“Featured Posts” are a key feature of any news/journal wordpress site. It is pretty easy to develop a wordpress theme to display a fixed number of featured posts from a specific category on the homepage. It can be done using the query_posts() function of wordpress. Here are few lines of code that displays latest 10 posts from the news category , you can edit it to tailor to your needs.
The function query_posts(); can be used to control which posts are displayed in the loop. More information on using query_posts(); can be found here : http://codex.wordpress.org/Template_Tags/query_posts .
Here is a list of nonblog wordpress website that can spur your creativity.