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Monday, October 15, 2018

Sandra Byrd: A Lady of Thousand Treasures


By Kelly Bridgewater

Miss Eleanor Sheffield is a talented evaluator of antiquities, trained to know the difference between a genuine artifact and a fraud. But with her father’s passing and her uncle’s decline into dementia, the family business is at risk. In the Victorian era, unmarried Eleanor cannot run Sheffield Brothers alone.

The death of a longtime client, Baron Lydney, offers an unexpected complication when Eleanor is appointed the temporary trustee of the baron’s legendary collection. She must choose whether to donate the priceless treasures to a museum or allow them to pass to the baron’s only living son, Harry―the man who broke Eleanor’s heart.

Eleanor distrusts the baron’s motives and her own ability to be unbiased regarding Harry’s future. Harry claims to still love her and Eleanor yearns to believe him, but his mysterious comments and actions fuel her doubts. When she learns an Italian beauty accompanied him on his return to England, her lingering hope for a future with Harry dims.

With the threat of debtor’s prison closing in, Eleanor knows that donating the baron’s collection would win her favor among potential clients, saving Sheffield Brothers. But the more time she spends with Harry, the more her faith in him grows. Might Harry be worthy of his inheritance, and her heart, after all? As pressures mount and time runs out, Eleanor must decide whom she can trust―who in her life is false or true, brass or gold―and what is meant to be treasured.

From Amazon

My Thoughts:

I have read Sandra Byrd's Renaissance series with Anne Boleyn and Queen Elizabeth and her Daughters of Hampshire series, so I was ready to dive into the first book into her new series about Victorian ladies and their treasure. A good historical novel teaches me something about history and makes me believe that I am in that time period. Byrd does a wonderful job at inviting me into the Victorian age with her words and description. Her writing hits it out of the park and allows me to feel fully engulfed into the setting.

The plot really didn't wow me. The conflict centers around missing treasure, but it seemed like an oversight to the intitial storyline. Sometimes the story read like an invertory list for  the Victorian shop. I got bored pretty easily and wanted so much more to the plotline. It didn't capture my attention.

The characters' romance between Eleanor Sheffield and Harry didn't ring true. I honestly had no idea what Eleanor saw in Harry. They were in love when she was younger, but then he cheated on her while away on a different country and took a long time to come back. I saw no enduring qualities for Harry. He tried to come off as the hero, but I had a hard time liking him at all. The romance felt wrong and forced for the story.

I did enjoy the aspect of dealing with the aging uncle. The story felt a little more full because of the love and respect shown to him as he hung around the side of the story.

Overall, A Lady of a Thousand Treasures was populated with characters that I had no sympathy for and a plot that didn't capture my imagination as much as I wanted the plot to. Byrd's writing is top-notch, and I really enjoyed her ability to bring the Victorian era back to life for me, but I struggled with the plot overall.

I received a complimentary copy of A Lady of Thousand Treasures by Sandra Byrd from Tyndale Publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

About the Author:
From Amazon

Sandra Byrd's first series of historically sound Gothic romances launched with the best-selling Mist of Midnight, which earned a coveted Editor's Choice Award from the Historical Novel Society. The second book, Bride of a Distant Isle, has been selected by Romantic Times as a Top Pick. The third in the series, A Lady in Disguise, was named by the American Library Association's Booklist as one of the Top Ten Inspirational Fiction Books of the year.

Her contemporary adult fiction debut, Let Them Eat Cake, was a Christy Award finalist, as was her first historical novel, To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn. To Die For was also named a Library Journal Best Books of the Year Pick, as was The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr.

Victorian Ladies, a new series, offers its first title, Lady of a Thousand Treasures, in 2018. (Taken from Amazon.)

Friday, October 12, 2018

Covered Bridge Fun


By Kelly Bridgewater

Have you ever attended the Indiana Covered Bridge Festival?

It occurs in October when it is supposed to be getting cooler, but most times, I have to wear shorts because it is still in the 80's.

Anyways, it is ten days of garage sales and carnival food while browsing many homemade craft items. I usually attend a number of days. I look forward to it every year. I can find cheap clothes for my boys. Discounted books. And Christmas gifts. 

Image result for Free Covered Bridge Images
From Pinterest


I buy a soft pretzel with cheese too. Yum!

The Festival takes place in Parke County, Indiana, which has the most covered bridges in one county in America. You can stroll through many of them during this week. If you're lucky, the leaves will be in the height of their colorful glory.

This is where I will be A LOT this week.

How about you?

Do they have something like this where you live? If not, does this sound like something you would attend? Why or Why not?

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Dawn Crandall: Enchanting Nicholette


By Kelly Bridgewater

In this captivating novella by Dawn Crandall, Nicholette Everstone is already a widow at the age of twenty-two: her husband was murdered on their wedding day. She has just returned to Boston after two years of mourning in Europe. Although her husband was loving, the marriage was an arranged one, and Nicholette would like to wed again--this time for love...and to someone safe.

As she acclimates to life in Back Bay again, Nicholette meets someone she can't help but fall for. But when she learns of the danger and sacrifices Cal Hawthorne takes on for the safety of others, will her heart be strong enough to keep her fears of "what if" at bay?

Enchanting Nicholette
From Goodreads


My Thoughts:

I have read all of Dawn Crandall's The Everstone Chronicles series and have loved the majority of them. With each successive addition, Crandall improves her writing craft and shows why she will be in the publishing business for a while. Enchanting Nicholette is a novella, but it reads like a full length historical romance novel. With returning characters and a familiar setting, fans of Crandall's previous four novels will be excited to see returning characters come back into the fold.

Her writing has improved with this novel from the first novel. The novel is still written in first person which allows me to get closer to Nicholette's emotions and feelings all throughout the novel. With any good author, it is hard to tell a novel in first person without wanting to intrude on other characters' point of views, but Crandall does a fabulous job at staying in Nicholette's perspective throughout the entire novel.

The romance moves pretty quickly, but it is a fifty thousand plus novella, so it does have to move quickly. I really enjoyed the first scene in the novel at the bookstore. It captured my attention and set the tone for the romance to follow. Crandall is not too mushy like some contemporary romances can become. Instead she allows the emotions and thoughts to flow naturally.

The plot is different, yet predictable. I enjoyed seeing the element of mystery surrounding the hero, Cal, and learning more about Nicholette's past. Her wounded past transformed into something beautiful by the end of the novel. Even Cal had to transform and change his past to become who Nicholette needed. It was a captivating novel and captured my attention the whole time. I hope Crandall writes more novels. I love  reading her novels in the first person.

One last thing to mention is her element of spirituality. Crandall does a fabulous job at allowing it to flow from the hearts of the characters, not force a theology down the readers' throat. I admire that.

Overall, Enchanting Nicholette by Dawn Crandall is a interesting and captivating historical romance told in the first person. I enjoyed journeying with familiar characters and seeing the transformation of the hero and heroine. Fans of Crandall's previous four novels should definitely buy this novel and add it to their collection. I eagerly await what else Crandall decides to write.

I received a complimentary copy of Enchanting Nicholette by Dawn Crandall from Whitaker House Publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

About the Author:
From Amazon

Dawn Crandall's debut Gilded Age Victorian romance, "The Hesitant Heiress," was a 2015 ACFW Carol award finalist in the debut category and received the 2015 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, the 2015 Write Touch Reader's Choice Award and the 2015 Romancing the Novel Reader's Choice Award. Her follow-up novel, "The Bound Heart," received the 2016 Laurel Award from Clash of the Titles. Dawn earned a BA in Christian Education from Taylor University. She's been balancing books and babies lately as her two sons were both born as the four books of her Everstone Chronicles series were being released from Whitaker House from 2014 to 2016. Dawn lives with her husband and two young sons on a hobby farm in her hometown in northeast Indiana. (Taken from Amazon.)

Monday, October 8, 2018

Janice Cantore: Lethal Target


By Kelly Bridgewater

Police Chief Tess O’Rourke thought she’d taken care of her small town’s drug problem last year. But now Rogue’s Hollow residents are up in arms over a contentious vote on legalizing the sale of marijuana within city limits. And when an eighteen-year-old is found dead of a possible overdose, Tess wonders if the local pot farms might be involved and begins to fear that a new, deadlier drug supply chain has cropped up. As tempers flare and emotions boil over, Tess faces the possibility of losing the town’s support.

With her relationship to Sergeant Steve Logan on shaky ground, Tess could really use a friend, and she feels drawn to Pastor Oliver Macpherson’s quiet presence. But the anger she holds over her father’s death prevents her from embracing his faith and finding peace.

Battling storms within and without, Tess is shocked when a familiar face from her past shows up in town to stir up more trouble. And his threats against Tess may prove lethal.

From Amazon


My Thoughts:

I adore Janice Cantore's raw ability to tell a story that captures the honesty and hard working police officers. Being a retired police officer, Cantore brings the emotional side to the job, but also shows the hard work and the grim reality of the police force. With the newest addition to her Line of Duty series, Lethal Target, Cantore held my attention and forced me to deal with the drug overdose and corruption of the pot farmers.

One of my favorite aspect of a Cantore book is her ability to bring in the realistic world of the police force without boring me with too much textbook information. She brings the world to life for me as an innocent bystander who doesn't know much about the inside workings of the police world, but she allows me to experience it through Tess as she works through the case. Cantore's writing is clean and crisp, allowing me to experience the emotions of Tessa as she travels through the ups and downs in her story.

The plot kept me engrossed in the plot. There were some moments where the plot dragged, and I couldn't wait to move passed those spots, but for the most part, the story moves a fast clip, begging me to stay focused, so I don't miss who killed the boy in the opening chapter. Right from the beginning, Cantore begs me to enter the chase for the killer of a young boy. I really enjoyed the chase.

The spiritual element was not preachy at all. Cantore does a fabulous job at allowing Oliver to explain and draw Tess back to God in her own terms. Cantore doesn't force the gospel down the reader's throat. She slowly dribbles it, allowing the reader to empathize with Tess as she tries to find her own way back to the God who her father loved dearly. I really loved the scene with Tess and her father's Bible near the end. Very touching.

Overall, Lethal Target by Janice Cantore shows the inner workings of a police chief and her struggle to work in the ever changing world we live in. The plot moved quickly and held a tiny aspect of a romance. Just the way I liked my romantic suspense. I believe if you are a fan of Lynette Eason and DiAnn Mills, then this novel might be right up your alley. I really enjoyed it.

I received a complimentary copy of Lethal Target by Janice Cantore from Tyndale Publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Click here to purchase a copy.

About the Author:
From Amazon

A former Long Beach, California, police officer of twenty-two years, Janice Cantore worked a variety of assignments, including patrol, administration, juvenile investigations, and training. She's always enjoyed writing and published two short articles on faith at work for Cop and Christ and Today's Christian Woman before tackling novels. She now lives in a small town in southern Oregon, where she enjoys exploring the forests, rivers, and lakes with her Labrador retrievers, Abbie and Tilly.

Janice writes suspense novels designed to keep readers engrossed and leave them inspired. Crisis Shot is the first title in her latest series. Janice also authored the Cold Case Justice series--Drawing Fire, Burning Proof, and Catching Heat--the Pacific Coast Justice series--Accused, Abducted, and Avenged--and the Brinna Caruso novels, Critical Pursuit and Visible Threat.

Visit Janice's website at www.janicecantore.com and connect with her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/JaniceCantore. (Taken from Amazon.)

Friday, October 5, 2018

Butt in Chair. Not That Easy.

By Kelly Bridgewater

Today, I have an honest question with a heart-filled response.

As a writer, there are tons of blog posts by a number of authors that have suggestions to complete your novel. Don't get me wrong! I have read them and nod my head a number of times.

I agree with the one I'm going to talk about,

BUT . . .

it can be REALLY HARD to do!!!

The one I'm talking about is butt in chair.

All writers state your book won't get done if you don't sit down and write it. I completely agree. I know that I can whine about my novel not being written, but if I don't sit down and actually do the hard work of writing, than I honestly have nothing to complain about.

The reasons why I don't put my Butt in my chair and work on my novel might sound like excuses, but they are what stops me from writing.

1.) Death

Sounds weird, doesn't it? But if you have been following my blog for about two years, then you know that I lost my Daddy on Halloween in 2015. He was my number one supporter who would call every Saturday and ask me what I have been working on in my writing this week. We would brainstorm different ideas for my story. He would tell me when something works or doesn't work. He would look on the internet and find books or resources that would work with my topic and send them to me in an e-mail. Since he died, it has been really hard for me to do any of that.









Last October, I was determined to write again, after praying for God to give me the desire of my heart back, so I signed up for NaNoWriMo and pulled all my notes that I was working on with Daddy out. It made me cry. But I was determined to complete this novel and this series for God and my Daddy.

2.) Homeschool

I homeschool our youngest son because he is a little boy. Full of energy and doesn't like to sit still for long, which drives the public schools crazy. They want little robots who barely move, but repeat the lesson correctly. My son takes a four mile walk every morning before school. He stands at his desk, hopping from foot to foot the entire time we're doing school. He has improved drastically since i have been homeschooling him, but it takes up to eight hours a day. Plus, I work with him on his Bible verses for Awana's every day. Then my other two boys come home, and I have to make sure they do their homework and check on their assignments. Band Practice. Awana. Endless lists of things to do . . .

3.) House

I have to clean the house. Keep track of laundry. Plan and make dinner. Do dishes. Pay the bills. Keep track of chore charts. Feed the dogs and the chickens. Run errands. Keep and plan appointments. Read books for my blog. Write posts, like this, for days I don't have book reviews.

Usually I can read a book in a day, but because of the homeschooling this year, I have only finished 14 books in three months. That is extremely low for me.

Yes, butt in chair sounds good. But . . .  I'm always around my kids and my husband. My boys come to me first, then talk to Daddy as a last resort. It is hard to write when they are screaming for your attention. I am lucky if I get five hours of sleep a night as it is. Add in writing, I might as well stop sleeping all together.


My husband likes to zone out in the evenings when he comes home because he put in eight hours at work, even though I'm working 20 hours days, but whatever, so I don't just get to pack up and drive to the local coffee shop, which is 30 minutes away by the way.  I don't get much alone time.

Am I the only one that feels this way? Did anything I say agree with you? What are some reasons that keep you from having your butt in your chair? f anyone has a suggestion to make it easier for me to write, please include those too.

I would like to know I'm not the only way that feels this way.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Michele Israel Harper: Kill the Beast


By Kelly Bridgewater

Kill the Beast: Book One of the Beast Hunters

Ro remembers the castle before. Before the gates closed. Before silence overtook the kingdom. 
Before the castle disappeared. Now it shimmers to life one night a year, seen by her alone.

Once a lady, now a huntress, Ro does what it takes to survive—just like the rest of the kingdom plunged into despair never before known.
But a beast has overtaken the castle. A beast that killed the prince and holds the castle and kingdom captive in his cruel power. A beast Ro has been hired to kill.

Thankful the mystery of the prince’s disappearance has been solved, furious the magical creature has killed her hero, Ro eagerly accepts the job to end him.

But things are not as they seem.

Trapped in the castle, a prisoner alongside the beast, Ro wonders what she should fear most: the beast, the magic that holds them both captive, or the one who hired her to kill the beast.

A Beauty and the Beast retelling.

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From Goodreads


My Thoughts:

Beauty and the Beast is my favorite Disney cartoon. Maybe because of the ability for Belle to see past the beast and see into his heart. Maybe because of the catchy music. Maybe because of the love story. But probably because of the massive library the beast gives to Belle. What bookworm doesn't dream and envy Belle for having access to that massive library? In Michele Israel's Harper's first novel in her Beast Hunters' series, Kill the Beast, she took me for a ride back to the familiar story, but with a twist. A twist I really enjoyed.

The writing is clear and concise. I really enjoy how the story is told from Ro's perspective for majority of the story. I learned her inner struggle and felt her external and internal pain. She brought Ro to life with her ability to dive into her mind. Also, the setting of this hidden and enchanted castle sprung to life on the pages. It was definitely a weird castle with many twists and turns. Ro barely ever visited the same place in the castle twice.

What happened to Belle while she hung out in the castle? That is exactly, in my honest opinion, what Harper does with Kill the Beast. She explains and shows what kept Ro there. What happened to Ro while she was there? She dug deep into the background of the curse and gave valid reasons for why the town didn't remember this castle being there. She showed the past of how the curse happened in a unique and different way. The story also ended in a twist I didn't see coming. I really enjoyed this story. Harper's writing style and the story itself kept me spellbound. I had a hard time putting it down. I took it shopping with me and while my husband went into the store, I read in the car.

The characters of Ro, Cosette, and the beast were unique and strong. Ro is a strong, yet determined heroine planning to support her sister by killing the beast. Her entire reasoning for hunting is to provide a better life for her little sister. I admire her ability to think of others over herself. Cosette is a pawn in a web of lies. I feel bad for her. The Beast was a selfish man who needed to think of others instead of himself. Through most of the novel, he is caught in the curse, so he has a hard time remembering anything. Hopefully, he catches for the better for the rest of his life, not just to end the curse.

Overall, Kill the Beast is a fascinating tale with enduring characters. Harper wrapped me in an enchantment as I spent two days lost in the castle roaming the world and learning about the curse with Ro. I believe this is one of my favorite books of the year. I anxiously await book two in the series. Fans of Melanie Dickerson's fairy tales should go out and purchase this novel.

I received a complimentary copy of Kill the Beast by Michele Israel  from Love2ReadLove2Write Publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

About the Author:
From Amazon

Michele Israel Harper is an addict. To books, to writing--if it includes ink and paper, she's all over it. When she found out she could write books instead of simply read them...well, let's just say she's rarely been seen outside of her office since.

She adores her writer's group, the Heartland Christian Writers, and has no idea what she would do without the American Christian Fiction Writers. Being voted treasurer for her local Indiana Chapter of ACFW just about sent her into a happy coma. Which, you know, she's very much familiar with since that happens at the end of every good book she reads.

Visit her website at www.MicheleIsraelHarper.com if you want to know more about her! (Taken from Amazon.)