Friday, December 31, 2021

Favorite Books of 2021

 By Kelly Bridgewater

I review A LOT. I read tons of books. Some good. Some okay. Some not so good. 

But some are some wonderful that I can not wait to toot their horn. 

Below are my favorite books of 2021:

(All images come from Goodreads.)

Secrets in the Mist by Morgan L. Busee

Dead Fall by Nancy Mehl

Silence the Siren by Michele Israel Harper

Curator's Daughter by Melanie Dobson

Chasing Shadows by Lynn Austin

No Journey Too Far by Carrie Turansky

The Mistletoe Countess by Pepper Basham

To Write a Wrong by Jen Turano

Carved in Stone by Elizabeth Camden

Lost in Darkness by Michelle Griep

What about you? Have you read these books? If so, did you like them too? If you have not read them, please add them to your To Be Read Pile, you won't regret it. 

Monday, December 27, 2021

Katherine Reay: The London House

 By Kelly Bridgewater

Uncovering a dark family secret sends one woman through the history of Britain’s World War II spy network and glamorous 1930s Paris to save her family’s reputation.

Caroline Payne thinks it’s just another day of work until she receives a call from Mat Hammond, an old college friend and historian. But pleasantries are cut short. Mat has uncovered a scandalous secret kept buried for decades: In World War II, Caroline’s British great-aunt betrayed family and country to marry her German lover.

Determined to find answers and save her family’s reputation, Caroline flies to her family’s ancestral home in London. She and Mat discover diaries and letters that reveal her grandmother and great-aunt were known as the “Waite sisters.” Popular and witty, they came of age during the interwar years, a time of peace and luxury filled with dances, jazz clubs, and romance. The buoyant tone of the correspondence soon yields to sadder revelations as the sisters grow apart, and one leaves home for the glittering fashion scene of Paris, despite rumblings of a coming world war.

Each letter brings more questions. Was Caroline’s great-aunt actually a traitor and Nazi collaborator, or is there a more complex truth buried in the past? Together, Caroline and Mat uncover stories of spies and secrets, love and heartbreak, and the events of one fateful evening in 1941 that changed everything.

In this rich historical novel from award-winning author Katherine Reay, a young woman is tasked with writing the next chapter of her family’s story. But Caroline must choose whether to embrace a love of her own and proceed with caution if her family’s decades-old wounds are to heal without tearing them even further apart.


My Thoughts:

The London House’s cover is a beautiful masterpiece. Katherine Reay crafted together a story told through a present viewpoint and the past is told through the eyes of handwritten letters and journal entries. While the concept is really interesting, the delivering of the plot was a little harder to stay focused. I wanted to follow and see what actually was the truth behind Caroline’s great-aunt too. I think when the past story is told through the letters, it buts the readers at a distance from the actual story. It would have been nice to actually see the great-aunt Caroline in her story in an actual story format. Instead of being told second-hand what actually occurred. There were moments that I flipped through the story that I kept nodding off. I did enjoy the last ten percent of the novel where present day Caroline, Mat, her dad, and her mother were on racing against the clock to see what the actual ending the great-aunt’s life was. This was nicely handled. Reay does not how to write beautifully, and the story was a little different than anything I have ever encountered, but not one of my favorite World War II novels. There is a hint of romance near the end of the novel that really didn’t force itself on the readers or the characters. Overall The London House was told through letters, so it did not capture my attention like I hoped it would.

I received a complimentary copy of  The London House by Katherine Reay from Harper Muse  Publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Purchase The London House

Friday, December 24, 2021

Most Anticipated: Spring Suspense or Romantic Suspense 2022

 By Kelly Bridgewater

These are also books that I can't wait to devour. 

Here are the covers of suspense or romantic suspense novels that I can't wait to read.

All images come from Goodreads:

The Catch by Lisa Harris

Sunrise by Susan May Warren

The Souls of Lost Lake by Jaime Jo Wright

A Stranger's Game by Colleen Coble

Life Flight by Lynette Eason

What about you? Any other suspense novels I should be reading? I adore Suspense novels!!!

Monday, December 20, 2021

Gillian Bronte Adams: Of Fire and Ash

 By Kelly Bridgewater

About the Book

Book: Of Fire and Ash

Author: Gillian Bronte Adams

Genre: YA Epic Fantasy

Release date: December 7, 2021

She rides a fireborn, a steed of fire and ash, trained for destruction.

Ceridwen tal Desmond dreams of ruling like her father over the nation of Soldonia, where warriors ride to battle on magical steeds—soaring on storm winds, vanishing in shadow, quaking the earth, and summoning the sea. After a tragic accident claims her twin brother, she is exiled and sworn to atonement by spending her life—or death—for her people.

But when invaders spill onto Soldonia’s shores and traitors seize upon the chaos to murder her father, Ceridwen claims the crown to keep the nation from splintering. Combatting overwhelming odds and looming civil war, she begins to wonder if the greatest threat to the kingdom may, in fact, be her.

With fire before her and ash in her wake, how can she hope to unite instead of destroy?

Flames rage and oceans rise in this explosive first installment of The Fireborn Epic as the exiled heir, a novice priest, and a reluctant rebel wage war against a hidden power that threatens to shake the world.


My Thoughts:

Of Fire and Ash by Gillian Bronte Adams is a story about a brave, scared woman who rides a firestead. The story is epic with its writing and the amount of imagination to craft the strange world into something that readers will be familiar with. While I traveled these worlds, I wanted to know more about these characters. I wanted to know more about the world. The writing is done wonderfully. Adams has crafted a wonderful world of unique rules, settings, and characters who are nothing like our world. However, even with all these good things, I had a hard time with the actual plot and action of the story.  Adams spent a lot of time with the characters in the same position doing the same thing for a long time. Even when she switched viewpoints, she came back to the setting she left previously and not much happened to move the story forward. By the time the story was at the 20% mark in the plot, and this is a long book, it could have been paired down to about 5%. I had a really hard time wanting to stay in the story. Not enough action for me. Overall, Of Fire and Ash by Gillian Bronte Adams was a well-crafted and unique idea, but the final delivery appeared to be very dry and not moving forward for me. I wanted more action.

I received a complimentary copy Of Fire and Ash by Gillian Bronte Adams from Enclave Publishing through Celebrate Lit. Tours, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Purchase Of Fire and Ash

About the Author

Gillian Bronte Adams is a sword-wielding, horse-riding, wander- loving fantasy author, rarely found without a coffee in hand and rumored to pack books before clothes when she hits the road. Working in youth ministry left her with a passion for journeying alongside children and teens. (It also enhanced her love of coffee.) Now, she writes novels that follow outcast characters down broken roads, through epic battles, and onward to adventure. And at the end of a long day of typing, she can be found saddling her wild thing and riding off into the sunset, seeking adventures of her own. She loves to connect with readers online at

 More from Gillian

I still vividly remember the moment, years ago, that the idea for this book came to me. It was the end of July, sometime between ten and eleven at night, and the insects outside were buzzing so loudly you could hear them through the window of the back room of the camp office where I sat. Slumped exhaustedly in a chair, shivering in the air conditioning in my sweat-soaked jeans and a t-shirt, I was waiting for the other summer staff to arrive so we could start and finish our planning meeting and stumble off to our cabins to sleep.

Even then, writing felt like breathing to me, so to pass the time and keep myself awake, I drew a ragged notebook out of my backpack and started scribbling sparks and specks of story ideas, barely noticing how my arm left smears of dirt on the page. It was my third or fourth summer as Head Wrangler, which meant I spent my days either on horseback or jogging alongside kids who were learning to ride. Dirt was just a part of life.

So many details of that night remain fresh in my mind, it’s odd that I can’t remember exactly what sparked the idea itself—the wide-eyed grin of a boy on his very first ride, the budding confidence in a girl as she raced around the barrels, or the cumulation of all the hours I’d spent atop my own wild thing, clearing wooded trails with a machete, leaping across creeks because he refused to simply wade, and performing amateur stunts for the occasional skit.

Whatever lit the fuse, as soon as I scribbled the first set of words on that crumpled notebook page, I knew I had struck gold. I felt it in my bated breath and leaping heartbeat. “Super-powered horses.” Or better yet, “Magical steeds.” Some that could breathe fire, some with hides like stone that could quake the earth with their hooves, some that rode upon the waves of the sea, and still others that could step into shadow and disappear without a trace.

Seven in all, they quickly cluttered the page, and I couldn’t wait for the chance to write the epic tale that could contain creatures like these. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a story yet. Just a page full of fanciful beasts and a head full of wild dreams. No characters. No plot. No premise. Or so I thought.

The meeting started then and I had to tuck my notebook away, but I couldn’t banish the magical horses now roaming in my head. Over the weeks and months that followed, I took them out and let them dance across the page every now and then, gradually fleshing out details, uncovering their secrets, and imagining their world. Yet the story itself remained elusive, until I finally, reluctantly, set them aside and turned my attention to other things. Months before that summer night, I had, in a fit of wild inspiration, outlined a new three book series starring a female warrior who longed to rule like her father before her. It was a bit daring and a lot daunting, but while I liked the characters and the concept, the world itself was lacking that flare of uniqueness, that touch of magic, that allows a fantasy realm to sprawl beyond the confines of the page and take root in the imagination of a reader.

Reading the outline afresh, I lamented that it was the sort of lusterless story doomed to die on a novelist’s hard drive, and perhaps my incredible magical horses with it, for though they were lustrous enough, without a story, they could never truly live. Without a story …

What if my aspiring queen lived in their world? What if she rode a fire-breathing steed? How might those beautiful magical creatures enhance and ultimately, shape her and her story?

Combining any two concepts can be dangerous, as you never know how they will interact until you try it. The resulting explosion shattered my outline and blasted apart my carefully formed plans, but when the dust settled and the heart of the new story emerged, I knew that this finally was an epic tale worthy of my magical steeds, and a world deep and dangerous enough to have forged my aspiring queen. It was, at last, Of Fire and Ash, the first book of The Fireborn Epic.

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, December 11

Rebecca Tews, December 11

Worthy2Read, December 12

Texas Book-aholic, December 13

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 14

For Him and My Family, December 15

Inklings and notions, December 16

Locks, Hooks and Books, December 17

deb’s Book Review, December 18

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, December 19

Where Faith and Books Meet, December 20

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, December 20

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, December 21

April Hayman, Author, December 22

Blogging With Carol, December 22

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, December 23 (Spotlight)

Through the fire blogs, December 23

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 24


To celebrate her tour, Gillian is giving away the grand prize of a $40 Amazon gift card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

Friday, December 17, 2021

Most Anticipated: Spring Historical Romance 2022

 By Kelly Bridgewater

These books I can't wait to get my hands on and read. 

Today will reach the Historical Romance books that I can't wait to devour.

All images come from

Until Leaves Fall in Paris by Sarah Sundin

Twilight at Moorington Cross by Abigail Wilson

Drawn by the Current by Jocelyn Green

To Disguise the Truth by Jen Turano

The Letter from Briarton Park by Sarah E. Ladd

The Winter Rose by Melanie Dobson

High-Wire Heartbreak by Anna Schmidt

How about You? Anymore that you would add?

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Candice Sue Patterson: Saving Mrs. Roosevelt

 By Kelly Bridgewater

About the Book

Book: Saving Mrs. Roosevelt

Author: Candice Sue Patterson

Genre: Christian Fiction/Historical/Adventure

Release date: December, 2021

 The Safety of the First Lady Rests in Shirley’s Hands

Shirley Davenport is as much a patriot as her four brothers. She, too, wants to aid her country in the war efforts, but opportunities for women are limited. When her best friend Joan informs her that the Coast Guard has opened a new branch for single women, they both enlist in the SPARs, ready to help protect the home front.
Training is rigorous, and Shirley is disappointed that she and Joan are sent to separate training camps. At the end of basic training, Captain Webber commends her efforts and commissions her home to Maine under the ruse of a dishonorable discharge to help uncover a plot against the First Lady.

Shirley soon discovers nothing is as it seems. Who can she trust? Why do the people she loves want to harm the First Lady? With the help of Captain Webber, it’s a race against time to save Mrs. Roosevelt and remain alive.


My Thoughts:

Saving Mrs. Roosevelt by Candice Sue Patterson captures the imagination with spies of World War II in American's heartland. Not many World War II stories take place on American soil, so this was a nice change of perspective. The element of the women spies was different and will take readers for a wild ride. There is plenty of twists and espionage along the river front. While the title does suggest Mrs. Roosevelt, it really is not a story that has to do with her. While reading the story, it does say the women are trying to find the group of spies who are going to hurt her, but it really does not affect her during the pages of the story. The plot was well-crafted, capturing my attention for the duration of the plot. There is romance. Nothing too over done. The plot featured a colored character. Patterson does a wonderful job at showing how the 1940's treated these people. Alma, as a heroine, was a nice change, and I really enjoyed how brave Patterson crafted her. Overall, Saving Mrs. Roosevelt by Candice Sue Patterson is an enticing tale of heroism in a face of all different kinds of odds. I believe this is my favorite one of the series.

I received a complimentary copy of Saving Mrs. Roosevelt by Candice Sue Patterson from Barbour Publishing through Celebrate Lit. Tours, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Purchase Saving Mrs. Roosevelt

About the Author

Candice Sue Patterson studied at the Institute of Children’s Literature and is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives in Indiana with her husband and three sons in a restored farmhouse overtaken by books. When she’s not tending to her chickens, splitting wood, or decorating cakes, she’s working on a new story. Candice writes Modern Vintage Romance—where the past and present collide with faith. Her debut novel How to Charm a Beekeeper’s Heart was a 2012 ACFW First Impressions finalist and made INSPYs Longlist for 2016.


More from Candice

The idea for Saving Mrs. Roosevelt literally came overnight. I had just finished writing a contemporary romance set in Maine, centered around a harbor town where lobstering is prevalent. My agent called me and told me about the Heroines of WWII series and asked if I’d be interested in writing a WWII novel. If so, I needed to come up with a story and proposal fast because spots were limited and filling quickly. My mind was so consumed with research of the lobster industry that I felt I couldn’t clear my brain fast enough to come up with another story on such short notice. That’s when I started wondering how I could take the knowledge I already had and make it work for a WWII novel. I googled Maine during WWII, came across an article that mentioned the SPARs, and the idea for Saving Mrs. Roosevelt was born.

I don’t want to give too much away, but the Nancy Drew deep inside me figured out a unique way to merge lobstering with espionage.

Though the plot is purely fiction, there are some characters and events that are historically accurate that were fun to include as well. I love Maine, but I’m Hoosier born and raised, and in my SPAR research, I discovered that Dorothy C. Stratton–the woman the Coast Guard asked to direct the SPARs–was the Dean of Women at Purdue University in Indiana. She was a woman of true character, grace, and strength. I knew right away she needed a cameo in my story.

Within twenty-four hours of receiving my agent’s call, I had plotted the entire story and sent a proposal. Weeks went by, and as fall ushered in its beautiful colors, my husband surprised me with a trip to Monhegan Island, Maine. We walked the trails, ate amazing seafood, and took in the gorgeous view. While on the island, my agent called again, this time to let me know that Barbour had contracted Saving Mrs. Roosevelt. What a special moment it was to be standing on the very shoreline where the book is set when I received the good news.

Since the book is set in Maine where the heroine works on a lobster boat with her father, I wanted to share my favorite recipe for Maine blueberry pie.


Maine Blueberry Pie


2 Pie crusts

1 quart of fresh Maine blueberries

1 ½ tbsp lemon juice

Freshly grated nutmeg

¼ c light brown sugar

¼ c white sugar

¼ c flour

2 tbsp tapioca for thickening (if the berries are juicy)



Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place the berries into a large bowl, add lemon juice, and toss. Add the remaining ingredients and toss until the berries are well coated with the flour and sugars mixture. Line the pie plate with one crust. Put the berries into the pie plate and top with a solid or lattice-top crust. Bake for 35-40 minutes until the berries are bubbly and the crust is golden brown.

Blog Stops

Where Faith and Books Meet, December 15

Girls in White Dresses, December 15

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, December 15

Remembrancy, December 16

Bigreadersite, December 16

Genesis 5020, December 16

Lighthouse Academy, December 17 (Guest Review from Marilyn Ridgway)

lakesidelivingsite, December 17

The Sacred Line, December 17

Betti Mace, December 18

Boondock Ramblings, December 18

Inklings and notions, December 18

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 19

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, December 19

Older & Smarter?, December 20

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, December 20

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, December 20 (Spotlight)

Texas Book-aholic, December 21

Blossoms and Blessings, December 21

Locks, Hooks and Books, December 22

Through the Fire Blogs, December 22

Mary Hake, December 22

For Him and My Family, December 23

Spoken from the Heart, December 23

Labor Not in Vain, December 23

She Lives To Read, December 24

Elly Gilbert, December 24

Splashes of Joy, December 25

Pause for Tales, December 25

deb’s Book Review, December 26

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 26

A Good Book and Cup of Tea, December 26

Connie’s History Classroom, December 27

To Everything There Is A Season, December 27

The Author Reads, December 27

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, December 28

Southern Gal Loves to Read, December 28

Lights in a Dark World, December 28


To celebrate her tour, Candace is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

Monday, December 13, 2021

Julie Klassen: Shadows of Swanford Abbey

 By Kelly Bridgewater

Agatha Christie meets Jane Austen in this atmospheric Regency tale brimming with mystery, intrigue, and romance.

When Miss Rebecca Lane returns to her home village after a few years away, her brother begs for a favor: go to nearby Swanford Abbey and deliver his manuscript to an author staying there who could help him get published. Feeling responsible for her brother's desperate state, she reluctantly agrees.

The medieval monastery turned grand hotel is rumored to be haunted. Once there, Rebecca begins noticing strange things, including a figure in a hooded black gown gliding silently through the abbey's cloisters. For all its renovations and veneer of luxury, the ancient foundations seem to echo with whispers of the past--including her own. For there she encounters Sir Frederick--magistrate, widower, and former neighbor--who long ago broke her heart.

When the famous author is found murdered in the abbey, Sir Frederick begins questioning staff and guests and quickly discovers that several people held grudges against the man, including Miss Lane and her brother. Haunted by a painful betrayal in his past, Sir Frederick searches for answers but is torn between his growing feelings for Rebecca and his pursuit of the truth. For Miss Lane is clearly hiding something. . . .


My Thoughts:

 Shadows of Swanford Abbey by Julie Klassen delights readers with a Regency setting and a mystery of a murdered body at an old abbey turned hotel. With a character filled story, Klassen dives into a mystery that takes readers for a ride. As someone who reads a lot of mysteries, it was nice to see a mystery take place in the Regency world. I enjoyed the questioning of the characters. Reminded me a lot of how Agatha Christie, renowned British mystery writer, crafted her mysteries. No modern day forensics. Of course, when the villain was revealed, it was more from the craftiness of the person working on the questioning than following the science to find the bad guy. There is romance. It reminded me more of the romance between Jo and Laurie in Louisa May Alcott's Little Women. Friends that should have turned into something more. The writing is well-crafted. I love how Klassen captures the world, and readers will forget that the story takes place almost 200 years ago. I love the setting and the idea of the abbess who haunted the place. Overall, Shadows of Swanford Abbey by Julie Klassen was a delightful historical Regency novel that kept me glued to the pages.

I received a complimentary copy of Shadows of Swanford Abbey by Julie Klassen from Bethany House Publishers, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Purchase Shadows of Swanford Abbey