Friday, February 27, 2015

Dina L. Sleiman: Dauntless

By Kelly Bridgewater

Back Cover Copy: 

Born a baron's daughter, Lady Merry Ellison is now an enemy of the throne after her father's failed assassination attempt upon the king. Bold and uniquely skilled, she is willing to go to any lengths to protect the orphaned children of her former village--a group that becomes known as "The Ghosts of Farthingale Forest." Merry finds her charge more difficult as their growing notoriety brings increasing trouble their way.

Timothy Grey, ninth child of the Baron of Greyham, longs to perform some feat so legendary that he will rise from obscurity and earn a title of his own. When the Ghosts of Farthingale Forest are spotted in Wyndeshire, where he serves as assistant to the local earl, he might have found his chance. But when he comes face-to-face with the leader of the thieves, he's forced to reexamine everything he's known.

My Review:

I’m always on a lookout for good young adult novels for my preteen boys to read. My oldest loved, The Storm Siren by Mary Weber, so when I saw Dauntless displayed at the 2014 ACFW conference, I knew I would be looking into the book. It is a fantasy young adult novel in the vein of Robin Hood. What young boy would not like a good Robin Hood story? I’m glad I took the time to read this book before my boys because I loved it, and I’m afraid I won’t get the copy back once my boys get a hold of it.

The heroine of Merry Ellison captures me from the first scene where she jumps from a tree onto a poor unsuspecting traveler. I love how Sleiman created a daring, confident leader and protector in Merry. She is not weak, even though she was raised as a royal in her early years. She rose from that culture and proved that woman could do anything a man can do, becoming a good role model for young woman. In the beginning, Merry turned her back on God, but through the novel, Sleiman keeps allowing Merry to question that decision. In comparison, the hero, Timothy Grey, in the beginning, has shallow hopes and goals as he wants to work his way up the chain of command. But as he learns about Merry and understands her point of view on life, he starts to contemplate his decisions.  I believe teens will empathize with Merry and Timothy because of their childhood friendship, which turns into first love. It definitely brought a smile to my face.

Sleiman starts with an action scene and steals the readers’ attention, only from those who could spare a couple of moments. The story allows the drama to unfold and sink into the reader’s imagination, especially since Sleiman does a great job with description. As a young adult novel, Sleiman really understands sixteen and seventeen year olds and portray accurately their thoughts, struggles, and conflict with their first loves and the drama around them. Just like any good story, the conflict jumped off the page, dragging its readers through the drama from the choice between the old life and the new life, easy life or struggle through life, castle or the forest, love lost with Timothy or new love with Allen. There were many different choices for Merry and Timothy to pursue as the story revealed its secrets.

Overall, Dina L. Sleiman invites her readers to linger in Farthingale Forest while inviting children’s imaginations to a different time and place filled with sword fighting, a resilient heroine, a protective hero, a massive castle, and sneaky ghosts in this engaging Young Adult novel.

I received a complimentary copy of Dauntless from Bethany House Publishers through Net galley and the opinions stated are all my own.

Dina L. Sleiman’s Bio:

Dina Sleiman writes stories of passion and grace. Most of the time you will find this Virginia Beach resident reading, biking, dancing, or hanging out with her husband and three children, preferably at the oceanfront. Since finishing her Professional Writing MA in 1994, she has enjoyed many opportunities to teach literature, writing, and the arts. Her debut novel, Dance of the Dandelion with Whitefire Publishing, won an Honorable Mention in the 2012 Selah Awards. Also look for her novels, Love in Three-Quarter Time and Dance from Deep Within, and her Valiant Hearts series coming with Bethany House Publishers in 2015. Dina serves as an acquisitions editor for WhiteFire as well, and she loves to represent them at writer’s conferences throughout the US. Join her as she discovers the unforced rhythms of grace.

Dina L. Sleiman
From Dina L. Sleiman's Amazon's Author Page
How to connect with Dina L. Sleiman:
Author’s Personal Website:

Where to purchase Dauntless:
Barnes and Nobles
Wherever books are sold.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Candace Calvert: By Your Side

By Kelly Bridgewater

Back Cover Copy:  

ER nurse Macy Wynn learned essential, gritty lessons in the California foster care system: land on your feet and trust no one. She’s finally located the fellow foster child she loves like a sister, but the girl’s in deep trouble. Macy’s determined to help, no matter what it takes. Her motto is to “make it happen” in any situation life throws at her—even when she butts heads with an idealistic cop.

Deputy Fletcher Holt believes in a higher plan, the fair outcome—and his ability to handle that by himself if necessary. Now he’s been yanked from Houston, his mother is battling cancer, and he’s attracted to a strong-willed nurse who could be the target of a brutal sniper.

When everything goes wrong, where do they put their trust?

My Review:    

I like romantic suspense, and I’m a huge fan of the television show ER. I own every episode. I have heard of Candace Calvert, but I haven’t gotten around to reading any of her books yet. When Tyndale offered it for review, I jumped on the chase. It would make me sit down and read one of her books without buying it and sicking it next to other books on my To Be Read pile. I truly enjoyed the book.

Calvert shows the inner workings of an Emergency Room, and I enjoy writers who use their day-to-day work to show their readers something new. It was realistic without boring the readers with all the head knowledge a nurse has to have. It flowed naturally.

You can’t help falling in love with Deputy Fletcher Holt. He is a good guy who wants to help his mother with cancer. They both drop everything in Houston and move to California to seek help. Fletcher even goes so far as to find out if he is a bone marrow match to his mother. What girl would not like a man that does everything in his power to make his mother comfortable? Also, loved how Fletcher went out of his way to find what makes Nurse Marcy Wynn tick. He was charming, sweet, and memorable. I enjoyed the hero of Fletcher Holt. On the other hand, ER nurse Marcy Wynn is a strong, kickboxing woman who wants the best for her sister, Leah, and wants a place to call home.

As for the suspense, it was interesting to see how a sniper kept targeting a certain area of town. It made me think a number of different times who the killer actually was. When I thought I knew who it could possibly be, Calvert threw another wretch in the mess and proved me wrong. 

I will definitely be keeping a lookout for the other six books that Candace Calvert has written. These are good books for fans of Jordyn Redwood and Bethany Macmanus. 

Overall, Candace Calvert’s latest release, By Your Side, grips my imagination with the realistic workings of the emergency room and the suspense of the sniper. The hero of Fletcher Holt is swoon-worthy and totally likeable. Marcy Wynn is a strong, confident woman looking for her home.

I received a complimentary copy of By Your Side by Candace Calvert through Tyndale Publishing and all the opinions stated above are all my own.

Candace Calvert’s Bio:  

Often called the author of "medical hope opera," Candace Calvert is an ER nurse who landed on the other side of the stethoscope after the equestrian accident that broke her neck and convinced her love, laughter--and faith--are the very best medicines of all.

Her popular medical drama series (Mercy Hospital and Grace Medical) offer readers a chance to "scrub in" on the exciting world of emergency medicine, along with charismatic characters, pulse-pounding action, tender romance, humor, suspense--and an encouraging prescription for hope. Think "Grey's Anatomy finds its soul"!

A native northern Californian, mother of two and proud grandmother to seven, Candace is a passionate "foodie," equally at home with a whisk in her hand as she is penning stories.

Where to connect with Candace Calvert
Candace Calvert
From Candace Calvert's Amazon Author Page
Personal Website:

Where to purchase her books:
Barnes and Nobles
Wherever books are sold.

How many of Candace Calvert’s books have you read? What is your favorite aspect of a medical romantic suspense novel?

Friday, February 20, 2015

Do You Color Outside the Lines?

By Kelly Bridgewater
Did the title catch your attention? I hope so. How many times as a young child have you colored a picture, allowing the wide movements to extend past the black line, which creates the coveted picture that you wanted to color? I remember doing this. I, however, also remember my mother telling me to slow down and stay inside the lines because my picture would be prettier.

Boy, was my mother wrong. As an adult, I may not color pictures as much as I used to, but when I write I like to test the waters. Being an avid reader of suspense and thrillers, recently, I have become obsessed with the World War II historical genre and the 1930’s. Some of my new favorite writers are Sarah Sundin, Julie Lessman, Cara Putnam, Liz Tolsma, Kate Breslin.

A favorite saying is to write in the genre that you enjoy reading because if you are bored with the plot line, then your readers will be bored with the story. I agree.

But . . . even though I’m constantly working on the third book in my Lockwood Mills Files, I have pulled out a new college ruled notebook (I pick up about ten of them at Wal-Mart at the beginning of each new school year when their ten cents apiece) and started planning a thriller that might have occurred during the World War II or in the 1930’s. I have already gotten the pictures of hero and the heroine pasted in there with some of the quirks that make the character who they are.

I don’t know if the story will be any good, but I thought it would be neat to write a part historical book that still includes my love of mystery and suspense. Julianna Deering wrote a series called A Drew Farthering Mystery, which takes place in 1930’s England. I would love to have others compare my new idea, if it ever gets published, to hers.

I think by combining the two genres together I could come up with a story that might fascinate my readers and keep their attention to the last page.

Do you ever try your hand at mixing two styles of genres into one? What did you come up with?  Name some authors beside Julianna Deering who have combined thrillers or suspense with another genre. Let’s start a discussion.