Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Rachel Hauck: The Wedding Shop

By Kelly Bridgewater

Two women separated by decades. Both set out to help others find their dreams when their own have crumbled.

It's the early 1930s, but Cora Scott is walking in stride as a career woman ?after having inherited her great aunt's wedding shop in Heart’s Bend, Tennessee, where brides come from as far away as Birmingham to experience her famed bridal treatment. Meanwhile, Cora is counting down the days until her own true love returns from the river to make her his bride. But days turn into months and months to years. All the while, Birch Good continues to woo Cora and try to show her that while he is solid and dependable, he can sweep her off her feet.

More than eighty years later, former Air Force Captain Haley Morgan has returned home to Heart's Bend after finishing her commitment to military service. After the devastating death of her best friend, Tammy, and discovering the truth about the man she loved, Haley is searching for her place in life.

When Haley decides to reopen the romantic but abandoned wedding shop where she and Tammy played and dreamed as children, she begins a journey of courage, mystery, and love.

As Cora’s and Haley's stories intertwine through time in the shadow of the beloved wedding shop, they both discover the power of their own dreams and the magic of everyday love.

From Amazon

My Review:

I enjoy reading Rachel Hauck's contemporary romances because they always hit at the heart for me. I don't know why, but her stories have a romance thread, but they also feature a lesson that I need at the moment I read her novels. I enjoyed The Wedding Dress and The Wedding Chapel, so I couldn't wait to see what she did with The Wedding Shop.

I really liked The Wedding Dress for its different timelines. I am really glad to see it come back in The Wedding Shop. I never got confused because Hauck titled the chapter or segments with the POV I was supposed to be in, so after a couple of chapters, I knew the time periods pretty well with their names.

Cora from the 1930- 1980's and Haley in present time had stories that paralleled each other. Their stories were gut wrenching, but both of them needed forgiveness and healing from the past in order to seek and enjoy the love that the Lord had prepared for them. I don't enjoy romances that happen too fast, but in all three of these novels, Hauck allows each of the women to be pursued by men who will love them. Just like a women should be pursued by a man. The romance was just right.

The novel's pace moved at a good clip. The conflict from remodeling The Wedding Shop for Haley and watching Cora struggle with life and dealing with The Great Depression tied nicely together. I had a hard time putting the novel down. I wanted to see what happened with both women's lives. Hauck does bring back the modern day characters from The Wedding Dress and The Wedding Chapel, which was nice to see them again.

The Wedding Shop is a original story that I really enjoyed reading. All three of these novels will go together on my bookshelf. Maybe I'll sit down and read them in order next time.

With lace and tulle, Rachel Hauck's latest installment The Wedding Shop was an original story that parallel two women's lives while they had to learn about forgiveness and healing. I highly recommend this book to fans of romance. 

I received a complimentary copy of The Wedding Shop from Zondervan Publishing and the opinions stated are all my own. 

My Rating:  4.5 out of 5 Stars

Why or why do you no enjoy romances with different time periods in the same novel? Is it confusing? Hard to follow? Like seeing a story with two different POV's?

Friday, August 26, 2016

At the ACFW Conference

By Kelly Bridgewater

Hello, everyone!

Right now, I'm in Nashville, Tennesse at the ACFW conference, so this post will be very small. I have included some pictures of the hotel that I'm staying at.

I will be rooming with my friends, Emilie Hendryx and Natalie Walters. I have only met Natalie on-line, but I can't wait to meet her in person. As for Emilie, we have roomed at the 2014 ACFW conference in St. Louis, so I can't wait to see her again. Emilie has included a friend that she has known forever, Steffani, so I can't wait to meet her too. :)

I enjoy this conference because I feel like a normal person and have so much fun hanging out with tons of writer friends. Most of them I have reviewed their books here previously, so it is nice to meet them in person. Talk over a cup of coffee. Hug and meet in between classes. Spend time getting to know others at the meals.

Watch the award ceremony. I really feel proud to be part of this organization. I'm glad there is a meeting of Christian writers that are willing to spend time sharing their stories and talents with the rest of us, who want to be published authors.

Anyways . . .

Come back next week where I will share stories and some pictures with authors that I have met during the ACFW conference.



Tuesday, August 23, 2016

James Rubart: The Long Journey to Jake Palmer

By Kelly Bridgewater

What if a balm for your greatest pain appeared in a lost corridor on the far side of a remote lake? Would you search for it? Or dismiss it as nonsense?

Jake Palmer’s annual lake-house vacation with longtime friends was supposed to be relaxing—it was supposed to take his mind off his recent divorce.  But when he meets an elderly man early one morning on the lake, his world tips on its side. The old man claims there’s a forgotten corridor at the far end of the lake that few ever discover. But for those who do, and follow to where it leads, they’ll find answers to their deepest questions of loss. At first, the search just seems like a distraction. But does he really want to find it?

The Long Journey to Jake Palmer explores profound loss and how to take hold of real hope when there seems to be none.

The Long Journey to Jake Palmer
from Barnes and Nobles

My Review:

James Rubart is a new-to-me author. After reading his book The Five Times I Met Myself, I was inspired to hunt down more of his novels. Rubart's novels are contemporary novels that border on the fantasy, but the spiritual truths that come from the novel reach a cord inside of me. The Long Journey to Jake Palmer does exactly that.

I love the idea of friends getting together at a log cabin every year to reconnect. With Rubart's words, I had no problem visioning this massive lake with the cabin on the hill keeping guard. The writing invited me from the first chapter with Jake trying to be a hero for a young woman who is being bullied back into prostitution. I empathized with Jake right away.

The Long Journey to Jake Palmer is an original and completely unpredictable story about Jake Palmer's journey to freedom. For years, he has been struggling with the reality of his parents. After the initial incident in the book's opening, Jake has to add another load to his shoulders. To make matters worse, his wife leaves him, allowing Jake to question God. I found Jake relatable because he wasn't perfect. Rubart allowed Jake and all his friends to show their faults. I had a really hard time putting the novel down. It was a simple idea story, but it hit so close to home.

The story centers around a mythical corridor that is supposed to bring true healing to the person who enters. Jake learns about to true forgiveness and moving on with his personal life. He, also, learns not to hide behind his own shadow but face reality. Finally, Jake learns how to hold onto real hope in Jesus.

Creating a unique look at forgiveness and seeking Jesus when nothing else works, James Rubart's latest novel The Long Journey to Jake Palmer captured and held my attention with the fault filled characters and the well-paced plot. I highly recommend this book to every person, whether you read Rubart's books or not. There is a lesson for everyone in this novel.

I received a complimentary copy of The Long Journey to Jake Palmer from Thomas Nelson Publishing and the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

What is it about books with a deep spiritual truth that relates to you? 

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Robert Whitlow: The Witnesses

By Kelly Bridgewater

Young lawyer Parker House is on the rise—until his grandfather’s mysterious past puts both of their lives in danger.

Parker House’s secret inheritance is either his greatest blessing . . . or his deadliest curse. The fresh-faced North Carolina attorney shares his German grandfather’s uncanny ability to see future events in his mind’s eye—a gift that has haunted 82-year-old Frank House through decades of trying to erase a murderous wartime past.

While Parker navigates the intrigue and politics of small-town courtroom law, Frank is forced to face his darkest regrets. Then, a big career break for Parker collides with a new love he longs to nurture and the nightmares his grandfather can no longer escape. Sudden peril threatens to shatter not only Parker’s legal prospects but also his life and the lives of those dearest to him.
Two witnesses, two paths, an uncertain future.

From Amazon

My Thoughts:

I have never read anything by Robert Whitlow, even though a number of friends have recommended him. My TBR tower is falling over, so I haven't had a chance to add another book to the ever growing pile. But when Thomas Nelson's Fiction Guild handed me a copy of The Witnesses to review, I jumped into the story with both feet, not really knowing what to expect. The first chapter started right before the beginning of World War II, which is a huge favorite genre of mine, so I couldn't wait to see where this story went. As the story traveled back and forth from the first half of the twentieth century to the present day, I was engrossed in Frank's past. The story didn't move along too fast; it moved along at a nice pace. Life got in the way, so it took a while to finish the book, but I'm glad I did.  Whitlow left a rabbit trail of clues, leading up to the final climatic moment, but my only gripe about the story is that the climactic moment really wasn't that climactic. It was kind of a let down. Not that I didn't enjoy the story, but I thought the ending would be something more. As for the spiritual elements, it was not preachy. It was obvious faith was important to certain characters, but Whitlow didn't pound it into the my head.

Robert Whitlow's The Witnesses is a unique and original story with interesting characters and a dual plotline. I really enjoyed my Whitlow book and hope that I find time to read more.

I received a complimentary copy of Robert Whitlow's The Witnesses from Thomas Nelson Publishing, and the opinions stated are all my own. 

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Have you ever read a book suggested by a friend and glad you did? Or did the opposite happen and you hated the book? (You don't have to name the title of the book, but let's top about different book tastes :).  )