Thursday, August 29, 2013

Jess' Thoughts: Struggling to finish...

Has there ever been a book that you've tried to read, but couldn't? So you put it down, and then maybe days, months or even years later you come back to it and try again. Some how though, you still can't finish it!

This is me with Charles Dickens Great Expectations. I first started on the 14th March, 2001 and have since made two attempts to finish the book. Each attempt got me further through the book, but still not even half way.

Someone told me a long time ago, that I would have to slog through the first eighty pages until it gets good. I kept asking myself "Why must I torture myself for the first eighty pages, does the author really need said pages?" Yeah, well I clearly never got far enough into it to find out if it ever gets good. So it sits there on my bookshelf mocking me- telling me that I simply couldn't do what millions have achieved with relative ease.

Part of me doesn't care that I haven't finished it. There's a small part that wants to complete it - but can't quite make myself open the book. So until then, Mr. Dickens and I shall remain mere acquaintances.

What's a book you've finished? Do you want to finish 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, August 22, 2013

Jess' Thoughts: A dream worth pursuing?

Recently, I borrowed a six episode show from the library called: Everest: Beyond The Limit, a Discovery Channel Documentary that follows a group of men embarking on the dream of a lifetime; reaching the summit of Mount Everest.

I borrowed it because my husband recently went to Nepal and trekked to Base Camp. So in our house, we are interested in this mighty mountain. For the record, my hubby will not ever try to climb Everest - he doesn't want to, I don't want him to and we can't afford it!

Watching these men try and climb the world's tallest mountain was a mixture of awe inspiring happiness, to tense, nail biting drama to plain out anger and frustration at the stupidity of some people. This is life and death stuff that is happening, but for some the desire to summit Everest is so strong they will literally try and die in the attempt! Thankfully, some of these men had a team of sensible people around them. Up there, there is no room for error and when your brain is oxygen starved and every breath and every step takes massive effort, errors are deadly.

During one episode two of the men had Summit Fever. Summit Fever is described "...as an anticipation to reach the top of the mountain disregarding safety, and ethics, among other things..." (Ref: http://ezinearticles.com/?What-Is-Summit-Fever?&id=5798457).

Watching these two recklessly climb further and further at the risk of their lives and the lives of the Sherpas with them was incredibly frustrating. Granted, they are not thinking clearly, as their brains are starved for adequate oxygen, but my frustration just kept building. I kept thinking: Is this goal worth it? Is your life worth giving up to achieve this goal? When does the goal start consuming you?

I really admire those who can climb this mountain and come back alive. I admire those who see it for what it is - a dream realized, but something not worth throwing your life away for.  Granted, by simply attempting this climb, you could die. Well prepared, experienced climbers have died due to horrific, unforeseen weather, amongst other things. This is not for the faint of heart.

So I guess I'm asking the question of myself and others out there. When does a dream (any dream) become detrimental to our health and the health of our families? Has God faded from the helm of your dream to a mere backseat passenger?

I think it's okay to walk away from a dream and come back later to it. I think it's okay to say, "this is consuming me in a bad way and I need to re-evaluate". Last week I talked about how God is the author of our dreams. As the giver of life as well, I hardly doubt he would want us to throw our lives away for it (literally and metaphorically). God himself should be the only all-consuming dream of our lives. In Him we will not get lost or overwhelmed. In turn he will brighten our lives with dreams to fulfill us and make our hearts soar.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this!

Image from: http://www.mountainsoftravelphotos.com/ReferenceImagesF/Everest%20Beyond%20the%20Limit%20Season%201.jpg



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 20, 2013

Book Review: Courting Morrow Little by Laura Frantz + Giveaway


Courting Morrow Little by Laura Frantz
Revell, 01 July 2010

Caught between the wilderness and civilization, Morrow Little must find her way to true love

Morrow Little is haunted by the memory of the day her family was torn apart by raiding Shawnee warriors. Now that she is nearly a grown woman and her father is ailing, she must make difficult choices about the future. Several men--ranging from the undesired to the unthinkable--vie for her attentions, but she finds herself inexplicably drawn to a forbidden love that both terrifies and intrigues her. Can she betray the memory of her lost loved ones--and garner suspicion from her friends--by pursuing a life with him? Or should she seal her own misery by marrying a man she doesn't love?

This sweeping tale of romance and forgiveness will envelop you as it takes you from a Kentucky fort through the vast wilderness of the West.

This book is Laura's second published novel, but I'd read all her others published to date before this one.  I bought it ages ago and kept it on the shelf just waiting for when I really needed a "Laura Frantz" fix. 

It's no secret I love Laura's writing, and that The Colonel's Lady is my favourite favourite.  But you know, Courting Morrow Little took my breath away and gave the top spot a bit of a nudge!  

I love the fact that a large part of this novel we're dealing with a married couple - giving us romance plus! Morrow is lovely in the wilds of Kentucke - and she's strong without the 'wild'.  Red Shirt is ... well ... hubba hubba.  Laura again delivers a faint-worthy hero, despite Red Shirt being an Indian and completely controversial for the period.

As always, what really brings an historical novel to life is the detail and atmosphere, and Courting Morrow Little has plenty of it.  Reading it was like stepping back in time and living along side Morrow, feeling the ups and downs, the pleasure and the heart-break

Laura's fifth book, Love's Awakening, is due out 15th September.  It's the second installment in The Ballantyne Legacy.  We're giving away a copy of the first book in the series, Love's Reckoning (see our review).  If you'd like a chance to win, please leave a comment with your email address.  We'll draw a name on 1st September 2013. Please note, this give away is open only to people who can provide an Australia address for postage.



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 15, 2013

Jess' Thoughts: A Dream in the Making...


Have you ever had a dream that just never left you? You always hoped it would come true, sometimes wondered in your heart of hearts if it might ever happen? But hoped none-the-less that it would? Sometimes there seemed no way it could happen, but you still clung to that stubborn hope that it would one day?

I love dreams! They push us onwards, they keep us filled with hope. Dreams are the a promise of hope. For some of us, these dreams are impossible to extinguish, even when the flame is barely visible - it's still there, ever burning, ever so slightly but never gone.

For me, one of my lifelong dreams will God-willing come true in March 2014. I've bought tickets for a trip to visit a good friend in Washington DC, USA and I'm taking my 3 year old with me - it's going to be a long flight! For me, I've dreamed of visiting the USA for as long as I could remember. People ask me why and I don't have a answer. It's just something that I've wanted since forever. I'm so excited some days that I can hardly contain it. Other days, I think it won't happen. That's the pros and cons of life long dreams that are on the cusp of becoming reality - swinging between joy and despair!

As I was writing this though, another thought kept occurring to me. How God is the author of our dreams - what a gift that is! But more than that, he is our hope, and his promises will never dwindle to a slow burning candle. They will burn bright in our hearts for eternity. What a wonderful gift is our heavenly Father and the dreams he's placed in our hearts!

Picture from: http://emilydickinsoninternationalsociety.org/node/123


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 13, 2013

Book Review: Angels and Heroes: True Stories from the Front Line by Robert D. Lesslie M.D.

In his popular first two books Angels in the ER (over 200,000 copies sold) and Angels On Call, Dr. Robert Lesslie inspired readers with moving accounts of remarkable people and incidents from his 25 years as an ER doctor. Now in Angels and Heroes, Dr. Lesslie shares amazing experiences of the courageous men and women who exhibit the grace and strength of angels in the face of danger every day.
In this uplifting book, readers will be inspired by the human connections and the divine moments in:
  • breathtaking stories from the front lines of the police
  • extraordinary adventures of our firemen
  • poignant tales from the men and women of EMS
  • And more unforgettable heart and soul rescues from the ER
These fascinating true experiences will encourage readers to appreciate those who serve others--and to watch for those moments when they too can rescue someone with God's love.

I first picked up Angels on Call about 18months ago and have since made it a habit to purchase Robert D. Lesslie's books when I see them at my local bookstore. The other two books I have read (Angels in the ER and Angels on Call) focus on the goings on of the ER Dept at Rock Hill, South Carolina. This time around Robert Lesslie brings to life the stories of the men and women who are more often than not, responsible for getting the patients to the ER Dept - firemen, police and paramedics/ambulance.

Inside these pages are stories that will touch your heart, make you laugh and make you cry a little. After reading this book, I am so grateful for the people who go out there day after day and help their fellow citizens. It's not always life threatening, but when it is, I'm glad these people not only are willing to put their lives on the line, but are trained in dangerous situations.

So, have a read if you like true stories that are served up in small doses but leave a big impact.


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 8, 2013

Jess' Thoughts: What to do with a bad review...

So I'm in the middle of writing a book review. I didn't like the book. Usually, we at the BRS don't review books that we don't like. Sometimes though, there is an exception. Maybe, the book had some good points but still wasn't a great read overall. The question is, do you publish a review that has more critique in it than praise?

I wrote a review a while ago that sat in the draft section for a year, before we decided to not publish it. Why? Well I was more than a little disappointed with the book. I think I had drifted into a complaining rant, rather than a constructive critique of the novel. For this reason, the review was not published. It felt good for me though to have written the review. I got my feelings down on paper and after a while, the urge to publish it dimmed.

There are some out there that would tell me to publish my thoughts. Others might say, temper it a bit. Still others would say, an author doesn't need to hear you ranting about how much you hated their book. For me, this book I'm currently reviewing, will not be published. I had high expectations of it and was bitterly disappointed with the product as a whole. As a result, I doubt I will ever read this particular author again. I also doubt that I could constructively critique this book without drifting into ranting territory.

What do you guys think? Publish a bad review or let it go and move on?

Image from: http://futureperfectpublishing.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/book-video-critics.jpg



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 6, 2013

Book Review: Into the Whirlwind by Elizabeth Camden

Into The Whirlwind by Elizabeth Camden
Bethany House Publishers, August 1st, 2013

As owner of the 57th Illinois Watch Company, Mollie Knox's future looks bright until the night the legendary Great Chicago Fire destroys her beloved city. With her world crumbling around her, Mollie will do whatever it takes to rebuild in the aftermath of the devastating fire.

Zack Kazmarek, an influential attorney for one of Chicago's finest department stores, is a force to be reckoned with among the city's most powerful citizens. Bold and shrewd, he's accustomed to getting exactly what he wants--until he meets Mollie Knox, the beguiling businesswoman just beyond his reach.

In the tumult as the people of Chicago race to rebuild a bigger and better city, Mollie comes face-to-face with the full force of Zack's character and influence. Zack believes this may finally be his chance to win her, but can Mollie ever accept this man and his whirlwind effect on her life, especially with her treasured company on the line?


It's no secret that I'm a fan of Elizabeth Camden's books. So I was really happy to dive into her latest book. I have to say that while I was interested and at no stage did I want to stop reading the book, I did not love it.

I've been mulling on this fact for a few days now, trying to figure out why this is. First off though, the things I did love. Setting the story amidst the Great Chicago Fire was great! I didn't know much at all about this and was fascinated by the events of that time, thus I eagerly devoured the story based on this. Watching the characters reconstruct their lives amongst the debris' of a broken city was great. Reading this book made me want to go to Chicago and learn all about the fire.The pace was quick and kept me on the edge of my seat for much of the book - always a good thing.

What I had trouble with really, was Zack and Mollie. I found the basis of their relationship hard to grapple with and believe. At some stages, I really didn't like the way these two treated each other. For me, the romance happened so fast and derailed so fast that I wasn't sure these two actually had time to process their feelings for each other - especially Mollie. Yet, through all this I was still rooting for them and wishing Mollie would seriously get her head together make the right choices - on many levels not just with Zack.

So, considering I felt passionately about this book, must mean that although I didn't love it, it impacted me. That's a sign of a good writer! I struggled with Zack and Mollie, like I might struggle with people in my life acting the way these two did - frustrating and exasperating.

So what do I recommend? This is a well-written, fast paced read packed with great historical insight, with characters who will grab your heart (in both great and frustrating ways) and stay with you after you've finished the book. That's generally a recipe to read a book!



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.
Lethal Legacy by Irene Hannon
Revell, August 1, 2012

The police say her father's death was suicide. But Kelly Warren says it was murder--and she has new evidence that she believes proves it. Detective Cole Taylor doesn't put much credence in her claim, and nothing in his case review suggests foul play. But when Kelly ends up in the emergency room with a suspicious life-threatening medical condition, the incident strikes him as more than just coincidence. Digging deeper, he discovers she's linked to a long-ago crime. Is history repeating itself? And who wants Kelly silenced?

With her trademark high-intensity action and taut suspense, Irene Hannon closes out her Guardians of Justice series with a story of old grudges and budding romance that is sure to increase her substantial fan base.


This is the final book in the Guardians of Justice series and this was my favourite! I loved Cole and Kelly, they fitted so well together as a couple. I really liked how they related to each other. Kelly, is strong but on the quieter side and I really liked that. For me, she was easy to relate to. Cole, really shone here. His is a hero worthy of Kelly! The mystery surrounding Kelly's father death goes much deeper than anyone expected and it made for a richer story.

The drama and action slowly built up and then steadily ploughed on through to the end. For me the climax of the book was heart stopping and had me desperate for the resolution. My favourite in this series. Wonderful book!


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 1, 2013

Jess' Thoughts: A Book Fast

Recently, I felt convicted by God to take a book fast...this was serious business as I normally read about two books a week. So what on earth was I going to do without a book to read?? Well, the condition of the fast was that I could only read the Bible. So for 10 days, whenever I read, it was God's book.

Some days it was really easy and other days it was hard. I would just glance at my library and see all the books I wanted to read. I didn't help that several of my favourite authors new release books arrived during this time all the way from America! The books would sit on my kitchen bench with their glossy covers, just begging me to open them...as I said, some days it was tough!

However, God proved to be worth the sacrifice and I found myself growing closer to Him by absorbing his Word. I found myself talking to him more, simply because his Word was in my head more. I think I will do this fast again.

What is something that you struggle with to give up? Has God proved worthy of the sacrifice?



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.