Time to Discuss: Whisper If You Have To

Turning-Point-Box-Set-SmallReady to discuss #2 in our 7 set Turning Point YA series?

1. What was your overall impression of the book?

Overall – I liked the book, although it went on a bit long for me. Once Alison’s mom ended up in the hospital and everything started falling into place for Alison, I was ready for the book to wrap up. But for a romance, it was pretty good. ;)

2. What did you think about the characters?

Although I really liked Chad’s character, I didn’t necessarily feel like he was true to a teen guy. He seemed too sensitive and intuitive. Too perfect. Maybe guys really are like that when they find the right girl, but in my experience, the physical wars with the emotional. There was no physical turmoil between these two. It was like an ideal relationship on the page, not a real one. (Which is ok. We all need a goal to live up to.)

And the spiritual maturity of Brooke, Chad, and Kyle surprised me too. I would love to think the majority of church-going teens are like these 3, but I’m not sure. People of any age can be spiritually mature, but these 3 seemed to really have it together.

3. And was it just me?

It took me a long time to be convinced that Chad was a young man of color. There were hints, but I was on the fence about it until quite a ways into the book.

4. What did you think about the POV shifts – the way the story flipped quickly from Alison to Chad?

As for me, I enjoyed it. I thought it did a lot to move the story along and was a nice balance between both characters.

5. What is your feeling on secrets?

Generally, secrets or lies as a plot device don’t work for me. I’m a pretty forthright person, so I get frustrated thinking, “Just tell the truth already!”

Do you think it was reasonable for Alison to hide the fact her brother had committed suicide? And I can see where Chad wouldn’t want people to know his mom was in prison, but news like that tends to travel. Do you think it was reasonable that no one at his school knew about it?



Summer Book Club #2 – Whisper if You Have To


From Goodreads:

Secrets. Alison Prescott has collected a boatload of them in her short lifetime. Moving to a new school in a new town was supposed to fix everything; however, when she meets a new set of friends, keeping those secrets might just ruin everything.

Chad Dourozette has the world by the tail as his crazy T-shirts proclaim every day, but Chad has deeply held secrets of his own. When Chad meets Alison whose life looks absolutely perfect from the outside, will he have the courage to try to win her heart, or will the secrets they both carry keep them apart forever?

I’ll be up front and confess I’m not much of a romance reader. Generally, if the only purpose for a story is to introduce boy and girl and see how they get their happily ever after, it’s not enough of a plot for me. 

However, I’m over half-way through the book already, and it’s doing a good job of captivating me. Part of that is that the POV shifts from Alison to Chad as quick as volleys in tennis. It’s an interest writing device and it works to keep the story moving.

One thing that confused me at first were the characters. I had trouble distinguishing Chad from his friend Kyle. 

Trucking through to see how the story ends. Looking forward to discussing it with you on or around July 1.



Time to discuss By Darkness Hid

How did you do with your reading? I stayed up until 1 AM Sunday morning even though I had to be at church early, partly because I couldn’t tell how close I was to the end of the book – the downside of a 7 book set.

For me, I loved the book. As soon as we get through the summer reading, I’m heading back to read the rest!

I loved the concept of light/darkness. I liked Achan and Vrell equally well. One thing that bothered me with Vrell was how unaffected she was by her capture and journey. She seemed awfully content to go with the flow for a woman of her breeding. 

I was surprised by the vote of the counsel at the end. I didn’t see that coming. It always surprises me how corrupted power can make people. And I was a little disappointed that Achan didn’t learn that Vrell was a girl at the end. Wonder when that’s going to happen…

Now, let’s hear from you! Feel free to tackle any of the questions that strike your fancy either here or on my Facebook page.

1. What did you think of the book?

2. What did you like best about it- favorite character/line/scene, etc?

3. Was there anything that surprised you?

4. Was there anything left unresolved or anything you would have liked to have happened differently?

5. What was your reaction to Poril? Do you think he was beating Achan on orders or because that’s the kind of man he was?

6. What did you think about the land half in shadow and half in light? What about all the underground tunnels?

7. Whose POV did you like better? Achan’s or Vrell’s? Or did it matter?

8. Which characters do you want to learn more about in the rest of the series?


Summer Book Club Week 1 – By Darkness Hid

I started the book yesterday and devoured the first chapter. Jill is one of my favorite authors, so I’m looking forward to reading more By Darkness Hid today.

We’ll read and discuss on the last day. The schedule is posted on the left sidebar, or you can get to it by clicking here.

Jill has a ton of extras on her page, including character sketches, a pronunciation guide, crests, wax seals, the whole nine yards, really. So if you’re a visual person, you might want to check that out as you’re reading. And if you’re an audio person, there are episode podcasts that you can download and listen for free!

Happy reading, and we’ll touch base on June 23 to discuss the first book in our summer reading series.



Cover Reveal, Insider Info, and a Giveaway – Nadine Brandes!


How do you live after you planned to die?

Parvin Blackwater should have died in her brother’s place. She didn’t. Now she’s the only one who can protect her village, but no one wants to listen. When the Council starts forcing “new and improved” Clocks on the public, those who refuse are declared Radicals and exiled.

Having been across the Wall once, Parvin is the only one who can save them. But instead of going through the Wall, she’s packed into a boxcar, loaded on a cargo ship, and forced out to sea.  How will she lead when facing the unknown? 

Worse yet, why are people suddenly dying before their Clocks have zeroed-out? 


A Time to Speak  is the sequel to the award-winning A Time to Die (see the interview). If you haven’t read the first book yet, then you have something fun to do while waiting for book 2 to be available! In the meantime, I asked Nadine some fun questions about the world of A Time to Die and A Time to Speak.

What do Parvin’s peers do for fun?
Reid was the instigator of fun. He and Parvin, and some of his friends (who didn’t always bully Parvin) loved going mushroom hunting in early spring. They’d get fairly competitive, especially because the mushrooms could then be sold at market.
Other than that, swimming was the biggest activity pursued by the youth of Unity Village. Ponds and lakes were easy to find and always warm (sometimes too warm) in the summer. 
What sports are popular in Unity Village?
Sports are a tough one. Kids in Unity Village still play the same sports we do, but the sports aren’t organized or competitive since the school system is a bit bone dry. Organized sports are reserved for High Cities, but that didn’t stop the youth from making their own soccer balls or finding a field for baseball! Swimming races are popular and Unity will sometimes hold their own competition just for bragging rights and summer fun.
Where do the youth go on dates in Unity Village?
Well, Favors is easily the nicest cafe in town…if the kids can afford it. It serves light food (though Skelley Chase and Parvin never ate any) as well as luxury coffees. Nether Town—a bit of a walk from Unity—is a little larger and has some social hangouts if you know where to look. Reid always took girls on dates that included something outdoors—walks along the river, picnics in the grass fields by the railroad tracks…he was a romantic.
What are some new locations we’ll see in A Time to Speak?
Ooh, I’m glad you asked. We’ll be exploring a lot more of the world in A Time to Speak, seeing some more of the West, and peek of Panama, and a trip to somewhere very very cold (as you can tell from the cover.) What I’m most excited about is taking the readers to Prime—a High City in New York where technology is the new oxygen.

Nadine Brandes - Head ShotNadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. Her dystopian trilogy, the Out of Time Series, challenged her to pursue shalom, which is now her favorite word (followed closely by ‘bumbershoot’.) When Nadine’s not taste-testing a new chai, editing fantasy novels, or being a Harry Potter super-nerd, she and her knight-in-shining armor (nickname: “hubby”) are out chasing adventures.

Connect with Nadine at:
Website: http://nadinebrandes.com
Newsletter: http://nadinebrandes.com/my-newsletter
Facebook: http://facebook.com/NadineBrandesAuthor
Twitter: http://twitter.com/NadineBrandes
Goodreads: http://goodreads.com/NadineBrandes

And as a thank you for reading this far, you get a chance to win a signed copy of A Time to Die. THIS LINK TAKES YOU TO THE RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY!


Join me for a Summer Book Club!

Do you love to read? Do you love good books? Do you love good books for cheap? Me too!

In fact, we have so much in common, you should join me this summer for a book club. The best part? You can get all 7 books in a set for $0.99!

Here’s what we’ll be reading (and in this order):


That’s 3 fantasy/sci-fi and 4 contemporary books – and all Christian fiction! Have a teen? Invite them to read with you!

***Reading schedule is here!***

By Darkness Hid, Jill Williamson Given the chance to train as a squire, kitchen servant Achan Cham hopes to pull himself out of his pitiful life and become a Kingsguard Knight. When Achan’s owner learns of his training, he forces Achan to spar with the Crown Prince–more of a death sentence than an honor. Meanwhile, strange voices in Achan’s head cause him to fear he’s going mad. While escorting the prince to a council presentation, their convoy is attacked. Achan is wounded and arrested, but escapes from prison–only to discover a secret about himself he never believed possible.

Whisper If You Have To, Staci Stallings Secrets. Alison Prescott has collected a boatload of them in her short lifetime. Moving to a new school in a new town was supposed to fix everything; however, when she meets a new set of friends, keeping those secrets might just ruin everything including her fledgling relationship with the school’s basketball star, Chad Dourozette. How far will Allison go to keep the secrets she can never tell anyone?

It’s Complicated, Laura L. Smith There’s a reason Facebook has the Status Update, It’s Complicated. Follow four college roommates, Claire, Palmer, Hannah, and Kat as they maneuver crushes, confusion, and the crisis when pushy boys go too far. Complicated as it is, these four friends will pull through, guided by the strength of their friendship and the power of God’s love.

Failstate, John W. Otte A fledgling teenage superhero competes on a reality TV show for a government vigilante license. When one of his competitors is murdered, Failstate sets out on a quest to avenge her death. But will his superpowered lunk of a big brother ruin everything?

The Wishing Pearl, Nicole O’Dell Sixteen-year-old Olivia Mansfield can’t wait to escape the confines of her home, which promises nothing but perpetual torment and abuse from her stepfather. When poor choices lead her to the brink of a complete breakdown, Olivia comes to a crossroads. Will she find the path to ultimate hope and healing that her heart longs for?

Mardan’s Mark, Kathrese McKee Abducted by pirates and taken behind enemy lines across the Great Gulf, Princess Srilani is determined to save her sisters and younger brother, the crown prince, from captivity. She convinces their caretaker, Aldan, and his brother slaves to share the perilous journey home. This ragtag group of unlikely heroes sets out on a quest — pursued by cutthroat pirates, merciless priests, and marauding soldiers — to return the heir to his kingdom before war breaks out. In this epic adventure fantasy, Srilani and Aldan risk everything to save a prince and a nation, discovering along the way that death is not their deepest fear.

Glass Girl, Laura Anderson Kurk After her older brother Wyatt is killed in a jealousy-fueled incident and her mother disappears, Meg Kavanagh decides surviving is easy—it’s living that takes guts. She believes she’s to blame for Wyatt’s death, but when Henry Whitmire steps in with a secret, will Meg forgive herself enough to accept the good things in life like the rush of first love and the power of mercy?

Order yours on Amazon now and let’s get reading!

LET ME HEAR FROM YOU: Who’s in? How many of these have you already read?


6 things a music video can teach about short story writing

This isn’t a new video by any means – I think it’s been out since 2012 – but it’s the perfect visual of what a short story should be. I’ll let you watch it, and then we can talk about it. :)

What’s so great about this video?

1. It uses stereotypes to its advantage.

Short on words? Classifying people using stereotypes is like taking a short cut. It’s also set the reader up to be surprised when the stereotypes are broken.

The video sets the scene for dog fighting – you’ve got the ring leader (whatever happened to Lou Diamond Phillips?), the men betting, someone approaching carrying a cage. You know what’s going down in just a few seconds.

2. It quickly gets into the action.

We’re get to the shed and BOOM there’s fighting.

3. It uses the exact opposite of what we expect to surprise us.

We’re ready for a terrible and vicious showdown and that’s just what the we get. Except, the fighters aren’t dogs or roosters or anything we’d expect. They’re…muppets. I can see the story writers sitting down to brainstorm this video and saying, “What’s the last thing someone would expect to see at a dog fight?” Not sure what else was suggested, but stuffed animals were brilliant.

4. It shows us the stakes.

When we do get into the ring, we immediately see what’s at stake. The champion has never been defeated, and his opponents are so terrified they’re shaking and screaming. How can our sweet girly protagonist and her worn out pink teddy possibly hope to win? (Unfortunately, now that we’ve all seen the opening sequence to Big Hero 6 a million times, we already know.)

5. It gives us an underdog to root for.

The pink bear doesn’t come right out and win even though he could. He takes a beating, and just at the last second…POW – the pink paw of power. And the laser eyes? Oh yeah, that’s what I’m talking about!

6. It entertains us.

I have watched this video several times since I first saw it because it cracks me up every time. My favorite part? When the Beaker-like muppet’s eye goes rolling across the screen at 1:31. Classic! And the look on the Mexican guys’ faces when the pink bear wins – so perfect in its absolutely irony.

And speaking of Beaker…a truly great character.

Did you realize that Bunsen Honeydew’s head was a honeydew melon? I didn’t until today. LOL Clever, clever!

NOW YOU: Favorite music video? Best short story you’ve read?


What can happen in a second – #1/642

It only takes a second…

to decide to buy a book – 642 Things to Write About.

for a child to drown – we see it in the news all too often.

to give your child a hug.

to smile at someone – and see their face light up in response.

to wreck on your bike – wear a helmet!

to offer a compliment – Nice, blouse. or I love your earrings. 

to text while driving – and possibly kill someone.

Fairy tales, anyone? Calling all Melanie Dickerson fans!


I have always loved fairy tales. Some of my favorite authors are ones who re-spin fairy tales into novels–Robin McKinley is one, and now Melanie Dickerson is another. Unlike Robin McKinley, who places her characters in fantasy worlds with magic, Melanie Dickerson places her characters in the past and uses everyday objects and situations. One of the reasons I love reading her books is because I’m always curious to see how she going to explain the fairy tale magic as an ordinary circumstance.

Description: “Swan Lake” meets Robin Hood when the beautiful daughter of a wealthy merchant by day becomes the region’s most notorious poacher by night, and falls in love with the forester. You can read more on Goodreads, except I think the long description gives way too much of the plot away. So if you are spoiler sensitive (like me), avoid the extra descriptions and just enjoy the book.

Thoughts: For me, the story started out slow and I wondered whether I would enjoy it as much as Melanie’s other novels. By the time I was finished, I found I had enjoyed it more. She did an incredible job of weaving the same theme into different story lines. A careful reader will be able to predict the plot twist, but even if you see it coming, you still don’t know exactly how the story will unfold. Best yet, the characters must rely on God’s instead of their own efforts to resolve their issues.

Recommendation: Highly recommended for historical fiction lovers, romance lovers, fairy tale enthusiasts, and Melanie Dickerson fans.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book through NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Bonus: If you have never read Melanie Dickerson but enjoy re-imagined fairy tales, you can get the first 5 of her books right now as a set for $9.99. Hurry, because I think the offer expires soon!

dickerson boxed set

LET ME HEAR FROM YOU: Are you a Melanie Dickerson fan? If so, what has been your favorite book so far? Or tell me your favorite fairy tale?

What if no one told you about Jesus? Would you go to hell?

I contribute to a site for tween girls called Samie Sisters. In addition to dealing with girl drama, family issues, and just learning to be a better Christian, we field questions the girls have about God and life. It dawned on me that others out there might be interested in answers to these questions as well. Here’s the first one:

If you lived in some jungle and believed in God but had never heard of Jesus, would you go to hell when you die?

A while back in my church, the pastor showed us a video of people living in a remote area in Siberia (or someplace like that) that were saved. I tried to find the video because it’s an amazing story, but I couldn’t locate it. From what I remember, there was a missionary who happened to be traveling and stopped at this hut in the frozen north middle of nowhere. The man who owned the hut just happened to have a visitor there who spoke the missionary’s language. Because this man lived so remotely, he hardly ever had visitors, much less two in one day! Because the visitor was able to translate for the missionary, both men were saved. That is one way God works – through coincidence.

I read a memoir last year called I Dared to Call Him Father: The Miraculous Story of a Muslim Woman’s Encounter with God. And it was amazing. Jesus spoke to her in a dream, although she didn’t realize it was him at first, and it prompted her to go and speak with missionaries in her village. She eventually became a Christian even though it put her life in danger.dared to call him

There was another book I read about a shaman (medicine man) for a tribe in a very remote part of the Amazon. These people communed with (evil) spirits, although the people didn’t realize they were evil. There was a great white spirit who stronger than all of their spirits combined (guess who that is?), but their spirits warned them away from Him. Eventually, missionaries came and one by one the people gave up their warring ways and accepted the Holy Spirit. A thought provoking read for someone in our culture who doesn’t really believe in the supernatural realm.


From these examples, you can see that God can reach people, and he often uses missionaries to do so. But none of this really answers the question – what if there are no missionaries?

The answer can be found in two passages in the Bible, these are both from the NLT version:

Psalm 19: 1-4

The heavens proclaim the glory of God.
    The skies display his craftsmanship.
Day after day they continue to speak;
    night after night they make him known.
They speak without a sound or word;
    their voice is never heard.
Yet their message has gone throughout the earth,
    and their words to all the world.

Romans 1:18-23

18 But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness. 19 They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. 20 For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.

21 Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. 22 Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. 23 And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles.

Yes, Jesus is the only name by which we are saved (Acts 4:12), but James 4:7-8a also tells us “So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you.

If you were living alone in the jungle and you recognized that there was an amazing Creator God that had made the heavens and the earth and all that is in it, and you desired to know that Creator, He would make Himself know to you.