Renee Conoulty: March 2017

Books

Friday, 31 March 2017

Defining Her by Samantha March

Nellie Hawthorne is a woman who has it all. A devoted husband, her own business, a wealthy lifestyle. But the Nellie she is now is much different from her past. A past filled with abuse, addiction, and men. Nellie’s carefully constructed new life is suddenly in jeopardy when a blast from the past emerges in her small town and her overbearing mother-in-law starts pushing for grandchildren and questions start being asked. A budding new friendship presents itself at an opportune time, and a once friendless Nellie finds herself growing closer to Prue Doherty.

Prue Doherty is the quintessential good girl. Always making the right decisions, always playing it safe. Until she meets a man that could change all of that. Still reeling from a devastating breakup and betrayal that had her fleeing from Chicago and settling into suburb life with her mom close by, Prue finds herself in a damaging funk. But everything changes when she befriends Nellie Hawthorne.

Nellie is trying to escape her past. Prue wants that perfect future. While both women strive to change their lives, they continue to cling to the past. But what defines us? Who we were then . . . or who we are trying to be now? Lies, manipulation, and deceit are woven throughout the pages of this edgy women’s fiction novel, with an ending you won’t see coming.


Hey! Here's my review.

Dark, raw, real and twisty.

I've read a few of Samantha's other novels which I class as chick lit, this one is firmly in the women's fiction category. Darker than her other novels, it deals with deeper issues such as infidelity, entitlement, friendship and trust.  The opening scene is quite graphic, but this is definitely not erotica. 

I love the cover. It appears black and white, just like the characters thought they were, but when you look closer, there are many shades of grey. The characters grow and change throughout the novel. I found all the characters compelling and I was intrigued to see what they believed defined them, their past, present or future.


I reviewed a complimentary copy.

★★★★★

  • Where: Chick Lit Plus
  • Format: ebook

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Camp NaNoWriMo


Hey Everyone!

Many of you may have heard of NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month - that takes place online in November each year. It's a writing challenge where people aim to write 50,000 words in a month. Did you know there is also a Camp NaNoWriMo that runs in April and July each year? It's very similar but you can set your own writing goals.

I signed up to my first Camp NaNo in July of 2015 and that's how I started my writing journey. I wrote the first 20,000 words of Don't Mean a Thing then (though many of those words didn't make it into the published edition). Camp NaNo has come around again and the timing is perfect.

I've published Don't Mean a Thing and my short story Catching Onix. This week I submitted another short story/novelette to a publisher and I'm at at a loose end. I found the notebook I'd begun brainstorming the sequel to Don't Mean a Thing so that will be my next NaNo project. April is a busy month with the kids home from school for a couple of weeks, so I'm aiming for 500 words a day.

Book two will focus on a new couple, Annie and George, but you'll get to see what Matt, Macie and some of your other favourite characters have been up to. You'll get to see more of Darwin and plenty of swing dancing but I think there will be a bit more water and a hero with a beard.

My hubby is in the Royal Australian Air Force (just like Macie) so he's not allowed to grow a beard. I'm quite partial to his weekend stubble. He tried out a moustache once (they're allowed in the RAAF) but he looked like a 70s porn star (not that I watch 70s porn...)

Do you prefer your men with facial hair or clean shaven? 

Sunday, 26 March 2017

How to Mend a Broken Heart by Anna Mansell

A compelling, heartbreaking tale that will make you laugh, cry and believe in the kindness of strangers. Perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes, Lucy Dillon and Miranda Dickinson.

Life is good for nurse Kat. That is until the man she intended to marry legs it, she’s unexpectedly promoted to a position with too much responsibility, and a patient arrives on her ward under strange circumstances.

Susan is a mystery. She refuses to speak or interact with anyone, she’s obsessed with a book of fairy tales, and the only name in her diary is that of Rhys – a plumber she barely knows.

Down-to-earth Rhys is trying to get his life back on track after the death of his beloved brother. His mum is his priority, and she needs him as much as he needs her. Or at least she did, until she starts disappearing, leaving him to find comfort in the form of his brother’s girlfriend.

Complicated is an understatement.

As the lives of these three lost strangers intertwine, will they find a way to lay ghosts past, present and future to rest? And when the chance comes to mend their broken hearts, will they be brave enough to take it?



Hey! Here's my review.

This is more women's fiction than chick lit. The subject matter much deeper than I first expected but with a positive outlook. I enjoyed the entwining stories of the main characters, the different types of love and the different types of broken hearts that needed to be healed. 

★★★★

  • Where: NetGaelley
  • Format: ebook

Friday, 24 March 2017

In at the Deep End by Penelope Janu

A quick-witted, contemporary romance about losing your cool.

What woman doesn’t love a real-life hero? Harriet Scott, for one. The fiercely independent daughter of famous adventurers, she grew up travelling the world on the environmental flagship The Watch. So when Harriet’s ship sinks in Antarctica and she has to be rescued by Commander Per Amundsen, an infuriatingly capable Norwegian naval officer and living breathing action hero, her world is turned upside down.

Like their namesakes, the original Scott and Amundsen who competed to reach the South Pole first, Per and Harriet have different ways of doing things. Per thinks Harriet is an accident waiting to happen; Harriet thinks Per is a control freak. But when Harriet realises that Per is the only one who can help her fund the new ship she desperately wants, she is forced to cooperate with him.

Per refuses to assist unless Harriet allows him to teach her to swim. But there is more to Harriet’s terrible fear of water than meets the eye. Can Harriet face her fears and come to terms with the trauma and loss of her past? And will she begin to appreciate that some risks are well worth taking—and that polar opposites can, in fact, attract?




Hey! Here's my review.

A light, fun contemporary romance with plenty of action and adventure, balanced out with a deep side of psychological scars, phobias, and a strong ecological message.

The opening scene hooked me in and I was intrigued to find out if these opposites would attract. If you like control freak alpha male heroes and strong-willed, accident prone heroines, then this is for you. I reviewed a complimentary copy.


★★★★

  • Where: NetGalley
  • Format: ebook

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Aboard Providence by Keely Brooke Keith

In November 1860, Marian Foster joins a group of Virginia families who are sailing away from America to form a new settlement off the coast of Brazil. As an amateur botanist, Marian eagerly anticipates exploring a new land. She boards Providence confident in the group's plan, but during the voyage, her heart is drawn to Jonah Ashton, the secretive and sullen ship's physician.

Jonah Ashton is determined to finish medical school before rumors of Southern rebellion erupt into all-out war. When family obligation forces Jonah to take a voyage aboard Providence, he plans to escort his family to their new settlement in South America and then return home. While aboard Providence, Jonah is beguiled by Marian's optimistic spirit and finds himself in uncharted territory. Soon Jonah makes a startling discovery that changes everything, but will it change his heart?

Get swept away on a journey of faith, sacrifice, and God's unfailing provision in this inspirational story reviewers are calling "a captivating, well-researched, and deftly written tale." Read Aboard Providence today and embark on an unforgettable voyage.
 



Hey! Here's my review.

I've read all the Uncharted series and it was a delight to go back in time to see how it all started. If you haven't read the Uncharted series, then this book is the perfect place to start, and if you have read them, them you'll love this chunk of Uncharted history following the ancestors as they settled The Land.

This would appeal to people who enjoy sweet, clean historical Christian adventure romance with a hint of magic. I listened to the audiobook. The narrator was fabulous and well matched to the story. I reviewed a complimentary copy.


★★★★ 

  • Where: Review Request
  • Format: Audiobook

Monday, 20 March 2017

The Bay of Shadows by Samantha Wood

How far would you go for love?

In a rambling house in a small Australian beach town, Elena Jameson is recovering from her recent divorce. To her delight, she is given the opportunity to foster a little boy, Daniel, whose mother is dead and whose violent father is in rehab. As Elena and Daniel explore the beautiful bay and wild bushland, they form a profound bond that will change their lives forever.

Then Daniel’s father discovers his whereabouts and begins a campaign of terror – not to get his son back, but to prevent Elena giving Daniel a new life.

As the violence escalates, Elena finds that she’s willing to do whatever it takes to protect Daniel from the brutality of his past and an uncertain future. Sometimes the only way to get what you want is to pay the price in blood.

A gothic tale of love and loss, bravery and hope.



Hey! Here's my review.

I love the Aussie setting in this page-turning psychological thriller. My emotions were high as the fate of an innocent child was at stake. A solid debut - I look forward to reading more from Samantha.

I reviewed a complimentary copy.


★★★★★

  • Where: Review Request
  • Format: ebook 

Saturday, 18 March 2017

The Reinvention of Mimi Finnegan by Whitney Dineen

Thirty-four year old, Mimi Finnegan is the third of four daughters and in her eyes, by far, the most unremarkable. She has no singular accomplishment that can stand up to any of her sisters. And if that isn’t enough, she is the only single sibling in her family. 

Mimi’s sisters decide that it’s time she gets serious about husband hunting, so they begin a campaign to find Mr. Right for her. Considering her most recent dating encounters include a night club owner who stuffs bratwurst in his pants and a WASPy trust fund baby, living happily under his mother’s thumb, Mimi is more than ready to meet THE ONE. Enter celebrated British novelist Elliot Fielding. 

Sexual tension and anger heat up between the duo and it isn’t until Mimi discovers that Elliot is almost engaged to another that she realizes she is head-over-heels in love with him. 

The journey will make you laugh, cry and want to pull your hair out from frustration! Mimi eventually learns that she is quite remarkable in her own right and never needed to worry that she lived in her sister’s shadows. 

The Reinvention of Mimi Finnegan is the perfect laugh-out-loud, feel good book for any woman who has ever felt that she wasn’t good enough. 



Hey! Here's my review.

If you like over-the-top characters and laugh-out-loud chick-lit, then this is the book for you. I listened to the audiobook edition and the narrator nailed it. She was the perfect match to this story. Light and fun - a brilliant chunk of escapism. 

★★★★

  • Where: Review Request
  • Format: Audiobook 

Thursday, 16 March 2017

In the Shadows by Tara Lyons

Detective Inspector Denis Hamilton is tasked with apprehending a brutal murderer stalking the streets of London-and leaving not a shred of DNA evidence. As the suspect list mounts, his frustration and pressure from his superiors intensify. 

Grace Murphy, who is dealing with the recent loss of her beloved grandfather, falls deeper into despair when her friends' bodies are discovered. Fearing she may be the killer's next target, she begins to question if her horrifying nightmares are the key to unravelling the murderer's identity. 

How far would you go to uncover the truth? Would you venture into the shadows to unmask a killer?




Hey! Here's my review.

Excellent debut serial killer thriller. I can't say much more without giving away the plot. I listened to the audiobook. The narrator spoke clearly and was easy to listen to. I look forward to reading more in the series.

★★★★★

  • Where: Author Invitation
  • Format: audiobook

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Blacky Blasts Back by Barry Jonsberg

A third wacky adventure with Blacky the farting dog—between giant bully boys, unintelligible Scottish camp instructors, and the need for thermal underwear, can the boys find the last remaining Tasmanian tiger?


Blacky's back, smellier than ever, and he's got a new mission for Marcus and Dylan: track down the very last Tassie tiger and save it from extinction. Simple, really. But throw in some bumbling thylacine hunters, a bully out to get you, a hairy Scotsman on your trail, and anything can—and will—happen. Especially as time is running out.

Hey! Here's my review.

Me: what did you think of this book? (I let them type their own answers to this one)
T: I Giv it 900000000000 stars x 9999999999999999999999999999999999
M: givit900000000000000000000000000000stars900000000000stars109 7 90

Me: What was your favourite bit?
T: When he kind of saved the tassie tiger.
M: When he needed to vomit and he vomited and the wind blew it back onto the mean guy's face.

Me: Why?
T: Because he just didn't save the tassie tiger, just, but he looked after the pups for 1 night.
M: Because it landed on the mean guy's face and it was funny.


★★★★★
  • Where: Library
  • Format: paperback

Sunday, 12 March 2017

You lose some, you win some

Hey Everyone!

This year, for the first time, I wrote a short story specifically for a competition. It was for the Romance Writer's of Australia Little Gems competition. Each year, there is a different gem stone as the theme and there is a 3,000 word limit. The gemstone for 2017 was announced at the August 2016 conference as onyx.

In the school holidays, the month before, I'd downloaded the Pokémon Go app to play with my son. Of course, I got as hooked as him. After enlightening some of the girls about "dino-porn" (it's a thing - really) we started joking about "Poké-porn". I don't write erotica, but it got me thinking... onyx... Onix - that's the name of one of the Pokémon...

I got sidetracked with editing and publishing Don't Mean a Thing, moving interstate, Christmas and all that looking after kids in the school holidays stuff. I finally got back to my idea and got my 3K story in just in time. The results were announced this week and I did well(17th out of 70), but not quite well enough to get into the anthology.

Glass half full girl, as I am, I decided that this meant I could share my story with everyone right now. I uploaded my story, in five chunks, to Wattpad, then published it for free everywhere. I wanted to publish it right away so that it would be live by today, Sunday, March 12,  because that's my niece's 16th birthday and I wanted to dedicate this story to her (because I stole her name for my heroine - Happy Birthday Grace! Sweet sixteen and never been kissed. You're awesome! Hope you like my story.)

Anyway... Here's the cover and the blub.

Catching Onix by Renee Conoulty

Grace is a single mother whose life revolves around her eight-year-old son, Finn. All she wants is to keep him safe and happy. She indulges his latest passion for playing Pokémon Go, stepping out of her comfort zone and into the local community, where Finn strikes up a conversation with a stranger. Can they find the fine balance between stranger danger and being polite? Will Finn finally catch an Onix? And will Grace let herself be caught?

Purchase links
Amazon US | Amazon AU | Amazon UK | Amazon CA

Currently available FREE at

Friday, 10 March 2017

Lizzie Reaches the Rainbow by Lara Woods


Lizzie's home isn't a happy one.
But when Lizzie makes a wish on a rainbow and
Fairy Imogen turns up, her life is changed forever.

A delightful story about the magical power of imagination.



Hey! Here's my review.

A gorgeous colourful children's book written by Lara and illustrated by her brother Tom. Both of my kids remained engaged with the story while I read, my son even moving closer so he could see better.

**Interview with my 6 and 7-year-olds**

Me: What did you think?
T: Awesome!
M: I loved it.

Me: What was your favourite bit?
T: When the fairy fleeeeeeeeew in.
M: When the fairy flew in. Zactly the same as Tom.

Me: Why?
T: Cause fairies are cool
M: Cause I like fairies. Zactly the same.

Me: What's your favourite colour?
T: Red and green
M: Purple

★★★★★
  • Where: Gift
  • Format: paperback

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Absolution by Michelle Dennis

Hey Everyone!

Michelle Dennis is back again, on tour with her Infinity series. The Infinity Series, in essence, is themed on love and the many layers of it – particularly self-love – and with a diverse contemporary romance composition, this series is sure to have something for everyone.

Michelle Dennis lives in Perth, Western Australia; she has always loved reading and in the past few years this love has expanded into creating her own written words and worlds.

Michelle has a love of medieval and fantasy creatures, and her first book, Wolfbaene, revolves around this theme and brings the world of knights, castles and dragons to children around the world.

Michelle is a devoted wife and mother, and fits her writing schedule in around her busy lifestyle. Michelle shares her home with a very mature Dachshund named Phoebe Rose, and a whole bunch of cats who are under the impression they are the owners of Michelle's home.

She is currently working on a sequel to Wolfbaene, and when she's not in the world of dragons and other mythical beings, she can be found listening attentively to the other characters in her head, who are shouting for her attention.


Connect with Michelle via


Absolution by Michelle Dennis
Valentine Hewitt is on a collision course. The darkness of tragedy and guilt taints his life, but he wants this darkness; he needs this pain and guilt, so he won't ever forget.

Now, Abbie has burst into his world with a blinding brightness that threatens to light the dark shadows of his heart, and he's not ready for absolution.


Hey! Here's my review.

A great follow-up to Infinite Completion. Absolution was told from Valentine's perspective and gave more insight into his complex character. Abbie and Valentine balance each other out well, though it takes a few ups and downs for them to find equilibrium.

Book Links



Monday, 6 March 2017

The Dog that Dumped on my Doona by Barry Jonsberg

What's an 11-year-old boy to do when an ugly dog called Blacky appears on his bed and tells him he has been given the mission to rescue God?
When Marcus is woken by a dog going to the bathroom on his bed, he is understandably upset. And Blacky the dog has other surprises in store. Soon Marcus and his disruptive friend Dylan are on a mission to rescue God—a sick pygmy bearded dragon—from the local pet shop, but time is running out. To complicate things, Marcus's sister Rose is in the picture—she who thrives on terrorizing her little brother. She is the sister from hell, but revenge will be sweet—or so Marcus thinks.



Hey! Here's my review.

**Interview with my 6 & 7 year olds**

Me: What did you think of this book?
T: Silly sauce Awesome sauce.
M: Awesome Mc Dawesome.

Me: What was your favourite bit?
T: When Blacky dumped on his doona.
M: When they saved god.

Me: Why?
T: I like how when he woke up he saw a dog on his doona - a dirty dog.
M: I don't know what I like.


★★★★
  • Where: Library
  • Format: Paperback

Saturday, 4 March 2017

The Golden Child by Wendy James

Can bad children happen to good mothers? A totally absorbing novel, for readers of Liane Moriarty, Lionel Shriver and Christos Tsiolkas.

Blogger Lizzy's life is buzzing, happy, normal. Two gorgeous children, a handsome husband, destiny under control. For her real-life alter-ego Beth, things are unravelling. Tensions are simmering with her husband, mother-in-law and even her own mother. Her teenage daughters, once the objects of her existence, have moved beyond her grasp and one of them has shown signs of, well, thoughtlessness ...
Then a classmate of one daughter is callously bullied and the finger of blame is pointed at Beth's clever, beautiful child. Shattered, shamed and frightened, two families must negotiate worlds of cruelty they are totally ill-equipped for.
This is a novel that grapples with modern-day spectres of selfies, selfishness and cyberbullying. It plays with our fears of parenting, social media and Queen Bees, and it asks the question: just how well do you know your child?



Hey! Here's my review.

A domestic thriller about teenage bullying told from the alternating perspectives of the bully, the victim and both their mothers, interspersed with blog posts and social media exchanges. 

Can bad children happen to good mothers? It was that question on the cover that sucked me in. I grabbed this book without even reading the blurb and I was not disappointed. I sat on the edge of my seat, I giggled, I swore this could never happen to me, I tweeted the author to tell her how much I was enjoying it and dropped everything to add my favourite quote to Goodreads. I engaged. 


★★★★

  • Where: Borrowbox
  • Format: ebook

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Infinite Completion by Michelle Dennis

Hey Everyone!

I'd like to introduce you to Michelle Dennis, who is on tour with her Infinity series. The Infinity Series, in essence, is themed on love and the many layers of it – particularly self-love – and with a diverse contemporary romance composition, this series is sure to have something for everyone.

Michelle Dennis lives in Perth, Western Australia; she has always loved reading and in the past few years this love has expanded into creating her own written words and worlds.

Michelle has a love of medieval and fantasy creatures, and her first book, Wolfbaene, revolves around this theme and brings the world of knights, castles and dragons to children around the world.

Michelle is a devoted wife and mother, and fits her writing schedule in around her busy lifestyle. Michelle shares her home with a very mature Dachshund named Phoebe Rose, and a whole bunch of cats who are under the impression they are the owners of Michelle's home.

She is currently working on a sequel to Wolfbaene, and when she's not in the world of dragons and other mythical beings, she can be found listening attentively to the other characters in her head, who are shouting for her attention.


Connect with Michelle via


Infinite Completion by Michelle Dennis


Abbie Bennet is a twenty year old bookworm who considers herself well-balanced and sensible. Her heart and intuition agree on most things and she has no intention of upsetting this for anyone. When she ventures out of her comfort zone to join her friends at a local bar, her balance is knocked way off course by a stranger who is everything her mother, and intuition, have warned her about.


Hey! Here's my review.

I found Abbie quite relatable - a good girl who grew up going to church who was generally stable and sensible. I understand the attraction of bad boys, but my motherly instinct kicked in and I wanted to warn her off him just like her mother did.

A quick, easy read with an ending that left me scrabbling for the next book in the series.


Book Links