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

Structuring Your Novel by K.M. Weiland

Structuring Your Novel by K.M. Weiland

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Is Structure the Hidden Foundation of All Successful Stories?

Why do some stories work and others don’t? The answer is structure. In this new guide from the author of the bestselling Outlining Your Novel, you will discover the universal underpinnings that guarantee powerful plot and character arcs. An understanding of proper story and scene structure will help you to not only perfectly time your story’s major events, but will also provide you with an unerring standard to use in evaluating your novel’s pacing and progression.

Structuring Your Novel will show you:

• How to determine the best methods for unleashing your unique and personal vision for your story.
• How to identify common structural weaknesses and flip them around into stunning strengths.
• How to eliminate saggy middles by discovering your “centerpiece.”
• Why you should NEVER include conflict on every page.
• How to discover the questions you don’t want readers asking about your plot—and then how to get them to ask the right questions.

Story structure has empowered countless bestselling and classic authors. Now it’s your turn!

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Rating: 4.5 stars

This book changed the way I look at story structure. It’s changed the way I look at the dramatic arc. At the books I read and the movies I watch. At the way I outline and write and revise.

Structuring Your Novel is a nonfiction book about writing … more specifically about story structure. It starts with a detailed look at the structure of a novel. It shows you the entire story arc in a new way, giving tips for writing each tiny little detail of the dramatic arc. This was very useful, even as someone who knows the dramatic arc fairly well.

Next, it moves on to scene structure. I’d never really thought much about scene structure, so this was an eye-opened for me. I read this section through more than once! It was very informative.

The only thing I didn’t find useful was the chapter on sentence structure. It didn’t really help me, mostly because I learned most of that in grade school and the rest from noveling blogs, other writing books, and practical experience. Still, it may be useful to other people.

K.M. Weiland writes in an entertaining style, but she also grinds the facts into your head in a way that really makes them stick with you. Her examples from popular fiction (old and new) were very useful in helping me grasp the concepts she introduces. But don’t worry if you don’t read a lot (shame on you; why are you trying to write?!). Even if I hadn’t read the books/watched the movies (which I didn’t with two of them), I would have understood, which was nice.

I’d recommend this book to any writer who wishes to improve their craft. It’s definitely worth your time!

~Kellyn Roth

Reviews

The Paratroopers by John Emmert

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

Author: John Emmert

Series: Airborne Trilogy, #1

Genre: Historical Adventure

Era: 1941-1943 (WW2)

Setting: United States, North Africa, and Italy

Publisher: John Emmert

Source: borrowed from a friend of mine who owns it

Overall Rating: 3.5/5 stars

The Paratroopers by John Emmert

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

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

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

Plot: 3/5

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

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

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

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

Characters: 3/5

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

Setting: 3/5

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

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

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

Writing: 2/5

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

Content: 2/5

Language: n/a

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

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

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

Overall: 3.5/5

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

~Kellyn Roth~

Reviews

The Ugly Teapot by Fred Holmes

Title: The Ugly Teapot: Hannah

Author: Fred Holmes

Series: The Ugly Teapot, Book 1

Genre: YA Fantasy Adventure

Era: contemporary

Setting: United States and the Middle East

Publisher: Fred Holmes

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

Overall Rating: 3.5/5

The Ugly Teapot by Fred Holmes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Plot: 3/5

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

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

Characters: 4/5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting: 5/5

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

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

Writing: 4/5

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

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

Theme: 3/5

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

Content: 3/5

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

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

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

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

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

Overall: 3.5/5

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

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

~Kellyn Roth

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

Reviews

A Mighty Fortress by Faith Blum

Title: A Mighty Fortress

Author: Faith Blum

Series: Hymns of the West, #1

Genre: Christian Historical Adventure

Era: 1870s

Setting: Montana Territory, United States of America

Publisher: Faith Blum

Source: received as a prize/gift

Overall Rating: 2/5 stars

A Mighty Fortress by Faith Blum

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Joshua and Ruth Brookings are traveling by stagecoach to finally join their parents in Montana. Attacked by murderous outlaws, the teens barely escape with their lives and must survive in the barren Wyoming and Montana territories and escape the man who’s hunting them.

Seven years ago, Jed Stuart ran away from home and joined Tom’s gang. Jed is tired of the lawlessness and wants out. The only problem? He is the boss’s right-hand man and will never be able to leave. And what’s one more stagecoach robbery, anyway?

Can Joshua lean on God’s strength to keep himself and his sister alive until they find a town? Will Jed be able to face his anger or will it consume him completely? All three are running–the hunter and hunted. What will happen when they meet?

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This was one of those books I just had to slog through. I was determined to finish it, but I really didn’t want to. I didn’t enjoy it. However, it wasn’t all bad, and it may be for some people more than me.

Note: the author has improved so much since writing of this book, and I really have enjoyed her more recent works.

Plot: 3/5

It started out pretty well, but towards the middle it dragged on and on. Also, when dealing with the dual story lines of Joshua/Ruth and Jed, it skipped all over the place. One moment we’d be a month ahead, the next we’d be two months behind, the next we’d be a year ago, and so on.

Characters: 3/5

There were quite a few characters towards the end, but I easily kept them separated in my head. I didn’t really like Ruth (I found her to be a bit of a Mary Sue) or Joshua (same). They both seemed judgmental to me.

I did like Jed, who was presumably the antagonist. I looked forward to seeing what happened next to him. He made me want to write a Western. I don’t know why, but I just find the outlaws and sheriffs and such of the old west to be fascinating. Probably too much John Wayne …

Setting: 3/5

The description was pretty good. I really do want to visit Montana someday. I didn’t really see anything missing in this aspect. The dialogue was sometimes a little too modern.

Writing: 2/5

This book probably needs a little more editing. The worst problem was probably the head-hopping. I never knew whose head we were in, which was confusing.

Theme: 3/5

I normally love reading Christian fiction … but in this book, I found the Christian content a little bit preachy. It was hard to get through the paragraphs of Bible that seemed put in at random. Almost everyone in this book was a Christian or became a Christian (usually remarkably easily), which I didn’t find very realistic.

However, the overall theme of redemption and forgiveness was a good one – despite my not liking the portrayal of it – and I did appreciate that.

Content: 2/5

Language: n/a

Violence: robbing, outlawing, and even several murders. Never detailed, always treated as (very) wrong.

Sexual: Jed supposedly raped a girl at one point. It all happened off-screen and was dealt with pretty tastefully.

Overall: 2/5

Not my favorite book. I didn’t really like it and wouldn’t recommend it. However, later works by the author were much better.

~Kellyn Roth

Blog Tours, Reviews

London in the Dark by Victoria Lynn

Title: London In The Dark

Author: Victoria Lynn

Series: Light of London, #1

Genre: Christian Historical Mystery

Era: 1910 (Edwardian)

Setting: London, England

Publisher: Ichthus Family Productions

Source: from author (in exchange for honest review)

Overall Rating: 3.5/5

London in the Dark by Victoria Lynn

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London, 1910

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

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

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

Buy on Amazon ~ Add on Goodreads

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

Plot {4/5}:

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

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

Characters {4/5}:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting {3/5}:

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

Writing {3/5}:

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

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

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

Content {2/5}:

Language: n/a

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

Sexual: n/a

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

Overall {3.5/5}:

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

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About the Author

victorialynn

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

The Giveaways

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

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

Thank for reading,

~Kellyn Roth

Blog Tours, Reviews

A Question of Honor by Jesseca Wheaton (blog tour)

Title: A Question of Honor

Author: Jesseca Wheaton

Series: Questions of War, #1

Genre: Christian Historical Adventure

Era: 1940 (WW2)

Setting: Kansas (USA), England, and France

Publisher: Jesseca Wheaton

Source: from author (in exchange for honest review)

Overall Rating: 5/5 stars

A Question of Honor by Jesseca Wheaton

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A man. A child. A war. 

When German soldiers invade France during World War II, young Joyanna’s perfect world is shattered. In the hands of those who hate her, she battles to comprehend why people can be so ruthless and cold toward those whom they have never met. 

David Sullivan, pilot in the Royal Air Force, was certain he would never hate, but a painful loss forces him to either reconsider or do the inconceivable—forgive. He is suddenly challenged by the realization that doing God’s will is not easy, but most important. With the lives of freedom-fighters relying on him, he must learn the difficult lesson that he is not in control, but merely one who must surrender his heart of obedience to One greater.

A sudden turn of events lands Joyanna and David in the same country—but for far different reasons. When their paths cross, David finds he must make a decision that will affect them both for the rest of their lives.

Will he choose vengeance, or will he let his life be ruled by a higher standard? A standard of Honor.

Buy on Amazon ~ Add on Goodreads

This is my favorite book ever.

Okay, it’s not my absolute favorite book, but it’s among my favorite books. It’s just so good!

It gave me every (positive) emotion that exists, making me cry and laugh and jump up and down with a mixture of crying and laughing. It taught me some important truths that I honestly had trouble accepting before, and it was absolutely captivating.

Plot {5/5}:

One of those plots you can simply not rip your eyes away from. It was just the best ever. I never do this (because that’s what the blurb’s for), but I’m going to tell you a little about it instead of just rambling on about how amazing it is.

In the prologue, young Joyanna, a Christian Jew who ran away from Germany and is now living in war-torn France, sees her father shot by a Nazi.

Next we skip to Kansas, USA, where David Sullivan and his best friend Gil test-fly planes for the army. Both of these daring fliers decide to leave their country (against the will of the government) and join the RAF (Royal Air Force) in England. Gil is recently married to Lily (*glares at Lily* *who stole my Gil from me*) and David marries his fiancée, Elaine, before he leaves.

Back in France, merciless Nazi Erich kidnaps Joyanna after her mother and sister are taken away. He wants to use her to glean information … but Joyanna starts to steal her way into his heart … and Erich just doesn’t know how to deal with this spunky little Jew. He should hate her … but he doesn’t. Not really.

As you can see, this is one of the best plots ever. One of the reasons I loved it was because of the POVs. Each point of view was so amazing.

  • Serious David, so intent upon doing the right thing but so shattered.
  • Spunky Joyanna, rarely intimidated, a little trouper with such a strong faith.
  • Icy cold Erich, hiding a soft side under layers of rigid formality and evil intent.

Each of these three taught me something different.

  • Forgive, no matter how hard it is; don’t let bitterness take over you. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.
  • Always keep your chin up, always keep trudging along, and never let them get the best of you … but also be kind and sweet, because that’s the Christian way.
  • *gasp* There were humans behind those killing machines …

Erich’s perspective was really incredible. I just … I never thought I’d ever, ever want to get inside the head of a Nazi. Like, seriously. I have nothing against the German race (literally all my friends have German in them, so I can’t! 😉 ), but … the Nazis did such horrible things.

I couldn’t imagine ever wanting to get anywhere near any of them. I couldn’t imagine that they could do what they did and still have human souls. I didn’t really think about it … I just felt it. Well, now I feel differently. Thanks, Jesseca!

Characters {5/5}:

Again, I don’t have words. I think I’m going to have to force myself to write just a sentence or two about a few of the main characters … because I could literally go on and on about every single one for paragraphs.

The characters in this novel are amazing. I know I’ve been using that word a lot, but they really are. They’re so real, so beautiful, so human. I feel as if I know each and every one. But I’ll try to limit myself to describing a few.

David: wow … he’s just … wow. I love the lessons he learned (I really needed to learn them myself!), I loved how he responded to every situation so realistically (though not always how he should, of course … we’re all human here!), how sweet he was with Elaine, what a good friend he was to Gil, what a good (honorary) brother he was to Lily … wow. Just wow.

Joyanna: this girl! What can I say about the perfect (fictional) child? Such a spunky little tiger. 🙂

Erich: I ended the book empathizing with Erich. I know, I know … he’s the “bad guy.” But that’s one of the lessons this book teachers. I’m a black-and-white (the other kind of black and white …) person myself, and I truly believe we live in a black-and-white world … but … well, us humans aren’t all bad. We’re ruled by Sin, but we’re not all bad. I still don’t believe we’re all gray … we’re either God’s children and therefore pure or not God’s children and therefore contaminated … but I don’t know. It’s one of those tricky things. I can’t really explain it.

Elaine: I know, we didn’t get to see much of her in this book … but she was really a sweet person.

Lily: her reaction when … well, I can’t tell you, but her reaction when something bad happened to her (I feel like I just gave it away … oh, well …) was amazing. I would have died. Strike that: I died! 😛 But she stayed strong, and she even found time to nurse wounded soldiers back to health! I would love to have a book about this girl, even though I bet we’re not getting one. Maybe a short story, Jesseca? From Lily’s POV? Or even Elaine? Maybe you could touch on the years we skipped between the last chapter and the epilogue? Hmm? I know you’re reading this; don’t pretend you’re not. Jesseca?! 😛 (Just kidding, friend; do whatever you need to do to make more amazing books with no regards to me! Writing books because your fans demand it is not really the best idea. But if you do happen to have a spark of inspiration … *nudges*)

Gil: I’m going to marry Gil when I grow up. *nods* Okay, I’m not. Even if he were a real person, he’d be married. And he lived in the 1900s and I live in the 2000s. But … if he were a real person and was unmarried and lived in my time, I would marry him, because I love him so much. *sighs* He is just … wow. He is the best book character ever. I don’t even know why I’m so obsessed with him, but I am. It’s a little unhealthy, but I’ll get over it … maybe …

Micah: he’s a lot like Gil … but there are subtle differences, too. Which is cool. It takes talent to write two similar characters and make them come out individualistic.

Setting {4/5}:

I don’t have much on setting, I admit, because that’s not usually what I focus on when reading unless there’s definitely something missing. Well, there definitely wasn’t something missing. 😛

Seriously, though, Miss Wheaton did an excellent job portraying the era, the places, and the people of that era and those places. I think this was probably the weakest part of the book (sometimes it was hard to remember that the European characters weren’t American, for instance), but it was still very strong (everything about this book was; I seriously believe it was God-inspired). Anyway, I can tell she researched the novel very thoroughly and knows her stuff well.

Writing {4/5}:

I think there was occasionally a little head-hopping between Joyanna and Erich … but otherwise, it was really smooth and easy to understand. I really enjoy Miss Wheaton’s writing style – always have. It’s light and not too complicated, but it also has great depth and emotion where depth and emotion are needed.

Content {2/5}:

Language: none.

Violence: there’s a war going on, and it’s a pretty gruesome one, but it was handled well. Joyanna’s father is shot (not very detailed) and Joyanna’s mother and sister are dragged off to an uncertain fate (though they surely were killed). Erich hits Joyanna once with his riding whip. A couple gunshot wounds (not too detailed), blood, hospitals, planes getting shot down, a somewhat detailed death by burns, etc. Nothing graphic. The violence itself wasn’t disturbing (although younger kids would probably be disturbed by the treatment of the Jews and other non-German, even though it was only briefly mentioned, and also the wounds that people received in one way or another).

Sexual: not much. A couple mentions of pregnancy and of a baby being born (no details at all) and Elaine and David kiss a couple times (no details given), but that’s it. So … basically none.

Recommended for 14+ readers or anyone 12+ who can handle the above-described content.

Overall {5/5}:

This is honestly the best book I’ve read in a long time, and I can hardly wait to read book 2! Please pick up a copy … trust me, you’ll be doing yourself a favor. It’s a must-read for any lover of great plots, beautiful Christian messages, truths about tough eras, and vivid characters.

~Kellyn Roth


About the Author

jessecawheaton

Jesseca is an 18-year old daughter, sister, and a child of God. Her days are spent reading, cooking, spending time with siblings, or playing piano.  And writing, of course! At an early age words fascinated her, and her love for the printed page has only grown. She lives with her parents and seven siblings in the sunny state of Kansas, and she’s convinced there’s no place like home.

Website~Blog~Amazon~Goodreads~Google+~Pinterest~Instagram


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The Blog Tour Schedule

Wednesday: March 1st

Angela Watt — Review/Author Interview @ The Peculiar Messenger

Faith Potts — Author Interview @ Stories by Firefly

Thursday: March 2nd

Kellyn Roth — Review @ Reveries Reviews

Faith Potts — Review @ Stories by Firefly

Kaitlyn K.–Book spotlight/Author interview @ Twin Thoughts

Friday: March 3rd

Deborah C.–Book Spotlight @ Reading in June

Soleil B.– Book Spotlight @ Reviews by Soleil

Victoria Lynn: Book Spotlight/Review @ Ruffles and Grace

Brianna Henderson — Review/Author Interview @ Ramblings of a Pilgrim on the Way

Anika — Review/Author Interview/Book Spotlight @ Anika’s Avenue

Rebekah Ashleigh — Review @ Rebekah Ashleigh

Saturday: March 4th

Livi Jane–Review @ Living for the Other Side

Victoria Lynn — Author Interview @ Ruffles and Grace

Emily Putzke — Author Interview @ Taking Dictation

Julia Ryan — Review @ The Barefoot Gal

Rebekah Eddy — Book Spotlight/Author interview @ Rebekah’s Remarks


I’m excited to see all those amazing posts, aren’t you? Before you go, allow me to direct you to the giveaway …

Enter Now!

Reviews

Spotlight: The Lady of the Vineyard by Kellyn Roth (Free Book)

Yes, I do realize this is my book. 😛 Seriously, though, it’s free on Amazon today and tomorrow in honor of Valentine’s Day. Even though it’s not a romance, per se, it is about love … though not necessarily romantic love. So it’s fitting, don’t you think?

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Just in case that image isn’t viewing correctly for you, here’s all the information it contains. 🙂

the-lady-of-the-vineyard-1a choice between familiar pain and new love …

Judy has lived with her egocentric mother since her parents divorced when she was a baby. When her father, Troy Kee, shows up at her sixth birthday party and whisks her away to his vineyard in France, Judy is more than happy to go with him. But Adele, Judy’s mother, isn’t quite ready to give up her daughter. Can Judy forgive Adele? More importantly, can Troy?

A sweet novella set in Europe, the year of 1938, this sweet story is sure to delight loves of light-hearted historical/literary fiction.

~Rave Reviews~

from the reviewers of Amazon and Goodreads and various blogs that I’m not going to list

“If you’re a lover of historical novellas or 1930s European settings, this is one you won’t want to miss.”

“Enthralling, well designed, and elegantly presented.”

“Leaves you feeling happy.”

“Overall, this was a lovely, delightful read and I’d recommend it to anyone and everyone!”

“If you are considering reading this, then stop considering, because you just have to.”

“Troy (the father) and Judy (the daughter) had such a cute relationship! Troy walked into Judy’s life, when she was six, for the first time, and it’s just sooo sweet seeing them interact! Kellyn did a really great job.”

“This book is set in the 1930’s, in England/France. So yes; not my ordinary cup o’ tea. But let me tell you something; and amazing new cup of tea for me.”

” It was a sweet little story. It made me laugh. It made me think about it. It made me smile with nice soft feeling. And… it made me feel like I had been sucker punched in the gut.”

“The characters, from bitter and rebellious Adele to sweet and innocent Judy to mysterious Troy, were all uniquely patterned and cleverly developed.”

And there you have it! You can get The Lady of the Vineyard for free on Amazon Kindle today and tomorrow, and you can add it on Goodreads here.

~Kellyn Roth

p.s. we’ll be going back to regular reviews starting Thursday. 🙂