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

The Paratroopers by John Emmert

Title: The Paratroopers (A Novel of the 82nd Airborne Division)

Author: John Emmert

Series: Airborne Trilogy, #1

Genre: Historical Adventure

Era: 1941-1943 (WW2)

Setting: United States, North Africa, and Italy

Publisher: John Emmert

Source: borrowed from a friend of mine who owns it

Overall Rating: 3.5/5 stars

The Paratroopers by John Emmert

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Steven Weaver’s life as a college student was active. If he wasn’t studying, he was playing varsity football or basketball. Now, with the coming of war, his first months in the Army lacked activity until he was given a unique opportunity in the summer of 1942 to join a group of air deployed combat infantry looking for athletic volunteers. Little did he know what would be asked of himself and his faith under fire.

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I honestly wasn’t really expecting to enjoy this book too much, but I decided to read it anyway because a friend of mine gave me a physical copy, and I was tired of reading on Kindle.

I admit I didn’t really enjoy it too much at first, but once it got going, I liked it. It isn’t my favorite kind of book to read, but there were some parts that were very interesting and even exciting.

Plot: 3/5

Like I said, this isn’t really my favorite kind of story to read, so that may account in part for its rating.

However, I did find the start and several places in the middle to be a little slow even when the content was interesting. I’m not really interested into football – at least not watching or reading about it – and the introductory scene didn’t really catch my attention. Unless you care about the characters, only a die-hard sport-lover can really get into a scene like that. 😉

Also, it took a while for Steve to sign up for the army and then get the transfer to the paratroopers after which the action really began with his intense training.

The account of the training was interesting. I don’t know a lot about WW2 except what I’ve learned from historical fiction, movies made during that time (like a hundred … I’m a huge classic movie fan), and basic history, so I had several, “Whoa, seriously!?” moments. I mean, I knew they’d do a lot of physical training … but to me that just seems crazy! But yep, it was probably necessary and made them top-notch and all.

Characters: 3/5

To be honest, the only ones who really stood out were Joe and Martin! Joe … he was amazing. He was really well-developed. Martin was just a fun guy. However, I found Steve to be a bit of a Gary Sue and none of the other characters really stood out to me. I forgot who they are and got them confused. However, Joe … wow. I just love Joe so much. Such a goof. 🙂

Setting: 3/5

This novel was obviously thoroughly researched. He knew everything there was to know about the paratroopers and their training methods and their guns and just about everything else. However, the dialogue didn’t really feel ’40s-ish to me, and there were a couple things that didn’t feel socially accurate.

For instance, all Steve’s fellow paratroopers were disrespectful of his religion. To me, that was ridiculous. I might be wrong, but I’ve always been taught and observed that, during the ’40s, people were very respectful of Christianity.

I can see one or two of the paratroopers being skeptical, but they probably would have at least kept their mouths shut unless they were complete jerks with no manners. Maybe I’m wrong … I seriously doubt people would have teased Steve about praying and reading the Bible.

Writing: 2/5

Needs work, but there’s potential. A lot more historical detail than I like, but for a WW2 scholar, this book would be great.

Content: 2/5

Language: n/a

Violence: it’s set during a war and there are several deaths, many wounded and disfigured, etc. Nothing overly gory, but the facts aren’t hidden. A couple fistfights.

Sexual: a couple mentions of pregnancy/children being born (no details). A group of soldiers attempt to grab a lady on the streets, but Steve and his friends stop them so nothing happens.

Overall, nothing that bugged me. Very clean. Recommended for 12+.

Overall: 3.5/5

A great adventure story for anyone who loves learning about all the little details of WW2.

~Kellyn Roth~

Reviews

The Ugly Teapot by Fred Holmes

Title: The Ugly Teapot: Hannah

Author: Fred Holmes

Series: The Ugly Teapot, Book 1

Genre: YA Fantasy Adventure

Era: contemporary

Setting: United States and the Middle East

Publisher: Fred Holmes

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

Overall Rating: 3.5/5

The Ugly Teapot by Fred Holmes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Plot: 3/5

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

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

Characters: 4/5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting: 5/5

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

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

Writing: 4/5

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

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

Theme: 3/5

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

Content: 3/5

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

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

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

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

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

Overall: 3.5/5

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

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

~Kellyn Roth

Reviews

A Mighty Fortress by Faith Blum

Title: A Mighty Fortress

Author: Faith Blum

Series: Hymns of the West, #1

Genre: Christian Historical Adventure

Era: 1870s

Setting: Montana Territory, United States of America

Publisher: Faith Blum

Source: received as a prize/gift

Overall Rating: 2/5 stars

A Mighty Fortress by Faith Blum

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Joshua and Ruth Brookings are traveling by stagecoach to finally join their parents in Montana. Attacked by murderous outlaws, the teens barely escape with their lives and must survive in the barren Wyoming and Montana territories and escape the man who’s hunting them.

Seven years ago, Jed Stuart ran away from home and joined Tom’s gang. Jed is tired of the lawlessness and wants out. The only problem? He is the boss’s right-hand man and will never be able to leave. And what’s one more stagecoach robbery, anyway?

Can Joshua lean on God’s strength to keep himself and his sister alive until they find a town? Will Jed be able to face his anger or will it consume him completely? All three are running–the hunter and hunted. What will happen when they meet?

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This was one of those books I just had to slog through. I was determined to finish it, but I really didn’t want to. I didn’t enjoy it. However, it wasn’t all bad, and it may be for some people more than me.

Note: the author has improved so much since writing of this book, and I really have enjoyed her more recent works.

Plot: 3/5

It started out pretty well, but towards the middle it dragged on and on. Also, when dealing with the dual story lines of Joshua/Ruth and Jed, it skipped all over the place. One moment we’d be a month ahead, the next we’d be two months behind, the next we’d be a year ago, and so on.

Characters: 3/5

There were quite a few characters towards the end, but I easily kept them separated in my head. I didn’t really like Ruth (I found her to be a bit of a Mary Sue) or Joshua (same). They both seemed judgmental to me.

I did like Jed, who was presumably the antagonist. I looked forward to seeing what happened next to him. He made me want to write a Western. I don’t know why, but I just find the outlaws and sheriffs and such of the old west to be fascinating. Probably too much John Wayne …

Setting: 3/5

The description was pretty good. I really do want to visit Montana someday. I didn’t really see anything missing in this aspect. The dialogue was sometimes a little too modern.

Writing: 2/5

This book probably needs a little more editing. The worst problem was probably the head-hopping. I never knew whose head we were in, which was confusing.

Theme: 3/5

I normally love reading Christian fiction … but in this book, I found the Christian content a little bit preachy. It was hard to get through the paragraphs of Bible that seemed put in at random. Almost everyone in this book was a Christian or became a Christian (usually remarkably easily), which I didn’t find very realistic.

However, the overall theme of redemption and forgiveness was a good one – despite my not liking the portrayal of it – and I did appreciate that.

Content: 2/5

Language: n/a

Violence: robbing, outlawing, and even several murders. Never detailed, always treated as (very) wrong.

Sexual: Jed supposedly raped a girl at one point. It all happened off-screen and was dealt with pretty tastefully.

Overall: 2/5

Not my favorite book. I didn’t really like it and wouldn’t recommend it. However, later works by the author were much better.

~Kellyn Roth

Reviews

Dark Storm Rising by Jesseca Wheaton

Title: Dark Storm Rising

Author: Jesseca Wheaton

Genre: historical adventure

Era: 1938 (WW2)

Setting: Austria, Europe

Publisher: Jesseca Wheaton

Source: from author (in exchange for honest review)

Overall Rating: 4/5

Dark Storm Rising by Jesseca Wheaton

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Helena and Max are just two normal cousins living in north-east Austria. But when Hitler takes over Germany and the unrest grows against the Jews, their families become two of many, helping Germany’s Jews across the border.

Then, on the night the Anschluss is signed and on their way to deliver a secret message, Helena and Max are captured by a high-ranking officer in the Wehrmacht. Confined within the enemy’s walls, Helena and Max have many unanswered questions.

If Germany is not at war with Austria, then why have they been captured? Who can they trust? And will they ever see their families again? Encountering many surprises along the way, Helena and Max learn that God’s plans are always best, and the power of forgiveness.

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That was a fantastic short story! I really enjoyed it and would recommend it to almost anyone who loves historical fiction, exciting adventures, or great Christian messages. 🙂

Plot {5/5}:

The plot was interesting and intriguing, exciting while not being too fast-paced.

Characters {5/5}:

The characters were great. I really liked the Major. Especially his flowers.

Setting {4/5}:

I personally felt this could have been a little stronger, especially description-wise, but it was a short story after all.

Writing {3/5}:

Pretty good, although I see how Jesseca’s writing has improved since now by quite a bit! Especially in A Question of Honor. *swoons over another book by the author* *takes a deep breath*

Content:

I’d say it was perfectly clean. Some violence, though nothing particularly graphic. No language or sexual content.

Overall {4/5}:

A sweet but poignant and meaningful short story (with a short review!).

~Kellyn Roth

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

Reviews

A Coronation of Kings by Samuel Stokes

Title: A Coronation of Kings

Author: Samuel Stokes

Genre: Action/Adventure, Fantasy

Age-Range: 13+ (young adult)

Setting: medieval fantasy world

Publisher: Samuel Stokes

Source: author (in exchange for an honest review)

Rating: 4/5 stars

Content: 3/5. Lots of violence, though it’s not extremely gory at any time. Realistic depictions of war. I wasn’t disturbed by it at all (though I’m pretty hard to unnerve). Mentions of men ‘raping and pillaging’ towns and such. A few kisses (no details). A few bad words (d**n a few times, maybe h**l once or twice; completely unnecessary, but what can you expect?).

A Coronation of Kings by Samuel Stokes

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Tyranny. Desperation. Rebellion.

While Tristan may be the heir to the House of Listar, at heart he’s more a lad than a lord.
Mad with power, the ruthless and scheming Baron of Belnair will stop at nothing to gain the crown. In one swift stroke the House of Listar lies in ruin. Alone, Tristan must fight for his life, and his people.

With everything at stake, Tristan must unite the unlikeliest of allies to block the Baron’s ascent. For the first time in his life he must become the leader he was born to be.

The Baron’s armies grow as an ancient magic stirs in the mountains. If Tristan fails, the throne, his freedom, and the love of his life will be lost forever.

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The Coronation of Kings by Samuel Stokes is a simply amazing book. I enjoyed it from start to finish. There were a few things, however, that need improvement.

First of all, I would definitely recommend an editor. In every paragraph I was aching to change a thousand little things from word choice to punctuation to grammar to a million little typos. I believe the author could even do a great deal of it himself.

Second, Tristan was a little too … bland. I wish there was more time spent developing his character (and that of his brother as well). He was too perfect, too good at everything, and he had no real character arch. However, I was able to ignore that because, as I said before, this is an amazing book.

At first glance, this is your average story about an heir seeking to reclaim his throne. However, it’s anything but. As mentioned in the summary, Tristan teams up with some unlikely allies. These allies, and their fortress, added something very special and original to this novel. I really want to live in a catacomb now. What? I’m serious! I do! They really had an ideal defense system set up. And I also want a secret army … okay, so maybe I don’t, but it still sounds cool …

From chapter one, this story took off at a fast clip. It rarely seemed rushed, but it was very action-packed. I’m not usually big into those kind of novels (they usually skim on character development, as did this one a bit here and there), but this one was well-done.

Syrion, Tristan’s twin brother, and the stories of the Astarii were fantastic, too. To me, the stories of the Astarii kind of sounded like Christianish … the one about the one Astarii turning away from the gods, the morals, etc. However, I don’t know if this was intended or not. Whether or not some of the tales were supposed to be allegorical, the Astarii and everything about them were an interesting addition to the story. There was a bit of a mystery involved here, and everything came together nicely, just leaving me wondering enough to read on but not confusing me. I especially loved the dragons.

Although Tristian and a few other characters were weak, many characters were not. I found Elaina, Syrion, and Marcus both well-developed, as well as the few ‘thieves’ we did meet and the villains. And the evil creepy lady whose name isn’t coming to mind at the moment.

The setting was really well-done. I felt like I knew the world we were in very well. I enjoyed seeing the different cultures at play on the continent. The description in these cases was fantastic.

Overall, this was an action-packed, breathtaking, twist-filled adventure story that could use just a little tweaking here and there. I can easily see how it could be made a best-seller with a little editing and a little character development.

~Kellyn Roth

Reviews

A Distant Melody by Sarah Sundin

Title: A Distant Melody

Author: Sarah Sundin

Series: Wings of Glory, #1

Genre: Christian Historical Adventure/Romance

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

Era: 1940s (WW2)

Setting: California (USA) and England

Publisher: Fleming H. Revell

Source: library

Rating: 5/5 stars

Content: 3/5. It’s actually really clean. I tried to explain it up here, but it got too long. Find my summary of the content in the review itself. 🙂

A Distant Melody by Sarah Sundin

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Never pretty enough to please her gorgeous mother, Allie will do anything to gain her approval–even marry a man she doesn’t love. Lt. Walter Novak–fearless in the cockpit but hopeless with women–takes his last furlough at home in California before being shipped overseas.

Walt and Allie meet at a wedding and their love of music draws them together, prompting them to begin a correspondence that will change their lives. As letters fly between Walt’s muddy bomber base in England and Allie’s mansion in an orange grove, their friendship binds them together. But can they untangle the secrets, commitments, and expectations that keep them apart?

A Distant Melody is the first book in the WINGS OF GLORY series, which follows the three Novak brothers, B-17 bomber pilots with the US Eighth Air Force stationed in England during World War II.

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Simply fantastic story. I can’t get over it. I just loved it to death. Now, time to explain why A Distant Melody is now among my favorite novels ever. Not that I’ll be able to describe it in words, of course. You’ll just have to read the book and join my shrill fangirl shrieking. *dances happily*

Now, I just expected to read another sweet, light historical romance with a tiny bit of Christian faith. Was I ever surprised! The Christian message is strong! REALLY strong. Yet it’s not preachy. It’s amazing. Sundin didn’t bleach the truth; she handled it straightforwardly, never wincing at the way things are.

The romance … adorable. I loved how, although Walt and Allie were physically attracted to each other (healthily; more on that later), neither of them were described as handsome/beautiful. Quite interesting. They really had a solid friendship before they moved on to romance. They depended on each other, they knew each other, they were awesome together … *grins* I’m just so happy thinking about this book right now. 😀

Before I go any farther, a bit about the content (as promised):

I felt like I had to content-rate this 3/5 although it just didn’t feel unclean! It was a very sweet book, and everything that was wrong (even little white lies/not telling the whole true being a lie) was dealt with exactly as it should be, and wow! Just wow.

Walt was attracted to Allie (and visa-versa, I think; I don’t remember exactly), but he wasn’t gawking at her all the time; he was healthily attracted to her, I’d say. That’s really the first time I’ve seen that in a book. I was like, “Wow … that’s cool!” A few kisses, but nothing that made me squirm.

Also, there’s some gossip about Baxter (that he might be homosexual) that is never exactly disproved, though Allie is sure it’s not true; it’s just gossip. No language. Some violence; nothing really graphic, but it might disturb the weak-hearted. It’s war, guys. People die. Get over it. 

Back to the actual story.

Time to talk about characters. You know how I feel about characters, guys. I love ’em. I adore ’em. But I rarely find characters that satisfy my needs! These guys did. Walt, Allie, Frank, and every other character in this book was amazing. They were very real people, none of them completely perfect, none of them (except Baxter, maybe) completely evil.

I especially felt bad for Allie. I think it’s best if you read this book not knowing a ton about it (it’s one of those books that unfolds best if you don’t know a ton about it when you start reading), but I emphasized with her every step of the way.

And Walt … I don’t really have a problem with lying (not even “little white” ones) … but this still touched me. I do stretch the truth sometimes, I guess, come to think of it, but I’m a storyteller. What do you expect?

And there I am making excuses for myself again.

More than anything, this is a story of character growth – growth in personality, growth toward God, etc. Not that the romance wasn’t fantastic … but the character growth was the coolest part.

If you don’t like character-based stories, you’re an idiot that’s okay. This is a fantastic adventure story. We spend a lot of time in England, flying over France, almost dying, etc. I was so proud of knowing a bit about bombers due to a story my friend wrote. I was all like, “I don’t need to read this paragraph describing the plane! I already know what it looks like! HA!!!” 😛

Overall, I would recommend this book to any teen/adult who loves WW2, romance, adventure, the ’40s in general (research for both the ’40s as an era and WW2 was amazing, by the way! Sundin captured the ’40s!), bombers, action, a strong Christian message (that will change the way you think), touching stories, occasionally funny stories, sweet stories, or just trusts me to know a good book when I read it! 🙂

~Kellyn Roth

Reviews

An Ordinary Knight by H.L. Burke

Title: An Ordinary Knight

Author: H.L. Burke

Series: An Ordinary Knight, #1

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy Adventure/Romance

Age-Range: 12+ (upper middle grade/young adult)

Setting: a fantasy world

Publisher: H.L. Burke

Source: bought with birthday money 🙂

Rating: 3/5 stars

Content: 3/5. Mild romance. There’s one guy who’s sort of a lady-chaser, so. There’s that. Pretty mild violence. No language.

An Ordinary Knight by H.L. Burke

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Stuck in a humiliating position as the Royal Kennel Guard, Sir Percy sees little hope for anything other than an obscure fate. After all, in the Kingdom of Ithelia, you need a fairy to guide you to greatness, and fairies just don’t bother with knights like him.

However, when Percy catches the eyes of the sheltered Princess Matilda, his world expands in new and frightening ways.

A victim of an ill-planned Christening, Matty has spent her life in a locked tower, hiding from pixie attacks. Now she’ll do anything to escape. And if that means dragging Percy along for a cross country search for Prince Charming, so be it.

But not all Prince Charmings are what they seem, and as Matty’s plight grows more desperate, Percy finds himself losing his heart. Does a lowly knight have what it takes to uncurse a princess?

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Well … it was still good, but it wasn’t improved too much if at all. You see, H.L. Burke originally published An Ordinary Knight a while back along with another novella. She later removed it from the market and presumably edited it to be re-published … and I see some changes, but not a lot. Or maybe I simply don’t remember the earlier version very well.

First, the info-dumping prologue. Never a good idea. It basically dryly summarizes Sir Percy’s ordinary life up until it stops being ordinary.

Of course, I wouldn’t really call Percy an ordinary knight. He’s very abnormal, in fact. It seems that every knight but him is fairy-gifted. So doesn’t that make him unordinary?

The characters were all right, though at times they seemed a little two-dimensional. The plot was exceptional, and the writing amusing.

On the negative side, Dusty annoyed me, the fairy’s decision seemed sudden and unrealistic, and Mattie … hmm. Could anybody really be that stupid? Especially if they read as much as Mattie supposedly did? If she read a lot, she should know a lot about the world. Or maybe she just read trash. I don’t know. I did find it to be a lot less cheesy, which is good.

Overall, a reasonably entertaining tale, although it isn’t get better than ‘okay’ in my personal opinion.

~Kellyn Roth

Reviews

The Movement of Kings by Nadine C. Keels

Title: The Movement of Kings

Author: Nadine C. Keels (https://prismaticprospects.wordpress.com/)

Series: The Movement of Crowns, #3

Genre: Christian romantic fantasy

Age-Range: young adult/adult

Setting: Diachona (fantasy world)

Publisher: Nadine C. Keels

Source: author (in exchange for honest review)

Rating: 5/5 stars

Content: 2/5. Some innuendo-ish stuff, falling in love & the emotions, some kissing (few to no details). By far the cleanest of the three … although all three were very clean.

The Movement of Kings by Nadine C. Keels

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The order of things, the nature of succession, and a nation that must march on…

At a time of political and cultural uncertainty, the charge of the Eubeltic Realm has been passed over to a young monarch known for his intelligence, agility, and brooding ways, as well as the “way” he has with vibrant ladies at court. Can this inexperienced king handle the current rise of domestic and colonial crises, the bereavement of his family, and his curious attraction to a councilman’s unassuming daughter, or is everything in his untried hands on the verge of falling apart?

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