Category Archives: BFF

Cover Reveal: Ashley Nixon’s CANNON

I’m excited to unveil the third and final cover in my CUTLASS TRILOGY.

 If you haven’t had a chance to check out the first two books in my Trilogy, here they are:

CUTLASS

Cutlass AmazonNotorious pirate Barren Reed has one thing on his mind: Revenge against the man who killed his father. So kidnapping his enemy’s fiancé seems a perfect plan…until he actually does it.

Larkin Lee is more than a pretty face and fiancé to a powerful man. Her fierce personality is enough to make any pirate want to push her overboard.

But when the King of the Orient comes to Barren with a task—to find the Bloodstone, a powerful gem thought only to exist in legend, Barren sees another opportunity to destroy his enemy. Together, Barren, Larkin and a crew of pirates set off to find the stone, only to discover it caused the death of Barren’s own mother and Larkin’s, too. As his strongest allies turn into his greatest enemies, and the life of the girl he kidnapped becomes more important than he ever dreamed, Barren’s quest for revenge becomes a fight to save the Orient.

AMAZON


FLINTLOCK

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00019]

Barren Reed hopes to protect the Orient from his tyrant uncle, but his plans to make the King’s life a living hell aren’t supported by the Elders of the pirate community. As it stands, Barren has earned the Elders’ disdain for his carelessness, and they threaten him into exile if he makes one more mistake.

Barren’s not the only one feeling the Elders’ wrath—they don’t trust Larkin either. Worse, Barren can’t comprehend Larkin’s wish to have a relationship with her father, and the secrets she’s forced to keep create a tension that may pull them apart forever.

When the Pirates of Silver Crest begin to die, bullets laced with dark magic are to blame. With more and more of these weapons infiltrating the Underground, discovering who’s behind the dissemination is no easy feat. As fear and tension mount among the people of the Orient, Barren and his crew find themselves in a race against time to stop the spread of dark magic before the world of Mariana spirals into collapse.

AMAZON

*

*

*

Last but not least, if you haven’t read CUTLASS or FLINTLOCK, please to not read the blurb for CANNON.

*

*

*

*

*

CannonPoster-2

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00019]

Blurb:


The king is dead, the Network is destroyed, and Barren Reed has been exiled by the Elders of Silver Crest. To make matters worse, the black spot–a curse of dark magic–continues to devour him. It’s true purpose is still unknown, but one thing is certain: It will corrupt Barren in the worst way.

With her greatest secret revealed, Larkin Lee flees Maris. Accused of slaying the king, there’s only one place to go–Silver Crest. But Barren isn’t happy to see her, and their reunion leaves more questions unanswered, including whether they have a future together.

As Datherious rises in power, Barren and Larkin must work together to find the fifth Relic to complete the King’s Gold and prevent Datherious from obtaining control over dark magic, but the black spot has other ideas, and the closer they get to finding the final Relic, the more corrupt Barren becomes. Larkin finds herself in a head to head battle with the only man she’s ever loved and the reality is harsh–only one can walk away alive.

ADD ON GOODREADS!

Alight, that’s all done!

Let me know what you think!


AshleyNixonAuthorPhoto

Ashley was born and raised in Oklahoma, where the wind really does sweep down the plains, and horses and carriages aren’t used as much as she’d like. When she’s not writing (haha, like that EVER happens!), she’s probably working out or pretending she’s Sherlock Holmes. Her obsession with writing began after reading the Lord of the Rings in the eighth grade. Since then, she’s loved everything Fantasy–resulting in an unhealthy obsession with the ‘geek’ tab on Pinterest, where all things awesome go. Type your paragraph here.

FACEBOOK TWITTER WEBSITE BLOG PINTEREST GOODREADS

Ashley’s Review: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

tuomdTitle: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

Author: Michelle Hodkin

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Genre: YA Paranormal/Fantasy

Pages: 480

Synopsis: Mara Dyer doesn’t think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.
It can.
She believes there must be more to the accident she can’t remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.
There is.
She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been through, she can fall in love.
She’s wrong.
After Mara survives the traumatizing accident at the old asylum, it makes sense that she has issues. She lost her best friend, her boyfriend, and her boyfriend’s sister, and as if that weren’t enough to cope with, her family moves to a new state in order to give her a fresh start. But that fresh start is quickly filled with hallucinations—or are they premonitions?—and then corpses, and the boundary between reality and nightmare is wavering. At school, there’s Noah, a devastatingly handsome charmer who seems determined to help Mara piece together what’s real, what’s imagined—and what’s very, very dangerous.

Review:

I asked my co-worker to recommend a book that had supernatural elements, featured a girl in High School, and a romance. She suggested THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER.

I fell in love.

THIS BOOK. I don’t even know where to start. I’ll just begin with Mara.

After Mara wakes up in the hospital, she learners her best friend, Rachel, her ex-boyfriend, Jude and another girl named Claire were killed when a building collapsed. Mara doesn’t initially remember what happens, but she’s haunted by visions and terrible nightmares. After the incident, she and her family move to Florida where she starts at a new school. There, Mara struggles with PTSD. She also meets the infamous Noah Shaw.

My co-worker gave this comparison of Noah Shaw: He’s Spike from Buffy. He’s even British. There are stereotypes of the male love interest in YA: Noah is a bad boy, he’s rich beyond belief, has an absent parent/parents, BUT, no matter Mara’s crazy (or what she believes is crazy) he sticks with her. He’s how she breaks the surface after drowning (nice cover reference, huh). They’re a beautiful and tragic couple and I love them.

I have to say that I also admired Mara’s brothers. They were hilarious, they were also supportive of Mara…almost in an I-can’t-believe-you’re-sibligins kind of way. Meaning, they NEVER fought. I don’t think Mara could take much fighting. She already didn’t get along with her physiologist mother, fighting with anyone else in her family would have broken her.

Now, let’s discuss plot. We are working with an unreliable narrator which means I never knew if Mara was telling the truth or not, and just when I thought I knew exactly what was happening, I didn’t. You still won’t see the ending coming, even if you’ve believed it at some point while reading the book.

I loved the subtle splash of supernatural in this book, I loved Noah Shaw, and I loved Mara Dyer. On to read the rest! 5 stars!

5star

The SEVEN REALMS SERIES: Ashley’s Review

thedemonkingTitle: The Seven Realms Series (4 books)

Author: Cinda Williams Chima

Publisher:  Disney-Hyperion

Genre: YA Fantasy

Pages: 2272

Times are hard in the mountain city of Fellsmarch. Reformed thief Han Alister will do almost anything to eke out a living for his family. The only thing of value he has is something he can’t sell—the thick silver cuffs he’s worn since birth. They’re clearly magicked—as he grows, they grow, and he’s never been able to get them off.

One day, Han and his clan friend, Dancer, confront three young wizards setting fire to the sacred mountain of Hanalea. Han takes an amulet from Micah Bayar, son of the High Wizard, to keep him from using it against them. Soon Han learns that the amulet has an evil history—it once belonged to the Demon King, the wizard who nearly destroyed the world a millennium ago. With a magical piece that powerful at stake, Han knows that the Bayars will stop at nothing to get it back.

Meanwhile, Raisa ana‘Marianna, princess heir of the Fells, has her own battles to fight. She’s just returned to court after three years of freedom in the mountains—riding, hunting, and working the famous clan markets. Raisa wants to be more than an ornament in a glittering cage. She aspires to be like Hanalea—the legendary warrior queen who killed the Demon King and saved the world. But her mother has other plans for her—including marriage to a suitor who goes against everything the queendom stands for.

The Seven Realms tremble when the lives of Hans and Raisa collide, fanning the flames of the smoldering war between clans and wizards.

***

Haunted by the loss of his mother and sister, Han Alister journeys south to begin his schooling exilequeenat Mystwerk House in Oden’s Ford. But leaving the Fells doesn’t mean that danger isn’t far behind. Han is hunted every step of the way by the Bayars, a powerful wizarding family set on reclaiming the amulet Han stole from them. And Mystwerk House has dangers of its own. There, Han meets Crow, a mysterious wizard who agrees to tutor Han in the darker parts of sorcery—but the bargain they make is one Han may regret.

Meanwhile, Princess Raisa ana’Marianna runs from a forced marriage in the Fells, accompanied by her friend Amon and his triple of cadets. Now, the safest place for Raisa is Wein House, the military academy at Oden’s Ford. If Raisa can pass as a regular student, Wein House will offer both sanctuary and the education Raisa needs to succeed as the next Gray Wolf queen.

Everything changes when Han and Raisa’s paths cross, in this epic tale of uncertain friendships, cut-throat politics, and the irresistible power of attraction.

***

graywolfthroneHan Alister thought he had already lost everyone he loved. But when he finds his friend Rebecca Morley near death in the Spirit Mountains, Han knows that nothing matters more than saving her. The costs of his efforts are steep, but nothing can prepare him for what he soon discovers: the beautiful, mysterious girl he knew as Rebecca is none other than Raisa ana’Marianna, heir to the Queendom of the Fells. Han is hurt and betrayed. He knows he has no future with a blueblood. And, as far as he’s concerned, the princess’s family as good as killed his own mother and sister. But if Han is to fulfill his end of an old bargain, he must do everything in his power to see Raisa crowned queen.

Meanwhile, some people will stop at nothing to prevent Raisa from ascending. With each attempt on her life, she wonders how long it will be before her enemies succeed. Her heart tells her that the thief-turned-wizard Han Alister can be trusted. She wants to believe it—he’s saved her life more than once. But with danger coming at her from every direction, Raisa can only rely on her wits and her iron-hard will to survive—and even that might not be enough.

The Gray Wolf Throne is an epic tale of fierce loyalty, unbearable sacrifice, and the heartless hand of fate.

***

A thousand years ago, two young lovers were betrayed-Alger Waterlow to his death, and thecrimsoncrownHanalea, Queen of the Fells, to a life without love.

Now, once again, the Queendom of the Fells seems likely to shatter apart. For young queen Raisa ana’Marianna, maintaining peace even within her own castle walls is nearly impossible; tension between wizards and Clan has reached a fevered pitch. With surrounding kingdoms seeking to prey on the Fells’ inner turmoil, Raisa’s best hope is to unite her people against a common enemy. But that enemy might be the person with whom she’s falling in love.

Through a complicated web of lies and unholy alliances, former streetlord Han Alister has become a member of the Wizard Council of the Fells. Navigating the cut-throat world of blue blood politics has never been more dangerous, and Han seems to inspire hostility among Clan and wizards alike. His only ally is the queen, and despite the perils involved, Han finds it impossible to ignore his feelings for Raisa. Before long, Han finds himself in possession of a secret believed to be lost to history, a discovery powerful enough to unite the people of the Fells. But will the secret die with him before he can use it?

A simple, devastating truth concealed by a thousand-year-old lie at last comes to light in this stunning conclusion to the Seven Realms series.

 

Review

THE SEVEN REALMS SERIES is probably one of my favorite series. Did it take me a long time to read? Yes. Why? Well, THE DEMON KING started off slow. I mean, I’m pretty sure it took me about eight months to finish it. That said, something kept me going. I really wanted to know what those silver cuffs were on Han’s wrists. I wanted to know how in the world Han and Raisa were going to work out. I definitely didn’t want Rasia with Micha Bayar because no. By the time I got halfway through the book, there was no putting it down. Onto THE EXILE QUEEN—this was a much faster read. I wanted to shake Han for his rash behavior, but I loved that he was loyal to Rebecca a.k.a. Raisa. I did feel like their relationship was a little insta-love, but Han and Raisa just work so well together I didn’t really mind. The only part of THE EXILE QUEEN that made me mad was how easily Raisa agreed to go with Micah toward the end. Maybe it’s because I hate Micah *shrugs*.

THE GREY WOLF THRONE may easily be my favorite book. It’s different from THE DEMON KING and THE EXILE QUEEN in many ways. The setting feels different, the tone feels different—more determined and melancholy. There is a distancing between Han and Raisa that hurts my heart, but Raisa wants to be queen and she wants to do a good job. Han is empowered as well, and I felt like I really saw him become the leader and the street lord in this book. I saw Han for what Han really was—someone who was tortured, someone who really understood that gritty part of the world that we like to ignore. I liked when Raisa was back in the castle, and seeing her go up against these older men who clearly thought they’d have the upper hand. I also liked seeing how they tried to defy her—even try and kill her—yet she still persevered. I felt like THE EXILE QUEEN was definitely Raisa’s time to shine.

THE CRIMSON CROWN had me on edge the entire time. I loved Han’s determination to marry Raisa because he loved her and for no other reason. He was still pretty reckless, but the way he took on the Wizard Council showed all of his strengths and weaknesses. I was irritated with Han for not sitting down with Raisa to have a conversation about all the double crossing he was doing—then again, if he had, there’d have been no drama, and isn’t that why we read books?! Raisa was also very forgiving. Part of me found this strange, as I felt she should have been a little more angry with Han. Part of me also realized that this just showed how much Raisa truly trusted Han, and that was really endearing. This was completely Han’s book, and if anything demonstrated how Han and Raisa were destined for each other in a way that wasn’t annoying.

I love coming to the end of a series and reflecting on how the characters have changed throughout their journey. My initial impressions of Han were that he was hardworking, determined, and really wanted to be good, but the claws of his street life still had a hold on him. He’s also an outcast and doesn’t really seem to fit in in Maris Pines or in his own home. By the end of the series, he’s made a place for himself, won the person he loves most in the world, and has proven he’s a strong leader.

I loved it.

5star

Nicole’s Review: THE SLOW REGARD OF SILENT THINGS

Untitled-14Title: The Slow Regard of Silent Things

Author: Patrick Rothfuss

Publisher: DAW

Genre: Fantasy, companion piece to The Kingkiller Chronicles

Pages: 159

Synopsis: Deep below the University, there is a dark place. Few people know of it: a broken web of ancient passageways and abandoned rooms. A young woman lives there, tucked among the sprawling tunnels of the Underthing, snug in the heart of this forgotten place. Her name is Auri, and she is full of mysteries.

The Slow Regard of Silent Things is a brief, bittersweet glimpse of Auri’s life, a small adventure all her own.

Review:

I’m typically not a short story or novella girl, and I was lukewarm on NAME OF THE WIND (though I did like Auri), so when a friend recommended THE SLOW REGARD OF SILENT THINGS, I wasn’t sure what I was getting into.

Luckily, the story entranced me from the outset. The writing is downright gorgeous: lyrical and rhythmic and infused with life. Pat Rothfuss chooses each word with a pristine care that makes book nerds like me weep tears of joy for the perfection of such moments. (Seriously, this happened more than once)

Auri herself is wonderful! She is mysterious, ethereal and a little bit broken. She’s genuine, thoughtful, troublesome and troubling. You can’t help but feel for her, and as someone who—ahem—still occasionally names inanimate objects, I couldn’t help but relate to her on some deeper level as well. Her world is small, lonely and well-ordered (the girl is OCD to say the least)…and yet, in her eyes, it’s also vibrant, full of inert friends who need her care, and warm in its familiarity.

I’ve seen some mention of the book as insight into mental illness, and while I think there are elements of that, for me the story rose to a higher, more profound and touching level. It is the simplicity and goodness of wrapping a warm sweater about yourself on a cold winter’s day and plopping in front of a fire. SLOW REGARD is one of those rare books that leaves readers looking at the world with new eyes. There are passages that made me feel like a kid again, delighting with Auri in a new discovery or treasure, and passages that were so stunningly poignant my breath caught.

Many people say this book lacks a plot—and it does in the traditional sense, so be forewarned—but I thought it had a beautiful plot: Auri’s search for the perfect gift for Kvothe. Yes, it’s scaled to Auri’s narrow world and intensely personal for her (since she is essentially the only character). And she gets distracted from it. A lot. But the point in her meandering action is that there IS a point and a connectedness to even the smallest action.

Each motion has purpose and leads her toward what’s right and proper and good in her eyes. It takes immense skill on Rothfuss’s part to maintain any sort of drive or plot momentum in Auri’s voice, and he carries it off well.

This is a book I want to share with anyone and everyone who’s a writer, reader or language fan, because it’s such a remarkable example of the power of woven words. Perhaps the highest praise I can give it is this: I’ve never actually bought a stand-alone novella before. I will be buying this one.

Five stars.

5star

Find this book on Amazon.

Ashley’s Review: Illusions of Fate

IllusionsFate_cvrTitle: ILLUSIONS OF FATE

Author: Kiersten White

Publisher: Harper Teen

Genre: YA FANTASY

Pages: 288

Synopsis: Jessamin has been an outcast since she moved from her island home of Melei to the dreary country of Albion. Everything changes when she meets the gorgeous, enigmatic Finn, who introduces her to the secret world of Albion’s nobility. It’s a world that has everything Jessamin doesn’t—power, money, status . . . and magic. But Finn has secrets of his own, and the vicious Lord Downpike will do anything to possess them. Unless Jessamin, armed only with her wits, can stop him.

Review:

Illusions of Fate is enchanting. I loved it. I loved the magic (though it wasn’t intense), I loved the characters, I loved the love. I loved Sir Bird (I’ll explain).

Illusions of Fate centers around a girl, Jessamin, who is trying to get an education in the face of a lot of discrimination (a very admirable trait). She is from the island of Melei and has dark skin and hair. She doesn’t look anything at all like her Albion counterparts. Jassamin doesn’t have enough  money to pay for school, either, and works in the kitchen at a hotel nearby. She’s very smart and at the head of her classes, though no one pays much attention to her and everyone makes terrible comments.

From what I gather, Albion colonized Melei and all the Albions make terribly assumptions about Melenese people, culture and languages and all of the Melenese people are displaced, killed, stripped of their culture. Jessamin is actually the daughter of a Melenese woman and an Albion man, who happens to also be a professor at the school she attends.

One day, Jessamin meets Finn after she wonders down the wrong street. He saves her and the rest is history. Sort of.

I admired Jessamin because she found it really hard to fit in and yet tried really hard everyday. In the face of adversity, she persevered. She had goals. She wanted to learn as much as she could, then go back to her home and teach. She wasn’t really interested in getting married. I could relate to all of these things. I couldn’t relate to the math analogies though. Nope.

Finn is mysterious in many ways–almost to the point where he’s not completely grounded for me in this book. He’s also a magician and a political figurehead who really wants peace while others push for war. When he meets Jessamin, he’s almost instantly in love with her. Normally, this bugs me, but with Jessamin and Finn, it didn’t as much. I think it’s because the whole idea of this novel was FATE, and also because I liked the dialogue between Jessamin and Finn.

I also liked that while Jessamin didn’t have many friends, she could come to rely on Finn and Eleanor (someone she meets at a party). At first I was afraid that Eleanor wouldn’t be good–that she would betray Jessamin in some way, but that wasn’t Eleanor’s intent. I do wish I would have gotten to see more of how Eleanor schemed. It was hinted at a lot, and shown on a small scale, but we never really got to see how powerful Eleanor could be–and we won’t, apparently, because this is a standalone.

In White’s world, only the elite of society can do magic, which I found disheartening. I’m also not sure how the magic works all that well. I know that Finn stores magic in his cane to use for spells. There’s some physical stuff like powder that makes you speak the truth and some cards that Jessamin pulls from (always the same cards, LOVERS and FATE). Despite not knowing much about where magic is drawn from, everything felt so MAGICAL and I loved that. Like the way Finn and Jessamine escape from Lord Downpike. I just loved it. I also liked that healing magic wasn’t an instant fix. It took time.

Lastly, my favorite character was Sir Bird. He didn’t even speak, but I loved him! He was Jessamin’s savior more than once and comic relief.

Now, I will say, one thing that made me sad was that *spoiler* as things get more dangers, Jessamin leaves school.

I’m a huge advocate for education.

I know things are dangerous, but did she really have to leave? I know at the end she’s considering where she’ll go to school next, but this irritated me.

Overall, LOVED.  4 stars

 

4star

 

OF BEAST AND BEAUTY: Ashley’s Review

of beast and beautyTitle: OF BEAST AND BEAUTY

Author: Stacey Jay

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Genre: YA Fantasy/Retelling

Pages: 400

In the beginning was the darkness, and in the darkness was a girl, and in the girl was a secret…

In the domed city of Yuan, the blind Princess Isra, a Smooth Skin, is raised to be a human sacrifice whose death will ensure her city’s vitality. In the desert outside Yuan, Gem, a mutant beast, fights to save his people, the Monstrous, from starvation. Neither dreams that together, they could return balance to both their worlds.

Isra wants to help the city’s Banished people, second-class citizens despised for possessing Monstrous traits. But after she enlists the aid of her prisoner, Gem, who has been captured while trying to steal Yuan’s enchanted roses, she begins to care for him, and to question everything she has been brought up to believe.

As secrets are revealed and Isra’s sight, which vanished during her childhood, returned, Isra will have to choose between duty to her people and the beast she has come to love.

Review

I stumbled upon OF BEAST AND BEAUTY while searching for books on Amazon. I guess you can tell by my other review of A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES, I love reading BEAUTY AND THE BEAST retellings. Let me say, this really isn’t a retelling of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. It’s more like…a story with elements of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. Namely, some beast-like creatures and some enchanted roses.

We start with Isra who is the Princess of Yuna. She’s basically imprisoned and she’s also blind, and believes she has a mutation like many of the Desert People/other people in this world. Honestly, I’m not really sure where we are—I think it’s some planet or something? Basically, Isra lives in a dome that’s all bountiful and beautiful while the world outside the dome is desert and dangerous. There are magical roses that Isra likes to visit because sometimes they let her see…also, she must sacrifice her blood to them at some point if the dome around them starts to fall to pieces.

I liked Isra. She didn’t let blindness disable her and she learned to live with it. In the beginning she seems really childish, which I found strange. She isn’t raised with the intent that she will rule, but to be a sacrifice. Because of this, when it comes to changing things, she’s pretty whiny.

The other main character, Gem, agrees with me but he doesn’t understand the circumstances under which Isra has been raised. All he knows is that he’s a Desert Man and Isra is a Smooth Skin and he’s supposed to hate her. But he doesn’t really hate her, he actually loves her and just keeps fighting the love because it’s supposed to be disgusting for Desert People and Smooth Skins to feel any sort of attraction toward each other.

The Isra/Gem love didn’t bother me. I felt like it was a little fast, but you can tell the author means to imply a lot of time has passed and the two have had several ‘get to know you sessions.’ That being said, I didn’t find Isra capable of anything beyond that teenaged, angst love.

There’s also a third perspective in the book from a guard named Bo. In my opinion, Bo is weak minded and his perspective would have served better had he actually learned something.

My main complaint is probably this—I wanted this story to be Isra learning of her own power and embracing it. I wanted her to actually do something to deserve to rule her people. I wanted her to show us exactly how she can change the world she lives in for the better…but we don’t really get that. Instead, she’s really a pushover. She lets the men have power over her (and FOR REAL if there is one thing I dislike seeing in books, it’s that). In contrast, the author has Gem talk about how the Desert People give power to their women. Maybe an intentional contrast, however, Isra does nothing to rise to the occasion. At the end of the book, she’s building a brick wall—literally—around herself! That’s not helping your people, that’s hiding from problems! I don’t care if your city is coming down on top of your head.

Jay set up a really good foundation for this to be a real female empowerment novel…but…it sort of fell flat. This book also comes to a close very quickly—as if the author just wanted the book to end. The beginning is very detailed and patient, and the end is not so detailed and rushed.

Another thing to note about OF BEAUTY AND BEAST – the writing is really…poetic. It is very pretty. I found it strange at first, but it finally grew on me once the voices of the characters took root in my head.

Overall, I enjoyed OF BEAST AND BEAUTY. It’s not like other retellings for sure. 3 stars

 

3star

Find this book on Amazon