Friday, October 28, 2016

A Tribute to My Daddy

By Kelly Bridgewater

If you have followed by blog for the past year, you would know that on Halloween last year, I lost my Daddy. Still today, we don't know why he died, but it was a horrible day and year for me. I wrote a tribute to my father last April as we celebrated the sixth month passing of my father.

Well, on Monday, it has been an year without him.

What has changed?

Let me tell you . . .

When someone loses their parent, especially one that they were close to, it is hard to really believe they are gone. I have wanted to call him on a number of occasions and have him reassure me that I am doing the right thing.

After I returned from the ACFW conference in August in Nashville, I wanted to call my Daddy and tell me about the conference. Instead, I came home to my husband and boys who missed me, but really didn't want to listen to what I learned and did. Not there thing at all.

Father's Day was rough. I spent the day celebrating my Father-in-Law, who I really enjoy, don't get me wrong. BUT . . . it was weird celebrating only one father this year. I miss the Saturday drive to my father's apartment where I would give him a new book that he placed in Amazon wishlist and spend time hunting for the right card that really showed my feelings for him.

Last week, on October 21 would have been my father's 68th birthday, I promised him last year to make him his mother's German Chocolate Cake since I recently acquired the recipe from his littlest sister, Colleen. I don't like chocolate cake, but I'll have a slice in his honor.

Tomorrow, my sister, brother, and mother are coming today to have a second funeral in his honor. We are going to have a bar-b-que and share memories about Daddy.

This last year has been an emotional journey that I really didn't want to take so early in my life. I still cry when I think of my Daddy and how much I miss him.

That's enough for this blog post. Thanks for letting me share!

I miss my Daddy!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Dawn Crandall: The Cautious Maiden

By Kelly Bridgewater

Violet Hawthorne is beyond mortified when her brother Ezra turns their deceased parents' New England country inn into a brothel to accommodate the nearby lumberjacks---but when Violet's own reputation is compromised, the inn becomes the least of her worries. In an effort to salvage her good name, Violet is forced into an engagement with a taciturn acquaintance---Vance Everstone.

As she prepares for a society wedding, Violet learns that her brother had staked her hand in marriage in a heated poker game with the unsavory Rowen Steele, and Ezra had lost. Now Rowen is determined to cash in on his IOU.

With danger stalking her and a new fiance who hides both his emotion and his past, Violet must decide who to trust---and who to leave behind.

From Amazon

 My Thoughts:

Dawn Crandall is definitely making her way in the Regency Romance category. I have read all of her books, The Hesitant Heiress, The Bound Heart, and The Captive Imposter and enjoyed them. I knew what to expect when I read The Cautious Maiden, and Crandall doesn't disappoint. She creates meek heroines who become strong, redemptive heroes with a hint of mystery. If all possible, I think The 
Cautious Maiden is her best book in The Everstone Chronicles.

Writing a novel in first point of view is hard for most writers because we have the tenacity to want to jump into the other character's point of view. But not with Crandall. She does a good job at staying in Violet's perspective and staying there. Everything I learn about Vance or the supporting characters, who appeared in the three previous books, I see through Violet's viewpoint. Because of the story's perspective, Crandall invites me into Violet's internal monologue and watched her growing feelings for Vance.

The romance and plot were woven together well. The romance started pretty early on in the story, but their feelings for each other really started in The Captive Imposter, so it doesn't come as a surprise that their romance was shoved to the forefront of this novel. Crandall handles the sparks and chemistry between Violet and Vance as they fly throughout the whole novel. Boy, do they fly. There are moments of passion that I would be worried about the non-mature audiences reading.  As for the plot, it moves along nicely. The story didn't drag, and I enjoyed being lost in this novel for a couple of hours.

Crandall invited me back with familiar characters and setting. It was nice to see Nathan and Amaryllis, Estella, and Dexter return and welcome Violet with open arms. Violet may not be an Everstone when the story starts, but she fits in quite nicely and is accepted in no time with the rest of the Everstone crew. The last Everstone that I met in The Bound Heart finally becomes the hero. I really enjoyed that Crandall made him a "new creation" where he wanted to do the right thing by Violet and run away from his old personality. My favorite scene of Vance was when Violet walked in on him reading his blue Bible in the library. Made me sigh! As for the setting, I really enjoyed returning to the massive Everstone estate and seeing more parts of the home that I wasn't familiar with in previous books.

While the story wasn't original and completely predictable, I do like the suspense aspect that Crandall used to throw Violet and Vance together. It captured my attention and didn't let go. This novel reminded me a lot of Julie Klassen's The Painter's Daughter. If you enjoyed Crandall's other books in The Everstone Chronicles, then I highly recommend you pick up this book.

Like a Regency novel, Dawn Crandall's conclusion to her Everstone Chronicles The Cautious Maiden shows a story of a redemptive hero who woos a woman with a less than honorable current existence. The mystery element woven in the romance was a nice touch.

I received a complimentary copy of The Cautious Maiden from Whitaker House and the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Friday, October 21, 2016

Writing for the Soul

By Kelly Bridgewater

I saw Jerry B. Jenkins writing book advertised in the back of one of my fiction books, and I couldn’t wait to get my hand on the book. I have loved all of Jerry B. Jenkins Left Behind books and always wanted to take The Christian Writer’s Guild courses, but financially, I couldn’t afford it.

From Amazon
Writing for the Soul is a quick read that you could sit down and read straight through for a couple of hours. It really doesn’t throw anything at you that would require you to do exercises upon exercises. It grips your attention and comforts you. At the end of each chapter, there is a Q and A section where Jenkins answers questions.

The story reminds me of On Writing by Stephen King. It is part autobiographical plus part helpful hints. Jenkins allowed me to learn how he became a writer and moved up the ranks from writing tons of articles to publishing short stories to become a published writer of many books. He wanted to give back to the writing community because so much had been given to him. As the back cover states, “Jenkins shares the honest and straightforward truth about how to find writing success and why the journey is a continuous one.”

As I’m sure a lot of you here are like me, we have wanted to write for a while now and are always on the lookout for things to inspire and encourage us on this lonely road. We, including me, need encouragement from time to time. This journey can be tough and bumpy. Jenkins offers just that. Encouragement. Comfort. Tossed in a few tips with honest answers. Now you have Writing for the Soul. I pick up this book when I need a pick me up about my writing choice.

What book do you return to, besides the Bible, for encouragement about writing? Are there moments where you just want to quite? I have those about once a week, so you’re not alone.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Gratitude: A Prayer and Praise Coloring Journal

By Kelly Bridgewater

 Gratitude: A Prayer and Praise Coloring Journal invites you to bring creative journaling and the calming act of coloring into your quiet time with God. This beautifully designed interactive prayer book from Tyndale’s Living Expressions collection helps guide your thoughts as you pray about concerns such as health, overcoming stress, personal relationships, and more. Gratitude gives you a way to celebrate and give thanks to God for the many blessings he provides. Filled with over 100 designs to color, plenty of space for journaling and sketching, and 40 needs-based prayers, Gratitude helps you express your devotion to God with your whole heart!

From Amazon

My Thoughts:

The first thing to really jump out at me with the Gratitude: A Prayer and Praise Coloring Journal is the hardback cover. It is really durable and appealing to the eyes. It is easy to see why the journal would be easy to place alongside my Bible and take to a peaceful setting to spend time with God.  Since I believe a journal should have room for writing my personal thoughts, I looked for a place to include my own writing. There is plenty of room for that.

On a number of pages there are prompts, such as, Friends are the Family I have chosen. There is a little blurb for me to ponder with a verse attached. On the corresponding page, there is another heading: No Greater Love with space for me to include my own thoughts. The border has black and white images with plenty of space for me to color if I so desired. Some of the pictures have a lot of little detail while others really don't, which is great for someone like me who might want to work on a piece that doesn't take a lot of time one day, but then spend a little more time on the next day.

I really liked how this book will allow me to take my focus off me, but remind me to be grateful for simple things like my friends and family and not worry about all the things that stress me out every day. This journal doesn't have to be done in a month either; it can allow me to spend a year or longer working through it. Maybe one page a week or so. Nothing too hasty.

It isn't like anything I have seen on the market, so it is definitely different. I believe women of all ages would enjoy this gratitude journal whether they enjoy coloring or writing. It draws us closer to God and allows us to seek him more, which is our ultimate purpose in our relationship with God anyways.

I received a complimentary copy of Gratitude: A Prayer and Praise Coloring Journal from Tyndale Publishing and the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Links to Enjoy Further:

-Tyndale’s Inspire Creativity board on Pinterest has downloadable samplers and sharable coloring pages from our coloring and Bible journaling line, the Living Expressions Collection!

-  Check out for the latest news and information on our coloring and journaling products.

I hope you enjoy this little insight into a prayer and praise journal! Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Irene Hannon: Tangled Webs

By Kelly Bridgewater

After a disastrous Middle East mission ends his six-year Army Ranger career, Finn McGregor needs some downtime. A peaceful month in the woods sounds like the perfect way to decompress. But peace isn't on the agenda once he crosses paths with publishing executive Dana Lewis, a neighbor who is nursing wounds of her own. Someone seems bent on disrupting her stay in the lakeside cabin she inherited from her grandfather. As Finn and Dana work together to discover who is behind the disquieting pranks, the incidents begin to take on a menacing tone. And when it becomes apparent Dana's foe may have deadly intent, Finn finds himself back in the thick of the action--ready or not.

From Amazon

My Thoughts:

I found Irene Hannon's romantic suspense books pretty on in my hunt for Christian mysteries, and I was drawn quickly into the heroic male characters and the plot. With her Men of Valor series, I hoped for another series with male characters who fight against the stereotype and stick to their values.  With the latest installment with Tangled Webs, I enjoyed reading Finn's story as much as his brothers' Mac and Lance, but the romance was a little too much for me.

The writing was concise and clear. I had no problem understanding the four perspectives that I was in. I knew whose voice was telling each section. Hannon does a great job at grounding me into the setting and knowing who is talking with each different chapter or subheading. As for the setting, I really could visualize two houses out in the middle of nowhere with a path going between each house. A good book is based on the research for the story, and I don't believe, and I could be wrong that there wasn't a lot of research for Tangled Webs.

As for the suspense and romance plot, I prefer more suspense in my novels. In this latest installment in the Men of Valor series, I felt the story was more romance driven than suspense driven. The story had suspense in it because of the tangled webs of the police chief, another person, Dana, and Finn's story and how they were all intertwined, but the main focus of the plot was Dana and Finn's budding romance. Honestly, I couldn't wait to finish the book because the romance bored me. Dana, the heroine, I really did not like. She had a near death experience in New York City, so she runs to the woods to recover, but she had no redeeming qualities except that she can shoot a gun. On the other hand, I enjoyed getting to know Finn who made appearances in the other two Men of Valor stories, and trust me, he is a heroic man who loves romances, so what girl wouldn't enjoy that? But the suspense part wasn't that death defying for Dana or Finn. A little danger thrown in once in a while, nothing really harmful until the climactic moment. I couldn't wait for the story to be over with.

There really is no heavy spiritual transformation or realization either. Dana and Finn attend church once  but really not that much mention of God in the story. I think fans of Hannon's other works will enjoy this novel. Maybe even fans of Becky Wade's latest book, Here One and Only, would enjoy this novel. Fans of mystery and romance at any age would enjoy Tangled Webs.

With a heart-throbbing romance and a hint of suspense, Irene Hannon's Tangled Web features a romantic hero that I really enjoyed who falls in love with a not-so-likeable heroine. I hope in Hannon's next series, she returns more to the suspense than the romance that led the Men of Valor series. 

I received a complimentary copy of Tangled Webs from Revell Publishing and the opinions stated are all my own. 

My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars 

Have you ever read a book by a favorite author and then they switch around their style of writing? If so, does that bother you? If not, why not?