Title: Ashes to Ashes
Author: Valerie Thomas
Genre: YA Mystery
Published: January 15, 2016
Series: book 1 in the series
My rating: ★
From tragedy came power. And from mishandled power came mystery.
After moving into a new gated community with her family, Natalie is ready to begin a peaceful year at Emerson High. A year complete with boy troubles, school dances, new friends… everything an average girl could expect.
Then she starts receiving notes warning her not to go to school November first. Notes in her day planner, on a piece of homework, on a homecoming ticket… The more notes she receives the more details she uncovers, and the clearer it becomes: words like peaceful and average are about the worst ones anyone could use to describe the year she’s about to have. Crazy? Maybe. Violent? Definitely. Heart-wrenching, mind-blowing, life-changing?
Well, that remains to be seen. All Natalie knows from the start is that she shouldn’t go to school on November first. And maybe you shouldn’t either.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Ashes to Ashes is one of those books that you simply get pulled in by the concept.
It’s a beautiful deception; A half-baked creation. I gave up reading it a little after I crossed the 50% mark.
Ashes to Ashes is a story about a girl who starts receiving cryptic notes, supposedly from the future. These notes warn her about what might happen without any indication as for how to stop it.
There were two reasons why I liked the book and two reasons why I hated it.
First I’ll start by talking about the cons:
- The characters. I did not like any of the characters, especially Natalie, the lead. She was weak and gave off a feeling of helplessness. She acted like a damsel in distress who did not know how to deal with a situation. She blabbed about her situation to anyone who would listen. Moreover, her reactions were unreal and made it hard to connect or sympathize with her.
- The pace of the book was incredibly slow and it was unable to hold my attention. At the point where I was in the book, nothing had happened. When it started out, I was fairly excited. The November 1st note popped up soon enough, making me believe the whole book would work at them same pace; but it didn’t.
Speaking of November 1st, that was another disappointing factor. There was a lot of build-up around that date, but the outcome was a big let down.
That said, now let me tell you about the pros of the book.
- The concept was rather intriguing and interesting. It was successful in making me want to instantly pick up the book. I think if it was executed a little better, pondered upon a little more, it could have grown into something incredibly beautiful.
- The writing style of the author was another thing I liked. In terms of writing, the book had a nice flow to it. Even though I won’t continue reading this book, I am not entirely opposed to reading other books written by Valerie Thomas.
In the end, it seemed like the cons outweighed the pros and so, I will not be recommending this book to anyone.
10 Things to do After You Get a Negative Review
Guest Post by Valerie Thomas
Tell me if this narrative seems familiar: you spend a hundred hours on a novel, carefully craft a blurb and cover, only to have one reviewer who seemed friendly at first knock down every single piece of it. That character trait you’re so proud of felt cliché to them, your spectacular twist was obvious from page two, and your dialogue sounded more like it was cranked out by a machine than by an actual human being.
What can you do about it? Have no fear, fellow authors; that’s where I come in. Here are the steps (in chronological order) that you should take:
- Breathe in, breathe out. Remind yourself that a single negative review doesn’t mean the end of your career.
- Don’t forget that the reviewer is a human being. Except in extremely rare cases, they didn’t write their review to hurt you.
- Make a note of the flaws mentioned. If something pops up several times, it might be worth addressing in your novel.
- Revisit your positive reviews. If the two consistently conflict (for example, several positive reviews praising the big twist and some negative ones criticizing it), then the negative feedback could be considered a matter of taste.
- Put your novel away. Even though the kneejerk reaction might be to make immediate changes, you can end up creating bigger problems if you don’t take the time to consider the issue.
- If more negative reviews continue to pour in,maintain notes on the common issues mentioned.
- Ask yourself whether the main issues reviewers mentioned can be addressed easily. Would they require a few hours of work or a full rewrite? If the latter, you’re better served by moving onto the next project.
- Reassess your novel’s sale position. If there is a promise in the blurb that you’re not delivering on—or if you’re book’s categorized in a genre to which it doesn’t belong—this could be the source of the negativity.
- Read a book on writing. This might sound strange, but one of my favorite things to do after a negative review is to pick up a new guide and read it cover to cover. This way it’s turned into a learning experience instead of a ‘wallow in self-pity’ moment.
- Get back to writing. As with any time you get knocked down, you’ve got to pick yourself up eventually.
Negative reviews are sort of a fact of life as an author. No matter what the book, no matter how grand the story, they’re going to come in. And in fact, for self-published authors they’re actually a good thing. They often serve to legitimize your positive reviews, since buyers realize that you must have gone beyond family and friends in seeking feedback. So be thankful to your negative reviewers, and always remember that the world is not out to get you. These people want to see you succeed. What they want most—at least, 99.99% of them—is to be blown away by a great story. This time, for them, that wasn’t yours.
And that’s okay.
About the Author
I write Young Adult Contemporary novels, and I’ve been doing it for about… Oh goodness, it’s going on five years now since I finished my first manuscript. I’ve written over a dozen novels but published four (one of which I’ve since taken out of print). I’m a perfectionist at heart, and as I’ve refined my writing abilities I’ve found it hard to stand by novels that weren’t as great as I expected them to be. So the bad news is that if you like my work it will probably take me longer than most indie authors to publish a new book, but the good news is that you can be assured I’m not releasing novels just to keep my name relevant.