Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Lisa Harris: Pursued

By Kelly Bridgewater

Nikki Boyd's flight into Nashville was routine--up until the crash landing at the airport. When the dust settles, Nikki discovers that the woman who had been seated next to her on the plane is missing--and no one will admit she was ever there. Erika Hamilton had been flying to Nashville with an air marshal as a key witness in an upcoming grand jury trial. When she flees from the crash, is she running from trouble or straight into it? Before Nikki can even see her family, she and her team are pulled into a missing persons case where the motives are as unclear as the suspects.

Bestselling and award-winning author Lisa Harris has planted danger around every turn in this can't-put-it-down thrill ride that will leave readers stunned.

From Amazon

My Review:

I love mysteries and suspense that keep me hopping and begging me not to put the book down. With Lisa Harris's The Nikki Boyd Files, I have felt like that completely. With this series, I have returned to Nikki Boyd and her best friend, Tyler, and watched her interact with the mysteries that come across her lap.

The writing is clear and concise. I can completely see the setting. I could feel the airplane turbulence in the first couple of chapters and held my breath as they crashed to the earth. Harris does a good job at bringing Nikki to life in the third installment of this series. While the novel features the same heroine, Harris has stayed true to who Nikki is. She didn't do anything that seemed out of character for me. Tyler, the returning hero, is a military man who is the type of man everyone would want in their life. He supports Nikki completely even when she makes dumb mistakes and keeps putting herself in the path of danger. But there were moments that he appeared to be kind of fake. Instead of stopping the woman he loves from chasing the bad guys, he shrugs his shoulders and moves on with his life.

The top reason I enjoy suspense and thrillers is the fast pace of the novel while wondering who is the bad guy. With Pursued, Harris kept the action moving. Every time a chapter was about to end, Harris would throw Nikki into another harrowing situation where she had to run for her life or be caught in the cross hairs. I had a really hard time putting the book down. I stayed up way to late finishing the book, which I love.  But I had a hard time believing that a number of bad things could happen to one person in a forty-eight hour period.

As for the romance between Nikki and Tyler, Harris finally allowed them to come to terms with their happily ever after. It may have taken three books, but I'm glad to see them realize their ultimate relationship together.

The plotline is has been done a number of ties, but I still enjoyed following the story even though the ending was pretty predictable. Similarly, the spiritual elements were not preachy. Nikki did pray for help from God when she was in a difficult situation. I highly recommend Pursued to fans of Lynette Eason, Christy Barritt, Patricia Bradley, and the fans of the first two books in Nikki Boyd's series.
In conclusion, Lisa Harris' conclusion to the Nikki Boyd files is a non-stop story, begging for me to continue reading to see what happens to Nikki and Tyler as she races to the solve a missing person case. I really enjoyed the action and how slow the romance took to come to a reality.

I received a complimentary copy of Lisa Harris' Pursued from Revell Publishing and the opinions stated are all my own. 

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Monday, March 27, 2017

Sandra Byrd: A Lady in Disguise

By Kelly Bridgewater

In this intriguing novel of romance, mystery, and clever disguise set in Victorian England, a young woman investigates the murder of her own father.

After the mysterious death of her father, Miss Gillian Young takes a new job as the principal costume designer at the renowned Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. But while she remembers her father as a kind, well-respected man of the Police Force, clues she uncovers indicate he’d been living a double life: a haunting photograph of a young woman; train stubs for secret trips just before his death; and a receipt for a large sum of money. Are these items evidence of her father’s guilty secrets? His longtime police partner thinks so.

Then Gillian meets the dashing Viscount Thomas Lockwood. Their attraction is instant and inescapable. As their romantic involvement grows, Gillian begins to suspect even Lockwood’s motives. Does Lord Lockwood truly love her? Or is his interest a front for the desire to own her newly inherited property? And what should she make of her friend’s suggestion that Lockwood or men like him were involved in the murder of her father?

Soon Gillian is convinced that her father has left evidence somewhere that can prove his innocence and reveal the guilty party. But someone wants to stop her from discovering it. The closer she comes to uncovering it, the more menacing her opposition grows. With her life on the line, Gillian takes on an ingenious disguise and takes on the role of a lifetime to reveal the true killer—before it’s too late both for her and for those that she loves.

My Thoughts:

I have wondered why there isn't that many historical suspense or thriller novels. I enjoy historical and suspense novels, so why isn't there a huge market for that genre? With I read the synopsis for Sandra Byrd's A Lady in Disguise, I got really excited. Byrd's novel would be during the Victorian Era, which is the same time period that Arthur Conan Doyle wrote his famous Sherlock Holmes series.

I quickly dived into the novel and swept away in the live of Gillian Young, a young seamstress who sews together projects for The Theatre Royal on Drury Lane. Gillian is a kind-hearted young lady who takes in two early teenager girls instead of allowing them to be human trafficked or sold into sex slavery. I enjoyed how Byrd made her a brave woman who wasn't afraid to step out of her station to uncover the truth about her father. Next, Viscount Thomas Lockwood is a man with many disguises. At first, I didn't know if Gillian should trust him, then Byrd starts to make him look better in light of all her other suitors. He began to warm up to me.

The romance is just like a historical romance. Meet. Argue. Fall in love. Argue. Fall out of love. A misunderstanding. Married. It was a predictable romance with nothing unoriginal. I knew that they would fall in love and be married sometime by the end of the novel.

All the research that Byrd did to bring the world of the Victorian theatre and seamstress work to life sounded efficient, and I didn't doubt her story at all. I really liked Byrd's attention to detail. She even knew what kind of fabrics would have been popular during the Victorian era.

Being an avid reader of mysteries, I knew what to expect. I like fast pace plots, which beg me to turn to more chapters and not put the book down. Unfortunately, A Lady in Disguise does not do that. It reads like a historical novel with a mystery in the background. Yes, I understand that Gillian wanted to prove that her father was truthful, but there were moments that I felt like she spent more time designing clothes, attending parties, and courting Lockwood then focusing on the mystery. Toward  eighty percent in the novel, the mystery becomes the focal point and becomes what I wanted all along. But it took a while to get there.

In conclusion, Sandra Byrd's A Lady in Disguise is a great peek into the world of a seamstress trying to make her name known during the Victorian Era. I enjoyed the characters and the story, but I wish the mystery was more of the novel's purpose than a secondary subplot.

I received a complimentary copy of Sandra Byrd's A Lady in Disguise from Howard Books, and the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

What genre do you wish there was more of? Is there a combination of two that you would love to see? Why?

Friday, March 24, 2017

Psalm 27:3 - 4

By Kelly Bridgewater

Psalm 27: 3 - 4

"In this I will be confident

One thing I have desired of the Lord,
That will I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord
All the days of my life;
To behold the beauty of the Lord,
And to inquire in His temple."

 Have you noticed something about the written verses up above?
There are A LOT of action verbs. You know what action verbs are. Think back to elementary. Action verbs do action. In verse 4, David is writing to show us how to happy. To be happy, we must desire the Lord, seek him, dwell in this house, behold His beauty, and to inquire in His temple. 

We must love the Lord and do what he wants us to do with our talents. Not allow them to run away and die without using them for his Glory. 


We must spend time with God. I know we are all busy. We have a family and house to take care of. We have our children's sports and music programs. We have our reading to do. We have our writing to do. 

BUT . . .
if we don't spend time with the Lord and seek His face, then we become like the people in the world. We won't know the Bible and have nothing to stand on when times get rough. And boy, do they get rough.


This goes kind of hand in hand with Seek. We need to spend time in God's Word. Dwell in it. Actually get lost in it. Spend time with God. DAILY. Even I'm guilty of allowing life to get in the way. I have plenty of time to read my books for review, but there are days that I allow the Bible reading and quiet time with God to take a backseat. 
 This year, I want to intently be better at that. It doesn't hurt to spend ten to fifteen minutes while I'm drinking my cup of coffee or hot tea to read the Bible at the same time. 


Have you ever went out to a field far away from the city lights and laid down with worship music playing from the car radio? I have. We took our boys camping in Brown County. One evening, we loaded up the car and headed to this cliff overlooking the Nashville, IN, valley. It was completely black. You could see the boys running around but really nothing else. It was a clear night. We turned on a worship CD (classic Sonicflood) and sang along while gazing into the night sky. It was a real experience. Seeing the vastness of God's creation and worshiping right back at him. Try it sometime. It was very moving. 


Are you learning all you can from your church? Are you willing to ask your Pastor for advice on something? We are supposed "to inquire in His temple." I take that to mean that we are supposed to learn more than what the Pastor preaches from the pulpit. I remember a saying, (don't ask me who said it) "Don't believe what I say. Research what I say." That is what we should be doing with the sermon's our pastor gives. Spend time learning more about what he says. Research his reference verses. Is he using them out of context or would there have been a better verse? I'm not saying confront your pastor with your thoughts because that is NOT right, but studying more on your time is completely allowed. 

What do you think of the ACTION verbs in this verse? Is it a call for a closer walk with the Lord? Have anything else to add. Don't hesitate to comment. 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Catherine West: The Memory of You

By Kelly Bridgewater

Thirteen years ago, Natalie lost a part of herself when her twin sister died. Will traveling back to the family winery finally put the memory to rest, or will it completely destroy her?

When Natalie Mitchell learns her beloved grandfather has had a heart attack, she’s forced to return to their family-owned winery in Sonoma, something she never intended to do. She’s avoided her grandparents’ sprawling home and all its memories since the summer her sister died—the awful summer Natalie’s nightmares began. But the winery is failing, and Natalie’s father wants her to shut it down. As the majority shareholder, she has the power to do so.

And Natalie never says no to her father.

Tanner Collins, the vintner on Maoilios, is trying to salvage a bad season and put the Mitchell family’s winery back in business. When Natalie Mitchell shows up, Tanner sees his future about to be crushed. Natalie intends to close the gates, unless he can convince her otherwise. But the Natalie he remembers from childhood is long gone, and he’s not so sure he likes the woman she’s become. Still, the haunted look she wears hints at secrets he wants to unearth. He soon discovers that on the night her sister died, the real Natalie died too. And Tanner must do whatever it takes to resurrect her.

But finding freedom from the past means facing it.

From Amazon

My Thoughts:

My first introduction to Catherine West's writing was The Things We Knew. It was an interesting general fiction novel that I enjoyed spending time with. So when The Memory of Us was released, I wanted to read the novel. I figured the novel had to do with someone's death, but I didn't know who or how. Losing my Daddy in late 2015 has affected every decision that I have made since. Death is not anyone's friend, so i was curious what this novel is about.

The setting of the vineyard in California was awaken in my imagination. I had no problem seeing the house and the rows and rows of grape vines. West does a good job at bringing the modern setting to life for me. West writing is clear, crisp, and concise. I never once lost my place in the story because of headhopping. She stayed in Natalie and Tanner's point of views for the entire story. The research into the workings of a vineyard flowed from Tanner's mouth without me doubting that he knew what he wanted.

In West first novel that I read, there really wasn't a lot of romance, but The Memory of Us turned into a contemporary romance novel, and I was turned away pretty quickly when I saw Tanner and Natalie start to fall in love with each other. I wanted to see them heal from their past hurts but did the story really have to turn into a romance novel? Since it took a turn toward the romance, the romance felt out of place from the growing hostility Tanner and Natalie showed toward each other at the beginning of the novel.

The pace of the story moved forward, but I felt that it was slow at times. It was an interesting story of learning to forgive and move on, but there were moments I wished the story was finished already. While the story was predictable and unoriginal, I did enjoy the idea of letting go of guilt and allowing dead ones to move on. Fans of contemporary romances will enjoy this novel and probably love it.

In conclusion, Catherine West's The Memory of Us is a slow-moving contemporary romance that starts out with a bang but then moves into a romance story between Tanner and Natalie, which I did not see coming. The spiritual truths of love, forgiveness, and moving on are apparent in the novel and were a good reminder to me.

I received a complimentary copy of Catherine West's The Memory of Us from Thomas Nelson Publishing and the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Name a couple of novels that you picked up that start in one genre, but as you read, it turns into another genre.  Did you like that? Why or Why not?


Last week, I interviewed Sarah Sundin and had a giveaway for two of her books, When Tides Turn and Anchors in the Storm, to TWO winners!

The winners are . . . 

Raechel L. - When Tides Turn
Stephanie J. - Anchors in the Storm


Winners have been emailed.  (Please respond within 24 hours or I will draw another name.)


Monday, March 20, 2017

Terri Blackstock: If I'm Found

By Kelly Bridgewater

Is Dylan hunting Casey to prosecute her or protect her?

Casey Cox is still on the run, fleeing prosecution for a murder she didn’t commit. Dylan Roberts—her most relentless pursuer—is still on her trail, but his secret emails insist that he knows the truth and wants to help her. He’s let her escape before when he had her in his grasp, but trust doesn’t come easily.

As Casey works to collect evidence about the real murderers, she stumbles on another unbearable injustice: an abused child and a suicidal man who’s also been falsely accused. Casey risks her own safety to right this wrong and protect the little girl from her tormenters. But doing so is risky and just may result in her capture—and if she’s captured, she has no doubt she’ll be murdered before she ever steps foot in a jail.

From Amazon

My Review:

My recommendation for reading Terri Blackstock's If I Run series is to read them in order and one right after the other. I read If I Run right when it came out, and I remember the story ending in a cliff hanger, so I picked it up again when I had a copy of If I'm Found. I'm glad I did because I don't think the second one would make much sense if the first one wasn't fresh in my mind.

Again, Blackstock understands what her readers want, and she delivers. I really like the pace and movement of this series. I like how each individual story doesn't place Casey in a safe place. Instead she is on the run at the end of the book, begging me to come back to the next installment and see what she is up to. I really like the fast pace of the novel. I enjoy watching Casey, who is on the run of a supposed murder, still take the time to show her true nature. In each novel, she solves a mystery to see justice done. I admire her for thinking of others even when she is running for her own life.  One of my favorite parts is that Blackstock does not solve the overarching mystery that has Casey on the run in the first or second book. I have to keep reading the series to see what happens. I wish more books did this. In addition, Blackstock has brought back Dylan, the hero, who proves even more in If I'm Found that he truly trusts and believes in Casey. I like Dylan. He makes me smile and glad to see him on Casey's side.

Don't worry. There is some romance blooming toward the end of If I'm Found, but nothing that takes away from the constant running from the men trying to capture Casey. I like that the romance has taken a while to bloom. Casey and Dylan weren't forced into a romance in the first book, unrealistically, and allowed me to suffer through their budding relationship.

The writing is concise and clear. Blackstock starts each chapter with the character's name, so I don't become confused whose point of view I should be in. It helped a lot. The settings appeared realistic. I could draw the houses and motels in my imagination and see Casey hopping around from place to place. The one issue I had with the story is the amount of hidden CSI type things Casey has done to reach her sister or stay one step ahead of the bad guy. I know I read A LOT of mysteries, but when it comes down to running for my personal life, would I remember to do half the stuff she does? Probably not. Seems unrealistic to me.

If I'm Found is an original and unpredictable story that kept me on the edge of my seat. I finished it in one day. As for the spiritual element, Blackstock does have Dylan as a strong Christian who rubs off on Casey. Not preachy. Just offering some forgotten advice to help her. I think this book is okay for fans of any age. There is nothing offensive or disgusting for younger audiences.

In conclusion, Terri Blackstock's second installment in her If I Run series, If I'm Found captures my attention from the first page with the fast pace and characters I have come to know. I highly recommend rereading the first book, If I Run right before sitting down and reading this book, so the story flows more smoothly.

I received a complimentary copy of Terri Blackstock's If I'm Found from Thomas Nelson Publishing and the opinions stated are all my own. 

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Would you pick up a book that is not completely solved in the novel? Or do you enjoy novels that end with a pretty bow and a happy couple hopping off into the sunset? Why?