Book Review – A Time To Speak

So the last couple weeks I’ve been helping with the launch team for Nadine Brandes and her latest book. She’s a fellow Idaho author who has crazy adventures and uses them as fuel for her fiction.

After the success of her first book, A Time To Die, which won a Carol Award, it’s a pleasure to review the next book from this talented author.

A Time To Speak is the second book of the Out of Time series. (Spoilers for book 1  ATimetoSpeak5-663x1024ahead)

Parvin Blackwater is dealing with the shocking aftermath of A Time To Die. She had been so sure that her Clock was running out and she was about to die, but now she needs to find a reason to live. Her family struggles with the shock of the events, but Parvin finds a new ally in Solomon Hawke, an Enforcer with a conscience.

She learns how the Council has manipulated her and events to increase their hold over the populace. This leads to her new mission, to speak out against the Council and bring truth.

But no one wants to listen.

As Parvin wrestles with God over her seemingly ineffective actions, the Council pulls an unexpected stunt that has Parvin and hundreds of Radicals shipped far away for experimentation.

Now stranded in a barren wasteland, Parvin and Solomon have to rise up and lead the survivors if there’s ever to be a hope of speaking out again.

Nadine has a unique voice and space in YA fiction. She loves dystopian, but there’s an element of hope that doesn’t usually cross over in this genre. The world-building that was set up in book one expands in this book, creating an interesting world with real consequences for characters. Nadine-Brandes-Head-Shot-295x300

Parvin continues to suffer. This is not a character who skates above the trouble, and details aren’t spared. Sometimes Parvin gets down and doubts herself, but her faith in God is growing, and she clings to her perceived mission with dogged determination. She can be headstrong and a bit stubborn, but she’s also a literary character that can be a strong role model for readers.

The action builds throughout the story. At one point it seems things are coming together too well, but Nadine ably blows our expectation at appropriate times.

I definitely enjoyed the book a lot. My main complaint would be that some segments drag on a little too long, and sometimes we spend too much time having Parvin’s thoughts ruminate on a plot point or issue. Overall, the rich world-building, rising consequences, and damaged but determined heroine make it a strong read for lovers of YA or dystopian fiction.

Oh yeah, the legal mumbo-jumbo: I did receive a review copy in exchange for a fair review.

And if you want to win a free book from Nadine, check out the contest below.

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Crazy Author Research – Interview with Nadine Brandes

If you know an author, then you’ll realize that they’re not entirely…stable folks. They talk to the voices in their heads. If they see something unique, BAM, it goes in a book. No one is entirely safe around them.

Nadine Brandes is an especially adventuresome sort. In honor of her book release this week of A Time To Speak, the second book in the Out of Time series, I picked her brain as we compared experiences we’ve done for writing research.

Nadine, I’ve seen some conversations online of crazy things you’ve done for researching your book. But you write speculative fiction. Isn’t that all made-up stuff anyway?

Stepping out of our understanding of normal is what connects spec-fic books with real life. Think about it. Fantasy/sci-fi novels create new worlds. . .and traveling to a different country is like being immersed in a new world. You’re forced to see things differently, to interact differently, to stretch into a new and adaptable person in order to function.

I agree totally. You remember the sensory details, your imagination is heightened, and you are inspired. I’ve been blessed to travel overseas myself. In fact, I used a lot of situations from my Thailand travels for my first book. What was a recent international adventure for you that helped you in writing?

I had the privilege of transiting the Panama Canal on a pretty little 44-foot sailboat. The same sailboat that instigated my adventure of being a sea-cook, in fact.

Here’s how it all came about:

At a certain point, in one of my books (no, I won’t tell you which one!) a character travels through the Panama Canal. My dad’s boat just happened to be traveling through the Panama Canal this January as it is being moved to the west coast. In Dad’s words, “You can’t not go, Nadine.”

Shoot, who could pass that up? Now that I’m writing a YA novel set in Silicon Valley, when visiting family in the Bay Area we toured the headquarters of Google and Facebook for research. Anything more local that you’ve done lately?

I live in the type of place where I can post on Facebook, “Anyone have dogsledding connections? I need it for book research,” and the next day I get a message from a friend saying, “I can get you a ride!”

I know, I’m spoiled.

So last March, I went on my first all-day dogsled ride to Granite Hot Springs out in the wilderness.

After some mushing commands, some dog intros, some warnings about flying off the back of the sled at the take-off (“Excuse me?!”), I hopped on, pressing down the brake with all my weight. And then, with a very un-Hollywoodish, “Alright, hike!” we took off.

I was an official musher.

Wow. And I thought it was interesting when I took a scooter for a test ride to see how to control the thing. Let’s see, what else have I done? Running on the beach to understand a getaway scene, trying out rock climbing walls, watching videos on YouTube of medical procedures. Any other research items stand out?

1. Walked a tightrope four stories off the ground (yes, I had a harness.) Also walked on slacklines without a harness.

2. Crawled across a river on a log

IMG_32233. Chased down a boxcar train to record sounds, movement, and the size of boxcars.

4. Ate grilled cattails

5. Sailed on the open sea for four days, getting ridiculously seasick.

6. Ate a raw potato

7. Rock climbed real cliffs and man-made rock walls, as well as frayed ropes to get the right feel.

8. Walked through a cattail pond barefoot to get an idea of what it’d be like to be stuck in one for weeks.

Okay. I’d say you win. But I’m not going down easily. Anyway, what would you say to aspiring authors about research and being so adventurous? 

Life experiences and adventuring have everything to do with writing! Stories I can use in my future novels, stories I can write about for you to use in your future novels, stories to inspire others in their future novels. Or stories that don’t have to be in novels at all–they can just be memories! My life is my greatest story. I’m a storyteller and writing is what I’m called to do. I can’t just limit it to fiction.

That’s great advice for anyone, not just a writer. Memories and stories to tell are priceless. 

Since everyone’s probably intrigued with Nadine now, here’s where you can find her online. 

Nadine’s website

And check out her books, A Time To Die and A Time To Speak. She’s got a great adventure going on in those pages. I’ll have a review of Speak next week. Check out the Amazon link or enter the contest below to win a free copy!

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Fundraiser for Human Trafficking Movie

This is brilliant.

I’ve seen movies about human trafficking, but they’re for American audiences. This movie is for southeast Asia. It’s being filmed on location by locals, and will be dubbed into regional languages and shown to raise awareness there.

Part of the reason human trafficking thrives in southeast Asia is due to lack of information. The same ploys to trap people are used because they aren’t exposed to the problem. This seems to me to be a great way to prevent trafficking before it happens.

YWAM Thailand is a great organization. I’ve had first-hand experience with them, and can vouch that the leadership is above reproach. Check out their GoFundMe campaign and do what you can to get involved.

Called To Speak – A Blog Hop


Hey gang, I’ve joined in with the Called To Speak Blog Hop to discuss the question: What Hashtag-Called2Speak-3-300x227makes you want to speak out?

It’s inspired by the new book A Time To Speak by Nadine Brandes, the second book in the YA dystopian series Out of Time. It releases on October 16th, and it is also to encourage myself and others to speak out for our passions and against injustice.

A passion of mine is speaking out against human trafficking and modern day slavery. A quick search of this blog will show multiple posts about the topic. The scourge of human trafficking is shocking that it happens in this day and age.

But it is deceptive, because there’s more slaves in the world today than during the entirety of the African slave trade.

It takes many forms: workers forced onto Thai fishing boats, prostitution in NYC or brothels in Cambodia, whole families trapped in indentured servitude on brick kilns in India, or domestic helpers with their passports confiscated.

In the paper this week was a story about a former cheerleader who was sentenced to prison in Oregon for leading a teen into prostitution. It happens in our backyards, not just around the world.

I hate the injustice of someone being forced to do things against their will. I’ve worked to raise awareness of the issue for several years now. This dark secret is being brought into the light more and more, and there are many organizations that are fighting in various ways and areas to combat this horror.

One of my favorites is International Justice Mission, a leader in the modern day slavery battle. However, there are many worthy groups that will show with a Google search that may hit areas closer to your heart.

I love the idea behind this blog tour because if we aren’t afraid to speak out, then we can see change come in the world. If we all keep silent, then what will change?

So thanks to Nadine for starting this campaign. Below you can find more information about her books and other bloggers in the hop. Be sure to scroll to the bottom to enter a contest to win copies of her books!

I’m Jason Joyner, and I’m #called2speak against the injustice of modern day slavery and human trafficking.

What happens when you liveParvin-Quote-ATtS-2 longer than you wanted to?

Parvin Blackwater wanted to die, but now she’s being called to be a leader. The only problem is, no one wants to follow.

The Council uses Jude’s Clock-matching invention to force “new-and-improved” Clocks on the public.

Those who can’t afford one are packed into boxcars like cattle and used for the Council’s purposes.

Parvin and Hawke find themselves on a cargo ship of Radicals headed out to sea. What will the Council do to them? And why are people suddenly dying before their Clocks have zeroed-out?

Book Two in the “Out of Time” series. Read about the first book, A Time to Die, here. You can connect with Nadine Brandes at all of these links:

9.28.15 – Gretchen Engel
9.30.15 – Nadine Brandes
10.01.15 – Jason Joyner
10.05.15 – Gretchen Engel (part 2)
10.06.15 – Tricia Mingerink
10.08.15 – Gretchen Engel (Scriblerians)
10.09.15 – Emilie Hendryx
10.11.15 – Janeen Ippolito
10.12.15 – Zachary D Totah
10.14.15 – Brittany Valentine
10.15.15 – Andrew Swearingen
10.17.15 – Megan Besing
10.19.15 – Angel Roman
10.20.15 – Charles Franklin
10.21.15 – Lisa Godfrees
10.27.15 – Natalie Walters
10.29.15 – The Artist Librarian
11.02.15 – Rosalie Valentine
11.17.15 – Amanda Fender

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