Mini Review Day, Reviews

April 2017 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.

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Lily of the Valley by Faith Blum

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4/5 stars

This is by far my favorite Faith Blum book. Partially because I own a gorgeous paperback copy, but that’s not the point. The point is that this is the sweetest book in the world. I’ve always liked Ruth, and it was amazing to see a story focused on her. I’ve always loved the idea of being a teacher in a frontier-ish school, so that was another fun thing for me.

The only thing I didn’t like about this book is that all the characters seemed to think that falling in love before you’re engaged is a bad idea. Everyone is telling Ruth, “Don’t get too emotionally attached! You can’t make this decision based on emotions!” Well, good advice, except why get engaged unless you’re in love? To me, it seems like love is a pretty important component!

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The Solid Rock by Faith Blum

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4/5 stars

This was a great book, but I didn’t really care for the main character, Joshua. The way he wasn’t able to handle hanging out with the bad guys for a couple weeks without losing grip on his faith doesn’t speak well for Christianity. Even though he had to act like a bad guy, his faith should have carried him through it. And I know “bad company corrupts good people,” but … still.

Other than that, it was an amazing book. It did have some heavier themes (a young lady recovering from rape and a prostitute with a child are both main-ish characters), but they were handled really well.

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Love’s Pursuit by Siri Mitchell

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3/5 stars

I don’t really know what to think of this book, so I won’t try to put it in words. It doesn’t exactly have a happy ending, and I normally hate it when that happens, but it was fairly well-done. Still, a little unsettling and somewhat dark.

Then … the content. It is fairly delicately handled, but a girl is abused (sexually) by her father before she rescued by a man who takes her home and marries her. This happens before the book, but there are a couple of flashbacks, none dealing with the actual abuse.

This couple (the girl and her rescuer) sleep separately, which is mentioned several times and changes at the end of the book. *is awkward* Then there are mentions of married relationships and such-like. Really more than I prefer to read.

But I really did enjoy it, mostly because I love the drama. Also, the spiritual content was really amazing.

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Oregon Brides by Tracey Bateman

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2/5 stars

Well, that was a waste of several perfectly good days.

Honestly, all the plot was great. The characters were good. The writing was decent. The setting was my favorite place on earth. But several things ruined this little collection for me.

The author tried to cram too many storylines, too much time, and too many characters into the stories. I was able to survive through the first book without getting too confused. However, in the second book, I could barely keep track of all the characters and the epilogue was terrible, with major info-dumping and random plot lines introduced (which were never mentioned again).

In the third? Don’t get me started on the huge time difference between it and the first two, the characters and plotlines I couldn’t keep track of, and the inconsistencies.

Then the ending of the third book was terrible. It just didn’t end how it was supposed to. This is no ‘personal preference’ thing. The ending was horrible, and it gave the wrong message.

As far as content, I’d say PG-13. There are many mentions of prostitutes (called saloon girls) and one of the characters is the daughter of one and has to deal with the shame of her parentage. A character was raped (no details). Mentions of miscarriages, pregnancy, etc. No language, very little violence.

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When Comes the Spring by Janette Oke

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4/5 stars

I really enjoyed this continuation of Elizabeth and Wynn’s story. I feel like it was dashed up somewhat hastily (could even use some editing), but it was still great. I especially liked all Elizabeth’s little escapades and the characters (Nimmie was a favorite, and Wynn, too, of course!).

Elizabeth was pretty silly … like not knowing the ‘deer’ is both singular and plural and stuff like that. She’s a schoolteacher. Seems weird that she wouldn’t know that. Also, Beth. Stop acting like a three-year-old. *glares*

Still, I’m looking forward to reading book three.

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The Headmistress of Rosemere by Sarah E. Ladd

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3/5 stars

On many levels, I really enjoyed this book. It was an amazing concept, and I enjoyed the characters and setting. However, the plot was very rushed. I wished the author could have slowed down and taken her time with some scenes, events, plotlines, etc. The end was especially rushed.

Then there’s the whole deal with William’s secret past. I’m not going to say what that is, but I will say this: when Patience finds out about it, she hardly bats an eyelash. In fact, she’s kind of excited. Wait, what?! Don’t you think you might want to, I don’t know, confront him on his sins and see if this hasn’t happened before or will happen again, etc.? Patience, get your head out of the clouds.

It was pretty clean. There is one thing, but that’s a spoiler (and it’s well-handled), so I won’t mention it. Okay for older teens.

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The Reluctant Godfather by Allison Tebo

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5/5 stars

I got this book on a free day, and I was so excited! I’d really been looking forward to reading it. A retelling of Cinderella from the perspective of the Fairy Godfather? Sign me up!

This is a fantastic story. Once I started, I couldn’t put it down. It was hilarious, causing me to laugh aloud several times, and the characters were amazing. Burndee was especially awesome with Ella running a close second. Colin … I am a little irritated with him. Mostly because I think all Colins should be amazing. *shrugs* It’s a weird quirk …

I can’t tell you all the amazing twists and turns of the plot without giving away spoilers, so I’ll just say that this retelling leaves no cliché unaddressed. It’s truly a work of genius. And it’s really funny. What’s not to love?

I’m not going to rant on about the amazingness of this book forever, but you must read it! Really. Get yourself a copy.

In closing, I just want to say: Allison. Sequel. Now.

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That’s it for today, folks. Sorry for reviewing so many books at once. From now on, I intend to review just a few books on my mini review posts. However, I was in drastic need of some catching-up! 😉

Thanks for reading!

~Kellyn Roth~

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p.s.

Have you read any of these books? Will you ever read any of them? Which appeal to you? Which would you rather skip?

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

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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Reviews

Be Thou My Vision by Faith Blum

Title: Be Thou My Vision

Author: Faith Blum

Series: Hymns of the West, #2

Genre: Christian Historical Fiction (light romance)

Era: 1880s, I think? Approximately?

Setting: United States

Publisher: Faith Blum

Source: got the series as a whole in a giveaway

Overall Rating: 4/5 stars

Be Thou My Vision by Faith Blum

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

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

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

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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

Mini Review Day, Reviews

March 2017 Mini Review Day

It’s time for another mini review day. Let’s get started!

The Wings of a Nightingale series by Sarah Sundin

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I admit I didn’t enjoy Sarah Sundin’s Wings of a Nightingale b00ks as much as I did her other series, but it was still amazing, every book earning 5/5 stars from me.

Warning: this review is a fangirl review. If you don’t like fangirls, fangirling, shrill fangirly shrieks, or obsessiveness of any kind, please refrain from reading. This will truly sicken you. It sickens me, too. And I wrote it.

With Every Letter was reviewed in the January 2017 Mini Review Day post.

On Distant Shores

Let’s be honest; this book broke my heart. Of course, every other Sarah Sundin book has broken my heart in a unique way, but this one … so much stuff to kill one internally! Rose (oh, wow … that was so heartbreaking!) … and Hutch’s girlfriend (ooooooh, I would have killed her, so help me!) and Georgie is such a trooper, and she’s so … awesome … and I just love her. Reminds me of my BFF a little, honestly.

Hutch … oh, my word, Hutch. I hate how no one respects him! Like, no one. Not a single person, honestly. And he so deserves everyone’s respect And Georgie. AAAH!!! (no, wait, I already fangirled over Georgie … must fangirl over someone else now … how about the nurses as a whole?)

THE NURSES! This series. They are like this little team of spunky awesome people. I just don’t have works. I feel like saying, “I CAN’T EVEN!” but that’s not really me. I’m more of a “AAAAAAH THIS BOOOOOOOOOOK!” girl.

In Perfect Time is one of the least-beloved Sundin books because of the content, despite the fact that I consider it to be amazing … mostly because of the emotions. THEY RUN HIGH!

Okay, so, here’s the scoop: there is an attempted rape – well, more like this guy wanted to have sex with Kay and was very insistent which she responded to by knocking him over and running away. Everyone (in the book) thinks the main character is some kind of a harlot (which she isn’t). Kay is constantly fending off men’s advances and even considers giving in at one point for rather bad reasons.

I get it if you’re not comfortable with that – or with a main character who honestly just dates for fun without wanting a serious relationship. But … but … she’s scarred, y’all! Can’t you see that she’s scarred and needs Jesus’ love??? *sobs* Sorry … emotions happening over here …

As a whole, the series was amazing. It let us look through the eyes of the lesser-sung heroes (and heroines, to some extent) of WW2. It is high on emotions with a beautiful Christian message in each book and characters so well-developed you feel as if you know them.

5/5 stars

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When Calls the Heart by Janette Oke

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I’ve watched most of the Hallmark TV show of the same title (which is amazing, by the way), so I decided to give the book a try. Well, it was nothing like the TV show … but it was amazing. Once I got started, I couldn’t put it down. Elizabeth was a great character (though sometimes this country girl thought she was being silly, such as with the ‘wolves’) and I love Wynn. He wasn’t Jack (or Gil) … but he was still a great hero. I loved that last scene at the train depot. ❤

5/5 stars

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Dawn at Emberwilde by Sarah E. Ladd

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This novel is a well-written sweet romance with an intriguing mystery that kept me up reading pretty late. However, I just can’t get over my disappointment over one little detail.

I really enjoyed Treasures of Surrey, Book 1: The Curiosity Keeper (which I mini-reviewed here). It got four stars (the ending disappointed me), but I was hoping we’d get to revisit the characters. After all, as I’ve said before, the ending was a little rocky. I needed closure. But then I find that Dawn at Emberwilde is in no way related to The Curiosity Keeper.

Like, not at all.

I was so disappointed! How could Sarah E. Ladd do this to me? I mean, I guess it’s my fault for not researching the novel before I read it or whatever … but still. So, despite this being a pretty decent novel, I just can’t be fair with it … so it received 3/5 stars. The author cheated. She can’t just create stick together a random bunch of books that aren’t related in any way, shape, or form. Well, I guess she can … but I don’t have to like it.

3/5 stars

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The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill by Julie Klassen

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I’ve read every other Julie Klassen up to date, so I was of course excited to read her new(ish by the time I read it) release, The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill. Well, it was great. A little different than her other stories, yes (not so much romance), but still amazing. My heart broke for a couple of the characters at different occasions, and I’m looking forward to seeing book 2 of the Tales from Ivy Hill series. Still, it did drag heavily in several places, and I sometimes just wished it could get to the point and stop dawdling.

4/5 stars

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A Beauty So Rare by Tamera Alexander

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When I began this book, it’d been a while since I’d read anything by Tamera Alexander. I really love her writing style, and this was no exception.

Historic Nashville is such an intriguing place, and the characters in it – some based on real-life, other fabricated – are equally as fascinating. I really adored this book. The historical details were amazing, I liked both Eleanor and Marcus, and of course I still love ‘Aunt Adelicia.’ She’s really the most amazing character ever. I wish I could have known her (though I doubt we would see eye to eye in real life; we’re both too independent).

I did chop off half a star because it did seem to drag just a little here and there. A few too many botany details, I think.

4.5/5 stars

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The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest by Melanie Dickerson

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This is a ‘did not finish’ review. I finished approximately 25% of the book and … I couldn’t go on. Why not?

  • I disliked the main characters. I found their romance to be unrealistic (what I read of it, anyway) and didn’t think they were attracted to each other for the right reasons. I also didn’t like how they were gawking at each other all the time. Okay, okay, you’re both the most gorgeous things ever. Who cares? Not I.
  • The writing style was immature. I could write better. I could write a lot better (though most the time I don’t *sheepish grin*). And I don’t read books unless they’re better-written than my own. There’s no point to it. Why bother? I sure don’t want to start writing like that, and I will (I tend to imitate the authors I read), so … let’s not put the temptation out there for me!
  • Odette wasn’t married. We’re in the 1300s, and it doesn’t bother anyone that Odette isn’t married in her twenties? She would have been married at fourteen. I don’t care if her dear old uncle loves her or not. If he really loved her, he would have married her off at fourteen. Or thirteen. Or twelve. There were no exceptions. It was how things were done. Either write historical fiction and stick to the fact or write a fantasy in which people wait forever to marry. *shrugs*
  • Jorgen couldn’t even talk to Odette. He’s a couple classes below her, and the upper class was very upper class even back then while the commoners were commoners. There would have been no contact between them. Partially because she would have been married with three or four children.
  • Odette is a snob. I don’t care what you say. She may be sneaking off to kill pheasants for peasants, but she turned away perfectly good suitors for no reason. Again. And again. And again. Why? Because they’re not good enough for her. Why? Not handsome enough, not rich enough, not young enough. Hardly great reasons for turning men down, especially back then with looks and youth didn’t matter. In fact, age was considered distinguishing in some ways. She needs to get over herself.
  • But everyone loves Odette. Everyone either wants to marry her or be her friend. She’s gorgeous, she’s a great shot with a bow and arrow, and she feeds the poor and teaches the children. I just can’t deal with this kind of character, y’know?

For those reasons (and a few others), I just didn’t care to finish this book. I set it aside and moved on to something better, and I suggest you do likewise. It’s just not worth your time.

2/5 stars

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Thanks for reading my reviews,

~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

Mini Review Day, Reviews

January 2017 Mini Review Day

Hi guys! Today we’re gonna do something a little different … mini reviews! I’ve decided to do this monthly (as you can see by the title. This one is for January 2017, in case you didn’t notice). These will mainly be books I chose to read, not review books.

So let’s get started!

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Outlining Your Novel by K.M. Weiland

Whoa! That was fantastic!

Okay, so, I have written (to completion: I’ve started maybe fifty other books) three full-length books now. The first two had to be intensively rewritten. In fact, very little of the original drafts remain. Why was this? Well, after assuming myself to be a “pantser” (because I was too lazy to outline), I refused to outline …

And that got me nowhere.

I decided to try some extensive outlining with my third book (currently titled At Her Fingertips) this last November (for NaNoWriMo). I wrote 65,000+ words in 30 days (beating my previous record of 42,000) and they’re not all trash. Yes, it’s first drafty … but I have a feeling that this is a winner! I don’t expect rewriting, and I think my revising will be lighter.

I don’t know if K.M. Weiland’s Outlining Your Novel is completely responsible for this. I was super excited about my story this last NaNo, and that’s part of the reason. But … well, K.M. Weiland’s methods and ideas and tips are all great, and they are at least 75% responsible for me actually having an enjoyable writing experience!

Grab a copy! It’s a wonder what a little outlining can do, even if you don’t think you’re a ‘plotter.’

5/5 stars

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Where Two Hearts Meet by Carrie Turansky

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Two very sweet novellas. I loved Turansky’s Edwardian Brides series, so I was a little nervous/excited/worrying that they wouldn’t be as good, but these novellas were really great!

Tea For Two:
This was my favorite of the two novellas. It was sweet (and clean) and I really liked the characters … and Sweet Something, too, of course. I want to own a place like that … or at least visit it!

Content: clean. No language/violence. A couple kisses, none very detailed. A mention of adultery (treated as wrong), I believe?

5/5 stars

Wherever Love Takes Us:
I didn’t enjoy this one as much … probably because I’m not married and had trouble getting into the characters, understanding them, etc. This would probably be better-enjoyed by someone who’s married and a little older than me. 🙂 I did tack on half a star because OREGON MY OREGON! 😛

Content: fairly clean. No language/violence. Kisses (never detailed), and a mention of s*x (although it was pretty hard to catch and between a married couple … but still). Matt kinda seems to be considering adultery at one point.

4/5 stars

Overall, this is a worthwhile read for a summer afternoon (or, for me, a Christmas-break-afternoon). 🙂

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Forsaking All Others by Allison Pittman

Wow. That was … all over the place. And the ending made no sense and wasn’t really happy or satisfactory. The main character annoyed me by continually going, “Oh! I’ve got it now!” and then doing stupid things. Again.

It wasn’t an awful book, but it wasn’t a good book either. I didn’t really care for it. I found it depressing, dark, and meaningless (probably one of those books where I’m not smart enough to get the theme … ;P).

This novel contains an honest (but somewhat scorching) portrayal of the Mormons of that era. Probably not a book for LDS readers for that reason.

Content: no language. A lot of violence, wars, people wanting to baptize “by blood if not by water,” fingers getting frostbitten and having to be cut off, sometimes somewhat detailed. Mentions of and portrayals of pregnancy. Lots of mentions of husbands and wives becoming one, sleeping together, etc. and the husband’s other wives (*shivers*) knowing that this is happening. One scene where a married couple presumably … you know. They cut it off before they actually do anything, but … yeah. Then later another woman and her proceed to discuss this. A little too much for me. Removed a star.

1.5 stars

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With Every Letter by Sarah Sundin

It’s getting a little old for me to be rating Sarah Sundin books 5 stars and crooning over them, so this is gonna be a short review.

All of the books that I’ve read by Sarah Sundin have been five-star marvels … but wow. This may be the best one yet! An amazing plot, an amazing message, amazing characters … I just don’t have words for it!

I think my favorite thing about this novel was its originality. It’s a romance, but the two main characters don’t even meet for months and months into their relationship! And Tom … wow! He was totally committed before he even met her in person! AAAAH!!!

The minor characters were neat, too. I especially liked the other nurses. Oddly enough (because I don’t know if I was supposed to), I’ve taken a liking to Kay. Should I be shot? I’m sorry … I just feel like there’s something there, you know, underneath all the … ick. I feel sorry for her.

And Rose. I like Rose. And Georgie. I liked Georgie.

Hooooold it a minute! This was gonna be a short review! And so it stops here.

5/5 stars

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The Curiosity Keeper by Sarah E. Ladd

This was a pretty good novel. It wasn’t my favorite of all the Regency romances I’ve read, but it was enjoyable, the characters were realistic, and the setting was charming, and it was pretty original. At times, I was wrapped up in it (my status updates mostly involved screaming … sorry, Goodreads friends!).

I found the ending to be a little unsettling. Why? Well, I can’t tell you that! It was the ending! THE ENDING! It’d be spoiled for you.

Oh, you’ve read the novel? Okay, here’s why. (HIGHLIGHT TO READ SPOILERS) This sounds stupid, and lots of people have mentioned liking this in their reviews (because it’s original, right?), but I love the idea of inheriting a mansion, it remaining in the family, and all that, and I wanted Jonathan to live at Kettering Hall! I wanted it to remain in the family, and I wanted it to be passed on to their children and their children’s children! So … my weirdness is revealed … (END OF SPOILERS)

Other than that, there wasn’t much I didn’t enjoy about this book. It’s more a matter of personal preference than anything (as to why it’s not rated 5 stars).

4/5 stars

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A Bride for Keeps by Melissa Jagears

Ah, that was cute! I admit it was somewhat cliché, but not much, and I really enjoyed it (because some clichés are just too awesome). The character were believable and the plot was well-paced. I was a little frustrated at the main characters for their back-and-forth-ness sometimes.

Anyway, this is an enjoyable, sweet romance that was only sometimes frustrating and therefore worth it. Besides, I argue that if a couple characters can make me frustrated, even in a bad way, the author has great potential. 😉

Content: no language. Sicknesses and injuries. Lots of mentions of (and a couple brief descriptions of) childbirth. Mentions of pregnancies, miscarriages, stillbirths, and the like. Julia is terrified of childbirth (mostly of losing a baby). Several mentions of ‘becoming one’ and that sort of thing. Julia and Everett sleep in separate beds after they’re married, etc. Julia was ‘taken advantage of’ before she left Boston (no details, handled well, barely mentioned). Nothing that made me terribly uncomfortable.

4/5 stars

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Have you read any of these books? Did you enjoy them? Are any of these books getting added to your to-read list? Or taken off?

~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.

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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

Reviews

The Innocent by Willowy Whisper

Title: The Innocent

Author: Willowy Whisper

Series: Hills of Innocence, #1

Genre: Historical Mystery/Romance

Era: probably late 1800s (Old West)

Setting: the Old West

Publisher: Willowy Whisper

Source: from author (in exchange for honest review)

Overall Rating: 4/5

The Innocent by Willowy Whisper

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“I wonder who would shoot a girl so young…?” The question haunted him as he left the river and her grave behind.

Harvey West is given a month. One month to prove his innocence. As the evidence points him to the gallows, he fights to find the enemy of the beautiful Elsie Roselind. Someone wanted her gone.

Someone destroyed the evidence. Someone had to kill to keep her from coming back…

And the someone isn’t afraid to kill again—no matter what the cost.

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The Innocent by Willowy Whisper is a great mystery/suspense novel set in the Old West. I really enjoyed it, and read most of it in two days (though I technically took longer because I read the first chapter then put it aside for a while due to busyness and a reading slump).

Plot {4/5}:

This novel had an exciting, intriguing plot. I admit I figured out the ‘mystery’ pretty early on, mostly because I wasn’t willing to suspect [SPOILERS] Brock, because I could see how he loved her [END OF SPOILERS]. I also felt from the beginning that [SPOILERS] Clyde wasn’t sincere [END OF SPOILERS]. At times it did seem to go on, especially at the end when we’d discovered who the murderer was. However, after I read on a little, I understood why the author was taking her time (HARVEY AND ABIGAIL OH MY GOSH!!! They’re so great for each other …) and forgave a temporary drag. 🙂

Characters {5/5}:

The characters were well-developed and interesting. I especially liked Harvey (such a good guy!), Brock (adorably sweet), and Jimmy (also adorably sweet … in a different way). Joe was interesting, as well, and Clyde was [SPOILERS] evil, of course. But still well-developed. I admit she fooled me about him at first! [END OF SPOILERS] I was a little irritated at Abigail once or twice. I was like, “Do you have handsome, sweet, understanding cowboys walk into your life and spend weeks trying to discover who killed your sister every day? No? THEN BE NICE TO HIM FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!” But I understand why she acted the way she acted, and I forgave her. Besides, I am even more stubborn than she is, so … what am I complaining about? It’s like the pot calling the kettle black.

Setting {4/5}:

There wasn’t really a lot of room for improvement here. I wish there could have been a little more description, however. I’d like to know about how every character looked like, what the houses look like, etc. Description can be sneaked in almost anywhere without massive blocks of it, and I think it would have added to my mental imagery. I’d also like to know what Rascal looks like. I’ve been imagining him as black or bay. Am I close, Willowy?

Writing {3/5}:

So, this is really the only place where I feel like the book could use major improvement. 3/5 is my ‘it was okay’ rating. Honestly, I felt like the book could have used a little more editing. There weren’t a lot of mistakes (no typos and the punctuation and spelling were good), but a lot of sentences were awkward and some things were repeated more than they needed to be. I think Willowy Whisper is an amazing writer, but it could have been a little more polished here. On the other hand, I’ve read more recent stories by her, so it could be that she’s just improved a ton since writing this one. 🙂

Content:

No language. There was violence and thematic elements, though nothing super graphic. A murder and a lot of talk about that (they were trying to solve it, after all), gunshot wounds, talking about the pain from the gunshot wounds, fist-fights, bleeding, people were almost burnt alive once, and illnesses/recovering from wounds. Some parts were pretty intense/suspenseful/even a little scary.

As far as sexual content, there were quite a few kisses/mentions of kissing. A couple were described (mostly just talking about emotions). Some of these kisses (not the described ones, though) were between a man and woman who didn’t end up getting married.

Not recommended to children under 12 (upper PG). However, after that, I wouldn’t have an reservations (unless you’re sensitive to that kind of thing).

Overall {4/5}:

An amazing story that I couldn’t put down in places with sweet characters and a suspenseful plot. It’s really a great book (despite my criticism on certain points … sorry, I can be very harsh!) and I hope to read more by the author (and about these characters) in the future.

~Kellyn Roth