Monday, July 31, 2023

J'nell Ciesielski: To Free The Stars

By Kelly Bridgewater

This white-knuckled conclusion to The Brilliance of Stars takes readers on a breathless adventure from the speakeasies of America to the Horse Guards Parade in London, an ancient cemetery outside Paris, and back to the Eastern European strongholds where the Vales’ tragedy first began.

“Fate is fickle and the stars are silent, but I do know this: No matter how difficult the circumstances or how savagely the world tries to tear us apart, I am here with you.”

Ten years have passed since Jack and Ivy, elite operatives for the secret agency Talon, rescued their friend Philip and completed their fateful mission. The 1920s are in full swing as American speakeasies thrive amid Prohibition, and despite the team’s best efforts, the deadly cult, the Order of the Rising Moon, lives on in the shadows. Which is no surprise to Ivy; nothing has gone as she expected since that day after Poenari Castle.

When a wave of assassinations strikes world leaders, intel confirms the Order’s involvement. Ivy holds them responsible for the tragedy that changed her life, and she is determined to find and destroy the villains once and for all—but she must do so before their relentless assassin eliminates his next target. Her.

Except, there’s something oddly familiar about the way he moves, the way he anticipates each of her moves. It’s as if he knows her. But that’s not possible. Is it? Ivy will have to rely on every skill she’s learned if she hopes to survive—and save those she loves. No matter the cost.

Bestselling author J’nell Ciesielski wraps up the Jack and Ivy novels with yet another thrilling adventure filled with glamorous espionage and a boundless romance.


My Thoughts:

To Free the Stars by J’nell Ciesielski happens ten years after The Brilliance of Stars. I highly recommend readers read the first book before they dive into this one. Yes, the novel could stand alone; however, there are many plot points that reference moments in the first novel. Again, plenty of moments of action. Chasing through the globe in different locations as the Talon try to destroy the enemy. Ivy and Jack must overcome some obstacles together to solve and stop the assassination attempts. While the plot could be interesting because of the spy element and chasing around the world, it was a little dry for a good chunk of the novel. The romance is building a little more in depth this time around. If readers were thrown for how much romance was in the first book, then one is kicked back a notch, but it is there. Ciesielski does a wonderful job at inviting readers into her settings. She uses just enough description to keep the readers actively involved in the story and the setting. The writing is wonderful. Nicely shown and dived deeply into the character’s train of thoughts. Overall, To Free the Stars by J’nell Ciesielski does tie up the story from The Brilliance of Stars; however, there were moments that the story was pretty dry for me. I wanted more action.

I received a complimentary copy of To Free the Stars by J’nell Ciesielski from Thomas Nelson Publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars

Purchase To Free the Stars 

Friday, July 28, 2023

Am I Right?

 By Kelly Bridgewater

During Covid, (God willing we have moved on from this!), there was two sides to the argument.

If you are vaccinated, then you love your neighbor, your elderly neighbors, and the immune compromised neighbors. You are the responsible adult taking the vaccine to protect others that you come in contact with. Wear a mask so you do not spread germs.

However, on the other side, which is definitely the side that I support, I never wore a mask anywhere. I did not sanitize anything. I did not stop going places. Definitely did not receive the shot.

No matter what you believe. IT IS NOT A VACCINE.

Vaccine usually cure the disease, and the Covid shot broke down and weaken the immune system of all who took it. They were the ones catching Covid for the third and fourth time; wherease, no one in my immediate family had ever caught Covid.

Maybe there is something to the God-given ability to fight germs off. Don’t need a fake shot to “stop” something.

But . . .

The question is . . . who is actually right?

When Hitler killed all those Jews between 1936- 1945, he believed he was right. He even brainwashed all the soldiers into killing them too.

But now, in highsight, we know he was wrong.

Today, both sides believe they are right. Arguments are caused. Families are torn apart, but to be honest, as long as it does not take away someone freedom of choice, then why does it matter?

I have done the testing required by my place of employment and that violates every rule and law that was put into place to protect an employee’s medical history. Still very angry about this!

 What about you? Do you see a happy solution? Any suggestions?

Monday, July 24, 2023

Sarah E. Ladd: In the Shelter of Hollythorne House

 By Kelly Bridgewater

Young widow Charlotte Grey faces an uncertain future . . . until a chance encounter with her first love gives her heart a second chance in this Regency romance set on the Yorkshire Moors.

England, 1817—Charlotte Grey thought she had seen the last of Anthony Welbourne. Knowing her father would never consent to his only daughter marrying a man he deemed beneath their family’s station, Charlotte bid her final farewell to Anthony and vowed to never turn back. Instead, she honored her father’s wishes by marrying the wealthy Roland Prior.

Determined to put his love for Charlotte in the past, Anthony Welbourne chose to follow his goals and immerse himself in a life full of meaning—first as a soldier fighting a war overseas, then as a member of William Walstead’s watchmen, a rugged band of men dispatched to deal with perilous situations. Fearless and persistent, he makes it his life’s focus to fight for those who can’t fight for themselves.

When Charlotte’s husband dies unexpectedly, she quickly realizes how blind she’d been to his nefarious ambitions and how many people he’d angered on his relentless quest for wealth. To protect her infant son, Henry, from those who wish them harm, she and the baby flee to Hollythorne House, her childhood home. There Charlotte comes face to face with her former love, who has been sent as one of the hired watchman to protect her and Henry until the details of her late husband’s estate are settled.

Anthony’s presence brings back feelings she never expected to feel again, and she struggles to trust Anthony’s intentions. Are Walstead’s Watchmen really looking after Charlotte as they claim—or are they looking to make trouble for Roland’s estate and heir? Despite the constant reminders of their past, Anthony must remain focused on the task he was hired to do. But when new threats emerge, danger arises, and the past collides with the present, both must decide what they are willing to risk for the chance to right past wrongs and carve out a new future . . . together.


My Thoughts:

In the Shelter of Hollythorne House by Sarah E. Ladd captures the essence of a world where woman are used as commodities. I really enjoyed how strong Charlotte Grey is even though she was forced into a situation that could have crumbled her. She took control and thought of the best thing for her son, Henry. Whereas, in similiar fashion, Anthony, had to come to grips what happened in the past to his uncle's mill and learn the meaning of home. The conflict with the Prior's crafted a masterpiece of a Regency mystery. Plenty of moments of wondering what was really going to occur to what actually occurred. Ladd did a wonderful job at creating little trail of secrets that led to the falling down of the villains. The descriptions, Ladd handles nicely. I had no problem exploring the abandoned Hollythorne Home when Charlotte and Anthony returned. The run down and misuse with years of dirt and grime mirrored the long forgotten emotions between Charlotte and Anthony. Overall, In the Shelter of Hollythorne House by Sarah E. Ladd is a wonderful story that I enjoyed reading. I recommend this story for fans of Erica Vetsch and Julie Klassen.

I received a complimentary copy of In the Shelter of Hollythorne House by Sarah E. Ladd from Thomas Nelson Publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Purchase In the Shelter of Hollythorne House

Friday, July 21, 2023

Free Time Guilt

 By Kelly Bridgewater

 Do you have tons of projects that you think to yourself . . . If I had a week off, I could do this or if I was retired, I could do that . . .

 My husband is a master at using that sentence. During Covid, he had weeks where his boss would only make him come into work Tuesday through Thursday and had four day weekends. When the pandemic hit, he was all on board to remodeling our laundry room. We finished it about two weeks with the four days off.

But then as the weeks moved by, he just wanted to lay around the house and watch YouTube during the day, then whine when I suggested cooking dinner.

See I still had to go to work outside the home five days a week, so I thought he could make dinner on Monday and Friday and the boys could worry about the middle of the week.

I also, feel guilty if I tried to do some of my hobbies because I know another hobby that needs attention.

I enjoy cross-stitching. For the past couple of birthdays and Christmas, my mother-in-law has purchased me a number of kits that I have asked for, but I feel guilty if I picked these up.

I need to be working on my World War II historical suspense novels, so I don’t do those either. Even though I do enjoy writing and cross-stitching, I feel guilty if I spend time on these when I know that I should be doing something else.

 So I read another book. And another book. And another book. Sometimes I get tired of reading and reviewing all the time.

How about you? Ever feel guilty about spending time doing your hobbies when you could be doing something else?


Monday, July 17, 2023

Cathy Gohlke: Ladies of the Lake

By Kelly Bridgewater

After two young womens deep bond is torn apart, what will it take to bring them together again? In The Ladies of the Lake, the beloved author of Saving Amelie and Night Bird Calling returns with a transformative new historical novel about the wonder and complexities of friendship, love, and belonging.

When she is forced to leave her beloved Prince Edward Island to attend Lakeside Ladies Academy after the death of her parents, the last thing Adelaide Rose MacNeill expects to find is three kindred spirits. The
Ladies of the Lake,’ as the four girls call themselves, quickly bond like sisters, vowing that wherever life takes them, they will always be there for each other. But that is before: Before love and jealousy come between Adelaide and Dorothy, the closest of the friends. Before the dawn of World War I upends their world and casts baseless suspicion onto the German American man they both love. Before a terrible explosion in Halifax Harbor rips the sisterhood irrevocably apart.

Seventeen years later, Rosaline Murray receives an unsuspecting telephone call from Dorothy, now headmistress of Lakeside, inviting her to attend the graduation of a new generation of girls, including Rosaline
s beloved daughter. With that call, Rosaline is drawn into a past shed determined to put behind her. To memories of a man she once loved . . . of a sisterhood she abandoned . . . and of the day she stopped being Adelaide MacNeill.


My Thoughts:

Ladies of the Lake by Cathy Gohlke is a heartwarming story of best friends during pre-World War II and how life gets in the way. Gohlke does a fabulous job at diving into the hurts of Dot and Rosaline and making them realistic for the readers. Readers will enjoy the simpleness of the times, but the turmoil of the looming war that will tear the world and their friendship apart. Gohlke is one of my favorite writers at taking deeply hurting characters and allowing the readers to empathize with their plight. The plot idea with friends and their struggles is nothing new. While the concept is not original, the story is still told in an informative and entertaining way that kept me glued to the pages. The writing style flows nicely, filled with the descriptions of the setting and the personality of the characters. Overall, Ladies of the Lake by Cathy Gohlke is a nicely handled coming of age story with heartache flowing from the hearts of the characters. I recommend this for fans of Gohlke’s other stories and fans of a good story. Also, Rachel Hauck has a story entitled The Best Summer of Our Lives released in June 2023.

I received a complimentary copy of Ladies of the Lake by Cathy Gohlke from Tyndale Publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating:  4.5 out of 5 stars

Purchase Ladies of the Lake 

Friday, July 14, 2023

College Today is Failing

 By Kelly Bridgewater

 On February 21st, New York Post shared an article entitled, “College Graduates are leftist, racists, atheists, and anti-American with no skills.”

I definitely see that.

I work at a university where I earned two of my degrees. When I was a student, they tried to brainwash students into believing that American is awful and God does not exist.

No wonder the education today is even worse.

This generation does not stand for anything but anything that is immoral and against what they have been raised for.

But it is partly their parent’s fault too.

This generation parent’s want to be friends with their kids. How dare you tell them no?

They want them to have better than they had, so they give them everything.

$300 for a new Nintendo Switch. Don’t forget the $50 games.

New Iphones.

New Air Jordan shoes.

But who are they really hurting.

A generation that lives in the padded bubble and expect everything to be handed to them.

No values. No perspective of right or wrong.

Then they expect to go to college, but College does not make you prepared for a real life job anymore.

Gender studies.

Ph. D in Athletic Training. (Really underpaid gym teacher coming up!)

Construction Management.

Degrees with no real prospects in the real world.

America really needs to reevaluate our future, OR we will not have a future.

Socialism here we come!

Can’t have students thinking for themselves anymore!

What do you think? Please join the discussion. 


Monday, July 10, 2023

Michelle Griep: Man of Shadow and Mist

 By Kelly Bridgewater

About the Book

Book: Man of Shadow and Mist

Author: Michelle Griep

Genre: Christian Historical Fiction

Release date: June, 2023

England, 1890
Vampires are alive and well in North Yorkshire, leastwise in the minds of the uneducated. Librarian Rosa Edwards intends to drive a stake through the heart of such superstitions. But gossip flies when the mysterious Sir James Morgan returns to his shadowy manor. The townsfolk say he is cursed.
James hates everything about England. The weather. The rumours. The scorn. Yet he must stay. His mother is dying of a disease for which he’s desperately trying to find a cure—an illness that will eventually take his own life.
When Rosa sets out to prove the dark gossip about James is wrong, she discovers more questions than answers. How can she accept what she can’t explain—especially the strong allure of the enigmatic man? James must battle a town steeped in fear as well as the unsettling attraction he feels for the no-nonsense librarian.
Can love prevail in a town filled with fear and doubt?


My Thoughts:

Man of Shadow and Mist by Michelle Griep features a story alongside Bram Stroker's gothic masterpiece Dracula. Most readers are not that familiar with the actual story of Dracula. Just the folklore and remake of the story. However, I have read the original text and enjoy it when I was an undergraduate student. Griep relies on the medical diagnosis that affected the characters in her novel to create fear in the community. The plot was interesting and familiar at the same time. While readers will approach this novel with the idea of Dracula, the romance had a little bit of Beauty and the Beast to it. James, the hero, is trying to save his mother, but he is still wanting the best for Rosa, the heroine. Romance blooms and sparkles even against all the threats and dangers to their personal lives and budding romance. I do enjoy Griep's description of James' family manor. Nicely handled and spooky. I like her descriptions to bring the haunting affects to the story. Fog. Night time. Gargoyles. Overall, Man of Shadow and Mist by Michelle Griep will give a thrill to readers who enjoy a good Gothic novel, but still have the romance to spark the interest of romance lovers.

I received a complimentary copy of Man of Shadow and Mist by Michelle Griep from Barbour Publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Purchase Man of Shadow and Mist

About the Author

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. She is the Christy Award-winning author of historical romances: A Tale of Two Hearts, The Captured Bride, The Innkeeper’s Daughter, 12 Days at Bleakly Manor, The Captive Heart, Brentwood’s Ward, A Heart Deceived, and Gallimore, but also leaped the historical fence into the realm of contemporary with the zany romantic mystery Out of the Frying Pan. If you’d like to keep up with her escapades, find her at or stalk her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

And guess what? She loves to hear from readers! Feel free to drop her a note at


More from Michelle

A Visit to Whitby

Every time I skip across the pond, I make it a point to visit Whitby. What’s the draw? This northern Yorkshire town is steeped in history and is every bit as magical today as it was back in Bram Stoker’s day…when he went to visit and was inspired to set much of his Dracula tale there. In fact, that is exactly where he got the inspiration for the name Dracula when he visited the library and did a bit of research.

Sound interesting? Then come along with me on a virtual visit with pictures from my last trip.

When walking the windy, narrow roads of Whitby, you can’t help but let your imagination wander because it’s as if you’re there in the nineteenth century. Can’t you just see a long-gowned heroine glancing over her shoulder at you as she flees down this lane?

And overlooking these lanes is the infamous abbey ruins, an eerie sentinel that sits atop the cliffs. It is rumoured a ghostly woman appears in the window, but I didn’t see her.

Still in operation today is this old coaching inn, which of course I had to use in one of my scenes.

There are still fishermen who ply these waters for trade, but this harbor isn’t nearly as active as it was centuries ago.

Twice I’ve made the coastal hike from Whitby to Robinhood’s Bay. This is where I imagined librarian Rosa Edwards riding her bicycle delivering books.

And yes, indeed, the sea mists are a very real thing, sometimes so thick it’s disorienting.

So, see what I mean? Whitby is a magical place, well worth the effort to get to if you ever venture over to England. And if that doesn’t quite fit into your budget or schedule, never fear.

Blog Stops

Babbling Becky L, June 29

Book Looks by Lisa, June 29

Betti Mace, June 30

Vicky Sluiter, June 30

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, July 1

Back Porch Reads, July 1

Daysong Reflections, July 2

Texas Book-aholic, July 2

Locks, Hooks and Books, July 3

Becca Hope: Book Obsessed, July 3

To Everything There Is A Season , July 4

Cover Lover Book Review, July 4

Kristina Hall, July 4

Connie’s History Classroom, July 5

Scott’s book reviews, July 5

Lights in a Dark World, July 5

Sylvan Musings, July 6

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, July 6

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, July 7

Pause for Tales, July 7

Tell Tale Book Reviews , July 8

annette_reads_daily, July 8

Through the Fire Blogs, July 8

Simple Harvest Reads, July 9 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

Blogging With Carol, July 9

Where Faith and Books Meet, July 10

Wishful Endings, July 10

For Him and My Family, July 11

Blossoms and Blessings, July 11

Holly’s Book Corner, July 12

Splashes of Joy , July 12


To celebrate her tour, Michelle is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon e-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.

Friday, July 7, 2023

Bible Verse: James 2: 1- 7

 By Kelly Bridgewater

My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong?”

Enough said!

Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Leonard Goldberg: The Wayward Prince

By Kelly Bridgewater

The fate of Prince Harry and the British throne lies in the hands of Joanna and the Watsons in The Wayward Prince, the next Daughter of Sherlock Holmes mystery from USA Today bestselling author Leonard Goldberg...


My Thoughts:

The Wayward Prince by Leonard Goldberg features Joanna Holmes in an exciting hunt for a missing prince. From the first chapter, Goldberg takes readers through a familiar setting of setting up the mystery element. The story is told through the eyes and ears of Watson Jr. and his wife, Joanna, as they try to figure out what happened to the prince. Through questioning details of every aspect of the case, readers will follow Joanna’s train of clues to concludes what happens. As a word of caution, there is a moment where the details are pretty specific about what happens to the uterus after an abortion. The terminology may be foreign or a little gross, depending on the reader. This time around, the plot keeps the readers’ attention as JoAnna and the Watson duo try to hunt Russian spies and figure out what happened to the Prince before the kidnapping and the process of the kidnapping. As for the characters, it is nice to see a familiar cast of characters who have already been developed, which allows Goldberg to dive deeper into their individual personalities. Overall, The Wayward Prince by Leonard Goldberg captures the Sherlock Holmes’ fans’ attention with a World War I twist to the plot. I can’t wait to see what is next and to add this addition to my bookshelf.

I received a complimentary copy of The Wayward Prince by Leonard Goldberg from Minotaur Publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating:  4 out of 5 stars

Purchase The Wayward Prince

Monday, July 3, 2023

Nancy Mehl: Cold Pursuit

By Kelly Bridgewater

 "Guaranteed to captivate with plot twists you won't see coming."--Tosca Lee, New York Times bestselling author

"This story is sure to leave you breathless from the thrill of the ride. Hold on tight, it's about to get exhilarating!"--Lynette Eason, bestselling and award-winning author of the 
Extreme Measures series

"Cold Pursuit sucked me in from the first riveting page and pulled me deeper into an intricate, danger-filled plot."--Elizabeth Goddard, bestselling author of Cold Light of Day

Ex-FBI profiler River Ryland still suffers from PTSD after a case went horribly wrong. Needing a fresh start, she moves to St. Louis to be near her ailing mother and opens a private investigation firm with her friend and former FBI partner, Tony St. Clair. They're soon approached by a grieving mother who wants them to find out what happened to her teenaged son, who disappeared four years ago. River knows there's almost no hope the boy is still alive, but his mother needs closure, and River and Tony need a case, no matter how cold it might be.

But as they follow the boy's trail, which gets more complicated at every turn, they find themselves in the path of a murderer determined to punish anyone who gets in his way. As River and Tony race to stop him before he kills again, an even more dangerous threat emerges, stirring up the past that haunts River and plotting an end to her future.


My Thoughts:

Cold Pursuit by Nancy Mehl features a serial killer who is hiding in plain sight. There is two subplots to this story. First, readers are introduced to River and her past encounter with a serial killer. Then the story moves forward into the present day with Tom and River working as Private Investigator who used to work in the Behavior Analysis's unit. One of my least favorite items in a suspense novel is actually telling the name of the villain. By doing that, it is no surprise to the readers as they work alongside the heroine and hero to solve the case. I prefer stories where it is just a genre or third-person pronoun, so I do not know who the villain is. As for the plot, it was a little different. The villain's deeds were actually showcased near the end of the story. I wanted more of that. I wanted more of the villain taunting the heroine and hero. That did not happen either. While the plot did capture my attention and I couldn't wait to see who the bad person would meet their doom, for my level of suspense, it did not dive deep into that aspect. Overall, Cold Pursuit by Nancy Mehl could have dove deeper into the suspense and taunting the main characters a little more. They just appeared to co-exist with one another.

I received a complimentary copy of Cold Pursuit by Nancy Mehl, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Purchase Cold Pursuit