Music of Her Heart by Sophie Dawson

Guess what … I’m reviewing a book today!

Okay, I guess it’s not all that surprising considering that’s just about all I do here, but … but …? YAY I ANNOUNCED IT! IT’S OFFICIAL!

Now, y’all know I obsess over like historical romances, particularly the Christian or Inspirational type … but it’s very rarely that they’re set in the Old West! And rarely to they involve kidnappings and bandits and all kinds of awesome, hilarious characters.

Continue reading “Music of Her Heart by Sophie Dawson”

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The Incredible Adventures of Scruffer & Co. by John Serbin

Title: The Incredible Adventures of Scruffer & Co.

Author: John Serbin

Series: The Incredible Adventures of Scruffer & Co., Part 1

Genre: Comedy

Setting: United States

Publisher: John Serbin

Source: from author (in exchange for honest review)

Overall Rating: 3.5 stars

The Incredible Adventures of Scruffer & Co. by John Serbin

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A self-centered teddy bear becomes real and has to learn how to live in this new reality. He is soon joined by other teddy bears with differing personalities. Together, they embark on a series of comical adventures as only fun loving teddy bears can. 

If you enjoy the characters and humor of Calvin and Hobbs, The Far Side, and Peanuts, you will definitely fall in love with this comical company of teddy bears as they experience the world from their unique perspective. 

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Continue reading “The Incredible Adventures of Scruffer & Co. by John Serbin”

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 fiancée 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

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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

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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

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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

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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 …

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”

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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The Paratroopers by John Emmert

Title: The Paratroopers (A Novel of the 82nd Airborne Division)

Author: John Emmert

Series: Airborne Trilogy, #1

Genre: Historical Adventure

Era: 1941-1943 (WW2)

Setting: United States, North Africa, and Italy

Publisher: John Emmert

Source: borrowed from a friend of mine who owns it

Overall Rating: 3.5/5 stars

The Paratroopers by John Emmert

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Steven Weaver’s life as a college student was active. If he wasn’t studying, he was playing varsity football or basketball. Now, with the coming of war, his first months in the Army lacked activity until he was given a unique opportunity in the summer of 1942 to join a group of air deployed combat infantry looking for athletic volunteers. Little did he know what would be asked of himself and his faith under fire.

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I honestly wasn’t really expecting to enjoy this book too much, but I decided to read it anyway because a friend of mine gave me a physical copy, and I was tired of reading on Kindle.

I admit I didn’t really enjoy it too much at first, but once it got going, I liked it. It isn’t my favorite kind of book to read, but there were some parts that were very interesting and even exciting.

Plot: 3/5

Like I said, this isn’t really my favorite kind of story to read, so that may account in part for its rating.

However, I did find the start and several places in the middle to be a little slow even when the content was interesting. I’m not really interested into football – at least not watching or reading about it – and the introductory scene didn’t really catch my attention. Unless you care about the characters, only a die-hard sport-lover can really get into a scene like that. 😉

Also, it took a while for Steve to sign up for the army and then get the transfer to the paratroopers after which the action really began with his intense training.

The account of the training was interesting. I don’t know a lot about WW2 except what I’ve learned from historical fiction, movies made during that time (like a hundred … I’m a huge classic movie fan), and basic history, so I had several, “Whoa, seriously!?” moments. I mean, I knew they’d do a lot of physical training … but to me that just seems crazy! But yep, it was probably necessary and made them top-notch and all.

Characters: 3/5

To be honest, the only ones who really stood out were Joe and Martin! Joe … he was amazing. He was really well-developed. Martin was just a fun guy. However, I found Steve to be a bit of a Gary Sue and none of the other characters really stood out to me. I forgot who they are and got them confused. However, Joe … wow. I just love Joe so much. Such a goof. 🙂

Setting: 3/5

This novel was obviously thoroughly researched. He knew everything there was to know about the paratroopers and their training methods and their guns and just about everything else. However, the dialogue didn’t really feel ’40s-ish to me, and there were a couple things that didn’t feel socially accurate.

For instance, all Steve’s fellow paratroopers were disrespectful of his religion. To me, that was ridiculous. I might be wrong, but I’ve always been taught and observed that, during the ’40s, people were very respectful of Christianity.

I can see one or two of the paratroopers being skeptical, but they probably would have at least kept their mouths shut unless they were complete jerks with no manners. Maybe I’m wrong … I seriously doubt people would have teased Steve about praying and reading the Bible.

Writing: 2/5

Needs work, but there’s potential. A lot more historical detail than I like, but for a WW2 scholar, this book would be great.

Content: 2/5

Language: n/a

Violence: it’s set during a war and there are several deaths, many wounded and disfigured, etc. Nothing overly gory, but the facts aren’t hidden. A couple fistfights.

Sexual: a couple mentions of pregnancy/children being born (no details). A group of soldiers attempt to grab a lady on the streets, but Steve and his friends stop them so nothing happens.

Overall, nothing that bugged me. Very clean. Recommended for 12+.

Overall: 3.5/5

A great adventure story for anyone who loves learning about all the little details of WW2.

~Kellyn Roth~

The Ugly Teapot by Fred Holmes

Title: The Ugly Teapot: Hannah

Author: Fred Holmes

Series: The Ugly Teapot, Book 1

Genre: YA Fantasy Adventure

Era: contemporary

Setting: United States and the Middle East

Publisher: Fred Holmes

Source: from the author (in exchange for an honest review)

Overall Rating: 3.5/5

The Ugly Teapot by Fred Holmes

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Fourteen-year-old Hannah Bradbury loved her father so much that she worried about him constantly. After all, he was a photographer who traveled to the most dangerous places in the world.

To allay her fears, each time he came home he brought her silly gifts, each one with supposed magical powers: the Seal of Solomon, the Ring of Gyges, even Aladdin’s Lamp. It was that lamp Hannah found the most unbelievable, for it looked like an ugly teapot. Nevertheless, her father assured her it was real, and made her promise to save her three wishes for something very special.

Then . . . six months later . . . the unthinkable happened. Her father was killed while on assignment to Baghdad. And so on the day of his funeral Hannah did something she never thought she would ever do.

She took out that teapot and gave it a rub . . .

The Ugly Teapot by Fred Holmes is a timeless tale, filled with magic and adventure. More importantly, it will make you believe in the overwhelming power of love.

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I honestly don’t know how to rate and review this book. I thought I’d wait a while after reading it to see if my thoughts organized themselves, but they haven’t, and so I guess I’ll just do my best to give my honest opinion.

Honestly, it’s an emotional journey, and emotions boggle me a little. I laughed and cried and was both disturbed and happy.

Plot: 3/5

The plot was really one of the cleverest I’ve read in a while. If you’ve read the blurb (^), you probably have a pretty fair idea as to what goes on, but it still surprised me. I think the only thing I didn’t appreciate was pausing the adventure to return to V’s life every once and a while, though when the ending came I understood why it was necessary.

The ending was a bit disturbing. I didn’t quite know what to think about it at first … and was a little disappointed, too. However, after I thought about it for a while, I decided it was really a cool twist … and totally unexpected! Still, it was disturbing and, in my opinion, sudden.

Characters: 4/5

There were several characters who held prominent parts besides Hannah, but I always had them kept straight in my mind. A few things did confuse me (for instance, it wasn’t explained until the very end of the book why Griff has the ability to communicate with Hannah telepathically; we were just expected to accept it like all dogs communicate with their masters like that), but overall, I found them all well-developed and interesting.

Hannah was a sweet little girl (well, “little” is a broad term …) looking for her father. Stories with grieving people in them always get me even though I’ve never lost anyone really important to me.

Griff, Hannah’s dog, was a fun character. He can communicate telepathically with Hannah for much of the book, and he has a fun sense of humor.

Hannah’s father … well, something seemed wrong with him from the beginning, and so I was pleased with Hannah’s realization towards the end. Sure, he was a fun dad … but a good one? Eh. Not so much.

Vivian (V), Hannah’s mother, was a great character. I loved her growth and the growth of her and Hannah’s relationship. It was also cool how she’s this steady person who is always there, even if Hannah didn’t think her decisions were always the best.

Gus was my favorite. He was just so hilarious! Every word out of his mouth had me in stitches, and that whole thing with the treasure chest … and his relationship with Hannah’s father was the best. 😛

Ahmed … wow. Insta-crush, huh, Hannah? *glares at Hannah* Okay, okay, I know, you’re fourteen and he’s this awesome exotic gentleman … but still.

Ahmed’s parents I actually liked … until the end. At which point I kinda got frustrated with them. I still don’t know about that little lie to Hannah’s father. What was that about?

The Magician, we all hated. Well, at least I did. He was so cruel and evil and wicked and awful … and other words that are near-synonyms to each other. I hate him! And yet he’s a “good” villain as villains go (as in he is good at being evil).

Setting: 5/5

The description and setting were both very good. I always had a good idea as to where we were. I especially loved the descriptions of the treasure chamber and the Sheik’s house.

As far as settings, we started in a small town in the United States in Hannah’s bedroom and went halfway around the world to Baghdad and then some mountains (I’ve forgotten which) and back to Hannah’s house. All vividly described without too many words.

Writing: 4/5

Excellent! I especially enjoyed the punchy dialogue and, of course, description. The best thing about the writing was the humor. I laughed aloud several times.

However, I did find some sentences to be a little complicated or overthought.

Theme: 3/5

I felt like the theme could have been worked a little better. The ending and resolution were somewhat sudden, as I mentioned before, and the main character was kind of in denial before that point. V’s point of view helped decrease that shield Hannah put up a little … but not much, especially as V had no idea what was going on until the end.

Content: 3/5

Language: “oh my god” several times and then stronger euphemism such as “crap,” etc. 10+.

Violence: lots of this, I’m afraid. Many, many people were killed during Hannah’s adventure. There was lots of blood and death and scary situations. It never got extremely gory, but it was mildly gory in several places. 13+ at least.

Sexual: n/a (although Hannah develops a crush on a boy she’s traveling with)

Other: the world is assumed millions of years old. Hannah is suffering from severe depression, anxiety, and delusions. The ending is kinda of disturbing. 10+

I’d say 13+ at least for violence, disturbing themes, and mild language (taking the Lord’s name in vain). Parental guidance suggested for more the more sensitive.

Overall: 3.5/5

A fairly decent young adult novel with a great beginning and middle. The end was a little sudden, but for those who are good at sorting details out, it won’t make any difference. I really enjoyed the humor and the adventure (though it could be a little gory or disturbing at times), and the character were well-developed and interesting.

A great story for any upper middle grade or young adult reader who loves a character-based adventure with magic elements.

~Kellyn Roth

London in the Dark by Victoria Lynn

Title: London In The Dark

Author: Victoria Lynn

Series: Light of London, #1

Genre: Christian Historical Mystery

Era: 1910 (Edwardian)

Setting: London, England

Publisher: Ichthus Family Productions

Source: from author (in exchange for honest review)

Overall Rating: 3.5/5

London in the Dark by Victoria Lynn

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London, 1910

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

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

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

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

Plot {4/5}:

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

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

Characters {4/5}:

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

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

Note: I reread this book recently, and I loved Cyril! I know, weird, that’s such a complete turn-around. But … I think reading it and understanding his motives, I understood who he was and really sympathized with him. So I’m officially #TeamCyril

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

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

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

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

Setting {3/5}:

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

Writing {3/5}:

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

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

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

Content {2/5}:

Language: n/a

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

Sexual: n/a

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

Overall {3.5/5}:

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

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About the Author

victorialynn

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

The Giveaways

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

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

Thank for reading,

~Kellyn Roth

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. XD ) 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

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.” XD 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