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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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17 Little Things In Life That Make You Absolutely Euphoric
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”

 

Between the Pages: Meet Will Taylor

Published October 17, 2014 by Ashley Townsend

Meet your next book crush (and my forever fictional crush), Will Taylor from “Chasing Shadows.”

Will Taylor—brunette

Will, so nice of you to—Oh, you can remove the blindfold now.

Yanks it off his head. “Where in blazes are we? And why did you cover my eyes?”

In my basement, and there are some things that would be … difficult to explain if you saw them, like my car and microwave. Now, we know that you’re 22, have super-human good looks–born with them!—and have a passion for saving people, but tell us a little something about yourself that we don’t already know.

“Where’s Sarah?”

*sighs* Will, honey, focus. You’re adorable when you’re being protective, but you’re fine, she’s fine, we’re all fine. I just need a few minutes of your time, and then I can return you to where you came from after we conclude our interview. Speaking of which, what do you like best about living in twelfth century Serimone?

Shifts uncomfortably. “Pardon?”

Too tough? Okay, then, what’s your favorite color?

“Green, I suppose.”

What is a fond childhood memory you’d like to share?

“Following my father through the castle and exploring the secret passages deep below. Every day was like an adventure, and my knowledge of every inch of Serimone Castle has helped in certain other ‘endeavors.’”

Like sneaking in to find evidence against the king’s assassin. Alright, now we’re getting somewhere. . . . Good Lord, you’re dreamy. Okay, stay focused, be professional.

“… Did I awake in a mental infirmary?”

What? *giggles nervously* No. Of course not! Anywho, moving on. Do you have any favorite hideouts?

“There is an enormous birch tree on the property near my cabin. I am very fond of watching the sunrise from there. Especially when the company is very fair.” 

That’s a secretive smile. Care to share with the rest of us?

“Forgive me, but no. That memory is very close to my heart.” 

You are just as private as Sarah. . . Ah, I get it now. Well, then if you could have any superpower, what would it be?

“To travel back in time.”

… Uh-huh, How interesting, and no hesitation. *clears throat* What would you see or change if you could?

“I would go to the past and stop my parents from being murdered.” Sighs. “Though Sarah would tell me that I can’t change the past, but should make the most of my present.” 

I’m sure your parents would be proud of you. You took over your father’s blacksmith business, right? Do you want to do that permanently, or do you have other interests?

“Um, no, I do not wish to be a blacksmith forever. And I do have other hobbies…”

You mean being the Shadow, Serimone’s vigilante?

“How did you—“

Long story. Plus, I’m also a huge fan of yours—you know, running around the forest in a cloak and fighting for justice with a bow is pretty awesome—so I’ve been keeping tabs on you.

“Thank you? I took on the persona of the Shadow so I could seek out my parents’ murderer, and then I continued on with my pursuit for justice when I realized that I could truly help people.” Mouth tips. “And I kept on with it to a help a certain young lady stop an assassination.”

That reminds me, do you think you’ll ever be able to prove that Cadius killed his brother, the king?

“The two of us are doing everything we can to bring him to justice, so I suppose we’ll see someday.”

Speaking of Sarah, do you have long-term aspirations for your relationship?

Smiles very slowly. “My goals involve forever.”

*heart melts* I’m trying really hard to not ship you guys right now.

“Ship? I’m sorry…?”

Oh, it’s not like an actual ship-ship. It’s when you root for a fictional couple and combine their names. Like you and Sarah could be … Swill? Willah? Umm, Maylor?

“You do realize that sounds horrible.”

Yes, I’ll definitely think up something else, but you get the idea for now. I just have to be careful that I don’t get more attached than I am if I have to kill one of you off.

Eyes widen. “Kill one of—Hey, let’s not be hasty.”

Well, that’s all we have time for today. Thanks, Will, for traveling all this way. If you’ll just put this blindfold back on, we can get you back to where you belong. A little quicker now, if you don’t mind.

“And what do you mean fictional?”

… Houston, we have a problem.

Finding the Road. . . Again.

Published December 13, 2013 by Ashley Townsend

don't let past ruin future

It’s been an interesting few weeks. . . . Well, couple of months, if I’m being honest. I have spent most of my free time pouring over list after list of literary agents and publishing companies to get “Chasing Shadows” picked up by a physical publisher. But almost zero publishers, Christian and otherwise, are accepting unsolicited manuscripts. That led me to creating a query letter and setting out in search of an agent who believes in this story as much as I do. But every agent I found was looking for something different, so each query letter sent had to be tweaked and reworded. After that it was a waiting game until I either got rejected or they asked to see the manuscript, and let me tell you, I got rejected a lot; it’s a little painful to admit (ACK! My pride!), but, yeah, about 58 times. The plus side was that they were all very kind and “encouraging,” and nearly every agent said my query letter was perfect, so if you need some direction on writing a query of your own or how to deal with some seriously repetitive rejection, I’m your gal! ^_^ Or we can just eat chocolate together. ashleytownsend.author@yahoo.com

success is not final

Another little hiccup was that almost none of the Christian literary agents are looking for the element of fantasy, and the agents interested in time travel don’t have an interest in promoting Christian fiction. So it put me in a teensy bit of a bind. I was alone at work one day when I got my magillionth rejection, and I basically had a mini meltdown in the bathroom. Though I reference it in my stories, I’ve never actually felt a broken heart until the moment I read the words “Thanks, but.” Yet that is honestly what it felt like. I spent an hour busying myself with insurance billing so I didn’t have to make a choice between believing all the other rejections and moving past it. But no matter how hard I tried to block it out, there would be these brief moments where God’s Voice snuck in and reminded me that it was a choice. Soooo not what I wanted to hear at that moment, but then I realized that the entire Shadows Trilogy is based off of this principle: “Everything is a choice.” I’ve written about it for years but never fully understood until a few days ago when I realized I was choosing to wallow and stop trying. To tell you the truth, that scared the stuffing out of me, so I played a little Russian roulette with my Bible (it’s a highly scientific process), but the verse it flopped open to was completely non-applicable (I have no need to trade in goats OR sandals, dangit!!!). I was going to give up when I kind of begrudgingly flipped to the next page, and a small, random, un-highlighted verse caught my eye:

“He will not fear evil tidings. His heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD.” Psalm 112:7

Psalm 112

…….. Oh. That was a tad spot-on. And this simple, random thing made me realize that so many times the answer is as simple as us being willing to turn the page or round the corner, to not give up when the answer doesn’t readily present itself. I decided then that I didn’t want to live life as a victim anymore and chose to have a better attitude, to not give in to despair and give up on Hope. Yes, there are still times when my friends are talking about graduating and boyfriends and careers and traveling the world, and I’m just sitting here like, “Oh, yeah, I love rocks, and this part-time community college student is totally going to have a best seller before 2090.” But I’m choosing not to believe the Devil’s lies when he says God made me the way I am with no purpose in mind. Even when I don’t know what that purpose is, God knows exactly where He’s directing me. And you, too.

I so wish I could tell you that I received hundreds of offers and that I have an incredible underdog story to tell, but alas, not as of this moment. So why am I admitting all of this? Because I want you to know how low I fell and how far and gently God was able to pick me up. . . . I didn’t realize until I typed those words just now that “Chasing Shadows” is all about that. Cool beans!

louisaI want to create the type of book that is intriguing and fun, serious and clever, full of incredibly realistic and relatable characters, and also the kind of story that won’t just appeal to those who were raised in a Christian home. Yes, of course I want to reach those who have already heard God’s message, but I so desire for readers who are only interested in secular books to connect to the story and characters—no “in your face” Christianity, but a guilt-free book that they love and learn from and that has God’s heart at the center of the story. THAT is what I want. I always wanted to follow in the footsteps of my mom and grandma, who both love and loved to write, and Jesus was the ultimate storyteller. Why wouldn’t I want to be like Him? So I know He has a plan for my wandering thoughts and inner story-maker, but as of right now, I have absolutely no idea what that is. But I’m trusting that God has a plan, and whatever spiritual journey you’re on, He has a plan for you, too, and it will be one of Victory. Our job is to not lose our enthusiasm for our passions along the way as we enjoy the ride.

success failure to another

If you have an unpublished manuscript of your own that you want to put out there, Deep River Books is having a contest and will give the winner a full-ride publishing contract with Carmichael Publishing. The contest is going on now through January 15th, so take a chance and put it out there! You never know what might come of it. http://www.deepriverbooks.com/contest.html

All Our Yesterdays

Published November 7, 2013 by Ashley Townsend

13514612

 

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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