Monday, 30 March 2015

Justified by Varina Denman, book review

So I just finished reading Justified by Varina Denman and all I can say is Wow, because I loved this book!

Having read Jaded, the first in the Mended hearts series, I was already pretty hooked on Varina's writing style, and her characters, but I still wasn't prepared for how much this book would resonate with my own thoughts and feelings, in a way that would ultimately help me come to terms with some of my own fears, judgements and inabilities to forgive myself and others.

Which to my mind is exactly what good Christian fiction should do in our day to day lives it is so easy to get sidetracked, to forget to spend time with God and reading Christian fiction is a great way of grounding ourselves and reminding ourselves what is important. Varina does this in a way that you don't feel pressured or forced to see a message about how you should live, but instead, gently guides you to the realisation through the lives and experiences of her characters. A nudge so gentle in fact that you barely know it has happened, until you close up the book, sit back and let out a contented sign and ponder it a while.

I've said it before in my review of Jaded and I will say it again now, Varina is up there with the great Christian writer, Francine Rivers and she has well and truly earned a place in my heart, alongside Francine Rivers as one of my all-time favourite authors. So much, so that all Varina's currently published books have made it onto my wish list, for my birthday in May.

I only wish it were three and I will be excitedly awaiting the release of the third book in her Mended heart series, which I believe is called Jilted.

If you haven't read one of Varina's books you should. Even if you are not a Christina I believe you will get enjoyment from reading the carefully penned words of this brilliant author.

Love and hugs all
Joss xx

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Jaded by Varina Denman, review

I was very lucky to be given a free copy of Jaded to read, thanks to Net Galley and Varina’s lovely publisher, David C. Cook.

First impressions:
At first glimpse, I was instantly attracted to this book. The cover is both beautiful and enticing and the blurb left me desperately wanting more, which is always a good sign.

The Blurb:
As a child, Ruthie was shunned by the local congregation. Thirteen years later, Ruthie’s heart begins to stir when an attractive single preacher arrives. But their relationship is bitterly opposed—unearthing a string of secrets which threaten to turn the church, the town, and her world upside-down.

Jaded is the rare novel that is both love story between a woman and man ... and God and His church. Plunging deep into the waters of shame, forgiveness and restoration, it will resonate with every woman who’s experienced a loss of heart ... and a thirst for hope.

And resonate it did, I was hooked on this book from the very first page and devoured it so fast that I was relieved to know that I had a second another of Varina’s books on standby, ready to go.

Varian is an amazing author who builds not only realistic characters, but ones that make us think, question and ponder the way we consider and see things around us.

It reminds us that what we think we know isn’t always accurate and that often there is more going on than meets the eye.

I loved this book I really did and she reminded me of Francine Rivers, of who I am a massive fan, because like Francie, Varina was able to open my eyes and make me consider things that previously I had tried to ignore, in a way that was both absorbing and well written.

Although I did receive this book as a free book in Kindle format, I enjoyed it so much I will be going out and buying it in paperback also.

So if you love a bit of good Christian fiction, are a fan of Francine Rivers or are just looking for something to make you think and make you smile. Then Jaded is the book for you.

Love and hugs

Joss xx

Monday, 23 March 2015

Cover Reveal for Nick Wilfords new book, a change of mind and other stories.

Title: A Change of Mind and Other Stories
Author: Nick Wilford
Genre: Contemporary speculative fiction
Cover Design: Rebekah Romani
Release Date: May 25th 2015

A Change of Mind and Other Stories consists of a novella, four short stories and one flash fiction piece. This collection puts the extremes of human behaviour under the microscope with the help of lashings of dark humour, and includes four pieces previously published in Writer’s Muse magazine.

In A Change of Mind, Reuben is an office worker so meek and mild he puts up with daily bullying from his boorish male colleagues as if it’s just a normal part of his day. But when a stranger points him in the direction of a surgeon offering a revolutionary new procedure, he can’t pass up the chance to turn his life around.

But this isn’t your average surgeon. For a start, he operates alone in a small room above a mechanic’s. And he promises to alter his patients’ personality so they can be anything they want to be…

In Marissa, a man who is determined to find evidence of his girlfriend’s infidelity ends up wondering if he should have left well alone.

The Dog God finds a chink in the armour of a man with a megalomaniacal desire to take over the world.

In The Insomniac, a man who leads an obsessively regimented lifestyle on one hour’s sleep a night finds a disruption to his routine doesn’t work for him.

Hole In One sees a dedicated golfer achieving a lifelong ambition.

The Loner ends the collection on a note of hope as two family members try to rebuild their lives after they are torn apart by jealousy.


Nick Wilford is a writer and stay-at-home dad. Once a journalist, he now makes use of those rare times when the house is quiet to explore the realms of fiction, with a little freelance editing and formatting thrown in. When not working, he can usually be found spending time with his family or cleaning something. Nick is also the editor of Overcoming Adversity: An Anthology for Andrew. You can find him hanging out on his blog or on Goodreads or Twitter.

Preorder Links: Amazon US, Amazon UK

Friday, 20 March 2015

Tricks my dog taught me: about life, love, and God, by Phil Callaway, book review

Tricks my dog taught me: about life, love, and God. By Phil Callaway is a medley of humorous and at times heartwarming stories of life and the lessons learned from man's best friend, the dog.

Since I was a little girl I have adored dogs, so much so, my mother alway joked that my first word was dog. So when I was given the opportunity to read and review this book for free through Net Galley, I knew I just had to sign up.

Phil Callaway made the lessons in this books so fun that it really didn't feel like learning at all. As I read I found myself constantly nodding along and frequently laughing aloud at the antics of the dogs in the story. Especially his friends Collie, which reminded me, oh so much, of my own lovely Ludo.

If you're a dog lover, who likes an easy read that makes you smile then this book is for you.

And trust me, when you are done, you'll be looking at your dog in a whole new light.

I rate this book 5 out of 5 stars.

Love and hugs
Joss xx

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Wild by Cheryl Strayed a review.

Wild, a journey from lost to found By Cheryl strayed, is the real life story of a woman's battle to overcome grief, self-doubt and a broken soul, in a difficult and extraordinary journey that would see her hike 1,100 miles of the Pacific Crest trail, alone and largely unprepared.

My thoughts

I'm not normally the sort of person who would pick up a book such as this, but I was feeling in the mood for a bit of adventure and an inspirational woman to boot.

It was with nervous anticipation that I peeled back the cover and slowly began to let the words seep into my soul.

Very quickly, I found myself both amazed and astounded by Cheryl's brave honesty, as she poured her brokenness out, onto the pages before me.

I questioned if I could ever be so frank about some of the more painful aspects of my own life and felt awed by her ability to share some of her biggest mistakes, whilst openly admitting and accepting that they were indeed her fault.

This honesty; however, played a huge part in my ability to not only route for her, throughout her journey, but also to relate, understand and thus silently walk along side her as I read.

A quote from the book that I think shows Cheryl's mindset in the beginning is this:

"It seemed to me the way it must feel to people who cut themselves on purpose. Not pretty, but clean. Not good, but void of regret. I was trying to heal. Trying to get the bad out of my system so I could be good again. To cure me of myself."

~Cheryl Strayed~

To see the right to this picture and who took it click here

And that is exactly what she did on this epic journey, along the Pacific Crest Trail, a continuous wilderness of undulating mountains and wild expanses that stretched all the way from Mexico to Canada.

This book is the perfect book for anyone struggling to heal. Anyone who feels as if they are often on the outside looking in and anyone who has ever felt lost or alone.

It reminds us that anything is possible, if we just believe in ourselves and refuse to give up.

As a result of this, I give Wild five out of five stars and label it a must read for anyone who needs inspiring.

Love and hugs
Joss xx

Monday, 16 March 2015

Contemplations of a fickle blogger

At the beginning of February, I decided to stop blogging with the belief that I might not ever come back to it.

There were several reasons behind my decision, but one of the biggest was the sense that I was posting on subjects of little worth in order to put a tick next to the box marked blog post.

The result was posts that were hurried and cringe-worthy, when re-read at a later date.

Not good!

Somewhere along the way, I lost the joy that blogging had once been. It stopped being about self-expression and became about numbers.

I thought this was what it needed to be. I believed that the more people I had who read or commented on my blog, the more chance there was that I would become a successful author.

That was dumb!

Mainly because I suck at self-promotion, and I suck at it because I have been on the receiving end of plenty of other people who, in my opinion, over-promote themselves.

The result, I have become one of those people who is always nervous to talk about my  work. To push it at people or in any way try to coax them into picking it up.

I hope they will. And I hope they enjoy it, but I'm not going to thrust it down their throat every spare minute of the day until they do. You see, my greatest achievements as a writer did not come from the reviews of those I knew, no matter how vaguely.
No! They came from the few people who contacted me, knowing nothing about me, other than the fact that they enjoyed my book.

Those people, were the ones who made me feel as if I had truly done something worthwhile. 

They were the people I wanted to reach and the feeling they gave me with their kind words, was the feeling I wanted to give other writers with my words.

This realisation made me decide that I wanted to be a blogger again, but a very different blogger than the one I had been before. 
I decided that there would be no more hurried posts, strict schedules or number fixations. And that I would post, when I had something to say, share what I felt was worth sharing and praise those who deserved praise.

So yes my blog is back, although written with a very different mindset than it was before. And though I cannot promise that what I will post, will always be of interest to you, I can say, that it will always be an expression of my true self. Of what I love, like, enjoy or deal with on a daily basis. And If at least some of it, gives you food for thought or a degree of enjoyment, I shall be happy.

So remember,

"...You cannot please all the people all the time."
~John Lydgate~

Or as my husband likes to say:
"If we were all completely alike, the world would be a very boring place."
~Dan Solheim~ 

Love and hugs all
Joss xxx