Christian Fiction, Faith Blum, Historical Fiction, Middle Grade, Reviews by Age-Range, Reviews by Author, Reviews by Genre, Romance, Young Adult

Be Thou My Vision by Faith Blum

Title: Be Thou My Vision

Author: Faith Blum

Series: Hymns of the West, #2

Genre: Christian Historical Fiction (light romance)

Era: 1880s, I think? Approximately?

Setting: United States

Publisher: Faith Blum

Source: got the series as a whole in a giveaway

Overall Rating: 4/5 stars

Be Thou My Vision by Faith Blum

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“The church was empty when I dragged myself out of the pew and headed out the door. As I opened the door, the corner of my eye caught a flicker of movement which I chose to ignore. I walked down the steps and was nearly bowled over by two wild boys. With arms grown strong and quick from man-handling two brothers growing up, I grabbed the two boys before they had a chance to escape me. ”

Anna Stuart is comfortable with her life. She may be a 30 year old spinster, but she has her routine and enjoys taking care of her father and older brother. One letter shatters all her routines, comfort, and enjoyment. After learning of her brother’s death, Anna feels like her life will never be the same again.

Then she meets two motherless boys. Did God place them in her life to lead her to a new vision of life? Can she trust God to give her the desires of her heart before she even knows what they are?

Buy on Amazon ~ Add on Goodreads

As you know, I didn’t really enjoy A Mighty Fortress, so I was a little nervous when I began this book.

Lots of my friends on Goodreads really like this series, so I was going, “I hope I don’t offend anyone …” I even know the author to a certain extent … and I really do hate giving bad reviews regardless. I decided I would just start the book, and if I didn’t like it, I’d put it down and say I didn’t finish it.

But, long story short, I did end up really enjoying this book. It had some ups and downs, but there were mostly ups.

Plot: 4/5

Very good. I was captivated in some places, and it never slowed down too much. The story as a whole really appealed to me.

The only thing I find somewhat unbelievable is that the whole church was unwilling to welcome Anna and insisted upon believing she was trying to ‘ensnare’ Miles. Surely there’d be one or two true Christians in a whole town, right? Why would everyone believe that terrible gossip? Makes no sense to me.

Also, you’d think someone would think to help out the pastor with his little boys after his wife died.

Characters: 3/5

I think the book actually would have benefited by adding in a couple more people from the church/town, but otherwise, the characters and character development were fairly good. My take on a few of the characters …

Anna: really a sweet girl! It’s cool how she sought out God without any encouragement from her family … or anyone else, really. However, her transformation happened very fast … and after it she was an amazing Christian. How did she do that so fast?! I want to know her secret to insta-Christianity.

James: so sweet. ❤

John: isn’t he the awesomest little troublemaker? 🙂

Miles: such a good guy! I really enjoyed his sense of humor. A time or two he moved to slowly for my taste, but he eventually did what I was trying to convince him to do the whole book long.

Setting: 2/5

The setting did need a lot of work. I would have liked to see more description of the characters and of the area around them. I was rarely sure about what stuff looked like. I had to use my imagination a lot, though, which is an upside. 😛

Writing: 3/5

My only nit to pick is the POV switches. Most of the book was in first person, Anna’s perspective. However, occasionally the author would switch to third person in a different character’s perspective. This was confusing and made the book feel a little choppy. Otherwise, it was well-written.

Theme: 4/5

Loved it! Strong Christian content is oftentimes missing in contemporary fiction, so it was great to see this here. I admit I did skim through some of the overly-long prayers and Bible quotations, though. I know I should probably read the Bible more (even reading through the Bible in a year as I am, I can skip days), but that’s just not the way to get me to read it, apparently. 😉

Content: 2/5

Language: n/a

Violence: mentions of Mr. Stuart being cruel to Jed and beating him. Mentions of outlaws, thievery, murders, etc. No details. John gets in a fight with one his schoolfellow at one point.

Sexual: people claim that Anna is pregnant and that’s why she and Miles are marrying. It’s briefly mentioned that Anna’s mother died in childbirth.

Good for all ages. Parental guidance suggested for children under 12 because of the gossip about Anna.

Overall: 4/5

A great book with just a few things that lowered the rating one star, Be Thou My Vision is a great story for upper middle graders and teens alike.

~Kellyn Roth

Action/Adventure, Christian Fiction, Faith Blum, Historical Fiction, Middle Grade, Reviews by Age-Range, Reviews by Author, Reviews by Genre, Young Adult

A Mighty Fortress by Faith Blum

Title: A Mighty Fortress

Author: Faith Blum

Series: Hymns of the West, #1

Genre: Christian Historical Adventure

Era: 1870s

Setting: Montana Territory, United States of America

Publisher: Faith Blum

Source: received as a prize/gift

Overall Rating: 2/5 stars

A Mighty Fortress by Faith Blum

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Joshua and Ruth Brookings are traveling by stagecoach to finally join their parents in Montana. Attacked by murderous outlaws, the teens barely escape with their lives and must survive in the barren Wyoming and Montana territories and escape the man who’s hunting them.

Seven years ago, Jed Stuart ran away from home and joined Tom’s gang. Jed is tired of the lawlessness and wants out. The only problem? He is the boss’s right-hand man and will never be able to leave. And what’s one more stagecoach robbery, anyway?

Can Joshua lean on God’s strength to keep himself and his sister alive until they find a town? Will Jed be able to face his anger or will it consume him completely? All three are running–the hunter and hunted. What will happen when they meet?

Buy on Amazon ~ Add on Goodreads

This was one of those books I just had to slog through. I was determined to finish it, but I really didn’t want to. I didn’t enjoy it. However, it wasn’t all bad, and it may be for some people more than me.

Note: the author has improved so much since writing of this book, and I really have enjoyed her more recent works.

Plot: 3/5

It started out pretty well, but towards the middle it dragged on and on. Also, when dealing with the dual story lines of Joshua/Ruth and Jed, it skipped all over the place. One moment we’d be a month ahead, the next we’d be two months behind, the next we’d be a year ago, and so on.

Characters: 3/5

There were quite a few characters towards the end, but I easily kept them separated in my head. I didn’t really like Ruth (I found her to be a bit of a Mary Sue) or Joshua (same). They both seemed judgmental to me.

I did like Jed, who was presumably the antagonist. I looked forward to seeing what happened next to him. He made me want to write a Western. I don’t know why, but I just find the outlaws and sheriffs and such of the old west to be fascinating. Probably too much John Wayne …

Setting: 3/5

The description was pretty good. I really do want to visit Montana someday. I didn’t really see anything missing in this aspect. The dialogue was sometimes a little too modern.

Writing: 2/5

This book probably needs a little more editing. The worst problem was probably the head-hopping. I never knew whose head we were in, which was confusing.

Theme: 3/5

I normally love reading Christian fiction … but in this book, I found the Christian content a little bit preachy. It was hard to get through the paragraphs of Bible that seemed put in at random. Almost everyone in this book was a Christian or became a Christian (usually remarkably easily), which I didn’t find very realistic.

However, the overall theme of redemption and forgiveness was a good one – despite my not liking the portrayal of it – and I did appreciate that.

Content: 2/5

Language: n/a

Violence: robbing, outlawing, and even several murders. Never detailed, always treated as (very) wrong.

Sexual: Jed supposedly raped a girl at one point. It all happened off-screen and was dealt with pretty tastefully.

Overall: 2/5

Not my favorite book. I didn’t really like it and wouldn’t recommend it. However, later works by the author were much better.

~Kellyn Roth

Action/Adventure, Contemporary Fiction, Middle Grade, Mystery/Thriller, Paul Willis, Reviews by Age-Range, Reviews by Author, Reviews by Genre, Young Adult

Diamond by Paul Willis

Title: Diamond

Author: Paul Willis

Series: The Greywood Files, #1

Genre: mystery (detective stories)

Era: contemporary

Publisher: Paul Willis

Source: from author (in exchange for honest review)

Overall Rating: 5/5

Diamond by Paul Willis

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When Detective Greywood gets a midnight case from a forgetful friend, he thinks it’s just another robbery. But when he learns his client stored the world’s eighth largest diamond in a highly secure bank vault, he knows there must be much more to the case. Only the owner himself could retrieve the diamond.

A short story containing odd friends, two eventful dinner parties, and a coffee fueled detective.

Buy on Amazon ~ Add on Goodreads

A clever detective short story which I really enjoyed. I’m really looking forward to reading more about Rory Greyhood (and his crazy friends). I had the pleasure of beta-reading Diamond, and then I got to read it again in its completed form, and I enjoyed it both times!

Plot {4/5}:

Well-paced, clever, and exciting. I admit I had some trouble understanding certain things, but I figure you don’t need to know everything all at once (especially in a mystery), and I eventually caught on, which is what counts. 😛

Characters {5/5}:

For a short story, the characters were really well-developed, especially Rory and Henry. I really liked Henry (needless to say) and Rory’s “cop friend” was really cool. I hope we get to see Henry again. 😀

Setting {4/5}:

There wasn’t really a lot of talk about where the story was taking place or anything (some big city in the United States is my guess), but it wasn’t really necessary, partially because of the shortness of the story and partially because it just wouldn’t have added anything.

Writing {5/5}:

Mr. Willis has got to be one of the most amusing writers out there! His writing style is just so witty and bouncy and fresh. I was quietly chuckling at a lot of his similes and descriptions.

Content {1/5}:

I honestly can’t think of a single thing. I suppose there was a (non-descriptive) fist-fight of sorts towards the end.

Okay for all ages.

Overall {5/5}:

A simple amazing detective story, comparable with Sherlock Holmes and Father Brown mysteries. I’d recommend Diamond to almost anyone, but especially to lovers of old-fashioned detective stories, amusing characters, and witty writing.

~Kellyn Roth

Adult, Historical Fiction, Kellyn Roth, Middle Grade, Reviews by Age-Range, Reviews by Author, Reviews by Genre, Romance, Young Adult

Spotlight: The Lady of the Vineyard by Kellyn Roth (Free Book)

Yes, I do realize this is my book. 😛 Seriously, though, it’s free on Amazon today and tomorrow in honor of Valentine’s Day. Even though it’s not a romance, per se, it is about love … though not necessarily romantic love. So it’s fitting, don’t you think?

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Just in case that image isn’t viewing correctly for you, here’s all the information it contains. 🙂

the-lady-of-the-vineyard-1a choice between familiar pain and new love …

Judy has lived with her egocentric mother since her parents divorced when she was a baby. When her father, Troy Kee, shows up at her sixth birthday party and whisks her away to his vineyard in France, Judy is more than happy to go with him. But Adele, Judy’s mother, isn’t quite ready to give up her daughter. Can Judy forgive Adele? More importantly, can Troy?

A sweet novella set in Europe, the year of 1938, this sweet story is sure to delight loves of light-hearted historical/literary fiction.

~Rave Reviews~

from the reviewers of Amazon and Goodreads and various blogs that I’m not going to list

“If you’re a lover of historical novellas or 1930s European settings, this is one you won’t want to miss.”

“Enthralling, well designed, and elegantly presented.”

“Leaves you feeling happy.”

“Overall, this was a lovely, delightful read and I’d recommend it to anyone and everyone!”

“If you are considering reading this, then stop considering, because you just have to.”

“Troy (the father) and Judy (the daughter) had such a cute relationship! Troy walked into Judy’s life, when she was six, for the first time, and it’s just sooo sweet seeing them interact! Kellyn did a really great job.”

“This book is set in the 1930’s, in England/France. So yes; not my ordinary cup o’ tea. But let me tell you something; and amazing new cup of tea for me.”

” It was a sweet little story. It made me laugh. It made me think about it. It made me smile with nice soft feeling. And… it made me feel like I had been sucker punched in the gut.”

“The characters, from bitter and rebellious Adele to sweet and innocent Judy to mysterious Troy, were all uniquely patterned and cleverly developed.”

And there you have it! You can get The Lady of the Vineyard for free on Amazon Kindle today and tomorrow, and you can add it on Goodreads here.

~Kellyn Roth

p.s. we’ll be going back to regular reviews starting Thursday. 🙂

Blog Tours, Comedy, Hanna Kraft, Historical Fiction, Middle Grade, Nonfiction, Reviews by Age-Range, Reviews by Author, Reviews by Genre

The New Diary by Hanna Kraft

Well, we’re back to the blog tour for The New Diary by Hanna Kraft! For the final day, I’m posting a review of the book. Enjoy! 🙂

The Review

Title: The New Diary

Author: Hanna Kraft

Series: Heritage Diaries, #1

Genre: Semi-Biographical Historical Fiction

Era: 1930 (early Great Depression)

Setting: New York, United States

Source: from author (in exchange for honest review)

Overall Rating: 4/5

The New Diary by Hanna Kraft

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One Summer Sunday in 1930, Carol Ayers decides to keep a diary. She records many life changes over the days, weeks, and months. Can Carol and her family accept, and even like the changes, and at the same time continue their traditions?

The New Diary, a fictional account, contains actual excerpts from the real diary of Carol Ayers, the author’s great-grandmother.

Add on Goodreads

The New Diary by Hanna Kraft is a very sweet, entertaining story. At first, I didn’t quite realize that it was based off her grandmother’s journals (I’m not a detail person …) and expected more of an average historical fiction novel, but it was much more than that, and I really enjoyed it!

Plot {4/5}:

All of the little stories in this book were so great! Some were funny, some intriguing, and all were entertaining and interesting. I will say I would have liked more of a solid plotline, but this was actually a nice change. I’m sick of the formulas, anyway, and as it’s semi-biographical, it’s understandable.

Characters {3/5}:

I admit I spent most if not all of this book with the characters mixed up in my head. If I were the author, I might try making a ‘characters’ section at the beginning of the book so readers could refer back to it and figure out who’s who. I had the feeling that I walked into a room where everyone knows everyone … except me, who knows no one. Of course, that makes sense, as the author really does know some of these characters (in a way)!

However, the characters I did remember (Carol, Pete, Maggie, etc.) were all very vivid and real. I enjoyed them. Pete was my favorite. Or Maggie. Or Edythe. But I liked Carol, too …

Setting {4/5}:

The setting was amazing! I really got immersed in the era (and I sure didn’t want to leave!). I especially loved when they went shopping and were looking at clothes.

I think the description of characters and places, however, could have used a little work … but not much. I could feel hot summer days or rain drizzling on my back sometimes, too. 🙂

Writing {4/5}:

Light and entertaining and never focusing on anything longer than need by, the writing kept the book going. It could use a little work on minor things here and there, but I shan’t dwell on it … mostly because I can’t remember what they were and my notes are hazy. 😄

Content:

I think maybe there was a little girl-talk about boys and crushes and stuff, but that was maybe two paragraphs and so innocent (it’s the 1930s!). Not at all like the silly stuff you hear from your average middle-schooler/high-schooler nowadays. I can’t remember anything else, though.

Okay for all ages without parental guidance. Probably best for girls aged 8-14.

Overall {4/5}:

The New Diary gives us a good glimpse into life in the early 1930s for your average family and community, and I really appreciate that (this being among my top ten favorite eras … and yes, I couldn’t narrow it down to less than ten … even that was a stretch …). It was also a great story about a great family who stuck together in an increasingly troubled time. Looking forward to the next book! 🙂

About the Author

Hanna Kraft, an introverted Christian Homeschooler, is very grateful to have the opportunity to learn at home, and desires to spread her love of Jesus to others. Every day she sees new ways the Lord has provided, blessed, and cared for her and those she cares for. Hanna enjoys writing much more than any of her five siblings, and has enjoyed it for several years. When she realized her ability to publish The New Diary, she decided to pursue writing as a bit more than a mere hobby.

Besides reading and writing, Hanna lives in the country with her family, and enjoys playing the banjo, swimming, listening to much Southern Gospel music, and watching college basketball.

The Tour Schedule

Wednesday the 1st

-Kellyn Roth @ Reveries Reviews (kick-off/author interview)

Friday the 3rd

-Megan @ A Barefoot Gal (author interview)

-Kellyn Roth @ Reveries Reviews (excerpt)

Saturday the 4th

-Kellyn Roth @ Reveries Reviews (review)

-Angela R. Watts @ The Peculiar Messenger (review/author interview)

-Anika Joy @ Anika’s Avenue (review/author interview)


Thanks for reading and be sure to check out the other posts!

~Kellyn Roth

Action/Adventure, Christian Fiction, Drama, Historical Fiction, Jesseca Wheaton, Middle Grade, Reviews by Age-Range, Reviews by Author, Reviews by Genre, Young Adult

Dark Storm Rising by Jesseca Wheaton

Title: Dark Storm Rising

Author: Jesseca Wheaton

Genre: historical adventure

Era: 1938 (WW2)

Setting: Austria, Europe

Publisher: Jesseca Wheaton

Source: from author (in exchange for honest review)

Overall Rating: 4/5

Dark Storm Rising by Jesseca Wheaton

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Helena and Max are just two normal cousins living in north-east Austria. But when Hitler takes over Germany and the unrest grows against the Jews, their families become two of many, helping Germany’s Jews across the border.

Then, on the night the Anschluss is signed and on their way to deliver a secret message, Helena and Max are captured by a high-ranking officer in the Wehrmacht. Confined within the enemy’s walls, Helena and Max have many unanswered questions.

If Germany is not at war with Austria, then why have they been captured? Who can they trust? And will they ever see their families again? Encountering many surprises along the way, Helena and Max learn that God’s plans are always best, and the power of forgiveness.

Add on Goodreads

That was a fantastic short story! I really enjoyed it and would recommend it to almost anyone who loves historical fiction, exciting adventures, or great Christian messages. 🙂

Plot {5/5}:

The plot was interesting and intriguing, exciting while not being too fast-paced.

Characters {5/5}:

The characters were great. I really liked the Major. Especially his flowers.

Setting {4/5}:

I personally felt this could have been a little stronger, especially description-wise, but it was a short story after all.

Writing {3/5}:

Pretty good, although I see how Jesseca’s writing has improved since now by quite a bit! Especially in A Question of Honor. *swoons over another book by the author* *takes a deep breath*

Content:

I’d say it was perfectly clean. Some violence, though nothing particularly graphic. No language or sexual content.

Overall {4/5}:

A sweet but poignant and meaningful short story (with a short review!).

~Kellyn Roth

Blog Tours, Christian Fiction, Historical Fiction, Jesseca Wheaton, Middle Grade, Reviews by Age-Range, Reviews by Author, Reviews by Genre, Romance, Young Adult

Beyond the Horizon by Jesseca Wheaton

Title: Beyond the Horizon

Author: Jesseca Wheaton

Genre: Fairytale Retelling/Christian Fiction/Romance

Age-Range: 12+ (upper middle grade/young adult)

Era: late 1930s (pre-WW2)

Setting: Austria

Publisher: Jesseca Wheaton

Source: from author (in exchange for honest review)

Rating: 4/5 stars

Content: 1/5. I can’t think of a lot. I, personally, had no content problems whatsoever. I guess the ‘evil stepmother’ of the story is mean. And then there is romance, but no kissing or anything. Mentions of the Nazis’ hatred of Jews (and peoples’ hatred of the Nazis), the oncoming war (I think), etc.

Beyond the Horizon by Jesseca Wheaton

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Eliana longs to see the world beyond the mountains that tower above Salzburg, Austria, but knows that dream will never see such adventure- and neither will she.

Surrounded by a world of cruelty, she lives for the weekly visits of Aron, a boy she met on one of her rambles through the countryside. But as the years pass and she begins to grow older, a new and unwelcome world is opened up to her. On a fateful night at a party she vowed she’d never attend, she comes face to face with a shocking truth.

As the world around her teeters on the brink of war, Eliana struggles to figure out just where her loyalty lies; a decision that will drastically change the course of her life. Will she ever be free to see what lies beyond the horizon?

Buy on Amazon ~ Add on Goodreads

Before we go any farther, I just want to say … that cover. Wowza. It’s so gorgeous. It’s also super professional. I just adore it! I know who I’m going to go to for future covers! (Although … I know so many good cover designers!)

That was really a fantastic story! It’s a unique, interesting way of retelling the Cinderella story. I especially liked the little mystery! Absolutely fantastic. She totally had me going for a while! 😀

This is definitely one of my favorite eras! That’s partially because a lot of my favorite movies were made around this time period. Cary Grant, anyone? Anyone!? It’s just such a great era. The manners, the outfits, the sense of honor … amazing. I don’t care about the war; there were ‘good old days.’

However, this is a new setting for me to some extent. I really enjoyed it. It was hard for me to remember that the characters weren’t American sometimes … and other times I couldn’t remember this was the 1930s, not the Victorian era or some fantasy world. So there was that. It didn’t bother me a lot, though.

So … the setting could have used a little improvement, but, after all, this was a novella. How much can you fit into a novella? The answer is “not a lot.” You can only write as long as you have a plot to write about, and so it’s hard to pack in all the other stuff you need to in order to make a great story. I know I have difficulties doing it!

The characters were very well-done. I liked Eliana a lot, but Aron was my favorite. He was so sweet and kind and perfect … ack! I mean, perhaps he didn’t have faults … but I don’t care. Some characters don’t need faults to be perfect. Aron is perfect, and whoever doesn’t like can … can … eat their umbrella! 😛 Wilhelm is cool, too.

How the characters interacted … gosh, it was fantastic. I especially like Wilhelm and Elly’s interactions. Of course, Elly and Aron were adorable together (and I love how they supported each other), but Wilhelm and Elly were so much fun. 🙂

I loved SPOILERSSPOILERSSPOILERS Eliana’s conversion. END OF SPOILERS It was realistically done and really sweet.

The description in this novella was amazing! The writing was, overall, really fantastic.

I’d recommend Beyond the Horizon to any lover of (fantastic!) fairytale retellings, WW2 in Europe, intricate characters, and plot-twisty plots.

~Kellyn Roth

The Blog Tour

Today and tomorrow, Jesseca is having a blog tour for the release of this novel!

Here’s the schedule, so you can know which blogs to visit when:

Friday, December 16th:

Saturday, December 17th:

About the Author

jesseca-wheaton

Jesseca is an 18-year old daughter, sister, and a child of God. Her days are spent reading, cooking, spending time with siblings, or playing piano.  And writing, of course! At an early age words fascinated her, and her love for the printed page has only grown. She lives with her parents and seven siblings in the sunny state of Kansas, and she’s convinced there’s no place like home.

Connect with Jesseca:

Blog: Whimsical Writings

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14241334.Jesseca_Wheaton

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/pacitosenoritaj/

Action/Adventure, Christian Fiction, Historical Fiction, Middle Grade, Rebekah A. Morris, Reviews by Age-Range, Reviews by Author, Reviews by Genre, Young Adult

Unbroken by Rebekah A. Morris

Title: Unbroken

Author: Rebekah A. Morris

Series: Triple Creek Ranch, #1

Genre: Christian/Literary Fiction

Age-Range: 12+ (upper middle grade/young adult)

Era: 1800s/early 1900s

Setting: the West (yes, that is the best I can do!)

Publisher: Read Another Page Publishing

Source: from author (as a gift)

Rating: 4/5 stars

Content: 1/5. Mentions of injuries. No language. No sexual content (unless you count some kisses between Jenelle and Norman … but there were no details; literally, ‘He kissed her.’)

Unbroken by Rebekah A. Morris

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Difficulties arise at Triple Creek Ranch when Orlena, Norman Mavrich’s spoiled, pampered younger sister comes to live with her brother and his wife.

The move is much against Orlena’s wishes, and she doesn’t hesitate to let everyone know it. Time and again Mr. and Mrs. Mavrich are driven to their knees to find strength to face another day.

Join the young ranch boss, Norman Mavrich, his sweet wife, Jenelle, and the rest of the members of Triple Creek Ranch as they strive to be examples of Christ to the unbroken newcomer.

Buy on Amazon (free in ebook format!) ~ Add on Goodreads

I wrote the review as a freewrite today, so it’s not very organized, but here goes. 🙂

A couple months back I read the book Unbroken (Triple Creek Ranch, #1) by Rebekah A. Morris. Unbroken is the story of a rich city girl who, after the death of her grandmother, comes to live on a ranch with her brother and his wife.

This girl, Orlena Mavrich, is very spoiled and knows absolutely nothing about farm life. Although humorous at times, this is definitely a problem. Her brother, Norman, and his wife, Jenelle, are determined to show Orlena God’s love … and hopefully cure her of her tantrums!

Unbroken is a fantastic book. Besides being an exciting, sometimes humorous story full of little adventures, it also has some wonderful messages. Jenelle, in particular, is a wonderful example of Christian perseverance, gracefulness, gentleness, and sweetness.

Norman and Jenelle were really sweet together, and seeing Orlena change over time was really cool.

I do have a few negatives about this book, however. It’s squeaky clean Christian fiction … so perhaps the author didn’t want to go into it … but I thought perhaps Jenelle was pregnant. It certainly seemed like it. Always tired, dizzy spells … all the classic signs. Maybe I just have too active an imagination (or like babies a lot), but … yeah. That’s what I thought was happening! And yet … the weeks pass … and no mentions of an incoming baby! So maybe Jenelle just was tired from managing Orlena. But … but … but … I want there to be a baby! 😛

Then there was some head-hopping. If you’re writing from a more omniscient POV, this is okay, but I don’t think the author really was. She wasn’t telling the story; she was living it. While this makes the story more exciting and engaging, it also brings forth the death-trap, said head-hopping. You can only live a story in one head at a time. 😉

Before I move past the negatives, one more thing … I’d have liked some more background, some more set dates! What year are we in? How long have Jenelle and Norman been married? How much age-difference is there between Norman and Orlena? More details about their parents? More details about their childhood, especially Norman’s? Perhaps these will be given in the next book, though.

However, these things didn’t really detract from my enjoyment of the story much. I still found it entertaining and delightful and sweet and sad and joyful. Miss Morris really knows how to bring all the emotions to play. And her books are so clean … it’s almost miraculous. I sit there going, “Where does the conflict come from!?” But it’s there, none-the-less. (Just kidding … but it’s kinda true; a lot of authors do add content in for the sake of conflict! Messed up, I know!)

Well, I hear the timer. Time to go.

~Kellyn Roth

Action/Adventure, Historical Fiction, Mandy Webster, Middle Grade, Mystery/Thriller, Reviews by Age-Range, Reviews by Author, Reviews by Genre, Young Adult

Young Marian: A Viper in the Forest by Mandy Webster

Title: A Viper in the Forest

Author: Mandy Webster

Series: Young Marian, #1

Genre: Historical Adventure (folk-tale retelling)

Age-Range: 10+ (middle grade/young adult)

Era: medieval

Setting: Sherwood Forest, England

Publisher: Mandy Webster

Source: from the author (in exchange for an honest review)

Rating: 5/5 stars

Content: 3/5. Some violence (swordfights, fistfights, etc.), nothing too gory, but people were stabbed and bleeding, etc. A mention or two of childbirth and women dying during childbirth, no details, should be okay for younger kids. I don’t remember any language.

A Viper in the Forest by Mandy Webster

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Marian and Robin’s carefree childhood in Sherwood Forest takes a dark turn when the arrival of a cruel new lord sets off a series of intrigues including robbery, kidnapping and murder.

Marian watches in horror as the man strides, weapon in hand, toward where Robin lies helpless. But when Robin’s plan to exact vengeance goes awry, Marian must risk her own life to save him.

A rash of robberies has been plaguing the great houses of Nottinghamshire. Knowing what she does about him, Marian is forced to ask herself whether Robin is capable of the crime spree or if his was just a one-off act of revenge.

Marian’s attempts to uncover the truth lead her into the path of the handsome young Guy of Gisbane – and danger. Kidnapped and hopelessly lost in the forest, Marian has only her wits to rely on if she and Robin hope to survive.

Buy on Amazon ~ Add on Goodreads

Wow, that was really a fantastic book! I’m considering buying a copy for my younger (12-year-old) brother for Christmas. I think he might like it, especially since my mother’s reading The Adventures of Robin Hood to him now. I think my nine-year-old brother might enjoy it, too.

This is an amazing retelling (or rather prequel) of the Robin Hood story. Told from thirteen-year-old Maid Marian’s point of view, A Viper in the Forest tells the story of Robin and Marian’s first escapade (at least, I assume this was the first one that put them in danger of anything but a whipping!).

Let me tell you, I sure didn’t see any of the twists coming! I was always surprised. Maybe that’s because I’m naïve and gullible, or maybe that’s because it’s an amazing book. You’ll have to buy it and judge for yourself.

The characters were well-developed. I liked Marian, although I admit her distrusting Robin for an instant bugged me a big (despite the fact that I had my suspicions, too). She was a very strong character. Of course, I never had a problem with the damsel-in-distress Marian. In fact, I liked her. I don’t know why, but I don’t feel like being rescued makes you weak, especially if you’re wearing a dress. I always feel weak in a dress. 😛

Sorry for my weird musings. I’ll get back to the review.

Anyway, it was nice to see Marian in the strong-female-lead place, although I admit it annoyed me just a bit because girls weren’t like that back then. I don’t care what you say; girls weren’t like that back then! Still, that didn’t subtract from my enjoyment of the book at all, because the Robin Hood story has always felt like more of a legend than a reality to me, and so I view this book more of fantasy than historical fiction.

Robin was great, though he wasn’t the Robin we’re used to. He’s rasher, crazier, not so self-controlled … but, then, he is fourteen. Fourteen-year-old boys can be … *shivers* I do hope he becomes a little more balanced as he grows … though not a lot.

Midge was another favorite, and I liked Marian’s father a lot, too. I absolutely hated Guy (what? I just felt like he was oily … I know nothing was proved, but … maybe I share Robin’s anger and jealousy of him a bit or something, but he creeped me out). But it was a good hate (if you know what I mean!).

The description was lovely, and the setting was beautifully unfolded. I absolutely loved Robin’s treehouse! I want a structure just like that, with all the ropes and stuff … wow. So cool.

This is an exciting, adventurous, twistful tale that anyone, male or female, over the age of ten is sure to enjoy. If you buy it, remember to set aside a weekend, because you will not be putting it down.

~Kellyn Roth

Adult, Classics, Historical Fiction, Maud Hart Lovelace, Middle Grade, Reviews by Age-Range, Reviews by Author, Reviews by Genre, Romance, Young Adult

Emily of Deep Valley by Maud Hart Lovelace

Title: Emily of Deep Valley

Author: Maud Hart Lovelace

Series: Deep Valley, #2 (can definitely be read as a stand-alone, though)

Genre: Historical/Classic Romance/Literary Fiction

Age-Range: 12+ (upper middle grade/young adult/adult)

Era: 1910s (later Edwardian)

Setting: Deep Valley, Minnesota

Publisher: Harper Trophy (first published 1950)

Source: library/now own

Rating: 5/5 stars

Content: 1/5. I can’t think of anything in this story that isn’t okay for all ages. I guess there’s the usual falling in love and a couple kisses (absolutely no details), but … yeah, it’s really just sweet and adorable. 🙂

Emily of Deep Valley by Maud Hart Lovelace

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Emily Webster, an orphan living with her grandfather, is not like the other girls her age in Deep Valley, Minnesota. The gulf between Emily and her classmates widens even more when they graduate from Deep Valley High School in 1912. Emily longs to go off to college with everyone else, but she can’t leave her grandfather.

Emily resigns herself to facing a lost winter, but soon decides to stop feeling sorry for herself. And with a new program of study, a growing interest in the Syrian community, and a handsome new teacher at the high school to fill her days, Emily gains more than she ever dreamed.

Buy on Amazon ~ Add on Goodreads

Wow. Just wow.

I heard that there was more to the Betsy-Tacy series a couple years back … that Betsy’s Wedding wasn’t the last one. Lovelace had written several stories about minor characters from the Betsy-Tacy series … and one about a completely new character, Emily Webster.

I had to read it.

A library trip later, I read it through in one sitting.

There is something about this book that sets it apart from even the later Betsy-Tacy books. Perhaps it has something to do with Emily, quiet, sensible, two-feet-on-the-ground Emily. Perhaps it has something to do with the message of the story … how Emily overcame her boredom, her loneliness, and her feeling of uselessness by serving others, by making things happen.

It could easily be called ‘The Blooming of Emily Webster’ if that title didn’t sound just a bit too cliché for such a perfect, adorable book. 🙂

Lets start out with Emily. She’s an awesome protagonist. At the beginning, she’s sad and just a bit pouty over the loss of her schoolmates, the feeling of uselessness as she no-longer has a place to go every day with school over.

She was never a big part of the school social circle. She was always the outcast, the girl who didn’t have a mother and father and a modern, pretty house to host friends in, but she still misses the activity, the ability to slip into the crowd and get lost in everyone else’s merriment.

Now Emily must make her own way in the world as a young woman. She thinks the only way to do that would be to go through college … but, of course, she’s wrong, because no woman in a Maud Hart Lovelace novel needs anything – not even college – to get anything done if she really sets her mind to it.

So Emily sets to work.

Another fun part of this story was Jed. Wow. The first time I read this, I didn’t see that one coming. Well, the fun thing about Lovelace’s books is that you never see the romance before it actually happens … and most the time, you have no idea who the character will marry until the end! Yet you never feel like the character is making too sudden decisions or anything like that! I wish I could write like that. 🙂

Overall, this is a must-read for … anyone. Let’s just leave it at that. 😛

~Kellyn Roth