Friday, April 28, 2017

Brett Armstrong: Day Moon

By Kelly Bridgewater

One of my favorite things about being part of the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) is the ability to connect with published writers and hopeful writer like me. Last year in Nashville, Tennessee, I talked to this man who was standing at the back of the hallway waiting on lunch, like me. We started talking, and he didn't really know anyone, so I invited him to sit with me and my friends for lunch. Luckily, he had gotten a book published this year from Clean Reads, and he remembered my business card and that I do book reviews. So here I am promoting his novel. 

Here is a little bit about Brett: 

Brett Armstrong
From Amazon
Brett Armstrong's Author Bio:

From an early age, Brett Armstrong had a love for literature and history. At age nine, he combined the two for his first time in a short story set in the last days of the Aztec Empire. After that, writing’s role in his life waxed and waned periodically, always a dream on the horizon, till he reached college. At West Virginia University, he entered the Computer Engineering program and spent two years pursuing that degree before an opportunity to take a creative writing class, for fun, came along. It was so enjoyable, he took another and in that course he discovered two things. The first was the plot for a short story called Destitutio Quod Remissio, which the others students really seemed to love. The second, he realized he absolutely loved writing. For him, it was like the proverbial light bulb coming on. In the years since, describing that epiphany has been difficult for him, but he found the words of 1924 Olympian Eric Liddell are the most eloquent expression for it: “God made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure.” God gave Brett a passion for writing, and so feels His pleasure when writing.

After a few years passed, Brett got his Computer Engineering degree, but also completed a minor in each of his real passions: history and creative writing. In 2013, he began graduate school to earn an MA in Creative Writing. During that time he completed the novelization of Destitutio Quod Remissio and entered the 2013-2014 CrossBooks Writing Contest, which won the contest's grand prize. As of March 2015, Brett completed his MA and is presently employed in the West Virginia Division of Infectious Disease Epidemiology as a programmer analyst.

Brett lives in Saint Albans, West Virginia, with his beautiful wife, Shelly. In the summer the pair gardens together, and each day Brett continues writing his next novel.

Where to connect with Brett:

In A.D. 2039, a prodigious seventeen year old, Elliott, is assigned to work on a global software initiative his deceased grandfather helped found. Project Alexandria is intended to provide the entire world secure and equal access to all accumulated human knowledge. All forms of print are destroyed in good faith, to ensure everyone has equal footing, and Elliott knows he must soon part with his final treasure: a book of Shakespeare's complete works gifted him by his grandfather. Before it is destroyed, Elliott notices something is amiss with the book, or rather Project Alexandria. The two do not match, including an extra sonnet titled "Day Moon". When Elliott investigates, he uncovers far more than he bargained for. There are sinister forces backing Project Alexandria who have no intention of using it for its public purpose. Elliott soon finds himself on the run from federal authorities and facing betrayals and deceit from those closest to him. Following clues left by his grandfather, with agents close at hand, Elliott desperately hopes to find a way to stop Project Alexandria. All of history past and yet to be depend on it.


My Thoughts:

Young Adult Dystopia is quite popular with young children today. Some of the books are pretty good like Melanie Dickerson's Fairy Tale remakes, and some are awful like Hunger Games and Twilight. I'm always on the lookout for books that will capture the mind and imagination of my young boys. Luckily, with debut author Brett Armstrong, with his first published piece Day Moon, the first book in his Tomorrow's Edge Trilogy, I think I found a good book to pass on to my teenage sons.

The first thing I pay attention when reading a novel by a debut author is their ability to write a clear and concise story without allowing me to turn on my grammar Nazi skills. Armstrong does a good job at staying in Elliott's perspective for the entire novel. I can't recall anytime that he had head hopped. He does a good job at showing Elliott's emotions, allowing me to empathize with him as he struggles with his emotions and running from the law. Similarly, Elliott does a good job at showing the scenery for me. Although a couple of times, I think he wrote too much description, and I wanted to move on. While other times, Armstrong did such a great job at inviting me into the future with his description and staying true to the setting that I forgot I was reading a futuristic novel.

Day Moon is an unpredictable novel with a unique story. I really enjoyed how this takes place in a world where, supposedly, all the knowledge from books is uploaded to a massive computer. The original idea reminded me a lot of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, where reading books were banded. In Armstrong's story, reading books weren't forbidden, but the people had to seek their information from Project Alexandria's massive database, which allows the tension in the story to flow. The story centers around finding puzzles in seven physical copies of books that his grandfather had buried and hidden from the eyes of the government. The pace of the novel moved quite rapidly. Once Elliott broke the law, he was on the run, so Armstrong had me running alongside him as he ran to uncover his grandfather's puzzles. I really had a hard time putting the novel down because Armstrong would leaving the characters in a tight situation at the end of a chapter, begging me to keep reading. The story centers around finding puzzles in seven physical copies of books that his grandfather had buried and hidden from the eyes of the government.

There is a little bit of romance between Elliott and Lara. It is a teenage love from a teenage's perspective. A little hand holding and a light kiss while on the run. Nothing I wouldn't allow my fifteen-year-old son to read.

While Armstrong does create a Christian character in Elliot, he doesn't preach at the audience. Instead he allows Elliott to find comfort in his belief in God. The way a character should be written.

One downside to the novel is that Armstrong does what a good writer should do to end his novel: He left the ending unresolved. I know what the characters had to do, but I have to wait for the next book to come out. Can't wait to read the next two books and see what trouble Armstrong allows Elliott and Lara to get into.

Overall, with a twist of National Treasure and Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, Brett Armstrong's debut novel, Day Moon, kept me guessing as I rushed through the story alongside Elliott and Lara as they tried to figure out why they were being chased by their government.  Armstrong delivers with first-rate characters and a wild ride to hunt for the ultimate truth. Highly recommend. Not to be missed.

I received a complimentary copy of Brett Armstrong's Day Moon from Brett Armstrong, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

I'm really excited to have made connections with people that I have met while being a member of ACFW like Brett Armstrong and my good friend, Emilie Hendryx. Have you ever made a connection with someone in your chosen field and still using that connection for good? If so, what have you 
done? Who have you met?

Where to purchase Day Moon (in e-book format for right now):

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Lauren K. Denton: The Hideaway

By Kelly Bridgewater

When her grandmother’s will wrenches Sara back home from New Orleans, she learns more about Margaret Van Buren in the wake of her death than she ever did in life.

After her last remaining family member dies, Sara Jenkins goes home to The Hideaway, her grandmother Mags's ramshackle B&B in Sweet Bay, Alabama. She intends to quickly tie up loose ends then return to her busy life and thriving antique shop in New Orleans. Instead, she learns Mags has willed her The Hideaway and charged her with renovating it—no small task considering Mags’s best friends, a motley crew of senior citizens, still live there.

Rather than hurrying back to New Orleans, Sara stays in Sweet Bay and begins the biggest house-rehabbing project of her career. Amid Sheetrock dust, old memories, and a charming contractor, she discovers that slipping back into life at The Hideaway is easier than she expected.

Then she discovers a box Mags left in the attic with clues to a life Sara never imagined for her grandmother. With help from Mags’s friends, Sara begins to piece together the mysterious life of bravery, passion, and choices that changed Mags’s destiny in both marvelous and devastating ways.

When an opportunistic land developer threatens to seize The Hideaway, Sara is forced to make a choice—stay in Sweet Bay and fight for the house and the people she’s grown to love or leave again and return to her successful but solitary life in New Orleans.

From Amazon

My Thoughts:

With Lauren K. Denton's debut novel, The Hideaway, I think I found a new book I enjoyed. The Hideaway reminded me a lot of Rachel Hauck's The Wedding Dress, The Wedding Chapel, and The Wedding Shop. It also reminded me of The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks. Denton wrote a book with two competing time periods, present day mingled with the 1960's until the present, and two different narrators, Sara and Mags. Both of these strong women changed their lives around for the sake of family and finding where they really belonged. I really enjoy reading stories where there is something left as a clue for a future grandchild or someone who buys the house. Then I read the other perspective to learn more deeply what actually happened in the past. Denton does a good job at allowing my imagination to see the renovations and improvements that needed to be done to the Hideaway. I believe the improvements to the house mirrored the improvements to Sara's life. The plot moved at a nice pace, keeping me focused on the story and wondering what was going to happen to Mags and Sara. I highly recommend The Hideaway for fans of stories that go through time to share a life lesson. Since The Hideaway was such a good book for Denton's debut novel, I anxiously await what else she writes.

I received a complimentary copy of Lauren K. Denton's The Hideaway from Thomas Nelson Publishing and the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

What draws you to a story that switches time periods? Do you like it? Do you know any other authors who do this and do it well?

Monday, April 24, 2017

Irene Hannon: Sandpiper Cove

By Kelly Bridgewater

Hope Harbor police chief Lexie Graham has plenty on her plate raising her son alone and dealing with a sudden rash of petty theft and vandalism in her coastal Oregon hometown. As a result, she has zero time for extracurricular activities--including romance. Ex-con Adam Stone isn't looking for love either--but how ironic is it that the first woman to catch his eye is a police chief? Yet wishing for things that can never be is foolish.

Nevertheless, when Lexie enlists Adam's help to keep a young man from falling into a life of crime, sparks begin to fly. And as they work together, it soon becomes apparent that God may have a different--and better--future planned for them than either could imagine.

From Amazon

My Thoughts:

Irene Hannon's Sandpiper Cove is an interesting story about second chances. Filled with a familiar setting and hurting characters, this novel made me pay attention. From the first chapter when I met Adam Stone, I felt empathy for his plight. As an ex-con, I bet it is pretty hard to return to normal society. But Lexis, the town sheriff, see's past all that and uses his knowledge of crime life to help a teenager before he becomes a criminal. I really enjoyed the pace of the novel. It moved pretty rapidly. There were no moments where I wanted to put the novel down. As for the romance, it flowed naturally. I liked seeing Lexie and Adam fall in love. Again, the setting of Hope Harbor is idealic and soothing. A nice break from the hustle of city life, not like I live in the city, but anyways. I enjoy Hannon's contemporary romances, and I'm glad to know there is more Hope Haven novels coming. Fans of Becky Wade, Melissa Tagg, and Denise Hunter would love these books.

I received a complimentary copy of Sandpiper Cove by Irene Hannon from Revell Publishing, and the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

What draws you to a contemporary romance novel? For me, depends on the author, but like in Sandpiper Cove, I love the transformation part of the story. What about you?

Friday, April 21, 2017

Journal Thoughts: Breath to My Writing

By Kelly Bridgewater

Last year at the ACFW Conference in Nashville, Tennessee, Rachel Hauck led us in worship, singing "Great Are You, Lord." What a great worship experience! My favorite line is, "It's Your Breath in our Lungs, we pour out our praise."

God does exactly that.

He brings hope to the hopeless.

Brings light to the darkness.

Restore every heart that is broken.


 Yes, God does all these wonderful things, but do I trust him to bring life to my writing?

What if God never wants me to be published by a widely recognized publisher?

What if God wants me to write a story that He has laid on my heart only for Him?

Would I be happy?
Honestly, I don't know. I want my writing to be read and praised too. I want readers to come up to me, claiming they loved my latest book.
Can I live without that?

Right now, my fear of not writing a good story paralyzes me. I spend a lot of time researching for my World War II thriller set in London and always picking up another book to review. My blog won't write itself. It is easier to be stuck in the land of research and enjoying books and giving my opinion on them.

I walk our four acre property with my golden retriever and beagle, talking to my characters, discovering who they are, but I don't let them tell me their story. The one that the Lord has laid on my heart to write.

When I do sit down at start to write, I freeze. Satan whispers over my shoulder,

"What if I screw this up?

What if I write their story wrong?

What makes me think I can do this?

I'm no writer.

Look at what accomplished writers have done.

You can't do that."


"I need you, Lord, to silence Satan and allow you to fill my pages with the story you laid on my heart.

I need God's Breath in my Writing!

To overcome the doubt.

To write the words on the page.

To bring hope to my writing.

I can't do this without You or the words and ideas are just white noise in this crazy world.
Amen. "

This is just me being brutally honest. I wonder do you have the same prayer? How do you overcome the doubt and fear?