April 2017 Mini Reviews

AprilMiniReviews

Well, it’s time for another round of mini reviews! 😀

Amazing Grace by Faith Blum

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3/5 stars

I was really looking forward to this book, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would. First, the timeline was confusing. There were flashbacks (which, to me, are usually a no-no), and it started before the last book ended, which was quite confusing. I also felt like the actual plot ended and the book just kept going on. However, it was very sweet. I really liked Rachel and Caleb.

Continue reading “April 2017 Mini Reviews”

Be Thou My Vision by Faith Blum

Title: Be Thou My Vision

Author: Faith Blum

Series: Hymns of the West, #2

Genre: Christian Historical Fiction (light romance)

Era: 1880s, I think? Approximately?

Setting: United States

Publisher: Faith Blum

Source: got the series as a whole in a giveaway

Overall Rating: 4/5 stars

Be Thou My Vision by Faith Blum

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

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

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

Buy on Amazon ~ Add on Goodreads

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

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

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

Plot: 4/5

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

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

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

Characters: 3/5

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

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

James: so sweet. ❤

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

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

Setting: 2/5

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

Writing: 3/5

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

Theme: 4/5

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

Content: 2/5

Language: n/a

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

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

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

Overall: 4/5

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

~Kellyn Roth

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?

Buy on Amazon ~ Add on Goodreads

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

Savior Like a Shepherd: Release Tour

Faith Blum is having an amazing release tour for her book, Savior Like a Shepherd. It’s the first novel in her Orphans of the West series. I know, I know … we’re all sorry to see Hymns of the West go. But it’s time for something new, and I just bet (not literally but … you know what I mean …) we’re all going to love the Orphans of the West series as much as Hymns … if not more!

Today I’m going to tell you a little about the book … and then a little about Titus Hine, the main character of Savior Like a Shepherd. As the series title suggests, he’s an orphan. Not only that, but he’s the illegitimate son of a prostitute. Now, I know that sounds a little, “Hmm, do I want to read that?” But I know that Miss Blum with handle a tough subject like that with grace. 🙂

About the Book

 

The ground shook and a rumble sounded through the air as the train squealed to a stop. Maybe, just maybe, I could carry someone’s bags without the porter taking notice. And then there was the even bigger maybe: Maybe I could get enough money to at least buy a crust of bread for Trevor and Tabitha to share.

I hid behind the boxes in the freight yard and kept one eye on the porter, and the other on the second class passenger car. The porter had his attention on the first class car, so I slipped into the gathering crowd.

Titus Hine has always taken care of others. First in protecting his brother and sister from the men his mother entertained. Even more so after her death, when the townspeople refused to help the orphans of a town prostitute. He’s been protector and provider, despite the hardships. He’s learned that no one will help, no one cares and if he wants to survive he’ll have to rely on his own strength not just for himself but his family as well.

Then a stranger shows him the kindness and help no one else seems willing to. Between her kindness and the lecture she gives the Christian Leaders, Titus’s life takes an unexpected turn for the better. With help and provision from the local believers things should be easier, his burdens are lifted. So why does it feel like life is spinning out of control?

Can Titus learn that while man may fail him there is One who will never fail? Can he learn to allow God to be the Shepherd of his life and lead him? Or will life continue to push him every which way?

Buy now on your favorite eBook platform: www.books2read.com/saviorlikeashepherd


And as if that weren’t enough to make you want to buy it, 50% of Faith’s income from this series will go to the World Orphans organization! That’s pretty cool, don’t you think? 😀

I bet by now you want to know a little bit about the author … so …

About the Author

Faith Blum is a 20-something author of multiple books in various genres. She loves to write, read, play piano, knit, crochet, sew, watch movies, and play games with her family.  She lives in Wisconsin with her family on a small family farm where they raise goats, chickens, turkeys, ducks, and have 2 dogs and a varying number of cats.

Faith’s goal in her writing is to encourage Christians in their walk with Christ. If you want to know when her latest book comes out, go to her website to sign up for her New Releases Newsletter so you can get an email when her next book in the series comes out. You will also find links to her other Social Media sites on her website. She loves to hear from her readers, so feel free to contact her.


A Giveaway

As I mentioned before, there is an amazing giveaway being hosted by Miss Blum with lots of prizes. Hop over here to enter! I know I did. Although I should probably just do my bit advertising it on my blog and social media and ignore the tempting giveaway altogether … but that’s totally besides the point. Isn’t it? I think it is …

The Character Spotlight

If I’ve learned anything reading from this tour, it’s that Titus Hine really looks like someone I want to get to know. So you can learn something to (ha …), here’s a little bit about him.

Name: 
Titus Hine 
Age:
12 (at beginning of the book) 
Background: 
Titus was born to Clarice Hine on February 10, 1868. His mother became a lady of the night when Titus’s father ran out on them. She tried to raise her sons and daughter well, but with little opportunity for them and even less money, found it difficult.
Titus learned how to live off the streets from a young age. After his mother died when he was twelve, he tried to provide for his sister and brother without resorting to stealing—something his mother told him to never do. A few weeks after her death, the rent came due and they couldn’t pay. They lived on the streets until Miss Brown came into their lives and turned it upside down. 
Personality:
Happy-go-lucky, makes the best of bad situations, probably ENFP, forces himself to be 
optimistic, but isn’t always, especially in his own thoughts.
Personal Goals: 
To make a better life for his siblings and others like them.

You see why I like him? He just sounds so awesome. I mean, he’s just twelve … and he’s obviously such a great little fellow! I mean, in the eyes of society, he’s a mistake who good people don’t even look at … yet he ‘makes the best of bad situations’ and ‘forces himself to be optimistic.’ And I love how he obeys his mother and doesn’t steal. Most orphans back then ended up thieves, I believe … which only added to their reputation, of course. It was a vicious cycle. I really can’t wait to read this book! *glares a ginormous to-be-read list*

Before you go, here’s the schedule of the blog tour. As you can see, there are a lot of amazing posts! Go check them out! 🙂

The Schedule

Bonus Post from February 10

Petticoats and Pistols – The History of Paint (Note: the giveaway on that post is closed)

February 16

Bookish Orchestrations-Tour Introduction

Peggy’s Hope 4U– Character Spotlight of Titus

February 17

Leah’s Bookshelf– Book Spotlight

Rebekah Lyn Books– Character Spotlight of Tabitha

February 18

Zerina Blossom’s Books– Guest Post – About the Town

February 20

SarahAllerding– Author Interview

February 21

Tara Ellis Author– Book Spotlight

Melanie D. Snitker, Author – Character Spotlight of Trevor

February 22

Writings,Ramblings, and Reflections– Character Interview

February 23

Reveries Reviews– Character Spotlight of Titus Hine

Kelsey’s Notebook– Guest Post – My Kind of Romance

February 24

With a Joyful Noise– Book Review

February 25

Writing Dreams– Guest Post – Why Orphans?

Zerina Blossom’s Books – Book Review

February 27

God’s Peculiar Treasure Rae– Character Spotlight of Trevor Hine

February 28

Homeschooled Authors– Author Interview

Rachel Rossano’s Words– Guest Post – What’s the Inspiration and song connection?

Thanks for reading,

~Kellyn Roth