A Time to Speak Review (5/5)

* I received a free copy of A Time to Speak from the wonderful Nadine Brandes in exchange for my honest review. *

*****************WARNING!!!!! If you have NOT read A Time to Die, read no further! If you HAVE read A Time to Die, read without fear of spoilers!!**********************

“I’ve been robbed of my death. A date was set, a coffin prepared, and a grave dug in the earth, yet I breathe against my own will as my brother is lowered six feet down. The smooth wood coffin displays the best of Father’s carpentry skills. Did he originally carve it for me?”


Parvin Blackwater was supposed to die. She was ready to die. She wanted to die. But she didn’t. The clock she shared with her twin zeroed out, and he died while she survived – much to the chagrin of just about everyone. While battling grief, Parvin tries to protect Willow, schemes of how to rescue Elm, and tries to adjust to the strange place her home has become. And the faith and God Who carried her through the West seem hard to reach with Reid and Jude dead, Jude’s clock-matching invention in the hands of the Council, and Elm starving inside the Wall. When her situation goes from bad to worse, Parvin is called to lead, but how can she lead if no one wants to follow?


A Time to Speak feature imageI literally had no words when I finished A Time to Speak at 1:30 in the morning. I just stared at my Kindle questioning my existence. I’m not even kidding.

When I began reading, I drank up the first lines slowly, appreciating the rich detail and sinking slowly back into the world of A Time to Die. But I couldn’t go slowly for long, for peril was quick to rear its heart-pounding head, and I was soon swimming through pages as quickly as possible. It was as if I was getting reacquainted with the old friends who I had come to love in A Time to Die.

I had liked A Time to Die Parvin, but I loved A Time to Speak Parvin. She was amazing, and it wasn’t because she was so brave or always made the right choice. I loved that she moving forward and making progress in every aspect. Her character arc continues in a beautiful way, and I can’t wait to see where it ends! Also, the reader gets to meet several new characters who add adversity or encouragement to the story while Ms. Brandes continues to flesh out the veterans from the first book.

Next to strike me was Solomon Hawke, Jude’s brother. I just… I mean…wow. He’s simply amazing. I was so glad to get to know him better than I had in A Time to Die, but I can’t quite put my finger on why I like him so much! He’s kind, gentle, and wise! Just… read the book and find out for yourself. I can’t tell anymore coherently and without spoilers.

One part of this book that gripped me was actually fairly small. It was the relationship between Parvin and her brother’s widow, Tawny. It was fragmented and difficult; it was real. Family isn’t all flowers, and Parvin’s family is no exception.

Ms. Brandes continued to build on her expansive world in new and exciting ways! While the technology was intuitive and interesting, the landscapes that she paints are stunning! I wish I could say more, but I’d give spoilers! :(

Now, A Time to Die wasn’t a walk in the park and neither is A Time to Speak. It’s intense. The characters suffer a lot, and the body count is pretty high. However, Ms. Brandes doesn’t go into much gross detail; she shows enough for the reader to think, “Oh, wow. Oh, no. No, no, that can’t be good.” or “No, no, don’t do that! That’ll make it worse!”

Also, the stakes are much higher than they were in A Time to Die, but Ms. Brandes weaves in enough humor that the tension doesn’t kill the reader. I’m alive as a testament.

All of this was incredible. I love the style. I love the characters. I love the story. I love the conflict. I love the world. I love the detail. But it’s the fierce message that I love the most. A Time to Speak is about taking a leap of faith, stepping out, speaking for those with no voice, and trusting God with a wild faith.

It’s the idea that drawing near to God won’t solve problems, but that when you draw near to God, He carries you through the trials of life, fueling you as you do His will. I’ve been a Christian for almost twelve years now, and I’ve been told that very thing again and again all my life. But it never came home until I was reading about a girl with one hand who is so physically weak but called on God with faith that He would provide in His perfect will. Blast you, spoilers! I want to say more! I’ll just say that though Parvin has never existed beyond the imaginations and hearts of Nadine Brandes and her readers, the message she bears and the example she gives is clearer and more tangible to me than most deep spiritual discussions and complicated explanations.

When I finished A Time to Speak, I was exhausted but not from lack of sleep. I was exhausted from the emotional rollercoaster. I was exhausted from the strain of the story. I was exhausted from the spiritual hammer that continues ringing in my head.

A Time to Speak is the evidence that books can affect change in the reader. It carries an important message, and part of why it’s so impactful is that it’s wrapped in a well-written, witty, exquisite package. Therefore, I give A Time to Speak five out five wonderstruck, sleepless stars and a PG-13 rating.

Find it on Amazon and Goodreads!

DRAVEN’S LIGHT Review (5/5)

I received a free copy of Draven’s Light in exchange for my honest review.

“Before he could catch his breath, a certain silvery voice fell upon their ears: the liquid song of a morning thrush in the branches above their heads.” Draven'sLight review feature imageDraven’s Light is the second Novella of Goldstone Wood which are little inserts in the series Tales of Goldstone Wood by Anne Elisabeth Stengl. I have been reading Stengl’s books for years now, and I am always floored by her skill and the stories she tells. Draven’s Light did not disappoint. He was supposed to kill that prisoner in cold blood before the men of his tribe in order to gain his man’s name and leave his boy’s name behind. He could have very easily dispatched the prisoner, for as is often remarked, he was a bear of a man, but just as he was about to deliver the fatal stroke, he realized that he was no killer. Despite the shame and disgrace that he knew would fall upon him, he let the prisoner live. Instead of a man’s name, he was deemed Draven, “Coward”.

Draven has a crippled sister, Ita, and I thoroughly enjoyed the brother sister relationship that they shared. Though she is crippled, Ita is fierce, and though his huge, Draven is meek. They complement each other sharply, and Stengl portrays a beautifully deep bond based on respect and love. This element alone could make the book as it was fleshed out nicely, but there’s also some romance, peril, and suspense. The romance was tasteful but thrilling, and it fits the noble style of Stengl’s writing and the characters.

Now, Draven’s Light was kind of dark, but I think when the premise is a guy becoming an outcast because he doesn’t kill someone in cold blood, the reader should be able to gather that this isn’t going to be all singing thrushes and gleaming moonlight. The violence is portrayed as a truly ugly thing. Part of why I like this story so much is that it’s not just like “killing bad” or “death sad”, it’s saying killing is gruesome, and death is a tragedy.

Stengl was masterful in creating suspense. Draven and the reader are told early on, “Don’t cross the river”, and it’s not a blaring thing throughout the book. What makes it so suspenseful is that it’s always niggling in the back of the reader’s mind as the story marches forward and we imagine all sorts of things that could possibly be across the river. (Also, Goldstone Wood groupies, the Brothers Ashiun are in Draven’s Light. That’s right. We learn a little more about Etanun and Akilun, and it ends up making what we already know all the more painful. *fangirling* And remember Gutta from Starflower, well…)

In conclusion, Draven’s Light is a powerful story despite its brevity. If you have read any other Tales of Goldstone Wood books, this is a thrilling addition as Stengl expands her fabulously diverse world. If you haven’t read any of Stengl’s, books this is still a gripping story well worth reading. This is complete with strong characters, superb pacing, a solid but twisting plot, and a satisfying ending. In this story, we see the true meaning of courage. Again and again, Draven thinks he’s a coward, but we see that it’s not really weakness. If he was a coward, he would have killed that prisoner instead of face the shame of letting him live. Fear doesn’t make you a coward, and when you push on despite of fear, that’s courage.

Therefore, I give Draven’s Light five out of five satisfied stars and a PG-13 rating. You can find it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Goodreads. :)