo, but I was getting frustrated with her not communicating properly with her boyfriend. I didn't like her parents and their toxic relationship.

★★
  • Where: NetGalley
  • Format: ebook
Purchase links  
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Monday, 26 January 2015

Australia Day

Hey Everyone!

Happy Australia Day! What are your plans for Australia Day? I am planning a BBQ with my family and to read a bit more of the Australian contemporary romance I started yesterday.

Booktopia blog ran a survey over the past few weeks to vote on Australia's favourite author. Last week was the big unveil of the top fifty. The authors of my two favourite books of 2014 made it into the top ten.

Liane Moriarty was voted number 2. I loved her book, Big Little Lies.
Monica McInerney was voted number 6. I loved her book, Hello from the Gillespies.
Follow the name links to the author's Facebook pages, or the book links to my reviews.

Who is your favourite Australian author?


Sunday, 25 January 2015

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld


Darcy Patel has put college and everything else on hold to publish her teen novel, Afterworlds. Arriving in New York with no apartment or friends she wonders whether she's made the right decision until she falls in with a crowd of other seasoned and fledgling writers who take her under their wings…

Told in alternating chapters is Darcy's novel, a suspenseful thriller about Lizzie, a teen who slips into the 'Afterworld' to survive a terrorist attack. But the Afterworld is a place between the living and the dead and as Lizzie drifts between our world and that of the Afterworld, she discovers that many unsolved - and terrifying - stories need to be reconciled. And when a new threat resurfaces, Lizzie learns her special gifts may not be enough to protect those she loves and cares about most.



Hey! Here's my review.

This is the first book I've read by Scott Westerfeld. I definitely plan to read some more.

This story is told in alternating chapters. The odd numbered chapters are about Darcy, an eighteen year old girl who writes a paranormal romance novel. It is a coming of age, self discovery, journey to publication, YA romance story.

The alternating chapters are the paranormal romance that Darcy wrote. It was a paranormal concept I've never read before and I really enjoyed learning about Lizzie becoming a psychopomp (I still think that's a funny word). This part of the book is quite dark as is is about death and the underworld. The paperback I read had the even numbered chapters identified with shaded bands at the top and bottom of the pages, which made the different stories easier to track (and it looks pretty from the side).

I enjoyed both Darcy's and Lizzie's stories. I wasn't sure how either would end, whether they would finish Happily Ever After, bittersweet or tragically. I won't tell, you will have to read it yourself to find out.

I also loved the fact that the author managed to slip a "drop bear" reference in, made me giggle. (Aussie humour)
 .
  • Where: Local library request
  • Format: paperback
Purchase links 
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Friday, 23 January 2015

Dust by Hugh Howey

In a time when secrets and lies were the foundations of life, someone has discovered the truth. And they are going to tell.

Jules knows what her predecessors created. She knows they are the reason life has to be lived in this way.

And she won't stand for it.

But Jules no longer has supporters. And there is far more to fear than the toxic world beyond her walls.

A poison is growing from within Silo 18.

One that cannot be stopped.

Unless Silo 1 step in.



Hey! Here's my review.

Wool introduced us to the world within the silo. Shift told us how it all came to be. Dust tells us what happens next.

Dust a fast paced conclusion to the silo trilogy. By now, I knew the characters and my opinions of them didn't change. I made lots of guesses as to what I thought would happen next, and kept getting surprised. I was really happy with the conclusion.

Make sure you keep reading after the "A note to the reader" section, as the Epilogue is after.


  • Where: Local library
  • Format: paperback
Purchase links  
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Thursday, 22 January 2015

Not So Secret Santa

Hey Everyone!

Back in December last year, I signed up for the Not So Secret Santa Book Recommendation Exchange in NBRC. It has become an annual thing, so keep an eye out for it this Christmas. Everyone who signed up was matched with someone to recommend 3 books to and someone different who recommended 3 books to them. It was a great way to make a couple of new friends on Goodreads. I had a look through my persons read shelves and to-be-read shelves to get a better idea of what they liked. The goal was to choose one of the books recommended to you, then read it before the end of January 2015.

The books I recommended were:


My Not So Secret Santa was very generous and suggested 5 books for me. So far I have read 3 of them and have the other 2 lined up. Not sure if I will get through all of them by the end of the month, but I well and truly reached the goal of one.

The books recommended to me were:
I was able to track them all down through my local library. I'll add links when I've finished reading the last two.
  • Where: Local library
  • Format paperback

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

"I used the same flowers again and again: a bouquet of marigold, grief; a bucket of thistle, misanthropy; a pinch of dried basil; hatred. Only occasionally did my communication vary."

The Victorian language of flowers was used to convey what words could not, from declarations of admiration to confessions of betrayal.

For Victoria Jones, alone after a childhood in foster care, it is her way of expressing a legacy of grief and guilt. Believing she is damaged beyond hope, she trusts nobody, connecting with the world only through message-laden bouquets.

But when a mysterious man at the flower market responds in kind, Victoria is caught between fascination and fear, and must decide whether she can open herself to the possibilities of happiness... and forgiveness.

Heartbreaking and uplifting, The Language of Flowers is a redemptive story about the meaning of flowers, the meaning of family, and the meaning of love.
 



Hey! Here's my review.

It took me about 50 pages or so to start to empathise with Victoria. To begin with I felt "Oh no, another I'm so broken because I grew up in the foster care system". I'd love to read some positive foster care stories. 

Victoria really is broken, she pushes everyone away and believes she is unlovable. I am glad the author didn't miraculously fix her overnight with one kiss from her true love, this story is more realistic. It is told in alternating points of view, from Victoria at age 10 and age 18.

I enjoyed the flower references and I was inspired to look up the meanings of some of my favourite flowers. Most of the characters are quite flawed and struggle to communicate effectively - so I liked that they are able to say it with flowers. I was able to empathise with the characters, but I don't think I would be friends with any of them.
  • Where: Local library
  • Format: paperback
Purchase links 
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Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Heartsick by Caitlin Sinead

Quinn is looking forward to her senior year at Poe University. She has big plans to hang out with her best friend, flirt with a certain boy genius, party at her favorite dive bar and figure out what she's going to do after graduation with her not-so-useful art major. But that's before she meets Luke, a hot townie who's moved back home to help take care of his dying sister. And it's before a weird epidemic sweeps across campus, mysteriously turning people's eyes purple.

Is it an odd side effect from a new party drug?

Is it a rogue virus developed in a campus lab?

Is it the mark of the devil?

Soon the town starts blaming the university and the student religious group becomes frighteningly aggressive in their on-campus accusations. Quinn and Luke are caught in the middle—until a tragic accident forces Luke to reveal the one part of himself he's kept carefully hidden. That he's so much more than the happy-go-lucky boy next door Quinn had believed him to be isn't a surprise…but this truth might be too dangerous for her to handle.



Hey! Here's my review.

This is the debut New Adult novel from Caitlin Sinead, expected to be published 15 February 2015. It is a fast paced, quick read, with an entertaining mix of mystery, romance and science fiction. I found the characters likeable and relatable. The plot was believable, something I could imagine happening. Issues such as drink driving, revenge, persecution of people who are different, fear of the unknown and forgiveness were incorporated, but didn't feel preachy. I was also inspired to find out more about ALS - Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis - a degenerative motor neurone disease. 

  • Where: NetGalley
  • Format: ebook
Purchase links 
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Monday, 19 January 2015

George R. R. Martin

Hey Everyone!

 My hubby and I have finally caught up with the Game of Thrones TV series. We watched the last episode of season 4 this week and now our watch begins.......... the wait for season 5. I read all the books in a row early last year. I read them one per month as part of a buddy read in my favourite online book club - Novel Books & Reading Challenges. I found stopping every few chapters to answer questions and discuss the book helped me figure out what was going on. There are so many complex plots happening all at once, I think I would have been lost reading them without the discussion.

So when I took the kids to the library this week, the world of Ice and Fire was fresh in my mind. While wandering around through the YA section, I spotted the name George R. R. Martin on a little hardback book. On closer inspection, I also spotted the name Luis Royo. That is another name I know well as he is my hubby's favourite artist. We have a few laminated Luis Royo prints in our spare room (also known as "the man cave") and hubby has some tattoos based on his artwork. There is no way I could resist, and added the beautifully illustrated children's book to the growing pile of books to borrow. When I got home I devoured the simple story in one gulp. Here's my review.


The Ice DragonThe Ice Dragon by George R.R. Martin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have read and loved all the books currently released from The Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin. Some people say that this book is set in the same world but there are some small differences such as winter occurring every year in this book compared to everything few years in the adult books.

This is a short story aimed at children. My children are 4 and 5 so I read it to myself as I though it was too old for them. It has a fairytale quality to it. It is about a little girl born during the winter who bonds with a wild untameable ice dragon during a time of war. The edition I read had beautiful illustrations by Luis Royo, my husband's favorite artist.
  • Where: Local library
  • Format: hardback
Purchase links
Amazon | Kobo icon

The Two of Us by Andy Jones

the two of us
Falling in love is the easy part. What matters most is what happens next...

Fisher and Ivy have been an item for a whole nineteen days. And they just know they are meant to be together. The fact that they know little else about each other is a minor detail. Over the course of twelve months, in which their lives will change forever, Fisher and Ivy discover that falling in love is one thing, but staying there is an entirely different story.

The Two of Us is a charming, honest and heart-breaking novel about life, love, and the importance of taking neither one for granted.


Hey! Here's my review.

This is not a fluffy chick lit romance, it is much deeper and quite moving. It is told from Fisher's point of view, centered around his whirlwind romance with Ivy and through their first year together. Their highs and lows had me laughing and crying. From giggles at silly one liners, to body wracking sobs. The writing style is honest and simple, not overly descriptive or emotional. The characters are not perfect, but I found them likable.

We also meet Fisher's best friend, who has Huntington's disease. I haven't come across Huntington's disease in a novel before and I gained a greater insight into what it would be like to suffer from or live with someone who has Huntington's disease. It is a debilitating degenerative disease.

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 
It is expected to be published 1 February 2015.

★★
  • Where: NetGalley
  • Format: ebook
Purchase links
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Saturday, 17 January 2015

Audiorefreeding

Hey Everyone!

Audiorefreeding is reading a book again, via audio, for free. I read What Alice Forgot in June 2013 for the first time and loved it. This is the book that helped me discover Liane Moriarty, who is currently my favourite Australian author. A few of my online friend decided to revisit a buddy read in NBRC, so I thought I would join them. Anyone is welcome to join in at anytime, so come and chat if you decide to read this book. I had spotted What Alice Forgot as an audiobook in Borrowbox. Click, click, download and I was ready to go. Here's my review.


What Alice ForgotWhat Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I first read this a year and a half ago and realised that I had discovered my new favourite Australian author. This time around I read it via audiobook, narrated by one of my favourite narrators, Caroline Lee.

The plot focusses around Alice, who bumps her head and forgets the past ten years of her life. There are simultaneous plotlines using Alice's sister's diary entries and their grandmother's blog posts which contribute to the main plot, but also unfold stories of their own. This books shows how life experiences mold the person you become. I found the characters a bit superficial to begin, but very relatable once I got to know them. I was emotionally caught up in the story and happy with the ending.
Purchase links
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Friday, 16 January 2015

Freeding with Kobo

Hey Everyone!

I have a Kobo Aura ereader, which I love. I chose the +Kobo as it was compatible with the epub ebooks that I could get free from the library. There are lots of ebooks available for free in the Kobo store too, if you know how to find them. There is no big easy sign that says "click here for free books".  Try clicking on "browse categories" then select a genre that you are interested in. Once a selection of books comes up, click on "sort by" and select "price: low to high". This should give you a large selection of free books. The free books can be a bit hit or miss. I have stumbled on some good ones, but also some I could have skipped. I know you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover, but in this case that is often a good indication of how much effort the author has put into polishing their book. Have fun and let me know if you stumble on a beauty.

If you like contemporary romance that isn't too raunchy, the first book in the No Weddings series is currently free in the Kobo store.

You can download it here. icon

You can read my review here.
  • Where: Kobo
  • Format: ebook

Click on the image below to find out more about the Kobo Aura
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Get a $5 credit today! Exclusive offer for new customers. Sign up to Kobo today and start reading.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Lover Eternal by J.R. Ward

In the shadows of the night in Caldwell, New York, there's a deadly turf war raging between vampires and their slayers. There exists a secret band of brothers like no other-six vampire warriors, defenders of their race. Possessed by a deadly beast, Rhage is the most dangerous of the Black Dagger Brotherhood.

Within the brotherhood, Rhage is the vampire with the strongest appetites. He's the best fighter, the quickest to act on his impulses, and the most voracious lover-for inside him burns a ferocious curse cast by the Scribe Virgin. Owned by this dark side, Rhage fears the time when his inner dragon is unleashed, making him a danger to everyone around him.

Mary Luce, a survivor of many hardships is unwittingly thrown into the vampire world and reliant on Rhage's protection. With a life-threatening curse of her own, Mary is not looking for love. She lost her faith in miracles years ago. But when Rhage's intense animal attraction turns into something more emotional, he knows that he must make Mary his alone. And while their enemies close in, Mary fights desperately to gain life eternal with the one she loves...
 




Hey! Here's my review.

This is the second book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. I like how this series is more than just a vampire romance story. It's not just shallow fluff, there is some depth in the issues.

This book focusses more on the vampire Rhage. He has been cursed over 100 years ago and has a symbiotic dragon beast inside him that comes out when he loses control. He falls in love with Mary, a human whose leukaemia is relapsing. I could relate well to Mary as we have both worked with people with autism and have a positive accepting attitude. The book finishes with a lead in to the next part of the story, so it won't be long until I pick up book 3.
 
★★★★
  • Where: Local library
  • Format: paperback
Purchase links
Amazon Kobo icon

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

11/22/63 by Stephen King

Life can turn on a dime—or stumble into the extraordinary, as it does for Jake Epping, a high school English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine. While grading essays by his GED students, Jake reads a gruesome, enthralling piece penned by janitor Harry Dunning: fifty years ago, Harry somehow survived his father’s sledgehammer slaughter of his entire family. Jake is blown away...but an even more bizarre secret comes to light when Jake’s friend Al, owner of the local diner, enlists Jake to take over the mission that has become his obsession—to prevent the Kennedy assassination. How? By stepping through a portal in the diner’s storeroom, and into the era of Ike and Elvis, of big American cars, sock hops, and cigarette smoke... Finding himself in warmhearted Jodie, Texas, Jake begins a new life. But all turns in the road lead to a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald. The course of history is about to be rewritten...and become heart-stoppingly suspenseful.

Hey! Here's my review.

This was the first book I've read by Stephen King. I have avoided them in the past because I thought they were all horror. A friend recommended this one to me and told me not all his books are horror. This was a wonderful introduction to the writing style of Stephen King.

I knew the basic plot was around time travel and the assassination of JFK. I find the concept of time travel fascinating, and the author did a great job of explaining the way it worked in this book. The time period and details around the JFK assassination were very well researched. The writing style was quite descriptive and I was able to visualise the setting.
I liked the main character and enjoyed the romantic element to the story too. My favourite part of all was the numerous scenes and references to Lindy-Hop and swing dancing. That is my other passion apart from reading and I have never stumbled across it in a book before. 

★★★★
  • Where: Local library
  • Format: paperback
Purchase links
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Sunday, 11 January 2015

Freeding with Audible

Hey Everybody!
audiobooks free trial

If you love audiobooks, you may have heard of +Audible. Audible is an audiobook seller, you can buy books on a casual basis or sign up for a membership for a bigger discount. You can trial the membership. The first month is free and you can cancel the membership at any time. Audible Australia had four books available for free in January 2015. I have downloaded them all. I read The Rosie Project a while ago and loved it. If you haven't read it yet, here is a fantastic chance to check it out for free! My Brilliant Career was one I read back in high school. I haven't read The Family Law yet, but I'll let you know when I do. The other one I in the pack was:


You Have to Fucking EatYou Have to Fucking Eat by Adam Mansbach
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The sequel to Go the Fuck to Sleep.
I got this free from Audible. It was narrated by Dave Hughes, who did a great job.
I giggled all the way through. It is a picture book for adults, written in the style of Time for Bed but about eating, and with lots of swearing.

Click Here to Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Team Challenges

Hey Everyone!

Reading challenges are a fun way to find inspiration to read more or read something you might not usually read. I have lots of fun writing and participating in individual and team reading challenges online in Novel Books & Reading Challenges on Goodreads. Some of the individual challenges I have written you can find via my Reading Challenges tab.

At the moment I am in the middle of a team reading challenge called Tower Teams 3. It is basically a read-a-thon type challenge where points are earned according to the page count of the books you read and bonus points for participating in buddy read discussions. We have more team challenges planned, so if you want to have fun reading and get to know more people from all over the world, come check it out. The latest book I have finished to count for the challenge is


Of A BoyOf A Boy by Sonya Hartnett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book is about the everyday experiences of a 9 year old boy in 1977. It is aimed at adults, not 9 year old boys.

I enjoyed noticing the differences and similarities to everyday life in 2015. The story circles around the case of the missing children and touches on topics such as peer pressure, fitting in, intellectual disabilities and mental health. If you are looking for a feel good book, maybe skip this one, it's not a happily ever after story.

Purchase links
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