Between the Pages: Meet Karen Ashmore

Originally posted on Ashley Townsend:

Welcome to week three of the Between the Pages sneak peek at the inner workings of “Chasing Shadows.” Week four, an interview with a ridiculously cheeky and gorgeous Spanish lord, will be postponed for a week because I’ll be on vacation. I may or may not be able to post it next weekend after I get back, but no guarantees! I guess that means you’ll just have to imagine what a date with Damien Lisandro would be like. Heck, I think about it every day, myself. ;)

Check out today’s interview with Karen, the fiery-sweet redhead from “Chasing Shadows,” and keep up with me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram via http://instagram.com/d_jeans86 during our trip (starting tomorrow!). We’re taking a copy of “Chasing Shadows” with us to do all sorts of nonsense and hilarity with the book. So follow all of these links to check out what sort of shenanigans we’ll be up to this week in Cali!

Meet…

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The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd

the madman's daughter by megan shepherd

“The Madman’s Daughter” by Megan Shepherd

5 out of 5 stars.

Juliet Moreau is the daughter of a madman, or at least that is what everyone has been telling her since his death. Orphaned and friendless, Juliet has had to learn to take care of herself rather than rely on the people around her. Working as a maid and going about the motions of life have earned Juliet a slight bit of normalcy, and she can now go about her days without men and women whispering behind her back that she was the child of a madman.

But then a shocking discover tears her world apart: her father is alive and is dwelling on a tropical island. Desperate for answers, Juliet seeks out the help of her childhood friend Montgomery who has suddenly reappeared in London; if she had another option, she would take it without hesitation, but Montgomery seems to be her last hope. Setting out on a journey to find her father, Juliet discovers that some secrets, and people, are best left forgotten. To make matters worse, Juliet is now stuck on an island with her mad father and a monster rampaging the island and its inhabitants. Will Juliet make it out alive with her sanity in tact, or is she destined to follow in the footsteps of her mad father?

This book blew my mind. I cannot even describe how impressed I was with this book once I had finished it. I felt that Megan Shepherd did a beautiful job of writing vivid environments like the dreary hopelessness of London during the 1700’s, and a mysterious tropical island where nothing is as it seems. “The Madman’s Daughter” was an amazing story that pulled me completely into its pages, and I loved how fleshed out the characters were. This book was an experience; you need to brew yourself a cup of tea or coffee, and just sit back and enjoy the ride and all the bumps and emotional turmoil that you are put through during its course. Alright, let’s talk about the characters that are in this magnificent book!

Juliet Moreau was a pretty good female character. I enjoyed reading from her point of view, and I really felt bad about all the awful things she had been put through because of other people’s actions. She’s the kind of character that you don’t necessarily relate to, but you feel connected enough to want her to find happiness. I felt her plight and wanted her to break free of her past and all the hurt that plagued her. I wanted her to rise above and prove to everyone that she was worth more than they said she was, and to break free of her father’s madness around and within her; I wanted her to fight back against the evil. Another aspect to Juliet’s character that I liked were her feelings for Montgomery and Edward, the castaway. Megan Shepherd did a really good job of creating a heroine with feeling for two guys that seemed plausible, while not appearing like she was betraying one or the other by having feelings for both of them at the same time; she had residual feeling for Montgomery and new ones for Edward, and was just trying to figure out who she cared about more. Juliet never seemed like a two-face character and I appreciated that. Speaking of boys…

 Montgomery…

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I seriously loved Montgomery in this book. He was just such a strong present character (whenever he was in a scene) that I just loved him (almost) instantly. I also liked the fact that he and Juliet were friends when they were younger because it added a bit more depth to their relationship and it made their feelings for one another more believable. Juliet and Montgomery’s chemistry was great, and their moments together…*sigh*

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I really liked how Juliet would have flashbacks to her childhood and you got to see them both as children briefly. Those flashbacks also helped me as a reader to understand why Montgomery was the way he was. He had a lot of secrets in this book that even Juliet didn’t know about, but he also had an enormously big heart that made me love him even more. It honestly felt like he could’ve been a “real” person, which meant that he had a LOT of flaws, but I just felt that he had/has a lot of potential as a character. Love him!

Edward was also a very intriguing character. He was rescued by the boat Juliet and Montgomery were using to reach her father, and he was kind of the “unknown” in the book. He was a really good character with surprising depth, and I found myself liking him despite my love for Montgomery. Edward has secrets like everyone else on the island, but he was still super nice, and he and Juliet seemed to work well with each other; I look forward to getting to know him a bit more in the next installments in this trilogy.

Megan Shepherd not only did a beautiful job of creating amazing main characters, but she also created a whole unit of really good secondary characters. These characters added layers to “The Madman’s Daughter” that really helped to round this book out so that it became even more real to its readers. My two favorites were Alice and Balthazar. The last thing I want to discuss is what the ending of this book did to me.

The end of this book was heartbreaking! My sister had read “The Madman’s Daughter” before me and she cried a little bit because of how it ended; she even showed me her teardrop on the page once she finished it. After that I knew I HAD to read “The Madman’s Daughter,” and so I got myself a copy from the Library. I got to the end of that book and I cried like a baby.

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It was so painfully good and bittersweet that I couldn’t hold the tears back; they were the kind of tears that you don’t notice are falling until they completely blur your vision, and then you have to hastily wiped them away so you can keep reading. Cynthia Hand’s “Boundless” was another book that did this to me. The end of “The Madman’s Daughter” was so satisfying and bittersweet that I could have survived if this was the only book. It ended on a cliffhanger, in a sense, but it also seemed complete. It was the weirdest feeling because I usually don’t like endings like that and I will rant about my dissatisfaction for days. But all I can say is that it was amazing and sad and bittersweet and beautiful.

Everything about this book was AMAZING!

The Heir by Kiera Cass: Cover Reveal!

You’ve probably already heard that Kiera Cass decided to turn “The Selection Trilogy” into a series, and the newest book, “The Heir,” was given a title and a release date. I am very excited to say, though, that it now has a cover and a description, too. I’m sure you can imagine my joy at seeing the cover since it is one of my favorite series, but I’ll give you a gif just in case you can’t imagine it for yourself.

 

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I will say that if you haven’t read the series yet and you want the end of the first three books to be spoiler free, do not continue reading this post. Alright, drum-roll, please.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Goodreads Summary:

Twenty years ago, America Singer entered the Selection and won Prince Maxon’s heart. Now the time has come for Princess Eadlyn to hold a Selection of her own. Eadlyn doesn’t expect her Selection to be anything like her parents’ fairy-tale love story. But as the competition begins, she may discover that finding her own happily ever after isn’t as impossible as she always thought.

 

I do have to say, though, that I am a bit scared of what may transpire in “The Heir.” I LOVED “The Selection” and “The One” and I don’t want them to be ruined because of a later book; those two books and the “ending” of the story they told were perfect just the way they were, and I am afraid of what Kiera might do. That being said, I will probably still read “The Heir” with the hope that it doesn’t ruin the other three books for me.

Chasing Shadows by Ashley Townsend Is HERE

The wait is officially over and I now have a copy of “Chasing Shadows” by Ashley Townsend!!!

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This is extremely exciting and I am looking forward to reading “Chasing Shadows” again, and then writing a book review for it. Alright, here’s the cover!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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If you want to buy a copy of this book for yourself, go to:

http://www.amazon.com/Chasing-Shadows-Ashley-Townsend/dp/1939156572/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1413944606&sr=8-1&keywords=chasing+shadows+townsend

and

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/chasing-shadows-ashley-townsend/1120440724?ean=9781939156570

Be on the lookout for a review of “Chasing Shadows” by Ashley Townsend on my blog!

The Princess Spy by Melanie Dickerson

The Princess Spy  by Melanie Dickerson book

“The Princess Spy” by Melanie Dickerson

Writing quality deserves 4 out of 5 stars. (For younger age groups).

How much I liked it 3 out of 5 stars.

Goodreads Summary:

Margaretha has always been a romantic, and hopes her newest suitor, Lord Claybrook, is destined to be her one true love. But then an injured man is brought to Hagenheim Castle, claiming to be an English lord who was attacked by Claybrook and left for dead. And only Margaretha—one of the few who speaks his language—understands the wild story. Margaretha finds herself unable to pass Colin’s message along to her father, the duke, and convinces herself ‘Lord Colin’ is just an addled stranger. Then Colin retrieves an heirloom she lost in a well, and asks her to spy on Claybrook as repayment. Margaretha knows she could never be a spy—not only is she unable to keep anything secret, she’s sure Colin is completely wrong about her potential betrothed. Though when Margaretha overhears Claybrook one day, she discovers her romantic notions may have been clouding her judgment about not only Colin but Claybrook as well. It is up to her to save her father and Hagenheim itself from Claybrook’s wicked plot.

Thank you Zondervan Publishing for my ARC copy of “The Princess Spy” by Melanie Dickerson. My receiving of this ARC copy in no way has affected my review.

“The Princess Spy” was a cute read. I liked that you get a glimpse of the history during the medieval period interwoven with a fairytale twist. It is a sweet story, but I didn’t feel very connected with the characters in this particular book. I’ve read “The Healer’s Apprentice,” “The Fairest Beauty,” “Captive Maiden” and “The Princess Spy,” which are all a part of the same series, and I think that “The Princess Spy” was the hardest to enjoy because the characters did not reach out to me. I couldn’t figure which fairytale it was, so I didn’t have any fond memories from my childhood of reading or watching this piece of folk-lore to endear me to it. Now, I can’t fault the story for that because this might have been Melanie’s own invention instead of a retelling. It was well done and well written, but it just was not my absolute favorite book from this series. That being said, I do want to talk about a few different elements in this story, including the characters.

Margaretha was a cute heroine. She was brave and a bit awkward (in an endearing way), and she did some very hard things to protect her family. I will commend any heroine who sacrifices ease and safety to protect those she loves. That being said, I didn’t feel any particular attachment to her. Margaretha was sweet, but there wasn’t any one thing about her that made me adore her as a character. She was well-developed and a good character, I just didn’t connect.

Colin was a nice guy and I thought that he was a fairly good  character, but I did not care all that much; I can see why people like him, but I didn’t feel any particular desire  to read from his perspective. Maybe it was just the mood I was in, but I felt disconnected from the situations in the story as well as the characters. Melanie Dickerson is a very good writer and this book is pretty good, but I just could not, for some reason, get attached to Margaretha or Colin. It was a good story, I just did not feel super attached to a character. Moving on from characters, let’s talk about the story itself.

“The Princess Spy” had some adventure and danger within its pages, and it was very well written; it would be a great book for anyone looking for some good clean fun. I think that’s maybe one of the reasons I was so distant from the story was that it seemed so young, like it was meant for middle school to early high school kids. I don’t like gory or scandalous books, but I do like ones where the perspective is more mature on the intelligence side, and that the characters work through things rather than keeping secrets or acting immature. I like layers and depth to personalities and the minute details (nervous ticks, as an example) that make a character seem real, and with most middle-grade to early high school books, those things are usually (not always, though) watered-down and Juvenal. And that is perfectly all right because those books achieved what they were aiming towards and some of them do it really well.

I think that Melanie’s characters were good, but they appeared to be more aimed towards that kind of younger age group and were a little too cookie-cutter for my taste. “The Princess Spy” was a good book because its aim towards creating a book for younger teens was achieved. It was cute and enjoyable, and definitely a good book for new teens who like to read.

P.S. My grading is based on its aim towards a younger age group, rather than an older.

Wish You Were Italian by Kristin Rae

wish you were italian kristin rae book

“Wish You Were Italian” by Kristin Rae

3 out of 5 stars.

Pippa has always wanted to travel to Italia and experience the culture and explore the sights, but when her parents decide to send her ship her off to an art school for the summer, Italy doesn’t sound quite so appealing. Who wants to spend their entire summer vacation in Italy stuck in a stuffy classroom learning about art instead of seeing and experiencing it for real? Pippa’s outlook on her summer is gloomy at best until she comes up with a plan.

Pippa decides that life is too short to waste in a classroom when she could be out and about, exploring one of the most beautiful countries (in her opinion) on earth. On her adventurous, albeit rebellious, journey, Pippa meets many different characters along the way, some of whom befriend her. From historic Rome to beautiful Cinque Terre, “Wish You Were Italian” takes a reader on this teenage girl’s whirlwind journey of self discovery where unexpected friendships and romance await her.

I’m sad to say that I greatly disliked the main female character, Pippa, in this book and I thought that she was really foolish. One of the reasons why I was not a fan was how she handled different situations she was put in or got herself into. Yes, I’m sorry, Pippa, that you’re stuck in Italy and have to learn about art; it is your parents’ passion and not your own, so I get that. I also get that you want to exploring everything around you instead of being closed up in a classroom. But did you really need to ditch school, run off without telling your parents, and start hanging out with complete strangers in a foreign country? Oh, and Pippa also traveled from Rome up the cost to Cinque Terre with a girl, Chiara, who she had just met. Did I mention that she did so without the slightest hesitation? Have you ever heard of human-trafficing or serial killers, Pippa? I know those are dark thoughts, but honestly, you are a girl ALL ALONE in a foreign country, and you decide to tag along with a person you’ve know for about twenty-four hours?  I find that to be a bit stupid, but whatever. I know that at some point in most of our lives we dream about doing something adventurous, but that did not seem like a safe or smart thing to do. Granted, this is a fictional book, but still… Okay, now that I’ve stated the reasons why I found Pippa annoying, let’s talk about the things I that I did like about “Wish You Were Italian.”

Kristin Rae has a gift for descriptions. Her writing painted such beautiful and clear descriptions of Italy that I felt like I was there. Sometimes when I read a book and I don’t like the main character, I can’t enjoy the descriptions of the world or setting. But with “Wish You Were Italian,” the descriptions of Italy completely overshadowed the fact that I wasn’t a fan of Pippa. It was gorgeous, stunning, and lifelike the way Kristin wrote about the country, and I loved every moment of this Italian setting.

Another aspect of “Wish You Were Italian” that made up for the more than lacking Pippa, was the side characters. Chiara was cool in an intense Italian kind of way, and I did like how Kristin Rae dispersed a little of the Italian language in this book. I felt like I could hear their accents, and it really made me want to learn the language. I also thought that the American boy that Pippa met was sweet.

Overall, “Wish You Were Italian” was a cute, light summer read that was surprisingly enjoyable. If you want to take a trip to Italy for a small fee of $9.99, this is the book to buy!

The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

There are mild spoilers on relationship dynamics in this review.

the kiss of deception book

“The Kiss of Deception” by Mary E. Pearson

Quality of writing: 3-3 1/2 out of 5 stars.

How much I liked it: 2 3/4-3 out of 5 stars.

Goodreads Summary:

A princess must find her place in a reborn world.

She flees on her wedding day.

She steals ancient documents from the Chancellor’s secret collection.

She is pursued by bounty hunters sent by her own father.

She is Princess Lia, seventeen, First Daughter of the House of Morrighan.

The Kingdom of Morrighan is steeped in tradition and the stories of a bygone world, but some traditions Lia can’t abide. Like having to marry someone she’s never met to secure a political alliance.

Fed up and ready for a new life, Lia flees to a distant village on the morning of her wedding. She settles in among the common folk, intrigued when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deceptions swirl and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—secrets that may unravel her world—even as she feels herself falling in love.

I really wanted to like “The Kiss of Deception” because of how well people reviewed it; reviewers were making it sound like it was a mixture of “The Winner’s Curse” by Marie Rutkoski and “Throne of Glass” by Sara J. Maas. I LOVE/LOVED those two books, so I thought this one would turn out to be a really good read. robbie kay 1

Sadly, it did not turn out to be all that great a read for me. Don’t get me wrong, it was a well written book, but it just didn’t reach me emotionally; I was reading it fairly fast, but it was more because of the addicting writing style rather than a love for the characters and the world. I never grew to care for the heroine–there was no particular thing about her that made me like or dislike her–and I also never felt enchanted or “wowed” by the world Mary E. Pearson built. In “The Winner’s Curse,” Marie Rutkoski created such a vivid and interesting world that mixed the Roman-Greco period perfectly with high fantasy. It was elegant and intriguing, and even when the characters weren’t doing all that much, the world kept me interested in the book, and then the characters captured my heart and I just couldn’t get enough of it. Sara J. Maas’ “Throne of Glass” did that for me as well, plus Dorian was AWESOME. What made me sad about this book was that it had really good potential for emotional depth and a dynamic story, but I never got a chance to get attached to any one character despite the near five hundred pages I read. You already know that I wasn’t a fan of Lia, so let’s talk about Kaden and Rafe.

The character that I liked the most was Kaden. He was an interesting character, but sadly, he didn’t get much book time. He and Lia only had a few encounters that didn’t last for more than a page or two, and that made it hard to get to know him. The book does switch from Lia’s perspective once and a while so you can see from Kaden’s and Rafe’s point of views. These chapters, however, only last for three to four pages, which again, did not help me to get to know either guy all that well. Then something happened to Kaden, and I was kinda like,

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and ended up being quite irritated at the author who wrote that happenstance. I knew it was coming (I had accidentally skipped ahead and read that part) and I was super frustrated with how it was done in “The Kiss of Deception.” The event that occurred made sense, but it also contradicted a couple of things in the storyline. I know the author purposely wrote it in that manner to “shock” her readers, but the way it was done actually compromised something in this book. This unnecessary compromise could have been easily altered by the editor or author, yet it wasn’t, and that’s what bothered me. I know what I just said was SUPER vague and probably confusing, but I am trying keep as many spoilers out of this review as possible while still stating my issues with the book. Kaden was a fun-ish character, but that plot trap/sinkhole and the fact that he wasn’t in this book all that much, stopped me from liking “The Kiss of Deception”; there wasn’t anything that completely drew me into the story.

The last main character in this book was Rafe. He was, of course, the mysterious dark stranger that the heroine fell for; Lia felt drawn to him…Hmm, sounds familiar, right? I think what really got me, though, was that Lia and Rafe really liked each other, but I was never given enough of them getting to know one another to be endeared to the relationship. I could look past the epitome of practically every teen reader’s dream-boat if I could have gotten to know Rafe better. It takes almost a hundred pages for him and Lia to meet, another fifty to seventy-five pages until they have a “moment,” and another fifty pages go by before you actually start to see them liking one another. By page three hundred, though, something happens and they discover that they are in love.

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I know that some time had gone by since they first met, but it didn’t feel like enough time had passed for them to confess their feelings. At that point in the book I was bored because nothing interesting had happened, and Mary’s addictive style of writing had begun to feel a lot less addictive.

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These things bummbed me out because I spent a fair amount of money to buy this book, and I had high hopes for it. Overall, “The Kiss of Deception” was a well written book, but it just wasn’t for me.