Friday, April 27, 2012

Our First Year's Most Popular Posts

Over the next few weeks for our birthday celebrations, we're going to bring you our Friday Fives.  Today we will look at our Top 5 Most Popular Posts for our first year of blogging.  The results are quite surprising.  Let's take a look:

328 Hits - Book Review: The Maid of Fairbourne Hall by Julie Klassen

I think this is a testimony to the popularity of Julie Klassen.  This post is the newest of the top 5, but it's been very much sought after!

320 Hits - Monday Morning Musings: Peaceful Phlegmatic and the Popular Sanguine

Perhaps the popularity of this post is due to the hilarious anecdotes about our own resident sanguine, Jess :)

205 Hits - Monday Morning Musings: Don't Judge a Book by its Cover

Helen writes about Gen Y's and their prejudice for great looking book covers.

177 Hits - Guest Post: By Martin King #100blogfest is here!

This was an interesting endeavour by author Martin King, of which we had the privilege of being included.  Martin wrote 100 blogs in 1 month!

169 Hits - Monday Morning Musings: Aussies and Ebooks Survey - Win a $15 voucher!

Last November we ran a short survey to see how Aussies are taking to ebooks.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

April Feature Author and Book Giveaway: Mary Connealy

Today we officially kick off the Book Review Sisters' 1st Birthday Party! Hopefully you've noticed our special birthday decorations, and are ready to spend the next month with us celebrating.

And now, what better way to start the party than by having Mary Connealy drop in for a chat!

I'm really excited to have Mary Connealy here with us today.  She's my go-to author for cowboy fun-filled romance!

Today we're giving away 1 book in Mary's Kincaid Brides series.  The winner gets to choose which book in the series they would like to receive.  See the end of this interview for how to enter.

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

I'm a rancher's wife. I've got four adult daughters, two married. My twenty-third book released in February, including some shorter series-type books. And my hobbies are reading and writing and crossword and sudoku puzzles. (I know, like it would kill me to take a walk once in a while!)

Jess: I cannot do sudoku puzzles to save my life Mary! :)

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

I wrote for ten years before I got my first book published. In those years I wrote everything. All romance, but within that genre, I wrote historical, contemporary, cop dramas, spy thrillers, gothic…just whatever interested me. I have twenty finished books on my computer when I was given my first contract. The thing that finally hit were the cowboys. And I love doing them and publishers seem to keep wanting them so I'm thrilled.

Jess: Yeah, I can't help but love those cowboys! 

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

I do almost all my research online. I make a concerted effort once in a while to go SEE something. A history museum. I wrote a book with the hero an artist in 1880 or so. I went to some art museums that had western artists like Fredrick Remington and Charlie Russell, just because I became so enamored with them through my research. But mostly I just stay behind my computer and research and write all alone. So very, very alone!

I first started reading your books when I picked up the Sophie's Daughter's series. Then I went to Lassoed in Texas Series followed by Montana Marriages! So you see I read them all out of order but thoroughly enjoyed them. Do you think we'll see any more from Sophie and her girls in the future?

I would love to do more. I have a story in mind for Sophie's youngest daughter. And I'd like to marry off some more of the Reeve's boys from Calico Canyon. Oh, I've got all kinds of ideas. They're not in the works yet, though.

Jess: If you ever bring them all back, I want to hear about Alex Buchanan and Tom Linscott :)

I've also been keeping up with the Kincaid brothers. What inspired you to create these guys? Can you tell us about the next book in the series?

The main inspiration for the Kincaid brothers was a long ago visit to Carlsbad Cavern that just captured my imagination like no where I've ever been. I walked though that cavern, with its floodlights and all the safety fences and I was just transported. I could imagine the first man who ever went in there. It's so beautiful you'd be lured deeper and deeper. It's so DANGEROUS you'd be risking your life with every step. And he would have just had a lantern. He couldn't have begun to see the end of it, or fully light the stunningly beautiful rock formations. I've always wanted to try and capture those opposing reactions, the lure and the terror. That was my goal for the Kincaid Brides Series.

What's next—Book #3 in the Kincaid Brides Series is coming in August. It's titled, Over the Edge, about the crazy Kincaid Brother. 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.

Jess: Really looking forward to Over the Edge. Callie sounds hilarious!

What books did you read as a teenager?

I was an avid reader, I have been all my life. My family got Readers Digest Condensed Books in the mail and I read all of those as they came. I haunted the library and read everything they had.

I read all the Hardy Boys, Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew. I absolutely LOVED Walter Farley's Black Stallion books. Those were the first books I ever read that made me wonder, "How did he do that? How did he drag me into that story and put me on the back of that horse and make me smell the dust and hear the pounding hoof beats?"

Whose writing do you admire?

Besides Walter Farley, my most powerful influences are, I think, Mary Higgins Clark and Clive Cussler. Those are such strange and different authors but all three of them have an amazing ability to take you on a roller coaster ride. To just grab you and not let you go. I aspire to do that with my books.

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

I don't get writer's block. I never have and hope I never do. I wonder why that is? I'm not superstitious or I'd be afraid I would jinx myself by saying I never get it.

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

Wow, hard question. I may have writer's block because I can't think what to say here. I love my heroine Belle Tanner from The Husband Tree. She just gets in people's faces and says exactly what she things and doesn't back down from anyone. That is sooooo not me. But my she was fun to write.

I loved Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird. A truly, deeply honorable man. Most characters in books are in big trouble, if the book is any good one. Why would I want to be one of them? I mean who wants to be Jason Bourne, huh? Forget it. James Bond? Maybe…….between jobs.

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

I read a book set in the Great Barrier Reef once and have always wanted to see it and go scuba diving around it. A kangaroo? A koala? Could I be any more cliché?

My husband and I are big 'See America First' travelers, mainly because we've done very little traveling so we haven't seen much of America yet. He's a rancher and cattle are demanding. The only foreign country either of us has been to is Mexico. We walked over the border for a few hours. So, we're not really bold explorer types but we've talked about it and Australia is at the top of our list if we ever get brave and rich-and have time!. It's even above Canada, which would be far closer.

Jess: Mary, I hope you get to see more of your country and maybe one day Australia! You can go snorkeling in the great barrier reef too...might be more less taxing than actual scuba diving! :)

Find Mary on the Web

Connect with Mary

Twitter: @maryconnealy

Mary's Latest Series - The Kincaid Brides

Book Giveaway!

We're giving away one of Mary Connealy's Kincaid Brides books ... winner gets to choose which one!  This includes the upcoming release, Over the Edge, due out August.  Just remember, if you select Over the Edge and win, your copy will not arrive until after it's released.

To enter the competition, all you need to do is complete the form below.  You must be aged 18 years or older.  Entries must include a valid email address, or we won't be able to contact you if you win :)  Entries are void where prohibited.
All information provided remains confidential and will not be given to any third party.  Your email address will only be used by Book Review Sisters to contact you in the event that you win.
If you are contacted and advised you are the winner, you will have 1 week to provide us with the address for postage of your prize.

Entries close 12pm Tuesday 1st May, Australian Eastern Standard Time (10pm Monday 30th April in New York, if that helps anyone!)

Optional Extra Entries!
  1. "Like" our Book Review Sisters Facebook and get 1 bonus entry in the draw
  2. Follow us on Twitter and get 1 bonus entry in the draw
  3. Follow us with Google Friend Connect (see left sidebar) and get 1 bonus entry in the draw
  4. Tweet about this post 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!).  Mary (and we!) would love your feedback and to know you've dropped by.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Book Review: In Too Deep by Mary Connealy

Available @
Fishpond AU 
& Amazon | Kindle
In Too Deep by Mary Connealy
The Kincaid Brides, Book 2
Bethany House, 1st February 2012

He casually agrees to a marriage of convenience... never expecting to fall in love with his bride.

Ethan Kincaid proposes marriage with the same detachment he gives every decision. Audra Gilliland accepts his proposal so she can stop being a burden to her newly married stepdaughter.

But Ethan never expected Audra to affect him so profoundly, and it terrifies him. Someone he loved was once seriously injured on his watch, and he won't let that happen again. If Audra will just do as he says, he can keep her safe from the dangers that lurk on the ranch.

Audra has been cared for all her life by one man or another--and they've done a poor job of it. Now she's planning to stand up for herself. And her new husband had better agree or get out of her way!

Can two fearful hearts--wary of getting in too deep--become two trusting hearts, willing to let go and fall in love?

This is one of those books that I don't need to say much about. Mary Connealy is my go-to author for romantic, cowboy funnies! She doesn't disappoint here from her other outings. In Too Deep continues with the Kincaid Brothers, this time with Ethan. It's a fun-fill adventure romance that rollicks along at a nice pace, giving readers romance, action and lots of heart.

Tomorrow we have Mary Connealy on our blog as April's feature author, so drop in and say hi! We'll also be giving away one of The Kindcaid Bride books :)

Book Review: Mr Knightley's Diary by Amanda Grange

Available @
Fishpond AU 
& Amazon
Mr Knightley's Diary by Amanda Grange
Berkley Trade, 2nd October 2007

Between managing his estate and visiting his brother in London, Mr. Knightley is both exasperated and amused by his irresistibly beautiful, outrageously mischievous neighbor, Emma Woodhouse, whose misguided attempts at matchmaking are wreaking havoc in the village of Highbury.

But when a handsome newcomer arrives and catches Emma's attention, Mr. Knightley is shocked by his reaction. Amusement gives way to another emotion entirely-for his unreasonable dislike of the handsome newcomer seems suspiciously like jealousy.

Blurb taken from:

When I finished Mr Darcy's Diary (see review) I immediately went hunting for whatever else Amanda Grange had. I quickly found Mr Knightley's Diary and Captain Wentworth's Dairy. Stayed tuned for that one in the next few weeks. It took me a while to read Mr Knightley's Diary. It was slow going. This is no fault of Amanda Grange by any means. Of all the Jane Austen books I found Emma to be the one with the least amount of "action". This is not to say I don't enjoy Emma (it's probably my 3rd favourite book from Jane Austen) but it really concerns itself with the goings on in Highbury. Characters are not travelling everywhere and major dramas are not occurring (Lizzie travelling, Lydia and Wickham's relationship). So by it's nature it is a slower book and thus making it less dramatic.

I did enjoy this book. I have always loved Mr Knightley and think him right up there with Mr Darcy and Captain Wentworth. I have always loved the Emma movie starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Jeremy Northam. So when I was reading this I was seeing them in my head. Which now makes me want to watch Emma all over again. 

Grange gives a good insight into the mind of Knightley and the goings on around him. It stays faithful to the book except at the very end, where a nice ending is given. It was enjoyable watching Knightley slowly realize his feelings for Emma. A lovely leisurely read!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Monday Morning Musings: How it all Began

With the Book Review Sisters' 1st birthday celebrations starting this week, I thought I'd take the time to reflect on how Jess and I got started.

I'll tell you straight out - where we've come in this first year, is definitely not what we had originally planned!

Last April I had a 3 month old, and a fiesty 2 year old, and suddenly thought I needed more things to do ... well ... perhaps I was just wanting something else to do! Jess and I were talking about the BBC Big Read Top 100 List, and how few titles we'd actually read.  I guess I was feeling a little uncultured, particularly since I've always professed to be a reader.  Laiden with guilt, I suggested to Jess we attempt to cover all 100 books on the list between us.  And why don't we blog about it?

So we set up Book Review Sisters with the view of reading the BBC Top 100 list, which comprises mainly of classics, and reviewing them.

We didn't get very far.  In fact, neither of us finished reading the very first book we chose to read.

The lure of other books we actually wanted to read was too great.  So we kept reading, and the blog continued despite the detour from our original goal.

It didn't take us long to settle in to what we now believe was our true calling for our blog: reading, reviewing and helping to spread the word on Christian fiction.

In this first year of our blog, we've focused mainly on our book reviews, Monday Morning Musings,  and a monthly feature author with an interview and book giveaway.  We're adding a new regular segment next month after our birthday celebrations - but you'll have to wait to find out what it is ;)

So whilst we've ended up far away from our original idea, it's definitely been for the best.   During this last year we've had so much fun reading and writing for the blog.  We've enjoyed meeting fantastic readers and authors from around the world.  And for me, I think most importantly I've been encouraged to forge ahead in my own writing pursuits.  I might even be inclined to share more about it our second year :)  

Do you want to hear more about our writing pursuits? Is there anything you want more of, or less of? Or do you have suggestions for something new you'd like to see? We're open to your feedback - we'd love to hear your ideas!

Thanks for coming along our journey so far, and we hope you'll stick around for the next year ahead :)

(PS ... if you were thinking of getting us a birthday gift, we'd love your vote in the Best Australian Blogs 2012 awards if you haven't already done so!)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Monday Morning Musings: Jess' Contemporary Heroines

I was thinking the other day about who my favourite classic heroines were and I decided to figure out who my contemporary heroines are. This was a lot harder than I first thought as my initial responses were for female characters from the classic era...Jo March, Anne Shirley and Anne Elliot. So I had to really think through my top three females characters what have stayed with me long after I finished the last page.

The first thing I had to decide on was what defines Contemporary Heroines. The one criteria for me was that the book needed to be set in current time - ten years or less. So I gave it some good thought and the following three ladies jumped out at me.

Emma Rae Travis from Always the Baker, Never the Bride by Sandra D. Bricker. I loved Emma Rae right from the start! I laughed so hard throughout this book. Emma's heart, warmth and awesome baking abilities make her the perfect modern day heroine!

Maggie Montgomery from Just Between You and Me by Jenny B. Jones. Maggie is a very recent edition to this list. This woman just oozes spunk and she's so witty! She's daring, blunt, quick witted and plain hilarious. She's not afraid to jump headlong into most situations (except going home terrifies her and possibly falling for the town vet is just as scary) and she loves to win the battle of words and wills!

Josie Mitchell from Sweet Water Gap by Denise Hunter. Josie is the first contemporary heroine that I came across during my early introduction to Christian Fiction. Josie is running from a past that won't stop chasing her. She moves from city to city trying to escape the memories in the little town she grew up in. I love Josie because to me she is a well drawn, in depth character. She might seem a little selfish at times - and she's more than a little evasive - but she's got her reasons. When she lets her guard down we see a sassy, strong willed woman who's trying to put the past to right and be freed from what chases her. Plus, she falls for Grady and well...enough said!

Do you have a favourite contemporary heroine? Let us know - we'd love to hear about her!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Best Australian Blogs 2012: Voting is Open!

Hi Folks!

We're super excited about entering in the Best Australian Blogs 2012 competition.  Voting in the People's Choice Award is open NOW.  Which means, we need your help.

Please vote for us by clicking on the image below.  Look for Book Review Sisters on the list of blogs that appear, check the box beside it, and click "next" at the bottom of each page until your vote is submitted.  Your vote won't count until you come across and click a DONE button, so make sure you get that far :)

People's Choice Award

Once your done voting, please help us spread the word by sharing it on Facebook or Twitter.

Thank you all so much - we appreciate you taking the time to visit us, and for voting.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Book Review: Have a New You by Friday

Available @
Fishpond AU 
& Amazon | Kindle
Have a New You by Friday by Dr. Kevin Leman
Revell, 01 September 2010

You can change your life--in just 5 days!
How many times have you tried to change your own habits, only to find that changing yourself is even harder than trying to change someone else?

Now, what the bestselling
Have a New Kid by Friday has done for families and Have a New Husband by Friday has done for couples, Have a New You by Friday will do for you. With his signature wit and commonsense psychology, Dr. Kevin Leman walks you through your own personal five-day action plan. You will come to
  • Accept the truth about yourself
  • Boost your confidence by identifying the lies you're telling yourself . . . and putting them to rest for good
  • Change your life by concentrating on becoming who you really want to be 

This is the first of Dr Leman's "Have a New ... By Friday" books that I have read - though I have read a couple of his other books.

I enjoy Dr Leman's no-nonse, conversational writing style.  He calls a spade a spade, and he does so in terms that mere mortals can understand.  He provides loads of pratical, real life examples.  And quite often illustrates things through unusual imagery - for example in this book, he defines personality types in terms of dog breeds.  Crazy? Maybe.  But it seems to work.

The book is meant to be read over five days - Monday through to Friday.  And I actually did read it the way it was intended.  Each day looks at a different aspect of yourself, with the goal of learning more about yourself so you can make the changes you've always wanted to make.  These principles are meant to enable you to make any sort of changes - from losing weight, to not talking so much.

I discovered that the material covered on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday were familiar to me.

Monday covers personality types - which I already know a lot of about due to my fascination with the subject, and my love affair with Florence Littauer's Personality Plus books.  (The Book Review Sisters have even covered this subject in two MMMs: Peaceful Phlegmatic and the Popular Sanguine and Monday Morning Musings: Are you a Powerful Choleric, Popular Sanguine, Perfect Melancholy or Peaceful Phlegmatic?)

Tuesday covers understanding your birth order.  Dr. Leman is a renowned expert on this topic, and has a whole book written about it - The Birth Order Book. (Again, I've read this.)

Thursday covers love languages - made famous by Dr. Gary Chapman and his The Five Love Languages book. (Yep, you guessed it ... I've read that one too ...).

All three of these studies I've found very insightful and practical, and Dr. Leman provides a nice summary of each of them.

The other days - Wednesday and Friday - were new concepts to me.

Wednesday, Dr. Leman talks about using your earliest childhood memories to discover your "private logic" - and how this determines your unconscious rule book.  It helps to explain why people react or perceive certain events differently to other people.  It also looks at how your parent's parenting style influences your rule book (Authoritarian, Permissive, Critical, Authoratative ... these may be familiar concepts to many of you ...).  Most importantly, this Wednesday study outlines seven steps you can take to reprogram your rule book.

Friday finishes the book by challenging you to break patterns and execute your personal makeover.  It outlines six steps to take in order to set and achieve realistic and managable goals.

Have a New You by Friday is a great summary of tried and true psychological studies and principles.  If you've always wanted to learn about love languages, birth order and/or personality types - but never got there, this book would be a neat and easy way to start.  Afterwards, you could decide if you want to take your learning journey further.

Did this book change my life in a week? Actually, it did.  Even though a great deal of the material covered in this book wasn't new to me, Dr. Leman provided easy and practical ways to implement all these studies to make real changes in my life.

I decided to focus on changing one thing about myself that always drives me crazy - my inability to say NO!  Doesn't sound much, right? But trust me, I feel the difference.  I've cut back on my social commitments, cut back on some obligations ... and what do you know, the guilt didn't hang around too long, and I realised how much happier I was with my life.

I think it's important to say that if you have serious issues - such as depression, anxiety, addictions, abuse etc. - this book is not a substitute for professional counselling.  Dr. Leman is adamant that in such cases individuals should seek professional help.

Can this book change your life in a week? It could. It's really up to you.

Book Review: Within My Heart by Tamera Alexander

Available @
Fishpond AU 
& Amazon | Kindle
Within My Heart by Tamera Alexander
Timber Ridge Reflections, Book 3
Bethany House, 01 September 2010
Determined to fulfill her late husband’s dream, Rachel Boyd struggles to keep her ranch afloat with the help of her two young sons. But some days it feels as though her every effort is sabotaged. When faced with a loss she cannot afford, she’s forced to trust Rand Brookston, the one man in Timber Ridge she wishes to avoid. And with good reason. He’s a physician, just like her father, which tells her everything she needs to know about him. Or so she thinks . . .

Dr. Rand Brookston ventured west with the dream of bringing modern medicine to the wilds of the Colorado Rockies, but the townspeople have been slow to trust him. Just as slow in coming is Rand’s dream to build the town a proper clinic. When a patient’s life is threatened, Rand makes a choice—one that sends ripples through the town of Timber Ridge. And through Rachel Boyd’s stubborn heart.

Blurb from

I read a lot of books throughout the year..some might say too many. I also read very quickly. I'm a book junkie and I know it. Flipping through my list of books I've read in the last year or so, I can only name one or two books in which I shed a tear or two. Shedding a tear or two over a book is one thing, but crying like a baby is another.

That's exactly what happened to me in the last eight chapters or so of Within My Heart. Odd as from the blurb, I honestly thought I'd enjoy this book less than Tamera Alexander's first two in the Timber Ridge Reflections series. Mainly becasue Rachel Boyd was the main character. I didn't much like her in the first two books and was worried that I'd continue struggling to like her here. I was wrong. Very wrong. Although she has great reason for the walls she puts up, we see a change in her for the better, with much of that change due to Timber Ridge's Dr. Rand Brookston.

I was deeply moved by this book. The characters - all of them - just jumped off the page and landed right in my heart. Their they'll stay for quite sometime.

The honesty and depth that Tamera writes is stunningly accurate. It is clear she knows the road her characters are walking. Having walked part of a similar road as one or two of the characters have, I knew also what they experinced was real and heartbreaking, but beautifully heartbreaking. Hence all the crying.

I don't want to say much more because Within My Heart says enough on its own. I leave you with the quote from the book that left me in tears. Don't worry it doesn't tell anything more that you wouldn't find out in the early chapters.

" didn't matter whether death came suddenly, without warning, or whether it came slowly, giving you time to memorize the sound of its footsteps and the hollow cadence of its march. Whichever way death came, and however much she believed that the grave held no lasting victory, the same terrible rending tore deep down inside, severing what was from what would never be again. At least not here on this earth."

Monday, April 9, 2012

April is here ... Are you ready for all the action?

We hope you've had a happy, blessed and holy Easter weekend.  Jess and I have had the pleasure of spending this Easter together with our families.  We don't really have Easter traditions, as we like to focus on the hope that we have because Jesus conquered death.   But we enjoy a good meal and time together on Easter Sunday, and we have had a lovely weekend.

We mentioned at the end of March that we have a couple of big things coming up in April.  In between eating and church this weekend, we've been busy planning and preparing for the exciting weeks ahead.  Today we have for you a sneak preview of what's in store.

Book Review Sisters Turns 1

April 30th marks one year since our first ever post.  We're going to celebrate our first birthday with a four week party!  We have a couple of authors dropping by, and we'll be having several giveaways.  So make sure you check in regularly and join the party!

We're going to kick off our celebrations on Thursday April 26th with cowboy romance comedy author, Mary Connealy who will be dropping by for an interview and giveaway.  


Until tomorrow only (Tues 10th April), Mary Connealy's "Out of Control" is available for free download from Amazon.  If you haven't read one of Mary's amusing cowboy romances before, here's the perfect way to start.

Disclaimer: make sure the price still says $0.00 before you download!
We will also have the pleasure of historical romance author, Elizabeth Camden coming by for an interview and giveaway on Thursday May 24th.

In between, we will be holding giveaways on books by Aussie authors Paula Vince and Rita Stella Galieh, as well as the drama queen of inspirational historical romance - Julie Lessman.  This means there will be a giveaway each week! So make sure you stop by, check out our special guests and get your entries in for a chance to win.

Best Australian Blogs 2012

Voting for the People's Choice Award starts this Friday - the 13th of April at 5pm AEST.  We need your votes! We'll post a link to the voting form once the competition opens. 

Have a great week!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Resurrection Sunday

“Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen!..."
Luke 24:5b-6a (NKJV) 

Friday, April 6, 2012

Good Friday

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. 

Isaiah 53:5-6 KJV

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Book Review: A Passion Redeemed by Julie Lessman

Available @
Fishpond AU 
& Amazon | Kindle
A Passion Redeemed by Julie Lessman
Daughters of Boston, Book 2
Revell, 01 September 2008

No man can resist her charms.  Or so she thought.

Charity O'Connor is a woman who gets what she wants.  Her stunning beauty and flirtatious way have always succeeded with men.  Until Mitch Dennehy, that is.  Brilliant and dangerously handsome, Mitch is a no-nonsense newspaperman who wants nothing to do with her.  Charity burned him once, destroying his engagement to the only woma he ever truly loved.  He won't play with matches again.  but Charity has a plan to turn up the heat, hoping to ignite the heart of the man she lovse.  And she always gets what she wants - one way or another.

Or does she? Will her best-laid schemes win his love? Or will her seductive ways drive him away forever?

I said when I finished reviewing A Passion Most Pure, that the next book in the series - A Passion Redeemed - would have to wait until Speedbo finished.

Well, turns out the allurement of the O'Connor saga was too strong!  I couldn't resist picking it up to find out where Charity's scheming was going to take her.

A Passion Redeemed is the second installment of the Daughters of Boston series.  This is Charity's story - the second O'Connor daughter.  It pretty much picks up straight off from where A Passion Most Pure left off.

Charity continues her scheming and plotting in the hopes of snaring Mitch Dennehey. She won't take no for an answer.  She plays a dangerous game - and it has serious consequences.

Julie deals with some hard hitting issues in this book. Most of it happens off the page, and it is dealt with as neatly as possible so it doesn't become too emotionally difficult to read - which I was thankful for.  I do wonder though if in reality Charity might have struggled a tad more to come to terms with what happens.

I didn't enjoy this book quite as much as A Passion Most Pure - I think I identify more with Faith than with Charity.  But I got to hand it to Julie for her imagination and ability to bring to life a scheming, manipulative - yet ultimately insecure young lady. 

Mitch is a great character - though I'm wondering what Mitch Dennehey ever did to Julie Lessman - the heartbreak she put this man through!

Another powerful and passionate read from Julie Lessman.

Book Review: Beyond This Moment by Tamera Alexander

Available @
Fishpond AU 
& Amazon | Kindle
From This Moment by Tamera Alexander
Timber Ridge Reflections, Book 2
Bethany House, 01 April 2009
Lives are made up of tiny steps. Some are chosen for us; some we choose.
All hold the power to change who we become—but only if we let them.   
When Dr. Molly Whitcomb, Professor of Romance Languages, steps off the train in Colorado Territory, she makes a choice—one that goes against everything she stands for. Yet it’s the only choice that offers her a chance to regain a fraction of all she’s lost.
Sheriff James McPherson’s instincts about people rarely miss the mark. He senses Professor Whitcomb is hiding something. He just doesn’t know what. When James learns Molly’s secret, his own reputation is undermined. But when Molly Whitcomb’s reinvented life begins to unravel, it threatens his job, the stability of Timber Ridge, and what he always knew to be true about himself. 

After devouring From a Distance, the first book in the Timber Ridge Reflections Series, I eagerly picked up the second book in the series. I had really come to like James when he was introduced in the first book. So I was eager to see how his love story played out. Dr. Molly Whitcomb was was not quite what I expected for James. In truth I liked Molly enough not to object to her romance with James, but I felt something wasn't quite right. I guess when it comes down to it, the fact that Molly lied - yes, she had good reason and it was something she regretted right from the outset -  but it makes me dislike her no matter her reasons. For this reason, I struggled to truly sympathise with her.

For me though, the true stand out in this book is James McPherson. He's a man you want to look up to, someone who you can depend on. I really loved his patience, his quiet reflections and his ability to remain clam in almost all situations. Yet he is not afraid to step out in faith when God requires it of him. In short, he is perfectly suited to the role of Sheriff for Timber Ridge. 

Again Tamera brings the beautiful Colorado mountains to life. I found myself wishing I lived in Timber Ridge just so I could see these beautiful sights when it was still largely untouched.A great read with a compelling romance.

Stay tuned for next week's review of Within My Heart the final in the Timber Ridge Series.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Monday Morning Musings: Speedbo - Mission Accomplished!

You might have seen my post earlier in the month about the fact that I'd entered Seekerville's March Speedbo challenge.  Or at least, you're wondering what on earth that crazy caricature was at the top of our blog (which is gone now, but see below).  

Well, my goal for Speedbo was to add 20K words to my manuscript.  Initially I had wondered about what size goal to set, and settled on 20K thinking that it would be fairly manageable for me.  I can usually write 1K in an hour, so I figured I'd need to find 1 hour a day on most days in order to reach my target.  That gave me wriggle room for when the inevitable disruptions occur from having young kids (and life in general!).

I'm so thrilled to report I have reached my goal! And I did it with several days to spare :)  I didn't really know if I'd be able to do it, and I'm ecstatic that in the end it wasn't that difficult to do.  In fact, I feel like it's a target I could reach on most months.

So, how did I do it? How did I go from having spent about a year writing the first 18K, to getting the next 20K done in just 20 days?

First of all - and this helped enormously - back in January I had completed a rudimentary plot structure based on Michael Huage's 6 stages.  Tina Radcliffe over at Seekerville did a blog post on this last December, doing a wonderful job of summarising this 6 stage plot structure in a way that even a novice like me thought, "Hey! That makes sense! I can do that!"  And what do you know, I did do it - so I had a basic story outline from start to finish.  This means I'd already worked out what was to happen in the story, and where it was going to end.

Next thing was to make my writing a priority.  I recorded most of my TV shows instead of watching them, and I reduced how much time I usually spent on reading - which really, was the hardest sacrifice of them all :)

Then I had to work out when I was going to do my writing.  I basically had two options - in the afternoon when my youngest daughter has her nap, or in the evenings when both girls are down for the count.  Now, I don't usually get quiet in the evenings until at least 8:30pm.  Then I often still need to eat dinner, clean up etc.  So writing time doesn't happen until about 9:30pm.  But that's okay.  I'm a night owl. 

I juggled these two windows of opportunity each day, depending on how things were panning out.  A night of constantly waking up to attend to the kids usually meant I'd nap the next afternoon instead of write.  But this would give me the energy to stay up late writing in the evening again.  Sometimes I'd get 500 words in the afternoon, and finish off another 500 in the evening.

Much to my surprise, after a while I even managed to squeeze out a couple of hundred words here or there on my laptop whilst sitting with my daughter whilst she watched her shows.  I didn't think I'd be able to concentrate, but it seems after getting in the habit of writing regularly, it became easy to get in the zone, and tune everything else out.

  • It's much easier to keep writing when I write every day, or at least, most days
  • Keep writing, even if the I don't like the scene or the ideas are not flowing.  If I persist with writing it eventually starts to flow and after an hour, I'm relatively pleased with the results.
  • I still have a heck of a lot of research to do.  I find this as I'm writing.  But instead of letting it bog me down, I jot down in my notebook what needs to be done,  make a note in my manuscript that something needs clarifying or investigating, and move on!
  •  I don't need to sit at the computer for ridiculously long hours to write a book.  1 hour a day is all I need!
  • I CAN write a whole book ... I'm sure of it ... I only need another 20K I think and my first will be done.  Which basically means, I just need to keep doing what I'm doing, and in a month I'll be writing THE END.
  • Lastly, it seriously helps to publicly commit to a goal.  Without Speedbo for motivation, I don't think I ever would have achieved a target such as this.
 I hope this inspires others out there who are still dreaming of writing their first book!