Timey-wimey, Robin Hood, & All the Feels (Defying Shadows Review)

My review is below, but first I just wanted to mention something!

Defying Shadows HAS BEEN NOMINATED for the August edition of a thing called Clash of the Titles, which YOU can help with by popping over HERE to vote (through August 31) on one of four featured books — which one sounds most interesting to you.

So shoo! Go vote!! 😀 Hurry! Time’s a-wasting!

(Get it…? Time…? Ahem.)

Then come back here and read this review because you don’t want to miss out on hearing all about a timey-wimey Robin Hood-ish adventure, right? 😉

IMG

My Review

defyingshadowsDefying Shadows

(book #3 in the Rising Shadows Trilogy)

by Ashley Townsend

Age range: YA

Genre: Christian / Romance / Time Travel / Historical Fiction / Contemporary

Bonus: Retelling / Robin Hood

5starrating

“I laughed, I cried . . . it moved me, Bob.”*

*(Sorry to go all VeggieTales on you but the quote seemed appropriate. Ahem.)

THIS BOOK, PEOPLE. This review is going to be one of the hardest ones I’ve ever written, because almost all of my favorite things about it are in major spoiler territory… But part of the fun is going on this plot-twisty journey of discovery yourself when you read the book, so I’ll try to keep my review spoiler-free! 🙂

The third book in the Rising Shadows trilogy by Ashley Townsend, Defying Shadows, finally wraps up the adventures of Sarah and her friends in Serimone—and what a wrap-up! *flailing*

This book had EVERYTHING. List, because lists are grand:

  • time travel and everything timey-wimey involved with that
  • historical fiction of a medieval variety
  • contemporary parts
  • sweet adorable romance
  • threads of Christian faith
  • a retelling-of-sorts involving Robin Hood (!!!)
  • mystery and intrigue
  • all sorts of different character arcs
  • PLOT TWISTS AND REVEALS GALORE
  • swashbuckling action
  • heartfelt parts
  • humor/banter/character relationships that are so fun to read
  • even a dash of nautical adventure!

It just has EVERYTHING, I tell you.

(I also feel like this series would make a stunningly gorgeous awesome movie or TV show. XD Somebody get on that.)

I loved the time-travel stuff—it was BRILLIANT and made me happy. 🙂 Just… everything time related was so cool. In the first two, it’s basically a “portal” method to get Sarah into Serimone, and doesn’t do much beyond that, which was fine. BUT IN THIS ONE IT WAS SO INVOLVED. So much timey-wimey going on. And I loved that. 😀

There were so many revelations and plot twists, which I so enjoyed! I guessed a few of them, but if anything that made me love it even MORE, simply because I was so excited to see them unfold the way I wanted them to. 😀 It blew my mind SO. MANY. TIMES. and made me so excited and I just loooooved that.

The romance element was so sweet. Really enjoyed it! It wasn’t the main focus of the plot, so there was a lot of other stuff going on, but it weaved in really well. Will and Sarah are ADORBZ and PERFECT together and I don’t know if I ever shipped anyone so hard. XD …Okay, I was really shipping a certain other spoilery side-couple there too. 😉 SO MUCH SPOILERS BUT SO WONDERFUL. ❤

And the retelling/Robin Hood stuff!!! It made me so happy and it was so unique and awesome, loose but still noticeable, and I just… ksldkjfalsdkjf I CANNOT BE COHERENT UPON THIS SUBJECT. I will try though. 😉 Okay, so I ADORED how the retelling stuff came out in this book. Between that and the characters and the time stuff, those three totally made Defying Shadows AMAZING for me!!! ❤ *hugs book* It was completely brilliant how the Robin Hood things were slipped in, kind of subtly sometimes, recognizable in their way and yet with such NEW twists. AWK IT WAS AMAZING. *flailing around* It’s killing me not to expound upon the subject because I loved SO many particular aspects of it, but I don’t want to give anything away. Needless to say, it’s AWESOME and everyone must read it just for the Robin Hood ish elements. Because Robin Hood things are awesome and that is all that needs to be said upon the subject. *nods* (BUT TWISTS THOUGH.)

Defying Shadows was definitely a feelsy book—the emotions run deep, y’all! It made me laugh and smile and get excited and get angry (in a good way) and feel torn and left me teary-eyed a couple times, which isn’t all that common for this here reader… It made my feels a bit of a mess (who am I kidding—a LARGE MESS AWK) and I normally get annoyed at books for doing that but this one was just right and I didn’t actually mind. ^_^ (For those who don’t know me: this is a MAJOR deal. Props to the author for pulling it off.)

I enjoyed the first two books (Rising Shadows and Chasing Shadows), but this one I really LOVED. I was daunted by its size, but while I was reading it, it didn’t seem long at all—it was just the right size and needed that length because of ALL the things that happen. I would also say the writing is AMAZING in this book. It’s improved a lot since the first two. (They were by no means bad! But with this one, the writing has grown by leaps and bounds!) It’s exciting to watch an author grow from book to book, and I’d say Ashley Townsend has definitely come into her own. This book was so well written. Huge thumbs-up on all of that!

Do I have any complaints? Honestly, hardly any. I had a couple minor nitpicks along the way about characters doing things where I was like “WHYYYY, GUYS??” or coming to odd-seeming conclusions, but otherwise the book held together and was amazing on the whole. 🙂 I am very much on the fence with mixed feelings over the epilogue, though… There’s a part of me that likes it because it was a brilliant epilogue, but there’s another part which would have rather had it end on the simply INCREDIBLE high note of the actual ending of the final chapter! ❤ The epilogue was bittersweet (to me at least) which is not my sort of cup of tea? But I’m probably weird and most people will probably love it, so. 😛

Okay, character time. 😉 I loved being back with these characters in Serimone—it was like coming home. ❤

  • Will is of course AWESOME and my favoritest of all. <333 His story-arc was the best. I so enjoyed reading about him in this book! I think he came really far and he’s just… I HAVEN’T WORDS. He’s just such a great guy, heroic and a little dark/sad sometimes, but still learning things, and he’ll do anything for those he loves, and just… WILL. Will Will Will. That is all. ❤
  • Sarah really grew on me in this one! She actually kind of annoyed me at times in the first two? But this time I liked her! I actually felt a lot of the things she was feeling, which is different for me. XD She’s a good heroine. *thumbs up*
  • Damien is… ACK MY FEELS FOR DAMIEN. In Chasing Shadows, he was funny and charming and all, but I spent so much time while I was reading that one, worrying that Sarah would fall for him instead of Will, so that Damien was very much the unwanted-corner-of-the-love-triangle/villain, for me. I didn’t totally dislike him, because his charm DID get to me and sometimes I felt bad for him, but I didn’t see what Sarah saw in him, because Will was so much more awesome. 😉 But in Defying Shadows, Damien had a lot of focus and character stuff involved, AND THE AUTHOR MADE ME LOVE HIM TOO. I’m super impressed. I went from hating this guy to feeling bad for him to really liking him, and his whole plot in this story just… salskdjldkj. I have many feelings that I can’t sort out. I will say nothing more because oh-so-many-spoilers, but wow. (And the yew tree! UGH MY FEELS. D:) But his story-arc was really well done and I liked how it fit in with the rest of the story, and I’m okay. Really. (FEELS THOUGH.)
  • And then there’s a character whose very NAME is a spoiler, so she shall remain nameless, but her story-arc was AMAZING and I loved it to pieces, which really surprised me. O_O This coming from a character I loathed for awhile but came to really like and just… I’m speechless. The talent from this author just blows me away. Not to mention how many times my mind was blown about revelations concerning this character. Speaking of mind-blowing…
  • Robert and Richard were both awesome, and my favorites. (I keep saying that, I know. WELL THEY’RE ALL MY FAVORITES.) I absolutely LOVED their roles in the story!! *bouncing up and down* You will have to read it, but suffice it to say they are awesome and the best and that is all. 😀
  • And Karen! She’s great. And I LOVED her friendship with Sarah, not to mention Karen and Seth together—just so much yes. Also Will’s friendship with Seth and Robert and Richard—I loved seeing those relationships! So much awesome bonding in this book. ^_^
  • We got new characters too, like Merek, who was cool. He’s one of those instantly  likeable characters, and all wise and everything too. He wasn’t in it for very long but I really liked him. He made me think of a Friar Tuck type character. 😀
  • Obviously I abhor the villains who shall also remain nameless and are all horrible which means they’re doing their job. XD They were just UGH. Really nefarious and well-written.

And just… SO MUCH STUFF GOING ON. I’m so amazed at how many character plot threads managed to fit in this story! So many characters had so much going on and it managed to weave together and just wow. Call me impressed.

ANYWAY. This review has gone on quite long enough (though I didn’t even flail and squeal over all the spoilery parts I loved! AWK! <3) so I shall wrap up now. In my defense, the book is long, so there’s a lot to talk about. 😉

Overall, Defying Shadows is an extremely enjoyable time-travel Christian YA romance with a dash of Robin Hood retelling, marvelous writing, lovable characters with deep story-arcs, many feels, and… overall just a lot of fun. It did a splendid job of tying up the threads of the whole series and just… it made me really happy. ^_^

I highly recommend trying Defying Shadows out! (Though you might want to read the first two books, Rising Shadows and Chasing Shadows, first so that you understand things… But hold out till the end, because Defying Shadows is the absolute BEST! ❤ )

Disclaimer and thanks: I was a beta-reader for this book before its publication, so I received a free copy of it for that, and the opinions in this review are entirely my own. Many thanks to the author, the lovely Ashley Townsend, for the chance to go on this journey through Serimone with Will and Sarah and the gang! I had a blast and I think a part of my heart will remain with them. ^_^

About the Book

defyingshadows

One choice can define your future.

At first, Sarah’s return to twelfth century Serimone is as wonderful as she could have hoped—reconnecting with Will and celebrating the union of her two friends—but things quickly fall to pieces when she uncovers something that could unsettle the new regime. Before she can share this information, Sarah is forcibly whisked away by the one man she thought she’d never see again: Damien Lisandro, the friend who betrayed her and the traitor who was supposed to spend his life behind bars. Even more unsettling is the revelation that the mystery they had solved is far from over as a dead man comes back to life with the intent of corrupting the future.

In Will’s desperate attempts to find Sarah, he uncovers the mystery that she left behind, putting into question the kingdom’s past and the motives of its current king. But the madman whose mission it is to change history will stop at nothing until he succeeds, and a team of ragtag time travelers are the only ones left who can stop him.

As this exciting chapter of her life nears its end, Sarah must finally choose between Serimone and her world–between the easy choice and the right one.

Defying Shadows released July, 2016.

Find it online:

Amazon | Goodreads


Check out the first two books in the series & my reviews for them:

Rising Shadows (#1)

risingshadowscovernew

My Review | Goodreads | Amazon

Chasing Shadows (#2)

chasingshadows

My Review | Goodreads | Amazon

About Ashley Townsend

ashleytownsendAshley is a young twenty-something who has been spinning tales since she discovered that her wild imagination and love of storytelling could make a career. Reading and writing are her way of experiencing grand adventures from home, and she hopes that others will join in her fantastical escapades! She is a native to bookstores, coffee shops, the beach, and San Diego, CA. She hopes that God will use her wild imagination and love of storytelling to further entertain and encourage readers in their walk with God.  She currently lives in Southern California with her parents and three sisters.

Follow her quirkiness at Ashley-Townsend.com.

So, what think ye, readers? Robin Hood + Time Travel = pretty awesome, huh? 😀 Do you enjoy retellings, and what’s the best time travel book you’ve read?

Top Ten Tuesday: 2016 Books!

HI EVERYONE. NANO IS OVER AND I SURVIVED. More on that in a later post but right now BOOKS!

See, I know I just posted yesterday already. And I know I’ve been posting constantly for absolutely no reason except that I accidentally became one of “those” people who blogs all the time because apparently I’m addicted?

But ANYWAY that is neither here nor there and the point is that I’ve decided to hop on the Top Ten Tuesdays (by The Broke and the Bookish) bandwagon this week, because BOOKS and LISTS and because this week’s prompt was too good to pass up.

And mostly because NaNo is over so I can think about books and reading again AND I’M JUST SO EXCITED AAAHH LET ME FLAIL AND HUG ALL OF THE BOOKS!

I’ve never done Top Ten Tuesday before but I’ve wanted to ever since I learned about it. IT LOOKS FUN. This week’s prompt is Top Ten 2016 Debut Novels We’re Looking Forward To.

I’m not doing debuts, just books I’m excited about, and I’m doing 12 because that’s how many I know about coming out next year that I want to read, and I’m very much a rebel at this moment… But hey, a couple extra is cool, right?

Heeeere are the 2016-releases lovelies I’m looking forward to, roughly in order of publication date . . .

Yorien’s Hand – Jenelle Leanne Schmidt (January 11, 2016)

Ever since reading Five Enchanted Roses, I’ve wanted more by this author, and I have an ARC for this one and there are dragons and am so excited to read it LET ME FLAIL.


The Goblin’s Puzzle: Being the Adventures of a Boy with No Name and Two Girls Called Alice – Andrew S. Chilton (January 19, 2016)

I don’t even know why I want to read this but I saw a review and it sounds fun and I don’t even know but basically sign me up. Plus, that title? Total win.

spysdvtn

A Spy’s Devotion – Melanie Dickerson (February 9, 2016)

I. Am. So. Stupendously. Excited. About. This. Book. AD;LFKHALFKHSKDFH MY JOY AND INCOHERENCY KNOWS NO BOUNDS! Basically, it’s Melanie Dickerson, who I always enjoy reading. And it’s a regency romance, which I can enjoy occasionally–I may not be the biggest fan, but I do enjoy a Jane Austen here or a Georgette Heyer there… BUT GET THIS, IT’S AN ADVENTURESOME REGENCY WITH SPIES AND PLOTS AND THINGS AND BASICALLY I’M INSANELY EXCITED AND NEEEEED IT! ❤ Ahem. I . . . am kind of looking forward to this one if you can’t tell . . . I also hear rumors of a cover coming soon and can’t wait. 😀

Fridays with the Wizards – Jessica Day George (February 11, 2016)

I know, I haven’t even read the first few in this series, but my sources say they are good so I want to, and look at that cover — doesn’t it look fuuun?? GRIFFINS YAY.

dfshdws

Defying Shadows – Ashley Townsend (early 2016)

It’s the sequel to Chasing Shadows which I reviewed, and I may have mentioned this one before but the release date got pushed back and anyway I’M SO EXCITED BECAUSE SEQUEL AND WILL.

Rebel of the Sands – Alwyn Hamilton (March 8, 2016)

No idea. Totally blame Cait for this one. She mentioned it in her Top Ten Thirty-Four post today and it looked yummy because epic fantasy+Persian+gunpowder=yes please.

The Story of Kullervo – J. R. R. Tolkien (April 5, 2016)

Um. They’re always “finding” old previous-version writings of Tolkien’s and by now it feels slightly odd BUT HEY WHO CARES IT’S BY MY FAVORITE AUTHOR SIGN ME UP. It’s supposed to be some earlier version of the story of Túrin, and also will have some of Tolkien’s notes on The Kalevala so that sounds interesting…

King’s Folly – Jill Williamson (April 2016)

Because Jill Williamson is writing fantasy again which makes me enormously pleased, plus the Blood of Kings Trilogy was stupendous and a prequel series sounds cool. (And it will give me a marvelous excuse to reread aaall the Achan books! Yay!)


The Beautiful Pretender – Melanie Dickerson (May 17, 2016)

Sequel to The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest, I’m gargantuanly excited about this one BECAUSE IT’S THE MARGRAVE’S STORY AND HE WAS MY FAVORITE CHARACTER IN THE FIRST ONE AND HE GETS A STORY NOW AND ALSDJFLDKJ I CAN’T WAIT!!

untitledJDG

Untitled (Stolen Crowns, #1) – Jessica Day George (2016)

I should probably actually read some more books by this author before I get excited about any more of them buuuut this one sounds yummy because it’s about fairytale princesses who are grown up and living their Happily-Ever-Afters disappearing, so their kids have to save them, so BASICALLY YES.

bonequeen

The Bone Queen – Alison Croggon (2016)

This one is sliiightly cheating again, as it’s a prequel to the Books of Pellinor series which has four books of which I’ve only read the first (so far), but this is a prequel about Cadvan WHO IS ONE OF MY FAVORITE CHARACTERS OF EVER AND THIS IS A WHOLE BOOK ABOUT HIM?? So I obviously have to be insanely excited about this. Yes.

Five Magic Spindles (Summer 2016)

Which we don’t even know who the stories will be by or what they will be about (except, in some vague sense, Sleeping Beauty…) but it’s clear that I’m dying to read this already despite all of that. Go figure.

***

There’s my list! 🙂

What books are you excited about coming out next year? Any of these? Are any new to you?

Also I will be back again as soon as my brain becomes less scattered, with tales of my (possibly) most insane NaNo yet and all of that good stuff.

HAPPY DECEMBER! *frolics happily in the snow on my blog because that’s probably the only snow I’ll see this winter*

Fall 2015 Books

Today is the first day of Autumn! Yayness! Can you feel it in the air? Maybe? Almost? …Ahem. Autumn just kind of excites me because it’s not going to be as HOT and it feels adventurous and it smells nice and feels nice and of course NaNo will be soon and… you get the picture. I LIKE AUTUMN. There.

Also, yesterday (Sept. 22) was Bilbo and Frodo’s birthday. Couldn’t let that go un-noted… HAPPY BIRTHDAY GUYS. (Yes, I always celebrate the Long Expected Party, even if it’s just by thinking about it.)

I’ve heard it called Hobbit Day… and yesterday for it, Rebekah @ Wordsmithing and Worldbuilding posted possibly my favorite Middle-earth-ish post ever.

Everyone, go read it.

Fans of Tolkien and Lord of the Rings and Middle-earth: read the post because you will understand and it will ring true (no pun intended).

Non-fans: read the post because it will show you why you should become a fan and read the books.

I just love that post a lot and it reminded me again of all the reasons why The Lord of the Rings is my favorite book and Tolkien my favorite author, and… it made my soul happy. ^_^ ❤

***

And now, with a new season, once again, it’s time for some book anticipation…

*drumroll*

Here is a list of books coming out this Autumn that look interesting to me!

poisonedcurecover

The Poisoned CureDeborah Dunlevy

September 8, 2015

Okay, so this one is technically already out, and before Autumn officially hits. But still! I’m so very very excited about this! I need to get my hands on it. NEED. The first book in the series, The Book of Sight, was one of those random free Kindle downloads I did a lot of when I first got my Kindle app. Except that this one I actually read it. And loved it so much that I actually bought the second and third book. (Bought. This is the person who doesn’t buy books very often, especially not e-books.) And I actually read them. And I’ve been waiting on the edge of my seat for the fourth to release — and I hear there’s going to be a fifth, which makes me all kinds of excited!

Six of Crows – Leigh Bardugo

September 29, 2015

I know nothing about this except it’s apparently set in the same world as Shadow and Bone which I know nothing about except that it’s quite popular and several people I know seem to love it so I want to perhaps try it… But Six of Crows is on my wishlist because it sounds like an awesome fantasy heisty book. What is not to like? No idea if it’s cool or not but it certainly sounds cool…

THE SUNKEN REALM KINDLE COVER SEPT 2015

The Sunken Realm – Serena Chase

September 30, 2015

Ever since I finished reading The Seahorse Legacy, I’ve basically been dying to read the conclusion. So… yes. Though I do hear that The Seahorse Legacy was kind of redone, so I must read that again as well! Bwahaha. ALL OF THE EPIC PIRATENESS. And and aaaaand… CAZIEN. ‘Nuff said. ❤

A Thousand Nights – E. K. Johnson

October 6, 2015

In this case, I’m entirely guilty of cover-love. I totally am only interested in it because of its gorgeous cover. Well, that and I think it’s a retelling of Arabian Nights which just sounds awesome because retellings! I have no idea if it will be any good or not though.

The Golden BraidMelanie Dickerson

November 17, 2015

Another medieval fairytale retelling of Hagenheim from Melanie Dickerson! I’ve loved previous installments in the series, and I keep hearing there are secrets and surprises in store for this one… Plus, THAT COVER. ❤ Needless to say, I’m very excited! Also, Rapunzel. It will be interesting to see how it’s retold in this tale!


Defying ShadowsAshley Townsend

November 2015

This is the sequel to Chasing Shadows, which I reviewed. I’m curious what will happen next with the romance and timey-wimey stuff and Robin-Hood hints and that ending of Chasing Shadows… Yes. Very curious… (Also scared of how it will turn out. But still curious. XD)


So there you are! What I’m looking forward to. I probably won’t manage to get hold of them all, but y’know me and my lists. 😉 It’s still fun, right?

Are you excited about any of these? (Aren’t they pretty covers?? #shallowbookworm)

Any you hadn’t heard of before?

And what are you excited for coming out this Fall? 🙂

ALSO IT’S FALL, GUYS. FAAAAAAAAALL! ❤ *throws leaves spontaneously*