Friday, December 30, 2022

Favorite Books of 2022

 By Kelly Bridgewater

One of my favorite posts of the year. I love being able to share of the 144 books that I read this year which ones are my favorite. I hope that you have read them and possibly own them. 

Here they are: (All covers come from Goodreads!)

Souls of Lost Lake by Jaime Jo Wright

In Love's Time by Kate Breslin

Madness in Wonderland by Tabitha Bouldin

Nature of Fragile Things by Susan Meissner

RJ and York Trilogy (Out of the Night, I Will Find You, and No Matter the Cost) by Susan May Warren

Milestone of Doubt by Erica Vetsch

The Debutante's Code by Erica Vetsch

What about you? Did any of these hit your favorites this year? Any that I missed?

Monday, December 26, 2022

Renee Ryan: The Secret Society of Salzburg

 By Kelly Bridgewater

London, 1933

At first glance, Austrian opera singer Elsa Mayer-Braun has little in common with the young English typist she encounters on tour. Yet she and Hattie Featherstone forge an instant connection—and strike a dangerous alliance. Using their friendship as a cover, they form a secret society with a daring goal: to rescue as many Jews as possible from Nazi persecution.

Though the war’s outbreak threatens Elsa and Hattie’s network, their efforts attract the covert attention of the British government, offering more opportunities to thwart the Germans. But Elsa’s growing fame as Hitler’s favorite opera singer, coupled with her secret Jewish ancestry, make her both a weapon and a target—until her future, too, hangs in the balance.

From the glamorous stages of Covent Garden and Salzburg to the horrors of Bergen-Belsen, two ordinary women swept up by the tide of war discover an extraordinary friendship—and the courage to save countless lives.


My Thoughts:

With plenty of intrigue and rescue moments, The Secret Society of Salzburg by Renee Ryan captured the horror of being part Jewish with a Hitler supporter for a husband. My favorite aspect of reading World War II stories is showing the brave women and men who risked their own lives to help the Jews who were being persecuted for their religion or their appearance. With the plot, it really captured my attention as readers will observe Elsa as she struggles with helping the Jews and keeping her opera singing career alive. Hattie used her art to help rescue many Jews and help them escape into England. Of course, there was romance, but nothing too over the top. A little bit of horror when the story moves to a concentration camp, but nothing that readers familiar with this genre have not read before. Overall, The Secret of Salzburg by Renee Ryan is a nice World War II novel that I enjoyed reading.

I received a complimentary copy of by The Secret Society of Salzburg by Renee Ryan from Love Inspired Trade Publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating:   4 out of 5 stars

Purchase The Secret of Society

Friday, December 23, 2022

Most Anticipated Suspense or Mysteries

 By Kelly Bridgewater

Most Anticipated Suspense or Mystery Novels that will publish between January 1, 2023 to April 30th, 2023. (All Images come from Goodreads!)

Critical Threat Lynette Eason

Blind Trust Natalie Walters

Cold Light of Day by Elizabeth Goddard

Under Fire by Lynn H. Blackburn

Broker of Lies by Steven James

What about you? Know of any mysteries I can add to this list. This is my favorite genre. I would love to find more to add!!!!!

Monday, December 19, 2022

Amanda Dykes: All the Lost Places

By Kelly Bridgewater

When all of Venice is unmasked, one man's identity remains a mystery . . .

When a baby is discovered floating in a basket along the quiet canals of Venice, a guild of artisans takes him in and raises him as a son, skilled in each of their trades. Although the boy, Sebastien Trovato, has wrestled with questions of his origins, it isn't until a woman washes ashore on his lagoon island that answers begin to emerge. In hunting down his story, Sebastien must make a choice that could alter not just his own future, but also that of the beloved floating city.

Daniel Goodman is given a fresh start in life as the century turns. Hoping to redeem a past laden with regrets, he is sent on an assignment from California to Venice to procure and translate a rare book. There, he discovers a city of colliding hope and decay, much like his own life, and a mystery wrapped in the pages of that filigree-covered volume. With the help of Vittoria, a bookshop keeper, Daniel finds himself in a web of shadows, secrets, and discoveries carefully kept within the stones and canals of the ancient city . . . and in the mystery of the man whose story the book does not finish: Sebastien Trovato.


My Thoughts:

All the Lost Places by Amanda Dykes dives into a world of identity. It is a timely novel with so many people trying to figure out who they are by diving into a world of sin and chaos. No, Dykes does not touch on those issues in her story, but she allows her hero in 1807 to dive into the world of discovering who he really is. At first, the story starts a little odd, and I was following the story, but I had no idea what was really occurring. But once the story moved to Italy, it made more sense, and I became fully invested in the character's lives. I love the hunt for the missing pages of the story. I enjoyed reading the actual story as Daniel is translating it while he is in Italy. Both stories intertwined really nicely and had a satisfying ending. Both characters discovered who they were created to be and relished in God's love and plan for their lives. Dykes does have a lyrical way of crafting the description. I took notice of how she described certain things like the water and the lagoon and marveled at her use of imagery to convey the scenes and the emotion of the scenes. Nicely done! Overall, All the Lost Places by Amanda Dykes is a unique, yet important story with a lesson that everyone needs to uncover. I really enjoyed the story.

I received a complimentary copy of All the Lost Places by Amanda Dykes from Bethany House Publishers, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Purchase All the Lost Places

Friday, December 16, 2022

Most Anticipated Historical Romance

 By Kelly Bridgewater

That time of year. I love showing covers that I can't wait to read and add to my collection. 

Today is the Most Anticipated Historical Romance covers that release from January 1, 2023 through April 30, 3023. (All images come from Goodreads!)

Hearts of Steel by Elizabeth Camden

A Match in the Making by Jen Turano

The Metropolitan Affair by Jocelyn Green

Vanishing at Castle Monreau by Jaime Jo Wright

Code Name Edelweiss by Stephanie Landsem

Spotlight and Shadow by Rachel Scott McDaniel

The Cairo Curse by Pepper Basham

What about you? Add anyting?

Monday, December 12, 2022

Kate Breslin: In Love's Time

By Kelly Bridgewater

At the height of World War I, two sweethearts face impossible odds in this powerful tale of courage, duty, and heartbreak.

In the summer of 1918, Captain Marcus Weatherford arrives in Russia on a secret mission, with a beautiful ballerina posing as his fiancée. He's there to find the Romanov tsarina and her son and glean information about a plot to assassinate Lenin. As the danger intensifies, Marcus's sense of duty battles with his desire to return home to Clare, the woman he truly loves, before it's too late.

Military hospital orderly Clare Danner still suffers from Marcus's betrayal after learning he's engaged to another woman. Clare also fears losing her daughter, Daisy, to the heartless family who took her away once before. Only Marcus can provide the critical proof needed to save Daisy, but when an injury leaves him powerless to help, Clare's fate--and the fate of the top-secret mission--hangs in the balance.


My Thoughts:

In Love’s Time by Kate Breslin is a tale of espionage, forgotten memories, and love. If you have read any of Breslin’s previous novels, then you would be familiar with Marcus Weatherford. He, as the hero of this novel, has been the sidelined character who made an appearance but never had the change to tell his story until now. He is brave, family orientated, and madly in love with Clare. On the other end of the scope is Clare Danner, a nurse who wants the best for her daughter Daisy. With all the tension and drama in the story, Clare keeps a cool head and does what she needs to without thinking twice about not doing it. She is willing to sacrifice everything. The plot is handled nicely with plenty of action when the story starts and mellows in the middle by then rising again toward the climactic moment. The description of Marcus’s family home is nicely handled. I love the secret passageways, the conservatory, and hospital on half of the estate. Breslin does a wonderful job at crafting a story that shows how long will true love wait and what challenges will they conquer to make true love a reality. Overall, In Love’s Time by Kate Breslin was a masterfully told story about love with hints of espionage. I really loved spending time with Marcus and Clare. I recommend this story.

I received a complimentary copy of In Love’s Time by Kate Breslin from Bethany House Publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Purchase In Love’s Time

Friday, December 9, 2022

Christmas Music

 By Kelly Bridgewater

Nothing better than listening to Christmas music while decorating the house.

Baking cookies.

Playing board games.

Reading a book.

But . . .

I’m curious.

Who are some of your favorite Christmas artists?

I prefer anything from the 1940’s.

You know,

Bing Crosby.

Nat King Cole.

Burl Ives (yes, he is in the 60’s)

But I also enjoy listening to classical Christmas music.

I like Christmas worship songs.

Old classics.

Some songs can not be redone.

I know tons of modern artist try, but Nope, you can’t do it justice.

No one but Bing Crosby can do White Christmas right.

Only Nat King Cole can sing The Christmas Song.

What about you? What do you listen to as you enjoy and savor this time of the year?

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Melanie Dickerson: Fortress of Snow

By Kelly Bridgewater

Mazy dreams of independence. Sir Berenger longs to play the hero. But in each other, they may find the secret to happily ever after.

Mazelina of Wexcombe has always dreamed of traveling with her father to lands beyond the confining walls of their castle. But his sudden death deprives her of the future she imagined. Abandoned by her eldest brother, Mazy is soon forced to seek help from her beloved brother Sir John at the great estate of Strachleigh.

Her visit leads to a friendship with the dashing and noble Sir Berenger of Dericott. He has notions of rescuing a damsel in distress. But Mazy is brave enough to defend herself—and has proven that her skills in archery and knife throwing rival that of a knight’s. So when he is called away to Prussian lands, Sir Berenger looks to distinguish himself in battle.

When Sir Berenger returns, he and Mazy meet again on the streets of London, where she is making a living selling goods in the market. Meanwhile, he has been summoned by the king to receive a reward for his service. But the recognition comes with a price: He must marry a wealthy, titled widow to please the king. But when Mazy begins to suspect treachery, she embarks on a journey to the fortress of snow to warn the brave knight—and secure her own fairy-tale ending.

In this fourth novel set in the Dericott universe, Melanie Dickerson weaves an exciting reimagining of the Snow Queen tale.


My Thoughts:

Fortress of Snow by Melanie Dickerson returns to the Dericott universe and family. This time around, readers are introduced to Sir Berenger and his story. There is not much backstory to verify his story, just little snippets of the family Dericott’s story. Readers are introduced to Mazy and her unfortunate story. As the plot moves along, readers receive a deeper glimpse into understanding what makes up Mazy’s sweet personality. She is a caring lady that wants to be loved and cared for, something she did not have after her father passed away. The plot moves forward at a nice pace, keeping me glued to the action occurring on the pages of the story. The romance builds just like the climactic plot. A little sweet at times. Of course, the story does have the happily-ever-after moment near the end of the story. Overall, Fortress of Snow by Melanie Dickerson was an enjoyable story filled with memorable characters and a nice plot. I recommend this novel.

I received a complimentary copy of Fortress of Snow by Melanie Dickerson from Thomas Nelson Publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating:  4 out of 5 stars

Purchase Fortress of Snow 

Monday, December 5, 2022

Julie Klassen: The Sisters of Sea View

 By Kelly Bridgewater

Some guests have come for a holiday, others for hidden reasons of their own . . .

When their father's death leaves them impoverished, Sarah Summers and her genteel sisters fear they will be forced to sell the house and separate to earn livelihoods as governesses or companions. Determined to stay together, Sarah convinces them to open their seaside home to guests to make ends meet and provide for their ailing mother. Instead of the elderly invalids they expect to receive, however, they find themselves hosting eligible gentlemen. Sarah is soon torn between a growing attraction to a mysterious Scottish widower and duty to her family.

Viola Summers wears a veil to cover her scar. When forced to choose between helping in her family's new guest house and earning money to hire a maid to do her share, she chooses the latter. She reluctantly agrees to read to some of Sidmouth's many invalids, preferring the company of a few elders with failing eyesight to the fashionable guests staying in their home. But when her first client turns out to be a wounded officer in his thirties, Viola soon wishes she had chosen differently. Her new situation exposes her scars--both visible and those hidden deep within--and her cloistered heart will never be the same.

Join the Summers sisters on the Devonshire coast, where they discover the power of friendship, loyalty, love, and new beginnings.


My Thoughts:

The Sisters of Sea View by Julie Klassen has a Little Women by Louisa May Alcott feel to it. Four sisters close yet have to work together to bring in more income to their home. Sarah, the oldest sister is vibrant and authoritative. She takes charge and works really hard to balance the books and even taken on the opportunity to learn to bake, which she loves. Emily and Viola, twin sisters, are different, but vibrant characters. Emily is headstrong but wounded from a previous relationship. She wants to be married and have children. Whereas Viola was born with a birthmark that she likes to hide from the world. She has a kind soul and has learned to reach out to others who can’t see and help them to read and write. Finally, Georgie, the youngest sister, makes appearances now and then, but she is not a main character in the story. The plot does show the everyday struggle of these women trying to cope with strangers living in their house and how to cope with making extra funds outside the house. A touch of romance between the three older sisters and their guests. Overall, The Sisters of Sea View by Julie Klassen is a delightful story with four sisters and how they are going to survive and all the struggles they encounter to save their home.

I received a complimentary copy of The Sisters of Sea View by Julie Klassen from Bethany House Publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Purchase The Sisters of Sea View

Friday, December 2, 2022

Is Life Moving Too Fast?

 By Kelly Bridgewater

It is Christmas time again.

I love this time of year.

I start to listen to the Christmas music in July.

I wish for a wintery, cold, snowy morning when I wake up on Christmas.

Probably not going to happen.

We have not had a White Christmas in Central Indiana since 2004. My oldest was two and the other two boys have never seen a White Christmas.

I believe we are due for one.

But this got me thinking.

Is Life Moving Too Fast?

During the year, I mark off the days until a three day weekend.

I count down until the first day of fall.

I look forward to the fall festivals.

I can’t wait until the weekend.

But by doing this, it got me thinking of how much of my life I am wasting because I am doing this.

What am I actually accomplishing with my life?

Yes, I am homeschooling my youngest when I leave work.

Yes, I am using all of my paycheck toward the mortgage. (2.5 years left. We will have paid it off 21.5 years early. Yeah!!!!)

But what about the novel that I want to write?

What about the places I want to visit?

If I keep hurrying through life, then I will be dead before I know it, and I accomplished nothing.

Do you find yourself rushing through life to the next fun event? What can we do to keep our perspective and enjoy every day that the Lord have given us?