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?

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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?

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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, Adult, Christian Fiction, Historical Fiction, Janette Oke, Julie Klassen, Melanie Dickerson, Mini Review Day, Reviews by Age-Range, Reviews by Author, Reviews by Genre, Romance, Sarah E. Ladd, Sarah Sundin, Tamera Alexander, Young Adult

March 2017 Mini Review Day

It’s time for another mini review day. Let’s get started!

The Wings of a Nightingale series by Sarah Sundin

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I admit I didn’t enjoy Sarah Sundin’s Wings of a Nightingale b00ks as much as I did her other series, but it was still amazing, every book earning 5/5 stars from me.

Warning: this review is a fangirl review. If you don’t like fangirls, fangirling, shrill fangirly shrieks, or obsessiveness of any kind, please refrain from reading. This will truly sicken you. It sickens me, too. And I wrote it.

With Every Letter was reviewed in the January 2017 Mini Review Day post.

On Distant Shores

Let’s be honest; this book broke my heart. Of course, every other Sarah Sundin book has broken my heart in a unique way, but this one … so much stuff to kill one internally! Rose (oh, wow … that was so heartbreaking!) … and Hutch’s girlfriend (ooooooh, I would have killed her, so help me!) and Georgie is such a trooper, and she’s so … awesome … and I just love her. Reminds me of my BFF a little, honestly.

Hutch … oh, my word, Hutch. I hate how no one respects him! Like, no one. Not a single person, honestly. And he so deserves everyone’s respect And Georgie. AAAH!!! (no, wait, I already fangirled over Georgie … must fangirl over someone else now … how about the nurses as a whole?)

THE NURSES! This series. They are like this little team of spunky awesome people. I just don’t have works. I feel like saying, “I CAN’T EVEN!” but that’s not really me. I’m more of a “AAAAAAH THIS BOOOOOOOOOOK!” girl.

In Perfect Time is one of the least-beloved Sundin books because of the content, despite the fact that I consider it to be amazing … mostly because of the emotions. THEY RUN HIGH!

Okay, so, here’s the scoop: there is an attempted rape – well, more like this guy wanted to have sex with Kay and was very insistent which she responded to by knocking him over and running away. Everyone (in the book) thinks the main character is some kind of a harlot (which she isn’t). Kay is constantly fending off men’s advances and even considers giving in at one point for rather bad reasons.

I get it if you’re not comfortable with that – or with a main character who honestly just dates for fun without wanting a serious relationship. But … but … she’s scarred, y’all! Can’t you see that she’s scarred and needs Jesus’ love??? *sobs* Sorry … emotions happening over here …

As a whole, the series was amazing. It let us look through the eyes of the lesser-sung heroes (and heroines, to some extent) of WW2. It is high on emotions with a beautiful Christian message in each book and characters so well-developed you feel as if you know them.

5/5 stars

Buy Book One on Amazon ~ Add Book One on Goodreads

When Calls the Heart by Janette Oke

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I’ve watched most of the Hallmark TV show of the same title (which is amazing, by the way), so I decided to give the book a try. Well, it was nothing like the TV show … but it was amazing. Once I got started, I couldn’t put it down. Elizabeth was a great character (though sometimes this country girl thought she was being silly, such as with the ‘wolves’) and I love Wynn. He wasn’t Jack (or Gil) … but he was still a great hero. I loved that last scene at the train depot. ❤

5/5 stars

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Dawn at Emberwilde by Sarah E. Ladd

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This novel is a well-written sweet romance with an intriguing mystery that kept me up reading pretty late. However, I just can’t get over my disappointment over one little detail.

I really enjoyed Treasures of Surrey, Book 1: The Curiosity Keeper (which I mini-reviewed here). It got four stars (the ending disappointed me), but I was hoping we’d get to revisit the characters. After all, as I’ve said before, the ending was a little rocky. I needed closure. But then I find that Dawn at Emberwilde is in no way related to The Curiosity Keeper.

Like, not at all.

I was so disappointed! How could Sarah E. Ladd do this to me? I mean, I guess it’s my fault for not researching the novel before I read it or whatever … but still. So, despite this being a pretty decent novel, I just can’t be fair with it … so it received 3/5 stars. The author cheated. She can’t just create stick together a random bunch of books that aren’t related in any way, shape, or form. Well, I guess she can … but I don’t have to like it.

3/5 stars

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The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill by Julie Klassen

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I’ve read every other Julie Klassen up to date, so I was of course excited to read her new(ish by the time I read it) release, The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill. Well, it was great. A little different than her other stories, yes (not so much romance), but still amazing. My heart broke for a couple of the characters at different occasions, and I’m looking forward to seeing book 2 of the Tales from Ivy Hill series. Still, it did drag heavily in several places, and I sometimes just wished it could get to the point and stop dawdling.

4/5 stars

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A Beauty So Rare by Tamera Alexander

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When I began this book, it’d been a while since I’d read anything by Tamera Alexander. I really love her writing style, and this was no exception.

Historic Nashville is such an intriguing place, and the characters in it – some based on real-life, other fabricated – are equally as fascinating. I really adored this book. The historical details were amazing, I liked both Eleanor and Marcus, and of course I still love ‘Aunt Adelicia.’ She’s really the most amazing character ever. I wish I could have known her (though I doubt we would see eye to eye in real life; we’re both too independent).

I did chop off half a star because it did seem to drag just a little here and there. A few too many botany details, I think.

4.5/5 stars

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The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest by Melanie Dickerson

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This is a ‘did not finish’ review. I finished approximately 25% of the book and … I couldn’t go on. Why not?

  • I disliked the main characters. I found their romance to be unrealistic (what I read of it, anyway) and didn’t think they were attracted to each other for the right reasons. I also didn’t like how they were gawking at each other all the time. Okay, okay, you’re both the most gorgeous things ever. Who cares? Not I.
  • The writing style was immature. I could write better. I could write a lot better (though most the time I don’t *sheepish grin*). And I don’t read books unless they’re better-written than my own. There’s no point to it. Why bother? I sure don’t want to start writing like that, and I will (I tend to imitate the authors I read), so … let’s not put the temptation out there for me!
  • Odette wasn’t married. We’re in the 1300s, and it doesn’t bother anyone that Odette isn’t married in her twenties? She would have been married at fourteen. I don’t care if her dear old uncle loves her or not. If he really loved her, he would have married her off at fourteen. Or thirteen. Or twelve. There were no exceptions. It was how things were done. Either write historical fiction and stick to the fact or write a fantasy in which people wait forever to marry. *shrugs*
  • Jorgen couldn’t even talk to Odette. He’s a couple classes below her, and the upper class was very upper class even back then while the commoners were commoners. There would have been no contact between them. Partially because she would have been married with three or four children.
  • Odette is a snob. I don’t care what you say. She may be sneaking off to kill pheasants for peasants, but she turned away perfectly good suitors for no reason. Again. And again. And again. Why? Because they’re not good enough for her. Why? Not handsome enough, not rich enough, not young enough. Hardly great reasons for turning men down, especially back then with looks and youth didn’t matter. In fact, age was considered distinguishing in some ways. She needs to get over herself.
  • But everyone loves Odette. Everyone either wants to marry her or be her friend. She’s gorgeous, she’s a great shot with a bow and arrow, and she feeds the poor and teaches the children. I just can’t deal with this kind of character, y’know?

For those reasons (and a few others), I just didn’t care to finish this book. I set it aside and moved on to something better, and I suggest you do likewise. It’s just not worth your time.

2/5 stars

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Thanks for reading my reviews,

~Kellyn Roth

Action/Adventure, Blog Tours, Christian Fiction, Historical Fiction, Reviews by Age-Range, Reviews by Author, Reviews by Genre, Victoria Lynn, Young Adult

London in the Dark by Victoria Lynn

Title: London In The Dark

Author: Victoria Lynn

Series: Light of London, #1

Genre: Christian Historical Mystery

Era: 1910 (Edwardian)

Setting: London, England

Publisher: Ichthus Family Productions

Source: from author (in exchange for honest review)

Overall Rating: 3.5/5

London in the Dark by Victoria Lynn

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London, 1910

Budding Private Detective Cyril Arlington Hartwell has a conundrum. London is being ravaged by the largest run of thefts in recent history. His hunch that it is all tied together may put him and those he loves in more danger than he could have reckoned.

Olivia Larken Hartwell is just home from boarding school for the summer anticipating time with her adoring parents.She misses her absent brother, Cyril, hoping for the day he will finally come home. But tragedy strikes, causing upheaval for all concerned and changes her life in a way she never could have imagined.

Olivia, Cyril, and their friends must bring the hidden to light, seek to execute justice, and dispel the darkness that hovers over London… and their hearts.

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London in the Dark by Victoria Lynn is an exciting, mysterious story of estranged family members and baffling robberies. Though I do have some negatives (as I shall reveal below), it was a great novel that I really enjoyed and couldn’t wait to see what happened next.

Plot {4/5}:

I found the beginning to be a little slow, but once it got going, it packed a powerful punch! There were several twists I couldn’t believe, and some things (not noted here because of spoilers) broke my heart. The end was fantastic! A few times I was a bit confused as to what was going on, but it was a mystery, after all, and I soon caught on.

I was also a little confused by the epilogue as it skipped forward quite a bit and seemed to jam a lot of information into one place, but I’m guilty of that in my own writing (I like to see my stories tied up in a nice, neat bow!), so how can I complain?

Characters {4/5}:

I sometimes got them mixed up (my fault …), but the characters were, overall, quite interesting. Let’s taking a look at a few of them.

Cyril: he annoyed me for the greater portion of the book. I was so angry with him. How dare he be so cold and cruel, so unfeeling, so evil? I felt that Cyril was the real villain and didn’t sympathize with him one bit. I could see absolutely no reason for it. He just seemed to be mean for no reason in particular. But then I learned about what happened, and I understood. Still, I wish it could have been hinted at a little more all along.

Olivia: I’m not emotional, so you’d think I wouldn’t get along well with Olivia, but she was really a sweetheart. I loved her dedication to her piano-playing, and how her emotions seemed to guide her playing. However, she did make some really stupid decisions that made me angry at her.

Dudley: I’d heard of the official Dudley fan club, and I entered this book curious … but knowing that I’m already in love with Gil, so there’s no need for me to fall for another book character. Well, I didn’t fall exactly, but I can see why girls love him. He’s really cool and fun to read about.

Mrs. Hobbs: WHO DOESN’T LOVE THIS LADY!? She’s hilarious and endearing and sweet.

I’m not going to list anymore (mostly because I would probably give away spoilers and partially because I don’t want this post to be too long), but, for the most part, they were all well-developed and interesting, even though I didn’t love all of them.

Setting {3/5}:

I found it difficult sometimes to remember what era we were in. It seemed modern at times … or at least a couple decades later. However, the description was excellent and I did get a good feel for the appearance of the characters, etc.

Writing {3/5}:

I feel a little bad about saying this, but I felt like the writing was weak. Don’t get me wrong: the style was good (amazing, even … I really enjoyed it!). There was nothing to complain about in the author’s style.

However, this book needed editing. Punctuation rules seemed to be basically ignored, there were several typos, and lots of awkward/hard to understand sentences. It wasn’t awful … but it did detract from the story.

[Note: I was just informed by the author that the copy I have was not the completed version. I wasn’t aware of this fact – probably wasn’t paying close enough attention – and so there are probably no typos, punctuation mistakes, or other writing errors in this book any longer.]

Content {2/5}:

Language: n/a

Violence: mentions of death and dying and a (somewhat described) death. Several people are shot/wounded in another manner. Stores are blown up though no one is hurt (I don’t think).

Sexual: n/a

Parental guidance suggested for more sensitive middle-graders due to violence. Okay for all ages.

Overall {3.5/5}:

A decent story with an intriguing plot, interesting characters, and a great writing-style, this novel needed some work in as far as editing and setting goes, but was amazing in every other way. I’d definitely recommend it to any lover of a good mystery with well-rounded characters and a positive Christian message.

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About the Author

victorialynn

Victoria Lynn is in her 20s and if she’s not writing, she is probably sewing, singing, playing the piano, washing dishes, creating something with her hands, or learning something new. She has a passion for serving her Creator, encouraging others and being creative. She blogs at www.rufflesandgrace.com about writing, fashion, modesty, her walk with God and life. She lives in Michigan with her parents and 8 siblings.

The Giveaways

Victoria is hosting two giveaways, one on her blog and the other on Goodreads. The one on Goodreads is for a signed copy of London in the Dark; the other has two prizes (first and second).

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Amazing prizes, right? I love that mug … I want to make one for certain of my own characters, but I don’t want to steal Victoria’s idea. Anyway, be sure to check out Victoria’s blog to find the other great posts in this blog tour!

Thank for reading,

~Kellyn Roth

Action/Adventure, Adult, Blog Tours, Christian Fiction, Historical Fiction, Jesseca Wheaton, Mystery/Thriller, Reviews by Age-Range, Reviews by Author, Reviews by Genre, Young Adult

A Question of Honor by Jesseca Wheaton (blog tour)

Title: A Question of Honor

Author: Jesseca Wheaton

Series: Questions of War, #1

Genre: Christian Historical Adventure

Era: 1940 (WW2)

Setting: Kansas (USA), England, and France

Publisher: Jesseca Wheaton

Source: from author (in exchange for honest review)

Overall Rating: 5/5 stars

A Question of Honor by Jesseca Wheaton

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A man. A child. A war. 

When German soldiers invade France during World War II, young Joyanna’s perfect world is shattered. In the hands of those who hate her, she battles to comprehend why people can be so ruthless and cold toward those whom they have never met. 

David Sullivan, pilot in the Royal Air Force, was certain he would never hate, but a painful loss forces him to either reconsider or do the inconceivable—forgive. He is suddenly challenged by the realization that doing God’s will is not easy, but most important. With the lives of freedom-fighters relying on him, he must learn the difficult lesson that he is not in control, but merely one who must surrender his heart of obedience to One greater.

A sudden turn of events lands Joyanna and David in the same country—but for far different reasons. When their paths cross, David finds he must make a decision that will affect them both for the rest of their lives.

Will he choose vengeance, or will he let his life be ruled by a higher standard? A standard of Honor.

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This is my favorite book ever.

Okay, it’s not my absolute favorite book, but it’s among my favorite books. It’s just so good!

It gave me every (positive) emotion that exists, making me cry and laugh and jump up and down with a mixture of crying and laughing. It taught me some important truths that I honestly had trouble accepting before, and it was absolutely captivating.

Plot {5/5}:

One of those plots you can simply not rip your eyes away from. It was just the best ever. I never do this (because that’s what the blurb’s for), but I’m going to tell you a little about it instead of just rambling on about how amazing it is.

In the prologue, young Joyanna, a Christian Jew who ran away from Germany and is now living in war-torn France, sees her father shot by a Nazi.

Next we skip to Kansas, USA, where David Sullivan and his best friend Gil test-fly planes for the army. Both of these daring fliers decide to leave their country (against the will of the government) and join the RAF (Royal Air Force) in England. Gil is recently married to Lily (*glares at Lily* *who stole my Gil from me*) and David marries his fiancée, Elaine, before he leaves.

Back in France, merciless Nazi Erich kidnaps Joyanna after her mother and sister are taken away. He wants to use her to glean information … but Joyanna starts to steal her way into his heart … and Erich just doesn’t know how to deal with this spunky little Jew. He should hate her … but he doesn’t. Not really.

As you can see, this is one of the best plots ever. One of the reasons I loved it was because of the POVs. Each point of view was so amazing.

  • Serious David, so intent upon doing the right thing but so shattered.
  • Spunky Joyanna, rarely intimidated, a little trouper with such a strong faith.
  • Icy cold Erich, hiding a soft side under layers of rigid formality and evil intent.

Each of these three taught me something different.

  • Forgive, no matter how hard it is; don’t let bitterness take over you. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.
  • Always keep your chin up, always keep trudging along, and never let them get the best of you … but also be kind and sweet, because that’s the Christian way.
  • *gasp* There were humans behind those killing machines …

Erich’s perspective was really incredible. I just … I never thought I’d ever, ever want to get inside the head of a Nazi. Like, seriously. I have nothing against the German race (literally all my friends have German in them, so I can’t! 😉 ), but … the Nazis did such horrible things.

I couldn’t imagine ever wanting to get anywhere near any of them. I couldn’t imagine that they could do what they did and still have human souls. I didn’t really think about it … I just felt it. Well, now I feel differently. Thanks, Jesseca!

Characters {5/5}:

Again, I don’t have words. I think I’m going to have to force myself to write just a sentence or two about a few of the main characters … because I could literally go on and on about every single one for paragraphs.

The characters in this novel are amazing. I know I’ve been using that word a lot, but they really are. They’re so real, so beautiful, so human. I feel as if I know each and every one. But I’ll try to limit myself to describing a few.

David: wow … he’s just … wow. I love the lessons he learned (I really needed to learn them myself!), I loved how he responded to every situation so realistically (though not always how he should, of course … we’re all human here!), how sweet he was with Elaine, what a good friend he was to Gil, what a good (honorary) brother he was to Lily … wow. Just wow.

Joyanna: this girl! What can I say about the perfect (fictional) child? Such a spunky little tiger. 🙂

Erich: I ended the book empathizing with Erich. I know, I know … he’s the “bad guy.” But that’s one of the lessons this book teachers. I’m a black-and-white (the other kind of black and white …) person myself, and I truly believe we live in a black-and-white world … but … well, us humans aren’t all bad. We’re ruled by Sin, but we’re not all bad. I still don’t believe we’re all gray … we’re either God’s children and therefore pure or not God’s children and therefore contaminated … but I don’t know. It’s one of those tricky things. I can’t really explain it.

Elaine: I know, we didn’t get to see much of her in this book … but she was really a sweet person.

Lily: her reaction when … well, I can’t tell you, but her reaction when something bad happened to her (I feel like I just gave it away … oh, well …) was amazing. I would have died. Strike that: I died! 😛 But she stayed strong, and she even found time to nurse wounded soldiers back to health! I would love to have a book about this girl, even though I bet we’re not getting one. Maybe a short story, Jesseca? From Lily’s POV? Or even Elaine? Maybe you could touch on the years we skipped between the last chapter and the epilogue? Hmm? I know you’re reading this; don’t pretend you’re not. Jesseca?! 😛 (Just kidding, friend; do whatever you need to do to make more amazing books with no regards to me! Writing books because your fans demand it is not really the best idea. But if you do happen to have a spark of inspiration … *nudges*)

Gil: I’m going to marry Gil when I grow up. *nods* Okay, I’m not. Even if he were a real person, he’d be married. And he lived in the 1900s and I live in the 2000s. But … if he were a real person and was unmarried and lived in my time, I would marry him, because I love him so much. *sighs* He is just … wow. He is the best book character ever. I don’t even know why I’m so obsessed with him, but I am. It’s a little unhealthy, but I’ll get over it … maybe …

Micah: he’s a lot like Gil … but there are subtle differences, too. Which is cool. It takes talent to write two similar characters and make them come out individualistic.

Setting {4/5}:

I don’t have much on setting, I admit, because that’s not usually what I focus on when reading unless there’s definitely something missing. Well, there definitely wasn’t something missing. 😛

Seriously, though, Miss Wheaton did an excellent job portraying the era, the places, and the people of that era and those places. I think this was probably the weakest part of the book (sometimes it was hard to remember that the European characters weren’t American, for instance), but it was still very strong (everything about this book was; I seriously believe it was God-inspired). Anyway, I can tell she researched the novel very thoroughly and knows her stuff well.

Writing {4/5}:

I think there was occasionally a little head-hopping between Joyanna and Erich … but otherwise, it was really smooth and easy to understand. I really enjoy Miss Wheaton’s writing style – always have. It’s light and not too complicated, but it also has great depth and emotion where depth and emotion are needed.

Content {2/5}:

Language: none.

Violence: there’s a war going on, and it’s a pretty gruesome one, but it was handled well. Joyanna’s father is shot (not very detailed) and Joyanna’s mother and sister are dragged off to an uncertain fate (though they surely were killed). Erich hits Joyanna once with his riding whip. A couple gunshot wounds (not too detailed), blood, hospitals, planes getting shot down, a somewhat detailed death by burns, etc. Nothing graphic. The violence itself wasn’t disturbing (although younger kids would probably be disturbed by the treatment of the Jews and other non-German, even though it was only briefly mentioned, and also the wounds that people received in one way or another).

Sexual: not much. A couple mentions of pregnancy and of a baby being born (no details at all) and Elaine and David kiss a couple times (no details given), but that’s it. So … basically none.

Recommended for 14+ readers or anyone 12+ who can handle the above-described content.

Overall {5/5}:

This is honestly the best book I’ve read in a long time, and I can hardly wait to read book 2! Please pick up a copy … trust me, you’ll be doing yourself a favor. It’s a must-read for any lover of great plots, beautiful Christian messages, truths about tough eras, and vivid characters.

~Kellyn Roth


About the Author

jessecawheaton

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.

Website~Blog~Amazon~Goodreads~Google+~Pinterest~Instagram


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The Blog Tour Schedule

Wednesday: March 1st

Angela Watt — Review/Author Interview @ The Peculiar Messenger

Faith Potts — Author Interview @ Stories by Firefly

Thursday: March 2nd

Kellyn Roth — Review @ Reveries Reviews

Faith Potts — Review @ Stories by Firefly

Kaitlyn K.–Book spotlight/Author interview @ Twin Thoughts

Friday: March 3rd

Deborah C.–Book Spotlight @ Reading in June

Soleil B.– Book Spotlight @ Reviews by Soleil

Victoria Lynn: Book Spotlight/Review @ Ruffles and Grace

Brianna Henderson — Review/Author Interview @ Ramblings of a Pilgrim on the Way

Anika — Review/Author Interview/Book Spotlight @ Anika’s Avenue

Rebekah Ashleigh — Review @ Rebekah Ashleigh

Saturday: March 4th

Livi Jane–Review @ Living for the Other Side

Victoria Lynn — Author Interview @ Ruffles and Grace

Emily Putzke — Author Interview @ Taking Dictation

Julia Ryan — Review @ The Barefoot Gal

Rebekah Eddy — Book Spotlight/Author interview @ Rebekah’s Remarks


I’m excited to see all those amazing posts, aren’t you? Before you go, allow me to direct you to the giveaway …

Enter Now!

Action/Adventure, Adult, Comedy, Historical Fiction, J.v.L. Bell, Mystery/Thriller, Reviews by Age-Range, Reviews by Author, Reviews by Genre, Romance, Young Adult

The Lucky Hat Mine by J.v.L. Bell

Title: The Lucky Hat Mine

Author: J.v.L. Bell

Genre: Historical Mystery/Romance/Comedy

Era: 1860s

Setting: Idaho Springs, Colorado

Publisher: Hansen Publishing Group

Source: from author (in exchange for honest review)

Overall Rating: 3.5/5 stars (one star was removed for content issues)

The Lucky Hat Mine by J.v.L. Bell

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A recipe for true love or murder? Ingredients: one Southern belle, one Colorado gold miner, a wife wanted classified, and a fainting goat. Let simmer.

What’s a Southern belle to do in 1863? Wife-wanted ads are always risky business, but Millie Virginia never imagined she’d survive the perilous trip across the Great Plains to find her intended husband in a pine box. Was he killed in an accident? Or murdered for his gold mine? Stuck in the mining town of Idaho Springs, Colorado territory, without friends or means, Millie is beleaguered by undesirable suitors and threatened by an unknown assailant. Her troubles escalate when the brother of her dead fiancé, Dominic Drouillard, unexpectedly turns up.

Dom is an ill-mannered mountain man who invades Millie’s log cabin, insists that his brother was murdered, and refuses to leave until he finds the killer. Compelled to join forces with her erstwhile brother-in-law, Millie discovers the search for Colorado gold is perilous, especially with a murderer on their trail.

The Lucky Hat Mine interlaces the tale of a feisty heroine with frontier legend and lore making for an arousing historical murder mystery.

Buy on Amazon ~ Add on Goodreads

This was a great book that kept me entertained and wanting more. It was funny, adventurous, and intriguing, truly a wild and whacky ride. However, I did find the content (mostly the constant stream of innuendo) to be a little more than I was comfortable with.

Plot {4/5}:

The plot was (mostly) amazing. I enjoyed it from beginning to end. In the middle it did drag just a little bit, but after Dominic arrived, it picked up again and was as entertaining and captivating as before.

I did solve the mystery involving the treasure Millie’s father hid rather early. It seemed pretty obvious to me as soon as I heard of the treasure existing. However, I didn’t guess the murderer until he was revealed. I was absolutely surprised, not having considered him as a potential suspect.

I was a little bit confused about the Christian content. This is by no means Christian fiction, and I wasn’t expecting it to be. So … why did Millie think about God so much in the first half of the novel … and then suddenly drop it? I wanted to pull her aside and answer all her questions, poor girl. She sounds so confused.

Characters {5/5}:

The characters were all well-developed and original. I was able to keep them all separated in my mind (and there were quite a few).  I really liked Buttercup. She was hilarious. And Dominic. I want to meet someone like Dominic; he was really great. Millie amused me, and I found myself empathizing with her on several points. Then there was Mary. She was sweet. I also liked Charlotte … Charlotte was funny.

I think my favorite character was Dom. He was so straightforward, and he wasn’t perturbed by anything.

Setting {5/5}:

Loved the descriptions of Colorado terrain. I want to go there someday! It sounds so gorgeous. Reminds me of the Cascades, only more rugged.

Writing {3/5}:

It could be partially due to the weird formatting I got when I downloaded it, but I occasionally found the writing hard to get through. It wasn’t bad … it just wasn’t amazing. As this was an ARC copy, I’m not going to judge it too harshly, however.

Content {4/5}:

This is where the novel really failed in my eyes. Of course, none of this matters to someone who isn’t as careful with content as I am (and there weren’t any really explicit scenes), but there was a little too much to make me comfortable.

Language: “d*mn” several times, “oh my g*d” and variations of this a couple times,  and Millie’s favorite expression is “Oh, Lor.'”

Violence: murders, wars, gunshot wounds, etc. Nothing graphic.

Sexual: many men want Millie to marry them, some as a “bedwarmer” or something like that. Millie wonders repeatedly as to what married couples … do. (Sorry. This is awkward. 😄 ) Mentions of married bliss, sleeping with a man, etc. Millie repeatedly reiterates how inappropriate it is for her and Dom to share a cabin. Dom touches Millie inappropriately. Several mentions of prostitutes. Lots of innuendo. Millie has to remove Dom’s pants (he has long underwear on under them) while he’s unconscious to tend a bullet wound at one point, which wouldn’t be so bad if she weren’t overthinking everything. Just … that kind of stuff.

One star removed. Not recommended for younger teens. 15+ only.

Overall {3.5/5}:

Besides the content, this was an entertaining story that I’d recommend to anyone who enjoys hilarious historical mysteries with a touch of romance.

~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. 🙂

Adult, Christian Fiction, Historical Fiction, Kristi Ann Hunter, Reviews by Age-Range, Reviews by Author, Reviews by Genre, Romance, Young Adult

A Noble Masquerade by Kristi Ann Hunter

After thinking it over for a while, I decided to review A Noble Masquerade by Kristi Ann Hunter in a slightly different way. In honor of the Miranda/Marsh letters, this review will be in epistolary style.

First, a brief introduction the subject material:

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Lady Miranda Hawthorne acts every inch the lady, but inside she longs to be bold and carefree. Entering her fourth Season and approaching spinsterhood in the eyes of society, she pours her innermost feelings out not in a diary but in letters to her brother’s old school friend, a duke–with no intention of ever sending these private thoughts to a man she’s heard stories about but never met. Meanwhile, she also finds herself intrigued by Marlow, her brother’s new valet, and although she may wish to break free of the strictures that bind her, falling in love with a servant is more of a rebellion than she planned.

When Marlow accidentally discovers and mails one of the letters to her unwitting confidant, Miranda is beyond mortified. And even more shocked when the duke returns her note with one of his own that initiates a courtship-by-mail. Insecurity about her lack of suitors shifts into confusion at her growing feelings for two men–one she’s never met but whose words deeply resonate with her heart, and one she has come to depend on but whose behavior is more and more suspicious. When it becomes apparent state secrets are at risk and Marlow is right in the thick of the conflict, one thing is certain: Miranda’s heart is far from all that’s at risk for the Hawthornes and those they love.

Buy on Amazon ~ Add on Goodreads

Dear Lady Miranda,

Well, your story was quite amusing, wasn’t it? It’s a bit of a comedy (mostly because the very situation with the letters is ridiculous), which I totally wasn’t expecting. Of course, there’s also some mystery and some romance, but the comedy parts were something that stood out to me.

Is it just me, or was “Marlow” a little obvious? The first time he appeared, I was like, “Well, the mystery’s solved; time to close the book …” Of course, I read on though and found a different mystery to solve, but it threw me off for a minute because I was thinking, “Okay … that can’t be it … it’s waaay too obvious!”

Now, I admit that, once I get on a roll, I’ll add thousands of books to my to-read list based on the cover (or, as in your book’s case, genre/publisher). I also order books from the library based on the fact that they’re in my to-read list on Goodreads.

It’s kind of nice, like opening a surprise package, so I don’t correct my troublesome ways. Now, your book was like that. A surprise. I started reading it without even glancing at the blurb, and I was kind of bugged by the cover (which seemed a bit off to me … I just feel like the pink, faded, wallpapery trim doesn’t match with the bright dress and hat you’re wearing). So … I was pleasantly surprised.

Now, let’s discuss Marsh. Because I know you want to. 😉 He is absolutely adorable! I mean, you’re adorable together, but even by himself, he’s adorable! I mean, he’s not surpassing Gil (just so you know, Miranda darling, Gil is a friend of mine from a book I beta-read a while back), but Marsh is still pretty awesome!

Moving on to Georgina. Does she drive you crazy? What am I saying; I spent several hundred pages in your head. Of course she drives you crazy! She drives me crazy, too.

Then there are your brothers. Trent was my personal favorite. I love how he slugs Marsh! I mean, I kinda wanted you to hit him … but this was second best. Griffith was also cool, though not in the same way. He’s like a steady rock while Trent is more of a wild ride.

Then there’s your mother. Honestly, she drives me up the wall. I don’t know how you can even bear her. She’s even worse than Georgina. I wouldn’t stand it! You’re a grown woman; who needs her ‘lady lessons’? Eesh. I just wanted to shoot her sometimes.

However, we’ll move on because I bet you don’t want me talking about shooting your mother.

The whole thing with the spies … so thrilling! I mean, in a book. I imagine it wasn’t so fun for you when you were, you know, traipsing about the countryside with the, er, valet.

Anyway, this is an amazing novel, and your author is quite talented. I’m looking forward to reading more by Hunter in the future.

Sincerely,

~Kellyn Roth

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