Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Tuesday's With Jess: Letting the dessert win

I've been mad at myself lately with regards to my HEP (Healthy Eating Plan), somehow in the last two weeks I've let things slip - especially in the dessert area (a real weakness of mine). I'm still eating relatively well, but the food that isn't good for me is starting to creep in. Now I'm going for runs to run off the bad food, rather than run for the pure fitness and enjoyment of it. I'm even getting cranky at myself for not pushing myself enough on my runs. This is a dangerous pattern to get into.

I've been trying to pinpoint my problem for a couple of weeks now as I knew something wasn't right. My food diary was telling me I wasn't eating as well as I could have and had been. Emotionally I felt I was cheating myself and running wasn't fun anymore and my motivation was slowly waning.

So with that confession out there, I simply want to say that I'm arming myself with God's promises, his strength to renew myself each day. I'm still trying to figure out what a lifetime commitment looks like with a HEP and I'm trying to not beat myself up on days that aren't so great - I have a big God and he can take my good and bad days.

I'll leave you with a quote from Lysa TerKeurst (author of Made to Crave) that really struck me this morning:

"It is good for God's people to be put in a place of longing so they feel a slight desperation. Only then can we be empty enough and open enough to discover the holiness we were made for. When we are stuffed full of other things and never allow ourselves to be in a place of longing, we don't recognize the deeper spiritual battle going on."


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, July 28, 2012

Hot Book Covers: Forsaken Dreams by MaryLu Tyndall

I saw this cover and thought, "Ooooh! That is good!"  I love everything about this cover - from the colour, to the scenery, to the girl, to her dress, to the mist and even the font!

Love the dramatic landscape in the distance - that tells me there's adventure.  The mist makes it all feel like a dream - but is it inviting or hostile?

Even if I'd never heard of MaryLu Tyndall before, I would definitely be grabbing this book off the shelves. In fact, I probably will when it's released in February 2013 :)




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, July 26, 2012

Thursdays With Helen: Winter's Perks

It's winter here, and it's turning out to be a difficult one in terms of colds and flus.  Which is why I've been struggling to get any reading and blogging done.  I hope you will forgive me!

We've just succumbed to another round of colds - right after the last round.  And this time it's worse.  Add to that, my youngest has an ear infection and of course, she has to be cutting her molars right now.  Needless to say, I'm not getting much sleep!

Colds and flus are just one of the many reasons I don't like winter.

However, rather than focusing on my dislike of winter,  I've been trying to think about what I do like about it.  Here's the short list I've managed to scrape together:

  • No flies
  • No misquitoes
  • No ants
  • No mice
  • Snuggling up in bed with the kids and reading
Perhaps if I lived where there was snow, I could add that to the list.  But I don't :)

What do you like about winter? Help infuse me with some more positivity to get me through to the end of the season! (36 days and counting...)


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, July 25, 2012

Book Review: Beyond Resolution by Rose Dee

Available @
Fishpond AU 
& Amazon | Kindle
Beyond Resolution by Rose Dee
Even Before Publishing, 01 April 2012
Samara lives a life filled with fear. After being discarded and beaten by her drug dealing boyfriend, she takes one easy out after another. Her choices lead her down the road of self-destruction, into the degrading world of stripping and a life spent looking over her shoulder. Until an encounter with a stranger on a Kings Cross Street provides the catalyst for a life changing event that leads her back home. 

Resolution is the last place in the world Jed wants to be. One drastic decision has led him to the Island resort and back into strained contact with his brother, Flynn. 

From the bright lights of Sydney to the blue waters of Resolution Island, Beyond Resolution is a story that provides a window into the joy of forgiveness, trust and peace.

This is the follow on book to Rose Dee's debut novel, Back to Resolution.  Beyond Resolution is the story of Samara, a character who is mentioned in Back to Resolution, but whom we never actually met.  Beyond Resolution has a strong romantic element, however it does not conform to the definition of an actual romance novel.  The hero is not introduced for quite some time,  and he does not appear in the same scene with the heroine until almost half way. 

The book starts in Sydney -  far away from the tranquil and tropical Queensland Resolution Island.  Samara is living a less than ideal life - struggling with the ghosts and threats of her past mistakes, and suffering under the consequence of her current choices.  Aussie readers probably won't bat an eyelid at the seedy setting of the first few chapters, but our international friends might be taken a little off guard.  That said, there's nothing inappropriately or overtly described - but be warned the book deals with drugs, strip clubs and assaults.

When Samara finally finds God and allows him to fill the void in her life, she finds the courage to return home to Kiissay Point on the tropical coast of Queensland.  She has a strained relationship with her father to repair, and encounters with ex-boyfriends to deal with.  A forced stay at Resolution Island with her father as he recovers from an accident makes it impossible to avoid Jed - the man who broke her heart some years ago.

There's a great deal of "telling" in this novel - particularly when it came to introducing characters. For me, this made the first half of the book slow going.  Aside from the predicaments Samara finds herself in Sydney at the start of the novel, most of the action happens in the later half.  There's some drama when Samara is confronted with the remnants of her former life, and some unsavoury characters pay a visit. There was a surprising plot twist at the end when the identity of the attacker is revealed.

I didn't enjoy this book as much as the first book.  I don't think Samara and Jed spent enough time on the page together for me to get as emotionally invested in their relationship as I would like.  There was quite a bit of predictability and a few scenarios that were just a wee bit too convenient for authenticity.  I also felt that some of the minor characters from Back to Resolution were forced into cameo appearances in this book.

Samara's spiritual journey is subtle and natural, so it didn't feel forced.  There's a great message throughout the book in terms of releasing our fears to God, and forgiveness and restitution.


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, July 24, 2012

Tuesday's With Jess: Belgium Flowers

Since writing about The Amazing Race last week, I got to thinking about some of the travel I've done. One of the highlights for me when my husband and I did a very quick tour (10days) of Europe 3 years ago was seeing Brussels in Belgium. We were only there for 1 night, but the picture that I love the most of all of our Europe photos in the following one:


This lamp post was taken in Brussels and it was here that I fell in love with potted flowers on lamp posts, window sills, awnings you name it. I just remember loving the flower lamp post with the awnings in the background. This image is so different from what we might find here in Australia and it makes me want to wander around that Brussels square and finish the exploring that I barely got to start 3 years ago.

I've included a couple more shots of the flowers I loved so much. I'm not a flower person at all - so I look back at these pictures and dream!

Both photos were taken at Rothenburg, Germany a beautiful medieval village.







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, July 21, 2012

Hot Book Covers: Unrivaled by Siri Mitchell

Siri Mitchell just showed this cover for her latest book which releases in March 2013. I love the title and I'm so wondering what information is contained in the letter the girl is holding!

It looks sweet with a air of mystery surrounding it and I love the blue on the dress!

Also, does anyone else think the girl looks like a lighter-haired version of Sybil from Downton Abbey? 'Cause I do!

What does everyone else 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, July 19, 2012

Thursdays With Helen: Books Are A Subjective Business

Not everyone is going to love a book, no matter how good the author is.  It's like I've always said - not everyone thinks Brad Pitt is hot.  Even back in his hay day when he was the universally declared 'sexiest man alive' you would never get me to agree.

We are all such unique creatures.  God made us that way.  The world would be a very dull place if we all had the same tastes. There wouldn't be room in Hollywood for the likes of both Brad Pitt and Robert Pattinson (still not my cup of tea ...), or a space on the bookshelves for both Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters.

I might oscillate between reading historical fiction and contemporary fiction, but there's a unique theme in my preferences: they're heavy on the romance, and light on the trauma.  I've been thinking about why this is, and I think it boils down not just to my personality, but my life experience.

In my opinion, I've had too much pain in recent years to be reading about someone else's.  When I read, I want an escape to a happy place.  I want the good girl to get the good guy, and live happily ever after.  Don't get me wrong - I love drama.  But my nerves can't take much suspense, and my heart can't handle getting too close to a character's emotional pain.  I'm the same way with movies.  I love romantic comedies (as long as they're not too silly!) but I steer clear of anything hard hitting like The Green Mile.  I was even worried that "The Blind Side" would be too emotional for me (it wasn't, though I did cry more than I'd like to admit).

I know my life experience must have a lot to do with this, because once upon a time I did like hard hitting, emotional movies.  As for my nerves ... as a teenager I went through a phase of watching a lot of horror movies, and complained frequently that I couldn't find a single one that scared me.  Nowadays I run a mile away from anything of the sort.  I can't handle anything remotely scary.  Have you seen "I Am Legend" staring Will Smith? I do think it is a very good movie.  But I have to confess, when I watched it at the movies, I left half way through.  I was so stressed I thought I was going to have a heart attack.  However, I had to know how it ended, so I watched it on DVD at home one day, knowing I could stop it and take breaks when needed :)

So what's my point here? It's hard writing book reviews.  We can only tell you our opinions on a book, and our opinions are going to be shaped by our tastes, preferences, personality and life experiences.  You won't love a book just because I do, and vice versa.  But I hope our reviews give you enough information to make your own decision as to whether you might like a book :)

What are your favourite kinds of books? What books do you run a mile from? I'd love to know what our readers are into :)

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, July 17, 2012

Tuesday's With Jess: The Amazing Race Australia

I admit that one of my favourite shows is The Amazing Race. I used to watch some episodes of the American series but it was usually on late at night here, so I was never able to consistently  watch it. So last year when they made an Australian Amazing Race I was so excited!!

My husband and I hang out for Monday nights each week. We love it! I'm not a fan of reality television, but this show I love. I love the competition, watching teams work together, seeing all the places they travel too. When the teams are given two tasks to choose from Ben and I always discuss between us which one we would do if we were running the race.

I went so far as last year to download the entry form, but having a 1 year old doesn't allow for running a race like this. So instead I dream about running this race and seeing how far I could get. What's something out there that you would love to do, but can only dream about right now?


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, July 14, 2012

Hot Book Covers: The Director's Cut by Janice Thompson


I just LOVE this cover.  I love the sophisticated style.  The dark background with the pink "pop" features is stunning.  To me this cover says strong, confident, stylish, chic, sassy and just a bit sexy.  I'm guessing I'd really like the heroine!















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, July 13, 2012

Feature Author: Rose Dee - Interview, Giveaway and New Book Cover!

Our feature author today is Australian Christian contemporary author, Rose Dee.

Today Rose is giving away a copy of both "Back to Resolution" and "Beyond Resolution".  See the end of this interview for how to enter. 

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

Well, I live in Mackay, North Queensland. My husband and I run our own business, and have a lively six-year-old son in grade one at school, and not to forget Noodle the dog (canine son). So far as hobbies go – I wish I had more time for them. Between being a wife and mother, working, and writing, hobbies are a dream of the future.

(Helen: I've been up the Mackay way a couple of times, it's a beautiful area!)

Please tell us about the inspiration behind your Resolution series which is set in tropical north Qld. Is Resolution Island a real place?

Resolution Island isn’t a real place, but it is a combination of places. The Palm group of islands sat across the water from my home town of Forrest Beach, so there is a bit of those islands in the Resolution setting. Hinchinbrook Island is definitely a part of the Resolution landscape. Also the islands off the coast of Mackay; St Bees and Newry Island are definitely a part of Resolution. There is still one of the original stone cabins standing on Newry Island, but no resorts unfortunately - wonderful to visit and camp though.

The third book in the series, A New Resolution, comes out in November. Can you please tell us a bit about it?

The third book really takes everything back to the island. We get to revisit the characters in ‘Back to Resolution’ and ‘Beyond Resolution’. There is a lot of activity in the ocean and creeks, a mystery, a death, and a lot of drama. It’s so much fun. (See below for blurb).

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


I am very lucky, because most of my writing is taken from my own experiences. But there are certainly elements of research. My main female character in ‘A New Resolution’ has a Torres Strait Islander heritage, so I had some research to do there with certain elements of the culture. I wasn’t able to visit the Torres Straits, but I did have help from a representative of that community here in Mackay, as well as research online and talking to those who have lived there. It is a wonderfully rich culture.

What books did you read as a teenager?

Everything from Archie comics (Betty and Veronica were my favourite) to teen romance series, and in later teenage years Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice. I also did a lot of drama, so I read Shakespeare and Poetry. I would go from one extreme to the other – classic literature to pop culture. I loved it all.

Whose writing do you admire?

I love the storylines and literary worth of classic writers – the Bronte’s and Jane Austen. But to be a bit more current, our Aussie writers are awesome. Amanda Deed had me up until 1am, and I will often re-read some of Paula Vince’s work just because it is wonderfully poetic and quite beautiful. Meredith Resce had me wanting to jump into the book and strangle one of her characters. All four of us have recently collaborated on a writing project. ‘The Greenfield Legacy’ is due for release in November this year. It was so much fun to write together, and I love the story we have produced.

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

Thankfully I have not experienced writer’s block. My problem is too much creativity. I’m an ideas person – so I have potential stories and various plot lines continually running rampant in my head. Some are good, and some are not so good. I have to commit to sifting them out on a regular basis.

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

I have so many wonderful blessings in my life – so I am very thankful for who I am. But I must admit that there are times when I think about Bay in ‘Back to Resolution’ sitting on a beach looking out to sea, or taking picturesque Island shots through the lens of her camera. That’s definitely my sort of scene. And I could do with an island holiday.


What's your favourite thing about being Australian?

I can’t pick just one thing. I am unashamedly patriotic. I love my country, our heritage and our culture. I love our larrikin nature and our ‘she’ll be right mate’ attitude to life. I love that my father could fix anything with a piece of guinea grass, or a bit of chewing gum. Or that my husband accurately predicts the weather by looking at the sky, and knows the exact moment the tide changes – even if he isn’t anywhere near the ocean. I’ve lived on the coast; on the sea; in the bush; in the west, south and north; in the city; and in rural towns, and there is one thing I know for sure – Australia is awesome.

(Helen: I agree whole heartedly - Australia is definitely awesome!)
 

Connect With Rose

http://rosedee.com/

Rose also contributes at Christian Writers Downunder


A New Resolution - Blurb & Cover Debut!

We're thrilled to be hosting the debut of the cover of the third and final  book in the Resolution Series - A New Resolution. 



Resolution Island is a safe haven for Anika Demeur. 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 Hollingsworth 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 is on a mission – to fulfill his mother’s last wish, and change his life. Dropping anchor in the idyllic Resolution harbor, 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 final book in the Resolution trilogy, following Back to Resolution and Beyond Resolution.

Book Giveaway!

Rose is giving away TWO books today - Back to Resolution, the first book of the series, and Beyond Resolution, the second book. On the entry form below please indicate which book you would like to win.

To enter the competition, all you need to do is complete the form below.  See our policies page for further conditions.

Entries close 12pm Tuesday 17th July 2012, Australian Eastern Standard Time

Optional Extra Entries!
  1. "Like" our Book Review Sisters Facebook and get 1 bonus entry in the draw
  2. Share this post on Facebook and get 1 bonus entry in the draw
  3. Follow us on Twitter and get 1 bonus entry in the draw
  4. Tweet about this post and get 1 bonus entry in the draw
  5. Follow us with Google Friend Connect (see left sidebar) and get 1 bonus entry in the draw
If you opt in for any of these bonus entries, please indicate so by ticking the appropriate boxes on the form.

Please also leave a comment on the post after filling out the entry form (don't forget to submit the form first, or your entry won't go in!).  Rose (and we!) would love your feedback and to know you've dropped by.
 



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, July 12, 2012

Thursdays With Helen: Downton Abbey Season 2

Look away now if for some reason you're not up to date with Downton Abbey.  For our non-Australian readers - please bear with me, as I realise the episode I'm about to discuss is one that you saw a million years ago.  

Last Sunday we saw Episode 7 of Season 2.  Which to my great dismay, I've just discovered is the second last episode of the season (although there is still the Christmas Special).  

Anyway.  The drama is escalating!  I was glad to have seen Thomas duped - although oddly, I felt a teensy bit sorry for him. But just a teeny tiny bit.

Sybil ... dear Sybil ... I know the guy is cute and all, and I suppose it had to happen ... but you know, if the guy isn't even trying to put your best interests first (like, calmly trying to discuss the situation with your parents, or maybe NOT risking giving up the life you've always lived), then it isn't going to end well.  Do I hear boo-ing?? Am I not romantic enough? Probably not! My life has taught me to be sensible :)



Should Matthew follow his heart? Would he be justified in ditching the nice-but-boring Lavinia?

I know Mary isn't the most likeable character at times, but I have to hand it to her.  My favourite line from the night was "Aren't all of us stuck with the choices we make?"  I think she is going to find she isn't as tough as she thinks she is.

My other favourite line from the episode, goes to Dowager Countess Violet: "All this unbridled joy has given me quite an appetite."

The most scandalous moment of the episode goes to the least scandalous person of the whole show.  Does anyone else have a huge problem believing that Lord Grantham would so easily kiss the house maid?  I know they've had a couple of nice chats ... and that Cora has been a little unavailable ... but is he likely to act so desperate already?  It doesn't seem in character.



All my misgivings aside, I've been enjoying this season immensely, and I'm going to be devastated when it's over for another year!

Have you been watching Downton Abbey? I'd love to hear your thoughts :)


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, July 10, 2012

Book Review: Mary's Blessing by Lena Nelson Dooley

Available @
Fishpond AU 
& Amazon | Kindle
Mary's Blessing by Lena Nelson Dooley
(McKenna's Daughters, Book 2)

Realms, 15 May 2012

When her mother dies, Mary Lenora must grow up quickly to take care of her brothers and sisters. Can love help her to shoulder the burden?

Mary Lenora Caine knows she is adopted. As she was growing up, her mother called her “God’s blessing.” But now that she’s gone, Mary no longer feels like any kind of blessing. Her father, in his grief, has cut himself off from the family, leaving the running of the home entirely in Mary’s hands.

As she nears her eighteenth birthday, Mary can’t see anything in her future but drudgery. Then her childhood friend Daniel begins to court her, promising her a life of riches and ease. But her fairy-tale dreams turn to dust when her family becomes too much for Daniel, and he abandons her in her time of deepest need.

Will Daniel come to grips with God’s plan for him? And if he does return, can Mary trust that this time he will really follow through? 

Mary's Blessing is the second book in the McKenna's Daughters series.  Mary's tough farm life is in stark contrast to that of her sister, Maggie, whom we saw in the first book, Maggie's Journey (see my review).  I loved reading about a different setting in the same era, and found it held more drama than the society living of Maggie's Journey.  Lena vividly creates the hardships and chores demanded of every day farm life, and I loved learning about this lifestyle as I enjoyed the story.

This book captivated me from the moment I started reading it.  Mary and Daniel are just too cute, and Daniel's doting crush on Mary brought a smile to my face.  I loved Mary.  Despite being young and innocent, she is no doe-eyed love struck girl.  She accepts the hardships of reality and attempts to make the best of what she is dealt.

Things between Mary and Daniel don't remain sweet.  I baulked when Daniel displayed the typical male arrogance that women find so detestable.  It was hard to see the ugly side of a character that had endeared himself to me. Daniel is forced to search himself and God's word to understand how he must help and serve Mary. 

Despite Mary being adopted out - just as her sister Maggie was - the challenges Mary faces are unique.  What results is a wonderfully different story.  Glimpses of characters tying Mary's story to her sister's were a delight for me.

Mary's Blessing shows us a great example of a Christian community in action - modelling how we should be caring for each other, regardless of class or station in life.  It made me want to move into their town and be part of their lives!

I enjoyed Mary's Blessing even more than Maggie's Journey.  The romance in this book was stronger, and the struggles and tragedy of Mary's father tugged at my heart strings.  I think you could get away with reading Mary's Blessing without having read the first book, but you'll miss out on the full effect of the series. 

I can't wait for the third instalment to tie all the McKenna's Daughter's story together!

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's With Jess: Achieving a Goal

It's been no secret that I've been eating better and regularly exercising. Since starting my healthy eating plan (HEP) on May 1 2012, I've slowly watched the scales go down. I have not achieved my goal weight yet but I have managed to comfortably fit into my size 10 jeans (American friends that's size 6) just three days ago!!

Yes I'm very excited by this achievement but what I'm excited most about is how God has given me the strength and perseverance to get this far! I still have some days when going for a run is just something I don't want to do. Lets face it, I review books and I love books more than I love running so it can be a real battle sometimes to get out that door and run. When I know I'm feeling this way I just ask God to give me the will to run and 9 times out of 10 I get out the door and do my run and I'm happy for it at the end.

The battle to chuck in my HEP has started to enter my thought process more and more lately. It's funny the closer one gets to a goal the more we start to think we can give up and stop once the goal is achieved. I need to keep reminding myself that I'm not dieting, I'm eating healthier for life with allowances for the yummy food every now and then. I have to remind myself that I'm eating healthier as a sign of love and respect to God who gave me this body to cherish not abuse with my emotional eating. I have to ask myself how long it would take for me to start emotionally eating again if I were to give up my HEP. The only way I've found to conquer this is through prayer, reading the Bible and through support from other people on a similar journey.

A parting note. I always remember this comment my former pastor made during church one morning:

"Just when you think you've finished one degree in God's university, he starts you on another."


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, July 7, 2012

Hot Book Covers: You Don't Know Me by Susan May Warren

I'm a Susan May Warren fan, having first discovered her with her in the first book in the Deep Haven Series. I haven't had the chance to read much more from her. I did get my hands on the Noble Legacy Series for a bargain at my local Christian book store. Look out for the reviews on them in the coming weeks.

So I was looking up Susan on Amazon and I cam across her soon-to-be-released You Don't Know Me (released October 1, 2012). What I love about this cover is the leaves and the colour. It appeals to my sense of quiet and calm. I want to be walking among those leaves and talking with someone. I also really like the font of the title - it's just nice.


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, July 5, 2012

Thursdays With Helen: Five Books That Have Impacted My Life

We've had numerous guests on our blog over the last few weeks sharing their list of five books that have impacted their lives.  Last Week Jess shared her list, and now it's my turn!

I have an interesting assortment in my five ... come take a look ...

The Folk of the Faraway Tree Series by Enid Blyton

These were just my favourite favourite books growing up.  I loved getting lost in the enchanted wood, climbing the faraway tree with it's crazy inhabitants and discovering what new land was at the top of the tree every day.  What an imagination Enid Blyton had! And her writing fuelled my own imagination.  I seriously wanted to have an enchanted wood of my own.  I wished there had been some woods for me to explore so I could really pretend I was off to visit Moonface.  But you know ... in Australia we have bushland ... it's not quite the same ...

Personality Plus by Florence Littauer

Doesn't sound too exciting, right?  But I swear, this book is life changing!!

You've probably heard Jess and I mention this book before (see here and here for more, if interested).  Everyone's personality is a combination of 4 types - melancholy, phlegmatic, sanguine and choleric - with one or two types being dominant in each person.

Still yawning? Put it this way - have you ever wondered why you always butt heads with a particular person? Or wondered why your spouse just can't seem to hurry themselves? And why someone else just won't slow down?

I read this book, and it was like the clouds parted and I had attained a clarity I'd never dreamed possible.  You can't change people, but understanding your personalty type and their personalty type helps to explain so many things and hence makes it easier to deal with.  For example, now that I understand I'm a melancholy, I'm not so hard on myself for being sensitive, prone to tears and prone to taking comments personally.  It's also a relief to realise that my beautician is of sanguine temperament and so she's going to say things about my body without thinking, but she doesn't mean anything by it! (I'm still trying to forget her recent comment about me being a prude ...)

Not only will this book change the way you see people, but it will give you a few good laughs in the process.  Florence is a Christian, so it's great to see this written from the perspective that God made us all unique with our own specific function in life.  That's a great comfort!

The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson

I read this, and a couple of other biographies (like The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom, Forgive Me Natasha by Sergei Kourdakov) as a young teenager.  All three impacted me equally, but for the purposes of this exercise I'll stick with The Cross and the Switchblade.  It was the first insight I really had into the amazing things God does in people's lives.  This book wrenched my heart out as I read about the lives of street gangs in New York.  But it also made my heart soar as I read about the complete turn around the Holy Spirit can work in the lives of hardened street kids.  To see how specifically God can provide needs when you have nothing else to rely on but Him is something every Christian should know.


The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman

I'd always loved history ... particularly the middle ages in Europe and England.  I read history books, but what I really wanted to know and imagine was what life was like living in the past.

Then my friend dropped the historical fiction novel, The Sunne in Splendour in my lap.  I was swept up in the details of the reigns of brothers Edward IV and Richard II, captivated by the romance and totally lost in the period.  It was like I'd found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  I had a new favourite genre.  I particularly enjoyed this book because Sharon Penman is attempting to create the story behind the actual history.  I love learning about history whilst enjoying an enthralling story.

(Please note, this book is NOT Christian ... and contains some adult content)


The Anxiety Cure by Dr. Archibald D. Hart

I have had a couple of periods in my life where I have suffered from a fairly crippling amount of anxiety and panic attacks.  During one of these times, I read several books on anxiety that were written by Christian authors.  They all had a different perspective, they all had their merits but this one made the most sense to me.  

Dr Hart showed me that I'm an adrenaline junkie. 

You're confused, I know.  I'm not inclined to dare devil activities at all.  But it's true - I live life at a roller coaster pace.  I don't stop and relax, I put a low priority on sleep and I don't ever let my mind rest.  Dr. Hart's spends a whole chapter explaining what stresses do to our brain - both bad and "good" stresses - and it made so much sense.  It was a great comfort for me to know there was a physiological reason for what was happening to me.  Dr. Hart goes on to talk about the methods for treatment, including the appropriate use of medication as well as life style changes required to manage and prevent anxiety episodes.  I now understand and accept the importance of sleep and relaxing.  Whilst I still often get caught up in the fast pace of living in the 21st century, I know my early warning signs now and so I make myself slow down before I trigger panic attacks again.

By the way, Dr. Hart's book "Adrenaline and Stress" is another great read for all of us living in the fast paced world we're in today.


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, July 4, 2012

Book Review: Where the River Ends by Charles Martin

Available @
Fishpond AU 
& Amazon
Where the River Ends by Charles Martin
Broadway, 23 June 2009

A powerfully emotional and beautifully written story of heartbreaking loss and undying love

He was a fishing guide and struggling artist from a South Georgia trailer park. She was the beautiful only child of South Carolina’s most powerful senator. Yet once Doss Michaels and Abigail Grace Coleman met by accident, they each felt they’d found their true soul mate.

Ten years into their marriage, when Abbie faces a life-threatening illness, Doss battles it with her every step of the way. And when she makes a list of ten things she hopes to accomplish before she loses the fight for good, Doss is there, too, supporting her and making everything possible. Together they steal away in the middle of the night to embark upon a 130-mile trip down the St. Mary’s River—a voyage Doss promised Abbie in the early days of their courtship.

Where the River Ends chronicles their love-filled, tragedy-tinged journey and a bond that transcends all.

I remember a post I wrote a while ago where I talked about my first encounter with a Charles Martin book. I said that I had not talked much about him as I had read all his books before we started the blog. I must confess that wasn't true - I still had one more book to go that I forgot about! This is that book.

The book covers comes with a gold warning stamped on it: WARNING: This book will break your heart. My husband read it first and I remember asking him how the book was going as he neared the end. He replied something to the effect of "Yes, it's sad but it's not making me cry." Five minutes later I turned around and he was crying! Such is the power of a well-written love story.

No one picks up this book expecting Abbie to survive. We know from the blurb how this will end. What's important here is the journey Martin takes his readers on - and what a journey it is! This is Martin's sixth novel (his seventh and newest release, Thunder and Rain is being read by my husband as I write this) and he delivers as he always does. Yes, I cried like a baby at the end too!

Martin gives us two beautifully drawn people in Doss and Abbie. Doss' devotion is strong and his will even stronger to give Abbie her ten wishes before she dies. Martin alternates chapters between the present and their past starting from when they met, got married and found the cancer that ravaged Abbie. Abbie is full of life even at the end. She is funny, determined and she pushes Doss to see the best in himself - a gift he later teaches Abbie during the throws of chemo treatment. 

Martin not only brings his characters to life but also his trademark, beautifully rendered word arts of the surrounding scenery - the river and it's life flow both literal and metaphorical, to architecture of Charleston and much more. I have said it before and I'll always say it again and again: Martin does not tell you things, he paints pictures, breathtaking ones with his words. I have not come across another author who can do what he can with words.

This book will stay with you for a long time and it will make you think about just what unconditional love is and what is looks like in action. Even if your heart breaks, this book is worth the read!

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, July 3, 2012

Tuesday's With Jess: Eating Less at All You Can Eats

 We all know what happens when you hear the following words: All you Can Eat Buffet. Plate after plate of food followed by a few plates of dessert until you feel ill. Since starting my healthy eating plan going to restaurants has been a real test of my self-control not to go for my usual meal and top it off with a glass of coke. I hadn't yet faced an all you can eat buffet. When I found out that I was going to be having lunch at said establishment, I started praying. I knew my strength and self-control would waver- heck even fly out the window at the sight of all that yummy food.

God did three things to help me cope at the lunch. First he enabled me to attend my sister-in-law's birthday breakfast, which saw me eat well enough to fill me up so that I wasn't that hungry by the time lunch rolled around.

Secondly he ensured that same sister-in-law (who also happens to be on her own healthy eating plan as we both have read Made to Crave) would be attending the family lunch at the all you can eat. Moral support is a total must at places such as these.

Thirdly God seemed to have changed my sense of smell for the day. All the chips and other deep fried stuff I usually crave didn't appeal to me. Instead it smelled yuck to me - yes I'm saying that hot chips smelled yucky! I'm hoping this isn't a new aversion, just a one time thing!

My sister-in-law and I even split dessert there. We tasted food rather than gobbled it down. I know absolutely that without her there I would have caved and caved some more. So thanks Libby for being an awesome encourager and support buddy!

I guess my thoughts for today is this:

When you know you are going into something tempting and it is something you can't avoid (anything, not just food) start praying for God to give you the strength not to cave in and ask him to give you people and things to help you get through.

God answered my prayer. Even as I walked in to the buffet I wasn't sure I could actually follow through with my resolve, but in the end with help from God, Libby and my nose I was able to stick to my resolve!



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.