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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A Christmas World War II Novel



By Kelly Bridgewater

Thanks to writers like Sarah Sundin, Cara Putnam, Liz Tolsma, and Kristy Cambron, I have become obsessed with the World War II historical fiction genre. Being an avid reader and writer of suspense books, this has been quite a change for me, but one I have been enjoying. When I learned the Cara Putnam, Sarah Sundin, and Tricia Goyer wrote a compilation Christmas story entitled Where Treetops Glisten with a short story by each respective author, I couldn’t wait to buy it. Unfortunately, my local town did not have a copy, so I had to wait until the ACFW conference in St. Louis to buy one. But I had Cara Putnam autograph it as we talked about my writing. We only live about an hour and a half away from each other. How cool was that!

I waited until the Christmas season, so I could read the book while listening to my 1940’s Pandora Christmas channel under the glow of the Christmas lights on the Christmas tree in my living room. It has been nice.

Where Treetops Glisten    -     By: Tricia Goyer, Cara Putman, Sarah Sundin
My favorite book of the three was “White Christmas” by Cara Putnam. I think it is because I relate to Abigail Turner the most. I remember raising a family while attending school. Not that Abigail did, she worked at Glatz Candies in the evening. Abigail has a big heart and wants to help others out. First, Jackson, then the kids at the hospital, even though she is deathly afraid of entering from all the past deaths in her life. Putnam does a good job at drawing the reader into story and making them understand and empathsize with Jackson and Abigail as they learn to move on with their present lives and seek God for direction.

Being labeled as a historical romance, I loved the part where Abigail and Jackson went and watched Holiday Inn, which is my Favorite Christmas movie. I watch it every year at Christmas time. I enjoyed how Sarah Sundin and Tricia Goyer helped pad the other exterior aspects of World War II with a fighter pilot who has to may have to return to the battle line and Merry who is a nurse in the Netherlands. All three of the short stories happen around Christmas and World War II, explaining the difficulties the people had to experience during the war at Christmas time. Something we all take for granted.



One of my favorite parts of the series was including all three siblings and the grandmother to tell the individual stories. It made the stories more appealing as a reader who likes to have a continuity of characters in a single or a series of stories, bringing the readers back for more.


I loved the entire book and probably will add this to my collection of books that I return to every Christmas to bring a smile to my face.

Do you have a certain book that you read every Christmas? If so, what is it?

Friday, December 26, 2014

Pranced by Christy Barritt



By Kelly Bridgewater

Lights. Cookies. Movies. Tree. Ornaments. These are just some of the things that people think of when they think of Christmas. What about baby Jesus? Santa Clause. Reindeer. Santa’s sleigh. Reindeer. More items of interest.

What is a better way to spend an hour during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, then curled up with a good book? I don’t know of any other way. Christy Barritt in her latest novella, Pranced, which is part of the Sierra Files that includes Pounced and Hunted places Sierra and her loving husband, Chad, on another mystery. This time the mystery features hunting for missing reindeer.

Yes, you read correctly.

Reindeer.

As expected, I wanted a story that featured the characters I have come to love and enjoy. Sierra and Chad have traveled to Chad’s side of the family for Christmas. In  Hunted, we visit Sierra’s side of the family and hunt for a missing dog.

The writing is concise and sharp. Barritt allows the readers to experience all the internal thoughts of Sierra since the novel is written in first person point of view. We experience all Sierra’s fear, uncertainty, and struggle as she tries to find the reindeer before the light show starts at Chad’s relatives’ house. The plot moved along seamlessly. There was no point of view shifts. We stay in Sierra’s mind the entire time, which makes it easy for the reader to follow the hunt for clues without shaking our head in wonder.

As for the mystery, Barritt does a good job at allowing Sierra and Chad to trace the clues. From Sierra’s animal activist job, which has threaten captive animals before to the neighbors who are a little down on their luck. The motivation of the villain was completely understandable, and I totally didn’t expect the reasoning or the person who stole the reindeer. Barritt surprised even me who usually figures out the mystery before the end of the book. Good job!

This book is a great page-turner with light hearted Christmas joy for the season. This was a good mystery for all fans, either mature or young. It is short, so it wouldn’t take long to lose yourself in the plot. I finished the book in under an hour. There is enough tension and joy to be called a Christmas mystery, which will bring a smile to the readers face.

Christy Barritt adds to her Sierra Files with a joyful, action packed plot in her latest mystery novel. Returning to the growing story of Chad and Sierra, fans of Barritt’s writing will be excited to follow the trail of clues and wrap themselves in Christmas coziness, set against a background of a Christmas light show in the mountains.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Creating the Impossible



By Kelly Bridgewater

There is a story that everyone is familiar with, especially around this time of year. A story of a young teenage girl who was betrothed to marry a man she barely knew. Being a good, responsible young lady, she agreed to her father’s wishes, even though she didn’t even know the young man who would become her husband. But she trusted her father and nodded in agreement. Not long after the agreement was completed, she was visited by an angel of God who informed her that she would be having a child.

This young woman, who you probably guessed by now is named Mary, was confused. She had never been with a man. How could this be? The Angel of the Lord comforted her by saying that, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you. The Most High will overshadow you. That’s why this holy child will be known-as not just your son but also as the Son of God. It sounds impossible but listen-you know your relative Elizabeth has been unable to bear children and is now far too old to be a mother. Yet, she has become pregnant, as God willed it. Yes, in three months, she will have a son. So the impossible is possible with God.” Luke 1: 35-37. Mary believed and went off to visit her cousin Elizabeth. Of course, the rest of the story is very familiar to the majority of us. She gave birth to baby Jesus in a manager with a star guiding the shepherds and the wise men while King Herod slaughters babies all over his kingdom.

But the comforting Christmas story isn’t what I have been urged to write, I want to draw attention to how God allows us, writers, to take images, either of characters or plot points and turn them into a story on the page that influences our readers. If God can create a child inside a teenage woman who never had been with a man, then why can’t he take our ideas and make a heart wrenching story?

I have been struggling with my chosen career path for the past three years. I keep writing, but I haven't gotten published yet. I don’t have a writing mentor who is willing to come along side me and coach me into better writing. I start every day with worship songs and reading God’s word, begging for his touch as I write, but I still don’t have it. When I enter contests, I receive three’s on my score sheets. How do I make this writing better? I read writing instruction books. I read and review books for a number of publishing companies. But I can’t get any better when I sit down to write. I know a million rules to writing. The inciting incident. The characters. Know their lies. Keep pushing your characters till they feel so trapped, they beg you to stop torturing them. But when I write, my hands don’t type a well-written story. It is a plot line, but my words and Deep Point of View don’t whistle off the page, like published writers.


“So the impossible is possible with God.” Luke 1:37. Being able to craft a compelling story, which will get published seems like the impossible dream for me. When you read published writers thank you in the back of the book, they thank their critique partners. Usually one of their critique partners is someone who is already published. I don’t have someone like that who is willing to hold my hand and help mentor me to publication. Being a stay-at-home mother, we doesn’t have a lot of spare money, but my husband and I have chosen to allow me to stay at home and create while raising our boys. We sacrificed having a lot of money, so I could pursue my dreams, but I keep thinking, it would be better to give up on this writing dream and return to work. At least, we would have more money.

I keep waiting for God to “create the impossible” story in me that will be published, even if it doesn’t happen when I’m alive. I pray for the faith of Mary who accepted God’s word with comfort and allowed the impossible to grow inside of her. I will keep praying for encouragement for God to create the impossible and make my dreams of becoming a published writer a possibility.

Are you struggling with God who tries to create the impossible in you? Are you struggling with putting the words on the page to paint a story that the readers will devour? Any words of advice to help this struggling writer not feel so depressed and ready to call it quits, please share them.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Giveaway of Jessica Dotta’s latest book: Price of Privilege



By Kelly Bridgewater 

Would you like to win a copy of Price of Privilege before you can buy it on January 1, 2015? You’re in luck. I’m giving away a copy to one lucky person. All you have to do is answer the question at the bottom of this entry and leave your email address by midnight Monday, December 22, 2014. I will pick someone’s name on Tuesday, December 23 and mail the book. Hopefully, the book will be delivered to you around Christmas time. So let’s see those comments.

Backcover Copy:

Where will she turn when the truth becomes more dangerous than the lie?
Having finally discovered the truth of her birthright, Julia Elliston is determined to outwit Chance Macy at his own game. Holding knowledge he’d kill to keep secret, however, is proving more difficult than she imagined.

Just when Julia thinks she’s managed to untangle herself from Macy’s clutches, the scandal of the century breaks loose. Drawing rooms all over London whisper what so far newspapers have not dared to print: Macy’s lost bride is none other than Lord Pierson’s daughter, Julia—and one of the most controversial cases of marital law ever seen comes before Victorian courts.

Though Julia knows Macy’s version of events is another masterful manipulation, public opinion is swaying in his favor. Caught in a web of deceit and lies, armed only with a fledgling faith, Julia must face her fiercest trial yet.

My Review:

The Victorian era of the Novel came around 1837- 1901. Books were thick and populated with many different characters usually protesting the economic status of the era. Plus, the story was so long that the reader could get lost in the pages of the story. Sometimes the authors were long-winded. Can you think of any authors who wrote during this time?

Give up?

I hope you can at least the main two ones who popped in my head. Charles Dickens. The Bronte Sisters. They wrote masterpieces that were long filled with tons of description. Honestly, when I read Great Expectations for the first time, I flipped through a lot of pages because the descriptions of everything went on and on.

But Jessica Dotta just completed her Price of Privilege series, which includes Born of Persuasion, Mark of Distinction, and Price of Privilege. Recently, Tyndale Publishing offered Born of Persuasion for free for the Kindle. I downloaded it but haven’t gotten around to reading it yet. So when the opportunity arose for me to review the last book in the series, I jumped on it.

The writing was strong and active. What I mean is that as the reader I could understand all the dilemma, fears, and uncertainties Julia was having as she tried to fit into the world she didn’t feel like she belonged in. The scenes moved well together, moving from one scene into another. The entire story was from Julia’s perspective. Dotta did a good job at keeping the reader focused on what she saw. We were never told what her father or Edward felt unless it came through the lens of Julia. The plot was well thought out and sparked my interest. I couldn’t wait to see where the story would go.

As for the characters, Dotta created likeable characters. I enjoyed watching Julia struggle with the idea of being “the Emerald Heiress” as the second book referred to her. But in Price of Privilege, Julia wanted to be married to her soul mate, Edward, the vicar. I rooted for Edward and Julia to be together because when they were together, they were better people and their love was so worthy. Edward and Julia deserved to be together.

The setting was described well. I could see the mansions that Julia and Edward visited without being overwhelmed with pages and pages upon detail like the traditional Victorian novels. Dotta does a good job at inviting her readers into the setting without drowning them in detail. My only issue with the setting was the date of the book. As someone who came to the series in the third book before reading the first two, I had no idea when the story took place. I scanned the back of the book and discovered Dotta had been fascinated by England during the Regency and Victorian Eras, but I didn’t know what year to actually place the story. I had to read the blurb on the first book and understand that Born of Persuasion occurred in 1838. It would have been nice to know the actual date for the last book.

Being labeled as a historical novel, Dotta created a realistic world. I truly believed the story happened in the wealthy world of the Victorian Era. Dotta rounded out the story with keeping true to the language, clothes, and customs. Like Julia, who could not backtalk to the men in her life. Even though we heard her feelings because we were following Julia throughout the story, Dotta created Julia to respect and obey the men in her life.

I truly enjoyed Price of Privilege by Jessica Dotta. Now I need to go back and read the first two books in the series, so some of the issues mentioned in the past come alive to my imagination.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale and the opinions stated are all my own.

Jessica DottaHow to connect with Jessica Dotta:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BornofPersuasion

Website: http://www.jessicadotta.com/

Where to buy her books:
Amazon
Christianbook.com
Barnes and Nobles
Wherever books are sold.

Would you like to win a copy of Price of Privilege before you can buy it on January 1, 2015? You’re in luck. I’m giving away a copy to one lucky person. All you have to do is answer the question at the bottom of this entry and leave your email address by midnight Monday, December 22, 2014. I will pick someone’s name on Tuesday, December 23 and mail the book. Hopefully, the book will be delivered to you around Christmas time.

Here is the question:

If you could pick one person from any book (the character, not the author), who would you pick to hang out with for a day? and Why?

Merry Christmas!