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Thursday Blog Trot #8

Thursday Blog Trot #8

Happy Thursday, everyone! Here we are again. There are some great posts to check out this week, from self-care guides for book bloggers to book review tips! Thursday Blog Trot is a weekly meme dedicated to passing along great information provided by bloggers from all over […]

Auto-Buy Sci-Fi & Fantasy Authors

Auto-Buy Sci-Fi & Fantasy Authors

This week’s TOp 5 Wednesday prompt was a difficult one to narrow down. –which I think is a good thing! That means that there’s no shortage of great authors out there! Seeing how Fantasy is the genre I most commonly read, it’s easy to want to […]

How Do You Prefer To Read A Book Series?

How Do You Prefer To Read A Book Series?

I think it's time for a discussion post.

‘Nuff with all of these reviews and what not! I’m kidding, I’ll be posting another later today 😛 Anyways, I thought it would be fun to take a break from this April ARC madness and pick all of your brains on this topic. 

As a book blogger and reviewer, I find that I’m constantly battling with myself over how I want to read book series

I believe that perhaps every book lover encounters this at some point or another. If I tried to count how many series I’m trying to keep up with, want to read, or have read, I don’t think I’d be able to. There’s simply too many! This is especially true in the Young Adult genre, where it seems majority of books are part of a series…even when they shouldn’t be…

Before I got into writing reviews, I would almost always read complete series that were already published, instead of waiting impatiently for the next installment to be released. 

However, when I started blogging, I wanted to conquer the book world and stay on top of every new release that tickled my fancy. Yeah, I quickly realized I wasn’t WonderWoman and could only handle about a fraction of what I actually desired to read. I also made the mistake (several times) of requesting books that I didn’t realize were sequels. So, thanks to my lack of investigation, my TBR would double instead of slowly increase. 

Then, book series began to turn into my nemeses. 

Amidst my stacks of awaiting ARCs and new-releases, I found that because of jumping from one book–to a new book series–to the last installment in a series– that they sort of all lost their luster. In other terms, I began to have difficulty deciphering one from the other because I was just trying to get through my TBR. Doing this, however, made me appreciate and analyze less in what I was reading–which is not my goal when it comes to writing reviews. I began to look at my approach and what I could do to improve the book series reading experience altogether.  

A few solutions I came up with were:

  1. Write much more detailed reviews, including a longer-than-necessary summary to outline the events of the book for me to look back on–spoilers or not. (I always include right away if the synopsis contains spoilers or not for viewers’ sake.)
  2. Re-read (and sometimes write a new review) for earlier installments before the upcoming release of the sequel.
  3. Focus on completing already-started series before moving onto another.
  4. Don’t request ARCs that are part of a series!

I’ve actually been trying to implement all of these strategies to see if they work. My reviews have become immensely longer (which is a downfall in a way because of the amount of time they take to write, but also positive because I’m reflecting more on different aspects of the book that I had left out entirely before.) 

I have also been doing some rereading, but have also been refraining from that to stay on top of current reading demands. 

The last two suggestions I listed I’m trying to implement more, but for now, don’t foresee much of a change in the next few months because I’m already in this pickle!

Is there truly a perfect formula? I’m not really sure. When it comes down to it, I think I still prefer reading book series as a whole before moving onto another one. It suites me better, as I try to stretch myself too thin between all demands of life. However, I really do enjoy staying on top of series as the books are released. So, I can’t even make up my own mind! 

Now, it’s your turn.

Pick your poison (or juice is fine too):

Do you prefer to read a series consecutively, or when each book is released?

What are tactics that you have found that help you remember the plot of a series while in-between books of the series?

Mini Book Review: Identity by Ted Dekker

Mini Book Review: Identity by Ted Dekker

My name is Christy Snow. I’m seventeen and I’m about to die.  Partial synopsis provided by Goodreads. Identity Series: Eyes Wide Open #1Author: Ted DekkerPublication Date: December 26, 2012Publisher: Outlaw StudiosPage Count: 66Format: ebookGenre: Young Adult, Christian Fiction, Mystery, ThrillerMy Rating: ★★★½ “Christy was familiar […]

eARC Review: Children of Daedala by Caighlan Smith

eARC Review: Children of Daedala by Caighlan Smith

Six months alone in the labyrinth has made her strong. But the search for the exit means gambling on an old ‘friend’ and going against everything she’s been taught to survive. Partial synopsis provided by Goodreads. Children of Daedala Series: Children of Icarus #2 Author: […]

Thursday Blog Trot #7

Thursday Blog Trot #7

I seriously can't believe how quick the week flies by! It's Thursday again, and time for another Thursday Blog Trot!

I really don’t know where the time goes. It seems like I was just writing last week’s TBT post yesterday. Alas, here we are–already the first week into April. Did you know that yesterday I woke up and we had 6 inches of snow on the ground!? Yeah, I was utterly confused.

…and everyone else in Michigan. Anyways, I digress. 

Thursday Blog Trot is a weekly meme dedicated to passing along great information provided by bloggers from all over the world. If you like the sounds of this Thursday Blog Trot Meme, feel free to use it, along with the image provided! Be sure to comment below if you do!

Ultimate Bookstagram Hasttag Guide

So, I know I featured a post from Sushma at Spunky Reads last week, but her stuff is just too good not to share consecutively! She took the time to put together an amazing compilations of the best hashtags to use for instagram posts for book bloggers. Not only that, she breaks down the different categories of hashtags and how they are used. If you are a bookstagrammer, be sure to check this post out!

Writer's Den

Chloe from Book Dragons started a weekly series called Writer’s Den discussing writing tips, tricks, and anything related to writing. Working on a YA novel myself, I’m really looking forward to tracking this series to get some insight and inspiration!

Blog Repellent

Sophie from Bookwyrming Thoughts put together an interesting and insightful post about points that drive her away from a person’s blog in How To Drive People Away From Your Blog. She brings up some great suggestions for bloggers to consider for the layout of their blogs. 

Mood Reading

Kristen over at Bookish Musing breaks down and discusses exactly what “mood reading” is. Honestly, this is a pretty new term for myself, so I thought this was an insightful post! Be sure to check it out at What Exactly Is Mood Reading?


Merv at Merv Reads also posted a discussion post breaking down the commonly used term “DNF” aka “Did Not Finish” and the odd way it is phrased. If you are looking for a bit of a giggle, be sure to check out this post here!


State of the ARC: March

State of the ARC: March

The time has come for another State of the ARC monthly wrap up… Lately, I’ve been dreading these posts, and for good reason too. I’ve just not been as motivated to read lately as I normally am. That, and I’m caught in a tug-of-war with […]

My 5 Favorite Literary Pranksters

My 5 Favorite Literary Pranksters

This has been a surprisingly difficult prompt for me to meet. I love humor. I mean, who doesn’t? When I went through my “read” list on Goodreads, I realized that I haven’t read many books that weren’t serious in some sense. So, this prompt was […]

Mini Book Review: The Oracle Queen by Kendare Blake

Mini Book Review: The Oracle Queen by Kendare Blake

Release Day April 3, 2018!

Triplet queens born on the island of Fennbirn can be many things: Elementals. Poisoners. Naturalists. If an oracle queen is born, however, one with the gift of sight, she’s immediately drowned, extinguishing her chance at ever taking the throne. But that’s not how it always was. This cautionary practice started long ago, with Queen Elsabet—the legendary, and last, oracle queen—whose reign was tinged with blood and horror.

Partial synopsis provided by Goodreads.

The Oracle Queen

Series: Three Dark Crowns #0.1
Author: Kendare Blake
Publication Date: April 3, 2018
Publisher: HarperTeen
Page Count: 120
Format: ebook
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Novella
Cover Artist: ---
My Rating: ★★★

The three queens of Fennbirn, Mirabella, Arsinoe, and Katharine, had grown up on the tales of the previous queens. One tale in particular always stood out–the last Oracle Queen Elsabet. Known for her madness and ultimately bloody reign, the truth behind her tale is more devious and tragic that one can imagine. 

The Oracle Queen (Three Dark Crowns Novella)The Oracle Queen by Kendare Blake
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“Was it not also me who warned you that a queen is only as good as her advisers?” “Yes.” She crooked her mouth at him. “But you were wrong. That may be true of other queens, but an oracle queen is only as good as her gift.”

I’ve been anticipating this novella for quite. The Oracle Queen, mentioned several times throughout the Three Dark Crowns series, has remained an aloof point of intrigue. So, I dove into this story, devouring each page, and looking for…something more than I found.

Politics have always played a big role in this series–and the politics are often muddied with deceit and corruption. 500 years earlier…nothing has changed. While there are five abilities represented instead of the three prominent abilities between Mirabella, Arsinoe, and Katherine, there is all-the-more treachery at work between the groups. While I expected this aspect to play a role in this story as well, I was also hoping for more of a fantasy element to be at work as well. Honestly, I felt a bit let down with the way everything panned out, and the truth is revealed behind Queen Elsabet’s story.

Despite that fact, the interworkings between the different groups were interesting to see. There was a lot more openness between the groups in terms of friendships and working together. Elsabet, a Sight-gifted queen was close friends with the War-gifted Rosemund. Whereas, 500 years later, friendships between people of different gifts was taboo.

Handsome, they called her. She was a queen of presence, they said. She hoped it was true. With such a homely face, it was all she could aspire to.

Queen Elsabet wasn’t what I was expecting. Although, I’m not really sure what I was expecting. While she was a queen, and a young one at that, she was constantly worried about her vanity–to the point of paranoia. This was her weakest quality that guided her to not always make the best decisions.

While this was a decent short story, I was just hoping for it to have more to it. The way everything happened was much more predictable than I had expected.

Vulgarity: None.
Sexual content: There are references, but nothing in detail.
Violence: Minimal.

View all my reviews

Book Review: Children of Icarus by Caighlan Smith

Book Review: Children of Icarus by Caighlan Smith

It is Clara who is desperate to enter the labyrinth and it is Clara who is bright, strong, and fearless enough to take on any challenge. It is no surprise when she is chosen. But so is the girl who has always lived in her […]

Fairy Tale Friday #4: The Enchanted Pig (Porcul cel fermecat) by Petre Ispirescu

Fairy Tale Friday #4: The Enchanted Pig (Porcul cel fermecat) by Petre Ispirescu

The Enchanted Pig (Porcul cel fermecat) Written by Petre Ispirescu The Enchanted Pig, originally published as Porcul cel fermecat in Legende sau basmele românilor in Bucharest, Romania in 1882. It was written by Petre Ispirescu, a Romanian folklorist, who wrote several tales that were published throughout his lifetime […]

Thursday Blog Trot #6

Thursday Blog Trot #6

I think ya'll know what THursday means on my blog now. It's Thursday Blog Trot time!

Oh yeah, we are heading to some different blogs today, and some pretty cool ones that that! 

This week, I’ve had a lot on my mind regarding blogging. While planning out some new content of my own, and to a bit of my dismay, I found some other bloggers posting about similar topics that I’ve been currently researching. 

It’s easy to get discouraged and give up right away on the project in front of me seeing that others are already discussing it. But then I was thinking, You know what? We all have our own voices as bloggers, and shouldn’t be deterred from a topic because it isn’t solely yours to discuss. In a world constantly pushing us to be first, better, bigger, faster, it’s easy to forget that we don’t have to be those things in order to produce quality blog posts. 

This is one reason why I love this meme–I like being able to read others’ ideas and thoughts on a topic, their suggestions, tips, and guides that they put a lot of time into putting together! As a book blogger, it’s important to support others doing the same thing as myself, because it’s how we learn from, and grow with one another!

Thursday Blog Trot is a weekly meme dedicated to passing along great information provided by bloggers from all over the world. If you like the sounds of this Thursday Blog Trot Meme, feel free to use it, along with the image provided! Be sure to comment below if you do!

Reading Pressures

Danielle over at PoetryBooksYA had an interesting, and personal discussion post about reading pressures as a book blogger. In My Reading Pressures as a Book Blogger, she discusses her perspectives on the reality of book blogging. It’s a lot of work, and quite literally could be a full-time job (at least for myself it could be!) Thanks, Danielle, for being honest and open with your perspective with this topic!

Tracking Reading via Bullet JOurnaling

Any bullet journalers out there? If so, Sushma from SpunkyReads posted about using bullet journaling to  track her reading. I’ve dappled in a bit of bullet journaling, and the options to keeping one are literally endless–which can make it almost difficult at times to figure out just how to organize it! So, if you are looking for ways to use your journal for reading, check this post out!

Book Review Blogs: Good or Bad?

Charvi from Not Just Fiction had an enlightening post about blogs focusing only on book reviews. This one hit home for me because my first year of blogging, this was mainly what I was doing! Granted, I had my reasons, but it’s good to hear about this tactic from the perspective of the observer! It’s a great read for any and all book bloggers!

Supporting Book Bloggers!

Here’s another post for all book bloggers to consider checking out! Marie from Drizzle & Hurricane Books posted about why and how to support book bloggers! Oh yeah, all of us book bloggers can relate to this! 

A Guide to Goodreads

If you are new to Goodreads, and need a guide to help you navigate it, check this post out! Jen from Star-Crossed Book Blog and Ivy at Ivyclad Ideas shared a guest post on AvalinahsBooks with some very useful tips for Goodreads! If you need some guidance with learning the ropes to this great online community, be sure to read this post!


My Favorite Teachers/Mentors Found In Books

My Favorite Teachers/Mentors Found In Books

I think we all have someone that we looked up to, or still look up to, throughout our lives. I know for myself, there were several people at different times of my life that have had a large impact on forming the person that I […]

eARC Review: Dragons of Dark by Ava Richardson

eARC Review: Dragons of Dark by Ava Richardson

As both dragons and Riders struggle to return to the ways of old, from before the land fell into darkness, the evil king undermines their every move with spies and sabotage. Bower knows their efforts are doomed without a final assault against the palace, but […]

eARC Review: Reign The Earth by A.C. Gaughen

eARC Review: Reign The Earth by A.C. Gaughen

Shalia is a proud daughter of the desert, but after years of devastating war with the adjoining kingdom, her people are desperate for peace. Willing to trade her freedom to ensure the safety of her family, Shalia becomes Queen of the Bonelands.

Partial synopsis provided by Goodreads.

Reign the Earth

Series: The Elementae #1
Author: A.C. Gaughen
Publication Date: January 30, 2018
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Page Count: 438
Format: eARC
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Cover Artist: Kimi Weart
My Rating: ★★★★★

Shalia, a daughter of the desert, grew up daughter to the clan chief. Her people have known war for many years. It wasn’t long ago that one of her brothers was burned in the desert by their enemy, the people of the Bone Lands. Desperate for peace, Shalia agrees to join the warring clans through marriage.

Without having ever met her soon-to-be-husband, Shalia’s anxiety is high. Yet, she only hopes for the best in her future union. Her close friend Kata, one of the few remaining Elementae, has lived with Shalia’s clan for years after her people were nearly wiped out by others who thought their abilities intimidating. Believing her to also have an ability with the elements, Kata teaches Shalia about these unique powers and how to utilize them–but also to keep them secret.

The day comes for Shalia to prepare and meet her husband. She anticipates the moment, and girlish fantasies accompany her thoughts. But when the two clans converge, everything according to custom is overlooked. Supposed to be unveiled by her husband, his brother instead proceeds with the ritual, and something deep within Shalia’s core comes to life. When she realizes that he is not her betrothed, and is introduced to his fair brother Calix, a seed of doubt sprouts within her.

”You–watching you today, dancing with our family, you can become those things to me, Shalia. A king…a king has little place in his life for emotion, for weakness. But I believe that you will make me stronger. I believe that you will save my people.”

Now married to Calix, Shalia realizes that his thirst for power may be her clan, the remaining elementae, and her own undoing. With a secret of her own to protect, her people to keep the peace for, and trust to earn from the Bone Landers, Shalia has a huge amount responsibility resting on her shoulders. 

Reign the Earth (The Elementae, #1)Reign the Earth by A.C. Gaughen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

All included quotes have been taken from an ARC and may not match the finished publication.

”A wedding is not about lust. It’s about partnership. Alliance. Faith and faithfulness.”

It’s so ironic that this book started out with such a strong sense of pure intentions and girlish hopes then turned out the way it did. I’m not sure what it is with tough books like this, but they completely draw me in. I’ll start out by saying that this book will not be for everyone, and will either be loved or hated for the topics it discusses. It is a hard read, and not the typical happy-go-lucky fantasy novel. Sometimes, a book is worthy of praise simply for the realness that it captures in its characters, and the trials they go through, comfortable or not. The characters here are real, raw, and rememberable.

World Building

The world in Reign the Earth is vast and diverse. No matter where the reader is taken, however, there is an aridness about the atmosphere, even if by the sea or in lusher regions. I believe the world itself aided in setting the tone of the entire book–the aridness it portrayed not only mirrored the relationship between Shalia and Calix, but also emphasized the harsh realities that were taking place on all fronts.

The religious system was an interesting one. The “god” position was shared by Calix, Galen, and Danae of the Bone Lands. Each sibling had their own role to play.

”My father said the Three-Faced God had told him that his three children were the God Made Human. That we would be the most powerful rulers the Bone Lands had ever seen.” She held out her hands in a triangle, pointing one of the ends at me. “With three faces, you can only ever see two, at the very most,” she told me. “The third will always be hidden. Calix, he is the face of truth and justice. Galen is the face of honor and strength. And I am the hidden face, the piece that separates honor and truth, and also binds them together always.”

While I’m not sure if it was supposed to reflect either positively or negatively (or if at all) on the Holy Trinity in the Bible, I personally feel that it stood apart from it. The fact that a man declared his children the god-made-flesh was a ploy for power. None of the three had actual powers, they were simply powerful in specific characteristics.

Pacing & Readability

The pacing of this book is consistently moderate and increases the closer it gets to the end. Due to the nature of its content, I could see how it could affect its overall readability, as the tone is dark and heavy at times. Personally, that aspect did not bring me pause and actually made me more eager to know what would happen next. The beautiful writing and description also made this read very enjoyable.

Point-Of-View & Characters

Shalia serves as the main character and protagonist, and the story is told from her perspective. Shalia’s character is rather complex–so complex in fact, that it was aggravating at some periods. While she starts out with the mentality of a young girl, her maturity rapidly shows, as she learns through difficult situations how to handle herself, and to make the right decisions. In order to do so, Shalia’s character goes through immense stages of change.

“You’re a daughter of the desert, Shalia. You have always had the ability to pierce and sting.”

The biggest struggle Shalia faces is standing up for herself. For the majority of the story, she seems rather passive, especially in regards to her husband’s character. She does try to influence Calix by her meekness, but in the end, it simply isn’t enough to turn his focus inward on the parts in himself that he needed to address.

“My hands rested over my stomach. I couldn’t feel her in there yet, but I knew in that moment she would never be raised by Calix.”

The biggest event which took place that changed Shalia’s perspective and tactics was when she discovered that she was pregnant. During this time, Calix became more erratic and abusive towards her.

“I went from being a sister and a daughter to a wife, a guarded queen. I have little idea what my life will be like if I’m free from Calix, but I don’t want to be something you protect. I won’t teach my daughter that her only choice is to be sheltered by the men around her. I want to stand beside you…I want to learn to fight with you.”

I think Shalia’s character is an unusual one in YA today. Instead of being the “all guns blazing” superwoman trope, her meekness is what made her stand out to me. Her words and actions spoke louder than her physical capabilities. While she did have bouts of passiveness, she took action when necessary, and when she was able.

Calix is a piece of work. He is the manipulative and power-hungry antagonist, who thinks he is superior to all. I’m not sure if I can blame him entirely for his character, seeing how he was conditioned his entire life to believe himself to be above others. But it doesn’t excuse his actions and reactions towards Shalia and the other people he torments.

“Your heart is soft, and that is good and right, wife. But mine cannot be. More important than love, than grief, more important than anything is power.”

Discussing his relationship with Shalia in particular, he is one of the worst types of villains. He uses emotional manipulation to get what he wants and damages Shalia tremendously in doing so.

Galen, Calix’s brother remains quite a mystery. While small chunks of his personality are revealed, I never got a good sense of him or is true nature. I wasn’t a fan of the way his and Shalia’s relationship played out in the end. (view spoiler) Despite that fact, I’d like to know more about him in the sequel(s) to come.

Danae, Calix’s sister, also serves as a partial antagonist. While her character is the least-developed of the three siblings, she becomes an encourager to Shalia during though periods in her marriage to Calix. Without the sisterly love of Danae, I think Shalia really would have struggled.

There are many other characters throughout this book, but I thought these were the main ones to discuss in more detail.

Major Themes

⇒ Face-value vs. Reality

In the opening of this story, when Shalia is on her way to meet her husband for the first time, she inwardly hopes that he is attractive. Despite the vanity of the thought, she gets what she hopes for, only to realize that beauty on the outside doesn’t mean beauty exists within. It’s a valuable theme to focus on as beauty is monotonized on in today’s culture. It teaches everyone that beauty is better, and the internal parts of ourselves can be covered up and ignored if beauty is present externally.

⇒ Steadfastness

Represented specifically by Shalia, steadfastness is a key quality in her character. While she was seemingly passive at times when she could have stepped forward, I think she actually made the more difficult choice with not stopping what was going on (specifically with Calix). She tried so very hard and sacrificed everything to keep the peace between the clansmen and her husband’s people. However, it costs her. This is the ugly truth about sacrifice sometimes–it’s painful, and it doesn’t always end in the way we hope or envision. But it’s necessary in order to try and make a situation better for others. This was what made me appreciate Shalia’s character so much. Too often are characters met with “challenges” that aren’t really challenges. They have simple solutions and take little effort to overcome. Shalia’s situation reflects what many people go through in real life, and I think she could be an encouraging figure to have in this genre.

⇒ Power

Power was a massive theme. It existed on multiple fronts; men over women (no matter the connection), leader over civilian, a people group over another. It is this desire for power on Calix’s part that transforms him into a being capable of doing anything to another person in order to get what he wants.

”Ruling cannot be about emotion, my sweet. It has to be about power and control. Always.”
“True power does not force others to make themselves smaller,”I told him. Anger simmered in his eyes.
“No, wife. You’re wrong.”

This theme is represented well, as it shows how dangerous and degenerative seeking power can be.

⇒ Abuse

While it’s not a nice topic to discuss, abuse is very real. Several forms of abuse are represented throughout Reign the Earth and show how terrible of a thing it is.

Overall Feelings

Things that I liked:

⇒ Shalia’s depth of character, especially her steadfastness.
⇒ The world building, and how well it reflected everything else developing throughout the story.
⇒ The use of elementals.

Things that I didn’t like:

⇒ Calix. Pure and simple. He was a “perfect” antagonist.
⇒ The pacing towards the middle slowed down a bit, but I didn’t notice it too much. The beginning and end made up for this deviation in my opinion.
⇒ I felt that the Trifectate needed a lot more explanation surrounding it. While the general idea was explained, I wanted to dig deeper into their role in society.
⇒ The fantasy element of this book takes a backseat to the main story. I would have liked to see more representation of the elementals throughout.

Due to the nature of this book, I would definitely caution young adult readers before picking it up. I personally believe this to be better suited for the New Adult genre, as the topics discussed don’t really reflect that of the life of an average teen. Overall, I believe this book has a lot to offer the reader. It’s real, it’s emotionally charged, it’s challenging, and it’s beautifully written. I’m thoroughly looking forward to the next installment in this series.

Vulgarity: 26 words total (based on the eARC I read – this may differ from the published book.)
Sexual content: Moderate to a lot. While nothing is graphically explained, there are a lot of “bedroom scenes.” This also was an area where a lot of content could trigger some uncomfortable feelings for the reader.
Violence: Moderate to quite a bit. There are scenes of torture and some graphic material here and there.

View all my reviews


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