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Monday, September 20, 2010

A Hope Undaunted Book Review/Rave and GIVEAWAY!

Julie Lessman has done it again. I fell in love with her characters from the Daughters of Boston series, and reading the first book in her Winds of Change series felt like sitting down with old friends and catching up.

Julie's first lines are like a window to her books...a little glimpse of what's in store. Her first line for A Hope Undaunted is, "Now this is how love should be - nice and neat." I nearly sighed with contentment, as I knew that Katie's world was going to be anything but nice and easy!

Here's a brief sketch of the plot from Julie's website:

The 1920s are drawing to a close, and feisty Katie O'Connor is the epitome of the new woman--smart and sassy with goals for her future that include the perfect husband and a challenging career in law. Her boyfriend Jack fits all of her criteria for a husband--good-looking, well-connected, wealthy, and eating out of her hand. But when she is forced to spend the summer of 1929 with Cluny McGee, the bane of her childhood existence, Katie comes face to face with a choice. Will she follow her well-laid plans to marry Jack? Or will she fall for the man she swore to despise forever?

Julie has to be the Queen of Metaphor. Almost on every page there was some great metaphor to describe how the character was feeling or thinking, and Julie would usually draw in a part of the setting to ground the reader further in the scene. I just felt like I was watching the scenes unfold while I was there, experiencing them. Since this was the first book of Julie's I'd read since learning she uses this gigantic thesaurus book (that I purchased), I read keeping her preference in mind for finding words that match the mood of the scene. BOY! Julie does this SO WELL that I had to read a couple sentences out loud just to appreciate her genius.

But that's just my opinions as a well-read reader. In addition, I love looking at Julie's flawed characters from my perspective of a therapist, because they are all SO ripe with need for intervention! (And I think Julie would admit this straightaway.) From the very first scene, the reader gets to see two sides to Katie O'Connor: the spoiled, rich girl who gets what she wants and the sensitive, compassionate agent of change whose only desire is to help those less fortunate than her. Such a great dichotomy in a character, rife with tension, and so well written.

Then there is Luke, who grew up discounted on the streets as a homeless orphan, and has made it his mission in life to make a difference in the lives of other homeless children. He remembers well being called "riffraff" and "street trash" and lets those memories shape him in the present because he is unable to break free of them. Katie personifies everything he wasn't and didn't have, which makes interactions between the two of them page-turningly intense!

Both Katie and Luke have deep wounds from childhood that they have carried with them for years. For that reason, I think anyone reading A Hope Undaunted would resonate with the pain they feel, respectively. Too often, a stray word or errant phrase spoken in anger is the seed planted that later blooms into full-blown resentment or timidity or low self-esteem. Katie and Luke both wrestle with their past demons in different ways, some of which are healthy and others which are not.

One aspect of Julie's 4th book that I really liked was that she wandered into the very biblical realm of the role of the man in a relationship. Since the book was written around the 1920s and the flapper era, thus the Winds of Change series title, women were coming into their own and pushing the proverbial envelope with what society considered acceptable behavior. Katie's headstrong willfulness is a part of who she is, yet it doesn't edify God when she wears the pants. There is an expectation for the man to be the leader of the home, and I love how Julie exemplifies this biblical truth by the end of the book. (You'll just have to read it to find out which guy ends up being better for her! Julie sure does keep you guessing until the very end. Seriously.)

I will wait with bated breath for the next installment in Julie's series. *sigh* Can't come soon enough. Thanks, Julie, for such a wonderful read that swept me away for all of 2 days. Can you make the next one longer? :-)

Julie has been kind enough to agree to a giveaway to one lucky commenter! So leave a comment and let me know if you've read any of Julie's books and which of them is your favorite so far. If you haven't read Julie's books, then leave a comment and let me know what's wrong with you. :) HA! Just kidding!

For the rest of my readers who simply can't win this fabulous book, you can buy it at Amazon or Christian Book Distributors. And be sure to go by Julie's website to read up on her other books, A Passion Most Pure, A Passion Redeemed, and A Passion Denied.

A Hope Undaunted is available NOW at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

CONTEST WILL CLOSE FRIDAY, Sept 24th!

Wordle: signature

27 comments:

Miss Sharp said...

Hi there - I guess there's something wrong with me (surprise!) since I haven't had the pleasure of reading any of Julie's books yet, but I do have a craft-related question and that is, how do you manage such great stories with no clear-cut "villain" of the story? Who or what becomes the antagonist?

Thanks and Congratulations on your writing success!

Joy Tamsin David said...

ROFL @ "Leave a comment and let me know what's wrong with you."

I liked A Hope Undaunted the best, but I don't enter me in the giveaway.

Joy (there's nothing wrong with me!)

Joy Tamsin David said...

Well, nothing wrong that some editing classes can't cure anyway. That line should have said, "but don't enter me in the giveaway."

Julie Lessman said...

JEANNIE!!!! I loved, loved, LOVED hobnobbing with you in Indy, my friend, and just seeing your smiling face again in this blog reminds me just how glad I am that our paths have crossed.

And this review?? Honestly, one of the best-written reviews I have seen, revealing the depth of your insight with such clarity that even I want to read the book again!! :)

Thank you SO much for your great review, wonderful support and precious friendship.

Hugs,
Julie

HandyFamily said...

I loved A Passion Most Pure the best! They all were fantastic, but that was my favorite so far!

This was an awesome review to read! I already was "jealous" ;) of all those who have read A Hope...now I "need" to read it!

Thanks,
Wendi
wowendi{at}gmail{dot}com

Momofkings said...

I've read her first three. Her fourth and now fifth is on my wishlist at Amazon. :-)

Julie Lessman said...

MISS SHARP ... Well, we need to remedy that situation PRONTO, girl, so if you don't win here, please check out my website calendar for more opportunities, okay?

JOY!!!! Thank you SO much for your great review, my friend -- it blessed me TONS!! AND I agree that there's "nothing wrong with you" that a good, edgy romance can't cure, right????

WENDI ... so you see, my challenge with readers like you who are partial to APMP is to get AHU right up there with it, so I'm hoping I succeeded just a little bit ... :) Good luck in the contest!

MOMOFKINGS ... Thank you SO much for reading my books, girl, and I'm glad to see that even book 5 (A Heart Revealed, Sean & Emma's story, which is not due out till September 2012) is on your "wish list"!! I'm kind of excited about it because it's my husband and crit partner's favorite of all five books, and my 92-year-old aunt called it a "gangbuster of a story," so hopefully it will be worth the wait. Good luck in the contest!

Hugs,
Julie

Sarah Forgrave said...

Jeannie! How are you, my friend? So glad you extended this giveaway because I LOVE Julie's books! If I had to pick a favorite, I'd say A Passion Denied.

Michelle said...

Incredible review, Jeannie! I'm reading AHU right now! I'm on Chapter 9 and LOVING it! I've read all of Julie's books, and it's hard for me to pick a favorite; I LOVE them all equally!

Thank you for entering me into the drawing!

Michelle
scraphappy71 at sbcglobal dot net

LuLu said...

Well, I've only read one of Julie's books, A Hope Undaunted so for now that's my favorite. Maybe I'll be lucky and win so I can add to my Julie collection!

~Lauri M (lulu)
http://knitsandreads.blogspot.com

LuLu said...

...oops, forgot my email,

l_meinhardt@yahoo.com

~Lauri M (lulu)
http://knitsandreads.blogspot.com

Julie Lessman said...

SARAH!!! Soooo great meeting you in Indy, girl, and SUPER CONGRATS on your runner-up spot in the Genesis!! That's nothing to sneeze at!! And thank you for your kind words about my books AND your support. Good luck in the contest!

MICHELLE ... you are SUCH a diplomat!! You love all my books equally, huh??? You sound like a mom with her kids, showing no favoritism! :) Well, I have favorites and in DOB, it is Redeemed and in this series so far, it's A Hope Undaunted, so I'm anxious to see what you think. Thanks for all you do for me, Michelle -- I just may have to name a character after you ... :)

LAURI!!!! You little stinkpot, when you wrote me to tell me you loved AHU, you did NOT tell me that A Hope Undaunted was your first Julie Lessman book!! Have you not heard me rant and rave on blogs about how you should read these books in order??? What am I going to do with you??? Well, for starters, if you win I will send you A Passion Most Pure, EVEN THOUGH you already know the big surprises in it!! But I forgive you because you are just so darn adorable, reading AHU with a migraine because you couldn't put it down. :)

Hugs,
Julie

Holly said...

I've read all of Julie's books so far, and while I loved A Passion Most Pure because of the whole love triangle thing, I also loved A Passion Denied because I felt like Lizzie was the type of girl I am and would have been had I grown up in WWI era. Although I don't know if I'd have taken the advice she did if I'd had an older sister. As I type this, I'm actually in the middle of rereading APMP and planning to go through the whole series before reading AHU.

Holly
oceandreamerfla(at)aol(dot)com

Julie Lessman said...

WAY TO GO, HOLLY!!!! YES ... I ALWAYS reread all my books before the next one comes out too, so I am SO thrilled you are doing the same. It just makes it all the more special that way, you know???

I have found that most of my readers tend toward either APMP or APD as their favorites, but there is a small group like me who love APR best. Heck, as long as my reader friends like them all, I don't mind them having favorites. But I will say that so far of all five books I have written (including Sean and Emma's story, A Heart Revealed), I like AHU best. Hope you do too! Thanks for coming by, Holly, and good luck in the contest.

Hugs,
Julie

Karen Lange said...

Wonderful! I love Julie's books. Thanks so much for sharing, and for offering the giveaway.
Blessings,
Karen
klange61(at)hotmail(dot)com

Julie Lessman said...

KAREN, thank you SO VERY MUCH for reading my books and coming by to leave a comment. Here's to a win in the contest!!

Hugs,
Julie

Molly said...

I am a new Julie Lessman fan! I have never read her books before (YES there is a LOT wrong with me...I think I've been hiding under a toadstool to not have read her books before!) until I had the opportunity to read AHU...and let me say that this book is MINDBLOWING-LY INCREDIBLE!!! I am a new devoted fan of Julie's and MUST have all her books!!!!

Thanks for the giveaway!

Blessings,
Molly
Mollydedwards AT yahoo DOT com

Julie Lessman said...

MOLLY!!! Gosh, girl, you don't waste any time, do you??? I am SO thrilled that you loved AHU -- your note on Facebook made my day! Thank you for coming by, and good luck in the contest!

Hugs,
Julie

Anonymous said...

Julie,
As you know...I love your books...you are fabulous...and I am so looking forward to reading Katie's story...I hear that Cluny steals the show :)

karenk
kmkuka at yahoo dot com

cynthia said...

I have enjoyed the first three books that Julie has written. It's a toss up between A Passion Denied and Passion Most Pure. I like the character development of Faith and Lizzie. I was intrigued in the first book of who Faith would end up with when Mitch was introduced. For Lizzie's story I held my breath as I waited to see how her love story would unfold.
cynthiakchow(at)earthlink(dot)net

Julie Lessman said...

KAREN ... thank you, girl, and YES ... at least for me ... Cluny "steals the show." Thanks for coming by, my friend, and good luck in the contest!!

CYNTHIA ... if you like the character development of Faith and Lizzie, gotta feeling you are going to LOVE Emma Malloy in the next book A Heart Revealed!! She is the kindest, sweetest, most giving human being in all of the books, and my husband and crit partner absolutely LOVE her and think it will be my best book yet, so we shall see. Good luck, girl!

Hugs,
Julie

Sierra Gardner said...

I also haven't read Julie's books, but I'm headed to Amazon shortly to check them out. I'm always looking for a great book and I love that this blog (and others) recommend them.

adge said...

I am not sure if I am too late for the contest or not, but I have read two of Julie's books so far, and they have been great! This one looks like a keeper too. Thanks for the review. gasweetheart211[at]netscape[dot]net

Danette said...

I'm sorry to admit that I haven't read a Julie Lessman book but after reading your blog entry I am more than interested. I love nothing more than discovering a great writer and start reading their work.

Julie Lessman said...

Sierra!!! Well, we can't have that, girl, you not reading my books, that is! Hopefully you will win one here, but if not, check out my website calendar at www.julielessman.com for plenty more blog giveaways, okay?

Thanks for stopping by and good luck in the contest.

Hugs,
Julie

tracysbooknook.com said...

Great review!

I also enjoyed A Hope Undaunted and am a big fan of Julie Lessman.

I found the characters to be fairly three dimensional and enjoyed the interaction between the two main characters, Katie and Luke - although at times I was surprised by Katie’s sudden abrupt turns. The O’Connor family is true to form in their larger-than-life sort of Irish personalities and entertaining as always.

I posted a more in-depth review of my own at:

www.tracysbooknook.com/a-hope-undaunted-by-julie-lessman-book-review/




-Tracy

tracysbooknook.com said...

Oops!

When I said a "more in-depth review" I meant more in-depth compared to the short comment I had made.

Sorry if that was unclear.

-Tracy

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Both comments and questions are welcome. I hope you enjoyed your time on the couch today.