Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Book Review: A Lasting Impression by Tamera Alexander

Available @
Fishpond AU 
& Amazon | Kindle
A Lasting Impression by Tamera Alexander
Bethany House Publishers, 01 November 2011
To create something that will last is Claire Laurent's most fervent desire as an artist. It's also her greatest weakness. When her fraud of a father deals her an unexpected hand, Claire is forced to flee from New Orleans to Nashville, only a year after the War Between the States has ended. Claire's path collides with that of Sutton Monroe, and she considers him a godsend for not turning her in to the authorities. But when they meet again and he refuses to come to her aid, she realizes she's sorely misjudged the man. Trading an unwanted destiny for an unknown future, Claire finds herself in the middle of Nashville's elite society and believes her dream of creating a lasting impression in the world of art may finally be within reach.

All that Sutton Monroe holds dear lies in ruin. He's determined to reclaim his heritage and to make the men who murdered his father pay. But what he discovers on his quest for vengeance reveals a truth that may cost him more than he ever imagined.

Set at Nashville's historical Belmont Mansion, a stunning antebellum manor built by Mrs. Adelicia Acklen, the richest woman in America in the 1860s, A Lasting Impression showcases the deep, poignant, unforgettable characters that set Tamera's stories apart and provides an inspiring love story that will capture readers' hearts and leave them eager for more.

I've had this book for a little while and was waiting for a time when I was ready to read what I knew would be a book of depth and substance - and I got it! I really enjoyed this book and was so pleased to read a book with genuine characters. Some people might be put off a little because this book doesn't contain explosive action and lost of drama dare I say even melodrama. For this reason I love it! Don't get me wrong, the plot and characters are compelling and there is enough drama to drive the story forward it's just slower that's all.

I found this book very interesting, especially the characters. I loved Claire's heart and seeing her grow throughout the novel was wonderful. Her relationship with Sutton was beautiful, sweet and the furthest thing from sappy. I really felt like I got to see Claire and Sutton become friends first before working out how much more there was between them.

For me the most interesting character was Adelicia Acklen - which is not surprising because she's real! I think it's funny but so true that often the most interesting and unique characters are the ones taken from real life. How God makes us so unique is wonderful! Adelicia's life and the experiences she had enriched the book and brought fullness to both Claire and Sutton. This is in many ways Adelicia's story as it is Claire's! I also had fun reading about Adelicia's life online and seeing pictures of Belmont Mansion.

I'm not an art lover really, but it was nice to be brought into the art world for a few days along with everything else.

Oh and I loved the book cover!

Thanks for writing such a wonderful story Tamera!


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, August 28, 2012

Tuesday's With Jess: God's Surprises

As I mentioned last week I had signed up for my first fun run and I said I'd let you know how it went.

Well I'm sore and tired but very happy with myself! I had one main goal for the run which was to try and run the whole 10.5km without walking - which I did and my other main goal was to run the 10.5km in 1:15mins. I did it in 1:12mins! So regardless of where I placed with the 3000 other people running I still feel like a champion!
Above: Mel, Me and Tynan after the run!

Overall it was a fun morning and getting to run it with two of my close friends (see picture) was amazing! The weather was good, not too sunny but no rain and the wind was a little cool but not unbearable. My daughter loved the atmosphere and it was awesome to see my husband's smiling face at the finish line!

I started running to help me lose weight. I never intended to get particularly serious about it. God has blessed me with something I now love and has showed me how hard work and discipline really can achieve results. God really does surprise me sometimes! :)


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, August 23, 2012

Thursdays With Helen: Plot & Character Midnight Epiphany

I have not touched my novel for weeks.  Whilst I'm frequently assailed with guilt on the matter, I periodically remember:

I have a toddler and a preschooler!

And unfortunately it's still winter (8 days to go and counting!) and we've been hit with one bout of sickness after another.  It's so hard not to get frustrated when I'm unable to do other tasks - like writing, and a million other things.  But the reality of it is, motherhood is a constant, demanding and all-consuming occupation, particularly in these preschool years - and particularly in winter!  So I need to remind myself of this quite often, and cut myself some slack.  The writing will get done at some point.

Anyway, so this isn't really the point of my post.  I just wanted to make it clear how far my thoughts have been from my story.  

So how weird is it that in the middle of the night just a few nights ago, I suddenly had this brain wave for my story?

I had just made a a routine middle-of-the-night call out to the kids room, and afterward I went back to bed with no other thought but going back to sleep.  But instead of a sleep invasion, I experienced an idea invasion! Within a couple of minutes I had a new angle to my plot which simultaneously added the depth I had been missing all this time to the main character and the story.  I was so pleased! I jotted it down, went back to sleep, and excitedly called Jess in the morning.  She agreed with me - the new ideas were just what the story needed.

Well, after the excitement wore off, dread crept in.  Yikes.  This means a lot of re-writes.  Scary when I'm 75% of the way through the first draft.  What do I do? Finish based on what I've started? Or work on the re-writes first?

What would you do?

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, August 22, 2012

Book Review: Veil of Pearls by MaryLu Tyndall

Available @
Fishpond AU 
& Amazon | Kindle
Veil of Pearls by MaryLu Tyndall
Barbour Books, 01 July 2012

Be swept away to Charleston of 1811, a city bustling with immigrants like Adalia, who is a runaway slave so light-skinned that no one guesses her past. Terrified her secret will be discovered, she settles into a quiet life making herbal remedies for a local doctor. But when Morgan, the handsome son of a prominent family, sweeps her into his glamorous world—a world in which the truth about Adalia’s heritage would ruin them both—suspicions and petty jealousies are aroused. What will Morgan do when he discovers that the woman he has fallen in love with is a runaway slave?

From Adalia's daring escape from her terrible enslavement, to deathly gentleman duels, island rescues and battles at sea - this book had me captivated and on the edge of my seat.

Adalia is brazen and good intentioned, but her character falters over an issue so familiar to us all - the approval and acceptance of others.  Morgan is a bored, spoilt rich boy whose eyes and life are opened when Adalia crosses his path.  Because of Adalia's secret heritage, their relationship is doomed from the beginning - but what ensues is a gallant and dramatic tale of Morgan's pursuit.  The desperate measures Morgan takes in the end are shocking - and I found, funny - but Adalia is not impressed.

By the end of the book, Adalia has acknowledged and rectified her wandering from God and Morgan has matured into an impressive and heart-swelling man of action.  So many times I had to throw the book down and catch my breath, wondering if I could pick it up again (you know I'm not good with suspense!) but the lure of Adalia and Morgan's tale could not be denied.  I loved the vibrant setting of Charleston with it's partying elite, and couldn't help but love/hate the catty and conniving characters determined to ruin Adalia.  There are no wishy-washy characters in this book.  And it brought to my attention the callous way in which one human being can view and treat another.

MaryLu's writing is vivid and sophisticated, creating a good paced read that once you start, you can't put down.  It will challenge you to consider how much value we place on seeking a place amidst the elite, and open your eyes to the freedom that comes with giving up something to follow God's plan for your life.

I can't wait to read more of MaryLu's work!


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, August 21, 2012

Tuesday's With Jess: Running for Fun

A few days ago I signed up for my very first Fun Run! I NEVER thought I'd do something like that. For me getting through a training session without collapsing was an achievement. But this coming Sunday I'll be joining a few hundred people as we run 10.5km (7 miles) around the lake in my city.

I'm excited, nervous and scared all at the same time but am looking forward to pushing myself to make this goal!

Stay tuned next week and I'll let you know how I went!

What goals are you looking forward to achieving?


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, August 18, 2012

Hot Book Covers: Black Forest Redemption by Amanda Deed

This is our first featured hot book cover by an Aussie author!

I love the dramatically dark colours to this cover.  There appears to be mystery and something sinister going on.  The design is fresh and sophisticated.  This is definitely an eye catching cover - and it makes me want to know what the story is all about!

Black Forest Redemption is Amanda Deed's third novel, releasing in October 2012.










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, August 16, 2012

Thursdays With Helen: A Long Blink and I Missed the Olympics

Are book nerds allowed to love the Olympics? Well, too bad, because I do.  Always have.  I have memories of getting up early in the morning before school to watch the Aussies swimming back in the 80s.  I have memories of screaming at the TV - my mother being the loudest - and sending the dogs into panic as we egged on our yellow-capped heroes ploughing through the water.

But I virtually missed the London Olympics.  Sure, I have a vague idea of how it all went.  I know that we had a "silver-rush" instead of a "gold-rush".  I saw a few gold medal wins on replay.  Though I'm pretty sure I didn't see any Aussies win gold live!

Motherhood.  It all comes down to motherhood.  When they say it changes your life, it really does.  In every single aspect of it.

Instead of waking up at 4:30am to watch the swimming like I normally would, I slept.  Instead of sitting back in front of the TV late in the evenings to catch some events, I was flitting between two crying, sick children.  And it's okay, you know? Because I accept the fact that this season in my life I have to miss things like the Olympics.

So tell me, how was your Olympic Games experience this 2012?  What's your favourite sport to watch? What was the highlight for you?

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, August 15, 2012

Book Review: Over the Edge by Mary Connealy

Available @
Fishpond AU 
& Amazon | Kindle
Over the Edge by Mary Connealy
Bethany House, 01 August 2012
Seth Kincaid survived a fire in a cave, but he's never been the same. He was always a reckless youth, but now he's gone over the edge. He ran off to the Civil War and came back crazier than ever.

After the war, nearly dead from his injuries, it appears Seth got married. Oh, he's got a lot of excuses, but his wife isn't happy to find out Seth doesn't remember her. Callie has searched, prayed, and worried. Now she's come to the Kincaid family's ranch in Colorado to find her lost husband.

Callie isn't a long-suffering woman. Once she knows her husband is alive, she wants to kill him. She's not even close to forgiving him for abandoning her.

Then more trouble shows up in the form of a secret Seth's pa kept for years. The Kincaid brothers might lose their ranch if they can't sort things out. It's enough to drive a man insane--but somehow it's all making Seth see things more clearly. And now that he knows what he wants, no one better stand in his way.

I've been waiting for this book for a while now and was very happy when it arrived last week. So in between toddler day naps, visitors and fatigue I got to read the book! I found myself enjoying this third book in the Kincaid Brides series.

My favourite heroine of the three women belongs to Callie hands down! She's funny, and more than a little angry at Seth for abandoning her - although when one learns why he left I understand his point of view as well as Callie's. One of my favourite scenes is when Callie is pretending to be a damsel in distress and she's fighting the inner urge to take control and prove there's nothing damsel-ly or distressing about her.

Unless Mary brings another book in this series, it was a fitting ending for a fun, adventure and romance filled romp through Colorado with the Kincaid boys and their brides!


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, August 10, 2012

Feature Author: Alice J. Wisler - Interview & Giveaway

Alice J. Wisler writes about matters of the heart in contemporary fiction set in North Carolina. 

We're giving away a copy of Alice's latest release, "Still Life in Shadows".  See the end of this interview for how to enter. 


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

Thanks for having me as a guest on your blog! I’m so happy to be here. I grew up as an American missionary kid in Japan and rode the train to school every day from the time I was six. Perhaps that’s why I love trains so much, and not just commuter trains, but freight, locomotives and even Amtrak. To me, riding the train brings comfort.

Hobbies? I enjoy reading (even on trains) and cooking (not on trains). I used to have a cake-making and decorating business.

You write Contemporary Women’s Fiction/Romance, what is it about this genre that you love so much?

I like women’s fiction because it gets to the issues of the heart.

Jess: So true Alice

How Sweet It Is was the first book I read of yours and thus it has remained my favourite. What inspires you to create the characters you do?

I think observing and listening to other people’s conversations helps me dig into what people are about. You can tell a lot about a person as he converses with another on a flight or as he stands in line at a grocery store. And thanks for reading and enjoying How Sweet It Is.

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

For my recent novel, Still Life in Shadows, I watched a documentary on Amish youth who left the Old Order lifestyle to pursue “English” lives. As I watched, I took notes and from there read a lot online about what the Amish face when they choose to leave their communities. I was lucky enough to be interviewed with my inspiration for my novel, ex-Amish, Mose Gingerich. All my novels take place in North Carolina (God’s Country, of course) and each town I write about I have spent time in.

Jess: That’s great that you got the interview! I’m looking forward to reading Still Life in Shadows!

I understand that your latest book Still Life in Shadow’s recently came out. Can you tell us about it? How does it differ from your other books?

My four novels with Bethany House Publishers are written in first person present and from the viewpoint of twenty-something year old women. Still Life in Shadows is written in third person and told by a thirty-year-old ex-Amish man named Gideon Miller and a thirteen-year-old autistic girl named Kiki. This is my first novel with River North/Moody Publishers. It’s not a romance, although there is a romantic element to it. It’s really a story about how hard it is to shed your old life and move into a new place. Gideon strives to be accepted and Kiki does, too. Basically, there is a great human need to want to belong. This is also a story of forgiveness, especially about being able to forgive yourself. Although different from my other novels, Still Life in Shadows is also like all my other novels because it’s set in North Carolina and there are recipes in the back.

Jess: Yes it does indeed sound different, but great at the same time.

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

To push myself along, I make myself write a certain number of words a day and that helps get my story moving. Once it’s moving, I’m compelled to get excited and write even more.

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

That’s a great question! I think I’d like to be Alice in Wonderland and go down the rabbit hole. There would never be a dull moment, would there?

Jess: Nope, nothing dull about going down the rabbit hole!

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

For decades, my dream has been to go to Alice Springs, Australia. In Japan, I went to school with many kids from Australia and learned a lot about the country from them. As a young girl, I remember reading Nevil Shute’s book, A Town Like Alice, and thinking how I’d like to visit Australia. Now I want to meet you there, too!

Jess: A Town Like Alice seems to be the book many authors have read regarding Australia! If you ever make it down here we’d love to meet you too Alice!
Connect With Alice J Wisler

Book Giveaway!

We're giving away a copy of Alice's current release, Still Life in Shadows.  Winners choice of format.
To enter the competition, all you need to do is complete the form below.  See our policies page for further conditions.

Entries close 12pm Thursday 16th August 2012, Australian Eastern Standard Time

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

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!).  Alice (and we!) would love your feedback and to know you've dropped by.


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, August 9, 2012

Thursdays With Helen: Upcoming Releases - Excitement Plus!

I've read some great books this year, but I know the best is yet to come.  And it's coming soon!

There are three books soon to be released which I'm very excited about.  If you haven't already pre-ordered them, do so now as the pre-order prices are hard to beat.

Here's what I'm looking forward to:

Love's Reckoning by Laura Frantz

Regular readers of our blog will know that Laura is one of my absolute favourite authors.  Love's Reckoning is her fourth book release, and the first book in a new four book series. 

When I want to absolutely lose myself in an historical setting, and fall madly in love with a heart-stopping hero - I turn to Laura's books.  And how dramatic does this cover look?? I can't wait to read this new one!

Love's Reckoning will be released 1st September 2012

Pre-Order Now from Amazon

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.

Our Reviews of Laura Frantz's Novels

 
A Love Surrendered by Julie Lessman

Julie is my go-to author for non-stop drama and fiery characters.  A Love Surrendered is the final O'Connor family book, and I'm keen to see how things work out for the youngest brother, Steven.

A Love Surrendered will be released 1st October 2012

Pre-Order Now from Amazon

Orphaned in Iowa, Annie Kennedy moves to Boston to stay with her spinster aunt. She longs for romance to fill the void left by her parents' death. But when she falls hard for Steven O'Connor, the man who broke an engagement to her sister, Annie is worried. Will he break her heart too when he discovers who she really is?

With heart-pounding romance, intense family drama, and emotional twists and turns,
A Love Surrendered is everything Julie Lessman's many fans have been waiting for.

Our Reviews of Julie Lessman's Novels
 
Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden

This is the follow up book to The Lady of Bolton Hill.  It's the story of Bane - who was formerly a mastermind of the drug world.  I loved The Lady of Bolton Hill - Elizabeth's writing is clear and concise with strong characters.  I can't wait to find out what has become of Bane!

Against the Tide will be released 1st 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.

Our Reviews of Elizabeth Camden's Novels
 
I see deliciously late nights in my horizons!  Is there anything yet to be released this year that you're looking forward to?

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.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Book Review: Kicking Eternity by Ann Lee Miller

Available @

Amazon | Kindle
Kicking Eternity by Ann Lee Miller
CreateSpace, 28 June 2012

Stuck in sleepy New Smyrna Beach one last summer, Raine socks away her camp pay checks, worries about her druggy brother, and ignores trouble: Cal Koomer. She's a plane ticket away from teaching orphans in Africa, and not even Cal's surfer six-pack and the chinks she spies in his rebel armor will derail her. The artist in Cal begs to paint Raine's ivory skin, high cheek bones, and internal sparklers behind her eyes, but falling for her would caterwaul him into his parents' life. No thanks. The girl was self-righteous waiting to happen. Mom served sanctimony like vegetables, three servings a day, and he had a gut full. Rec Director Drew taunts her with 'Rainey' and calls her an enabler. He is so infernally there like a horsefly till he buzzes back to his ex. Raine's brother tweaks. Her dream of Africa dies small deaths. Will she figure out what to fight for and what to free before it's too late? For anyone who's ever wrestled with her dreams.
 
This is the debut novel from Ann Lee Miller.  And I have to say, I really enjoyed it.

The book is set at a Christian summer camp.  For a start, this was fascinating to me as I've never been on such a camp (don't have them much here in Australia).  The novel revolves around four characters - all in their early to mid twenties - who are working in the camp (i.e. not the younger camp attendees).

Raine is a home schooled girl with a desire to teach children in Africa - she's convinced that is God's plan for her life.  Then there is Cal - a hot surfer guy who throws Raine into a spin.  She has to fight her developing feelings for a guy who's denounced God and insists that she needs an education.

Drew, the Rec Director, has to face the heartbreak of his former love and determine what he's planning on doing with his life.  He forms a bond with Raine, but nothing can happen for them with Cal lurking around and Drew's mind is still stuck on his first love.  I found him to be as cute as anything.

Aly is busy rejecting God and running around with guys.  She's forced to share a room with Raine, and the two end up forming an unlikely friendship.

I loved these characters.  I found them all so real.  I found it easy to identify with Raine - hearing those familiar taunts about needing 'an education'.  And it's easy to see how she might unwittingly fall for the hot-but-off-limits Cal. Drew was sweet but not in a sickening way.  His and Raine's passion for God are infectious.  Aly is flawed, but you just know there's hope for her.  I'm looking forward to the follow up book which will continue Aly and Cal's story ("The Art of My Life" - due out 1st September 2012).

In short, the story was engaging, the characters relatable, and Ann captured the internal challenges of young adults of this age group well.  It made me want to relive my 20s!  I loved the slightly older age of the characters than the traditional teen years for Young Adult fiction.  There's just as much drama as the teens, but more substance to the end results since they are at the age of starting to settle down.  I think this is a great read, and would recommend it to college age readers and those of us who may be a bit "older" and still enjoy reading Young Adult story lines :)

By the way, you can pop over to Ann Lee Miller's page and request Kicking Eternity as an ebook for free!


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, August 7, 2012

Tuesday's With Jess: My Favourite Time of Year


It's the time of year where I go a little crazy. It's mid August (well almost) and as far as I'm concerned winter is on the way out - no matter what the temperature still is.

So what makes me act crazy this time of year and what kind of crazy things do I do? Something happens to me every year in mid-August - I start wearing t-shirts, singlet tops, shorts and flip-flops regardless of the temperature. Usually though after a little while I'm forced to don the track pants and jumper for part of the day!


Why? Well for one my birthday falls on September the 1st which is the first day of Spring and it me it heralds the official end of winter and the the start of the warm weather! Mid-August is for me the promise of bright sunny days, lazy afternoons, daylight savings, activity and just pure joy! I just get so excited and I start jumping the gun clothing wise and start listening to all my summer music.

I'm like a giddy teenager dancing crazy around the house in my shorts and t-shirt while my husband looks at me very strangely. But this is my time of the year and I'm just so excited!!!

I love mid-August more than Christmas! What time of the year do you guys love? 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.

Tuesday's With Jess: Maeve Binchy

Photo from: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/jul/31/maeve-binchy-irish-writer-dies?newsfeed=true
I started reading Maeve Binchy many years ago and really enjoyed her books. My absolute favourite of hers is The Glass Lake - also the first one of Maeve's books that I read. So I was saddened to hear that she passed away last week. A quote from www.newsday.com describes it just right regarding Maeve's books: "warm and gripping observations of life and family relationships in small-town Ireland."

Her books were a slow, sipping hot tea kind of read and she gave her readers a look into modern Irish life filled with romance (often of a sweet nature yet compelling and complex at the same time). Characters were deep and complicated and the plots compelling. I read so many of her books from our local library in my teens - they were just such a pleasure!

Farewell Maeve.

Note to Readers: Maeve Binchy's book are not Christian, but I found them to be some of the best outside of the Christian Fiction Genre.

Full Link: http://www.newsday.com/entertainment/books/irish-writer-maeve-binchy-dies-at-72-1.3871577


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, August 4, 2012

Hot Book Covers: My Foolish Heart by Susan May Warren


I think this is a really cute book cover - from the yellow top to the flowers off to the side. It looks carefree and the title suggests it might have a comedic element to the story. When I see the cover and read the title all I think of is: Chick-lit. I may be wrong though as I haven't read the book!

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, August 2, 2012

Thursdays With Helen: Seeing God's Power in Nature

Is there something within nature that particularly reminds of you of the awesomeness of God? It could be an imposing mountain, or the beach.  Or maybe it's something smaller like the fingernails of a newborn baby, or a beautiful rose.

Yosemite National Park

For me, it's always been the night sky - the twinkling of gazillions of stars, all neatly arranged in their constellations.  The phases of the moon and it's brilliance at full moon.  It has captivated me since I was a little kid.  Gazing into the night sky I see God's hand in every sparkle.  I'm amazed at the beauty, and awed by creative genius behind the maker of the universe.  Then I think about how small I am in comparison - just a speck in God's infinite tapestry of creation.  And I'm overwhelmed with gratitude because God made me - and He loves me.

Full moon shining over our backyard
When I need reminding of who holds my past, present and future, I go outside.  I look up into the indigo heavens and I see an almighty God who not only made a miraculous world, but an incredibly beautiful one. I'm filled with peace and I know everything will be alright.

What in nature reminds you of God's power? I'd love to hear from you!


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, August 1, 2012

Guest Book Review by Lucy Morgan-Jones: Homegrown Dandelions by Judith Bronte

Homegrown Dandelions by Judith Bronte
Review by Lucy Morgan-Jones

Plot Summary

Love can thrive in the most ordinary places....

After a tragic day years ago, Beth Carter was left to pick up the pieces and move on with her life. But she hasn't. She's shut herself to the world, and has vowed never to love again.

Matt Taylor is looking for work, but nothing more. His life is complicated enough with three burdens and a difficult past that won't go away. When Matt arrives at Beth's Garden Nursery to ask for a job, he meets its beautiful owner, and over time, finds something he hadn't expected. Surrounded by plants with fancy names, all Matt has to offer is a scarred heart—that, and homegrown dandelions.

Hi! This is the first time I’ve ever reviewed a book, so forgive me if I don’t do a very good job of it. :)

I read a lot of books (over 130 last year) and not many make it to my ‘keep’ shelf. This one did. I read Homegrown Dandelion’s at least twice a year because I love it that much. As with all of Judith Bronte’s stories she deals with some hard issues along with delivering a sweet, honest romance.

Matt Taylor is one of my all time favourite hero’s. He works hard looking after his three siblings. He is polite to women and he tries really, really hard to do the right thing. But it’s the honesty in his struggles and the sacrifices he makes to keep his family together that I really liked. You see, Matt is a recovering drug addict (clean now, as is the story…) his struggles against the flesh are real, his coping mechanisms are tested time and again and his sacrifices are hard won. Oh, and did I mention he wears a cute cowboy hat?

Beth Carter lost her little boy and her husband a few years back and is lonely, tired and doing it tough. Not money-wise, as she runs a nursery where Matt gets a job, but she is unsatisfied with life. She challenges Matt’s decision to stay single and self sufficient, and when the humdinger of a plot twist happens, she proposes marriage.

This book has GREAT characters with real flaws and real triumphs. It has plenty of plot twists and it is very romantic. Not the hearts, flowers and well-timed words type of romance, but in actions, in constantly putting the good of the other person first, and in being honest-especially when it hurts.

And… it’s free! All 705 pages and 246,333 words of it. Sorry to surprise you like that, it is longer than most stories… :) Personally, I like a great book that will last more than a few hours, and this one lasts me usually two or three days. Bliss!

I highly recommend ‘Homegrown Dandelions’ for a great read, I’m sure you will fall in love with Matt, just as I did.

http://JudithBronte.com/

This is the website of the author, this free book along with a few others are available on the left sidebar. I highly recommend ‘Abigail’s Journey’ as well. Judith Bronte aka Sarah Fall writes a new chapter and posts it every month to her site. She hasn’t broken her personal deadline in over ten years. Impressive! She is on facebook as well and responds to comments/questions.

About Lucy Morgan-Jones.


I'm a follower of Christ, passionate reader of books and mum of four precocious children. 
I make my home in north central Victoria, in Australia and am a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Christian Writers Downunder.
You can typically find me enjoying a cuppa while I teach my children school, reading awesome stories, critiquing awesome stories, or lurking on facebook :) I'd love to get to know you, either on my blog http://lucymorgan-jones.com or on facebook, so pull up a stump or drop me a line :)