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? 😉

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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?

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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. 🙂

***

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!

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.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

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.

Follow her quirkiness on:

Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

Authorly Bucket List

To wrap up my week of tag catching up…

Tag Catch-Up Post #7 (or #8, depending on counting…) – THIS IS THE VERY LAST ONE I PROMISE.

So, a few months back, I was tagged by Sarah @ Light and Shadows for a new tag, created by Erin Kenobithe Authorly Bucket List Tag! (It is also, apparently, known as the the Stuff-I-Need-To-Practice-More-Slash-Stuff-I’d-Like-To-Be-Better-At Tag. But Authorly Bucket List is easier to say, doncha know…) Go check out their blogs, do! You won’t regret it. 😀

Okay, so the the idea with the Authorly Bucket List Tag (Original Post) is to list three to seven things you’re not very good at, and another three to seven you’d like to try.

Shivers, y’all. This looks awesome.

Let’s get this show on the road! (And I may have to steal a couple of your things, Sarah, since I have some similar problems… >.>)

Things I Need to Work On

Actually Writing
Um. Yes. This is my biggest problem. I don’t often actually sit down to write. I procrastinate about it like you wouldn’t believe, I spend a lot of time plotting and thinking and doing little nothings, and basically everything except actually writing. But whenever I try to solve this with goals, or with events like NaNo, it works okay for a bit but then I get major burnout. If I specifically try to write several days in a row, for instance, I get burnt out and sometimes take a couple more weeks to recharge. I tend to write in large bursts (large here having the smallish meaning of like 2k words) with sometimes a couple weeks between. Yeah, it’s bad. But if I’m inspired, I can pound out a whole bunch. So it just depends. I guess I need to get myself inspired and keep it that way, and develop a bit of discipline.

Villains
Ah, villains. They’re what makes the world go ’round — or at least the plot. Usually. I never figure my villains out enough. They like to be kind of flat. And my main problem is that I never know their motives well enough or figure out what their plans are/their timelines. They kind of conveniently do stuff whenever the plot requires it, and… Yeah, enough about villains, let’s move on. I think my villains just don’t interest me much because I don’t LIKE them. I don’t want to spend all this time with them and figuring out their “deal”. I don’t understand people who are fascinated with villains and antagonists. O_O I mean, if they’re lovable/redeemable, sure… But yeah. The bad badguys I just want to stay away from, which does not help my writing since they’re kind of necessary! I guess I need some help in the villain department.

Battles / Fighting
I kind of majorly fail at fighting scenes. I don’t understand the concepts of swordfighting etc., no matter how much I read/watch about it. Much as I would like to! If there is fighting, I will be generally vague about it and move on because… what even are you supposed to do with that? It’s even worse with full-fledged battles. I haven’t attempted to write a battle in years, and I know even then I was horrible at it. How do you do it? You’ve got to focus on mini fighting scenes with individual characters throughout (see above…) and also keep track of all the sides and flanks and attacks and retreats and who’s fighting who and I just get so confused. How do you juggle all of that and make it remotely make sense?? This is probably partially why I’m terrified of returning to writing Epic Fantasy after being so long distracted in the shallower territory of contemporaries… Speaking of which…

Fantasy
So, ever since my first Kedran’s Wood story (The Owl of Kedran’s Wood) kidnapped me and held me captive to work on the adventures of Tare and the Chess Club for the last few years, I haven’t done much in the way of working on anything Epic Fantasy ish, my first love. I sort of popped back to work on my Starrellia series a couple times, and of course wrote most of Heartseeker for NaNo, but the truth is I’ve been away from Epic Fantasy for a very long time and want to get back to it. Which brings me to my thing-I-need-to-work-on: FANTASY. My fantasy is not as imaginative and full of fantastical things as I would like. It just doesn’t often occur to me that I can do whatever I want, and instead I just blunder along with whatever’s right there at the forefront of my brain. What about dragons, fairies, enchantments, intriguing magicalness, totally unique new things…? All the possibilities! My fantasy seems to normally be fairly tame, and I think some exploring of possibilities would not go amiss.

Things I’d Like to Try

Fairy Tale Retellings
Yessss. I actually hope to accomplish this soon, since I’m (currently) planning on writing a Twelve Dancing Princesses story for NaNo this year… We’ll see how that turns out. But fairy tales are awesome, and I adore retellings and they are so fun to read. So naturally I’d like to try my hand at a few! I even recently put together an idea for an epic fairy tale mashup conglomeration, so that might happen someday. I’ve never done a retelling, so it would be interesting to see how to make it similar to the original tales but also fresh and new and… yeah, it sounds like quite a challenge, and one I’m very excited to try at some point.

Mind Reading / Telepathy
There’s something really fabulous about mind-things, somehow. Mind communication. Yummy. I’ve always found it interesting to read about, and seeing the different ways different authors do it… I’d like to try it myself someday because it would just be awesome. Now I just need to find a way to do it… But there are so many possibilities! Maybe it’s been done to death, but I don’t really care. I just want to try because it sounds so fun!

Time Travel
Like mind-reading, there is something awesome about time-travel. Or, specifically, Timeslip, which is the version that’s my favorite and tends to involve someone ending up in an older time period with some sort of magicalness involved, I think… As opposed to the sci-fi-ness of a time machine. It’s also much less predictable, more uncertain, which I like. But I’d also like to try a time machine story as well, which I have an idea for, including dealing with the question of how can people go back in time without changing the future/their present… Yeah, it kind of makes the head spin. Which is part of the fun. I don’t have a specific timeslip idea but I really would love to try it someday if an opportunity presented itself. The main problem with time travel stuff is I’d have to do all the research just as if it was a historical fiction book, the thought of which terrifies me. So… we’re shelving those ideas for awhile. 😉 (Unless of course, it’s time-travel in another world…! Which would solve the research problem. I’ve only seen this done in Diana Wynne Jones’s book The Crown of Dalemark and I ADORED it so so much!! So it can be done.)

Cons and Heisty-ness
I’ve recently become obsessed with reading and watching crimey-heisty things, as I call them. TV shows Hustle and Leverage, the Heist Society books by Ally Carter, White Cat and its sequels by Holly Black (despite their ickness). Even milder versions like National Treasure‘s subplot to steal the Declaration of Independence. I just can’t get enough of the Robin-Hood-like (or at least not entirely bad) con-artists and grifters and thieves, and all of the cleverness involved in a good heist/con, especially when it involves giving the badguys what’s due them. I’m an upstanding citizen, honest, but this sort of thing is fascinating to read about. XD There is also a sad lack of such things, especially in the book (YA especially) world! (If you know of any, either books or films or shows, pleeeease do tell me.) I would probably never be able to write a con/heisty story because my brain just isn’t clever enough, but the thought is there and if I ever dared, I would love to try.

***

Sooo… There’s my authorly bucket list, or some semblance thereof! What is yours? I guess I should work on these… Slowly… Somehow.

Or… I don’t know, maybe I should throw all of that together and actually sit down to write an epically fantastical epic fantasy full of full-fledged battles and deep villains who time travel (by means magical, scientific, and otherwise), with heroes and heroines from fairy tale stories, who use mind communication and carry out brilliant heists and cons.
. . .
UM. Actually, I would totally read that because it would be awesome. O_O OH MY GOODNESS. *facepalm* I need to stop coming up with story ideas and write some of my current ones.

What have I done.

(This is why I should not brainstorm when my brain is asleep and susceptible to madness…)

*hastily sweeps new plotbunnies under rug, tramples them quickly, leaves a large and heavy safe on top to keep them down, and surreptitiously walks away whistling as if nothing happened*

And I Tag

Abi // Ashlee // Kelsey // Jenelle // Katie/Robyn // Claire // Any writers who want to.

But please!! Do feel free to snag this if it looks interesting! (And let me know if you do! I would love to read such posts. :))

I’m just trying to spread out all my tagging this week, otherwise EVERYONE would
be tagged with EVERYTHING and it would be exhausting. XD

So there’s the last of my tag catchup posts! *queue cheering* I will now leave y’all in peace. 😉

***

Do any of you writers have problems like mine, or tips to overcome them?

What would you like to try in your writing? (Different POVs, steampunk, talking umbrellas…?)

ARE YOU GOING TO DO THIS TAG?

Do you know any good heisty books/shows??

Tell me all! Let the Authorly chatting begin! 🙂