Monday, February 26, 2024

Dani Pettrey: One Wrong Move

By Kelly Bridgewater

Christian Macleod was pulled into a life of crime at a young age by his con artist parents. Now making amends for his corrupt past, he has become one of the country's foremost security experts. When a string of Southwestern art heists captures the FBI's attention, Christian is paired up with a gifted insurance investigator who has her own checkered past.

Andi Forster was a brilliant FBI forensic analyst until one of her colleagues destroyed her career, blaming her for mishandling evidence. She now puts those skills to work investigating insurance fraud, and this latest high-stakes case will test her gift to the limit. Drawn deep into a dangerous game with an opponent bent on revenge, Christian and Andi are in a race against the clock to catch him, but the perpetrator's game is far from finished, and one wrong move could be the death of them both.

Bestselling and award-winning author Dani Pettrey is back with a thrilling new series that will keep you up all night as you race toward the explosive finish.


 

My Thoughts:

One Wrong Move by Dani Pettrey traces an art heist from one side of the American country to the other side of the country. The heroine and the hero are both similar because they want to move forward from a huge mistake in their pasts. The truth from their pasts do make them stronger as they evaluate the mystery element and have to learn to work together to help solve the case. Of course, as the mystery ups its game, Andi and Christian must learn to trust each other with the reality of their pasts and learn if they can move forward with the truth. As the clock clicks closer to the climactic ending, Pettrey does a okay job at tightening the noose around the character's necks. The mystery element is not that original, yet predictable. Overall, One Wrong Move by Dani Pettrey does check off all the boxes for a romantic suspense, but I personally, wanted more suspense than the romance.

I received a complimentary copy of One Wrong Move by Dani Pettrey from Bethany House Publishers, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Purchase One Wrong Move


Friday, February 23, 2024

Not Like It Used To Be

 By Kelly Bridgewater

istock.com


When I was a young child, my father made about $40,000 a year. When I applied for Financial Aid with the FAFSA during the 2000 Spring, which was my senior year, for college, my father made too much money for the Pell Grant.

My father made about $20 an hour.

Today, between my husband and I, we almost make double that money, but now we are eligible for Pell Grant for our children.

Gas is $5.25 a gallon in Indiana. Almost $10 in other states.

A pound of cheap hamburger is $5 a pound.

Chicken is $3.50 a pound.

Milk is $4 a gallon.

Eggs are $3.50 a gallon.

Car payments are over $800 a month for up to 8 years. $60,000 for a new car. Not a truck or SUV.

Companies no longer offer retirement matches or pension plans.

Companies want you to work 24-7 for, if lucky, $12 an hour. They want you to give up your family time and focus completely on them for under $25,000 a year.

Where is the loyalty?

Where are the benefits for the employee to stay at your company?

It is really hard for my generation to save, put money away for retirement, or take vacations without debt. Luckily, my husband and I have no debt, but it is still hard to save for anything and watching the funds that we put in retirement every month disappear. We do NOT take vacations. I want to visit Mt. Rushmore, England, Yellowstone National Park, Universal Studios . . . I could if I wanted to take on debt and pay for these vacations for years in the future. That is no fun!

College degrees are worthless. I have a Masters in Writing, and I earned $14.37 an hour to work at a university.

Disgraceful!

Wonder why our generation is so upset. Pay us more! If the older generation keeps raising prices on everything we buy, but forgets to help raise our hourly rates, then we will never retire and enjoy the relaxing life like they are right now.

Not fair!

What do you think? Am I crazy or the only one that thinks this way?

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Melanie Dickerson: Lady of Disguise

By Kelly Bridgewater

Only the hidden treasure will allow Louisa and her sister to gain their freedom.

England, 1388. All her life, Louisa’s dreamed of finding the rumored “Giant’s Treasure,” a collection of ancient, lost riches said to be hidden on a mountaintop in Scotland, guarded by a fierce monster. It’s a story her father used to tell her, and when he dies and she and her younger sister have to go live with their shiftless, greedy uncle, Louisa is determined to find that treasure. It’s the hope that has kept her defying her uncle’s efforts to marry her off to the highest bidder.

After her uncle starts to parade Louisa’s twelve-year-old sister Margaret in front of potential husbands, Louisa realizes she has no time to waste. She disguises herself as a boy and takes off for Scotland. But the road is a harsher place than she’d imagined, and she is relieved to find a friend in the knight, Sir Charles, who goes along with her on her journey.

Charles is intrigued by this young woman who claims her name is “Jack” and is set on going to Scotland. He goes along, pretending to believe she is a boy, in order to make sure nothing bad happens to her. As they meet new friends along the road, and as Louisa comes clean about her identity, the pair find themselves falling in love. But what will happen when they reach Scotland? Will they find their independence and the freedom to marry in the form of a buried treasure, or will the monster from Louisa’s own past keep the young couple apart?


 

My Thoughts:

Lady ofDisguise by Melanie Dickerson starts out with the heroine wanting to find a buried treasure in the side of the mountain. As the journey begins, she leaves dressed as a boy in order to keep hidden. Then she meets the hero and the plot pushes forward from there. Many moments were the hero must save the damsel in distress, which of course, the heroine finds enduring and sweet. The plot kept throwing the hero and heroine into dangerous situations because of the supporting cast. Of course, as the plot moved forward; the romance moved forward also. Really didn't feature many of the Dericott siblings that were prominent in the previous books in this series. This reads more like a standalone novel to the series. According to the synopsis, this story is a Jack in the Beanstalk remake. There is elements of the familiar story with climbing to a high place with a giant protecting the prize. But there are differences too. Nice giant who has been taken advantage of by the people in the low lying village. Overall, Lady of Disguise by Melanie Dickerson features a protective hero who shows his devotion to the heroine while flipping Jack in the Beanstalk on its head.

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

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Purchase Lady of Disguise

Monday, February 19, 2024

Patricia Bradley: Fatal Witness

By Kelly Bridgewater

As a child, artist and potter Dani Bennett witnessed the brutal murder of her parents. With no memory of the incident or her true identity, she was forced to take on a new name and a new life, hidden away in Montana for the past 25 years.

Mae Richmond has spent the same stretch of time searching for her granddaughter, who went missing the night her daughter and son-in-law were murdered. Convinced the woman she saw in a pottery magazine feature is the woman she's been searching for, she enlists the help of K-9 officer Mark Lassiter of Pearl Springs, Tennessee, who tracks Dani down.

Skeptical but curious, Dani sets out on a journey to uncover the secrets of her past and reclaim her true identity. But someone close to her is determined to keep the truth of what happened all those years ago hidden.


 

My Thoughts:

Fatal Witness by Patricia Bradley opens with a young girl hiding in a closet than hearing gun shots. From this moment on, readers are trying to guess what actually happened to her parents. Why were they shot? Who killed her parents? Dani, the heroine, goes home to Pearl Springs, and try to piece together the pieces of her memory from this fateful day. The plot features many moments of bullets flying and questioning others to try to figure out what happened. Of course, what is a romantic suspense novel without a touch of romance. Dani and Mark, the hero cop, protects her and helps her figure out her memories and maybe fall in love. It was nice to return to Pearl Spring and see what Alex, the heroine from the first story, has been up to. While the plot read like a suspense novel, there were moments that I personally, would like to have had more suspense elements. Just enough more to keep me flipping through the pages. Overall, Fatal Witness by Patricia Bradley was a predictable, yet sometimes not as suspenseful as I would have liked it, with a hint of romance.

I received a complimentary copy of Fatal Witness by Patricia Bradley from Revell Publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Purchase Fatal Witness

Friday, February 16, 2024

Dogs in Novels

 By Kelly Bridgewater

Dogs are man’s best friend.

They appear in movies. They appear in books. They appear in our homes.

I have two dogs. I have a five-year-old golden retriever named Nana, and a 13-year-old Beagle named Snoopy.

My life is definitely better with them in it.

Who else is so excited to see you when you come home?

Who else wants to spend time with you and listen to you as you rant and rave about an injustice?

Who else will cuddle with you when you are feeling sick?

My dogs do.

Here are some books with dogs in them:

Trinity by Ronie Kendig (This whole series features working dogs for the police or military.)



Lantern Beach series by Christy Barritt (Ty has a golden retriever.)



Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Janice Cantore: One Final Target

By Kelly Bridgewater

Two wounded heroes shattered by tragedy and paralyzed by guilt and must find their footing and work together to catch a killer.

A warrant service in the San Bernardino Mountains goes horribly wrong when an IED blast kills four police officers. Devastated by the loss of her team, the lone survivor, Long Beach sergeant Jodie King, struggles with her guilt and grief, especially as the case remains open with no clear leads or suspects. Weeks after the explosion, Jodie retires from the police department and returns to the mountain bomb site seeking peace and resolution . . . only to find herself in the crosshairs once again.

Sam Gresham just happens to be in the right place at the right time when shots are fired at Jodie. The newest detective for the county sheriff’s department, Sam is assigned to work the IED, his first case back after his own traumatic loss. While Sam sees an opportunity to help Jodie heal from her lingering scars, Jodie hopes fresh eyes will bring new insight to the investigation. Because after this latest shooting, one thing seems clear: Jodie has always been the intended target—and the threat may be much closer to her than anyone wants to admit.

Janice Cantore delivers another pulse-pounding contemporary romantic suspense novel about overcoming grief and learning to trust again.

 


My Thoughts:

One Final Target by Janice Cantore is a police procedural novel filled with many twists and turns. The plot is predictable and unoriginal. Romance. Someone wanting to hurt a cop that wants to seek revenge. The difference is that Cantore used her knowledge of the inner workings of the police force to strengthen the characters’ personalities. I did enjoy getting to know the heroine and the hero. They were brave, strong, and determined. Romance is part of the plot, but honestly, just the way I like it, as a side-note. Not the entire focus of the couple. A Cantore novel is adventurous, realistic, and filled with danger. This time around, Cantore showed how computer hacking could ruin someone’s life and throw the crime scene into a world of hurt. It is scary to think of technology like this. Overall, One Final Target by Janice Cantore will capture fans’ of police procedurals and romantic suspense novels. Plenty of action just like fans of Cantore’s other stories have come to expect.

I received a complimentary copy of One Final Target by Janice Cantore from Tyndale Publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating:  4 out of 5 stars

Purchase One Final Target

Monday, February 12, 2024

Elizabeth Camden: While the City Sleeps

By Kelly Bridgewater

Katherine Schneider's workaday life as a dentist in 1913 New York is upended when a patient reveals details of a deadly plot while under the influence of laughing gas. As she is plunged into danger, she seeks help from the dashing Lieutenant Jonathan Birch, a police officer she has long admired from afar.

Jonathan has harbored powerful feelings toward Katherine for years but never acted on them, knowing his dark history is something she could never abide. Now, with her safety on the line, he works alongside her through the nights as they unravel the criminal conspiracy that threatens her. And throughout it all, Jonathan fears what will happen should Katherine ever learn his deepest secrets.

Join award-winning author Elizabeth Camden for a sweeping and romantic adventure of dangerous secrets and wounded hearts fighting to overcome the darkness while the rest of the city sleeps.


 

My Thoughts:

While the City Sleeps by Elizabeth Camden features the world of the Italian, Mafia's, dentists, and the New York Police force. Camden crafted a historical story with a mystery. Bombings are going off all over New York City. Sparks are flying between the heroine and hero. Both of them question their feelings for each and question the reality of what matters most in their lives. I love how Camden brings the history of every story that she writes to life. While I may not be familiar with the historical tidbits she composes in her stories, she does a wonderful job at inviting the readers into the story and allowing them to travel with the heroine and hero. This story is unique and unpredictable. As for the bad people, Camden does a wonderful job at keeping their identity secret from the characters and from the readers. I love the setting of New York City. I loved learning more about the Martha Washington Hotel and the importance that it carries for the women of the early twentieth century. Overall, While the City Sleeps by Elizabeth Camden is a delightful, yet fascinating historical that I loved spending time with.

I received a complimentary copy of While the City Sleeps by Elizabeth Camden from Bethany House Publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Purchase While the City Sleeps

Friday, February 9, 2024

Love Of My Dogs

 By Kelly Bridgewater

Nothing big today.

Just want to love on my dogs.

Here is my first golden retriever, Happy, who lived for 13 years. She passed over the Rainbow Bridge on February 7th, 2020. 

Happy is in the back, and Nana is in the front.


A terrific dog. Everyone loved her, and she loved everyone.

Then we purchased Snoopy, our beagle. Loves a good comfy couch with a pillow and to hide under a blanket. Loves to wander and get lost through our ten acre property.



Then came along Nana, our second golden retriever. Full of energy. Loves attention. Great companion. Loves her mother.

What about you? Do you have any dogs that you would love to brag on?

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Liz Tolsma: What I Promise You

 By Kelly Bridgewater

A Family’s History Is Lost to the Ravages of WWII in Southwest France

1942

NoƩmie Treves, a young, pregnant Jewish woman, had her entire world shattered when she is arrested and taken to the Camp de Rivesaltes transit camp in Southwest France. No sooner does she arrive, though, than she assists in helping two young girls scheduled for transport escape to a nearby maternity hospital. The matron there befriends her and changes her name to help hide her. But nothing goes according to plan, and Hannah finds herself doing the unimaginable to save one precious life.

2022

Caitlyn Laurant is haunted by recent events in her life and hopes becoming a nurse on the mission field will help her forget. While in training, she and her friends travel to France where her grandfather was born. What should have been an easy search for his birthplace turns into anything but and reveals secrets that no one alive has ever heard.


 

My Thoughts:

What I Promise You by Liz Tolsma goes into World War II France and the Concentration camps. It is bad enough with all the horrors that men, women, and children had to suffer while being tortured in those camps, but can you imagine being pregnant at the same time. No energy. Cravings. Sickness. Trying to eat enough good food to keep your baby alive. Those are hard enough for mothers in the modern age. Let alone be in a concentration camp where they are trying to kill you. Tolsma does a wonderful job at creating a storyline that tugs at the heart of the reader and makes them empathize with Noemie. Every World War II story that I have read does show a new level of the disgust and hatred of the German Nazi’s. At least, in Tolsma story, there was not a lot of cringe-worthy moments. A safe, yet unique story. The plot features a modern young lady who through she wanted her life to go way, but through the help of another character, she realizes maybe that is not where God wants her to go with her life. A touch of romance. A surprise yet fulfilling ending to the story. Overall, What I Promise You by Liz Tolsma showed another element of World War II that I was not familiar with, but at times, the story does move quite slowly for my taste.

I received a complimentary copy of What I Promise You by Liz Tolsma  from Barbour Publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating:   3.5 out of 5 stars

Purchase What I Promise You

Monday, February 5, 2024

Sarah Sundin: Embers in the London Sky

By Kelly Bridgewater

As the German army invades the Netherlands in 1940, Aleida van der Zee Martens escapes to London to wait out the Occupation. Separated from her three-year-old son, Theo, in the process, the young widow desperately searches for her little boy even as she works for an agency responsible for evacuating children to the countryside.

When German bombs set London ablaze, BBC radio correspondent Hugh Collingwood reports on the Blitz, eager to boost morale while walking the fine line between truth and censorship. But the Germans are not the only ones Londoners have to fear as a series of murders flame up amid the ashes.

The deaths hit close to home for Hugh, and Aleida needs his help to locate her missing son. As they work together, they grow closer and closer, both to each other and the answers they seek. But with bombs falling and continued killings, they may be running out of time.


 

My Thoughts:

Embers in the London Sky by Sarah Sundin features a Dutch speaking woman who lost her son as her and her abusive husband try to leave the lower part of Europe to London. Once in London, she tries to survive the Blitz, but also, tries to uncover her missing son. With the hurt of her past marriage, she has a hard time allowing love to enter her heart. She is a brave and determined mother who will do anything to find her missing son. On the other hand, Hugh, a BBC correspondent, interviews and captures the story of the London Blitz for firsthand accounts. His voice is recognized all across London. I really liked the BBC War correspondent element to Hughes’ character. Readers, of course, are familiar with the radio broadcasts that were familiar during this time period. It was nice to see the reporter’s viewpoint and how Sundin brought that to life through Hugh. When their two lives intersect, then the sparks begin to fly. The plot has an element of a murder mystery as bodies start to end up dead in different parts of the city. I enjoyed the murder element to the plot. Love World War II stories and suspense, so this was nice to see together in one novel. Sundin does a wonderful job at bringing the readers into the setting and time period that readers will forget that they are sitting somewhere in 2024 instead of 1941. She invites readers to experience the horror of the bombing from the Germans, love of the characters, and well-crafted plot. I can’t wait to own this book in my library.

I received a complimentary copy of Embers in the London Sky by Sarah Sundin from Revell Publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating:  4.5 out of 5 stars

Purchase Embers in the London Sky

Thursday, February 1, 2024

Are you Burnt Out?

By Kelly Bridgewater

Are you tired every day? Do you dread going to work? I notice I have been more negative at work especially during the summer time.

A fellow co-worker gave me this article, and it made me think. Maybe I am completely burnt out.

dreamtime.com


Overload Burnout

Overload burnout occurs when you work harder and more frantically to achieve success, often to the detriment of your health and personal life. This is the type of burnout that most people are familiar with, and it’s also the most common.

 

Overload burnout typically affects highly dedicated employees who feel obligated to work at an unsustainable pace. As a result, they drive themselves to the point of physical and mental exhaustion.

 

Professionals with overload burnout tend to cope by venting their emotions to others (i.e. complaining about how tired and overwhelmed they are). This subtype is also quick to jump into problem-solving mode, creating more work and responsibility for themselves, which only exacerbates their stress.

Signs to watch out for:

  • You overlook your own needs or personal life to fulfill work demands
  • You invest more than is healthy in your commitment to your career or ambitions
  • You endanger your well-being to achieve your goals

 

Under-Challenged Burnout

You might be surprised to find out that burnout can result from doing too little. Under-challenged burnout could be considered the opposite of the overload subtype. It occurs when you’re bored and not stimulated by your job, which leads to a lack of motivation. People with under-challenged burnout may feel underappreciated and become frustrated because their role lacks learning opportunities, room for growth, or meaningful connection with co-workers and leadership.

Workers who feel their tasks are monotonous and unfulfilling tend to lose passion and become cynical and lethargic. They cope with the stress of being under-challenged through avoidance — distraction, dissociation, or thought suppression (i.e. ordering themselves to “Stop thinking about that”).

Signs to watch out for:

  • You would like to work on assignments and tasks that are more challenging
  • You feel your job does not offer you opportunities to develop your abilities
  • You feel that your current role is hampering your ability to advance and develop your talents

 

How about you? Are you experiencing either or both of these? I am experiencing both in my job and my personal life?

 

3 Types of Burnout, and How to Overcome Them (hbr.org)