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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Julianna Deering: Dressed for Death

By Kelly Bridgewater

Drew and Madeline Farthering celebrate their six-month anniversary by attending a fancy Regency era costume party. Drew is glad to see Talbot Cummins, an Oxford classmate, and his fiancée, Alice Henley, though many present seem worried about the couple. Everyone's concerns are realized when, at the concluding grand ball, Alice dies of an overdose of cocaine. Tal refuses to believe she took the stuff intentionally, and Drew is determined to find out if her death was an accident or murder.

Drew is shocked and disillusioned when the police arrest Tal's father and reveal that the man has been smuggling drugs into the country for the past twenty years. Reeling from the death of his fiancée and the revelation about his father, Tal begs Drew to find out what's going on. Drew, now questioning his own ability to see people as they really are, does so reluctantly, not ready for the secrets he's about to uncover--or the danger he'll bring down on everyone he holds dear.

From Amazon
My Thoughts:

I really enjoyed the first three books in the Drew Farthering series by Julianna Deering. Read my complete review of Murder at Mikado. They were full of mystery and took places in the early twentieth century. I admire Drew’s detective skills and how well he solved the crime in no time. As for the newest book in this series, Dressed for Death, did not work as well as the other three for me.

First, most mysteries have a hint of the mystery that leads the book by the end of the first chapter. In Dressed for Death, it doesn’t appear until twenty-seven percent, according to my Kindle. The first part of the book is Drew, Madeline, Nick, and Carrie attending a Regency party and spending time hanging out with the Cummins. It really did not start out like a mystery for me. After the first body drops, it takes a while for the second and third body to drop with no real threat to any of the remaining characters in the story.

I do enjoy how Julianna Deering allows me to really feel like I’m in the setting. I really feel like I’m in the elaborate house, roaming the library and seeing the kitchen with the enormous pantry. The detail that Deering includes allows my imagination to run wild and place me along the characters in the beautiful home.

The main mystery has to do with cocaine but didn’t turn me away from finishing the novel. No one actually uses it on the pages of the book and it isn’t offensive at all like majority of secular novels that use cocaine in the pages of their books.

As for the bad guy, Deering threw a complete twist in because I didn’t even guess who the bad guy was. It totally took me by surprise.

Fans of cozy mysteries will devour Julianna Deering’s latest edition to her Drew Farthering Series and anxiously wait for the next one to appear. If you like Christy Barritt and Lorena McCourtney mysteries, then you will enjoy this novel.

I received a complimentary copy of Dressed for Death from Bethany House Publishers and the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars


Friday, March 25, 2016

Stephen King: On Writing

By Kelly Bridgewater

I know that most writers have this book on their shelf or have been told to buy this book and put it on their shelf. A couple of years ago, I found it at a used book sale and bought it. I wanted to find out what the fuss was all about. Now after finishing On Writing, I understand why the writers truly use this book to help them improve their writing.

The first half of the book is an autobiography of Stephen King’s life or his CV as he fondly calls it. It includes how he started writing and showed the many times he wanted to even quit, but he kept at it. Something about writing even when we don’t want to is important to every writer. I have found a number of times where I want to quit this gig and do something that makes more money. He divides the books into little subchapters that don’t really start on the next page. It flows smoothly together. 
From Amazon

The second half of the book talks about his writing advice. We get to see inside King’s office with his use of descriptive words. One of my favorite quotes is: “Practice is invaluable . . .skills in description, dialogue, and character development all boil down to seeing or hearing clearly and then transcribing what you see or hear with equal clearly (without using a lot of tiresome, unnecessary adverbs) (195). I try to write at least a minimum of 1000 words a day. If not more. Sometimes I start with a short scene and just allow myself to free write for a while to get the imagination flowing.

One thing I really enjoy about this book is the feel of the writing. I feel like Stephen King is sitting right next to me, giving me advice. It is simple to understand but totally resonates with me. I want to sit in my blue Queen Ann’s chair where I do all my reading and writing and allow reality to disappear. It is very conversationalist. I don’t feel threaten or overwhelmed by anything he offers.


If you have read On Writing, what is your favorite part? Share some of your favorite quotes from his book and let’s have a discussion. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Sandra Byrd: Bride of a Distant Isle

By Kelly Bridgewater

Description (from Amazon):

An unforgettable romance set in Victorian England, Bride of A Distant Isle is the engrossing story of Annabel Ashton, who fights to save her family home and her mother's honor while trying to figure out if the man she loves wants her—or just wants to use her to achieve his own ambitions.

Miss Annabel Ashton is a teacher at the Rogers School for Young Ladies in Winchester when she takes a brief visit to her family home, Highcliffe Hall at Milford-on-Sea. She believes her stay will be short but soon learns that she will not be returning to the safety of the school. Instead, she remains at Highcliffe, at the mercy of her cousin, Edward Everedge.

Annabel protests, but as the illegitimate daughter of a woman who died in an insane asylum, she has little say. Edward is running out of money and puts the house up for sale to avoid financial ruin. He insists that Annabel marry, promising her to a sinister, frightening man. But as the house gets packed for sale, it begins to reveal disquieting secrets. Jewelry, artifacts, and portraits mysteriously appear, suggesting that Annabel may be the true heir of Highcliffe.

She has only a few months to prove her legitimacy, perhaps with assistance from the handsome but troubled Maltese Captain Dell’Acqua. But does he have Annabel’s best interests at heart?

And then, a final, most ominous barrier to both her inheritance and her existence appears: a situation neither she nor anyone else could have expected. Will Annabel regain her life and property—and trust her heart—before it’s too late?
From Amazon
My Thoughts:

I have read Sandra Byrd’s “Ladies in Waiting” series, and I really enjoyed learning more about the historical woman of Henry VIII’s court. It brought their struggles and dilemmas alive for me. I haven’t gotten around to reading the first book in Byrd’s” The Daughters of Hampshire” series, even though I do own it. With the picture on the cover, I was afraid that I wouldn’t like it. I really don’t like stories that look like they take place in the west or regency women. But Byrd had surprised me.

I really liked the mystery aspect of Bride of A Distant Isle. It began pretty close in the first chapter where I learned that Annabel had to live with her cousin because her mother was sent to an insane asylum when she was four years old. I wonder, along with Annabel, why her mother was not believed and sent away. I enjoyed how mysterious items that proved her mother wasn’t lying kept showing up among Annabel’s belongings. I couldn’t wait to figure out who her father was, was her mother actually married, and who was giving her mother’s things back to her. The mystery kept my attention.

Byrd does a good job at allowing me to feel like I was roaming around Hillcliffe Hall with Annabel and her family. I felt the cold from outside without actually being told it was getting winter. I liked seeing the paintings that were stored away in the attic hidden from human eyes. There weren’t big moments of description. Just enough when I entered a new room to situate me in the setting.

I really liked Annabel’s character. She wasn’t afraid to stand up to her cousin and Edward and follow her heart to prove her mother wasn’t crazy. I enjoy characters that are strong enough to stand up for what is right even when they are facing unsurpassable odds against them. Byrd allowed Annabel to stay focused even when her cousin and his wife tried to prove that she was crazy like her mother.

A true Gothic novel, Sandra Bryd in her latest addition to “The Daughters of Hampshire” series Bride of A Distant Isle captured my attention with the mystery and characters I have come to enjoy reading about. I recommend Bride of A Distant Isle for fans of mysteries and fans of middle nineteenth century writings.

I received a complimentary copy of Bride of A Distant Isle from Howard Books and the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


Purchase Bride of A Distant Isle

Friday, March 18, 2016

Story Trumps Structure

By Kelly Bridgewater

During 2015, I took the time to come up with twelve different writers who have inspired and influenced my writing. But for 2016, I have decided to come up with ten suggestions of writing books that I have used to improve my writing. Some of them won’t be long posts, but I will show how they inspired me to write better.

Let’s get started.

One of my favorite books was written by my favorite author. Steven James. He is a master at capturing my attention in his Patrick Bowers series. He also captured my attention at a Writer’s Conference in February 2014 where he was the keynote speaker. James’ is a regular contributor to Writer’s Digest, and I LOVE reading his writing suggestions in there, so when I found out, from him, that he was written a writing book, I purchased it right away.

The book is titled Story Trumps Structure.

From Amazon
James’ is a huge supporter of writing without an outline or a plan. Too many writers create a story with an outline, and they don’t allow the story to take them where it needs to go. They are controlled by the outline that they made before they started writing. Even J. K. Rowling has admitted to this recently. She outlined that Hermione and Ron should be married, but she felt a tugging to have Harry and Hermione get together, but she stayed with her outline, so she didn’t do what she should have. She has regretted that decision lately.

He has an entire section devoted to writing organically. James’ shares his secrets to creating a story and allowing the plot and characters to dictate where the story needs to go. I have underlined a lot in this section.

Most of the book features on how to create tension and how to make it harder for your characters. As I write, I need to make the reader believe that something worst is going to happen and there is nothing else that could go wrong. Wrong! Something worse needs to happen. Something to push the characters further from accomplishing their goal. I need a lot of help doing this. As a suspense writer, I come up with ideas, but I don’t think I push and push until my characters break. But James gives a lot of tips showing how to do this.

My copy of Story Trumps Structure has a lot of underline and post-it notes sticking out of it. I need to keep reviewing sections to include in my writing. It isn’t a book for the faint of heart. It has a lot of practical advice for writers in any genre.

I highly recommend every writer buy this book.


If you have read Story Trumps Structure or any of Steven James’ books, what is your favorite part of his writing? Share your favorite quote from the book and let’s start a discussion. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Rachelle Dekker: The Calling

By Kelly Bridgewater

Remko Brant had never been so sure of anything as escaping the Authority City with Carrington Hale. But bravado comes easy when you have nothing to lose. Now a husband, father, and the tactical leader of the Seers, Remko has never had so much at risk.

As he and his team execute increasingly dangerous rescue missions inside the city, they face growing peril from a new enemy. Recently appointed Authority President Damien Gold claims to be guiding a city shaken by rebellion into a peaceful, harmonious future. But appearances can be deceiving. In order to achieve his dangerous ambitions, Gold knows he must do more than catch the rebels―he must destroy the hope their message represents . . . from the inside out.

With dissension in his own camp―and the CityWatch soldiers closing in―Remko feels control slipping through his fingers. To protect those he loves, he must conquer his fears and defeat Gold . . . before one of them becomes his undoing.
From Amazon

My Review:

I really enjoyed Rachelle Dekker’s The Choosing, so of course, I couldn’t wait to pick up a copy of The Calling as soon as it came out. Dystopian stories are different than normal stories because they take place in a world with a ruthless leader, helpless citizens, and a surrounding that is totally different than what I presently know as home. In The Calling, Dekker has included all of these features.

In the Choosing, we heard the stories from Carrington’s perspective, but in The Calling, we understand more of the internal struggles from Remko’s perspective. In The Choosing, Remko is one of the City Watch guards who actually falls in love with Carrington. At the end of book one, Remko and Carrington have left the city and headed west toward the hills. This one picks up a year and a half later. I learn that Remko is a strong heroine who hasn’t fully bought into Aaron’s teachings, but he wants to stay strong for his wife. A gentle tug to his soul keeps him returning to the city to free others.

As for the plot, it does have numerous repetitive scenes. In the first one, we see Carrington roam around the home she is going to live in even as far as to show the inner workings of the Lint environment. The Calling spends a lot of time away from the Seer’s hiding place and take them through a number of water tunnels under the town to save people. This happens over and over again. Not that I didn’t enjoy the story but that was all Remko and three other brave Seers would do over and over again. They would rush in, plan interrupted, guards come, hold them hostage for backup, and then someone would walk away.

I really enjoy the idea of transformation to freedom and how God protects his own. It was present in the first one, and it is present in The Calling too. I enjoy how when the enemy wants to do something drastic to the Seer, the freedom from knowing and believing in God protects them and brings them no harm.

Continuing in the dystopian world, Rachelle Dekker ‘s The Calling invites the readers into Remko’s perspective and understand the need for true freedom in Christ. Fans of dystopian young adult novels like the Hunger Games will enjoy this series. 

I received a complimentary copy of The Calling from Tyndale Publishing and the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Purchase The Calling

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Mary Weber: Siren’s Song

By Kelly Bridgewater

“The realization hits: We’re not going to win. It’s why I couldn’t defeat Draewulf in Bron—because this power was never mine anyway. I drop my arms and let the energy die off. And turn around to face Eogan.”
After a fierce battle with Draewulf, Nym barely escaped with her life. Now, fleeing the scorched landscape of Tulla, her storm-summoning abilities are returning; only . . . the dark power is still inside her.
Broken and bloodied, Nym needs time to recover, but when the full scope of the shapeshifter’s horrific plot is revealed, the strong-willed Elemental must race across the Hidden Lands and warn the other kingdoms before Draewulf’s final attack.
From the crystalline palaces of Cashlin to the legendary Valley of Origin, Nym scrambles to gather an army. But even if she can, will she be able to uncover the secret to defeating Draewulf that has eluded her people for generations? With a legion of monsters approaching, and the Hidden Lands standing on the brink of destruction, the stage is set for a battle that will decide the fate of the world.
This time, will the Siren’s Song have the power to save it?

From Amazon
My Thoughts:

Mary Weber jumped onto the speculative young adult scene a couple of years ago. What drew me into her stories were the beautiful covers. They didn’t look like anything else I have seen in the market, but they were breathtaking. With each addition to the series, the covers have kept up the same beautiful artwork. I really enjoyed the first book Storm Siren while Siren’s Fury didn’t capture my attention as much. With the newest book, Siren’s Song I feel kind of torn.

Weber does a great job at keeping her readers grounded in her made up world from book to book. Never once have I questioned if Weber had taken me out and placed me in another world. If a certain aspect was true in the first novel, it was still true in the third book, which is really important when keeping readers of fantasy linked into the story.

The plot does drag a little until eighty percent into the novel. I had a really hard time staying focused for most of the book. Nym had to run around and go from one area to another and beg to have others stand up for the fight against Draewulf. So it wasn’t really exciting, but when the final battle actually starts, Weber shines. She shows how the battle is supposed to happen and allows me to really feel like I’m there in a safety bubble watching all the destruction happen around me.

The romance between Nym and Eogan come to head in Siren’s Song. Ever since the first book, Nym and Eogan have been fighting their feelings for each other, but Weber finally allows them to admit that they care for each other.

The ending is totally unpredictable, and I enjoy how Weber jumped out of the normal conventions of what should happen at the end of a fantasy novel.

A long awaited epic conclusion, Mary Weber’s Siren’s Song welcomes readers back to the world of Nym and the fight with Draewolf with an epic showdown that should satisfy even the pickiest fantasy geeks.

I received a complimentary copy of Siren’s Song from Thomas Nelson and the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars


Purchase Siren’s Song

Friday, March 11, 2016

Denise Hunter: The Goodbye Bride

By Kelly Bridgewater

Description (From Amazon):

She only remembers loving him. But he can’t forget the way she left.

Lucy Lovett can’t remember the last seven months of her life. She doesn’t remember leaving her fiancé Zac Callahan weeks before their wedding or moving to Portland, Maine. And she sure doesn’t remember getting engaged to another man. All she remembers is loving Zac more than life itself.

Zac was just beginning to get his life back on track after Lucy left him with no explanation. And now she’s back—vulnerable, homeless, and still in love with him. Has he been given a second chance with the only woman who stirs his passion and haunts his dreams?

Lucy knows she must unlock those missing months and discover why she threw everything away. And Zac knows that if he follows his heart he’ll win back the love of his life—but if Lucy’s memory returns, his would-be bride will say good-bye forever.


My Review:

I enjoy Denise Hunter’s books. Romance novels are predictable because the hero and heroine are always getting a happy ending. The struggle through their relationship is what keeps the reader flipping through the pages. Hunter’s latest novel The Goodbye Bride does not let fans of contemporary romance down.

From Amazon
I like Hunter’s books because she creates realistic characters with realistic problems. Whether their stories are internal or external, the hero and heroine shine on the pages as they argue and try to figure out how to solve their issues. The tension is ripe in the story as the couple fights their growing emotions for each other. Even though the story was completely predictable, I couldn’t wait to see how Lucy and Zac would solve the obstacles in their way and stay together.

In The Goodbye Bride, I personally enjoyed watching Zac and Lucy because they have a past relationship that didn’t end well. Lucy walked out on Zac a long time ago. As I came to learn, it is because her father abandoned her when she was little, so she is afraid of being abandoned by anyone who she allows close to her heart. This is an issue that a lot of people could relate to. Abandonment, either by God or a living person, reaches into the core of the human soul.

I had an issue with the plot, and it could be just me because I read suspense all the time. Lucy’s ex-fiancé Brad Martin wanted to marry her for sinister reasons, but Hunter allows Brad to threaten her, but he doesn’t come back and do anything to Brad. He walks away and doesn’t try to kidnap Lucy and threaten Zac. I kept waiting for something sinister to happen. Unfortunately, nothing happens.

Romantically charged, Denise Hunter’s The Goodbye Bride is filled with a hero and heroine with a dark past who overcome their dilemmas to find true love and live happily ever after. Fans of Hunter’s past romances won’t be disappointed. If you like Becky Wade, Melissa Tagg, and Susan May Warren’s contemporary romances and haven’t tried Denise Hunter, then I suggest trying one of Hunter’s novels.

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


My Rating:  4 out of 5 Stars

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Janice Cantore: Burning Proof

By Kelly Bridgewater

Description (From Amazon):

After months of investigating the brutal homicide of a young girl, Detective Abby Hart finally has the evidence she needs. But when the arrest goes terribly wrong, Abby begins to doubt her future as a police officer. As she wrestles with conflicting emotions, old questions about the fire that took her parents’ lives come back to haunt her.

“There is proof.” PI Luke Murphy can’t stop thinking about what Abby’s former partner, Asa Foster, mumbled just before he died. When he uncovers a clue to the murder of Abby’s parents and his uncle, he’s reluctant to tell Abby, despite his growing feelings for the beautiful detective.

A decade-old abduction case brings Luke and Abby together, but will his secret tear them apart?

From Amazon
My Review:

I enjoy watching crime solving shows at television and lean toward that genre when reading books. I love the thrill of hunting along with the characters to find out what happened and who did the murder, the abduction, or the terrorist threat. Suspense and mysteries are my chosen genre. Janice Cantore newest addition to her Cold Case Justice Series Burning Proof truly shows the inner workings of the police force with reoccurring characters from the previous book.

One aspect of a book series that I have actually personally blogged about was why writers can’t allow a romance or mystery to cover more than one book. It appears Cantore is doing exactly that in her Cold Case Justice Series. Yes, there is a mystery that is solved in each individual book to intentially satisfy the readers, but there is an overall mystery that stretches over all three books. Even the romance has obstacles. Abby is engaged to a man with a heart to travel overseas to do mission work. Luke can’t stop thinking of Abby, and neither can she stop thinking about him. The romance between Luke and Abby doesn’t completely have them married by the end of this book.

True to her roots, Cantore writes with such authenticity that I never for once doubt any terms or procedure that she writes on the page. Cantore grabs my attention on the first page and fills my ultimate desire to see the inside of the police force with her novels. It is why I enjoy shows like Castle and CSI. I enjoy the method behind solving the case, even if I, personally, cannot stand science classes in school.

Cantore has created a completely original and unpredictable realistic crime novel showing the affect of shooting a person has on a police officer. Even though shooting is part of their job, Cantore allows me to understand and empathize with the struggles an officer has after shooting someone.  

I really enjoyed returning to Abby and Luke as I learned more about them and watch them as they grow closer in their feelings for each other. As I already said, I enjoyed how Cantore shows how PTSD affects officers.

Creating a realistic drama sprinkled with romance, Janice Cantore’s Burning Proof is a realistic look at the world of solving cold cases, showing the grisly side of the affects on the personal officers. The story doesn’t move fast or have a lot of tension, but I didn’t feel like I had to put the book down from boredom.

I received a complimentary copy of Burning Proof from Tyndale Publishing and the opinions stated are all my own. 


My Rating:  4 out of 5 Stars

Purchase Burning Proof

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Jody Hedlund: A Daring Sacrifice

By Kelly Bridgewater

Description (From Amazon):

In a reverse twist on the Robin Hood story, a young medieval maiden stands up for the rights of the mistreated, stealing from the rich to give to the poor. All the while, she fights against her cruel uncle who has taken over the land that is rightfully hers. Forced to live in the woods and hide with the poor people she's grown to love, she works to save and protect them, but she never anticipates falling in love with the wealthy knight who represents all she's come to despise.

From Amazon
My Thoughts:

Jody Hedlund is a great writer who really captures the essence of getting into the character’s head for the readers and describing the setting. Saying this, I did download An Uncertain Choice, her first young adult novel because of the cover and enjoyed that story. With her second installment of A Daring Sacrifice, I feel torn about how I really feel.

First, the way that Juliana and Collin meet feels like Once Upon a Time. In the widely popular and wonderfully written television series, Once upon a Time, Snow White is running from her step-mother, the evil queen and is hiding in the woods. She jumps from a tree and steals from Prince Charming. There is an instant connection. In Hedlund’s book, Juliana jumps from a tree and steals from Collin, not realizing it was the man she met when she was younger. I’m not saying Hedlund took the idea from Once Upon a Time; I’m just drawing the connection. Trust me, I loved it Once Upon a Time, so it worked for me here too.

Besides liking her writing style, I did enjoy how Hedlund showed that true love should be about sacrificing our own comfort for the sake of the other. Jesus showed the ultimate sacrifice and love for us when he died on the cross, so Collin showed the same love for Juliana when he offered to take her place before she was about to burn at the stake. Sacrifice and giving of oneself is important to any successful relationship.

As for the movement of the plot, it was okay and moved along at a nice pace, but I still felt like the story dragged at times. I would have liked to see more of Collin as he spent the week living with the peasants on his land. Hedlund spent a good chunk of time showing us how Juliana viewed all the expensive parties that Collin threw her, but I felt cheated at seeing Collin work along the lower class.

A word of warning, this book might not be good for kids under sixteen years old to read because of the passion running through Juliana and Collin is very descriptive. I would have a hard time allowing my fourteen year old, who is learning to cope with his new hormones to read this novel.  I could just be overprotective. It is okay to disagree with me on this. I think parents would need to talk with their teen after reading this book. It would be a good discussion to talk about the emotions running through Juliana and Collin.

I received a complimentary copy of A Daring Sacrifice from Zondervan Publishing and the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars


Purchase A Daring Sacrifice

Friday, March 4, 2016

Jen Turano: Playing the Part

By Kelly Bridgewater

Lucetta Plum is an actress on the rise in New York City, but is forced to abandon her starring role when a fan's interest turns threatening. Lucinda's widowed friend, Abigail Hart, is delighted at the opportunity to meddle in Lucetta's life and promptly whisks her away to her grandson's estate to hide out. 

Bram Haverstein may appear to simply be a somewhat eccentric gentleman of means, but a mysterious career and a secret fascination with a certain actress mean there's much more to him than society knows. 

Lucetta, who has no interest in Abigail's matchmaking machinations, has the best intentions of remaining cordial but coolly distant to Bram. But when she can't ignore the strange and mysterious things going on in his house, it'll take more than good intentions to keep her from trying to discover who Bram is behind the part he plays.

From Amazon
My Thoughts:
I was surprised the first time I picked up a Jen Turano book. I’m not a huge fan of historical fiction, but I really LOVE her writing. Her characters are witty and do remarkable things. With her latest addition Playing the Part, Turano has kept the bar high in this thrilling novel.

I really enjoy how the story has a mystery to it. From the first page, Turano threw me off the deep end into the cold water with Lucetta Plum, who I saw in the previous two books in this series, as she wanted to run away from her stepfather and his friend, Silas Ruff, who wants to marry her. Lucetta and Abigail, her elder landlady, go away somewhere where they won’t be captured. What better way to highlight the mystery in the novel then to have Lucetta and Abigail travel to a remote castle. Why is there a castle? What secrets does Abigail’s grandson Bram have? One little minor detail, I really wish there was more time spent with the threat of Lucetta’s stepfather and Mr. Ruff. They weren’t as important as the first chapter allowed me to believe.

I love the castle as a setting. It fit the mystery motif, inviting me along for a great tale. Turano does a good job at playing at the idea of a genuine castle in the middle of nowhere. I like the moat , which leads to Bram and Lucetta’s icy first encounter. The castle evens has a dungeon. How great is that? I felt like I was roaming the castle alongside Lucetta as she tried to figure out her surroundings and her growing feelings for Bram.

Speaking of growing feelings, Lucetta does not want to marry Bram. She has repeatedly told him that over and over. Of course, this is a romance book, so the ending is completely predictable, but I still loved watching Bram make a fool out of himself while trying to keep his secrets hidden. I enjoyed watching their comedic romance blossomed.

If you haven’t tried Jen Turano, why not? I really enjoy her novels and can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.

A gothic comedic romance is the highlight of Jen Turano’s newest book Playing the Part. The characters and the setting are charming and kept me racing through the book not wanting to put it down. I really enjoyed Playing the Part and can’t wait for more books from Jen Turano.

I received a complimentary copy of Playing the Part from Bethany House Publishers and the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars


Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Interview with Janice Cantore + GIVEAWAY

By Kelly Bridgewater

Today, I have a special guest for you  . . . Janice Cantore. She writes romantic suspense that uses her skills and knowledge from the inside of the police force. I have enjoyed all seven novels, and I can't wait to see what else she creates.

Janice Cantore
From Amazon


So let's get this started . . .

Welcome, Janice. Thank you for taking the time to join me.

About Janice . . .


Janice Cantore…is a retired Long Beach police officer who now writes suspense novels to keep readers engrossed and leave them inspired.  Her twenty-two years of experience on the force lend authenticity to her stories. She has penned seven novels:  the Pacific Coast Justice series, Visible Threat, Critical Pursuit, Drawing Fire, and Burning Proof the second book in the Cold Case Justice series. She also writes a blog about police work. 
  
Where to connect with Janice . . .

Website:  http://www.janicecantore.com/
Blog:   http://www.janicecantore.com/blog/
Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2998481.Janice_Cantore
Facebook:   https://www.facebook.com/JaniceCantore
Twitter:   https://twitter.com/jctreke
Pinterest:   https://www.pinterest.com/jcantore1/

Where to purchase Burning Proof:
Amazon 
Barnes and Nobles
Christanbook

Author Interview . . . Janice Cantore



     1.)   What’s the journey been like for you, from debut author to bestseller?

It’s gone by so fast. It’s been fun, nerve-wracking, exciting and a lot of hard work. I still feel like I have a lot to learn. My goal is always to write better books, to keep improving. I feel so blessed to be with Tyndale and working with the people I work with. It has been a wonderful learning experience, not quite what I expected in some ways. Like the time that things take, for example, I’m working on a new proposal but the third book in my just finished series won’t be out until next fall. Burning Proof is not out yet, but it’s already off my radar because I have to keep writing. Not complaining, just saying that I live in a weird hurry up and wait world.
     
     2.)   You have seven published novels under your belt now. If you could go back in time and visit that unpublished writer working on Accused, what advice would you give her? And what might you do differently with these stories?

I don’t know that I would change much. I went to conferences (met great people along the way) and worked hard to learn the craft (still working, always learning) and as much as I wanted everything to happen sooner, I realize God’s timing is perfect. Maybe the only thing I would change is, well, I sure wish I had learned how to outline!

     3.)   Let’s take a little peek behind the wizard’s curtain, ’cause I know we have some aspiring writers reading this. From concept to submission, how long does it take you to write a novel? What’s your process?

Well, my first book took years to write, and rewrite, and get rejected, and rewritten again. Now, the contracts usually give me six months or so. I just have to start writing. I usually start with a main character, then a crime, and build from there. During the process I will kill a forest because I print out a lot of copies to edit. I have turned in books where I hate the ending, then Erin my editor at Tyndale, will usually say something that makes a light go on and I change the ending to something we both like a lot better. Endings are always the hardest for me. I will map out my stories on poster boards, but it always changes. Right now I’m working on a story where I’ve made up my own town so I have drawn the town on a poster board. I have to make lists of characters and names, but everything changes so I’m flexible. The crimes are in my head but everything has to be plausible and suspenseful. All that to say sometimes I think that my process is a mess but it works for me.

    4.)   How has your reading tastes/habits changed since becoming a published writer?

From Janice
I don’t have as much time to read books outside my genre. I have friends who write historical romance, some supernatural fiction, and I would love to dive into every book they publish, but often I find that I just don’t have the time. 

     5.)   Speaking of stories, some people say that Christian fiction, with its general lack of questionable content (profanity, sex, graphic violence, etc.) is irrelevant or unrealistic compared to life in the 21st Century. What would you say to them? What does Christian fiction mean to you?

I think that they are right in one respect, this world is fallen and questionable content is everywhere so in that way Christian fiction can be unrealistic. But it is not irrelevant and it never will be because the message of the Gospel is never irrelevant. Fiction in general is an escape, at least for me, and Christian fiction provides an escape with hope, and a deeper meaning than stories with gratuitous sex and violence could ever have.

      6.)   I’m an aspiring writer myself, and I know there are many in our audience who are as well. How did you know God was calling to you write? What advice can you give us hopeful-authors?

My first novel idea came about because I had an aunt who was not a believer, but she was a voracious reader. We both liked suspense novels and she would talk about those books, but never about her salvation. I read a book by Randy Alcorn called Deadline and was so inspired by the message in the book and the story itself, that it made me want to write a book with the gospel message, without being preachy, that my aunt would read. Unfortunately, cancer took her before my book was published, but the desire to keep on writing stayed with me. I can’t not write and I know that there are a lot of people out there like my aunt who will never pick up a Bible, but they will read an exciting, suspenseful novel. Someone once asked a group I was in this question: If you knew that only one person would ever read your book, would you keep writing? I had to answer yes because that one person could be like my aunt and need to read the message in my book. If you are called to write, you can’t not write, no matter what the audience. 

     7.)   Now, let’s talk Burning Proof. Was it hard writing this book? What is coming up for these characters/stories?

I usually get my ideas from the newspaper. Characters pop into my head and I do a lot of ‘what if’ games. And every book is easy in some ways and hard in some ways. I really like Luke and Abby and had fun writing them. Some of the other characters in the book were harder, and making sure every loose end is tied up can be a challenge, but I love the process. 

     8.)   What was the most unusual thing you found in your research for this story?

I can’t think of anything out of the ordinary for Burning Proof. 

Thank you so much for visiting with us today, Janice! In closing, how about a Top 10 Speed Round?

Top 10 Speed Round
       1.)    Name 3 of your favorite authors of all time. . .Francine Rivers, Randy Alcorn, Raymond Chandler
       2.)    Name 3 books in your TBR list/pile right now. . .By Reason of Insanity by Randy Singer, Earthbound by Larry Richards, Confessions by Saint Augustine
       3.)    Name 1 famous book people might be surprised to learn you’ve never read. . .The Shack
       4.)    One novel you could read for the rest of your life and never get bored is…Too hard to pick one!
       5.)    Print or e-books? either
       6.)    What is the oldest book you own?    The Bible
       7.)    Favorite snack/beverage while reading or writing?   Popcorn
       8.)    Craziest place you’ve ever been caught reading or writing?  Confession, I sometimes get plot ideas in church. (Me too, I always joke with my husband that I should ask Pastor Alfy, our pastor, if I can write in the sanctuary during the week!)
      9.)    You’re having a dinner party. Which 5 fictional characters (none of your own!) would you invite? . . .Thomas Lynley, Phillip Marlowe, Harry Bosch, Kinsey Mulhone, Tess Monaghan
10.) Favorite activity that has absolutely nothing to do with reading or writing or research . . .cross country skiing or kayaking

  This is the same interview that I have posted on Booktalk

Come back next Tuesday, March 8th where I will share my thoughts on Burning Proof.
 
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GIVEAWAY

Okay, my reader friends, don't miss your chance to win two, not one, ARCs of Janice Cantore's Cold Case Justice Series, Drawing Fire and Burning Proof (limited to U.S. residents only. Sorry!) Pay attention: You must stop by and leave a comment at Booktalk in order to be entered in this drawing! (While I appreciate your comments, and please do share your thoughts, the only comments that count are the one posted at Booktalk, not here!) The contest runs until Friday, March 4th, 2016 at midnight. Come back to Booktalk on Saturday, March 5th where Booktalk will announce the winner.

Feel free to share this post on Social Media!


  Remember: You must stop by and leave a comment at Booktalk in order to be entered in this drawing!
I was born and raised in Southern California. I always wanted to write but never felt I had anything much to say. In college I majored in biological science, then physical education, and when I found myself a college grad with two degrees and no idea what todo with my life, I applied to be a police officer. The choice was not as random as it sounds. I have always liked helping people, especially people who are victims of unfairness or injustice. Nothing makes my blood boil more than people victimizing or taking advantage of the innocent. Most police work is arriving on scene after a crime or an accident as first responder. That first contact with a victim is an important place to be compassionate and caring while at the same time collecting the most information possible in order to solve the crime/arrest a suspect. And I loved the part where we got to arrest the bad guys!!
Long Beach California is a diverse city and a great place to work. My years there and the people I worked with hold a special place in my heart. After I retired I realized that I had lots to say and lots to write about and that began my writing career. During my time with LBPD I saw good, bad, tragic, and inspiring situations. One lesson that has stayed with me is that bad can happen to anyone. Yet emerging from the bad can also make people stronger and better. We serve a good God who is able to guide us through any tragedy or loss. I hope my stories inspire you as much as they entice you to turn the page and find out what happens next.
- See more at: http://www.janicecantore.com/about/#sthash.MiejffJD.dpuf
I was born and raised in Southern California. I always wanted to write but never felt I had anything much to say. In college I majored in biological science, then physical education, and when I found myself a college grad with two degrees and no idea what todo with my life, I applied to be a police officer. The choice was not as random as it sounds. I have always liked helping people, especially people who are victims of unfairness or injustice. Nothing makes my blood boil more than people victimizing or taking advantage of the innocent. Most police work is arriving on scene after a crime or an accident as first responder. That first contact with a victim is an important place to be compassionate and caring while at the same time collecting the most information possible in order to solve the crime/arrest a suspect. And I loved the part where we got to arrest the bad guys!!
Long Beach California is a diverse city and a great place to work. My years there and the people I worked with hold a special place in my heart. After I retired I realized that I had lots to say and lots to write about and that began my writing career. During my time with LBPD I saw good, bad, tragic, and inspiring situations. One lesson that has stayed with me is that bad can happen to anyone. Yet emerging from the bad can also make people stronger and better. We serve a good God who is able to guide us through any tragedy or loss. I hope my stories inspire you as much as they entice you to turn the page and find out what happens next.
- See more at: http://www.janicecantore.com/about/#sthash.MiejffJD.dpuf
I was born and raised in Southern California. I always wanted to write but never felt I had anything much to say. In college I majored in biological science, then physical education, and when I found myself a college grad with two degrees and no idea what todo with my life, I applied to be a police officer. The choice was not as random as it sounds. I have always liked helping people, especially people who are victims of unfairness or injustice. Nothing makes my blood boil more than people victimizing or taking advantage of the innocent. Most police work is arriving on scene after a crime or an accident as first responder. That first contact with a victim is an important place to be compassionate and caring while at the same time collecting the most information possible in order to solve the crime/arrest a suspect. And I loved the part where we got to arrest the bad guys!!
Long Beach California is a diverse city and a great place to work. My years there and the people I worked with hold a special place in my heart. After I retired I realized that I had lots to say and lots to write about and that began my writing career. During my time with LBPD I saw good, bad, tragic, and inspiring situations. One lesson that has stayed with me is that bad can happen to anyone. Yet emerging from the bad can also make people stronger and better. We serve a good God who is able to guide us through any tragedy or loss. I hope my stories inspire you as much as they entice you to turn the page and find out what happens next.
- See more at: http://www.janicecantore.com/about/#sthash.MiejffJD.dpuf
I was born and raised in Southern California. I always wanted to write but never felt I had anything much to say. In college I majored in biological science, then physical education, and when I found myself a college grad with two degrees and no idea what todo with my life, I applied to be a police officer. The choice was not as random as it sounds. I have always liked helping people, especially people who are victims of unfairness or injustice. Nothing makes my blood boil more than people victimizing or taking advantage of the innocent. Most police work is arriving on scene after a crime or an accident as first responder. That first contact with a victim is an important place to be compassionate and caring while at the same time collecting the most information possible in order to solve the crime/arrest a suspect. And I loved the part where we got to arrest the bad guys!!
Long Beach California is a diverse city and a great place to work. My years there and the people I worked with hold a special place in my heart. After I retired I realized that I had lots to say and lots to write about and that began my writing career. During my time with LBPD I saw good, bad, tragic, and inspiring situations. One lesson that has stayed with me is that bad can happen to anyone. Yet emerging from the bad can also make people stronger and better. We serve a good God who is able to guide us through any tragedy or loss. I hope my stories inspire you as much as they entice you to turn the page and find out what happens next.
- See more at: http://www.janicecantore.com/about/#sthash.MiejffJD.dpuf

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