Sunday, December 30, 2012

Book Review: Vanished by Irene Hannon

Vanished by Irene Hannon
Revell, January 1St 2013

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas From Jess & Helen

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

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


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

Friday, December 21, 2012

BRS Favourite Book Cover for 2012

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

And the winner is ...

Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden





What do we love about this cover?

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

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


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

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

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Thursdays With Helen: My 2013 Reading Agenda

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

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


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


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



   


March
Forsaken Dreams by MaryLu Tyndall

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




April
Love at Any Cost by Julie Lessman

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







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

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


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

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

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

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Book Review: The Shadowed Onyx by Nicole O'Dell


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tuesday's With Jess: My 2012 Favourites

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

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

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






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

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Thursdays With Helen: Helen Wakefield - Freelance Editor


Hello dear friends and readers!

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Hot Book covers: Deadly Devotion by Sandra Orchard

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

What do you all think? Would you read it?





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

Thursday, December 6, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Book Review: A Light in the Window by Julie Lessman

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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Review: An Eye for an Eye by Irene Hannon

An Eye for an Eye by Irene Hannon

Revell, September 1, 2009

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

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

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


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

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

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Tuesday's With Jess: NaNoWriMo Completed

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

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

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

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

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


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

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