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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Lynette Eason: Always Watching

By Kelly Bridgewater

The bodyguards of Elite Guardians Agency have more than just skill and prowess in common--they're also all women. When it becomes clear that popular psychiatrist and radio personality Wade Savage has a stalker, his father secretly hires Elite Guardians in order to protect his son.

But when Wade's bodyguard is attacked and nearly killed, agency owner Olivia Edwards must step in and fill the gap. Olivia's skills are about to be tested to the limit as Wade's stalker moves from leaving innocent gifts at his door to threatening those closest to him. Olivia has the feeling that she's next on the list. And to complicate things even further, she realizes that her heart may be in as much danger as her client.

Bestselling author and fan favorite Lynette Eason drops readers right into the action in this fast-paced new series with a unique twist. Readers will love these strong female characters who put it all on the line to save lives.
From Amazon
My Thoughts:

I love Lynette Eason's writing. She always takes me for a thrill ride with her strong heroines. In her latest book, Always Watching, it is a first book in her new series entitled Elite Guardians. With Eason's book, I know there will be strong characters, a slight love interest, and non-stop action. If it is even possible, I think Always Watching is one of her best books written so far.

Getting to know the characters and watch them interact is one of the major reasons I enjoy getting lost in a novel. Olivia, the bodyguard, is the type of heroine every woman should admire. She is strong but has flaws that make her totally relatable. I instantly empathized with her and couldn't wait to learn more about her as the novel progressed. Wade, the hero, is a single father who will do anything to protect his almost thirteen year old daughter, Amy. He puts her safety above his own on a number of occasions. This makes his a hero worth pining after. Plus, it doesn't help that he is handsome.

In order for me to completely lose myself in a novel, I have to enjoy the twists and turns. And there needs to be a lot of them. In suspense and thrillers, they should be non-stop. Eason knows this, and in Always Watching she does a great job at keeping me on my toes. I didn't want to put down the book even thought my body kept telling me it was time to go to sleep. It was a thrilling plot with lots of chapters ending in a moment of panic, which made me flip to the next chapter to see what happens. 
Just like I enjoy my books.

The romance should be pretty downplayed for me. Eason does that. Yes, there is moments where Wade and Olivia question why they are feeling emotions for each other, but not too much to classify this book as a romance book.

Always thrilling, Lynette Eason's newest book, Always Watching got my attention in the first couple of chapters and did not let go. I didn't even guess who the bad person was. I had ideas, but they were proven wrong. Good job! I highly recommend this thrill ride for lovers of suspense and mysteries.

I received a complimentary copy of Always Watching from Lynette Eason and Revell Publishing and the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars


Purchase Always Watching

Friday, January 29, 2016

Welcome to 2016 (Part III)

By Kelly Bridgewater

If you have been following my blog for the past two weeks, I started the New Year with setting my year off right with focusing on God. Then I followed up with my writing goals for the new year. Now today, I will be showing how I set up by reading goals for the New Year. I try to read 200 books during a year. For me, it doesn’t seem like a lot, but as an avid reader who can complete a 400 page book in a twenty-four hour period while watching my boys and getting dinner on the table, I think my list should be longer.

Maybe this year.

Let’s me share my secret. First, I read all the time. My Kindle is in my purse. I find an extra fifteen minutes waiting to pick up the boys from school. Sitting in the doctor’s office waiting to go back and then watching the clock tick by in the examination room. I pull out my Kindle while standing in the line at the grocery store. I read while my husband is driving down the road to the store.  My nose is always in a book. My favorite moments are when my youngest, Obadiah, hands me a book, and he cuddles in my lap while we devour the book together. He is really into Franklin and Lego Batman right now, so we read a lot of those.

In 2014 at the Indiana ACFW meeting in December, our speaker, Bob Hostetler, challenged us to be intentional with our reading. He suggested know ahead of time of at least fifty books you want to read in the New Year, and then read accordingly.

www.fanpop.com
In the past, I have been purely a reader who read a book because of I’m a devoted fan of an author who I buy everything of, or I read the synopsis on the back of the book, and I’m interested.  I have a lot of books around my house that need to be read, so I plan to be intentional with the books I NEED to finish by the end of 2016. Not that there won’t be more added as new books come out. There are a lot of books coming out in 2016 that I want to devour. I have been reading every suspense and romantic suspense, so I can study and improve my writing, so now I can venture out of my genre. Lately, I have been obsessed with World War II fiction.

We all know I will be reading the Bible every day, so that won’t be listed.

Let’s begin:

2 authors:
·         Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers (all four of the books in the series) andCamille (which I found at a yard sale this summer) 
·         C.S. Lewis who I have an entire bookshelf devoted to his writings and writings about him, but I haven’t gotten around to reading all of them.

6 contemporary romantic suspense books (Including Love Inspired Suspense)Let’s be honest, I’ll probably be reading a lot more of these:
·         Burning Proof by Janice Cantore
·         Thin Ice by Irene Hannon
·         Dressed for Death by Julianna Deering
·         Desperate Measures by Lynette Eason
·        A Fool and His Monet by Sandra Orchard
·         Silence in the Dark by Patricia Bradley

4 World War II or historical fiction books (absolute minimum):
·          Dawn at Emberwilde by Sarah E. Ladd
·          Anchors in the Storm by Sarah Sundin
·         The Bachelor's Guide to Murder by Rachel McMillian
·         The Ringmaster's Wife by Kristy Cambron

3 suspense/ thriller books:
·         Curse by Steven James
       Annabell Lee by Mike Nappa
       Cold Shot by Dani Pettrey

www.codepancake.com
4 favorite fiction authors:
·         You're the One that I Want by Susan May Warren
·         Steven James
·         Dani Pettrey
·         Sarah Sundin

2 new fiction authors: 
·         James Rubart
·         James Rollins

5 Young adult books:
·          The Beautiful Pretender, A Spy's Devotion, and The Little Mermaid story (untitled) by Melanie Dickerson 

4 writing craft books:
·         Writing with Emotion, Tension, and Conflict by Cheryl St. John
·         Stein on Writing by Sol Stein
·         The Fire in Fiction  and Writing the Breakout Novel  by Donald Maass

2-3 Christmas books:
·         Where Treetops Glisten by Tricia Goyer, Cara Putnam, and Sarah Sundin ( I read this book this past Christmas, and it became a classic that I will want to read every Christmas)
·         The Christmas Candle by Max Lucado
·         The Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (Never read the actual book! Shame, I know)

Non-fiction books: 
I have a couple on my bookshelf from C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien I need to read.

1 daily devotional:
·         A Year with C. S. Lewis: Daily Readings from His Classic Works

This is just a summary of the type of books I plan to read this year. Plus, if anything new comes up, then this list has the right to change by adding or deleting a certain book. Some of these books aren’t even going to come out until the end of the summer, so I probably will have included some new books by then.

How do you decide what books to read for the New Year? Share. I have a journal next to my favorite chair where I list every book that I read during the month and under the heading of what I have actually read during the year. It helps me keep track of what I already have read. Plus, it is cool when someone asks what type of books I read. Like they couldn’t tell by looking at my overflowing bookshelves.

Let’s meet back here for a recap in December and talk about our books that we read during 2016.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Keeper of the Stars: Robin Lee Hatcher

By Kelly Bridgewater

Synopsis:

Forgiveness is the only cure for heartbreak. But can Penny forgive the man she holds responsible for her brother’s death?
When her mother died from pneumonia, Penny Cartwright was heartbroken. But now, after burying her younger brother just 12 years later, she is devastated. Anger, guilt, and sorrow cloud Penny’s mind, and the last thing she wants is to be reminded of her pain—but that’s exactly what happens when a stranger comes to town.
Trevor Reynolds has been chasing fame for more than a dozen years, but his musical career can’t get off the ground. While on the road, an accident kills his young drummer, Brad Cartwright. Trevor wasn’t behind the wheel, but he still blames himself… and so does Brad’s sister, Penny. Now Trevor finds himself in Kings Meadow, determined to follow through on his final promise to his friend.
Still feeling the pain of Brad’s death, Penny and Trevor must learn that forgiveness is the only thing that can heal their hearts. And if they do, something beautiful may rise from the ashes of heartbreak.

I love this cover!!! From Amazon
My Thoughts:

In Robin Lee Hatcher’s newest contemporary romance and addition to her widely popular King Meadows series, Keeper of the Stars, I believe it will satisfy every fan of romance books. Breaking through the ashes of disappointments and hurt, Penny Cartwright learns to find forgiveness and love. On the other hand, Trever Reynolds comes to King Meadow after making a promise to Brad, Penny’s deceased brother, and learns to let go of his past anger and follow completely after God. Using plenty of descriptive images, King Meadows, Idaho came to life in my imagination filled with a surrounding cast of characters who show the good side to a close-knit community. I really enjoyed watching Penny and Trevor mature as they slid off the past anger and allow love to thaw even their darken hearts. Using the right amount of dialogue and prose, I felt like I was walking along Penny and Trevor as they traveled through this difficult time in their life. I enjoyed seeing their path to transformation. Some of my favorite stories have the characters doing a complete 180 when it comes to their viewpoint on life, and Hatcher does exactly that. She isn’t afraid to dig deep and show the dark side of the human soul. I, also, truly enjoyed how Hatcher allowed the characters to question God, which reminds me of what I do. I may believe in God and study his Word every day, but there are still moments of asking him why?

True to the contemporary romance genre, Robin Lee Hatcher’s Keeper of the Stars will satisfy romance fans and give them a joy ride as they travel the road of pain and forgiveness to reach the happily-ever-after. I highly recommend this book for fans of Becky Wade, Melissa Tagg, and Beth K. Vogt.

I received a complimentary copy of Keeper of the Stars from Thomas Nelson publishing and the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars



Do you believe that every romance should have a happy ending? Why?

Friday, January 22, 2016

Welcome to 2016 (Part II)

By Kelly Bridgewater

As a writer, I set personal goals during each month. Right now, there in the back page of 2015’s planner, which need to be transferred to my new planner. My yearly planner is a 400 page planner that I customize with handmade calendars then two pages for each day. I am the most productive that way. Plus, it costs an arm and a leg to buy planners that are daily and monthly. I don’t like the weekly monthly ones. There is never enough time for me to write in. My husband keeps joking that there is an app for that on my Note 3, but something about writing it down every day. Must be the writer in me. J

www.angisullins.com
Back to my writing goals. During the month of November 2015, I finally sat down and crunched out 71,000 words for my first novel in my World War II spy novel series. During December, I finished it, completing at 98,000 words. Also, during December, I worked on plotting the second book in the series. No title yet.

During January, I have started another writing marathon working on the second book. I hope to finish the whole book in January, but I think it will leak over in February too.

During February, I will finish the second book and plot out the third one. Now these aren’t full on sketches. I use the cork board method in Scrivener and write little ideas for each chapter. I love being able to drag and move the chapters around.

During March, with Seekerville, who offers prizes and advice to encourage writers, I plan to compose the third book in the series.

April, I plan to catch up on my reading and just relax (even though I have to read and submit reviews for books and work on my blog postings all year long) after completing 300,000 words over a span of five months.

May, I will start revising the first book.
June. Revise.
July. Revise.
August. Revise.

September, Prepare one sheets and my pitch for the annual ACFW conference. This year, I plan to actually pitch to editors and agents. I have never done that before. I have never thought my writing was good enough.

October. Read and relax. Hopefully, preparing my book to send to an agent or editor who I sparked their interest.

November. Write another book. I don’t know what yet.

December. Spend time with family while finishing the book I started in November and plotting my next book.

A lot of writing goals for one year, but we’ll see how the year actually goes. Stayed tune for my next post next Friday on January 16th where I will share my reading goals. It won’t be month by month like my writing goals. It will be something more interesting. So come back. I need tons of feedback on both of these posts.

Do you set writing goals in the beginning of the year? How do you do it? If you don’t, should you?

I would love to hear your comments on what you do to set the year off in the right foot when it comes to writing.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Confession of X: Suzanne M. Wolfe

By Kelly Bridgewater

Synopsis:

Before he became a father of the Christian Church, Augustine of Hippo loved a woman whose name has been lost to history. This is her story.
She met Augustine in Carthage when she was seventeen. She was the poor daughter of a mosaic-layer; he was a promising student and with a great career in the Roman Empire ahead of him. His brilliance and passion intoxicated her, but his social class would be forever beyond her reach.  She became his concubine, and by the time he was forced to leave her, she was thirty years old and the mother of his son. And his Confessions show us that he never forgot her. She was the only woman he ever loved.
In a society in which classes rarely mingled on equal terms, and an unwed mother could lose her son to the burgeoning career of her ambitious lover, this anonymous woman was a first-hand witness to Augustine of Hippos’s anguished spiritual journey from religious cultist to the celebrated Christian saint and thinker.
Giving voice to one of history’s most mysterious women, The Confessions of X tells the story of Augustine of Hippo’s nameless lover, their relationship before his famous conversion, and her life after his rise to fame. A tale of womanhood, faith, and class at the end of antiquity, The Confessions of X is more than historical fiction . . . it is a timeless story of love and loss in the shadow of a theological giant.
She met Augustine in Carthage when she was just seventeen years old. She was the daughter of a mosaic-layer. He was a student and the heir to a fortune. They fell in love, despite her lower station and Augustine’s dreams of greatness. Their passion was strong, but the only position in his life that was available to her was as his concubine. When Augustine’s ambition and family compelled him to disown his relationship with the her, X was thrust into a devastating reality as she was torn from her son and sent away to her native Africa.
A reflection of what it means to love and lose, this novel paints a gripping and raw portrait of ancient culture, appealing to historical fiction fans while deftly exploring one woman’s search for identity and happiness within very limited circumstances.
From Amazon

My Thoughts:

I’m really not a fan of historical fiction, especially when it covers stories written in the Biblical times or stories in the past without modern conveniences. But when I was given a copy of The Confession of X by Suzanne M. Wolfe, the synopsis on the back of the book intrigued me. When I was in graduate school, I took a class by Professor Latta on Rhetoric and the importance of it for every English student. That class was difficult, but I really enjoyed learning more about how reading and writing actually go hand in hand along with speaking. For that class, we had to compose a twenty-five page essay. I choose to do mine on Augustine. My thesis basically proved that in order for someone to speak, read, or write well, they had to study the Bible. Using examples and letters from Augustine, I proved my theory.

I read Augustine’s Confessions for my essay, but I really didn’t remember much about the woman who captured his heart. The Confession of X is her story, so I wanted to fill in the gaps with this fictional piece created by Wolfe.

Wolfe does a great job at inviting me into the historical story without feeling out of place. I saw the community with the paved roads and the market where the women went to hang out all day long and watch their children before returning to the house during the heat of the day to cool off. I enjoyed learning more about poor woman who had no stature and how they couldn’t marry any one with wealthy; they just had to be their concuibine because they brought nothing to the marriage.

With the first person point of view, I really understood and empathized with “Little Bird.” The name her father gave her. The entire story is told from her perspective. We don’t understand why Augustine chooses to do what he does; instead, we watch Augustine’s woman make the choices she does. I understood her feelings and understood her ultimate sacrifice. I enjoyed watching her mature and change as the world around her changed. Wolfe does a good job at creating a historical character that would rightly suite Augustine.

The Confession of X is unique, but it made me realize the significance of woman long ago. In the history books and the Bible, most women were glossed over because woman weren’t seen as the important ones in history. Only the men mattered. But Wolfe allows her imagination to flow and makes “Little Bird” important and a strong heroine.

Overall, Suzanne M. Wolfe’s The Confession of X gives a rare glimpse into a forgotten woman in history, bringing to her life for the masses. The story could have been ripped from the pages of Augustine’s Confessions if he would have told the truth. I really enjoyed this book and can’t wait to see if Wolfe will write another story.

I received a complimentary copy of The Confession of X from Thomas Nelson and the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars



What is your favorite aspect of a historical novel? Would you read a story that is made up about a character from the past?

Friday, January 15, 2016

Welcome to 2016 (Part I)

By Kelly Bridgewater

2016! Wow!

Every year in January for the first twenty-days of the year, our church does a fast. Not for fame or to have everyone pitting you because you can’t eat certain food, but to place our priorities in the right place as we begin this New Year. Our church follows the Daniel Fast. No red meat. No candy. No coffee. No caffeine. No dairy products. Just lots of fruits and veggies, grains, and fish.

For the twenty-one days, we read our Bibles and spend a lot of time in prayer, asking God for what he wants to accomplish in the New Year. It is hard when your stomach is growling, but you drink some juice and open the Bible. The first year our family participated, which was five years ago, it was really hard. I wanted to eat, but as I learned how to do this, my stomach still growls, but I feed it by eating some fruit and flipping open the Bible for some inspiration.
www.7culturalmountains.org
I designate certain days to pray for each of my boys: Elijah, Isaiah, and Obadiah. I pray for Michael and his leadership in our family. I pray for my church. I pray for our country. I pray for mother, father, brother, sister, aunt, mother-in-law, father-in-law, our neighbors.

Finally, I pray for God to guide my steps during the year. To be a better mother who treasures the moments with her children. To be a better wife who loves her husband like God loves the church. To improve my writing. I pray to be a better daughter of God who seeks after him with my whole heart. To spend more time in worshipping him. Worship isn’t just for church. I pray for a job that will meet our financial needs and my spiritual desire to write and create for God.

I set Bible reading goals to keep searching and discovering something new in the Bible every day. I know, personally, how hard it is to keep reading the same book day after day and skimming over the parts that I have read and heard my entire life. I ask God to give me the eyes of someone who has never heard that part of the Bible before. I want to hang on to something new and fresh from the Bible every day.

What do you do to set your heart in the right place at the beginning of the New Year? Have you ever fasted and given the New Year over to God to see what he wants to accomplish during 2015?

Come back next week, when I will discuss my writing goals for 2016. On January 22th, I will show you my reading plan for 2016. Return and you’ll see how I read around 200 books a year.

******This exact blog appeared in January 2015, but my prayer and reading the Bible goals really don't change year to year, so I decided to use it again.**************

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Newsmakers: Lis Wiehl

By Kelly Bridgewater

Synopsis:

TV reporter Erica Sparks has become a superstar overnight. But is it due to her hard work and talent?  Or is she at the center of a spiraling conspiracy?

Erica Sparks is a beautiful and ambitious reporter who has just landed her dream job at Global News Network in New York. And while it was hard to leave Jenny, her cherished eight-year-old daughter, in the custody of her ex-husband, Erica is determined to succeed in the cutthroat world of big-time broadcasting. She can only hope her troubled past won’t come back to sabotage her dreams.

Although the wounds from her divorce are still fresh, Erica can’t deny the chemistry between her and her new producer, the handsome and empathic Greg Underwood. But a relationship is the last thing she wants right now.

On her very first assignment, Erica inadvertently witnesses—and films—a horrific tragedy, scooping all the other networks. Mere weeks later, another tragedy strikes – again, right in front of Erica and her cameras.

Her career skyrockets overnight, but Erica is troubled. Deeply. This can’t just be coincidence. But what is it?

Erica will stop at nothing to uncover the truth. But she has to make sure disaster—and her troubled past—don’t catch up with her first.

From Amazon
My Thoughts:

Wanting success and the ability to move above her past, Erica Sanders jumps at the first opportunity to leave her past behind her as she travels to New York to work for an up and coming new news station GNN (Global News Network). Lis Wiehl is known for her fast acting reporter and as a former federal prosecutor, but her novel writing skill captures my attention and draws me into the story from the first pages.

In her newest first book in what I hope is a series, The Newsmakers, I was introduced to Erica Sanders, a young heroine who is divorced and wants more than anything to gain custody of her daughter. Erica grew up in a horrible environment with parents who didn’t really care about her or her education, but she proved herself and went to Yale University. After reading all of Wiehl’s previous books, I really enjoy how she makes strong heroines. They all have a past that they are trying to forget as they move along with their current lives. Single, divorced mothers are a trend in Wiehl’s stories, which I think make the stories instantly relatable. I’m not a single mother, but I know many women who are. These stories tug at my heart as I feel empathy for the working mother who literally does anything to earn a good life for their children.

The second thing I really enjoyed about Newmakers is Wiehl’s ability to truly get into the mind and actions of a news reporter. Being a news commentator herself, Wiehl creates a character that lives and breathes her work environment. I never once had to second guess anything that Wiehl had Erica tell us. Along the same lines, Wiehl allows, someone like me, who has never been to New York to actually see and experience how it is to live and work in such a thriving metropolis.

As for the conflict, it is completely original. Even though I had a suspicion pretty early on who was weaving the conflicts in Erica’s life, I still enjoyed watching the action occur as the pages moved closer and closer to the final showdown. There is a little bit of romance between Erica and another co-worker, but nothing over the top that will make the male species cringe. I had a really hard time putting the book down. I wanted to prove that my theory was correct, which it was.

For a word of caution, in the last fifty pages of the novel, there is a “bad” word that might be a moment of pause for younger readers. But nothing too graphic. Most of the conflict is controlling the media and happens off the page.

As for Lis Wiehl’s newest story, The Newsmakers, the mystery is physiologically and gripping at the same time. Wiehl ends the story in a cliff-hanger, begging for the next book to hurry up and be released.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Purchase The Newsmakers

As a writer, we are told not to write a character that is just like you or has the same career you do? As for Lis Wiehl, I think it works in making her characters more realistic. Do you agree with me or not? Share your thoughts


Friday, January 8, 2016

Where She Belongs: Johnnie Alexander

By Kelly Bridgewater

Synopsis:

Shelby Kincaid is ready to move on from her grief. With high hopes for the future, she longs to purchase her family's ancestral homestead so she can raise her young daughters in the only place she ever truly belonged. She plans to transform the abandoned house into the perfect home of her memories. But she'll have her work cut out for her.

AJ Sullivan never wanted the homestead. Inherited as a punishment from his grandfather, it has sat empty for fifteen years and fallen into ruin. He's glad to finally unload it. But a clean break isn't possible when he can't get the young widow Shelby off his mind.

Welcome to Misty Willow, a place that will have as great a hold over the reader as it does over its inhabitants. With writing that evokes a strong sense of place and personal history, Johnnie Alexander deftly explores the ties that bind us to home--and the irresistible forces that draw us to each other.

From Amazon
My Thoughts:

I’m really not a fan of contemporary romances, but Johnnie Alexander’s newest romance Where She Belongs kept my attention. I accepted a romance between a man and a woman with the predictable ending, which the story does. It is very formulaic in that aspect, but there is so much more to the plot. First, there are two different love triangles that involve the same men but different women. This created some spice to the plot. There is a confused father identity for a hurt child, but the father finally steps up and takes his long awaited position. Second, Alexander creates Shelby Kincaid as a young woman who has just lost her husband and now is a single mother to young girls. Shelby wants to come home and make a place where she feels comfortable and safe. Returning to Misty Willow Brook and her ancestral home, Shelby searches for meaning behind her families’ feud with an adjoining family. There is a little bit of a mystery to the meaning behind the family’s issues.  Alexander does a good job at creating a story where love and forgiveness reminds us of where we belong. As long as we are with the ones we love than that is where our home is. Alexander weaves a story where she shows the importance of family history. The romance really wasn’t that sappy; there was more to the story than just watching two people argue and then slowly fall in love. Shelby and AJ have to overcome more obstacles as the story progresses. The end is enjoyable. I recommend this book to fans of Melissa Tagg, Beth K. Vogt, Becky Wade, and Susan May Warren.  I really enjoyed watching the transformation of the characters. Alexander doesn’t mind getting right down and pour the characters’ hearts onto the page.

I received a complimentary copy of Where She Belongs from Revell Publishing and the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars



If contemporary romance is your genre of your choice, do you stick with one author or just read rapidly in the genre?

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Mermaid Moon by Colleen Coble

By Kelly Bridgewater

Synopsis:

Mallory’s mother died fifteen years ago. But her father’s last words on the phone were unmistakable: “Find . . . mother.”
Shame and confusion have kept Mallory Davis from her home for the last fifteen years, but when her dad mysteriously dies on his mail boat route, she doesn’t have any choice but to go back to Mermaid Point.
Mallory believes her father was murdered and childhood sweetheart Kevin O’Connor, game warden in Downeast Maine, confirms her suspicions. But Kevin is wary of helping Mallory in her search. She broke his heart—and left—without a word, years ago.
When Mallory begins receiving threats on her own life—and her beloved teenage daughter, Haylie—their search intensifies. There’s a tangled web within the supposed murder, and it involves much more than what meets the eye.
As answers begin to fall into place, Mallory realizes her search is about more than finding her father’s killer—it is also about finding herself again . . . and possibly about healing what was broken so long ago with Kevin. She just has to stay alive long enough to put all the pieces together.

From Amazon
My Thoughts:

I have read a good bunch of Colleen Coble’s writing, so I know what to expect when I approach any of her romantic suspense. For the most part, I truly enjoy her unique stories with their unique settings. Not one of her series really ever takes place in the same town, which I truly enjoy. As for Coble’s second installment in her A Sunset Cove Novel series with Mermaid Moon, I enjoyed the mystery.

I enjoy stories in series that bring back characters that I have come to know and enjoy spending time with in earlier books. In the first book in this series, The Inn at Ocean’s Edge, I got to understand and empathize with Claire. She comes back in this second book and is a friend of our newest heroine Mallory. A great way for a writer to keep my attention is to bring back familiar characters and have them interact with the new characters.

As for the conflict and romance, it wasn’t such a high demand for suspense or mystery. The romance plays a huge part of the story with a little bit of suspense thrown in to keep the reader’s guessing. Following the normal protocol for a romance book, I was pretty sure that Mallory and Kevin would overcome the struggles that kept them apart and find a way to move onto their future together. Totally predictable. On the other hand, the suspense part got vamped up in the last fifty pages of the book and kept me turning the pages, wanting to understand the reasoning behind the bad person’s actions. Totally a unique idea. Really liked it.

As for the writing, Coble does an excellent job at describing and inviting her readers into the setting with her use of imagery and descriptive words. I really felt like I have gone back and visited a favorite family vacation spot that I can’t wait to return to every summer. The even amount of prose and dialogue keeps the story moving at a quick pace, allowing me to flip through the story pretty rapidly. I really had a hard time putting down the book.

True to a great mystery, Colleen Coble latest mystery, Mermaid Moon, kept my attention as the sparks and danger flew across the pages, inviting me to return once more to Sunset Cove. I really can’t wait for the next book to come out.

I received a complimentary copy of Mermaid Moon from Thomas Nelson Publishing and the opinions stated are all my own.

Purchase Mermaid Moon


My Review: 4 out of 5 stars

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Stars Over Sunset Boulevard: Susan Meissner

By Kelly Bridgewater

Synopsis (From Amazon):

In this new novel from the acclaimed author of Secrets of a Charmed Life, two women working in Hollywood during its Golden Age discover the joy and heartbreak of true friendship.

Los Angeles, Present Day. When an iconic hat worn by Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind  ends up in Christine McAllister’s vintage clothing boutique by mistake, her efforts to return it to its owner take her on a journey more enchanting than any classic movie… 

Los Angeles, 1938.  Violet Mayfield sets out to reinvent herself in Hollywood after her dream of becoming a wife and mother falls apart, and lands a job on the film-set of Gone With the Wind. There, she meets enigmatic Audrey Duvall, a once-rising film star who is now a fellow secretary. Audrey’s zest for life and their adventures together among Hollywood’s glitterati enthrall Violet…until each woman’s deepest desires collide.  What Audrey and Violet are willing to risk, for themselves and for each other, to ensure their own happy endings will shape their friendship, and their lives, far into the future.
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My Thoughts:

I have personally never read anything by Susan Meissner, but the idea of a story set during the 1930’s Hollywood and 1940’s interested me, so I jumped at a chance to read her new book Stars Over Sunset Boulevard. The story is told from Violet Mayfield, a southern belle transported to the hills of Hollywood, and Audrey Duvall, a woman from northern California who wants to become a huge star. Meissner’s latest book carries all the aspect of a historical fiction and will captive readers alike.

I really enjoy how much research Meissner has done with the production of Gone With the Wind to make it come to life for the reader. I really felt like I was on the studio stage as the Hollywood stars and producers were making Gone With the Wind. Following the lives of two secretaries who want more out of their individual lives, Audrey and Violet show the inner workings behind this popular movie. (As a side note, I had to watch this movie in graduate school, and I really DON’T like it. Too long. Too boring.)

Audrey and Violet’s friendship glues the whole plot together. Audrey and Violet meet because Violet needs somewhere to stay when she comes to Hollywood. A lifelong friendship is born. There is plenty of tense moments and many ups and downs to make the relationship realistic. I enjoyed watching them change and transform throughout the novel.

I did have a hard time staying focused when it came to the middle of the book. It kind of drags. Meissner spent the first sixty percent of the book, showing the story in three years time, but then she jumps through seventy years in the last forty percent. It felt really rushed to me. The story should have ended before the last part and the story would have worked out fine.

Like a historical novel, Meissner does a great job at capturing the time period and transporting me to the late 1930’s. Meissner reminded me that friendship is valued above everything else in life.  Fans of Lorna Seilstad and Jessica Dotta would devour this book.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Penguin Group publishing the opinions stated are all my own. 

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars