Reviews

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Broken Things Are Worth Fighting For, Too: A Review of Chasing Shadows

Published April 20, 2015 by Ashley Townsend

Finally! Someone who understands that a story should ALWAYS draw readers in and pull on their emotions. ^_^ Loved reading Lydia’s reaction to and love for these characters. Thanks, Lydia, for understanding that Serimone is a place to fall into and find yourself in.

Dear Ashley: An Unconventional Review of ‘Rising Shadows’

Published April 10, 2015 by Ashley Townsend

This review had me in tears…… Of sweetness and joy! I honestly could not believe Lydia enjoyed Book I in the Rising Shadows trilogy so much. I queried her to read and review Chasing Shadows, but she insisted on buying Rising Shadows first. Now, many of you know that I can be rather self-conscious of my first effort as a real writer, and my style and ability have shifted quite a bit since I first penned the start of Sarah’s time traveling adventures in Serimone. So when Lydia told me that she was insisting on starting with the first book, I launched into my under-selling explanation of why the book is so “simple”: “I was really young when I wrote it”; “My ability has progressed sooo much since then”; “Don’t let it stop you from reading Chasing Shadows.”
I was honestly anticipating her thinking the first book was so boring that she wouldn’t even get around to the book I wanted her to review. So you can imagine my surprise to find an email from her simply stating “Your family is right; you do undersell it” and a link to her glorious review of Rising Shadows. . . . Yes, she LOVED IT!!! Her review is completely unconventional in the sense that it’s written as a letter of encouragement address to ME, gushing about how Sarah is one of her favorite heroines in fiction history and that she adores Will so much that he had her crying. Haha.
Just follow the link to the original post and check it out for yourself before I spoil it for you. And take this as encouragement that you don’t have to undersell things that are important to you or pretend that you failed just because someone might criticize your efforts and you want to beat them to the punch (actually, I’ve never really received a negative review for any of my books—go figure!). God has a great plan in store for all of us that does NOT include fear, and if it’s important to you, it’s definitely important to Him.
Oh, yeah, and Lydia still wants to read Chasing Shadows. ^_^ Who knew?!

Rising Shadows Book Review

Published April 7, 2015 by Ashley Townsend

http://musingsofanelf.blogspot.com/2015/04/rising-shadows-book-review.html

Check out the latest review for the series! Christine gave Rising Shadows a great review, and she will be reviewing Chasing Shadows very soon in the future, as well.  Be sure to follow her and keep an eye out for other great posts!

The Winner’s Crime

Published March 18, 2015 by Ashley Townsend

****(*) 4.5 stars for “The Winner’s Crime” by Marie Rutkoski

CAUTION! Potential spoilers ahead, though I will try to keep them to a minimum.

Ebullient, Joyous, Giddy, Eager, Tortured, Dissatisfied, Mad, Hopeful, Delusional, Confused, Apprehensive, Tormented, Raw, Panicked, Gutted.

All words to describe my Coat of Many Reactions while reading “The Winner’s Crime,” book 2 in The Winner’s trilogy. Overall, my emotions through this wild, gut-wrenching ride were pretty much desultory, which basically means that they were fitful and inconstant (can you tell what my dictionary word of the day is? *wink wink*). But the book evoked so many emotions, one right after the other, that I never had a moment to just bask in a single one. . . . Except for the fact that I am in serious need of chocolate at this very moment after finishing the book an hour ago.

A collection of GIFs that express a wide range of sadness to use as reaction GIFs.

Here is the basic breakdown of my mental breakdown:

Ebullient when the book arrived in the mail and I finally had two days to dedicate to reading it. Oh, the sweet ecstasy!

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Joyous as I began the first few chapters and was at last able to dive back into Kestrel and Arin’s incredible worlds, knowing that they would soon meet again.

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Giddy when Arin and Kestrel do, indeed, meet in such fabulous fashion as a secret rendezvous on a terrace during a ball. And Arin revealing all those emotions–can I get a “who-hah!”? At this point in the book, I’m thinking we’re off to a great start, because where zer iz romanz, zer iz blooming love! And getting interaction between the two as early as Chapter 8 is a good sign. I. Was. Soaring.

WOOO!!! - how-i-met-your-mother Photo

And while we’re on the subject, I would like to give a shout-out to Chapter 8. *slyly* You know why. It’s like Rutkoski has this gift for making you think you’ve eaten the entire ice cream cone as it melts into nothing in your hand. So tortuously awesome!

SEXY

Eager: Go on, go ahead. Just. KIIIIIISSSSSS!

Tortured when it becomes apparent they can’t be together, but they must—they simply must! So I waited expectantly, because these things always turn around. They will meet again.

eager

Dissatisfied when such moments end sans resolution and without a little something to keep me warm at night.

Objection your honour! - Brad - How I Met Your Mother (gif)

Mad at each instant that they were together, but either the emperor was watching, Arin was upset with Kestrel for not being honest, and Kestrel felt she couldn’t be honest with Arin because it would endanger his life because the emperor was watching. You’re ruining my ship!

How I Met Your Mother - "I hate you!" "Don't leave me!"     This followed with this: http://media.tumblr.com/tumblr_mb70fvrfHx1rnvwt1.gif
But I don’t really, Arin, because I love you.

Hopeful in those brief moments where they were together and when I could see inside Arin’s head and realized that he is still completely in love with her, and I knew that Kestrel was doing all of this sneaking around because she loves him, too, and was only trying to protect him.

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Victory.
Delusional because I kept forgetting that this is only Book II and that she can’t resolve everything to my satisfaction so early in the trilogy.
Follow your dreams.
 Yeah, thanks for that little sloth. You totally led me astray!

Apprehensive when I discovered that plans were being made behind the scenes that I as a reader had yet to see unveiled. . . . This can’t be good, but I still believed it would all work out. . . . Why are you smiling at me, Rutkoski?

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Confused: Wait, what’s happening? Why is he going home? No, no, that’s not how it goes. GO BACK! (this was about 12:30am this morning)

How I Met Your Mother

Tormented when I realized Arin isn’t coming back because of the burning flame of anger and his own torment inside of him, raging like the flames that destroy the plains. But why does he have to go?

Me when people are just being stupid/dumb

Raw because Marie has a way of gutting you and making you like it.

Barney suicide How i met your mother

Panicked as I become aware of the fact that the page number is dwindling and resolution is nowhere to be found. If I read faster, I’m sure there will be a silver lining.

AHHH. (how i met your mother,barney stinson,himym,gif,tv show,neil patrick harris,scared,scream)

Eek! Go away, truth!

Gutted as the book ends and … and … Well, I can’t spoil that for you. But suffice it to say that Book III in this trilogy better come quick, because I need answers.

know

Numb? Maybe numb. I can’t tell. I can’t feeeeeeeeeel!

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Then again…

Ted's Most Over-the-Top Romantic Gestures on HIMYM

Overall, “The Winner’s Crime” is a fantastic sequel, and Rutkoski’s writing never once lagged or became less gorgeous and descriptive and fantastically amaze-balls than in “Curse.” I still had a few issues with it, but it was more personal preference, and even then these discrepancies didn’t bother me so much because they kind of knit the story together. Of course I loved Arin and his honesty, but I sometimes became frustrated when he wouldn’t acknowledge what was right in front of his face–that Kestrel was still in love with him–and just take her in his arms and steal her away. I was desperately waiting for a moment of peaceful resolution between them that never truly came, and although I’m sure this will come in the final installment, I really, reeeeally wanted it now. Each moment they were together was like holding your breath during a long pause while each character decided what to do, and then after five minutes of sucking on carbon dioxide, you exhale and realize that nothing happened. But the author makes you want it each page, and so you keep forging ahead to get it, and their dialogues are so intimate that sometimes you come away without realizing that you didn’t get very much. So well played, Rutskoski. Well, played.

This book is a lot of things, but most of all it is a well written, beautiful piece of imagery and intricate worlds fashioned from great imagination. Rutkoski constructed a fantastically complicated plot and cast of characters that will steal your heart and, if you’re like me, steal away two days spent intensely reading and then consume the rest of your life. True story. All in all, I highly recommend this series and beg you to enjoy every minute of Arin and Kestrel’s togetherness (Chapter 8) and all the beautiful words (Chapter 8) and each complication of the plot (Chapter 8) and, well, if you hadn’t already guessed, Chapter 8. But now that it’s over, I feel a little empty. . . .

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Oh, look, another book to distract me for the next year until the final installment is released. My hands have meaning again!

“Prove that you want him,” he said into her hair.

“I do,” she said, but her voice sounded like she was drowning.

His kiss was there, waiting near her lips. “Liar,” he breathed.

Robin: You’re sick.Barney: I’m not sick.Robin: You’re sick!Barney: You know what? I am sick - sick of you telling me I’m sick. What up How I Met Your Mother 2.11 - “How Lily Stole Christmas”

 

The Drought Has Ended!

Published March 15, 2015 by Ashley Townsend

I know it has been several months since I’ve written a genuinely fresh post on here, but I promise I’ll explain my absence soon. I’ve just been keeping afloat with with my evil child development class (there are no words) that ends this week–Yippee! So I’ll be back at the ol’ grind soon, folks! But in the meantime, I decided to write a review for a book I finished in December and absolutely adored, because I had to give my mind a little refresher before I start the sequel this week, since I’ll finally have time. If you’re interested in checking out similar reviews like this or just enjoy booky, fangirly goodness, be sure to check out my sister Katie’s blog “Books and Wonderful Things.” She recently did a cover reveal for “Winter” by Marissa Meyer, a book we have all been anticipating for over a year but that has been pushed back to a November release when it was supposed to come out last month. Oh, the torture! And I’m not even sure how I feel about the cover after the beauty that is “Cress.” Hmm. My opinion remains to be decided until November.
https://booksandwonderfulthings.wordpress.com/

The Winner's Curse (The Winner's Trilogy, #1)The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

*************** A MILLION STARS!
Oh. My. Sweet. Goodness.
I go through phases where I’ll read through seven incredible books in a few short weeks and fall in love with reading all over again, like a rediscovery of my passion for words each time a new book is opened. And then the inevitable drought ensues, either brought about by several horribly disappointing books in a row (and I do not throw that label around lightly) or because there just have not been any new releases that I’m interested in. It’s like struggling through the sands of the desert and being unable to see water for miles and miles around. Just ugh. This depressing cycle of lacking reading material can be hard to break.… Unless, of course, a book comes along that blows me away and renews my fervor to read.
Well, I’m happy to say that “The Winner’s Curse” is such a book.
I couldn’t put it down! Rutkoski’s writing is beautiful and poetic, slightly reminiscent of Tahereh Mafi’s poetic monologues in her “Shatter Me” trilogy, but way, WAY better and less drawn out. Her style is so engaging and fluid, and the world development in this story is absolutely impressive and fantastic. Also, Rutkoski’s “resolution” to the problem in the story is gut-wrenching and wunderbar, because it completely sets up a fascinating situation and plot for the sequel, “The Winner’s Crime.” Bravo, author. Brav-o.
The characters are fantastic, and although Kestrel is a part of the group of haughty, wealthy elite in the novel, she has a truly kind heart and has enough facets to her that I feel every type of reader can find something to like about her. It was also wonderful to watch her grow and mature into a compassionate and understanding young woman in regards to Arin’s plight.
Oh, yes. Arin. *insert dreamy sigh* Yes, he vexed me and made me smile and caused me to laugh, and there also might have been a few tears shed for him at times (piano and cards and violin!). He just—I can’t—GAH! I love to read about the kinds of characters that act tough and strong-willed, and Arin is, but you know there is so much more to the story. But you’ll have to figure out exactly what that is for yourself (amazing plot twist!). Now, if you’ll please excuse me, I have to go read “The Winner’s Crime,” because I have waited FAR too long for it. Arin, baby, here I come!

View all my reviews

 

A Time to Die, A Great Dystopian Read

Published September 23, 2014 by Ashley Townsend

My good friend Nadine Brandes’ first dystopian thriller is out in ebook today! So excited and proud of her and this incredible story. This book and Nadine’s raw characters impacted my life as a reader and a human being and forced me to answer the question, “If I had one year left to live, what would I do?” My post to Nadine’s prompt will premiere this Friday, September 26th, 2014, so be sure to tune back in. In the meantime, join the Facebook release party and invite your friends for fun and prizes https://www.facebook.com/events/707107636048938/726618327431202/?notif_t=plan_mall_activity

Check out her blog post from today that I posted below, and be sure to order your own copy of the ebook for yourself, or pre-order the paperback for a friend (to be released next week). And don’t forget to share and support brilliant authors like Nadine. 

http://www.amazon.com/Time-Die-Out-Book-ebook/dp/B00NDAJBTU/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1411508025&sr=8-7&keywords=a+time+to+die

 

 

Release Day! – A Time to Die E-Book

Today is the day!

A Time to Die is here. (That sounds rather ominous…)

The e-book just released today and the paperback releases one week from tomorrow on October 1st. I’m not nervous. I’m just excited to finally share this world with you.

About the Book

If you haven’t already, you can read about A Time to Die here. Here’s a brief summary:ATimetoDieCov

Imagine a world where everyone has a Clock showing them exactly how long they have to live. You keep yours on your nightstand. You see your Numbers every day. That is what A Time to Die is about.

Parvin Blackwater lives in this world. She’s seventeen-years-old and has one year left, only she believes she’s wasted her life. 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.

(Read a sample chapter!)

Who is this book for?

It’s geared toward ages 16 and up. Do you enjoy books like The Hunger Games or DivergentA Time to Die is in the same genre. The difference? This story is built off the foundation of faith in Christ. It’s Christian speculative fiction. My goal in this novel is not to “preach” but to address questions — even spiritual doubts — that we have all possibly asked at one point. To point us toward hope in Christ despite the uncertainties of life.

This book is for anyone who loves story and allows story to change them. It’s for anyone searching for hope in a forlorn type of world. It’s for anyone wondering what might change should they know how long they have to live.

Why should you read A Time to Die?

Some believe that fiction can’t really add much to our lives. I used to be one of those people — I read fiction for only entertainment’s sake. Over the past several years, I’ve seen how God used it to shape me. My prayer is that A Time to Die will be a “shaping” type of book.

My prayer is also that it will help renew your perspective on life, thus urging you to pursue life — to pursue God — with the utmost energy and passion. Just by writing it, I’ve gained deeper understanding on what it means to hone my vision and purpose for God.

CLOCK

Ever wonder what God’s purpose is for your life? Ever feel like you’ve wasted your life? These are two issues my main character, Parvin, has to address through her journey.

Most of all, A Time to Die was written to combat the hopelessness I noticed in some other dystopian novels.

Special launch week events to watch for:

Facebook Party! — Come to the Facebook Party tonight! 7-9 EST (4-6 PST) Prizes like gift cards, special items from my book, signed copies, and even a Kindle are being given away.

Giveaway — Click on this link and scroll to the bottom of the post to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway for a signed copy of A Time to Die and/or an Amazon gift card!

Meet the Characters:

Meet JudeMeet ParvinMEET WILLOW

 

Other ways you can support:
  • Pray for this book and release! Pray that it glorifies God and continues to reach the hands of the readers who need it most.
  • Purchase a paperback copy of A Time to Die and donate it to your library.
  • After you read A Time to Die, write a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads.
  • Purchase it as a gift for a friend (Christmas is just around the corner, right? ;) )
  • SHARE this book and release with your friends, on your Facebook, through e-mail, on Twitter, etc.
THANK YOU!

This process of writing a book, watching God take it into the hands of a publisher, and now seeing it in print has been…overwhelmingly breathtaking. I’m in constant awe of the people who have stepped forward to support, mainly with their friendship and encouragement.

Each of you who visits my blog is one of those people. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. I thank God for you and I pray He continues to reveal His purpose and visions for your life.

I’m so excited to share this story with you. Please connect with me and ask any questions you’d like or tell me what you think of the book!

 

Okay, so which version of A Time to Die are you going for? Paperback or e-book?

What fiction books have helped shaped your life?

 

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All Our Yesterdays

Published November 7, 2013 by Ashley Townsend

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I finished “All Our Yesterdays” by Cristin Terrill a few weeks ago and forgot to post my review on here (you can find it on my Goodreads, as well). But when a book is THIS awesome, I have to spread the word about it, however delayed it may be. 

THIS BOOK BLEW MY MIND! It was the most gripping story I have read in a long time, and I felt a bond with each character. From the very first page to the last, the story is non-stop action and intrigue. I promise not to spoil the story for you, because there are plenty of plot twists, but every single character–past, present, and future–pull you in as a reader; you cannot help but feel drawn to them, and their actions and the reasons behind who they are make them seem incredibly real. I will admit that Marina and her friends bothered me a little at first, but her character growth was so incredible and realistic for who she was that I ended up truly caring for her.

As a fellow time travel author, I really appreciated–and loved!–Terrill’s take on the subject. It wasn’t too far-fetched or complicated for the reader to follow, but she still managed to throw in loopholes and scientific elements that added complexity to the story and forced you to pay attention, while also making the entire notion seem very real and possible. A few times I caught myself nodding and thinking, “Whoah, this could have already happened!”

There was nothing I didn’t like about the book!

The relationships are so different and have so many layers (Marina and James, Em and Finn), and Finn stole my heart in twelve different lifetimes! I also loved the younger characters, and Em, though rough around the edges, felt so real to me in her actions and thoughts, her fears and desires. I was in tears the last thirty pages, and my heart was literally clenched in dread. I bawled over the last chapter, but in such a good, sad way. Then I went into my sister’s room clutching the book to my chest with my red eyes, and she just nodded sympathetically, because she knew. BUT DO NOT LET THAT KEEP YOU FROM THIS STORY! It ends beautifully and perfectly, but I had to allow myself time to mourn the loss of someone’s future. The fact that this author forced me to love so many characters, even those who thrived in this life and those who might cease to exist, makes her an A in my book! I was a little surprised when I discovered that a sequel to “All Our Yesterdays” will be coming out soon, but I trust Terrill with my book-loving heart. Bring it on, girl!

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