Mary Hawkins – Faith in the Freat Southland

4 – 8 November

Australian Christian Readers Blog Alliance


(Barbour Books October 1, 2012)


Mary Hawkins

About the Book
Elizabeth Waverly never dreamed that taking a convict transport back to her home in Australia would change her life. But from the moment she lays eyes on John Martin, she cannot resist her growing attraction to him. She knows the man faces a life sentence for murder, but her heart refuses to believe he is guilty of the charges against him. How could someone who so valiantly protects others and accepts another prisoner’s punishment be a brutal felon? Yet once the transport ship lands in Australia, their paths are bound to head in very different directions. Is their love destined to become a bittersweet memory of what might have been, or will faith show them another way?

About the Author
Mary is a multi-published Australian romance author with 19 titles. After being published by Harlequin Mills and Boon medicals, Heartsong Presents and Barbour, her most recent single title Bargagula series is published by Ark House Press in Sydney. I am a member of the Society Women Writers Tasmania, Romance Writers of Australia, Omega Writers, Australian Christian Writers Fellowship, American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers America and their Faith Hope Love chapter. My Heartsong Presents back list titles are being released by Truly Yours Digital Editions. Faith in the Great Southland is now available with the other 3 in this series to be released June and July. She is available to speak and share what she has learnt about writing novels, her writing journey and faith in our incredible God. For more about Mary, go to her website.

Amanda’s Review:

I remember reading Faith in the Great Southland years ago. Being a fan of historical romance, I craved a novel of this kind set in my beloved Australia. I was so excited to discover Mary Hawkin’s works, and devoured Faith in the Great Southland and its sequels. Mary very quickly became one of my favourite Aussie authors. If you haven’t read any of her novels yet, then you’re missing out! Grab one today. 🙂

Michelle Dennis Evans – Insight

Rather than offer Michelle Dennis Evans the usual kind of interview, I asked her to share either how she met her partner, her testimony of faith, or something interesting from her family heritage. Michelle has chosen to tell us about how she met her hubby.

Made For Each Other

Mich5Eighteen years ago, I headed off to improve myself at RYLA a leadership camp run by the local Rotary clubs. There I met a long-haired very good-looking boy called Shane. Soon after camp, we began dating. I realised he was a valuable catch, but I’d just come out of a serious relationship and I wasn’t ready for the ‘happily ever after boyfriend.’ So I dumped him.

Bless his heart … he didn’t give up on me. Even when he was dating other girls he would whisper in my ear that he’d drop them in a second for me. (OK so he wasn’t perfect – LOL)

During the year that followed, we were both selected to return to the next RYLA camp as leaders. As we worked together we became good friends (the foundation of our relationship) but I still wasn’t ready to settle down. Neither of us were living a Christian lifestyle and I found that every time I had a couple of drinks, I couldn’t keep away from him.

We have just celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary.

I knew from just weeks after meeting Shane that he would be the perfect husband for me. Family of origin plays a huge part in all relationships – Shane and I both grew up in Mass attending Catholic homes with multiple similarities in work ethic, schooling and social beliefs. Not only have we grown together as a couple, but we have grown together spiritually as well.

Can you see how your family of origin has played a part in your relationship with your husband/wife/partner?

Thanks for sharing that story with us, Michelle. It sounds like you were destined to be together. My hubby and I celebrate our 16th wedding anniversary this coming weekend! Having a similar family upbringing definitely makes it easier to relate to each other.
Last week I reviewed Michelle’s debut novel, Spiralling Out of Control, which you can read here. Don’t forget to leave a comment with your response to Michelle’s question above. And remember, you can learn more about her at these addresses:

Twitter: @michelledevans



Michelle Dennis Evans – Spiralling Out of Control

Spiralling Out of Control PREVIEWFrom the Back Cover:

Temptation, depression, seduction, betrayal… Not what Stephanie was expecting at fifteen years of age. Uprooted from her happy, all-girl high school life with a dream filled future and thrown into an unfriendly co-ed school, Stephanie spirals into depression.
When charismatic high school senior, Jason notices her, Stephanie jumps in feet first and willingly puts all her faith and trust in him, a boy she barely knows.
Every choice she makes and turn she takes leads her towards a dangerous path.
Her best friend is never far away and ready to catch her … but will she push Tabbie too far away when she needs her most?

Amanda’s Review:

Spiralling Out of Control was a challenging read, a hard read. I almost didn’t finish it, but not because it was badly written. On the contrary, it was written with such painful reality that I found it hard to go on. But, I am glad I followed through to the end, for there was a glimmer of hope that I am sure will stretch into the sequel to come.

This is the kind of novel that is a must read for teenagers as an eye opener as to what a few bad choices, and hiding said choices from your family, can lead to. It also serves as a warning to parents, to really invest time into their teenagers and be aware of what they do with their lives.

Congratulations to Michelle on a great debut novel. I was so heartbroken for Steph as I neared the end, and I hope she can turn her life around in the next book. Spiralling Out of Control is not for the faint hearted, definitely for readers fifteen years and up.

Thanks to the author for a free review copy.

About the Author:

Mich5In the 80’s Michelle wrote her first book called “The Googles V Manelopes” (V would be short for verses) when she was eleven. Hand written and (dismally) self illustrated it still proudly sits on her bookshelf today. What was noticed as talent in her tween years was crushed by teachers in her teens. It took Michelle fifteen years to find the courage to dream about becoming a writer again and enrol in a writing course.

Michelle not only writes to nourish her soul but also to inspire, take people on a journey and escape their world. She believes you can find healing or hope when you read about someone else’s story – fiction or truth.

For more info on Michelle Dennis Evans, see:
Twitter: @michelledevans

Jo-Anne Berthelson – The Inheritance

7 – 11 October
Australian Christian Readers Blog Alliance
The Inheritance  
(Even Before Publishing September 2013)
Jo-Anne Berthelsen
About the Book:
Michael Trevelyan is determined to claim his inheritance at all costs. Bitterness consumes him and he refuses to forgive those who have betrayed him. Yet, when he meets Alexandra Hope, things begin to change. She challenges his views but also listens while he shares his pain. Can Michael move on from the past and learn to forgive? Can Alexandra hold onto her faith in God as she deals with their deepening relationship? Can they both learn to trust each other – and God? The Inheritance is a stirring story of family secrets, forgiveness and faith – of leaving behind a dark, painful legacy and walking into the light of God’s eternal inheritance. 
About the Author:
Jo-Anne Berthelsen lives in Sydney but grew up in Brisbane. She holds degrees in Arts and Theology and has worked as a high school teacher, editor and secretary, as well as in local church ministry. Jo-Anne loves communicating through both the written and spoken word. She is the author of five published novels – Heléna, All the Days of My Life, Laura, Jenna and Heléna’s Legacy, with a sixth, The Inheritance, due for release in 2013. Her first non-fiction work Soul Friend: The story of a shared spiritual journey was released in October 2012. Jo-Anne loves music, reading, mentoring younger women, and sharing with community groups about writing. She is married to a retired minister and has three grown-up children and three grandchildren. 
For more information, please visit or

Amanda’s Review:

First of all, while The Inheritance did not take me on a thrill ride of adventure like most books I tend to read, it did take me on a different kind of journey. An inward journey — an insight into the way bitterness and unforgiveness can wear away at a heart and life until it even affects a person physically.

Michael Trevelyan’s character is entirely believeable in that way, and it was good to watch him discover things about himself and learn to change and grow, leaving the past behind him gradually. Alexandra was a warm character although I missed her not being there for much of the second half of the book.

Strangely, I did feel like I’d come to a satisfying conclusion just past two chapters from the end, when Michael finally let go of the past. From there on it just felt like winding up details, and I don’t think I would have missed that if it wasn’t there. All in all, though an enjoyable read.

The Inherticance would be a great tool for those who are struggling with a painful past and how to move forward.


Dale Harcombe – Streets on a Map

23 – 27 September

Australian Christian Readers Blog Alliance


Streets of a Map
(Ark House Press December 2010)


Dale Harcombe

About the Book
Every choice carries a price as Abby discovers when she marries Joel. If she had known when Joel first walked into Clancy’s what lay in store, she would have stopped the relationship before it got started. However, by the time she found out it was too late. The choice was made. Or so she thought.

But then between her and her one friend in Astley, Laila, they arrive at solution that could benefit Abby and the small county town. A deliberately lit fire and an unplanned pregnancy threaten to bring their carefully laid plans and Abby’s dreams undone. Problems of some newcomers to the town impinge on Abby’s life too, but it is the arrival of an old resident of Astley that could end up destroying everything and not just for Abby.

Who else’s lives will be affected and changed forever. Will the unwelcome arrivals in Astley destroy everything Abby and Laila have worked to achieve? What is the secret that will have all of Astley reeling?

About the Author
Streets on a Map, was published by Ark House Press. Prior to that Dale has had seven children’s books and Kaleidoscope a collection of poetry published. Many poems in Kaleidoscope have been previously published in Australia’s literary magazines. She has won prizes for her poetry and has been published in several anthologies.
Along with her husband, Dale was for a time houseparent for a family of twelve boys. She has also been a manuscript assessor and book reviewer and run creative writing classes. She has also written bible studies and Sunday school lessons. For several years she wrote about Christian living, marriage and home related topics for She has a BA in Literary and Australian studies. More information about Dale can be found at or on her Write and Read with Dale blog
Published in: on 25th September, 2013 at 10:53 am  Leave a Comment  
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Carol Preston – Truly Free

From the Back Cover:

trulyfreelargeBetsy loves her grandfather, but he has woven a tangled web of deceit throughout his life. Now, in his death, Betsy is determined to find out the truth. What she does not plan on and must face is that the journey to truth reveals issues in her own life and also that of her father, from whom she has been estranged for many years. Will she find the path to true freedom for them all?

Amanda’s Review:

I really loved this fourth and last instalment of Carol Preston’s Turning the Tide series. The questions left unanswered in Tangled Secrets were resolved, leaving me with a satisfied feeling at the conclusion. And I must admit I had a tear in my eye as well.

Carol has a real talent at taking the facts surrounding her ancestry and creating characterisation for those people, making their stories come to life. In Truly Free I really sensed Carol’s background in counselling coming through the storyline, as she examined motives and the reason people act the way they do.

I was especially caught into the novel by the murder mystery that was part of the story in this book. I wanted to know what the characters would discover about the suspicious circumstances that surrounded Bill’s supposed suicide.

All in all a very satisfactory read, and recommended to those who enjoy historical novels.

About the Author:

carol-photoCarol lives in Wollongong, NSW with her husband, Neil. As well as writing novels based on her family history, Carol has a private counselling practice and enjoys reading, gardening, spending time with her four grandchildren and bushwalking. She has pursued with great admiration the lives of her ancestors in Australia and has greatly enjoyed writing novels based on their stories and the inspiring history of the Australian people. For more information about Carol’s books and her other interests she can be contacted on her website:

Phillip Cook – Insight

Rather than offer Phillip Cook the usual kind of interview, I asked him to share either how he met his partner, his testimony of faith, or something interesting from his family heritage. Phillip has chosen to tell us about both his testimony and his wife.

Worlds Collide

PCHeadShotI became a Christian late in life after being tossed to and fro by the waves and the winds of life. It was the late eighties (not my age of enlightenment but the timing) and I was living in Sydney. After being born again, I got rather confused by the Christianity message I was receiving from the so-called Christians around me so I decide to attend the Capernwray Bible College in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales. Most students at the college were from overseas. It was at Capernwray where I started to build a solid foundation (through God’s word) for my life. It was also at Capernwray where I set my eyes on a pretty young lady. I thought I was blessed when I found out she was from Victoria. Aah, you beauty, another Aussie, but she did talk funny. It turns out there is a place called Victoria in British Colombia, Canada. That’s only 12,000 kilometres away and that’s where this lovely lady lived.

I can get away with a few things here like telling you that this girl had come to Australia looking for a bronzed Aussie and fell madly in love etc etc. But she came to get closer to the Lord and to visit her auntie in Queensland. But it just so happens now that this lovely lady is living in Queensland and we have been together close to 25 years.

I love how God seems to orchestrate these things in our lives, don’t you? Thanks for sharing your story with us, Phillip. Last week I reviewed Phillip’s debut novel, Dead Man’s Journey, which can be read here. What are you working on now, Phillip?

I’m working on a sequel at the moment.  It’s early days yet but the Professor has reappeared and has called on Lucas to help him with a problem he has. It involves the Professor’s granddaughter and revolves around the use of drugs to control depression etc.  The drugs are also used by the ‘enemy’ to stifle the desire to know God.

Sounds like it will be another intriguing read! I will look forward to it. In the meantime, where can we find you on the internet?

I can be found on I’m currently working on a series of devotions and this site will be where it all happens.

Thanks for joining me on my blog today, Phillip and all the best with your writing endeavours.

Phillip Cook – Dead Man’s Journey

From the Back Cover:

Cover SmallerAt death your escorts are either angels or demons.

Aaron Fitzpatrick doesn’t know what happens when you die. Others have told him but he’s not sure if he believes them. Now his belief system is challenged as his dad goes missing during his daily run and is found, dead, twenty kilometres away from home—and missing a finger. Aaron’s investigation leads him to suspect a link between his father’s death and the mysterious ‘vanishings’ of homeless men.

Mackenzie Gordon is Aaron’s childhood best friend. She knows what happens when you die. She’s a Christian. He isn’t. But then she vanishes and Aaron is drawn into the mystery. And as Aaron investigates her disappearance, his beliefs about life and death, angels and demons, and God, are all challenged.

Amanda’s Review:

I love the idea in this novel: to inconvenience lawbreakers by transporting them to another place for a while. But the technology for this ‘transport’ is not perfect and problems begin to form. Serious problems, including the death of a few individuals. This concept and the troubles that arise give the opportunity for glimpses into the spiritual realm.

What happens in the unseen? Where do souls go when they depart their bodies? What does death mean? These kind of questions are addressed in Dead Man’s Journey. I found this novel an intriguing read and the variety of characterisation was great.

If you like supernatural or futuristic stories, coupled with some mystery, you will enjoy this novel. Congrats to Phillip Cook on a great debut novel. Available only on Kindle at:

Thanks to the author for a free review copy.

About the Author:

PCHeadShotThere always seemed to be a desire in me to find the truth about this strange place I found myself born into. I was way off track for a long time and encountered a number of battles—they were sad and bewildering times. I always had an interest in the supernatural and ventured into this world for a while before finding the truth. My writings always move towards the supernatural but from a Christian perspective and with a desire for others to find the truth.  Phillip lives in Queensland with his wife and family.

Paula Vince – Picking Up The Pieces

6 – 10 May

is introducing

Picking up the pieces

(Even Before Publishing 2010)




About the Author
Award winning Australian author, PAULA VINCE, loves to evoke tears and laughter through writing fiction. She has a passion to provide inspiring stories that highlight her own beautiful country.Website is

About the Book:
“One terrible decision leads to another and the Parker and Quinlan families find out what it means to be in total despair.
In a moment of recklessness, Blake Quinlan does something he never should. The bitter consequences of his impulse will reverberate through the rest of his life unless he learns to deal with his past.
Without warning, Claire Parker’s life shatters. One horrific event leads to a choice that she can never forget. She must find a source of strength and forgiveness to help her recover or she will never again be the happy person she once was.
Moving forward, there is still a ray of hope. A triumphant story about forgiveness, new beginnings and the power of love.”

Ian Acheson – Insight

Rather than ask Ian for a standard interview, I asked him if he would share part of his life with us, either how he met his bride, how he came to know the Lord, or something interesting from his family heritage. Ian has chosen to tell us part of his journey to faith.


19_Ian Acheson_22.05.12_by rasha photography“It’s time!”

I woke with those two words on my lips. I knew what they meant because I knew who spoke them.

It was February 2002. I was on holiday at Disney World, Florida.

My life changed in that moment. I knew then I was being pursued.

Pursued by the one who I first met 20 years earlier as a teenager. Our relationship over that time had experienced some highs but a lot of lows. We were now experiencing a long separation. I had chosen that, not deliberately, but allowed my mess to distract me.

But He wanted me back. Just as He wants all of us back.

I responded tentatively, not sure I was deserving or worthy. I’m not, but that’s the point – we don’t need to be.

Because He is!

We started talking again. Well, I did most of the talking and still do. I still struggle to listen. I know I’m not alone in that endeavour. I found a community where I could worship. I’ve always loved worship. No matter how I feel, something magical happens when I raise my arms in surrender and praise Him.

That was then. This is now.

I’m still in that community. I’ve learnt a lot but am still very much a work in progress as I will be for the rest of my days on this beautiful earth. I hunger and thirst for more.

I feel like I’m now the pursuer.

I love how the Lord chases us down like that, and yes, we ending up running after Him. Thanks Ian for sharing. Can you tell us what you’re working on now?

Right now I’m working on the second in the series of the Chronicles of the Angelguard: “Wrestling with Shadows.”

I’ll be looking out for that one. Last week I reviewed Angelguard, and you can read it here, along with more info about Ian and his book. Thanks for joining me on my blog, Ian!