Friday, May 31, 2024

Last Joys of Summer

By Kelly Bridgewater

I remember one late August night standing under the streetlight at the corner by my best friend, Robin’s, house. We were trying to capture every moment of summer that was possible because the next day started another school year.

That summer was fun.

Swimming in her pool for hours.

Riding our bikes around the neighborhood. A huge hill in our neighborhood that all the kids came together and raced up and down for hours.

Playing imagination games.

The older boys scaring us with an abandoned house in the woods to the south of our neighborhood. Might have started my obsession with mysteries.

Playing Barbies.

Making our own obstacle courses with tree limbs and leaves.

Hiding in a bush that her mother had at the corner of the house that was perfect for spying and telling secrets from.

Playing Bloody Mary.

The heat really did not bother me then. It sure does now.

Too bad I can’t go back in time like the tv shows or the movies and tell my younger self to not miss every little second.

It goes too fast.

Next thing you know you’re an adult who works 40 plus hours a week and have no fun at all.

Have to pay those bills.

I have tons of fond memories of being a child, and I would do anything to return to those days.

How about you? Have any summer memories as a child that stand out to you? I would love to read them.

Monday, May 27, 2024

Elizabeth Goddard: Hidden in the Night

By Kelly Bridgewater

At the behest of her ailing mother, former FBI special agent turned rare-book collector Ivy Elliott arrives in Alaska to secure an unpublished Jack London manuscript kept secreted away for decades. But when she arrives, she learns the manuscript is gone--taken by the granddaughter of the woman who possessed it. Ivy sets off in pursuit, not just to save the manuscript but to save the vulnerable girl, who was previously trafficked and has no idea what she's getting herself into. 
Joining forces with Alaska State Trooper Nolan Long, Ivy must battle a blizzard, sabotage, and the worst of an Alaskan winter as the search goes on. But every answer they find only raises more questions--and the danger to their lives and to the missing girl may only be the tip of the iceberg. 
Don't miss this breathtaking race for truth set amid the glorious--and deadly--Glacier Bay from USA Today bestselling author Elizabeth Goddard.


My Thoughts:

Hidden in the Night by Elizabeth Goddard is the third book in a series, which each book could be read individually. As a romantic suspense novel, readers will expect romance and suspense to progress as the story progresses. It does. The plot moves along nicely with the hunt for a manuscript and what surrounds it and a missing girl. Plenty of thrills and chills for the best suspense lover. As for the romance, it was predictable and happened a little too fast for me. I noticed in most novels where the romance starts in the beginning of the book or in a previous book, it is still too soon for me. Just a personal preference. I would like to see the relationship develop more before they end up in a marriage proposal at the end of the novel. One of my favorite aspects of the novel was the setting. I hope, someday, to be able to visit Alaska, so I love seeing in my imagination and reading about characters as they maneuver through the wilderness of Alaska’s back country. There are some moments of spiritual reflection, but nothing that is really forced down the readers’ throat. Overall, Hidden in the Night has the suspense element down, but the romance needs to be paired back a little bit.

I received a complimentary copy of Hidden in the Night by Elizabeth Goddard from Revell  Publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars

Purchase Hidden in the Night 

Friday, May 24, 2024

Memorial Day

 By Kelly Bridgewater

Enjoy your Memorial Day Weekend!

Remember the sacrifice by few for the many!

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse: With Each Tomorrow

By Kelly Bridgewater

Even in the midst of adversity, love and faith can flourish.

As the formation of Glacier National Park takes Eleanor Briggs and her conservationist father on a journey west to advocate for public lands, her heart carries the weight of a painful past. Since the death of her mother, she has spent her life traveling the country with her father and helping him with his work, but now he's considering settling down and writing a book--and she's not sure what that means for her future.

Carter Brunswick faces trials of his own when the Great Northern Railway's departure threatens his family's livelihood and the entire town of Kalispell. In the visiting conservationist's daughter, Ellie, he finds a spirited woman who challenges his convictions in ways he never anticipated, and his own dreams for the future begin to change.

When tensions over the railroad's departure boil over, Ellie and Carter are drawn together on a daring journey that tests the depths of their feelings and their faith in God.


My Thoughts:

With Each Tomorrow by Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse is a heart wrenching story of the beginnings of what would become Glacier National park. With each appearance, Peterson and Woodhouse craft characters that are enduring and transformative. The main characters of Eleanor and Carter come to argumentative in their first meeting. As the story moves along, Eleanor learns to trust God and find peace in him again. As for Carter, he learns that he needs to trust God more with his future plans. Also, I love the setting of Kalispel, Montana. I love the wilderness and the coming town that has expanded and does not want anything to happen to its population and job growth. As for the plot, the dual authors create a little bit of mystery along with the historical aspects of the story. More historical writers are including mystery elements in their plots, and I love this idea. Gives the story a little more to look forward to. Overall, With Each Tomorrow by Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse is a delightful story to spend time with. Readers will be transported to early twentieth century Montana and swept away by the relationships and the historical aspects of the story.

I received a complimentary copy of With Each Tomorrow by Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse from Bethany House Publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating:  4 out of 5 stars

Purchase With Each Tomorrow 

Monday, May 20, 2024

Angela Carlisle: Secondary Target

By Kelly Bridgewater

After the brutal murder of her mother and brother twelve years ago, Corina Roberts built a new life in Kentucky. But then strange things begin to happen, and she is thrust into a perilous game of life and death. With nowhere else to turn, her best hope of survival depends on her ex, army veteran Bryce Jessup.

Recently returned from service, Bryce has every intention of staying away from Corina, but when threats close in around her, he isn't willing to leave her safety to chance. As their search for answers uncovers lethal secrets her detective father kept hidden, Bryce and Corina must untangle the mystery of the merciless killer intent on terrorizing and eliminating Corina's family before it's too late.

Debut author Angela Carlisle will leave you breathless with this bone-chilling story of a ruthless murderer, a deadly secret, and an unbreakable love. 

 My Thoughts:

Secondary Target by Angela Carlisle is a first time author. She wrote in a romantic suspense genre. While the climactic moment and the revealing of the stalker has a nice twist to it, the rest of the plot was pretty predictable and formulaic. The characters gave a nod to previous romantic suspense heroines and heroes especially when they have a past and are going to work through the pain of the past and try to move forward with helping each other. Of course, I love a romantic suspense novel which features plenty of moments of running from their lives whether it being bullets flying or cars chasing and hitting the heroine or hero. Unfortunately, in this novel, both of these elements happened over and over again. Totally predictable. I believe Carlisle might become a better suspense writer. Her villain was nicely covered throughout the story. She gave him pronouns instead of saying who the villain is. She did a wonderful job at diving into the characters' emotions and thoughts. I just wish, personally, that the story was unique, and not formulaic.

I received a complimentary copy of Secondary Target by Angela Carlisle from Bethany House Publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Purchase Secondary Target

Friday, May 17, 2024

Series Finale That Got It Right

By Kelly Bridgewater

Every read a book that was so fabulous that you honestly could not wait to get your hand on the second, third, or even fourth book. BUT when you actually read the book, it did live up to the previous book in the series. Today, I am going to share some books that I loved the first or second book in the series, but the ending of the series did completely blew the story out of the water. These writers promised a good ride and body did they deliver. (All covers and synopsis come from Goodreads.)

No Matter the Cost by Susan May Warren

Checkmate by Steven James

Thirst of Steel by Ronie Kendig

Soul Raging by Ronie Kendig

Drawn by the Current by Jocelyn Green

Know of any other books that did fabulous at handling the end of a series? Please let me know. I love books that deliver a final push that rocks the ending of the novel.

Monday, May 13, 2024

Hannah Linder: The Girl from the Hidden Forest

By Kelly Bridgewater

Enjoy another Gothic Style Regency from Hannah Linder.
Eliza Ellis has stayed hidden in Balfour Forest for as long as she can remember. Perhaps her only friends are the trees, or her little dog, or her story-telling father called Captain. But at least she is safe from the cruel world outside, a world Captain has warned her against and protected her from.
That is, until a handsome stranger named Felton Northwood invades her quiet forest and steals her away. Why does he tell such lies? Why does he insist that her name is Miss Eliza Gillingham, daughter of a viscount, who disappeared fourteen years ago after the murder of her own mother? A murder Eliza is said to have witnessed.
When Felton returns Eliza to Monbury Hall and reunites her with a man who is told to be her father, all she remembers are the strange nightmares that have plagued her since childhood. Why have they suddenly grown worse? Are the answers hidden inside her own mind?
As danger mounts and lethal attempts are made on her life, Eliza and Felton must work together to uncover the identity of a killer who has stayed silent for fourteen years. When she finally uncovers the horrendous memories trapped in her mind, will divulging the truth cost her the man she loves—and both of their lives?


My Thoughts:

The Girl from the Hidden Forest by Hannah Linder has a delightful cover to glance upon. I love the yellow imagery with the lights behind Eliza. As for the plot, I love the idea of a young girl who is taken from what she believes is her home, and then told that was not her home. The mystery element is a nice concept. I do enjoy how Linder does keep allowing Eliza and Felton to believe it is one character, then around and think it is another character. Keeps the readers guessing right along with the characters. However, at times, the story does seem to go over the same plot issue over and over again. Does not seem to move forward that much in solving the mystery element. Not one of my top picks for a historical mystery. As for the characters, Eliza appears to be confused, but it would have been nice to have some of the supporting characters try to explain to Eliza why they think she is the missing girl from this family. A couple of phrases were thrown at her, but they were never done in a nice way. No one really felt sympathy for the plight that she had gone through. There is a touch of romance. It’s there. That is all I can say about that. Overall, The Girl from the Hidden Forest has the makings of what could be interesting overall storyline, but the delivery of it fell a little short.

I received a complimentary copy of The Girl from the Hidden Forest by Hannah Linder from Barbour Publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars

Purchase The Girl from the Hidden Forest

Monday, May 6, 2024

Gabrielle Meyer: For a Lifetime

 By Kelly Bridgewater

Grace and Hope are identical twin sisters born with the ability to time-cross together between 1692 Salem, Massachusetts, and 1912 New York City. As their twenty-fifth birthday approaches, they will have to choose one life to keep and one to leave behind forever--no matter the cost.

In 1692, they live and work in their father's tavern, where they must watch helplessly as the witch trials unfold in their village, threatening everyone. With the help of a handsome childhood friend, they search for the truth behind their mother's mysterious death, risking everything to expose a secret that could save their lives--or be their undoing.

In 1912, Hope dreams of becoming one of the first female pilots in America, and Grace works as an investigative journalist, uncovering corruption and injustice. After their parents' orphanage is threatened by an adversary, they enter a contest to complete a perilous cross-country flight under the guidance of a daring French aviator.

The sisters have already decided which timeline they will choose, but an unthinkable tragedy complicates the future they planned for themselves. As their birthday looms, how will they determine the lives--and loves--that are best for both of them?


My Thoughts:

For a Lifetime by Gabrielle Meyer is a delightful tale with two historical events: Aircraft and the Salem Witch Trials. Meyer crafts a wonderful enthralling tale of two twin sisters who experience life during both time periods. Readers will be enchanted as they experience life through the eyes of Hope and Grace. I know I was. Meyer has a wonderful way of crafting historical drama that the readers will have a hard time putting the story down. I finished the books within one day, and I can’t wait for the next installment. Once they are all written, I will definitely want to read them all over again to see more little surprises that I did not come across the first time. Of course, romance does allude and capture both of the girls. I enjoy how Meyer wraps a spiritual truth for each character to learn. A nice lesson for the readers too. I love her descriptions of the setting, the clothes, and the characters. The characters are three-dimensional with real conflict, love interest, and struggle to decide what time period to choose. I love this series. It is original and unpredictable. I cannot wait for the next book, Across the Ages.

I received a complimentary copy of For a Lifetime by Gabrielle Meyer from Bethany House Publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating:  5 out of 5 stars

Purchase For a Lifetime

Friday, May 3, 2024

Libraries are Our Friends

 By Kelly Bridgewater

When I was a young kid, my mother made all three of us kids hop on our bikes and ride 5 miles one way through the west side of Indianapolis to the local library.

It was long, and I was swear it was longer than what the map says.

These trips opened my eyes to the world of reading.

Have not stopped reading since.

My love of Nancy Drew, The Baby-sitter’s Club, and Sweet Valley High started during these summer treks to the library. I would check out what I could carry home in our backpacks.

Nothing better than coming home with all those books.

First thing, I always did, and still do, is admire the beautiful covers, then flip through the words on the pages.

Then of course, readers must find a comfortable place without any distractions to jump into the stories.

I love laying down on my belly and reading a book propped up to read.

Love these memories down memory lane.

However, when I had children, I did the same thing by walking to the local library.

But now, since we live so far out in the country, and our county does not even have a local library, (How sad!) I have relied on my Kindle for my reading obsession. It is easy to download a book that I have been wanting to read forever for 99 cents or two dollars when it goes on sale, then read it later.

I still pray that libraries never go away. They are hugely important to our society.

How about you? Any fond memories of the library that have impacted your life.

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

James R. Hannibal: Lion Warrior

By Kelly Bridgewater

About the Book

Book: Lion Warrior

Author: James R. Hannibal

Genre: YA Fantasy

Release Date: April 23, 2024

The dragon war has breached the barrier.

The forces of the Liberated Land are near to breaking. Without a heavy and rapid shift in the Assembly’s strategy, a dragon invasion will be unstoppable.

Connor and Kara have kept the full knowledge of the Red Dagger’s location secret for almost a year. A chance to destroy Heleyor and end the war is within the Lightraider Order’s grasp. They must now reveal what they know and call for action.

With time running out, Connor, Teegan, and Aaron attempt to recover the dagger, and Kara helps the Airguard train a new corps of soldiers—windfighters—in their own bid to change the war’s tide. Meanwhile, Lee and Zel search for Heleyor’s army of tortured Aladoth. This force, thousands strong, has vanished. They're heading for a hidden portal, and may emerge at the heart of Keledev at any moment.

Every path that lies before the cadets seems a great risk. The slightest misstep may cost them their lives, their loved ones, and their homeland. But to do nothing means certain failure. To succeed, they must charge ahead into dark uncertainty and trust the Rescuer.


My Thoughts:

Lion Warrior by James R. Hannibal is a unique and unpredictable young adult fantasy novel. As a word of caution, if readers are not familiar with the two previous novels in this series, I highly suggest readers those novels before reading this one. Also, if it has been a while since you have read the first two, then it would probably be a good idea to read them again to familiarize yourself with the plot. This edition featured much more dark magic and the effects that it can have on any of the characters. I liked seeing the redemption of some of the people they met as they were on the journey to finish the quest. The parallel between the overarching movement of the Bible vs. the overarching plot of this story is pretty obvious to readers who are familiar with the Bible as a whole. Stories with familiar characters are a huge plus because readers will come to know the characters and what to expect from them every time they start a new book. Plenty of action, heading toward the climactic moment at the end of the story. Overall, Lion Warrior and the other two previous novels by James R. Hannibal were a delightful story for young adults. I believe young men would love the adventure of the story and the quest for spiritual understanding as well as knowledge and magic.

I received a complimentary copy of Lion Warrior by James R. Hannibal from Enclave Escape  Publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating:  4 out of 5 stars

Purchase Lion Warrior

About the Author

As a former fighter pilot, stealth pilot, and tactical deception officer, James R. Hannibal is no stranger to secrets and adventure. He is the award-winning author of thrillers, mysteries, and fantasies for adults and children, and he is the developer of Lightraider Academy games. As a pastor’s kid in Colorado Springs, he guinea-pigged every youth discipleship program of the 1980s, but the one that engaged him and shaped him most as a Christ-follower and Kingdom warrior was DragonRaid, by Dick Wulf—the genesis of the Lightraider world.



More from James

There and Back Again: A Game?

The transition from book to game and back again is no easy thing. I’ve been on a steep learning curve since the day I started writing Wolf Soldier, the first book in the Lightraider Academy trilogy. Lion Warrior is the third.

I should walk back a step. Lightraiders is a game. Did you know that? It began as DragonRaid, a 1980s fantasy adventure game designed for teaching Biblical learning and discipleship. DragonRaid had a huge influence on my Christian walk in my teens. I now have the honor of carrying the concepts designed by the game’s original creator, Dick Wulf, to a new generation through games and stories. Before he went on to be with the Lord, Dick was kind enough to write a foreword for Wolf Soldier.

The task, when it came to me, was monumental: take a highly allegorical game with isolated location details and expand it into a full-realm book series while also building a new version of the game designed for today’s teens and families. By His grace, God placed men and women in my path who came alongside me to help—fellow believers who are creators from the realms of Tolkien, Star Wars, DC Comics, and Disney. Without them, it could not have been done.

We’ve been building the game in the background for three years. At the same time, the books have served as a transition from the old to the new. Lion Warrior completes that transition, and the book and the new Lightraiders Adventure Bible System game for teens will release almost simultaneously.

If you read through the series starting with Wolf Soldier, you may get a feel for this transition. The first book is more allegorical and tightly focused, much like the original DragonRaid game. Fantasy terms used in that story draw from the original game, with only a few new terms introduced. Bear Knight begins to broaden that perspective. It stretches past allegory and introduces several new ideas that you’ll find in the new Lightraiders game. In Lion Warrior, my hope is that you’ll finally have a picture of the fully developed realm from the Liberated Land in the south to the frozen islands in the far north of the Dragon Lands. And that story is fully steeped in the new game with terms and game mechanics slipped in for astute readers to find.

So, we’ve come full circle. DragonRaid became the story world in Wolf Solder. Then, as I and the team God sent to me rebuilt the game for a new generation, new elements found their way into Bear Knight. And now we have Lion Warrior, fully based on the new Lightraiders discipleship game. If you read the full trilogy and check out the game, I hope you’ll see it all growing together.

I do love the idea of game to story or vice versa. Are there other game/story combinations you love?

Blog Stops

Becca Hope: Book Obsessed, April 25

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, April 26

Artistic Nobody, April 27 (Author Interview)

Simple Harvest Reads, April 27 (Guest Review from Mindy)

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, April 28

Texas Book-aholic, April 29

Fiction Book Lover, April 30 (Author Interview)

Where Faith and Books Meet, May 1

Tell Tale Book Reviews, May 2

By the Book, May 3

For the Love of Literature, May 4 (Author Interview)

The Lofty Pages, May 4

Locks, Hooks and Books, May 5

Blogging With Carol, May 6

By The Book, May 7 (Author Interview)

Guild Master, May 8


To celebrate his tour, James is giving away the grand prize package of a signed hardcover copy of the book, three Starlots acrylic gem dice (diamond, sunfire, and ruby), a postcard with character art on the front and a map of Talania on the back, and Amazon $100 gift card!!

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