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

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

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

Blog Tours, Reviews

London in the Dark by Victoria Lynn

Title: London In The Dark

Author: Victoria Lynn

Series: Light of London, #1

Genre: Christian Historical Mystery

Era: 1910 (Edwardian)

Setting: London, England

Publisher: Ichthus Family Productions

Source: from author (in exchange for honest review)

Overall Rating: 3.5/5

London in the Dark by Victoria Lynn

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London, 1910

Budding Private Detective Cyril Arlington Hartwell has a conundrum. London is being ravaged by the largest run of thefts in recent history. His hunch that it is all tied together may put him and those he loves in more danger than he could have reckoned.

Olivia Larken Hartwell is just home from boarding school for the summer anticipating time with her adoring parents.She misses her absent brother, Cyril, hoping for the day he will finally come home. But tragedy strikes, causing upheaval for all concerned and changes her life in a way she never could have imagined.

Olivia, Cyril, and their friends must bring the hidden to light, seek to execute justice, and dispel the darkness that hovers over London… and their hearts.

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London in the Dark by Victoria Lynn is an exciting, mysterious story of estranged family members and baffling robberies. Though I do have some negatives (as I shall reveal below), it was a great novel that I really enjoyed and couldn’t wait to see what happened next.

Plot {4/5}:

I found the beginning to be a little slow, but once it got going, it packed a powerful punch! There were several twists I couldn’t believe, and some things (not noted here because of spoilers) broke my heart. The end was fantastic! A few times I was a bit confused as to what was going on, but it was a mystery, after all, and I soon caught on.

I was also a little confused by the epilogue as it skipped forward quite a bit and seemed to jam a lot of information into one place, but I’m guilty of that in my own writing (I like to see my stories tied up in a nice, neat bow!), so how can I complain?

Characters {4/5}:

I sometimes got them mixed up (my fault …), but the characters were, overall, quite interesting. Let’s taking a look at a few of them.

Cyril: he annoyed me for the greater portion of the book. I was so angry with him. How dare he be so cold and cruel, so unfeeling, so evil? I felt that Cyril was the real villain and didn’t sympathize with him one bit. I could see absolutely no reason for it. He just seemed to be mean for no reason in particular. But then I learned about what happened, and I understood. Still, I wish it could have been hinted at a little more all along.

Olivia: I’m not emotional, so you’d think I wouldn’t get along well with Olivia, but she was really a sweetheart. I loved her dedication to her piano-playing, and how her emotions seemed to guide her playing. However, she did make some really stupid decisions that made me angry at her.

Dudley: I’d heard of the official Dudley fan club, and I entered this book curious … but knowing that I’m already in love with Gil, so there’s no need for me to fall for another book character. Well, I didn’t fall exactly, but I can see why girls love him. He’s really cool and fun to read about.

Mrs. Hobbs: WHO DOESN’T LOVE THIS LADY!? She’s hilarious and endearing and sweet.

I’m not going to list anymore (mostly because I would probably give away spoilers and partially because I don’t want this post to be too long), but, for the most part, they were all well-developed and interesting, even though I didn’t love all of them.

Setting {3/5}:

I found it difficult sometimes to remember what era we were in. It seemed modern at times … or at least a couple decades later. However, the description was excellent and I did get a good feel for the appearance of the characters, etc.

Writing {3/5}:

I feel a little bad about saying this, but I felt like the writing was weak. Don’t get me wrong: the style was good (amazing, even … I really enjoyed it!). There was nothing to complain about in the author’s style.

However, this book needed editing. Punctuation rules seemed to be basically ignored, there were several typos, and lots of awkward/hard to understand sentences. It wasn’t awful … but it did detract from the story.

[Note: I was just informed by the author that the copy I have was not the completed version. I wasn’t aware of this fact – probably wasn’t paying close enough attention – and so there are probably no typos, punctuation mistakes, or other writing errors in this book any longer.]

Content {2/5}:

Language: n/a

Violence: mentions of death and dying and a (somewhat described) death. Several people are shot/wounded in another manner. Stores are blown up though no one is hurt (I don’t think).

Sexual: n/a

Parental guidance suggested for more sensitive middle-graders due to violence. Okay for all ages.

Overall {3.5/5}:

A decent story with an intriguing plot, interesting characters, and a great writing-style, this novel needed some work in as far as editing and setting goes, but was amazing in every other way. I’d definitely recommend it to any lover of a good mystery with well-rounded characters and a positive Christian message.

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About the Author

victorialynn

Victoria Lynn is in her 20s and if she’s not writing, she is probably sewing, singing, playing the piano, washing dishes, creating something with her hands, or learning something new. She has a passion for serving her Creator, encouraging others and being creative. She blogs at www.rufflesandgrace.com about writing, fashion, modesty, her walk with God and life. She lives in Michigan with her parents and 8 siblings.

The Giveaways

Victoria is hosting two giveaways, one on her blog and the other on Goodreads. The one on Goodreads is for a signed copy of London in the Dark; the other has two prizes (first and second).

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Amazing prizes, right? I love that mug … I want to make one for certain of my own characters, but I don’t want to steal Victoria’s idea. Anyway, be sure to check out Victoria’s blog to find the other great posts in this blog tour!

Thank for reading,

~Kellyn Roth

Reviews

The Lucky Hat Mine by J.v.L. Bell

Title: The Lucky Hat Mine

Author: J.v.L. Bell

Genre: Historical Mystery/Romance/Comedy

Era: 1860s

Setting: Idaho Springs, Colorado

Publisher: Hansen Publishing Group

Source: from author (in exchange for honest review)

Overall Rating: 3.5/5 stars (one star was removed for content issues)

The Lucky Hat Mine by J.v.L. Bell

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A recipe for true love or murder? Ingredients: one Southern belle, one Colorado gold miner, a wife wanted classified, and a fainting goat. Let simmer.

What’s a Southern belle to do in 1863? Wife-wanted ads are always risky business, but Millie Virginia never imagined she’d survive the perilous trip across the Great Plains to find her intended husband in a pine box. Was he killed in an accident? Or murdered for his gold mine? Stuck in the mining town of Idaho Springs, Colorado territory, without friends or means, Millie is beleaguered by undesirable suitors and threatened by an unknown assailant. Her troubles escalate when the brother of her dead fiancé, Dominic Drouillard, unexpectedly turns up.

Dom is an ill-mannered mountain man who invades Millie’s log cabin, insists that his brother was murdered, and refuses to leave until he finds the killer. Compelled to join forces with her erstwhile brother-in-law, Millie discovers the search for Colorado gold is perilous, especially with a murderer on their trail.

The Lucky Hat Mine interlaces the tale of a feisty heroine with frontier legend and lore making for an arousing historical murder mystery.

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This was a great book that kept me entertained and wanting more. It was funny, adventurous, and intriguing, truly a wild and whacky ride. However, I did find the content (mostly the constant stream of innuendo) to be a little more than I was comfortable with.

Plot {4/5}:

The plot was (mostly) amazing. I enjoyed it from beginning to end. In the middle it did drag just a little bit, but after Dominic arrived, it picked up again and was as entertaining and captivating as before.

I did solve the mystery involving the treasure Millie’s father hid rather early. It seemed pretty obvious to me as soon as I heard of the treasure existing. However, I didn’t guess the murderer until he was revealed. I was absolutely surprised, not having considered him as a potential suspect.

I was a little bit confused about the Christian content. This is by no means Christian fiction, and I wasn’t expecting it to be. So … why did Millie think about God so much in the first half of the novel … and then suddenly drop it? I wanted to pull her aside and answer all her questions, poor girl. She sounds so confused.

Characters {5/5}:

The characters were all well-developed and original. I was able to keep them all separated in my mind (and there were quite a few).  I really liked Buttercup. She was hilarious. And Dominic. I want to meet someone like Dominic; he was really great. Millie amused me, and I found myself empathizing with her on several points. Then there was Mary. She was sweet. I also liked Charlotte … Charlotte was funny.

I think my favorite character was Dom. He was so straightforward, and he wasn’t perturbed by anything.

Setting {5/5}:

Loved the descriptions of Colorado terrain. I want to go there someday! It sounds so gorgeous. Reminds me of the Cascades, only more rugged.

Writing {3/5}:

It could be partially due to the weird formatting I got when I downloaded it, but I occasionally found the writing hard to get through. It wasn’t bad … it just wasn’t amazing. As this was an ARC copy, I’m not going to judge it too harshly, however.

Content {4/5}:

This is where the novel really failed in my eyes. Of course, none of this matters to someone who isn’t as careful with content as I am (and there weren’t any really explicit scenes), but there was a little too much to make me comfortable.

Language: “d*mn” several times, “oh my g*d” and variations of this a couple times,  and Millie’s favorite expression is “Oh, Lor.'”

Violence: murders, wars, gunshot wounds, etc. Nothing graphic.

Sexual: many men want Millie to marry them, some as a “bedwarmer” or something like that. Millie wonders repeatedly as to what married couples … do. (Sorry. This is awkward. 😄 ) Mentions of married bliss, sleeping with a man, etc. Millie repeatedly reiterates how inappropriate it is for her and Dom to share a cabin. Dom touches Millie inappropriately. Several mentions of prostitutes. Lots of innuendo. Millie has to remove Dom’s pants (he has long underwear on under them) while he’s unconscious to tend a bullet wound at one point, which wouldn’t be so bad if she weren’t overthinking everything. Just … that kind of stuff.

One star removed. Not recommended for younger teens. 15+ only.

Overall {3.5/5}:

Besides the content, this was an entertaining story that I’d recommend to anyone who enjoys hilarious historical mysteries with a touch of romance.

~Kellyn Roth

Reviews

A Noble Masquerade by Kristi Ann Hunter

After thinking it over for a while, I decided to review A Noble Masquerade by Kristi Ann Hunter in a slightly different way. In honor of the Miranda/Marsh letters, this review will be in epistolary style.

First, a brief introduction the subject material:

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Lady Miranda Hawthorne acts every inch the lady, but inside she longs to be bold and carefree. Entering her fourth Season and approaching spinsterhood in the eyes of society, she pours her innermost feelings out not in a diary but in letters to her brother’s old school friend, a duke–with no intention of ever sending these private thoughts to a man she’s heard stories about but never met. Meanwhile, she also finds herself intrigued by Marlow, her brother’s new valet, and although she may wish to break free of the strictures that bind her, falling in love with a servant is more of a rebellion than she planned.

When Marlow accidentally discovers and mails one of the letters to her unwitting confidant, Miranda is beyond mortified. And even more shocked when the duke returns her note with one of his own that initiates a courtship-by-mail. Insecurity about her lack of suitors shifts into confusion at her growing feelings for two men–one she’s never met but whose words deeply resonate with her heart, and one she has come to depend on but whose behavior is more and more suspicious. When it becomes apparent state secrets are at risk and Marlow is right in the thick of the conflict, one thing is certain: Miranda’s heart is far from all that’s at risk for the Hawthornes and those they love.

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Dear Lady Miranda,

Well, your story was quite amusing, wasn’t it? It’s a bit of a comedy (mostly because the very situation with the letters is ridiculous), which I totally wasn’t expecting. Of course, there’s also some mystery and some romance, but the comedy parts were something that stood out to me.

Is it just me, or was “Marlow” a little obvious? The first time he appeared, I was like, “Well, the mystery’s solved; time to close the book …” Of course, I read on though and found a different mystery to solve, but it threw me off for a minute because I was thinking, “Okay … that can’t be it … it’s waaay too obvious!”

Now, I admit that, once I get on a roll, I’ll add thousands of books to my to-read list based on the cover (or, as in your book’s case, genre/publisher). I also order books from the library based on the fact that they’re in my to-read list on Goodreads.

It’s kind of nice, like opening a surprise package, so I don’t correct my troublesome ways. Now, your book was like that. A surprise. I started reading it without even glancing at the blurb, and I was kind of bugged by the cover (which seemed a bit off to me … I just feel like the pink, faded, wallpapery trim doesn’t match with the bright dress and hat you’re wearing). So … I was pleasantly surprised.

Now, let’s discuss Marsh. Because I know you want to. 😉 He is absolutely adorable! I mean, you’re adorable together, but even by himself, he’s adorable! I mean, he’s not surpassing Gil (just so you know, Miranda darling, Gil is a friend of mine from a book I beta-read a while back), but Marsh is still pretty awesome!

Moving on to Georgina. Does she drive you crazy? What am I saying; I spent several hundred pages in your head. Of course she drives you crazy! She drives me crazy, too.

Then there are your brothers. Trent was my personal favorite. I love how he slugs Marsh! I mean, I kinda wanted you to hit him … but this was second best. Griffith was also cool, though not in the same way. He’s like a steady rock while Trent is more of a wild ride.

Then there’s your mother. Honestly, she drives me up the wall. I don’t know how you can even bear her. She’s even worse than Georgina. I wouldn’t stand it! You’re a grown woman; who needs her ‘lady lessons’? Eesh. I just wanted to shoot her sometimes.

However, we’ll move on because I bet you don’t want me talking about shooting your mother.

The whole thing with the spies … so thrilling! I mean, in a book. I imagine it wasn’t so fun for you when you were, you know, traipsing about the countryside with the, er, valet.

Anyway, this is an amazing novel, and your author is quite talented. I’m looking forward to reading more by Hunter in the future.

Sincerely,

~Kellyn Roth

Blog Tours, Reviews

The New Diary by Hanna Kraft

Well, we’re back to the blog tour for The New Diary by Hanna Kraft! For the final day, I’m posting a review of the book. Enjoy! 🙂

The Review

Title: The New Diary

Author: Hanna Kraft

Series: Heritage Diaries, #1

Genre: Semi-Biographical Historical Fiction

Era: 1930 (early Great Depression)

Setting: New York, United States

Source: from author (in exchange for honest review)

Overall Rating: 4/5

The New Diary by Hanna Kraft

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One Summer Sunday in 1930, Carol Ayers decides to keep a diary. She records many life changes over the days, weeks, and months. Can Carol and her family accept, and even like the changes, and at the same time continue their traditions?

The New Diary, a fictional account, contains actual excerpts from the real diary of Carol Ayers, the author’s great-grandmother.

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The New Diary by Hanna Kraft is a very sweet, entertaining story. At first, I didn’t quite realize that it was based off her grandmother’s journals (I’m not a detail person …) and expected more of an average historical fiction novel, but it was much more than that, and I really enjoyed it!

Plot {4/5}:

All of the little stories in this book were so great! Some were funny, some intriguing, and all were entertaining and interesting. I will say I would have liked more of a solid plotline, but this was actually a nice change. I’m sick of the formulas, anyway, and as it’s semi-biographical, it’s understandable.

Characters {3/5}:

I admit I spent most if not all of this book with the characters mixed up in my head. If I were the author, I might try making a ‘characters’ section at the beginning of the book so readers could refer back to it and figure out who’s who. I had the feeling that I walked into a room where everyone knows everyone … except me, who knows no one. Of course, that makes sense, as the author really does know some of these characters (in a way)!

However, the characters I did remember (Carol, Pete, Maggie, etc.) were all very vivid and real. I enjoyed them. Pete was my favorite. Or Maggie. Or Edythe. But I liked Carol, too …

Setting {4/5}:

The setting was amazing! I really got immersed in the era (and I sure didn’t want to leave!). I especially loved when they went shopping and were looking at clothes.

I think the description of characters and places, however, could have used a little work … but not much. I could feel hot summer days or rain drizzling on my back sometimes, too. 🙂

Writing {4/5}:

Light and entertaining and never focusing on anything longer than need by, the writing kept the book going. It could use a little work on minor things here and there, but I shan’t dwell on it … mostly because I can’t remember what they were and my notes are hazy. 😄

Content:

I think maybe there was a little girl-talk about boys and crushes and stuff, but that was maybe two paragraphs and so innocent (it’s the 1930s!). Not at all like the silly stuff you hear from your average middle-schooler/high-schooler nowadays. I can’t remember anything else, though.

Okay for all ages without parental guidance. Probably best for girls aged 8-14.

Overall {4/5}:

The New Diary gives us a good glimpse into life in the early 1930s for your average family and community, and I really appreciate that (this being among my top ten favorite eras … and yes, I couldn’t narrow it down to less than ten … even that was a stretch …). It was also a great story about a great family who stuck together in an increasingly troubled time. Looking forward to the next book! 🙂

About the Author

Hanna Kraft, an introverted Christian Homeschooler, is very grateful to have the opportunity to learn at home, and desires to spread her love of Jesus to others. Every day she sees new ways the Lord has provided, blessed, and cared for her and those she cares for. Hanna enjoys writing much more than any of her five siblings, and has enjoyed it for several years. When she realized her ability to publish The New Diary, she decided to pursue writing as a bit more than a mere hobby.

Besides reading and writing, Hanna lives in the country with her family, and enjoys playing the banjo, swimming, listening to much Southern Gospel music, and watching college basketball.

The Tour Schedule

Wednesday the 1st

-Kellyn Roth @ Reveries Reviews (kick-off/author interview)

Friday the 3rd

-Megan @ A Barefoot Gal (author interview)

-Kellyn Roth @ Reveries Reviews (excerpt)

Saturday the 4th

-Kellyn Roth @ Reveries Reviews (review)

-Angela R. Watts @ The Peculiar Messenger (review/author interview)

-Anika Joy @ Anika’s Avenue (review/author interview)


Thanks for reading and be sure to check out the other posts!

~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

Courting Morrow Little by Laura Frantz

Title: Courting Morrow Little

Author: Laura Frantz

Genre: historical adventure/romance

Era: late 1700s

Setting: Kentucke (Kentucky) frontier, United States

Publisher: Revell

Source: from library

Overall Rating: 3.5/5

Courting Morrow Little by Laura Frantz

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Morrow Little is haunted by the memory of the day her family was torn apart by raiding Shawnee warriors.

Now that she is nearly a grown woman and her father is ailing, she must make difficult choices about the future. Several men–ranging from the undesired to the unthinkable–vie for her attentions, but she finds herself inexplicably drawn to a forbidden love that both terrifies and intrigues her.

Can she betray the memory of her lost loved ones–and garner suspicion from her friends–by pursuing a life with him? Or should she seal her own misery by marrying a man she doesn’t love?

This sweeping tale of romance and forgiveness will envelop readers as it takes them from a Kentucky fort through the vast wilderness to the west in search of true love.

Buy on Amazon ~ Add on Goodreads

It’s been over a month since I read this novel, but I’m going to try to do it justice. It was really a great book … but there were some things I thought dragged, and I read it in less than two days, so that’s saying something. Also, a lot of the situations seemed unrealistic to me. There didn’t really seem to be a plot, either, in my opinion.

Plot {2/5}:

It was okay. I liked it overall, but, as I said before, it went on and on and on. I will say that the title makes no sense. No one ever courted Morrow Little! Not really. And certainly not for much of the book, if you can count it as courting. The book was more like the life of Morrow Little after she returned from the East to the Kentucky wilderness and [SPOILERS] meets a hot Indian who her father nursed back to health as a kid. They fall in love and get hitched AND THEN the story goes on about their adventures as a married couple. [END OF SPOILERS] I also found a lot of things to be unrealistic or inconsistent (more on that in the character section).

Anyway, it just seemed to go on forever and not be focused on any single theme (except Morrow’s life, I suppose).

It was a good plot, though. 😛

Characters {3/5}:

I liked Red Shirt, although I found it difficult to like him because I read the whole book feeling like he didn’t have a real name. I mean, Indian names are cool, yes … I like my Bright Stars and High Hats and Fire Bottom as much as you do … but they don’t feel like real names to me! I was like, “Okay … Red Shirt. That’s just … two words stuck together.” 😄 That’s just me being me, though.

But … he didn’t put Morrow first. I know, the concerns of a nation are probably more important than the concerns of one woman … but … but … eesh. He just seemed inconsistent. If I were Morrow, I would never trust him. He isn’t necessarily going to be there for her, plainly.

I didn’t mind Morrow. She was weepy and weak, yes, but I wouldn’t have minded that … if she had been consistent in it. For instance, I found Morrow to be whiny at times … and then suddenly she was [END OF SPOILER] riding a horse half a day while in labor [END OF SPOILER]!What the what?! And I didn’t see her grow as a character between her sobbing days (which were numerous) and her adventurous days! But maybe I missed it. Like I said, I read it fast.

I can’t think of other people now as I only took notes on Morrow and Red Shirt and it’s been a while.

However, I will once-again bring up names … because ‘Morrow’? Is that really historically inaccurate? And if Morrow has an unusual (but not impossible) name for her era, why was it never brought up? I’m confused …

Setting {5/5}:

Laura Frantz is amazing about researching her novels and building a great setting. I’ve only read The Mistress of Tall Acre, but … wow. She’s always so strong in this area!

The description was also good. She really portrayed the Red River (and every place we went) in a way that made me want to go there.

Writing {5/5}:

I literally can’t remember how she did in this area, and I forgot to take notes about it! So I’m giving it 5/5 stars because apparently there was nothing that bugged me enough to make a note about it.

Content:

This is not necessarily 100% accurate as it’s been a while, but I’ll do my best.

No cussing/crude language. Some violence and mentions of violence (Indian massacres, wars, etc.) Mostly mentions of violence, if I remember correctly. Never anything disturbing.

I seem to remember that there was a lot of sexual content in this book. It didn’t make me incredibly uncomfortable, but it was still a little more than I would have liked. For instance, in my opinion, we know every time [SPOILER] Red Shirt and Morrow … well, you know. [END OF SPOILER] It drives me crazy! I DID NOT NEED TO KNOW THAT! There were no details or anything, but … why!? Still, that’s the risk I take when reading fiction probably aimed at adults. A somewhat-detailed description of childbirth and lots of talk about pregnancy, etc.

Overall {3.5/5}:

Although I wouldn’t recommend this to a first-time Frantz fan (I’ve read better by her), it was a great story and if you like Frantz’s novels (which I do), you should definitely read it!

~Kellyn Roth