Spoilers

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Ahoy! Spoilers Ahead!

Published May 16, 2015 by Ashley Townsend

Okay, so this could definitely be considered cheating, but I am DYING to share a little snippet from Book III in the Rising Shadows trilogy!

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Yep, you heard right. I’ve been writing several pages each day, refining as I go, and spent basically all of yesterday working on an imperative, mystery-unraveling scene. I also had the opportunity—at last!—to pen the letters between Cadius and Alexis. . . . There aren’t any major spoilers within the actual letters (as long you’ve read Chasing Shadows), so don’t panic or get too excited.

The "Freaking Out Hard Core" (the BEST pin in history. I cant breathe. this is seriously amazing. Click on the link. NOW.)

… Or get excited—that’s okay, too! But if you are going into your second year of being cold turkey concerning spoilers, then you might want to back out now and wait for the book to release. I’d hate to be the one who set you back.

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That’s right, go ahead. I’ll wait a moment for you to leave…

Flash Cisco Ramon ♥♥♥

Ah, now that we’re all ready for some serious glimpses of the literary future, shall we continue on? 

Ned

Nonsense, poopy pants! (a little shout-out to Ace Ventura) Without further ado:

WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD!

Sarah ran a tentative finger over the rough, discolored parchment she had found in the hidden compartment. With careful fingers, she removed the uppermost letter from the pile and set the box on the desk. Pausing to listen for the sound of footsteps and hearing only her own rapid breathing, Sarah reverently opened the letter, fingers shaking as she unstuck the seal, broken years before now. The ancient parchment crackled as she unfolded it gently, praying it didn’t disintegrate in her hands. Instinctively, her eyes roved the small letter quickly, catching glimpses of words that led her to believe it was a love letter, but her mouth swung open when she saw Cadius’ signature at the bottom.

We are nearing the end. You expressed your concern of my plans, but I assure you that I shall employ great care as my design unfolds. It will take time as I gather men who are willing to unseat the current monarch, but be patient, dear heart; I swear to you we will be free of this gilded cage soon. I shall release our souls from the tyranny of my brother by releasing his soul from this life, as I promised you I would. Your time is near, and the pieces are falling into place as planned. Patience, love–do not be so hasty as to try and rush our plan, as you proposed. All in due course, recall? Everything shall go into motion once the child is born.
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Me:

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Just a little taste of what’s to come later this year when the series comes to a close. You’re welcome.

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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.

hmm

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???

gif

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

oh

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!”

emotions

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!

working

workin

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.

ohhsigh

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!

Review of Sever: It’s as Painful as it Sounds

Published March 8, 2013 by Ashley Townsend

sever

When I first read Lauren DeStefano’s “Wither,” I was enthralled. It was intriguing, fantastic, crazy, confusing, mysterious, and an all-in-all well-rounded book and story idea. Plus, every single book cover in her trilogy is A-MAZING! Then “Wither” ended on a sort of cliffhanger, so you can imagine my excitement when “Fever” came out last year. . . . . . . . Umm, yeah. Don’t judge a book by its bubblegum pink and carnival-themed cover. Two words: “Blek” and “Huh?”

But that wasn’t going to stop me! I figured that “Sever”—one of my top anticipated books of 2013 if you refer to previous Book Extravaganza posts—would totally redeem the series, be extremely refreshing after the disappointment of “Fever,” while also answering all of my torturous questions. Again: Umm, yeahhhhhh. My older sisters DeAnna and Elizabeth read it first, and DeAnna actually threw her brand new hardback copy—*GASP*—across the room when she was done. So obviously I had to read it for myself and wouldn’t allow them to give any spoilers, though their utterly shocked and irate reactions should have caused me to steer clear.

Now beware! This review and general rant about a could-have-been-great story WILL contain spoilers, and also some possibly graphic death sequences that may or may not involve sporks and letter writing.

Right off the bat I was intrigued by the first sixty pages of the book. I was glad that Rhine didn’t make me want to throw up and was actually a good character, that she and Linden were “back together,” however frosty he may have been at first, and that it seemed they were going to take that crazy-head Vaughn down. But then it just kept dragging on, so let me give you a brief rundown of the book’s plotline as though we’re actually in the story; it’s much more “riveting” this way. ~__^

We’re at Uncle Reed’s, though I actually enjoyed those parts because he ended up being my favorite character. Vaughn is still a crazy and manipulative, so let’s escape—the logical thing to do, UNTIL……

Oopsies, we’re back at Madame’s carnival from “Fever.” Seriously? We couldn’t have taken the I-8 instead of the 15? Lauren threw in some interesting twists in this portion of the book, such as the fact that Madame is actually the mother of Rose, Linden’s first-first wife. At this point, we’re still intrigued. That will quickly pass, I assure you.

Finally, Rhine gets in touch with her long-lost twin brother, who is now a crazy warlord that blows stuff up. . . . . AT VAUGHN’S BIDDING!!!! Yes, I know—close your mouth. He, too, is a puppet of the crazed scientist. And this is the part that really bothered me: An unnecessary lack of communication, which always curls my toes in books. Rhine’s brother is so enamored with the genius Vaughn that she doesn’t have the heart to tell him that this evil man has killed people and experimented on her. But, hey, why get between a mad scientist and his protégé? Let’s move on. After that, it’s sixty pages of Vaughn talking and the three of them traveling. No, seriously, I counted the number of straight pages, and there was more evil plan-recounting for long stretches later on in the book. Boring and monotonous, but at this point—despite the fact that our eyes are glazing over while he rambles on—I’m still like, “Okay, this isn’t so bad. Why were the girls freaking out?”  

Then Vaughn brings her back to the mansion. Oh, and small side note: In “Fever,” Rhine had been drugged and kidnapped by Vaughn. She willingly left her and Gabriel’s safe haven in the middle of the night without telling Gabriel—again, lack of communication. So he didn’t know where she was. Oh, wait, yes he did! TWIST: He saw her leaving with Vaughn and sacrificed himself by going with her, unbeknownst to our unconscious heroine. Oh, yeah, and he’s been in the basement for the past couple months, which she finds out upon arriving back at the mansion in “Sever” and does nothing about it! This also bothered me, since the guy sacrificed himself for her and she can’t bring herself to take the elevator down two floors? Oy! Also another jump-ahead-side-note: You don’t see Gabriel, the love interest whom she ends up with, until the last six pages of the book, and even then she acts like he’s second best. Why, you may ask?

BECAUSE LINDEN WAS KILLED IN A RIDICULOUS ACCIDENT! Right after he and Rhine had this beautiful moment, and he told her he still loved her, and the sun was shining, and everything was going to be perfect. Then BAM! I knew by my Team Linden sisters’ reactions that he had to die or not end up with Rhine. But how ridiculous and unwarranted and awful could his death really be? Let me tell you: They go for a joy ride in a little plan, he pours out his heart to her, they smile (the kiss of death), experience some turbulence, he gets the teensiest bump on his head, and ends up bleeding out from his eyes, nose, mouth, and ears. Yes, literally every orifice on his head. I was reading it at dinner, because the girls saw where I was and kept nudging each other, so I knew I was close. But I was so shocked that I didn’t even know what to say. They were laughing at my reaction and said my mouth was open and that I was totally flushed. I kept waiting for him to come back to life. No such luck. And then about five minutes later, after just sitting in dumbfounded silence, I finally felt a spark of anger and was highly tempted to torch the book, literally, over an open flame, and you know how much I respect books.

I was so shocked and ticked that he dies without any warning that I, with Elizabeth’s inspiration, devised several other ridiculous and meaningless and horrible ways he could have died. These are about the same caliber as the stupid plane accident.

~Linden is writing Rhine a beautiful love letter, expressing all of his feelings and apologizes for being so frosty. He goes to put the letter in the mailbox, sees a cute squirrel, gets distracted, and accidentally gets a paper cut. Turns out he’s a hemophiliac. It wasn’t even the letter opener or wax seal that did him in. Yeah, that stupid.

Scenario #2: Linden is driving his convertible through a fast food drive-thru. He’s in a hurry to go meet Rhine because he’s finally going to tell her how he feels. He collects his food and plows through the drive thru when one of the attendants throws an unwrapped spork out the window to a waiting customer. The harmless plastic spork lodges in Linden’s eye, he swerves, and drives into one of those electrical donuts. Did I mention he drove his convertible despite the rain? You fill in the rest.

Scenario #3: I imagine this involves a sweet meet-and-greet with dolphins gone terribly awry at Sea World. Hint: He had packed a sack lunch of chips, an apple, and a mackerel sandwich in in his wetsuit pocket. (Kind of reminds me of the Lacramose Leeches scene, for those of you who’ve read the Series of Unfortunate Events)

Alas, my most anticipated book of the year made me want to shove a spork in my own eye. And they didn’t resolve anything until the last eight pages of the book, and even then it was almost like we were reading the author’s plot notes or special monologue. *Sighs dramatically* Here’s to hoping “Requiem” doesn’t disappoint! -__- (That is a very unfeeling emoticon, in case you were unsure of how high my hopes were that the other books I’m looking forward to will actually turn out well) 

The progression of my many reactions to “Sever”:

sever 7

When Sever arrived, this is what came at the mailman:        “It’s HEEEEEEEERE!!!!”

When they arrived back at Madame's: "Seriously?"

When they arrived back at Madame’s: “Seriously?”

I believe I developed narcolepsy from Vaughn's prolonged diatribe.

I believe I developed narcolepsy from Vaughn’s prolonged diatribe.

sever 3

This was me about halfway through the book.

This was me about halfway through the book.

Then Linden DIES!

Then Linden DIES!

It was a scratch! ARE YOU KIDDING ME!

It was a scratch! ARE YOU KIDDING ME!

sever 1sever 4

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