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

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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.

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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, 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.

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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

Adult, Drama, Dystopian, Reviews by Age-Range, Reviews by Author, Reviews by Genre, Romance, T.M. Fairman

3 Days: A Passion by T.M. Fairman

Title: 3 Days: A Passion

Author: T.M. Fairman

Genre: Dystopian Inspirational (okay … that sounded better in my head …)

Age-Range: 15+ (upper young adult adult)

Era: set in the future

Setting: England

Publisher: T.M. Fairman

Source: in author (in exchange for honest review)

Rating: 3/5 stars

Content: 2/5. Lots of drama (that is pretty depressing), lots of mentions of death and dying.

3 Days: A Passion by T.M. Fairman

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Within the aftermath of an epidemic that has been contained through sacrifice rather than cure, a young woman discovers she has contracted the Disease.

She has three days to live.

Society has deemed her irredeemable and requires her to pass her last three days in quarantine; a sacrifice for its own preservation.

Her only link to the life she once had is her husband.

Together they must try to battle with their demons.

Together they must try to discover how their love can be expressed during separation and in the face of death

Together they must wrestle with the issues of love and loss, grief, depression and hope before finally having to say goodbye to each other.

On this sad, but beautiful journey, they are faced with the questions;

Where does the light come from in their lives?

What happens when that light goes out?

What is there beyond life itself?

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I gave this book 3/5 stars. It was okay. If I were to lean more on my personal tastes than my honest opinion of the actual book, it’d be closer to 2/5 stars.

Let’s start with the plot. It seemed a little too slowly paced to me. I understand that the author probably wanted to add to the drama with lots of description, flashbacks, etc., but I found it a bit boring. Which is odd, because I’m used to lot of description in classics, etc.

Also, the ending disappointed me a little. (Highlight to read spoilers) I wanted to see the Disease cured! What’s the point if we can’t see the disease cured? (End of spoilers)

By the end of the book, we still didn’t understand where the Disease came from, what it was, how it could be cured. I know it probably stands for something allegorical, but it bugged me.

(Highlight to read spoilers) Also, we never really learned if either of them became Christians or not, or arrived at any decision spiritually. (End of spoilers)

The characters were all vividly painted, and I got to know them very well. We never really learned any of their names, which I thought was cool. The husband sounded like a great guy, and I loved how he learned to cope towards the end. The wife was … well, I liked her, but I feel like we learned more about her from her husband than from anything else, so her character development was a little more show than tell.

There was a lot more show than tell in this book, but it didn’t really effect the book that much. It’s a style I rather appreciate. The writing of this book really reminds me of Elizabeth Goudge with maybe a dash of Charles Dickens.

I found it to be a little cheesy, too. I know, I know. I shouldn’t say that about something that’s a great tribute to married love, but … well … it just was a little too much sometimes.

Overall, this was a thoughtful novel. Although I feel like it could have ended better and the setting could have been better explained, this is a good book for people who enjoy lengthy prose and well-developed characters.

~Kellyn Roth