Book Recommendation ~ Muffins & Moonbeams: Baxter Family Bakery Book One (Arcadia Valley Romance 3) by Elizabeth Maddrey

Book Description:

Malachi Baxter is happy to hide in the background and manage the business-end of the family bakery. He’d much rather live in the online world of computer games where he can explore the galaxy and no one has to know he’s deaf.

Ursula Franks designs websites during the day and spends her evenings battling alien races online where relationships are easy and uncomplicated. When she agrees to design a website for the local Community Supported Bakery, she has no idea that Malachi is the real man behind her online persona’s best friend and her own secret crush.

As the two work together on the website, they uncover an attraction, but will they be able to put aside past hurt and insecurity to find love?

Welcome to Arcadia Valley, Idaho, where a foodie culture and romance grow hand-in-hand. Join my friends and me as we release a book every month set in Arcadia Valley. You’ll enjoy meeting old friends and making new ones as each of the six authors’ books intertwine with the previous stories in this Christian romance series. Get started with Romance Grows in Arcadia Valley and follow along at Arcadia Valley Romance dot com to make sure you don’t miss any installments!

Muffins & Moonbeams is the first full-length novel in the Baxter Family Bakery series set in Arcadia Valley. It follows the novella, Loaves and Wishes, that was introduced in Arcadia Valley Book 1, Romance Grows in Arcadia Valley. Get your copy today to spend more time baking with the Baxter family.

Narelle’s Thoughts:

I enjoyed reading Muffins & Moonbeams. We first meet the Baxter brothers In Elizabeth’s Arcadia Valley novella, Loaves & Wishes. While reading the novella I really wanted to learn more about Malachi and discover his romance story in the first full length book in the Baxter Family Bakery Romance series, Muffins & Moonbeams.

Malachi lost his hearing when he was a young child and he has learned to lip read. He speaks well although he’s self conscious and worries about how people will relate to him. Ursula is an introvert who has social anxiety. She prefers to escape into her online gaming world rather than relate to people in the real world.

I have a family member who struggles with social anxiety and it was insightful to view the world through Ursula’s eyes. I really enjoyed Malachi and Ursula’s romance and how their unique challenges and character strengths created a fun and fascinating story.


Read a FREE sample at Amazon.com

ACRBA Tour ~ Star! Stable! Saviour! by Cameron Semmens

6 – 10 December

Australian Christian Readers Blog Alliance

is introducing

Star! Stable! Saviour!

(Wombat Books, 1 December 2015)

By

Cameron Semmens

 

About the Book

“Forget the kids! It was me who loved this in our house. OK the kids did too!” – Sally Smith

The traditional Christmas story has been told and re-told for nearly two thousand years – but never quite like this. Poet Cameron Semmens’s quirky and alliterated re-telling of it in Star! Stable! Savior! brings a totally fresh perspective on the ancient Christmas story.

Originally published in 2007 under the title The Story of The Star, The Stable and The Saviour, the book sold out after only a few years. Now it’s back with a fresh, punchy new title.

 About the Author

Cameron Semmens is a poet, entertainer and poetry educator with 15 books to his name. He makes his living through words: performing, running workshops and book design. He lives in the Dandenong Rangers with his wife and two children.

Narelle’s Thoughts

My daughter and I enjoyed reading this cute version of the nativity story. The alliteration and cadence in the story was fun to read. Who knew that so many elements in the original Christmas story could start with the letter S?

The smart, snazzy scientists were joined by several shabby shepherds as they followed the star to see their saviour in the smelly stable. The saviour seekers wore snappy sneakers, and the illustrations matched the quirky tone in the story.

I highly recommend this book to children who are looking for a unique spin on the Christmas story.

I received a review copy of the book as part of the ACRBA Tour.

ACRBA Tour Too Pretty by Andrea Grigg

4 – 8 May 2015

is introducing

Too Pretty

(Rhiza Press, August 2014)

by

Andrea Grigg

About the Book

Being beautiful isn’t easy – just ask Ellie Paxton.

Frustrated by a long string of empty relationships, Ellie makes a promise to God not to date for six months, a promise she’s determined to keep.

Tired of being continually misjudged because of her looks Ellie moves to Sydney for a fresh start. But when her path keeps crossing with the darkly handsome Nathaniel, that promise becomes much harder to fulfil.

As they battle with their attraction for each other, Ellie is not the only one to discover it takes more than simply looking in a mirror to find out who you truly are …

Could it be that God has a bigger plan? Could this really be one of those matches made in heaven …?

About the Author

Andrea Grigg grew up in Auckland, New Zealand, but has lived more than half her life in Australia.

Andrea lives with her husband on Queensland’s Gold Coast, where they have raised their three adult children – two daughters and a son.

Recently retired from teaching ten-year-olds, if she isn’t being a domestic executive or socialising, Andrea can be found in her cave, writing stories.

Narelle: My book recommendation for Too Pretty can be found here.

ACRBA Tour Swallow Me, NOW! by Melissa Gijsbers

2 – 6 March 2015

is introducing

Swallow Me, Now!

(Lilly Pilly Press, October 2014)

By

Melissa Gijsbers

 

About the Book:

All Sam wants to do is to fit in at her new school. Feeling alone, and desperately trying to find her place in the world, she concocts an AMAZING story – BUT it backfires on her, and she becomes known as the ‘Evil Genius’s Daughter!’ Can her life get any worse?

About the Author

Melissa Gijsbers started writing when she was in High School during the 1990s, even winning some awards for a short story and a script. For many years, life got in the way of creative writing, however she did start blogging around 2006.

She currently lives in Melbourne, Australia with her two sons and a pet blue tongue lizard.

Narelle’s thoughts

I enjoyed reading Swallow Me, NOW! and I read the whole story in one sitting. The story is easy to read and the target audience is children aged 7-12 years.

Sam is in Year Five and the story starts on Sam’s first day at a new primary (elementary) school in suburban Melbourne. Sam’s parents were missionaries in Nepal, and she recently returned to Australia after many years abroad. An Aussie school is a culture shock for Sam. We follow her journey as she struggles to fit in at her new school. The story addresses important social issues that confront many children. I highly recommend Swallow Me, NOW! for children who are looking for a fun story with a positive and inspiring message of hope.

My daughter’s thoughts: I liked how the story is realistic and shows how hard it can be for kids to adapt to a new school. Even if you’re not starting at a new school, bullying can still happen to you. I also loved how Sam was very creative and was brave enough to talk about the mean things that were happening to her. I understood why she finally fought back and didn’t just let it keep happening to her. The story was fun and exciting. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series.

We received a complimentary review copy from the author.

ACRBA Blog Tour The Songs of Jesse Adams by Peter McKinnon

 16 – 20 November 2014

is introducing

 The Songs of Jesse Adams

Acorn Press

By

Peter McKinnon

 

About the Book

Set in the turmoil of social change and political unrest of Australia during the 1960s, The Songs of Jesse Adams traces the meteoric rise of a boy from the bush – a farmer’s son who breaks away to follow his heart, his dreams and his love of music. But, as Jesse travels with his band and the crowds gather, it becomes clear that something else is afoot. This rock singer captivates and transforms a host of fans who hear his songs and encounter his touch.

Lives are changed in unexpected ways and the enigmatic Jesse becomes a symbol of hope and freedom for those on society’s edge. But not all will celebrate the rising tide of influence of this charismatic figure whose words and actions challenge those in power – the media, the politicians, the church. In one tumultuous week this clash of ideals comes to a head – with profound consequences.

Awash in all the protest and collapse of conservative Australia, the colour and madness that was the sixties, The Songs of Jesse Adams is a tale of conflict, betrayal and tragedy, but ultimately the triumph of love.

*Warning this book contains some language that some readers may find offensive*

About the Author

For seventeen years, Peter McKinnon held senior roles in some of Australia’s largest corporations, with a focus on human behaviour and organisational effectiveness. This culminated in his appointment in 1999 as Executive General Manager, People & Culture, of Australia’s then largest financial organisation, National Australia Bank.

In late 2006, Peter was approached to head up the global human resources function of  World Vision International(WVI), based in Los Angeles. WVI is the world’s largest humanitarian aid organisation, with over 40,000 employees in 100 different countries and countless volunteers working in highly diverse and challenging settings.

When he returned to Australia in late 2009, he committed to pursuing his creative interests more directly and began to write. ‘The Songs of Jesse Adams’ is the result.

Peter has been published in publications as wide-ranging as the ‘Age’, ‘The Australian Women’s Weekly’ and ‘4 x 4‘ magazine and regards winning a Pacific cruise for his writing as his crowning achievement in this field ! He has also written and produced several musicals.

Peter is a qualified psychologist, has studied theology, worked briefly as a minister and served on the Council of the MCD University of Divinity.

He lives in Melbourne with his wife Julie. This is his first book.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Narelle: The Songs of Jesse Adams is different to the books I usually read. It’s a fictional story with Christian content that’s written for a general market audience. The story touches on confronting social issues that will probably offend conservative Christian readers. It has edgy content that doesn’t just prick the so-called ‘Christian bubble’, but blows it apart with dynamite. The book contains strong language that isn’t usually found in the typical Christian fiction book. If you’re offended by reading bad language and blasphemy, this book probably isn’t for you.

I really liked the story premise. The Songs of Jesse Adams is an allegory of the gospel story, set in Australia in the late 1960’s. If Jesus had lived during this time in history, what would he be doing? Who would he be hanging around? More importantly, who would he offend with his message of love? We follow the character of Jesse Adams, a country boy who forms a band and becomes a well known singer. A charismatic man who draws a crowd and inspires people to follow him.

If you know the gospel story, you’ll follow the basic plot and discover which characters are inspired by specific Biblical characters. The story has a strong, authentic Australian flavour and includes many colloquial expressions that were common in the 1960’s. For example, nong (idiot), cocky (farmer), grog (liquor), yarns (stories), loos and dunnies (toilets), and chinwag (chat).

One reason this story is different to my usual choice of reading material is my personal preference for fiction written from a purist point of view. The Songs of Jesse Adams is written from multiple viewpoints, including omniscient (narrator) viewpoint, and there is head hopping within scenes and paragraphs. I can understand why the author has chosen to use multiple viewpoints. It stylistically fits the allegory and the original Biblical narrative story format. The reactions of the people who encounter Jesse are an important aspect of the story.

At times I found the first half of the story difficult to follow because we were introduced to a large cast of characters. I like to become absorbed in a character’s viewpoint, get to know them and become invested in their story journey. It’s harder to do this when we’re moving between a number of character’s heads in a short space of time. I did re-read a few sections to get a handle on what was happening and which characters were involved. Once I passed the half way mark, it became much easier to read and follow each of the main characters. I suspect I’m more sensitive to head hopping than the typical reader, and others may not even notice the viewpoint changes.

I recommend The Songs of Jesse Adams to readers who are looking for gritty, real-to-life fiction that isn’t sugar-coated and challenges their thinking on contemporary social issues.

I received a complimentary review copy from the publisher.

Book Recommendation: Too Pretty by Andrea Grigg

Too Pretty Front Cover140x205mm WEB

Back cover blurb:

Being beautiful isn’t easy – just ask Ellie Paxton.

Frustrated by a long string of empty relationships, Ellie makes a promise to God not to date for six months, a promise she’s determined to keep.

Tired of being continually misjudged because of her looks Ellie moves to Sydney for a fresh start. But when her path keeps crossing with the darkly handsome Nathaniel, that promise becomes much harder to fulfil.

As they battle with their attraction for each other, Ellie is not the only one to discover it takes more than simply looking in a mirror to find out who you truly are …

Could it be that God has a bigger plan? Could this really be one of those matches made in heaven …?

Narelle: I enjoyed reading Too Pretty, despite at times wanting to sit down with Ellie, the female lead, to give her some much needed parental guidance. Ellie Paxton is a sleaze magnet. Her natural physical beauty draws a combination of admiration and lustful responses from men, and jealous and downright nasty responses from women and her extended family. Unfortunately her immediate family, including her missionary parents, are overseas and effectively absent from her life. The aunts, cousins and friends in her life inadvertently feed Ellie’s obsession with her appearance by talking about it all the time.

Ellie’s insecure despite being told she’s beautiful and, at the same time, she hates feeling like everyone is judging her by her looks. Her extended family accuse her of being self absorbed, which is a natural consequence of any obsession with self. Ellie has poor boundaries and has a history of falling into a series of unhealthy romantic relationships. She makes a promise to God that she won’t date for six months.

Enter the handsome Nathaniel (Nate), a doctor from a wealthy family who has women tripping over themselves to get his attention. He’s Ellie’s match in the beauty stakes. Nate hates all the female adoration whereas Ellie’s poor self esteem leads her to seek adoration for all the wrong reasons. Nate is the brooding, wounded hero who knows he’s not in the right place to start a relationship with Ellie or any other woman. He tries to deny and hide his attraction to Ellie, which piques her interest because he’s not hitting on her.

Ellie and Nate develop a friendship over six months that’s defined by Ellie’s no dating promise. During the story we discover why Nate is in self-protect mode and hesitant to embark on a serious relationship. His character growth was a highlight of the story and I spent the latter part of the book wondering if Ellie was worthy of him. Could she mature and learn the lesson from Proverbs 31 that true inner beauty is what really matters? When God doesn’t come through for Ellie and answer her prayers, she takes a bold step that backfires on her and threatens her relationship with Nate. I recommend Too Pretty to those looking for a fun, contemporary romance set in Australia.

I received a complimentary copy of the book from the author.

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

Read a FREE sample at Amazon.com

Book Recommendation: Back to Resolution by Rose Dee

Back Cover blurb: 

Bay Anders is lost. She enjoys every privilege a wealthy upbringing affords, but the void in her soul refuses to be filled. Her mother’s dying revelation drives Bay to the brink of self destruction, before a move to Australia changes everything. She embarks upon a search for her father that leads her to his island home, into a hazardous melting pot of hostile locals and a mystery – her father’s disappearance. The only person who can help her is a strong, self-assured and intensely magnetic man. Bay must fight an overwhelming attraction to stay focused on her goal. Flynn McKenna is hiding from the world. A past filled with mistakes drove him to withdraw from society and live in seclusion. But the arrival of a woman he cannot avoid shatters his solitary existence. As the search for Bay’s father unites them, can he resist his desire for her?

Narelle: I enjoyed reading this book. Bay and Flynn are fascinating characters who you’ll want to get to know as their relationship develops throughout the story. There are a number of humourous moments as city girl Bay adapts to life on a remote North Queensland island. There was also an honesty in the way the author portrayed the growing attraction between Bay and Flynn and this book could be considered ‘edgy’ by more conservative readers.

The setting is gorgeous and I became absorbed in an idyllic tropical island setting that I didn’t want to leave when the book ended. Back to Resolution is Book 1 in Rose Dee’s series, followed by Beyond Resolution and A New Resolution. I recommend this book to those looking for a fun and romantic contemporary story set in Australia.

Read a FREE sample at Amazon.com

ACRBA Tour Dear God It’s Me and It’s Urgent by Marion Stroud

16th – 20th  June 2014

is introducing

‘Dear God It’s Me and It’s Urgent’

(Monarch, October 2013)

By

 Marion Stroud

 

 

 About the Book

‘Dear God It’s Me and It’s Urgent’ provides prayers for private devotion and meditation, or for sharing with other women. Inspiring and challenging they are rooted firmly in everyday life. Topics range from A Bride’s Prayer on the Eve of her Wedding,Reluctant Hospitality and After Chemotherapy, mixing wisdom and compassion with a touch of humour.In a world where people often seem too busy to listen or care God is always available. No appointment is required.

About the Author

Marion Stroud has written 3 children’s books, and 23 non-fiction titles. She lives in Bedford UK the town in which John Bunyan wrote his famous Pilgrim’s Progress. She is a cross cultural trainer for Media Associates International [www.littworld.org] which works to help Christian writers, editors and publishers write and publish culturally appropriate material in the ‘spiritually hard places’ of the world. You can contact marion at www.marionstroud.com

Narelle: My book recommendation can be found at the following link:

http://narelleatkins.wordpress.com/2014/05/29/book-recommendation-dear-god-its-me-and-its-urgent-by-marion-stroud/

Good Friday Book Recommendation: A Stray Drop of Blood by Roseanna M. White

straydropofblood

A Stray Drop of Blood is Roseanna M. White’s captivating debut Biblical fiction novel. The story is set in Jerusalem and Rome around the time of Jesus’ ministry.

Eight year old Hebrew girl Abigail is orphaned and sold into slavery by her stepfather. She is purchased by a Roman prefect as a companion for his Hebrew wife. Abigail is educated and raised as if she was their own daughter and her immense beauty is both a blessing and curse. Six years later her master’s son, a Roman soldier, returns home after a six year absence and claims Abigail as his own before she can be given in marriage to her fellow slave and best friend. Abigail is forced to accept her new situation and feels abandoned by her God.

Tragedy befalls her Master’s household and Abigail’s encounter with Jesus on the day he is crucified both challenges her faith and transforms her life. Her faith is tested as she loses loved ones and cannot escape being treated as a Hebrew slave despite changes in her circumstances. A powerful love story unfolds and Abigail struggles with her seemingly futile desire to be with the man she loves.

A Stray Drop of Blood is an honest story that explores the best and worst of human nature. Realistic and compelling character’s struggle with temptation and the differences between the Hebrew and Roman society create strong emotional conflict. The story is action packed, with masterful plot twists and the spiritual element flows seamlessly through the story. I recommend A Stray Drop of Blood to those looking for a challenging and exciting Biblical fiction story.

Read a FREE sample at Amazon.com

ACRBA Tour Dave the Donkey by Andrew McDonough

31 March – 4 April  2014

is introducing

Dave the Donkey

by

Andrew McDonough

About the Book

.

Jerusalem. A lone rider approaches. The cheering crowd swarm to greet him. The King has come, mounted upon his mighty steed Dave the Donkey! Join Dave, his Grandpa and Jesus in this epic Easter tale of power, courage, death and resurrection. If you like Black Beauty you will love Dave the Donkey.

About the Author

 

Andrew McDonough is the creator of the popular Lost Sheep resources. He has written and illustrated 21 children’s stories that are used in schools and churches around the world. Based in South Australia, Andrew belongs to the WestCare community, an inner city mission working amongst the homeless, supporting people struggling with addictions and advocating for refugees. He regularly visits schools & churches to tell stories, conduct workshops, preach and lead all-age worship services. He and the Lost Sheep team have a passion to provide high quality Biblical storytelling resources to children’s workers, pastors and parents. Andrew’s stories including Cecil the Lost Sheep, Jesus and the Children, Echidnas on Everest and his latest book, Tina the Tree.

Narelle: My daughter and I enjoyed reading Dave the Donkey. Grandchildren have a special relationship with their grandparents, and Dave is excited to tell his grandpa that he carried the king to Jerusalem. Dave asks his grandfather to tell him what happened to the king in Jerusalem, and he’s surprised to learn the truth.

Dave the Donkey is a sweet story that provides a lovely and easy to understand explanation of what happened at Easter in Jerusalem. It’s written and illustrated in a way that will appeal to younger children. There are 21 books in the Lost Sheep series. I highly recommend this book to parents looking for a fun, Bible-based story that can help their children learn more about Easter.

Many thanks to the author for providing a review copy.

A book giveaway of Dave the Donkey is currently running on the Ausjenny blog as part of the ACRBA Tour.

http://ausjenny.blogspot.com.au/2014/03/acrba-tour-dave-donkey-by-andrew.html