May 14, 2014

A Giveaway is Worth 50,000 Words

If you couldn't tell from the title, this isn't a book review.

This is a GIVEAWAY!

For those of you who don't know, I not only review books, but I write them. My first book, A Time to Die, is the start of a dystopian trilogy and comes out in September. You can read a little about it on my website. There will also be a cover reveal soon!

But enough about that. Let's get to the good stuff: how do you win a free book?

Last week, I broke the 50k word count mark on my second book. I know this doesn't mean much because book one isn't even out yet (September! September, people!) But everyone likes an excuse to celebrate. I'm celebrating with a giveaway.

I chose three books that influenced my writing in some way. The winner of the giveaway will get to choose which of the three books he or she would like. Here's a little bit about each one:

Love Does, by Bob Goff: this is a non-fiction book that inspired me to pursue life actively. My husband and I started doing the things we always said we'd like to do someday. Active living and active thinking for God is a main theme in my books.

Amazon link

Goodreads link
Cinder, by Marissa Meyer: a dystopian, sci-fi, fairytale retelling. It's absolutely fantastic and one of my favorites. It showed me that, if you're a good writer, you can even take a cliche storyline and make it uniquely astounding. (You can read my book review on Cinder here.)

Amazon link

Goodreads link
Plot vs. Character by Jeff Gerke: One of my most invaluable writing help books! This digs into all aspects of the book and reaches the plot-first and character-first writers. Whatever your weakness is, this book will help.

Amazon link

Goodreads link

Everyone is welcome to enter. All fellow authors who I do or don't know. Friends, family, non-writers, readers, you name it. if you want one of the books then go for it! There will be one winner and that person will be notified via e-mail. Then they will choose which book they'd like me to send!

Which of these three books interests you the most?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Nadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. She writes stories about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. Her debut dystopian novel, A Time to Die, releases 2014 from Marcher Lord Press. When Nadine's not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, she is out pursuing adventures. She currently lives in Idaho with her husband. You can find out more about Nadine and her books at

May 8, 2014

Monument 14: Savage Drift (book 3), Emmy Laybourne

Disclaimer: All reviews are the result of my personal opinion from a Christian stand-point. These reviews are provided for those who share my beliefs and morals, to help guide what fiction a reader may wish to pick up. For those who do not share these beliefs, please refrain from hateful comments. It is due to rude commenting that I must now include this note prior to all reviews. For more information, visit my purpose behind this blog. Thank you for your understanding.

Click to read my review of book 1 -- Monument 14.
Click to read my review of book 2 -- Monument 14: Sky on Fire

Intended Age-Group: 9th grade & up
Issues of Violence: stabbing with knife to the point of mutilation, gun fights, deaths from post-apocalyptic disasters, fist fighting, murders in various way (neck breaking, ripping out someones guts with their hands)
Intimacy Level: kissing, sex
Language: Use of "God," "Christ", and "Jesus" for exclamations. Hell, SOB, b****,  a**, d*mn.
Other: Underage drinking/intoxication, drug use, conversations revolving around sex, drugs, getting high, violent animal-like behavior from air toxin.
Recommendation: 3.5 out of 5 stars with high reservations (see end of entry)

Back Cover Blurb:
The survivors of the Monument 14 have finally made it to the safety of a Canadian refugee camp. Dean and Alex are cautiously starting to hope that a happy ending might be possible.

But for Josie, separated from the group and trapped in a brutal prison camp for exposed Type Os, things have gone from bad to worse. Traumatized by her experiences, she has given up all hope of rescue or safety.

Meanwhile, scared by the government's unusual interest in her pregnancy, Astrid (with her two protectors, Dean and Jake in tow) joins Niko on his desperate quest to be reunited with his lost love Josie.

Initial Reaction: *****
This book was so predictable.

I predicted a tense, tight plot: bingo!

I predicted that it'd be a page-turner: check!

I predicted that strong characters would steal my heart: tada!

Are there no dull boring plot-writers left in this world? *Sigh* I suppose I will have to succumb to the mind-blowing, gut-wrenching aftermath of reading a fantastic book. My emotions are in upheaval.

If you haven't figured it out yet, I loved Savage Drift. It was just as strong as the first two M14 books and I expected nothing less from Laybourne.

Characters: *****
This time, we followed Dean and Josie's points of view (POVs.) At first I was hesitant entering Josie's head. I wasn't sure how it would fit with my current view of her. But it worked. In fact, it worked really well. I never once, in all three books or POVs, got confused as to who's head we were in. That's tough to pull off with first-person.

Josie's story broke my heart. At one point, a character refers to the "O Camps" as a concentration camp, and that's almost what it was like. Her struggles with figuring out who she was internally -- monster or human -- were realistic and bittersweet.

Dean's POV was also gripping, even though we've been with him through all three books. A favorite part about Savage Drift was watching him grow up. Dean became such a leader in this book, which was a true miracle when you think back to who he'd been at the start of this whole story.

Plot: *****
Okay, we've established the characters are strong. Now, what about the plot? Weren't we all happy and safe at the end of book two?

Well, not all of us. Josie! We had to rescue Josie! Not just that, but Astrid's about to pop out a baby and that's a scary thing for a seventeen-year-old to handle, especially when the government is kidnapping pregnant women.

I never got bored with this book. I read it in a day. I admit, when I first picked it up I thought it would be hard to make the plot as tight or interesting as the first two. But Savage Drift gets into the government's reaction to all the chaos. What are they doing about it? What are they hiding? And what are all these experiments they keep stealing people for?

Spiritual Content: *****
This obviously isn't a Christian series, but the faith aspect and turning to God grows with each book.

Josie kept praying and praying for a sign that she should end her life. Almost wanting confirmation that it was okay with God for her to give up and die. Finally, frustrated with His silence, she prayed for a sign that she shouldn't end her life. A sign that she should keep fighting.

And that's when He answered.

It was sweet. It was perfect. And it completely fit.

There are also other examples of characters praying and turning to God. It was neat to see this progression and how it affected their choices.

There was some violence I could have done without. You know, ripping out guts by the handful and repetitive stabbing. That sort of thing. Also, certain steps of intimacy bother me in YA books. A couple has sex, but the writing is not gratuitous. I just don't agree with the message that sixteen-year-olds should sleep together if they're in love.

There is also attempted rape and older men demanding sex in return for protection (so, manipulative rape)

The language is pretty strong, but that was the same in the first two books. I caution all readers against the mature content and some undesirable elements, but if those don't bother you I think you'll really enjoy the series.

Overall, the book was fantastic. The entire series has left me impressed. And what a sweet ending! I won't give anything away, but it concluded everything that needed to be concluded and left me sad to say goodbye, but fully satisfied. I recommend it for older teens and up.

I rate this a 3.5 star mostly because of the mature content. But the story, underneath all that, is worth reading if you're a fan of dystopian or post-apocalytpic.

Nadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. She writes stories about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. Her debut dystopian novel, A Time to Die, released September 2014 from Enclave Publishing. When Nadine's not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, she is out pursuing adventures. She currently lives in Idaho with her husband. You can find out more about Nadine and her books at