Friday, March 29, 2019

Bad Reviews

By Kelly Bridgewater

I do ALOT of reviewing here on my personal blog. I love sharing about good books and wonderful authors. Being an avid bookworm, I think it is important to share my love of good books with others. 

Why else do we read? It is a blast to find someone who needs suggestions for a book. I always start with, "Well what genre do you enjoy? Then I can suggest authors."

BUT . . .

what about people who review books and write horrible reviews.

I always a telling my son that to win an argument you have to be able to defend with valid reasons why you are in the right.

For instance, when arguing with the IRS, I have used examples and math to prove them wrong. I'm always asking the kids to be able to defend their argument.

I look for bad reviews that actually can defend their argument more than the characters were boring and the plot didn't move me. How? Where the characters shallow? Give examples. Was the plot interesting? Why? Show how. Mention how it captured you. How is the writing? Does the author grasp the concepts of a good writer?

On Goodreads lately, as soon as a cover is linked to the author's upcoming book, some reviewers are giving them a 1 or a 2. Obviously, the book doesn't come out for about nine months, so no one but the author and maybe the publishing company has the book, so why are the readers putting bad reviews up on Goodreads?

What about you? Do you actually read bad reviews? What drives you nuts about bad reviews?

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Tracie Peterson: When You Are Near

By Kelly Bridgewater

After her father's death, Lizzy Brookstone, the star trick rider of the all-female Brookstone Wild West Extravaganza, loses interest in performing. What she longs for is a life with the Brookstone ranch foreman, Wesley DeShazer, the man who once broke her heart. Meanwhile, Jason Adler, son of the show's new financial partner, comes to help with the show, and Lizzy soon finds him vying for her affection.

Ella Fleming is fleeing a forced engagement when she stows away on the Brookstone train. Lizzy finds her and gives her a job in the costume department, but Ella has a dangerous secret that could affect all of their lives, as well as the future of the Brookstone Extravaganza.

When Mary Reichert, a former sharpshooter for the show, learns that her brother, August, has been killed at the Fleming farm, she refuses to believe it was an accident. She returns to the show to find the truth, but is she seeking justice or vengeance?

As the three women work together to discover how August died, Lizzy strives to hold the show together. Can she keep the Brookstone Extravaganza alive without losing the desire of her heart?

From Amazon

My Thoughts:

When You Are Near by Tracie Peterson is an interesting look on the inside of Wild West Shows. Lizzy, a master at horse tricks, is a brave and strong heroine who ignores looking for love because every time she loves someone they end up dead. Why allow her heart to be bruised? This novel takes place in Montana and on the Wild West show circuit. The plot moves nicely along. I had a wonderful time with Lizzy and her family as well as a strong cast of other characters. There is a secondary storyline with a mystery or running from the future aspect that I liked and wished for more. I really enjoyed the story, and I can't wait to see what else comes up in this series.

I received a complimentary copy of When You Are Near by Tracie Peterson from Bethany House Publishers, but the opinions stated are all my own.
Tracie Peterson
From Amazon

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

About the Author:

Tracie Peterson is the bestselling, award-winning author of more than one hundred books. Tracie also teaches writing workshops at a variety of conferences on subjects such as inspirational romance and historical research. She and her family live in Montana.

Visit Tracie's web site at: (Taken from Amazon.)

Monday, March 25, 2019

Valerie Fraser Luesse: Almost Home

By Kelly Bridgewater

With America's entrance into the Second World War, the town of Blackberry Springs, Alabama, has exploded virtually overnight. Workers from all over are coming south for jobs in Uncle Sam's munitions plants--and they're bringing their pasts with them, right into Dolly Chandler's grand but fading family home turned boardinghouse.

An estranged young couple from the Midwest, unemployed professors from Chicago, a widower from Mississippi, a shattered young veteran struggling to heal from the war--they're all hoping Dolly's house will help them find their way back to the lives they left behind. But the house has a past of its own.

When tragedy strikes, Dolly's only hope will be the circle of friends under her roof and their ability to discover the truth about what happened to a young bride who lived there a century before.

Award-winning and bestselling author Valerie Fraser Luesse breathes life into a cast of unforgettable characters in this complex and compassionate story of hurt and healing.

From Amazon

My Thoughts:

Southern Fiction is not my go-to genre, but I  have enjoyed The Hideaway by Lauren K. Denton. Most Southern fiction doesn't capture my attention. Almost Home by debut author Valerie Fraser Luesse is a wonderful realistic view of the Southern culture. The enduring characters kept the story moving and kept my attention focused on the story. The idea of a family of misfits keeping tabs on each other while surviving in Dolly's and Si's house was a little different but interesting. The pirate's treasure with Catherine and her husband mingled with my imagination. I wanted to find the treasure along with the characters. The only problem I have with the plot is that the story starts with a letter written by Dolly to her sister, but I had no idea what actual year the story starts off in. I believe it isn't long after the letter was written with the clues from Reese and the other male characters, but sometimes it felt much later than during the last year of World War II. Overall, Almost Home is a informative and entertaining debut novel bringing the southern historical culture to life for readers. Fans of Billy Coffey, Lauren K. Denton, and Charles Martin might enjoy this novel.

I received a complimentary copy of Almost Home by Valerie Fraser Luesse from Revell Publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own. 

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Friday, March 22, 2019

Good Reviews

By Kelly Bridgewater

I have spent the past two weeks talking about Bad Reviews, so I thought today, I would do the complete opposite.

Good Reviews.

I pray that is what I do here.

A good review will complement a book with focusing on the elements of the novel that worked and what didn't work. If an element of the novel such as the plot didn't work for the reader, then they should share why.

I love when a book thrills me with the plot and characters. Then I can praise the author and his or her wonderfully crafted novel.

The reviews that are the easiest to write are the wonderfully crafted novels that captured my imagination. I also enjoy the poorly written novels because it gives me something to write and deepens my reason for disapproving the novel.

The ones that annoy me are the ones that are good, but I couldn't find anything good or bad to think about. I have a hard time allowing myself to come up with anything good or bad to write about the novel.

What about you? What makes a good review for you? Have you ever read a book that it was a hard time writing a review for?

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Susan Meissner: The Last Year of the War

By Kelly Bridgewater

From the acclaimed author of Secrets of a Charmed Life and As Bright as Heaven comes a novel about a German American teenager whose life changes forever when her immigrant family is sent to an internment camp during World War II.

Elise Sontag is a typical Iowa fourteen-year-old in 1943--aware of the war but distanced from its reach. Then her father, a legal U.S. resident for nearly two decades, is suddenly arrested on suspicion of being a Nazi sympathizer. The family is sent to an internment camp in Texas, where, behind the armed guards and barbed wire, Elise feels stripped of everything beloved and familiar, including her own identity.

The only thing that makes the camp bearable is meeting fellow internee Mariko Inoue, a Japanese-American teen from Los Angeles, whose friendship empowers Elise to believe the life she knew before the war will again be hers. Together in the desert wilderness, Elise and Mariko hold tight the dream of being young American women with a future beyond the fences.

But when the Sontag family is exchanged for American prisoners behind enemy lines in Germany, Elise will face head-on the person the war desires to make of her. In that devastating crucible she must discover if she has the will to rise above prejudice and hatred and re-claim her own destiny, or disappear into the image others have cast upon her.

The Last Year of the War tells a little-known story of World War II with great resonance for our own times and challenges the very notion of who we are when who we’ve always been is called into question.

From Amazon

My Thoughts:

Set against the American and German front, Susan Meissner's newest novel The Last Year of the War focuses on a little teenage girl as she experiences prejudice and hate because of her heritage. I have read plenty of novels that feature World War II, but majority of them focus on the German's reign across Europe and through London, so it was nice to actually see what the Americans were doing at the same time. The Last Year of the War is an original story with a frame narrative told as a flashback of an older woman experiencing Alzheimer's. For readers who usually stay away from World War II fiction because of all the violence, there really isn't much in this book. We understand the world from a fifteen-year-old who feels trapped and betrayed. Even though the story was different, there were moments, I felt like the story just kept going and going. When was it going to end? Then it sped up, and there wasn't many pages left in the novel. The meeting between the heroine and her friend seemed a major disappointment too. (It could be just me.) The romance wasn't really an plot point either. Overall, The Last Year of the War was a nice change to focus on for World War II, so I learned more about the war. But would I pick it up again and read it? Probably. It was entertaining enough for a second pass through.

I received a complimentary copy of The Last Year of the War by Susan Meissner from Berkley Publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

About the Author:

Susan Meissner
From Amazo
I cannot remember a time when I wasn't driven to write. I attribute this passion to a creative God and to parents who love books and more particularly to a dad who majored in English and passed on a passion for writing.

I was born in 1961 in San Diego, California, and am the second of three daughters. I spent my very average childhood in just two houses. I attended Point Loma College in San Diego, majoring in education, but I would have been smarter to major in English with a concentration in writing. The advice I give now to anyone wondering what to major in is follow your heart and choose a vocation you are already in love with.

I'm happy and humbled to say that I've had 17 books published in the last dozen years, including The Shape of Mercy, which was named one of the 100 Best Books in 2008 by Publishers Weekly, and the ECPA's Fiction Book of the Year, a Carol Award winner, and a RITA finalist. I teach at writers' conferences from time to time and I've a background in community journalism.

I'm also a pastor's wife and a mother of four young adults. When I'm not at work on a new novel, I write small group curriculum for my San Diego church. Visit me at my website: http// on Twitter at @SusanMeissner or at (Taken from Amazon.)