When Christian Fiction Is Ungodly

Note: this post is kinda along the lines of a Reading Rant, but not exactly.

When Christian Fiction is Ungodly

When you saw “graphic” and “Christian fiction” in the same title, you probably either laughed or winced. The ones who winced have actually read Christian fiction.

Seriously, though, ladies and gents, you know I hate writing negative reviews … especially negative reviews based on content. You see, I feel unfair giving a book a bad review just ’cause it was worldly.

I mean, seriously. Can I really expect non-Christian authors to write clean books?

However, when it’s a Christian fiction book, I get quite angry. I huff and I puff. Christians should abide by God’s rules for the things we think on (whatsoever things are good, pure, noble, just, lovely, and of good report; if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy), and when they don’t, it upsets me.

Continue reading “When Christian Fiction Is Ungodly”

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Hannah’s Moon by John A. Heldt

Title: Hannah’s Moon

Author: John A. Heldt

Series: American Journey, #5

Genre: science fiction (time travel romance)

Era: contemporary & 1945

Setting: Tennessee, United States

Publisher: John A. Heldt

Source: from author (in exchange for honest review)

Overall Rating: 5/5 stars

Hannah’s Moon by John A. Heldt

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After struggling for years to have a child, Claire Rasmussen, 34, turns to adoption, only to find new obstacles on the path to motherhood. Then she gets an unlikely phone call and soon learns that a distant uncle possesses the secrets of time travel.

Within weeks, Claire, husband Ron, and brother David find themselves on a train to Tennessee and 1945, where adoptable infants are plentiful and red tape is short. For a time, they find what they seek. Then a beautiful stranger enters their lives, the Navy calls, and a simple, straightforward mission becomes a race for survival.

Filled with suspense, romance, and heartbreak, Hannah’s Moon, the epic conclusion of the American Journey series, follows the lives of four spirited adults as they confront danger, choices, and change in the tense final months of World War II.

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I don’t know what to say about this novel. It was amazing, yes, but I don’t know if I can put that amazingness into sentences that make a lick of sense. But I’m going to try, and hopefully I’ll be able to do this book justice.

Let me just say, before I delve into each individual aspect, that it is an amazing book. I cried, I laughed, I shivered – from fear, from worry, from excitement. It’s threatened Indiana Belle‘s place as my favorite Heldt book!

PLOT: 5/5

Incredible.

I’m not going to attempt to recap this book (I rarely do that; it’s just not my style), but let me just say that all the twists and turns were quite amazing. I can honestly say I didn’t see most of the plot twists coming, and even the smallest changes kept me spinning, excited to keep reading, not wanting to stop.

Also, the ending … I don’t want the American Journey series to end, but let me just say, that the final plot twist + seeing all the characters I’ve read about in previous books again if only briefly + how it concluded the series was pretty awesome!

Also, it was pretty clean (that I remember). Which is something I’m technically supposed to talk about later on, but, well, it bears mentioning twice.

CHARACTERS: 5/5

I felt that every character in this book was well-developed and interesting. A few of my favorites were …

Margaret: I loved her to death. Her backstory was heartbreaking, but it really added depth to her character. Also, she was just a sweet, friendly lady. Technically, the main story didn’t revolve around her, but she was a great sideplot.

David: David is awesome! He’s one of those guys you root for and yet want to push into a creek or something.

Claire: Because she’s just so sweet. And I feel so awful for her, poor dear, or at least at the start of the book.

Ron, I’m not putting up there because he annoyed me. He did some pretty stupid things, even if he did them for the right reason. I was impressed with his fortitude in certain situations, though.

SETTING: 5/5

I felt that John A. Heldt did a great job researching for this book and putting that research into this fictional world.

(Minor spoilers!)

One of my favorite parts were the details about the Indianapolis. I am by no means a WW2 buff, but I do know a ton (and I’m not exaggerating) about the USS Indianapolis. Possibly because of Jaws and the sharks. Okay, mostly because of Jaws and the sharks. *sigh*

Also, am I the only one who was just a little disappointed that there was no Jaws reference? That would have been a perfect way to warn Ron. Ah, well, I can go write my own book if I want to use that. 😛

(End of minor spoilers!)

WRITING: 5/5

I thought it was quite well-written. I don’t know if it’s proper reviewer protocol to say this or not, but I really see how the author’s prose, dialogue, etc. has improved from book to book, which is just fun to see.

CONTENT: 3/5

Language: some language, including a few instances of d**n and h*ll as well as possibly oh my g*d (although it’s been a while since I read it). Pretty infrequent.

Violence: talks about the war, people dying, etc. A semi-detailed account of the sinking of the USS Indianapolis and what the survivors experienced. A fight in an alley, described in a little detail.

Sexual: several kisses, some a little bit detailed (but not much). Claire and Ron have suffered numerous miscarriages and a stillborn child. Margaret and David kinda-sorta have a romance while Margaret is engaged. Margaret has a backstory; (spoilers ahead) she got pregnant out of wedlock; she gave her child up for adoption. (end of spoilers)

Other: much sadness and drama. *couldn’t think of anything else to put here*

Overall, it was pretty clean. I wouldn’t recommend it to younger teens, but I think anyone about 15+ would be able to handle it.

OVERALL: 5/5

I’m starting to feel a little guilty about not thinking up something negative to say about this book, but I honestly can’t! It’s a little heavier than the other Heldt books, but it’s really, really good. Heartbreaking … and yet leaves you with a satisfied feeling.

Hmm … I guess it’s not out in paperback, so I could moan about that a little. I really want to own a physical copy!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

John A. Heldt

John A. Heldt is the author of the critically acclaimed Northwest Passage and American Journey series. The former reference librarian and award-winning sportswriter has loved getting subjects and verbs to agree since writing book reports on baseball heroes in grade school. A graduate of the University of Oregon and the University of Iowa, Heldt is an avid fisherman, sports fan, home brewer, and reader of thrillers and historical fiction. When not sending contemporary characters to the not-so-distant past, he weighs in on literature and life at johnheldt.blogspot.com.

Blog (social media links on sidebar)


~Kellyn Roth~

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p.s.

Have you ever read anything by John A. Heldt? Do you enjoy time travel fiction? What about WW2 fiction?

7 Christian Historical Romances

I was just going to have this be a mini review post, but I realized the genres were kind of … exactly the same. So this post is ‘7 Christian Historical Romances.’ Hopefully you enjoy these reviews.

7 Christian Historical Romances

And no, these aren’t any particular Christian Historical Romances. They’re just ones I needed to review that I grouped together to do mini reviews of.

It Happened at the Fair by Deeanne Gist

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For the most part, this was a great book. I loved Cullen and Della, and everything about the fair was absolutely fascinating. I also loved reading about the school for deaf children, etc. That was part heartbreaking, part intriguing. I don’t really have any complaints about the characters, plot, setting, or writing … I thought it was all pretty awesome! It even deals with some tough issues of the time.

However, the content was a little much for a book of this particular genre. Cullen’s former fiancĂ©e tries to talk him into sleeping with her (basically). It’s a brief scene, but … still. Too much. Also, we kinda-sorta get a peek at the wedding night of the main characters’. It’s not an actual scene, but it’s led up to, if you will. Then Cullen does spend a lot of time staring at Della’s lips … but … if you read the book (or even the synopsis), you’ll understand why. 😉

4/5 stars

Amazon ~ Goodreads

All in Good Time by Maureen Lang

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This novel deals with a time and place I don’t often visit – Denver, Colorado of 1887. It also touches on a difficult subject – prostitution. Basically, the main character, Dessa Caldwell, is trying to found a refuge for former prostitutes (and needs the help of handsome bank manager Henry Hawkins to do it). However, I thought it was well dealt with. The content didn’t feel like too much (although I still wouldn’t recommend it to younger readers because it just isn’t good subject-matter for them).

I was a little worried that Henry’s secret past wasn’t dealt with as fully as it should have been, but maybe that’s just me. Also, the book seemed to drag in a couple places. I didn’t enjoy it a ton, but it still was interesting, and Della was endearing.

2/5 stars

Amazon ~ Goodreads

A Note Yet Unsung by Tamera Alexander

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I don’t know if I’ve yet to express how much I love Belmont Mansion and its owner, Adelicia Acklen. Also, I’m a huge fan of Tamera Alexander’s writing style and the settings she chooses for her novels.

Things I loved included Tate, Rebekah, basically everything related to the orchestra and music, seeing characters from the old novel, Adelicia herself, the mansion.

Things I didn’t love so much included a super-rushed ending, quite a lot of kissing (you know, for this genre), and Rebekah’s stepfather (who tried to rape her when she was a young; there is some talk about this, but it’s never described).

4/5 stars

Amazon ~ Goodreads

When Hope Springs New by Janette Oke

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I feel like there was only meant to be one or two of these books and Janette Oke just kept stringing them out ’cause they were popular. I didn’t really enjoy this book very much. I liked Elizabeth and Wynn still, yes, but I guess I just got sick of them. It’s the same Elizabeth and Wynn of the last three books, and I guess some people really want that, but I just can’t take it anymore.

I guess I just ended up being kinda disappointed with this series as a whole. I did love the first book, but after that they got steadily worse and worse. Yes, there’s a lot of sweet Christian content, but I never absolutely loved Elizabeth. Then, in this book, the ending seemed so random and just there. Not worth the rest, in my opinion.

2/5 stars

Amazon ~ Goodreads

The Pelican Bride by Beth White

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I loved parts of this book, what with its original setting and interesting characters. The romance took up a small part of the story, which was refreshing.

However, there seemed to be a lot of content. I’m not too worried about the violence. There was nothing gory, but the French were at war with some of the American Indians as well as the Brittish and all sides could be pretty ruthless. I didn’t even mind the mentions of how the French took Indian mistresses and sired illegitimate children. I mean, that actually happened; we can’t just ignore it!

I’m talking about all that talk about the wedding night. Goodness gracious, what was that for? We didn’t need to go that far! Sure, the book doesn’t actually show sex, but it shows what I’d call foreplay. Seriously. Not something I want to read.

Other than that, it was pretty awesome. The author clearly did her homework. I recently studied this period, and seeing it play out in a fictional world was fun for me.

3/5 stars

Amazon ~ Goodreads

Promise Me This by Cathy Gohlke

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Not a great book, but not a bad book. It skipped forward rather suddenly a couple times, oftentimes skimming over years. It was kind of divided into two parts; the Titantic and the war. Between then, the events are kinda foggy. (And yes, a lot of reviewers said the exact thing, but it bears restating.)

Then there were just too many POVs. Don’t get me wrong; I love seeing the world of a book from as many perspectives as possible. However, this was just too much. A lot of characters just got one scene and for the rest of the book either didn’t exist or weren’t important. This was extremely annoying.

I did enjoy it, I just didn’t love it. I don’t think it was as well-done as it could have been, and it was pretty confusing at times.

3/5 stars

Amazon ~ Goodreads

The Widow of Larkspur Inn by Lawana Blackwell

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This was one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. There were a couple issues (which I’ll address below; I literally wrote them down because I read this on vacation and was bored), but other than that, I really loved it. Great characters, great plot, great setting. I especially loved Julia, Fiona, Mr. Clay, and … okay, yep, I loved all of them.

So, the negatives:

  • Trumpets, baritones, etc. aren’t “wind instruments.” Just sayin’.
  • I believe housekeepers were called “Mrs.” even when they weren’t? Correct me if I’m wrong. I don’t know for sure.
  • What happened to half-mourning? Julia just seems to hop out of mourning at the end of a year, but that wasn’t how it worked. In fact, it seems like a lot of the rules of mourning were ignored.
  • The formatting was pretty awful in the Kindle version I had. Not really a problem wit the book, but, um, I wrote it down, so …
  • There were a couple places where the author randomly head-hopped at the very end (about 90%+). And a few typos here and there, I think.
  • Were American fashions seriously considered fashionable in England? Okay, yes, maybe they were, but … I’d never heard it before. And, again, I wrote it down, so …
  • I don’t believe the English school system was at all like the American school system of the time. I believe you had to pay to put your children in school except in the case of charity schools (which this school didn’t appear to be). (Again, I could be wrong!)
  • The ending was a little sudden and rushed. It wasn’t too bad, though.

4.5/5 stars

Amazon ~ Goodreads


Thanks for reading my reviews! I hope you enjoyed them. I’ll be reviewing a lot in the next couple weeks, and then, once I’m all caught up, there will be some fun posts. Hopefully.

~Kellyn Roth~

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p.s.

Have you read any of these books? Do you enjoy Christian Historical Romances? If so, do you have any pet peeves about the genre? I sure do …

After a Fashion by Jen Turano

Over at my blog, Reveries, there’s a blog tour going on. You should check it out! But anyway, that’s why I didn’t post these last weeks. *blushes*

Title: After a Fashion

Author: Jen Turano

Series: A Class of Their Own, #1

Genre: Historical Romance/Romantic Comedy

Era: 1882

Setting: New York

Publisher: Bethany House Publisher

Source: from library

Overall Rating: 4/5 stars

After a Fashion by Jen Turano

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Miss Harriet Peabody dreams of the day she can open up a shop selling refashioned gowns to independent working women like herself. Unfortunately, when an errand for her millinery shop job goes sadly awry due to a difficult customer, she finds herself without an income.

Mr. Oliver Addleshaw is on the verge of his biggest business deal yet when he learns his potential partner prefers to deal with men who are settled down and wed. When Oliver witnesses his ex not-quite-fiancée causing the hapless Harriet to lose her job, he tries to make it up to her by enlisting her help in making a good impression on his business partner.

Harriet quickly finds her love of fashion can’t make her fashionable. She’ll never truly fit into Oliver’s world, with its fancy dinners and elegant balls, but just as she’s ready to call off the fake relationship a threat from her past forces both Oliver and Harriet to discover that love can come in the most surprising packages.

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Continue reading “After a Fashion by Jen Turano”

The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy

Title: The Scarlet Pimpernel

Author: Baroness Orczy

Series: The Scarlet Pimpernel, #1

Genre: Classic Adventure/Romance

Era: 1790s (French Revolution)

Setting: England and France

Source: from library (read with my mom)

Overall Rating: 5/5 stars

The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy

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Armed with only his wits and his cunning, one man recklessly defies the French revolutionaries and rescues scores of innocent men, women, and children from the deadly guillotine. His friends and foes know him only as the Scarlet Pimpernel. But the ruthless French agent Chauvelin is sworn to discover his identity and to hunt him down.

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I really enjoyed this book. It has definitely earned a place amongst my favorites! I think it’s one of those books everyone should read, along with Austen. It’s both humorous and thrilling, romantic and adventurous.

Plot: 5/5

This is genius. Absolute genius.

A dashing hero is saving the aristocrats from the dreaded guillotine. A beautiful woman fights for her marriage, which seems to be falling apart at the seams. An evil man plots to capture the dashing hero.

The plot is sooo good! I can’t begin to describe how much I enjoyed all the twists and turns. I swear I didn’t guess a single plot twist before it happened … not a single one! I was surprised every time.

It was so good that I’m just gonna have to send you off to read it. ‘Cause I can’t tell you with words how amazing it is.

Characters: 5/5

The characters were awesome, too! They were all beautifully developed and loveable – or hateful, in the case of the villains. I’ll describe a few of my favorites.

Marguerite … who can hate this girl? She comes off as a little silly and self-centered at first, but we soon learn her true mettle. She’s awesome.

Percy: *swoons* HE IS SO AMAZING I LOVE HIM! He’s got to be my favorite hero. Well, my favorite hero from classic fiction, anyway. Except … well, maybe he’s not my absolute favorite hero, but he’s up there! Top ten at least!

Chauvelin: I hate you. Die. But really, he was so absolutely despicable that I kinda admired the character development. Such evil! Such malice! Such hatred!

There were several other notable characters, but I won’t go into them.

Setting: 4/5

There wasn’t a ton of work done on setting, but I did enjoy everything about English social life at the time and then the French upheaval. The more I read about the French Revolution, the angrier I get. *glares at the evil French Revolution peeps* Seriously, that was so awful! I was shocked … I hadn’t realized it was that bad until I started studying it this year.

Writing: 5/5

*grins* I’m a sucker for old books. And old writing. I wish I could write like that and magically not bore secular readers. So yes, loved the writing. I really enjoyed the author’s style.

Content: 2/5

Language: Percy exclaims, “Odd’s fish!” and “Sink me!” and such. Otherwise, no.

Violence: mentions of the guillotine and people getting killed by it. Lots of talk of killing (’cause it’s Le Revolution!).

Sexual: Percy and Marguerite kiss a couple times (I think), but there are no details.

This was a pretty clean book, though the whole thing with the French Revolution might scare younger readers. Okay for any young adult.

Overall: 5/5

I LOVE THIS BOOK IT’S SO GREAT READ IT NOW AAAAAAAH!!!

*clears throat* Um … this is an excellent book. You may want to procure a copy and devour it. I enjoyed the plot, characters, and setting thoroughly. I’d recommend it to any lover of classics, adventure, romance, or simply good books.

~Kellyn Roth~

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p.s.

Have you read this book? If so, did you enjoy it? If not, will you read it now? Do you enjoy classics? If so, what are some of your favorites? If not, have you even tried classics? ‘Cause maybe you’d enjoy them … who knows? 😉

Also … I am out of town. *nods*

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.

Continue reading “June 2017 Mini Reviews”

April 2017 Mini Reviews

AprilMiniReviews

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

Amazing Grace by Faith Blum

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3/5 stars

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

Continue reading “April 2017 Mini Reviews”

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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Emmeline by Sarah Holman

Title: Emmeline

Author: Sarah Holman

Series: Vintage Jane Austen (multi-author series)

Genre: Christian Historical Fiction (light romance/classic retelling)

Era: early 1930s (Great Depression)

Setting: a small town in Pennsylvania (United States)

Publisher: Sarah Holman

Source: from author (in exchange for honest review)

Overall Rating: 3/5 stars

Emmeline by Sarah Holman

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What if Jane Austen’s Emma lived in America in the year 1930?

The talk of stock market crashes and depression isn’t going to keep Emmeline Wellington down. Born to wealth and privilege, Emmeline wants nothing more than to help her new friend, Catarina, find a husband. Emmeline sets her sights on one of the town’s most eligible bachelors, but nothing seems to go right. Even her friend and neighbor Fredrick Knight seems to question her at every turn.

Will she help Catarina find the man of her dreams? Why is her father acting so strangely? Will the downturn affect her life, despite her best efforts?

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I am a hard-core Austenite. However, as always with Jane Austen retellings, I forced myself to get into the mind-set of Emmeline being its own book before reading it. Otherwise, I’d be continually comparing the author to Austen, which just isn’t fair.

With this one, though … I let myself get a wee bit disappointed with the way the characters were portrayed. I put this book aside for a while and forced myself to look at it as not a retelling of my precious Emma, but as a completely different book with random scenes from Emma in it. 😉

Other than that, it was a fairly decent book, but not an amazing one. All my friends  will probably kill me, but I just didn’t like it!

Plot: 3/5

All the scenes from Emma interpreted in a 1930s setting were fantastic. I enjoyed a lot of the little twisted and turns, and it was overall pretty enjoyable.

However, towards the end it really rushed, and I was disappointed with the whole plot twist with Morgan. I was like, “Uh … no. I’m sorry, I just can’t do this now …” More my fault than the book’s, of course. I just liked Morgan more than I should have … always have … though not Morgan, I suppose, but Frank Churchill.

Characters: 3/5

Emmeline: whoa, that was a sudden turn-around! If all it took for you to change your wicked ways was for Fredrick to yell at you, why didn’t it work earlier in book? I’m confused. She was a good Emma, though. It’s hard to write this character without having her come across as selfish and overbearing. It was easier to see her self-deception, though. I was never fooled as one can be when reading Emma. Of course, that’s another unfair comparison.

Fredrick: I know this is an interpretation, and the author can change whatever she wants, but … I wish Fredrick didn’t go out without his hat and looked messy and stuff. He also came across as far more stuffy and preachy than Austen’s Knightley, which was disappointing. And a bit of a paradox. He was amusing, though, and his relationship with Emmeline was adorable.

Catarina: awwwww. ❀ This girl is such a sweetheart! And her being a German immigrant? Yes. Just yes.

Geraldine: Miss Bates is young, doesn’t talk a lot, and is redeemable? Eh, no. It’s a cool idea … but no. The boarding house and the falling-from-wealth twist was awesome, though. It was also cool how she was kinda old-fashioned.

Morgan: I liked him, but I was a little disappointed as to that whole plot twist at the end. I just wanted him to be merry and charming and clever, not evil. Why couldn’t he just be merry and charming and clever?!

Evelyn: awwwww, again. Really sweet. But … as her own character, not as an interpretation of Miss Fairfax.

Jack: *growls* But he was perfect.

Doris: I disliked her (everyone loves disliking “Mrs. Elton!”). But I also thought she had a point. She went overboard, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with dancing or with nicknames or with … quite a few other things. You’re right, Dory. It is a ‘quaint’ little town … *raises eyebrows*

Setting: 2/5

This is where the book really disappointed me. I felt like half the time the characters still spoke like they were from the 1800s … except for random slang words tossed in. Usually by the villains. Um …? The whole feel of the book was vintage, yes, but a little too vintage. It was also lacking in description in several places.

And … I understand the need for historical accuracy, but the Christians in this book came across as stuffy, preachy, and annoying. They won’t dance. They won’t go to picture shows. And they’re not even accepting of those who do! And yes, I understand why, but it really made me dislike them none-the-less!

Besides, the “ball scenes” were greatly missed, as Mrs. Edmonton points out. I think this (and the overall preachy feel) was my biggest problem.

Writing: 3/5

This was an ARC copy, so I won’t mention typos and such. The writing was good overall, but it was a little too old-fashioned for the 1930s at time.

Theme: 4/5

Sometimes the Christian content (of which there was a lot) seemed thrown in, as if it didn’t really belong. However, I did enjoy Emmeline’s character arc, despite it being rushed and crowded at the end. It was a new and cool way of show her change at the end of the book.

Content: 2/5

Language: n/a

Violence: mentions of WW1

Sexual: talk about dancing being inappropriate, Morgan makes a couple kind of inappropriate comments, some super clean romance

Overall: 3/5

Not a bad book, but not a good one either. I didn’t enjoy it much at all, and probably wouldn’t recommend it to any lover of the ’30s or Jane Austen. However, if you enjoy light historical reads with a little romance (but not much) and a lot of Christianity, this might be the book for you.

~Kellyn Roth~

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Be Thou My Vision by Faith Blum

Title: Be Thou My Vision

Author: Faith Blum

Series: Hymns of the West, #2

Genre: Christian Historical Fiction (light romance)

Era: 1880s, I think? Approximately?

Setting: United States

Publisher: Faith Blum

Source: got the series as a whole in a giveaway

Overall Rating: 4/5 stars

Be Thou My Vision by Faith Blum

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

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

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

Buy on Amazon ~ Add on Goodreads

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

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

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

Plot: 4/5

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

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

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

Characters: 3/5

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

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

James: so sweet. ❀

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

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

Setting: 2/5

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

Writing: 3/5

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

Theme: 4/5

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

Content: 2/5

Language: n/a

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

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

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

Overall: 4/5

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

~Kellyn Roth