Tuesday, October 31, 2017

A Time To Rise by Nadine Brandes | Re:View

A fantastic end to a thrilling series, A Time To Rise fulfills all of my hopes for the end--and beginning--of Parvin's story!

From the very beginning with Parvin in book one (A Time To Die) to following her to the end of this book, it has been an emotional roller coaster of highs, lows, excitement, sadness, crazy miracles, and hints of romance. And yet, coming to the end, I really felt as if it was all "right".

I won't go into much detail here since I don't want to spoil anything, but this third book will take you to places you never expected to go with Parvin, Solomon, and the rest of the unique and eclectic cast of characters. The storyline delves deeply into what it means to truly sacrifice.

Skelly Chase is back as well, and proves to be a very interesting character. I think that's one of the things I admire most about Nadine's writing. She doesn't just make cut and dry characters, she creates whole people who are flawed just like you and I. It makes these characters real as well as it connects you to them in a way that is both beautiful and sometimes uncomfortable due to the depth of emotion you experience toward them.

I really enjoyed the setting of this book as well. We see more technology included and I also noticed how the world we saw from Parvin's point of view expanded as she experienced more and grew as a character.

While I'm sad to see the series end, the ending itself was really appropriate for the series as a whole. It left you satisfied with everything all tied up, as good endings do.

I would definitely recommend this series to those who enjoy YA dystopian with a hint of futuristic-ness to their novels. It has a strong Christian theme to it, but this works well with the story.

A Time To Rise by Nadine Brandes
My rating: 5*
Purchase: A Time To Rise #3, A Time To Speak #2, A Time To Die #1

Book Description
(from Amazon)

What more can you sacrifice than your life? 

Parvin Blackwater is dead.

At least that’s what the Council—and the world—thinks. But her sacrifice tore down part of the Wall long enough to stir up hope and rebellion in the people. Now she will rise again. Strong, free, and fearless.
Parvin and Solomon must uncover the mysterious clues that Jude left behind in order to destroy the projected Wall once and for all. Meanwhile, the Council schemes to new levels of technology in its attempts to keep the people contained. Can a one-handed Radical and a scarred ex-Enforcer really bring shalom to the world?

I received this book for free but was under no obligation to post a review. I do so under my own motivation and the opinions I have expressed in this review are honest and entirely my own.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Lindsay Harrel {Writer Wednesday}

A little bit about Lindsay...

Lindsay Harrel is a lifelong book nerd who lives in Arizona with her young family and two golden retrievers in serious need of training. She’s held a variety of writing and editing jobs over the years, and now juggles stay-at-home mommyhood with writing novels. When she’s not writing or chasing after her children, Lindsay enjoys making a fool of herself at Zumba, curling up with anything by Jane Austen, and savoring sour candy one piece at a time. Connect with her at

Connect with Lindsay...


Get to know Lindsay...

You and Writing 

Tell us a little bit about you and your writing journey...

My love of writing began with a love of reading. I read all the time—I even tried to sneak books at the table during dinnertime. Much as my parents encouraged me, they were not okay with that. J As far as writing goes, I was that little kindergartner who asked for stacks of printer paper so I could fold it in half, staple it, and call it a book. In high school, I took creative writing as my elective. But it was then that I decided writing books was too hard and there was too much competition.

Instead, I pursued journalism and became a writer/editor in a variety of positions for about ten years. When I did my master’s program in English, I remembered my forgotten love of writing fiction and decided to try my hand at writing a book. It’s really cool to look back on that dream I had as a child finally realized.

Your Writing 

Tell us a little bit about your book...

What was one thing (or character) that surprised you while writing this book?
When I originally plotted the book, it was going to be about Megan only (she’s the sister who got the heart transplant and decided to fulfill her donor’s bucket list). Her sister Crystal was going to go along, but be an antagonist of sorts. But when I told the story concept to my agent, she said she thought maybe the sister should have her own point of view—that maybe she had a story to tell. And she did. In fact, I ended up relating so much more to her than to Megan. That really surprised me!

Did you get to do any fun research for the book?
Oh yes! It is set all over the world (Paris, London, Greece, Rome, Peru, China, etc.), so I got to do research on all the places I want to see someday! I wish I could have taken a research trip to see it all for myself, but I had a young toddler when I was writing this. Also, I wasn’t making any money from writing yet so I just couldn’t justify it at the time. But I did try to convince my husband! J


Now let's talk about writing...

How long did you write before you got published?
I got degrees in journalism and English, but I didn’t begin pursuing publication until August 2011. I signed with my agent in November 2013 and got my first contract (for One More Song to Sing) in March 2016. Then I got my two-book contract with Thomas Nelson in late 2016 and signed it in January 2017. (But we all have different journeys!! Don’t be discouraged if your journey doesn’t go as quickly as mine. I have friends on both sides of the spectrum—some who were published before me and some who are still working toward it.)

What’s your encouragement for younger writers aside from “keep writing”? We hear this a lot, but dig deeper. Is there something else that helped you?
I absolutely recommend getting training through My Book Therapy’s Storycrafters Online Program or something similar. Spend time honing your craft and don’t be afraid to invest a bit of money to do so. I 100% believe that part of the reason I was able to learn the writing craft and become published is because I did this and really invested in this. I know not everyone can spend the money; that's okay too. Find ways to learn the craft in a way that works for the type of learner you are, even if it means checking out books or audiobooks from the library. There are plenty of free resources online. Remember, this is a career, not just a hobby. Treat it as such and give it the time and energy it deserves. Stay focused and remember the long game.

How do you balance your writing life with “real” life? Any tips or tricks to share?
I have a baby and a toddler and I stay home with them. If I can do it, so can you. I think the biggest tip I have is to carve time out for it every week. Make an appointment on the calendar and keep it as if it were a doctor’s appointment, Bible study, or one of the million other things you have on your calendar. Set realistic goals too—don’t expect to write an entire scene if you’ve crammed the rest of your day so full that you have no energy at the end of the day.


In honor of the fall, what’s your favorite fall treat?
I like the caramel apple spice drink from Starbucks. Oh, and pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.

When you were a child, what did you dream of growing up to be?
I did dream of being an author, but also a lawyer. I decided to become an author and married a lawyer, so I think I’m covered!

Will you participate in National Novel Writing Month? If so, what’s your plan to keep your writing on track?
No, because I have a February 1 deadline to turn in my next novel to my publisher, so I’m drafting my book mostly in October! My goal is to write one scene a day, five days a week. If I can do that, then I’ll have finished drafting my book in about 10-11 weeks. Then comes editing!

What are you currently reading?
I just finished Michele Phoenix’s The Space Between Words (highly recommend!) and am about to pick up Lauren Denton’s The Hideaway.

Lindsay has graciously offered an ebook copy of One More Song to Sing as a giveaway! Enter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Rule of Law by Randy Singer | Re:View

Riveting and relevant, Rule of Law asks questions we need the answers to today in an engaging, fictional way.


This book was good, but it was also hard to read at times. I have long enjoyed fiction that incorporates a military thread or characters and this did just that in such a poignant way (see slight spoiler at bottom of post if you are sensitive to this). I'll admit to having shed many tears as I read this.

Despite the ensuing tears, I really enjoyed Randy's plot, his characters, and his no-nonsense writing voice. It's written in a straightforward way that invites you into the action without too much of the characters emotions clouding the issues. The style is very clean-cut but yet it still digs deep and pulls out reader feelings and creates sympathies for the characters.

I really liked Paige Chambers as a character. She is good at what she does but not an expert. She was vulnerable but not predictable. She was real without being overly emotional. Are you seeing a theme here? More than liking Paige though, I liked how she grew as a character. I won't say much here for fear of saying too much, but I can almost guarantee that you'll be rooting for her as you read through this.

From @createexploreread
As for the plot, it is a little complicated. There are a lot of moving pieces and it's written in a way that doesn't give you all of the answers until the end - something I enjoy. I also feel like it is very relevant. We may not be going through this with our government today, but it feels very feasible for the future. What would happen if...? How will the courts react when...? It's questions like that that made me enjoy this even more because you get to see one persons perspective of what could happen.

I definitely recommend this if you enjoy legal thrillers! Randy is an engaging storyteller and will definitely pull at your emotions while keeping you entertained.

My rating: 5*
Purchase: Rule of Law

Book Description
(from Amazon)
What did the president know? And when did she know it?

For the members of SEAL Team Six, it was a rare mission ordered by the president, monitored in real time from the Situation Room. The Houthi rebels in Yemen had captured an American journalist and a member of the Saudi royal family. Their executions were scheduled for Easter Sunday. The SEAL team would break them out.

But when the mission results in spectacular failure, the finger-pointing goes all the way to the top.

Did the president play political games with the lives of U.S. service members?

Paige Chambers, a determined young lawyer, has a very personal reason for wanting to know the answer. The case she files will polarize the nation and test the resiliency of the Constitution. The stakes are huge, the alliances shaky, and she will be left to wonder if the saying on the Supreme Court building still holds true.

Equal justice under law.

It makes a nice motto. But will it work when one of the most powerful people on the planet is also a defendant?

*Light Spoiler*
For those who are sensitive to reading about loss of life, especially military service members, parts of this may be difficult to read. 
I received this book for free but was under no obligation to post a review. I do so under my own motivation and the opinions I have expressed in this review are honest and entirely my own.  

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Tabitha Caplinger {Writer Wednesday}

A little bit about Tabitha...

Tabitha Caplinger is a wife, mom, youth pastor and professed tv addict. It's seriously a problem but she doesn't plan on getting help anytime soon. Mostly because she loves the stories. She can't help but get lost in the worlds created and invested in the lives of the characters. She brings that same passion for the story to her own writing. The first book in her YA trilogy, The Chronicle of the Three: Bloodline, is currently available with the second book releasing in early 2017. Aside from writing and watching tv, Tabitha can be found singing off key and dancing in the kitchen or car with her two adorably sassy daughters and awesome husband who she thinks is kind of cute.

Connect with Tabitha...

Purchase: The Chronicle of the Three: Bloodline and  The Chronicle of Three: Armor-Bearer

Get to know Tabitha...

Your Writing

How I started writing is a common question and I really have no clue how to answer it. I know I didn’t just wake up one day and think being a writer would be cool. As a kid I want to be a paleontologist or equine veterinarian. As I graduated high school my career dreams shifted toward a life doing pastoral ministry. (I’m also a youth pastor.) I have always liked stories, mostly through tv and movies, but I had never considered writing them. Looking back I was always writing them, in my own mind. My imagination was working overdrive most of the time. In college something shifted. I attended Sweet Briar College for a couple of semesters and ended up a Creative Writing major. I wish I knew how but I don’t, honestly. But I had all these writing classes and I fell in love. When I left school to continue to pursue ministry I put writing on the back burner. I had this itch to write but it just never happened. Ten years later I realized it was because I was trying to write non-fiction devotional type books because that is what pastors should write, right? One day I got this idea for a story and it wouldn’t let go so I started writing it down. One YA trilogy later I can’t not write. My imagination still works in overdrive but it’s not random, it’s becoming books. (EEK!) It has become this way I can connect with people, encourage them, maybe empower them a little and remind them that they are never alone.
Tell us a little bit about your book...

Why did you write it?
The Chronicle of the Three (TCO3) Trilogy has really become a way for me to connect with students, and adults, and speak something that I hope will remind them that they have a purpose. We all are and can be the chosen one, so to speak. It took me getting 1/3 of the way into it to realize that. I think stories reach people on a deeper level and I want young people to see their value and to understand they are powerful, chosen, loved and never alone. A story can do that.

Do you have a favorite character in this work?
If so, why? Maggie, no Lucas. Ugh. Picking favorites is so hard. Both of these have become faves for me. Maggie, who is also a fan fave, is just the girl you want as your best friend. She’s fun but cares deeply for her little demon slaying family. Lucas is snarky and has layers and who doesn’t love a good redemption story?

What was a challenge you faced while writing it?
Potty training a toddler. LOL. But its no joke trying to write a book while potty training. On a more serious note, it was challenging to be vulnerable in my writing, and to be myself and write the story I loved without worrying what someone would think, especially of the faith aspects. (Was it too much, was it not enough?) Knowing that it’s going to be put out into the world is a very vulnerable thing and so there was fear that had to be faced to get it finished.

What did you learn while writing it?
Writing is hard. It takes time and patience.

Is there a funny story associated with writing the book?
Well, I have a little group of young women, who became my beta readers. I would send them chapters as I wrote them to get feedback on the story and they helped keep me accountable to writing and getting it done. A couple of them would reply to each chapter with these long email rants about their feels over the characters. I know I got a chuckle more than once as they yelled at me about what happened to Michael, or who Claire should and shouldn’t love and why we all hate Meredith. It was entertaining and one day I am going to share those emails with the world.

Was there a passage of scripture you came across or used while writing it that you’d like to share?

Not one in particular but if you look hard enough there are several places within the story where the truths of specific scriptures are woven in.

We're your characters easy to pin down or did you discover them along the way as you wrote the book?
I knew all the characters going in, at least all the main characters. What was surprising is how they changed over the course of the story in ways I hadn’t imagined, or when they would do something I hadn’t planned on. They may have been creations of my own imagination but they were also these friends that I was slowly getting to know while writing.

What made you choose the setting for the book?
The setting, Torch Creek, is inspired by the small town where I grew up.

What's the most random thing you had to Google for the story?
Garden of Eden Location theories

What was one thing (or character) that surprised you while writing this book?
Alex! I had a plan for him and he flipped that plan upside down several times throughout writing.

What’s your favorite snack while writing?
I don’t eat while I write, just drink copious amounts of coffee. Which is weird because there is a lot of eating going on in my books, a lot.


Let’s talk about your writing life...

What’s your encouragement for younger writers aside from “keep writing”?
Learn your craft, and not just the writing side of it. Learn about publishing and marketing. I wish I had known more about the industry and how it all worked earlier on in the game. Writing the book is only one part of making writing a career.

How many rejection letters did you get before being accepted by a publisher?
Between publishers and agents, at least 50. Every single one of them was disappointing but I kept reminding myself that I didn’t need everyone to want my book just the right one. One a side note, all that rejection helps give you thicker skin to deal with bad reviews.

What does your writing process look like?
I make coffee. Then I sit in my comfy chair, in my pajamas and scroll through Pinterest and Twitter for way too long. Reheat my coffee. Stare at my manuscript for longer than I realize. Reheat my coffee. Write some words. Delete those words. Write some more words. Reheat my coffee.

What is your favorite and least favorite part of the writing process?
I LOVE when a character surprises me. It’s this weird, slightly insane, moment but it’s also the coolest.

Where do you find inspiration for your story/characters?

Somethings are just my weird imagination. But somethings come from other influences in my life like tv. I love tv a little too much so much of my style points back to my favorite shows and what I love about them.

Do you listen to music when you write? If so, have a favorite artist or playlist to share?
I make playlists that share the vibe I want the book or characters to have and listen to that while writing, and especially when I’m stuck. My two go to songs for TC03 were Demons by Imagine Dragons and Hard Love by Needtobreathe. (You can listen to the full TCO3 playlist here,

How do you balance your writing life with “real” life? Any tips or tricks to share?
The thing that has helped me the most has been setting goals. I read somewhere that Ted Dekker, I think it was Ted, writes 2000 words a day. When I first started and had two small kids that felt like an impossible task. But I could do 2000 words a week. So that became my goal and I would work to achieve it weekly. Sometimes I wrote more, sometimes I feel short, but it gave me something to keep me focused and motivated.


When you get an idea for a novel, what is the first thing that you do? 
I don’t usually get a plot idea to start, but an image or line. For TCO3 I got an image of the Chronicle itself and started asking myself questions about what it could be, who it could belong to, what does it mean? For my new WIP I got the first line of the book. But whatever it is I jot it down and then as it develops I keep scribbling little notes until I have enough to work into an outline.

September is Classical Music Month (who knew?). In keeping with that theme, do you have a favorite character from a classical novel?
Does Aslan count as classic?

What is your favorite fall snack food?
I don’t have a fave fall-specific snack per say but I love pie and there are a lot of great fall pies. However, can I take this time to confess that I do NOT like pumpkin spice anything? Cuz I don’t. There I said it. LOL

What are you currently reading?
Unraveling by Sara Ella and I am loving this series.

Anything else you'd like to share with my readers? 
In October I will be hosting a read a long of my books. See information below on how to join:

Join us in Torch Creek! They have tons of small town charm if you can handle slaying a few demons. 😉 Beginning October 8th, we will be reading The Chronicle of the Three: Bloodline and The Chronicle of the Three: Armor-Bearer. Along with bookish fun there will be live Q&As with the author, special guests and some giveaways!