Saturday, June 30, 2012

Hot Book Covers: The Choice by Robert Whitlow

My husband has read one Robert Whitlow book and he enjoyed it. This book is set for release in August 2012. I was browsing through Amazon when I saw this and it piqued my interest. I really like the way the clouds are forming overhead - it looks ominous. The contrast of the yellow -  is it wheat? I'm not sure - just draws the picture to my eyes.

I also read the blurb and now I am intrigued!






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.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Book Review: A Passion Denied by Julie Lessman

Today I am reviewing A Passion Denied by Julie Lessman as a guest reviewer over at Overcoming Through Time - With God's Help.  This is the third and final instalment in Julie's "The Daughters of Boston" series.  Please come over to read the review and say 'hi'!









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, June 26, 2012

Tuesday's With Jess: Five Books that have Impacted My Life

There are many books that I love. Scanning my library they call out to me, reminding me of why I love them so much. The books that have influenced me is a little harder to define but the ones listed below have stayed with me long after the last word was finished. These books have come to symbolize for me the things I love most and why reading is so powerful. The final three books symbolize what I hope to one day achieve with my own writing. 


Rachel's Tears by Darrell Scott and Beth Nimo - I remember the exact day this book was lent to me by a very good friend - April 1st 2001. The story of Columbine High School Massacre victim Rachel Scott brought me back to Christ. Previously I had always struggled to pray to God, until I read Rachel's Tears and saw that she used a journal to communicate with God. Since I always liked writing, I thought I'd give it a try. Twenty four journals later has more than proven this is the most effective way for me to talk to God.

My Sister Sif by Ruth Park - I read this as a young teenager and just loved the coming of age story set in the pacific islands. There was a particular paragraph that still resurfaces from my memory every time I think of this book. The paragraph was describing the view of the little island from the window of a plane. I always wanted to visit that place. I just loved the way Ruth Park made the island look. I still see it shinning in the early morning sun as the plane heads towards land.

The Weight of Shadows by Alison Strobel - This book really touched me in terms what I wanted to do as a writer. It was the first Christian fiction book I'd read that was full of realistic people and realistic problems, yet the grace of God just shone throughout the book. I didn't know until this book that Christian authors could write on the realism of life with such clarity and depth, yet also pointing the reader directly to Christ as the balm of healing and resolution.

The Dead Don't Dance by Charles Martin - This was my first book by Charles Martin and he is right at the top of my favourite author list. I remember reading this book and being floored by his ability to paint pictures with his words - and what beautiful pictures they are! I came away from this book -  and all his books -  just wanting to tell stories and be a vivid as possible with my characters and their worlds.

Sweetwater Gap by Denise Hunter - I remember this as the first Christian fiction book that I loved. For that reason alone it is on this list. There are however a couple more reasons why this book is listed here. The road to romance for Josie and Grady is far from easy but is funny at times and tender when it counts. Josie herself is a woman who needs forgiveness but can't figure out how to get it or even if she deserves it. Then there's Grady McKenzie...no fictional hero has come close to matching him yet.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Hot Book Covers: Five Miles South of Perculiar: A Novel by Angela Hunt

This book only released a couple of weeks ago. I haven't read it and I don't know anything about the author Angela Hunt. However the book's title and cover really jumped out at me. I love the suitcases all lined up, they each speak of a different owner. It just looks like something I would want to read. So I think this book will go on my to buy list.

What do you guys think?




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, June 21, 2012

Thursdays With Helen: Spiralling Out

Hi folks! I'm only just going to make my post today - with 4 hours to spare.  You might have noticed I missed last Thursday.

Did you ever feel like you're spiralling out of control?  Or you feel like you're on a merry-go-round which is increasing in speed, and you can't get off?  And you just know it isn't going to end well.

That's how I've felt the last couple of weeks.  And it's not like major things have been happening - just your every day chaos.  The kids have been sick, I got further behind with my tasks (notice I didn't start this post with my word count ...), more little things cropped up and I was getting more and more tired.  It was getting to the point where I was thinking - please, just give me a day to myself to regroup and recover!!  And then it was almost like I knew something was going to go wrong ...

And last night it did.  One wrong footing and the merry-go-round slammed to a halt.  

I rolled my ankle playing tennis.  At first I didn't think it was that bad.  A few hours later I was worried I'd broken something.  I got a little bit of sleep, but not much.  And I got pretty mad as my brain raced through the implications of my foot being broken.  I had to keep reminding myself "All things work together for good for those who love God".

As soon as I woke this morning, I felt a lot more optimistic that it wasn't broken.  The good news is - it's not! Although I was hobbling around on crutches today (who knew they were so exhausting to use?!),  tonight I'm pleased to report I can put some weight on my foot.

Yes, it's a pain to be restricted, and difficult when you have little kids to look after.  But I guess God decided I needed to get off my feet for a bit and have a rest.

And so please excuse me, as I'm off to have a good night's sleep! The kids have actually gone to bed early and easily, and I plan on capitalising on that :)

PS ... in case you're wondering, word count is 47822 ... not on target, but at least it has increased a little!



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, June 20, 2012

Book Review: Short-Straw Bride by Karen Witemeyer

Available @
Fishpond AU 
& Amazon | Kindle
Short-Straw Bride by Karen Witemeyer
Bethany House Publishers, 01 June 2012

No one steps on Archer land. Not if they value their life. But when Meredith Hayes overhears a lethal plot to burn the Archer brothers off their ranch, a twelve-year-old debt compels her to take the risk.
Fourteen years of constant vigilance hardens a man. Yet when Travis Archer confronts a female trespasser with the same vivid blue eyes as the courageous young girl he once aided, he can't bring himself to send her away. And when an act of sacrifice leaves her injured and her reputation in shreds, gratitude and guilt send him riding to her rescue once again.

Four brothers. Four straws. One bride. Despite the fact that Travis is no longer the gallant youth Meredith once dreamed about, she determines to stand by his side against the enemy that threatens them both. But will love ever be hers? Or will Travis always see her merely as a short-straw bride?

I discovered Karen Witemeyer last year with Head in the Clouds, after reading the rest of her books, I was eagerly awaiting her new release Short-Straw Bride. Upon finishing the book I would have to say it is my second favourite of her books, simply because the final page in To Win Her Heart had me crying - in the best way!

The term 'no man is an island' can be used when thinking about this book. Instead of man, use 'no family is an island' or 'no land is an island'. The Archer boys held threats away as young teens when they were orphaned. Now though, they are strapping men lead by their consummate and capable eldest brother Travis, who still believes the world is out to get them. Travis must learn to move on from the past and embrace the people around him. In short he's got to step off his "island" and build some bridges to the outside world. So when Meredith Hays walks in to repay a debt she ends up being the one to teach Travis this through her words and actions.

Meredith expected to repay a kindness done to but instead she finds herself in over her head in action and romance when she becomes the unexpected bride of Travis Archer - the man you helped her twelve years ago and the one man she has dreamed about ever since.

Being married to Travis isn't all that Meredith expected, but she's willing to wait on God's timing and to give him a chance to work on her husband. Travis is smitten with Meredith but struggles to communicate his growing feelings in a way that she'll understand. It's comical at times watching these two dance around their feelings for each other. When Meredith goes to her only married friend for advice on how to court her husband I was giggling right along with the ladies.

This is a lovely read, strong on character, humour and romance.




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, June 19, 2012

Tuesday's With Jess: Scent and Memories


Recently my husband bought these beautiful wooden platters and serving dishes that you see in the picture from an auction at our church. When I picked up one of them, I did something a little odd. I held the dish up to my nose and inhaled. My husband looked at me a little strangely but not too much - it's not unusual for me to do strange things! What I inhaled was a tangible reminder of my Dad - a man who worked with wood. To this day sawdust and lacquer bring memories of him flooding back.

What was interesting is the platters and dishes were a mixture of dark wood and light wood. I can't tell you the names of the wood but when I smelled the lighter wood I was NOT reminded of Dad. When I inhaled the darker wood, it was Dad all over. Even though each item had the same lacquer on it, the wood smells different.

It's funny how scents can recall some of the strongest memories. What are some of your favourite smells and what memories do they bring?


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, June 16, 2012

Hot Book covers: To Whisper Her Name by Tamera Alexander






This book cover is gorgeous! I love the red, it just grabs my eye and I want to know who the girl in the dress is. What I love the most about this cover though is the horse in the background with the lush green grass. It looks so pretty and inviting.

What do others think?




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.

Friday, June 15, 2012

June Feature Author: Sandra D. Bricker Interview

Thanks so much Sandra for joining us on our blog today. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Thank you so much for having me! I write romantic comedy for the Christian market, and I have about 15 books in print…although no one really noticed me much until the Another Emma Rae Creation series that started with Always the Baker Never the Bride. Emma and her friends at the Tanglewood Inn literally changed my life.

You write romantic comedies, what has drawn you to this genre?

It was actually a happy accident! When I first started writing, my plan was to write suspense. But more and more, people commented on how funny they thought I was. In fact, when I was trying to break into the inspirational market, I kept pitching suspense novels. Then one day, the editor at Summerside Press called to ask me to write a comedy for them to launch the Love Finds You line. I scratched my head over that, but it turned out that they had decided from a few simple emails that I was a funny person, and they wanted to see what I could do if I applied my humor to my writing. That first book, Love Finds You in Snowball, Arkansas, set me on a path I hadn’t anticipated! 

I fell in love with "Always the Baker, Never the Bride". I thought it was one of the loveliest, sweetest, funniest books I have ever read. I also enjoyed the followup book, "Always the Wedding Planner, Never the Bride" - even Russell the Aussie! Can you tell us about "Always the Designer, Never the Bride"? Is this the last book in the series?

It’s NOT the last book in the series! It’s Book #3 of 4. The final installment, Always the Baker FINALLY the Bride revolves around Emma Rae and Jackson getting their happy ending at last. I can’t tell you how hard it was to write THE END on that one! These people have been part of my life for three years now!

Always the Designer Never the Bride is the story of Audrey, a struggling wedding dress designer, who happens into The Tanglewood Inn for the wedding of her best friend Carly. And when she arrives, J.R., the brother of the groom (you met him in Always the Wedding Planner as Russell’s best buddy!), sweeps her right off her fashionable feet!

Jess: I'm excited about the final book. I can't wait to see Emma and Jackson get their happy ending!

How much time do you usually spend on the research element for your books? Do you visit locations and conduct interviews?

It really depends on the book. For the Emma series, I was inspired by my sudden affinity for those reality shows like Amazing Wedding Cakes. Being a diabetic, one day as I watched, I found myself thinking, “Wow. What if God had called me to bake cakes instead of write?” A series was born that day!

What books did you read as a teenager?

I’m sorry to admit that I wasn’t much of a reader growing up. I was a tv-sitcom and movie baby. My studies to become a writer revolved around screenwriting. It wasn’t until I had to leave Los Angeles and move to Florida to take care of my mom that I realized scripts weren’t going to be feasible for me any more, so I tried writing my first novel after that. I’d started reading romances in my 20s, and I became a big fan of romantic suspense authors like Rebecca York. I didn’t discover my love for books until then, and didn’t find Jane Austen until my 30s! I read Emma about once a year now, and I’m sure anyone who knew me when I grew up would be shocked to see me with my nose in a book or my Kindle almost every spare moment of the day!

Whose writing do you admire?

So many! I love Kristin Billerbeck, Jenny B. Jones and Camy Tang for the lighter side of things. And James Rubart, Frank Peretti and Brandilyn Collins really fill my suspense void. For inspiration, Cynthia Ruchti is awesome. … See? There are SO MANY!

Jess: I love Kristin Billerbeck and Jenny B. Jones also - they crack me up!

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

First, I whine about it to my writer friends. When I finally tire of hearing my own voice, I start taking steps. I go for a drive and look at the Gulf…I invite a friend out for lunch or a coffee to just soak up a new perspective…It almost always involves eating something sweet…And I write some shorter things to cleanse the palette a little, like a blog or a Bible study. The final step is usually to watch a movie or tv show that I can really get lost in. Then I’m usually ready to break through the wall and start writing again.

Jess: Sounds like you've got some good strategies there

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

I think I’d like to be Emma Rae Travis from my Baker books. Although, in truth, I’m much more like Sherilyn from Always the Wedding Planner, Emma is a fascination to me. The idea of never spending another minute with her as a writer is…just…well…Sorry…can you pass me a Kleenex??

What do you know about Australia, and is there anything in particular you would like to see if you came for a visit?

My first real love was a musician, and he was in a band with an Aussie drummer. I got to know so much about Australia from this adorable, sweet-hearted, silly man! From that time on, I really wanted to visit and see it all for myself. But many years later, I got to know another couple of Aussie men during my publicist days in Los Angeles, and one of them was very much the inspiration for Russell in the Emma Rae series. He taught me all of the bad words and strange, interesting foods, told me about the draw of the outback, and he had that mysterious man-child thing going. He used to say he could show me “the blue underbelly of Australian life” if I would let him. That both frightened and intrigued me. LOL If I went to visit Australia now, I’d love to take a month or two of exploring the sights, tasting the food and meeting the locals!

Jess: We hope you get to come here one day Sandra!

Find Sandra D. Bricker on the Web

You can follow Sandra on her blog over at http://sandradbricker.blogspot.com/

Sandra's Emma Rae Creation Series (So far!)

01 Sept 2010
01 Oct 2011
01 April 2012


Thank you Sandra for this great interview!



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.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Book Review: Maggie's Journey by Lena Nelson Dooley

Available @
Fishpond AU 
& Amazon | Kindle
Maggie's Journey by Lena Nelson Dooley
(McKenna's Daughters, Book 1)

Realms, 04 October 2011

Near her eighteenth birthday, Margaret Lenora Caine finds a chest hidden in the attic containing proof that she's adopted. The spoiled daughter of wealthy merchants in Seattle, she feels betrayed by her real parents and by the ones who raised her. But mystery surrounds her new discovery, and when Maggie uncovers another family secret, she loses all sense of identity. Leaving her home in Seattle, Washington, Maggie strikes out to find her destiny. Will Charles Stanton, who's been in love with her for years, be able to help her discover who she really is?

Maggie is a likeable heroine.  Wide-eyed and innocent, with a passion for dress designing, she easily slips into your heart.  Upon her eighteen birthday, she discovers that she isn't who she thought she was.  This turns her world into turmoil.  As a result, she looks upon her family and the world with a new set of cautious and insecure eyes.

Maggie's parents have always provided for her abundantly, but for the most part, she's been unable to satisfy her mother.  In a bid to find a sense of belonging, Maggie travels over the Rocky Mountains to Arkansas to visit her Grandmother.  She hopes to find a connection there she hasn't felt with her mother.  The journey itself makes for wonderful imagery, and it was intriguing and entertaining to share with the characters their long and difficult travel by rail.  I always enjoy historical fiction that helps me understand what life was really like during the period.

Florence and Joshua - Maggie's parents, seek to redefine themselves, their marriage and family.  This makes for an interesting and heart warming sub plot.  

And then there is Charles Stanton.  A man just making his way in life, he's known Maggie since they were kids.  His journey takes him from his arrogant youth into a mature understanding of God's plan for his life.

This is a novel that deals with love, restoration, belonging and truth, and it does so gently and unobtrusively.  A quiet romance whispers throughout.  This is a lovely, relaxing read which goes beautifully with a nice cup of tea or two :)  I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

Dear readers: Utilising the links found on this blog when purchasing books helps to support this site - a labour of love for two stay-at-home mums.  We thank you for considering 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.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Tuesday's with Jess: Craving God


This image shows my struggle over the past few days
So I'm really starting to see a difference in my weight now, even in my energy levels and I'm sleeping better since exercising regularly and eating well. A few days ago though, I noticed a shift in my mental thinking. It was subtle and a little troubling. I started to think I could indulge again in some foods (not much indulging by the way - a spoonful here and there) since I'm seeing such a difference. I know me and I know a spoonful here and there can very easily lead to a bowl full often! I hadn't yet indulged my shift in thinking but I knew I was coming close.

So God chose to meet me in a way he'd know for sure I would hear him. I sat down to read the second book of Susan May Warren's Noble Legacy: Taming Rafe and the Bible verse Susan had chosen for the book was this:

“Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.”
Philippians 2: 12B-13

Instantly I knew God was reminding me by his promise that He IS working in me and he will give me the power to do what pleases HIM. Since then I've had a couple of days where my food intake wasn't too great by my new standards, but I've noticed that I'm quicker to forgive myself and to accept God's forgiveness. The shift in thinking is not as strong and God is working in me to persevere with him, trust in him and know that he is strengthening me to do what pleases him by being obedient to him and by living his his grace!


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, June 9, 2012

Hot Book Covers: Through Rushing Water by Catherine Richmond






This cover jumps out at me. Though the water is not rushing like the title suggests, the scene before us is beautiful! I love the background - it feels so peaceful. The girl's dress really draws the eye without being over powering. Based on this cover; I want to read this book.

What do you think?






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.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Friend's Five With Jenny Blake: Five books that have impacted my life

Today we are delighted to have fellow Aussie book blogger, Jenny Blake, share with us five books that have impacted her life.  Jenny has a fantastic blog with loads of book reviews, author interviews and giveaways.  Make sure you check it out!


Fives Books That Have Impacted My Life
With Jenny Blake (AKA Ausjenny) 

The books I have chosen are as follows but I have to say this was very hard to do.

Janette's Oke's When calls the Heart book one of the Canadian west series is the book that got me back into reading. I devoured this book and had to get more in the series and more books by Janette Oke. I also fell in love with both Canada and Mounties.


The Appomattox Series by Gilbert Morris - I cant pick a favourite but the whole series had an impact. The way Gilbert would describe what was happening in the story and showed the civil war could have been over in one battle if the North had had a decisive leader or by the south if they had continued. He also showed what it was like to have brother against brother etc. Also that slavery wasn't really the reason for the war. It may have been a catalyst but it wasn't why most fought. I made me think what would happen if My state South Australia and Victoria went to war. We are 10 minutes from the boarder and lots of family live in Victoria.

"Once Blind" the story of John Newton by Kay Marshal Strom - this is a non fiction and it tells his story. He had a hard life but also did alot of bad things but he also suffered. Seeing his change and how he then went on to inspired people like William Wilberforce to fight against slavery. It shows no one is beyond redemption.

Sincerely, Mayla by Virginia Smith. I choose this book because it gave me hope. There is a secondary character in this story who cares for Mayla's grandmother. I had been this character and how Virginia dealt with her gave me hope at the time that there was still a chance to find someone and have my own life.

For my fifth choice I am going with Love is a Battlefield by Annalisa Daughety. The reason is even after a couple of years this books still has me wanting to visit Shiloh National Park in Tennessee. Soon as read it I knew I wanted to visit there and I even did internet searches to learn more, it really impacted me.

It was so hard to only pick five books/series, the first two choose themselves as did Once Blind but the other two could have included so many others. There are Aussie books I would love to put there and if Jess and Helen let me I want to give a special mention to Mary's Guardian by Carol Preston this one also impacted me in a great way.

Jenny aka Ausjenny

About Jenny

My name is Jenny Blake (aka Ausjenny on most blogs and forums) and am an avid reader from Australia. I started a library at church with most of the fiction books being donated by myself. When not reading I enjoy watching cricket, in fact you could call me a cricket fanatic, scrapbooking and cross stitch. I volunteer at the local Christian bookshop where I can recommend fiction to customers. I have a book blog where I review books and interview authors. My goal is to help promote new books and encourage authors.
I can be found on twitter @ausjenny, my blog is http://ausjenny.blogspot.com. I also review for The suspense zone on http://www.thesuspensezone.com/ 

Thanks Jenny for sharing these great books with us!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Thursdays With Helen: My Writing Revealed!

First things first - word count report!

Last week's word count: 42780
Current word count: 46120

From what I calculate, I'm on track to reach my goal of 60K words by the end of June.  I have to admit, it's been a bit slow going some days, barely squeezing out 300 words.  I had a chapter that I had a lot of trouble with, and it took me 3 days to finish it.  It was a fairly pivotal scene and I hadn't quite worked it out in my head how it was going to go (which usually I do).  Well, I'm past that now and the words are flowing a little better.

So, what am I writing? I'm writing a Christian Young Adult fiction novel about a girl named Lila.  She's a sixteen year old country girl who moves to the city to finish her senior school years (in Australia, these are years 11 and 12).  I've done the move myself - from country to city - when I was a little older than Lila.  I was amazed by the vast difference between the two lifestyles, and always thought it would make a fascinating basis for a story.

The style is a little chick-lit with a fairly strong romantic element.  Well, that's how it's coming out so far! I've um-ed and ah-ed about how much romance is actually going to be in it.  It may turn out full on YA Romance yet.  

I'm also unsure yet as to strength and direction of the Christian element.  The characters in the book vary from occasional to regular church attenders, who also vary in the strength of their faith.  I'm still working this all out because the last thing I want is to make things preachy.  Something I'm sure all Christian fiction writers struggle to balance! 

I never know how much I should let on about my story - this is certainly the most I've divulged online :)  I hope it sounds half interesting!

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, June 6, 2012

Book Review: A Wedding Invitation by Alice J. Wisler


Available @
Fishpond AU 
& Amazon | Kindle
A Wedding Invitation by Alice J. Wisler
Bethany House Publishers, 01 October 2011

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.

I have to confess that before starting this book I was not in a reading frame of mind. I really didn't want to read anything and I really didn't know what to read. So I looked at my TBR list and saw A Wedding Invitation. The cover called to me, as it has done since the book came out. So I started it and I took it leisurely, which is rare for me. A week later I was finished and satisfied with a smile on my face.

This is a gentle book. It doesn't go at a mile-a-minute and the readers really get to savour the gentle pace and slowly get to know Samantha, Carson and the rest of the quirky characters dotting this book. It was a great book to kick-start my reading again.

It's 1992 and Samantha (great name by the way) is working at her mother's boutique clothing store and trying to forget the past and the guy she left there. Unfortunately the past becomes apart of Samantha's present and it and him won't quite leave her alone.

For anyone wanting a gentle, lovely read where characters quietly stay with you and become your friends this is the book for you.

Dear readers: Utilising the links found on this blog when purchasing books helps to support this site - a labour of love for two stay-at-home mums.  We thank you for considering us!

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, June 5, 2012

Tuesday's With Jess: Made to Crave Journey


Some of you might have read my recent review of Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst - a book that has revolutionized the way I think about food and God! So I thought I'd share a small part of my journey so far with emotional eating.

I've never been a dieter and I have tended to eat a little bit healthy with mostly unhealthy (I LOVE hot chips with chicken salt) foods. Slowly my weight crept up on me until I was starting to stare at size 14's. The number isn't the real problem here though...it was my attitude to food. I'd emotionally eat when I was stressed or upset mainly. Usually at the time of the afternoon when my daughter was at her most difficult (she's 2). Occasionally I'd eat in secret knowing that I was eating really bad food. I simply didn't care what I ate. 

After reading Lysa's book and rediscovering my craving for God and how I have replaced Him with food for much of my emotional needs; has really changed how I view myself, food and God. I started officially eating better on May 1st 2012 and I also started exercising consistently. I went to a nutritionist to make sure I was on the right track with my food - a big tick from her - which made my day! I'm currently in the lower end of size 12 now. I've still got a bit to go. What's changed is my attitude towards God. I ask him daily for the "Care to" to change my eating habits and I'm praying everyday for the perseverance to continue eating better each day. 


I've had a couple of truly awful days when all I wanted to do was eat my way through a packet of chips, some finger buns and whatever junk food lay in my path. Those times were filled with tearful, desperate prayers of a woman begging God to keep her from succumbing to the emotional "crutch" of junk food to make myself feel better. God came through - funny that!-he gave me the strength to lean on him and not the junk food. God is surely good! 8 weeks ago I would have eaten the junk food, felt guilty and then ignored my feelings about my food choices.

Craving God is proving to be worth all that my head knew it was...it just hadn't quite reached my heart yet.


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, June 2, 2012

Hot Book Covers: Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden

Welcome to our new Saturday feature - Hot Book Covers! Each week we will show you a book cover that we think is fabulous. 

We've decided to do this largely because book covers are a big deal to us.  If we don't like the cover, the chances of us reading it are very slim.  If you need an explanation as to what makes us so shallow, see our Don't Judge A Book By Its Cover post.

Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden
Love the pop of red amidst the otherwise brooding and mysterious black/greys.  This girl looks like she is headed on quite a voyage, but she looks like she can handle whatever is coming her way.

Love it too? Let us know! Don't agree? Tell us why :)


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.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Friend's Five with Alison Strobel: Five Books That Have Impacted My Life

It's a pleasure to have the lovely Alison Strobel here sharing with us her most influential books. I've reviewed some of Alison's books and she's been a feature author here in February.

So let's take a look at Alison's list of five books that have impacted her life...

alisonFive Books That Have Impacted My Life
Alison Strobel

Douglas Coupland's Microserfs - Great book, first off, but also influential in my style as a writer.

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee -  the first classic I ever read for fun. Grabbed me and gave me a new appreciation for quality writing, as well as inspiring me to a higher level of my own writing.

Lisa Samson's Women's Intuition - The first women's fiction novel I ever read. Until then, I had no idea the genre existed. My editor sent it to me when I signed my first contract, and it was a huge light bulb moment for me. "THIS is what I want to write!! I didn't know I could do that! I thought all books written for women had to have a romance in the plot!"

John Grisham's The Street Lawyer -  Not necessarily the most quality writing, but it really changed my view of the homeless and the poor.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon - Totally genre-defying, compelling, fascinating, and entirely engrossing. It's impressive when you can keep a reader's attention for over 800 pages, and even more impressive when you can keep them coming back for more books that are just as long (if not longer). A great study in writing for the masses and keeping the characters in a series fresh. (I don't necessarily recommend this book to people, though. It has some very steamy scenes. If you can skip them when you come to them, though, then the book is phenomenal.)

About Alison Strobel

Alison is the author of six contemporary Christian fiction novels.  You can find out more about her and her books at http://alisonstrobel.com