Renee Conoulty: March 2015

Books

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Jane and Austen by Stephanie Fowers

Jane and Austen: a Sweet Romance

Meet Jane—an impractical, starry-eyed wedding planner; if love can’t match what she’s read in a book, she doesn't want it. And then there’s Austen—a pragmatic, logical-to-a-fault financial consultant; even if he were interested in someone, he wouldn't know. 
The two have one thing in common: they can’t leave each other alone. Jane believes that if Austen could just experience a fairy tale romance, he would secretly love it. And Austen’s pretty sure that if one of Jane’s beloved heroes escaped from the pages of her dog-eared novels, she’d run and hide.

Both are about to be proven right. 


When the rivals are called upon to help a friend plan the biggest wedding of the year, an entire resort full of colorful wedding guests descend upon them—many sharing uncanny similarities to characters in a Jane Austen novel. It doesn't take long before Jane gets everything she thinks she wants. After all, too much of a good thing can't be all that bad, right? 


But when Jane’s life turns upside down, the only one she can turn to is Austen; though she’s afraid he’s got his own troubles of the heart…and he's enjoying them more than he should.




Hey! Here's my review.

A modern romantic comedy full of Jane Austen references.

There are a lot of characters in this story. The narrator managed to give them each a different sound, which made them easier to keep track of, although some of the accents made me cringe a little. 

The author has taken many of the characters and many of the plots from all 6 of Jane Austen's books and jumbled them up in a modern day resort wedding setting. The story is told from the point of view of Jane - who is a hopeless romantic. She notices the similarities in the wedding participants to the characters in Austen's novels. She starts meddling to try to get the "right" people together, while trying to work out who is her match out of the many suitors she has. It finishes with happy endings for everyone, though not necessarily the way Jane had expected. 

I listened to the audiobook edition, which I received free from the narrator in exchange for an honest review. With so many characters in the story, she did an amazing job of giving them each a different voice. 


★★★
Purchase link  

Monday, 30 March 2015

Freeding via Author Invitation

Hey everyone!

I don't usually go for horror when I'm looking for something to read. This year I reached alpha male burnout, so decided to try a couple of Zombie books to shake things up a bit. I surprised myself by how much I enjoyed them. After posting my review of Induction yesterday, the author, +Shana Festa , contacted me via Facebook to offer me the next book in the series, if I was interested. Meanwhile another author, +Stevie Kopas , found this blog and contacted me via gmail to see if I would be interested in reviewing her Zombie series. I said yes to both (my first personal author invitations - both on the same day). Lock the doors and turn out the lights....well maybe leave one on so I don't get scared....I'm in for a Zombie fest!

I was about to post a zombie image, but they all freaked me out too much! My imagination isn't quite that graphic. So here are some bottles of water, because you can't fight off zombies if you're dehydrated ;)


Sunday, 29 March 2015

Induction by Shana Festa

When no one or nowhere is safe, where do you go to escape the monsters? 

In a few short days, 37 year old Emma Rossi’s hard work will finally pay off. She will don her cap and gown and graduate with a degree in nursing, but not before she loses her first patient and is confronted with a new reality. In Cape Coral, Florida, a storm approaches. The dead are coming back to life. 


And they’re hungry. 


Infection ravages the Eastern Seaboard with alarming speed while attempts to contain the spread of infection fail. Within days, a small pocket of panicked survivors are all that remain of civilization. Fighting to survive the zombie apocalypse alongside her husband Jake and their dog Daphne, Emma comes face-to-face with her worst nightmare. 


Relying on snarky wit and sheer determination, she is forced to commit atrocious acts to protect her family and avoid joining the ranks of the undead.






Hey! Here's my review.



This is the third zombie book I have ever read, I don't usually go for horror, but I felt like a bit of a change. It was exactly what I thought a Zombie Apocalypse should be! A fantastic blend of action and gruesome horror with a splattering of romance and humour. I found the characters likable. The plot was fast paced and engaging. I listened to the audiobook version and the narrator was clearly spoken and easy to listen to. 


★★★★
Purchase link

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Slammed by Colleen Hoover


Following the unexpected death of her father, 18-year-old Layken is forced to be the rock for both her mother and younger brother. Outwardly, she appears resilient and tenacious, but inwardly, she's losing hope.


Enter Will Cooper: The attractive, 21-year-old new neighbor with an intriguing passion for slam poetry and a unique sense of humor. Within days of their introduction, Will and Layken form an intense emotional connection, leaving Layken with a renewed sense of hope.


Not long after an intense, heart-stopping first date, they are slammed to the core when a shocking revelation forces their new relationship to a sudden halt. Daily interactions become impossibly painful as they struggle to find a balance between the feelings that pull them together, and the secret that keeps them apart.





Hey! Here's my review.

This is the first novel written by Colleen Hoover and the third one of hers I have read. She has definitely made it to my favourite authors shortlist! I can't wait to pick up the next book in this series. (It is sitting next to me as I type, ooo, I'm picking it up right now....no...no... put it back down and finish the review...)

This book introduced me to slam poetry, which is performance poetry. There are quite a few poems included throughout the book which add to the emotional punch. Reading Slammed was like riding on an emotional rollercoaster, tears of joy, tears of sorrow, tears of joy again. I really liked and empathised with all the main characters. I kept hoping they could find a way around their relationship barriers. If you like emotionally engaging, mature, young adult tragic romances, then this is your book. I don't want to say anymore in case I spoil the book.

Maybe one more thing........Pink Balloons.......(big fat hot tears dripping down my cheek)

★★★★
Purchase links
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Friday, 27 March 2015

Audrey Goes to Town by Christine Harris

The Barlows have come to the tiny outback town of Beltana, and Audrey’s enjoying making new friends and seeing amazing sights like houses with real glass in the windows! But when Audrey’s mom is suddenly taken to the hospital, Audrey and her little brother are stranded with strict Mrs. Paterson, who has some very particular ideas about "good" behavior. Can Audrey make friends with this lonely old lady who keeps her heart in a cage? A glossary of "Interesting Words" makes learning Aussie slang fun and easy.


*****************************************
Hey! Here's my review.

This is book two in the Audrey of the Outback series. I read it aloud to my 4 and 6 year old kids over several nights. This series is about Audrey, a girl who lived in the Australian outback during the 1930's. In this book, she travels with her family to the nearest town and they board with a widow who lives in town. This is the first time Audrey has been to town and she is excited to see things such as glass in the windows. This book sparked discussion with my children about how things are different now compared to when Audrey lived. Topics such as death, mourning, flash floods and manners were covered. we are looking forward to reading the next book in the series.


★★
Purchase links
Amazon |  Kobo icon

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Who Killed Angelique? by Emma Darcy

'I’ll give you all the dirt darling.’ K.C. Gordon can’t wait to find out what her old school friend Angelique means by this cryptic comment. But before they meet someone cuts short the life of international model Angelique Lanci in a hail of bullets. Loved by few, despised and envied by many, Angelique instigated infidelities, salacious gossip, betrayal and jealousy. But did she deserve to be gunned down in her own home? As K.C. Gordon, successful romance novelist, surveys the assembled family members, past and present acquaintances, business associates and ex-lovers standing at Angelique’s graveside, all with a motive for seeing their nemesis dead, she knows she’ll get her own hands dirty unravelling the truth of who killed Angelique? 



Hey! Here's my review.

This is the first book I have read by the author. It is a cosy mystery where the murders are solved by a romance novelist. The mystery kept me guessing and then was wrapped up nicely at the end, with a good explanation. I listened to the audiobook, and while the narrator was well spoken, the one thing that threw it off for me was the fact that she spoke with a British accent and the book was set in Sydney, Australia.


★★
Purchase link

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Raven's Breath by Tish Thawer

Raven can breathe life into you, or siphon the life from you...the choice is yours. They say your life flashes before your eyes when you die. But what you didn't know...your last thoughts determine whether Raven becomes your grim reaper or your saving grace. Death has a sinister plan, but his favorite female reaper has been given a new power that will combat his secret mission. The only issue...she hasn't discovered it yet. Will Raven put the pieces together in time, or will Purgatory be destroyed forever?



Hey! Here's my review.

A fast paced, quick read set in purgatory. 

This was the first book I have read by this author and I am interested in reading more. Raven's Breath is the first book in The Women of Purgatory series. The main character is a raven haired, leather clad, winged grim reaper. She befriends the newest female reaper who is more of a ditzy blond. They both work for Death, who appears to be hiding something. The story unfolds with conspiracy, mystery, adventure and romance. 

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


★★★
Purchase link

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

The Girl and the Ghost-Grey Mare by Rachael Treasure

From Rachael Treasure, one of Australia's favourite rural storytellers, comes this charming collection of short stories.

You’ll laugh and smile your way through this collection, which includes the favourite tales, 'The Girl And The Ghost-Grey Mare' and 'The Evolution Of Sadie Smith', as well as some new stories that have never published before in book form. All the stories have rural settings, but they’re not all romances. These stories are lively and full of warmth, heart and humour.

Rachael Treasure is the author of Jillaroo, The Rouseabout, The Cattleman's Daughter and The Stockmen. The Australian Women's Weekly said, "Rachael Treasure writes with true grit, wit and warmth."




Hey! Here's my review.

I have read novels by Rachael treasure before, so I thought I'd give this collection of short stories a go. I was surprised to find that they aren't all romance stories. A great collection of Australian stories about city & country, love & lust, humour & horror, cattle & cane toads, murder & magic.


★★★
Purchase links

Monday, 23 March 2015

The Children Act by Ian McEwan

Fiona Maye is a High Court judge in London presiding over cases in family court. She is fiercely intelligent, well respected, and deeply immersed in the nuances of her particular field of law. Often the outcome of a case seems simple from the outside, the course of action to ensure a child's welfare obvious. But the law requires more rigor than mere pragmatism, and Fiona is expert in considering the sensitivities of culture and religion when handing down her verdicts.

But Fiona's professional success belies domestic strife. Her husband, Jack, asks her to consider an open marriage and, after an argument, moves out of their house. His departure leaves her adrift, wondering whether it was not love she had lost so much as a modern form of respectability; whether it was not contempt and ostracism she really fears. She decides to throw herself into her work, especially a complex case involving a seventeen-year-old boy whose parents will not permit a lifesaving blood transfusion because it conflicts with their beliefs as Jehovah's Witnesses. But Jack doesn't leave her thoughts, and the pressure to resolve the case—as well as her crumbling marriage—tests Fiona in ways that will keep readers thoroughly enthralled until the last stunning page.
 




Hey! Here's my review.

This is the first book I have read by the author. I listened to the audiobook, which was well narrated. The main character, Fiona, is a High Court Judge in the Family Court who is having problems in her marriage. I found her relatable and likeable. In this emotional time, she relaxes her professional boundaries with a 17 year old boy who she has to make a judgement over. He is a Jehovah's Witness who wants to refuse a lifesaving blood transfusion treatment because of his religious beliefs and Fiona needs to decide whether to let him choose or force him to have the procedure. Both sides of the story were well presented and I'm glad I don't need to make decisions like that!
★★
Purchase links

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Claiming Noah by Amanda Ortlepp

Catriona and James are desperate for children, and embark on an IVF program. After a gruelling round of treatments, Catriona finally falls pregnant, and they donate their remaining embryo anonymously.

Diana and Liam are on a waiting list to receive an embryo. Sooner than expected, they are thrilled to discover one is available.

After a difficult pregnancy, Catriona gives birth to Sebastian. But severe postnatal depression affects her badly, and quickly turns into deadly psychosis. For her protection and her baby’s, she’s admitted into psychiatric care. When she comes home, she again struggles to bond with her baby, but gradually life finds its own rhythm.

Meanwhile, Diana has given birth to a beautiful little boy, Noah.
But when he is two months old Noah is abducted … and Diana and Liam’s nightmare begins.

Where is Noah?

This gripping, emotional thriller binds together the stories of Catriona and Diana and will leave you on the edge of your seat. 

What if your child belonged to someone else?



Hey! Here's my review.

A fantastic novel from debut Australian author, Amanda Ortlepp. This book covered topics such as infertility, IVF, embryo donation, post natal depression and post natal psychosis. It takes us on the journey of two infertile couples who give birth to genetically related babies. The story takes a thrilling turn and embarks on an emotionally engaging ride full of secrets and lies. I was able to empathise with both mothers throughout the story.

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

★★★★
  • Where: NetGalley
  • Format: ebook
Purchase links
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Saturday, 21 March 2015

Freeding with Play Books

Hey Everyone!

My android phone came pre installed with Google Play Books, an app for reading ebooks purchased through +Google Play. You can also download the app for free. The Google Play Books store has made it easy to find some free books by making a collection of the 250 Top Free Books. This collection includes a variety of genre, so there is something for everyone.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Cold Justice by Katherine Howell

A teenage girl stumbles across the body of her classmate, Tim Pieters, hidden amongst the bushes. His family is devastated, the killer is never found.

Eighteen years later, political pressure sees the murder investigation reopened. Detective Ella Marconi tracks down Georgie Riley, the student who found the body, and who is now a paramedic. Georgie seems to be telling the truth, so then why does Ella receive an anonymous phone call insisting that Georgie knows more? And is it mere coincidence that her ambulance partner, Freya, also went to the same high school?

Ella's confusion increases when Tim's mother, once so willing to get the police involved, suddenly turns her back on the investigation. Meanwhile, Tim's cousin, the MP whose influence reopened the case, can't seem to do enough to help.

The more Ella digs into the past, the more the buried secrets and lies are brought to light. Can she track down the killer before more people are hurt?



Hey! Here's my review.

This is the third book in the Detective Ella Marconi series. It follows the same Point of View pattern as the others. One main POV from the police with Ella, and the other from the paramedics. I enjoyed both points of view equally this time. I must be tuning up my detective skills from reading the first three of these books all in a row, as I figured out "who done it" and why a lot earlier in this book than the others.


★★★
Purchase links
Amazon | Kobo icon

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Freeding with Audiobook Blast

Hey Everyone!

I love audiobooks, but even more than that, I love free audiobooks! Some fellow audio nerd friends of mine from NBRC on Goodreads put me on to Audiobook Blast this week. Audiobook Blast is a place where you can find free and sale priced audiobooks. You can sign up to the mailing list and have the deals emailed to you weekly. There is also a Facebook Group,  a Facebook Page, and you can find them on Twitter.

There are limited numbers of free books available, so get your request in quick. If you are approved, you will need a US or UK Audible account to download the book. It is expected that you will begin listening to the audiobook within two weeks and write an honest review when you are finished, hopefully within the month. This is not restricted to bloggers, anyone who is prepared to post a review can request a book. It is a great service for authors and narrators to get their work heard and get ratings on Audible.

I have downloaded my first audiobook from Audiobook Blast. Stay tuned for my review (in the next couple of weeks) and many more after that.


Wednesday, 18 March 2015

More Sword Girl series by Frances Watts

Hey Everyone!

My kids and I have been devouring the Sword Girl series! We were looking for something to read after we finished the Secret Seven series. My son loves mystery books and I love a bit of magic. This series has been a perfect blend of fantasy and mystery. I think I have enjoyed reading it as much as the kids have enjoyed listening to me read. Here are our reviews of the last three books.

The Siege ScareThe Siege Scare by Frances Watts
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is book 4 in the Sword Girl series. I read this aloud to my 4 year old daughter and 6 year old son as a bedtime story over three nights. This one had my son worried for the safety of Tommy and Lil the cat. (We have now named my daughter's black and white toy cat "Lil"). A great story, but not necessarily relaxing reading at bedtime as my son kept leaping out of bed every time something exciting happened (which was quite a lot).


The Terrible Trickster (Sword Girl)The Terrible Trickster by Frances Watts
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is book 5 in the Sword Girl series. I read this aloud to my 4 year old daughter and 6 year old son as a bedtime story over a few nights. It was the blurb from this book that I read to my son to see if he liked the idea of reading this series. He has asked every book so far "Is this the one with the tricks?". He was so excited when I finally said yes. He had fun making predictions as to who he thought the trickster was. The trickster was tricky enough that I didn't guess who it was until all the clues were revealed.


Pigeon problems (Sword Girl)Pigeon problems by Frances Watts
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is book 6 and the final book in the Sword Girl series. I read this aloud to my 4 year old daughter and 6 year old son as a bedtime story over a few nights. My son really enjoyed predicting what he thought was going to happen next and got very excited when he was right. He was glad when Tommy stopped to look for the pidgeon because "friends are more important than winning". Both kids were sad to hear that this was the last book in the series and they would both like to read them all again one day.
  • Where: Borrowbox
  • Format: ebook
Here are our review for the First three Sword Girl books.

Purchase links
Amazon | Kobo icon

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

NetGalley Top Reviewer

Hey Everyone!

I logged into Netgalley the other day to download my latest request and noticed that I had earned the NetGalley Top Reviewer badge! This means that three or more of my reviews have been added to any NetGalley title details page by a publisher. I had a look to see which ones they had chosen.


  • The first one chosen was for Reluctantly Charmed by Ellie O'Neill, which I have also posted HERE.

  • The second one chosen was for Still Alice by Lisa Genova, which I have also posted HERE. They used the first one.

  • The third one chosen was for The Two of Us by Andy Jones, which I have also posted HERE.



I also have my 80% badge for submitting feedback on at least 80% of the books I have been approved for. (But it dropped off my profile today because I was approved for another book.....better get reading!)




**Update**
Since posting this, NetGalley has also featured my reviews for:

Monday, 16 March 2015

The Girl in 6E by Alessandra Torre

I haven't touched a human in three years. That seems like it would be a difficult task, but it's not. Not anymore, thanks to the internet.

I am, quite possibly, the most popular recluse ever. Not many shut-ins have a 200-member fan club, a bank account in the seven-figure range, and hundreds of men lining up to pay for undivided attention.

They get satisfaction, I get a distraction. Their secret desires are nothing compared to why I hide... my lust for blood, my love of death.

Taking their money is easy. Keeping all these secrets... one is bound to escape.

What if you hid yourself away because all you could think of was killing? And what if one girl's life depending on you venturing into society?

Enter a world of lies, thrills, fears, and all desires, in this original thriller from A. R. Torre.



Hey! Here's my review.

This is the first book I have read by the author, and the first book in the Deanna Madden series. An erotic thriller with lots of graphic descriptions of sex and violence. I found it compelling and hard to put down. A blend of intense, kinky, disturbed and tender. Though I didn't personally relate to any of the characters, I did find them likeable and I was emotionally involved in the plot.

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

Sunday, 15 March 2015

The Darkest Hour by Katherine Howell

Paramedic Lauren Yates stumbles into a world of trouble the night she discovers a dead man in an inner city alley, for the killer still lurks nearby. When the murderer threatens to make her life hell if she tells the police, she believes him – he's Miles Werner, her sister's ex and father to Lauren's niece... and a very bad man indeed.

But when a stabbing victim tells her with his dying breath that Werner attacked him too, she finds herself with blood on her hands and Detective Ella Marconi on her back.

Keen to cement her temporary position in the homicide squad, Ella knows Lauren is the perfect witness for the murder since she can testify to the victim's last words. But when Lauren tries to change her statement, Ella realises that Lauren is hiding something big, and, while her colleagues label her suspicion an obsession, she begins her own investigation. The harder she digs into Lauren's past, however, the more Lauren resists, and the worse the threat from Werner becomes.

Will Ella's investigation put her career on the line, just when she's finally got her foot in the door? And as trouble deepens, can Lauren keep her family safe before Werner makes good on his promise, or will they all, Ella included, pay the ultimate price?
 




Hey! Here's my review.


This is the second book in the Detective Ella Marconi series. I started reading this as soon as I finished book 1. It is another fast paced crime thriller, this time involving illegal drugs. The narrative is again split between police and paramedics, though it is a different paramedic to the first book. I empathised more with Ella and the police in this book, but I also liked the paramedic view.

★★★★
  • Where: Borrowbox
  • Format: ebook
Purchase links
Amazon | Kobo icon

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Frantic by Katherine Howell

There are worse things than death, though Paramedic Sophie Phillips doesn't think so. She and her work partner constantly revise a list of the worst ways to die, holding the number 1 spot vacant for the death so terrible even they can't imagine it. But Sophie is sure it will cross her path on the streets of Sydney one day.

When Sophie's police officer husband Chris is shot and their baby is kidnapped, Detective Ella Marconi has to fight to get to the truth. Is it revenge by a bereaved father for Sophie's recent failure to save his wife and newborn baby? Or was Chris somehow involved in the police corruption that appears rife in the city?

When the police fail to trace Sophie's son, she takes matters into her own hands and now that she's realised there are worse things than death, nothing will stop her from finding him.



Hey! Here's my review.

This is the first book in the Detective Ella Marconi series and the first book I have read by the author. A frantically paced crime thriller set in Sydney, that kept me guessing until the end. The narrative is split between Ella - a police detective and Sophie - a paramedic. I enjoyed the paramedic POV a little more. The author has experience working as a paramedic and was able to really set the scene for the ambulance call outs. I don't know how I would cope if my husband was shot at and my baby kidnapped. I listened to the audio version, narrated by Caroline Lee - who did a great job.

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

Friday, 13 March 2015

Labour Day by Joyce Maynard

With the end of summer closing in and a steamy Labor Day weekend looming in the town of Holton Mills, New Hampshire, thirteen-year-old Henry — lonely, friendless, not too good at sports — spends most of his time watching television, reading, and daydreaming about the soft skin and budding bodies of his female classmates.

For company Henry has his long-divorced mother, Adele — a onetime dancer whose summer project was to teach him how to foxtrot; his hamster, Joe; and awkward Saturday-night outings to Friendly's with his estranged father and new stepfamily. As much as he tries, Henry knows that even with his jokes and his "Husband for a Day" coupon, he still can't make his emotionally fragile mother happy. Adele has a secret that makes it hard for her to leave their house, and seems to possess an irreparably broken heart.

But all that changes on the Thursday before Labor Day, when a mysterious bleeding man named Frank approaches Henry and asks for a hand. Over the next five days, Henry will learn some of life's most valuable lessons: how to throw a baseball, the secret to perfect piecrust, the breathless pain of jealousy, the power of betrayal, and the importance of putting others — especially those we love—above ourselves. And the knowledge that real love is worth waiting for.
 




Hey! Here's my review.

This book drew me in. It was a short, easy exciting read. I was able to understand the motivations of the different characters and found them likeable. I was glad that the author didn't stop at the end of the Labour Day weekend, but told us what happened years later. Now I want to see the move.


★★
  • Where: Borrowbox
  • Format: ebook
Purchase links
Amazon | Kobo icon

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Angel Wishes by Joyce DeBacco

When Addie inherits her parents’ small antique shop, she wonders how she can pursue her New York career and keep the shop her parents loved. Although the shop barely breaks even, it’s a meeting place for friends to gossip and share tea—or sympathy when needed. 

Then there’s Gabe, an old childhood friend who’s become an important part of her life. When she finally gets her big break, he selflessly wishes her well. Not until he’s hurt in his job as a firefighter does she realize the only true love shown in their relationship was on his part, by not asking that she give up her dream and stay. 


Angel Wishes, Book 1 of the Tea or Sympathy Series can be enjoyed as part of a series or as a standalone read.





Hey! Here's my review.

This is the first book I've read by this author. It was an easy to read, light romance with a bit of mystery mixed in. I found the characters likeable and relatable. I love the angel doll, not sure what I would wish for though. Maybe one of those sexy fireman....
★★
  • Where: Amazon via ENT
  • Format: ebook
Purchase link