Monday, January 31, 2022

The Girl Who Could Breathe Under Water by Erin Bartels REVIEWED

 About the Book:

The best fiction simply tells the truth.

But the truth is never simple.

When novelist Kendra Brennan moves into her grandfather's old cabin on Hidden Lake, she has a problem and a plan. The problem? An inflammatory letter from A Very Disappointed Reader. The plan? To confront Tyler, her childhood best friend's brother--and the man who inspired the antagonist in her first book. If she can prove that she told the truth about what happened during those long-ago summers, perhaps she can put the letter's claims to rest and meet the swiftly approaching deadline for her next book.

But what she discovers as she delves into the murky past is not what she expected. While facing Tyler isn't easy, facing the consequences of her failed friendship with his sister, Cami, may be the hardest thing she's ever had to do.

Plumb the depths of the human heart with this emotional exploration of how a friendship dies, how we can face the unforgivable, and how even those who have been hurt can learn to love with abandon.


But novels are about looking through someone else's eyes, seeing what someone else sees when they look at the world and realizing, perhaps for the first time, that other people are jest as real and alive and hurt as you are.  (p. 277)

This novel is a wrestling match between people who are successful and well-loved on the surface - in the lives the world around them observes - and the real, heart-felt woundedness that lives on the inside.  In this story Kendra Brennan returns to a familiar childhood homeplace after a decade that has brought her great success as a first-time author.  She retreats to a place from her childhood that holds precious memories and anchors her to her truest self.

What she did not expect to find in the deepest part of her heart was a terror that is keeping her heart frozen in place.  As Kendra faces her own difficult journey through an impossible writer's block, she discovers that those people that are such a part of her DNA from childhood are also wrestling with their own terrifying demons.  Life on the surface is often a placid lake while a churning river of emotional trauma lies underneath the surface.

This book turned out to be deeply personal and provided a mirror to my own soul's wrestling matches. I was deeply moved by the bravery of this story and found healing within its pages.  I highly recommend this journey.  It will change your life!!  

About the Author:

Erin Bartels is the award-winning author of All That We Carried, 2020 Christy finalist The Words between Us, and We Hope for Better Things, a 2020 Michigan Notable Book, 2020 WFWA Star Award-winner, and 2019 Christy finalist. A publishing professional for nearly twenty years, she lives in Lansing, Michigan, with her husband, Zachary, and their son. Find her online at



Monday, January 24, 2022

A Heart Adrift by Laura Frantz REVIEWED

 About the Book:

It is 1755, and the threat of war with France looms over colonial York, Virginia. Chocolatier Esmée Shaw is fighting her own battle of the heart. Having reached her twenty-eighth birthday, she is reconciled to life alone after a decade-old failed love affair from which she's never quite recovered. But she longs to find something worthwhile to do with her life.

Captain Henri Lennox has returned to port after a lengthy absence, intent on completing the lighthouse in the dangerous Chesapeake Bay, a dream he once shared with Esmée. But when the colonial government asks him to lead a secret naval expedition against the French, his future is plunged into uncertainty.

Can Esmée and Henri's shared vision and dedication to the colonial cause heal the wounds of the past and reunite them?


"Her fervent prayers went the way of her hopes and dreams and became floating wreckage." (p, 69)

Esmee Shaw's inner dialogue regarding her failed relationship of the past collide with a reality that takes she and her family to the brink of war.  This is a story that draws your heart in and refuses to let go.  Laura Frantz drops breadcrumbs all along the path to lead the reader into a story that far surpasses what they could ever imagine!  Romance, history and intrigue combine in the most unexpected ways, and you will be hard pressed to lay the book aside!

As I write this, it's been a few days since I finished the book, and, as I thumb through its pages, I recall the characters and their relationships vividly!  Esmee's family became dear to me as did Captain Lennox and his lighthouse.  There are elements of relational conflict that work themselves out in sometimes painful ways.  The point is, that they work out as they need to, and not without consequences.  This book wove a close family dynamic into the story in a way that really appealed to me, and it worked to make the historical context all the more poignant.

I don't want to give away the plot, but I will say that I was thrilled over and over again with the personal integrity of the main characters and their selfless love for one another.  Their relationship had far reaching effects on everyone else in the story!

This is a beautiful, exciting, historically intriguing novel that will appeal to a large audience!  I am happy to recommend it to you!!

About the Author:

Laura Frantz
 is a Christy Award winner and the ECPA bestselling author of a dozen novels, including An Uncommon WomanTidewater Bride, The Frontiersman's DaughterCourting Morrow LittleThe Colonel's LadyThe Lacemaker, and A Bound Heart. She is a proud mom to an American soldier and a career firefighter. When not at home in Kentucky, she and her husband live in Washington State. Learn more at