Friday, September 30, 2011

Book Release: A Wedding Invitation by Alice J. Wisler

After returning home from teaching English at a refugee camp in the Philippines, Samantha Bravencourt enjoys her quiet life working at her mother's clothing boutique in Falls Church, Virginia. When she receives an invitation to a wedding in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, she looks forward to reconnecting with her college friend. Instead her life collides with Carson, a fellow teacher and the man who broke her heart, and a young Amerasian refugee named Lien who needs Samantha and Carson's help to find her mother before Lien's own wedding. When the search for Lien's mother reveals surprising secrets from the past, Samantha must reevaluate her own memories and decide whether to continue to play it safe or take a risk that could change her life.  

Alice J. Wisler’s latest book, A Wedding Invitation releases on the 1st October - tomorrow! I love her books and will be hanging out to grab a copy when it hits our Aussie shores. (Don't you just love the cover?)

Happy Reading!

Available to order from Amazon and Fishpond AU
** Using these links when you order helps support this blog **

Milestone Month

The end of another month! And we've had a great month here at Book Review Sisters. We've reached several milestones during September:



2000 hits

100 Twitter followers

50 Facebook "Likes"

25 completed book reviews




    Thanks so much to all our visitors - regular, returning and new - for coming to our blog! We hope you'll continue to visit.  And remember we love hearing from you, so don't be shy :)

    Our New Posting Schedule

    If you've been taking a close look over the last couple of weeks, you may have noticed a pattern has developed.  So you can know what to expect each week, we have created a posting schedule.

    On Mondays we have our Monday Morning Musings, where we have a bit of a chat about something in relation to books.  It's a nice relaxed way to kick off the week and get you thinking. 

    Wednesdays we release all our book reviews for the week on the one day, so you can check in on that day just to see the new reviews.  We will usually have two new reviews up, but if you're lucky, sometimes there might be more ;)

    Friday is our news and fun day.  It might be news about the book world, a particular author, or just what we have planned for the next week.

    Stay up to date with Book Review Sisters

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      Happy reading and have a wonderful weekend :)


      Image courtesy of Master isolated images / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

      Wednesday, September 28, 2011

      Book Review: Lonestar Sanctuary by Colleen Coble

      Available @
      Fishpond AU 
      & Amazon
      Lonestar Sanctuary by Colleen Coble


      Though tragedy has wrecked her life, Allie Siders holds on to the hope that her five-year-old daughter, Betsy, will speak again. But with a stalker out for revenge, all Allie can think about now is their safety. She must sever all ties and abandon life, as she knows it. She heads to the peaceful Bluebird Ranch, nestled deep in Texas hill country, and to the only person who can help them.

      The ranch is a sanctuary for abused horses, and also for troubled youths: the perfect place for Betsy to grow and recover. Ranch owner Elijah DeAngelo eagerly welcomes the duo. But Rick Bailey–the ranch foreman and DeAngelo’s right hand man–hasn’t decided to let his guard down . . . yet.

      Promises made long ago soon force Rick and Allie to work together to escape danger. Will they discover love along the way?

      This is the first book in Coble’s Lonestar series. Since I read Lonestar Secrets last year some time and really enjoyed it, I decided to grab the book that started the series.

      Coble has done a great job of showing the reader the land Allie and Rick reside in. I felt drawn in by the dusty, isolated land where mountains and sky meld together. It is a hard land but it offers sanctuary to Allie when she needs it the most.

      Rick Bailey is a man haunted by his past mistakes. At the same time he is dealing with a past filled with bitterness. He found his sanctuary at Bluebird Ranch two years ago. Ever since he has been helping abused horses and troubled youths heal from the knocks life has thrown them.

      When Allie Siders and her daughter Betsy appear looking for their own sanctuary, Rick has to learn to put aside his preconceived notions about Allie and her situation in order to try and help her. Rick indeed rises to the challenge in more ways than he expected.

      Allie is a woman tired from the blows life has struck her in the past twelve months. She longs for her daughter to speak and for a place to finally call home. As she struggles to protect her daughter from the danger chasing them, she is finally given the chance to lean on someone other than herself for a change.

      I have discovered an interesting trend with regard to my character preference with Coble’s novels. I have read seven of her books and enjoyed them all. When I think back through the Coble books I’ve read, I realize that I definitely find her heroes are the ones that really grab my attention! Having said this, I enjoy the heroine’s in Coble’s novels and I’m always rooting for them to solve the mystery and they are likeable women. I just like the guys more I think! Maybe Coble just knows how to create a guy that resonates with my own idea of what a Christian man should be. It also might be that she writes a great looking guy!

      I really loved getting lost at Bluebird Ranch and am looking forward to reading more in this series.

      Tuesday, September 27, 2011

      September Feature Author: Kristin Billerbeck - Interview & Book Giveaway

      This month we are excited to have Christian chick lit author Kristin Billerbeck here with us.  Kristin is the author of more than thirty books including the Ashley Stockingdale series, and her most recent romance "A Billion Reasons Why".  Her latest young adult release is the witty "Perfectly Invisible" and we are giving away a copy of this book.  See the end of this feature for details how to enter!

      1. Thanks for joining us on our blog today Kristin.  Can you tell us a bit about yourself? Any hobbies you have?

      Well, I'm a mother of four, so my hobbies are mostly bus-driving and drinking espresso to keep me moving at a relatively clipped pace.  I do enjoy meeting p with my girlfriends and we go to concerts and out to dinner.  Our big luxury is going out to breakfast after church.

      2. Jess read and reviewed, "A Billion Reasons Why", your most recent adult fiction.  It was the first book of yours that either of us had read, and she loved it.  Now we're hooked on your books!  What was your inspiration for the character of Luc Deforges?

      Luc was  a bit of an amalgam of many different men.  Wouldn't that be great if we could glue the best parts together?  Okay, maybe not  But I wanted to give him the strength and consistency of a military man, the intellect of a business man and the heart of a godly man who knows what to value in life.

      (Jess: The best characters are usually an amalgamation I think)

      3. I absolutely enjoyed your recent Young Adult Fiction novel, "Perfectly Invisible".  I couldn't put it down!  Where do you get your ideas and inspiration for young adult fiction?

      I have three teenagers and one pre-teen so inspiration is everywhere!  But I also remember the angst of that time when you're trying to find your way and figure out who you are.  It's such an exciting time, but I don't think we appreciate it when we're going through it!

      (Helen: No, you're right, I didn't appreciate it when I went through it - and I don't now, which is why I'm still trying to create "substitute" memories by reading YA! :P)

      4. What books did you read as a teenager?

      Confession:  i didn't read a lot as a child and when I did start reading, I went straight for the classics:  Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy.  Nerd alert!

      5. Whose writing do you admire?

      I love Maeve Binchy's writing.  I think she's a master and her storytelling always comes before the rules.  That's what I love about her.  I love Jenny B. Jones and Rene Gutteridge, who make me laugh and are so good with real emotions.  I love Denise Hunter for romance.

      (Jess: I love Maeve Binchy as well and yes her storytelling really does come before the rules. I second that on Denise Hunter 100%!)

      6. When you get writers block, what do you do to try and get out of it?

      I generally have to get away from the book.  I've learned if I sit there at the desk when the flow isn't coming, I will only waste my time.  So I will get up and go to the movies, or watch Reality TV.  Something that completely takes me away so that I can clear my head until I find my way back in the story.

      7. If you could be any fictional book character for a day, who would you be, and why?

      Tinkerbell.  She can fly, leaves a sparkly trail and I like her outfit.

      8. Can you tell us about any of your current works in progress, and any books that are coming out soon?

      I have two books coming out Spring 2012.  The final Daisy Crispin book (YA) which is called Perfectly Ridiculous and another adult fiction called "Paris in the Rain" closer to summer 2012.

      (Helen: Oh yay! A third Daisy Crispin book! Can't wait to read that!)

      Thank you so much for visiting with us Kristin!

      Find Kristin Billerbeck on the Web
      Kristin's Blogs

      Our Reviews of Kristin's Books
      
      
      A Billion Reasons WhyPerfectly Dateless (YA)Perfectly Invisible (YA)
       
      Some Kristin Billerbeck Books












      Book Giveaway: Perfectly Invisible by Kristin Billerbeck

      Enter to win this entertaining book (which I loved, even though I'm a fully fledged adult!) either for yourself or for a teen you know.  This is the kind of book I'd want my daughters to be reading rather than all those dark, vampire books out there.

      It's Daisy Crispin's final trimester of high school, and she plans to make it count. Her long-awaited freedom is mere months away, and her big plans for college loom in the future. Everything is under control. Or is it? Her boyfriend is treating her like she's invisible, and her best friend is selling bad costume jewellery in the school quad--and hanging out with her boyfriend. To top it off, Daisy's major humiliation for the year will be remembered in the yearbook for all eternity. It's enough to make her wonder if maybe being invisible isn't so bad after all. With more of the funny-but-too-true writing readers have come to expect from Kristin Billerbeck, Perfectly Invisible shows teen girls that everyone is special--no matter what they're going through.
      


      How to Enter

      We have one copy of "Perfectly Invisible" up for grabs.  To enter the competition, you just need to complete the form below.  Entries must include a valid email address, or we won't be able to contact you if you win! 

      All information provided remains confidential and will not be given to any third party.  Your email address will only be used by Book Review Sisters to contact you in the event that you win. 

      If you are contacted and advised you are the winner, you will have 1 week to provide us with the address for postage of your prize.
      Entries close Tuesday 4th October 2011

      Optional Extra Entries!
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      If you opt in for any of these bonus entries, please indicate so by ticking the appropriate boxes on the form

      Monday, September 26, 2011

      Monday Morning Musings: The All Seasons Activity

      Spring has sprung, finally releasing us from the bondage of winter.  Ok, I will admit, here in Australia our experience of winter is somewhat lacking.  For most of us, where we live - it doesn't snow.  Like never.  I haven't even seen snow. Ever!  Yet I hate winter with a passion.  I loathe being cold.  So if I ever experience a real winter, I may never recover.

      Well, my gripe is not with winter - or at least, not today :)  With the weather warming - and very quickly turning into summer (since spring is also something we don't really get) - my thoughts are turning to my summer related book memories.  One of my clearest and fondest memory of summer holidays as a kid has to do with reading.  Yes I relished playing in the sprinkler, and going to the local pool every day.  And of course I loved not having school for 6 weeks.  But lying on my bed reading books in the stinking heat is truly one of my most nostalgic summer memories.  

      And I do mean stinking heat.  We grew up in a weatherboard house with a tin roof - in Australia, remember - with no air conditioning.  We had nothing but these portable water filled evaporative air coolers to try and inject a puff of cool air into the suffocating heat.  I had one of these such coolers in my room, a particularly old and noisy one, which I had pointed directly in my face as I read.  I can still hear the whirring of the cooler and the occasional clunk of the motor, feel the breeze on my face and even the sporadic spits of water that it liked to bestow (especially when I filled the reservoir up with ice :)).  I think the extra noise and sensation of air created my own personal vortex and made escaping into a book even more tangible - helping to separate me from the rest of the goings on in the house.

      Quite often we equate our reading memories to snuggling in bed under the covers, or stretched out on a sandy beach.  Or maybe under a shady tree.  I enjoy reading in all these scenarios, which made me realise: reading is truly a season-less hobby (or obsession, as the case may be!).  It's an activity that isn't weather dependent.  It is just as enchanting to read on a wet and stormy afternoon as it is on a warm sunny morning.  Just as thrilling by the side of a luxurious hotel swimming pool as it is curled up on the couch in front of a fire.  You can fall in love, laugh until your sides ache and sob your heart out at any time, any place, whatever the season - all with a good book.

      What are some of your favourite places or circumstances in which you like to read?

      Friday, September 23, 2011

      Next Week: Author feature, book give away + more

      So, who's our feature author for September? Make sure you stop by next week to find out! At the same time we will be doing another book give away! The book we are giving away this time is a Young Adult fiction, so alert your teens that it's coming up.  If you love YA fiction like I do, then make sure you get yourself in the running as well :)

      Of course next week will feature our usual happenings, with our Monday Morning Musings and more book reviews released on Wednesday.  

      Have a wonderful weekend!




      Announcing Our Very First BRS Opal Award Winners!!!


      Last week we released details about our new Book Review Sisters Opal Award.  We are excited to announce today the first two books we are bestowing this award on.  They are ... *drum roll* ...

      Sweetwater Gap by Denise Hunter
      Read, reviewed and awarded the Opal Award by Jess

















      The Colonel's Lady by Laura Frantz
      Read, reviewed and awarded the Opal by Helen















      Congratulations to Denise Hunter & Laura Frantz, and we thank you both for writing these wonderful books which we adore!

      *** Please see the details regarding our Book Review Sisters Opal Award to understand how and why it is awarded ***

      Wednesday, September 21, 2011

      Book Review: A Hope Undaunted by Julie Lessman

      Available @
      Fishpond AU 
      & Amazon
      A Hope Undaunted by Julie Lessman
      Revell Publishing, 01 October 2010

      The 1920s are drawing to a close, and feisty Katie O'Connor is the epitome of the new woman--smart and sassy with goals for her future that include the perfect husband and a challenging career in law. Her boyfriend Jake fits all of her criteria for a husband--good-looking, well-connected, wealthy, and head-over-heels in love with her. But when she is forced to spend the summer of 1929 with Luke McGee, the bane of her childhood existence, Katie comes face to face with a choice. Will she follow her well-laid plans to marry Jake? Or will she fall for the man she swore to despise forever? A Hope Undaunted is the engrossing first book in the WINDS OF CHANGE series from popular author Julie Lessman. Readers will thrill at the highly charged romance in this passionate story.

      Finally I have read one of Julie’s book! It’s been a few weeks since I learned of this “Passion with a Purpose” author of historical romance. I discovered Julie after reading her interview on “Come Meet AusJenny” blog. Her enthusiasm and passion emanated from the screen and I knew I had to read her books!

      A Hope Undaunted” is the first installment of Julie’s “Winds of Change” series, the second of which is currently a new release (“A Heart Revealed”). This series is actually a follow on from her first series, “The Daughters of Boston”.

      This book is set late in the roaring 1920s. It is the story of Katie – the youngest of the six O’Conner children. Katie is a headstrong and defiant character, with lofty ambitions for herself and for the women’s cause. She thinks she has everything for her life sorted out and arranged. Above all, she has the right man – and he has the right money and the right connections.

      Luke is the cocky orphan Katie knew when they were kids – all grown up, but just as cocky! Together they butt heads and have lessons to learn about love and life. Their exchanges are fiery, touching, and definitely passionate!

      Julie has created strong and feisty characters, who find themselves wrestling with internal and external challenges. There were several points in this book where just when I thought I knew how it was all going to work out, the story would throw me a curve ball! I had many “No!” moments, and I was completely caught up with the characters and their dilemmas. I felt great sorrow with their loss, and great joy with their triumphs.

      A Hope Undaunted” is passionate - that’s for sure – but in the many ways it is possible to be passionate: for family, for friends, for the downtrodden, for lovers and most importantly, passion for God. It’s not your conventional “safe” Christian fiction, but neither is it inappropriate. Julie doesn’t shy away from the tough issues - the characters deal with the same temptations we all face as humans, but God’s guiding hand is always there to lead them back on the right path.

      Not only am I eager to read the second book in this series – “A Heart Revealed” (released this month), I am putting the earlier three books on my to be read list as well. I am very glad I have discovered Julie's books!

      Ebook Note:
      This is the first book I have ever read through the kindle software.  I don't have a kindle, but I downloaded the software for my android phone and my laptop.  I enjoyed the convenience of kindle keeping track of where I was up to, no matter which device I was on - it was very easy to switch between my phone and laptop.

      Book Review: Assassins (Left Behind Series, Book 6) by Tim Lahaye & Jerry B. Jenkins

      Available @
      Fishpond AU 
      & Amazon

      Assassins by Tim Lahaye & Jerry B. Jenkins

      The members of the Tribulation Force face their most dangerous challenges. As international fugitives, they struggle to find supplies for safe houses around the world. In despair over so many lost lives, Rayford Steele and Buck Williams make plans to dethrone Nicolae Carpathia and expose him as the Antichrist. Meanwhile, Carpathia has been busy rebuilding roads, airports, and a cellular/solar satellite phone system--all designed to help him become the supreme ruler of the world. Many believers want him stopped, but who will fulfil Scripture and help bring about the Antichrist's death?

      The next plague is unleashed on the world, and affords quite intriguing imagery of imposing and fearful horseman appearing in the horizon and in the air. I have to admit, considering my favourite genre is romance, I’m really enjoying imagining the more obvious supernatural elements of the book, even as they are increasing through the series.

      The resolve and spirit of the Tribulation Force is under great pressure, and they desperately long for the Great Appearing, when it will all end. Rayford battles with his anger and is intent on being God’s instrument in killing Nicolae. It turns out he isn’t the only person wanting to assassinate Nicolae, as Mac – Tribulation Force member and first pilot to the Antichrist - discovers when their plane is attacked by a rebel faction.

      There is great physical and emotional toll on the Tribulation force, suffering great affliction in their quest to survive in this tumultuous age. There are more losses throughout the book.

      The series is still interesting and enjoyable, but I feel a little weary and have to take breaks from the it – disperse my reading with some happy romances inbetween :)

      Left Behind Series Website

      Other books in the series we've reviewed:
      1. Left Behind
      2. Tribulation Force 
      3. Nicolae
      4. Soul Harvest
      5. Apollyon

      Monday, September 19, 2011

      You’ve Got Mail…and the bookstore

      images Recently my husband and I sat down to watch You’ve Got Mail. Yes my husband is the kind of man who will watch a romantic comedy with his wife. But that’s beside the point. So we settled in and thoroughly enjoyed seeing Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan together again. Firstly, I’m not here to talk about the chemistry between Tom and Meg (there’s lots), or the way they used the Internet 13 years ago, yes I said 13 years ago. Rather, while watching this movie, I realized that it has much to say about the current state of the book industry. 

      youve-got-mail-storybook-lady
      You’ve Got Mail gives us Kathleen Kelly (Ryan) who owns The Shop Around the Corner, a children’s independent bookstore. Joe Fox (Hanks) is part of the Fox family that own Fox Bookstore a chain of mega bookstores that seduce people with their “square footage, and our discounts, and our deep armchairs, and…Our cappuccino.” Sound familiar? Fox Books opens around the corner from Kathleen’s store and it soon becomes evident that she must close her doors. 

      This movie highlights what we as consumers saw when Borders and the like enticed people with their square footage, discounts, deep armchairs and coffee. We watched as the humble independent bookstore bowed to the mega store chain and slowly closed their doors. 13 years later we are watching the mega stores crumble around us as they now bow to an even greater giant: online book stores and the e-book. How so much has changed in 13 years. 

      What breaks my heart though is that when I enter a shopping center in my city, I cannot find a bookstore. Why? There is none. I can buy books from Target, Big W or K-Mart but lets face it – the range is limited. I can no longer take great pleasure in leisurely roaming around the bookstore and wondering where the next book might take me. 

      What would Kathleen and Joe be doing now that both their shops have closed?

      Please note, my experiences with the rise and fall of the bookstore are the evidence of what I have seen in Australia.

      Friday, September 16, 2011

      CALEB Prize Shortlist 2011

      The CALEBs are the annual awards given by Omega Writers Inc for faith-inspired writing.  The CALEB is awarded in different categories and includes an unpublished category.  The awards are open to submissions from Australasian writers (Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Islands).

      The CALEB 2011 Shortlist was announced yesterday.

      The Book Review Sisters’ August Feature Author – Paula Vince – made the shortlist in the Adult Fiction category for her novel “Best Forgotten” (see our review).  Congratulations Paula!  We wish you all the best!

      Winners will be announced in November.

      Introducing the Book Review Sisters' Opal Award


      In light of Jess’ Monday Morning Musings post about those books you just come back to again and again, we thought we’d create a special award in honour of such books.

      First of all, why Opal?

      "Outstanding Piece Around..." ... um, unfortunately no, Opal is not an acronym for anything.  We’ve tried to come up with something relevant, but to no avail. (Suggestions are always welcome!) Opal is an Australian precious stone, and since we are Australian, we wanted something that reflects that.

      Why create this award?

      We don’t have a rating system on Book Review Sisters because we believe that the enjoyment of a book is largely a matter of personal taste.  There are many books out there we personally enjoy, many we classify as “favourites” (these can be found by the ‘favourite books’ tag).  We wanted to have something to highlight to our readers when a book comes along that stands out to us.   Something that we really really enjoy.

      What sort of books qualify for a BRS Opal?

      There’s no hard and fast rule.  It can be from any genre.  It does not signify an outstanding piece of literature (though it may be) and it does not signify that it will be loved by everyone.

      The main criteria for the BRS Opal Award is that either one of the Book Review Sisters LOVES the book, and so much so we’d be quite happy to read it again and again.  It is not awarded with objectivity, rather it is strongly influenced by our particular tastes.  This means that if one of us awards an Opal to a book, the other would not necessarily do so.  In order to establish whether an BRS Opal Award winning book would be relevant to you as a reader, consider our preferences, inclinations and tastes:

      Helen prefers romances with substance, with a particular inclination for historical fiction.  Whilst being warmed by a good romance novel, she loves the added benefit of learning about how people lived during different periods and transporting herself into the past.

      Jess loves a well told romance, filled with suspense and heart stopping moments. She also enjoys historical fiction, but would rather delve into contemporary women's fiction. As long as the book has solid characters, a great plot and can take her into another place then she is sold.


      Are all BRS Opal Award winners Christian?

      Yes.  Although we do not limit reviews done on the Book Review Sisters to Christian books (we only advocate clean, non-witch, non-vampire books), the vast majority are.  We have decided that in order to win this award the book must be Christian.

      Stay tuned, we'll be announcing the first Opal Award winners shortly!

      Wednesday, September 14, 2011

      Book Review: The Colonel’s Lady by Laura Frantz

      Available @
      Fishpond AU
      & Amazon

      The Colonel's Lady by Laura Frantz
      Revell Publishing, 01 Sept 2011

      In 1779, when genteel Virginia spinster Roxanna Rowan arrives at the Kentucky fort commanded by Colonel Cassius McLinn, she finds that her officer father has died. Penniless and destitute, Roxanna is forced to take her father's place as scrivener. Before long, it's clear that the colonel himself is attracted to her. But she soon realizes the colonel has grave secrets of his own--some of which have to do with her father's sudden death. Can she ever truly love him? Readers will be enchanted by this powerful story of love, faith, and forgiveness from reader favourite Laura Frantz. Her solid research and deft writing immerse readers in the world of the early frontier while her realistic characters become intimate friends.


      I found this book when I was ordering some other books online. The cover appeared before me and got my interest immediately. I’d never read Laura Frantz before (never heard of her actually), but the cover and then the title alone were enough to entice me to buy the book.

      Oh boy, I did not regret it!

      Before I continue, let’s get one thing straight.
       
      I don’t gush. Just ask my friends. I’m a reserved, difficult to impress kind of person. Or at least it’s difficult to raise an obvious amount of excitement from me.
       
      When I finished “The Colonel’s Lady”, I wasn’t able to start reading anything else for a few days. I didn’t want to read anything else! I was still basking in the memories of Roxanna Rowan and Colonel McLinn. In fact, the moment I finished the book (in the wee wee hours of the night) I wanted to start reading it all over again.
       
      Laura’s writing is so vivid and captivating, I didn’t even notice I was reading. I felt like I was living in the story.

      The story is set right in the midst of the American Civil War. Roxanna Rowan, a victim of circumstances, flees into the wilderness of war torn Kentucky to find her father at Fort Endeavor where he is posted. Accompanied by women of questionable means, she finds herself stuck at the Fort due to enemy danger. Here she carves out a life as best she can and finds herself – and her heart – in battle with the commanding officer, Colonel McLinn.
       
      The book is more than a romance – there is an undercurrent of mystery and suspicion, and these only come to light at the end. When they are revealed, it ties the whole story together just beautifully. It also paints a vivid picture of military life in the period but in a way that seamlessly incorporates it into the story, so it doesn’t sound like you’re reading an historical text book.
       
      Roxanna is a strong heroine, who despite surviving in the confines of the military fort, maintains her genteel nature. She is strong in a quiet, and lovely way.

      Colonel McLinn – well, I never thought I’d fall for a redhead. But there you have it! Commanding and strong, he is flawed in ways that are understandable and it doesn’t make him weak by any means. He is very much a real-man type of hero, who at the same time is fearsome and endearing.
       
      I just LOVED LOVED LOVED this book. If you were to ask me directly what I thought of the book, the first thing I would do is let out a big, dreamy sigh. And perhaps you wouldn’t need any more explanation after that.
      Smile

      Monday, September 12, 2011

      Monday Morning Musings: Old Friends

      I was so tired the other night, that as soon as the dishes were done and our daughter was tucked in bed. I also headed straight for my own bed. Not before stopping at my bookshelf though. Why? Because even on a night where I’m so tired I can hardly think straight, it’s still nice to curl up with a book, even if I get no further than three pages into it.
       

      There are nights when I want to read, but don’t want to start a new book. I might love the author, but my brain just can’t process new characters, settings and plot. Or sometimes, I just want to curl up with an “old friend” because I don’t feel like making new friends that night.

      Who do I love to curl up with on those nights when a meeting new person is something I just can’t cope with?

      Psalm 91 just washes peace over my tired soul. My mum read it to me when I was eight and I’d loved it ever since. My Bible used to automatically fall open to Psalm 91 I’d read it so many times. 

      I often run to Flora Lee, New Mexico with Rose and Lilly Wilder and just drink in the Sangre de Cristos Mountains and for a while pretend I love Krisprolls, pesto and horses. 

      Sometimes I just have to spend time with Jo March and her wonderful sisters as I laugh and cry with them as they grow from girls into beautiful and accomplished young women.
      Persuasion 
      Other times there is nothing better to soothe the trouble soul than to feel Anne Elliot’s silent anguish as she watches Frederick Wentworth turn his affections towards another. Will love win out? I know the ending but can’t help but wait in anticipation to find out what happens.

      Then there’s Lori Wick’s Sabrina, I just can’t get enough of watching Sabrina turn her life around and find happiness with Rylan. 

      Sweetwater Gap (Women of Faith Fiction)Finally the book I reach for when I don’t know I’m reaching for it; Denise Hunter’s Sweetwater Gap. It’s like coming home when I open the pages and just settle in and hang out with Josie and Grady. If I didn’t have husband and I got to live in a fictional world, I’d probably marry Grady from Sweetwater Gap! 

      Mentally run through your bookshelf, or better yet get up and walk over to your bookshelf. What are the books that are your “old friends”? You don’t have to say who you’d marry though! (But of course, you can if you want!)

      Wednesday, September 7, 2011

      Book Review: Lilies in Moonlight by Allison Pittman

      Available @
      Fishpond AU 
      & Amazon
      Lilies In Moonlight by Allison Pittman
      Multnomah Publishers, 01 April  2011

      He’d lost his zest for life. She was just lost. Will they find the healing and love they long for?

      After a roaring night on the town, fun-loving flapper Lilly Margolis, dazed and disoriented, twists her ankle and falls into the backyard of a wealthy family where the effects of the Great War—over for more than half a decade—are still endured. Inside the walls of the Burnside mansion, Cullen Burnside, a disillusioned and disfigured veteran, and his widowed mother, Betty Ruth, who daily slips a little further into dementia, lead a lonely existence … until Lilly. Whimsical, light hearted, and beautiful, she rejuvenates their sad, disconnected lives and blossoms in the light of their attention.

      But Lilly, like Cullen, is hiding from a painful past. And when Cullen insists on returning her to her faraway home, their budding attraction seems destined to die on the vine. The resulting road trip becomes a journey of self-discovery—but what will Cullen and Lilly find at journey’s end?

      A book cover goes a long way to convince me to buy a book. After I salivate at a cover, I turn it over and start reading the blurb. Almost within the first three to four lines, I can tell whether I will walk out of the shop holding the book or not. The cover art of "Lilies in Moonlight" did not spark my interest at all, however I turned it over and hoped it sounded better than it looked. Well I did walk out of the shop with the book after all, so you take a guess! 

      This book consumed me, okay, that’s not a fair statement. Most books that I read consume me! Hmm, let me start again. Allison Pittman is a new author to me, so I really didn’t know what to expect. Upon finishing it, I was treated to a deeply moving, often funny story that I could visualize so clearly in my mind as I read every word.

      I struggled to like Lilly Margolis. I found her selfish, too flirty, vain and shallow. However, as only a good writer can do, Pittman show’s Lilly’s transformation into a woman learning to forgive, to be forgiven and what her worth in Christ really is. Pittman does this slowly, realistically and genuinely, and all this without removing one bit of Lilly’s zest for life; which bathes everyone in the novel with the bright sunshine of hope, joy and laughter.

      That sunshine of hope, joy and laughter is especially needed for Cullen Burnside and his mother - who is falling rapidly into dementia. Cullen, a man disfigured from World War I leads a quiet life, while trying to deal with the daily knowledge that his mother only knows him as her teenage son, not a thirty year old man broken by life. 

      Lilly’s arrival brings great joy to Cullen’s mother, Betty Ruth. Betty lavishes love and affection on Lilly, whose been starved of it; having grown up with a legalistic mother. Cullen is not so impressed with the beautiful, flirty flapper. But he sees how good she is for his mother and allows her presence in their lives to continue. As events take them on a pilgrimage of sorts to Pittsburgh, both Lilly and Cullen must face their past. They both come to accept their parts in the paths their lives have taken and learn to forgive themselves and to receive Christ’s ultimate forgiveness.
      Allison Pittman really explores the nature of forgiveness and what it means to forgive. Lilly discovers that forgiving her mother does not come naturally at all, but it is something God has commanded her to do and in obeying that command, he will give her the strength to face her past and forgive.

      This is a great book with written with care, depth, honesty and some humour tossed in as well!

      Favourite quote from "Lilies in Moonlight"
      Convince him. Crazy things sound better when they’re coming from the mouth of a pretty girl.

      Sunday, September 4, 2011

      Monday Morning Musings: A Tribute to our Book Loving Dad

      It was Father's Day in Australia yesterday.  So I was wondering over the weekend about the Monday Morning Musings (MMM) post and I thought in light of this fact, why not share about our dad and his favourite books?

      War Diaries of Weary Dunlop: Java and the Burma - Thailand Railway 1942-1945Our dad loved books.  In particular he loved true stories and biographies, particularly those about war and politics.  He also enjoyed true stories about Christians.  It was always a pretty easy task buying him presents for Father's Day, or his birthday and Christmas. 

      The Complete Adventures of Snugglepot and CuddlepieWhen we were kids, dad used to read to us "The Complete Adventures of Snuggle Pot & Cuddle Pie" by May Gibbs.  It must be an Australian thing - a kind of rite of passage.  Our Grandma used to read it to our dad when he was a kid too. 



      The Three MusketeersDad used to longingly speak about his collection of books that he used to have before his big move from one side of the country to the other.  He mentioned having beautiful hardbacks of classics such as "The Three Musketeers".  I also remember him mentioning a book series called "Biggles".  I had completely forgotten the name until recently when I was browsing a friends rather large book collection and found a whole shelf of them!

      Dad also enjoyed the war spy novels by Alistair MacLean.  Jess, on his recommendation, bought a couple of these books and found she really liked them - so much so she's read them multiple times.

      Dad could often be found with his head buried in the Atlas or a volume of our Britannica Encyclopedias.  He was always looking up a place, person or event he'd just seen or heard about.  He would be looking for more information, for clarification, or to see exactly where on the map it was.  It wasn't enough to "wonder" about something - he'd always say to us, "Let's look it up!"

      More often than not though, dad could be found with his Bible open, pouring over it and surrounded by his study notes.  That's the best rememberance I have of my dad and books.

      Happy Father's day Dad! Always missing you.

      Saturday, September 3, 2011

      Book Review: Jack Hunter - Secret of the King by Martin King


      Jack Hunter - Secret of the King"Jack Hunter: Secret of the King" is the debut novel of English author, Martin King. The book is an adventure book aimed at 8-13 year olds, available as an ebook.

      Jack Hunter is a 12 year old boy whose family moves to a new town in the summer. Jack is not happy leaving his friends behind and is convinced of his unhappiness in this new place.

      But before long, Jack is told of a secret treaure, and he quickly makes friends with the kids next door. Together they set about deciphering the clues in a quest to solve the mystery and find the ancient treasure.

      Martin King has created a clever and elaborate treasure hunt, setting the group of kids on adventures that are reminisce of the Enid Blyton era, particularly since the book is very English with it's phrasing and terminology.  However this adventure book incorporates the present day technologies you'd expect to see, and even a few small futuristic ones. It will certainly harness the reader's sense of imagination, and the author attempts to further engage the reader by inviting them to collect the letters of each chapter header to reveal a clue.

      The story involves mystery, intrigue, danger and shady characters, and will keep you guessing until the end.  It's a good sized read, so kids will be engrossed for hours. Introduce your kids to this adventure and hopefully it will spark their own :)