Saturday, March 24, 2018

Rain of Ash by Gwen Mitchell

Author: Gwen Mitchell

Narrator: Daniela Acitelli

Length: 11 hours 52 minutes

Series: Skydancer, Book 1

Publisher: T. M. Miller

Released: Feb. 14, 2018

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Briana turned her back on her magical heritage to chase her dream career, but now a spell cast with her grandmother's dying breath has unleashed her dormant Oracle powers, drawing her into a world of dangerous power and cryptic prophecy.

Thanks to her family's tragic history, Bri is a pariah in her hometown, and the only other witches she can turn to are her childhood best friend, Astrid, and Kean--her first love. They are convinced it's destiny that has reunited them and determined to help break the curse on Bri's bloodline.

But the longer she stays, the more people die.

Tortured by chaotic visions of fire and blood, Bri must harness her magic and navigate the dangerous waters of her past--and past life--to unmask the evil hunting in her shadow before it kills the only loved ones she has left.

Because she has a secret of her own. One she already died to protect. And as memories of her ancient rival become clear, so does her grim future...unless she can change it.

Gwen is living her happily ever after in Seattle. She's a nature lover, science geek, and spiritual explorer, with a nose for well-aged tequila and a pin-up fashion obsession. When not chasing butterflies to hidden waterfalls or cavorting through the Emerald City, she can be found in a cozy chair reading, or brewing up tales of magic, adventure, and romance.


Narrator Bio

Daniela Acitelli is a professional Audiobook Narrator / Voice Over Artist with a Theatre, Film, Cabaret and Circus background. You can find her on Audible, Itunes and Amazon. She also narrates for the RNIB, SpokenRealms, Deyan and Whitehouse publishing.

Daniela is an actress with a stage background trained in the Meisner technique and Lee Strasberg's “Method” acting. She has a background in and a great love of Cabaret and Vaudeville including the old time concert saloon, minstrelsy, circus acts, dime museums, and literary American burlesque shows.


Q&A with Author Gwen Mitchell

  • Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing? 
    • I began writing this book in 2007-2008, so it was the farthest thing from my mind at the time; ebooks were just becoming a thing, and audiobooks were still on CD and very expensive. When I finally published it in 2015, I knew I would eventually look into audio, but if it weren’t for ACX, it would have been several more years.
  • How did you select your narrator? 
    • It was really Kismet! Daniela was one of the first few narrators to respond to my posting on ACX, and I immediately fell in love with the richness of her voice. We chatted a bit, had plenty in common, and she was very enthusiastic about the story, which is an author’s dream. I went with my gut and cut the audition process short because it just felt like the right fit.
  • How closely did you work with your narrator before and during the recording process? Did you give them any pronunciation tips or special insight into the characters?
    • The tricky part of writing fantasy is that you have a lot of made-up words, so we did go back and forth quite a bit about pronunciation, even had a few mishaps (my fault) where she had to go back and re-record several instances of names, etc. I provided Daniela with character bios, story spoilers, and links to my Spotify playlists and Pinterest boards for inspiration, then I let her work her magic. We both have a healthy respect for the individual creative process, so it worked out well.
  • Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing? 
    • In this book I definitely wove a lot of my personal history into the world; family names, locations, small details, and some of the characters are inspired by people I’ve known. The locale of Evergreen Cove is greatly modeled after San Juan Island, Washington, where I spent many summers growing up (it’s also where Practical Magic was filmed).
  • Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you? 
    • Until recently, I had only ever listened to one audiobook! When Order of the Pheonix first released, I was a goon and didn’t pre-order, so the only thing I could get was the $60 CD set. I didn’t want to wait, so I sprang for it (and loved it!) but they still weren’t very economical so I never went back for more. My favorite thing about audiobooks is that I can be up moving around while listening; exercising, doing chores. I know longer have to make the choice between reading or getting things done.
  • Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format? 
    • I love the way Daniela handled the romance in the audio version. She captured the mood perfectly. While it’s a good portion of the story, when reading the book it feels more secondary, less important, but by breathing life into the characters, Daniela made me reconnect with the heartbreak that Bri and Kean both feel.
  • What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”?
    • That’s just silly. The written words vs. the spoken word? Words are words. I wouldn’t say that a blind person has never read a book, so they definitely count!
  • What gets you out of a writing slump? What about a reading slump?
    • I’m usually only in a reading slump for one of two reasons--either I don’t have time to read (sad face) or I’m not interested in what I’m reading. Learning to DNF a book when necessary has definitely sped up my reading. The other trick is switching to audio! Sometimes mixing up the format does wonders.For writing, I walk away and do something else--ideally some busy work that allows my subconscious to brew. There is a lot of behind-the-scenes work our brains do with writing, so I try to allow myself the mental space for that.
  • What bits of advice would you give to aspiring authors? 
    • Most writers start out as readers, so the most surprising thing to me is how many writers don’t read enough, or stop reading when they take on writing as a serious pursuit. It’s so important to keep the well full and to stay in touch with what’s popular and keeping your audience’s attention. So my advice is: don’t stop reading for pleasure.
  • What’s next for you? 
    • I’m hard at work on Skydancer Book 2, which I plan to release later this spring! I’m about to start production on another audiobook (non-related new adult urban fantasy).
Top 10 List
Gwen Mitchell's Top 10 Reasons anyone who likes Practical Magic will love the Skydancer series:
  1. A world of archival magic underlying our own.
  2. A sister/brotherhood of witchcraft.
  3. Roses with a mind of their own.
  4. Long lost love.
  5. Set in a small island town based on where they filmed the movie (Friday Harbor, Washington).
  6. Spells and rituals.
  7. Family reunions.
  8. An old crone saves the day.
  9. Mystery and suspense.
  10. Sinister demonic possession.
Dream Cast
Gwen Mitchell's Dream Cast for the Skydancer series:
  1. Briana - Bryce Dallas Howard
  2. Kean - Jensen Ackles
  3. Astrid - Kate Hudson
  4. Geri - Diana Rigg
  5. Gawain - Tom Hardy
  6. Lucas - Luke Evans
  7. Aldric - Pierce Brosnan

My Review 4*
This is my first book by Gwen Mitchell. It will not be my last though. Rain of Ash is the story of Briana Spurrier. The last of her family has passed away and she must return to her home town. Years before Bri turned her back on everything and everyone including her magic to be a concert pianist. Now that she is back she must unleash her magic to battle a demon to save herself and everyone else.

She hooks back up with her friends from childhood. Astrid her best friend and Lucas her first love, to try and break the curse against Bri. Along the way we also meet Kean, who feels that he is getting a fresh beginning now that Bri has returned, and Eric from her present life as a pianist. 

The book was very interesting and full of action, magic, and love or lust. i was not crazy about Kean and his attitude an the way he handled things but there's pretty much one charater in every book you just can't fall in love with. Bri was not always where she needed to be but i still liked her character pretty much. I do feel that she would of been stronger if she wasn't lost. I personally do not decide if most series are going to be good or bad until after book 2. Which I am fully willing to read, I enjoyed this book and can see it only as getting better. 

The book was narrated by Daniela Acitelli. She done an Ok job, but Bri's character came off a bit whiny at times, when I felt that the passage had her being a bit more tough. Other then that I enjoyed her narration. 

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Gwen Mitchell. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.


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