Just Jo’Anne

A Review of Critical Condition, An Escape to the Country #4 by Nicki Edwards

My Review

critical-condition-by-nicki-edwards“Liam O’Connor wants a wife. Problem is, the type of woman he’s looking for doesn’t exist.”

I absolutely love “Critical Condition”!

Having read Intensive Care, the first book in this series, then reading The Peppercorn Project, a standalone novel, I was pleasantly surprised to realise that Critical Condition could also be read as a standalone, even though it is the fourth and final book in this lovely series. I am currently reading the second book Emergency Response, which I shall follow up with the third treasure, Life Support.

The way Ms Edwards’ books flow, make it possible to read them out of order, which is lucky for me as I am always doing things in the wrong order. With beautifully constructed descriptions, one can imagine being right there in the orchard.  Ms Edwards gradually introduces the characters from her previous books, until eventually, we have a wonderful picture of who’s who, and where they fit in the scheme things.

As soon as I read the first page, I was drawn in. This sweet and engaging story begins at the orchard of Lexton Downs, through the eyes of Liam and Kate who are attending an engagement party, which turns out to be a surprise wedding, “under the banner of blue skies and glorious autumn sunshine”.  It was, a gorgeous day, and the bride, Liam’s little sister looked absolutely stunning. Liam was pleased to see Emily happily married, but inside his own heart, he yearned to find that elusive one, that perfect woman, that angel he could spend the rest of his life with. “But, if Liam was honest, the green-eyed monster was attacking him”.

Then along comes Poppy, a seemingly confident young woman with the world at her feet. Originally fleeing life in Australia, and building a new one in New York, she was now living the dream. Or was she? How well did she really know that handsome boyfriend of hers? Was everything as it seemed?

Her father’s untimely death makes a return trip to Australia necessary. A trip which will bring with it many surprises, but an equal amount of angst as she tries to come to terms with her past life, and even her current one. Behind Poppy’s mask of high self-esteem and devil may care attitude, is an extremely troubled young girl.

Both Liam and Poppy are searching for something … someone … maybe.

Poppy is far from Liam’s idea of perfect. Or is she?

She has enough baggage to fill up every bag carousel at an international airport!

But maybe some things are just meant to be. Will they be able to smooth over any rough edges, and form a lifelong partnership? Both of their lives, but especially Poppy’s are complicated.

Nicki Edwards has such a beautiful, natural writing style. You are able to visualise people and their surroundings so well, that it’s almost as if you were there. I would go as far as to say ‘you are a part of the story’.  The characters have become like family.

If you love good, clean romance, with oodles of suspense, just the right amount of conflict, and of course a beautiful, happy ending, then this is the book for you.

Thank you, Nicki Edwards, for nailing it again. You are the queen of rural, medical romance.

Pre-release copy kindly provided by Pan Macmillan Australia/Momentum Books through NetGallery, in return for an honest review.

Originally posted at


September 2016

“The Holy Grail of Book Launching: Secrets from a bestselling author and friends. Ultimate Launching Companion and step-by-step guide” By Mimi Emmanuel and Elaine Roughton

My Review

Want to self-publish your very own ‘Book Baby’? Yes? Then you NEED to own this book!

download-1Back in February 2016, Mimi Emmanuel, wrote and published “How to launch your eBook easy-peasy, with diary notes of 31-day count-down and to-do overview”. I must say this book is a little gem. How to launch your eBook easy-peasy, describes the process by which Mimi produced her very first book, in November, 2015 “My Story of Survival: The ultimate low-reactive diet for allergies, gut problems, food intolerances and chemical sensitivities”; an extremely, informative book.

Now we have the holy grail! This fabulous book is actually three books in one. Each one as valuable as the others. I knew that self-publishing was an enormous venture to impart upon, and had made up my mind that when my book arrives the publishing stage, I would need to find a traditional publisher, or just accept the fact that I would never become a published author. This incredible book has given me a different viewpoint. Even though I still want to be published the traditional way, I now see no reason why I couldn’t self-publish while I am waiting, and of course get my name and brand out there in the marketplace.

The Holy Grail of Book Launching is the absolute ‘bible of book launching’ (no disrespect to the Holy Bible). It is filled with easy to follow steps, and numerous, helpful links … an absolute wealth of valuable information and process. Mimi writes in such a way as to take away any fear one may have of this whole self-publishing journey. And it is indeed a journey, filled with angst and hard work. However, through her personable style of writing, Mimi makes this journey seem so much more approachable. In fact, once I have re-read this book, visited the numerous helpful links, and watched all the videos related to it, I know without question, I will be able to publish my own book. I have given Mimi’s book five stars because I just love, love, love it!

I graciously received an advanced reader’s copy (ARC) from the author, in return for an honest and fair review.

So faithful

Love this post by Jo-Anne Berthelsen. Jo-Anne has an uncanny knack of presenting beautiful, meaningful thoughts on her blog at just the right moment.

Jo-Anne Berthelsen's Blog

2016-08-04 11.26.04I leave my study with reluctance, my mind miles away. I am in the middle of editing my latest book, yet I know those mundane household tasks cannot wait. I reach the kitchen, then pause for a moment when I notice how four of my pot plants on our old sideboard nearby are in bloom, despite the neglect they have suffered at my hands.

As I stand admiring them, I remember who gave them to me and when. The lovely salmon pink cyclamen on the right is quite old. It was presented to me after I spoke at a women’s meeting in a church in 2007 or 2008, early on in my writing journey. A friend on the staff there had invited me—and that friend is still part of my little prayer team today. How faithful she has been—and how faithful God has been to me over those years, I…

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Camp NaNo Adventure

by Josephine-Anne Griffiths

Gone are the days when I didn’t even know what NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) meant. Last November I decided for the first time to take part in the big one. Yes, you got it 50,000 words, one month and me.
It was an awful lot of words, especially as I had never attempted anything that massive before.
50,000 words – what was I thinking? 1,667 words needed to be written on average per day, to stay on target. Well, that lasted a good couple of daysNovember 2014 came to a close and I had created 20,000 beautiful words – actually truth be told, I had in fact written a jumbled mess of heart-wrenching emotions, which just happened to add up to 20,000 words. Hmmm, so why would I go ahead and do it all over again?
I think the thing that got to me the most during November was the loneliness. “No man is an island,” they say – and how true that is. Yes, writing is an extremely lonely existence, but why would one choose to work alone when you had the option to be part of a team? Having signed up at the last minute as my impulsive self usually does, I didn’t really understand how it all worked. My attitude was a fervent, I don’t have time to have buddies; I must write, write, write!
Sometime in June this year I noticed that there was a Camp NaNoWriMo.  Once again it would be for a month’s duration, however, this time you were free to set your own word count goal. No matter how large or small, you would be in control. Yippee! I also noticed that members of Christian Writers’ Downunder were joining up and forming a virtual cabin. Well, cabins could hold just twelve campers, eagerly itching to write their story, poem or draft novel. I procrastinated like you just wouldn’t believe, not due to the anticipated pressure of having to write each day. No, I pretty much had that under control; even if I only write 200 words, I do write something every day. No, the problem is that I do have a reputation for biting off much more than I can chew when it comes down to just about anything. The word impulsive comes to mind once again.  Anyway, after much dithering the cabin was completely full, but upon the suggestion of the cabin’s ‘Den Mother’ Jeanette O’Hagan, I opened a second cabin and consequently became its ‘Den Mother’ …. ‘Mummy Bear’ or whatever takes your fancy.
Oh dear Jo’Anne, now what have you got yourself into?
June 30th arrived and we had two cabins ready and rearing to go.  Cabin 1 was christened “S’mores, Snores and Word Scores” and after some discussion, my cabin was named “Pensive Plotters and Pantsers Fuelled on chocolate”. With twelve campers in cabin 1 and eight in cabin 2, one of our campers, Naomi suggested forming a Facebook group to enable better communication between the two cabins, and of course double the fun and virtual mischief. So viola! “S’mores, Snores and Word Scores for Pensive Plotters and Panters”  was born; and as Brian Maunder said “lol… I love the name of this little group … A more original name there ne’er was.” 
Twenty Christian writers snuggled into our virtual cabins for the thirty-one days of July. Each cabin load set their space up with equally appealing home comforts. Well, I am certain the S’mores, Snores and Word Scores would have made themselves at home; as us Pensive Plotters and Pantsers had all the comforts a serious writer could possibly want. Our list wasn’t too long but did include indoor fires, cosy quilts, numerous soft cushions and bean bags, an endless supply of Tim Tams, chocolate coated shortbread, macaroons, chocolate, marshmallows etc.,  not to mention bottomless cups of coffee, tea and hot chocolate.
During the evenings the camp fire was stoked and roaring. With Brian plucking and strumming on his guitar, I managed to sing a couple of songs, with our fellow campers wishing that I wouldn’t. Most nights after the campfire had done its best, we would retreat to our own cabins to curl up in front of the indoor fires which were awaiting us. Tim Tam runs were made between cabins, as well as chocolate and marshmallows depending upon who had treats to spare. All kinds of shenanigans erupted until the wee small hours of most mornings; it really is a wonder that so many words were written. Amazing isn’t it, just how much fun can be had in a virtual cabin with like-minded people.
 Of course, it wasn’t all play and no work. Twenty passionate writers wrote just over 470,000 words during July. What an achievement! Most campers either achieved or exceeded their word count goals, with those who didn’t, coming close. There were difficult circumstances for many, writing around family, full-time jobs, sickness, unexpected emotions, writer’s block etc. I think the most daunting moment for me personally, was when the flash drive that my work was carefully saved upon was misplaced. It was eventually found at the bottom of a large and well-stuffed handbag. What a relief – around nine and a half thousand, precious words were at stake.
More so than word count and goals, the most valuable thing that I will take from this whole experience is the camaraderie, strengthening of confidence, and the sheer joy of achievement. I am sure each and every one of the campers would feel the same. Three of our campers, Naomi, Mary and Cate, who live near each other managed to have a couple of writers’ get-togethers. I heard that they had an awesome time, talking, writing, making new friendships etc. I won’t steal their thunder, as I am sure they will have much to tell about their experience.
NaNoWriMo July Camp, 2015 was a blast, and yes, I would do it all again. 
S’mores, Snores and Word Scores – Jeanette O’Hagan (Den Mother), Nola Passmore, Adele Jones, Jo Wanmer, David, Charis Joy Jackson, Christina Aitken, Adam Collings, Cathie Sercombe, Sue Jeffrey, Kirsten Hart and T Pariss.
Pensive Plotter and Pantsers, Fuelled on Chocolate – Cate McKeown, Naomi Edwards, Iola Goulton, Brian Maunder, Jacqueline Tasik, Melissa Khalinsky, Mary Jones and Josephine-Anne Griffiths (aka Mummy Bear).
Please do comment and add your experiences to our story.
What do you think? Fun or not?  Maybe some more keen writers will join in next year – we might even need a third cabin!
Previously published on Just Jo’Anne on August 6th, 2015


The Peppercorn Project by Nicki Edwards

My Review

the-peppercorn-project-by-nicki-edwardsFor a few desperate moments, this sad but beautiful story began in Torquay, Victoria. As sad as it was that Isabelle’s husband had just died from a sudden heart attack while surfing, I knew as I cried and grasped hold of the box of tissues, that I was going to truly love this book. Nicki Edwards had done it again – she had roped me in from the very first page. Until reading Nicki’s book “The Peppercorn Project”, I didn’t have any idea about Torquay, or even where it was. So I ‘Googled’ it, as you do, and I read …
“The official start point of the Great Ocean Road, Torquay is Victoria’s surfing and beach worship capital.”
Wow! How enchanting. Obviously, Isabelle and her family had been very happy living in Torquay, and with Dan being such a keen surfer, and their son Fletcher following in his footsteps, where else would anyone want to live? The remainder of the story takes place in the farming community of the southern Flinders Ranges, yet another place I have never ventured to. However, while reading through the book I was simply drawn in. It is a kind of magic that Nicki Edwards performs time and again with her choice of words, deep characterisation and descriptions of the gorgeous countryside.
Nicki handles the subject of grief and the painful process of moving on very sensitively, not just Isabelle’s grief but that of her two children as well. Once the handsome country police sergeant, Matt Robertson arrived on the scene, I just knew sparks would fly … and they did, in many different ways. Both Isabelle and Matt were broken souls who just needed the chance to trust and believe in each other. I love a good romance, but I like my romances to be sweet and clean, and once again Nicki Edwards didn’t let me down. The intimacy that flowed throughout was so delicately woven, but so beautiful. When Isabelle and Matt finally declared their love in intimate embrace, the scene was set perfectly. “He rained kisses from her chin to her collarbone and she shivered in pleasure as the warmth of his breath tickled her skin.” Also, the setting up of the relationships between Isabelle’s two children and Matt was done perfectly. The issue of blending people together and making a new family is a very sensitive one and full of possible pitfalls.
I felt that I got to know all of the other characters within the story extremely well. I loved their exchanges and gossiping sessions, just how I would imagine life in a country town to be. I quite liked the subplots throughout, especially having someone in a trusted position dealing in drugs – wonderful scandal. I had a fairly good idea who it was quite early on, however, that didn’t take away anything from the story, because most of the other characters had surprises up their sleeves, and kept me guessing. I was hoping and praying throughout the book that Isabelle, Matt, and the children would achieve their happily ever after, and I wasn’t disappointed.
A beautiful, sensitive and intensely intimate romance – I just couldn’t put the book down. I loved the way it ended, leaving the way for a sequel if the author should so desire.

Running on Empty

“Lord, I’ve done it again. I’ve taken on too much.

 Promising the world to everyone, without regard for myself.

My tank has run dry Lord, but I haven’t fulfilled all of my promises.”

Can you imagine driving your car with an empty fuel tank?  Hmmm, neither can I.

It just wouldn’t budge an inch, would it? For many of us, myself included, we are constantly trying to ‘run on empty’. We take on an amazing workload and make sincere promises to lots of people, without considering whether or not it is humanly possible to deliver on everything. We become stressed, short-tempered and anxious, mixed up with a bunch of other emotions, not limited to sad, guilty, ashamed and overwhelmed.

Why do we do it?

Personally, I know because of my Bipolar disorder, that I can be up there with the birds, singing my own tune one moment, and down in the depths of despair the next.

However, I believe that we all can suffer from overload and mood swings; we don’t necessarily need to suffer from a disorder to over-commit ourselves. Often when we are happy it is so easy to take on the world, promise the world; but when we are feeling down or just a little unwell, we are likely to question our promises.

The other day I woke up later than usual. My head was pounding out a tribal dance and I just felt so tired. There was washing to do, beds to make, dinner to prepare, study to do with assignments due, writing commitments and errands to run. As well as friends I had promised to call up, coffee dates that were stockpiling because I never had a moment to spare, a garden in desperate need of weeding, books I wanted to read – and the list goes on.

You see with me, it is all or nothing; I don’t like to be still. Also, I like everything to be perfectly done – clean house, clean clothes, everything in its place. I like everyone around me to be happy, and I am prepared to do whatever it takes to make that happen. So on this particular day, I sat down in my armchair with a nice hot cup of tea which HoneyBun had prepared for me, with two little headache tablets alongside the rest of my daily medication. As I sat there I began thinking about all the things I really ought to be doing that day, then all of a sudden I heard this little voice inside my head – why are you worrying so much? Does it matter if you don’t get anything done today? Will the world come to an end? Is the sun likely to rise again tomorrow morning? 

As I sat there relaxing in my comfortable chair, I realised that nothing really mattered if I wasn’t happy. I was truly running on empty, and that emptiness meant that I didn’t have enough energy to help anyone anyway. With that emptiness, I felt so weak that I was barely able to help myself. Why was I so exhausted?

Do you ever feel so tired that you just couldn’t be bothered to even get dressed?  Is that friend still waiting at the bookshop café for you to arrive because you were so worn out you completely forgot about the appointment? – or maybe you don’t even know what day it is. I know I’ve had moments like this – frequently actually.

Sitting in my chair I could now feel the stillness. The tablets and warm cuppa had begun to melt through my pain. Part of me was rationalising and saying, come on get up, there are chores to be done. Then once more I heard that little voice of reason – be still. At that moment it occurred to me that if I didn’t look after myself, then I wouldn’t be of any good use to anyone else.

Have you ever heard of the saying that ‘you must be empty to be full’?  I heard it once before and thought – how silly, how can you be full when you are empty?

The point is that when we are so full of thoughts, ideas, plans, goals, and a plethora of things that must be done, we are actually running on empty.

We must take that time each day to be still, even if we only have ten minutes available to us. That quiet, still time is God’s time. He wants to have that precious time with us, as much as we need that time with Him. During the quiet times, Jesus tops up our tanks and gives us wonderous energy to continue on with the other less important things. I say less important because what could be more important than making sure that we are properly equipped for our journey?

We simply do not need to be perfect and pleasing to everyone all of the time – we can’t be anyway because we are human. We need to prioritise everything, and top of the list must always be God our Heavenly Father, followed a close second by ourselves. Yes, ourselves – we cannot look after others and love others unless we love and care for ourselves first, after Jesus of course …..

…… and sitting quietly with the Lord is the best way to care for ourselves, to recharge and top up our spiritual tanks. So next time you are feeling overwhelmed by life, empty your mind, be still, listen to the whispers of God’s Holy Spirit, let Jesus fill up your heart with love, rest your body and mind, and feel your soul being filled with spiritual strength.

For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel:

“In returning and rest you shall be saved;
In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.”
But you would not,

~ Isaiah 30:15


“The Lord will fight for you, 

and you have only to be silent.”                       

 ~ Exodus 14:14


Originally posted on Just Jo’Anne on August 5th 2015



While reading another writer friend’s blog today, where she mentions how untidy her working table is, I got to thinking “Hmmm if Helen thinks her table is untidy, boy oh boy she should just take a gander at mine.”
As  I lost the original photo of my messy workspace, I have substituted this one. Pretty close actually!

I have junk mail that should have gone straight into the bin, study notes that should have been filed, books that I have recently received, want to read but should be sitting neatly on our bookshelves, medications that should be put away, but before I can do that, I should clean out the medicine cupboard.

Can anyone see a theme here, or is it just me?

I was looking at the amount of ‘shoulds’ in the above paragraph. Five!  Five times when I rapped myself over the knuckles and admitted that this procrastination was not getting me anywhere, except possibly making me feel more anxious. Now due to my mental health issues, I have problems with depression, anxiety, repercussions of trauma, and of procrastination. It’s a ‘catch 22’ really because the more depressed I feel, the less likely I am to remedy the situation, so I procrastinate about all sorts of things. Then, the more I procrastinate, the more anxious I become. This anxiety usually leads to more depression.

Now I know I am not the only person with an untidy table (hmmm, maybe I am the only one with a table this horrendous). However, it doesn’t stop at the table. As I mentioned earlier, my medicine cupboard needs to be cleaned; emptied completely, taking anything with an expired date to the chemist, and then of course, putting things back in an orderly fashion, after wiping off the shelves. Often the things we neglect to do or keep putting off, are that way because they are actually just part of an accumulation of undone things, chores etc.

No one wants to live like this. Truly. I know I don’t, not really. A very wise person once said, “The Lord helps those who help themselves”.  How true is this? Yes God always has my back, but He also gave me free will. It is up to me to take that first step. Imagine how wonderful it will feel and how happy I’ll be when all of this ‘stuff’ is put in its correct place, whether it be the rubbish bin, cupboard or bookshelf. Imagine how lovely it would be to have a beautiful vase of flowers to look at while I work.

 In Proverbs 13:4 we are told:

“The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.”

This isn’t just about an untidy table or a cupboard that is overdue for cleaning and organising. No, it’s about our whole lives. Everything we do each and every day should be done for the glory of Our Lord. He probably won’t mind too much if my table is cluttered. However, He would be upset to see me unhappy; and He would be so sad when I can’t share and bless others by inviting them into my life because my life is too busy – ahem – messy.

People don’t stay away because of an untidy table, room or house. No, we block people out because we are ashamed. Did you ever hear of that saying “an untidy workspace usually mirrors the state of that individual’s mind”?  I think there is an awful lot of truth to that. You really wouldn’t want to see the inside of my mind.

I love Proverbs; sometimes I feel that they were written especially for me (winking profusely).

Proverbs 12:24

The hand of the diligent will rule, while the slothful will be put to forced labour.

Proverbs 20:4

“The sluggard does not plough in the autumn; he will seek at harvest and have nothing.”

My mind is my soul and therefore I must keep it in good shape. Our bodies do not belong to us. They are already claimed by the Lord Jesus and infused with the light of His Holy Spirit. We don’t want to invite friends to an untidy home, so why would we invite Jesus into our untidy minds and our unclean hearts?

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”

As children of God we are commanded to honour and glorify Him in everything we do, think or say; within our day to day tasks, as well as within our hearts and minds every waking moment.

By the end of this weekend, I pledge to clear off and organise the things on this table and leave a vase of fresh flowers out, so that others can see my happiness and contentment.

Oh and about all of those ‘shoulds‘ – there are no ‘shoulds‘ in life, only ‘coulds’.

Originally posted on Just Jo’Anne June 20th 2015