Review: The Mine by John A. Heldt

Title: The Mine (Northwest Passage #1)
Author: John A. Heldt
Genre(s): Adult Historical Romance with elements of Science Fiction
How To Purchase: Kindle

My rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Note: I received a free copy of The Mine in exchange for an honest review.

In May 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 alter their lives forever.

The Mine is a love story that 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.

*steps on my soapbox*

My dear book-loving friends, I want to take a moment to talk about something I never intended to talk about on this blog: Cover art. I am far from an expert on self-publishing, being that I’m currently staggering through the process for the first time; however, I can tell you one thing with certainty: Bad cover art will cost you readers.

Mr. Heldt was the first person to approach me to review a book. To be frank, if I’d waited a few more days to see the number of requests I’ve started getting for book reviews after listing myself on The Indie View and The Book Blogger List, I would have likely turned him down. Why? Because the cover is amateur, incorrect for the genre, and arranged in an unartistic manner. The thought that followed me as I prepared to read it was, “The inside is going to be just as amateur and unartistic.”

More experienced self-pubbers have written about this at length, so I’ll leave you with a link to get you started: The Book Designer’s e-Book Cover Design Awards. The phrase is “Don’t judge a book by its cover” because it’s what we all do. Find an awesome cover artist, such as Regina Wamba, with whom I’m currently working, and make sales.

*steps off my soapbox*

I’m happy to say that the story contained within the eyesore cover has voice and is well-edited. Mr. Heldt has obviously taken the oodles of wisdom available on the internet and applied it to his self-publishing career. (And, heck, maybe he likes that cover. So. I mean. If you like it, too, more power to you.)

As to the story itself, I’m going to go with an old refrain: This story was not written for me.

It’s a quiet book, one with researched details and the feel of the 1940’s. The characters were well-developed with believable motivation. The ending was touching, surprising, and pulled me right in. It kept me frantically turning the pages to see what was going to happen.

However, I’m not a huge fan of historical romance and that’s what this truly is. The only science fiction part of the novel is when our main character Joel slips between times through the mine shaft. I found myself skimming in the middle, wanting something to happen. Others might be taken in by the love story between Grace and Joel, but I wasn’t. I liked them both and needed to find out how their story would end, but I wanted more to happen. The story wasn’t big enough for me.

If you’re a fan of historical romance and enjoy slipping into another time period, I would recommend this book. If you’re looking for some science fiction / portal fantasy fare, I’d give it a pass.

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