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Where Did the Time Go???

Published December 13, 2017 by Ashley Townsend

Let’s just pretend it hasn’t been nearly a month since my last post. *headdesk* In my defense, a lot has gone on the last few weeks: Lifelong friends came to stay, I traveled around to different bookstores for signing events (ahhhhhhhh), I’m making progress in Jungle Princess, holiday events occurred, and we’re helping my parents pack for their out-of-state move before Christmas. We’re having a little pre-Christmas celebration before they go and have been spending as much time as possible soaking up our days together. I come from a pretty close-knit family, so my sisters and I have been setting aside a lot of our busywork to just absorb life with them, which is one of the reasons why I’ve been a little absent lately. But fret not, friends, I’ll be back at it soon enough, though I’m going to take a break for a couple more weeks to be a spazz with my amazing fam.

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Mom looks so angelic while Dad, Katie, and I are staging a Christmas tree assault. Bahaha

Just don’t ask me how many books my Goodreads says I read last month because, well . . . What makes the number 2 sound more impressive?

crying shameThe reviews for the two books are at the end of this post. I know it sounds like nothing, but although I couldn’t technically add them to Goodreads, I had the chance to help some author friends out by providing input on their manuscripts before they shot them off for final edits, so that was so incredibly exciting to see their stories before they get added to Goodreads. *flails* And speaking of flailing, have you seen the cover for Fawkes by Nadine Brandes? The book releases in July of next year, and I. Need. This. Now. TAKE MY MONEY!! You can and should add it to Goodreads and pre-order on Amazon (click here), or preferably both. *wink* When Nadine sent me the cover before the reveal, I literally shrieked and did an excited little giddy-up dance around my living room (#noshame). Look at the cover below and try not to drool.

fawkes

It’s gorgeous and embossed. “And all the fangirls said, ‘Amen.’” grabby hands

Also, last month I was preparing for a signing event at the Barnes & Noble in Mira Mesa just hours before I was supposed to pick up my lifelong friends from the airport for Thanksgiving week. It was a bit hectic that day, to say the least. The author event was a lot of fun, and I had the chance to meet several local writers that I’ll definitely be keeping in touch with. But my favorite part of the afternoon was getting to hang with my friend Liv and grabbing a coffee afterward. She is just such a sweet, calming presence at these things, and it calms my giddy nerves whenever I see her familiar face in the crowd.

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It was definitely crazy getting ready for the event, Thanksgiving, and my friends coming to stay for the week, but we all had an absolute blast together hopping around San Diego—playing in the water on Coronado Island, taking ferry rides with the most hilarious tour guide possible, having a blast at Sea World (despite the fact that we nearly died from lack of coffee, but churros saved out lives), exploring the tide pools at Cabrillo, and just having a fabulous time catching up with old friends.

If you were following my Instagram during NaNo, you probably saw my word-pics for my work in progress, Jungle Princess. These were so much fun to make, and a few of the images actually inspired new scenes for my wip, so HUZZAH! I told you I would share a few of my favorites on my blog and hope they pique your interest in the story of mermaids and magical islands and monsters and . . . Tarzan. Hmm. I was really go for alliteration there, but I had to sneak his name in somehow. ^_~

And feeeeeeeeeeeeeels.

WHAT I READ: 

“The English Spy” by Daniel Silva ***

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I enjoyed the book and think I would have liked it more if I’d had more time to dedicate to it, so maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for a slower-paced—and what I assumed was a—spy-thriller. Some of the characters were fun, but there was so much politics and unnecessary plot building that I think it became more of a distraction than an aid to the story. Overall, it was enjoyable, I just wouldn’t necessarily recommend it.

“The Afterlife of Holly Chase” by Cynthia Hand *****

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Just in time for Christmas! This book was such a clever take on A Christmas Carol, and from the first page showcased Hand’s unsurprisingly fabulous sense of humor (any Lady Janies out there?). The story really begins after Holly fails her “Scrooge-test” and ends up being recruited by the company that puts the productions together to turn lives around. Usually the self-absorbed protagonist-who-is-guaranteed-to-change-her-ways plot bugs me because you have to drudge through so much of the character’s hideous personality, but Holly isn’t mean-spirited and ends up being really likeable, so kudos to Hand for nailing it. This story was full of heart and character development and quotable phrases and, of course, plenty of laugh-out-loud moments.

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Who Wants to Hear Some Exciting News???!

Published June 19, 2016 by Ashley Townsend

Come hither, come hither! (wherever “hither” is) I have some exciting news! Drum roll please.

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DEFYING SHADOWS IS OFFICIALLY OFF TO THE PUBLISHER!!!

request the highest of fives
Robert Downey Jr sexy smile (gif)

After rushing to get the final round of edits done–moving past burning eyes, late nights, coffee abuse, and a serious lack of social engagements–Defying Shadows (click here to add it on Goodreads) is officially ready to go to print. WEEEEEE!!!!!!

It has literally been a decade from the start of this series to getting Rising Shadows published (see where it all began here), seeing Chasing Shadows in print, and now sending off the final book in the trilogy. I am crazy excited to share it with you all (July 2016 release date TBA), but it’s also a little strange to know that this series has come to a close.

I don't want to go 10 doctor david tennant

Of course, I’ll read it when it comes out (say, 20 or 100 times), but I’ll never get to write a new scene between Sarah and Will, never laugh at Karen and Seth’s antics (the badger moment you will experience in Defying Shadows), and never sigh with confused emotions when Damien breaks/mends my heart a thousand times over.
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“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” sounds pretty appropriate for how I felt doing that final read-through. But although it is incredibly bittersweet to send my little word-child off to the presses all on his lonesome (yes, I laughed, I cried), it’s also really exciting to have the chance to dive into new series and novels that have been gnawing at my writer-mind for so long. Plus, I can always go back to visit Sarah and the gang in Serimone because . . . badum da dum!!! . . . yet another surprise:

RISING SHADOWS IS COMING OUT IN PAPERBACK!!!

clapping audience gif | Baby Clapping GIF

That’s right, Ink Smith requested the rights to have the first book, so it will be re-released in paperback in mid- late-July along with Defying Shadows.

Sebastian is basically me with the whole Team Cap over Team Iron Man rivalry XD

Soon, I will have the ENTIRE Rising Shadows Trilogy on my bookshelf, looking all pretty and fabulous, and you will too! And because Rising Shadows will be revamped in paperback in a month, I figured the oldest sibling in the family needed a new look. I’m not going to ask for a show of hands (because I can’t see your hands), so I’m just going to assume I can drop another bombshell on you today and REVEAL THE NEW COVER FOR RISING SHADOWS!!! ^_^

Ready?

Set?

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Rising Shadows Book Cover - Larger Moon_resized

“Would you entrust your future with a hero of the past?”

I know, it’s fabulous, feel free to fangirl.

New trending GIF on Giphy

The incredibly talented Elegant Stylus (click here to stay updated on future designs), who imagined the drool-worthy cover for Defying Shadows, also decided to revamp the cover for Book I in the trilogy, and I am LOVING it! Feel free to share around, and I am waiting with baited breath for the moment these lovelies can all grace my shelf, side by side. I might even have an entire room for them. Hmm. Something to consider.

Now, I'm taking a full day to organize my bookshelf and get back to Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matsen. Yep, I'm going to read an entire book this week and listen to music and not have a schedule.

The Rose and the Dagger

Published May 10, 2016 by Ashley Townsend

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Oh, Renee, you never cease to amaze me! *happy sigh*

After Renee Ahdieh’s “The Wrath and the Dawn” blew–let’s be honest–EVERYONE away (and also after I met the sweet, hilarious writing genius at Comic-Con 2015), the book fandom world suffered greatly for a year in anticipation of the final installment in the duology. Then came a description and the cover!!! (Shipper hearts exploded everywhere) And, finally, after millions of painful hours spent crying softly with want and need, the book arrived.

david tennant eager

Oh, how the heavens rejoiced!!!

Anyway, you know I’m not one for being the recipient OR giver of spoilers, so I’ll just give you a brief overview of the story through “Teen Wolf” gifs. Now, come, enter our fandom. WARNING! There are no exits. 

fandom

The book begins with Shazi at the camp Tariq brings her to, and it was actually nice to see them interacting again. But as much as I like Tariq, I have been waiting a year for Khazi to reconnect, so OUT OF THE WAY!!! At long last, once Shazi came to Khalid on her magic carpet (trying so hard not to sing the Steppenwolf song right now!), it was like nothing else mattered in the world.

yesss

And there is this one moment where something happens to Shazi (no spoilers!), and Khalid is about to go into full-on zombie mode to avenge her. I believe every fangirl felt this way in that instant:

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But, inevitably, now that we’ve had some great times together, there’s bound to be some drama. Or, like, truckloads of it. I finished the book in two days (if it wasn’t for eating, sleeping, and work, I could have finished sooner!), and I was basically a hot, concerned mess until the last page.

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And when Khalid fights to free himself from his curse, we were all cheering him on.

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The only issue (“issue” even sounds extreme, since its just my preference) that I had with the book was that there sometimes wasn’t enough of Shazi and Khalid together–plenty of pages were dedicated to secondary characters. For example, I like Irsa as a person, I really do, but sometimes having entire chapters dedicated to her (when you just know Khazi it out there somewhere) was a little tedious. Though I always looked forward to Rahim in her scenes! But as much as we love them, raise your hand if you don’t want Irsa to occupy half of Khazi’s story.

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 Although having so many secondary characters at the forefront of the story was sometimes distracting, when one of them–one of my favorite characters–lost his life, I was totally broken up over it and shed several tears. But then I couldn’t see the page and had to dry my tears so I could finish!!!

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And somehow Renee can break your heart and then mend it 1,000 times over. Just. Sigh. One of the most perfect series enders I have read in a long time. Kudos, Renee!

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But I was so entrenched in the story that once I had rushed through to the end and placed the finished story aside, it hit me that it was over. I had just read the epilogue, and the series was over! Excuse me while I die and then proceed to re-read “The Wrath and the Dawn” 40 times.

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Now buy, BUY the book! What are you waiting for? GOOOOOOOO!!!!

 

A Cold Legacy Review

Published April 27, 2015 by Ashley Townsend

***** FIVE STARS FOR A COLD LEGACY!!!

A few words to describe this story: poignant, maddening, beautiful, heartbreaking, marvelous, gripping, haunting, heartwarming, and just plain old fashioned AWESOME.

I finished the final installment in The Madman’s Daughter trilogy a little while ago and am just now getting my review together, but believe me, my excitement and heartbreak over this book are still perfectly fresh.

For starters, this series is amazing! If you look through my Goodreads reviews, The Madman’s Daughter and Her Dark Curiosity all get extremely high marks. Shepherd’s stories and characters are incredibly inventive, fascinating, and delightfully twisted—and by that I mean complex, although there certainly are some moments where Juliet and a few of the other characters appear a little warped. However, Shepherd draws in a highly redeeming factor in the story, which was just beautifully done, I might add. Now I realize that life before this story was meaningless and that it woke me from book-slumber. *snoring* “Oh, look, a new book!”

Not that Tumblr needed another SebStan blog...

The story begins exactly where Curiosity left off, with Juliet, Montgomery, Lucy, and Edward—I love you!—escaping from the repercussions of events that occurred in the previous book that you’ll just have to discover for yourself (insert evil cackle and lightning strike). Though this story is a slower, unfolding ride, the author has an amazing knack for packing each sentence with meaning and making your hair stand on-end as you read over haunting images; it’s a bit like an old-fashioned suspense novel in the sense that readers are constantly wondering what lurks around the corner as they flip madly to the next page. I love how Shepherd worked legends and other classic monster characters into her series: the first book revolves around the history of Dr. Moreau, Jack the Ripper was the center of Her Dark Curiosity, and the monster in Frankenstein (one of my favorite darker stories in classic literature) is what this installment revolves around. And these elements could not have been handled by a better author!

Now, for my actual reactions while reading A Cold Legacy, though I’ll try to keep it as spoiler-free as possible:

When it arrived in the mail on a delightfully dreary day, all beautiful and smelling of fresh ink—a book druggie’s greatest weakness—I was ready to bunker down and enjoy myself.

Basically right out of the gate, I got so excited that Edward was going to come out of his monster-induced coma and be just awesome and endearing and wonderful and heartbreaking once again…. But, no, the Monster is still trying to take control of his body, so he basically spends half the story in chains. My baby!

my emotions

And then there’s the matter of Hensley, the creepy, emotional child who basically lives in the walls of the manor, carrying secrets and squeezing his pet rats to death. Like, frequently, because he has super human strength and terrifies the entire staff. Nothing unusual about that.

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Oh! Also, one of my favorite “SURPRISE!” moments was when one of the island dwellers–you heard correctly, from book ONE–makes an appearance in this story. Waaaaa???

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That moment when we discover that Edward is awake, he’s fine! We’re all going to be okay. And then…

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We find out that the Beast has taken over Edward’s body completely and that they’re going to have to kill him to finish the Monster off for good this time. “Just give me a blanky and chocolate and leave me alone!”

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I won’t say how, but (chuckles nervously) sweet, adorable little Hensley has a big part in helping to terminate the Beast (a.k.a.: Edward is dead, too). Thanks a lot, idiot! You ruined everything!

thank a lot

And then I remember that this is a book about regeneration, like in Frankenstein, and that they CAN BRING HIM BACK!!!

yess

yes

But then we discover that stupid Lucy has been trying to mimic Frankestein’s science, though she is completely unqualified and stupid and annoying and crazy. . . Did I mention stupid?

omg

stupid

Sorry, but I was particularly annoyed by her. I was also a little disappointed in Juliet that she would once again attempt to be like her father and create life herself, but I felt that I really understood her more; she was saving a friend this time, and loved seeing her actually struggle, because it made her more relatable. Plus, with Lucy (blegh) practically forcing her to do the operation so that the dumb-dumb doesn’t botch the procedure and ruin Edward’s body, Juliet basically had to do it. So throw the bloody switch!

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So (spoiler! but you should have expected it, given the Frankenstein theme) Edward comes back to life, albeit a little changed yet completely devoid of the Monster. Yippee! But he totally broke my heart in the way that he didn’t wish to come back as a different kind of monster. And selfish Lucy’s just like:

sorry not sorry

But just before all this happens, something wonderful occurs between Juliet and Montgomery, your next stable, incredibly level-headed and amazing fictional heartthrob who’s like Tarzan and lived on an island with Dr. Moreau for many years. After going between Edward and Montgomery for what seems like ages, Juliet FINALLY commits.

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hot

Yeah, it’s that good.

Anyway, the gang this whole time was being tracked down by Lucy’s father, who is after Juliet’s knowledge of regeneration and wants them all dead. And, of course, Lucy does the absolute dumbest thing imaginable. So stupid, in fact, that I need several gifs to express my annoyance with her.

idiotsod onesee what you've done well done

So, anyway, Lucy does the-thing-that-shall-not-be-named (for spoiler’s sake), and gets the gang into a serious heap of trouble. It’s a really awesome, intense stand-off/fight club where the circus troupe they befriend and the manor staff team-up against Lucy’s father and his cronies.

During this rather fantastic scuffle, someone sacrifices themselves to save one of my favorite characters, but I was so ready for someone to actually die, and I also didn’t care much for the character at this point, so I was basically like, “Pass the popcorn!”

when she dies yay

So the story comes to a close, and I’m getting my heartbroken tears ready–you know, the ones I shed at the end of Book I and also the middle/end of Book II–when one of my favorite heart-wrenching characters decides to walk away from it all. And then Shepherd hits you while you’re down and gives Juliet the most beautiful discovery where she realizes that she has a choice in who she becomes and that she doesn’t have to follow in her demented father’s footsteps, something she’s feared since the beginning.

at the end when Edwrad goes off

*sniffs* Yes, this book is definitely worth the read. Shepherd is an incredibly vivid, emotional, and just all around hauntingly poetic writer. If you enjoy suspenseful, beautifully crafted literature that contains elements of classic gothic stories (Jane Eyre, etc.), then this book is definitely for you. But you CANNOT read these out of order; go and get yourself the previous two books. You won’t be sorry!

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