Renee Conoulty: April 2015


Thursday, 30 April 2015

Uncharted Redemption by Keely Brooke Keith

From the author of The Land Uncharted comes the second book in the Uncharted series, Uncharted Redemption. Written like a historical, set like a scifi, and filled with romance, Uncharted Redemption continues this suspenseful story of life in a hidden land.

Levi Colburn, resentful of his father, haunted by his mother’s tragic death, and pained by his love for the unattainable Mandy Foster, breaks from the Land’s tradition and begins to build a life of his own. When rebels tear through the village of Good Springs, Levi vows to deliver justice and restore the woman he loves. As tradition stands in the way of redemption and threats from the outside world begin to appear, Levi must learn his greatest battles cannot be fought with his fists. Romantic, suspenseful, and filled with adventure, Uncharted Redemption weaves dramatic new layers into life in the Land.

Hey! Here's my review.

This is the second book in the Uncharted series - an amazing blend of historical romance and science fiction. The story is set about ten years in the future during what seems like World War 3. It is set on an inhabited island that is unknown to the modern world, hidden in a place like the Bermuda Triangle. The people have the technology of the late 1700's. 

This book focuses on Levi and Mandy's story. Levi is busy building himself a house on the hill across from Mandy's family home. Mandy spend her time handcrafting violins. Levi has cared for Mandy for years, but she rejected him and now sees herself as unworthy.

When Mandy is abducted by the same rebel family who killed Levi's mother, Levi comes to her rescue. Though Levi and Mandy both care for each other, fear of rejection keep them both from telling the other how they feel. 

I loved the concept of the grey leaf tree, whose leaves had amazing healing properties and wood far superior to other timber. This story ended with a similar teaser to book 1, and now I can't wait to read book 3!

I listened to the audiobook edition, which I received free in exchange for an honest review. The narrator of book 2 spoke clearly and at a good pace.
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Wednesday, 29 April 2015

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When Marie-Laure is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris, and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.

Hey! Here's my review.

I'm not usually drawn to historical fiction which is probably why it took so long for me to finish this. I kept getting distracted by other books. It took me 3 months to read the first half, then this week I decided to finish it before I started anything else. Once I settled down and read more than two chapters in one sitting, I got right into it and finished the second half in 2 days. The chapters are very short and change perspectives, so you really need to read a few to get into the story. I found the jumps in time a little confusing to keep track of too. 

The story is told from the perspective of two children living through World War 2; a blind French girl and a clever German boy. This gives the book a more innocent feel, focussing on the children rather than the horrors of war. I liked that neither are portrayed as "good guys" or "bad guys", they are just young people trying to survive.
All the Light You Cannot See was awarded the Pulitzer prize for fiction.

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Tuesday, 28 April 2015

A Thirty-Something Girl by Lisa M. Gott

Life has been anything but kind, and everything that can go wrong has. At an age when life should be coming together, and questions should start to be answered, Hope finds herself feeling very alone and terribly confused. As her life spirals out of control, she realizes she needs help. And she needs it quickly.

With the love and support of some dear friends, Hope slowly begins to find her true self, and along the way, she meets someone. Someone who makes her feel like living to see another day might just be worth it.

But with happiness, comes pain. Pain from a past that simply won't be forgotten. Walking a dangerously fine line between joy and utter despair, Hope wonders if happy endings really do exist. And if they do, is there one waiting for her?

Hey! Here's my review.

Hope has been in denial of her own depression for years, then when her world collapses around her, she finally admits what has been going on and turns to her friends for support. This is Hope's journey of how she put her life back together and found a more positive outlook with a touch of romance and a real life happily ever after.

I'm a thirty-something girl and though I haven't been in Hope's situation, I still found her a very relatable and likeable character. I loved her close knit group of friends and how supportive they were of each other. It was a quick, easy read but still had depth. This story made me laugh and made me cry.

I listened to the audiobook edition, which I received free from the narrator in exchange for an honest review. I think she did a fabulous job and her voice was well suited to this story. I listened to the whole book in one go, I cleaned the house and took the kids to the park, all with my bluetooth headphones on.


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Monday, 27 April 2015

In Her Sights by Robin Perini

Jasmine “Jazz” Parker, Jefferson County SWAT’s only female sniper, can thread the eye of a needle with a bullet. But she carries with her a secret from her past that she thought she buried for good at the age of fifteen. Two years ago she even drove away the one man she believed she could love — ex–Army Ranger turned reporter Luke Montgomery — to keep her past hidden. But now, in a fleeting second, the time it takes for one clean shot, one perfect hit, to save the life of the governor’s daughter, Jazz’s world begins to crumble around her.

When Luke splashes her face and name across the front page of the newspaper, a vicious enemy from her past returns seeking vengeance without compromise. Jazz is forced to turn to the one man she can never have before she and everyone she cares about pays the ultimate price. Full of explosive action and almost unbearable suspense, In Her Sights is a relentless, steamy thriller surprisingly infused with soul and poignancy.

Hey! Here's my review.

A Romantic Suspense with a female sniper and an ex military journalist, throw in a S.W.A.T. team, some cops , a little girl and a psycho and you have an exciting story. I liked Jazz, she had a shady past but had done so much to better herself and she continued her personal growth throughout the story. I was a little surprised that her shady past hadn't come up during the background checks that would have been required to become a sniper, but I'm happy to look the other way because this is fiction and it makes for a great story. The romance was full of tension and steamy. The suspense kept me guessing. 

I used Whispersync and swapped between the ebook and the audiobook. I enjoyed the audio more because the narrator was pleasant to listen to and was great at characterisation. She was able to give an authentic feel to each of the characters, ranging from a 3 year old girl to an alpha male. 

Purchase link 

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Freeding with Whispersync for Voice

Hey Everyone!

In March, Audible offered me a $10 voucher if I bought 2 audiobooks. I had 2 credits to use from my Christmas present subscription, so I figured I might as well use them up to get a voucher. I received the voucher in April and decided the best value would to be to upgrade some of my kindle books with Whispersync for Voice. Whispersync upgrades are often cheaper than just buying the audiobook, especially when the ebooks were free! I logged into my kindle account, looked up Whispersync for Voice and clicked on find your match. I picked out 3 books that I had downloaded for free through Kindle for Samsung and upgraded them, leaving 3 cents to spare. Now I can alternate between reading those books in my kindle app or listening to them via my Audible app and I won't lose my place.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Audrey's Big Secret by Christine Harris

Audrey Barlow has woken up in the dead of night and needs to go to the bathroom. The only problem is, the bathroom is an outhouse and is out yonder down the garden path. And if that isn’t bad enough, Audrey sees what she thinks is a ghost! It’s not such a far-fetched idea, especially as her twin sisters, Esther and Pearl, who tragically died at birth are buried out the back. But Audrey soon discovers that it wasn’t a ghost she spotted at all, but a young aboriginal girl her own age named Janet. Audrey soon learns that Janet has run away from a mission and together they must think of a way to keep Janet from being taken again. Readers will love Audrey and her determination to see that something so wrong must be made right. 

Hey! Here's my review.

This is book three in the Audrey of the Outback series. I read it aloud to my 4 and 6 year old kids over several nights. This series is about Audrey, a girl who lived in the Australian outback during the 1930's. 

This book sparked discussions with my 6 year old about the difference between telling a lie, keeping a secret and tricking someone. Audrey decided to keep a secret to protect someone else. Another topic covered was the stolen generation- when Aboriginal children were taken away from their families. 

There was a lot of old fashioned Australian slang and a handy glossary at the back to explain it all.

Book 1 review - Audrey of the Outback
Book 2 review- Audrey Goes to  Town

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Friday, 24 April 2015

Noni the Pony Goes to the Beach by Alison Lester

Noni the Pony is friendly and funny. She loves going down to the beach when it's sunny. With her two very best friends Dave Dog and Coco the Cat, and the cows from next door, it's going to be a wonderful day.

Hey! Here's my review.

I picked this up from the library to read to my 4 year old daughter and 6 year old son. They both loved it. It is full of entertaining rhymes, fun illustration and familiar animal characters. My son enjoyed identifying the rhyming words and my daughter enjoyed pointing out all the different animals. 

Shortlisted for the Children's Book Council of Australia award 2015 - I wouldn't be surprised if it won. We will have to wait until August to find out.
  • Where: Local Library
  • Format: Hardcover
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Thursday, 23 April 2015

The Land Uncharted by Keely Brooke Keith

Lydia Colburn is a young physician dedicated to serving her village in the Land. When injured fighter pilot Connor Bradshaw’s parachute carries him from the war engulfing the 2025 world to her hidden land, his presence threatens her plans, her family, and the survival of her preindustrial society. As Connor searches for a way to return to his squadron, his fascination with life in the Land makes him protective of Lydia and her peaceful homeland, and Lydia’s attraction to Connor stirs desires she never anticipated. Written like a historical, set like a scifi, and filled with romance, The Land Uncharted weaves adventure and love in this suspenseful story of a hidden land.

Hey! Here's my review.

Wow, I never would have thought mixing science fiction and historical romance would work, but I think the author did a great job of blending them. 

The story is set about ten years in the future during what seems like World War 3. A man is ejected from an exploding aircraft and parachutes down to an inhabited island that is unknown to the modern world, hidden in a place like the Bermuda Triangle. The people have the technology of the late 1800's. The village's female doctor rescues him then romance and adventure follow. 

I really liked Lydia's innocent and trusting nature. She also had a bit of spunk and would stand up for herself. Connor was a modern gentleman, and I was glad that he wanted to protect the people of The Land. I liked how the story played out and was satisfied with the end, until I read the epilogue, now I want to read the next book!

I listened to the audiobook, which I received free in exchange for an honest review. I found the narrator unbearably slow for my taste, but once I sped it up to 1.5, it was perfect.

Purchase links
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Wednesday, 22 April 2015

This Girl by Colleen Hoover

There are two sides to every love story. Now hear Will’s.

Colleen Hoover’s New York Times bestselling Slammed series has brought countless readers to their knees with a whirlwind of love, passion, and heartache.

Layken and Will’s love has managed to withstand the toughest of circumstances and the young lovers, now married, are beginning to feel safe and secure in their union. As much as Layken relishes their new life together, she finds herself wanting to know everything there is to know about her husband, even though Will makes it clear he prefers to keep the painful memories of the past where they belong. Still, he can’t resist his wife’s pleas and so he begins to untangle his side of the story, revealing for the first time his most intimate feelings and thoughts, retelling both the good and bad moments, and sharing a few shocking confessions of his own from the time when they first met.

In This Girl, Will tells the story of their complicated relationship from his point of view. Their future rests on how well they deal with the past in this final installment of the beloved Slammed series.

Hey! Here's my review.

This is the third and final book in the Slammed series. You really need to read the first two before this one to understand the context and inside jokes. When I started reading and realised that most of this book was Layken and Will reminiscing about their courtship and therefore rehashing the first two books, I was a bit disappointed.

Layken and Will are on their honeymoon, and Layken asks Will to "tell me about" then it goes to a flashback from Will's POV. I thought "here we go again", but then I got completely swept up in it all. Even though I knew most of what was going to happen, I still laughed and I still cried. There was some new information and a different perspective of what had happened, so it helped me understand the characters better. I was wanting more of what happened next, and the epilogue gave me all that I really needed. Even though it wasn't quite what I was expecting, if I can connect to a book on such an emotional level, it deserves 5 stars from me.

Purchase links
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Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Freeding with Kindle for Samsung

Hey Everyone!

When I upgraded my mobile phone to the Samsung Galaxy S5, I noticed that it came with a Kindle app pre installed. It wasn't the regular Kindle app from the Playstore, it was one designed especially for Samsung. One of the perks of using the Kindle for Samsung app is that they offer Samsung book deals within the app. Each month you can download a book for free, from a selection of five or so books that are not available for free anywhere else. The Kindle for Samsung app is also available free from the Samsung app store if it is not already installed on your Samsung or you have deleted it without realising how awesome free books are!

  • Cost: $0
  • Where: Samsung app store

Monday, 20 April 2015

Race to the End of the World (The Mapmaker Chronicles #1) by A.L. Tait

A map of the world? Why did the King want that? Everyone knew if you went too far in either direction you'd fall off the edge, into the jaws of Genesi, the fire-breathing dragon.

A reluctant adventurer.

A ship captained by a slave.

A mysterious sea monster.

And a race to the end of the world.

The first thrilling book in The Mapmaker Chronicles.

Hey! Here's my review.

A fabulous adventure story with a hint of fantasy.

I won a copy of this book for my son from the publisher in the Ho Ho Hachette "It's the thought that counts" Christmas Giveaway 2014. I put it up on the shelf for a while, planning to read it to him when he was a little older, but it kept drawing my attention. I decided to give it a try, but after reading it aloud for a few nights, my 6 year old was struggling to understand what was going on. It is aimed at older children and I think he will love it in a couple of years. I was quite caught up in the story by then though, so I kept reading it to myself to see what happened! 

The main character, Quinn, is a 14 year old boy with a photographic memory. In a time where there is still debate over whether the world is flat or round, Quinn is chosen to be trained in making maps. He is selected to go on a sea voyage to map the world, racing against two other ships to create the most detailed map, find treasure and return within a year. 

I really liked Quinn and the rest of the crew on his ship. There is a great balance of good guys, bad guys and Enemends (a word Quinn made up for enemy friends). 

My favourite quote was
You cannot change what other people will do. You can only change how you react to those things.
I'm looking forward to the next installment.

  • Where: Hachette Australia giveaway via Facebook
  • Format: paperback
Purchase links  
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Sunday, 19 April 2015

CLOSED HeySaidRenee's First Giveaway!

Hey Everyone!

I had a lucky week this week and won a $10 gift voucher in a Rafflecopter draw on the Happily Ever Chapter Facebook page. I was so excited to find the "you have won" email on my birthday! After opening a new account, choosing some books, and clicking "buy", I found out the hard way that Barnes & Noble won't let you buy ebooks if you don't live in the USA or Canada.

In the spirit of freeding, I don't want to spend money on prizes, but in celebration of my blog reaching the 6 month milestone I would love to regift my Barnes & Noble voucher to someone who can use it. If you would like a chance to win this voucher, please leave a comment below. The Giveaway is open for two days from time of posting. Here is the countdown clock. I will choose the winner at random - good luck!

Saturday, 18 April 2015

6 month milestone

Hey Everyone!

Well it's been 6 months now and I'm still here, telling you all what I think. It's was also my birthday this week, so lots of things to celebrate.

I watched my pageviews tick over the 5,500 mark today. I'm continuing to share my love of freeding around the world. The ten all time most popular countries to view this blog are:
  • Australia
  • United States
  • France
  • Russia
  • United Kingdom
  • Ukraine
  • Switzerland
  • New Zealand
  • India 
  • Canada
The most popular blog post is currently Freeding via Author Invitation.

I now have a twitter account - you can find me at @HeySaidRenee. I share all my posts automatically to twitter via bloglovin, and also manually when I have the time.

I have had my first author contact me via this blog to ask me to review her trilogy and others have offered me sequels after I have reviewed the first book from other sources.

I have made my first author cry with one of my reviews - because she was so happy! I'm not a meanie! It's scary putting your first book out there, not knowing how the world will react. Her first review was a one star from someone who didn't even finish the book, then mine was the first one from someone she didn't know. It means a lot to authors to get a review. I'm sure many authors stalk their reviews the same way I stalk my stats :) It's nice to know someone is out there reading what you have to say. Thanks everyone!

Friday, 17 April 2015

Last Heartbeat by T.R. Lykins

Alexia has fought hard to over come a tragic illness in her past. Barely getting on with her life, she finally leaves home to enter the real world. This first big step makes her appreciate all that she has struggled with. This next step in her life, also leads her to a possible heartbreak. How can Alexia keep up with all of her struggles and keep going on?

Phillip has lost someone close to him when he was younger. This person was the most important person in his life. He has struggled to get past this loss, and once he does, he finds out something about his favorite person that makes him feel the hurt all over again. Why can’t Phillip move on for good? Can he really forgive someone in the past, if they no longer live?

A chance meeting has Alexia and Phillip spending hours talking. This sparks an attraction for each other. Every day, running into each other makes the attraction grow stronger until they finally give in to it. When another accident strikes, both of their pasts come barreling back to haunt them. Can they move forward knowing the secrets they now know about one another? How much more can two broken people endure? Will they find their way back into one another's arms or have they finally come to a breaking point in life?

Hey! Here's my review.

A sweet new adult romance told in alternating POV between Alexia and Philip. Alexia tells her story in one chapter, then Philip retells the same story from his point in the next chapter. Their relationship begins with love at first sight and a very intense first week. They have more in common than they realise, but poor communication interferes and leads to misunderstandings. It is all worked out of course, with happy ever afters all around. I found the plot a bit predictable and guessed what was going on before it was explained. I would have been disappointed if it had turned out differently though. 

I really liked that Alexia and Philip both had good relationships with their parents and were able to talk to them about everything. I liked that they didn't jump into bed straight away - well I guess they did actually jump into bed, but when they slept together they only slept. One of the main themes in this novel is organ donation. The story focusses on life a few years after an organ transplant. I didn't realise how careful you still need to be, even years after an organ transplant and how much it can impact on your life. 

I listened to the audiobook edition, which I received free in exchange for an honest review. The narrator spoke clearly and had different voices for the different characters. She spoke at a good rate and I didn't need to speed it up.

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Thursday, 16 April 2015

What Matters Most by Dianne Maguire

Confronting, amusing and compelling, this is a story about choices and how they shape who we become.

Paediatrician Mia Sandhurst and teenager, Rachel Hooper come together as doctor and patient, both hostages to people they love.

Mia comes to terms with her husband's cheating, while Rachel is deliberately shielding someone who deserves to be named and shamed.

Tim Hooper has his suspicions about his sister's persistent silence and, together with Mia's clinical know-how, sets out to uncover the truth, but the truth is more complex than either of them might have imagined.

Set on the coast of the magical Fleurieu Peninsula, What Matters Most is a frank portrayal of self-discovery in middle age coupled with an unvarnished depiction of the mysteries of child abuse.

Hey! Here's my review.

The stories of Mia, a paediatrician, Rachel, a teenager and Tim, Rachel's older brother are entwined in this compelling family drama set in South Australia. This novel tactfully deals with heavy issues such as divorce, family secrets, drug use, child abuse and rape. It demonstrates how the medical community work together with the police and child protection services to identify and protect children at risk of abuse. These heavy topics are softened with some happier sub plots. There is also romance, personal growth and a gorgeous golden retriever. The main climax came earlier in the book than I was expecting and the ends were all tied up nicely. 

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

  • Where: NetGalley
  • Format: ebook
Purchase links 
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Wednesday, 15 April 2015

The Dr Pepper Prophecies by Jennifer Gilby Roberts

25-year-old Mel Parker has a few tiny problems:
* Her job is terrible
* She’s been dumped yet again (and her ex is now her boss)
* Her parents think she’s a loser compared to her perfect younger sister
* Her best friend, Will, is in grave danger of being stolen from her by his evil girlfriend
* All her efforts to improve her life seem doomed to failure
* There just isn’t enough chocolate in the world to make up for the above.

So what do you do when you’ve pretty much given up on your own life? Help others, of course!

After all, what’s the worst that can happen?


A laugh-out-loud romantic comedy novel, written with dry wit and just a touch of insanity. If you're a fan of Sophie Kinsella, Helen Fielding (Bridget Jones' Diary) or Jane Costello, you'll love this!

Hey! Here's my review.

Dr Pepper had an add campaign with the theme "What's the worst that can happen", which is also an ongoing theme in this book. Of course, whenever Mel, the main character, said "What's the worst that can happen" things tended to fall apart in a spectacularly hilarious fashion. The opening pages of this book had me laughing out loud at the ridiculous situation Mel got herself into inside an airplane toilet. This romantic comedy is full of pop culture references and had a best friend to boyfriend storyline. There were times when I wanted to shake Mel and tell her exactly how to sort her life out, but she got there in the end.

I listened to the audiobook version, which I received free in exchange for an honest review. I often have to speed up the narration as I find it too slow, but I didn't need to with this book. The narrator used a Brittish accent for the majority of the book, which was not her natural accent, but I found it pleasant to listen to. She attempted an Australian accent for one of the characters, which made me cringe, but then I have never heard a non native Australian do an Australian accent that didn't make me cringe.

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Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Haven by Stevie Kopas

Having barely escaped the clutches of the undead, the survivors of The Breadwinner are headed into the unknown to continue their search for solace in the post-apocalyptic landscape. Once a paradise for the living, the city of Haven is now crawling with flesh hungry creatures–yet it could be their only hope. 

Veronica, Samson and the others take a chance on the promises of Gary, a solitary survivor. Is the light-hearted newcomer all that he seems or are there sinister motives hidden behind his hospitality? 

Can Michelle and Lulu, two ordinary women faced with extraordinary horrors and obstacles, make it to safety? Or will they each become just another undead face in the hordes roaming the streets of Haven? 

When tragedy strikes, worlds collide, and the survivors must band together against their common enemy. But remember, who you were does not determine what you will become in the face of a catastrophe. The dead may no longer be their greatest threat. 

Welcome home. Haven is hell.

Hey! Here's my review.

This is book two in The Breadwinner Trilogy, a fast paced zombie apocalypse series. Haven is written in three parts. Part one pick up from where The Breadwinner left off and tells us how that group of people get to the town of Haven, where they meet up with another group of survivors. Part two tells the story of that second group of survivors, starting from the beginning of the outbreak to how they all came to be together in Haven. Part three continues the story after the two groups meet each other.

I found this book similar to the first one. It was just as fast paced and also had a mix of characters you liked and ones you hoped the zombies would eat. I engaged with this book a bit more than the first book - probably because it had a character I really hated. Stevie, if you're reading this, she'd better go down in the next book! You know who I'm talking about!

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

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