Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Friend's Five with Julie Lessman: The Top Five Romance Books That Have Impacted My Life

We're very excited to have Julie Lessman with us on Book Review Sisters today! She is sharing with us five romance books that have impacted her life.

Friends, make sure you come back for a visit on Thursday as we'll be giving away a copy of Julie's current release, "A Heart Revealed".  Of Julie's five books published so far, this is definitely my favourite.  So if you don't already have a copy, this is your chance to win one.  And if you already have a copy, why not try and win a copy for a friend? Books make great presents!

And now, I'll hand things over to Julie!

The Top Five Romance Books That Have Impacted My Life
Julie Lessman
Let me preface this list by saying it’s SO difficult to limit one’s self to just five favorite books because the CBA is literally bursting with excellent authors and to be honest, if I had to list my faves who I always read, I would have to list about twenty names. BUT … you only asked for five, so here are the ones that impacted me the most and just why I chose them.

1.) GONE WITH THE WIND, by Margaret Mitchell

From the moment Scarlett seared Rhett with a look on the winding staircase of Twelve Oaks, I was hooked, and my “romance-writing career” began! In fact, after reading GWTW at the age of 12, I penned my own 150 single-spaced manuscript that became the basis for my debut novel, A Passion Most Pure. Clearly for me, GWTW is the greatest historical novel I’ve ever read, not only for the rich and sweeping Civil War tapestry that Margaret Mitchell created, but for the wonderful impact her haunting love story had on me at such a young age.

2.) LOVE’S RECKONING, by Laura Frantz

Regrettably for those of you reading this now, Love’s Reckoning by Laura Frantz is not out until September, but do yourself a favor—pre-order it now!! I had the privilege and honor of reading Laura’s upcoming family saga for endorsement, and I was simply blown away. Words cannot do justice in stating the impact this novel had on me, but I will let my endorsement try:

Stunning. Heart-wrenching. Breathless. Not since Gone With the Wind have I read an epic novel that has stolen my heart, my breath, my sleep to such a jolting degree. Love’s Reckoning marks Laura Frantz not only as a shining star in Christian fiction today, but a shooting star who soars skyward to the glittering heights of Rivers and Higgs.

3.) PROMISE ME THIS, by Cathy Gohlke

When I finished Cathy Gohlke’s Promise Me This in the wee hours of the morning, I immediately padded downstairs in nightgown and bare feet to send Cathy (whom I never met) an e-mail, telling her that Promise Me This was simply one of the best books I’d ever read in the CBA. Cathy is a two-time Christy winner, so ‘nuff said. Here is the endorsement I wrote for Cathy’s book:

Promise Me This is a quiet masterpiece that whispers to the heart and shouts to the soul. Make no mistake—Cathy Gohlke is a New York Times Bestselling author in the making. Simply one of the best—if not most powerful—books I have ever read.

4.) THE COLONEL’S LADY, by Laura Frantz

Before I read Laura’s upcoming novel, Love’s Reckoning, The Colonel’s Lady was just about my favorite novel in the CBA. Ironically when I wrote a review for it, I joked that it would continue to be until her next one came out, no doubt, and boy, was I on target!! But trust me, this is a stunner as well, so here’s my review:

It’s no secret to those who know me that Laura Frantz is hands-down one of my favorite writers IN THE WORLD, her haunting prose and rich historical setting almost second to none. And did I mention romance?? Lord, have mercy—Laura’s romantic tension has more sparks and power than a battery of muskets fired in the Kentucke Territory of 1779. The Colonel’s Lady is no exception … or maybe it is … “exceptionally” beautiful and heart-rending, and wonderfully, achingly hard on the pulse!! Just when I think I have read one of the best books ever, Laura writes a new one, so let me say it again—The Colonel’s Lady is easily one of the best books I have ever read in the Christian market—that is, until her next one comes out!

5.) LOWLANDS OF SCOTLAND SERIES, by Liz Curtis Higgs

Thorn in my Heart/Fair is the Rose/Whence Comes a Prince

Oh my, what do I say about Liz Curtis Higgs??? She is top of the heap for me, along with Laura Frantz and Francine Rivers and is hands-down one of my favorite authors in the world. Since I could not just pick one of her books, I will pick my favorite series of hers, which is haunting and unforgettable. I read it years ago and STILL think about it today—that’s how good she is!! 

About Julie Lessman 


Julie Lessman is an award-winning author whose tagline of “Passion With a Purpose” underscores her intense passion for both God and romance. Winner of the 2009 ACFW Debut Author of the Year and Holt Medallion Awards of Merit for Best First Book and Long Inspirational, Julie is also the recipient of 13 Romance Writers of America awards and was voted by readers as “Borders Best of 2009 So Far: Your Favorite Fiction."

Chosen as #1 Romance Fiction Author of the Year in the Family Fiction magazine 2011 Readers Choice Awards, Julie was also awarded #1 Series of the Year in that same poll and #3 Author of the Year, #5 Novel of the Year and #4 Historical Fiction Author of the year. She resides in Missouri with her husband, daughter, son and daughter-in-law and is the author of “The Daughters of Boston” series, which includes A Passion Most Pure, A Passion Redeemed, and A Passion Denied. Her “Winds of Change” includes A Hope Undaunted, which ranked #5 on Booklist’s Top 10 Inspirational Fiction for 2010, and her most recent release, A Heart Revealed.

Connect with Julie

Website & Blog: www.julielessman.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Julie-Lessman/98874268454
Catch her regularly at Seekerville blog
 
Thank you so much Julie for taking the time to be with us today, and sharing these wonderful books that have impacted your life.

68 comments:

  1. So not fair. And you know exactly which book I'm talking about.

    But all's forgiven. Great list Julie!

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  2. Julie, you make me smile at the kudos you lavish on people. I might say, "Your book is great!" and you write "“exceptionally” beautiful and heart-rending, and wonderfully, achingly hard on the pulse!!" What author wouldn't love to have you instead of me write a review? :)

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  3. Hey Julie how did I know GWTW would be number one on your list. Im so glad you still like me knowing I dont love that movie!
    Love seeing these lists.

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  4. GONE WITH THE WIND, by Margaret Mitchell is definitely my favorite too! I haven't read any of the other four books!

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  5. I agree wholeheartedly about your feelings concerning Laura Frantz. She tops my list! Loved reading your about your list.

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  6. Oh Julie... you know your books would definitely make it on my Top 5!! I loved reading your list and completely agree what an incredible epic writer Laura Frantz is. And there were a couple there I hadn't heard of yet... so I'm planning to check them out upon such great endorsements!

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    1. Aw, NOELA, thank you SO much, my friend!! I have to admit, when someone whose writing I love refers a book to me, I LISTEN, so I don't think you will be disappointed with Liz or Cathy. :)

      Thanks for coming by, my friend, and GOOD LUCK in the contest!!

      Hugs,
      Julie

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  7. Hi Julie, great list of books there and I like you love that story GWTW, wish there could have been another. I love to read your stories so keep them coming.
    Paula O(kyflo130@yahoo.com)

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    1. PAULA ... have you ever read Scarlett, the sequel by Alexandra Ripley?? It doesn't hold a candle to GWTW, but who cares??? It's just fun to see their story concluded through the eyes of an author who was hired by the GWTW holding company to do so. If you haven't read it, DO it!! There's a love scene in there that stole my breath away and is worth the whole book in my opinion!! ;)

      Hugs,
      Julie

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    2. Julie, I agree that Scarlett doesn't hold a candle to GWTW, but did you ever read Alexandra Ripley's Charleston? I loved LOVED that book. As a impressionable young reader, it really taught me to believe in treating others as you would like to be treated.

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  8. Lady DragonKeeperMay 15, 2012 at 8:02 PM

    Okay, I really need to look into gettin some of Laura Frantz's books now! :) I've been seeing her name appear on so many blogs during the past year ... For those of you who have read her work, which should I start with?

    Jafuchi7(at)Hawaii(dot)edu

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    1. Thanks for coming by Lady! I LOVE Laura's books too. I've read two of her three books released, The Frontiersman's Daughter and The Colonel's Lady. Both are fabulous, but TCL is my favourite. I think you could start with any and be very happy :)

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    2. LDK -- uh, yeah!! :) Definitely start with The Frontiersman's Daughter as Helen said, although these are books you do not need to read in order. The next one, Courting Morrow Little is an award winner and The Colonel's Lady??? Ooooo ... warm shivers ... one of her best!!

      Hugs,
      Julie

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  9. Hello to all the early birds! I think the 15th is only just starting on your side of the world. It's over for us now :) Just on my way to bed!

    Julie, thanks for doing this list for our series! It's so great to hear the different books that have impacted people's lives. Because of your endorsement for Promise Me This, I bought it and read it. In fact, my review is going up tomorrow! What great timing! I completely agree with Laura making your list, and the fact that Love's Reckoning is on there too is very exciting. I just can't wait to read it!!

    Have a great day everyone :)

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    1. HELEN AND JESS!!! Thank you SOOO much for inviting me to celebrate your first birthday with you!!

      And my apologies for doubling up on the comments -- I don't always see the reply button till too late, so I shot a lot of blanks. Sigh.

      Hugs,
      Julie

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    2. We're so honoured to have you Julie! And don't worry about the reply thing, so easy to do. I still miss it frequently!

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  10. Obviously, I need to check out Laura Frantz. :) I do love Liz Curtis Higgs and GWTW. Thanks for interview... it's interesting to see who inspires the authors we love!

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    1. PWNMOM ... YES, definitely DO check Laura out. I have referred a lot of my reader friends to her and everyone I've talked to LOVE her!! So much so that she bumps me out of the top spot on THEIR lists, the little brat! ;)

      Hugs,
      Julie

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  11. I have read all of the books on your list and agree they were great! Thanks

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    1. YAY, KIM!!! If you have already read the books on my list, then let me give you some names that would appear on my top ten: Francine Rivers, MaryLu Tyndall, Mary Connealy, Tamara Alexander, Julie Klassen, Deeanne Gist ... and I could go on and on because there are, like I said above ... about 20 regulars that I read. :)

      Hugs,
      Julie

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  12. What??? Heitzman has fallen off your list? :)
    Diana

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    1. WHOOPS ... yeah, DIANA, Kristen Heitzman would make the top 25, but when she switched over to contemporary instead of historical, she lost me, but only because I am a DIE-HARD Historical reader!!

      Thanks for coming by, my friend!

      Hugs,
      Julie

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  13. Oh! Great choices! My top 5 would definitely have 'A Passion Most Pure' in it! That book reintroduced me to reading again. (So, I say thank you!) :-)
    Ashleigh
    ashiemay89@gmail.com

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    1. WOW, ASHIEMAY, what a compliment -- THANK YOU!! That blesses me that you enjoy my books, and that also tells me you would enjoy my favorites, too, so go for it, girl!!

      Good luck in the contest!!

      Hugs,
      Julie

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  14. LOL, DEB ... why am I pretty darn sure we would have at least one book in common, you GWTW freak, you!!:) For me, that is THE BOOK that started my love affair with writing, so to be honest, for me, it's a class all by itself. :)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  15. OMG, Julie! Your list of favorite reads sounds so much like you! GWTW is a given to anyone that's read your books or knows even a crumb about you, LOL!

    Laura Frantz is such a sweetheart. How could her books be anything else??

    Thanks for sharing the reading threads that knit together your great writing insight!!

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    1. AUDRA!!! Thanks for coming by, my friend!! I just LOVE big, sprawling almost saga-style stories, which all of these are. And something tells me that once I get my hands on that epic novel you are currently working on, you're going to bump some names, girlfriend. :)

      Love you!
      Julie

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  16. MELISSA!!! I'll admit it, it's true -- when I REALLLLY love something, I tend to gush, and unashamedly so!!

    I had a friend once who was one of the best home decorators I have ever seen. Every time I'd go to her house, I'd be like Alice in Wonderland, in awe of everything she did to that house. Well, this friend told a mutual friend that she really liked me, but she felt I was a flatterer, whose opinion you couldn't quite trust since I raved so much about her house all the time. My friend told her that "yes, when Julie really likes something, she does tend to gush, but she is not a flatterer, just a highly emotional person who tends to rave over things she loves, but truly means what she says."

    And that is exactly right about me. I am a nice person who will look for the good in a book and focus on that so I will not hurt that author's feelings. BUT ... when I rave and gush over the top, then trust me, honey -- my hand is on that Bible when I do!! So, yes, if you have a killer book on your hand, I'm the one you want to review it ... ;)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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    1. Julie, I had to laugh at this because the same thing has happened to me. I am an exclamation point kind of girl and often gush over things I love which may mark me as a flatterer. But the bottom line is PASSION which we both seem to have in spades:) And a godly, truthful passion is a wonderful thing. We need more of Julie's joy in the world:) And I must say, you write the best endorsements of anyone I've ever known. And I'm not the only author who says that about you:)!

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    2. LOL!! "The best endorsements of anyone I've ever known." :) Uh, only when I have the "best" books to write them about!!

      I'm pretty sure your passion and exclamation pts. are two of the many reasons I relate to you AND love you so much, Laura. :)

      Love you!

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  17. LOL, JENNY ... fortunately, book preference is not my criteria for liking someone ... although, I will admit -- if they have a tattered copy of GWTW, posters, figurines,ornaments and coffee mugs emblazoned with Rhett and Scarlett like I do, well, it doesn't hurt!! ;)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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    1. Hey Julie you know I like Jag that has to earn me some brownie points.

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    2. LOL, JENNY ... yes, ma'am, it does!! ;)

      Hugs,
      Julie

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  18. RBOOTH43 ... Oh, you should, girl, DEFINITELY. The reason I say that is GWTW is an epic-type saga romance that spans time and family, which is one of the reasons I like each of the books I listed -- they are the same way. So if you liked GWTW, I gotta feeling you're gonna love my list too ... :)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  19. LORI ... a gal after my own heart!! And you know what, not only is Laura a fabulous writer, but truly one of the kindest, sweetest, most real human beings you will ever meet. I just LOVE promoting people like that, don't you??

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  20. With that kind of enthusiasm, I'm going to have to order a Laura Frantz book (or maybe two) for my summer reading list. And maybe a couple others from your list. Thanks for the tips!

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    1. STEPH ... you are MORE than welcome, and trust me, you will NOT be disappointed!! Happy reading and good luck in the contest!!

      Hugs,
      Julie

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  21. OH WOWZERS!! I think I'm actually blushing! It's wonderful to see some friends here (waving at Deb and Audra and more...) and also new faces:) I'm really honored and humbled by Julie's endorsement of my books - I think she is secretly a member of Revell's marketing team as she does more to promote my books than anyone I know. I cried when she endorsed Love's Reckoning. But enough about my books. Julie's are amazing and her readers love her to death, with good reason!! She's truly gifted with writing and also extending the gift of friendship, bar none!! I'll never forget when she won the Carol for APMP and I was a newbie and bumped into her in the hall. She made me feel like the star!

    Thanks for such a beautiful blog, Helen and Jess, and for bringing all of us together with our mutual love of the written word. God bless each of you. You've made my day with your kinds words. I'll not forget them!!

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    1. Hi Laura! You are so right about Julie's books and her readers. Her passion and enthusiasm jump right out of her pages and into her readers lives! And she extends this passion to everyone she comes across :) She is a blessing - makes the world a bright place!

      Thanks for your kind words too Laura! I'm so pleased we can be part of the writing world in this way - even though we're so far away :)

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    2. LAURA SAID: "I think she is secretly a member of Revell's marketing team."

      LOL ... oh, man, now wouldn't THAT scare the pejeebers out of Michele and the gang ... ;) And, Laura, I will NEVER forget that moment that we met ... you took me by complete surprise in that hallway that day, and I am SO grateful to God that you did. Look at the friendship He has given us -- talk about "WOWZERS"!!! :)

      And, HELEN, it's easy to "extend passion" to passionate people, don't you know!! Thank you for your kind words, my friend.

      Hugs,
      Julie

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  22. JULIE! No shockers here!

    Laura - I forget which book you rec'd I try of yours after we discussed my thoughts on Frontiersman's Daughter at conference. It stares at me from my bookshelf because I still haven't gotten to it /cry/. But with Julie's endorsements, it may have to jump to the top of my 'read because I WANT TO not because I HAVE TO' books [to be clear - I only offer to review/influence books I want to read but you know...] ;)

    Julie, dear, you know I'd LOVE to win ALS :D. I've not read any Liz Curtis Higgs [not even sure I have any] and read GWTW a LONG time ago [though it obviously didn't have the same effect on me it did you ;)]. I have Promise Me This on my Kindle 'to read' list too...

    Love you, friend!

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    1. Carol, I so understand about reading time - THE LACK OF!! Even the thought you have my book makes my heart glad. Just concentrate on your own writing, my friend, as it sounds like it's on the verge of something big:)

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    2. Thankfully, I'm able to find PLENTY of time to read [usually] and also thankfully, I'm a VERY fast reader [when I had the whole narcotics thing going on earlier this year - it took me a WHOLE DAY to read an LI! Usually I knock those suckers out in a couple hours... ;)].

      The problem is there's so stinkin' many good books out there waiting to be read!!!! AH!!!!!

      And from your lips... er fingers to God's ear... uh, eyes, my friend!

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    3. Oh, CAROL ... don't make me come down there, girl!!! You best read Laura's book and fast AND before my book comes out ... I don't want you distracted when you read ALS, you hear?? Anxious to hear what you think ... about Laura's work, Liz's and Cathy's. :)

      Thanks for taking the time to swing by, Carol -- you're the best, darlin'!

      Hugs,
      Julie

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    4. You come right on down and make me if you feel the need ;). Working on my list of reviewer books right now. Need to stop requesting more... ;) At least until I get caught up on both them and some of my 'for fun' reading :).

      Cannot wait for ALS, my friend! And don't worry - I won't be distracted ;). That's why I had to wait on Emma's story and not read it while I was on narcotics ;).

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  23. I loved Promise Me This. Michael is such a cool guy. Like Branson in Downton Abbey. This book would make a great movie.

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    1. LLMARMALADE ... Oh, YES, it definitely would make a great movie!! Cathy sure knows how to weave a powerful story, no question!!

      Hugs,
      Julie

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  24. Definitely Laura Frantz The Colonel's Lady. A Love Most Pure by Julie. Beyond Hope's Valley by Tricia Goyer. Many more that are exhaustive.

    desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

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    1. LINDA!!! Girl, I can always count on you for support, which is SUCH a blessing -- THANK YOU!! And like I said above -- put me on any list with Laura Frantz (or Tricia Goyer) and I'm in hog heaven! :)

      Hugs,
      Julie

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  25. Julie i love the books you mentioned that impacted your life although it doesnt surprize me in the least that gone with the wind ws on your list MicheleAnn Oboyle
    AngelWolfMystic@yahoo.com

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    1. Hey, ANGEL, yeah GWTW is a shocker to most people, I guess ... NOT!! :)

      It is fun to see what authors we read love to read, isn't it?? I always figure anybody that likes my books is somebody I want to know because they usually love/have passion welling up inside.

      Good luck in the contest, Angel!

      Hugs,
      Julie

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  26. Morning everyone! It's 5am here and I've gotten up to go to training, but seeing all the chatting going on, I couldn't leave without dropping by first!

    Julie - you're very welcome! We are so happy to have you with us! I have GWTW on my book shelf, I picked it up cheap (in hardback)at a secondhand book store...still haven't read it...but it sure looks good! :D

    I also highly recommend Laura Frantz! (Waving at you Laura!) I loved the Colonel's Lady. I read it after Helen raved so much (something she usually doesn't do)!

    I might have to venture into Liz Curtis Higgs...I understand she is very good...now where did I hear that from I wonder...:)

    Thanks again everyone for dropping by! :D

    I have to (and gladly) go running now! :)

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    1. JESS, YES!!! Liz is a must, in my opinion and a cheap hardback of GWTW??? I'm jealous. Mine has it's spine cover missing by now, so I guess I should really break down and buy a new one, but the old is just SO sentimental to me since it is the very book I read at the age of 12. Now it's an antique just like me! ;)

      Hugs,
      Julie

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    2. Julie, I must say I'm very impressed that you read GWTW at age 12! It's a LONG book! I was reading Babysitter's Club and Sweet Valley High at 12!

      I would never get rid of the first copy of GWTW, esp the one you first read! :)

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  27. Whoa--Julie! I know you read and review dozens, so I am truly, truly honored and blessed that "Promise Me This" made one of your top five choices!!! Thank you!!! It's a book I love--an Edwardian/Downton Abbey Era world of its own, and I miss Annie and Michael still.

    But I have to say, Julie, that you are able to create more SIZZLE on the page than anyone I know!!! The first time I read "A Passion Most Pure" I thought--this is a beautiful, intimate picture of married love--something that we don't see often, and something we surely don't see often enough. We're given attraction, flirtation, courtship, and even weddings (all lovely), but what better gift could we have in romantic Christian fiction than a portrayal of faithful, married, fun love? That reminds me of the kind of love Christ has for the church--all the wooing and caring and tender love forever and ever! And what a sense of humor He must have to keep us!!! : )
    Keep them coming, Julie!!! Your readers span the globe!!!

    A side note--I, too, was 12 when I saw GONE WITH THE WIND for the first time at a movie theater with my older sister. I know EXACTLY "the look on the winding staircase" that you mean. I hadn't even known there WAS such a "look" at that age, and can still feel the rush to my face. Needless to say, I read the book soon after, too. What fun to know your inspiration!

    Thanks so much for a great blog, Helen and Jess!!!

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    1. CATH ... you first saw GWTW at the age of 12 too?? I didn't see it then, of course, only read it, but 12 must be that magic impressionable age for aspiring writers, you know???

      And, girl, you are MORE than welcome. I call 'em the way I see 'em, Cath, and I call your work "wonderful"!!

      Hugs,
      Julie

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  28. JULIEEE!!
    Oh my friend I DO back you up with that. Don't you just love a story full of good romance (in fact, for me most of the time, a good story is NOT complete without it) and I DO agree that there's just SOO much talent in Christian Fiction!! (.. AND in the writing of a certain award-winning author.. ahem..) And interestingly enough, I am currently reading The Colonel's Lady, AND will read the upcoming book.. oh yeah, my friend, Mrs Frantz deserves a shout for this work!! And dang, the day I heard Julie talk about Promise me tomorrow, I practically banged my head, wondering how I could get it, but still you never know.. someday. And of course Liz Curtis Higgs is GOOOD too!
    And so are you, Julie! I mean it sincerly!

    An electronic 'hug' to you *if that makes sense..*
    Thanks for the blog :)

    Ganise

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    1. LOL, GANISE ... I always feel like I just got a shot of adrenalin when I read your sweet notes, girlfriend, so THANK YOU!! Soooo glad you already know about Laura and Liz, and Cathy will thrill you too, I promise.

      Thanks for your incredible encouragement AND precious friendship, girl. :)

      Hugs right back ... electric and otherwise!
      Julie

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  29. Heaven's above, there was a party going on whilst Jess and I were sleeping! So thrilled to see everyone here, thank you for coming by!

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  30. I'm sorry but I just have to ask: is it actually morning in Australia while it's almost dark outside here??... O my gosh- this is amazing, really!

    Ganise

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    1. Hi Ganise, Yes that's right! As of this writing it is 11:48am on the 16th May! :D

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  31. What a great post - it's always interesting to find out what's behind the heart and mind of an author!

    Thank you both!

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    1. Hey, BECK, I soooo agree and THANK YOU for coming by and GOOD LUCK in the contest, girl!!

      Hugs,
      Julie

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