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

Be Thou My Vision by Faith Blum

Title: Be Thou My Vision

Author: Faith Blum

Series: Hymns of the West, #2

Genre: Christian Historical Fiction (light romance)

Era: 1880s, I think? Approximately?

Setting: United States

Publisher: Faith Blum

Source: got the series as a whole in a giveaway

Overall Rating: 4/5 stars

Be Thou My Vision by Faith Blum

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

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

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

Buy on Amazon ~ Add on Goodreads

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

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

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

Plot: 4/5

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

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

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

Characters: 3/5

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

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

James: so sweet. ❤

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

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

Setting: 2/5

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

Writing: 3/5

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

Theme: 4/5

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

Content: 2/5

Language: n/a

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

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

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

Overall: 4/5

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

~Kellyn Roth

Action/Adventure, 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

Buy on Amazon ~ Add on Goodreads

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

Buy on Amazon ~ Add on Goodreads

Thanks for reading my reviews,

~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

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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

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

Action/Adventure, Adult, Blog Tours, Christian Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Ivy Rose, Reviews by Age-Range, Reviews by Author, Reviews by Genre, Romance, Young Adult

Left to Die by Ivy Rose (and blog tour)

Title: Left to Die

Author: Ivy Rose

Genre: Christian contemporary fiction

Setting: China

Publisher: Lakeside Publications

Source: from author (in exchange for honest review)

Overall Rating: 5/5 stars

Left for Die by Ivy Rose

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Lindy Greene’s life is perfect. Too perfect. But living as a missionary nurse, serving in a rural hospital in China, soon brings the disaster she fearfully anticipates. All of her well-thought-out plans for the future disintegrate after pulling a fatally ill, disfigured, abandoned child from a pile of trash. She doesn’t even like babies.

Nathan Thomas can’t find balance. College suited him just fine until his cash ran out, forcing him to the Chinese mission field with his parents. The chaotic atmosphere in China does little to relax his agitated mind, and the pretty blonde nurse at the clinic does nothing to help him focus.

The Chinese mission field isn’t for the faint of heart. Nathan wonders how he can survive his remaining time there, while Lindy struggles to help everyone she can. With different ideals pulling them in separate directions, there is one thing drawing them together: a tiny, sickly, crippled orphan who relies on them to stay alive.

Buy on Amazon ~ Add on Goodreads

I wasn’t sure about this novel. I’ve never read a book about missionaries (unless you count the Bible), and I was pretty convinced I wouldn’t enjoy it (mostly because these kind of things really make me feel guilty). I was a bit nervous, to say the least. But this was a sensational book that has earned a place amongst my favorites.

Plot {5/5}:

The plot was fantastic! It all unfolded so beautifully and was perfect and amazing and wonderful and – *kicks self* It was well-paced, interesting, and kept my attention 100% throughout the entire book.

And I’ve just got to say … the epilogue was so perfect, guys. Just ❤

Characters {4/5}:

I didn’t get extremely attached to Lindy (although I really liked her), but Jia … I think I’m in love again, guys. I know I’ve said that before, but … this is it. At least in a sisterly way.

I think I need a little sister now …

And yes, I do realize it’s expensive and a lot of work and gruesome and I probably wouldn’t be able to handle it with my lack of experience – Left to Die was nothing if not realistic – but … but …

Back on track.

I loved Nate. He was amazing! Not as good as Gil, of course, but … Besides, Nate and Lindy were so cute together!

Setting {4/5}:

Sometimes there could have been a little more description, but overall, the setting was vividly portrayed. I think I always realized how bad it was in China with the orphans and such … or at least I was able to imagine it that bad (I can be pessimistic about these things) … but it was still sad to read about it.

Writing {4/5}:

I feel like there could have been a little work on the writing here and there, but overall, it was good. I really like Ivy Rose’s writing style. It just … appeals to me. No particular reason. 🙂

Content:

Parental guidance suggested for younger teens. No language or sexual content (except maybe a couple kisses, no details). Descriptions of sickness and the medical care and abandonment/other poor treatment of infants/children (somewhat graphic, but still pretty clean) that may disturb sensitive readers or young children.

Overall {5/5}:

AAAAAH THAT WAS SO GOOD!!!

*puts on serious face* It was a noble story which I’m recommend to any lover of missionary stories, Christian fiction, light romance, adorable babies, and somewhat sad stories with very happy endings.

~Kellyn Roth

About the Author

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Ivy Rose is an 18 year old history lover and literary enthusiast. Aside from writing, she enjoys being outdoors, eating chocolate, traveling, reading, and doing TaeKwonDo. She resides with her family of 9 on the banks of the Long Lake in eastern Washington.

She can be found at various places on the internet:

Blog – Pinterest – Goodreads – Instagram

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Is that cover not amazing? And the graphics! *swoons*

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You can enter the giveaway here (as the HTML is not cooperating for some reason so I can’t embed it)!

Follow the Tour

~Monday~

Becoming Lost – Review

Beyond the Amethyst – Review

Anika’s Avenue – Review

Once Upon an Ordinary – Interview

~Tuesday~

Whispers on the Wind – Interview

Read Another Page – Review

The Left-Handed Typist – Review

~Wednesday~

Counting Your Blessings – Review/Interview

Stories by Firefly – Review

Writing in the Light – Interview

~Thursday~

Reveries Reviews – Review

Marrok Macintyre – Interview

~Friday~

A Purpose and a Promise – Review

Having a Heart Like His – Review/Interview

Whimsical Writings – Review

~Saturday~

Rebekah’s Remarks – Interview

Action/Adventure, Adult, Allison Pittman, Carrie Turansky, Christian Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Historical Fiction, K.M. Weiland, Melissa Jagears, Mini Review Day, Reviews by Age-Range, Reviews by Author, Reviews by Genre, Romance, Sarah E. Ladd, Sarah Sundin, Young Adult

January 2017 Mini Review Day

Hi guys! Today we’re gonna do something a little different … mini reviews! I’ve decided to do this monthly (as you can see by the title. This one is for January 2017, in case you didn’t notice). These will mainly be books I chose to read, not review books.

So let’s get started!

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Outlining Your Novel by K.M. Weiland

Whoa! That was fantastic!

Okay, so, I have written (to completion: I’ve started maybe fifty other books) three full-length books now. The first two had to be intensively rewritten. In fact, very little of the original drafts remain. Why was this? Well, after assuming myself to be a “pantser” (because I was too lazy to outline), I refused to outline …

And that got me nowhere.

I decided to try some extensive outlining with my third book (currently titled At Her Fingertips) this last November (for NaNoWriMo). I wrote 65,000+ words in 30 days (beating my previous record of 42,000) and they’re not all trash. Yes, it’s first drafty … but I have a feeling that this is a winner! I don’t expect rewriting, and I think my revising will be lighter.

I don’t know if K.M. Weiland’s Outlining Your Novel is completely responsible for this. I was super excited about my story this last NaNo, and that’s part of the reason. But … well, K.M. Weiland’s methods and ideas and tips are all great, and they are at least 75% responsible for me actually having an enjoyable writing experience!

Grab a copy! It’s a wonder what a little outlining can do, even if you don’t think you’re a ‘plotter.’

5/5 stars

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Where Two Hearts Meet by Carrie Turansky

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Two very sweet novellas. I loved Turansky’s Edwardian Brides series, so I was a little nervous/excited/worrying that they wouldn’t be as good, but these novellas were really great!

Tea For Two:
This was my favorite of the two novellas. It was sweet (and clean) and I really liked the characters … and Sweet Something, too, of course. I want to own a place like that … or at least visit it!

Content: clean. No language/violence. A couple kisses, none very detailed. A mention of adultery (treated as wrong), I believe?

5/5 stars

Wherever Love Takes Us:
I didn’t enjoy this one as much … probably because I’m not married and had trouble getting into the characters, understanding them, etc. This would probably be better-enjoyed by someone who’s married and a little older than me. 🙂 I did tack on half a star because OREGON MY OREGON! 😛

Content: fairly clean. No language/violence. Kisses (never detailed), and a mention of s*x (although it was pretty hard to catch and between a married couple … but still). Matt kinda seems to be considering adultery at one point.

4/5 stars

Overall, this is a worthwhile read for a summer afternoon (or, for me, a Christmas-break-afternoon). 🙂

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Forsaking All Others by Allison Pittman

Wow. That was … all over the place. And the ending made no sense and wasn’t really happy or satisfactory. The main character annoyed me by continually going, “Oh! I’ve got it now!” and then doing stupid things. Again.

It wasn’t an awful book, but it wasn’t a good book either. I didn’t really care for it. I found it depressing, dark, and meaningless (probably one of those books where I’m not smart enough to get the theme … ;P).

This novel contains an honest (but somewhat scorching) portrayal of the Mormons of that era. Probably not a book for LDS readers for that reason.

Content: no language. A lot of violence, wars, people wanting to baptize “by blood if not by water,” fingers getting frostbitten and having to be cut off, sometimes somewhat detailed. Mentions of and portrayals of pregnancy. Lots of mentions of husbands and wives becoming one, sleeping together, etc. and the husband’s other wives (*shivers*) knowing that this is happening. One scene where a married couple presumably … you know. They cut it off before they actually do anything, but … yeah. Then later another woman and her proceed to discuss this. A little too much for me. Removed a star.

1.5 stars

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With Every Letter by Sarah Sundin

It’s getting a little old for me to be rating Sarah Sundin books 5 stars and crooning over them, so this is gonna be a short review.

All of the books that I’ve read by Sarah Sundin have been five-star marvels … but wow. This may be the best one yet! An amazing plot, an amazing message, amazing characters … I just don’t have words for it!

I think my favorite thing about this novel was its originality. It’s a romance, but the two main characters don’t even meet for months and months into their relationship! And Tom … wow! He was totally committed before he even met her in person! AAAAH!!!

The minor characters were neat, too. I especially liked the other nurses. Oddly enough (because I don’t know if I was supposed to), I’ve taken a liking to Kay. Should I be shot? I’m sorry … I just feel like there’s something there, you know, underneath all the … ick. I feel sorry for her.

And Rose. I like Rose. And Georgie. I liked Georgie.

Hooooold it a minute! This was gonna be a short review! And so it stops here.

5/5 stars

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The Curiosity Keeper by Sarah E. Ladd

This was a pretty good novel. It wasn’t my favorite of all the Regency romances I’ve read, but it was enjoyable, the characters were realistic, and the setting was charming, and it was pretty original. At times, I was wrapped up in it (my status updates mostly involved screaming … sorry, Goodreads friends!).

I found the ending to be a little unsettling. Why? Well, I can’t tell you that! It was the ending! THE ENDING! It’d be spoiled for you.

Oh, you’ve read the novel? Okay, here’s why. (HIGHLIGHT TO READ SPOILERS) This sounds stupid, and lots of people have mentioned liking this in their reviews (because it’s original, right?), but I love the idea of inheriting a mansion, it remaining in the family, and all that, and I wanted Jonathan to live at Kettering Hall! I wanted it to remain in the family, and I wanted it to be passed on to their children and their children’s children! So … my weirdness is revealed … (END OF SPOILERS)

Other than that, there wasn’t much I didn’t enjoy about this book. It’s more a matter of personal preference than anything (as to why it’s not rated 5 stars).

4/5 stars

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A Bride for Keeps by Melissa Jagears

Ah, that was cute! I admit it was somewhat cliché, but not much, and I really enjoyed it (because some clichés are just too awesome). The character were believable and the plot was well-paced. I was a little frustrated at the main characters for their back-and-forth-ness sometimes.

Anyway, this is an enjoyable, sweet romance that was only sometimes frustrating and therefore worth it. Besides, I argue that if a couple characters can make me frustrated, even in a bad way, the author has great potential. 😉

Content: no language. Sicknesses and injuries. Lots of mentions of (and a couple brief descriptions of) childbirth. Mentions of pregnancies, miscarriages, stillbirths, and the like. Julia is terrified of childbirth (mostly of losing a baby). Several mentions of ‘becoming one’ and that sort of thing. Julia and Everett sleep in separate beds after they’re married, etc. Julia was ‘taken advantage of’ before she left Boston (no details, handled well, barely mentioned). Nothing that made me terribly uncomfortable.

4/5 stars

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Have you read any of these books? Did you enjoy them? Are any of these books getting added to your to-read list? Or taken off?

~Kellyn Roth

 

Action/Adventure, Adult, Christian Fiction, Historical Fiction, Laura Frantz, Reviews by Age-Range, Reviews by Author, Reviews by Genre, Romance

Courting Morrow Little by Laura Frantz

Title: Courting Morrow Little

Author: Laura Frantz

Genre: historical adventure/romance

Era: late 1700s

Setting: Kentucke (Kentucky) frontier, United States

Publisher: Revell

Source: from library

Overall Rating: 3.5/5

Courting Morrow Little by Laura Frantz

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Morrow Little is haunted by the memory of the day her family was torn apart by raiding Shawnee warriors.

Now that she is nearly a grown woman and her father is ailing, she must make difficult choices about the future. Several men–ranging from the undesired to the unthinkable–vie for her attentions, but she finds herself inexplicably drawn to a forbidden love that both terrifies and intrigues her.

Can she betray the memory of her lost loved ones–and garner suspicion from her friends–by pursuing a life with him? Or should she seal her own misery by marrying a man she doesn’t love?

This sweeping tale of romance and forgiveness will envelop readers as it takes them from a Kentucky fort through the vast wilderness to the west in search of true love.

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It’s been over a month since I read this novel, but I’m going to try to do it justice. It was really a great book … but there were some things I thought dragged, and I read it in less than two days, so that’s saying something. Also, a lot of the situations seemed unrealistic to me. There didn’t really seem to be a plot, either, in my opinion.

Plot {2/5}:

It was okay. I liked it overall, but, as I said before, it went on and on and on. I will say that the title makes no sense. No one ever courted Morrow Little! Not really. And certainly not for much of the book, if you can count it as courting. The book was more like the life of Morrow Little after she returned from the East to the Kentucky wilderness and [SPOILERS] meets a hot Indian who her father nursed back to health as a kid. They fall in love and get hitched AND THEN the story goes on about their adventures as a married couple. [END OF SPOILERS] I also found a lot of things to be unrealistic or inconsistent (more on that in the character section).

Anyway, it just seemed to go on forever and not be focused on any single theme (except Morrow’s life, I suppose).

It was a good plot, though. 😛

Characters {3/5}:

I liked Red Shirt, although I found it difficult to like him because I read the whole book feeling like he didn’t have a real name. I mean, Indian names are cool, yes … I like my Bright Stars and High Hats and Fire Bottom as much as you do … but they don’t feel like real names to me! I was like, “Okay … Red Shirt. That’s just … two words stuck together.” 😄 That’s just me being me, though.

But … he didn’t put Morrow first. I know, the concerns of a nation are probably more important than the concerns of one woman … but … but … eesh. He just seemed inconsistent. If I were Morrow, I would never trust him. He isn’t necessarily going to be there for her, plainly.

I didn’t mind Morrow. She was weepy and weak, yes, but I wouldn’t have minded that … if she had been consistent in it. For instance, I found Morrow to be whiny at times … and then suddenly she was [END OF SPOILER] riding a horse half a day while in labor [END OF SPOILER]!What the what?! And I didn’t see her grow as a character between her sobbing days (which were numerous) and her adventurous days! But maybe I missed it. Like I said, I read it fast.

I can’t think of other people now as I only took notes on Morrow and Red Shirt and it’s been a while.

However, I will once-again bring up names … because ‘Morrow’? Is that really historically inaccurate? And if Morrow has an unusual (but not impossible) name for her era, why was it never brought up? I’m confused …

Setting {5/5}:

Laura Frantz is amazing about researching her novels and building a great setting. I’ve only read The Mistress of Tall Acre, but … wow. She’s always so strong in this area!

The description was also good. She really portrayed the Red River (and every place we went) in a way that made me want to go there.

Writing {5/5}:

I literally can’t remember how she did in this area, and I forgot to take notes about it! So I’m giving it 5/5 stars because apparently there was nothing that bugged me enough to make a note about it.

Content:

This is not necessarily 100% accurate as it’s been a while, but I’ll do my best.

No cussing/crude language. Some violence and mentions of violence (Indian massacres, wars, etc.) Mostly mentions of violence, if I remember correctly. Never anything disturbing.

I seem to remember that there was a lot of sexual content in this book. It didn’t make me incredibly uncomfortable, but it was still a little more than I would have liked. For instance, in my opinion, we know every time [SPOILER] Red Shirt and Morrow … well, you know. [END OF SPOILER] It drives me crazy! I DID NOT NEED TO KNOW THAT! There were no details or anything, but … why!? Still, that’s the risk I take when reading fiction probably aimed at adults. A somewhat-detailed description of childbirth and lots of talk about pregnancy, etc.

Overall {3.5/5}:

Although I wouldn’t recommend this to a first-time Frantz fan (I’ve read better by her), it was a great story and if you like Frantz’s novels (which I do), you should definitely read it!

~Kellyn Roth

Alleece Balts, Christian Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Reviews by Age-Range, Reviews by Author, Reviews by Genre, Romance, Young Adult

The Crowd by Alleece Balts

Title: The Crowd

Author: Alleece Balts

Series: The Crowd, #1

Genre: Contemporary YA/Romance

Era: contemporary

Setting: Vermont, United States

Publisher: Alleece Balts

Source: from author (in exchange for honest review)

Overall Rating: 5/5

The Crowd by Alleece Balts

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Whitfield Preparatory Academy ought to be the perfect school…

Not only does the Academy boast a distinguished faculty and lavish campus, it is also home to the privileged youth of the upper class. They will one day hold the reins of power in the business world and political arena – but for now, they exercise absolute authority at the Academy.

For seventeen-year-old Ella Parker, acceptance into the prestigious Academy is a dream come true. But her delight quickly turns to dread when she finds herself in the crosshairs of an elite group of ruthless students dubbed “the Crowd.” Ella’s been at the center of unwanted attention before – but never like this – and she’ll do anything to make them stop. Anything, that is, apart from accepting the advances of popular and wealthy playboy Jackson Montgomery, the leader of the Crowd.

Will Ella be humiliated, or triumph over her tormentors?

An irresistible story of faith, friendship, betrayal, and romance, The Crowd will immerse readers in Ella’s tumultuous struggle from the very first page.

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The Crowd by Alleece Balts is a simply fantastic novel. That is the only word to describe this book: fantastic. I was, as the blurb says, immersed from the very first page. I loved it to death, and I can’t wait to get my hands on book 2!

Plot {5/5}:

I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect when I started this novel. I only knew I was sick to death of hearing about bullying. Why? Because I’m homeschooled and know nothing about it and just want people to stand up for themselves! I’ve read maybe a hundred YA/MG novels with characters getting bullied in it … and it always just annoys me.

However, for some reason this one didn’t annoy me at all.

Aside from that, the plot was fantastic. I’m not going to attempt to explain it to you, but I’ll just say it was amazing, start to finish (and you should read it; you should definitely read it!).

Characters {5/5}:

The characters were another of this novel’s strong points. Ella was one of the most individualistic characters I’ve read of in a long time. There was nothing generic about Ella! Jack was also super cool and interesting (his past, the redemption, etc. were all very real). I love how Ella’s dad was a rockstar and her mother was a reporter and the story of their meeting … wow. Even though we didn’t get to meet either of Ella’s parents (well, we didn’t get to meet Ella’s mom for very long, anyway), I got a super good idea of who they are just based on their actions (and because of Ella’s thinking about them). The same goes for Malcolm.

I’m not going to go into every single character, but … wow. Quite a few of them, all so beautifully done, and I never got them mixed up! How did Mrs. Balts do it? 😀

Setting {4/5}:

Fairly strong. I would have liked a little more focus on the setting here and there. For the most part, though, it was good, and the description was top-notch.

Writing {3/5}:

The author’s writing is absolutely gorgeous! It reminds me of … hmm. I don’t know. Old-fashioned yet contemporary. Whimsical and sweet, but dipping into solemnity when need be. It really showed a lot of emotions and had a lot of content (not the bad kind; I mean content like deep stuff) while not overloading my tiny little brain. 😛

The one problem was the head-hopping. I was never sure if I was in Ella, Jack, or Aunt Meg’s head. It kept changing, oftentimes three or four times in a scene. It was confusing. It didn’t bug me a ton, but it almost made me shave off half a star … before I realized it just wasn’t worth it because the novel was too strong besides that.

Content:

I’d say light PG-13. I’m gonna try to say why as accurately as possible, but I’m not going to list every little thing. Depending on the maturity level, younger teens may need parental guidance.

No cussing. Some crude language and name-calling. A mention of gay people (as a part of the name-calling, not justified). Bullying. Mentions of (and an attempted) suicide. Mentions of drug-use and drinking. Mentions of hospitals, blood, gunshot wounds, almost dying, cancer, etc. Nothing graphic or disturbing.

Lots of attraction, romantic emotions, etc. There are some crude jokes that count towards sexual content. Quite a few kisses, ranging from no details to somewhat-detailed-ish. It’s pretty clear that most of the girls and boys at the campus are none too moralistic. Then … once Ella is hiding a closet (she was snooping and had to hide) and there’s a couple in the room presumably having s*x. Nothing is detailed and it’s not talked about a ton, but it’s pretty obvious what’s going on. So there’s that … *awkwardness hopefully ends* But it was such a very brief scene, so … I don’t know.

Overall {5/5}:

A fantastic novel I’d recommend to almost any older teenager/adult and some younger teenagers (depending on who they are and what they can handle). PLEASE let the sequel be coming out soon! Plllllleeeeeaaaaseeee!!!!

~Kellyn Roth

Action/Adventure, Adult, Christian Fiction, Historical Fiction, Reviews by Age-Range, Reviews by Author, Reviews by Genre, Romance, Willowy Whisper, Young Adult

The Innocent by Willowy Whisper

Title: The Innocent

Author: Willowy Whisper

Series: Hills of Innocence, #1

Genre: Historical Mystery/Romance

Era: probably late 1800s (Old West)

Setting: the Old West

Publisher: Willowy Whisper

Source: from author (in exchange for honest review)

Overall Rating: 4/5

The Innocent by Willowy Whisper

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“I wonder who would shoot a girl so young…?” The question haunted him as he left the river and her grave behind.

Harvey West is given a month. One month to prove his innocence. As the evidence points him to the gallows, he fights to find the enemy of the beautiful Elsie Roselind. Someone wanted her gone.

Someone destroyed the evidence. Someone had to kill to keep her from coming back…

And the someone isn’t afraid to kill again—no matter what the cost.

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The Innocent by Willowy Whisper is a great mystery/suspense novel set in the Old West. I really enjoyed it, and read most of it in two days (though I technically took longer because I read the first chapter then put it aside for a while due to busyness and a reading slump).

Plot {4/5}:

This novel had an exciting, intriguing plot. I admit I figured out the ‘mystery’ pretty early on, mostly because I wasn’t willing to suspect [SPOILERS] Brock, because I could see how he loved her [END OF SPOILERS]. I also felt from the beginning that [SPOILERS] Clyde wasn’t sincere [END OF SPOILERS]. At times it did seem to go on, especially at the end when we’d discovered who the murderer was. However, after I read on a little, I understood why the author was taking her time (HARVEY AND ABIGAIL OH MY GOSH!!! They’re so great for each other …) and forgave a temporary drag. 🙂

Characters {5/5}:

The characters were well-developed and interesting. I especially liked Harvey (such a good guy!), Brock (adorably sweet), and Jimmy (also adorably sweet … in a different way). Joe was interesting, as well, and Clyde was [SPOILERS] evil, of course. But still well-developed. I admit she fooled me about him at first! [END OF SPOILERS] I was a little irritated at Abigail once or twice. I was like, “Do you have handsome, sweet, understanding cowboys walk into your life and spend weeks trying to discover who killed your sister every day? No? THEN BE NICE TO HIM FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!” But I understand why she acted the way she acted, and I forgave her. Besides, I am even more stubborn than she is, so … what am I complaining about? It’s like the pot calling the kettle black.

Setting {4/5}:

There wasn’t really a lot of room for improvement here. I wish there could have been a little more description, however. I’d like to know about how every character looked like, what the houses look like, etc. Description can be sneaked in almost anywhere without massive blocks of it, and I think it would have added to my mental imagery. I’d also like to know what Rascal looks like. I’ve been imagining him as black or bay. Am I close, Willowy?

Writing {3/5}:

So, this is really the only place where I feel like the book could use major improvement. 3/5 is my ‘it was okay’ rating. Honestly, I felt like the book could have used a little more editing. There weren’t a lot of mistakes (no typos and the punctuation and spelling were good), but a lot of sentences were awkward and some things were repeated more than they needed to be. I think Willowy Whisper is an amazing writer, but it could have been a little more polished here. On the other hand, I’ve read more recent stories by her, so it could be that she’s just improved a ton since writing this one. 🙂

Content:

No language. There was violence and thematic elements, though nothing super graphic. A murder and a lot of talk about that (they were trying to solve it, after all), gunshot wounds, talking about the pain from the gunshot wounds, fist-fights, bleeding, people were almost burnt alive once, and illnesses/recovering from wounds. Some parts were pretty intense/suspenseful/even a little scary.

As far as sexual content, there were quite a few kisses/mentions of kissing. A couple were described (mostly just talking about emotions). Some of these kisses (not the described ones, though) were between a man and woman who didn’t end up getting married.

Not recommended to children under 12 (upper PG). However, after that, I wouldn’t have an reservations (unless you’re sensitive to that kind of thing).

Overall {4/5}:

An amazing story that I couldn’t put down in places with sweet characters and a suspenseful plot. It’s really a great book (despite my criticism on certain points … sorry, I can be very harsh!) and I hope to read more by the author (and about these characters) in the future.

~Kellyn Roth