Action/Adventure, Comedy, Drama, Fred Holmes, Mystery/Thriller, Reviews by Age-Range, Reviews by Author, Reviews by Genre, Young Adult

The Ugly Teapot by Fred Holmes

Title: The Ugly Teapot: Hannah

Author: Fred Holmes

Series: The Ugly Teapot, Book 1

Genre: YA Fantasy Adventure

Era: contemporary

Setting: United States and the Middle East

Publisher: Fred Holmes

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

Overall Rating: 3.5/5

The Ugly Teapot by Fred Holmes

29749200

Fourteen-year-old Hannah Bradbury loved her father so much that she worried about him constantly. After all, he was a photographer who traveled to the most dangerous places in the world.

To allay her fears, each time he came home he brought her silly gifts, each one with supposed magical powers: the Seal of Solomon, the Ring of Gyges, even Aladdin’s Lamp. It was that lamp Hannah found the most unbelievable, for it looked like an ugly teapot. Nevertheless, her father assured her it was real, and made her promise to save her three wishes for something very special.

Then . . . six months later . . . the unthinkable happened. Her father was killed while on assignment to Baghdad. And so on the day of his funeral Hannah did something she never thought she would ever do.

She took out that teapot and gave it a rub . . .

The Ugly Teapot by Fred Holmes is a timeless tale, filled with magic and adventure. More importantly, it will make you believe in the overwhelming power of love.

Buy on Amazon ~ Add on Goodreads

I honestly don’t know how to rate and review this book. I thought I’d wait a while after reading it to see if my thoughts organized themselves, but they haven’t, and so I guess I’ll just do my best to give my honest opinion.

Honestly, it’s an emotional journey, and emotions boggle me a little. I laughed and cried and was both disturbed and happy.

Plot: 3/5

The plot was really one of the cleverest I’ve read in a while. If you’ve read the blurb (^), you probably have a pretty fair idea as to what goes on, but it still surprised me. I think the only thing I didn’t appreciate was pausing the adventure to return to V’s life every once and a while, though when the ending came I understood why it was necessary.

The ending was a bit disturbing. I didn’t quite know what to think about it at first … and was a little disappointed, too. However, after I thought about it for a while, I decided it was really a cool twist … and totally unexpected! Still, it was disturbing and, in my opinion, sudden.

Characters: 4/5

There were several characters who held prominent parts besides Hannah, but I always had them kept straight in my mind. A few things did confuse me (for instance, it wasn’t explained until the very end of the book why Griff has the ability to communicate with Hannah telepathically; we were just expected to accept it like all dogs communicate with their masters like that), but overall, I found them all well-developed and interesting.

Hannah was a sweet little girl (well, “little” is a broad term …) looking for her father. Stories with grieving people in them always get me even though I’ve never lost anyone really important to me.

Griff, Hannah’s dog, was a fun character. He can communicate telepathically with Hannah for much of the book, and he has a fun sense of humor.

Hannah’s father … well, something seemed wrong with him from the beginning, and so I was pleased with Hannah’s realization towards the end. Sure, he was a fun dad … but a good one? Eh. Not so much.

Vivian (V), Hannah’s mother, was a great character. I loved her growth and the growth of her and Hannah’s relationship. It was also cool how she’s this steady person who is always there, even if Hannah didn’t think her decisions were always the best.

Gus was my favorite. He was just so hilarious! Every word out of his mouth had me in stitches, and that whole thing with the treasure chest … and his relationship with Hannah’s father was the best. 😛

Ahmed … wow. Insta-crush, huh, Hannah? *glares at Hannah* Okay, okay, I know, you’re fourteen and he’s this awesome exotic gentleman … but still.

Ahmed’s parents I actually liked … until the end. At which point I kinda got frustrated with them. I still don’t know about that little lie to Hannah’s father. What was that about?

The Magician, we all hated. Well, at least I did. He was so cruel and evil and wicked and awful … and other words that are near-synonyms to each other. I hate him! And yet he’s a “good” villain as villains go (as in he is good at being evil).

Setting: 5/5

The description and setting were both very good. I always had a good idea as to where we were. I especially loved the descriptions of the treasure chamber and the Sheik’s house.

As far as settings, we started in a small town in the United States in Hannah’s bedroom and went halfway around the world to Baghdad and then some mountains (I’ve forgotten which) and back to Hannah’s house. All vividly described without too many words.

Writing: 4/5

Excellent! I especially enjoyed the punchy dialogue and, of course, description. The best thing about the writing was the humor. I laughed aloud several times.

However, I did find some sentences to be a little complicated or overthought.

Theme: 3/5

I felt like the theme could have been worked a little better. The ending and resolution were somewhat sudden, as I mentioned before, and the main character was kind of in denial before that point. V’s point of view helped decrease that shield Hannah put up a little … but not much, especially as V had no idea what was going on until the end.

Content: 3/5

Language: “oh my god” several times and then stronger euphemism such as “crap,” etc. 10+.

Violence: lots of this, I’m afraid. Many, many people were killed during Hannah’s adventure. There was lots of blood and death and scary situations. It never got extremely gory, but it was mildly gory in several places. 13+ at least.

Sexual: n/a (although Hannah develops a crush on a boy she’s traveling with)

Other: the world is assumed millions of years old. Hannah is suffering from severe depression, anxiety, and delusions. The ending is kinda of disturbing. 10+

I’d say 13+ at least for violence, disturbing themes, and mild language (taking the Lord’s name in vain). Parental guidance suggested for more the more sensitive.

Overall: 3.5/5

A fairly decent young adult novel with a great beginning and middle. The end was a little sudden, but for those who are good at sorting details out, it won’t make any difference. I really enjoyed the humor and the adventure (though it could be a little gory or disturbing at times), and the character were well-developed and interesting.

A great story for any upper middle grade or young adult reader who loves a character-based adventure with magic elements.

~Kellyn Roth

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

32170845

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

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

33230368

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

Christian Fiction, Comedy, Contemporary Fiction, Grace Marshall, Reviews by Age-Range, Reviews by Author, Reviews by Genre, Young Adult

No Pizza Delivery? by Grace Marshall

Title: No Pizza Delivery?

Author: Grace Marshall

Series: Horse Haven, #1

Genre: Contemporary Christian Comedy

Age-Range: 13+ (young adult)

Era: contemporary

Setting: United States – Missouri and Wisconsin

Publisher: Grace Marshall

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

Rating: 4/5 stars

Content: 2/5, rude humor, mentions of thinking a guy’s hot (not really innapropriate or anything).

No Pizza Delivery? by Grace Marshall

30458861

Manure, southern accents, self-absorbed boys, and new faces are all a part of the maze that have become Ruth Deloach’s life.

Her world is sent spinning when she finds out she is going to be ripped from America’s Dairyland to live in the embarrassingly small tourist town of Sainte Genevieve, Missouri. The blow is slightly lessened by the news that her father wants to start a horse ranch, but how enjoyable will it really be to live where there is no pizza delivery and a revolving door to the public? A public with a different idea of how things are done and said.

To add embarrassment to her frustration she finds she knows less about horses than she presumed. Maybe the handsome ranch hand her father hires can brighten things up, then again, maybe not.

Buy on Amazon ~ Add on Goodreads

This was a sweet, hilarious story. It had a well-paced plot and I can’t wait to read the next book – I kinda felt like it ended with a cliffhanger, even though it wasn’t exactly a cliffhanger, because I wanted to read more! I also enjoyed the characters … and, of course, my mouth started to water every time a horse entered. 😛 I need a horse, guys … need not want.

And you know what’s weird? It wasn’t cliché! There are so many books and movies out there about a city girl moving to the country (presumably a country containing horses) and messing up there and finding herself along the way … but this was not cliché. Nor was it cheesy, as most of those books and movies are.

It was fresh and funny and interesting. I liked Ruth a lot, and I really liked her brother … although, of course, I probably wouldn’t want him to be my brother …

And the turkey thing! *cracks up* I have come near to having that happen to me, so I understand the feeling, though I would have been the one ripping the turkey out. (What? Read the book to find out what I’m talking about!)

Ruth and me have something in common in thinking we’re better with horses than we are … though even Ruth is probably a better rider than I am! 😀

Overall, this was a quick, amusing read! I think it could use just a wee bit of editing (I’m sorry; I’m a bit of a perfectionist!), but a couple punctuation mistakes didn’t bother my enjoyment of it … and most people probably wouldn’t notice them, as I’m extremely meticulous.

So, go buy a copy and have a nice, light read and, above all, enjoy the horses! 🙂

~Kellyn Roth