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Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Liz Tolsma: The Refrain Within

 By Kelly Bridgewater

To save a life, would you betray everyone you love?

Hungary in 1944 is a dark place. The Nazis have invaded and turned the country upside down, their evil making its way into every life.

Clarinetist Eva Bognar is engaged to conductor and composer Patrik Kedves, happily planning her wedding. At first she doesn't think the war will affect her directly; everyone around her can be trusted to do the right thing. Then her Jewish best friend and sister-in-law Zofia goes missing--and instead of the Gestapo being to blame, a friend says it was Patrik who led Zofia away. Has he betrayed Eva and everything the family stands for?

When the rest of the family's lives are directly threatened, Patrik's secrets must come to light. The Bognars flee for the border in hopes of getting out of the country to the safety of Palestine. Eva must put her life and the lives of everyone she loves in the hands of the very man who betrayed her--and they may not all make it out of the war alive . . .
 

 


My Thoughts:

Liz Tolsma's The Refrain Within details an escape, betrayal, and love all in one novel. While the heroine on the cover did not do justice to the character within the pages of the novel, I truly was enthralled with the heroine on the pages of the story. She was brave and a delight to be around. She had no problem jumping right into helping her friends and family. She was cautious to trust every one, which as readers will completely come to understand. I love seeing the bravery of this generation while surviving all the horrors they had to go through. The hero, Patrick, denied who he was for a good reason. He was a remarkable and brave hero. I enjoyed the plot of the story. Of course, it featured all my favorite aspect of a World War II novel. Bravery in the face of absolute differing odds. Run of their lives. Lying. Spies. Escape. What a delightful thread to a great story. Tolsma's The Refrain Within does not disappoint fans of World War II novels. It was a wonderful way to spend a budding fall week. I can't wait to own this book in physical form for my bookshelf.

I received a complimentary copy of The Refrain Within by Liz Tolsma, but the opinions stated are all my own.

(Cover Comes from Goodreads.)

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Purchase The RefrainWithin

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Julie Klassen: An Ivy Hill Christmas

 By Kelly Bridgewater

Richard Brockwell, the younger son of Ivy Hill's most prominent family, hasn't been home for Christmas in years. He prefers to live in the London townhouse, far away from Brockwell Court, the old family secret that haunts him, and the shadows of his past mistakes. But then his mother threatens to stop funding his carefree life--unless he comes home for Christmas. Out of options, he sets out for Ivy Hill, planning to be back on a coach bound for London and his unencumbered bachelor life as soon as the festivities are over.

But Christmas in the country presents unforeseen surprises, including encounters with an orphaned apprentice, the first love he disappointed years ago, and Arabella Awdry, a young lady who is far more appealing than he recalled . . . and determined to have nothing to do with him.

Will Christmastime in Ivy Hill, with its village charm, kissing boughs, joyous songs, and divine hope, work its magic in his heart . . . and hers as well?

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From Goodreads

 

My Thoughts:

An Ivy Hill Christmas by Julie Klassen has an adorable Christmas cover. I love the idea of the snow on the ground and all the garland wrapped around everything. Don't forget the well-dressed gentlemen in the forefront of the cover. What an inviting and delightful sight for the season! Even though it is September and 90 degrees outside, this novel definitely put me in the Christmas spirit. I loved how Klassen allowed the hero to change and become a better person as the story moved along. I loved seeing the traditions from long ago. I liked the idea of actually going to church and then changing gifts on boxing day. I never knew that the decorations had to be removed by the first of the year or bad luck could happen. Our family usually takes down all our Christmas decorations on the first day of the new year anyways, but it was nice to see something different. The romance between the hero and heroine was nice and slow. Just the way I like it. The plot didn't drag at all. It was a nice little detail of a story that captured my attention. If you had read the previous stories in this Ivy Hill series, then you will find some familiar faces, which I enjoyed. I might return to this story when the weather becomes colder. Definitely a story for my keeper shelf. I highly recommend this story for fans of Christmas novels and Regency stories.

I received a complimentary copy of An Ivy Hill Christmas by Julie Klassen, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Purchase An Ivy HillChristmas

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Bored With Reading

By Kelly Bridgewater

Have you ever been bored with reading?

I know. 

As a HUGE bookworm, nothing thrills me than reading a book, purchasing a book, looking at a book, or looking at upcoming releases and adding them to my to-be-read pile. 

www.istockphoto.com


But during the whole Covid-19 scare, which could very much be going on, I had a hard time finishing books. Yes, I worked from home for 8 weeks straight, then went back to the office and had to do 50 hours a week, so when I returned home after work, I didn't want to read. 

Then while being at home, I wanted to finish our "we'll get to that when we have time" list.

We remodeled the laundry room, which had no floor, but the beams across the crawlspace. 

We sanded and resealed our hard wood floors throughout our living room and hallway. Of course, this included new trim throughout. 

We put new carpet in our bedroom. 

We had to take a huge hump out of our driveway since every time it rained, it rained into our garage, so we needed to fix this. Then we dumped a truck load or two of new gravel and had to spread it around. 

We put all new doors and trim throughout since I didn't like the 70's style hollow doors that were dark wood. I bought much lighter doors with the knots still in them. Much nicer. 

When I did sit down to read, the stories held no appeal. I couldn't lose myself in them. 

www.dailydot.com

What about you? Has the whole Covid-19 allowed you to read more or less? Why do you think this is?

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Deborah Raney: Finding Wings

 By Kelly Bridgewater

Taking care of her family is a blessing, but Britt thought there would be more to life--like falling in love . . .

Being the youngest of three sisters isn't always easy for Britt Chandler, especially when her older sisters have successful lives and hers is still on hold. She put everything aside to care for her dying mother, but now their mother is gone. Just as her life finally has a chance to blossom, her sister is ordered on bed rest during a difficult pregnancy, and it looks like God is again calling Britt to be a family caregiver--and nothing more.

Rafe Stuart is unable to forgive himself for a childhood mistake that had grave repercussions. And no matter how many lives he saves now as a first responder, he can't ever seem to do enough penance to free his soul from that decades-old tragedy. There definitely isn't room in his wounded heart for love; it's much too dangerous.

When these two struggling souls encounter each other, sparks fly. But they're both scared the fire that might result could destroy them--and the others around them. How can they begin to trust God to have the best for them and real purpose for their lives beyond what they've dreamed . . . or feared?

 


My Thoughts:

Deborah Raney and Beth K. Vogt have created stories that have featured three sisters and each sister has a story to tell. I have read all of Vogt's three stories and read the first and last of Raney's. I have truly enjoyed each of these five stories. While contemporary romance is not by chosen genre, I did enjoy these stories. Vogt stories focused mainly on the three sisters with a hint of romance; whereas, Raney's stories actually leaned more toward the romance of each sisters with their sister interaction. I enjoyed Raney's stories. With her latest and final book in the Chandler sisters' stories, Finding Wings, I really liked seeing Britt and Rafe tried to find their way through the struggles of falling in love. When Rafe was introduced, I saw him as a playboy with the way he came off with Stacie, but then Raney made him more realistic and charming as the story moved along. When Rafe had to face his ultimate fear, I liked how Raney made him face it and overcome it all in one big overarching moment in the story. As for Britt, she finally figures out what she wanted to do in her life, which was not that dramatic of a story as Rafe's, but it made her change too. Overall, Finding Wings was an enduring story of family and sisters. I recommend fans of Vogt's series to read this series too.

I received a complimentary copy of Finding Wings by Deborah Raney, but the opinions stated are all my own. (Cover came from Goodreads.)

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Purchase Finding Wings

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Linda Shenton Matchett: Spies and Sweethearts

By Kelly Bridgewater

Spies and Sweethearts FB Banner


Title: Spies and Sweethearts
Author: Linda Shenton Matchett
Genre: Historical Romance
Publication Date: April 15, 2020

A secret mission. A fake bride. A run for their lives.

According to the OSS training manual, the life expectancy of a radio operator in Nazi-occupied France is six weeks. Partnered with one of the agency’s top spies, Gerard Lucas, newly-minted agent Emily Strealer plans to beat those odds. Then their cover is blown and all bets are off. The border to neutral Switzerland is three hundred miles away-a long way to run with SS soldiers on their heels.

Will Emily and Gerard survive the journey and get home?

And what about their hearts? Nothing in the manual prepared them for falling in love.

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From Goodreads

My Thoughts:

I adore World War II stories. Something about the bravery of this generation really captures my attention and allows me to struggle and survive with them. When Celebrate Lit offered Spies and Sweethearts, I thought I would give Linda Shenton Matchett a try. She understands the concept of Deep point of view and diving into the character's thoughts and emotions. She has a good grasp on how to create conflict and keep building in in the plot. Must have your character's squirm on the page, so readers will want to follow. While these are her strong points, Matchett also has some not-so-good points. First, I really didn't like the heroine. She is flat and keeps whining about no one understanding her until she understands she can do things without the approval of others. It was really annoying. As for the hero, he didn't have many redeeming qualities either. He just roamed around the pages of the story. The plot. My main issue with it was the goal. What was the heroine and hero's goal in France? They parachuted in and then went to a house. A radio. But really nothing was shown of why they were there and what they were trying to accomplish. Next thing I know, they were on the run from the Germans. Then they would find a safe house. Hang around for a couple of weeks to "rest" and then have to be on the run again. I didn't buy this either. The romance wasn't believable either. I have read stories set in World War II where characters had to fake a marriage to survive, but nothing as extreme as this marriage. Overall, Matchett had some redeeming qualities in her story; however, the downfalls hurt the overall delivery of her story. 

I received a complimentary copy of Spies and Sweethearts by Linda Shenton Matchett through Celebrate Lit Publishers, but the opinions stated are all my own. 

My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars


About the Author

Linda Shenton Matchett writes about ordinary people who did extraordinary things in days gone by. A volunteer docent and archivist for the Wright Museum of WWII, Linda is also a trustee for her local public library. She is a native of Baltimore, Maryland and was born a stone’s throw from Fort McHenry. Linda has lived i

n historic places all her life, and is now located in central New Hampshire where her favorite activities include exploring historic sites and immersing herself in the imaginary worlds created by other authors.

 Linda Matchett Head Shot


More from Linda

Dear Reader,

 Take a moment to travel back to an era when ordinary women did extraordinary things. After the attack at Pearl Harbor, stalwart American gals stepped out of their comfort zone to take jobs never before held by women…sometimes dangerous jobs. Jobs in which they could lose their lives.

 As a docent at the Wright Museum of WWII, I meet people from all walks of life who lived and served during the second “war to end all wars.” Many of these people haven’t shared their stories with loved ones for myriad reasons, but when they arrive at the museum, the floodgates of memories open, and words begin to pour out.

I’ve listened as ladies shared the stress of working outside the home, and juggling finances and childcare issues while their husbands were away in the armed forces. I’ve heard some speak about the excitement of learning new skills and gaining confidence. However, others were not as forthcoming because what they did was not only perilous, but secret. Fortunately, in the last few years, documents been declassified to shed light on the undercover work and projects performed during the war.

It is my hope that Spies & Sweethearts, book one in my Sisters in Service trilogy, will honor these brave women in some small way.

 Blessings,

Linda Shenton Matchett

Blog Stops

Hebrews 12 Endurance, September 15

lakesidelivingsite, September 15

Worthy2Read, September 16

deb’s Book Review, September 16

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, September 17

Genesis 5020, September 17

Betti Mace, September 18

Emily Yager, September 18

Texas Book-aholic, September 19

The Book Chic Blog, September 19

Inklings and notions, September 20

Get Cozy Book Nook, September 20

For Him and My Family, September 21

Where Faith and Books Meet, September 21

She Lives To Read, September 22

As He Leads is Joy, September 22

Locks, Hooks and Books, September 23

CarpeDiem, September 23

Artistic Nobody, September 24 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, September 24

Ashley’s Bookshelf, September 25

Connect in Fiction, September 25

Connie’s History Classroom, September 26

Mary Hake, September 26

Blossoms and Blessings, September 27

Melissa Wardwell’s Back Porch Reads, September 27

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, September 28

Life, Love, Writing, September 28

Giveaway


To celebrate her tour, Linda is giving away the grand prize package of an autographed copy of Spies & Sweethearts, an autographed copy of WWII Word Find, hand cut wood fleur de lis earrings, pewter Eiffel tower ring holder, and a fleur de Lis Coaster!!

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/100e4/spies-sweethearts-celebration-tour-giveaway

 

Friday, September 18, 2020

ACFW Storyfest 2020

By Kelly Bridgewater

Obviously, I enjoy reading books. 

I like talking about books. 

Reading books. 

www.lifewire.com

I especially get excited when I get to meet authors who stories I have admired. 

I have met and taken pictures with a number of authors. 

Ronie Kendig
Susan May Warren
Becky Wade
Steven James
Natalie Walters
Karen Witemeyer
Jen Turano
Liz Tolsma
Carrie Stuart Parks
 and on and on

I want to meet Sarah Sundin. I would love to spend time with her and talk World War II. 

Before the Corona virus took over everything, I was planning to attend the ACFW Storyfest 2020 this weekend. 

I was going to meet with Sarah Sundin and Julie Lessman, but now I can't do that. 

So much of this year has been wasted because of this "virus." So much special moments have been erased and can't be replaced. 

So much has been lost. 

Trump better get reelected because of all this joke going through our culture. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Rachel Hauck: To Love A Prince

 By Kelly Bridgewater

 

About the Book:

Title:  To Love a Prince

Author: Rachel Hauck

Genre: Royal Romance

Publication Date: August 11, 2020

 Daffodil Caron is not a princess, even though she once dreamed of being one. After all, she grew up as a playmate to royal princes, running through the halls of Perrigwynn Palace and dining with the queen. But the day she stumbled upon a royal secret, everything changed.


Flash forward eighteen years, and Daffy’s living a sweet, non-royal life. A skilled art curator for the Royal Trust, she has friends, a flat in the heart of the city, and a handsome, successful fiancĂ©e. The last person on her mind is Gus, a prince she once called her best mate.

HRH Prince Augustus is no longer “Prince Pudgy,” as caricaturized by the press, he’s charming and gorgeous, possessing a world-famous smile. But when he’s jilted at the altar by an American heiress as millions of people around the world watched, the spare heir to Lauchtenland’s ancient House of Blue escapes, finding solace on a Florida beach.

A year as a regular bloke allows him to rethink his purpose. He’s half decided his calling is to pour pints at a tiki bar, rather than serving his country and the Family.

Until an accident on the beach with a Frisbee changes his course.

Despite his long hair and beard, Daffy recognizes her prince, and their childhood friendship is renewed. She assures Gus Lauchtenland needs him, giving him the courage to return home.

When Daffy and Gus find themselves on assignment to Hadsby Castle in preparation for his brother’s wedding, their friendship blooms into affection.

But Gus cannot, will not, trust his heart again. Daffy’s engaged. And she also remains a royal family outcast because she knows the Queen’s secret.

When affection grows into love and secrets are exposed, trust is destroyed. Gus must choose which is stronger: the lies of his past or the hope of his future. And Daffy must face every fear to prove she will forever love a prince.

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From Goodreads

 My Thoughts:

Rachel Hauck has a delightful way of taking any topic and crafting into a delightful stories for readers. I have read all of Hauck's stories, and I have enjoyed majority of them. With her first self-published novel, To Love a Prince, I had a hard time putting the story down. It was a unique story filed with redeemable characters. I loved how the story allowed two characters who had to move on from the past brokeness and learn to love each other. It captured my attention and didn't let go. I loved getting to know Prince Gus and seeing him fall more and more in love with  Daffodil. The story twisted and turned, but held my attention. Hauck is a wonderful writer too. I loved seeing the story play out in my imagination as the story unfolded before my eyes. It moved without effort and allowed me to see the characters move and fall in love. I really enjoyed this story, and I can't wait to read whatever comes next from Hauck.

I received a complimentary copy of To Love A Prince by Rachel Hauck through the Celebrate Lit Program, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Purchase To Love A Prince

 

About the Author

Rachel Hauck is an award winning, New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author.

Her book The Wedding Dress was named Inspirational Novel of the Year by Romantic Times Book Reviews. She is a double RITA finalist, and a Christy and Carol Award Winner.

Her book, Once Upon A Prince, first in the Royal Wedding Series, was filmed for an Original Hallmark movie.

Rachel has been awarded the prestigious Career Achievement Award for her body of original work by Romantic Times Book Reviews.

A member of the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers, she teaches workshops and leads worship at the annual conference. She is a past Mentor of The Year.

At home, she’s a wife, writer, worship leader and works out at the gym semi-enthusiastically.

A graduate of Ohio State University (Go Bucks!) with a degree in Journalism, she’s a former sorority girl and a devoted Ohio State football fan. Her bucket list is to stand on the sidelines with Ryan Day.

She lives in sunny central Florida with her husband and ornery cat.

 

More from Rachel

Hello Royal Rockstar Readers!

I’m thrilled to share To Love A Prince with you. So many of you who loved the Royal Wedding Series have asked for more royals so as I noodled over new story ideas, my thoughts drifted toward princes and princesses. What’s more romantic than a royal wedding?

This royal story, the first book in a new series, True Blue Royal, is set in a new fictional country, Lauchtenland, in the North Sea. I’m really squeezing all those oil wells currently occupying that body of water.

The beauty of royal stories is they remind us of who we really are: princes and princesses. There is always a point in the story where the royal character, as well as the commoner, must come to grips with his and her true identity! Who God says we are!

Stories are a powerful reflection of life and it’s fun to insert ourselves into the tale. While fiction employs a lot of hyperbole we can find ourselves on the page somewhere, somehow.

Thanks for going on this little tour with me and To Love A Prince. You are so vital to my story as an author. Thank you!

Yours,

Rachel

Blog Stops

Worthy2Read, September 10

Captive Dreams Windows, September 10

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, September 10

Genesis 5020, September 10

Novels Corner, September 10

Connect in Fiction, September 11

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, September 11

deb’s Book Review, September 11

Locks, Hooks and Books, September 11

Remembrancy, September 12

Breny and books, September 12

Texas Book-aholic, September 12

Inklings and notions, September 12

For Him and My Family, September 13

Artistic Nobody, September 13 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, September 13

The Book Chic Blog, September 13

Among the Reads, September 14

Soulfully Romantic, September 14

Ashley’s Bookshelf, September 14

Sara Jane Jacobs, September 14

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, September 15

lakesidelivingsite, September 15

All-of-a-kind Mom, September 15

Reflections From My Bookshelves, September 15

Betti Mace, September 16

Where Faith and Books Meet, September 16

Mypreciousbitsandmusings, September 16

Blossoms and Blesssings, September 16

She Lives To Read, September 17

Wishful Endings, September 17

Christian Chick’s Thoughts, September 17

Life of Literature, September 17

Life, Love, Writing, September 17

Book Love, September 18 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Maureen Timerman, September 18

Batya’s Bits, September 18

Labor Not in Vain, September 18

Bigreadersite, September 19

Hallie Reads, September 19

Jeanette’s Thoughts, September 19

Splashes of Joy, September 19

Christian Bookaholic, September 20

Musings of A Sassy Bookish Mama, September 20

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, September 20

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, September 20

Inside the Wong Mind, September 21

By The Book, September 21

Mary Hake, September 21

Godly Book Reviews, September 21

Hebrews 12 Endurance, September 22

Melissa Wardwell’s Back Porch Reads, September 22

Livin’ Lit, September 22

Writing from the Heart Land, September 22

Simple Harvest Reads, September 23 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

Mamma Loves Books, September 23

Daysong Reflections, September 23

Black ‘n’ Gold Girl’s Book Spot, September 23

Giveaway


To celebrate her tour, Rachel is giving away a royal gift box of Pampering Princess items that includes bath balms, tea, tiara and other surprises!!

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/10098/to-love-a-prince-celebration-tour-giveaway