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, 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.

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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.

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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

Action/Adventure, Adult, Christian Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery/Thriller, Reviews by Age-Range, Reviews by Author, Reviews by Genre, Romance, Sarah Sundin, Young Adult

Anchor in the Storm by Sarah Sundin

Title: Anchor in the Storm

Author: Sarah Sundin

Series: Waves of Freedom, #2

Genre: Christian Historical Romance/Mystery

Age-Range: 13+ (young adult/adult)

Era: 1940s (WW2)

Setting: Boston, Massachusetts (USA)

Publisher: Revell Books

Source: library

Rating: 5/5 stars

Content: 2/5. No language. It’s set during a war. Some violence and such connected with that, though nothing graphic. There’s a drug ring. Mentions of drinking and taking drugs, and Arch goes to a bar. Kisses and such. It’s mentioned that a man tried to take advantage of Lilly once. No details at all.

Anchor in the Storm by Sarah Sundin

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One Plucky Female Pharmacist + One High-Society Naval Officer = Romance — and Danger

For plucky Lillian Avery, America’s entry into World War II means a chance to prove herself as a pharmacist in Boston. The challenges of her new job energize her. But society boy Ensign Archer Vandenberg’s attentions only annoy — even if he “is” her brother’s best friend.

During the darkest days of the war, Arch’s destroyer hunts German U-boats in vain as the submarines sink dozens of merchant ships along the East Coast. Still shaken by battles at sea, Arch notices his men also struggle with their nerves — and with drowsiness. Could there be a link to the large prescriptions for sedatives Lillian has filled? The two work together to answer that question, but can Arch ever earn Lillian’s trust and affection?

Sarah Sundin brings World War II to life, offering readers an intense experience they won’t soon forget.

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This is going to be a short review due to limited time and me being behind on reviewing and struggling to catch up. However, I don’t have a lot to say about Sarah Sundin’s books that I haven’t said before (not that they’re the same, but that they all have the same level of awesomeness, and I tend to forget the differences in ranting about the awesomeness …), so that’s actually quite fitting. 🙂

That was another great story by Sarah Sundin! I can’t wait until book three of the Waves of Freedom trilogy comes out!

Lillian and Arch were both great characters. All the characters are, but these two were my favorite.

I loved Arch in book one. He’s a swell guy, pretty serious most of the time, always a perfect gentleman (that scene in the bar was hilarious!), but he is prone to depression and very insecure about being loved for his money/social position/looks instead of for himself. Of course we love him for his faults. Yeah, I know, in my last review I was going on about this guy who was perfect despite his lack of faults … well, Arch was perfect because of his faults. It makes sense. Just trust me on this one.

Lillian is also pretty insecure (if you didn’t guess!). As a kid, she lost her leg and now wears a prosthesis. You can imagine how that makes her feel! Overall, however, she’s pretty confident about that, which surprised me. Her main problem is her ‘wooden heart.’ She shuts people out, pushes herself too hard, goes through life bluntly and without feeling. At least, his (evil!) twin sister thinks so …

Which reminds me, I hate Lillian’s twin sister’s guts. I don’t know why, but I just do. I suppose because I can’t stand people who whine. Drives me crazy. I’m a lot more like Lillian; I’d die before I’d cry or complain or let anyone know I need help. 😛

The plot was, of course, fantastic. Another mystery, which I didn’t mind one bit! Very exciting, intriguing, etc.

It was also great to see Jim and Mary again, however briefly. I’m a bit surprised they’re only dating, though, not engaged. Wait a minute … no. I’m not surprised one bit! Thinking back, they just got around to actually confessing their love (after months … and months … and months … not that it was irritating, but that their personalities are just like that!), and knowing their personalities … this is gonna take a while. But they have to get engaged in the next book, mmkay, Ms. Sundin? They just have to! Please?

Well, that’s about all I have to say. I hope you enjoyed this review, and I hope you’ll go pick up a copy of the book yourself so we can fangirl together. 😄

~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.

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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

Action/Adventure, Adult, Arthur Conan Doyle, Classics, Mystery/Thriller, Reviews by Age-Range, Reviews by Author, Reviews by Genre, Romance, Young Adult

A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle

Title: A Study in Scarlet

Author: Arthur Conan Doyle

Series: Sherlock Holmes, #1

Genre: Classic Murder Mystery

Age-Range: 14+ (young adult/adult)

Era: Victorian

Setting: London, England and Utah, America

Source: mother owns a copy

Rating: 5/5 stars

Content: 2/5. Some violence and a murder, obviously. It’s not too graphic, though there are mentions of a blood smear on a wall, etc.

A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle

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In the debut of literature’s most famous sleuth, a dead man is discovered in a bloodstained room in Brixton. The only clues are a wedding ring, a gold watch, a pocket edition of Boccaccio’s Decameron, and a word scrawled in blood on the wall. With this investigation begins the partnership of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.

Their search for the murderer uncovers a story of love and revenge-and heralds a franchise of detective mysteries starring the formidable Holmes.

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This was a simply fantastic book! I’ve never read another one like it, and I mean it this time. It’s so clever and thrilling. I’ve never had a book get me quite so riled up as this one did.

Every character is pretty well-developed – the writing is great – the plot was fast-paced and exciting. I couldn’t take my eyes of it, and I think I finished it in just a day or two, which is miraculous, considering the tiny print of the book (although it’s a pretty short story, I must admit).

I did find the sudden move to Utah a little disturbing … but, well, murder mysteries are disturbing stories! Why not have my reading experience jiggled a bit while reading one? 😛

Overall, this was a fantastic novel – and a classic at that – who I’d recommend to any lover of thrilling mysteries, common sense, deduction, etc. etc. 😉

~Kellyn Roth

Contemporary Fiction, J.C. Buchanan, Middle Grade, Mystery/Thriller, Reviews by Age-Range, Reviews by Author, Reviews by Genre

You’ll Be Like Faye by J.C. Buchanan

Title: You’ll Be Like Faye

Author: J.C. Buchanan (http://jcbuchanan.com/)

Series: n/a

Genre: mystery

Age-Range: middle grade

Publisher: J.C. Buchanan

Source: author

Rating: 4.5/5 stars. I REALLY loved it, but there were a few things that bugged me.

Content: 2/5 I’d say it’s perfectly ok for any kid over … oh, eight? There are some descriptions of pregnancy (no details … which sounds weird considering the fact that I just called it ‘descriptions’ …) and some drama. Mentions of a car crash in which two people died.

You’ll Be Like Faye by J.C. Buchanan

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In her second novel, J.C. Buchanan leaves the fairy kingdom behind and introduces her readers to Faye Corcoran, a regular 12-year-old girl in a typical suburban family. But is it a typical suburban family? And when Faye’s best friend convinces her there’s something suspicious about the new housekeeper, how far will Faye go for answers?

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