Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Mike Dellosso: Kill Devil

By Kelly Bridgewater

Jed Patrick is convinced he’s doing all it takes to keep his family safe―new names, new location, new identity. But just when he thinks he finally has his life back, trained men claiming to be CIA agents break in and threaten his wife and daughter, proving once and for all his family will never truly be safe until he eliminates the agency dead set on hunting him down.

Not knowing if Karen and Lilly are better off by his side or in hiding, Jed is determined to protect them while finding a way to use the classified information that he possesses to dismantle the Centralia Project. But he soon learns that eliminating Centralia may require compromising his own values. As danger escalates, Jed isn’t sure whether there’s anyone or anything he can trust―including his own senses.

From Amazon
My Thoughts: 

I enjoy stories and movies that are fast paced and non-stop action, so when I heard about Centralia, I couldn't wait to read it. Centralia has ever thing I liked in thriller. Characters I cared about, running from danger, and the threat of impending doom. So I expected the same thing with Kill Devil, the second installment of the Jed Patrick series. While it does feature non-stop action, this one didn't grab my attention as much.

First, I was dropped right back into Jed Patrick's run from the government with his wife, Karen, and daughter, Lily in the first chapter. As the story progressed, I actually found moments that I wanted to put the book down. Not that the action didn't stop, but it felt forced. What I mean is that it seems Dellosso tried to put Jed through everything horrible over and over, but it wasn't necessary for that many bad things to happen in such a short time. Even watching the Bourne or Fast and Furious movies, there was moment of breaks. Dellosso didn't include many.

Jed Patrick in the second installment seemed more of a cardboard character. In the first one, his motivation was to save his wife and daughter. In this book, Jed believes his wife is with him without any question even though he told his wife to run away to a safe place right after a bad incident. He still worried about his daughter, but it didn't seem top priority for him.

Kill Devil is a fast, paced original yet predictable, to me, novel. There is a number of settings because of the nature of the story, so it was not a setting that could relate and feel comfortable in. The writing is top notch. I had no problem following Jed Patrick on his run to save his daughter.

Fans of the Bourne Identity and the Fast and Furious will enjoy Mike Dellosso's newest installment of the Jed Patrick series. With non-stop action and a race to create treason, Jed Patrick creates a moving target of how much your memory can hold.

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

My Rating:  3.5 out of 5 Stars

Do you like the Bourne movies? What aspect of the stories appeal to you and draw you into the movies? If not, what keeps you from watching thme?

Q and A with Mike Dellosso:

1. Kill Devil is the sequel to Centralia. How are the two books

First and foremost, they are connected by Jed Patrick and his family.
Kill Devil picks up where Centralia left off. With the conclusion of
Centralia, we left Jed and Karen and Lilly headed to Idaho where they would assume new identities and a new life far from any government agency’s reach or knowledge. They would become obscure and live in safety, albeit secluded. But somehow, some way, they are found
and in Kill Devil we see the results of that. There is also a continuation of the story behind the Centralia project, a ghost agency buried deep within the labyrinth of Washington politics. Jed is still battling this foe and continues to battle the enemy within himself as well, his memories and mysterious past.

2. How did you come up with the concept for the Jed Patrick series?
From Mike Dellosso

It started with my obsession with the Jason Bourne series and character. I love the whole concept. I’ve also been interested in government conspiracy theories, cover-ups, black-ops, that whole sort of “underworld” that exists in the shadows. I’m also quite a family man. So that got me thinking about what it could look like if those two worlds collided. What if a family man discovers that he has a past he has no memory
of and that the mysterious past involved conspiracy, cover-ups, black-ops and him being a super soldier? Then to top it off I wanted to put a unique spin on it and infuse elements of faith into the story. That alone set the concept apart and opened a whole new world of possibilities for the storyline.

3. You don’t shy away from violence in your novels. How do you handle
writing those situations as a Christian author?

I handle them carefully. I know it may not seem like it to some readers but I do put a lot of thought into how I handle violence in my books. I want the reader to feel the gravity of the situation, the intensity of the moment, but I need to draw the line onhow much I describe and finding where that line should be is a challenge at times. I’m sure I’ve crossed the line at times for some readers but for me, I’m careful to stay on the side that gives the reader the information he or she needs without glorifying the violence or glamorizing it.

4.What role does faith play in the lives of some of the main characters—
Jed, his wife Karen, daughter Lilly, Tiffany, and Jack?

Faith plays a huge role in all of their lives. In spite of everything they’ve been through, especially Jed with all the brainwashing and torture, their relationship with God has remained the one thing that has gone unchanged. Yes, Jed doubts it at times and had to rediscover it totally, but if there is one ribbon of hope that runs through their lives, it’s faith. Lilly’s faith is the strongest of the three of them, so childlike and unwavering. Jed draws strength from her and in Kill Devil learns that he needs to
make her faith his own, he needs to stop channeling strength through her and find his own very real connection with God. Like all of us, their faith development and maturity is a journey with ups and downs and setbacks and growth spurts, but they move forward, learning more, discovering more, and being challenged more and more to simply trust.

5.  What is next for you, writing-wise?

I have some ideas for a third Jed Patrick novel and am bouncing them around to see which one fits best. I also have an idea for a stand-alone thriller. Other than that I’ve written a couple short stories featuring Jed Patrick and a bunch of articles and guest posts to promote Kill Devil.

Thanks for sharing, Mike Dellosso! Below I have included the book trailer for Kill Devil. I hope it wets your appetite for the book. Enjoy!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Beth K. Vogt: Almost Like Being in Love

By Kelly Bridgewater

Winning an all-expenses paid Colorado destination wedding might seem like a dream come true for some people—but Caron Hollister and her boyfriend Alex Madison aren’t even engaged. How is she supposed to tell him she’s won their wedding and honeymoon when he hasn’t asked her to marry him? Being “perfect for one another” seems like the absolute best reason to get married. But what if their supposedly faultless relationship is merely a safe place to protect his secrets and a way to keep their families happy? After quitting her job, Caron accepts her best friend’s offer to visit Colorado. She needs to catch her breath. Who knows, maybe visiting the destination wedding site will make a future with Alex seem like a reality.

Kade Webster just landed the biggest deal of his life with his company, Webster Select Realty, participating in the Colorado Springs Tour of Homes. He never imagined he would run into the woman who broke his heart—Caron Hollister—right when his career is taking off. Seeing her again, Kade can’t help but wonder why Caron walked away from him years ago, leaving him with no explanation. When Kade learns his home stager won’t be able to help with the Tour of Homes, he vaults past all the reasons he should stay away from Caron, and offers her a temporary job helping him on the project. This time, their relationship is purely business.

Spending time with Kade has Caron questioning everything. The man intrigues her—at times infuriates her—and reminds her of what she lost. Has she been settling for what everyone expects of her? Just because others believe she and Alex are an ideal couple, does that mean they should get married? And how can Caron say “I do” to one man when she’s wondering “what if?” about another?

Almost Like Being in Love: A Destination Wedding Novel
From Barnes and Nobles
My Thoughts:

Beth K. Vogt is a master at creating stories that grip the heart. Of the two stories of hers that I have read, I really enjoy how she chooses topics that are totally relateable. A good story, in my humble opinion, has to have rememberable characters, an unique plot, and a wonderful story world.

I enjoyed getting to know Caron, Kade, and Alex. Caron is a young woman who is determined to please her father and earn his approval. But God works on her heart and makes her rethink her choices in life. Next, Kade knows what he wants to do with his life. From his job to his heart. He works really hard and keeps straight on that path. Finally, Alex seeks the help to remove his self from all the secrets he has been keeping in his life and move on with his whole life. I rooted for the characters as they learned their path in life.

I really like the question that Vogt raises: Is anyone truly perfect for someone else? I disagree. Everyone is going to butt heads with someone, even after being married for fifteen years myself, I love my husband, but we argue over things too. But where it really matters, money, God, and family, we are on the same page. God places the desire for love in all of us. That is why we search for a relationship with our Heavenly Father.

In conclusion, Beth K. Vogt's latest book Almost Like Being in Love has a wonderful cast of characters, an interesting plot that kept me spellbound for a couple of hours while I read the book. 
This is a great book for everyone to read. It makes me want to read Vogt's other books.

I received a complimentary copy of Almost Like Being in Love from Howard Books and the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Dorothy Love: Mrs. Lee and Mrs. Gray

By Kelly Bridgewater

A general’s wife and a slave girl forge a friendship that transcends race, culture, and the crucible of Civil War.

Mary Anna Custis Lee is a great-granddaughter of Martha Washington, wife of Confederate General Robert E Lee, and heiress to Virginia’s storied Arlington house and General Washington’s personal belongings.

Born in bondage at Arlington, Selina Norris Gray learns to read and write in the schoolroom Mary and her mother keep for the slave children, and eventually becomes Mary’s housekeeper and confidante. As Mary’s health declines, Selina becomes her personal maid, strengthening a bond that lasts until death parts them.

Forced to flee Arlington at the start of the Civil War, Mary entrusts the keys to her beloved home to no one but Selina. When Union troops begin looting the house, it is Selina who confronts their commander and saves many of its historic treasures.

In a story spanning crude slave quarters, sunny schoolrooms, stately wedding parlors, and cramped birthing rooms, novelist Dorothy Love amplifies the astonishing true-life account of an extraordinary alliance and casts fresh light on the tumultuous years leading up to and through the wrenching battle for a nation’s soul.

Mrs. Lee and Mrs. Gray: A Novel
From Barnes and Nobles
My Thoughts:

Mrs. Lee and Mrs. Gray is a forty year narrative from the perspective of Robert E. Lee, the leader of the Conferedate Army during the Civil War, wife and one of her slaves, Mrs. Gray. Dorothy Lee research is well done. I really enjoyed learning more about the woman behind a leader during a horrible time in our nation's history. Even though their relationship was frowned by so many people, Lee and Gray kept their relationship strong even after death. I have heard the story about Robert E. Lee but to see him as a loving husband and father shows a loving man behind his actions. I enjoyed traveling the decades with Lee and Gray and watching their relationship change from a nine and twenty-one year old to fifty and seventy-one year old. The story shows their changing relationship even among the tension rising in the country. The story features both women's perspective, so I could understand and empathize with each individual character. Letters, however, is another form of telling the story for Love. The theme of enduring friendship shined from every page in this novel. Even though, I usually don't read books written in the nineteenth century, I really enjoyed this book.

I received a complimentary copy of Mrs. Lee and Mrs. Gray from Thomas Nelson and the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Friday, June 17, 2016

Forensic Speaks: How to Write Realistic Crime Drama

By Kelly Bridgewater

As an avid suspense writer, I am always having to look ways to kill someone up on-line. What happens when you cut off someone’s arm? Does blood pour out? Does it dribble from the veins? What causes the blood to trickle out? Sounds funny. But as a writer, we all want to write stories that ring true with the readers. I don’t want some police officer or EMT to pick up my books and shake their head in disbelief, leaving a bad review on Amazon stating that I don’t do my research before writing the book.

During the 2014 ACFW conference, Jennifer Dornbush led a Capstone course that took all day to learn new things. She informed me and all the other students a whole bunch of ways to write crime stories that ring true with the audience. I still refer to those notes when I work on a crime scene in my novel.  

From Amazon

 Dornbush wrote a book entitled Forensic Speaks: How to Write Realistic Crime Drama. She gave away three copies during this class, and I was one of the lucky ones to win one. It is a great resource for any suspense writer who wants to make their stories ring true without having to actually go to an actual crime scene and figure out the answers to our questions. I don’t know about you, but approaching an EMT, firefighter, or police officer isn’t something I have done, but I really want people to believe what I have to write.

Her book is sectioned into different chapters like “Chewing the Fat with CSI’s” and “Coroner Chat.” There are also subheadings under these overarching titles like Types of Evidence and Exercises. Dornbush has also taken pictures from CSI, Fargo, and Dexter to prove what she has written on the pages.

This is like a dictionary or thesaurus for crime writers. You don’t really read the book, unless you want to, it is more of a resource guide when you want to show how the dead body looks after it has been beheaded or missing an arm. It informs the writer than the reader how long it takes before rigor mortis kicks in. It’s a great resource for any person who writes suspense or mysteries.

Do you have any other resources like this for historical fiction or contemporary novels? Share so we can start a lively discussion.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Elizabeth Camden: From This Moment

By Kelly Bridgewater

Romulus White has tried for years to hire illustrator Stella West for his renowned scientific magazine. She is the missing piece he needs to propel his magazine to the forefront of the industry.

But Stella abruptly quit the art world and moved to Boston with a single purpose: to solve the mysterious death of her beloved sister. Romulus, a man with connections to high society and every important power circle in the city, could be her most valuable ally.

Sparks fly the instant Stella and Romulus join forces, and Romulus soon realizes the strong-willed and charismatic Stella could disrupt his hard-won independence. Can they continue to help each other when their efforts draw the wrong kind of attention from the powers-that-be and put all they've worked for at risk?

From Amazon

My Review:

I truly enjoy reading Elizabeth Camden's historical novel. She always invites me into the story, and I learn something new about history that I didn't before. Too bad she doesn't write history textbooks for students. Maybe more students would enjoy history told as a story versus just memorizing facts all the time. Anyway, with From This Moment, I enjoyed learning more about the creation of subways. When I think of subways, I think of New York City. I never knew Boston had a subway system, so this made the story completely original.  With Camden's attention to the historical detail, I really felt like I strolling through the city of Boston and watching the creation of the subway. My favorite part of the plot was the intriguing mystery that Stella wanted to solve to save her sister's good name. I enjoyed all the length Stella went through to save her sister. Shows true love for a sister. The romance was cute, and I loved watching Stella and Romulus argue when they flirted with each other. It was different than most romance stories.

With a dash of a history lesson on the invention of the subway lines, Camden captured my attention with a brave and selfless heroine who butted heads against a strong, resilient hero alongside a mystery for justice.

Fans of Camden's other works will enjoy this latest installment of her stories. I can't wait to see what she comes up with next.

I received a complimentary copy of From This Moment from Bethany House Publishers and the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating:  4 out of 5 Stars

I believe Elizabeth Camden picks something in a historical setting, such as, building the first subways than creating a romance around the story. Do you think this is what she does? If you're a writer of  historical stories, do you do that? What sparks your idea for a story?

Friday, June 10, 2016

Writing is a Burden . . .

By Kelly Bridgewater

Have you had those days, weeks, or even, months where the troubles just keep piling up and you don't know what to do? Come on, be honest! I'm raising my flag wide and high in the back corner.

In 2015, I lost three people who were near and dear to me. I still find myself glancing at the picture of my Daddy and me when I graduated with my Bachelor's degree and talking to it. (Strange. I know.) My Daddy was my biggest supporter, and the person who I would call about all my writing ideas or a new book I read (I dedicated a post to him back in April. Feel free to read myheart about this issue.)

My husband and I don't want our kids to remain in the school district that our house sits in. We don't like the city of Terre Haute, Indiana, so we want to move. Our house has been on the market for the past nine months. We have had a lot of people come to look at the house. 
Many are impressed with how nice it is, but they say it is too big for them. Frustrating to say the least. We NEED to move. It isn't even an option to stay past August.

I don't have a job, even though staying at home and taking care of the kids and the house while working on improving my writing is a HUGE job, I don't have an outside job. I have wanted to work in book publishing or be a published author. Publishing companies want experience, which I don't have. Working at the local bank or grocery store, I have too much education, so they don't hire me.

My husband and I have spent a lot of time praying for God's direction for our life. Right now, we have no debt to anyone, but our house. If that sells, we can move anywhere we want, but where?

But another burden that only bothers me is my writing. I know, you're saying, how is that a burden? Well . . . let me tell you. I joined ACFW to get better. I am active in the Indiana chapter of ACFW. I have read and own practically every writing book others have suggested. I still don't understand how to write in Deep POV, so I doubt my writing ability ALL THE TIME. I tons of ideas, and I love sitting down and writing those ideas, but I know my writing is not where it should be to be published. I keep praying for God to either bring a mentor into my writing life or take this desire away, but he hasn't done either, so I keep writing and sinking into bouts of depression.

My word for the year is COMFORT. Comfort in God's arms. Comfort that God has a plan for my life instead of sitting in a house that we don't want, in a school district we need to leave, and a writing career that I want to see blossom.

As I was reading verses in 2 Corinthians, Paul's words jumped out at me, "The troubles we faced were nearly more than we could handle. The burdens we bore nearly crushed us. Our strength dwindle to nothing. For a while, we weren't sure we would make it through the whole ordeal" (verse 8).  This verse brought tears to my eyes, a smile to my face, and lifted my spirit. Even Paul struggled. I wasn't alone. But his advice to solve his burdens is priceless and a lesson we all need to seek more often, "We realized we could no longer rely on ourselves and we must trust solely in God" (9). I know God has a purpose in life. I just need to keep trusting, even through my dark days, which appear to be a lot lately.

Paul asked,"Lend us a hand through prayer "(11). I'm asking the same thing. Would you mind praying for direction for my family and me? We have asked our fellow members of our Sunday School class, but where two or more are gathered . . .

Do you ever feel like this desire to write that God has gifted us with is a burden? Why or Why not?

*Bible verses come from the The Voice: New Testament Bible.*