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!

Buy on Amazon ~ Add on Goodreads

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.

Buy on Amazon ~ Add on Goodreads

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

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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

Diamond by Paul Willis

Title: Diamond

Author: Paul Willis

Series: The Greywood Files, #1

Genre: mystery (detective stories)

Era: contemporary

Publisher: Paul Willis

Source: from author (in exchange for honest review)

Overall Rating: 5/5

Diamond by Paul Willis

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When Detective Greywood gets a midnight case from a forgetful friend, he thinks it’s just another robbery. But when he learns his client stored the world’s eighth largest diamond in a highly secure bank vault, he knows there must be much more to the case. Only the owner himself could retrieve the diamond.

A short story containing odd friends, two eventful dinner parties, and a coffee fueled detective.

Buy on Amazon ~ Add on Goodreads

A clever detective short story which I really enjoyed. I’m really looking forward to reading more about Rory Greyhood (and his crazy friends). I had the pleasure of beta-reading Diamond, and then I got to read it again in its completed form, and I enjoyed it both times!

Plot {4/5}:

Well-paced, clever, and exciting. I admit I had some trouble understanding certain things, but I figure you don’t need to know everything all at once (especially in a mystery), and I eventually caught on, which is what counts. 😛

Characters {5/5}:

For a short story, the characters were really well-developed, especially Rory and Henry. I really liked Henry (needless to say) and Rory’s “cop friend” was really cool. I hope we get to see Henry again. 😀

Setting {4/5}:

There wasn’t really a lot of talk about where the story was taking place or anything (some big city in the United States is my guess), but it wasn’t really necessary, partially because of the shortness of the story and partially because it just wouldn’t have added anything.

Writing {5/5}:

Mr. Willis has got to be one of the most amusing writers out there! His writing style is just so witty and bouncy and fresh. I was quietly chuckling at a lot of his similes and descriptions.

Content {1/5}:

I honestly can’t think of a single thing. I suppose there was a (non-descriptive) fist-fight of sorts towards the end.

Okay for all ages.

Overall {5/5}:

A simple amazing detective story, comparable with Sherlock Holmes and Father Brown mysteries. I’d recommend Diamond to almost anyone, but especially to lovers of old-fashioned detective stories, amusing characters, and witty writing.

~Kellyn Roth

Blog Tours, Reviews

The Remnant by William Michael Davidson

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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?

Buy on Amazon ~ Add on Goodreads

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

Blog Tours, Reviews

Left to Die by Ivy Rose (and blog tour)

Title: Left to Die

Author: Ivy Rose

Genre: Christian contemporary fiction

Setting: China

Publisher: Lakeside Publications

Source: from author (in exchange for honest review)

Overall Rating: 5/5 stars

Left for Die by Ivy Rose

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

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

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

Buy on Amazon ~ Add on Goodreads

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

Plot {5/5}:

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

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

Characters {4/5}:

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

I think I need a little sister now …

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

Back on track.

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

Setting {4/5}:

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

Writing {4/5}:

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

Content:

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

Overall {5/5}:

AAAAAH THAT WAS SO GOOD!!!

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

~Kellyn Roth

About the Author

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

She can be found at various places on the internet:

Blog – Pinterest – Goodreads – Instagram

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

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

Follow the Tour

~Monday~

Becoming Lost – Review

Beyond the Amethyst – Review

Anika’s Avenue – Review

Once Upon an Ordinary – Interview

~Tuesday~

Whispers on the Wind – Interview

Read Another Page – Review

The Left-Handed Typist – Review

~Wednesday~

Counting Your Blessings – Review/Interview

Stories by Firefly – Review

Writing in the Light – Interview

~Thursday~

Reveries Reviews – Review

Marrok Macintyre – Interview

~Friday~

A Purpose and a Promise – Review

Having a Heart Like His – Review/Interview

Whimsical Writings – Review

~Saturday~

Rebekah’s Remarks – Interview

Reviews

The Crowd by Alleece Balts

Title: The Crowd

Author: Alleece Balts

Series: The Crowd, #1

Genre: Contemporary YA/Romance

Era: contemporary

Setting: Vermont, United States

Publisher: Alleece Balts

Source: from author (in exchange for honest review)

Overall Rating: 5/5

The Crowd by Alleece Balts

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Whitfield Preparatory Academy ought to be the perfect school…

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

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

Will Ella be humiliated, or triumph over her tormentors?

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

Buy on Amazon ~ Add on Goodreads

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

Plot {5/5}:

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

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

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

Characters {5/5}:

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

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

Setting {4/5}:

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

Writing {3/5}:

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

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

Content:

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

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

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

Overall {5/5}:

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

~Kellyn Roth

Reviews

A Lasting Impression by Tamera Alexander

Title: A Lasting Impression

Author: Tamera Alexander

Series: Belmont Mansion, #1

Genre: Historical Romance

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

Era: late 1860s (Reconstruction)

Setting: Nashville, Tennessee

Publisher: Bethany House Publishers

Source: library

Rating: 5/5 stars

Content: 2/5. No language. No violence, though there is a horse-riding accident. A couple kisses, the average falling in love/attraction stuff. Illegal activity (stealing, cheating people out of their money; happened in the past, no-details). Okay for teens of any age, probably without parental guidance unless your kids have problems with thievery. 😉

A Lasting Impression by Tamera Alexander

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After an unwanted past, Claire strives to create something that will last as an artist among Nashville’s elite society in the 1860s.

Claire Laurent’s greatest aspiration is to paint something that will bring her acclaim. Yet her father insists she work as a copyist. A forger. When she’s forced to flee her home, her path collides with attorney Sutton Monroe, who shows her kindness by not turning her in to authorities. But when he later refuses to come to her aid, Claire fears she’s sorely misjudged him. Finding herself among the elite of Nashville society, Claire believes her dream of creating a lasting impression in the world of art is within reach–but only if her past remains hidden.

The Federal Army destroyed Sutton’s home, confiscated his land, and threatens to destroy his family’s honor. His determination to reclaim what belongs to him reveals a truth that may cost him more than he ever imagined–as well as the woman he loves.

Set at Nashville’s historic Belmont Mansion, a stunning antebellum manor built by Adelicia Acklen, A Lasting Impression is a sweeping love story about a nation mending after war, the redemption of those wounded, and the courage of a man and woman to see themselves–and each other–for who they really are.

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AH THIS BOOK WAS SO AMAZING!!!!!!!!!

Okay, I’d better calm down and write an orderly review of this fantastic book which I adore and want to read again and again and again and again …

So … yep.

First, Belmont … gorgeous. I want to live there. I need to live there!

Second, Adelicia Acklen. Amazing character. She was a real person who actually lived and some of the words she said in the book were written by her in a letter to someone! That’s so cool! She has a really sad past. Really, really incredible woman. Wow, wow, wow!

Claire is a fantastic character! I love how hard-working she is, how good she is at her job. Her job is one to die for … although I definitely couldn’t do it. Her creativity in the party and all other things is fantastic. Just … wow.

Sutton is also a great character. I feel like he wasn’t as focused on as Claire, but he was still great. I really liked him.

As I mentioned before, the setting was once-again amazing; Tamera Alexander is always great at putting you in a place you want to live and that you see in a very vivid way. The characters were all well-developed (I love most of them and hate the others, which is how it’s supposed to be). The plot was great. There was a little back-and-forth between Claire and Sutton that I didn’t care, but yeah, otherwise, is was a fantastic book.

And … I have no negatives.

I’m just going to publish this (once-again, pretty short) review as I’m not feeling particularly creative. It was fantastic, I’d recommend it to any lover of historical fiction, sweet romances, lush settings, or intriguing plots.

~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

Reviews

A Memory Between Us by Sarah Sundin

Title: A Memory Between Us

Author: Sarah Sundin

Series: Wings of Glory, #2

Genre: Historical Adventure/Romance

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

Era: 1940s (WW2)

Setting: England

Publisher: Revell Books

Source: library

Rating: 5/5 stars

Content: 3/5. First, obviously, there is a war going on, planes are being shot down, people are dying/almost dying/being gravely wounded. However, it’s never graphic. So, yep, violence and thematic elements. No language. Then … there’s Ruth’s back story. (SPOILER) Basically, she was raped as a young girl. (SPOILER ENDS) It’s never described (no flashbacks or anything). It was tastefully handled (just like ’40s movies always handled that kind of thing), but it’s still there and she’s pretty broken, obviously. Also, (SPOILER) a man tries to take advantage of Ruth later on, but nothing comes of it and the guy goes to jail. (SPOILER ENDS)

A Memory Between Us by Sarah Sundin

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Major Jack Novak has never failed to meet a challenge–until he meets army nurse Lieutenant Ruth Doherty. When Jack lands in the army hospital after a plane crash, he makes winning Ruth’s heart a top priority mission. But he has his work cut out for him.

Not only is Ruth focused on her work in order to support her orphaned siblings back home, she carries a shameful secret that keeps her from giving her heart to any man.

Can Jack break down her defenses? Or are they destined to go their separate ways?

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 Wow. Just wow.

I’m sorry. It’s been almost two months, and I still can’t form words into sentences to describe this book.

It is so emotional.

It is so heartbreaking.

It is so beautiful.

I am almost crying while I write this, guys. Just thinking about the book is making me tear up.

I can’t really tell you a lot about the book itself, therefore. It’s … it’s just amazing. Read it. Now.

Except … well, I do have some content concerns (which are mentioned up there ^^). Therefore, I wouldn’t recommend it to younger teens without parental guidance. Older teens, however, should be able to handle it. It’s very delicately written, just like any ’40s movie. Except this is a ’40s book. And it wasn’t written during the ’40s. Doesn’t that just blow your mind? Sundin is incredibly talented.

This is an incredible story, from wonderful characters – every one like a real person with their ups, their downs, their ghosts – to fast-paced action scenes, to slower romance scenes (that were often cute … or heartbreaking … or both …).

Because I’m not capable of being organized just now (having fond reminisces about this book), I’ll list my favorite things.

  • Charlie and May, Jack and Ruth. Cutest foursome ever! Every scene with these guys … wow.
  • Charlie. AAAAAH!!!!! *sobs and laughs at the same time* And his friendship with Jack was amazing. I want a friend like that! No, wait, I already have one … *grins at various friends* *leaves them to speculate which one I’m talking about* 😉
  • May. Wow. Wow. Wow.
  • Jack. I love his character, and I especially love this flaw! I am incredibly prideful, and his story … it touched me here. *points to heart* He’s a wild ride, a hilarious guy, too. Lots of layers. Like an onion. That’s why I was crying, probably … not like I actually got emotional or anything …
  • Ruth. Okay, I’m going to stop listing the characters after her. She is really a standup gal. I can understand getting so obsessed with something that you ignore everything else. I … do that. Not for the reasons she did, though, of course; I’m just naturally obsessive. 😄 She was so realistic, too! I had to keep reminding myself she never actually existed … nor did her pain … so I could stop crying …
  • Glimpses at Walt and Allie again. I loved these guys (not as much as Jack and Ruth), and whenever I heard of them, it was really cool.
  • That scene where Jack confronts Ruth. Not to give away spoilers, but that one is so heartbreaking … I love it and hate it and aaah!!!!
  • First kiss. You’ll understand after reading the book …
  • “Long ago she’d clamped an iron shell around her heart and nothing and no one could pry it lose, but deep inside the tender flesh still beat.” Why do I love this quote so much!?!?!
  • Everything I haven’t mentioned so far.

I’d recommend A Memory Between Us to any lover of books. Why? Because I’m not required to give specifics for a novel as good as this. ANY lover of books – and quite a few book-haters, too – would love this novel.

~Kellyn Roth