Friday, July 31, 2009

The Everything Austen Challenge--We're one-sixth of the way into it!

Okay, Austen Buddies, time to fess up. How are you doing with your goals in the Everything Austen Challenge? I'm still reading Emma, which is one of Jane Austen's longest novels, but I hope to finish very soon. I also watched one of the Emma movies, the Kate Beckinsale version from 1996.
It was fun, but I thought Emma wasn't as lively as Jane intended her, and Mr. Knightly a good deal too angry and loud. But it was still enjoyable. Now I want to watch the other 1996 version of Emma, the one with Gwynneth Paltrow.
I remember liking her portrayal of Emma much better. In fact, as I'm reading the book, I have Gwynneth Paltrow in my mind. She makes a very proper Emma. And by the time I finish this Jane Austen marathon, I have a feeling I'll be on my way toward writing a Regency. I've already been getting some ideas, quite involuntarily.

So let's hear it. What have you done to further your Jane Austen tendencies?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Welcome Home: Our Family's Journey to Extreme Joy by Kimberley Woodhouse

If you are an avid viewer of the TV show Extreme Makeover Home Edition, as my children are--they can't stand to miss this show!--then you probably saw the episode about the Woodhouse family. The mom is a writer, so she chronicles her family's story leading up to the moment when Ty Pennington stood in their yard and yelled through his megaphone, "Good morning, Woodhouse family!"

I rarely read an entire nonfiction book all the way through, but I read this one in one day! I couldn’t put it down. And it made me cry, which also never happens. I cried several times while reading this book. It really touched me and convicted me of so many sinful attitudes I have, like failing to “count it all joy” when I face trials. Oh boy, do I ever fail at this! This is such an incredible story, and I truly believe I grew as a person while reading this book. How could I ever take my children’s health for granted again? Or my home? Or anything else?

The Woodhouse family has dealt with some serious medical issues, not only with their daughter, Kayla, who has a very rare disorder that causes her to overheat if the temperature is above 64 degrees, but also with their son, who almost died several times due to an undiagnosed problem with his trachea. But the best part of this story is reading the very real and honest account of Kimberley’s spiritual journey and the way she overcame so many difficulties and learned to hold on to God’s joy no matter what was going on. She just kept repeating that verse, James 1:2-4 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

I highly recommend this story to anyone who feels they need an extra dose of trust and faith, and who worries how they’ll handle serious trials if and when they come. Or for someone who is facing trials and is struggling. If you feel you need more joy, then this is the book for you.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Mary Connealy's Montana Rose

Christy Award finalist, Mary Connealy has crafted yet another fun, funny, touching book. Her heroine is a sweet, dutiful wife who suppresses all her anger and frustration until the day of her husband’s funeral. She unleashes all that anger on the gravedigger. But when some rough men, living in a rough environment, decide Cassie has to choose a new husband immediately, this same gravedigger may be her only hope.

Red Dawson is a simple, hard-working man, so he isn’t interested in marrying a woman who’s used to wearing silk and has been sheltered from hard work. But if he doesn’t step in, the poor little thing is going to end up in a terrible situation. Maybe God does want him to help her.

I enjoyed this book immensely. I especially liked the hero, a man who was very sweet but realistic at the same time—that’s some amazingly good writing! I highly recommend this book, and I can’t wait for the next book in the series, to see what happens to Cassie’s friend, Belle. If you haven’t read any of Mary’s books, read this one and you’ll be hooked like I am!

Mary Connealy also just got the nod for FOUR of her books in the ACFW Book of The Year Contest! WOW!

I hope you're also working toward your goals in the Everything Austen Challenge. I'm reading Emma. What about you? Leave a comment about what movie you've watched or book you've read. You still have over five months, but don't procrastinate!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Jane Austen Challenge

You may or may not know that I am Jane Austen's #1 fan and have been since I was about 15 or 16 years old. That's when I picked up a copy of Emma at my school library and started reading. Next I read Pride and Prejudice, and my literary life would never be the same!

I just heard about this other blogger who has started something called the Everything Austen Challenge on her blog. The contest runs from July 1 until Jan. 1, 2010. You must choose 6 things Jane Austen-related to do. You can watch Jane Austen movies. (I've seen most of them--I'll work on seeing them all!) You can read one of the MANY fan-fiction books that are out there these days--books about Jane Austen's characters, taking them places Jane Austen herself never dreamed of. I believe there's even a book about Mr. Darcy as a vampire. Oy vey! I tried to read one of these Jane Austen-inspired novels, one that had gotten good reviews, from Darcy's point of view. I didn't get very far. I just couldn't stand reading things coming out of Darcy's mouth that I'm quite sure Jane never intended! Don't mess with Jane's characters, that was my reaction. So I think that option is out for me. Instead, I think I'd like to read all her novels again, one by one.

So there you have it. That's my plan. I'm going to read Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Sense and Sensibility, Persuasion, Northanger Abbey, and Mansfield Park. Can I do it? Can I read six Jane Austen novels in six months, even though they're written in language a bit dated from our respects, with a literary style that also a bit archaic by today's standards? Will I change my mind about Jane Austen's books, since it's been a lot of years since I've read most of them? Or will I fall in love with her characters all over again? Well, stay tuned to find out!

And here's my friend, Tina Russo's blog on the Everything Austen Challenge. Dive in and enjoy the challenge!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

July's New Releases

1. A Promise Kept, Heartsong Presents Historical Ohio Book 1 , by Cara C. Putman from Heartsong Present. Newleyweds Josie & Art must choose whether to honor the promises they've made when their relationship experiences the fire of pain.

2. Blackmail, sixth and final book in the Bayou Series, by Robin Carroll from Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense. The sixth and final book in Robin Carroll's romantic suspense bayou series.

3. Cranberry Hearts, by Lena Nelson Dooley, Beth Goddard and Lisa Harris from Barbour Publishing. What will happen when three Massachusetts women find their journeys home lead them down dangerous paths?

4. Deadly Intent, by Camy Tang from Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense. Massage therapist Naomi Grant must prove her innocence when her client is murdered in her family's Sonoma day spa.

5. Gripped By Fear, The Chicago Warriors Series, by John M. Wills from TotalRecall. Two Chicago Detectives struggle to capture a serial rapist.

6. Hometown Courtship, by Diann Hunt from Steeple Hill Love Inspired. A carpenter and a hair stylist work to build a house together--but are they building much more?

7. Lonestar Secrets, Lonestar Series Book 2, by Colleen Coble from Thomas Nelson. A young veterinarian returns to her childhood home and finds the man who humiliated her may be in custody of a daughter she thought had died.

8. Love's Rescue, The Sierra Chronicles Book One, by Tammy Barley from Whitaker House. A headstrong Southern woman falls for her kidnapper, a Western cattleman she blames for the loss of her family.

9. Maggie Rose, Second in The Daughters of Jacob Kane series , by Sharlene MacLaren from Whitaker House. Mission-minded Maggie Rose takes a job at an orphanage in New York City, never expecting to fall in love with a hardnosed newspaper reporter.

10. Menu for Romance, Brides of Bonneterre Series Book #2, by Kaye Dacus from Barbour Publishing. The Chef and the Party Planner Each Seek the Kind of Love that Requires No Reservations.

11. Montana Rose, by Mary Connealy from Barbour Publishing. Love Comes Softy, with mayhem, comedy and gunfire.

12. Ransome's Honor, Book 1 The Ransome Trilogy, by Kaye Dacus from Harvest House PUblishers. Once Youthful Sweethearts—Can Their Love Be Renewed?

13. Rose of the Adriatic, Sequel to Jewel of the Adriatic , by K.M. Daughters from The Wild Rose Press. Messages of hope and peace for the world from Our Lady of Medjugorje woven into a prayerful, fictional love story.

14. Second Chance Family, Fostered by Love Series Book 4, by Margaret Daley from Steeple Hill Love Inspired. Whitney and Shane, two wounded people, come together to try and help each other heal from their past through the appeal of a little boy who is autistic.

15. The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn, by Liz Johnson from Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense. Kenzie Thorn is surprised when she's kidnapped from the prison where she teaches a GED course, and even more shocking is that someone wants her dead.

16. The Last Resort, The Wanderlust Mysteries Book 2, by April Star from Five Star Gale I Cengage Learning. One woman's murder and a bottle washed ashore on the St. Anastasia beach open a Pandora's box and unleash secrets pursued by an entire camping resort . . . and the truth proves as elusive as the killer in their midst.

17. The Sacred Cipher, by Terry Brennan from Kregel Publications. An ancient, secret scroll could trigger nuclear war or world peace, four Americans are caught in the crossfire, and opposing radicals will stop at nothing to silence The Sacred Cipher.

Pick out something that sounds good and take some time this summer to read!

And the winner of The Vanishing Sculptor is ...

The winner is ...
Robin Johns Grant! Congratulations! I hope you enjoy this book by the very popular Donita K. Paul!