Sunday, December 30, 2012

Book Review: Vanished by Irene Hannon

Vanished by Irene Hannon
Revell, January 1St 2013

A tenacious reporter. A skeptical PI. And a secret that will shatter lives.
Reporter Moira Harrison is lost. In the dark. In a thunderstorm. When a lone figure suddenly appears in the beam of her headlights, Moira slams on her brakes--but it's too late. She feels the solid thump against the side of her car before crashing into a tree on the far side of the road.

A man opens her door, tells her he saw everything, and promises to call 911. Then the world fades to black. When she comes to, she is alone. No man. No 911. No injured person. But she can't forget the look of terror she saw on that face in the instant before her headlights swung away. And she can't get anyone to believe her story--except maybe a handsome ex-homicide detective turned private eye, who reluctantly agrees to take on the case.

As clues begin to surface, it becomes obvious that someone doesn't want this mystery solved--and will stop at nothing to protect a shocking secret.
  


Ever since I ploughed through Irene Hannon's previous six books in the Romance Suspense Genre, I've been really keen to read Vanished and I wasn't disappointed. 

First off everything about this book is more subtle - the action, romance, faith, even the crimes being committed is subtle  - but it holds the reader's attention. As the mystery slowly unravels regarding Moira's vanishing good Samaritan and the lone figure on the road we see puzzle pieces fit into place. It was really fun trying to figure out where the mystery was going and how it all came together. During this time we see Moira and Cal get to know each other. 

Elements of faith is included but not touched on in any depth, rather it is shown through Cal's value of justice and Moira's value on truth. Together, readers can get an idea of what values God holds.

What I really loved was the romance between Moira and Cal. The chemistry was there, but Hannon held back, just a whisper of a touch here and there. Keeping Moria and Cal from crossing the professional line during the case was wonderfully done. It made me really appreciate the relationship they had built up over the course of the novel.

Overall, the book really grabbed my attention because it quietly revealed itself as the pages went by, quietly telling its story and entrancing me from beginning to end. 

I'm looking forward to reading more in the Private Justice Series.
 
Thank you to NetGalley for a copy of this novel for review.  I was in no way obliged to give a positive review.


Jess' favourite genre is contemporary women's fiction and contemporary romance fiction. She also enjoys historical fiction with a focus on romance. She loves books set in country towns or farms with a cowboy featured in either historical or contemporary settings.

She is currently writing her first novel, a contemporary women's fiction/romance set in a small country town.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas From Jess & Helen

Wishing all our readers a Merry Christmas.  May you have a wonderful time with family and enjoy celebrating the birth of the Lord Jesus.

We'd also like to take this time to wish you a Happy 2013.  May your year be filled with joy and good reading!


We're taking a break over this holiday period.  In Australia, this is our summer time and January is a month for fun, rest and relaxation.  So we'll see you in February 2013!

Friday, December 21, 2012

BRS Favourite Book Cover for 2012

If you haven't noticed, Jess and I are fanatical about book covers.  So we put our heads together to come up with our favourite book cover for 2012.

And the winner is ...

Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden





What do we love about this cover?

It's not just the pop of red that draws our attention.  This cover sets a clear mood - it's emotive and provocative.  I can hear the dock bells and smell the salt in the air.  Is this lady embarking on a journey? Is she farewelling a loved one? Or has she just arrived somewhere?

When a cover can ignite that many questions - it's a good one.  No, make that a great one.


Helen's favourite genre is historical fiction with a strong romantic element.  She also enjoys contemporary romance, chick-lit and YA.  She's not caught up in the spell of fantasy fiction, despite The Faraway Tree series being a strong influence in her childhood.

Helen is currently working on her first book, a Christian young adult novel set between two opposite but equally fascinating places in Australia.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Thursdays With Helen: My 2013 Reading Agenda

I've been scouting the book release schedules and compiling a list of my must-reads for 2013.  I need to diversify next year, which means ... sadly ... I need to cut back on my historical romance fiction reading.

Below is what my Christian historical romance reading list for next year currently looks like - it's definitely shorter than usual!  The list is ordered in accordance to the month in which the book is released.


February
Catherine's Pursuit by Lena Nelson Dooley
(McKenna's Daughters, Book 3)


I'm looking forward to the conclusion to this sweet romantic series about triplet sisters who were separated just after birth.



   


March
Forsaken Dreams by MaryLu Tyndall

The cover alone tells me that this is a book with adventure and romance, and one I don't want to miss.




April
Love at Any Cost by Julie Lessman

Julie has completed the stories of the O'Connors.  What will she bring to the table in her new series? I'm keen to find out!







September
Love's Awakening by Laura Frantz 
(Ballantyne Legacy, Book 2)

No cover available for this yet, but looking forward to more drama and stunning writing in the continuation of the series.


So I'd like to know what is on your must read list for next year? I'm particularly interested if you have any recommendations outside of the historical fiction genre :)

Helen's favourite genre is historical fiction with a strong romantic element.  She also enjoys contemporary romance, chick-lit and YA.  She's not caught up in the spell of fantasy fiction, despite The Faraway Tree series being a strong influence in her childhood.

Helen is currently working on her first book, a Christian young adult novel set between two opposite but equally fascinating places in Australia.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Book Review: The Shadowed Onyx by Nicole O'Dell


The Shadowed Onyx by Nicole O'Dell
Barbour Books, 01 December 2012


At age seventeen, Joy Christianson is the life of the party. That is, until her best friend commits suicide. Joy’s already wavering faith slips completely out of her reach. Afraid of letting the depression and evil take root, she decides to seek help in the haven of Diamond Estates—and try to reclaim the Joy she once knew.

This is the third book in the Diamond Estates series, but it can be read as a standalone book.  Which is what I did.

After Joy's best friend commits suicide, she embarks on a search for answers.  What seems like harmless dips into the spiritual realm initially brings her comfort.  Ms. O'Dell has done a good job of showing how satanism can be masqueraded as harmless and called many things far less sinister sounding than "satanism".  But things soon get crazy out of control for Joy and she finds herself afraid and in real danger.  And the worst part of it all is that she can't see anyway out of it.

Ms. O'Dell has written this book well, and it had me gripped and interested all the way through.  I could feel Joy's despair and hopelessness, yet I was constantly hoping and egging her on toward the freedom that was there for the taking.  My heart rose and fell with Joy's, through the oscillating between hope and despair. 

One thing I didn't find plausible was the reason behind Joy's best friend's suicide.  And the object of the book's title doesn't see a proper finish.

But otherwise The Shadowed Onyx is an intriguing book and I was moved at times throughout it.

A book like this is always going to be controversial.  I've never read anything like it before, particularly in the Young Adult genre, but I'm guessing there are far too many teens out there feeling as trapped as Joy, and they need to know there is a way out of the occult.  If it can help those people, then that's great.  

However, this book might do well with a warning about the strong dark spiritual content.  I'm not sure every teen aged reader would be able to handle reading this book (maybe even some adults!), and I certainly wouldn't openly recommend it to them.  In fact, I might go so far to say that any teen who reads it should do so with a Christian adult who can ensure they didn't get the wrong message from it.  I think it can be too easy to be enticed into the spiritual realm and teenagers can be rather selective in the message they hear.

But I do think this is an important book to have been written, and I applaud Ms. O'Dell for taking on the challenge.  I definitely recommend this to adults, particularly parents of children and youth workers.  It's good to be aware of the dangers of the occult and be able to educate children on it.

Thank you to NetGalley for a copy of this novel for review.  I was in no way obliged to give a positive review.

Helen's favourite genre is historical fiction with a strong romantic element.  She also enjoys contemporary romance, chick-lit and YA.  She's not caught up in the spell of fantasy fiction, despite The Faraway Tree series being a strong influence in her childhood.

Helen is currently working on her first book, a Christian young adult novel set between two opposite but equally fascinating places in Australia.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tuesday's With Jess: My 2012 Favourites

As I was thinking through my year of reading I thought it might be a good idea to share with you my favourites in all things books for 2012. With 66 books under my belt this year, this is not going to be an easy task.

Some parameters:
  • A favourite book needed to leave a strong and lasting impression.
  • I had to have read at least 2 books by the same author in a calendar year for them to be in  Favourite Author category.
  • New authors to me got their own category - next year they'll compete with everyone else.
  • Surprise Books had to be something I WAS NOT expecting at all!
  • Book Covers just had to take my breath away and yet make me want to read it at the same time.
  • Favourite Genre needed to have more than 3 books in one genre that I loved and kept me going back for more. 
Favourite Books of 2012
  1. Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden
  2. Danger in the Shadows by Dee Henderson
  3. To Whisper Her Name by Tamera Alexander
Favourite Authors of 2012
  1. Elizabeth Camden
  2. Charles Martin
  3. Susan May Warren   
 Favourite New Authors of 2012
  1. Dee Henderson
  2. Irene Hannon
  3. Pamela Binnings Ewen
Biggest Surprise Book of 2012
  • The Runaway Pastor's Wife by Diane Moody
  • Unending Devotion by Jody Hedlund
Favourite Book Covers of 2012
  1. Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden
  2. Blue Moon Bay by Lisa Wingate
  3. To Whisper her Name by Tamera Alexander
Funniest Book of 2012
  • Just Between You and Me by Jenny B. Jones 
Favorite Genre of 2012 
  • Suspense Fiction 

What are some of your favourite books of 2012? I'd love to know!






Jess' favourite genre is contemporary women's fiction and contemporary romance fiction. She also enjoys historical fiction with a focus on romance. She loves books set in country towns or farms with a cowboy featured in either historical or contemporary settings.
She is currently writing her first novel, a contemporary women's fiction/romance set in a small country town.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Thursdays With Helen: Helen Wakefield - Freelance Editor


Hello dear friends and readers!

Today I just wanted to share with you that I have my own editing website and facebook page up.  It's exciting to be moving in a new direction, and just a wee bit scary too :)



I've been blessed with a lot of support and encouragement going into this field of work, and I'm very thankful for that.  Please pray for me as I start looking for editing jobs!

I hope you like my new website - I spent weeks agonising over the design (too many weeks, probably!).  At some stage I will start blogging on editing topics, but for now it's an information and contact site.  

I also have a favour to ask - if anyone would be so kind as to pop on over to my Facebook Page and like it, I'd be very grateful.

On another note ... Christmas is nearly here! Next week will be our last week of blogging for the year.  I hope you're about to take a moment to breathe in between getting on top of all your shopping and preparations for this joyous, but busy, time of year.

Helen's favourite genre is historical fiction with a strong romantic element.  She also enjoys contemporary romance, chick-lit and YA.  She's not caught up in the spell of fantasy fiction, despite The Faraway Tree series being a strong influence in her childhood.

Helen is currently working on her first book, a Christian young adult novel set between two opposite but equally fascinating places in Australia.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Hot Book covers: Deadly Devotion by Sandra Orchard

This cover caught my attention. The woman's red hair did it for me I think.  Coupled with the abandoned shack at the bottom and it had me asking questions! I want to read this book. I'm also happily ensconced in Suspense Fiction right now (and happy to stay there for a while) and this book is right up my alley! So combined with a good book cover and suspense fiction, makes this a hot book cover!

What do you all think? Would you read it?





Jess' favourite genre is contemporary women's fiction and contemporary romance fiction. She also enjoys historical fiction with a focus on romance. She loves books set in country towns or farms with a cowboy featured in either historical or contemporary settings. She is currently writing her first novel, a contemporary women's fiction/romance set in a small country town.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Thursdays With Helen: The last of Nanowrimo talk (for this year)

I promise this is the last post about Nanowrimo - until next year, anyway :)

I stopped updating my writing total half way through the month because I didn't keep very good track of what new work I was adding to my manuscript.  I can tell you that this second draft now stands at 31 817 words, but I can't claim that as my Nanowrimo total because a few thousand of those are scenes copied from my first draft.  I definitely wrote in excess of 20 000 new words though, and I'm pleased with that.

I'm right in the middle of the story, which is the hard part.  I'm taking some time out now to check my plot direction and do a bit of brainstorming.  It's getting there!

Tomorrow morning at 5am (my time!) I am attending a Writers Digest University webinar on Writing the Breakout Teen Novel.  I'm so excited that the modern age allows me to attend these things, despite being in a rural town on the other side of the world! I'm hoping to get some inspiration to kick me into gear again and get the last half of this book finished.  

I'm just praying that the kids stay sound asleep so I can attend it in peace :)

Have you attended any online courses or webinars that you've found particularly useful? I'd love to know.

Helen's favourite genre is historical fiction with a strong romantic element.  She also enjoys contemporary romance, chick-lit and YA.  She's not caught up in the spell of fantasy fiction, despite The Faraway Tree series being a strong influence in her childhood.

Helen is currently working on her first book, a Christian young adult novel set between two opposite but equally fascinating places in Australia.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Book Review: A Light in the Window by Julie Lessman

A Light in the Window by Julie Lessman
Available Now on Kindle




One Woman. Two Men.
One stirs her pulse and the other her faith.
But who will win her heart?

Marceline Murphy is a gentle beauty with a well-founded aversion to rogues. But when two of Boston's most notorious pursue her, she encounters a tug-of-war of the heart she isn’t expecting. Sam O’Rourke is the childhood hero she’s pined for, the brother of her best friend and a member of the large, boisterous family to which she longs to be a part. So when his best friend Patrick O’Connor joins in pursuit of her affections, the choice seems all too clear. Sam is from a family of faith and Patrick is not, two rogues whose wild ways clash head-on with Marcy’s—both in her faith and in her heart.

While overseeing the Christmas play fundraiser for the St. Mary’s parish soup kitchen—A Light in the Window—Marcy not only wrestles with her attraction to both men, but with her concern for their spiritual welfare. The play is based on the Irish custom of placing a candle in the window on Christmas Eve to welcome the Holy Family, and for Marcy, its message becomes deeply personal. Her grandmother Mima cautions her to guard her heart for the type of man who will respond to the "light in the window," meaning the message of Christ in her heart. But when disaster strikes during the play, Marcy is destined to discover the truth of the play’s message first-hand when it becomes clear that although two men have professed their undying love, only one has truly responded to “the light in the window.”

I was so thrilled to find out that Julie was writing a prequel to the O'Connor family series.  Marcy and Patrick have been wonderful parents throughout the series.  Despite having their problems at times, they have always shown such love for each other, and their family, that I'm sure anyone who has read the series wants to join the family!

A Light in the Window is their love story, and we finally get to see how it all started. And who doesn't love a story about a bad boy turned good, all for the love of a woman - particularly when the bad boy is the handsome Patrick O'Connor?

Whilst Patrick is initially attracted to Marcy's beauty, it's her internal beauty and love for God that draws him in and challenges him to seek a better existence for himself.

But there's not just one casanova in this story: Patrick finds himself at odds for the affections of the woman he loves with his own best friend.  Sam O'Rourke just happens to be Marcy's best friend's brother - and the boy she's had a crush on since she was a little girl. 

Marcy is steadfast and intent on finding a Godly husband.  But is she able to interpret who God has chosen for her before it's too late?  Patrick is forced to assess himself and choose a new way of living with God, even if it means he loses Marcy in the end.

I loved this story.  Marcy is someone to aspire to - steadfast in her walk with God and with a strong and caring heart for others.  Patrick melted my heart as I witnessed his transformation. And Sam - well, he's a rogue through and through, and whilst I felt a bit sorry for him, most of the time I wanted to flatten him.

There's also a lovely little sub-plot romance for Marcy's best friend, Julie.

A Light in the Window sets the scene beautifully for the O'Connor series.  If you haven't yet had the pleasure of reading any of the Daughters of Boston or Winds of Change books, then start here.  It will be a heart warming journey.

Helen's favourite genre is historical fiction with a strong romantic element.  She also enjoys contemporary romance, chick-lit and YA.  She's not caught up in the spell of fantasy fiction, despite The Faraway Tree series being a strong influence in her childhood.

Helen is currently working on her first book, a Christian young adult novel set between two opposite but equally fascinating places in Australia.

Book Review: An Eye for an Eye by Irene Hannon

An Eye for an Eye by Irene Hannon

Revell, September 1, 2009

After he accidentally shoots a teenager at a tense standoff, FBI Hostage Rescue Team member Mark Sanders is sent to St. Louis to work as a field agent and get his bearings while the bad press starts to settle. Just weeks away from returning to Quantico to resume his work on the HRT, Mark has a chance encounter with an old flame, Emily Lawson. But their reunion is cut short by a sniper. Now Mark must find the shooter before he tries to strike again. But what is his motive--and who was his intended target? Can Mark put the pieces together, keep Emily safe, and rekindle a long-dead relationship at the same time?

A fast-paced tale of romance, suspense, and intrigue,
An Eye for an Eye is the exciting second installment in the Heroes of Quantico series.

My Quick Thoughts:
  • Love old flame romances - my favourite kind, especially when the chemistry is good and the back story is credible - which it is here.
  • Mark is my favourite of the Quantico boys - humorous, engaging and believable.
  • I liked Emily and found her to be an appealing character
  • Was happy to see these guys reconnect and forge a future together.
  • Would have liked to see more action though.


Jess' favourite genre is contemporary women's fiction and contemporary romance fiction. She also enjoys historical fiction with a focus on romance. She loves books set in country towns or farms with a cowboy featured in either historical or contemporary settings.

She is currently writing her first novel, a contemporary women's fiction/romance set in a small country town.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Tuesday's With Jess: NaNoWriMo Completed

So I made it through the month of November and NaNoWriMo! With possibly the busiest November our family has seen for a while, I chose this one to participate in NaNoWriMo! I set a target of 15,000 words as a minimum and I achieved that! By doing 500 words five days a week and doing any extra work that the weekends allowed I achieved my goal!

So I have decided to try for 12,000 words per month in order to complete my story by end of March 2013.

So what did I think of NaNoWriMo? It was hard, but a good chance to see that writing 500 words per day is achievable - more than achievable - doable in fact in the daily world that is my life! There will be days when it will be a little harder to get to my word limit, but I can keep persevering!

For those that participated in NaNoWriMo how did you go and what did you think?
For those that didn't and who write, would you participate one day?

I'll be giving it a ago again next year for sure!


Jess' favourite genre is contemporary women's fiction and contemporary romance fiction. She also enjoys historical fiction with a focus on romance. She loves books set in country towns or farms with a cowboy featured in either historical or contemporary settings.

She is currently writing her first novel, a contemporary women's fiction/romance set in a small country town.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

New Release & Book Giveaway: A New Resolution by Rose Dee

Hi Folks!

Rose Dee's latest contemporary romance, A New Resolution, released earlier this month.   This is the third and final book in the Resolution Series. The first book of the series, Back to Resolution, was recently awarded the Bookseller's Choice at the 2012 Caleb Awards.

Take a look at the cool cover and read the blurb:


Resolution Island is a safe haven for Anika Deumer. A chance to fulfill dreams, find her place in the world, and a new life for her and young son, Kye. But her dreams of a future are shattered when her son's security is challenged, and the rich and privileged Texan, Nate, sails into the bay. Now Ani must not only fight for her son, but also a growing attraction she has to the one type of man she loathes. 

Nate Hollingsworth is on a mission. He needs to fulfill his mother's last wish and change his life. Dropping anchor in the idyllic Resolution harbour, he didn't anticipate becoming involved in illegal fishing, a murder or an unexpected attraction to the most exasperating woman he has ever met. The Australian tropical Island, Resolution, sets the scene again for adventures, dreams and new beginnings.



Rose has kindly offered a signed copy to one of our readers. To enter the draw, please complete the entry form below (don't forget to submit the form first, or your entry won't go in!). See our policies page for further conditions.

 Entries close 12pm Tuesday 4th December 2012, Australian Eastern Standard Time.



Helen's favourite genre is historical fiction with a strong romantic element.  She also enjoys contemporary romance, chick-lit and YA.  She's not caught up in the spell of fantasy fiction, despite The Faraway Tree series being a strong influence in her childhood.

Helen is currently working on her first book, a Christian young adult novel set between two opposite but equally fascinating places in Australia.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Book Review: A New Resolution by Rose Dee

A New Resolution by Rose Dee
Even Before Publishing, 01 November 2012
Resolution Island is a safe haven for Anika Deumer. A chance to fulfill dreams, find her place in the world, and a new life for her and young son, Kye. But her dreams of a future are shattered when her son's security is challenged, and the rich and privileged Texan, Nate, sails into the bay. Now Ani must not only fight for her son, but also a growing attraction she has to the one type of man she loathes. 

Nate Hollingsworth is on a mission. He needs to fulfill his mother's last wish and change his life. Dropping anchor in the idyllic Resolution harbour, he didn't anticipate becoming involved in illegal fishing, a murder or an unexpected attraction to the most exasperating woman he has ever met. The Australian tropical Island, Resolution, sets the scene again for adventures, dreams and new beginnings.

A New Resolution is the third and final book in the Resolution Island series. In this book we enjoy more of the tropical island setting like we did in the first book, Back to Resolution.  

Ani has had a difficult beginning, but she manages to pull herself together for the sake of her son. She thinks all is going well - a new life and a new job on Resolution Island.  Then her nerves are rattled by two occurrences: a child custody challenge, and the arrival of a charming, rich American, who is exactly the kind of man she despises.

Nate is a loveable and cute character - who can resist a charming man with a yacht? But Ani does her very best to try.

The characters of the earlier books are woven into the story in a subtle way and provide a link between Ani and Nate.  There is an illegal fishing mystery bound up in the story, although it wasn't quite as exciting an intrigue as the mysteries in the previous novels.

Each of the main characters draw on the influence of their Christian family, so they don't undergo an epic, unbelievable conversion.  Their drawing closer to God is very natural - like a logical conclusion - which is great as it does not have a preachy feel.

There's a fair amount of 'telling' in this book, so I didn't get as emotionally involved with the characters as I would have liked.  But overall this is a sweet story with a happy ending, and a nice finish to the Resolution series.

I was provided with a copy of this book for the purpose of review.  I was in no way obliged to write a positive review.

Helen's favourite genre is historical fiction with a strong romantic element.  She also enjoys contemporary romance, chick-lit and YA.  She's not caught up in the spell of fantasy fiction, despite The Faraway Tree series being a strong influence in her childhood.

Helen is currently working on her first book, a Christian young adult novel set between two opposite but equally fascinating places in Australia.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tuesday's With Jess: Suspense Fiction

So some of you might have picked up that I'm currently going through a suspense fiction phase. Well, at this point it's not longer a phase but another genre that has taken my heart! What more could a girl want - romance, suspense, action, drama?

However, I cannot do supernatural suspense! It just terrifies me and I end up going nuts with my over active imagination. I once tried reading Erin Healy's Never Let You Go and had to stop because I was so scared! Good writer though to evoke such terror in me - whether that was her intention or not!

I'm loving Dee Henderson right now, Irene Hannon is great and I'm slowly exploring other authors in this area. Feel free to suggest any good authors you've come across and let me know!

Don't worry though, my first love will still be Contemporary Romance/Women's Fiction, followed very closely by Historical Fiction and my love of cowboys in any century will forever continue!


Jess' favourite genre is contemporary women's fiction and contemporary romance fiction. She also enjoys historical fiction with a focus on romance. She loves books set in country towns or farms with a cowboy featured in either historical or contemporary settings.

She is currently writing her first novel, a contemporary women's fiction/romance set in a small country town.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Hot Book Covers: Claudia the Wife of Pontious Pilate By Diana Willis Taylor

I really love the blue dress in this cover. It really contrasts beautifully to all the sandstone colours. The red writing communicates dramatically who this book is about.  Altogether a strong, eye catching cover!

What to you guys think? If you saw this in the bookstore, would you want to read it?








Jess' favourite genre is contemporary women's fiction and contemporary romance fiction. She also enjoys historical fiction with a focus on romance. She loves books set in country towns or farms with a cowboy featured in either historical or contemporary settings.

She is currently writing her first novel, a contemporary women's fiction/romance set in a small country town.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thursdays With Helen: Trying to Regroup for Nanowrimo

I was going great guns with Nanowrimo.  I'd written 22K in the first 16 days.  And then I ground to a halt.

A couple of reasons:

Firstly, I realised I'd hit a point in the story where I was able to reuse many scenes from my original draft.  Which, is a Nanowrimo no-no.  Admittedly I had to make changes to the scenes, including transforming them from third person to first, but still, they are previously written work.  

Regardless of this, I faced another dilemma with transplanting scenes - I wasn't sure if this was a good thing or not.  I was re-writting for a reason, right? Perhaps I'd lost my way? I needed to take a few days out to get some distance from my writing and review my plotting and character motivation notes.

The second reason was that during this "time-out" my computer got a nasty little virus.  I've spent the last several days painfully running cleaning scripts, and at the same time I had to do a couple of reformats of another computer.  

It's been 6 days since I've written anything.

My goal for Nanowrimo was to do 500-1000 words per day, which equates to 15000-30000 words for the month of November.  So technically I already achieved my minimum.  But why settle for minimum, when I could strive for maximum?

I have 8 days to get in 8000 words.  Can I get my head back in the game and reach 30000?

I'm going to try!

Hope everyone else is hanging in there and I'm looking forward to seeing friends hit their goals :)

Oh and ... Happy Thanksgiving to all our American friends!


Helen's favourite genre is historical fiction with a strong romantic element.  She also enjoys contemporary romance, chick-lit and YA.  She's not caught up in the spell of fantasy fiction, despite The Faraway Tree series being a strong influence in her childhood.

Helen is currently working on her first book, a Christian young adult novel set between two opposite but equally fascinating places in Australia.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Book Review: The Trouble with Cowboys by Denise Hunter

 The Trouble With Cowboys by Denise Hunter

Thomas Nelson, October 2, 2012

Annie Wilkerson is Moose Creek’s premiere horse trainer and equine columnist for Montana Living. Money is tight as she tries to put her kid-sister through college and provide for her young nephew. When Annie’s column is cancelled, she’s given first shot at a new lovelorn column—and she can’t afford to turn it down. Only problem is . . . Annie’s never been in love.

Always resourceful, she reluctantly strikes a deal with the town’s smooth-talking ladies’ man Dylan Taylor: She’ll work with his ailing horse, Braveheart, if he’ll help her answer the reader letters.Working closely with Dylan is harder than Annie imagined, and she quickly realizes she may have misjudged him. But her unwavering conviction that cowboys are nothing but trouble has kept her heart safe for years. And she can’t risk getting hurt now.

The more Annie tries to control things, the more they fall apart. Her feelings are spinning out of control, and her sister’s antics are making life increasingly more difficult. Annie knows she needs to turn the reins over to God, but surrender has never come easily.

When Dylan reveals his feelings for her, Annie doesn’t know what to trust—her head or her heart. The trouble with this cowboy is that he might just be exactly what she needs.

I've been waiting for ages for the latest Denise Hunter book to be released and then have to wait for it to arrive on our Aussie shores - it's been a while and I've been needing my Denise Hunter romance fix all year. I got it with the final installment of the Big Sky Romance Series.

So the trouble for Annie is that Dylan's a cowboy and for Annie that's a big fat no-no. Trouble is they have chemistry and Dylan won't stop flirting with her and Annie likes it - it just takes her forever to figure it out and then admit it!

The romantic tension between these two characters is great; their chemistry just bounces off the walls. I kinda fell in love with Dylan's dimpled grin myself for a little while. Watching him fall for Annie without realizing it was a real treat too. Watching Annie struggle with her attraction was kinda of fascinating - she knew what he was (a cowboy) but not WHO he was and her conflicting emotions was really well played out.

My only qualm with the book is the circumstances ultimately keeping them from finding true happiness was not as compelling as I would have liked. In short the problem was not big enough or impossible enough to overcome. They did overcome it - this is a romance people - and I'm glad they did; it just wasn't as hard as I thought it should be! Don't worry though, I was rooting for them all the same. Who couldn't have after meeting Dylan?

I'm sad to see the end of this series as I really enjoyed Montana and Moose Creek and the people I met there.

It'll be a long wait for Ms Hunter's next book that's for sure!


Jess' favourite genre is contemporary women's fiction and contemporary romance fiction. She also enjoys historical fiction with a focus on romance. She loves books set in country towns or farms with a cowboy featured in either historical or contemporary settings. She is currently writing her first novel, a contemporary women's fiction/romance set in a small country town.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Tuesday's With Jess: Still NaNoWrimoing...


The productivity level of my NaNoWriMo-ing has continued...just. I have decided that November is a crazy time for me to try this as November in our family is usually VERY busy! This one has been busier than normal with two weddings (in which my hubby is a groomsmen), lots of evening gatherings (late nights) and just about every weekend taken up with something and it's not even December yet!

However, I plough on with trying for 500 words per day (at least 5 days a week) - these nutty, busy weekends are killing me! I'm happy with how I am progressing and am excited by what I'm seeing take place in my story - all the stuff I'd planned is either being altered or chucked out as I hammer out the story!


Jess' favourite genre is contemporary women's fiction and contemporary romance fiction. She also enjoys historical fiction with a focus on romance. She loves books set in country towns or farms with a cowboy featured in either historical or contemporary settings. She is currently writing her first novel, a contemporary women's fiction/romance set in a small country town.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tuesday's With Jess: Sisters in Christ

I've had a wonderful weekend. I got the chance to catch-up with some great women who are also my sisters in Christ. Three are life-long friends and others are relatively new friends (within the last 1-5 years). We got the chance to laugh together and get "real" with each other, being vulnerable about stuff, sharing our lives.

I really felt that God had his hand on this weekend and really opened the door to deeper communication amongst these fabulous ladies. I feel very blessed by the conversations that happened over the weekend. Though no photos were really taken to commemorate the weekend - I have come away with fabulous memories and a knowledge that when we do life together as Christians right it is so uplifting, encouraging and life-giving! So thanks to all ladies who God put in my path over the last two days! You are all amazing, Godly awesome women and it's a privilege to know you all!

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Jess' favourite genre is contemporary women's fiction and contemporary romance fiction. She also enjoys historical fiction with a focus on romance. She loves books set in country towns or farms with a cowboy featured in either historical or contemporary settings.

She is currently writing her first novel, a contemporary women's fiction/romance set in a small country town.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Thursdays With Helen: NaNoWriMo - Because I don't know how to stop!

Greetings dear readers and fellow writers!

As you know, I've just finished my editing course and was flat out exhausted by the end of it.  November I had planned as a recovery month.

So naturally, I signed up for NaNoWriMo.

Am I crazy? Yes! No one has ever disputed that fact.

We're just at the end of Day 8 now, and I have to tell you, I'm enjoying it.  And I'm finding the whole process highly motivating and strangely energising.  Please don't tell me that means I'm not doing it right!

If you remember, after my plot epiphany I realised my WIP - which sat at 50 000 words - needed so much work I was contemplating a re-write.  And the whole idea had frozen me into inaction.

After lots of plotting and planning during my course travels, I knew and accepted that a rewrite was required. And that's what I'm doing this NaNoWriMo - re-writing my WIP - and re-writing it in first person, instead of third. A big change for me!

I am not deluded enough to think I can reach 50K words.  I know I have a lot on my plate.  But I'm surprised so far how much writing I am getting in, and if I had a handful of massive writing days, the 50K mark is not so unrealistic afterall.

My goal remains the same however: 500-1000 words per day. Anything more is a bonus.  Ultimately, if I can get this first draft done before Christmas, I'd consider that a massive achievement.  Next year, I'm hoping to be busier with editing - for other people, as well as myself.

Happy NaNoWriMo-ing!

Helen's favourite genre is historical fiction with a strong romantic element.  She also enjoys contemporary romance, chick-lit and YA.  She's not caught up in the spell of fantasy fiction, despite The Faraway Tree series being a strong influence in her childhood.

Helen is currently working on her first book, a Christian young adult novel set between two opposite but equally fascinating places in Australia.Enhanced by Zemanta

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Book Review: Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden

Available @
Fishpond AU 
& Amazon | Kindle
Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden
Bethany House, 01 October 2012

Love and Lives are Threatened in Camden's Latest Offering

As a child, Lydia Pallas became all too familiar with uncertainty when it came to the future. Now, she's finally carved out a perfect life for herself--a life of stability and order with no changes, surprises, or chaos of any kind. She adores her apartment overlooking the bustling Boston Harbor, and her skill with languages has landed her a secure position as a translator for the U.S. Navy.

However, it is her talent for translation that brings her into contact with Alexander Banebridge, or "Bane," a man who equally attracts and aggravates her. When Bane hires Lydia to translate a seemingly innocuous collection of European documents, she hesitantly agrees, only to discover she is in over her head.

Just as Bane's charm begins to win her over, Lydia learns he is driven by a secret campaign against some of the most dangerous criminals on the East Coast, compelled by his faith and his past. Bane forbids any involvement on Lydia's part, but when the criminals gain the upper hand, it is Lydia on whom he must depend.

It crossed the sea and finally arrived on our shores! I've been hanging out for this book ever since I saw the cover and then heard who the book was about! I haven't been this excited about a book release for quite some time.

I'll just start with the cover - gorgeous, gorgeous and more gorgeous! The whole image just captured my attention and was begging for me to pick it up and find out what was inside.

Now to the actual story.We met Bane before in Elizabeth's first book The Lady of Bolton Hill and he's a character that stays with you for a long time. When I found out that Bane was to be the subject of this book I was so excited.We really get to know Bane in this book. Much of the previous time with Bane was seeing him at his worst. This time around we get to see deeper into what drives him but also his sense of humour. His playfulness with Lydia hides not only his deep affection for her but his need to protect himself and her from the sins of his past that will forever (as far as he's concerned) be chasing him.

Lydia is a great asset to Bane. Not only can she translate what he needs, but she is a dreamer and forever looking at the bright side of a situation. Her determination matches Bane's and together they are a force to be reckoned with. It takes these two a little while to figure out they're meant to be together and then to overcome the obstacles keeping them apart. Overall it's a wonderful journey filled with humour, suspense, romance and drama.

A very enjoyable read and oh my that cover!


Jess' favourite genre is contemporary women's fiction and contemporary romance fiction. She also enjoys historical fiction with a focus on romance. She loves books set in country towns or farms with a cowboy featured in either historical or contemporary settings.

She is currently writing her first novel, a contemporary women's fiction/romance set in a small country town.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Tuesday's With Jess: NaNoWriMo Madness

Yep I must be mad I've signed up for NaNoWriMo! Never thought I'd do something like that...ever. However, this might be just the thing to force to me write. What usually happens with me is that I do some writing for a few weeks, then I come across something that stumps me about the story. It might have something to do with character, plot or a bit of research and suddenly I'm sidetracked. I end up becoming obsessed with what has stumped me to the point where I can no longer move forward with my writing.

So NaNoWriMo is just the kick I need to get me going and MAKE sure I push past those aspects of the story that can be fixed later.

My goal is to write at least 500 words per day. Anything more than that I am considering a bonus!

Have you joined in the madness? What's your goals?


Jess' favourite genre is contemporary women's fiction and contemporary romance fiction. She also enjoys historical fiction with a focus on romance. She loves books set in country towns or farms with a cowboy featured in either historical or contemporary settings.

She is currently writing her first novel, a contemporary women's fiction/romance set in a small country town.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Thursdays With Helen: I've been up to something ...

Some of you may know I've been rather busy the last two months.  I've been keeping it mostly a secret, but I'm going to let you all in on it now.

When Jess and I started Book Review Sisters, our intentions were to share our love of books, help promote Christian fiction and use the blog to start networking for our writing careers.

But along the way, something else has developed for me.  And I'm convinced this has been part of God's plan the whole time.

A few months ago I started praying about what I should do about working again.  My background is in IT.  But since we've moved to a rural location, the work just isn't available to me.  And in all honesty, I don't want to go back into the industry - even though it's an industry I love.  It isn't the right fit for me at this stage of my life.

So anyway, I was praying and over a few days the same idea kept coming back at me.

Editing.

It wasn't a new idea, actually.  Over the last year and a half of running this blog, quite often I'd joked to Jess that I wanted to be an editor.

Well, I kept hearing 'editing' whispering in my ear.  And I'd found an editing course some time back that I'd wanted to do.  I'd dismissed it as impossible.  It would mean travelling 6 hours each way, every week for 8 weeks.  Just for one class.  Never mind the expenses ... the logistics of that alone ... ludicrous, right?

Not so.  Turns out I had the funds for the actual course.  One hurdle solved.  I trusted God for the rest.  And let me tell you, He provided in so many ways.  From finances, to accommodation and wonderful friends who picked me up from the train, leant me their car, fed me dinners and gave me their encouragement and support.  My mum was amazing looking after the kids - who also handled the disruption very well.

With every class I took, I just knew this was the right fit for me.  Initially I thought that editing was a polar opposite to IT.  But I soon realised that my technical and analytical skills will transpose over to editing very nicely.  I've always been a details kind of person - I'm pedantic about accuracy, I can spot errors at fifty-paces.  In previous work I've spent hours upon hours pouring over thousands of data records, cleaning them up, sorting them, transposing them ... not so different to editing, when you think about it.

Last week I finished my course! Sure the whole exercise was exhausting, and in many ways, the hard work is just starting.  I'm not sure where the work is going to come from, but  I know that God started this, and He will see me through the rest of the way.

I'm very excited about this new phase in my life!  I plan on freelance editing, and will be setting up a website shortly.  More details to come!

Where does this leave my writing plans?  They're still there.  It's a longer term goal - and this move into editing hasn't diminished my desire to write - it's enhanced it.  During the many hours of travelling I've had so much time to think about my story and work through the plot problems.  And many other story ideas have surfaced as well :) Lots to keep me busy for a long time to come!

Helen's favourite genre is historical fiction with a strong romantic element.  She also enjoys contemporary romance, chick-lit and YA.  She's not caught up in the spell of fantasy fiction, despite The Faraway Tree series being a strong influence in her childhood.

Helen is currently working on her first book, a Christian young adult novel set between two opposite but equally fascinating places in Australia.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Book Review: Love's Reckoning

Available @
Fishpond AU 

& Amazon | Kindle
Love's Reckoning by Laura Frantz
Revell, 01 September 2012

On a bitter December day in 1785, Silas Ballantyne arrives at the door of master blacksmith Liege Lee in York, Pennsylvania. Just months from becoming a master blacksmith himself, Silas is determined to finish his apprenticeship and move west. But Liege soon discovers that Silas is a prodigious worker and craftsman and endeavors to keep him in York. Silas becomes interested in both of Liege's daughters, the gentle and faith-filled Eden and the clever and high-spirited Elspeth. When he chooses one, will the other's jealousy destroy their love?

In this sweeping family saga set in western Pennsylvania, one man's choices in love and work, in friends and enemies, set the stage for generations to come. Love's Reckoning is the first entry in The Ballantyne Legacy, a rich, multi-layered historical quartet from talented writer Laura Frantz, beginning in the late 1700s and following the Ballantyne family through the end of the Civil War.

Love's Reckoning is the first book in The Ballantyne Legacy. Here we meet Silas Ballantyne, an older-than-usual apprentice blacksmith who has come to the household of Leige Lee to finish his training. Liege Lee is an unpopular man with two daughters - Eden and Elspeth, who are as different as night and day, and Liege is determined that Silas marry one of them.

As always, Laura's writing is beautiful and elegant, painting pictures with words and making reading effortless.  Love's Reckoning is a slower paced novel, best savoured in languid chunks of time.  There is plenty of mystery, and secrets are rife - some made plain to the reader, and some a complete surprise.

Eden and Silas are quieter characters.  Eden's strength is evident through her persistent and enduring nature. Silas is a man who will not be deterred from his values or his plans.  His heroism is defined by his steadiness as opposed to dramatic gestures.  

There are some nasty characters in Love's Reckoning.  Elspeth is a spiteful piece of work.  Her viciousness shocked and riled me!  I feel like she may have gotten off a little too easy.  But when I read the epilogue, a shiver ran down my spine.  I have a feeling she hasn't been completely dealt with yet.  I'll have to wait and see what the next book has in store.

Love's Reckoning is a slow building love story, written against a backdrop of secrets and punctuated with heartbreaking tragedies.  I particularly liked the beautiful romance between Eden and God - her thirst for God's word and His love are touching. 

I'm looking forward to seeing where the Ballantyne Legacy takes us.

Helen's favourite genre is historical fiction with a strong romantic element.  She also enjoys contemporary romance, chick-lit and YA.  She's not caught up in the spell of fantasy fiction, despite The Faraway Tree series being a strong influence in her childhood.

Helen is currently working on her first book, a Christian young adult novel set between two opposite but equally fascinating places in Australia.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Book Review: Against All Odds: Heroes of Quantico Book 1 by Irene Hannon

Available @
Fishpond AU 
& Amazon | Kindle
Against All Odds by Irene Hannon
Heroes of Quantico (Book #1)
Revell, 01 February 2009

For FBI Hostage Rescue Team member Evan Cooper and his partner, dignitary protection duty should have been a piece of cake. Unfortunately, Monica Callahan isn't making it easy. Estranged from her diplomat father--who is involved in a sensitive hostage situation in the Middle East--she refuses to be intimidated by a related terrorist threat back in the States. That is, until a chilling warning convinces her that the danger is very real--and escalating. 

As Coop and his partner do their best to keep her safe, Monica's father triggers an abduction that puts his daughter's life at risk. And with every second that ticks by, Coop knows that the odds of saving the only woman who has ever breached the walls around his heart are dropping. After all, terrorists aren't known for their patience--or their mercy. Book one in the Heroes of Quantico series, this suspense-filled novel will whisk readers along for the thrilling ride.

My abbreviated notes:
  • Detail is very good - obvious that Ms. Hannon has done her research regarding FBI procedures etc.
  • Great action and a with a nail-biting ending. Loved it!
  • Good romantic suspense.
  • Funny at times.
A very, very good introduction to Irene Hannon!

Jess' favourite genre is contemporary women's fiction and contemporary romance fiction. She also enjoys historical fiction with a focus on romance. She loves books set in country towns or farms with a cowboy featured in either historical or contemporary settings.

She is currently writing her first novel, a contemporary women's fiction/romance set in a small country town.