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Friday, February 23, 2018

Writing Goals for 2017

By Kelly Bridgewater

For 2018, I need to make some goals for myself or nothing ever gets done.

Or if you have followed my blog posts for the past couple of years, I have actually wrote that I wanted to complete three novels in the past couple of years, but it has been really hard to sit down and write, so I haven't.

With all the disappointment and despair of my Daddy's death on Halloween in 2015, I haven't done really any writing, except keeping up on this blog with my book reviews and my writing advice.

As for fiction writing, I can't claim that I have done anything.




But . . .

for 2018, I want to complete ONE novel. Even if it takes me all year. Even if I start to write, then have to go research something. Then come back to my story.

I have this World War II spy series in my head for a long time. I was researching and diving into the characters and their background really hard before my father died, but then with his passing, I haven't done anything.

I hope that by just claiming one book that I MIGHT actually get it done. I would love to see these characters that have been dancing around in my mind come to life and tell their story to each of you. I don't think God would let me hang on to the idea for three years if He didn't want me to tell this story.

So are you up for the challenge? Would you be willing to support and encourage me to write this book? If anyone would like to be a critique partner or supporter who sends me a note asking how my book is going? I would appreciate that too.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Bell Renshaw: As Easy as Riding a Bike

By Kelly Bridgewater

Emma Holland is almost finished with the renovation of The Brown Bear Lodge nestled just off the Pacific Coast 101 Highway in picturesque Justin Harbor, Oregon. Being a business owner in a small town isn’t easy, but Emma’s got more than enough determination—not to mention an excellent eye for interior design. There’s only one problem. One of her first guests of the season is someone she hoped she’d never see again.

As a famous landscape photographer, Connor Pearson has traveled far and wide following his dreams at the cost of losing his first love. Now, back in Justin Harbor, Connor is looking for more than just a place to stay. He’s looking for himself.

As Emma and Connor rediscover their lost friendship and seek to find common ground in the present, Connor feels the tug of his small town roots. Is it possible that a man who’s traveled the world could find his home where his dreams began? Can Emma come to terms with the fact that self-reliance isn’t all it’s cracked up to be? Will their bonds from the past weather the storms of the present?

As Easy as Riding a Bike will introduce you to the salty air and calming waters of Justin Harbor, the first novella in a series featuring small town women business owners.

Image result for As Easy as Riding a Bike Bell Renshaw
From Bell Renshaw

My Thoughts:

Bell Renshaw has created another novella set in a small town. "As Easy as Riding a Bike" occurs on the Oregon coast. In a made-up town called Justin Harbor. As soon as Conner and Emma meet in the first chapter, memories and sparks fly off the page. They have dated before, so there is a history to this couple. My favorite parts of the story is Renshaw's writing. I love how she brings the settings and the internal dialogues to light. She really dives deep into her character and allows me to see and follow their train of thought. I love how she brings the Oregon coast to me, especially someone who has never been past Missouri, so the west is still uncovered for me. The romance, to be honest, has been done before. I have read this plot of romance before. It was predictable. I knew the ending before Renshaw reached it. One thing that bothered me about the plot is Emma's flashback to show why she is afraid to ride a bike. Renshaw took us the edge and started to show the story, but then she didn't finish it. I'm used to seeing more when it is as important as the  moment was to Emma.

Overall, "As Easy as Riding a Bike" by Bell Renshaw is a captivating tale of a lost love and the misunderstandings that have occurred. The setting is beautiful, and watching their love move on was interesting to watch. Fans of Melissa Tagg and Courtney Walsh should, in my humble opinion, pick up this novella and spend a little time at Justin Harbor.

I received a complimentary copy of "As Easy as Riding a Bike" by Bell Renshaw, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Monday, February 19, 2018

Sarah Sundin: The Sea Before Us

By Kelly Bridgewater

In 1944, American naval officer Lt. Wyatt Paxton arrives in London to prepare for the Allied invasion of France. He works closely with Dorothy Fairfax, a "Wren" in the Women's Royal Naval Service. Dorothy pieces together reconnaissance photographs with thousands of holiday snapshots of France--including those of her own family's summer home--in order to create accurate maps of Normandy. Maps that Wyatt will turn into naval bombardment plans.

As the two spend concentrated time together in the pressure cooker of war, their deepening friendship threatens to turn to love. Dorothy must resist its pull. Her bereaved father depends on her, and her heart already belongs to another man. Wyatt too has much to lose. The closer he gets to Dorothy, the more he fears his efforts to win the war will destroy everything she has ever loved.

From Amazon

My Thoughts:

I adore Sarah Sundin's writing. She is a master at bringing the world of World War II to life in a realistic fashion with memorable characters. I look forward to reading every single book she writes. With her newest addition to her new series, The Sea Before Us, I fell in love with the story instantly.

Her research doesn't shine on the page. Instead, the words and research flow together to make a seamless story. I love being caught up in the action and thrown for a loop while watching important events in history unfold. In The Sea Before Us, Sundin takes us for a ride during the battle at Normandy. I really didn't know much about the battles. I have heard of the fighting but haven't learned a lot. Sundin created the battles, so I wanted to learn more.

The plot is different. I really enjoy how the story builds up to the battle at Normandy. It doesn't start there and just keep showing us a history lesson from a point of view of two people who are at war. Instead, she introduces us to Dorothy and Wyatt and allows me to become consumed with their normal life and watch their hurts and flaws fall on the page.

Speaking of Dorothy and Wyatt, this is another couple I loved spending time with. Dorothy is a hurting woman who believes no really loves her. She evens believes the perfect guy for her really wouldn't love the real her, so she puts on make-up and pretends to be someone she isn't. Dorothy transforms by the end of the novel and learns she can be loved and deserves it.

Now Wyatt. I don't honestly gush about the romance in a novel. I can't remember one except Sundin's other novel Blue Skies Tomorrow with Raymond and Helen. Wyatt grew on me. I really started to sigh when he spent time with Dorothy. He knew how to control his emotions and not come on to strong when she is declared to love someone else. He loved Dorothy for who she was, not what she pretended to be. There is a kiss near the end of the novel that I swooned. It was perfect, and just what the moment needed. I applaud Sundin for creating a moment I won't soon forget.

Most historical or contemporary romances usually end with a proposal or a wedding. Not Sundin. She leaves the readers grasping for straws but satisfied the romance is going to work out. I'm grateful she does this. Not every story has to have a happy ever after moment with a pretty bow.

Overall, Sarah Sundin's The Sea Before Us is definitely a top-notch historical romance novel with enduring characters, a fascinating plot, and a romance I want to re-read and sigh. If you enjoy historical fiction of any era, Sundin is the author to enjoy. I can't recommend her novels enough. Another book to add to my favorites pile.

I received a complimentary copy of The Sea Before Us by Sarah Sundin from Revell Publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own. 

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Friday, February 16, 2018

Top 5 Romance Novels

By Kelly Bridgewater

I know Valentine was two days ago, so my post may be a little late, but it is the way the calendar falls.

I decided today to share the five top romantic novels for me. It may because of the sparks between the characters or it may because I love how hard the characters avoided and then fell in love with each other. Some I have recently. The Christy Miller series by Robin Jones Gunn as been my favorite love story since I read it as a teenager. I have been really excited whenever she visits Christy and Todd Spencer and  their friends and bring me back into their world.

Anyways, here goes: (All images come from Amazon unless noted!)

Hope Undaunted by Julie Lessman

 It Had to Be You by Susan May Warren

It Had to Be You (Christiansen family book #2)

A Worthy Heart by Susan Anne Mason

Book cover - A Worth Heart

Christy Miller series by Robin Jones Gunn

I Promise

Blue Skies Tomorrow by Sarah Sundin

Thank you for stopping by and seeing my top 5 romance novels!

How many of these have you read? Would you have added something else to the list? Please share some of your most romantic novels!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Rachel McMillan: Love in Three Quarter Time

By Kelly Bridgewater

A romantic waltz through a city filled with music, passion and coffee.

Evelyn Watt fell in love with Austrian marketing director Rudy Moser the moment he stepped into their Boston firm. With his ice blue eyes and chocolate-melting accent, he is as refined as she imagines his home country to be. When Evelyn finds herself unexpectedly unemployed right before Christmas, she is left with an unknown future until Rudy steps in with a job appraising, assessing and cataloging heirlooms, lending her American vernacular to the translated descriptions to give each item international appeal. Evelyn will live in Vienna for the months leading up to a grand auction at a party held in conjunction with the Opera Ball—on Valentine’s Day.

Vienna is a magical blend of waltzing, antiques, and bottomless cups of Einspanner coffee at the Café Mozart. When a secret from Rudy's family's past blows in with the winter chill, Evelyn is forced to confront how well she knows the object of her affection. Her café tablemate, the gruff and enigmatic Klaus Bauner might be the only person who holds the key to Rudy’s past. But could that key also unlock her future? In the days leading up to the Opera Ball, Evelyn finds herself in the middle of the greatest romance of her life…as long as she doesn’t trip over her two left feet.

Image result for Love in Three Quarter Time Rachel McMillan
From Rachel McMillan

My Thoughts:

I adore Rachel McMillan's writing. She is a fabulous storyteller who captures my interest. I really enjoyed her Herringford and Watts series and can't wait for her next series releasing July 2018 from Thomas Nelson Publishing. So when I heard McMillan was writing a contemporary romance set in Vienna, I jumped at the chance to read it. I was familiar with McMillan's writing style, so I had a good idea what I was getting into.

My favorite aspect of her novella "Love in Three Quarter Time" is the setting. For someone who really hasn't traveled a lot, I really enjoyed how McMillan brings the setting of Vienna to life for me. I even Googled a couple of places she described, so I could look at them with my own eyes, so I had a better visual of these unfamiliar places. I felt like I was walking alongside Evelyn as she traveled to these historical sites with Klaus. McMillan's love for this city and the history shines in every place that Evelyn traveled, and I really enjoyed that.

The plot has been done before. How many movies or stories show a girl that leaves what she has to chase a guy? Legally Blonde. Felicity. This novella has the same plot. Eventually, Evelyn realizes something is wrong with the guy she idealizes and finds her true love. On the other hand, I did enjoy this plot line because Evelyn was brave enough to travel to an unknown country to seek something better for her existence, not that I would do that.  About seventy-five percent into the novel, McMillan created a twist I didn't see coming and made me sit up and take note. What was going to happen? I couldn't get to the end fast enough.

The romance was the best thing of the novel. I enjoyed how McMillan really dug deep into the character's individuality and allows Evelyn and Klaus to see the better side of each other. Their romance was sweet and different. I didn't like Evelyn at the beginning. What girl would travel halfway across the world to work for a guy she has a crush on? They have never been on a date or done anything but work together. She redeems herself when she arrives in Vienna. On the other hand, Klaus was an unique hero. He loved history and reading. He even knew the quotes she pulled from a Charlotte Bronte novel. I don't know many men, besides those in my required English classes in college, who would read a Bronte novel. Klaus was definitely one in a million.

I had one issue with the novella. First, I don't understand the caffeinated note to the reader. What does that have to do with the story? When I first started reading the novella, I was confused. After reading the story, it makes sense, but I was lost when the story started.

Overall, "Love in Three Quarter Time" by Rachel McMillan is a sweet romance taking place in a foreign country where McMillan invites me into the world of Vienna with a cup of coffee and some foreign food to savor. I believe fans of Susan Meissner would enjoy this novella.

I received a complimentary copy of "Love in Three Quarter Time" by Rachel McMillan, but the opinions stated are all my own. 

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Monday, February 12, 2018

Connilyn Cossette: A Light on the Hill

By Kelly Bridgewater

Seven years ago, Moriyah was taken captive in Jericho and branded with the mark of the Canaanite gods. Now the Israelites are experiencing peace in their new land, but Moriyah has yet to find her own peace. Because of the shameful mark on her face, she hides behind her veil at all times and the disdain of the townspeople keeps her from socializing. And marriage prospects were out of the question . . . until now.

Her father has found someone to marry her, and she hopes to use her love of cooking to impress the man and his motherless sons. But when things go horribly wrong, Moriyah is forced to flee. Seeking safety at one of the newly-established Levitical cities of refuge, she is wildly unprepared for the dangers she will face, and the enemies--and unexpected allies--she will encounter on her way.

From Amazon

My Thoughts:

A Light on the Hill by Connilyn Cossette is an interesting Biblical fiction story. Even though Biblical fiction is not my chosen choice of genre, I have heard wonderful things about Cossette's writing. While I haven't sampled any of her writing yet, I thoroughly enjoyed my introduction to her writing. 
 With Biblical fiction, I imagined a story set in a world that I'm unfamiliar with and characters relating to a world with the hope of God deeply ingrained in their every choice.

The writing was clear and concise. I really enjoyed that A Light on the Hill explored the city of refuges mentioned in the Bible. I didn't know anything about this topic from the Bible before Cossette wrote about it. This story is told in first person. Since I haven't read any of her other three books, I don't know if she does this in all of her books or if this is the first time. But it works well for this Biblical story. I saw the story from Moriyah's perspective, and it made the story shine more than usual. Most Biblical fiction authors, in my humble opinion, like to create dry, boring stories, but Cossette created a story rich with memorable characters and an intriguing plot.

Moriyah is an unique character. From the moment she entered the story, I empathized with her plight. What eleven year old could handled that type of branding and be able to tell the tale. Cossette does a great job at showing a strong woman who honors her family and depends on Yahweh even though she has been scared from a young age. Then enters Darek. The mysterious, yet handsome man who sees beyond Moriyah's disfigurement and sees her internal beauty. I admired him as the hero and wanted to see more of him.

The plot flowed like a modern day chase scene. Someone running from the law and trying to blend in with another society. This story moved fast and kept my attention from the beginning. I finished the novel in a little over one day and really enjoyed it. Even I was surprised.

Overall, A Light on the Hill by Connilyn Cossette is an interesting look into the world of Biblical time period and explored deeper than the Bible allows me to know. I enjoyed the characters and spending time in their harrowing chase through the wilderness. I highly recommend this book to fans of Biblical Fiction or fans of high speed chases. It truly captured my imagination. Now I'm anxious to return to her first three books and read those.

I received a complimentary copy of A Light on the Hill by Connilyn Cossette from Bethany House Publishers, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars