The Penprints Flash Fiction Dash [the giant wrap-up post]

The time has come to wrap up the very first ever Penprints Flash Fiction Dash (refer back to this post if you don’t know what I’m talking about)!

There were 44 initial sign ups, 44 prompts went out, and 26 stories came back! My mind = so blown by how excited people got about this challenge and by the uniqueness of each story submitted.

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How this wrap-up works:

All the stories are linked to the prompts below, either via a PDF file or a blot post on the author’s blog.

The stories are divided into very broad genre generalizations (and if I didn’t know what genre to stick it in, it went in “other”), and the last two stories are separate from their genres because they were inspired by song prompts rather than picture prompts (I didn’t want them to get lost in all the pictures, so that’s why I put them at the end in their own little category).

Scroll through this post and click on the picture prompt(s) of the stories you want to read!

NOTE: I do not own any of the following pictures that were used as prompts, and I also don’t own either of the songs used as prompts.

Fantasy.

The Reeducation of Kylee Flintlock by Kat Vinson of Sparks of Ember.

"The Reeducation of Kylee Flintlock" by Kat Vinson

Impossible Love by Adaline Griffiths.

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Till the Wind Changes by A.K.R. Scott.

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Empty Image by Amanda Cox of Hope Perch.

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Painted with Light by Kathryn McConaughy of The Language of Writing.

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Under the Surface by Moya Tobey of An Existence Transcribed.

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White Winds by Emily Jayne.

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The Confession by Rachel Leroy.

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Paper Boat by Melinda Wagner.

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Ellusa by Katherine Massengill.

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The Dragon in the Mini by Chelsea Hindle.

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Science Fiction.

Strange by Evan Hildreth of Plot Hole Fragments.

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Poisoned Time by Kyle Shultz.

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So Close by Leah E.

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Contemporary.

The Backup by Heather Tabata.

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Clouds by Alina Kanaski of Ordinary Adventures.

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Bird-watching and Other Human Pursuits by Jebraun Clifford.

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Ali Green by Lindsey Tessa of Story Haven.

Other.

Away by Michael Blaylock of Fencing With Ink.

"Away" by Michael Blaylock

Underwater Dance by Nicole Fritz.

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Hoofbeats in My Heart by Sarah Rodecker.

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A Delusional Path by Annalia Fiore.

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Historical.

Anika Rojkkers’ Experience of 1953 by Laura Danner of Flowers in My Basket.

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Stories from a song prompt.

Collapse of the General Eternal by Just B. Jordan written from “Ghost of a King” by The Grey Havens.

Birdie by Emily Kazmierski written from “Keeping Your Head Up” by Birdie.

The giveaway winner!

All the writers who sent a story back to me (even if they didn’t want it included in this post) were entered to win The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction as well as a one year subscription to the Splickety Publishing Group magazine of their choice!

So I picked a name out of a hat (okay, I just typed all the names into a random name picker, but that’s just boring sounding), and I need a drumroll people.

*whispers* Are you giving me a drumroll?

The giveaway winner is Laura Danner, author of Anika Rojkker’s Experience of 1953! Woohoo!! Congrats, Laura! I’ll be shooting you an email in a day or two!

And congratulations and thank you to each of you lovely people who signed up and wrote stories!

So, which story was your favorite? Have you fallen in love with flash fiction yet??

With love,

Rosalie

P.S. – yes, yes, this post was supposed to go up yesterday, but I encountered major technical difficulties. Thus, this amazing wrap-up post was delayed a day. :( Trust me, there was much growling and groaning and gnashing of teeth as I tried to trouble shoot the technical hiccups. Updates on delays and post sneak peaks and such can be found on my Facebook page, just so ya know.
P.P.S. – writers who participated in this challenge, keep a weather eye on your inboxes as a debrief email should be arriving within the next couple of days.

Exclusive Excerpt: Martin Hospitality + GIVEAWAY

Today is February 6, and that means that Martin Hospitality by Abigayle Claire was released two days ago, and I’m so jazzed that this book is out in the world, and so that means that today’s post is going to be Martin Hospitality related (in case you didn’t grab that nugget of wisdom from this post’s title).

But, this is more than just a post for me to ramble on about why I’m excited to finally read this book (though, I could do that too). No, today I bring you something more coherent. After conferring with the fabulous Abigayle Claire herself, I have an exclusive excerpt from Martin Hospitality to share with you all because I’m wonderful and get my wonderful followers wonderful things. And there’s also a giveaway.

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But first, the cover and the blurb.

wp-1485012566919.jpgGemma Ebworthy is eighteen, pregnant, and alone. Now that she’s been evicted, she spends the night in a barn, never dreaming that tomorrow could bring kindness of a life-changing magnitude.

The Martins aren’t a typical family—even for rural Kansas. With more kids than can be counted on one hand and a full-time farm, Gemma must make a lot of adjustments to fit in. But despite their many differences, Gemma finds herself drawn to this family and their radical Christian faith.

When Gemma’s past collides with her yet again, she must begin revealing her colorful history. With every detail Gemma concedes, she fears she will lose the Martins’ trust and the stable environment she desires for herself and her unborn child. Just how far can the Martins’ love and God’s forgiveness go?

Now, about the author.

abiclaireAbigayle has been a writer for as long as she can remember, but did not begin seriously pursuing becoming an author until 2015. Since then, she has started a blog and numerous social media accounts, graduated high school as a homeschooler, and participated in the infamous NaNoWriMo. Other than writing, she is also pursuing work as a freelance editor. Writing is her ministry and reading is her pastime. Abigayle lives in Central Texas with her six younger siblings and parents.

Finally, the excerpt.

Note: this excerpt is taken from Chapter 10.

“But even though I never knew my mother, she taught me something.” Gemma fiddled with the button on the chair’s pillow. “Josiah, I never told you this, but I almost aborted Farris. That’s what . . . the father wanted. Then I remembered my mom and she’s the one who stopped me from doing it. I remembered . . . what she had done to me and how it made me feel, and I determined never to do anything to my child that would make him hate me like I hated my mom.” She looked up at him and smiled. “I was going to do better than she did. That’s why. I want to break the single mom stereotype . . . somehow.”

“But you have.”

Gemma gave him a skeptical look.

“I’m serious. You’re amazing, Gemma. You have sacrificed so much to help your baby.”

“Well, if I had been truly selfless, I wouldn’t have had a baby in the first place,” she said quietly.

“Everyone makes mistakes. You have to forgive yourself if you’re ever going to move on.”

“I’ll get over everything that has happened to me, but . . .” She shrugged a shoulder. “I can’t forgive what I did to others.”

Josiah nodded. “Gemma . . . don’t let it defeat you. Guilt can do that.”


And there it is, kids. In case you didn’t order Martin Hospitality on the day that it released, here are all the links you need: Amazon, CreateSpace, and Goodreads. But of course, I’m sure you ordered Martin Hospitality as soon as possible, didn’t you? DIDN’T YOU? If you haven’t, I’ll forgive you now if you hop over to Amazon (or CreateSpace) and get yourself a copy. Or two. Or three. ;)

Oh, yes, and now the giveaway:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Martin Hospitality by Abigayle Claire

Martin Hospitality

by Abigayle Claire

Giveaway ends February 28, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Buy the book, enter the giveaway, and have a fantastic week!

~ Rosalie out.

P.S. – Full disclosure, Abi actually sent me two excerpts to choose from for this post, and so I’m just chilling here chewing on my two little excerpts while you guys only get one. Mwahahahaha!

P.P.S. – So in that last postscript, I tried to make it sound like I’m all calm waiting for Martin Hospitality to arrive. Actually, I’m more like a sleep-deprived gremlin obsessively watching the mailbox. So, yeah, there’s that. #keepingitreal

 

My ReRead Stack (Fiction Edition)

Guess what! It’s Monday. I’m here with another Penprints post to brighten your day (theoretically it’ll brighten your day… but I may just come across as obsessive and annoying, but brightening is the general idea… emphasis on general).

Today’s post is about books, and more specifically, my favorite fiction books. These are the books that I have read and will reread and reread and reread and keep reading them again and again until I die. They’re my absolute favorite fiction books, and so let’s start building this book stack.

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The entire Out of Time series by Nadine Brandes.

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Now, did any of us think that all three of these books wouldn’t be in this stack? I mean, really? For those of you who may not know that I’m obsessed with this series who haven’t heard of the Out of Time series, let me give you the premise: a world where everyone knows the day they will die. Parvin Blackwater is seventeen years old, and she has one year left to live. She realizes that she has wasted her life. So, she decides to do something that will leave a mark on the world, something that she’ll be remembered for. Intense things happen as a result.

I will read this series again and again and again because of the powerful spiritual punch each book packs. The story is exciting and the characters are endearing, but it’s the themes that will keep me reaching for these books when I need to see what it means to grow as a Christian and live like I’ve got nothing to lose.

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine.

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This was one of the first fairytale retellings I ever read, and it is still one of my favorites. It’s about a girl named Ella who was cursed at birth with obedience. Whatever someone tells her to do, she has to do it. Anything she’s commanded to do. “Ella, fetch me some flour from the cupboard.” “Ella, stop eating and give me your food.” “Ella, chop your own hand off.” These are commands Ella could be forced by magic to obey. We follow her through her adolescence as her mother dies and she is forced to be her stepmother’s servant because of this curse.

As you may have guessed, it is a retelling of Cinderella. It’s set in a medieval world with fairies and ogres and elves, and I’ve been enchanted (hehe) with it for nearly as long as I can remember. I adore the setting, and the characters, especially Ella, are so dear to my heart. This take on the Cinderella story is my favorite because Ella is so entirely human, and she isn’t always very nice. But those she loves she loves with everything. I’ve read this book at least eight times; I typically try to read it every year. I also own three copies.

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis.

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This. Book. Okay, it is comprised of a couple dozen letters from a senior demon (Screwtape) to his nephew (Wormwood) who is currently trying to learn the ropes of being a Tempter. I read this for the first time in December of last year, and my mind is still blown by this little book. Since it’s written from the perspective of a demon, everything is flipped on its head. The “Enemy” refers to God, “Our Father Below” refers to Satan, and so forth. Screwtape gives Wormwood advice and insight into the human heart and mind, how easily we allow ourselves to be tossed to and fro in life, getting distracted from the reality of God, being caught up in ourselves, the way we are often so awfully blind to our own sin, how our hearts and minds are constantly trying to return to the flesh, to the old man. It is an incredibly humbling book to read, not only because it is so deep, but because an embarrassingly huge portion of it applies to me. There’s such profound help in this petite book for Christians as we toil along this climbing way. It has helped me better understand myself, the nature of sin, and the holiness of God (if I were to pick only three things). I will be reading it again this year.

Mara, Daughter of the Nile by Eloise Jarvis McGraw.

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I blame my burning fascination for ancient Egypt on this book. Seriously, forget the ancient Greeks and Romans, let’s talk about the Egyptians. Mara is a proud and beautiful slave girl who yearns for freedom in ancient Egypt, under the rule of Queen Hatshepsut. Mara is not like other slaves; she can read and write, as well as speak Babylonian. So, to barter for her freedom, she finds herself playing the dangerous role of double spy for two arch enemies—each of whom supports a contender for the throne of Egypt.

If you’re not geeking out already, you should be. There’s nail-biting intrigue, perilous espionage, swoon-worthy romance, noble hearts, and it’s all set against the backdrop of the Nile. I’ve read this one more times than I can count, and part of it’s because I just love Mara and the story (both are the definition of swanky). But what I love best is how this book calls the reader to think beyond themselves and their desires and agendas. It demands that some things are worth dying for and that the end of yourself is where true greatness lies. Now I have to read it again myself because it’s been a year and a half since I drank in those rich lines last, and I’m overcome with the urge to dramatically whisper: “For Egypt”.

Beauty and The Hero’s Crown by Robin McKinley.

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I put these two together because I read them for the first time back to back. Now, they are set in completely different storyworlds, but both had heavy influence on my childhood. Beauty is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, and it is my favorite retelling of said fairytale to date. It’s much the same as the original tale in many ways, but I love the new depth to Beauty’s character. She’s endearing with a dry wit and deep love for her family (and also she has a giant horse that she raised since she was like thirteen, and so that’s also really cool, just saying). She and the Beast are now old friends of mine, examples of learning to look beyond the surface.

The Hero’s Crown is quite different (except it also has a horse, so there’s that; basically, throw a horse at it, and it’s amazing). It’s about a king’s daughter whose country dislikes her because they thought that her mother was a witch. She grew up being disdained by many, and they gave her no reason to love them. But then she starts killing dragons for them, and things start to change. To me, this story is about refusing to wallow in self-pity, about moving on regardless of what people think or say about you, pursuing something diligently, and serving when it’s not appreciated. And also she slew dragons.

Chalice by Robin McKinley.

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So, another by Robin McKinley because I’ve read all of her books and own most of them now, and there’s only a couple that I don’t love. This book has a very… understated feel in my opinion. It’s a gentle, rolling story about Marisol, a girl who is pulled from her ordinary life to serve as her people’s Chalice, the right hand the Master. It’s a high honor and also an incredible amount of responsibility, especially since the last Master and his Chalice recently died in a fire and the whole countryside is in upheaval. And it doesn’t help that the new Master happens to accidentally burn people when he touches them (yep, you read that right).

This story taught me a lot about change. Change happens, and there’s nothing you can do to stop it. However, you can do your best to grow and adapt to new responsibilities, old (dear) relationships fading away, new (unwanted) relationships beginning, and so many other things that come when life changes. And it’s also simply a lovely story. And there are honey bees.

This Present Darkness and Piercing This Darkness by Frank Peretti.

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These books = spiritual warfare. Ashton is just a typical small town. But when a skeptical reporter and a prayerful, hardworking pastor begin to investigate mysterious events, they suddenly find themselves caught up in a New Age plot to enslave the townspeople, and eventually the entire human race. The physical world meets the spiritual realm as the battle rages between forces of good and evil.

These books have incredible insights into spiritual warfare and the roles of angels and demons. It’s especially interesting because it’s told from four main perspectives: the pastor’s, the reporter’s, the commanding demon, and the commanding angel. So, the reader gets to see both sides of the fight. It has greatly impacted my understanding and view on prayer, angels, demons, and our unstoppable God.

The Sherwood Ring by Elizabeth Marie Pope.

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Agh, this book is so enjoyable (and also kind of weird). Here’s a bit of the premise: newly orphaned Peggy Grahame is caught off-guard when she first arrives at her family’s ancestral estate. Her eccentric uncle Enos drives away her only new acquaintance, Pat, a handsome British scholar, then leaves Peggy to fend for herself. The house is full of mysteries (and ghosts), and soon she is told of the unfolding of a centuries-old, Colonial romance against a backdrop of spies and intrigue and of battles plotted and foiled.

Mainly, I love this one because of its ingenuity. See, Peggy is told of this old romance by the ghosts of her Colonial ancestors as they try to help her cope with her father’s recent death by teaching her about their lives (and mistakes). The message is about growing through and past difficult times, and it’s wrapped in a funny, romantic, clever package that I am compelled to read again and again.

Heartless and Starflower by Anne Elisabeth Stengl.

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It’s hard not to have the entire Tales of Goldstone Wood series in this stack, but if I had to pick favorites, it would be these two. I’m going to skip telling you the premise on these two just because this post is getting long and they’re complicated books (that’s Anne Elisabeth Stengl for you, kids. My words cannot suffice.). So I’ll just say a little of why I will reread them so many times.

There isn’t much I can say about Heartless (besides dragons and faeries) without giving too much away, but I will say this: Heartless is one of the most beautiful portrayals of Christ’s love for us that I have ever read. I will read it again because I often need to be shown another picture of Christ’s work on that cross, and I will read it again because I often need to be reminded that there was nothing good about me or any of us to warrant His sacrifice.

Starflower is about being called to serve, at whatever cost, the only King who is worth living and dying for. It’s about the irresistible calling of God, and how He makes ugly things beautiful. It’s about seeing the image of God in every person you meet and loving them because God loves them. So go look up the Tales of Goldstone Wood series because these books are exquisite.

Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne.

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This is the closest thing to a classic on my favorites stack. For those of you haven’t heard of it or read it, it’s about a rich Englishman named Phileas Fogg. Now, Fogg’s rich friends bet that it is impossible to travel around the world in only 80 days, but Fogg is convinced that it can be done, and he believes it so much that he stakes a fortune on it. If he can’t travel all the way around the world in 80 days, he forfeits a fortune. He sets off with his French valet, and the adventure that ensues is thoroughly enjoyable.

The first thing that I must say is that Phileas Fogg is the most unflappable, unperturbed, unexcitable character that I have ever read about. Visibly, he always keeps his cool. Oh, let’s go around the world in 80 days. No biggie. Oh, look, there are some natives dragging some people off to be slaves. That’s nothing. We’ll just rescue them. Ah, I might lose this bet. Nothing to sweat about. I just love how chill this dude is! This one is a little like The Sherwood Ring in that there isn’t a particular message that strikes me, but the story as a whole is simply entertaining and enjoyable.

And those, kids, are my absolute favorite fiction books. What about you? Have you read any of these books? Do you think you’ll read any of these books because I say I love them (the correct answer is yes)? What are your favorite fiction books? Why?

P.S. – these pictures were made possible by my wonderful sister-in-law, Janie, who I dragged outside in the cold (because it’s finally cold again) to hold my books so I could take these pictures. And it was cold, and she’s from the south, and so she was very cold, and her hands were blocks of ice by the time we got inside, and so a huge thank you to her for humoring me. :)

P.P.S. – to those of you who made it to the end of this super long post, congrats. You’re probably one of few.

Cover Reveal: Martin Hospitality

Happy Saturday, Peeps!

Now, you may be asking yourself, “Why am I getting a Penprints post on a Saturday? Has that girl completely gone out of her tree?”. Well, I can’t say anything for certain on that last part, BUT I am here in your inbox (that sounds really weird) burdened with glorious purpose.

Abigayle Claire of The Left-Handed Typist has a book releasing next month!!!!

And today, the cover is revealed for said novel which is titled Martin Hospitality.

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But, because I’m cruel, we’re going to go through all the fun bookish details before I let you see the lovely cover (okay, I’m not that cruel at all since I’ve already been blasting the cover across my social media, but whatevs).

Availability:

So, sadly, Martin Hospitality will not be available for purchase until February 4, BUT at least that’s only a couple weeks away! So, I assume all of you will stay up with me on February 3 to order Martin Hospitality at the stroke of midnight.

“But, Rosalie,” you sigh. “What makes you think that we should stay up with you and order Martin Hospitality as soon as humanly possible?”

Peeps, I’m so glad you asked because that leads straight into the next part of this post….

The Blurb:

Gemma Ebworthy is eighteen, pregnant, and alone. Now that she’s been evicted, she spends the night in a barn, never dreaming that tomorrow could bring kindness of a life-changing magnitude.

The Martins aren’t a typical family—even for rural Kansas. With more kids than can be counted on one hand and a full-time farm, Gemma must make a lot of adjustments to fit in. But despite their many differences, Gemma finds herself drawn to this family and their radical Christian faith.

When Gemma’s past collides with her yet again, she must begin revealing her colorful history. With every detail Gemma concedes, she fears she will lose the Martins’ trust and the stable environment she desires for herself and her unborn child. Just how far can the Martins’ love and God’s forgiveness go?

The Lovely Author:

abiclaireAbigayle has been inspired to write since she could spell her own name. Her passion wasn’t completing the stories (she did that twice and decided it wasn’t for her), it was jotting down the ideas.

But in 2015, a story grabbed her–one she had to finish. Inspired by a crazy dream in a genre she no longer read, Abigayle set off on a journey to write her first novel and she hasn’t looked back since.

Writing is her ministry, freelance editing her job, and reading her pastime–all of which are proof that God really does know what He’s doing when He inspires a 6-year-old with a pencil in her left hand.

The Cover:

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Isn’t it lovely? *happy sigh* I, for one, cannot wait to read it because 1) the story sounds so good and sweet and full of love 2) because of this cover. I  know you’re not supposed to judge a book by it’s cover, but I kind of am. And I’m not ashamed of it.

Have a merry weekend! I’ll be back on Monday!

A Time to Rise Review

This review contains spoilers from A Time to Die and A Time to Speak but only mild spoilers from A Time to Rise. You’ve been warned.

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The world thinks that Parvin Blackwater is dead.

Well, she’s not. Sure, she was mostly dead for a bit there, but not anymore. After the Council had her killed, they buried her in a hasty, shallow grave and set about covering up how she died and the little detail that the Clock they matched to her reads OVERIDDEN (seeing as they are trying to convince themselves and the public that these Clocks are still a good idea, the whole Parvin dying before her Time was up makes things a little awkward for them). But Parvin isn’t going to let them get away with everything they’ve done—murdering radicals, murdering Reid and Jude, sending radicals to Antarctica to name a few of their deplorable deeds. She takes up the call of Christ and rises to bring down the Council and the Wall and set her people free. But will she find her friends again? Can she rescue Willow? How will she unlock the secrets of the Clocks and the Wall?


Where to even begin with this review. As stated at the end of my Rise Tour post, one cannot simply write a review for A Time to Rise. I had great, great expectations for this book. This single book had to somehow bring Parvin back to life (literally), finish off the character arcs of the major characters, bring a satisfying ending after everything that has happened, heal relationships in a way that didn’t seem contrived, and pack a spiritual punch to rival if not surpass the first two books (not to mention all the actual plot stuff that had to happen to).

Well, let me tell you that Nadine Brandes delivered.

After three years and three books, Parvin is like an old friend. Her character is consistent throughout the book while still growing and learning and being made new. I cannot begin to tell you how much I adore Parvin. I liked Parvin in A Time to Die, I really liked her in A Time to Speak, and I can’t say how much I love her in A Time to Rise. Ugh, it’s so hard to write a spoiler free review without going into why, so I guess you just need to go read the book. Here’s a quote to sum up why I love Parvin:

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Hint: the “Him” is God.

Um, Solomon Hawke. Where did Nadine Brandes come up with this character? Like, sorry, Parvin, step aside. I would like to marry him. ‘Nuf said.

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Me about Solomon Hawke.

Things were pretty intense in A Time to Speak (translation: the tension probably gave me an ulcer), but the reader is given a bit of a breather at the beginning of A Time to Rise while the characters regroup and figure out their next step for bringing down the Council (and the Wall and the Clocks and all that jazz). The pacing was perfect; it didn’t feel rushed or lagging.

The plot was…. comfortable but also nail-biting but also twisting and unpredictable. It was like being on a rollercoaster in the dark—I never really knew when someone was going to get shot or killed or rescued or left behind.

Now onto the really meaty stuff. A Time to Rise doesn’t skim over the not so normal parts of Christianity, of Christ, that run against the grain of our nature, like healing, forgiveness, and loving your enemies. Those were the themes of A Time to Rise. The healing theme touched every character arc in a beautiful way, whether it be a fractured relationship, a stony heart, or a lost love. It never felt forced or contrived or preachy; people just… intentionally healed.

When it comes to loving your enemies, I have never read a more powerful story where this was played out, particularly between Parvin and a certain other character who I cannot name. It never seemed easy for Parvin to love this character. It never seemed like I was getting at preached at when she rose above her hurt and anger to love and forgive, but I was.

Loving your enemies is hard. Forgiveness is hard. Healing is hard.

hello-godThese aren’t things that just happen because I want them to. It takes the work of the Holy Spirit and intentional resolve, and A Time to Rise showed that. It showed the struggle between the flesh and the spirit. It showed how everything inside can cry out in hate and anger and how hard it is to choose the path of Christ. It shows how that path is a daily battle in words and thoughts and heart. It shows the daily choice between the world’s way–man’s way, the easy way that doesn’t require much effort–and Christ’s way. And it showed how Christ makes the impossible possible.

fear-not-2The ending was hopeful and satisfying. Like any worthwhile story, it was bittersweet. I had all my big questions answered, and there’s a promise of short stories to follow to satisfy the rest of my curiosity. I cannot recommend this series enough. I know a lot of people won’t read it because it’s dystopian and that genre is “weird”, but I think a lot of people would be made better by reading it.

It’s easy to see that God was heavily involved in the writing of this series. It isn’t just a good story, it’s a great story. It doesn’t just entertain, it teaches. Therefore, I give A Time to Rise five out of five wonderstruck stars and a PG-13 rating.

P.S. – I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

P.P.S. – Seriously, go buy this series.

P.P.P.S. – Why are you still reading this?? I told you to go buy the series!!!