Renee Conoulty: December 2016

Books

Saturday, 31 December 2016

My year in books - 2016

Hey Everyone!

Goodreads was kind enough to put together a summary of my reading in 2016.


I read less than in 2014 or 2015, but that was my plan. I set my goal at 200 books for the year, but that was my cap limit - I needed to make sure I spent time doing other things too, like writing a book for you to read. I managed to stay comfortably under the 200 limit and still averaged reading between 2 and 3 books per week. The average length of books I read was 250 pages and my average rating was 4.5 out of 5 (it would possibly have been higher if the kids had been able to rate the books I read them at 100 out of 5 as they requested). 

Here are my top twenty stand-out reads from 2016 - in no particular order. (Titles link to Goodreads)

The Fence by Meredith Jaffe - neighbourhood drama from both sides of the fence.

The Girl in the Jitterbug Dress by Tam Francis - dual timeline romance with lots of dancing.

A Kiss from Mr Fitzgerald by Natasha Lester - New York 1920s historical with a strong heroine.

GMC by Debra Dixon - nuts and bolts of writing craft.

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty - neighbourhood drama with suspense.

Never Say Die by Stevie Kopas - horror short story collection.

The War Bride by Pamela Hart - Australian historical fiction 1920s.

Dating for Decades by Tracy Krimmer - fun & relatable chick lit/women's fiction.

The Art of Keeping Secrets by Rachael Johns - Aussie life lit.

The Peppercorn Project by Nicki Edwards - rural romance.

Things We Cannot See by Dianne Maguire - domestic suspense.

Shtum by Jem Lester - family drama about men and autism.

The Florentine Bridge by Vanessa Carnevale - beautiful contemporary romance.

Under the Spanish Stars by Alli Sinclair - dual timeline dancing and romancing in Spain.

The Widow by Fiona Barton - psychological thriller.

Novelista Girl by Meredith Schorr - fun chick lit.

Kakadu Sunset by Annie Seaton - Aussie romantic suspense.

Home to Bindarra Creek by Juanita Kees - rural romance.

My Silly Mum by Monique Mulligan - funny kids picture book.

The Magic Molly series by Holly Webb - middle-grade fiction / early readers.

Friday, 30 December 2016

Stuff your ereader for 2017

Hey Everyone!
Did you get a new ereader for Christmas? E-reader a little skinny after the holidays?
Stuff it with 75+ Free and $0.99 romances from best-selling Australian and New Zealand authors. From sexy or sweet contemporaries to romantic comedy, historical, paranormal, romantic suspense, erotica, women’s fiction and Urban fantasy/Sci-fi/fantasy – we’ve got you covered.
If you haven't got yourself a copy of Don't Mean a Thing yet, grab it now while it's on sale - it goes back to full price in the New Year.

Go here before the sale ends: http://bit.ly/2gZUCg4
Happy Reading!

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Whispers at Wongan Creek by Juanita Kees

Wongan Creek has a second chance at life, but new possibilities unearth long-buried secrets...

Travis Bailey may as well be Wongan Creek. His family has farmed canola for generations, and he sometimes feels like he holds the community together with his bare, dirt-stained hands. Between caring for the farm, his orphaned niece and his elderly, ailing neighbour, he doesn't have time for himself. He doesn’t have time to fall in love. 

Social worker Heather Penney is living on borrowed time. When her mother died of Motor Neurone Disease, she took the initial blood tests and now nothing is guaranteed, let alone a future with a family and a home and a child. Wongan Creek, and its resident protector, might be getting under her skin, but she can't afford to get attached. 

But even as a new mine revitalises the small town, old secrets threaten resurface, and Travis and Heather find themselves fighting to save the farms and the futures of Wongan Creek's long-time residents—and possibly their own lives.


Hey! Here's my review.

A fantastic rural romance with depth and an underlying mystery. 

I had a particular soft spot for Harry - the tough old farmer who lived on the adjoining property and who was slipping into dementia. I loved the romance that developed between Travis and Heather and the lighthearted humour that wove through the story.  Deeper issues such as sexual harassment and how mining affects a farming town were also explored.

★★★★★

  • Where: NetGalley
  • Format: ebook

Monday, 26 December 2016

Things We Cannot See by Dianne Maguire

Set on the magical coast of the Fleurieu Peninsula and inspired by true events, Things We Cannot See is Dianne Maguire's second domestic suspense novel - a compelling story of children and families, love and betrayal.

Laura Nesci has found her forever partner - until he leaves her for no apparent reason. It is only in the wake of a family tragedy and the unearthing of her husband's secret life that things fall into place, including Laura's burgeoning attraction for local artist Flynn. Fighting against the temptation of another possibly disastrous relationship, Laura channels her energies into her work as a victim support officer with the police.

Fifteen-year-old Alex is a girl with secrets. Her best friend Maddi believes it's wrong, but Alex knows that what she has with their science teacher is special. When Alex is attacked, Maddi and Laura become locked in a silent battle of wills: Laura suspects that Maddi is keeping secrets for her friend, and Maddi must decide whether to speak up or remain silent. But the final telling of Alex's deepest secret is met with shock and disbelief from everyone, including Laura, who thinks she has seen it all - until now.
 




Hey! Here's my review.



I loved Dianne's debut novel so grabbed a copy of this without even reading the blurb. I was totally absorbed in the suspenseful drama and devoured the book over a couple of days. Family drama, crime, suspense with a splash of romance - there's something for everyone to enjoy.

This story opened my eyes to the reality of grooming and sexual abuse. Dianne was able to capture the voice of a sixty-year-old woman as well as the inner thoughts of a fifteen-year-old girl.

★★★★★
  • Where: NetGalley
  • Format: ebook

Saturday, 24 December 2016

#ChristmasBaubleSelfie

Hey Everyone!

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas. Here's my Christmas bauble selfie for 2016. I gritted my teeth and let the kids decorate the tree this year so the purple baubles hang beside the red ones with all manner of decorations around them. It's not colour coordinated this year, but it's covered with happiness. 

Like my son said the other day, after we baked some gingerbread men together - 

"This one tastes the best because I made it with happiness."

Do you let the kids decorate the tree? Do you go and move the decorations when they're asleep? (I resisted this year)



Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Caged by Onaiza Khan

"Keep your mind right, put your body in action and let your spirit guide you.”

These are the words keeping her sane after her husband takes her into isolation in northern Canada. But after three months with only a servant, a television and the screams of another captive keeping her company, she begins to lose touch with reality - even forgetting her own name.

With the help of an unexpected ally, she discovers an inner strength and powers previously unknown; changing her perspective and realigning her past, present and future.



Hey! Here's my review.


The writing felt a little as though English wasn't the author's first language but since the main character was from India, it felt authentic. The plot caught my interest and kept me turning pages to see how it all ended. It was a quick, easy read that dealt with a difficult topic. I loved the reference to another book about the same topic.

I reviewed a complimentary copy.

★★★ 
  • Where: Author Invitation
  • Format: ebook

Sunday, 18 December 2016

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Chick Lit: A Holiday Anthology

Eleven short and funny holiday stories of women going home for Christmas, stirring up old flames (& finding new ones), baking grandma’s cookies, planning revenge pranks on high school duds, opening Pandora’s Box, racing across the country for love, & kissing cute hunks under the mistletoe. Grab your copy while this limited time collection is still available!


Hey! Here's my review.

In the spirit of Christmas giving, the authors of this fabulous collection gave their stories away for free. Looking for something light and fun to relax with these holidays? Then grab this collection, a cuppa and put your feet up. I enjoyed each of the short stories so much that I can't choose a favourite.

★★★★

Friday, 16 December 2016

The Florentine Bridge by Vanessa Carnevale

Young Australian artist Mia Moretti has been cancer free for nine months. But her battle with the illness has taken its toll, leaving her depressed and tormented by overwhelming fears. What’s more, she can’t seem to paint anymore. Mia needs a fresh start so when a surprise opportunity to travel to Tuscany presents itself, she takes it. With any luck, this trip will help her find whatever it is she needs to open her heart and start painting again.

What she doesn’t count on is meeting Luca, a handsome Italian mechanic. With his smile, his warmth and his inspirational outlook on all the good things life has to offer, he sweeps her off her feet. As Mia slowly lets down her walls and allows Luca in, her passion for life is reignited and her new perspective begins to inspire her art. But just when she’s ready to let go of her past, will a tragedy threaten her new life with Luca?

Full of heart and hope, a love story about la dolce vita in Tuscany.



Hey! Here's my review.

Now I want to learn to paint and travel to Italy! 

Vanessa has written an emotionally engaging and evocative tale of romance and self-discovery. The vivid descriptions of Italy and painting drew me in and the slow burn romance kept me turning pages. I really connected with Mia - I felt like I got right inside her head. And Luca **swoon** I could listen to him talk all day long. 

A fabulous debut from Vanessa - I'm looking forward to reading more of her work.


★★★★★

  • Where: NetGalley
  • Format: ebook

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Lipstick & Lattes by Tracy Krimmer

Whitney only needs two things to survive -- a steaming cup of coffee and the opportunity to create art with makeup. But until her big break comes along, she's stuck selling makeup at the mall.

While out at a nightclub dancing her cares away, Whitney catches a fleeting glance of a man she's convinced is Prince Charming himself, but she misses her chance to talk to him. How will she find him now? Taking a wild chance, she places an online ad and her dreams come true when he appears.

Only fairy tales aren't what they seem. As Whitney struggles to deal with the vast amount of changes in her life, her Prince is up against some losses in his, widening the gap between them. The only answer to their problems lies right in front of their faces. Can they figure it out before it's too late?



Hey! Here's my review.


Another fabulous chick lit read from Tracy. Light and fun, it kept me turning pages.

I really liked Whitney, she was someone I'd love to have a latte with and let her give me a makeover - I have no idea when it comes to makeup. It wasn't all frothy milk and frosted lipstick (no, not frosted lipstick - even I know that's so 1980s) there was a deeper layer to the story too around family relationships and career goals.

Great chemistry between Whitney and Ed - refreshing to see a bearded hero.

★★★★★
  • Where: Author Invitation
  • Format: ebook

Monday, 12 December 2016

Sunshine, Libraries and Reviews

Botanic GardensHey Everyone!

I've been a bit quiet over here lately. The joys of moving house - still so much to do. Most of the boxes have been dealt with, but there are still a few looming at me from the corner of the study. Tomorrow... Yeah, I don't believe me either.

The days might seem longer with daylight savings, but I keep running late for dinner, thinking that there's still plenty of time. I haven't run on daylight savings time for years. Do you have daylight savings? 

I found my local library today and signed up for a shiny new library card. Very excited to see that they have Borrowbox - so I can continue to feed my need to read at any time of the night or day. 

Looks like lots of you guys have been busy too - reading Don't Mean a Thing. Here are some of the reviews that have been posted on Goodreads. 

If you haven't grabbed your copy yet, the ebook is on sale until the end of the year for 99 cents - then next year it will go back to $3.99. Links are HERE or just search for "Conoulty" at your favourite ebook store.

I'd love it if you posted a review when you're finished - on Goodreads or wherever you bought your copy.

Monday, 5 December 2016

On Tour

Hey Everyone!

As well as the Holly Jolly Chick Lit Hop kicking off today, I'm also going on tour. You'd think I was sick of driving after that massive road trip - and I am, so I'm going on a virtual tour over the next two weeks. I might get a bit jetlagged with all the different time zones I'll be travelling through, so if I'm not at the blog when you check, just grab yourself a copy of Don't Mean a Thing to read while you wait. The ebook will be going on sale for 99 cents until the end of the tour. That's 75% off! 



Here are all the awesome bloggers who will be hosting me over the next couple of weeks.


5 December 2016 - Books,Dreams,Life (Excerpt)
5 December 2016 - Linda's Book Bag (Excerpt, Guest Post)

6 December 2016 - Chick Lit Central (Q&A w/Renee)
6 December 2016 - Between the Pages (Excerpt)

7 December 2016 - K. J. Farnham (Promo)

8 December 2016 - My Wonder Emporium (Excerpt)

9 December 2016 - Rae reads (Excerpt)

10 December 2016 - AusRom Today (Excerpt, Guest Post)
10 December 2016 - Brew and Books Review (Review)

11 December 2016 - Book Lover in Florida (Excerpt)

12 December 2016 - Kindred Ink Press (Playlist)
12 December 2016 - Monique McDonell (Promo)

13 December 2016 - Rebecca Raisin (Excerpt)

14 December 2016 - Hello Chick Lit (Excerpt)

15 December 2016 - Karan Eleni (Q&A w/Renee)

16 December 2016 - Grass Monster (Review)

17 December 2016 - Book Lover in Florida (Review)

18 December 2016 - Girl in the Jitterbug Dress (Guest Post)


I'm giving away a signed paperback mystery prize bag to one lucky reader who comes to visit me on tour and a couple of ebooks as runner-up prizes. 



Saturday, 3 December 2016

Holly Jolly Chick Lit Hop

Hey Everyone!

I'm still wallowing in boxes, but I wanted to escape the unpacking for a moment to let you all know about the Holly Jolly Chick Lit Hop. Make sure you join the Facebook event HERE to get reminders each day about where to go to win bookish prizes. Don't forget to stop by my Facebook page on Wednesday for your chance to win a paperback copy of Don't Mean a Thing and a gorgeous soap from Viva La Body (where I had my book launch party). To enter my giveaway, you'll need to sign up for my newsletter and leave a comment on my Facebook post, so sign up now HERE to save time on Wednesday. Good luck!



Make the holiday season even merrier by discovering new reads from some of today's best chick lit and romantic comedy authors during the Holly Jolly Chick Lit Hop on Facebook.

Here's how it works: every day from Monday, December 5 through Friday, December 16, readers are invited to hop around to more than 60 authors' Facebook pages (with about five stops each day) to receive gifts and enter to win prizes.

Here is the schedule, which includes the list of authors posting each day and links to their Facebook pages in case you'd like to give them a "like" and follow along:

MONDAY, DECEMBER 5

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 6

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 7

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 8

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 9

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 10

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 11

MONDAY, DECEMBER 12

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 13

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 14

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 15

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 16

We will also give away several Amazon gift cards as bonus prizes on the event page. Every day that you participate and leave a comment on the main post for the day, you will be entered into the drawing to receive the prizes. Be sure to check back every day to maximize your chances!

Happy Holidays to all and to all some fabulous reading!