Renee Conoulty: March 2016

Books

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

The Astounding Broccoli Boy by Frank Cottrell Boyce

middle grade fiction
From Frank Cottrell Boyce—the beloved, award-winning, New York Times–bestselling author of Millions and Cosmic—comes another hilarious, heartbreaking, and completely original middle grade novel.

Rory Rooney likes to be prepared for anything. That sort of planning pays off when you’re the smallest kid in your class. Rory is even prepared (mostly) for Tommy-Lee, his nemesis, who starts most days by throwing Rory out of the back of the school bus. Don’t be scared, his favorite book says, be prepared. And Rory aims to be. What’s more heroic than that?

But Rory isn’t prepared when he suddenly and inexplicably turns green and finds himself stuck in an experimental hospital ward. The doctors are just as baffled as Rory is, and that’s when he begins to wonder: What if this isn’t caused by his genes, or a virus, or something he ate? What if it’s something even more extraordinary? After all, more than a few superheroes’ careers began when they turned green. Could this be a sign that he’s meant for something greater? Rory is going to find out—and that’s going to start with escaping from the hospital.


Hey! Here's my review.

**Interview with my 5 and 7 year old kids**

Me: What did you think of this book?
5: Every single bit - awesome.
7: Same what Molly said.

Me: Who was your favourite character and why?
7: I liked the bully guy because he was big and tough.
5: I like the girl that have a green face.

Me: What was your favourite bit?
5: When they hid the penguin in their room.
7: I liked the bit when they thought the gorilla was a big hairy person locked in a cage but it was really a gorilla.

Me: If your skin changed colour, what colour would you like it to be?
5: Pink.
7: I would choose red, blue, black and white like spiderman.

Me: If you had a superpower, what would it be?
7: Shooting webs from my hands.
5: Invisible.

★★★★★ 
  • Where: Borrowbox
  • Format: ebook

Monday, 28 March 2016

Why yes, I am a swing dance enthusiast!

Hey Everyone,

Last week I contributed another short story to the ABC Open: 500 words project. The theme was My Other Life and when I read the project brief, I couldn't help but write a response.

"Are you a collector of model trains, a swing dance enthusiast or a weekend activist? Share a story about something unusual you get up to outside of work, or a side of yourself that other people don't normally see. Tell us about your unusual passion and how you first got involved in it. How does your other self contrast with the side most people see? What satisfaction does your other life offer you that you don't get from your day-to-day life? How does your passion contribute to you as a whole person?"

Why yes, I am a swing dance enthusiast! So much so that I really struggled to keep to the 500-word limit. You can read my story "With a smear of red lipstick" on the ABC Open website HERE, or I have included it below the following exclusive insights.

In my story, I mentioned that I have a swing dancing tattoo on my right forearm. Here it is.

Enjoying a glass of wine during a wet season thunderstorm.

The tattoo was inspired by a short Disney animation called All The Cats Join In, set to the song of the same name by Benny Goodman. It was part of an anthology called Make Mine Music that came out in 1946. The couple in my tattoo never actually made it into the movie, but I found them on a character sketch thanks to my friend Google. If you haven't seen All The Cats Join In, here it is.



And just in case you feel like watching some more swing dancing...

Here's an exclusive peek at our wedding dance!



While I'm in a nostalgic mood, here are some photo's of me from back in the early days of dancing.

This is me standing out the front of Mayfield's in Fitzroy.


This is the performance troupe I was part of in Melbourne - I'm front left in the pale blue
(I made that dress)
Yes, there is a face blacked out - not because I don't like them.
I really do, but they requested no images on social media.


So now, without further ado, headed by the best selfie I have ever taken, my short story...


With a smear of red lipstick

By Renee Conoulty · 2 min read · From 500 Words: My other life

I was on the edge of the conversation. Listening, but not really joining in.
“I walked past this swing dance class last weekend. It looks like so much fun.” Kerry said.
“Ooo I'd love to try swing dancing.” Jasmine replied.
I'd never been interested in dancing. The only dancing I'd ever done was during phys ed class at school, when the boys pulled their sleeves down over their hands so they didn't have to actually touch the girls. I knew Jasmine didn't have a car so my generous nature kicked in.
“Do you want me to give you a ride Jasmine? I don't have anything else to do.”

The next day, the three of us met up at Mayfield's in Fitzroy. We wandered nervously to the dance floor at the back of the pub. The atmosphere was fun and friendly. We lined up behind the instructors and copied the basic footwork. Rock step, triple step, step, step, triple step. It was almost like an aerobics class, I could do aerobics, so why not Lindy Hop? Then everyone formed a circle and we had to find a partner. Now it felt like speed dating without conversation, perfect for an introvert like me. By the time the class ended, I'd fallen in love. Not with a man, but with swing. The music reached inside me and took a hold of my heart.

After six months, my confidence had grown and I joined the performance troupe. At work I was too shy to speak up at the staff meeting, but with a smear of red lipstick, I could dance on a stage. After a year of dancing several times a week, I started teaching beginner classes. I became immersed in the swing subculture, looking at life through a vintage filter. Can I dance to this song? Can I dance in those shoes? Is this lipstick red enough? Have I used enough hairspray and bobby pins? My non-dancing boyfriend and I drifted further apart and eventually broke up. All future boyfriends had to pass the swing dance test. I quit my job and moved to the Gold Coast to date a guy I'd met at a swing dance workshop, and then met my now husband in a swing dance class.

Swing dancing has become an integral part of my life. I choreographed a swing dance for our wedding dance. For our fifth wedding anniversary, I got a line from the song we'd danced to tattooed on my left forearm, and a couple swing dancing on my right. Now, sixteen years after I first walked into that pub in Melbourne, I'm still swing dancing every chance I get. I'm living in Darwin now so swing dancing is much sweatier, but just as fun and welcoming.

I love being able to connect with another human, without words. Swing dancing is my escape. The moment I smooth on that red lipstick, I become Renee. Not a wife or mother. Not a teacher's aide. Me.

Saturday, 26 March 2016

The Liebster Award

Hey Everyone!

I have been nominated for a Liebster Award! If you've been roaming around the blogosphere for a while, you would have seen the Liebster Award mentioned. The Liebster Award started circulating back in 2011. It's a way to acknowledge and support up and coming blogs. It works a bit like a chain letter, with bloggers nominating other bloggers who then answer a series of questions on their blog and pass the torch on to more bloggers. 

I was nominated by Cai from The Bookfeed Blog, who also happens to be the only blogger friend that I actually know offline. Cai shares great posts about life as a new mum and bookish topics. We first met at a bookclub and have stayed in contact via social media. I was so excited when Cai started her blog, now I have someone who understands when I get excited about pageviews.

RULES:

  • Acknowledge the blog that nominated you and display the award.
  • Answer 11 questions that the blog gives you.
  • Give 11 random facts about yourself.
  • Nominate 5-11 blogs you think are deserving of the award that have less than 200 followers.
  • Let the blogs know you have nominated them.
  • Give them 11 questions to answer.

QUESTIONS:

Is there a book that you seriously dislike or hate?

There are a few books that I gave up on and didn't finish because they were too slow to keep me engaged, or just not for me. Nothing that I feel passionately opposed to enough to use the word hate. 

Do you choose books by blurb, cover or title?

The cover is always the first thing to catch my eye. If the cover is boring, poorly designed, or representing a genre I'm not in the mood for at that moment, then I won't pick the book up to look at the blurb. I always read the blurb before buying a book, it's the final hurdle.


What makes a read 5/5 for you?

A book needs to keep me engaged the whole way through. If a book can get me emotionally engaged enough to cry, it will usually get five stars. 


What is your favourite beverage while reading?

Usually a Jarrah flavoured instant coffee or a glass of white wine, depending on the time of day.

What is your dream library?

One with a built in, free, child minding centre, so I can drop the kids off then snuggle up in a big comfy chair and read to my hearts content. 


If you could visit any bookstore in the world, where would it be?

I would love to go to The Bookworm Box in Sulphur Springs, Texas. It's a bookstore opened by author Colleen Hoover and all proceeds from the sale of books go to charity. I love that concept and I'd love the chance to meet Colleen, she's awesome!


Where do you get most of your books from?

I get most of my books from Netgalley or directly from authors requesting a review. I used to get most of my books from the library, but I have so many books to review that I don't have much time for them. I find books in lots of other places. I've actually got a tab here dedicated to Where I Find Books.


How many books are on your bookshelf?

I hate dusting, so my bookshelf had a major cull. I have one feature book case with all our "coffee table" style full colour books. The kids have a bookshelf chock a block with picture books and middle grade fiction - too many to count. My paperbacks that I couldn't part with are packed into a drawer to keep them clean. I have two or three supermarket bags full. As for my digital books..... I'm not brave enough to look.... 


Do you read one at a time, or many at once?

I usually have three book on the go at a time. A middle grade fiction book that I'm reading to the kids at bedtime. An audiobook to keep me entertained while I do housework. And a paperback or ebook to read when I find time to sit still. 


How often do you frequent your local library?

Last year I took the kids every Monday after school. I've been a bit slack so far this year and have missed a few weeks. Probably every two to three weeks this year. 


If you could have dinner with any character, who would it be and why?

I'd love to have dinner with Becky Jordan from A Heat of the Moment Thing by Maggie Le Page.  She was a character that I instantly clicked with. She felt like a friend, so dinner with her wouldn't be filled with awkward silences.

11 RANDOM FACTS:

  1. I didn't get my ears pierced until I was 23. I got them done at a body piercing/tattoo parlour because that was the only place I could find open when I decided I wanted to get them done (after I broke up with a boy - a variation on the drastic haircut response). When I was standing at the counter to pay, I passed out, then had to call in sick to work that afternoon. Copped lots of teasing about that at work the next day.
  2. I have six tattoos. An Iris flower, a sweet pea flower, a daisy, a goldfish/koi, "Forever and a day" in an infinity sign - lyrics from the song my husband and I danced to at our wedding, and a cartoon swing dancing couple.
  3. I love swing dancing! I first started in Melbourne in 2000. I can dance the lead as well as the follow role. My husband and I met at a swing dance class and we danced swing at our wedding.
  4. I didn't carry a bouquet or walk down the aisle when I got married. We had a traditional Thai Buddhist wedding in Chiang Mai, Thailand (neither of us are Thai or Buddhist - it was a fun destination theme wedding). My hubby is the one who had to walk to me and his brother carried the flowers.
  5. I was DUX at my highschool, then dropped out of University. 
  6. I have two children, a 5 year old girl and a 7 year old boy.
  7. My maiden name is Ryan. When I was in year 11, our school amalgamated with two others and I sat next to a girl I didn't know on the first day of class. Her name was Renee Ryan too!
  8. I'm currently writing a novel about a girl who moves to Darwin for her new military career and takes up swing dancing to make friends (and I really need to work on an elevator pitch).
  9. I moved to Darwin for my husband's military career and joined the local swing dancing group to make friends..... (write what you know - sounded like good advice to me).
  10. I was an extra in a Disney movie. I was dancing in the background during the school formal scene in Child Star: The Shirley temple Story. If you watch closely, you can see my left ear and my leg a few times. 
  11. I also passed out the first time I had acupuncture. But I'm not scared of needles. I can watch when they take blood and I even volunteered at the Blood Bank when I was younger and took the needles out of other people. 

NOMINATIONS:

I'd like to nominate


QUESTIONS:

  1. How long have you been blogging?
  2. Why did you start your blog?
  3. What is your favourite thing about blogging?
  4. Where is your favourite place to read?
  5. What is your favourite mode of transport?
  6. If you could have a super power, what would it be?
  7. How long have you lived in your current house?
  8. If you could live anywhere, where would you live?
  9. If you could only eat one type of food for the next month, what would you choose?
  10. If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your 16 year old self?
  11. What is the last book you read?


Thursday, 24 March 2016

Porn Money and Wannabe Mummy by Laura Barnard **Release Blitz**

Hey Everyone!

I'd like to introduce you to Laura Barnard, who has just released her latest novel, Porn Money and Wannabe Mummy.

Laura Barnard lives in Hertfordshire, UK and writes romantic comedy or 'chick lit' as its so often described. In her spare time she enjoys drinking her body weight in tea, indulging in cupcakes the size of her face and drooling over hunks like Jamie Dornan, Ryan Gosling and Leo Dicaprio.

She enjoys wearing yoga pants and reading fitness magazines while sitting on the sofa eating chocolate. She's a real fan of the power nap and of course READING!

She writes not to get rich or famous, but because she LOVES writing. Even if one person tells her they enjoyed her book it makes the midnight typing worth it!


Connect with Laura via
Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads


Porn Money and Wannabe Mummy by Laura Barnard



What is it about turning thirty that sends rational women into a tailspin?

Suddenly going from having all the time in the world, to cringing at the ticking of her biological clock, Poppy is drowning under the strain of trying to get pregnant.

With a dad in the throes of a mid-life crisis, a crazy mother-in-law and time racing towards Lilly's wedding, will she be able to cope with it all...and give Ryan the baby they so desperately want?

Finally able to inherit her dad's porn money, Jazz can't wait to be rich! She can buy a house in Chelsea, go out partying with her old mates and start living how she deserves.

But with Ollie, Jemima and Meryl each clawing at their own little piece of her happiness, will she have to leave behind those closest to her in exchange for it?

The real question is, can Poppy and Jazz rescue their own lives before everything gets ruined, or will their own stubbornness destroy the lives they've created



Purchase Links 

Release Blitz 
Porn Money and Wannabe Mummy  
Release date: 23rd March  
Hosted by Two Ordinary Girls and their Books 

   



Tuesday, 22 March 2016

What Happens in the Alps... by T.A. Williams **Release Blitz**


TAWilliams-Alps-ReleaseBlitzBanner

Happy Release Day to T.A. Williams! 

WHAT HAPPENS IN THE ALPS... is out today. 

Grab your copy via the links below.

Alps-Cover
Up in the magical, snow kissed mountains… Two years ago, Annie Brewer’s life was turned upside down when her adrenaline-junkie husband died in a tragic climbing accident. So she’s hoping that moving to the beautiful village of Santorso in the Italian Alps will finally put her life back on track! …anything can happen! She might be going into business with her oldest friend – notorious lady-charmer Matt Brown – but men are definitely out of the question for Annie! That is, until she bumps into tall, dark and delicious Alessandro Lago on the ski slopes…and spontaneously says ‘Yes’ to a date! It must be the crisp mountain air but suddenly, anything seems possible. The only trouble is, chivalrous Matt is looking more gorgeous than ever… A sparkling romantic comedy guaranteed to beat the winter blues, What Happens in the Alps…is one story you don’t want miss in 2016! 


Book links


Author Biography 

TAWilliamsFirstly, my name isn't T A. It's Trevor. I write under the androgynous name T A Williams because 65% of books are read by women. In my first book, "Dirty Minds" one of the (female) characters suggests the imbalance is due to the fact that men spend too much time getting drunk and watching football. I couldn't possibly comment. Ask my wife... I've written all sorts: thrillers, historical novels, short stories and now I'm enjoying myself hugely writing humour and romance. Romantic comedies are what we all need from time to time. Life isn’t always very fair. It isn’t always a lot of fun, but when it is, we need to embrace it. If my books can put a smile on your face and maybe give your heartstrings a tug, then I know I’ve done my job. I‘ve lived all over Europe, but now I live in a little village in sleepy Devon, tucked away in south west England. I love the place. That’s why you’ll find leafy lanes and thatched cottages in most of my books. Oh, yes, and a black Labrador.   I've been writing since I was 14 and that is half a century ago. However, underneath this bald, wrinkly exterior, there beats the heart of a youngster. My wife is convinced I will never grow up. I hope she's right. 


Connect with Trevor via

Release Blitz Organized by:
SquareWebsite

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Standing Strong by Fiona McCallum

The sequel to the much-loved Wattle Creek.

Former city girl Jacqueline Havelock, Wattle Creek’s newly arrived psychologist, has settled in to country life and is slowly coming to terms with the town’s quirky ways. Farmer Damien McAllister’s plans with his animal welfare venture are falling into place nicely and it finally feels like he has a future to look forward to.

But everything can change as quickly as the fickle weather – and it does. A fire challenges the community and soon Damien and Jacqueline find themselves in a situation neither had anticipated. But is their growing relationship also under threat?

Although the town comes out in support of their newest resident, is the Wattle Creek community strong enough to stand together and win this David and Goliath battle? And could happily-ever-after still be possible for Damien and Jacqueline?


Hey! Here's my review.

I haven't read Wattle Creek, but I can only assume it would be the story of Jacqueline and Damien falling in love. This is the sequel and picks up where the previous book left off - a very new relationship between Jacqueline and Damien. No smooth sailing from here though. There is enough background information given that I was able to follow and enjoy the story, but if you have the chance, I'd recommend reading Wattle Creek first.

I enjoyed the alternating POV between Jacqueline and Damien, going through the ups and downs of getting their prospective businesses off the ground. I got quite emotionally involved at times and got all choked up more than once. I loved Auntie Ethel and all the animals. It read more like women's fiction than romance, focussing on building friendships and rural life.

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

★★★★

  • Where; NetGalley
  • Format: ebook

Friday, 18 March 2016

The Farmer’s Perfect Match by Marilyn Forsyth **Guest Post & Spotlight**

Hey Everyone!

I'd like to introduce you to Marilyn Forsyth, who has just released her latest novel, The Farmer’s Perfect Match.

Marilyn Forsyth would love to live in a world where everyone’s story has an ending as happy as those in her books. Her emotion-packed outback romances combine hunky heroes and huggable heroines with settings in some of Australia’s most remote and beautiful places. When she’s not in her writing cave creating characters for readers to fall in love with she can be found travelling, painting in watercolours or canvassing local cafes for the perfect coffee/cake combo.

She has two grown sons and lives, surrounded by bush, with her husband (you may recognise him from some of her stories) in the foothills of a coastal village south of Sydney. She is also part-owner of a castle in Scotland. (Okay, okay, it’s only a one-square-foot plot in the castle grounds but, hey, it entitles her to be called ‘Lady Marilyn of Chaol Ghleann’.J)

Connect with Marilyn via


Guest Post

Reality Check

I have to tell you, after doing a heap of research for The Farmer’s Perfect Match I was gobsmacked by the things I discovered, and I haven’t been able to watch reality television the same way since. A major theme of my book is the difference between appearance and reality, and nowhere is that more evident than in the profusion of reality-based programs on our screens. Look, don’t get me wrong, I’m not condemning reality TV. I watch it a lot (just ask my husband J), but with much more than just a grain of salt these days.


I’ve read that all Top 20 of Australia’s most watched television shows in 2015 were reality-based. It doesn’t surprise me, it’s clearly what television viewers want, and studios are constantly coming up with new, and increasingly sensationalised shows (honestly, Married at First Sight? Who’d do that?) to feed that hungry audience.


It seems we watch RTV for the same reasons we watch our favourite scripted shows: characters to empathise with, interesting settings, an entertaining plot. But the thing is, real life doesn’t have a plot and, let’s face it, much of everyday life is pretty mundane. Of the hundreds of hours’ worth of footage that go into making a one-hour show, most of it ends up on the cutting room floor, leaving editors to stitch together an intriguing story with the bits they’ve saved. I understand it’s the nature of the beast, but to combine audio/video from different sets of footage to portray a character in a misleading way, or to coax characters into verbalising feelings they may not yet feel, or to play dramatic music over an innocuous scene in order to create a sense of conflict, it’s…well, it’s audience manipulation, isn’t it?


Evie and Adam learn all this and more about reality television in The Farmer’s Perfect Match.

The Farmer’s Perfect Match

Guest Post reality television
One farmer + two stunning girls competing for his affection = 1 hit reality show

Gorgeous farmer Adam Armstrong loves his life — he owns and runs his own piece of heaven, a successful pearl farm, and spends his days outdoors in Australia’s stunning Kimberley. There’s just one thing missing: someone to share it with, but when you live in one of the most uninhabited places on Earth it’s not easy to meet the perfect woman.

Enter Evangeline Sinclair, PA for hot new reality show Perfect Mate — smart, funny, passionate and determined to help him find his ideal partner. What could go wrong, right?

Adam has signed a contract to pursue a relationship with one of the contestants and he’s a man of integrity, but Evie, with her very personal interview questions, is opening him up in unexpected ways. Can he stay true to his agreement to find love in front of the cameras rather than behind?

For Evie, a year in professional wasteland after an on-air debacle has left her desperate to salvage her career and Perfect Mate’s success will ensure this. But can she stand by while the man she’s falling in love with is ruthlessly exploited?



Preview first chapter or puchase 

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Chapter One: You have the power to change stuff by Daniel Flynn

Thankyou charity nonprofit
CHAPTER ONE is a story of epic proportions by Thankyou co-founder Daniel Flynn. It’s a bumpy and entertaining ride of gut-wrenching decisions, wild mistakes and daring moves into business, marketing, social enterprise and beyond. Follow the journey of three Australian kids from Melbourne with zero business experience and the shared belief that we all have the power to change stuff.

Chapter One is more than a book. It’s an invitation, addressed to you. To inspire you to challenge what you know and remind you that crazy ideas can become a reality. It’s also an opportunity to be a part of something big. Something that could change the course of history.



Hey! Here's my review.

I came across this book via the book launch video, which I found so inspirational that I followed the link and bought myself a copy straight away. Here's a link to the video - https://youtu.be/Yx44cXeKC7s

Chapter One is an inspirational, biographical account of the first eight years behind the scenes of the Australian social enterprise Thankyou. It tells of how the author, Daniel, with the help of many others, took his idea of developing a brand to sell products and donate all the profits to charity. It started with bottled water - 100% of the profits going to build wells in developing countries to ensure clean water supply for those in need. It has since progressed to food and personal care items. 

Because all the profits from existing products go to charity and Thankyou not having shareholders, money for expansion into other areas needed to be found - so here is Chapter One - a pay what you want book currently available in ebook (I got because I was too impatient to wait for the postman) and landscape printed paperback. I believe there is an audiobook in production too. 

Daniel is bold and charismatic, enthusiastic about his social enterprise, which all comes through in his writing. I couldn't help but feel inspired too. He shares the good days as well as the bad days. He uses his experiences to demonstrate what can happen if you try, but not in a braggy way. He shares tips and advice, wisdom that he has picked up along the way, and encourages everyone who reads it to be brave and just start.


★★★★


Monday, 14 March 2016

How to share your Instagram image to Twitter instead of just a link

Hey Everyone,

Here's another handy hint post to share a tip I discovered on one of my internet adventures. If you have an Instagram account and a Twitter account, this tip is for you. If you don't, go sign up for them and then this tip will be for you too.

When you upload a photo to Instagram, it gives you the option to share it via other social media including Facebook and Twitter. When you choose the option to share it to Facebook, the actual photo is embedded in the Facebook post and everyone can see it without leaving Facebook. When you select the share to Twitter option, it adds a link to the image within the tweet, not the photo. That just doesn't look as pretty and most people won't click on the link to see your awesome Instagram image. Here's a way to include the actual image in the tweet.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Sparing the Heart by Tracy Krimmer

ten pin bowling real estate agent meteorologist romance chick litRealtor and amateur bowler Kate Hayes is the ultimate fixer-upper at this stage in her life. Grieving the death of her father, she moves to a brand new town for a fresh frame. She quickly realizes, however, that location isn’t everything she’s always preached to her clients when she finds herself falling into the same bad habits. To break the cycle, she joins a local bowling league and meets handsome – but taken – meteorologist Kellan Valentine. Will their friendship lead to sunny skies or it is another forecast for disaster?


Hey! Here's my review.

I may have been slightly stalking Tracy while waiting for her to finish writing this book. I fell in love with her light and fun writing style with the first two books in this series, then proceeded to devour everything else she had written in the meantime. There may actually have been an audible squeee when I received my advanced reader copy to review and it skipped to the top of my review pile (sorry everyone else - favouritism at play).

Those of you who have read Caching In will remember Seth's sister Kate, who helped him run the B&B. Tracy has done it again, she has taken a character I didn't really like (just like she did with Chelsea in Jay Walking) and shown them to me in a whole new light. I really liked Kate in this book and it demonstrated how differently we can act around our family compared to people we don't know so well. 

The writing was light and fun. I wasn't so teary with this one,  but I remained fully engaged, wondering how Kate would work through her dilemma of what to do when you fall in love with a man who is engaged to someone else. You'll have to read it to find out... But I will tell you that the ending left me feeling satisfied.

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


★★★★★ 

  • Where: I begged the author for a review copy
  • Format: ebook

Purchase link

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Live For This by Kathryn Biel

Hey Everyone!

I'd like to introduce you to Kathryn Biel, Who has just released her latest novel - Live For This.

Kathryn Biel hails from Upstate New York and is a spouse and mother of two wonderful and energetic kids. She attended Boston University and received her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from The Sage Colleges. She is the author of GOOD INTENTIONS, HOLD HER DOWN, I’M STILL HERE, JUMP, JIVE, AND WAIL, KILLING ME SOFTLY, and LIVE FOR THIS. Her musings and rants can also be found on her personal blog.

Connect with Kathryn via


Live For This by Kathryn Biel

Amazon B&N Barnes and Noble iBooks iTunes
Samirah Lundgren is living the party girl life. While she's trying to forget about her past and put off having a meaningful future, her lifestyle catches up with her, leaving her in a wake of personal destruction. Alone and homeless, she encounters Michael Salinger, a man carrying his own baggage in the form of a spinal cord injury, not to mention his former fiancé is marrying his former best friend.


Can a man with a broken body and a woman with a broken soul help each other find the redemption they need to become whole again?

Purchase link


Available Now


Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Anatomy of a Soldier by Harry Parker

military war amputee IED explosion
A stunning first novel--of patriotism, heroism, and profound humanism--that will immediately take its place on the shelf of classics about what it truly means to be at war.
Captain Tom Barnes, leading British troops in the war zone. Two boys growing up there sharing a prized bicycle and flying kites before finding themselves estranged once foreign soldiers appear in their countryside. The man who trains one boy to fight the other's father as well as the infidel invaders. The family and friends who radiate out from these lives on all sides of this conflict. These are the people who populate this fiercely dramatic and moving novel. But we see them not as they see themselves, but as all the objects surrounding them do: shoes and boots, a helmet, a trove of dollars, a drone, that bike, weaponry, a bag of fertilizer, a medal, a beer glass, a snowflake, dog tags, an improvised explosive device--forty-five different inanimate narrators whose unexpected voices tell the story of this heart-stopping journey. Anatomy of a Soldier gives us a way to clearly see and understand those who fight wars in ways we never have before.

Hey! Here's my review

Wow.

I heard some hype online from some fellow book bloggers, so decided to hunt this book down. The concept sounded intriguing - a story told from the perspectives of a series of inanimate object. The result far surpassed my expectations. 

The author never tells you which objects are narrating the chapter, he shows you. I loved stringing together the clues and working out what the object was. I was amazed by how different each objects voice was, from the factual military objests such as the main character's helmet, to the caring medical objects such as the call buzzer. 

The story is told in non linear fashion, jumping back and forth in time and retelling sections of scenes from a different perspective. I read an interview with the author where he said "You could chuck the chapters into the air and read them in any order – that’s what it’s like to be blown up." He certainly achieved that. This technique also added to the build up of suspesne as the full story was slowly unveiled. The story didn't feel slow though, as I often find with literary style writing.. 

This was more than a literary tale, it was: a collection of short stories, a tragedy, a romance, a personal growth story, a story of grief, brutal, tender,  a British story, a Middle Eastern story, a story that made me smile, a tale that brought a tear to my eye. It's the story of a soldier, but it's so much more than that. It's a story that has me talking.

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

★★★★★ 

  • Where: NetGalley
  • Format: ebook

Purchase link

Sunday, 6 March 2016

The Doctor Calling by Meredith Appleyard **Guest Post & Review**

Hey Everyone!

I'd like to introduce you to Meredith Appleyard, who has just released her latest novel, The Doctor Calling.

Meredith Appleyard lives in the Clare Valley wine-growing region of South Australia, two hours north of Adelaide. As a registered nurse and midwife, she has worked in a wide range of country health practice settings, including the Royal Flying Doctor Service. She has done agency nursing in London and volunteer work in Vietnam. After her first manuscript was rejected, she joined a writers' group, attended workshops and successfully completed an Advanced Diploma of Arts in Professional Writing with the Adelaide College of the Arts. And she kept working. When she isn't writing, Meredith is reading, helping organise the annual Clare Writers' Festival, or at home with her husband and her border collie, Daisy. The Country Practice is her first novel.


Connect with Meredith via


Guest Post

My Writers Journey Part 2


When I hadn’t been a published writer, it was all I aspired to. Consciously, I’d never really thought past the point of publication – I wondered if I’d ever need to. And here I am – my second book, The Doctor Calling, about to make its appearance on bookshelves, with the third pending. Now I have real deadlines that drive me to my desk. I have contractual obligations. I have an agent. I’m learning an enormous amount working with skilled editors. I am a guest on radio and write guest blogs and answer Q&A’s. I have a webpage and a Facebook page and I give author talks at libraries…

I wish I could remember where I read, and who said, that writing the book is just the beginning! They were so right. When Penguin Books signed me up for The Country Practice, my publisher said it takes about twelve months to get from commissioning to the print book being on the shelves. It was a steep learning curve. 

When I received the pages of notes that were my first ever structural edit, the thought that popped into my mind, on top of the sick feeling in my stomach, was, ‘I wonder what they actually liked about it?’ But I took it all in. They knew what they were doing, and there and then I made a pact with myself: I’d learn from it and my next book would be better. And in all honesty, from that point on, I enjoyed the process.

With the second book, The Doctor Calling, I was way more savvy and the structural edit wasn’t as many pages as the first one! Luckily, I worked with the same team again and it was terrific. I believe my writing has improved and now, working on book three, I can see how everything I’ve learnt is coming together. And I think I’m getting better at the publicity stuff as well! It feels more natural.

Was I prepared for life after being published? Not really, but looking back it has been an interesting trip and an awesome journey. If I get stuck there are plenty of people along the way to answer questions and offer support and encouragement. And writing is a joy.



The Doctor Calling by Meredith Appleyard



What Laura was about to do wasn't easy. To become embroiled in a family's grief, their anger, their secrets, wasn't safe, or clever.

Rebuilding her life again after unexpected tragedy, GP Laura O'Connor flees Adelaide, and her medical career, for a quiet life in rural Potters Junction. She's looking to escape her own family dramas. The last thing she expects is to become caught up in another's.

Jake Finlay is a man with a troubled past and a passion for risk-taking. After years away from his small home town, he's hell-bent on keeping his distance. But his father is dying and this could be the last chance they have to make amends.

As Laura and Jake come together over the care for the frail man, they experience an irresistible attraction. Will facing death help them both to grab hold of life? And might love be just what the doctor ordered?
 


Hey! Here's my review.

This story hit quite close to home. Last month, my motorcycle loving husband went to visit his parents to help clear out all the accumulated junk in their carport, just after his father had been diagnosed with cancer. Thank goodness they live in a retirement village and he didn't fall in love with the next door neighbour!

I loved going on the journey of healing and personal growth with Laura and Jake. I really liked Laura and wanted to slap some sense into Jake. The writing was engaging and the characters well developed. Meridith portrayed life in a small country town well, highlighting the importance of services being available locally. 


This is the first book I've read by the author and I plan to read more of Meredith's work. I received this book free from netGalley in exchange for an honest review.

★★★★★ 

  • Where: NetGalley
  • Format: ebook

Purchase link

Friday, 4 March 2016

Life Support by Nicki Edwards

Australian rural medical romance
A piece of you will always be left at home

When emergency nurse Emma Chirnside's husband dies unexpectedly, she finds herself tangled in lies and secrets. The last thing she expected to receive from him was a heritage listed mansion in her home town of Birrangulla, but with her in-laws causing chaos, she flees to the country, hoping to rebuild her life. Fleeing, it turns out, creates new complications. The estate manager is none other than her teenage crush Tom Henderson.

Tom hasn't thought about Emma since high school. They'd always been friendly – like Emma, Tom knows how it feels to care for a sick mother from a young age – but as far as Tom was aware, they were nothing more than friends. He had no idea of Emma's feelings for him, or the way he'd once broken her heart.

When their worlds collide again, Emma realizes the depth of her feelings for Tom, and wonders if she's been given another chance to find true love. But Tom has demons of his own.
Will Tom's secrets drive them apart and break her heart again? Or will they both get their happy ever after?



Hey! Here's my review.

This is the third book in the Escape to the Country series. You don't need to have read the first two books to enjoy this one. I have, and I think this is the best one yet.

I loved the familiar Australian setting. The fictional rural town of Birrangulla is not far from where my Mum lives and each time I read references to Bathurst, it made me smile. I enjoyed all the medical scenes and even in such short scenes, I came to care about the patients. I was curious to find out what happened to them next, but true to the life of a nurse, once a patient has been transferred out of your care, you don't often find out. There were medically related scenes that had me all choked up. 

The heritage listed mansion was about as close as we can get to a fairytale castle in Australia, and all I wanted was for Tom to ride in on a white stallion, sweep Emma off her feet and live happily ever after. You'll have to read it yourself to find out if they do. (It's a romance novel - of course they live happily ever after)

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


★★★★★ 

  • Where: Netgalley
  • Format: ebook

Purchase link