The Sunken Realm by Serena Chase: Review (Pirates!)

justiceandtruthcazien

(Yes, I made this. I couldn’t help it…)

THE SUNKEN REALM KINDLE COVER SEPT 2015The Sunken Realm

by Serena Chase

5 stars

Fantasy / Christian Allegorical / Pirates / Twelve Dancing Princesses Retelling (ish)

Book #4 in the Eyes of E’veria series (but can be read as book 2 in the second set within that series, after The Seahorse Legacy).

Find the book on…

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords

Find Serena Chase on…

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest

My Review

I’ve been breathlessly awaiting THE SUNKEN REALM ever since I finished reading THE SEAHORSE LEGACY. And at long last I have read it! (Many thanks to the author for the free copy I received in exchange for my — honest — review! Which follows…)

This book has pretty much everything. Love. Pirates. Fantasy. A touch of time-travel. A twist on the Twelve Dancing Princesses fairytale. Duels of sharpened wit in dialog. Actual duels (or at least fights). Adventure on the high seas (and/or islands). Awesome characters. And of course Cazien (see above).

In a sense, it starts a little slow, focusing on Cazien’s and Erielle’s relationship, but honestly I didn’t care that not much was happening excitement-wise, and would have been content to read an entire book about them doing nothing, because I just love them so much and I was never once bored. But not to worry — it quickly got quite exciting! Oh, did it ever. I was on the edge of my seat with all the thrilling adventures they got up to, including dealing with sinister plots and all the mysteries and fighting and the Island Realm and all.

Readers of the first two books (THE RYN and THE REMEDY, which I haven’t read yet, having started on book 3, THE SEAHORSE LEGACY) will be glad to see Julien, Rynnaia, Rowlen, Gerrias and others make quite an appearance in this one, about halfway through.

Things that I loved:

  • Cazien is still basically the best thing of ever!! Ah, that dashing endearing rogue of a Seahorse Pirate, ever ready with a blade or a perfect snatch of dialog. Impossible to describe, just take my word for it that Cazien is one of the awesomest characters ever.
  • Cazien and Erielle together. They are positively adorbz. Erielle grows a lot in her character arc and I’m happy to say that I liked her in this book! (She had been getting on my nerves in the previous one.) She has so much spark and fire and bounce to her. And she and Cazien in their duels of wit and their love story are simply perfect and precious and awesome. It’s so much fun. ❤
  • The dialog, humor, wit, and flying sparks. This sort of fits into the previous point. But all the dialog is great, especially between Cazien and Erielle, and between Erielle and Ayorn — aahh I loved that! (She’s quite talkative, and Ayorn is… not. So amusing. XD)
  • Along that line: Ayorn. AYORN WAS AWESOME. THAT IS ALL. (This coming from a book where you’d think all I’d be able to do is babble on and on about Cazien… well, there’s another fella in here who’s awesome too. That’s most impressive.)
  • Julien and Cazien interacting. Julien, being Erielle’s brother and all, kind of hates Cazien for a bit there and it’s glorious. I loved it so much. XD
  • Rowlen and the Storyteller stuff. IT. IS. AMAZING. I adore it way too much and simply NEED to go back and read the first two books if only for more glimpses at Veetrish storytelling. That’s fabulous fantasy. (Can I live in E’veria and be a Storyteller, please and thank you?)
  • Speaking of… The setting. I was so immersed in this stunningly rich and well-drawn world! The islands, the sea, everything — I was so much a part of it and so pulled in. A fabulous world that I want to read on and on about!
  • The twelve dancing princesses bits!!! Wow. It took awhile for that part of the story to arrive, but when it did I was just so so SO excited to see parts of the fairytale weaving into this new tale in a totally unique, different way, and yet there all the same. AAHH. It was so fascinating. I just loved it. (My favorite fairytale and all… and this was a totally new take on it!) It’s not TOO big of a part of the overall plot, but important enough to be awesome.
  • The Christian allegorical stuff was simply beautiful. Erielle’s struggles and the scene at the end of part one… so powerful. Rynloeft, the E’verian equivalent of God, had a definite presence in the book which I found very well done. Christian fantasy of this sort is a favorite of mine.
  • Everything about the Seahorse Legacy. I love the idea of these Seahorse Pirates who are the wielders of justice on the high seas… And everything about the Legacy which Cazien carries as its Heir, his connection with the currents and even the brilliance of everything relating to his inability to be inland too long in connection with the main plot problem. I. Loved. That. It was brilliant. And poor Cazien! Whenever he needs to go be in the sea… Just awesome. ❤ But… yes, all of the Seahorse Pirate stuff was some of my favorite ever. This is awesome fantasy, y’all. (Plus, piratey stuff! Yay!)
  • Also their apparent motto: “May justice and truth be served.” (And usually answered with something about cleverness… a sort of pass-code, almost.) I loved it!! It’s used so often and I became so familiar with it that when I was reading another, totally unrelated book, after reading this one, the characters were talking about justice and I found myself wanting — and in fact expecting! — them to say “May justice and truth be served.” It would have been as natural as breathing. And then I was actually disappointed that they didn’t, in fact, say it; before realizing that DUH, of COURSE they didn’t — this was an entirely different story! Ahem. All that to say, I’m very attached. ❤
  • Last but not least: Timey wimey. There’s not a lot of it and I can’t say much because spoilers, but the time-travel-ish things were so cool and really added an extra layer of awesomeness to this story.

As far as downsides… I had some slight disappointments in the plot, and also I can’t entirely recommend it to everyone, just because it was more dark and adult, which is a bit unfortunate to my mind… but couldn’t really have been avoided. There were some darker, scarier, more mature themes than even in The Seahorse Legacy, and some disturbing stuff. I’d definitely recommend it for older readers; not so much YA. I’d call it adult, myself (though I may be overreacting…). And I do wish . . . oh, a hundred things! *clutches heart* I can’t really complain here because spoilers, but I wish a thing or two had turned out slightly different… *wistful sigh* But all in all it turned out pretty well and I don’t have anything to complain about other than a personal preference or two.

Basically I loved THE SUNKEN REALM and just want to hug these characters and live on the high seas of E’veria with the Seahorse Pirates forever.

In the words of the Seahorse Heir himself: “May justice and truth be served. …And may I be clever in the dispensing of it.” Oh, you are, Cazien. You are. Always. ❤

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Yorien’s Hand Review

I’ve been looking forward to reading another book by Jenelle Schmidt ever since reading her gorgeous Beauty and the Beast retelling, Stone Curse, in the Five Enchanted Roses collection. So what a delight to be able to say that a book of hers is releasing today!

I’m joining in a blog tour for the launch of Yorien’s Hand — the blog tour will be continuing this week and includes a delightful giveaway which you will not want to miss!

Dragon Sapphire Pendant Hand and a Half Training Sword

Check out Jenelle’s awesome website for all the info! 🙂

And now, my review . . . (Drumroll, please…)

*drumroll*

(Thank you…)


Yoriens Hand - Cover Reveal MediumYorien’s Hand (The Minstrel’s Song, #3)

by Jenelle Leanne Schmidt

Amazon-Buy-Button GoodreadsButton

5 stars

Christian Fantasy

I received a free advance reader copy of this book from the author in return for my honest review. These opinions are my own.


My Review

I had no idea what I was getting into when I started this book. I enjoyed it well enough as I read along, completely unsuspecting, until I suddenly realized that somewhere along the way, without noticing the exact moment, I had fallen in love with it. I had been entirely pulled into a rich fantasy adventure in an increasingly wondrous world filled with characters who wrapped themselves around my heart. Let me just say, Yorien’s Hand was a fantastic read!

It’s been a long time since I’ve read a true High Fantasy novel, and I had no idea I missed the genre so much until reading this excellent specimen. It was coming home! Aom-igh, Llycaelon, and the rest of Tellurae Aquaous . . . what a wonderful land! With heroic warriors, majestic dragons (oh, how I loved the dragons!) and the occasional unicorn or gryphon . . . fantastic creatures, beautiful magic, a thread of Christian allegory drawn through (loved that!), and of course a darkness to be defeated . . .

The adventure was thrilling and exciting, filled with danger; I was constantly worried for my favorite characters, especially nearing the end there . . . I was on the edge of my seat! Aaah! That climactic ending! I could hardly breathe and was so invested. (I’d say I was flipping pages, but it was an ebook, so I’ll say that I couldn’t click the ”next” button fast enough.) It was SO intense and awesome! And then a certain fabulous twist . . . which I LOVED (and sort of guessed at . . . sort of . . . which made it almost better) and just YES. YES YES. I’m torn between feeling satisfied with the ending but also desperate for the next book! (That epilogue!) Minstrel’s Call had better come out soon! *flails around a little*

Can we talk about the characters now? Oh my! So many have become favorites of mine! Oraeyn the hero, Princess Kamarie, young King Jemson, brave fighter Devrin, sturdy yet sweet Dylanna, Yole and the awesome dragons, and of course my very favorites, Brant the majestic warrior, and that ever-mysterious minstrel, Kiernan Kane! Though Brant MAY be my favorite (he’s just so… awesome! And… strong? I don’t even have words for him!), Kiernan Kane intrigues me the most! I’m very curious to learn more about him! Gaah! I just love these characters a lot, okay? ^_^ (Also, I will not give anything away, but a scene in the final chapter involving two certain characters had me laughing out loud and beaming and let’s just say I’m basically very very happy right now. *glows*)

The FEEL of this story reminds me of some of my favorite fantasy tales, like those of Tolkien and Lloyd Alexander, while at the same time the story itself feels entirely new and unique. It was told with at times lyrical writing, as Jenelle Leanne Schmidt seems to excel at — with lines that sometimes blew me away or caught at my heart — alternating between beautiful, epic, heartstoppingly perilous, and then sometimes I found myself laughing aloud.

Downsides? I’m trying to think of any, in the interests of being balanced, but really I only have a couple little quibbles — it was mostly so awesome! I did wish that Devrin had gotten more focus, since he seemed to fade away after awhile, while others took more prominence, which made me sad. (But hopefully he’ll be in the next one!) Along that line, there was a lot of hopping about between points of view (which I LOVED!) but occasionally, since there were so many, it spent more time with ones I didn’t care as much about. And a few times I was confused for a bit, but I usually sorted it out eventually; I think those problems were only because I hadn’t read the first books.

That being said, although it’s the third book in The Minstrel’s Song series, I found Yorien’s Hand stood alone fairly well. Of course, now I’m looking forward to reading the book before this one (King’s Warrior) as well as the prequel to both (Second Son). I’m intrigued by many of the references to the characters’ pasts! Hopefully they will tide me over until the next book (Minstrel’s Call) releases!

If you love good clean adventurous fantasy tales with lovable characters, a touch of faith and mysteriousness, a large dose of epicness, and of course majestic dragons, I encourage you to pick up Yorien’s Hand! Hopefully it will twine itself around your heart as it did mine. 🙂

Not to mention, you need Brant and Kiernan Kane in your life. YOU JUST DO! ❤

About Yorien’s Hand

The years of Oraeyn’s short rule have been peaceful, but now ominous nightmares plague his sleep and cling to him during his waking hours. When two of his most trusted advisors disappear without a trace and not even the power of dragons can locate them, the fell promise of the king’s nightmares becomes reality.

From the furthest reaches of the world, an ancient enemy stirs. Stretching beyond his crumbling prison walls, this foe seeks to bring life to the darkest of shadows. His army marches towards Aom-igh with deadly intent, threatening all Oraeyn holds dear.

Aided by dragons, and with the warrior Brant and Princess Kamarie at his side, Oraeyn must journey into the wilds of a forgotten realm. Trusting in the wisdom and skill of the enigmatic minstrel, Kiernan Kane, the companions race against time in search of Yorien’s Hand, a relic that may hold the power to save them all.

Buy Yorien’s Hand on Amazon | Add Yorien’s Hand on Goodreads

Find the other books in the series:

kingswarriorsecondsonKing’s Warrior (The Minstrel’s Song, #1)

Amazon | Goodreads

Second Son (The Minstrel’s Song, #2)

Amazon | Goodreads

About the Author

JS Author Photo ColorJenelle Schmidt grew up in the northern-Midwest. She now resides with her husband and their three adorable children in the wilds of Wisconsin. Jenelle fell in love with reading at a young age during family story-times when her father would read out loud to her and her siblings each night before bed. Her imagination was captured by authors such as Madeleine L’Engle, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and Lloyd Alexander. It wasn’t long before she began making up her own stories and sharing them with her family. To this day she enjoys creating exciting adventure tales filled with poignant themes and compelling characters in the fantasy and sci-fi genres.

Connect with Jenelle on:

Her Blog | Twitter | Facebook

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What do you think, O blog readers of mine?

Sound interesting?

And please reassure me that you love dragons. 😀

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the blog tour and giveaway!

Top 15 Favorite Reads of 2015

TopReads2015icon

As is traditional (last year’s is here) it’s time for a list of the best books I read in 2015! YAY! Because lists and books and favorites are all the best things ever. ❤

I read some gems this year, and though it was super painful trying to pick favorites, these (especially the ones near the top) make my heart explode in happiness just from looking at the titles, so I think they’re some good ones! My list is roughly in order of amount of loving them, and doesn’t include rereads. So here we go! (Prepare for much squealing…)

My top 15 reads of 2015

1. Broken Glass – Emma Clifton (in Five Glass Slippers)

brokenglasscoverSo… I spontaneously reviewed this awhile back. And it’s made it to the very top of my list this year. IT’S JUST SO PERFECT AND MY FIRST STEAMPUNK FANTASY AND ALL THE CHARACTERRRRRRRRRRRS!!!! Ahem. I just really really love this story! I want to read it again (and I’ve already read it twice). It’s just perfection and bursting with humor and snark and great dialog and plots and sooo many characters I love, especially Marius and Darcy and Henry, and it’s FUN but then it gets epic at the end and it’s so British AND I JUST LOVE IIIIIIIT! ❤ It makes me grin and keep grinning and unable to STOP grinning, whenever I think of it. GAAAHH! *tackle-hugs story* ALL OF THE LOVE! *gives Darcy and Marius an extra hug*

2. Archer’s Goon – Diana Wynne Jones

HOW. DO. I. DESCRIBE. THIS. BOOK. Ummm… I can’t! *flails around* It was Diana Wynne Jones which means it was pure distilled BRILLIANCE mixed up with total uniqueness, absolutely FANTASTIC humor, and just ALL OF THE PLOT TWISTS. Mind. Blown. I can’t get over it and it’s amazing and I think I need to read it again right now. I still love Howl’s Moving Castle the best of Diana Wynne Jones’ books (I mean… it’s my favorite book EVER besides The Lord of the Rings) BUT I THINK ARCHER’S GOON MIGHT BE SECOND. Maybe. Ahem. All of the characters are fantastic and the dialog and the humor and it’s timey-wimey and sci-fi and fantasy and modern and super confusing and I just love it a lot. Ack. ❤

3. The Ordinary Princess – M. M. Kaye

This was, in a word, PERFECT. ^_^ It just makes me so happy. I can’t. *beams and huggles book* It’s a sort of original fairytale type of thing, feeling like it has some hints of Sleeping Beauty and maybe a couple others, but mostly its own thing. It was just a quick read that was ADORABLE and sweet and perfect, and I loved the illustrations, and the character of the Ordinary Princess herself was awesome, and Peregrine who I loved a ton, and they were so cute together and just alskdjljlsjk it makes me happy and is a perfect little book. ^_^ ❤

4. Illusionarium – Heather Dixon

I’ve been dying to read this ever since reading Entwined. Needless to say, I pounced on it. The internet is probably still reeling with the incoherent fangirling babbles I shared on this blog about Illusionarium… Ahem. So suffice it to say, despite the creepiness, that I LOVED THIS BOOK AND THE DIALOG AND HUMOR AND EPIC STEAMPUNKNESS AND ESPECIALLY LOCKWOOD. LOCKWOOOOD!!!!! *flails around forever and a day* Basically, Lockwood. ❤ I just can’t get over that indescribable airguardsman snarky fiery epic trigger-happy roguish awesome Lieutenant Lockwood. (And he and Jonathan are a great pair. XD I love themmm.) (BUT LOCKWOOD. SO MUCH. ❤ ❤ ❤ )

5. The Pinhoe Egg – Diana Wynne Jones

Diana Wynne Jones books are always wonderful, but this one’s one of my top, like… four? of hers? (Howl’s Moving Castle, Archer’s Goon, The Crown of Dalemark, and this, are my favorites.) This was the conclusion to the Chrestomanci series, which I started late in 2014, and read most of this year. AAAHHH I LOVED THIS BOOK. It returned to the hero of the first book, Cat (who is great), and there were shenanigans and it had sooo much more of Chrestomanci himself than a lot of the others (which is pretty much my one complaint usually, since he usually only shows up a little in the midst of other people’s adventures). THERE WAS ALSO A GRIFFIN. AND CHRESTOMANCI AND AND AND ASLKDJFLK I just really really really love Chrestomanci and I need some fancy dressing gowns to wear around the house like he does. Except he has a castle… BASICALLY I WANT TO LIVE AT CHRESTOMANCI CASTLE AND READ ABOUT CHRESTOMANCI FOREVER. Because CHRESTOMANCI!!!!! ❤ ❤ Ahem.

6. Frederica – Georgette Heyer

After reading and loving The Grand Sophy in 2014, I wanted to try another Georgette Heyer, so this happened. I LOVED IT. The characters, just… aaagh! I loved them. LORD ALVERSTOKE. He’s one of those kind of awful fellows who’s sort of vain/spoiled, a lot like Howl actually, and yet he ends up being all noble too and just alskdjflklaskdj I love Alverstoke, he’s wonderful. And his relationship with the heroine and with her younger brothers — just YES! I don’t actually read a lot of regency historical romance sorts of things but this one was great. There’s also an airballoon and a crash and all of the DIALOG, my goodness it’s wonderful.

7. The Penderwicks in Spring – Jeanne Birdsall

AAAAHHHHH. I’ve been waiting for this ever since I read the first three Penderwick books (I even reread them this year!) and it was amazing. I was actually surprised because in a way it was so SAD but also the usual hilarious and just… I love the Penderwicks, okay. I LOVE THEMMMM. This family. Just. THEY ARE PRECIOUS. *gathers them in a hug* It was a little strange because it’s years after the previous ones and the three older girls are like TEENS and Batty’s 11 and… yes. o.o And I should have been upset, especially with all the sad, but I just LOVED. IT. SO. MUCH. Also there were like ten billion characters and the author juggled them all SO well and the writing is golden and ALL OF THE FEELS. I wish I could write like that. Basically I waited a long time for it and it did NOT disappoint. ❤

8. Conrad’s Fate – Diana Wynne Jones

This was a sort of Chrestomanci prequel because it involves him (Christopher) when he was a teen. LET ME FLAIL. Like Illusionarium, it was a great buddy-movie story (as I call them; even when they’re not movies… *cough*) and… Chrestomanci and the hero are so much fun together and I DON’T EVEN KNOW. But it was Diana Wynne Jones and I remember having so much fun and just really ENJOYING this! *flail* Chrestomanci as a youngster is just fabulous to read about, so sneaky but refined but clever and just brilliant and the dialog and I just loved it. ❤

9. Power of Three – Diana Wynne Jones

How. I. What. It. SOMETHING! *flailing* This was totally not what I was expecting and it was so DIFFERENT (something Diana Wynne Jones excels at) and PLOT TWIST! Wow. Also I loved all of the characters, especially the two who were like the hero (you’ll understand if you’ve read it), and it just had a lot of brilliance going on! It was epic. It felt rather different than her other stuff–a bit more like the Dalemark books than her “fun” ones… But I still adored it. Plus, the flashback where the fellows were drunk and met Titch was sheer gold. *dies of laughter*

10. Plenilune – Jennifer Freitag

This is here basically because DAMMERUNG!!!!! It was EXHAUSTING to read and took me from Christmas till August to read… like really heavy chocolate cake. Or the ocean. It was a little much, kind of too rich if you know what I mean, but it was totally worth it for Dammerung. He’s, like, possibly my favorite character this year. Possibly one of my top favorite characters of EVER. Like… HE’S UP THERE WITH HOWL, OKAY? Dammerung is just AMAZING and this monster of a 600+ page book of exhaustingly gorgeous poetical prose is totally worth it just for him. (And Rupert was amazing too. I have very complex feels about Rupert. Which makes me super glad that Dammerung is there to cancel those out because he just blows everything away with his amazingness). Like… he’s funny and powerful and heroic and epic and just… HE’S LIKE THE COOLEST EVER. Dammerung has a very special place in my heart. ^____^ ❤ ❤ ❤

11. The Skin Map – Stephen R. Lawhead

This was an AMAZING book. Contemporary/time-travel/fantasy/sci-fi-ish/historical… it has a little bit of everything. The writing and setting and just the entire thing is STUNNINGLY well done, not to mention the cast of characters, each of whom I love to bits! Arthur, Cosimo, Kit, Etzel, Wilhemina! (I even love the heroine!) Just. Gaaahh. It was a fantastic book, and would have been much higher up the list if it weren’t for something that happened in the last twenty pages… *cough cough* But I’ve actually gotten over that (mostly) and all I can think of is how amazing this book was and how much I want to read the sequels! *huggles all the characters* It was just a DELIGHT to read!

stonecurse12. Stone Curse – Jenelle Schmidt (in Five Enchanted Roses)

I reviewed this one on the blog and just YES. Beauty and the Beast retelling, which I ALWAYS love… And RITTER! ❤ Ritter and his heroicness and humor and just aaaahh I love him so much! And the setting and the fairytale feel and BAREND the Beast, down to loving the heroine, Karyna, a ton as well. I just… Gaaah. ^_^ *huggles all of them* The whole cast of characters and their relationships… just fantastic. SUCH A GREAT READ! ❤

13. Corroded Thorns – Emma Clifton

Aaand I also reviewed this one (more Beauty and the Beast, yay!) and it’s the sequel to my top favorite of the year, Broken Glass, and I sort of consider them one book because it’s so interconnected, sooo I couldn’t resist putting this on the list too! DARCY!!! Eeep. I just looooved this story and the characters AND THE ENDING WAS PERFECTION OH MY GOODNESS SO MUCH LOVE FOR THAT. ❤

14. Tahn – L. A. Kelly

This was the VERY first book I read in 2015, so it’s possibly a little hazy in my memory… But I know it was an exciting adventuresome read, with some good stuff, and was a little grittier than I usually like but still fabulous. And, like with Plenilune, it’s mostly here for one of my favorite characters of the year, namely the title character himself, Tahn. Tahn is the absolute epitome of my favorite archetype of characters, what I call the “dark guy”. (I’ve heard “anti-hero” used as well.) But I really really love him and his story and it was awesome.

15. The Book of Sight – Deborah Dunlevy

This book… I don’t know. It just made me happy. It was one of my first “random” ebooks I tried, since it was free on Kindle at the time and sounded interesting. I got so addicted that I’ve since bought all three of the sequels which are currently out (looking forward to reading The Poisoned Cure soon!) and already hoping the fifth/final book will come out soon! It’s a modern fantasy story, and it just… somehow kind of reminds me of the sort of stories I’m writing with my Kedran’s Wood series. I just enjoy it and it’s about these kids, a group of friends, in a little modern town, and their dealings with fantastical stuff that they start running into. Also, I really love Dominic. But it’s just a fun read, so… yes. It makes me think of sunshine. 🙂

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You mayyy notice a trend*, which is that books are much likelier to be extremely loved/high on my list when there’s a particular character I really like in the story… What can I say. I’m evidently extremely attached to fictional people. But I’d say that Dammerung, Lockwood, and Chrestomanci are my favorite characters this year. THEY’RE THE BESSST!

(*Whaaat, you thought I was going to say that the trend was Howl? HAHAHA. Fooled you. XD Ahem. Sorry. Howl does whatever he likes, and apparently that includes stealing the show in a blogpost that doesn’t even involve him… *cough*)

So there’s my list! Have you read any of these? (You totally should!) Do you have any favorite reads of 2015? TELL ALL IN THE COMMENTS! ^_^

Hopefully this next year of 2016 will hold some wonderful reads in it for all of us! ❤

Happy New Year, everyone!

A Wish Made of Glass

AWishMadeofGlassFinalA Wish Made of Glass

by Ashlee Willis

5 stars

Young Adult / Fantasy / Fairy Tale Re-Telling / Cinderella / Novella

I received a complimentary e-copy of this book from the author (thank you!) in exchange for my honest review. These opinions are entirely my own.


My Review

Ever since reading THE WORD CHANGERS, I have been waiting breathlessly for another tale from talented authoress Ashlee Willis. That wait is now over. I was overcome with excitement to begin reading this novella, but at the same time, feared being disappointed after my high expectations. I need not have worried.

A WISH MADE OF GLASS blew me away with its gorgeousness, not only meeting but in fact far, far exceeding my expectations. It is loosely based on the Cinderella fairy tale, and it is written in first-person present-tense, which is a mode of writing that irks me, but I grew used to it in this story almost at once and could not begrudge it, which is saying something.

From the very first, I was entirely enchanted and drawn inescapably into this story and this world, a fey and beautiful one, the beauty starker against the shadows. The writing held me spellbound, the words spun together like the silver threads of moonlight and wishes. I can describe it in no other way than to say that it felt like a fairytale. The whole tale was quietly beautiful.

It held many surprises and was not at all what I expected. This is not a light tale. There is darkness and sadness and the bittersweetness of families and friendships found and broken and found again, and missed chances heartbreakingly forever lost. The story holds all the darkest emotions that can be found, poisonous and treacherous, in the lightless corners of one’s own heart. The heroine is flawed, as all people are. Sometimes it was very hard to read about, and could, I think, easily have made me dislike the story, and yet somehow it did not. And to find the joy and light was well worth it. It makes one think, perhaps, of one’s own failings and beginning to think of letting a light shine into the shadowed corner.

The characters were quite real. Isidore’s sorrow and struggles and innermost thoughts were well-painted. Blessing was an interesting character, the stepsister who is kindhearted but has her own things to wrestle with as well. Young Lord Auren made a surprisingly vivid short appearance and I basically loved him. My favorite character is of course a certain mysterious fey, whose name I realized at the end, with some surprise, we had never learned, and yet decided that it was perfect. Characters like that totally fulfill my reading wish in any book.

The visuals are stunning. I loved the turning seasons and the dresses and cloaks and the ball, but especially the snow and the fey wood and the fey themselves, and I want to join in their dance. I wish there had been more with the fey in the story.

You feel in the end a little as if there are hinted truths threaded through beneath the surface of the tale that you can not quite grasp. At least, that is how I felt. There is something deeper, elusive, and you feel that maybe one day you will understand it, even if you do not right now. But in my experience, the best books are like that.

I adored this quick read and it pulled me completely into a world of rich color and magic and snow and fey dances in the forest. I enjoyed it so very very much.

If you have a hankering for an enchanting tale of light and shadows, a fairy tale in its truest form, a beautiful world with characters who come to life and wrestle with their own darkness, told in words as natural and beautiful as flowing water under starlight, A WISH MADE OF GLASS will be your own wish come true.

Back Cover Copy

From Goodreads:

Deep in a forest glade, the fey folk dance with Isidore, a young human child. Their kinship is the very fabric of her childhood. When her mother dies and her world darkens with sorrow, Isidore finds her belief in the fey folk wavering.

The love of her new step-sister, Blessing, proves an unexpected gift in her time of need. Yet even as their friendship blooms, Isidore begins to see that Blessing is everything she herself has always wanted to be, but is not. Jealousy grips Isidore as she watches this beautiful new sister steal away all she holds dear.

Driven to desperation, Isidore turns to the fey folk once more. She has only one wish to claim from them, one chance to make things right. But she must tread carefully. For wishes, like hearts, are easily broken. And obtaining the one thing she desires could mean destroying the one thing she truly needs.

released August 14, 2015

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About the Author

Ashlee Willis lives in the heart of Missouri with her husband, young son, and simply way too many cats. While most of her days are balanced between writing, reading and homeschooling, she also loves to crochet, play the piano, and spend time outdoors in God’s creation.

Learn more about Ashlee and her books at her author blog:

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Chasing Shadows

ChasingShadowsCoverChasing Shadows

by Ashley Townsend

4 stars

Young Adult (older teens) / Romance / Medieval / Time Travel / Christian

I received a complimentary PDF of this book from the author in return for my honest review. (Thank you!) I wasn’t required to be positive, and these opinions are entirely my own.


CHASING SHADOWS kept me guessing, there were lots of surprises, and it was overall a good and exciting adventure/romance! It was kind of too long for me, but that’s just my personal preference. I felt a bit like the first half dragged somewhat, with the plot seeming to get lost behind a lot of emotions and the love triangle, and a lot of stuff seemed to sort of come out of nowhere. But the final third picked up considerably and turned awesome and very exciting and I absolutely loved it!

I loved the romance — it was great and went back and forth between being breathtakingly sweet, to me wanting to bang the heads of both parties against the nearest hard thing and go “seriously guys, don’t be idiots!” But that of course is half the fun of romance tales — we like a little exasperating on the side with our heart-sighing romance. 😉 (I personally didn’t like the love triangle part of it though — nothing against this book in particular, I’m just not a big fan of love triangles in general. But I know many people would enjoy it so that’s fine and it was fairly well done.)

I had a hard time connecting with Sarah, the main character, since most of the time she drove me batty by being stupid. But I think that’s likely just me, and I have a feeling most readers would like her better. And I still wanted her to win, of course! She did grow on me, eventually.

Can we just take a moment to talk about Will now? Will was awesome and fabulous and I loved him a ton and he is one of my favorite characters now. He’s basically a big broken strong huggable bundle of epic, the perfect mix of a dark-guy and a hero and an all-around great guy who is just awesome and can be really sweet at times too, though you wouldn’t know it with his shell. His struggles and confused moments only made him more endearing. His caring and bravery and amazingness… just yes. He’s a mean shot with a bow, too. 😉 Will is basically the main reason I really liked this book. It’s well worth reading just for him!

The Spaniard was brilliantly done and I won’t give anything away but it was fascinating how he was written. I have very complicated thoughts/emotions about the whole thing that I’m still working on sorting out.

The other characters were all very well drawn and realistic-feeling, from Edith to Karen and the Professor and the Joneses (yay, Seth!) to characters like Robert. Particularly Robert. Yes. That is all I will say. (Also Richard. I really liked Richard! Even though he was sort of random. I somehow thought he’d be more important and now I really want to read more about him! I’m weird like that. 😛 )

The medieval setting was really neat. It was that sort of “gritty”, “realistic” sort of medieval that is more realistic than my taste would prefer, but I most people seem to like their medieval settings to be that way, so… *shrug* The whole book felt very REAL though. In fact, at times, it felt so real that it felt a bit more like real life than like a novel — like this was really happening to the main character. Very real emotions and problems and little day-to-day details instead of everything being streamlined and so dramatic and novel-like, if you know what I mean. Which was very different, somehow, and made me think about it, so even if I wasn’t used to that sort of feeling, it was actually kind of cool.

The level of detail was awesome! I loved how detailed everything was. I could see and feel everything and felt perfectly immersed. I loved the lovely settings, like the castle with its ornate feeling at times, and the cold but beautiful snowy forest… just yes! I loved being immersed, and it was amazing to feel so much a part of the world. I definitely felt like I was there.

It had its moments of fun and hilarity and I found myself laughing aloud a few times, and quoting some particularly wonderful lines that were funny, brilliant, or well-written. Points for that!

I wish the slight hints of Robin Hood stuff had been more explored (maybe more is in Book 1 and 3? I can hope! 🙂 ) but most of what there was, was cool! Even small hints are a lot of fun!

A few other little thoughts:

  • I really disliked the whole Jade plot though. I can’t really say much about it because of spoilers but… just no.
  • I definitely feel like this is for older readers, higher teens and up maybe, just for some general content.
  • There were occasional touches of Christianity, for those wondering if it was there.
  • I haven’t read much time travel, but this one was fairly neat! Interesting to read, anyway.

This is a sequel, and I haven’t read the first book (RISING SHADOWS) yet, so maybe some things are more explained in that. Mostly though there were enough hints about the events of the first that I didn’t feel lost, so you don’t have to read it in order to “get” this one. I’m certainly now curious about it though and want to read the prequel — and the third one (DEFYING SHADOWS, when it comes out — which I see rumors of coming this November?) to find out what happens! But at the same time, though I do want more, CHASING SHADOWS still wrapped up fairly well. It left me feeling happy at the end.

Overall: It wasn’t a five-star favorite for me, but it earned its four stars and I absolutely loved the last third of the book! Mostly, the problems I had with it were my personal preference, and I feel like many others would enjoy it more.

If you like time-travel, awesome characters, medieval tales, realistic-feeling settings with a bit of grittiness, a love triangle and sweet romance, with a touch of Robin Hood and intrigue and adventure in castle rooms and snowy forests . . . then this is the book for you.

Back Cover Copy

From Goodreads:

Would you choose to entwine your fate with a hero of the past, even if it meant altering the future?

The murder of an ancient king spurs Sarah Matthews to travel back in time, putting her life in jeopardy as she races against the clock to solve a thousand-year-old mystery and pick up the pieces of her star-crossed romance. Her return to Serimone reveals that the kingdom is in upheaval and that the elusive Cadius has sinister plans for the throne. Unable to right the empire alone, Sarah reunites with Will, the love she left behind and the man beneath the Shadow’s hood. As they work together amidst lavish balls and explore the secret depths of the castle, they discover that the conspiracy runs deeper than they ever imagined. And when a counterfeit Shadow claims the life of someone close to her after a personal threat from Cadius himself, Sarah discovers that the price of questioning the new regime is a life.

Guilt-ridden and alone, she discovers comfort in her newfound friendship with Damien, a charming Spaniard who joins Sarah in her personal crusade for justice. But as she draws closer to his dark past and to the faceless killer in their midst, she realizes that the severed threads of time and the mystery surrounding Serimone Castle are unraveling rapidly, weaving new tapestries of devastation.

In this thrilling and deceptive sequel to “Rising Shadows,” Sarah is forced into harm’s way countless times as she races to solve the puzzle before it is too late and Serimone becomes nothing more than a faded memory of the past . . . And before Sarah becomes a permanent fixture in history.

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About the Author

Ashley Townsend 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 also has an unexplainable aversion to clowns and describes outlines as a “proverbial noose.” Her first book “Rising Shadows” is available on ebook formats, and the follow-up novel “Chasing Shadows” is available for purchase on ebook and paperback via Ink Smith Publishing.

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