Renee Conoulty: June 2016


Thursday, 30 June 2016

Dating for Decades by Tracy Krimmer

IT guru Cassie Noble can depend on networks and servers. It's the people in her life that always let her down. With her fortieth birthday looming, she'd love to find a way to trust and commit to someone.

Eager to work out her problems methodically, Cassie reaches out to her support group. Electrician Keith manages to infiltrate their all-female ranks, infuriating her with his flippant jokes and his all-too laid back attitude. The other women all find him hilarious and she can’t see why. She takes this seriously and he’s doing anything but.

When Cassie needs Keith's help on a project at her day job, she's dreading having to work closely with him, however much his hazel eyes make her stop dead in her tracks. As days turn to weeks, he starts to break down her hard exterior. She’s seeing new possibilities. She’s seeing the future…a life that is joyful and bright. A life that includes Keith.

But when a letter from her mother drags her back to the world where Cassie has no control, she shuts down. Can her support group yank her back from that place where hope is lost? And can the man who once drove her crazy be the one who finally doesn’t let her down?

Hey! Here's my review.

Dating for Decades is all about relationships - friendships, romance and family connections. I've been eagerly awaiting the release of this book and managed to get my hands on a copy before it was published. I love Tracy Krimmer's writing style and although this novel has a more serious women's fiction style than her fun chick lit series, Tracy's voice still shines through. 

In the lead up to my own 40th birthday, I could relate to Cassie finding grey hairs, though thank god the chin hairs haven't started yet *looks very closely in the mirror from six angles just to check* Cassie was authentic; an imperfect stubborn character who won my heart. 

There are some great quotes in this book and I found myself live tweeting them as I read. I also added them to Goodreads quotes - have a look and let me know which one is your favourite. I love the one with the bouquet of fingers ...


  • Where: ARC from author
  • Format: ebook

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

“Long live the King” hailed Entertainment Weekly upon the publication of Stephen King's On Writing. 

Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer's craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King's advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported near-fatal accident in 1999—and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery. Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, On Writing will empower and entertain everyone who reads it—fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told. 

Hey! Here's my review.

Since I started writing last year, I've been on the lookout for good writing craft books. Everywhere I turn, someone has recommended On Writing to me, so I figured it was high time I picked up a copy and read it. 

This is a combination of memoir and writing tips. The storytelling style wove both sections together into an entertaining and insightful book. People are often quoting Stephen King on social media and blogs, so many of these tips I had heard before. It's always good to hear them again.


  • Where: Amazon
  • Format: ebook

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Love, Reality Style by Judith Natelli McLaughlin

When cake-loving third-grade teacher Mary Grace Falcone receives a proposition of marriage from her germ-phobic boyfriend Ralph Ichy, her comfortable life is thrown into a tailspin. Should she marry Ralph? The man dubbed "the CEO of Antiseptic Hands"? Reluctantly, and despite the differing opinions of her best friends Jayde and Annie, Mary Grace accepts. Her decision gets her meddling mother off her back, but also lands her on a reality wedding show where handsome host, Nick Charmin, unexpectedly falls for her. 

Will Mary Grace choose hot Nick or faithful Ralph? Is the decision really hers to make? And, is a slice of cake actually the answer to all of life's problems?

Hey! Here's my review

Love Triangles, Cake.

This was a fun read, light-hearted and entertaining. I was a little frustrated with the main character for not making up her mind about which man she wanted, but then found that I flip-flopped back and forth about which man I wanted her to choose more frequently than she did. I think we were both happy with her choice by the end. I loved the friendship between the three girls, I wish I had friends like them. 

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


  • Where: NetGalley
  • Format: ebook

Friday, 24 June 2016

The Munich Girl by Phyllis Edgerly Ring *Guest Post*

Hey Everyone!

I'd like to introduce you to Phyllis Edgerly Ring who has recently published her novel, The Munich Girl.

Phyllis Edgerly Ring lives in New England and returns as often as she can to her childhood home in Germany. She has studied plant sciences and ecology, worked as a nurse, been a magazine writer and editor, taught English to kindergartners in China, and frequently serves as workshop facilitator and coach for others’ writing projects. Her published work includes fiction and inspirational nonfiction.

Connect with Phyllis via

Guest Post

The legacies that outlast war

My parents’ British-American marriage was made during WWII, so war stories were a staple of family dinner conversation.

As a U.S. military brat in the 1960s, my first friends were German families. Then I married another brat who’d also spent part of his childhood in Germany and we began returning there as often as we could. I realized that if I wanted to understand this culture I love so much (as I struggled to relearn its language), I needed to understand more about Germany’s experience during the war.

Never could I have imagined how quickly that intention would take me straight to Hitler’s living room. Within the week, I received a copy of British writer Angela Lambert’s biography of Eva Braun. Then a combination of entirely unexpected circumstances led to my owning the portrait of Braun that began to unwind the sequence of events in my novel, The Munich Girl.

A major turning point in the story’s development occurred when I discovered, while researching the Trials at Nuremberg, that an action of Eva Braun's in the last week of her life saved the lives of about 35,000 Allied prisoners of war. Two members of my mother's family were among them.

This led me to new levels in the unfolding book's story, spurred by the idea that the reality of situations is always deeper and more complex than things may appear on the surface. And also, the power of real relationships, no matter the circumstances around them, can have beneficial effects in many lives, even generations later.

The question people asked me at the outset is the same one they still ask: “Why Eva Braun?” The story’s goal has never been to try to exonerate or “redeem” her, or how she is perceived. She’s an excellent motif for examining how people, especially women, suppress our own lives, and what forces and factors lead us to do that. 

She also offers a way to look at the reality that human beings are complex. She clearly had a conscience, and acted on it, and, like most of us, tried to make good choices -- choices to serve good -- when she could. She also made ones that served neither herself nor others very well. Do we negate or devalue the contributions that someone makes because they also do things that are misguided, ill-advised, or even personally destructive? Do we not all share this same complexity in experience? These are themes I wanted to explore.
The story’s timeline alternates between the period of the war and 50 years after the end of 
it. The latter represents an important juncture for humanity, I feel, one that invites us to look again, and more deeply, at what remains unrecognized and unresolved, and perhaps overlooked, in that immense, human-initiated catastrophe. The year 1995 is also already “historical” in fiction’s terms, because it’s from about that point that technology of the virtual world began asserting itself, rendering a very different human experience in our world today. To the extent that this material advancement isn't matched by the development of inner-life values and compassionate, united perspective, I think we continue to experience havoc and suffering. 

The Munich Girl by Phyllis Edgerly Ring

Anna Dahlberg grew up eating dinner under her father’s war-trophy portrait of Eva Braun. Fifty years after the war, she discovers what he never did—that her mother and Hitler’s mistress were friends. The secret surfaces with a mysterious monogrammed handkerchief, and a man, Hannes Ritter, whose Third-Reich family history is entwined with her own.

As Anna learns more about the “ordinary” Munich girl who became a tyrant’s lover, and her mother’s confidante, she retraces a friendship that began when two lonely teenagers forged a bond that endured through the war, though the men they loved had opposing ambitions. Anna finds her every belief about right and wrong challenged as she realizes that she has suppressed her own life in much the way Hitler’s mistress did. Ultimately she and Hannes discover how the love in one friendship echoes on in two families until it unites them at last.

Purchase links

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Iggy & Me by Jenny Valentine

This is a series of family stories featuring the mishaps and shenanigans of the irrepressible 5-year-old Iggy as seen through the eyes of her big sister Flo. Funny and endearing, each chapter is a complete and satisfying story in its own right, perfect for newly-confident readers to enjoy alone, or for reading aloud at bedtime.

Hey! Here's my review

**Interview with my 5 & 7-year-old kids**

Me: What did you think of this book?
7: I love it *thumbs up*
5: Awesome

Me: Who was your favourite character and why?
7: Iggy because she changed her name
5: Iggy

Me: What was your favourite bit?
7: When Sam changed her name to Iggy
5: When Iggy was a doctor and she collected all the broken toys

Me: If you could choose your own name, what would it be?
7: Fred
5: Mum


  • Where: Borrowbox
  • Format: ebook

Monday, 20 June 2016

Summer at Rose Island by Holly Martin

Fall in love with the gorgeous seaside town of White Cliff Bay this summer and enjoy long sunny days, beautiful beaches and… a little romance. 

Darcy Davenport is ready for a fresh start. Determined to leave a string of disastrous jobs and relationships behind her, she can’t wait to explore White Cliff Bay and meet the locals. 

When Darcy swims in the crystal clear waters of the bay, she discovers the charming Rose Island Lighthouse. But it’s not just the beautiful building that she finds so intriguing… 

Riley Eddison doesn’t want change. Desperate to escape the memories of his past, he lives a life of solitude in the lighthouse. Yet he can’t help but notice the gorgeous woman who swims out to his island one day. 

Darcy is drawn to the mysterious and sexy Riley, but when it seems the town is trying to demolish his home, she soon finds herself having to pick sides. 

She’s fallen in love with White Cliff Bay. But is that all Darcy’s fallen for? 

Pull up a deck chair, sink back with a bowl of strawberry ice cream and pick up the summer read you won’t be able to put down.

Hey! Heres' my review.

I loved going back to visit Whitecliff Bay in the Summer. I loved the first two Christmassy winter stories in the series and was glad to find that White Cliff Bay is just as much fun in the Summer. You don't need to have read the first two books to enjoy this one. 

The other day I found myself discussing sharks with a grade three student. "A friend of mine's favourite shark is the Angel shark," I told him. It's only as I sat down now to write this review that it occurred to me that this friend I told him about is actually a fictional character from this book. Well, that's how much I liked Darcy, I forgot she wasn't real. 

I was swept away by the romance. I trusted Holly to give me the happily ever after I needed, but at times, I wasn't sure how she was going to do it. Plenty of tension to keep me turning the pages. 

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


  • Where: NetGalley
  • Format: ebook

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Silent Sentry by Theresa Rizzo

Award-winning author Theresa Rizzo delivers a thrilling crime novel packed with suspense, romance, and redemption.

The Scarfilis and Donnatellis love deeply and protect fiercely. “Family takes care of family” is the code they live by.

So when a hacker threatens Gianna Donnatelli’s life, Dr. Joe Scarfili is determined to keep her safe, only he has no police or tech experience, and Gianna’s penchant for aiding Detroit’s underprivileged is the same kind of altruism that got his wife killed. Gianna protects Joe with the same unyielding resolve. 

Gianna pushes all his insecurity buttons. Joe tries her patience like no other. But together they’ll fight to save each other and their love… Or die trying.

Hey! Here's my review.

A romantic suspense novel that kept me turning the pages with a complex plotline that kept me guessing. 

I enjoyed the technological and medical aspects of the story. I found Gianna a likeable character and I could relate to Joe and his protective nature. If you like computer hacker suspense and mafia crime stories, then give this a go.

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


  • Where: Author Invitation
  • Format: ebook

Thursday, 16 June 2016

It’s In His Smile by Shelly Alexander *Release Blitz, Excerpt & Giveaway*

Hey Everyone!

I'd like to introduce you to Shelly Alexander who has just released her latest novel, It's In His Smile.

A 2014 Golden Heart® finalist, Shelly Alexander grew up traveling the world, earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing, and worked in the business world for twenty-five years. With four older brothers, she watched every Star Trek episode ever made, joined the softball team instead of ballet class, and played with G.I. Joes while the Barbie Corvette stayed tucked in the closet. When she had three sons of her own, she decided to escape her male-dominated world by reading romance novels and has been hooked ever since. Now, she spends her days writing steamy contemporary romances while tending to a miniature schnauzer named Omer, a tiny toy poodle named Mozart, and a pet boa named Zeus. 

Connect with Shelly via

It’s In His Smile by Shelly Alexander

She’s risking it all on a dream career… until his smile convinces her to risk her heart on love.

Miranda Cruz isn’t just the best darned waitress in town anymore; she’s Red River’s newest innkeeper. All she has to do is renovate the inn, find the contractor that has disappeared with her life’s savings, and prove that she is the respectable business owner she’s always dreamed of being. Easy, right? Especially for the intelligent Miss Cruz who never depends on anyone, including a man. Until a gorgeous old flame shows up and reignites a fire that has been simmering for seven long years and could send her dreams up in smoke.

Acclaimed environmental architect, Talmadge Oaks, returns home to Red River to settle family business. He plans to get in and get out as quickly as possible because a professional catastrophe is waiting for him back in the Pacific Northwest. When an unforeseen snag keeps him in Red River longer than expected, he finds himself entangled with the floundering renovations of his late grandmother’s old Victorian inn. Handy with a hammer, Talmadge offers to help the inn’s beautiful new owner, but his motives aren’t completely selfless. Will his secret demolish everything they are building? Or will their undeniable passion and love be enough to hold them together?

Purchase links


After Talmadge's colossal gaffe yesterday at Joe's, the chances of Miranda letting him take over the renovations at the inn were about as good as her contractor giving back her money.
The way he saw it, he had two options.

One: play the I'm-your-creditor card and take charge of the renovations whether she agreed or not. When it came to any kind of building project, everyone followed his lead. Hell, he'd earned that leadership roll in world of architecture.

Miranda's face glowed red with anger.

Right. Option one wasn't working out so well.

He shifted to option two: make her think she was still in charge.

"Don't be foolish, Miranda. You need help with this place." Talmadge was trying real hard to keep his mind and eyes off the taut nipples showing through her thin shirt. The moment he'd turned and saw her standing in the dining room staring at him with sleepy eyes and messy pillow hair...glaring at all of them over the absurdity of superheroes while wearing silly cartoon pajamas... Well, hell. His throat had closed up, and he'd wanted to toss her over his shoulder and take her to back to bed. This time with him in it too.


Tuesday, 14 June 2016

The Peppercorn Project by Nicki Edwards *Guest Post, Excerpt and Review*

Hey Everyone!

I'd like to introduce you to Nicki Edwards, who is on tour with her latest novel, The Peppercorn project. If you've been reading my blog for a while, you'll recognise Nicki's name. I've read, reviewed and loved 

Connect with Nicki via

Guest Post

Hi Renee. Thanks for having me as a guest on your blog.

One of the most difficult things I found about writing The Peppercorn Project was getting into my heroine’s head and finding her ‘voice’. Thankfully I’ve never lost my life partner like Isabelle has, but in a pastoral role working alongside my husband, and also as a nurse working in Intensive Care, I’ve had the privilege of holding hands with countless people, including very close friends, who have walked their own journeys of grief and loss. Hopefully through these shared experiences I have faithfully portrayed my heroine’s heartache.

One of those friends to have suffered loss is my friend Kate who lost her husband Rob in a tragic hang-gliding accident in May 2013. Words cannot express how much I admire the way Kate is bravely and courageously raising four phenomenal children on her own.

In the months following Rob’s death while I was writing this book, Kate’s honesty and transparency in her grief was inspiring. I worried constantly that I wasn’t expressing Isabelle’s grief correctly until Kate reminded me that there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way grieve.

At times writing this book was very hard because every time I imagined myself in Issie (or Kate’s) shoes, I shed bucket loads of tears. Staring at a screen while trying to type isn’t very easy. My poor family gave up asking if I was okay as the tears streamed down my cheeks.

One of the most poignant scenes for me was when Isabelle was packing up her house in Torquay to move to Stony Creek.
Isabelle drew packaging tape across the final box and sighed deeply. Standing, she straightened her back, feeling the tired ache of her muscles. She looked around her, seeing the ghosts of memories everywhere. There wasn’t a corner in the house that wasn’t filled with them. She slowly twisted her neck from side to side, feeling the tension ease.
The sun shone through the open doors, and in the distance waves crashed relentlessly onto the sand. Not long now and the town would double in size with tourists. Isabelle gazed lovingly at her garden before remembering it wasn’t hers any longer – it belonged to the bank, and soon a lucky new owner. The garden became her sanctuary after Dan’s death and she would mourn its loss.
Isabelle stepped onto the timber deck and leaned against the veranda post. From her vantage point, she could see the ocean. She was terrified of leaving the house, with its ocean views. She was
terrified of leaving Torquay with its familiar front beach. Most of all she was terrified of leaving behind the memories of Dan.
She closed her eyes, willing her mind to remember the way he smelled, the sound of his laugh, the stubble of his beard against her cheek when he hadn’t shaved for days. On countless nights, they stood side by side in this exact spot. He would drape his arm across her shoulders, smelling of sand and surf, and they would talk for hours. Isabelle inhaled. She could still smell the ocean, but the heaviness across her shoulders wasn’t from his embrace.
She wished she could talk to him. Wished she could pick up the phone and ring him. Chat. More than anything, she wished she could tell him about this strange new life and the new journey she was embarking on.
She remembered the words she spoke at Dan’s funeral – the only words she’d managed for most of the day.
‘Over the years you have shaped me in ways I cannot comprehend. From the first moment we met, to the last time I saw you, you continue to shape me.’
Now it was a new day. A new season. Time to discover who she was on her own. Isabelle Cassidy. No longer ‘Dan’s wife’. Just Isabelle. Single Mum. Widow.
Pain gnawed at her chest. ‘I’ll never forget you, Dan,’ she whispered.
The doorbell chimed, breaking her reflection. With heavy steps and a heavier heart, she went to greet the removalists. As difficult as this day was, deep down she knew that if Dan were here, he would tell her to go for it.
She inhaled deeply and drew her shoulders back. It was time to move.

The purpose of the $1 a week Peppercorn leases are for families like Isabelle’s to get back on their feet after tragedy or hardship. I chose a tiny town in South Australia to become my fictional town of Stony Creek. Instead of portraying a dying country town, I wrote about a town that is vibrant and flourishing and filled with wonderful characters who all want to help Isabelle and the other Peppercorn families start again. Even better if they can partake in some matchmaking!

Obviously The Peppercorn Project is a romance novel, but I hope readers will understand that before Isabelle can move forward in her relationship with Matt, she must first move through her painful stages of grief. She must also put the needs of her children, Fletcher and Mietta, first. This is why the romance between Matt and Issie is very slow to develop and they don’t get together until towards the end of the book. Matt is adorable. He’s a gentle giant teddy bear of a man who does everything he can to protect Issie and her children. Most of all, Matt understands the need to take his time to win Issie’s heart and her trust.

The pivotal scene when Isabelle removes her wedding and engagement rings was written through tear-filled eyes and I hope readers can imagine the pain of that one simple act.

I love all the other characters in the town too – the other Peppercorn families, Rachel, the organizer of the Project, her sister Leah (who is crying out for a love story of her own), old Hilary, Doctor Hugo and of course Matt. I hope you do too.

The Peppercorn Project by Nicki Edwards

One heartbroken woman. One bitter cop. One community to save them.

After the tragic death of her husband, single mum Isabelle Cassidy is bereft and broke. When she hears about The Peppercorn Project – a scheme that offers affordable rent in the tiny but vibrant town of Stony Creek – Issie sees it as her family's best chance at a fresh start.

Newly single police officer Matt Robertson moved to Stony Creek to lick his wounds after a bitter divorce. Wanting only peace and quiet, Matt is against the Project, seeing it as a threat to the peace he's found in the country town – until he meets Issie. Despite himself, Matt is drawn to the widow and feels inexplicably protective of her fragile family.

Just when Issie begins to imagine a future with Matt, an accident proves how far she has to go before she can move beyond her grief. But the citizens of Stony Creek won't rest until they see these two broken souls find a new beginning, together.

Can Issie move beyond the pain of her past and entrust Matt with her family, and her heart?

A gorgeous rural romance for fans of Fiona McArthur, Rachael Johns and Fiona McCallum.

Hey! Here's my review

Nicki Edwards brought tears to my eyes. Tears of sorrow from moments of grief. Motherly tears from the sweet things kids do. Tears of laughter from one liners. 

I loved the Aussie setting and insight into small town living. The romance was sweet and not rushed. Nicki dealt tactfully with the issue of coping with grief and moving on after loss. She also tackled the issue of teenage drug use in small towns and gave me a better understanding of how this can happen. 

I've read all Nicki's books and I love her blend of medical rural romance. I received this book free in exchange for an honest review.

  • Where: NetGalley and Publisher
  • Format: ebook and paperback

Sunday, 12 June 2016

The Good Luck Duck by Holly Webb

Molly loves animals and wants to be a vet when she grows up, just like her dad. As everyone says, she's got the magic touch! Molly is on an Easter egg hunt when she finds a magical duck who needs her help!

Hey Here's my review

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

Me: What did you think of this book?
7: T-T-T-T-T-Terrific
5: T-T-T-T-T-Terrific

Me: What was your favourite bit?
5: When they found the baby duck
7: When the duck hatched

Me: Would you rather find a good luck duck or a giant chocolate egg?
7: I choose good luck duck because then I'd get both because then I could use my good luck powers to find a giant Easter egg
5: Chocolate Easter egg


  • Where: Own book
  • Format: paperback

Friday, 10 June 2016

A Kiss from Mr Fitzgerald by Natasha Lester

It’s 1922 in the Manhattan of gin, jazz and prosperity. Women wear makeup and hitched hemlines – and enjoy a new freedom to vote and work. Not so Evelyn Lockhart, forbidden from pursuing her passion: to become one of the first female doctors.

Chasing her dream will mean turning her back on the only life she knows: her competitive sister, Viola; her conservative parents; and the childhood best friend she is expected to marry, Charlie.

And if Evie does fight Columbia University’s medical school for acceptance, how will she support herself? So when there’s a casting call for the infamous late-night Ziegfeld Follies on Broadway, will Evie find the nerve to audition? And if she does, what will it mean for her fledgling relationship with Upper East Side banker Thomas Whitman, a man Evie thinks she could fall in love with, if only she lived a life less scandalous?

Hey! Here's my review.

It's been weeks since I finished this and I still can't find all the words. 

I'd been waiting for this book to come out since the middle of last year, since I discovered the inspirational Natasha Lester's blog and maybe, perhaps, began to slightly stalk her online ... Natasha has heaps of writing advice to share and I couldn't wait to see how she applied it all in her historical fiction novel. 


Natasha's writing is a bridge between literary and commercial fiction. There is romance, mystery, medical drama, historical fiction, costumes, dancing, parties, study, life and death. Natasha paints such a vivid picture of life in New York during the 1920's. I felt like I was there, walking alongside Evie, sipping champagne during the prohibition and occasionally breaking into the charleston. I loved Evie's spunk and determination. Even though Evie has blond hair, the girl on the cover captures her essence perfectly (and the cover is so pretty).

This book is the bee's knees, the cat's pyjamas and the bandicoot's bellybutton! It's a book I found myself live tweeting as I was reading (that's the polite way to say twitter stalking).

I listened to the audiobook edition. The narrator was fabulous. Kelly Burke spoke clearly and at a good pace, bringing each character to life.

  • Where: Giveaway
  • Format: Audiobook

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Not Quite Sheer Happiness by Melissa Baldwin *Spotlight*


Happy Release Day to Melissa Baldwin! Grab your copy of NOT QUITE SHEER HAPPINESS today!!

Baldwin-NotQuiteSHBook Information
Title: Not Quite Sheer Happiness
Author: Melissa Baldwin
Series: Event to Remember Series #3
Release Date: June 8, 2016

Genres: Chick Lit/Romantic Comedy
Sienna Harris is back and appears to be on top of the world! Her company, Sheer Happiness Events, is booming, but personally she’s a mess. She never imagined that with amazing success would come tremendous pressure. Although her professional life seems in disarray at times, her relationship with the dashing Ace Eckelund is finally progressing.
Friendships are tested and so is her relationship when—once again—the past collides with the present. Sienna begins to question everything in her life and wonders if she should throw out her desire for constant certainty and live life on the edge for once. But, will she be able to change the person she has always been for who she wants to become?
Find out in this captivating third installment of The Event to Remember series.
Book Links - COMING

Author BiographyMelissaBaldwin
Melissa graduated from the University of Central Florida with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications; she has always had a love for writing. An avid journal keeper, she took her creativity to the next level by fulfilling her dream with her debut novel, An Event to Remember . . . Or Forget. Since then, she has written and published two more novels, Wedding Haters and See You Soon Broadway.
Melissa resides in Florida, with her husband and young daughter. When she isn't writing, this multi-tasking master organizer is busy being a mother, wife, chauffeur, PTA President, and Fitness Trainer.
When she has free time, she enjoys traveling, running, fitness, fashion, and taking a Disney Cruise every now and then.
Connect with Melissa via


Monday, 6 June 2016

The Farmer's Perfect Match by Marilyn Forsyth

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?

Hey! Here's my review.

With as much drama as you'd see on reality tv, plus all the drama from the cutting room floor, The Farmer's Perfect Match is an entertaining read.

Life on a remote pearl farm doesn't give Adam many chances to meet women. Being part of the Perfect Match reality TV show sounds like a good idea but don't turn out exactly as planned. I loved Adam's character, down to earth and honest. I enjoyed having likeable characters to cheer for and villains to hate. I was satisfied that everyone got what they deserved and all the ends were wrapped up nicely. 

It was an interesting insight into what goes on behind the scenes in a reality tv show. The balance of trying to let things unfold naturally and needing to replay the action to get the perfect shot. 

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


  • Where: NetGalley
  • Format: ebook

Saturday, 4 June 2016

The Shy Piglet by Holly Webb

When Molly goes on a trip to the local petting zoo, she meets a lonely piglet. Will Molly's magic help him get over his shyness?

Hey! Here's my review

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

Me: What did you think of this book?
7: Awesome
5: Stoopid - no I'm just kidding - Awesome

Me: What was your favourite bit?
5: When the piglet peeked his nose out
7: When the piglet came out even though he was really really shy

Me: If you could talk to animals, what would you ask them?
7: If they could give me magic powers
5: Would you like to live with me

  • Where: Own book
  • Format: paperback

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Start Writing Fiction

Hey Everyone!

At the end of last month, I finished an eight week free online course through The Open University called Start Writing Fiction. They are running the course again in October. You can select to join now and they will email you when it is ready to begin. Here's the link if you want to check it out.

The course was taught via written articles and videos, with quizzes and practical writing tasks set each week. The best part was the interaction in the comments section with other students. It was a great way to network and encourage each other - a positive environment.

The course was designed for absolute beginners and told me many things I'd already picked up along the way from blogs and books. I found it valuable though because of the practical element. Many of the writing books I've read have tasks to do, but I never did them. With this course, I was already sitting at the computer in the frame of mind to write, so it was easier to do the activities. I also felt more accountable, I didn't want to click the "finished" button and go to the next step until I'd actually completed the activity. There were several opportunities to gain feedback and critiques on your writing, which I found very valuable.

Here's an example of one of the writing exercises from week four of the course.

Writing prompt
‘A woman on a bus today carried her Pekinese dog inside her handbag. It had a red bow on its head that matched her sweater.’

Points to consider with my notes
Who might she have been? Fashionista
Where was she going? to animal shelter to surrender dog
What did her appearance suggest about her mood or state of mind? Disgusted about being on public transport
How old was she? early 20's
How did she live? inner city apartment, receptionist part time
Why was she on the bus? refused to take dog in car after climbed out of her bag and relieved itself in car
Why did she have the dog and where was she taking it? bought the dog as fashion accessory - like Paris Hilton
Why did she look the way she did? Always dressed well - won't leave house without makeup
Why did the dog have a red bow? Dog always coordinated with her - fashion accessory

My flash fiction
There was a scrambling noise and a yip as the bus bounced over a speed hump. Sydney gripped the handbag tighter to prevent it sliding off the seat beside her. A small black face popped out from last season's bag. The fluffy Pekingese sported a red topknot bow that matched Sydney's sweater and the soles of her stilettos.
"Shh Bella," Sydney said, pushing the inquisitive nose away.
 Everytime Sydney picked up her handbag to go out, Bella was already sitting inside. It had only taken a couple of months for Bella to learn to sit in her handbag, but she still pooped in the house. If that wasn't bad enough, the dang dog had pooped in the car too. Thank god for leather upholstery. It cleaned up ok, but that was the end of car rides for Bella.
Sydney tried walking Bella on a diamante encrusted lead, but Bella ran circles around her, tripping her up and causing Sydney to split the seam of her favourite pinstripe pencil skirt. Back in the handbag for the rest of the walk to meet her friends for coffee. Until Sydney felt a warm wetness seep into her shirt. In the bag, really? She almost dropped the dog into the nearest dumpster, along with the bag, but that was taking things too far.
 She couldn't leave to dog home alone, though. Last time she'd done that, Bella had chewed up the throw cushions and spread stuffing all over the house. The throw cushions were easily replaced, but the teeth marks in the dining table legs were another matter. Who knew something this small could be so much work? Too much work. Too much mess.
This was the only choice left. Sydney slung the bag over her shoulder and got off the bus. She could see the sign. Animal Shelter.

It was a fun exercise, interesting to work with such a restricted number of words and to write a character I didn't like.

Have you done a writing course you would recommend?
Have you read any writing books you would recommend?