Book Review: The Golden Braid by Melanie Dickerson

The Golden BraidThe Golden Braid by Melanie Dickerson (Hagenheim #6, Thomas Nelson, November 2015)

The one who needs rescuing isn’t always the one in the tower.

Rapunzel can throw a knife better than any man around. And her skills as an artist rival those of any artist she’s met. But for a woman in medieval times, the one skill she most desires is the hardest one to obtain: the ability to read.

After yet another young man asks for Rapunzel’s hand in marriage, Mother decides they need to move once again, but this time to a larger city. Rapunzel’s heart soars—surely there she can fulfill her dream. But Mother won’t let her close to a man. She claims that no man can be trusted.

After being rescued by a knight on the road to the city, and in turn rescuing him farther down the road, Rapunzel’s opportunity arrives at last. This knight, Sir Gerek, agrees to educate Rapunzel in order to pay back his debt. She just has to put up with his arrogant nature and single-minded focus on riches and prestige.

But this Rapunzel story is unlike any other and the mystery that she uncovers will change everything—except her happily ever after.


According to the ABC series “Once Upon a Time” character Mary Margaret Blanchard, fairy tales are classic stories because they give people the ability to hope.  Mary Margaret, whose alter ego, Snow White, is the epitome of hope in the epic fairy tale mash up,  (“blanch, in various languages, translates to “white”), persistently demonstrates the positive qualities that make these stories beloved by so many: kindness, goodness, gentleness, strength, and love. Snow White’s counter-part German princess, Rapunzel, has yet to visit Storybrook or the Enchanted Forest in “Once Upon a Time,” but after reading The Golden Braid I think I could make a strong case for bringing her storyline into the show to ABC Studios.

No one writes better fairy-tale retellings in the CBA than Melanie Dickerson. While I openly admit that that statement is my own humble opinion, social media indicates that most readers of Christian fiction say the same about this prolific author. The Golden Braid is the latest of Dickerson’s young adult Hagenheim Fairy Tale series set in Hagenheim, Germany. While I am sad to say–because I loved visiting Hagenheim with some of my favorite princesses–that this is the final novel in the series, The Golden Braid is a beautiful story that completes this series in an exciting and thought-provoking manner.

Rapunzel is a fiery and independent leading lady, and The Golden Braid inspired me to consider my role within my family and society as she did the same back in medieval Hagenheim. Desperate to achieve great things and better herself, Rapunzel’s desire to learn to read really made me think about how much I take for granted the gift of learning, reading, purchasing books, and attaining an education. Despite the challenges in front of her as a single women in a medieval society, Rapunzel focused on her goals, took charge of her life, and made her dreams happen. Dickerson’s ability to inspire and encourage me through the authenticity of her writing–both with characters and story–has made her one of my favorite authors.

Dickerson wove a sweet romance into The Golden Braid that parallels the action and adventure of Rapunzel’s story. Sir Gerek’s bravery is just the kind of behavior you can imagine of knights during the medieval period. The relationship between the two leading characters is real and true to both historical details of the time as well as the ages and  responsibilities of the hero and heroine. The details on medieval Hagenheim enhance the romance between Sir Gerek and Rapunzel, with their relationship evolving naturally around the restrictions of the time period. Dickerson’s story also shines with the theme of family intertwining beautifully between the romance and main plot of The Golden Braid.

I truly enjoyed this rendition of the Rapunzel story and plan to recommend The Golden Braid to anyone who enjoys fairy tale retellings. My preference for fiction centers on adult literature, so I did notice the distinction in reading level and would most likely recommend The Golden Braid first to teenage readers and then adults. Fans of medieval fiction and YA fiction written by Jody Hedlund, Dina Sleiman, and Rachelle Rea will love Dickerson’s YA medieval fairy tales, especially The Golden Braid.

RATING: 3.5 stars


2528780Melanie Dickerson is the author of Medieval fairy tale retellings, including The Healer’s Apprentice and The Merchant’s Daughter, both Christy Award finalists, winner of The National Reader’s Choice Award for 2010’s Best First Book, and winner of the 2012 Carol Award in Young Adult fiction. She earned her bachelor’s degree in special education from The University of Alabama. She has taught children with special needs in Georgia and Tennessee, and English to adults in Germany and Ukraine. Now she spends her time writing and taking care of her husband and two daughters near Huntsville, Alabama. Visit her on the web, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Novel Review: The Sound of Silver by Rachelle Rea

The Sound of Silver

The Sound of Silver by Rachelle Rea (The Steadfast Love Series, WhiteFire Publishing, October 2015)

The stalwart saint and the redeemed rebel. One is fighting for faith, the other for honor…

After Dirk rescues Gwyneth from the Iconoclastic Fury, she discovers that faith is sometimes fragile—and hope is not as easy as it may seem. Gwyneth continues her quest to learn more about the love of God preached by Protestants she once distrusted.

Meanwhile, Dirk’s quest is to prevent his sullied name from staining hers. Will his choice to protect her prove the undoing of her first faltering steps toward a Father God? Once separated, will Dirk and Gwyneth’s searching hearts ever sing the same song?


There are many reasons as readers that we are drawn certain books, certain authors, certain settings or time periods. We are called to the stories that resonate deep in our hearts, whose themes stir our emotions into swirls of thoughts and considerations we would not necessarily have come to on our own. Rachelle Rea’s Steadfast Love series called to me before I even knew the subject of the books, and the farther along I get into the series the more I understand why I feel a kinship with this author and her firstborn set of novels.

The Sound of Silver, much like its predecessor The Sound of Diamonds, explores themes of faith, forgiveness, redemption, and a personal relationship with Jesus that Christians—and, dare I say, all of us?—yearn for. Rea’s proficiency in beautiful writing delves deep into these themes as she creates characters and a world just long enough back in history to teach readers about the past and about themselves.

In just the few months between the release of The Sound of Diamonds and The Sound of Silver I could tell upon the first pages of her sophomore novel that Rea’s skill with the written word truly is a gift—she holds a knack for the craft that easily transcends the pages of her novels. Whereas The Sound of Diamonds encapsulates readers with the terror of escaping the Iconoclastic Fury, The Sound of Silver relies less upon action and much more upon emotion and personal growth. I found The Sound of Silver a compelling read because I enjoy delving into a character’s motivations, inspirations, and faith. In this second novel of the series, I felt connected to the main characters as I travelled along with through their individual journeys towards love and happiness. As Gwyn and Dirk struggled to make peace with their places in life, I experienced their joys, frustrations, and struggles. Rea’s ability to completely immerse me into The Sound of Silver world makes her novel shine all the brighter.

I recommend The Sound of Silver for those readers who love to travel back in time for lessons in history that don’t ever make you feel like you’ve returned to the classroom. This novel is for those who enjoy romance filled with faith.

If you haven’t yet read Rea’s debut novel, read my review of The Sound of Diamonds here to find out why this author and her books have captured my historical-fiction-loving heart.

BUY THE BOOK: Find The Sound of Silver with any of the following links: 

Barnes & Noble: coming Oct. 15

Amazon Paperback:


Books a Million: coming Oct. 15




RACHELLETimes gone by snatch Rachelle close, so she reads and writes about years long ago–her passions include the Reformation, Revolutions, and romance. In the space of a summer between sophomore and junior year, Rachelle wrote a novel set in 1566. Two years later she had finished two more novels and signed a three-book deal with her dream publisher. Her debut novel, The Sound of Diamonds, released in June 2015. The next two books in the Steadfast Love Series will swiftly follow. Find out more about Rachelle, like that she’s a homeschool grad and Oreo addict, on her website.

Rachelle’s other links:

Blog                   Twitter         Amazon Author Page

Facebook         Pintrest        Goodreads

 Instagram: @RachelleDianeRea






Novel Review: The Sound of Diamonds by Rachelle Rea

sound of diamonds

The Sound of Diamonds by Rachelle Rea

In Reformation-era England, a converted rogue wants to restore his honor at whatever cost. Running from a tortured past, Dirk Godfrey knows he has only one chance at redemption.

An independent Catholic maiden seeking refuge in the Low Countries finds herself at the center of the Iconoclastic Fury. Jaded by tragedy, Gwyneth’s only hope of getting home is to trust the man she hates, and she soon discovers her poor vision is not the only thing that has been blinding her.

But the home Gwyneth knew is not what she once thought. When a dark secret and a twisted plot for power collide in a castle masquerading as a haven, will the saint and the sinner hold to hope…or be overcome?


About a year ago I stumbled across a website called “Inspiring Daring.” A picture of a young woman graced the main page. Curious about what this site would hold, I began to search the pages and immediately became captivated by the posts and prose. This young woman to whom the website belongs—Rachelle Rea—pulled me into her site with her sweet and spunky writing style, and kept me there with her inspiring and motivational stories and posts.

Twelve months later, I continue to follow “Inspiring Daring,” along with everything else Rea has accomplished in such a short time. A newly published author with one book to her name and another shortly to follow, this curly-hair, bright-eyed, sweet-smiling young woman is sure to draw others to faith and fiction through her stories and her writing. As soon as I learned that Rea would have a novel published by WhiteFire Publishing I added her book to my Goodreads page and the title to my to-review list.

Set during Reformation-era England, The Sound of Diamonds first caught my attention with its unique storyline and cast of characters. Blended with her beautiful writing style, the storyline of The Sound of Diamonds brings readers directly into the fascinating and frightening time period of Catholic persecution. I am Catholic, and while Christian fiction is my primary and favorite genre to read, at times I am frustrated by the lack of Catholicism in this genre. Rea’s choice to include Catholicism—and especially a Catholic heroine—immediately pushed The Sound of Diamonds to the top of my to-read list.

The author’s research and impeccable manner of historical detail in this novel is noticeable in a most compelling way. I learned so much about Reformation-era England, the Iconoclastic Fury, and Catholic and Protestant beliefs during this time that I feel a stronger connection with my faith and roots. Rea beautifully blended both Catholic and Protestant values in The Sound of Diamonds, and she handled the theological differences between the two denominations beautifully.

Rea’s debut novel shines with themes of compassion and forgiveness. Through her beautiful writing style, endearing and believable characters, and rich historical detail, The Sound of Diamonds is a novel sure to resonate with readers who love historical fiction. I enjoyed this book and am very much looking forward to the sequel. The Sound of Silver will be published in October 2015.

Rating: 4 stars

Add Rachelle’s books to your lists:

The Sound of Diamonds–Amazon

The Sound of Diamonds–Goodreads 

The Sound of Silver–Amazon

The Sound of Silver–Goodreads 


RACHELLETimes gone by snatch Rachelle close, so she reads and writes about years long ago–her passions include the Reformation, Revolutions, and romance. In the space of a summer between sophomore and junior year, Rachelle wrote a novel set in 1566. Two years later she had finished two more novels and signed a three-book deal with her dream publisher. Her debut novel, The Sound of Diamonds, released in June 2015. The next two books in the Steadfast Love Series will swiftly follow. Find out more about Rachelle, like that she’s a homeschool grad and Oreo addict, at

Rachel’s Facebook page

Rachelle’s Amazon page

Rachelle’s Goodreads page



Review: A Time to Die by Nadine Brandes

Exciting news! Nadine is offering a free sample of the first chapter of her debut novel, A Time to Die! Click here to access this special opportunity!

Don’t forget to pre-order A Time to Die before it’s release date on September 23!

A Time to DieAbout the Book

Parvin Blackwater believes she has wasted her life. At only seventeen, she has one year left according to the Clock by her bedside.

In a last-ditch effort to make a difference, she tries to rescue Radicals from the government’s crooked justice system. But when the authorities find out about her illegal activity, they cast her through the Wall — her people’s death sentence. What she finds on the other side about the world, about eternity, and about herself changes Parvin forever and might just save her people.But her Clock is running out.



Tick, tock. Tick, tock. Tick, tock. Clocks are innocuous—on cell phones, on computers, on televisions, on our wrists, in our cars, in our bedrooms and kitchens and offices. We are constantly surrounded by clocks but give little thought to the task these ticking objects perform. Clocks help people function; in fact, without clocks our world would cease to properly move forward. But in Parvin Blackwater’s life, clocks are not so harmless. She and her people live in fright of clocks because these objects that so seamlessly keep our time eventually stop the lives of Parvin’s fellow citizens. In a society that tells her she has only one year left to live, Parvin braves the world around her in her one last chance to make a difference. She has three-hundred sixty-five days left to save her people—her clock will run out unless she finds a way to master defeat.

Nadine Brandes brings a new world to life in A Time to Die. A debut novel from an author who writes anything but like a new writer, Brandes succeeds in creating a world that is so vivid and realistic readers will feel as if their clock, too, is running out of time. As Parvin fights to save the Radicals and understand her place in society and the world around her, readers are transported into the various systems and settings of A Time to Die. From glorious mountains, gray silent town squares, and gorgeous waters, to the economic systems and technological inventions that bring Parvin’s society to life, each placement of these literary tools contribute to A Time to Die’s lifelike story.

Brandes novel is written for the young adult market, but like many young adult novel deals with heavy subjects. In A Time to Die readers are asked to consider how they would spend their time if they had just one year left to live. Parvin Blackwater, the novel’s protagonist, yearns to have a life full of meaning—difficult enough for someone living a full life, let alone for someone with just one year left to live. Adults just as much as young adults and teenagers will appreciate Brandes’ story of life after death, bravery and sacrifice, terror and trust, and purpose and intention.

Brandes deftly weaves into her novel themes of Christian theology and living. A Time to Die focuses largely on these issues—readers who specifically want Christian-themed novels will love the author’s focus on the subject while those readers who shy away from Christian themes may want to consider how heavily the book delves into Christianity. Parvin, for example, begins in the novel as someone unsure of the Christian faith; as time goes on, however, she relies less on herself and more on God. The novel contains Bible verses, and God frequently speaks to Parvin through the Holy Spirit. Brandes gently teaches readers through Parvin’s journey to trust God with her future that He has a plan for all of us as Parvin begins to understand that while His plan may be different from ours, His intention is always is our best interest.

A Time to Die is recommended for teens and young adults who enjoy dystopian literature; adults who enjoy young adult novels with mature themes; and all readers of Christian fiction.

Rating: 4.5/5

Nadine Brandes - Head ShotAbout the Author

Nadine is a stay-at-home mother and author who writes stories about authentic faith, bold living, and worlds soaked in imagination. She has a Bachelor’s degree in communications disorders and a Master’s degree in speech language pathology and audiology. When she is not writing, she is a freelance editor.  Nadine is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers association, The Christian PEN Network, the Bestseller’s Society, and is the sole reviewer for a Christian book review site geared for teens and young adults. She lives with her husband and children in Idaho.

A Time to Die is her first novel. Visit Nadine at

Goodreads     Twitter (@nadinebrandes)

Facebook       Amazon