Upcoming Local Event: Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park, WA

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RSVP to the Meetup HERE or the Facebook HERE

 

Celebrate the release of For the Love of Donuts Book 1: Rachel Barnard will be there to sign the books with Ksenia Anske and her novel, “The Badlings.”

Add the book to your Goodreads shelf:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30052109-donuts-in-an-empty-field

There’s a raffle: Free to enter. Drawing will take place towards the end of the event. Don’t miss out on the donut swag!

 

Got something cool to say about donuts? Don’t forget to add it to the “All about the Donuts” comment/quote box.

Before this event ,head over to Neverending Bookshop in Bothell for a donut tasting and meet and greet with Donuts author, Rachel Barnard:
Meetup HERE or the Facebook HERE

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Book Review: The Badlings by Ksenia Anske

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The Badlings by Ksenia Anske

A YA Fantasy Novel published by Ksenia Anske(07/07/15)

 

Summary:

Bells, Grand, Peacock and Rusty fall into a book, but not just any book, the Book of Dead Pages AKA Mad Tome. Within Mad Tome reside all the pages that people didn’t finish reading and all the characters who are tired of continuously playing out those pages over and over again. Bells and her friends discover a world of books that have ulterior motives. Are these Badling children here by accident or were they lured into this imaginative world for another purpose? But hey, since books aren’t ‘real’ and Mad Tome is just a collection of pages torn out of other books they should be able to escape easily, right? After hopping through quite a number of stories and meeting quite a number of characters Bells and her buddies will discover that it’s not as easy to escape after all.

 

Keywords:

Books, Rude Children, Badlings, Goodlings, Morbid Thoughts, Imagination, Doughnuts, Alice in Wonderland, Snow Queen, A Little Prince, Bluebeard, Masque of the Red Death, Sinbad, flying mattresses, Jungle Book, Don Quixote, Dracula, The Little Black Hen.

 

My Review:

Rusty and I both like doughnuts. Bells and I both don’t how to pick our fights as we choose to battle every time. Grand and I both ramble on when people don’t necessarily want to listen anymore. Sometimes I just want to be noticed, like Peacock. Ksenia Anske builds characters that may be completely different from her readers, but they always have something you can hold onto as a characteristic you can relate to. Which is good, because sometimes her storylines become entirely peculiar.

Anske is a bit like Louis Sachar in that her characters are young and whiny and whimsical. Anske is a bit like Neil Gaiman in that she crafts a story that has creative rhyme and reason to the imaginative twists. Anske is a bit like Lewis Carroll in that the reader can’t quite tell what is real and what is false. In The Badlings, Ksenia Anske gives me some of what I longed for in the Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde. The Badlings is young adult and references books I’ve actually read, unlike Eyre Affair with its snooty books for adults.
The Badlings began with a neat little twist, like a less sinister (or so I thought) Jumanji that was all about books! Four kids find an object (a book) and it does something completely out of the ordinary (pulls them in). From there Anske does things a little bit differently. I appreciated the fact that there is a subtle theme for holding books sacred and that you shouldn’t just throw them here or there and that you MUST FINISH THEM or be regarded as a Badling. Everybody should strive to be a Goodling.

I recommend this book for anyone who enjoys the whimsical imagination of Neil Gaiman or appreciates books.

This novel was published by Ksenia Anske July 7th, 2015 and is available on Ksenia Anske’s Website here.

 

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.75

 

Links for more information:

Ksenia Anske’s Website

Goodreads

Miscellaneous Mondays: My Favorite Indie Authors 2/5 – Ksenia Anske

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Here’s the story of how I met Ksenia Anske….

Remember last week when I told you how I met Hugh Howey? The story of how I met Ksenia starts out the same way because… I met her at the Hugh Howey meetup! Part of the reason I love Ksenia so much as an author is because I love her as a person. If you met her in real life you would instantly fall in love with her too. She is dynamic and charming and loud. She gives out hugs and tells you that you can kiss her hand. She is playful and doesn’t take herself too seriously. She has the easy manner you might associate with a movie star and not a writer. She is the writer that writers wish to be and boy can she promote herself! I was charmed when I met her and I’m still charmed today because I follow her on Facebook and her blog. She has a way with talking to her readers and her fans and she’s so entertaining.

Not only is she a great personality and writer in person, but also in her books. Not all of her novels are glitter and roses (one of them has roses) because she has lived a life. She brings so much to the table as a writer through her books and the sometimes hard lessons learned through them. Irkadura and Siren Suicides deal with real issues and when I read them I took away something ddifferent a perspective on suicide and hard times I don’t always get from the normal YA and fantasy that I usually read. Life is not always fun and games, but it can be described beautifully by authors like Ksenia Anske.

Ksenia Anske is on my list of Indie stars to watch out for because she is a wonderful writer with an easy to read and compelling writing style, is so charming, brings up the real issues in her books, and has a great relationship with her readers through both her social media and in person presence.

I’ve read every novel of Ksenia’s and am ready and waiting for her new works, especially the manuscript she’s currently editing/working on: Corners.

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Here’s what Ksenia says and another reason I love her as an author: “I believe that art is not about protecting it from being stolen, it’s about giving it away and inspiring others to create more art. All of my books (and drafts) you can download for FREE on my site indefinitely. You can also buy signed paperbacks or digital/paper copies on sites like Amazon. If you think my writing is worth your money and you want to support me, please buy my books or donate. It’s a pay-what-you-want idea. Any amount spells to me your love. It will enable me to give you more love in return, to write more books for you to read and share. XOXO.”

I’m so glad Ksenia is local and I’m able to see her now and then at events like her book reading and the Gifts for Geeks at the AFK Tavern.

Check back next Monday for the week’s Indie Author Rising Star 3/5

Book Review: The Siren Suicides Series by Ksenia Anske

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Book Review: The Siren Suicides Series by Ksenia Anske

I Chose to Die (Siren Suicides) (Volume 1)

My Sisters in Death (Siren Suicides) (Volume 2)

The Afterlife (Siren Suicides) (Volume 3)

A YA Fiction Series published through CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (8/5/13)

 

Summary:

It all starts with a death wish, hope for paternal love, and Ailen wanting to get revenge on her father for what he did to her and her mom. Ailen Bright was the daughter that was supposed to be a son. She was the woman who was a weak creature needing to be controlled lest she decide to charm off men’s pants and make them do stupid crap (according to her father).

Ailen turns into a Siren, the embodiment of an otherworldly thing that feeds off men’s souls, but she is not alone in this world. She was created by the Siren of Canosa and the three underling Sirens: Pisinoe, Ligeia, and Teles. They hunt for souls and are hunted themselves by Siren Hunters. Will Ailen learn to accept who she is? Will she be able to accept the life she jumped out of?

 

Keywords:

 Suicide, 16-year olds, abusive relationships, violence, Sirens, Otherworldly Creatures, Teen Issues, Regret, Love

 

My Review:

I hold a special place in my reader’s bookshelf for Ksenia Anske. I have read Rosehead and Irkadura and I know she is a special person and a special writer. The Siren Suicides was written as a three part book, as Ksenia pointed out at a live reading, because it was too long to be one book. The point being that a reader cannot simply read one book, but needs to read the entire series as if it is one lengthy novel. This review, then, is of the entire three-part series.

There were so many aspects of the Siren Suicides that I loved that it’s difficult to even start writing a review. I’m in awe of Anske’s talent as a writer. I always wanted a writer like Neil Gaiman, who would write something I wanted to read, something with the sympathies of a plot and characters on the verge of reality that could hold my attention, even while the author’s imagination is running wild. I have found that in Ksenia Anske. She is everything a reader could ask for, and I’m glad that she quit her day job to devote herself to writing.

Anske perfects a writing style devoted to beautiful phrases and well-crafted words that I cannot believe she didn’t grow up with English as a first language. I only wish that I didn’t read so fast so that I could savor the sounds and images Anske creates. This is a book well worth listening to as an audiobook if ever the author converted her novels into audiobooks.

“My saliva is acid syrup. My blood is concentrated seawater pumped through my veins by a dead heart. My power is my voice, and I’m using it—using it plenty. Eating my dinner, humans served live, their souls draped over the garnish of soulless siren. It’s supposed to satisfy me, but makes me hungrier still, as if it’s the last meal I’ll ever eat.” (Page 31 of book 2).

The concept of a Siren is not new, but the image and voice Ksenia gives to this creature is creative, a new spin on the vampire/werewolf genre with their incessant need to feed off of humans. Ksenia’s Sirens are not always the beautiful ethereal creatures that call to sailors from the depths of the ocean, they personify people and travel on land and water. They have powers of oneness with the water, not superpowers, but a true calling with the natural element. What baffles me about the Sirens is how they are not discovered by any other than the Siren Hunter(s) when they presumably have killed so many. Sirens feed on souls and Ksenia gives life to the very essence of a person using all her senses so that the reader is enveloped in a short truth of a person: their soul. No wonder sirens find them so tasty.

“I try to imagine the sound of his soul, to bring back that feeling of home—the clatter of food cooked on the stove, the clanking of dishes, the shuffling of feet in slippers on a wooden floor, laughter, the anticipation of a meal, birds chirping behind an open window, the buzzing of insects basking in rays of the morning sun. Vivaldi’s Summer, its violins.”  (Page 241 of book 3).

Ailen is not the perfect character. She bugs me at times throughout the books. She is moody and stubborn. In the first book I’m not even sure I can trust her feelings and I’m not sure she can think clearly about the world, but by the second book I’m believing everything she sees and feels. I want to sympathize with her so badly that I believe everything. When she gets upset at herself for her shortcomings and when she breaks her promises to herself, giving in to her weakness, I want to tell her that she is not perfect and that is alright. I want to give her the words she craves from her father. Anske has a knack for creating characters you want to comfort and protect.

Ailen Bright is such a strange troubled character that I held my breath as I wondered what she would do, what would happen to her next. At times I worried that Ksenia didn’t have a final purpose or point to the book, or even a good conclusion because Ailen doesn’t know what is going on or what will happen. We are left at the mercy of this poor sad teenager’s unending fantasy nightmare… Until the last chapter. Anske delivered the only logical conclusion to the story. I was disappointed because she tells us over and over throughout the series what will happen and when I’m given the end I can’t help but think it was coming all along, even though I wanted something else, something different. Even as an author myself, I couldn’t think of a better conclusion that I would have been satisfied with, it just isn’t possible. There is only one possible ending and I’m glad Anske delivered it, because any other ending would have been terrible.

The only major shortcoming was the length of the three novels combined, as they only work as parts of a whole.

On a final note, this series is based in Seattle and is entirely true to the environment of Seattle and the characteristics (including weather) one can find in this place and for that I love Anske.

I recommend this book for anyone who enjoys the imagination of Neil Gaiman, the seduction of a vampire book, anything else by Ksenia Anske, or a fantasy suicide novel.

This novel was published through CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform August 5th, 2013 and is available on Ksenia Anske’s Website here.

 

TLDR Star Rating: 4.50

 

Links for more information:

Ksenia Anske’s Website

Goodreads Profile

Book Review: Irkadure by Ksenia Anske

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Irkadura by Ksenia Anske

A YA Fiction Novel published through CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (11/03/14)

Summary:

You know who you are, Irina Myshko? You’re not a mouse and you’re not an eagle, you’re just a dumb mute dura. You’ve never talked and you never will. (Locations 2920-2921).

Irkadura is not dumb, she just said the wrong word at the wrong time to the wrong woman (Locations 917-918) and at the age of two was scarred into a PTSD like silence. Her silence travels with her, affecting her life and how people view her. Most think of her as crazy, stupid, without opinion or protest, or as an invalid. The government has issued her a certificate of disability, which she uses to get a job at a local theatre. Irina is not just mute, but she refers to people as animals. Her mama is a catfish, the man who raped her is a boar and the boy who she is entranced by is a butterfly. Irina herself is a mouse, a timid creature that is stomped and crushed and bitten.

Keywords:

 Russia, Hard Times, Struggle, Teen Issues, Strong Female, Mute, Magical Realism

My Review:

What is Irina’s reality? She escapes as much as possible from the unbelievable horrors of her life through the animals that she imagines inhabiting her environment. Her reality is so horrible and unreal that the only way she can escape is by doing something drastic, to take her mind away. For this, most think she is stupid or crazy. The big finish at the end will toy with your reality and make you wonder what’s really going on.

Just as Irina is a master of making reality disappear in the vividness of her animal descriptions and actions, Ksenia Anske is adept at her vivid descriptions that make the environment and characters seem real. Anske makes Irina come alive through the telling of this harsh and at times depressing story. Anske has created a world that is brusque and to the point. The world for Irina is dim and dreary and hard to survive in. On top of this compelling narrative is the side story of the political environment where the story takes place that flows in and out of the background, intermingling with and influencing Irina’s story. She may be indifferent to what’s going on, but it does have a significant impact on her story.

Irkadura tells more than the story of Irina or the political upheaval in Russia, but of a world where women don’t get to be independent and free. This fact that most people in my world (the USA) take for granted is a fact that does not even register in Irina’s mind because it is not a possibility for her. She has to rely on the charity of others. She has nothing. She owns nothing. She does not even possess full control of her own body. This is like the worst nightmare for any strong independent woman. Irina never got a chance to be one in the traditional sense, but she has her own fight to win. There is a point where she can take control of a part of her life, but she has to overcome so much to get there. There is an immense struggle in Irina’s life, starting from the time she was two and became mute up until the moment she must decide whether she has a future.

Irina has her own kind of strength. She is stubborn. She runs away. She makes plans for revenge… Her triumph is in speaking the truth (at least writing it). She grows her wings off the truth, because in this sordid world she lives in, that’s all she has.

My only unease in the book is the author’s insistence that Eaglet is male because he conforms to the male stereotypes, but I thought the story could have been just as strong had Eaglet been female because then both the females would be getting their revenge. Still, I didn’t think this detracted from the novel at all, just my personal opinion in finding the book’s only criticism.

This novel was published through CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform November 3rd, 2014 and is available on Ksenia Anske’s Website here.

TLDR Star Rating: 4.75

Links for more information:

Ksenia Anske’s Website

Goodreads Profile

On Amazon

Book Review: Rosehead by Ksenia Anske

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Rosehead by Ksenia Anske

A Young Adult Fantasy Novel published on amazon.com (3/31/2014)

Summary:

Lilith, along with her mother and father, arrive in Germany for the funeral of Lilith’s grandmother. During her stay, Lilith discovers some very peculiar happenings at the Bloom & Co mansion, where Roses of immaculate red color and scent are grown. She investigates the peculiarities with her trusty Whippet, Panther, and all trails lead to the roses. How do they maintain their color and beauty longer than any of their counterparts? Lilith is determined to find out.

Keywords:

Roses, Germany, twelve-year old, peculiarity, investigation, magical roses, tradition

My Review:

There is almost always something I find fault with as a reader nowadays, but reading Rosehead by Ksenia Anske broke all of my expectations. I could not put the book down and though there are close to 400 pages, I devoured the novel in one day. The only comment I would give is to the format of the book, the font is too large for my liking, which is entirely my own personal preference. There were also a larger-than-average number of minor spelling and grammar issues, but I read over them, noted, and kept going because the style of writing was so easy to follow and read through, even with the errors.

The author’s writing style was quite sophisticated. She crafted her sentences with care and her dialogue with entertaining closeness to reality. The dog’s voice is adorable and true to form of both dog and sidekick, “Pink is my favorite color. Besides, it’s more blush. Very delicate. Matches my tongue.” (Page 47). The Whippet is described as a, “…talking cat in a dog’s body with an unrivaled passion for steak, rosy jackets, and squirrels.” (Page 366).

Lilith is also a very well-drawn character. Immediately Anske lets us know that she is no ordinary twelve-year old girl because she, “… only felt sill when she was moving and [she] could smell things other people couldn’t.” (Page 366).

Lilith has her faults and eccentricities, such as her unique vocabulary and the way she is always trying to utilize as many sophisticated words as possible in her speech and the author will even italicize them to give them more emphasis. Lilith also, instead of getting emotional and angry at any bad thing done to her, finitely controls her language to be poisonously polite.

Lilith is such a loveable character because of her stubborn single mindedness. She gets fixated to a fault and she sometimes cannot seem to control her outbursts of accusations. It may be maddening for her to momentary lose control like this, but for the reader it adds tension and excitement. Panther, her Whippet companion puts it well, “I simply love your attention to detail and your inability to hear what others are saying once you set your mind to something.” (Page 186).

 

I recommend this book for anyone who enjoys the hijinks and imagination of Calvin and Hobbes, the sidekick element of Pantalaimon in Philip Pullman’s Dark Materials series, or the whimsical darkness of Pan’s Labyrinth.

This novel was published through Lulu.com 8/19/11 and is available on her website here and Amazon here.

 

TLDR Star Rating: 5.0

 

Links for more information:

Ksenia Anske’s Website

Goodreads Profile