Book Review: The Show By John A. Heldt

***I received a free copy in exchange for a review***

Seattle, 1941. Grace Vandenberg, 21, is having a bad day. Minutes after Pearl Harbor is attacked, she learns that her boyfriend is a time traveler from 2000 who has abandoned her for a future he insists they cannot share. Determined to save their love, she follows him into the new century. But just when happiness is within her grasp, she accidentally enters a second time portal and exits in 1918. Distraught and heartbroken, Grace starts a new life in the age of Woodrow Wilson, silent movies, and the Spanish flu. She meets her parents as young, single adults and befriends a handsome, wounded Army captain just back from the war. In THE SHOW, the sequel to THE MINE, Grace finds love and friendship in the ashes of tragedy as she endures the trial of her life.

17381278I loved this 70 chapter book. If you’ve already read the first book in the series, then it starts off a little slow because it explains the back story of Grace and Joel’s relationship while providing details of how she found his note about returning to the year 2000. Once that section is over, the book has an interesting love story. Keep in mind, a person can love a significant other, friend, and family member.

My favorite lines: 1) “Most people call it a shopping mall,” Katie said. “I call it organized chaos.” 2) How could a man, any man compete with a memory? 3) When you abruptly abandoned loved ones, you left wreckage behind. 4) And with that, three women once separated by time, space, and death were reunited.

The author had a brilliant talent with characterization and setting.

  • There were a lot of characters for the reader to juggle, but the author did a great job of having each character’s personality shine through as well as revealing different motivations. I wasn’t confused nor lost at all. I loved seeing Penelope, Edith, and Katie in different stages of their lives. I thought their personalities and mannerisms stayed consistent while they were older women, teens, and in Penelope’s case, a little girl. John A. Heldt managed to make all the relationships three-dimensional.
  • The story covered three time zones: 1941, 2000, and 1918. As a reader, I wasn’t confused because the clothing, body language, dialogue, gender belief systems and expectations were established clearly in a very descriptive way. It felt like I was transported in the different time zones alongside Grace. I thought it was cool how Grace managed the unexpected twists–talk about utter confusion for her.

A love story can’t be perfect so, of course, there were some obstacles. On Grace and Joel’s anniversary, they attended an event at the remodeled movie theater. This is where the story really got entertaining for me. My favorite sections and chapters–the ones that featured Grace getting to know her ancestors in 1918. I respected that everyone was skeptical and didn’t just blindly believe Grace; it made the story more realistic. Being invested in Grace and Joel’s relationship since the first book in the series, I didn’t care for John, the next door neighbor in 1918, trying to pursue Grace.

My favorite scenes: 1) when Grace saw her mom and dad for the first time 2) Grace’s interactions with her great uncle, Alistair 3) the scenes in the remodeled movie theater (present and past)

The ending was intense. Did Grace end up with John? Or was she trapped in 1918 forever due to the movie theater fire? Could she find her way back to 2000 to be with Joel? You’ll have to read the story to find out. I can say that the cliffhanger definitely motivated me to want to read the next book!

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Book Review: The Journey By John A. Heldt

Seattle, 2010. When her entrepreneur husband dies in an accident, Michelle Preston Richardson, 48, finds herself childless and directionless. She yearns for the simpler days of her youth, before she followed her high school sweetheart down a road that led to limitless riches but little fulfillment, and jumps at a chance to reconnect with her past at a class reunion. But when Michelle returns to Unionville, Oregon, and joins three classmates on a spur-of-the-moment tour of an abandoned mansion, she gets more than she asked for. She enters a mysterious room and is thrown back to 1979.

Distraught and destitute, Michelle finds a job as a secretary at Unionville High, where she guides her spirited younger self, Shelly Preston, and childhood friends through their tumultuous senior year. Along the way, she meets widowed teacher Robert Land and finds the love and happiness she had always sought. But that happiness is threatened when history intervenes and Michelle must act quickly to save those she loves from deadly fates. Filled with humor and heartbreak, THE JOURNEY gives new meaning to friendship, courage, and commitment as it follows an unfulfilled soul through her second shot at life.

I loved this 60 chapter book. It was told through Shelly’s third person point-of-view and Michelle’s third person point-of-view, each rotating chapters. What if you were transported back to your high school days and got to relive your life again? Had a chance to meet the younger version of yourself and see the people who had died along the way? Man, I don’t know what I’d do, but I respected that Michelle took charge to make sure she made a positive influence on people’s lives so they could rethink mistakes made in the past. I liked the shout-out to The Mine character’s Joel and his mom meeting Michelle.

I thought it was sad when Michelle reflected on her life after her husband Scott passed away. She had missed the opportunity to become an author. Since that’s my dream, I couldn’t imagine letting someone stop me. I enjoyed hearing about Writer’s Market and other writer terminology through her perspective.

My favorite lines: 1) There was a lot to remember when you lived a lie. 2) Sometimes the right answers come in unusual packages. 3) Michelle sat up and shifted her eyes from one tablemate to another, as if searching for a source of sanity. She came up empty. 4) I knew her better than anyone and she was still a mystery.

John A. Heldt did a wonderful job with imagery, especially with metaphors. I thought they were really original, and I loved the humor throughout the novel. He also has a great talent with writing romance. The way he built up Michelle and Robert’s relationship was engaging and sweet. I really rooted for them. I also loved how the story focused on Shelly and her friends, April and Brian, trying to search for true love in school. He made me root for all the characters to have a happy ending. My favorite aspect was the friendship dynamic. There were positive female friendships instead of girls being catty with one another. A refreshing change.

My favorite scenes: 1) in the classroom, Robert asked Michelle out on a date 2) in present day, Michelle hung out with her old friends at the class reunion; they were funny together 3) when Michelle realized Brian had a crush on Shelly. The reveal was cute 4) when Michelle met her dad and fainted 5) when Michelle and Shelly first met in the school office

I wish I could discuss the ending because that was my favorite part too. I’ll just say that Michelle was my favorite character, and I thought she was really brave. The last few chapters made me cry, which I happened to be sitting at a table in a busy coffee shop.

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Book Review: The Mine By John A. Heldt

In 2000, Joel Smith is a cocky, adventurous young man who sees the world as his playground. But when the college senior, days from graduation, enters an abandoned Montana mine, he discovers the price of reckless curiosity. He emerges in May 1941 with a cell phone he can’t use, money he can’t spend, and little but his wits to guide his way. Stuck in the age of Whirlaway, swing dancing, and a peacetime draft, Joel begins a new life as the nation drifts toward war. With the help of his 21-year-old trailblazing grandmother and her friends, he finds his place in a world he knew only from movies and books. But when an opportunity comes to return to the present, Joel must decide whether to leave his new love in the past or choose a course that will altar their lives forever. THE MINE follows a  humbled man through a critical time in history as he adjusts to new surroundings and wrestles with the knowledge of things to come.

I loved this 70 chapter book. Joel, Ginny, Grace, and Tom were my favorite characters. Their friendship dynamic was cool, and the sense of humor in the book made me laugh. I’m a huge fan of the “what if” scenario, so I thought of how I’d get along if I was transported back into the 1940’s. Joel was from 2000, trespassed into an abandoned mine, then entered 1941. Being a charming guy and one to think swiftly on his feet, he managed very well.

My favorite lines: 1) He had an encyclopedic mind, the curiosity of an inventor, and the judgment and discipline of a three-year-old.  2) Sensing an opportunity to clear the air, he pressed ahead with the kind of candor that would make their relationship or break it. 3) Her thirty-six months at the university were less a full educational experience than a frustrating self imposed exile. 4) What sane woman traded love and security for a stranger who would not even come clean about his past?

There were a couple of parts in the story that made me shed a tear. One of their friends, Katie, was a Japanese character. I kept thinking how drastically her life would change once World War II started. Plus, it was sad how the young men in the story wanted to get married and start a career after college graduation, but they were drafted into war. Most scared. Had no choice in the matter. I especially felt bad for Tom.

The author had a brilliant talent with setting. He was so descriptive that I could picture the story vividly in my head–like a movie. I thought of The Notebook while reading this because the way Grace and Joel’s relationship blossomed was so sweet and romantic. I appreciated that even though the characters accepted and liked Joel, they still were suspicious that he never mentioned his past. That at times they caught him in a lie. I also liked how history facts were revealed throughout the narration when Joel would know what would happen in the future but the other people didn’t have a clue. I loved that he felt the need to keep his identity a secret; it made for great inner-conflict scenes.

My favorite scenes: 1) whenever Joel would visit Grace in the library 2) Joel and Grace’s picnic date at the park 3) when Joel realizes that Ginny is his grandmother 4) when everyone says goodbye to Tom before he heads off to train for the war 5) the twist at the end (can’t give it away)

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby