Monday, August 15, 2022

Allison Pittman: Laura's Shadow

 

By Kelly Bridgewater

Family Secrets Spill One Conversation at a Time 

Visit historic American landmarks through the Doors to the Past series. History and today collide in stories full of mystery, intrigue, faith, and romance. 

De Smet, South Dakota—1890

Young women growing up in DeSmet live by two rules: don’t go out in a snowstorm and don’t give your heart to Cap Garland. Young Mariah Patterson only managed to obey one. Orphaned and having devoted her youth to scrapping out a life with her brother Charles, Mariah finds herself with no interesting suitors or means of support. Throwing caution to the wind, she seizes an opportunity to lay her feelings at Cap’s feet, even though she knows Cap sees the world through the torch he carries for Laura Ingalls. Mariah is certain her love for Cap will be strong enough to break both bonds, and she’s willing to risk everything to prove it. 

De Smet, South Dakota—1974 

Trixie Gowan is the fourth generation of living Gowan women residing in the sprawling farmhouse on the outskirts of De Smet. Well, former resident. She’s recently moved to Minneapolis, where she writes ads for a neighborhood paper edited by Ron Tumble. She might live and work in the city, but her co-workers still call her Prairie Girl. Thus the inspiration for her comic strip—“Lost Laura”—in which a bespectacled girl in a calico dress tries to make her way in the city. The name is a quiet rebellion having grown up in a household where she’d been forbidden to mention the name, Laura Ingalls. But when her great-grandmother Mariah’s declining health brings Trixie home for a visit, two things might just keep her there: the bedside manner of Dr. Campbell Carter and the family secret that seems to be spilling from GG’s lips one conversation at a time.

 


My Thoughts:

Laura’s Shadow by Allison Pittman shares a different story about Laura Ingalls Wilder, the widely popular prairie writer. The two time periods were interesting and filled with a pending revelation that readers will eagerly flip the pages hoping to discover. The past story was the one that really captured my attention. Of course, it was the actual story that the present day story was alluding to. I kept waiting for GG to explain to Trixie what the big secret was. A little disappointing at the moment of the “revealing”, but I do not want to share any spoilers. This was a unique story, which put Wilder in a different light, but it won’t tarnish her reputation. On the other hand, the romance in both timelines were a little off-setting. The present one definitely more than the past one. I did not buy the romance in the current day story at all. It was a weird and left a bad taste in my mouth. As for the past romance, the idea of Mariah’s brother and how he treated her once he became married really rubbed me the wrong way. Not that it does not happen because it does all the time. I just did not like to read it that way. Did not go well for Mariah in the story. Overall, Laura’s Shadow by Allison Pittman does definitely introduce readers into a Door into the Past, but I wanted a better ending to the revelation of the big moment that tied the two time periods together.

I received a complimentary copy of Laura’s Shadow by Allison Pittman from Barbour Publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating:   3.5 out of 5 stars

Purchase Laura’s Shadow

Friday, August 12, 2022

Welcome back to School

 By Kelly Bridgewater

How did the first week of school go?

Were the meals planned? Or forgotten?

How about school work?

Have your kids whined about the amount of homework yet?

www.publicdomainpictures.net


This year, I get to experience my second son as a senior in high school. Hopefully, he can hit all those milestones that was stolen from my first son because of COVID. Shame for the class of 2020. Trust me, he does not like me or anyone for that matter to mention prom or graduation because he had neither. The school did not even make it up later. He is still very bitter about this. And I completely agree with him.

My last year is an eighth grader. I have been homeschooling him on the weekends and evenings after work, so it is more time consuming with him, but I honestly think he does SO much better with the one-on-one instruction then the instruction with the 30 plus students in the classroom.

What about you? Anything different this year than the previous years?

Monday, August 8, 2022

Pepper Basham: The Heart of the Mountains

 By Kelly Bridgewater


About the Book

Book: The Heart of the Mountains

Author: Pepper Basham

Genre: Christian Fiction / Romance

Release date: July 1, 2022

Can True Love Weather a World of Differences?

To escape marriage, Cora Taylor runs away from her home in England to join her brother in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, but not even her time as a nurse in the Great War prepares her for the hard landscape and even harder lives of the mountain people. With the help of Jeb McAdams, a quiet woodcarver, who carries his own battle scars, she fashions a place for herself among these unique people. But the past refuses to let go, and with dangers from within and without, can hearts bruised by war find healing within the wilds of the mountains?

 


My Thoughts:

The Heart of the Mountains by Pepper Basham is a historical journey through the wilderness of the Appalachian Mountains with the struggles of living completely independent of the modern conveniences of England of the 1910 world. The setting is beautiful, wild, and adventurous just like the heroine and her love of medicine and this wild adventure that she is traveling to in this new world. Basham is a wonderful writer at diving deep into character’s hurts. This is a huge strength that makes her characters strong and jump off the pages of the story. Cora runs away from England, seeking a life of purpose; whereas, in comparison, Jeb wants a life that frees him from the horrors that he encounters while serving in a previous war. Overall, each individual character’s journey is deep and transformative. While I love Basham’s characters, the plot this time around, really did not capture my attention. I have loved a number of Basham’s stories, so I know she is a fabulous writer, but this story really did not hold my attention. I anxiously await some of her novels that have already been teased to be released next year.

I received a complimentary copy of The Heart of the Mountains by Pepper Basham  from Barbour Publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating:   3.5 out of 5 stars

Purchase The Heart of the Mountains

About the Author


Pepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes romance peppered with grace and humor with southern Appalachian flair. Both her historical and contemporary novels have garnered recognition in the Grace Awards, Inspys, and ACFW Carol Awards. Her historical romance, The Thorn Healer, was a finalist in the 2018 RT Awards. Her historical romance novels, My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge and The Red Ribbon, and her contemporary novels, the Mitchell’s Crossroads and Pleasant Gap series, showcase her Appalachian heritage, as well as her love for humor and family. She currently resides in the lovely mountains of Asheville, NC where she is the mom of five great kids, a speech-language pathologist to about fifty more, and a lover of chocolate, jazz, hats, and Jesus.

You can learn more about Pepper at her website http://www.pepperdbasham.com or connect with her on FB, IG, or Twitter.

More from Pepper

It’s so interesting how one idea can influence an entire series, or…how one person’s story can.

The idea for The Heart of the Mountains started in Laurel’s Dream with a hint of a family history story about a girl named Kizzie. (Someday, I hope to bring Kizzie’s story to the pages of a book). From there, the idea began to grow out of a love for my Appalachian culture into a series of books which highlighted (and fictionalized) stories from my family history.

The main story in The Heart of the Mountains is about Jeb and Cora, two different people with similar servant hearts, but the secondary story that touched me so much was the one based on my great grandfather’s life. I write about it in the Author’s Note at the end of the novel, so I won’t go into detail about it. However, what I loved getting to do is bring the truth of God’s redemption in my great grandfather’s life…to life again. 

I never knew “Papa Rat”. I only knew the stories handed down to me by my granny and my mama, but in writing this story, I feel as though I had a tiny opportunity to “meet” him in these pages. He was a gruff mountain man with a broken past which led him to make a whole lot of broken choices, but his story is incredibly encouraging, because it points to the God of broken people. My great grandpa wasn’t left in his brokenness, but, after years of running away from God, he would later recount that God pursued him. The beauty of Sam McAdams’ journey in The Heart of the Mountains is only a little glimpse into what I imagine my great grandpa’s redemption story looked like. 

Because my great grandpa was forever changed when Jesus saved him (as any of us should be).

I think that’s what my granny and her siblings (and even “Papa Rat” himself) would want most -that his story would point to Jesus. I hope that’s what you see when you read about Sam McAdams in The Heart of the Mountains.

Have you ever read a book based on family history? One of my favorites is Catherine Marshall’s Christy.

Blog Stops

Bizwings Blog, July 28

Rachael’s Inkwell, July 28

Bigreadersite, July 28

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, July 29

Texas Book-aholic, July 29

Inklings and notions, July 30

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, July 30

Boondock Ramblings, July 30

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, July 31

Reading With Emily, July 31

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, July 31 (Author Interview)

lakesidelivingsite, August 1

Where Crisis & Christ Collide, August 1

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, August 1

Daysong Reflections, August 2

deb’s Book Review, August 2

Live. Love. Read., August 2

Betti Mace, August 3

Book Looks by Lisa, August 3

Locks, Hooks and Books, August 3

Remembrancy, August 4

For Him and My Family, August 4

Blossoms and Blessings, August 4

Mypreciousbitsandmusings, August 5

By the Book, August 5

Wishful Endings, August 5

For the Love of Literature, August 6

Books, Books and More Books, August 6

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, August 6

Connie’s History Classroom, August 7

SodbusterLiving, August 7

Splashes of Joy, August 7

Where Faith and Books Meet, August 8

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, August 8

Back Porch Reads, August 9

Through the Fire Blogs, August 9

Pause for Tales, August 9

Labor Not in Vain, August 10

Miriam Jacob, August 10

To Everything There Is A Season, August 10

Giveaway


To celebrate her tour, Pepper is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon e- gift card and a paperback copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/20389/the-heart-of-the-mountains-celebration-tour-giveaway

Friday, August 5, 2022

Prayer for the 22-23 School Year

 By Kelly Bridgewater

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Lord,

Guide all the children as they return to school, hopefully without masks.

Prepare all the children’s minds as they aborbe all that the teachers are teaching. Keep them patient, mindful, and respectful of all the teachers, principals, nurses, and janitors.

Prepare the teachers to be patient and supportive of all their children. Please give them the mindset that all students learn differently and at different paces. Not all children can learn the same way. Be prepared to teach these children to learn and be successful.

Prepare the parents as they have to return to the schedule juggling of school, work, and after school activities. Give parents the skills to handle it all without anger.

Allow moments of awe.

Allow moments of peace.

Allow moments of joy.

Let’s have a good year.

Amen. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Sara Ella: The Wonderland Trials

 By Kelly Bridgewater


About the Book

Book: The Wonderland Trials

Author: Sara Ella

Genre: YA Dystopian Fantasy / Alice in Wonderland retelling

Release date: July 12, 2022

Solve the clues. Face your fears. Win the Trials.

All Alice Liddell wants is to escape her Normal life in Oxford and find the parents who abandoned her ten years ago. But she gets more than she bargained for when her older sister Charlotte is arrested for having the infamous Wonder Gene—the key to unlocking the curious Wonderland Reality.

Soon, Alice receives a rather cryptic invitation to play for Team Heart in this year’s annual—and often deadly—Wonderland Trials. Now she has less than twenty-four hours to find her way into Wonderland where nothing is impossible . . . or what it seems.

The stakes are raised when she discovers players go missing during the Trials each year. Will she and her team solve the clues and find the missing players? Or will betrayal and distrust win, leaving Alice alone in a world of her own? Follow the White Rabbit into this topsy-turvy fantasy where players become prey, a sip of the wrong tea might as well be poison, and a queen’s ways do not always lead one where they ought to go.

 


My Thoughts:

The Wonderland Trials by Sara Ella is a unique twist on the popular Alice in Wonderland story. Alice meets Hunger Games in an original version of a hunt for what is reality versus what the government allows its citizens to see and believe. Putting characters through trials to either survive, receive eternal glory, or power is a popular element of the modern Dystopian novel. Not being a fan of the Hunger Games since they were poorly written and plotted, The Wonderland Trials by Ella is more creative, yet familiar at the same time. I love the nods all of the book to the original classic by Lewis Carol. That took some creative juices flowing to make these jump off the pages. As for the heroine of Alice, I love how Ella made her unsure of her past. Gave me, as the reader, something to cling to. I want to know what happens. Where is the reality of what occurred to Alice and Charlotte. Even though the story is complete, I still have many unanswered questions, which is a marvelous job by Ella. Makes me want to grab the second novel. The story does end in a cliff-hanger, which I love. Little bit of romance between Alice and another character, but nothing over the top. They explore their emotions, but as teenagers, it is a wild ride. Overall, The Wonderland Trials by Sara Ella is a pleasurable twist on Alice in Wonderland, which will delight young adults and adults who need an escape from modern reality. I LOVE the cover, and I will purchase a hardback copy to include in my library.

I received a complimentary copy of The Wonderland Trials by Sara Ella from Enclave Publishing through Celebrate Lit Tours, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating:  4.5 out of 5 stars

Purchase The Wonderland Trials

About the Author


Once upon a time, Sara Ella dreamed she would marry a prince and live in a castle. Now she spends her days homeschooling her three Jedi in training, braving the Arizona summers, and reminding her superhero husband that it’s almost Christmas (even if it’s only January). When she’s not writing, Sara might be found behind her camera lens or planning her next adventure in the great wide somewhere. She is a Hufflepuff who finds joy in the simplicity of sipping a lavender white mocha and singing Disney tunes in the car. Sara is the author of the Unblemished trilogy and Coral, a reimagining of The Little Mermaid that focuses on mental health. Her latest journey into the world of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland feels like coming full circle after her time spent chasing the White Rabbit around Walt Disney World. Sara loves fairy tales and Jesus, and she still believes “Happily Ever After is Never Far Away.” Connect with her online at SaraElla.com or find her on Instagram at @saraellawrites.

 More from Sara

Welcome to Wonderland!

When I started this journey down the rabbit hole, I had no idea where it would lead me. From switching publishers to signing a book contract during a pandemic, this writing journey has certainly been an adventure for the books!

As with every story I write, life handed me a few trials along the way with this one. I didn’t know how it would end until a few weeks before deadline. With that time crunch came an epiphany that altered a good portion of the plot—an idea that had me scrambling to rewrite entire scenes right up until the final hours before I turned the story in to my editor. It was difficult, but the book is better for it—I am better for it.

It could be said that an author shapes the story, but I personally believe it’s equally true that the story shapes the author. Every book I have written has changed me in some way. With The Wonderland Trials, I can pinpoint three takeaways that helped me grow in ways I never expected.

I learned to not take life so seriously.

We all have to do the adulting thing. We have bills to pay and homes to clean and deadlines to meet. But in the midst of all that chaos and craziness is a time to laugh. To play. To make a mess on the living room floor building Legos with my toddler or take a walk to the park.

I found myself often rushing through time with friends because I had to write or work or check more boxes off my task list. But feeling stressed and cutting friend and family time short didn’t accomplish anything. It didn’t get my book written faster. I’m not saying to put things off that need to be done—it’s important to be responsible. I am saying I learned that I have to balance work and play, and most importantly, I need to be present for those in my life.

It’s not only okay to sit back and relax now and again, it’s necessary. I need to let go of the constant to-do list and invest my time in things that bring me joy. That way, when it’s time to sit down and pound the keys, I’m filled and inspired, rather than tired and anxious.

I learned to see the beauty in found family.

They say you can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family. I disagree. As a girl who was raised by a stepdad who has loved me unconditionally as his own from the time I was two, I think there is something truly special about family that you find and make your own.

There have been times I’ve felt jealous of my friends who still have their biological parents around. I lost my mom in 2012 and my birth dad in 2020. I have maybe a handful of blood relatives left. I love them to bits, and I’m so grateful for them! But my family extends beyond the boundaries of blood. When I really think about it, I have family coming out of my ears and then some.

I have besties who became my soul sisters and women who stepped in as moms and grandmas. I have big brothers who would protect me with their lives and nieces and nephews I get to spoil on holidays and birthdays. As Alice says in The Wonderland Trials, “​​Sometimes family isn’t the one you’re born with. It’s the one you find. Or the ones who find you.”

I learned to believe in the impossible.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m the pessimist in my family. I try to see every worst-case scenario when making a decision. I ask all the what-ifs in the book. I’m like MJ in the Spider-Man movies— “If you expect disappointment, then you can never really get disappointed.”

My husband, on the other hand, has the faith of a child. When I’m lacking in faith, he’s there to remind me of all God can do. And God almost always surprises me with how He goes about doing those things. In a world with drive-thrus, mobile bank deposits, food deliveries, and every other form of instant service we can think of, the call to be patient and wait on the Lord is often forgotten.

I want answers now. I want my family member to be healed now. I want the baby we’ve been waiting over a year to adopt now. God can do the impossible, right? So why doesn’t He hurry up and do it already?

Because God is not a vending machine. And just because He chooses not to perform the miracle I want when and how I want it, that doesn’t mean he isn’t working. In fact, it’s the waiting period when God tends to do His best work on me.

More often than not, I am the impossible one, the impossible heart that needs changing. The stubborn clay that needs molding. The cracked tea cup that needs to be fixed and filled with rivers of gold. What I see as impossible to fix or change, God sees as an opportunity to help me grow. So I’ll keep believing in the impossible. After all, God took me, an impossibly helpless sinner, and made me into something new.

 Thank you for taking time to read my thoughts and for giving this little book a chance. Happy reading, Wonders! The impossible awaits!

 Sincerely,

Sara Ella

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, July 30

Rachael’s Inkwell, July 30

A Reader’s Brain, July 31

For Him and My Family, July 31

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, August 1

Texas Book-aholic, August 2

Where Faith and Books Meet, August 3

Inklings and notions, August 3

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, August 4

deb’s Book Review, August 5

Live. Love. Read., August 5

Locks, Hooks and Books, August 6

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, August 7

Mary Hake, August 7

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, August 8

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, August 8

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, August 9

Tell Tale Book Reviews, August 10

Melissa’s Bookshelf, August 10

Wishful Endings, August 11

Blogging With Carol, August 12

Rebecca Tews, August 12

Giveaway


To celebrate her tour, Sara is giving away the grand prize package of a signed Limited Edition Hardcover of The Wonderland Trials, $25 Barnes & Noble Gift Card, and $15 Starbucks Gift Card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/2038e/the-wonderland-trials-celebration-tour-giveaway

Monday, August 1, 2022

Lynette Eason: Crossfire

By Kelly Bridgewater

FBI special agent Julianna James is a top-notch negotiator who has never lost a hostage. Surely she can manage to take care of her much younger sister, Dottie, who showed up unannounced to live with Julianna while she finished her senior year of high school.

A former sniper with the 75th Ranger Regiment, Clay Snyder left the army after a tragic incident that he can't get past. Now he's working as a high school resource officer until he can figure out what to do with the rest of his life.

Their paths cross when Julianna is called in to negotiate a courtroom hostage situation involving Clay's sister. Impressed and a bit intimidated by the calm, capable woman with the dark hair and blue eyes, Clay invites her to speak at his school. Dottie's school.

But as the anniversary of a school shooting from Julianna's past approaches, it becomes clear that her perfect record is about to be tested and that Dottie is at risk. If Julianna and Clay can't figure out who's behind the attacks, more innocent people will die--and Julianna just might be one of them.

This intense story of revenge and redemption from bestselling author and master of suspense Lynette Eason will have you up all night as you race toward the explosive finish.

 


My Thoughts:

Crossfire by Lynette Eason is a sweet revenge story sprinkled with romance and sisterly love. Right from the opening chapter, Eason draws readers into the action with a court scene and the explosive power of everything going wrong. From then on, Eason keeps her foot on the gas, putting her characters through harrowing events after events. Anything to keep the pace of the novel on the rocks. Just the way I enjoy my suspense novels. As for the romance, it really does not take away from the suspense, it just happens on the sidelines of the plot, which is the way that I like my romance in a novel. As for the characters, Julianna cares a lot about her little sister. Even enough that she allows her little sister to move in with her to remove herself from the disastrous environment of her home life. A nice quality in a character to have. A heart that puts others before herself. As for the hero, he also has something from his past, which hero really does not, that affects his present day world. As for the story, it was a little different with a harrowing feat of heroics, but overall, it lines right up with what fans are expecting from Eason. Nothing but a non-stop thrill ride. Overall, Crossfire by Lynette Eason will delight romantic suspense fans and keep readers guessing to the climactic explosive ending.

I received a complimentary copy of Crossfire by Lynette Eason from Revell Publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating:   4 out of 5 stars

Purchase Crossfire