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

Blog Tours, Reviews

The New Diary by Hanna Kraft

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

The Review

Title: The New Diary

Author: Hanna Kraft

Series: Heritage Diaries, #1

Genre: Semi-Biographical Historical Fiction

Era: 1930 (early Great Depression)

Setting: New York, United States

Source: from author (in exchange for honest review)

Overall Rating: 4/5

The New Diary by Hanna Kraft

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

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

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

Plot {4/5}:

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

Characters {3/5}:

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

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

Setting {4/5}:

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

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

Writing {4/5}:

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

Content:

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

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

Overall {4/5}:

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

About the Author

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

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

The Tour Schedule

Wednesday the 1st

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

Friday the 3rd

-Megan @ A Barefoot Gal (author interview)

-Kellyn Roth @ Reveries Reviews (excerpt)

Saturday the 4th

-Kellyn Roth @ Reveries Reviews (review)

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

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


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

~Kellyn Roth

Reviews

Anchor in the Storm by Sarah Sundin

Title: Anchor in the Storm

Author: Sarah Sundin

Series: Waves of Freedom, #2

Genre: Christian Historical Romance/Mystery

Age-Range: 13+ (young adult/adult)

Era: 1940s (WW2)

Setting: Boston, Massachusetts (USA)

Publisher: Revell Books

Source: library

Rating: 5/5 stars

Content: 2/5. No language. It’s set during a war. Some violence and such connected with that, though nothing graphic. There’s a drug ring. Mentions of drinking and taking drugs, and Arch goes to a bar. Kisses and such. It’s mentioned that a man tried to take advantage of Lilly once. No details at all.

Anchor in the Storm by Sarah Sundin

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One Plucky Female Pharmacist + One High-Society Naval Officer = Romance — and Danger

For plucky Lillian Avery, America’s entry into World War II means a chance to prove herself as a pharmacist in Boston. The challenges of her new job energize her. But society boy Ensign Archer Vandenberg’s attentions only annoy — even if he “is” her brother’s best friend.

During the darkest days of the war, Arch’s destroyer hunts German U-boats in vain as the submarines sink dozens of merchant ships along the East Coast. Still shaken by battles at sea, Arch notices his men also struggle with their nerves — and with drowsiness. Could there be a link to the large prescriptions for sedatives Lillian has filled? The two work together to answer that question, but can Arch ever earn Lillian’s trust and affection?

Sarah Sundin brings World War II to life, offering readers an intense experience they won’t soon forget.

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This is going to be a short review due to limited time and me being behind on reviewing and struggling to catch up. However, I don’t have a lot to say about Sarah Sundin’s books that I haven’t said before (not that they’re the same, but that they all have the same level of awesomeness, and I tend to forget the differences in ranting about the awesomeness …), so that’s actually quite fitting. 🙂

That was another great story by Sarah Sundin! I can’t wait until book three of the Waves of Freedom trilogy comes out!

Lillian and Arch were both great characters. All the characters are, but these two were my favorite.

I loved Arch in book one. He’s a swell guy, pretty serious most of the time, always a perfect gentleman (that scene in the bar was hilarious!), but he is prone to depression and very insecure about being loved for his money/social position/looks instead of for himself. Of course we love him for his faults. Yeah, I know, in my last review I was going on about this guy who was perfect despite his lack of faults … well, Arch was perfect because of his faults. It makes sense. Just trust me on this one.

Lillian is also pretty insecure (if you didn’t guess!). As a kid, she lost her leg and now wears a prosthesis. You can imagine how that makes her feel! Overall, however, she’s pretty confident about that, which surprised me. Her main problem is her ‘wooden heart.’ She shuts people out, pushes herself too hard, goes through life bluntly and without feeling. At least, his (evil!) twin sister thinks so …

Which reminds me, I hate Lillian’s twin sister’s guts. I don’t know why, but I just do. I suppose because I can’t stand people who whine. Drives me crazy. I’m a lot more like Lillian; I’d die before I’d cry or complain or let anyone know I need help. 😛

The plot was, of course, fantastic. Another mystery, which I didn’t mind one bit! Very exciting, intriguing, etc.

It was also great to see Jim and Mary again, however briefly. I’m a bit surprised they’re only dating, though, not engaged. Wait a minute … no. I’m not surprised one bit! Thinking back, they just got around to actually confessing their love (after months … and months … and months … not that it was irritating, but that their personalities are just like that!), and knowing their personalities … this is gonna take a while. But they have to get engaged in the next book, mmkay, Ms. Sundin? They just have to! Please?

Well, that’s about all I have to say. I hope you enjoyed this review, and I hope you’ll go pick up a copy of the book yourself so we can fangirl together. 😄

~Kellyn Roth

Reviews

No Pizza Delivery? by Grace Marshall

Title: No Pizza Delivery?

Author: Grace Marshall

Series: Horse Haven, #1

Genre: Contemporary Christian Comedy

Age-Range: 13+ (young adult)

Era: contemporary

Setting: United States – Missouri and Wisconsin

Publisher: Grace Marshall

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

Rating: 4/5 stars

Content: 2/5, rude humor, mentions of thinking a guy’s hot (not really innapropriate or anything).

No Pizza Delivery? by Grace Marshall

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Manure, southern accents, self-absorbed boys, and new faces are all a part of the maze that have become Ruth Deloach’s life.

Her world is sent spinning when she finds out she is going to be ripped from America’s Dairyland to live in the embarrassingly small tourist town of Sainte Genevieve, Missouri. The blow is slightly lessened by the news that her father wants to start a horse ranch, but how enjoyable will it really be to live where there is no pizza delivery and a revolving door to the public? A public with a different idea of how things are done and said.

To add embarrassment to her frustration she finds she knows less about horses than she presumed. Maybe the handsome ranch hand her father hires can brighten things up, then again, maybe not.

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This was a sweet, hilarious story. It had a well-paced plot and I can’t wait to read the next book – I kinda felt like it ended with a cliffhanger, even though it wasn’t exactly a cliffhanger, because I wanted to read more! I also enjoyed the characters … and, of course, my mouth started to water every time a horse entered. 😛 I need a horse, guys … need not want.

And you know what’s weird? It wasn’t cliché! There are so many books and movies out there about a city girl moving to the country (presumably a country containing horses) and messing up there and finding herself along the way … but this was not cliché. Nor was it cheesy, as most of those books and movies are.

It was fresh and funny and interesting. I liked Ruth a lot, and I really liked her brother … although, of course, I probably wouldn’t want him to be my brother …

And the turkey thing! *cracks up* I have come near to having that happen to me, so I understand the feeling, though I would have been the one ripping the turkey out. (What? Read the book to find out what I’m talking about!)

Ruth and me have something in common in thinking we’re better with horses than we are … though even Ruth is probably a better rider than I am! 😀

Overall, this was a quick, amusing read! I think it could use just a wee bit of editing (I’m sorry; I’m a bit of a perfectionist!), but a couple punctuation mistakes didn’t bother my enjoyment of it … and most people probably wouldn’t notice them, as I’m extremely meticulous.

So, go buy a copy and have a nice, light read and, above all, enjoy the horses! 🙂

~Kellyn Roth

Reviews

To Whisper Her Name by Tamera Alexander

Title: To Whisper Her Name

Author: Tamera Alexander

Series: A Belle Meade Plantation Novel, #1

Genre: Christian Historical Romance

Age-Range: young adults/adults

Era: late 1860s

Setting: Kentucky, USA

Publisher: Zondervan

Source: library

Rating: 3/5 stars. If I were just rating the characters, writing, and the main plot, I’d give it five stars, but there were a few things that took away those two stars.

Content: 2.5/5. A lot of attraction between Olivia and Ridley … which made me kind of uncomfortable. Will you please stop staring at each other??? Not much violence, no swearing. Overall, relatively clean.

To Whisper Her Name by Tamera Alexander

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Set at Nashville’s historic Belle Meade Plantation, the most influential thoroughbred stud farm in America’s history, To Whisper Her Name weaves the struggles of real people of the post-war South with the journeys of a man and a woman scarred by betrayal.

Olivia Aberdeen, destitute widow of a man shot as a traitor to the South, is shunned by proper society and gratefully accepts an invitation from “Aunt” Elizabeth Harding, mistress of Belle Meade Plantation. Expecting to be the Harding’s head housekeeper, Olivia is disillusioned when she learns the real reason Elizabeth’s husband, Confederate General William Giles Harding, agreed to her coming. Not finding the safe haven she expects, Olivia is caught off guard by her feelings for Ridley Adam Cooper, a Southern man who seems anything but a Southern gentleman.

Branded a traitor by some, Ridley Cooper, a Southern son who chose to fight for the Union, is a man desperate to end the war still raging inside him. Determined to learn “the gift” that Belle Meade’s head horse trainer and former slave, Bob Green, possesses, Ridley harbors secrets that threaten both their lives.

As Ridley seeks to make peace within himself for “betraying” the South he loved, Olivia is determined to never be betrayed again.

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