Author Archives: ashtheauthor

About ashtheauthor

I love to read, write, and craft.

Where I Belong by Gillian Cross


Hi everyone! Ash here. I just finished reading Where I Belong, by Gillian Cross, and thought I’d write my post right away, when I still have my frustrations clear in my mine.

This book gets 5 pens for a couple of reasons. First of all, it’s confusing. Although the characters’ names and personalities are all described on the inside cover of the book, it doesn’t mention anything about how the narrator changes throughout the story. For the first couple of chapters, I thought that it was all one character, and that the names of the characters at the beginning of the chapter were the chapter titles. I know, I could have been a bit more observant, since I’ve read many books where the narrator switches around, but at least those other books mention something about the changing narration!
Like I said, there were a couple of reasons I bumped this book down three pens from your average good-read book rating, which is eight pens. The second reason was that I guessed who was betraying Khadija from the very beginning. I don’t know, maybe I’m just an amazing book reviewing that I always know who the real bad guys are, but I seem to have this problem with many books. Maybe the author thinks, it needs more and more foreshadowing! This isn’t enough! or maybe the character just wasn’t developed enough. Whatever the case, I knew the bad guy from the beginning, and that just made it a bit boring.

That said, it’s not that bad of a book, and if you have some spare time, feel free to read it! It has a great plot line! The characters are just a little too easy to understand.

Now, here for the review:

Where I Belong is a book that is constantly switching narration between the main characters. Khadija, who lives in London, is thousands away from her brother Mahmoud, who lives in Somalia. Yet Khadija holds–or rather, will soon hold–the key to hid life. Someone (this is what I mentioned before about knowing the main bad guy) has kidnapped her brother and is holding him for ransom. Then there’s Abdi, a 14-year old boy coming to terms with the loss of his father, and Freya, the “totally unfashionable” daughter of Sandy Dexter.

Sandy Dexter is a famous fashion designer, and she wants Khadija to be the mysterious Qarsoon: The Hidden One. This is why her brother Mahmoud is kidnapped for ransom, and it’s the person behind the kidnappers who should really be less obvious.


Hope you like! Well, not really. I wouldn’t read this book again.

~ Nik


15 Things To Do When You Have Writer’s Block


Hi everyone! Ash here. I know lots of you readers are writers, whether it be for a magazine (me!), a blog (also me!), or a unfinished novel (me! me! me!). I also have this great tidbit of information: absolutely everyone can get writer’s block. So, I decided to make a list to help all of you writers for when YOU get writers’ block!

15 Things To Do When You Have Writer’s Block

  1. Take a nap. When you wake up, reread your latest work and ask yourself what foreshadowing you may have unknowingly written in.
  2. Have a snack. Studies have shown that you concentrate better when you aren’t hungry.
  3. Read whatever it is that you’re writing OUT LOUD. Yes, I know it sounds humiliating. Yes, I know lots of you readers, including me, would never, ever want their work read out loud, let alone by yourself, the writer! But it has to be done. When you read your writing out loud, it helps you find and correct mistakes in your writing.
  4. Have a friend read your novel to you OUT LOUD. There it is again. Those dreaded words. Out. Loud. Again, it has to be done eventually.
  5. Have a bookish friend critique your work! This means that, of course, they must first read it. You can ask them to read it OUT LOUD if you want, but it isn’t needed. In fact, if I were to critique someone’s work, I’d rather read it silently.
  6. Go outside. Seriously. Just get a breath of fresh air.
  7. Reread a favorite book and pay careful attention to the author’s style. If you’re writing a novel or short story, look at the characters. How do they interact?
  8. If you’re writing a fiction novel, look at the rest of your work and ask yourself if everything is just going perfectly for the characters. If they’re street orphans, do they find food just like that? If they’re captured, do they get out just like that? If they’re sick, do they find medicine just like that? If so, revise your work and make sure your characters go through some hardships. Readers like being able to relate to characters.
  9. Assess and reassess your choice of descriptive words. Maybe instead of writing, “The man was loud,” you could write, “The man’s words seemed to bounce and echo off of every available space, gaining in volume and causing a ruckus.”
  10. Ask a writer friend of yours to tell you what they would write next if this was their story.
  11. Sleep on it. Not just a nap–wait an entire day before you even look at it.
  12. Go to a quiet place where you can concentrate more. Maybe you just have writers block because you feel crowded and overwhelmed by the noise!
  13. Brainstorm names for whatever it is you’re writing–novel, article, short story, etc.
  14. Go out with your camera (or your phone, which most likely has a camera) and take pictures of anything you think relates to your story. You may take a picture of a tree and think to yourself, Hey! Maybe, in my novel, my main character could find a magical genie lamp under this tree! (Then again, the whole genie thing is getting a little old.)
  15. Wait. I know you may think this is the worst advice ever, but when the above things don’t work, waiting is the only thing you can do. Ginger does this. I do this. Yes, even we have to wait for great ideas to pop into our heads sometimes.

Hope you like! (I mean, I hope you really like, because I had writers’ block while writing this, and I just had to wait. Which is possibly the most boring thing ever. Just in case you’re wondering.)

~ Ash

Wake by Amanda Hocking


Hi everyone! Ash here… finally. Yeah, we’ve kinda been lazy lately. We were going to start doing a couple posts a week and switching off, but then Ginger and I kept going on vacations (i.e. when it was her week, she happened to go on a vacation, and when it was my week, I happened to go on a vacation) and we just became lazy butts, reading but never reviewing. The life of a lazy blogger.

Anyways, I recently read a book I found exciting, interesting, and over way too soon.

Without further ado, here’s the review for this 9-pen book…

Strangers in town for the summer, Penn, Lexi, and Thea are the people you envy and hate. Everyone knows there’s something off with them. Everyone’s watching them, but they’re watching Gemma. They want her in their group. Gemma seems to have it all, because she’s pretty, without a care in the world. Not as pretty as Penn, Lexi, and Thea, of course, but there’s something wrong with those three.

One night, while Gemma is out on a late night swim under the stars, she finds Penn, Lexi, and Thea partying on the cove. They somehow convice her to join them, and Gemma wakes up the next morning on the beach, disoriented, but not enough to ignore the fact that something’s different.

Now Gemma is stronger, faster, and more beautiful than ever, but she knows there’s something wrong. Her new powers and abilities, which you’d never guess, come with a big, bad price tag. As she uncovers the truth, she has to choose between her family and friends or a dark new world filled with frightening secrets.

Like I said before, this is a 9-pen book that merits your attention! It’s a great book, so go out and read it!

Hope you like!

~ Ash

Nook App


Hi everyone! Ash here. This app is pretty handy if you’re on a road trip and you’re not the one driving. (We strongly discourage reading while you drive. Reading while you drive can have serious consequences.) Then again, you could just bring your Nook, but what if you don’t want to? Or, what if you did bring your Nook, but it’s out of battery? (Truly a horror!) This free app is pretty great. Any book you have bought on your Barnes and Noble account that you want to read can be downloaded to this app, and you can read it, just like that. (Let it be noted that an internet connection is needed for both downloading the app and downloading the book.)

Read what you want, when you want!
Sounds good, huh?
I sure like it!

Personally, I really enjoyed this app because there are some places I’d rather not take my e-reader. I’m a really forgetful person, and I sometimes have to call my cell phone with the home phone to figure out where my cell phone is (in the house).

This is a great app for many reasons. First of all, when you read a book on your phone using the app, the page numbers stay the same as on the Nook. Sure, page 15 might consist of two “pages” on the nook and five “pages” on the phone, but you never have to do complicated math to figure out how many pages you read if  p = n(3.549) or something crazy like that. (Of course, that’s just a random equation I made up. If you’re really a math geek, go ahead and figure out the equation, then comment below and we’ll test it out. If it works, you get the best thing ever: a free Nook app. 😉 )

Another reason I liked this app was that it was easy to use. Some apps have complicated sign-ins, random buttons, crazy messages that pop up… This app has none of that. It was simple and easy to sign in, which you only have to do once. There are no random buttons, which is a relief. No crazy messages pop up anywhere.

Anyways, this is a great app, but it may not be for all you die-hard Kindle lovers. Those of you who are may be hoping I’m going to write a review about the Kindle app–unfortunately for you, I’m not. But if you love the Amazon Kindle (or any other e-reader) so much, feel free to mail in a review.

Hope you like!

~ Ash

The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson


This book is so good! The plot line is completely original, and so is the idea the book revolves around: certain people can create Chalklings, two-dimensional figures that come to life. This book gets 8.5 pens, and it would’ve gotten nine, but for some problems I had with the book.

More than anything else, Joel, the main character, wants to become a Rithmatist. Rithmatists are chosen by “the Master” in a mysterious inception ceremony, and they are humanity’s only defense against the Wild Chalkings–evil creatures that leave mangled corpses in their wake. Having nearly overrun the territory of Nebrask, the Wild Chalklings are now a threat to all of the American Isles. (There’s the problem, right there–I didn’t really get the setting. Is it a whole ‘nother world? Is it the same world we live in? That’s like saying, “We might be in America, we might be in the middle of the ocean, and we might not even be on Earth. If you wanted to know.”)

As the son of a late and low-class chalkmaker at Armedius Academy, Joel can only watch as Rithmatist students study the magical art that Joel would do anything to be able to do. The students don’t realize that they have something others may covet. Suddenly students start disappearing. They’re kidnapped from their rooms at night, leaving trails of blood.

Assigned to help the professor investigating the crimes, Joel and his friend, Melody, who is plunged into the mystery with him, find themselves on the trail of a new and unexpected discovery that which change Rithmatics–and their world–forever.

So like I said, not enough details on WHERE… But other than that, a great book! Hope you like!

~ Ash

The Colossus Rises by Peter Lerangis


This book was so good! This book has come out by now, so if you want to go read it, you don’t actually have to wait until it does come out. The Colossus Rises gets 8 pens, just like most other “it’s good you should read” books.

Jack McKinley is an ordinary kid like you or me, except for one thing: In a few months, Jack is going to die. He needs to find seven magic loculi that, when they’re combined, have the power to cure him. There’s a little flaw in the plan though: the loculi are the relics of an ancient and lost civilization that haven’t been seen in thousands of years–because they’re hidden in the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Anyways, I’m excited for the sequels to come out! It’s prepped to be a seven-book series, since there are seven loculi and seven wonders. The author does a really good job of confusing you, the reader, into thinking this guy is good when he’s really bad and this guy is bad when he’s really good! Even I, Ash, reader extraordinaire, couldn’t figure out exactly who was on which side. And that’s saying something. I usually pick up the little details and decide who’s gonna betray someone or something like that. (Side note: I didn’t even GUESS about the big plot twist in Ender’s Game!)

Hope you like!

~ Ash

What I’m Reading: The Rithmatist, by Brandon Sanderson, and Nobody’s Princess, by Esther Friesner. Reviews to come soon!

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson


This book is just simply amazing, although it does seem a little weird at first. The plot line is awesome, and the writing style of the author is wonderful. This book gets 7.8 pens, because it’s not your average book. It actually–wait. Don’t want to spoil it for you!

Seventeen-year-old Jenna Fox has just woken up from a year-long coma, and she is still recovering from the horrible accident that caused it. But before that? Jenna can’t remember–her mind is a blank slate, with no memories, from those of who her friends were to simple definitions of words, such as “time.” Jenna is given home movies chronicling her entire life, sparking memories to surface. But these memories are so exact, so precise and perfectly remembered that Jenna questions if the memories are really hers. And why won’t her family ever talk about the accident that left her like this? Jenna is becoming more curious and, in doing so, learning the definition of the word “curious.” Jenna is afraid of what she might find if she ever gets up the courage to ask her questions. What really happened to Jenna Fox? What about her friends? And who is she, really?

If you look at my rating (7.8 pens) you’ll see that I knocked it down 0.2 from my average “good book” rating. That’s because there was a plot spoiler that I guessed near the beginning of the book, when it was supposed to be a surprising thing to learn.

Hope you like!

~ Ash


Age Rating: Kind of mature, for a little bit of language.

What I’m Reading: The Colossus Rises by Peter Lerangis (Advance Reading Copy). Review to come soon!