Google+ Badge

9 October 2015

Review: Kellen’s Hope by Danie Marie

Slow start, but excellent finish

Kellen Carmichael finds she’s pregnant to her ex-boyfriend, the guy she broke up with over his insistence on drinking and partying. He does the honourable Christian thing and marries her, but dies shortly after the wedding leaving Kellen alone, and estranged from both her family and her new in-laws.

While I was intrigued enough by the premise to agree to review Kellen’s Hope, once I began reading I felt it took a while to get going. However, the plot really picks up pace after Danny dies, as Kellen makes the unpleasant discovery that she has a stalker. It’s just anonymous telephone calls at first, but things soon start to escalate, with incidents at home and at her workplace, the local hospital. She’s also being pursued by one of Danny’s friends: while at first she appreciates the fact someone is watching out for her, she’s not ready for another relationship. Not even with the handsome doctor her friends at work try and set her up with …

The writing was solid but not spectacular. There were some editing and proofreading issues (one line looked as though random words had been inserted in, as it made no sense at all), and I didn’t think medical professionals still used the term “manic depression” any more. However, these were minor glitches which didn’t affect my overall enjoyment of the story.

Once I got into Kellen’s Hope it was hard to put down, with an excellent mixture of external suspense with the stalker, and internal tension as Kellen has to consider her future as a solo parent. The supporting characters were excellent (well, Dr Dreamy might have been a little too perfect …) and I totally want to know Kellen’s secret baked yam recipe. A good solid romantic suspense read.

Thanks to the author for providing a free ebook for review.

7 October 2015

Reading Challenge: Love Comes Softly by Janette Oke

A Classic Romance

When most people think of “classic romance”, they perhaps think of Pride & Prejudice, or Jane Eyre, or Georgette Heyer, or Dame Barbara Cartland (who I’ve never read!). But I thought of Janette Oke, because her Christian romance novels have become modern classics and broke new ground in the Christian fiction market.

The other reason I like Janette Oke, especially her Love Comes Softly series, is that she acknowledges romance isn’t just the hot-and-heavy falling in love. Clark and Marty, the lead couple in this first book, form a marriage of convenience after the unexpected death of Marty’s husband leaves her alone in the West, with nothing but a broken wagon and a few personal possessions. Clark is a widow with a toddler, and needs someone to care for Missie while he works his farm.

Over the course of thirteen books we see Clark and Marty marry, fall in love, raise children, watch their children fall in love and marry and have children … They also face bad times and tragedy, and I think that’s the real strength of Love Comes Softly: it shows that love is more than romance.

Love Comes Softly was first published in 1979, and this was noticeable in the way writing and publishing standards have changed (for example, Marty both thinks and speaks in double quote marks, which I found confusing at first as I was raised with ‘one quote mark for thought and two for speech’).

But the characters and the story have held up over the years, and Clark and Marty are still as lovable as they were the first time I read this … which must be over twenty years ago. And it’s been reread many times, especially before Kindle made new books so affordable. I own the whole series, and they have a deserved place on my keeper shelf.

This book counts towards my 2015 Reading Challenge as a classic romance.

5 October 2015

ACRBA Review: Same By Katrina Roe

5 - 9 October
is introducing


(Wombat Books 1 July 2015)


Written by: Katrina Roe
Illustrated by: Jemima Trappel

About the Book:
When Uncle Charlie comes to visit, Ivy keeps her distance. He seems different from other people she knows. Can Uncle Charlie find a way to show her that he is not so different after all?
Same is a touching true story about love, acceptance and finding common ground.
Katrina Roe’s debut children’s book Marty’s Nut-Free Party was shortlised in the Speech Pathology and CALEB awards. Same helps a child relate to what is actually the same, in someone who seems so different.
About the Author
Katrina Roe is an author and radio presenter. 

Most recently she was host of the morning show on Sydney’s Hope 103.2 radio ( before leaving to have her second baby. 
Katrina also has a successful parenting blog ( 

Marty’s Nut-Free Party was her first children’s book, followed by Emily Eases herWheezesEmily was listed as a notable book by CBCA in 2015. Same is her latest book, and is scheduled for release in July 2015.
Katrina has also contributed to two inspirational anthologies, All Creation Sings: Psalms of Everyday Christians and a book about miscarriage called In God’s Hands: Overcoming Miscarriage in a Broken World.

In 2009, she completed her Masters in International Relations, just for fun!  Katrina also likes kayaking, bushwalking, reading novels, taking holidays, listening to music and hanging out with friends.  She’s adamant that tea should always be made in a pot and she has a definite weakness for soft cheese.
She lives in Sydney with her three young daughters and her husband Chris.

Jemima is a Sydney-based artist and illustrator who enjoys riding her bicycle. Like many illustrators she was born holding a pencil and uses it frequently to bring words to life. 

She decided to make a career out of her passion, and in 2012, after five years at the College of Fine Arts and the University of NSW, she emerged with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (with honours), a Bachelor of Arts (a combined degree) and the ability to converse in French.
Same by Katrina Roe, is her first book with Wombat Books. Prior to this, Jemima illustratedWonderfully Madison (2013 – winner of the children's book category in the Caleb awards that year) and Fearlessly Madison (2014) by Penny Reeve (published by Youthworks Media). She is also the illustrator of the short comic, A friend in need, by Karen Bielharz (part of the self-published Kinds of Blue anthology, 2011), and is the linework artist for the short animation Money Tree (2011), written and directed by Hawanatu Bangura. 

My Review

Same is a lovely picture book about a small child who is afraid of Uncle Charlie because of his huge electric wheelchair, but comes to realise that while he might look different, they are the same. It’s a short but touching story, made all the better by the fact it shows they key point rather than labouring the point by telling.

However, when it comes to picture books, it’s not enough to have a good story. The illustrations have to be excellent, to earn and keep the attention of the listening child. The illustrations in Same are beautiful, a real strength.


2 October 2015

Giveaway: All Our Empty Place by Alicia G Ruggieri


All Our Empty Places - Book Two in the “A Time of Grace” trilogy – by Alicia G. Ruggieri


In 1935, when the bank calls in her mortgage, Sarah Picoletti – now a penniless widow – finds herself and her children on the brink of homelessness. Sick at heart, she plans to beg her brother in New Jersey to take her family in.

Then Doctor Samuel Giorgi knocks on her door. Godly and well-off, Sam seems to have put the careless ways of his youth behind him, and he also appears to have one desire: to make Sarah his wife, two decades after he broke their engagement.

However, nothing prepares Sarah for the storm that breaks once she makes her decision. Everywhere she turns, the errors of her former choices confront her, insisting on her inferiority and the irreparable brokenness of her past. Sarah begins to wonder if Christ really can bring true redemption or if He is limited by her frailty.

Meanwhile, her daughter Grace faces new challenges in her own life. When her relationship with Paulie changes unexpectedly, Grace realizes that she must make a decision with the potential to alter both of their futures.
Compassionate and intensely poignant, All Our Empty Places paints the portrait of a mother and daughter with broken pasts, who dare to step into a future overflowing with the grace of the Cross.


Alicia G. Ruggieri writes Christ-centered fiction that speaks of redemption. She received her B.A. in Communications and History from Rhode Island College and lives with her husband and their emotionally-disturbed pug on the New England coast.

To learn more about Alicia and what she likes to read, visit our Friday Fifteen feature!


Twitter: @aliciaruggieri


All Our Empty Places (A Time of Grace, Book 2) –
The Fragrance of Geraniums (A Time of Grace, Book 1) – ON SALE for $0.99 through October 31, 2015 –


One winner will receive – a signed softcover of All Our Empty Places; a mug with 2 Corinthians 12:9 inscribed on it; Caramel Apple Biscotti; and Harvest Spice Pumpkin White Hot Chocolate mix. (Open to U.S. residents only due to shipping costs.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

30 September 2015

Reading Challenge: It Happened at the Fair by Deeanne Gist

A book I own but have never read

Amazon Description

Gambling everything—including the family farm—Cullen McNamara travels to the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair with his most recent invention. But the noise in the fair’s Machinery Hall makes it impossible to communicate with potential buyers. In an act of desperation, he hires Della Wentworth, a teacher of the deaf, to tutor him in the art of lip-reading.

The young teacher is reluctant to participate, and Cullen has trouble keeping his mind on his lessons while intently watching her lips. Like the newly invented Ferris wheel, he is caught in a whirl between his girl back home, his dreams as an inventor, and his unexpected attraction to his new tutor. Can he keep his feet on the ground, or will he be carried away?

My Review

It Happened at the Fair followed the pattern of Gist’s other recent novels, in that it’s more “clean fiction” than “Christian fiction”, and I’m sorry to see this (although at least this didn’t have the world’s worst sex scene, which is what her next book boasted. Authors, if you’re not comfortable writing a sex scene, don’t. A bad sex scene isn’t going to win you any readers, but may well lose you some).

There were other issues. I don’t like the “other woman” (aka the man can’t make up his mind) plot. There were a lot of misspelled words, meant to illustrate Cullen’s hearing problem. While I can see what the author was trying to do, I found it irritating. The novel seemed to end too quickly, partly because I could feel there were a lot of pages left, but these were actually the author’s notes (she did a lot of research, and it was excellent. I really enjoyed reading the notes).

The pictures of the Fair at the beginning of each chapter also annoyed me … not because of the pictures, but because the captions underneath turned out to be chapter spoilers (as an aside, she used these in Tiffany Girl  as well. I read that on my Kindle, and they were even more annoying on the Kindle than in the paper book).

The historical aspects of the Fair were interesting: automatic fire extinguishers, the Cold Storage fire, the debate between teaching deaf children lipreading vs sign language, the discrimination against the deaf. But being interested in the historical aspects isn’t enough. That’s not why I read fiction.

Deeanne Gist used to be one of my favourite authors because of her combination of excellent research, excellent writing, great plots and characters, and her ability to write Christian fiction that challenge the norm of “Christian fiction”. But while her last few books have been competent, they haven’t been memorable in the way books like A Bride Most Begrudging or Courting Trouble were memorable. The result, I’m sorry to say, is that she’s no longer a must-read author for me—one really good book out of the last four isn’t enough, not when her early books were all hits. I might read and review her next book, but I’m not going to buy it.

It’s not that It Happened at the Fair is a bad book. It’s not. It’s just not excellent or outstanding or memorable or a book I want to make all my friends read, and her early books were all those things.

This book counts towards my 2015 Reading Challenge as a book I own but had never read.