Friday, December 29, 2023

Favorite Stories of 2023

 By Kelly Bridgewater

One of my favorite posts of the year. I read over 120 books this year, and I love to sit back and share my favorite books of the year with my followers. 

Without further ado, here are my favorite books this year (Covers come from Goodreads unless noted.)

The Looking Glass Illusion by Sara Ella

The Wings of Poppy Pendleton by Melanie Dobson

The Glass Slipper by Michele Israel Harper

Man of Shadow and Mist by Michelle Griep

In This Moment by Gabrielle Meyer

Lost in Wonderland by Tabitha Bouldin

What about you? Have you read any of these books? What were your favorite reads this year?

Monday, December 25, 2023

Renee Ryan: The Paris Housekeeper

 By Kelly Bridgewater

Paris, 1940

German tanks rumble through the streets of Paris, forcing frightened citizens to flee. But not everyone has the luxury to leave. Camille Lacroix, a chambermaid at the world-famous Hôtel Ritz, must stay to support her family back home in Brittany. Desperate to earn money, Camille also acts as a lady’s maid for longtime guest Vivian Miller, a glamorous American widow—and a Nazi sympathizer.

Despite her distrust of the woman, Camille turns to Vivian when her friend and fellow hotel maid Rachel Berman needs help getting out of Paris. It’s then that Camille discovers that Vivian is not what she seems… The American has been using her wealth and connections to secretly obtain travel papers for Jewish refugees.

While hiding Rachel in an underground bunker under a Nazi’s nose, a daring escape plan is hatched. But as the net grows tighter, and the Germans more ruthless, Camille’s courage will be tested to the extreme…


My Thoughts:

The Paris Housekeeper by Renee Ryan is a dark look into the world of the Nazi's and their control over everyone during World War II. The story is told from three point of views. A Jewish girl, a French girl, and a wealthy American. The story starts in the Ritz Hotel in Paris, France. Ryan did not shy away from the abuse and horror that was given and taken by the American. The plot is disturbing, horrific, yet informative of the realities of World War II. Definitely a plot that captured my attention and did not let go. It was different and unique from all the World War II stories that I have read. Each of the heroines were brave and fought against the injustice done to them. Each of them put their own comfort on the lines to save someone else. A concept that is rarely heard of anymore. Everytime I read stories that show the horror that people did to others during this time period, it always makes me cringe and wonder what I would do. With the way that the American economy is going, I might find out sooner than later. Sadly to admit. Overall, The Paris Housekeeper by Renee Ryan is an informative tale of horror and bravery during World War II Paris, France. I really enjoyed this novel.

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

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Purchase The Paris Housekeeper

Friday, December 22, 2023

Most Anticipated Suspense for Spring 2024

 By Kelly Bridgewater

Most Anticipated Suspense Novels being published during the Spring of 2024. 

All Images Come from Goodreads

Fragile Designs by Collen Coble

Cold Threat by Nancy Mehl

Double Take by Lynette Eason

Fatal Witness by Patricia Bradley

One Wrong Move by Dani Pettrey

One Last Shot by Susan May Warren

Fatal Domain by Steven James

One Final Target by Janice Cantore

What about you? I'm always on the lookout for a new Suspense book. Please leave any suggestions below. 

Monday, December 18, 2023

Candice Sue Patterson: When the Waters Came

By Kelly Bridgewater

An act of greed or an act of God?

Introducing a new series of 6 exciting novels featuring historic American disasters that transformed landscapes and multiple lives. Whether by nature or by man, these disasters changed history and were a day to be remembered.

Pastor Montgomery Childs has tended his flock in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, for two years. While his pews are full every Sunday, he most desires to see a reckoning between God and the kings of industry who recreate on Lake Conemaugh. The pleasure grounds, flowing alcohol, and business dealings of the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club taunts Monty as he works to heal the wounds inflicted from his own privileged childhood among Pittsburgh society. Like Noah, Monty prays against the evil surrounding him, but he never expects God to send a flood.

It takes five days for the Red Cross to respond to the Johnstown flood disaster, but when it does, Annamae Worthington is ready to help. Apprenticing under Clara Barton has prepared her for the job, but nothing can prepare her for the death and destruction that awaits. As if the survivors haven’t suffered enough, typhoid fever ravages the town, resurfacing suppressed emotions regarding her father’s death.

Narrowly surviving the flood and the horrifying things he’s witnessed, Monty’s faith is floundering. Then a Red Cross nurse puts him to work helping with the typhoid fever victims arriving at the hospital tents every hour. Monty and Annamae work together distributing disinfectants and supplies, housing orphans, and serving those left behind. Slowly, his faith resurfaces. A kinship forms between them neither can ignore. But when an investigation into the collapsed dam points to the South Fork Hunting and Fishing Club, secrets emerge that may tear them apart.


My Thoughts:

When the Waters Came by Candice Sue Patterson showed one of America’s horrors stories of how a small American town was destroyed either by man’s negligence or an act of nature. Patterson’s story does start with the flood occurring, but then the rest of the story focuses on the clean up of the town. Of course, the story features a romance between the minister and the Red Cross nurse from Washington D. C. As the town builds back into some form of normalcy, the characters; journey for love mirrors the town’s transformation. As a lover of suspense novels, I could not wait to see the error mentioned on human’s behalf to come to justice. The story kept propelling in that direction, and it kept me glued to see what would come of this ending. On the other hand, the setting is detailed enough that I kept watching the town come back to life. It was nice to see the remaining town people come together to work on rebuilding their personal and town lives. Overall, When the Waters Came by Candice Sue Patterson showed a horrible part of American’s history, but also showed the determination of the American people to bring this town back to its humble standing.

I received a complimentary copy of When the Waters Came by Candice Sue Patterson from Barbour Publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating:   4 out of 5 stars

Purchase When the Waters Came 

Friday, December 15, 2023

Most Anticipated Historical Romance Spring 2024

By Kelly Bridgewater

The title says it all.

Here are the Most Anticipated Historical Romances for Spring 2024: (All Images come from Goodreads.)

Night Falls on Predicament Avenue by Jaime Jo Wright

Embers in the London Sky by Sarah Sundin

While the City Sleeps by Elizabeth Camden

If the Boot Fits by Karen Witemeyer

Set in Stone by Kimberely Woodhouse (From Amazon)

Elusive Truth of Lily Temple by Joanna Davidson Politano

The Sleuth of Blackfriars Lane by Michelle Griep (From Amazon)

All My Secrets by Lynn Austin

What about you? Know of any other books that I should add to this list.

Monday, December 11, 2023

Tea Cooper: The Butterfly Collector

By Kelly Bridgewater


A botanical illustration of a butterfly, a missing baby, and a twisty mystery fifty years in the making.

1868, Morpeth. Theodora Breckenridge, still in mourning after the loss of her parents and brother at sea, is more interested in working quietly on her art at the family’s country estate than she is in finding a husband in Sydney society, even if her elder sister Florence has other ideas. Theodora seeks to emulate prestigious nature illustrators, the Scott sisters, who lived nearby. She cannot believe her luck when she discovers a butterfly never before seen in Australia. With the help of her maid Clarrie and her beautiful drawings, Theodora is poised to make a scientific discovery that will put her name on the map. Then Clarrie’s newborn son goes missing and everything changes.

1922, Sydney. When would-be journalist Verity Binks is sent an anonymous parcel containing a spectacular butterfly costume along with an invitation to the Sydney Artists Masquerade Ball the same day she loses her job at The Arrow, she is both baffled and determined to attend. Her late grandfather, Sid, an esteemed newspaperman, would expect no less of her. At the ball, she lands a juicy commission to write the history of the Treadwell Foundation, an institution that supports disgraced young women and their babies. As she begins to dig, her research quickly leads her to an increasingly dark and complex mystery—a mystery fifty years in the making. Can she solve it? And will anyone believe her if she does?


My Thoughts:

The Butterfly Collector by Tea Cooper is a unique story set in Australia. With a fifty year old mystery involving a missing baby and monarch butterflies, Cooper crafted a different story with a twist. I enjoyed the parts of the mystery when the heroine, Verity tried to piece together the pieces to figure out why the butterfly painting looked familiar. Even though the setting is unfamiliar to most American readers, Cooper makes the setting familiar, yet mystic at the same time. The characters are deeply developed with hurts and familiar lifestyles. Surprisingly, something so small as a butterfly could craft an entire story that shows the hurts and betrayals done by certain people that has a butterfly effect fifty years later in a different part of the continent. Overall, The Butterfly Collector by Tea Cooper was nice to read and captured my attention. Just like all the other Cooper stories that I have read, this one was nicely written and handled. 

I received a complimentary copy of The Butterfly Collector by Tea Cooper from Harper Muse Publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own. 

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Purchase The Butterfly Collector

Friday, December 8, 2023

Top 5 Books to Give as Gifts

 By Kelly Bridgewater

Usually for Christmas, I hunt sales at Thriftbooks, Amazon, or Christianbook and then gift myself the books that I want to read. There is usually a stack under that tree that I tie a bow around, but I don’t spend the time wrapping since I already know what the books are, and they are for me.

Today, I want to share 5 favorite books that I love. (Images and Synopsis come from Goodreads.)

Secrets She Kept by Cathy Gohlke

The Writing Desk by Rachel Hauck

Heiress by Susan May Warren

The Knight by Steven James

The Souls of Lost Lake by Jaime Jo Wright


Don't forget to read and purchase books just in time for Christmas! 

Monday, December 4, 2023

Julie Klassen: A Winter by the Sea

By Kelly Bridgewater

Royalty comes to Sidmouth, bringing unexpected danger and the sweet possibility of romance. . . .

When the Duke and Duchess of Kent and their daughter--the future Queen Victoria--rent neighboring Woolbrook Cottage for the winter, the Summers sisters are called upon to host three of the royal family's male staff in their seaside house. But they soon realize they've invited secrets and intrigue into their home.

Meanwhile, Emily Summers longs to become an author. A local publisher offers to consider her novel if she will first write a Sidmouth guidebook for him. Emily agrees and begins researching the area with help from the Duke of Kent's handsome private secretary. But a surprise visitor from her past shows up at Sea View, leaving Emily torn between the desires she's long held dear and her budding dreams for the future.

Return to the Devonshire coast with the Summers sisters, where loyalties are tested, secrets come to light, and new love emerges.


My Thoughts:

A Winter by the Sea by Julie Klassen features Emily and Sara. I really enjoyed the beginning of the story when it showed the Christmas celebration at Seaview. It was sweet, reminding me a lot of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. As a budding writer, I can empathize with Emily as she wants to make her name known through her writings, but it takes a little bit of practice and time. As for her, it would definitely be harder to be recognized because she is a woman. As for the character of Emily, she is sweet, caring, and looking for love. If the first novel, she wanted Charles Parker to come back, but this time when he does come back, she has grown and matured. Having the Duke and Duchess of Kent and their daughter stay next door created a little intrigue and eccentric characters who were lower staff stay at Seaview. Of course, what Regency novel does not feature romance between the characters. Klassen slowly introduced the trail of emotions as the characters dived into each individual life and learn to love each other slowly. Overall, A Winter by the Sea continues a nicely crafted family saga; however, there were moments in reading that I could not wait to come across some further action.

I received a complimentary copy of A Winter by the Sea by Julie Klassen from Publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating:   3.5 out of 5 stars

Purchase A Winter by the Sea

Friday, December 1, 2023

Best Christmas Gift Ideas for Bookworms

 By Kelly Bridgewater

At least for me.

I love receiving gifts that nurture my writing and reading soul. The only way I receive them though is to buy them for myself.

But  . . . I do enjoy receiving them.

Here is a lists of some of my favorite gift ideas:

Pilot G-2 gel pens: These write so smooth and crisp. I enjoy writing in my planner or in my notebook ideas with these pens. Do you have a favorite pen that you gravitate toward?

College Ruled Journals or Legal pads: All of my journals and writing paper need to be college ruled. It is hard to find because most companies want to print their novels in wide-ruled, which I hate. I become excited when I see a college rule legal pad or journal. This is why I purchase about 20 college ruled spiral bound notebooks when the school year starts because I can use those for my writing. Plus, they are about 10 cents apiece.

If able to, a gift to a reading retreat. Baker Book House has one in May and ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) has one in September.  A nice three day weekend with other readers and the authors you enjoy spending time in one place. It is nice to get away and hang with other like-minded readers.

Free time: This is hard for mothers and possibly fathers who have little children still at home, but if the other spouse can allow the writer or reader some alone time to read or write their novels. Free time to think creatively is a HUGE bonus.

Gift cards: I LOVE this one. Give me an Amazon gift card. As an avid reader, I love to download free books to my Kindle Paperwhite, so I am excited when I can store e-giftcards to my Amazon account, so when a book I want goes on sale, I can purchase it without remorse. Starbucks giftcard. Some people live on Starbucks coffee. I, personally, can’t stand their coffee. $6 for a coffee that is nasty. That is highway robbery in the modern era. Not even a status symbol. Shows you have no brains.

What about you? What do you wish was under the tree for Christmas?