Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Karen Kingsbury: A Baxter Family Christmas

By Kelly Bridgewater

Whether you’re meeting the Baxter family for the first time, or finding them all over again…A Baxter Family Christmas will leave fingerprints on your heart forever.

Two years have passed since the terrible car accident that took the life of John Baxter’s daughter, Erin, her husband and three of their four daughters. Prompted by grief, and missing his daughter, John has invited a stranger for Christmas Eve dinner—Kendra Bryant, the transplant recipient who now has Erin’s heart.

In light of their father’s idea, Ashley and her brother Luke don’t think it’s right. They want to protect their ten-year-old niece, Amy—the only surviving member of the accident. But John is determined and believes meeting this woman is something his deceased daughter would want.

At the same time, Maddie West, the eighteen-year-old daughter of Brooke Baxter West, is praying for meaning this Christmas. Could she find it in a newfound friendship with a boy she never expected to see again? Maddie believes in miracles, especially at Christmastime, but this is a stretch even she can’t imagine.

Meanwhile, Kendra Bryant has been struggling these past few years to find purpose in the tragedy that gave her a second chance. She believes the invitation to see the Baxters and witness their unwavering faith in God can instill peace and happiness back into her life.

Heartwarming and touching, filled with love and redemption, A Baxter Family Christmas brings together two families in the aftermath of loss and in the midst of an unfolding love story, all with the help of one very special child.

From Amazon

My Thoughts:

Karen Kingsbury was the second author who I was introduced to in the Christian Publishing world. I picked up a book of hers and devoured them within hours. I passed them onto my aunt, who sadly passed away last year, and we would talk about them once she finished them. When we heard Karen Kingsbury was coming to Bloomington, Indiana, which is where the Baxter's "lived" for a family reunion, I mentioned to my aunt, and we purchased tickets and spend the night in town. It was a lot of fun to see a whole bunch of people come to Bloomington to support this fictional family. I enjoyed reading about the Baxter family, but with the release of some of her previous books, I haven't been reading a lot of her writings. Her books were getting to happy, sappy, and simple. But I was really looking forward to reconnecting with the Baxter family, so I was excited to receive a review copy of A Baxter Family Christmas.

First, I really enjoyed catching up with the Baxter family. It was nice seeing their family again as they had grown through the years, even surpassing all the struggles and still depending on God. All five of the Baxter children had come home for Thanksgiving and Christmas at the old family home. I was nice to see them interact and still keep their family traditions alive, even start some new ones. You don't have to have recently read the complete twenty books featuring the Baxters. Kingsbury weaves in their back stories for newcomers to the family.

As for the story, it really had no conflict. It centered around allowing the young woman who had received Erin's heart come to their home to celebrate Christ's birth. While the family struggled with the issue, it really didn't cause a rift in the family. The story was a feel good story that made me feel warm and snuggly inside. This would be a great story to read by a fire on a cool day with the cup of cocoa next to the Christmas tree with the Christmas music playing in the background. The plot wasn't dark, and I finished the entire book in one day.

I highly recommend this story to fans of Kingsbury's Baxter family. It is nostalgic and enjoyable, but if you want something with more conflict, then this might not be the story for you. It is pretty soft and has a tinge of a teenage romance. Nothing serious. Readers of any age can read this book.

I received a complimentary copy of A Baxter Family Christmas from Howard Books and the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Monday, November 28, 2016

Journal the Word Bible

By Kelly Bridgewater

The NKJV Journal the Word™ Bible, Large Print allows you to creatively express yourself every day with plenty of room for notes or verse art journaling next to your treasured verses. With unique and sophisticated covers, this single-column large print edition features thick cream-colored paper with lightly ruled lines in the extra-wide margins, perfect to reflect on God’s Word and enhance your study.

Excellent for a gift or for personal use, it can also be a cherished heirloom to pass on to future generations with your personal writings inside!

From Amazon
My Thoughts:

With the latest craze of adult coloring books, there is even adult coloring Bibles for adults to connect more with God while studying His Word. My problem with coloring books and Bibles is my patience. I have no patience for coloring. Even as a child, I really didn't like coloring. I flew through my art projects in a matter of days when the teachers allowed us to have weeks to finish them. They were done and earned an A, but I worked faster. So even as an adult, I still have no patient for coloring.

But when Thomas Nelson came out with the Journal the Word Bible with wider margins, it peeked my interest. I LOVE to take notes in my Bible and write all over my margins, but there is never enough room. But the Journal the Word Bible has TWO inches of extra margins space next to the single column Words of God. There is even lines in the margins for someone like me who is OCD and likes things neat. This will be an awesome addition to add my thoughts that will stay for a long time.

While the inside of the NKJV captures my attention, the outside cover is hardback teal with a floral arrangement gracing the front cover. It is pretty and easy to hold, even though it is pretty thick. Inside, there is a blue ribbon for place marking. One of my favorite features is the lay flat spine. Nothing is more annoying than a book or Bible that flops close while I'm reading it. This will allow me to read and record without losing my place.

Overall, I have scanned a number of the coloring Bibles, and I didn't want something that would distract me from studying God's Word. With the Journal the Word Bible, I believe the Bible will be one that I will cherish and use during my study time. This would be a great Bible to pass on to my sons when they are older to cherish. Just like I have my grandparents Bible in my library.  I highly recommend the Journal the Word Bible for fans of journals and studying the Bible but don't want to color.

I received a complimentary copy of the NKJV Journal the Word Bible Large Print from Thomas Nelson Publishing and the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Do you write in your Bible and take notes on the pages? Do you want bigger margins to record? What makes or breaks a Bible choice for you?

Friday, November 25, 2016


By Kelly Bridgewater

Yesterday was my birthday. Yes, on Thanksgiving. It happens every so often. I ate turkey, mac and cheese, potatoes with gravy, green beans, deviled eggs, a salad, and some pie. Pie. Not cake. It happens when my birthday falls on the holiday. My mother, brother, and sister came with their families, and we celebrated the day together. After the meal, my mother, sister, and I cleaned up while all nine grandchildren ran around in the woods behind our house. It was nice to have them run off that piece of pie that they ate. 


Having my family together means more this year after losing our Daddy last Halloween. It has been a rough year, but it makes me want to spend more time with my mother before I lose her too.
I'm thankful for:

- A loving God who is always there for me, even though this past year has been a HUGE struggle in really believing that he cares about the decisions I make in my life.

- A supportive and loving husband who works really hard to provide for me and our boys. I love my husband who is definitely more romantic that I ever will be, even though romance isn't big on my priority list.

-Three high energy boys who love me. Even the teenager still talks to me when a certain girl at school catches his interest. I hope that keeps up. He knows that I want to know about things like that because it is important to stay in connection with his mother. 

 - A God-fearing mother who loves God and teaches everyone about God. My mother has always had us three kids in church our entire life. I don't remember missing church much. It was such a part of my upbringing that is why my husband and I continue taking and teaching our boys about God.

- A little sister and older brother who is always there for me. No matter what. If I need to call and talk to them, they are both there to listen and offer their assistance. I couldn't imagine better siblings. Even though when we were younger, I don't think I would have ever said that.

- My loving books and joy in writing. I have loved books and writing for as long as I can remember. My life has revolved around creating imaginary stories and reading tons of books to fill my day. I don't understand how people, like my boys, don't enjoy getting lost in a good book.

What are you thankful for? Not just because it is Thanksgiving, but because it is good to remember all the great things that the Lord has given us. I'm thankful that you take the time to read my ramblings. Thank you! Have a good holiday!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Melanie Dickerson: The Silent Songbird

By Kelly Bridgewater

Evangeline is gifted with a heavenly voice, but she is trapped in a sinister betrothal—until she embarks on a daring escape and meets brave Westley le Wyse. Can he help her discover the freedom to sing again?

Desperate to flee a political marriage to her cousin King Richard II’s closest advisor, Lord Shiveley—a man twice her age with shadowy motives—Evangeline runs away and joins a small band of servants journeying back to Glynval, their home village.

Pretending to be mute, she gets to know Westley le Wyse, their handsome young leader, who is intrigued by the beautiful servant girl. But when the truth comes out, it may shatter any hope that love could grow between them.

More than Evangeline’s future is at stake as she finds herself entangled in a web of intrigue that threatens England’s monarchy. Should she give herself up to protect the only person who cares about her? If she does, who will save the king from a plot to steal his throne?

My Review:

I have read everything that Melanie Dickerson has written, so I know what to expect when I approach her writings. I expect to be enthralled with brave and heroic characters who go above and beyond their status. I will be taken on a journey through a story that is similar to the fairy tales that I have grown up with but with a twist.

The major story element that I really enjoy is Dickerson's ability to create realistic characters who stick with me long after the story is finished. The hero, Westley le Wyse, enters the story while saving a young child who is about to be run over by a stray horse. Throughout the rest of the story, he shows over and over again his sweet and gentle heart by protecting the innocent from physical harm. I really like a man who seeks out the weak and gives them a brighter outlook on life. As for the heroine, Evangeline, she is a young woman who was raised up with an education and not having to work, but in order to hunt for true love, she escapes her prearranged marriage and lowers her status to seek freedom. Both characters are brave and noble. Totally worth falling in love with.

The story has elements of the popular fairy tale The Little Mermaid, but it doesn't completely follow the storyline. Evangeline doesn't sell her voice to have human legs. Instead, she plays mute to save herself and her maidservant who escaped with her. I enjoyed watching the romance between Evangeline and Westley grow, especially because Evangeline is willing to work just to discover who she really wants to be.  

I really was enthralled with the plot. Dickerson invited me back to the land of fairytales in the late fourteenth century and kept me in that time period with her writing. I had a hard time putting the novel down. Like her previous stories in this series, I have enjoyed watching Dickerson's take on the popular stories. Even though the story is completely predictable, it was an original version of the widely popular tale.

With a tale as old as time, Melanie Dickerson's The Silent Songbird invited me along for a story in a land where status rules the people. Evangeline and Westley are brave characters who will stick with the readers long after they show their love story. I highly recommend The Silent Songbird to fans of all fairy tales and Dickerson's previous novels.

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

 My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

What makes you like fairy tale remakes so much? Is it the familiarity of the characters, setting, plot line, or something totally different?

Friday, November 18, 2016

From the Inside . . . Out

By Kelly Bridgewater

Mostly everyone has heard of Susan May Warren in the book industry. She writes great books. Is the sweetest person to meet in person. I was lucky enough to sit down to coffee at the 2014 ACFW conference. Warren is totally approachable and doesn’t allow her writing stardom to go to her head. People at the book sales at the library or my local Christian bookstore are surprised when I tell them I have met Susan May Warren after I recommend her books to them. I have a picture on my phone of us having coffee at Starbucks in the hotel in St. Louis. Big fan moment for me too.

From Amazon

I have had her two books From the Inside. . . Out and Deep and Wide for quite a while now. I can’t honestly say that I have finished them because I found a gem that I need to work on, so then I find another book that talks about the same topic and jump to that book to see what they have to say on the same topic.

Since Warren is a published author, and I love her writing, I take what advice she can give pretty seriously. I follow her blog, which used to be called My Book Therapy, but now it’s called Learn to Write a Novel. I have a three inch binder where I have printed off articles from her blog and look at in addition to these books. Warren’s success rate is off the charts, so I wanted to find out what all the fuss was. I need to learn more on how to make my writing jump off the charts, so I bought these two books. I need to purchase The Book Buddy, which I haven’t gotten yet.

Warren helps you with everything from writing the synopsis to defining the Dark Moment in your character’s past. She explains it in an easy to understand format so that I think she is sitting right next to me offering me advice to, hopefully, someday give me a complete book that is ready for publication.

Do you enjoy getting writing advice from some of your favorite writers? Does it make you pay more attention to the words they have to say? Why?