Thursday, December 11, 2014

2015 Reading Challenges

Lately, I'm more interested than ever in reading. I think life has finally gotten into a good routine and I have the mental energy to spend on all the books I've been interested in exploring. In 2015, I plan to join several reading challenges. The first one is the Full House Reading Challenge, hosted by Book Date.

In this challenge, I will try to complete a Full House on this special card she's made up for this year. You can learn more about the challenge at Book Date. Let me know if you decide to sign up too!

A second one from Book Date is the Women's Fiction Reading Challenge. This one should be fairly simple for me, as I read and review a lot of Women's Fiction. In this one, readers challenge themselves to different levels depending on the amount of books read in that genre:

  • Motivated 1- 5
  • Savvy 6 - 10
  • Classy 11- 20
  • Go-getter 20 -30
  • Fearless 30+

Next is Roof Beam Reader's TBR Pile Challenge. This is one I definitely need! I will read at least 12 books from my TBR shelves that have been there for more than a year. Here are the books I'll be reading:

1.  Lady Susan by Jane Austen
2. What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew by Daniel Pool
3. Home Discipleship by Kimberly Williams
4. The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
5. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
6. The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte by Syrie James
7. A Fine Brush on Ivory by Richard Jenkyns
8. Silas Marner by George Eliot
9. At the Back of the North Wind by George MacDonald
10. 1984 by George Orwell
11. Tales from the Secret Annex by Anne Frank
12. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Two alternates in the event of a dud:
1. The Princess by Lori Wick
2. The Friendly Persuasion by Jessamyn West

Finally, I'll be joining the New To You Challenge at Herding Cats & Burning Soup. This one is easy as I'll just read things that are new to me: new authors, new genres, debuts...anything that is new to me. Here are the levels:

Level 1--   6 "new to you"s
Level 2-- 12 "new to you"s
Level 3-- 24 "new to you"s
Level 4-- 36 "new to you"s
Level 5-- 48 "new to you"s
Level 6-- 72 "new to you"s
Level 7--100+ "new to you"s

So, there you go! Lots of challenges to keep me reading and reviewing. I'm excited to bring more excellent book reviews to Belle's Library and would love to hear about your reading plans for 2015. Need a place to publish your review? Check out my Writing Opportunity link at the top of this page. I'd love to have you on board!

Linking with:
The Art of Homemaking
Good Morning Mondays
Inspiration Monday @ Your Homebased Mom
Motivate Me Monday 
Modest Monday @ The Modest Mom 
Living Proverbs 31
Inspire Me Monday @ Create With Joy 
Masterpiece Monday @ BoogieBoard Cottage 
A Round Tuit @ Creating My Way to Success 
Monday Funday @ C.R.A.F.T. 
Marriage Monday
Making Your Home Sing Monday
Salt & Light
Inspire Me Tuesday @ A Stroll Through Life
A Return to Loveliness @ A Delightsome Life 
Women Helping Women @ Teaching What Is Good 
(Titus 2)s Days @ Time Warp Wife
The Scoop @Stone Gable

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Secret of Pembrooke Park by Julie Klassen -- Book Review

This is a sponsored post on behalf of Bethany House Publishers. All opinions are honest and are my own.

My favorite new-to-me author of 2014 is, by far, Julie Klassen. I've read five or six of her books this year, and loved every one. Tonight I finished her latest, The Secret of Pembrooke Park, and it's my favorite yet! Combing the elements of romance and mystery, and placing them in my favorite historical time setting---Regency England---Klassen has written up a true treasure. Mrs. Klassen, if you're reading this, please hear my plea: write more mysteries!

Book Description: "Abigail Foster is the practical daughter. She fears she will end up a spinster, especially as she has little dowry, and the one man she thought might marry her seems to have fallen for her younger, prettier sister. Facing financial ruin, Abigail and her father search for more affordable lodgings, until a strange solicitor arrives with an astounding offer: the use of a distant manor house abandoned for eighteen years. The Fosters journey to imposing Pembrooke Park and are startled to find it entombed as it was abruptly left: tea cups encrusted with dry tea, moth-eaten clothes in wardrobes, a doll's house left mid-play... The handsome local curate welcomes them, but though he and his family seem acquainted with the manor's past, the only information they offer is a stern warning: Beware trespassers drawn by rumors that Pembrooke Park contains a secret room filled with treasure. This catches Abigail's attention. Hoping to restore her family's finances--and her dowry--Abigail looks for this supposed treasure. But eerie sounds at night and footprints in the dust reveal she isn't the only one secretly searching the house. Then Abigail begins receiving anonymous letters, containing clues about the hidden room and startling discoveries about the past. As old friends and new foes come calling at Pembrooke Park, secrets come to light. Will Abigail find the treasure and love she seeks...or very real danger?"

My Thoughts: This book has all the elements I love in a great historical novel. An old house (in England, to boot!), a girl, a secret, a mystery...wonderful! At over 400 pages, you'd think I'd grow tired of the story after a bit. Not at all---this one kept me interested from beginning to end. Had I the time, I easily could have read it straight through in a day. It's one I definitely did not want to end. My only complaint---and not really so much a complaint as just a bit of a bummer---is that I had the whole thing figured out very early in. This happens to me often, though, so I just enjoy seeing how it's all going to play out! 

Have you read anything by Julie Klassen? I encourage you to find one of her excellent Regency-themed books and discover who is soon to be one of your new favorite authors, as well!