This blog is a celebration of novel, novel characters!

I love reading novels, and as an artist I know a great exercise to stretch one's illustration skills is to portray characters from a description in a book. This blog is a challenge to myself to do just that so I'll be posting illustrations from whatever book I'm currently reading. Feel free to add comments and send me your fan art for these great titles too!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The many characters from: A Match Made in Texas!

I just finished reading “A Match Made in Texas!”  I don’t usually read novellas, but after this collection it’s something I may do more often.  It may be just me, or simply a testament to the writing, but whatever the reason, reading these stories brought tears to my eyes and had me laughing out loud!  That’s no exaggeration!

Each story in the collection is a romance, centering on a couple falling in love and getting married.  All of them are set in 1893 and at least start or end in the same place: Dry Gulch, Texas.  My mother has aptly commented that sometimes a short story can leave you wanting.  Just when you’re getting into a setting and enjoying that world, it’s all over.  The authors headed off this potential let down by masterfully connecting the stories not only to a mutual setting and time period, but by setting them off with the actions of one woman (who is the star of the last story), then weaving in some of the same secondary characters, and even characters from the author’s other novels.

The first story is by Karen Witemeyer and features Neill Archer, who is also a part of two of her previous novels, “Short Straw Bride” and “Stealing the Preacher.”  Since I really enjoyed both of those stories I was excited to read about Neill and get back into that “world” again, as my mother would put it.  Niell’s counterpart is the young widow Clara Danvers who is alone but with child.  She has some Native American heritage which added an interesting layer to the story.  Of all the stories, I think this one had the most exciting ending; there’s nothing like a chase scene to keep you on the edge of your seat! 

The second story, by Regina Jennings is a tender story.  This is the one that made me tear up.  The main character is Grace O’Malley, a strong, young, independent former school teacher who is going blind.  While she doesn’t want to be defeated by her blindness, she doesn’t know how to move forward with her life until the handsome stranger, Clayton Weber shows up at her door.  There are themes of forgiveness and triumph in this story, and like I mentioned it’s the one that had me tearing up, so I would mark it as having the most heartfelt ending.

The third story brings Carol Cox’s flavor for a bit of intrigue & suspense into play.  Strange things are happening on the ranch of Andrew Simms’ Aunt.  Fearing his Aunt’s sanity, arrangements are made for Lucy Benson, a girl badly in need of escape from an unwanted suitor, to stay at the ranch with her.  This story had a lot of soul searching for Lucy, and I was routing for her all the way as she tackled life on the ranch.  Her ending was the most dramatic having a daring rescue!

The final story was a great way to end the collection, leaving on a humorous and romantic note.  Written by Mary Connealy, this is the one that had me laughing out loud.  It had tender moments too, but I love it for the light-hardheartedness.  The meddler who’s instigated all the introductions of the couples in the previous stories is Hannah, a girl who likes to do good for others but doesn’t feel like she’s had much good happen to her.  If only she’d pay more attention to the bumbling banker, Marcus Whitfield who just so happens to think the world of her.  Marcus is one of those characters that you fall in love with for his flaws.  He’s very empathetic and endearing.  Of all the stories this one had the most busy-bodies in action, and the funniest ending.

I hope you enjoy this collection as much as I did if you choose to read it sometime!

For a fun interview of the authors & more about the novella collection, check out this great post by a fellow blogger: http://craftybooksheeps.blogspot.com/2014/01/   I had the pleasure of illustrating the sheep in the header last week!


*I was provided a review copy of this book by the publisher

Monday, January 6, 2014

Lex from “Sushi for One” by Camy Tang

I’m a few days late in recognizing the New Year; I hope everyone had a Happy New Year’s celebration!  

The New Year always makes me think about Japan ever since my year of studying abroad there (2006-07), New Year’s is such a big deal in the Japanese culture.  It’s a time of eating special foods, getting together with friends and family, and prayer for the coming year.  It’s their most important holiday, their “Christmas,” minus Christ.

Thinking about Japan reminded me that I’ve wanted to post on “Sushi for One,” a title that’s been out for a while, but I personally just read last year.  It doesn’t have anything to do with New Year’s but it was my connection to Japan that attracted me to Camy’s book when I saw the cover.  With a good mix of funny and serious scenes, I thoroughly enjoyed it and l look forward to reading the rest of the series sometime.

The main character Lex is a Christian, and a Japanese American, something that she shares with her creator Camy Tang.  Camy explains on her website how Lex also shares her love of playing volleyball, and her troubles with tearing her ACL and having to go through physical therapy to recover.  Volleyball is a big part of the story because it’s what Lex is most passionate about, but the other driving force in this one is the element of romance, or more like, the lack-there-of.  Some of the funniest moments happen from being under pressure from her large family to find a husband ASAP or face the wrath of Grandma!  The very first scene had me laughing out loud when Lex’s Grandma offers a solution to her dating problem by saying she'll buy Lex a boob job!
The story also has a lot of sincere moments of searching for answers and learning to trust in God.  It was hard for Lex to not have things happen on her time schedule and not get to do things her way, but when she trusted in God to put the pieces of her life back together He did.  They maybe didn’t happen the way she’d expected them to, but her life did start falling into place.  Time and again God has worked like this in my own life.  Not on my schedule, His, not what I want, when I want it, but what I need, when I need it.  It can be a hard thing to accept, but also a freeing thing.  As I think about the New Year, I want to continue striving, as Lex did, to trust in God.


Check out Camy Tang's website: http://camytang.com/