Monday, April 28, 2014

April 2014 Movie Wrap-Up

By Andrea Renee Cox

It’s that time of the month again. Time for me to tell you which movies I enjoyed in the month of April. Without further ado, here’s my short list of must-see films.

IN THEATERS

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

I’m a Marvel movie fan. Never read the comics, but I’ve seen most of the films. Captain America: The Winter Soldier fed my superhero craving perfectly. High-flying action sequences, witty dialogue between Cap and Black Widow, and surprises around every corner (can’t give away the details because I want you to be as surprised as I was) kept me on the edge of my seat throughout the entire film. This is one I would love to see multiple times in the theater, if only my budget would allow for that. The cast was great, as it always is with these dynamic movies in the Marvel family. I loved the addition of Anthony Mackie as the new character Falcon. He’s a talented actor I’ve enjoyed watching over the past several years. Always brings his A-game to every role he takes on. That’s what you’ve got to do when you step into the limelight with Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, and Samuel L. Jackson. Mackie's Falcon was a fabulous addition to the storyline, and I hope we get more of his story in the next Marvel flick.
Anthony Mackie portrays Falcon.





Disclaimer: This movie contains some inappropriate language and violence associated with superhero movies. Viewer discretion advised.





AVAILABLE TO OWN OR RENT

Frozen

This will probably remain the most popular Disney movie this year. It’s an instant classic that resonates with familial love. The story revolves around Elsa and Anna, two sisters (princesses, of course, but would we really expect anything less from Disney?) who drift apart due to secrets Elsa hides to protect Anna from another incident like the one that happened when she was very young. There’s adventure to be found in this wintry tale of dreams waiting to be fought for. Oh, and there’s a hilarious snowman named Olaf. He’ll keep you laughing for certain!

There have been a lot of versions of “Let It Go” floating around YouTube. Here for your viewing pleasure is my favorite one. It’s a very creative African Tribal version, featuring the very talented Alex Boy√©. Please enjoy!



Due to watching the Dallas Stars in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and several teams playing in the NBA Playoffs, I haven’t had much spare time to view movies. Have I mentioned that I’m more than a little obsessed with the National Basketball Association? I’d love to hear about movies you’ve seen this month. Maybe I can play catch-up once all the playoffs are over in a month or so.

Which movies would you recommend? What was it you liked about them? Which movies are you looking forward to the most for the summer season?


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Monday, April 21, 2014

Be My Guest - Carrie Turansky

This week starts my once-monthly guest spot on the third Monday of the month. I'm pleased to have the talented Carrie Turansky as my guest this week. If you haven't yet read The Governess of Highland Hall, I hope this article will inspire you to pick up a copy and give it a read. It's quite good and reminds me of Persuasion by Jane Austen.

Tyntesfield ~ Inspiration for the Setting for The Governess of Highland Hall

By Carrie Turansky

When I started working on ideas for The Governess of Highland Hall, I wanted to find an English country estate for my setting. I am a visual person, so finding images for my characters and setting brings the story to life for me. I loved visiting Highclere Castle where Downton Abbey is filmed, and I wanted to find an estate that gave a similar impression but was unique. After a short search online, I discovered Tyntesfield, and I was delighted when I followed several more links to other images and articles. It was the perfect inspiration for the Ramsey family's Highland Hall.




Tyntesfield
Tyntesfield is a beautiful Victorian Gothic Revival house and estate near Wraxall, North Somerset, England. The house is a Grade I listed building and now is owned by the National Trust of England. The house is named after the Tynte baronets, who had owned estates in the area since about 1500. The location was formerly a 16th-century hunting lodge, which was used as a farmhouse until the early 19th century. In the 1830s a Georgian mansion was built on the site, and it was bought by William Gibbs, an English businessman, who made his fortune by importing guano (bird droppings) from South America that was used to make fertilizer. Gibbs became the wealthiest non-noble in England for a time. Gibbs had a beautiful chapel added to Tyntesfield in the 1870s. The Gibbs family owned the house until the death of Richard Gibbs in 2001.


Tyntesfield was acquired by the National Trust in June 2002 after a fundraising campaign to prevent it being sold to private interests and to ensure it would be open to the public. The house was opened to visitors for the first time just 10 weeks after the acquisition, and over 189,000 people visited Tyntesfield in 2012. I am planning to visit Tyntesfield in May, and I’m very excited to see it all for myself!

Several scenes in The Governess of Highland Hall are set in the great hall, the gallery, and the nursery. So I thought you would like a peek at those areas of the house.


Would you like to see more photos of Tyntesfield? Come over to my Pinterest board and step back in time to 1912 and get to know The Governess of Highland Hall!





Carrie Turansky is the award-winning author of more than a dozen novels and novellas. She is winner of the ACFW Carol Award and the International Digital Award. For more information visit: http://carrieturansky.com.

Carrie has a new book that released last week (April 15). It's actually a two-in-one, so you get more for your money. Here's the book blurb from Carrie's website.





Where Two Hearts Meet

Two Sisters, Two Heartwarming Romance novellas

There's no better place for romance, forgiveness, and new beginnings than the Sweet Something Teashop.

Tea For Two

Allison Bennett, co-owner of a financially strapped teashop in Princeton, New Jersey, receives a large anonymous check that saves her business. But she has no idea who sent it. Could it be from Peter Hillinger, the wealthy businessman who owns the shop next door and wants to win Allison's heart? Or is it from Tyler Lawrence, Allison't old boyfriend, who returns to town claiming a renewed faith and a changed life? Allison doesn't know whom to trust. Should she follow her head or heart, or is there Someone else who can guide her toward the best path for her future?

Wherever Love Takes Us

After twenty-five years of marriage, Matt and Tessa Malone are struggling to recover financially and rebuild trust following a business failure. Then Matt inherits property in Oregon, and he wants to move the family there to make a fresh start. But Tessa can't imagine giving up the cozy teashop she co-owns with her sister, or leaving her friends and family in Princeton. Whose dream will they follow, and how much will it cost their family? Can they resolve their differences and rebuild a love that seems lost?


Tea for Two was originally published in Wedded Bliss, and Wherever Love Takes Us was originally published in Kiss the Bride. These two novellas have been expanded and updated and put together in one book. I hope you enjoy them!



Thank you for being my guest today, Carrie! I enjoyed learning more about Tyntesfield, the inspiration for The Governess of Highland Hall. Enjoy your trip! I look forward to seeing pictures from your adventure.

Readers, have you ever visited a castle? If you could go anywhere on your next vacation, where would you choose to go and why?


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Monday, April 14, 2014

A Stillness of Chimes

By Andrea Renee Cox

A book I recently read has stayed with me these past few weeks. Meg Moseley’s A Stillness of Chimes held my interest from the very beginning as I wondered what troubled the lead male character, Sean Halloran. As that mystery, and many others, was revealed over the course of this novel, the characters wiggled into my heart. Laura, Sean, and Cassie each had their own problems to face, but I particularly connected with Laura Gantt.


Her battle to believe or disprove the rumors that her dad, who was thought to be lost to the lake, has been seen wandering around town reminds me of the story I’m writing right now. Though there isn't any hope for my character's loved one to return, the rumors surrounding Laura Gantt’s father cause her to doubt everything she knew to be true. As Laura says, “This news about my dad… It changes everything.” Who knew one little whisper could change the entire dynamics of a lifetime of memories?

The one thing I don’t like about this story was the inclusion of affairs. I realize it’s a part of real life, but it isn’t something I’m drawn to in the fictional books I read. I’d rather read about loyalty in marriage as it’s the way I believe God created marriage to be between a husband and wife. However, I believe this book may provide guidance to God’s saving grace for those who have made similar decisions in their lives.

I especially enjoyed Meg’s style of writing. The reason? Because I never noticed I was reading a fictional story. It all seemed so real, so vivid. I was immersed in the characters’ lives as if I were living among them. It’s obvious a novel is well written when you don’t notice the author. Sometimes pet words or habits in sentence structure cause me to lose focus on the story and notice the author’s presence more. I’ve read two Meg Moseley books so far, and I never had that problem through any of the chapters in either novel. My hat’s off to her, and I look forward to discovering more of her creative storylines.

Thank you so much to WaterBrook Multnomah for a complimentary copy of A Stillness of Chimes in exchange for this honest review.

What pet peeves do you have about fiction books? What are your favorite aspects of reading fiction?


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Monday, April 7, 2014

Through the Deep Waters - A Story of Healing

By Andrea Renee Cox

Sin.

Sin is something we don’t often talk about. Why is that? It’s bleak, uncomfortable, intrusive, suffocating… The list could go on forever. To me, sin is an obstacle, a stumbling block in my path to righteousness. It’s something to cast off, to be forgiven for by God.

To Dinah Hubley, the lead character in Kim Vogel Sawyer’s latest novel Through the Deep Waters, sin is her haunting reality and nightly terror. Born to a prostitute and raised in a brothel, Dinah escapes to Florence, Kansas, where she intends to become a Harvey girl. The esteemed position of server in Mr. Harvey’s hotel dining room might be Dinah’s dream job, but her past might prove too strong to overcome. Will Dinah succumb to the black cloud her sin has created? Or will her new friends show her God’s healing love, extending an invitation she can’t refuse?

My heart shattered for Dinah as she began her journey in the darkest of circumstances. As I turned each page, I yearned for redemption, hope, and faith for the young lady. Each new chapter brought fresh struggles, which made it difficult to set the books aside to sleep or work. Though heart wrenching, Through the Deep Waters is an exquisite tale that is bound to help broken people find God’s healing touch. The theme of brokenness appeared early on and was reiterated when Dinah asked another character, “What… broke you?” She wasn’t the only one hurting, nor was she the only one in need of mending.

This story of redemption shares the author’s heart for the abused people of the world. Kim offers a ray of hope with the story of a harlot’s daughter seeking more than her past says she deserves. That hope for a bright future, even with a blackened past, is what salvation is all about. It’s why Jesus Christ came to Earth, lived a pure life, and died on the cross. It’s why He rose from the tomb and ascended into Heaven. He came to save the lost, heal the broken, rescue and revive the weary and downtrodden.

Are you in need of a Savior?

Consider this your invitation to the healing He offers.

In lieu of a question today, I offer this prayer:

Father in Heaven, thank You for allowing me to touch my readers’ lives today. Please bless each one in the ways You know they need. If they are brothers and sisters in the faith, I thank You and ask that You bring them ever closer to Your heart. If they have not yet discovered the freedom and healing You offer, I thank You for the opportunity to be Your witness. Please will You touch my readers’ hearts today? Will You draw them near to Your heart and plant that seed of faith? In the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ, I pray. Amen.



Kim, thank you for the complimentary copy of Through the Deep Waters. It’s a joy to be a member of your street team, Hope Harbingers. I appreciate the tenderness you poured upon the pages of Dinah’s story. Thank you for reaching out to the broken. Thank you for being one of God’s vessels.


Readers, if you would like to be a member of Kim Vogel Sawyer's street team for her next three books, please visit this page for more details on how you may request to join. Kim will be choosing her influencers soon, so don't delay!



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