Renee Conoulty: August 2015

Books

Monday, 31 August 2015

Love and Muddy Puddles by Cecily Anne Paterson

Thirteen year old fashionista Coco Franks has finally made it into the popular group when her dad decides to move the whole family to the country so they can 'bond'. Social death is looming, her shoes are covered in mud and all Coco wants to do is get herself back to her city friends. After all, things can't get any worse, right? It'll take a boy with no dress sense and totally hick boots, and a contrary horse called Cupcake to bring Coco to her senses. But it might just be too little, too late.


Love and Muddy Puddles is humorous realistic fiction aimed at children aged 10-12 and horse lovers everywhere. Set in Australia, this clean teen romance is a funny and inspiring story of how a horse, a listening ear and a hefty dose of mud can change a young person's life.



Hey! Here's my review.

I picked this up through a free promotion and it had been sitting on my Kobo for a while. I impulsively decided to read it while I was camping, and I'm so glad I did. Sitting by the campfire on an outback station, surrounded by wide open paddocks, horses and a buffalo, gave a perfect backdrop for reading about a family that moved from the city to a farm in country New South Wales, Australia. Being the dry season in the Northern Territory meant lots of dust, and not a puddle in sight though.

Love and Muddy Puddles is a middle grade/ya fiction novel dealing with issues such as fitting in, being popular, bullying, making new friends and horses. Although I never had aspirations to be one of the popular girls, and I never cared about fashion when I was Coco's age (which was a loooong time ago), I was still able to empathise with her. I loved watching her grow and mature throughout the book.
 


★★★★

  • Where: Kobo
  • Format: ebook
Purchase links


Sunday, 30 August 2015

Violent Exposure by Katherine Howell

When Suzanne Crawford is found stabbed to death and her husband Connor is discovered to be missing, it looks like just another tragic case of domestic violence to Detective Ella Marconi. But as the investigation progresses, it becomes clear that all is not as it seems. Why is there no record of Connor Crawford beyond a few years ago? Why has a teenager who worked for the pair gone missing too? And above all, what was the secret Suzanne knew Connor was keeping at all costs even from her?


Hey! Here's my review.

Book four in the Ella Marconi fast paced crime thriller series. I love the realistic portrayal of what paramedics deal with and the little details that come through from Katherine Howell's experience of working as a paramedic. This book kept me engaged the whole way through, wondering what the secrets were and trying to pick up on the clues. I love the familiar Australian setting and the alternating perspectives between the police and the paramedics. Looking forward to reading the next one.

★★★★
  • Where: Borrowbox
  • Format: ebook
Purchase links

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Maggie's Five by Sandra Fitzgerald

I had a great life. Not perfect, but really good. I was happy. 
I had a husband and two children. But now I've got Red. 
He’s using me but, that’s okay, because I’m using him too, only for a different reason. 
He wants sex and leverage. I want numb. 
But then Luke came back. 
Don’t be stupid. Luke’s not my husband. My husband is dead, like my children. 
Luke came back and things have started changing. And I think, maybe, that I’m okay with change, but I’m worried it’s too late, that I might be too far down the Rabbit Hole. 
I’m Maggie Cartwright, and this is my story. But be warned, it may not be the happy ever after you dream of. 

Maggie’s Five is the story of a young woman’s journey through her five stages of grief. 
With the tragic loss of her husband and two children, Maggie desperately attempts to cling on to life, until one day she realises life is living on without her. 
After meeting Red, Maggie’s introduced into a dark world of alcohol, drugs and meaningless sex. Spiraling into the indifference that self-destruction brings, creating a numbness that she relishes. 

Luke didn't think he was worth the effort to overcome his own loss until he became an inadvertent witness to the accident that would change Maggie forever. Forced to face his own demons, Luke becomes determined to stay close to Maggie. To support her and care for her and catch her when she falls. 
All that changes when Luke’s has to return to America for work.



Hey! Here's my review.

Brace yourself for an emotional rollercoaster and a journey through grief. One minute I was feeling flushed, then the next I was sobbing. What starts as a romantic happy story, twists and turns into something darker. I just wanted to wrap my arms around Maggie and take her somewhere safe, but I had to take a step back and simply travel along her beside her as her heart healed. 

★★★★

  • Where: Author Invitation
  • Format: ebook
Purchase links

Friday, 28 August 2015

Girls of Summer by S.E. Babin

Girls of Summer by S.E. Babin (Goodreads Author), Geralyn Corcillo (Goodreads Author), Amy Gettinger (Goodreads Author), Celia Kennedy (Goodreads Author), Tracy Krimmer (Goodreads Author), Lisa Bambrick, Cindy Flores Martinez (Goodreads Author), Engy Albasel Neville (Goodreads Author)
Summer, the season where emotions run as hot as the weather! A collection of sweet and sassy journeys where eight women figure out what’s next with the help a special red bikini.


Meet a flustered florist in Texas, who is getting too much attention from the wrong person. A house-sitting college student finds herself wondering what to do when a surprise guest arrives. A champion surfer riding swells from one luscious beach to the next contemplates life, while a mix tape fan roller-skates all night long. An American au pair finds mystery on the French Riviera while others escape a retreat in order to find adventure on Maui. Living large and small, a young lady from New York City sets sail from the Hamptons and a small-town girl discovers the delights of a Polish bakery.


These are the fabulous Girls of Summer, all enjoying lazy summer days and the prospect of romance. Watch out for those red bikinis!
 



Hey! Here's my review.

What a fun collection of short stories. I loved the gimmick of a red bikini mentioned in every story, I got a big smile every time I came across it. 

There are lots of fantastic authors in this collection. This collection is a great way to sample their style, as it was free when I downloaded it. Lots of romance, but also some mystery and deeper elements entwined into the stories.


★★★★

  • Where: Kobo
  • Format: ebook
Purchase links




Thursday, 27 August 2015

Pieces of it All by Tracy Krimmer

An alcoholic. A scarred man. A thief.

Harvey, a twenty-two-year-old high school drop-out arrives home, a brief stint in rehab behind him and ready to start his life again. Then he meets Beth and her innocence and her desire to have it all capture him completely.

A girl on the cusp of womanhood. Determined. A bright future.

Beth, a recent high school graduate among the top in her class, can’t wait to get to college and fulfill her dreams. Then she meets Harvey and with his mysterious past, he stirs feelings in her she can't ignore.

The chemistry between them is unmistakable but Harvey doesn't trust easily and refuses to divulge his past to Beth though she wants to be a part of his future.

The pieces of their lives lie broken all around them, but can Harvey put his life back together and win Beth over before she begins her new life without him? And can Beth find the strength to become the woman she wants to be without sacrificing her integrity?




Hey! Here's my review.

I love Tracy Krimmer's style. I have read a few of her other books and adored how emotionally engaged I became with the characters. I went into this one expecting something similar. I had an emotional response, but this time it was a dislike for one of the main characters. I really wanted to slap some sense into the boy!

I loved the way Tracy twisted the story around and kept me guessing. The ending was not what I was expecting, but it just felt right. This book isn't a typical, straight up romance, but rather, a realistic depiction of imperfect people growing and learning from their mistakes. It tackles issues such as alcohol addiction and abuse.
 



★★★★★ 

  • Where: Giveaway
  • Format: ebook
Purchase link

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

How to Bake the Perfect Pecan Pie by Gina Henning

A warm pie. A tasty guy. Happy Thanksgiving indeed.
Lauren Hauser is home for the holidays, and she’s been given a challenge: preparing her grandmother’s pecan pie. The problem? Lauren’s not famed for her baking skills. In fact, while her sister would win Star Baker every week, and her mom at least knows a sieve from a spatula, Lauren’s bakes have always been more dangerous than delicious!
Still, no Thanksgiving would be complete without dessert…which is why Lauren finds herself searching for pecans on Thanksgiving Eve. Stumbling into a gorgeous stranger laden down with bags of pecans seems like a holiday miracle…but despite Jack’s kissable lips he’s frostier than a snow cone…and out of sight before she can say ‘Macy’s Parade’!
As the clock counts down to Thanksgiving dinner, Lauren is running out of time. And without her grandmother’s perfect pecan pie it won’t be a very Happy Thanksgiving! What Lauren needs is a knight in shining armour. And it might just be that the magic of Thanksgiving will find her one after all…




Hey! Here's my review.

This is the first book in the Home for the Holidays series. I read this series out of order, starting at book two, then book three. Now I have come back to the beginning to see how it all started. I have noticed the author's writing improve over the series and I'm really looking forward to book four coming out soon.

It was strange meet Jack and not like him after being totally in love with him in the following books. It took me quite a while to warm up to him in this book.

This is a fun, light chick lit read. Perfect to enjoy with a cuppa and a slice of pie. Mmmm pecan pie. Now I'm hungry again. 

I listened to the audiobook edition, which I received free in exchange for an honest review. The narrator spoke clearly and at a good pace.



★★★

  • Where: Author Invitation
  • Format: audiobook
Purchase links


And if you came here looking for an actual recipe, here's the one from the book.

Grandma’s Award Winning Pie Recipe 
Ingredients:
1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
10 ounces chopped pecans 
1 tablespoon molasses
1/2 teaspoon of salt
Directions:
1    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2    In a large bowl, beat eggs until foamy, and stir in melted butter. Stir in the brown sugar, white sugar, and the flour; mix well. Last add the milk, vanilla, molasses, salt….
3    Pour into an unbaked 9-inch pie shell. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes at 400 degrees, then reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until done.
 Flaky Pastry Pie Crust Recipe
Ingredients:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, chilled and diced
1/4 cup ice water
Directions:
1    Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl.
2    Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
3    Stir in the ice water, a tablespoon at a time, until the crust mixture forms a ball.
4    Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.
5    Sprinkle flour onto rolling surface. Roll dough out.
6    Place crust in pie plate, pressing evenly into the bottom and sides.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Dancing by the light of the moon

Hey Everyone,

The other day I won another book in a Facebook giveaway (thanks Tess Woods). Not that my to read pile isn't big enough already, but this was for an autographed paperback of a book I really wanted to read. I love dancing and reading books about dancing. I haven't danced much tango, but it does make me swoon. Ahhh, dancing by the light of the moon. 

The author (Alli Sinclair) let me know last week that it was on it's way. I've been patiently stalking my letterbox ever since. It takes so long for mail to get to where I live. Squeee! It arrived today! First things first of course, take an instagram worthy photo to let Alli know it has arrived.


red lipstick rose flower dress clutch

Isn't that cover absolutely gorgeous! In fact, it just won favourite contemporary cover at the 2015 Romance Writers of Australia awards!


flower bookmark

Now, do I feel more like reading or dancing......



Monday, 24 August 2015

Apartment 2B by K. Webster

Sidney has a rough life. Her mom is incredibly abusive both mentally and physically. One day, she’s awarded the escape she’s always wanted and thrust into a world she barely understands. Each day is a struggle to feel human and not terrified of everything around her.

Sidney has rules. Routines. Structure. It’s the only way she can cope.

When a handsome, yet mysterious stranger inserts himself into her life, Sidney begins to come apart at the seams. She’s having trouble sticking to her habits and it’s threatening to shred any hope of a normal life to pieces. 
Will this stranger help her in ways no other person can, or will things get worse for her? 

He comes with his own set of problems and secrets he’s unwilling to share. Will they work together through the mess of their pasts or will they get caught up enabling each other? Will their toxic relationship ultimately be destined for demise?


Hey! Here's my review.

The prologue sets out the horrific mental and physical abuse that the main character endured, explaining why she is so dysfunctional. It was quite disturbing to read and told in the present tense. I prefer the past tense style in the rest of the book. It was only halfway through the book that I remembered that it was classified as paranormal romance. The paranormal element is set out more as a twist than the main theme. There were lots of things that just didn't add up for me, though many other people loved this book. If you like a messed up character healing from a broken past with lots of raunchy sex scenes, then you might enjoy this, as long as you don't keep asking yourself "But why didn't she....."

I listened to the audiobook edition, which I received free from audiobookblast.com in exchange for an honest review. The narrator spoke clearly and at a good pace. She could not be classified as monotonous, modulating a little too much for my taste.

★★

  • Where: Audiobook Blast
  • Format: audiobook
Purchase links

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Fifty Shades of Roxie Brown by Lynda Renham

Roxie Brown loves erotica and her friend, Sylvie, loves crime … novels of course. On a girls' night out they meet the Great Zehilda, the tea leaf reader, and suddenly Roxie’s Fifty Shades fantasies about her millionaire boss, Ark Morgan, look about to become a reality. But then she looks through the telescope and her life is turned upside down. Roxie and Sylvie, with help from Sylvie’s flatmate, Felix, set out to crack the case. Can Ark Morgan save her or is he the man she should be running from? Then enter Sam Lockwood and her heart is shot with another arrow. Come with Roxie Brown on her hilarious crime-busting romantic adventure and discover if the love of her life is the man of her dreams or if the man she loves is her worst nightmare.



Hey! Here's my review.

An entertaining rom com about a group of friends investigating a murder that Roxie Brown witnessed. I did feel like slapping them all and telling them to go to the police many times. I hoped it wasn't really a murder, or they were all contaminating all the evidence and putting themselves in danger. After I reminded myself several times that I was reading a work of fiction and this wasn't really happening, I was able to relax and just go with the flow. 

I enjoyed the tension between Roxie and the two men who were courting her. Roxie was a fun character who often drifted into her Fifty Shades of Grey fantasy about her own billionaire boss. The characters were all larger than life, and I found this book a good diversion to escape reality.

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

★★★

  • Where: Author Invitation
  • Format: ebook
Purchase links

Saturday, 22 August 2015

The Marrying Type by Laura Chapman

Persuasion Austen retelling
Always the wedding planner, never a bride, Elliot Lynch is famous for orchestrating the splashiest weddings in Charleston, South Carolina. When her father’s sloppy management practices leave them on the brink of bankruptcy, Elliot will do whatever it takes to save the family business. When asked to appear on “The Marrying Type,” a reality TV show about the people behind the scenes as couples exchange I dos, she says yes to the invasion of privacy (and the hefty paycheck that comes with it). 

With a camera crew capturing every detail of her life, Elliot faces her most challenging contract yet: planning a wedding where her ex is involved in every part of the process. Add in a lazy assistant, liquor-loving bridesmaid, and rival planner encroaching on her turf, and Elliot’s wedding season goes from high-end to high-stress. 

Forced to confront her past, Elliot must live out her troubled present on national TV if she has any hope of saving her future. 



Hey! Here's my review.

This modern retelling of Persuasion will appeal to Austen lovers and chick lit lovers alike. A fun rom com about Elliot, who works in her family owned wedding planner business and takes part in a reality TV show. 

I really liked Elliot. She is the kind of girl I could imagine being best friends with. I've always thought you shouldn't get back together with an ex, so when her ex came back on the scene I was immediately against him. I changed my opinion about whether they should get back together or not a few times throughout the book, and I was happy with the way it turned out. 

This is the second book I've read by Laura Chapman and I'm looking forward to reading more from her.

★★★★

  • Where: Amazon
  • Format: ebook
Purchase links
Amazon | Kobo 

Friday, 21 August 2015

The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak

A book with no pictures?

What could be fun about that?

After all, if a book has no pictures, there's nothing to look at but the words on the page.

Words that might make you say silly sounds... In ridiculous voices...

Hey, what kind of book is this, anyway?

At once disarmingly simple and ingeniously imaginative, The Book With No Pictures inspires laughter every time it is opened, creating a warm and joyous experience to share--and introducing young children to the powerful idea that the written word can be an unending source of mischief and delight.
 




Hey! Here's my review.

I've heard about this book before, so when I spotted it in the library, I picked it up, and I'm so glad I did. This book has been the biggest hit in our house. I read it aloud to my 4 and 6 year olds and they laughed hysterically through most of it, then begged me to read it again. I read it twice in a row, everyday. On the third day, my reluctant reader wanted a turn to read it aloud. We went to the library again yesterday and swapped over all the other books we'd borrowed, but this one we'll keep for the full four weeks. 

As the title suggests, there are no pictures in this book, not even one of the author in the about the author section in the back. The words are printed boldly, sometimes black and white, sometimes in bright colours, but it's not the appearance of the book that is the main drawcard. It's the word. When you read a book, you have to say all the words. Sometimes those words say silly things and kids love to hear grownups say silly things. 

**Interview with my 4 and 6 year old**
Interview aborted - too much laughing.


★★★★★ 

  • Where: Local Library
  • Format: Hardback
Purchase links

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Xs and Os for Gabby Ann by Petrell Marie Ozbay

Gabby Ann loves kisses and hugs. They are the BEST part about bedtime. There is nothing like an extra kiss and a hug – an X and an O – from her mommy before the lights go out. But, what about Gabby’s daddy? He works on the other side of the world, at least a million miles away. So, how are his kisses and hugs going to reach her? When will they get there? What if they get lost along the way?

Join the Xs and Os on a lively, global adventure as they find their way to Gabby Ann, helping children to realize the boundless and powerful spirit of a parent’s love.

10% of the net profit from every book sold will benefit the Operation Purple Camp Programs of the National Military Family Association.




Hey! Here's my review.

What happens when you blow a kiss to someone on the other side of the world? 

This beautifully illustrated childrens book tells the tale of how the hugs and kisses Daddy sent travelled across the world to his daughter. It is written in the repetitive pattern that works so well with picture books. It would work really well as a bedtime story, but would also be great to trigger conversations about how a child is coping while one of their parents are away. My husband is in the military, and is often away for work. I'm always on the lookout for books that can help my children understand and cope with this type of separation. This one it pitched perfectly at younger children. My four year old really enjoyed it. 

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


★★★★

Purchase links

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Lucky For You by Jayne Denker **Release Day Blitz**

Lucky For You by Jayne DenkerHey Everyone!

I'd like to introduce you to Jayne Denker, whose latest book is being released today.

Jayne Denker divides her time between working hard to bring the funny in her romantic comedies and raising a young son who's way too clever for his own good. She lives in a small village in western New York that is in no way, shape, or form related to the small village in her Marsden novels Down on Love, Picture This, and Lucky for You. When she's not hard at work on another novel, the social media addict can usually be found frittering away startling amounts of time on Facebook and Twitter.

Connect via

Lucky For You is the third book in the Marsden chick lit series, but can be read as a standalone.

Lucky For You by Jayne Denker


It’s where everyone remembers your name—and your mistakes. But the quaint Catskills town of Marsden has a way of inspiring the unlikeliest reunions, flipping the script on the best laid plans, and opening even the most stubborn hearts...
Jordan Leigh’s always had a reputation for being bad news. So she figured it was only a matter of time before she got into serious trouble. But serving house arrest in her hometown of Marsden is truly cruel and unusual punishment. Plus she's under police officer Will Nash's up-close-and-all-too-personal supervision…which could make things worse—or more fun.
To make amends, Jordan throws herself into making nice with her neighbors, taking in stray animals, and helping teenage girls get back on track. But what she really wants is to get on the right track with Will. To do that, she’ll have to show him she's grown up. And if that means making him break his own rules and face down his own fears, she's up for the challenge...

Purchase links


Release Day Blitz Bliss Book Promotion



Monday, 17 August 2015

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

As soon as Anne Shirley arrived at the snug,  white farmhouse called Green Gables, she knew she  wanted to stay forever... but would the Cuthberts  send her back to the orphanage? Anne knows she's not  what they expected -- a skinny girl with decidedly  red hair and a temper to match. If only she could  convince them to let her stay, she'd try very hard  not to keep rushing headlong into scrapes or blurt  out the very first thing she had to say. Anne was  not like anybody else, everyone at Green Gables  agreed; she was special -- a girl with an enormous  imagination. This orphan girl dreamed of the day  when she could call herself Anne of Green Gables. 



Hey! Here's my review.


I loved this book as a teen and haven't read it for years. I loved it even more this time around. I was reading another book that mentioned Anne of Green Gables several times, and I couldn't help but pick it up and read it again. 


I read it via audiobook this time - the free Librivox recording, narrated by Karen Savage. Karen did a great job of narrating and portrayed the non stop chatter of a teenage girl well. The only issue I have with Librivox is that at the beginning of each chapter, the narrator announces that "This is a Librivox Recording" etc, which throws you out of the story, then you have to get back in. Not to hard to cope with in exchange for a free recording though. 

The classic language was beautiful to listen to. I'd forgotten how funny this book was too. Looking forward to reading it with my daughter when she is a bit older.

★★★★★ 


Purchase links

Sunday, 16 August 2015

My Dog the Dinosaur by Jackie French

When Gunk sees Spot at the dog pound, he knows immediately that Spot is the dog for him. But Spot is not an ordinary dog. He has a long neck and a flat tail, and he eats lettuce. Lots of it. In fact, Spot is the strangest-looking dog Gunk has ever seen. And then Spot starts to grow!


Hey! Here's my review.

After finishing My Mum the Pirate, we continued with the second book in the Wacky Families series. The books have unrelated characters, but the same sense of crazy.

**Interview with my 6 year old**

Me: What did you think of My Dog the Dinosaur?
Him: I love it!

Me: What was your favourite bit?
Him: It was thumbs up when he rescued the boy from the kidnapping bad guys.

Me: Who was your favourite character?
Him: I think Spot is the best guy in the whole book. Spot is my favourite character.

Me: Would you like to have a dinosaur pet?
Him: Yes!

Me: What kind of dinosaur would you like to have?
Him: A Pterodactyl so I could fly everywhere!

★★★★★ 


  • Where: Borrowbox
  • Format: ebook
Purchase links

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Fools Rush In: An April Fools Day Anthology by Celia Kennedy

 Celia Kennedy  (Author), Whitney Dineen  (Author), Engy Neville (Author), Connie Stephany  (Author), Suzie Jay  (Author), Amy Gettinger  (Author), Laurie Baxter  (Author), S.E. Babin  (Author), Karan Eleni
A collection of eight contemporary chick lit short stories are set around April Fools’ Day. On the first day of April, tricksters play their pranks, but what will be the outcome? Some will find love, while others will experience betrayal. Other pranksters will seize adventure and travel to confess or rekindle romance. Some may face rejection, seek forgiveness, or earn a second chance. Read on and find out how love and laughter rule the day.


Hey! Here's my review.

A great collection of eight chick lit short stories all around the theme of April Fools Day. Each story was written by a different author, so had it's own voice. I couldn't choose a favourite, I liked each of them for their uniqueness. I expected that each story would have a romance and a happy ending, and wasn't disappointed. It was fun to see which pranks were played, might have a few new ideas now for next April 1.

As an added bonus, there was a character in one of the stories whose name started with X, so this book came in handy for one of the reading challenges I was doing in the NBRC group on Goodreads.


★★★★

  • Where: Smashwords (Available free at time of posting)
  • Format: ebook
Purchase links