Renee Conoulty: February 2016

Books

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Outback Sisters by Rachael Johns

The Bunyip Bay series each feature different characters, so the fact that I haven't read the first three didn't detract at all from the story. If you have read them, then you will recognise many of the side characters in Outback Sisters and enjoy it even more. Rachael writes wonderful, likeable characters with depth. 

When the outback sisters, Frankie and Simone, meet luscious Logan, the age old question arises - "I wonder if he has a brother?" Why yes, yes he does have a brother... With the little snippets of information that only the reader is privvy to, I had decided early on how these little romances should play out. If only they had all listened to my advice, I could have sorted out their love lives in a chapter or two, but no, they didn't listen to little old me. I thoroughly enjoyed going on the journey with them, seeing them each fall in love and maybe falling in love a little myself.
#TeamLogan

I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This is the second of Rachael's books I've read and I'm planning to catch up on as much of her backlist as I can before the next one comes out.


Hey! Here's my review.

The Bunyip Bay series each feature different characters, so the fact that I haven't read the first three didn't detract at all from the story. If you have read them, then you will recognise many of the side characters in Outback Sisters and enjoy it even more. Rachael writes wonderful, likeable characters with depth. 

When the outback sisters, Frankie and Simone, meet luscious Logan, the age old question arises - "I wonder if he has a brother?" Why yes, yes he does have a brother... With the little snippets of information that only the reader is privvy to, I had decided early on how these little romances should play out. If only they had all listened to my advice, I could have sorted out their love lives in a chapter or two, but no, they didn't listen to little old me. I thoroughly enjoyed going on the journey with them, seeing them each fall in love and maybe falling in love a little myself.
#TeamLogan

I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This is the second of Rachael's books I've read and I'm planning to catch up on as much of her backlist as I can before the next one comes out.


★★★★★ 

  • Where: NetGalley
  • Format: ebook

Friday, 26 February 2016

Under The Spanish Stars by Alli Sinclair

Gypsy Flamenco Dance Romance SpainCharlotte Kavanagh’s beloved grandma Katarina Sanchez is gravely ill, so when she begs Charlotte to travel to her homeland in Andalucía to uncover the truth behind a mysterious painting, Charlotte agrees.  Taking leave from her soul-destroying job and stalled life in Australia, Charlotte embarks on a quest through Granada’s ancient cobble-stoned streets and vibrant neighbourhoods. There she meets Mateo Vives, a flamenco guitarist with a dark past, and through him she quickly becomes entangled in the world of flamenco and gypsies that ignites a passion she had thought lost. 

But the mystery surrounding the painting deepens, reaching back in time to the war-torn Spain of the 1940s and Charlotte discovers her grandmother’s connection to the Spanish underground. Who is her grandmother, really? What is Mateo’s connection to her family history? And why is finding answers to a family mystery turning into a journey of self-discovery for Charlotte?

Weighed down by secrets, betrayals and shattered relationships, Charlotte finds herself questioning the true meaning of heritage, family and love. 



Hey! Here's my review.

I love Australian Authors. I love romance novels. I love all kinds of dancing. I love sexy guys with sexy accents. If you love these too, then grab yourself one of Alli's novels and swoon along with me. 

I've devoured everything Alli has written, including her short stories. I adored them all, but this is my favorite so far. I found the story emotionally engaging, bringing both smiles and tears to my eyes. Blending contemporary romance with historical tragedy and throwing in a bit of mystery, Alli had me turning pages to the bittersweet end. 

There is a free prequel available. It is not vital to read the short story, but it sets the scene beautifully and adds another layer to the story. I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

★★★★★ 

  • Where: NetGalley
  • Format: ebook

Purchase link

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Dreaming Of Spain by Alli Sinclair

flamenco dancing
Dreaming of Spain: A free prequel to the upcoming Under the Spanish Stars by Alli Sinclair, February 2015
Charlotte Kavanagh is averse to risk and researches every decision she makes. Although it hasn’t helped her recently with her failed romance, a job she despises and a strong feeling there is a better life out there—somewhere.
When her grandmother takes ill and requests Charlotte travels to Spain to solve a mystery, Charlotte faces a huge decision—stay with the status quo or face her fears and take the biggest risk of her life…

Hey! Here's my review.

I snapped up this free prequel when it first became available, but then realised that I'm not very good with the waiting, so stashed it away until I got my hands on the novel. You don't have to read the prequel to understand the novel, but it adds another layer to the story and is a beautiful set up for the main event. I finished reading the prequel and dove straight into the novel.

★★★★★ 
  • Where: Kobo
  • Format: ebook


Monday, 22 February 2016

Viral by Helen Fitzgerald

So far, twenty-three thousand and ninety-six people have seen me online. They include my mother, my father, my little sister, my grandmother, my other grandmother, my grandfather, my boss, my sixth year Biology teacher and my boyfriend James.


When Leah Oliphant-Brotheridge and her adopted sister Su go on holiday together to Magaluf to celebrate their A-levels, only Leah returns home. Her successful, swotty sister remains abroad, humiliated and afraid: there is an online video of her, drunkenly performing a sex act in a nightclub. And everyone has seen it.

Ruth Oliphant-Brotheridge, mother of the girls, successful court judge, is furious. How could this have happened? How can she bring justice to these men who took advantage of her dutiful, virginal daughter? What role has Leah played in all this? And can Ruth find Su and bring her back home when Su doesn't want to be found?

Hey! Here's my review.

The opening line is jarring and made me sit up and take notice. The topic made me think, made me wonder what I would do if it happened to me. Then I sat back and watched everything spiral out of control, frantically turning pages to see how far it would all go. 

This novel got me thinking about the issue of consent (I love this video on consent). At what level of intoxication does a consenting sexual act become abuse? I could easily imagine a situation like this happening - especially after living on the Gold Coast in Australia and seeing the reckless behaviour during schoolies week every year. 

Although I didn't agree with all the characters actions, I could relate to them and understand their motivations. The characters had depth and were well written. This is the second novel I've read by Helen and I plan to read more. I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


★★★★★


  • Where: NetGalley
  • Format: ebook
Purchase link

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Quote - Douglas Adams

I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.

Hey Everyone!

Do you procrastinate and leave things to the last minute or are you organised and finished way before the deadline?

Thursday, 18 February 2016

The Widow by Fiona Barton

'The ultimate psychological thriller' Lisa Gardner

We've all seen him: the man - the monster - staring from the front page of every newspaper, accused of a terrible crime.

But what about the woman who grips his arm on the courtroom stairs – the woman who stands by him?

Jean Taylor’s life was blissfully ordinary. Nice house, nice husband. Glen was all she’d ever wanted: her Prince Charming.

Until he became that man accused, that monster on the front page. Jean was married to a man everyone thought capable of unimaginable evil.

But now Glen is dead and she’s alone for the first time, free to tell her story on her own terms.

Jean Taylor is going to tell us what she knows.


Du Maurier's REBECCA meets WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN and GONE GIRL in this intimate tale of a terrible crime.

'My book of the year so far' C. L. Taylor, author of THE LIE



Hey! Here's my review.

This slow burn psychological thriller kept me fully engaged and turning pages to find out what really happened. It is told in alternating perspectives of the key players: The Widow, The Reporter, The Detective, The Mother, and The Husband. Each had their own agenda and were at times, unreliable narrators. I never knew quite what to make of Jean (The Widow). She was the most unreliable and I felt she was hiding something from the start, but I wasn't sure what it was. She was a strongly written, weak character. 

Although this novel deals with a horrific crime, it does not include graphic descriptions of the crime. No blood and guts here. No descriptions of assault. The focus is more on the relationships between the characters and the procedure within the police and press when trying to solve a major crime. 

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


★★★★★ 

  • Where: NetGalley
  • Format: ebook
Purchase link

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

How to Get Hitched in Ten Days by Samantha Tonge

HOW NOT TO GET THE GIRL…

Meet Mikey, every girl’s best friend – he bakes the creamiest cheesecake, loves movie nights and is a great dance partner.

For Jasmine, Mikey is the perfect flatmate – he owns a 50s diner that turns out the best food around, gives the best bear hugs and amazing romance advice – after all they’re scoping out the same hot guys! So when her boyfriend proposes in the worst possible way, Jazz knows her best friend will be there to pick up the pieces with gourmet popcorn, Pinot sleepovers and a shoulder to lean on.

But Mikey isn’t about to let Jasmine give up on love, and he’s ready to do whatever it takes to mend her broken heart – even if it means helping the one person who sees him as the enemy…

Because at the end of the day, all’s fair in the pursuit of true love… right?



Hey! Here's my review.

This is the story of Jasmine, her slightly homophobic boyfriend Dave and her gay best friend Mikey. There has always been friction between Dave and Mikey, which they have to put aside when Dave asks Mikey to help save his relationship with Jasmine. The disasters that follow had me giggling. There was also an underlying mystery, Mikey was hiding something, but I didn't quite work out what it was. 

I found Mikey to be the most likable character in the novella. He is the kind of guy I would have had a huge crush on in high school, then been heartbroken when he came out (um... that might have actually happened). I enjoyed the light, fun writing style and look forward to reading more from Samantha.

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

★★★★

  • Where: NetGalley
  • Format: ebook


Purchase link

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Novelista Girl by Meredith Schorr **Guest Post and Review**

Novelista GirlHey Everyone!

I'd like to introduce you to Meredith Schorr who has come to celebrate Valentine's Day with me. 

A born and bred New Yorker, Meredith Schorr discovered her passion for writing when she began to enjoy drafting work-related emails way more than she was probably supposed to. After trying her hand penning children’s stories and blogging her personal experiences, Meredith found her calling write chick lit and contemporary women’s fiction. She secures much inspiration from her day job as a hardworking trademark paralegal and her still-single status. Meredith is also the co-founder of Bookbuzz, a live author/reader event held annually. She is a loyal New York Yankees fan and an avid runner. Novelista Girl is Meredith’s fifth novel.



Connect with Meredith via


Guest Post

Happy Valentine’s Day!

My big plans to celebrate the holiday of love are simple: I’ll be watching the mid-season premiere of The Walking Dead on AMC. Rather than making googly eyes at my boyfriend over a candlelit dinner and a bottle of red, I’ll be sitting on the edge of my couch, gripping my remote control, and holding my breath waiting for a walker to sneak up on my favorite characters and eat their guts. Sound disgusting? It is. But the intensity is delicious.

Since I’m currently not in a romantic relationship, I do not have a date for Valentine’s Day, but even when I have been attached, it’s never been a holiday on which I placed much weight. Sure, I liked receiving flowers and candy, and being taken out to a nice dinner, but I’m all about sincerity in a relationship and I wouldn’t want my boyfriend to do/say things to me on Valentine’s Day that he wouldn’t want to do/say on any other day. I find the posts people leave for their mates on social media to be cheesy because, seriously, if you are that into your significant other, shouldn’t you be saying these things to him in private, for instance when you’re with each other in bed? Why must it be done in a public forum?

I’m not going to lie, the arrival of February 14th does act as a reminder of my single status and increases my yearning to meet someone special. Not because I want him to “go to Jared” so I can post pictures of my new earrings, necklace (insert other item of jewelry here) on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, but because it’s been quite a while since I met a man I really liked, and I miss having my “other half” and all of the positive aspects of a happy, healthy pairing. Lately, I just haven’t found myself pining for the company of the guys I date as much as I crave watching zombies feast on human intestines.

Oh, well, there’s always next year J

**Renee** Meredith, my hubby is going to be away for work on Valentine's so I'll be sitting on the couch with you. Just look the other way when I post some soppy stuff on Facebook.

Novelista Girl by Meredith Schorr

Readers first met sassy Kimberly Long in Blogger Girl, and now the feisty New Yorker is back in a sequel packed with quick wit, friendship, heartache, and, of course, romance.

Kim runs the most popular chick lit book blog on the web, loves playing house with her sexy lawyer boyfriend, Nicholas, and is finally pursuing her lifelong dream to become a published author. At first glance, her life is five-pink-champagne-flutes worthy.

But is there more to the story than meets the eye?

After hearing the phrase “chick lit is dead” more times than she’s read Bridget Jones's Diary, Kim is driven to desperate measures, seeking advice from up-and-coming chick lit author, Hannah Marshak, her high school nemesis and resident “mean girl.” As if Kim doesn't have enough on her plate balancing her secretarial duties with her blog Pastel Is the New Black, shrugging off the growing pile of agent rejections, and keeping her best friend from turning green over Kim’s budding friendship with Hannah, Nicholas is so blinded by his career ambitions, he doesn't see that their home sweet home could use more than a dash of sugar.

This is the year when all of Kim's dreams—professional and romantic—are supposed to come true, but will the story have a happily ever after, or will Kim end up unpublished and all alone?

This novel can be read as a sequel or as a standalone and is best accompanied by a cocktail, preferably a pink one.
 


Hey! Here's my review.

This is the sequel to Blogger Girl, which I haven't read yet, but want to more than ever now. I would recommend reading Blogger Girl first. There are a few references to things that happened in the first book, but you can understand the references from the context. Novelista Girl stood up well on its own.

I loved Kim. I related to her on many levels. She's another of my book besties. The relationship issues were realistic and familiar - what could happen when the novelty of a new relationship wears off. As for the ending... no spoilers! But this is chick lit, so rest assured that you won't be disappointed.

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



★★★★★ 


  • Where: NetGalley
  • Format: ebook


Purchase link

Friday, 12 February 2016

A Sudden Crush by Camilla Isley **Blog Tour - Review**

Hey Everyone!

I'd like to introduce you to Camilla Isley, who is on tour with her latest novel, A Sudden Crush.

Hi! I’m a writer of romantic comedy, cat’s lover, coffee addict, and shoes hoarder.Besides writing, I love reading (surprise, surprise), cooking—and eating—especially pasta, going to the movies and obviously ordering a gigantic bowl of popcorn, and watching too much bad TV.I understand that mosquitoes play a role in the ecosystem as a part of other animals’ diet, and I don’t want to starve all those frog princes out there, but I could really live without them.
Connect with Camilla via

A Sudden Crush by Camilla Isley

Joanna Price is a city girl with the perfect life. She loves her job as a book editor, she just married Liam, high profile bestselling author and the man of her dreams, and she’s headed to the Caribbean to enjoy two weeks of paradise for her luxurious honeymoon.
Connor Duffield is a gruff, grumpy rancher from the Midwest. He is a country boy who has a no-nonsense approach to life, more scars than he’d like to admit, and he hates city girls.

So it’s just a misfortune they have to sit next to each other for a six hour plane ride. Even more so when their flight is caught in the perfect storm and Joanna wakes up stranded on a desert island with Connor, the very man she hoped she would never have to see again.

Why are they alone on this forsaken island? What happened to Joanna’s husband?

When her dream honeymoon turns into a hilarious tropical nightmare, Joanna’s first thought is survival. However, she and Connor will quickly discover just how boring paradise can be. As the days turn to weeks, and then months, this mismatched pair will have to learn how to coexist and how to resist the sparkles of an attraction they weren’t prepared to feel.

When they are finally rescued will Joanna’s marriage be saved as well, or will the life she knew and loved be in ruins?
 

Hey! Here's my review.

I loved Camilla Isley's first novel - I wish for you - so much that when I saw the blog tour for her second novel, I signed up without even reading the blurb. I then read it without glancing at the blurb and was totally sideswiped by the plane crash. I wouldn't have been if I'd read the blurb - but I think I enjoyed it even more because I didn't know what was coming. 

What begins as another fairytale romance - an enemies to lovers romantic comedy (with a cute baby monkey side kick), doesn't play out quite as I expected. The story doesn't remain in fairytale land, making us face the reality of what happens after they are rescued from this deserted island.

I loved Joanna. She is honest, if naive, and always looks for the positive in a situation - a bit like me. She is the kind of girl I would love to be friends with. 


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


★★★★★ 
  • Where: Hello Chick Lit Blog Tour
  • Format: ebook

Purchase link



Hello Chick Lit Blog Tour

Pop in and see Camilla on her other tour stops



02.08.16
Grass Monster – Review

Literary Chanteuse – Promo

Chick Lit Central – Review

02.09.16
Bookmyopia – Review
Calico Gifts Blog – Review

Judging More Than Just the Cover – Author Q&A – Review

Bookish Escapes - Review

02.10.16
T & L Book Reviews – Promo

Boundless Minds – Author Q&A


02.11.16
On My Bookshelf – Review
Liz Ellen – Review

The Nest of Books Review - Author Guest Post


02.12.16
Vvb32 Reads - Review


Book Groupies - Promo
Hey Said Renee - Review






Wednesday, 10 February 2016

The Year We Fell Down by Sarina Bowen

The sport she loves is out of reach. The boy she loves has someone else.

What now?


She expected to start Harkness College as a varsity ice hockey player. But a serious accident means that Corey Callahan will start school in a wheelchair instead.

Across the hall, in the other handicapped-accessible dorm room, lives the too-delicious-to-be real Adam Hartley, another would-be hockey star with his leg broken in two places. He’s way out of Corey’s league.

Also, he’s taken.

Nevertheless, an unlikely alliance blooms between Corey and Hartley in the “gimp ghetto” of McHerrin Hall. Over tequila, perilously balanced dining hall trays, and video games, the two cope with disappointments that nobody else understands.

They’re just friends, of course, until one night when things fall apart. Or fall together. All Corey knows is that she’s falling. Hard.

But will Hartley set aside his trophy girl to love someone as broken as Corey? If he won’t, she will need to find the courage to make a life for herself at Harkness — one which does not revolve around the sport she can no longer play, or the brown-eyed boy who’s afraid to love her back.




Hey! Here's my review. 

Looking for diversity in New Adult Romance? Here's a fabulous read with a strong female lead character who happens to be a paraplegic.  The issues of day to day life as a paraplegic are dealt with tactfully and realistically, as well as the issues of any new adult leaving home and going to college. 

I loved the dynamics between Corey and Adam and was hoping they would see the light and get together. This is the first book in the Ivy Years series. I'm looking forward to reading the next one. 


★★★★★ 

  • Where: Amazon
  • Format: ebook

Purchase link

Monday, 8 February 2016

Bring Me Back by Jennifer Collin

Andy Evans is on the move. For six long, lonely years, he’s been running from his past, leaving his family and his life as a drug-addicted rock star far behind. His latest move takes him to the sleepy seaside town of Oamaru, New Zealand, to sell cigar-box guitars to tourists. The only running he’ll need to do will be training for half-marathon in nearby Dunedin. But when Andy sets eyes on Steampunk HQ, Oamaru's main tourist attraction, he realises his days of running might not be over, especially if a certain Steampunk fan from his past catches up with him. 

Annie Martin is on the cusp of great success. Her career as a Steampunk academic is about to take off, as long as she can convince one disagreeable, New Zealand-based Professor to sign up to the anthology she’s putting together. Thankfully, Annie is a master at maintaining her poise and few people, no matter how nasty, can rattle her. Not anymore. In fact, it’d been a good six years since anyone had gotten under her skin, after her best friend’s brother had vanished into thin air. 

When Annie finds her future career on a collision course with her secret past, Andy Evans is the last person she expects to find tangled up in the mess. With a vengeful drug dealer or two hot on his heels, and a vindictive academic determined to ruin her credibility, can Annie bring Andy back to his family before it’s too late? Annie and Andy are used to being alone, but if they don’t work together, there’ll be much more at stake than her livelihood and his sobriety. 



Hey! Here's my review.

This is the third book in the Evans trilogy, but the first one I've read. I'm sure I would have a deeper appreciation of the novel if I'd read the first two books, but Bring Me Back held it's own. I actually forgot that it was the end of a trilogy while I was reading it and didn't feel like I had missed anything.

I loved Annie and her steampunk style. I enjoyed the romantic element and the suspense kept me turning pages. Sometimes the characters listened when I yelled at them and told them what to do, but sometimes they didn't.

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


★★★★

  • Where: NetGalley
  • Format: ebook

Purchase link

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Kakadu Sunset by Annie Seaton

In the ancient lands of Kakadu, it's not just the crocodiles you should be afraid of...

Helicopter pilot Ellie Porter loves her job. Soaring above the glorious Kakadu National Park, she feels freed from the heavy losses of her beloved family farm and the questions around her father's suicide. But when a search-and-rescue mission on the boundary of the older property reveals unusual excavation works, Ellie vows to investigate.

The last thing she needs is her bad-tempered co-pilot, Kane McClaren, interfering. The son of the current owners of the farm, her attraction to him is a distraction she can't afford, especially when someone threatens to put a stop to her inquiries - by any means necessary.

Ellie will have to trust Kane if she is to have any hope of uncovering the truth of what is really going on. Between Ellie's damage and Kane's secrets, can they find a way to open up to each other before the shadowy forces shut her up...for good?




Hey! Here's my review.

Annie Seaton captures the essence of the Northern Territory in this exciting romantic suspense. I live in the Northern Territory and thoroughly enjoyed the familiar landscape of Darwin and Kakadu. The topics of fracking and indigenous land rights were handled well. As for the crocodiles.... Beware of the crocodiles! If you ever come up here to visit, remember that they don't only live in Kakadu, we often have some in the lake at our local park in the suburbs. 

 I loved the dynamics between Ellie and Kane. They were both well developed, likeable characters. The romance and the suspense were well balanced, keeping me turning the pages. 

 I won a paperback copy of Kakadu Sunset through a giveaway on the Books, Babies, Being blog. I loved the fact that I began reading in Darwin, then finished reading on holiday and what turned out to be Annie Seaton's hometown. Small world! Another awesome Aussie author on my favourites list.


HeySaidRenee Renee Conoulty


Brought a book to finish reading on our family holiday. The two lines I most related to - "Why is it that every flight seems to leave Darwin in the middle of the night?" & "Daddy! How much longer? I need a wee." 



★★★★★ 

  • Where: Giveaway
  • Format: paperback

Purchase link

Thursday, 4 February 2016

500 words: Heartbreak!

Hey Everyone!

I've contributed another story to the ABC Open website. You can find my ABC profile HERE and see all the stories I have contributed. My latest story is part of the 500 words: Heartbreak! project.



Not Ours, Mine

Not Ours, Mine

By Renee Conoulty ·  2 min read · From 500 Words: Heartbreak!

“Better the devil you know than the devil you don't”
Those were the words that played through my mind when I made the decision to get back together with my ex-boyfriend. I should have seen them for the warning beacon they were.
We'd had a long distance relationship for a year when I moved interstate to give us a real chance. After dating for another year, Mark dumped me the first time, with no warning and no explanation. It was only when he saw another man take an interest in me that he begged me for another chance. 
We resumed our plans to move in together, but things were never quite right between us after that. After months of feeling like an afterthought, I decided to give him an ultimatum. It wasn't the “marry me or else” choice; I didn't want to scare him off, I just wanted to know if he saw a future for us.
“Do you want to make this relationship work or not?”
“I don't know.”
There was my answer. He wasn't even man enough to admit it, but in my heart I knew it was no. I wouldn't let him off that easily though.
“I don't accept that as an answer. I want a yes or no by Friday.”
Monday, I grieved for the relationship I already knew was gone. I cried as much over losing his two sons as I did over losing him. Tuesday, I pulled myself together and worked out the practicalities. Wednesday afternoon, he was ready to talk.
“I've decided that I want to break up. I'm not ready to settle down. I went from living at home, to being married, to divorced and living at home again. I've never had any time on my own. I think I need to be out on my own.” 
His emotions broke to the surface. Tears threatened to fall and then followed through on their threats, trickling down his cheeks.
“Promise me you'll do that then. Don't just run back home to your parents. Get your own place.” My attitude softened a little. I respected that he had been able to recognise what he needed. 
What I needed though, was for him to leave. I didn't wish him ill, but I didn't want to be near him either. Luckily, my work Christmas party was on that night, so I had an escape plan.
“One of my colleagues  is coming to pick me up in an hour for the work party. When I get home, I want you out of this house.” I rattled off the list of household items I wanted to keep, and what he could have.
“Um, ok.” He sniffed, appearing surprised at how well I was taking everything.
I'd done my grieving.
Well, maybe not quite all of it, but after a few glasses of wine, my sorrows were well and truly drowned. I came back to a home that was no longer ours, it was mine.


  • The original post can be read HERE