Monday, June 17, 2024

Patricia Raybon: Truth Be Told

By Kelly Bridgewater

Denver's newest detective. A garden's deadly secrets.

On a lovely June night in 1924, amateur detective Annalee Spain is mingling bravely at a high-class political fundraiser in the lush backyard garden of famed political fixer Cooper Coates, one of the wealthiest men in Denver's Black neighborhood of Five Points. When Coates’s young daughter discovers a pretty stranger dead in her father’s garden shed, Annalee is thrust onto the baffling new case just as she’s reeling from another recent discovery
a handwritten letter, found buried in her own garden, that reveals the identity of her mother.

Not ready to face the truth about her hidden past, Annalee throws herself into solving the mystery of the young woman’s demise. With the help of her pastor boyfriend Jack Blake, her orphaned buddy Eddie, and her trustworthy church friends, Annalee follows the clues to three seemingly disconnected settings
a traveling carnival set up downtown, a Black civic club, and a prestigious white seminary on the outskirts of Denver. Intriguing advice also comes from a famous, real-life Denver visitor. But is Annalee on the right track or just running in circles, fleeing from conflicts racing in her heart?

In a taut, heart-gripping narrative driven by secrets, romance, and lies, Annalee must unravel a case with higher stakes than she imagined
one where answers about a lovely woman's death point to truths and tensions still throbbing today.


My Thoughts:

Truth Be Told by Patricia Raybon may take place in Denver, Colorado in 1924, but I believe the story could be ripped from the headlines today. I loved how she does take a murder mystery, which is one of my favorite genres, and wraps it in a timely historical element. I love the chapter openings with Sherlock Holmes’ quotes. Conan Doyle’s character is one of my favorite literary characters. I love the character of Annalee Spain. She is proud, determined, and does not let little things get her down. Especially in this book, Raybon has put her to the test a number of times, and Annalee keeps on trudging toward justice for the dead young black woman. I love how kind she is to everyone no matter their skin color or race. The plot is nicely handled with plenty of moments of watching Annalee as she tries to question others and solve the case. One of my favorite aspects is the budding romance between Annalee and Jake Drake. It has developed nicely over the three books. Overall, Truth Be Told by Patricia Raybon is a delightful mystery that I will own on my bookshelf.

I received a complimentary copy of Truth Be Told by Patricia Raybon from Tyndale Publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating:   4.5 out of 5 stars

Purchase Truth Be Told 

Friday, June 14, 2024

Psalm 39


For the director of music. For Jeduthun. A psalm of David.


I said, “I will watch my ways
    and keep my tongue from sin;
I will put a muzzle on my mouth
    while in the presence of the wicked.”
So I remained utterly silent,
    not even saying anything good.
But my anguish increased;
    my heart grew hot within me.
While I meditated, the fire burned;
    then I spoke with my tongue:

“Show me, Lord, my life’s end
    and the number of my days;
    let me know how fleeting my life is.
You have made my days a mere handbreadth;
    the span of my years is as nothing before you.
Everyone is but a breath,
    even those who seem secure.[b]

“Surely everyone goes around like a mere phantom;
    in vain they rush about, heaping up wealth
    without knowing whose it will finally be.

“But now, Lord, what do I look for?
    My hope is in you.
Save me from all my transgressions;
    do not make me the scorn of fools.
I was silent; I would not open my mouth,
    for you are the one who has done this.
10 Remove your scourge from me;
    I am overcome by the blow of your hand.
11 When you rebuke and discipline anyone for their sin,
    you consume their wealth like a moth—
    surely everyone is but a breath.

12 “Hear my prayer, Lord,
    listen to my cry for help;
    do not be deaf to my weeping.
I dwell with you as a foreigner,
    a stranger, as all my ancestors were.
13 Look away from me, that I may enjoy life again
    before I depart and am no more.”

Monday, June 10, 2024

Jocelyn Green: The Hudson Collection

By Kelly Bridgewater

Step into the beguiling world of 1926 New York and discover the power of resilience, friendship, and love from award-winning author Jocelyn Green.

Elsa Reisner's lifelong dream of working as an ornithologist at the American Museum of Natural History is fading as the job begins to drain her passion. But fate takes an unexpected turn when she is assigned to catalog the bequest of a recently deceased patron whose Gothic country mansion holds secrets and treasures waiting to be discovered.

As Elsa delves into her task, she forms an unlikely bond with the estate's delightful gardener and her daughter, as well as an architectural salvage dealer who still bears scars from the Great War. Together, they embark on a thrilling treasure hunt for a missing relic intended to safeguard the servants' futures before the estate is sold. At the same time, Elsa's body seems to betray her with new symptoms from a childhood disease that isn't through with her yet.

With the brooding veteran and her handsome colleague joining the search, Elsa must navigate the tangled web of secrets and hidden motives along with the changing state of her health. As her deadline looms ever closer, will she be able to secure a new life for her friends before the estate slips from their grasp?


My Thoughts:

The Hudson Collection by Jocelyn Green features a bird-watcher or an ornithologist for the American Museum of Natural History. I can’t imagine all the research that Green had to go through to have the names and the sounds of the correct birds to ring true in her novel. But then again, if they are wrong, is not like I would know the difference. I know nothing about birds except they fly, look different, and sing songs. The plot has a mystery element to it as the heroine Elsa tries to catalog all the birds in the mansion that she was assigned to bring back to the museum. Green crafted a character that had a flaw that she acquired when she had polio as a child that affected her today. But she is a strong character who knows her limitations, but there are moments when it does rear its ugly head, but she keeps moving. Similarly, there is a romance aspect between Elsa and a male character that has some surprising twist to it, but Green does a wonderful job at showing a relationship that can see past faults and learn to trust in God and grow together. Overall, The Hudson Collection by Jocelyn Green brought some lights to the world of birds and the work of the American Museum of Natural History, so fans of historical fiction with a hint of romance and mystery might love this book.

I received a complimentary copy of The Hudson Collection by Jocelyn Green from Bethany House Publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating:   out of 5 stars

Purchase The Hudson Collection

Friday, June 7, 2024

Reasons for My Blog

By Kelly Bridgewater

In September 2013, I attended my first ACFW Conference in Indianapolis, IN with Robin Jones Gunn as the Keynote speaker. Gunn was my introduction to the world of Christian fiction writing with the Christy Miller series.

A piece of advice I received at this writing conference was to make an active blog.

Review books.

Write blog posts.

Follow editors and publishing companies on Facebook and their blogs.

Comment on their posts.

Tag them in posts.

Become known to the writers, so they can have you read and review their books.

Join street teams.

The main point was to get my name out there.

People need to see that I can meet a deadline, and I know the aspects of a good book.

My Masters in Writing helps that knowledge too.

So as someone who wants to have her writing published, in June 2014, I started my personal blog. I have done a number of reviews one or more a week, depending on the week.

I enjoy spreading the word about authors I have met and formed an alliance with.

I loved talking about books that have captured my attention.

I loved sharing about verses in Scripture that have spoken to me.

I loved sharing about writing or life choices that have affected me in the past year.

However, where do I go from here?

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Amanda Dykes: Born of Gilded Mountains

By Kelly Bridgewater

When newcomer Mercy Windsor arrives in Mercy Peak in 1948 after a scandal shatters her gilded world as Hollywood's beloved leading lady, she is determined to forge a new life in obscurity in this time-forgotten Colorado haven. She purchases Wildwood--an abandoned estate with a haunting history--and begins to restore it to its former glory.

But as she does, her every move tugs at the threads of that mountain's lore, unearthing what became of her long-lost pen pal, Rusty Bright, and the whereabouts of the infamous Galloping Goose Engine No. 8, which vanished years ago, along with the mailbag it carried, whose contents could change the course of countless lives. Not to mention another fabled treasure that--if found--could right so many wrongs.

Among the towering mountains that stand as silent witnesses, the ghosts of the past entangle with the courage of the present to find a place where healing, friendship, and hope can abide amid a world forever changed.


My Thoughts:

Born of Gilded Mountains by Amanda Dykes is a lyrical story of best friends, a missing train, and opening your heart. As I read this tale, I was captivated by Dykes descriptions of the Gilman mansion and the small town of Mercy Park. I felt like I was transported to this small mountain town, and I honestly, did not want to leave. The characters were a delightful bunch of actors that I have ever read. They hurt and loved together. The story held hidden clues which brought healing to this small town. I loved it. I did not see that aspect of the plot coming. It takes a lot for a story not to have plenty of suspense and action that will capture my attention, but Dykes has done it again. I loved this story. Plus, the cover is fabulous. I really can't wait to own the physical copy of this book. If readers have not read Dykes stories, this is a good one to start with, then I would recommend all of her other stories too.

I received a complimentary copy of Born of Gilded Mountains by Amanda Dykes from Bethany House Publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Purchase Born of Gilded Mountains

Monday, June 3, 2024

Mario Escobar: The Forgotten Names

By Kelly Bridgewater

In August 1942, French parents were faced with a horrible choice: watch their children die, or abandon them forever. Fifty years later, it becomes one woman’s mission to match the abandoned names with the people they belong to.

Five years after the highly publicized trial of Klaus Barbie, the “Butcher of Lyon,” law student Valérie Portheret began her doctoral research into the 108 children who disappeared from Vénissieux fifty years earlier, children who somehow managed to escape deportation and certain death in the German concentration camps. She soon discovers that their rescue was no unexplainable miracle. It was the result of a coordinated effort by clergy, civilians, the French Resistance, and members of other humanitarian organizations who risked their lives as part of a committee dedicated to saving those most vulnerable innocents.

Theirs was a heroic act without precedent in Nazi-occupied Europe, made possible due to a loophole in the Nazi agenda to deport all Jewish immigrants from the country: a legally recognized exemption for unaccompanied minors. Therefore, to save their children, the Jewish mothers of Vénissieux were asked to make the ultimate sacrifice of abandoning them forever.

Told in dual timelines, The Forgotten Names is a reimagined account of the true stories of the French men and women who have since been named Righteous Among the Nations, the children they rescued, the stifled cries of shattered mothers, and a law student, whose twenty-five-year journey allowed those children to reclaim their heritage and remember their forgotten names.


My Thoughts:

The Forgotten Names by Mario Escobar is an appalling, yet redemptive story about children during World War II. I have read tons of books on World War II, and every story appears to be a little different. Showing the good and horrors of humanity. As the story is written, there are a number of viewpoints from a good chunk of the rescuers to the children to a priest to a Nazi solder. For a while, it was hard to follow the story. But then I didn’t worry about whose point of view the section was in, I just focused on the time period. Made it so much easier to follow the plot. Again, as someone who reads about these dreadful events, I would hope that if I was put in the same situation that I would stand up for the Jewish people no matter the cost. Escobar does a wonderful job at creating empathy for the characters as he shares their plight with the Nazi’s. Even though the creation of the characters are not really that three-dimensional by learning their backgrounds or what makes them tick, readers can still feel horrified with the terrors that does occur to another human by the hand of another who believes he is superior. There are a number of cuss words. A couple of scenes that allude to horrible situations, so be careful when allowing less mature younger children to read this novel. Overall, The Forgotten Names by Mario Escobar brings to light the saving grace of 108 children who were saved from having to go to the concentration camps even though they had to take on new identities. A wonderful story to read.

I received a complimentary copy of The Forgotten Names by Mario Escobar from Harper Muse Publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating:  4 out of 5 stars

Purchase The Forgotten Names 

Friday, May 31, 2024

Last Joys of Summer

By Kelly Bridgewater

I remember one late August night standing under the streetlight at the corner by my best friend, Robin’s, house. We were trying to capture every moment of summer that was possible because the next day started another school year.

That summer was fun.

Swimming in her pool for hours.

Riding our bikes around the neighborhood. A huge hill in our neighborhood that all the kids came together and raced up and down for hours.

Playing imagination games.

The older boys scaring us with an abandoned house in the woods to the south of our neighborhood. Might have started my obsession with mysteries.

Playing Barbies.

Making our own obstacle courses with tree limbs and leaves.

Hiding in a bush that her mother had at the corner of the house that was perfect for spying and telling secrets from.

Playing Bloody Mary.

The heat really did not bother me then. It sure does now.

Too bad I can’t go back in time like the tv shows or the movies and tell my younger self to not miss every little second.

It goes too fast.

Next thing you know you’re an adult who works 40 plus hours a week and have no fun at all.

Have to pay those bills.

I have tons of fond memories of being a child, and I would do anything to return to those days.

How about you? Have any summer memories as a child that stand out to you? I would love to read them.