Reviews

Only Children Chase Sawdust by Willowy Whisper

Title: Only Children Chase Sawdust

Author: Willowy Whisper

Genre: Christian Historical Adventure

Era: Pioneer-era (maybe early 1800s? Mid-1800s?)

Setting: United States

Publisher: Willowy Whisper

Source: from author (in exchange for honest review)

Overall Rating: 4/5

Only Children Chase Sawdust by Willowy Whisper

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Their whole life turned to sawdust and blew away . . .

Please don’t leave me, Jacob. I need you. I know you’re grieving. Maybe we all are. But you’re chasing something you’ll never catch . . . and we both know you won’t come back alive.

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I wasn’t sure what to think of this novel when I first began it. The author doesn’t really even offer us a synopsis to go off of! However, I read it in an afternoon. It wasn’t the best story I’ve ever read, but it was really good.

Plot: 4.5/5

This is the tale of a young couple who must recover from an Indian massacre during which most of their loved ones were killed. Jacob, the husband, leaves Annie in the care of some military men to go preach salvation to the Indians.

The plot does seem to rush or slow down unnecessarily in a couple places, but I really did enjoy it. It was both sweet and heartbreaking. There were times when I was close to tears, which is rare for me.

Characters: 4.5/5

Jacob: I was really skeptical of his choices from start to end. I knew it was the right thing to do, but like Annie, I just wanted him to stay!

Annie: *breaks out the tissues and comfort food* My heart is broken. I may never recover. *sobs* Also, Annie and Jacob were so cute together. Just sayin’.

Akando: his development happened too fast, but he was a great character nonetheless. I just wish a little more time could have been spent on his development.

Obadiah Clark: oooh, I could kill this man! I really wish I could. Except that would be wrong. But he’s a fictional character, so … *considers the jail fines for killing a fictional character* *realizes I have killed several fictional characters* *shrugs*

There were several other characters, but I won’t mention them because I don’t want to write an overwhelmingly long review. They all seemed well-developed to me, however.

Setting: 3/5

This is the real failing-place of the book, in my opinion. There just wasn’t enough focus on where we were. It made no impression on my brain if the time or place were ever mentioned.

It might have been nice to see dates at the beginning of the chapter or something similar. Just so my mind would know where it was supposed to be.

Writing: 5/5

I really enjoy Willowy Whisper’s writing style, and this was no exception.

Theme: 4/5

I really did enjoy the themes of forgiveness and spreading the Good News (even to your enemies), but occasionally it seemed like the Christian content was a little bit forced. Still, great themes. I wish I was as brave as Jacob!

Content: 3/5

Language: n/a

Violence: a massacre and Indian torture methods are described in some details,  people die or almost die, murder (apart from the massacre) is attempted

Sexual: kisses between a married couple, mentions of pregnancy and childbirth (few to no details), a man pushes himself on a woman repeatedly (not as in rape or anything like that, but as in persistent courtship which is almost inappropriate)

Also some drunkenness, few details. Rated PG-13 for violence.

Overall: 4/5

This is a great book, and I’d recommend it to any lover of Christian historical adventures. There were a few short-comings, but they weren’t overwhelming and in no way detracted from my enjoyment of the story.

~Kellyn Roth~

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Reviews

Emmeline by Sarah Holman

Title: Emmeline

Author: Sarah Holman

Series: Vintage Jane Austen (multi-author series)

Genre: Christian Historical Fiction (light romance/classic retelling)

Era: early 1930s (Great Depression)

Setting: a small town in Pennsylvania (United States)

Publisher: Sarah Holman

Source: from author (in exchange for honest review)

Overall Rating: 3/5 stars

Emmeline by Sarah Holman

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What if Jane Austen’s Emma lived in America in the year 1930?

The talk of stock market crashes and depression isn’t going to keep Emmeline Wellington down. Born to wealth and privilege, Emmeline wants nothing more than to help her new friend, Catarina, find a husband. Emmeline sets her sights on one of the town’s most eligible bachelors, but nothing seems to go right. Even her friend and neighbor Fredrick Knight seems to question her at every turn.

Will she help Catarina find the man of her dreams? Why is her father acting so strangely? Will the downturn affect her life, despite her best efforts?

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I am a hard-core Austenite. However, as always with Jane Austen retellings, I forced myself to get into the mind-set of Emmeline being its own book before reading it. Otherwise, I’d be continually comparing the author to Austen, which just isn’t fair.

With this one, though … I let myself get a wee bit disappointed with the way the characters were portrayed. I put this book aside for a while and forced myself to look at it as not a retelling of my precious Emma, but as a completely different book with random scenes from Emma in it. 😉

Other than that, it was a fairly decent book, but not an amazing one. All my friends  will probably kill me, but I just didn’t like it!

Plot: 3/5

All the scenes from Emma interpreted in a 1930s setting were fantastic. I enjoyed a lot of the little twisted and turns, and it was overall pretty enjoyable.

However, towards the end it really rushed, and I was disappointed with the whole plot twist with Morgan. I was like, “Uh … no. I’m sorry, I just can’t do this now …” More my fault than the book’s, of course. I just liked Morgan more than I should have … always have … though not Morgan, I suppose, but Frank Churchill.

Characters: 3/5

Emmeline: whoa, that was a sudden turn-around! If all it took for you to change your wicked ways was for Fredrick to yell at you, why didn’t it work earlier in book? I’m confused. She was a good Emma, though. It’s hard to write this character without having her come across as selfish and overbearing. It was easier to see her self-deception, though. I was never fooled as one can be when reading Emma. Of course, that’s another unfair comparison.

Fredrick: I know this is an interpretation, and the author can change whatever she wants, but … I wish Fredrick didn’t go out without his hat and looked messy and stuff. He also came across as far more stuffy and preachy than Austen’s Knightley, which was disappointing. And a bit of a paradox. He was amusing, though, and his relationship with Emmeline was adorable.

Catarina: awwwww. ❤ This girl is such a sweetheart! And her being a German immigrant? Yes. Just yes.

Geraldine: Miss Bates is young, doesn’t talk a lot, and is redeemable? Eh, no. It’s a cool idea … but no. The boarding house and the falling-from-wealth twist was awesome, though. It was also cool how she was kinda old-fashioned.

Morgan: I liked him, but I was a little disappointed as to that whole plot twist at the end. I just wanted him to be merry and charming and clever, not evil. Why couldn’t he just be merry and charming and clever?!

Evelyn: awwwww, again. Really sweet. But … as her own character, not as an interpretation of Miss Fairfax.

Jack: *growls* But he was perfect.

Doris: I disliked her (everyone loves disliking “Mrs. Elton!”). But I also thought she had a point. She went overboard, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with dancing or with nicknames or with … quite a few other things. You’re right, Dory. It is a ‘quaint’ little town … *raises eyebrows*

Setting: 2/5

This is where the book really disappointed me. I felt like half the time the characters still spoke like they were from the 1800s … except for random slang words tossed in. Usually by the villains. Um …? The whole feel of the book was vintage, yes, but a little too vintage. It was also lacking in description in several places.

And … I understand the need for historical accuracy, but the Christians in this book came across as stuffy, preachy, and annoying. They won’t dance. They won’t go to picture shows. And they’re not even accepting of those who do! And yes, I understand why, but it really made me dislike them none-the-less!

Besides, the “ball scenes” were greatly missed, as Mrs. Edmonton points out. I think this (and the overall preachy feel) was my biggest problem.

Writing: 3/5

This was an ARC copy, so I won’t mention typos and such. The writing was good overall, but it was a little too old-fashioned for the 1930s at time.

Theme: 4/5

Sometimes the Christian content (of which there was a lot) seemed thrown in, as if it didn’t really belong. However, I did enjoy Emmeline’s character arc, despite it being rushed and crowded at the end. It was a new and cool way of show her change at the end of the book.

Content: 2/5

Language: n/a

Violence: mentions of WW1

Sexual: talk about dancing being inappropriate, Morgan makes a couple kind of inappropriate comments, some super clean romance

Overall: 3/5

Not a bad book, but not a good one either. I didn’t enjoy it much at all, and probably wouldn’t recommend it to any lover of the ’30s or Jane Austen. However, if you enjoy light historical reads with a little romance (but not much) and a lot of Christianity, this might be the book for you.

~Kellyn Roth~

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Reviews

Structuring Your Novel by K.M. Weiland

Structuring Your Novel by K.M. Weiland

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Is Structure the Hidden Foundation of All Successful Stories?

Why do some stories work and others don’t? The answer is structure. In this new guide from the author of the bestselling Outlining Your Novel, you will discover the universal underpinnings that guarantee powerful plot and character arcs. An understanding of proper story and scene structure will help you to not only perfectly time your story’s major events, but will also provide you with an unerring standard to use in evaluating your novel’s pacing and progression.

Structuring Your Novel will show you:

• How to determine the best methods for unleashing your unique and personal vision for your story.
• How to identify common structural weaknesses and flip them around into stunning strengths.
• How to eliminate saggy middles by discovering your “centerpiece.”
• Why you should NEVER include conflict on every page.
• How to discover the questions you don’t want readers asking about your plot—and then how to get them to ask the right questions.

Story structure has empowered countless bestselling and classic authors. Now it’s your turn!

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Rating: 4.5 stars

This book changed the way I look at story structure. It’s changed the way I look at the dramatic arc. At the books I read and the movies I watch. At the way I outline and write and revise.

Structuring Your Novel is a nonfiction book about writing … more specifically about story structure. It starts with a detailed look at the structure of a novel. It shows you the entire story arc in a new way, giving tips for writing each tiny little detail of the dramatic arc. This was very useful, even as someone who knows the dramatic arc fairly well.

Next, it moves on to scene structure. I’d never really thought much about scene structure, so this was an eye-opened for me. I read this section through more than once! It was very informative.

The only thing I didn’t find useful was the chapter on sentence structure. It didn’t really help me, mostly because I learned most of that in grade school and the rest from noveling blogs, other writing books, and practical experience. Still, it may be useful to other people.

K.M. Weiland writes in an entertaining style, but she also grinds the facts into your head in a way that really makes them stick with you. Her examples from popular fiction (old and new) were very useful in helping me grasp the concepts she introduces. But don’t worry if you don’t read a lot (shame on you; why are you trying to write?!). Even if I hadn’t read the books/watched the movies (which I didn’t with two of them), I would have understood, which was nice.

I’d recommend this book to any writer who wishes to improve their craft. It’s definitely worth your time!

~Kellyn Roth

Blog Tours, Reviews

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!

Reviews

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

Blog Tours, Reviews

The Remnant by William Michael Davidson

theremnantblogtourgraphic

Today I’m taking a break from the blog tour of The New Diary to participate in the blog tour of The Remnant by William Michael Davidson. This tour is being hosted by MC Blog Tours.

Onto the review!

Title: The Remnant

Author: William Michael Davidson

Genre: Christian Dystopian/Science Fiction

Setting: Semi-futuristic United States

Publisher: Dancing Lemur Press

Source: from author (in exchange for honest review)

Overall Rating: 5/5 stars

The Remnant by William Michael Davidson

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Colton Pierce apprehends Abberants—those who display symptoms of faith—and quarantines them on a remote island to ensure public safety.  Years prior, the government released a genetically-engineered super flu that destroyed the genes believed to be the biological source of spiritual experience in an effort to rid the world of terrorism. As an extractor with the Center for Theological Control, Colton is dedicated to the cause.

          But Colton’s steadfast commitment is challenged when he learns his own son has been targeted for extraction. An underground militia, the Remnant, agrees to help Colton save his son in exchange for his assistance with their plan to free the Aberrants on the island.

Colton is faced with the most important decision of his life. Remain faithful to the CTC? Or give up everything to save his son?

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I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect when I started reading this book. I was a little wary, as I’ve never read a novel like this before. Of course, it is pretty original, so I’d probably be hard-pressed to find another book like it.

I loved it (and you can see by my rating), and I’d definitely recommend to anyone … even people who, like myself, are skeptical of this genre.

Plot {4/5}:

I removed one point because it got off to a slow start. I was hardly able to make my way through part one. However, after that, it quickly sped up and became, well, amazing. My favorite scene was in the Mourning Room when Selma talked to Colton. I also enjoyed everything about downloading the virus, because I find that idea intriguing, and also when Selma tells Colton about ‘Gus.’

Characters {5/5}:

The characters were all vividly portrayed and easy to keep track of. I especially liked Selma and Colton (more specifically, them together – they made a great team, honestly).

Selma was a unique, interesting individual. She’s intriguing, and she stands up for herself while still being womanly.

Colton is a pretty cool guy. I totally got his motivations and understood why he did what he did. I also sympathize with him about Marty. Though I’m good with kids (unlike Colton …), I can’t stand signs of weakness. It just bugs me. I’m like, “So what if you fell down and broke your arm? Get up!”

Ashton deserves to die. Hopefully there will be a sequel featuring the tragic death of one Ashton. 😉 Seriously, though, I hate him sooo much!

And ‘Gus’ was amazing, of course. 😛

Setting {3/5}:

Probably the weakest part of the book. Although it is futuristic, not a lot has changed. Sure, there are some technological advancements (such as the ability to, you know, plant a chip in someone’s head and keep tabs on them …), but the characters in this book use the same cars we do (albeit battery-operated) and not many social changes seem to have taken place.

For instance, Colton mentally refers to Ashton as feminine. Would they really even care enough to point that out in the post-2060 world? I don’t think so. It’s all going downhill, especially if religion is banned! 😉

But this is just me picking at little things, and it didn’t really decrease my enjoyment of the story.

Writing {4/5}:

Could have used a little polishing here and there, but it was overall good. Still, it was too long for my taste. I wish it could be shortened a bit. There could have been less explanation about every little thing.

Content {3/5}:

No language. Mild violence (including someone almost getting choked and then a lot of talk about cyanide gas being used to kill a lot of people). Disturbing stuff, such a religion/anything religious (e.g. praying, using the word ‘God,’ etc.) being banned and people who do these things being sent to ‘the Island’ and then those people being scheduled for termination (with cyanide gas). One kiss towards the end, not-detailed, and some (barely noticeable, never a big part of the plot at all) romancey stuff.

Overall {5/5}:

This is one of those books that I’ll probably reread at some point, that I won’t delete from my Kindle, and that I’ll recommend to my friends. I’m hoping the author will come out with a sequel … and if not, I’d be excited to read something new by Mr. Davidson, anyway!


About the Author

William Michael Davidson lives in Long Beach, California with his wife and two daughters. A believer that “good living produces good writing,” Davidson writes early in the morning so he can get outside, exercise, spend time with people, and experience as much as possible.

A writer of speculative fiction, he enjoys stories that deal with humanity’s inherent need for redemption.

For more on Davidson and his writing, connect with him on Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook, and Amazon Author’s Page.


There is also a giveaway for two print copies that are available to those living in the U.S. only and one eBook copy available international. The giveaway will end at 12 a.m. (EST) on Sunday, Feb. 26. Enter to win now!

You can find the schedule to read the rest of the posts of this amazing blog tour here.

~Kellyn Roth

Reviews

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

Reviews

The Mirror by John A. Heldt

Title: The Mirror

Author: John A. Heldt

Series: Northwest Passage, #5

Genre: Science Fiction (time-travel) Romance

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

Era: futuristic (2020) and 1960s

Setting: Seattle, Washington

Publisher: John A. Heldt

Source: author (in exchange for honest review)

Rating: 4/5 stars

Content: 4/5. A star was removed for content. No violence (though mentions of protests, the Civil Rights movement, and such). People are mean to a character because he’s black. Some cussing here and there – not very frequent. Mentions of birth control pills and that kind of thing (I think a mention of condoms, too? Ew …). A girl gets pregnant out of wedlock. Lots of kissing and mentions of kissing and mentions of sex, too. The word for those girls is promiscuous. But by 2020, I imagine that’s gonna be even more socially accepted, so … 😉 Just kidding. But seriously, though, not recommended to younger teens at all. Caution prescribed for older teens.

The Mirror by John A. Heldt

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On September 11, 2020, Ginny and Katie Smith celebrate their nineteenth birthday at a country fair near Seattle. Ignoring the warnings of a fortune-teller, they enter a house of mirrors and exit in May 1964. Armed with the knowledge they need to return to their time, they try to make the most of what they believe will be a four-month vacation.

But their sixties adventure becomes complicated when they meet a revered great-grandmother and fall in love with local boys. In THE MIRROR, the sequel to THE MINE and THE SHOW, the sisters find happiness and heartbreak as they confront unexpected challenges and gut-wrenching choices in the age of civil rights, the Beatles, and Vietnam.

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Again, a kind of short review I’m afraid to say. I should probably have set this one aside for a while because it’s a meaty book and I don’t want to forget anything, but I don’t want to make the author wait any longer, and this is what I have time for now. 🙂

This was a really great book! I enjoyed it from cover to cover. The only downside was the content. Lots of sex out of marriage, even if it wasn’t detailed. Didn’t care for that at all. However, if you can skim through that and pretend it didn’t happen (which I did), it is amazing.

I don’t read a lot of books set during this time period. I don’t know a ton about the Civil Rights movement. I’m not going to be studying it until … hmm, probably year after next year. And I’m sick of hearing about racism, frankly. I admit it might be a very real problem … but I feel like people make way too big a deal about it nowadays. However, back then racism was definitely a big thing, and this seemed an accurate, unbiased portrayal of the times.

I didn’t realize the Beatles were that big a deal! I like the Beatles, sure, they’re great … but the level of obsession! I had no idea. That was cool. 😀

Can we take a minute to appreciate James and Mike? Both great guys, both swell characters, and both with some serious problems on their hands! And James’s mom … gosh. Mike’s mom wasn’t bad, either, but James’s mom was my favorite. So much fun!

I really liked all the characters (that I was supposed to like, anyway … and even the bad guys were well-done!) though, like I said, Ginny and Katie (which surprised me! Katie!) both acted inappropriately by my standards. Even by the world’s standards, they were acting pretty dangerously (as evidenced by the … plot twist … at the end of the book).

Virginia … well, I can’t get enough of this girl. 🙂 She was fun as a young woman, and as a middle-aged woman she’s no less fun!

The subplot with Mike and Katie and Mike’s ancestors and all that … that was fantastic. I was a little confused in places, but for the most part, I loved it.

The ending was a little sad, but that was how it had to be … I know that. Still … sad. 😦

Overall, this was a great book for adults and upper young adults. It’s really great, and I enjoyed it so much! Looking for more books like this one by John A. Heldt in the future!

~Kellyn Roth

Reviews

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

Reviews

Blue Skies Tomorrow by Sarah Sundin

Title: Blue Skies Tomorrow

Author: Sarah Sundin

Series Wings of Glory, #3

Genre: Historical Adventure/Romance

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

Era: 1940s (WW2)

Setting: California (USA), England, France/Germany

Publisher: Revell Books

Source: library

Rating: 5/5 stars

Content: 3/5 stars. No language. There’s a war going on, which Jack participates in. People are dying, planes are being shot down, etc. Wife-beating (highlight to read spoilers): Jim (Helen’s now-dead husband) used to beat Helen and Jim’s father beats Jim’s mother. Helen has a couple memories about this and is scarred by it. No details. As far as sexual content, some pretty detailed kisses/wanting to kiss and all the falling in love stuff. Nothing really inappropriate for anyone 13+, without parental guidance and younger with parental guidance (although Ray mentions Helen is “used to a lot more than kisses.” Me: “Mmkay … I know she was married … so you didn’t have to mention that …”).

Blue Skies Tomorrow by Sarah Sundin

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In a time of peril, can they find the courage to confront their fears and embrace a love that lasts?

When her husband becomes a casualty of the war in the Pacific, Helen Carlisle throws herself into volunteering for the war effort to conceal her feelings. But keeping up appearances as the grieving widow of a hometown hero is taking its toll. Soon something is going to give.

Lt. Raymond Novak prefers the pulpit to the cockpit. His stateside job training B-17 pilots allows him the luxury of a personal life–and a convenient excuse to ignore his deepest fear. When the beautiful Helen catches his eye and captures his heart, he is determined to win her hand.

But when Ray and Helen are called upon to step out in faith and put their reputations and their lives on the line, can they meet the challenges that face them? And can their young love survive until blue skies return?

Filled with drama, daring, and all the romance of the WWII era, Blue Skies Tomorrow is the captivating final book in the popular Wings of Glory series.

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I can’t believe this fantastic series is over! Three books is really too few! I can’t stand it! *chokes*

Okay, so, this was a fantastic book. I didn’t like it as much A Memory Between Us, but it was as heartbreaking if not more so. Being hurt by someone you neither love nor trust is very different from being hurt by someone whom you love and trust, and … gosh. I was in tears … especially that scene where (highlight) Helen drives Ray away because he found out Jim used to beat her and she doesn’t want to dishonor his memory, etc. and that scene where Helen finds out that Ray is ‘dead.’

Although Helen was reacting incorrectly to what happened to her (heroizing Jim), it was really realistic! I totally understood why she did it. In fact, it’s fantastic how well we got into both the main characters’ heads.

I loved Ray. He was a simply fantastic character, a great guy. Sure, he had his problems, but I was like, “I DON’T CARE. YOU’RE PERFECT. STOP TRYING TO PERFECT THE PERFECTION, MAN!!!”

Helen … oh, Helen. You’re so messed up! Your child needs spanked. I wanted to give you a talking to. ‘A spanked child is a happy child.’ That’s what I’d tell you. Drag him along the straight and narrow (which basically means make him do what you want him to do because he’s a toddler and a toddler is like, “That’s mine and that’s mine and that’s mine although it’s actually yours …” and that’s not life!) when he’s too little not to stray, and eventually he’ll get up and walk it himself. You can’t make him into the perfect man, but …

And … I just realized the thing I thought Helen was most messed-up about was not spanking her kid …

Anyway, I really sympathized with Helen, even as I was frustrated with her. ‘Cause being scared of a kid a quarter your size? That’s … just sad. But I guess it’s understandable considering the circumstances.

The way Helen and Ray met and got to know each other and everything … I must say that was just perfect! I loved it.

I was a little upset with Mr. Novak about not interfering when he knew what was happening. I mean, he’s the pastor. I know he can’t force anything on anyone, but … he should definitely have dealt with it. It wasn’t ‘none of his business.’ When someone’s being hurt, it’s always your business to interfere and try to help them!

I found it hilarious how Jack and Walt didn’t recognize Ray until he mentioned the stain on the runner! Best (happy) scene in the book!

Anyway, this is a fantastic novel – though not quite the same as A Memory Between Us; nothing’s gonna trump that – and I really enjoyed it. I can’t wait to get my hands on something new by Sarah Sundin! 😀

~Kellyn Roth