June 2017 Mini Reviews

Today I’m going to be reviewing six lovely books. Most of them are historical romances. Okay, all but one are historical romances. *hides* Sorry, guys … I tend to stick to one genre most of the time. And then get behind reviewing them because I read them for pleasure, not for review. *shrugs*

On other news, I’ve moved my schedule to Monday and Thursday instead of Tuesday and Thursday. I think this will be better because it spreads the posts out somewhat (and give us a bit of variety, as reviews are going to be only on Monday except when I can’t help it for whatever reason).

I’m going to try to post more fun stuff over the summer. Sorry for all the dull reviews! I have about twenty-five books that need to be reviewed at this point – some of which I’ve read, some of which I haven’t.

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The Whimsicals by Mr. Bohemiam

Title: The Whimsicals: The Wonky Wingmen

Author: Mr. Bohemian

Genre: satire (three script plays)

Setting: an imaginary heaven

Publisher: Mr. Bohemian

Source: from author (in exchange for honest review)

Overall Rating: 4/5 stars

The Whimsicals by Mr. Bohemian

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Strap on your angel wings and resize your halo, this bus is set for Heaven or bust! A congregation of comedy and curiosity to cackle and confuse mortals and immortals. No angels were harmed in the making of this production. No demons were flattered in the making of this production.

Angel Incorporated

Your guardian angel is tracking your reward points. Do you have enough for a miracle? The angels of Angelix watch over mortals from their computers. From there, they may provide their assigned mortal with what they need, but not often what they want. Is managing mankind not your nine to five? If so, the demons of Daemonix are always accepting applications.

The Guilty Gardener

Calling the case of the Children of the Garden versus Demon Sylmalice. The prosecution states that Sylmalice tricked the girl, Eve, into biting a fruit from the Tree of Treachery. The defense argues that ever since “the exeunt” of Lucifer, angels have been actively prejudiced toward demons. Therefore, Demon Sylmalice is innocent by reason of “authenticity,” with mental collapse triggered by systematic social suppression. Angel 12 is on the case.

Kitty Kloud 9

You are now kruising on Kitty Kloud 9: Where Pets Get Picky! While on the show, angel parents possess the chance to chat with their pets. Is your kitty in a furball with the dog? Is the bird barbarically flicking the fish again? Step lightly with Angel 9 and Mr. Kitty, as they tiptoe through tantrums and bring peace to petkind.

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Unexpected Allies and Recurring Warts by Grace Marshall

Title: Unexpected Allies and Recurring Warts

Author: Grace Marshall

Series: Horse Haven, #2

Genre: Christian Young Adult Fiction

Era: contemporary

Setting: Missouri, USA

Publisher: Grace Marshall

Source: from author (in exchange for honest review)

Overall Rating: 4/5 stars

Unexpected Allies and Recurring Warts by Grace Marshall

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A spunky kitten on a daring rescue, a neglected mare full of love, and boys that recur like warts make teenager Ruth Deloach’s life far from boring. For every kind person that comes to the ranch there seems to be two warts.

The attitudes and temperatures of southeast Missouri starkly contrast the suburbs of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but Ruth doesn’t have time to adjust before her father holds an open house for their horse ranch, Meredith Meadows. Ruth’s overbearing older brother seems to just add dangerous sparks to her frustration as she tries to figure out who she has to be nice to and who she actually wants to be nice to. At first, the horse lessons on the ranch start making Ruth feel as if she is back in her comfort zone until she gets tossed by one of the horses.

Sometimes the best way through life is to laugh through the tears, warts, and her own attempts to mow the grass in a straight line.

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Nyssa Glass and the Caper Crisis by H.L. Burke

Title: Nyssa Glass and the Caper Crisis

Series: Nyssa Glass, #0.5

Author: H.L. Burke

Genre: steampunk (science fiction)

Age Range: upper middle grade/young adult

Overall Rating: 4 stars

Nyssa Glass and the Caper Crisis by H.L. Burke

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Orphaned cat burglar Nyssa Glass intends to outwit her rotten fate.

“Adopted” by her incarcerated uncle’s gang of thieves, she breaks into homes and picks pockets to repay her family debt and one day buy her freedom from their dark enterprise. Mechanically adept and determined, Nyssa longs to attend Miss Pratchett’s School for Mechanically Minded Maids and make an honest life she can take pride in.

She wasn’t made to steal things. She was made to create and fix them.

However, before she can make her escape, the head of the gang taps her for a new assignment, one her conscience cannot bear. Nyssa is faced with a heartrending decision: sacrifice everything or become the very thing she’s desperate to escape.

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The Selection by Kiera Cass

Title: The Selection

Author: Kiera Cass

Series: The Selection, #1

Genre: Dystopian Romance?

Era: futuristic

Publisher: HarperTeen

Source: from library

Overall Rating: 4/5 stars

The Selection by Kiera Cass

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For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself—and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

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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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Structuring Your Novel by K.M. Weiland

Structuring Your Novel by K.M. Weiland

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Is Structure the Hidden Foundation of All Successful Stories?

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

Structuring Your Novel will show you:

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

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

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Rating: 4.5 stars

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

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

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

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

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

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

~Kellyn Roth