Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Becky Wade: True To You

By Kelly Bridgewater

After a devastating heartbreak three years ago, genealogist and historical village owner Nora Bradford has decided that burying her nose in her work and her books is far safer than romance in the here and now.

Unlike Nora, former Navy SEAL and Medal of Honor recipient John Lawson is a modern-day man, usually 100 percent focused on the present. But when he's diagnosed with an inherited condition, he's forced to dig into the secrets of his past and his adoption as an infant, enlisting Nora to help him uncover the identity of his birth mother.

The more time they spend together, the more this pair of opposites suspects they just might be a perfect match. However, John's already dating someone and Nora's not sure she's ready to trade her crushes on fictional heroes for the risks of a real relationship. Finding the answers they're seeking will test the limits of their identity, their faith, and their devotion to one another.

From Amazon
 My Thoughts:

True to You, Becky Wade's latest novel and introduction to her Bradford sisters series is an interesting look at how God is working at the big picture even though we don't understand it. With a meek, bookish Nora Bradford, Wade created a picture o the middle child who shows the ability to be ignored. While John, on the other hand, is a strong ex-Navy Seal who believes in God, wanting to discover the identity of his parents. As walls crumble, Nora and John seek out the Lord and ask for the ultimate forgiveness. My favorite part of the entire novel is the sections where Nora and John surrender to God. It brought a little mist to my eyes. I enjoyed the novel but had a hard time believing a number of passionate internal thoughts from John. It sounded like a girl's thought not a man. Fans of Wade's previous novels should try this story.

I received a complimentary copy of True to You by Becky Wade from Bethany House Publishers, and the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Romances are pretty predictable, follow a pattern genre. Do you agree? Do you still find them interesting? Why or why not?

Monday, May 29, 2017

Sarah E. Ladd: A Stranger at Fellsworth

By Kelly Bridgewater

In the fallout of her deceased father's financial ruin, Annabelle's prospects are looking bleak. Her fiancé has called off their betrothal, and now she remains at the mercy of her controlling and often cruel brother. Annabelle soon faces the fact that her only hope for a better life is to do the unthinkable and run away to Fellsworth, the home of her long-estranged aunt and uncle, where a teaching position awaits her. Working for a wage for the first time in her life forces Annabelle to adapt to often unpleasant situations as friendships and roles she's taken for granted are called into question.

Owen Locke is unswerving in his commitments. As a widower and father, he is fiercely protective of his only daughter. As an industrious gamekeeper, he is intent on keeping poachers at bay even though his ambition has always been to eventually purchase land that he can call his own. When a chance encounter introduces him to the lovely Annabelle Thorley, his steady life is shaken. For the first time since his wife's tragic death, Owen begins to dream of a second chance at love.

As Owen and Annabelle grow closer, ominous forces threaten the peace they thought they'd found. Poachers, mysterious strangers, and murderers converge at Fellsworth, forcing Annabelle and Owen to a test of fortitude and bravery to stop the shadow of the past from ruining their hopes for the future.

 My Review:

There is something about Sarah E. Ladd's writing that grips my attention. She knows how to create unforgettable stories with enjoyable characters. I know her stories are Regency novels, but I am drawn to Ladd's ability to tell a story and capture my imagination. Every book she has written has done just that.

The writing is clear and concise. I really enjoy how much attention Ladd takes with her settings. In A Stranger at Fellsworth, she took the time and energy to bring Uncle Edmund Langsby's cottage and the school of Fellsworth to life. I could see the community with the students and the teachers who mingled with the garden and blacksmith shop. Inside of telling me that the time of the year was late summer, Ladd allowed Annabelle, the heroine, to show me by allowing her to wave a painted fan and comment on the stifling heat in the room. The attention to detail drew me into the setting as I observed the key points through Annabelle's perspective.

Annabelle is a woman who I could totally relate to. No I haven't had a bunch of scandals that followed my name, but I understand what it is like to not belong somewhere and wanting to run for the better of oneself. I could feel Annabelle's struggle while she lived at home in London, not wanting to follow the path her brother had laid out for her. Her demise and triumph poured from the pages. While the spiritual life of Annabelle really wasn't important to her, she did find comfort in the prayers of her prayer warrior mother.

Owen Locke, the game warden and the hero, vowed to protect women and not allow another one to die if there was a way to protect them. Ladd used Owen's promise to turn him into a hero for Annabelle who needed protecting. Owen is a loyal man who protects the woods, his daughter, Hannah, and Annabelle. I found him endearing and worth rooting for. What woman doesn't honestly want to be protected? As for spiritual matters, Owen does claim a faith in God, even if he did spend a lot of time questioning his faith after the death of his first wife.

The pace of the novel moved just right. There was a heavy romance thread through the novel, but it is a historical romance novel. The emotions between Annabelle and Owen weren't forced, and I felt they flowed quite naturally from them. As for the plot, it held an element of mystery with poaching and a gunshot early in the book. The story does reflect quite a bit on the poaching element and brings the betrayal to light at the end. To be honest, Ladd did a nice job of weaving in the mystery with the historical romance part. I applauded her for that.

A Stranger at Fellsworth is an original and predictable novel, but I really enjoyed reading it. I can't wait to see what Ladd comes up with next. I recommend this book to anyone who loves a good romance and mystery.

I received a complimentary copy of Sarah E. Ladd's A Stranger at Fellsworth from Thomas Nelson publishing, and the opinions stated are all my own. 

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Melanie Dickerson: The Noble Servant

By Kelly Bridgewater

She lost everything to an evil conspiracy . . . but that loss may just give her all she ever wanted.

Since meeting Steffan, the Duke of Wolfberg, Lady Magdalen has not been able to stop thinking about him. She knows—as a penniless lady with little to offer in terms of a dowry—she has no real hope of marrying such a highly titled man, so it comes as a great surprise when she receives a letter bearing his seal, asking for her hand in marriage.

But all is not what it seems at Wolfberg Castle. Steffan has been evicted by his scheming uncle, and his cousin has taken over the title of duke. Disguised as a shepherd, Steffan hopes to gain entry to the castle and claim the items that will prove he is the true Duke of Wolfberg.

Journeying to the castle, Magdalen has no idea what awaits her, but she certainly did not expect her loyal maidservant to turn on her. Forcing Magdalen to trade places with her, the servant plans to marry the duke and force Magdalen to tend the geese.

Without their respective titles—and the privileges that came with them—Steffan and Magdalen are reunited in the shepherd’s field. Together they conspire to get back their rightful titles. But they must hurry . . . or else they risk losing it all to his uncle’s evil plan.

From Amazon

My Review:

Melanie Dickerson did it again. I truly enjoyed The Noble Servant, her latest installment in her A Medieval Fairy Tale series. With brave and heroic characters and a plot that keeps on moving to the conclusion, I had a hard time putting the novel down. I finished it in one day.

As always, Dickerson grips me with how well she can bring this historical time period to life. I honestly feel like I'm roaming the castles, the field, and glancing at the sea with the characters. I enjoy her attention to detail and how she captures my imagination as I spend a couple of hours in the past. While the research flows from the previous novels, I did not have a hard time swallowing anything she presented in her novel. It flowed seamlessly and presented an united story.

This time around, I watched Lady Magdalen and Steffan as they were forced into a treacherous situation where they had to hide their true identity or be killed. While Magdalen and Steffan grew into their roles as the geese and sheep herder, their bravery and compassion for the less fortunate shone on the page. While trying to keep their true identity a secret, they stood up for the underbelly of society and took their beatings.  The downside to their characters is that Magdalen and Steffan were nice people at the beginning of the story and stayed the same way throughout. No character transformations.

The romance was slow moving, which is how I like it. Steffan and Magdalen would spend many hours talking together, learning more and more about each other and falling in love as an end result. What girl doesn't want a guy who will listen and share his ideas with them? I enjoyed Steffan and could completely understand why Magdalen fell in love with him. On the other hand, the plot moved at a nice pace, especially after they escaped from the castle and where on the hunt from Steffan's uncle. It was a nice change of pace to see them trying to survive in the mines without rushing the story along.

Dickerson's The Noble Servant is a great continuation of her Medieval Fairy Tales with a wonderful romantic story between well-deserving characters who are on the hunt to right a evil plot against them. I highly recommend this book to young and mature adults alike. This is a book that should be bought and placed on the keeper shelf.

I received a complimentary copy of Melanie Dickerson's The Noble Servant from Thomas Nelson Publishing and the opinions stated are all my own. 

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

I LOVE fairy tale remakes like Melanie Dickerson's writings and Once Upon a Time television show. Do you enjoy reading remakes of other stories? Or do you think a writer should leave the greats alone? Why?

Monday, May 22, 2017

Dee Henderson: Threads of Suspicion

By Kelly Bridgewater

Evie Blackwell's reputation as a top investigator for the Illinois State Police has landed her an appointment to the governor's new Missing Persons Task Force. This elite investigative team is launched with plenty of public fanfare. The governor has made this initiative a high priority, so they will have to produce results--and quickly.

Evie and her new partner, David Marshal, are assigned to a pair of unrelated cases in suburban Chicago, and while both involve persons now missing for several years, the cases couldn't be more different. While Evie opens old wounds in a close-knit neighborhood to find a missing college student, David searches for a private investigator working for a high-powered client.

With a deep conviction that "justice for all" truly matters, Evie and David are unrelenting in their search for the truth. But Evie must also find answers to the questions that lie just beneath the surface in her personal life.

From Amazon

 My Thoughts:

Threads of Suspicion by Dee Henderson is a captivating look into the world of detectives. From the first page, I was thrown into the action with Evie and David as they were assigned to two different cold cases in the same county. It was nice to return to Evie and watch as she struggles with the decision to marry her boyfriend, Rob. The romance was not too heavy. Instead, it appeared to be too perfect. Maybe even a little unrealistic. Rob, Maggie, and David were perfect for one another and acted just the way a couple should be. I don't think any guy would just sit around and wait forever for a girl to come to know Christ, so he could marry her. After a while, he would lose patience and move on. Luckily, for Henderson that is not the complete idea of the story, it is just the subplot, rounding out the characters, so I can ignore the romance. 

As for the pace of the novel, it appeared to go on and on and on. Every thought David or Evie had about the cold cases were spoken about at dinner, driving to interview someone, or in their makeshift office. There was no moments for pondering the case for myself. Henderson told me what to think and how to think about the missing Jennie. Don't get me wrong. I enjoyed the story, and I loved seeing how detectives work and how much thought goes into the process. But I think it could have been paired back some to include more about Evie. Honestly, I don't know much about her except she is in a relationship with Rob and doesn't know if she wants to marry him and loves God. Overall, the novel is a great insider look at the workings of a case. Fans of CSI and Castle would enjoy this novel. If you enjoyed her first book in this series, Traces of Guilt, you might enjoy this book too.

I received a complimentary copy of Threads of Suspicion by Dee Henderson from Bethany House Publishers, and the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

What draws you to a story that shows the workings of a particular career? Such as in Threads of Suspicions, I watched as Evie worked through Jennie's missing case.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Toss the Books

By Kelly Bridgewater

What an odd title?

But I was wondering . . .

What do you do with the books that you receive to review?

As you know, I review a lot of books for different publishing companies, and they send me these books months in advance. I usually get around ten books a month. Some of them are ARC copies, some are bound copies of the manuscripts, and some of them are the final production of the book. (This doesn't include my Netgalley (e-book ARC copies) that I receive every month. I usually delete them from my Kindle after I'm done reading them and have written my review.)

I read them, then they pile up.

Some of the books, I keep and add them to my library, especially if the author is one of my favorite authors like Susan May Warren, Sarah Sundin, Elizabeth Camden, etc.

BUT . . .

Then there are the books that I read, but I know personally I will never pick up again. What about the books that were sent to me that I would never read in the first place. (Ahem, Amish books!!!)

I usually wait until after the publication date, and then I give them away. I know certain women at church who love to read mystery books. If I personally don't want it, I take it to church and give it to them.

I have an aunt who lives in Huntsville, Alabama who loves contemporary romance, so I gather a good chunk and ship them to her. Right now, I have ten books in a stack for her. Won't she be surprised!

I saw a young lady in my son's youth group reading The Hunger Games, so I passed on Rachelle Dekker's series to her. She was happy because she had never heard of them.

Nothing makes me happier than sharing my load of books with others who will benefit from them. I believe in the power of Christian fiction so much that I want to share these books with others who might benefit from them.

So what do you do with your books when you are finished with the reading and reviewing process?

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Tricia Goyer: A Secret Courage

By Kelly Bridgewater

American Emma Hanson came to England to study at Oxford, but joined the Women's Auxiliary Air Force at the height of World War II. She is stationed at beautiful and historic Danesfield House west of London as part of the highly secretive Photographic Reconnaissance Unit.

Englishman Will Fleming is a handsome young artist who has been commissioned by the British government to record the changing landscape in paintings. His path intersects with Emma's when his real mission—tracking Nazi spies—leads him to Danesfield House, the target of a sinister plot.

Emma and Will become friends, but neither can reveal the true nature of their assignment. Can their relationship grow amid such secrecy? And can Will save Danesfield House—and Emma and her coworkers—before it's too late?

From Amazon

My Thoughts:

A Secret Courage by Tricia Goyer is an unique and original take on another aspect of World War II. The research Goyer must have done to discover the background at the Danesfield House intrigued me, allowing me to admire this generation even more. Filled with charisma, charm, and clarity, Goyer graphed a story with brave characters who were willing to sacrifice everything, including love to help London survive another onslaught from the Germans. While the romance between Will and Emma paced the majority of the story, the espionage and mystery trickled in the background. Goyer created enough void spaces to wet my appetite for what Will's mission was without giving anything truly away. Goyer carried me through a story filled with mystery, but the ending was anti-climatic. I wanted more. In general, I took a journey through another area of history, proving once again what a great generation this was, but the romance took most of the focus of the story, leaving the mystery as an less than expected moment in time.

I received a complimentary copy of A Secret Courage by Tricia Goyer from Harvest House Publishers, and the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Are you faithful to a specific genre? Or do you jump around? What genre do you read?