Introducing AusJenny by Jenny Blake

Jenny Blake, aka AusJenny, is the co-founder of the Australian Christian Readers’ Blog Alliance (ACRBA). Here she speaks about her dreams for the alliance.

Jenny BlakeShirley: Hi Jenny, thank you for joining us today. Let’s start with a bit about yourself. Have you always lived in Australia?

Jenny: I am a born and bred Aussie. Born in a small town just over the border in Victoria and then when I was almost two we moved to a farm this side of the border in South Australia. We then moved into the town and I have been living in this area of the South East of South Australia ever since. I was a carer for my elderly mother ’til she moved into a nursing home and then passed away last year. I am now looking for work in the administration area. I studied Business Administration.

I am also a cricket fanatic. I love watching it live and will often listen online to my state team playing. Last year at the Adelaide test I got to share the lift with South African Cricketer Morne Morkel and that was the highlight of the trip. I am also an avid reader.

Shirley: Oh how wonderful to spend time with one of our cricketing giants, Morne Morkel. We always watch the cricket here in South Africa when we’re able to. (When it’s in Australia, the matches are usually in the middle of the night for us. I’m keen, but not that keen!) So, what was your favourite book or author when you were a child?

Jenny: I received a book of Hans Christian Anderson’s fairy tales when I was about 6 and it had the story The Snow Queen and I loved it and it became my favourite book and story. Then I discovered Enid Bylton and The Faraway Series which I read so many times. I loved her books.

Shirley: I am with you re Enid Blyton. I loved all her books, especially The Faraway Tree series. I made sure all my children and grandchildren read the books too!

Shirley: What about today? What is your favourite genre now?

Jenny: I would have to say Historical. I love learning history. While I love historical I am not a big fan of English regencies, I don’t like the class system. I love the American west and the pioneer era. I love Gilbert Morris’s House of Winslow series.

Shirley: I’m also not keen on English regencies. I haven’t analysed why though. What prompted you to start the Australian Christian Readers’ Blog Alliance?

Jenny: This came about from an online chat with Australian author, Narelle Atkins. Wwe wanted to promote Australian books to other readers and also to promote other authors from outside America who do not have as much access to blog alliances. With more books coming out we thought we could do something to promote the books. I am in a couple of other blog alliances and have seen how they work and how successful they are and have also seen how many American Publishing Companies are no longer sending books to overseas reviewers so we felt there was a market here. The chat lead to the alliance starting.

Shirley: What is your vision for this group?

Jenny: Our vision is to promote good fiction, non fiction and children’s books to readers around the world. We want to see the group grow with more reviewers and eventually offer more books a month to the reviewers. Currently we have more fiction readers and would love to see more non-fiction reviewers. We want readers around the world to see there are good quality books available outside America. We also want to help promote these books and authors.

Shirley: That sounds really good. As a non-American author myself (although Strength Renewed is published in the USA), I find this encouraging.

Jenny, if you could spend an evening with three famous living authors who would you choose and why?

Jenny: Hard question but first I would have Gilbert Morris as I love his books and he is an amazing author. The way he tells a story and includes facts is amazing. Second would be Cheryl Wyatt as the first book I read of hers mentioned cricket. I found she loves cricket and its our goal one day to go to a cricket game together. Third . . . this is really hard as there are a few I can choose from, but I am going for Jillian Hart. I have gotten to know her on Goodreads and we click. I think she would be a great addition to the evening.

Shirley: Do you write as well as read? If so, what sort of writing do you do?

Jenny: No I am not a writer. I love reading but as for writing I am not good at it. I am not good at descriptions. Even when reading a book most of the time if quizzed at the end of the book I could not tell you the colour of there eyes or hair unless it was mentioned several times, I don’t take in the details of clothes etc. I can write concise letters and documents and enjoy writing reports but to write a book it would be a very short story with very little detail. I will say I have always had an extremely active imagination just cant capture it in words.

Shirley: Well, we’re glad that you are so enthusiastic about books, and that you’re prepared to do so much to promote them. Where can we find you on the Web? And what can we expect to read when we get there?

Jenny: I can be found at my blog, Come Meet Ausjenny. I have book reviews, blog alliance posts there, and each Thursday I have a special “Getting to Know You” or focus on an author interview. I also have occasional giveaways on my blog.
If your readers are interested in knowing more about ACRBA, they can find out all about the alliance here. We are always on the lookout for additional readers who are prepared to do regular reviews, and in particular we’d love some more non-fiction reviewers.

Shirley: In closing, what are the requirements for a reader to become a reviewer with ACRBA?

Jenny: We require an established blog with an active readership. To satisfy this requirement you will need to have been blogging for a period of six months to show you are committed to posting and that you are posting a minimum of two posts a week. We will consider your request if you have been a blogger for less than six months but are actively posting several posts a week. We want the alliance to enhance your blog and not be the reason for your blog.

Shirley: Thank you so much Jenny. I have been with the alliance since it started, and I have really enjoyed reading new books by hitherto-unknown authors. I think I’m right in saying up until now all the books I have reviewed have been Australian, which we don’t get in our bookstores as far as I know.

Thanks again Jenny for giving of your time and sharing a bit with us about your book life and in particular the book alliance.

 

 

Blood Ransom by Lisa Harris

 

When Natalie Sinclair arrived in the Republic of Dhambizao, she expected to deal with the dreaded diseases of Ebola and Malaria. However she finds herself facing an evil way more terrifying than these physical illnesses when she meets up with Joseph Komboli. He tells of the so-called Ghost Soldiers active in the area. read more

Return to Baragula by Mary Hawkins

Return to Baragula
Return To Baragula
Over the years Emily Parker’s actions as a teenager have impacted not only her own life, but the lives of many different people. Now, six years later, she returns reluctantly to her home town of Baragula only to discover the man at the heart of those actions, Matthew Davidson, is the community’s respected doctor. While Emily’s faith is now severely weakened by all that has happened, Matthew’s life has completely turned around since he committed his life to Christ. His personal relationship with God is tested when he discovers how his behaviour when a non-believer hurt so many, especially Emily, and feels responsible for her hardness of heart towards the Lord. Disease attacks the community while danger from another source threatens Emily and her family. Through it all, will Matthew and Emily’s faith be strong enough to forgive each other and put the past behind them?
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My Review:

I’ve never been to Australia, but reading “Return to Baragula” by Mary Hawkins made me feel I would fit right in.

In the brief prologue, we meet Emily Parker, a teenager with strong Christian beliefs and morals, and the handsome, charming Matthew Davidson who does not believe in God. One ill-fated night, things get out of control, and Mary flees, never expecting to see Matthew again.

The story begins six years later, when Emily reluctantly returns to her home town of Baragula. When she meets up again with Matthew, however, the circumstances are very different. Where Emily has turned from her faith, Matthew is now a well-respected doctor in town, with a deep relationship with the Lord.

He becomes deeply concerned as he realises how his behaviour as an irresponsible non-believer has caused so much hurt to so many people, especially to Emily. He struggles to understand why he doesn’t know about Emily’s marriage, and where the twins fit into the picture.

At the same time, Emily has an emotional turmoil of her own. What should she tell Matthew about her life? How much does he need to know? Does God really care about her? Will He still be prepared to take her back? And who is the mysterious stalker who makes her afraid to be alone?

This is the first novel I have read written by Mary Hawkins, but I hope it will not be my last. I enjoy the way she weaves the Christian principals of love and forgiveness into a gripping story, without ever becoming preachy. The plot is intriguing, the story well-rounded, and the characters real. It is a refreshing change to read a Christian novel based in a country other than America. I recommend this book to readers who enjoy seeing life in other parts of the world.

About the Author: 
Mary HawkinsMary Hawkins is a best-selling inspirational romance author with other 825,000 romance books in print. During the first few years of being published she also had five medical romance novels released by Harlequin Mills & Boon before concentrating on inspirationals for Barbour Publishing (Ohio). Return to Baragula is her first single title and the first released by an Australia publisher. Mary was a Queensland farmer’s daughter, became a registered nurse and has a graduate diploma from a Sydney Bible College where she met her husband. Ray is a retired minister who is also a published author. They enjoyed ministries in Australia, three short term mission trips to Africa and two years at a church in England before settling in beautiful Tasmania. They have three adult children and are now proud grandparents. Mary is a member of several writing organisations including American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of Australia, Romance Writers America, their Faith Hope Love chapter and Australian Omega Writers. She enjoys speaking appointments and writing workshops where she can share the journey she has been walking for many years with her Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. www.mary-hawkins.com

Crossfire by Jeanette Windle

It is rare indeed for me to have a Christian fiction book that is difficult to put down. The last few nights have been way too late as I’ve gone for “just until the end of this scene” and then carried on to the next.

While at college, Sarah, the naïve young heroine falls head over heels for the handsome, smooth-talking, Nicky. She has no family, and is desperate for love. read more

Why Write Nonfiction Instead of Fiction? by Terry Whalin

Bok Proposals that SellQuestion: Everyone says it is easier for an unpublished writer to break in with nonfiction vs. fiction? Is it only easier to break in with nonfiction if you have speaking engagements that will result in sales? I’ve always thought, “Who would buy my nonfiction? I’m a nobody without a degree, without a famous husband or friends and without an enthralling life.” But everyone says it’s easier to break in with nonfiction so I thought they meant that even if I’m a nobody, if I can speak to a “felt need” I can sell books. read more

The Power-Based Life by Mike Flynt

Power Based Life

I enjoy reading self-improvement books so looked forward to reading this book by Mike Flynt. In his senior year at college, Flynt was expelled for fighting and never got to complete his football career. At the age of 59, he returned to that same college and played his final year of football.
The Power-Based Life was developed out of Mike’s desire to help others discover how to become the person God planned for them to be. He encourages his readers to find their talents and figure out how to make money at it. He stresses the need for positive self talk, including memorizing of Scripture. He says, “If you can dream it you can achieve it” and encourages the reader to visualize a positive outcome. He points out the need to be a team player, and reminds us that as members of the church we are members of one another.

His final chapters teach on how to deal with adversity, the importance of cutting others slack, and how to make the most out of your life, as you don’t know how much time you have left.
The chapter I enjoyed the most was the one entitled, “Visualization: See What Can Be.”Mike presents this chapter well and has some good illustrations. Unfortunately, I found this book overall to be disappointing. I think men—especially sportsmen—would probably get more out of it than I did.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Words of Comfort for Times of Loss by Cecil Murphey & Liz Allison

Words of Comfort

Have you lost a loved one recently? Do you wish to reach out to someone close to you who is struggling with grief?

Authors Cecil Murphey and Liz Allison both know what it feels like to lose loved ones. Liz found herself suddenly plunged into widowhood, leaving her with two small children to care for. Cecil faced the deaths of five close family members within eighteen months. The opening words of this book say it all: “No one grieves the way you do. Your grief is private and intimate.”

Others try to come alongside you. Sometimes they help. Sometimes they make things worse. This book contains the words and the simplicity to reach deep inside, to the areas that hurt so badly you feel you’ll never recover. It says to you, “It’s all right to be you, and it’s all right to feel exactly the way you do.”

I bought this book in March 2010 and put it to one side to read—sometime. Then I lost two family members within 10 weeks. I remembered the book, and read it through in an evening. I was so impressed with the thoughts and compassion contained in the pages, I gave it to my newly widowed brother-in-law the next day to read. I only loaned it to him, as I knew he wasn’t a reader and probably wouldn’t read it. He not only read it over and over, he ordered several from an online bookstore so that he could share the message with others.
The delightful packaging of the book, the simple and inspiring stories, and the beautiful illustrations by Michael Sparks combine to make this an ideal gift for anyone who is faced with the inevitable—the loss of a loved one.

This book is available at most Christian Bookstores as well as on Amazon.com.