Tag: Book Review

eARC/Book Review: The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

eARC/Book Review: The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

Where, two centuries ago, three sisters were sentenced to death for witchery. Stones were tied to their ankles and they were drowned in the deep waters surrounding the town. Now, for a brief time each summer, the sisters return, stealing the bodies of three weak-hearted […]

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eARC Review: The Bone Roses by Kathryn Lee Martin

eARC Review: The Bone Roses by Kathryn Lee Martin

Sixteen-year-old Rags is the most feared Rustler in the world, and for good reason. When she’s not raiding the post-Yellowstone Kingdom’s established settlements for supplies to keep her frontier, Rondo, alive another day, she’s fending off witch hunt-happy villagers who want her rare blue eyes […]

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eARC Mini Review: Song of Blood & Stone by L. Penelope

eARC Mini Review: Song of Blood & Stone by L. Penelope

Release Day, May 1, 2018!

In the beginning, there was silence.

Partial synopsis provided by Goodreads.

Song of Blood & Stone

Series: Earthsinger Chronicles #1
Author: L. Penelope
Publication Date: May 1, 2018
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Page Count: 384
Format: eARC
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Cover Artist: ---
My Rating: Since this is a DNF read, I will not be assigning a star-review.

Song of Blood & Stone (Earthsinger Chronicles, #1)Song of Blood & Stone by L. Penelope

 

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

 

 

description

“Not just cracks, not just a breach–the entire Mantle will fall. Soon. And the True Father will be unleashed on us all.”

DNFing at 30%

I’m not sure if it was the writing style, the concept, or the way the characters interacted with one another, but this read left me feeling confused. Reading more than a quarter of the book, I couldn’t get a good sense of the magic system, and the history behind it. Granted, there was quite a bit left in the book to uncover. However, the information provided simply wasn’t clear.

Not only that, the insta-love relationship that developed almost immediately between the main character Jasminda and Jack didn’t help. These instant attractions need more ground before they should be established. Furthermore, there is a graphic attempted rape scene that felt like it set the tone for the rest of the book as being incredibly negative. Maybe that is just my take on it, but from what I read, it doesn’t sound like a read for me.

I appreciated the fact that diversity is represented in these foremost characters. Prejudism immediately is identified as a main theme, as the main character Jasminda, although interracial, has dark skin which makes her an outcast in the small town that she now resides. Dark skin marks the Lagarmiri people with the ability to Earthsing, which is a magical ability that only they possess. What is unique is feared.

Overall, this just wasn’t a read for me. I can’t quite put my finger on exactly what it was, but the insta-love, graphic scenes, and confusing information weren’t to my liking.

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Mini Book Review: Prince of the South by Ava Richardson

Mini Book Review: Prince of the South by Ava Richardson

Being a Prince, J’ahalid is no stranger to the fact that his kingdom requires protecting. When he Sees the Dragon Riders of Torvald, he knows that dragons are the answer to his problems. Prince Of The South Author: Ava Richardson Publication Date: July 2017 Publisher: […]

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eARC Review: Sky In The Deep by Adrienne Young

eARC Review: Sky In The Deep by Adrienne Young

Release Day April 24, 2018! OND ELDR. BREATHE FIRE. Partial synopsis provided by Goodreads. Sky In The Deep Author: Adrienne Young Publication Date: April 24, 2018 Publisher: Wednesday Books Page Count: 352 Format: eARC Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy Cover Artist: — My Rating: ★★★½ Eeyln […]

Audiobook Review: My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton & Jodi Meadows

Audiobook Review: My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton & Jodi Meadows

THE PLOT THICKENS as Edward, Jane, and G are drawn into a dangerous conspiracy. With the fate of the kingdom at stake, our heroes will have to engage in some conspiring of their own. But can they pull off their plan before it’s off with their heads?

Partial synopsis provided by Goodreads.

My Lady Jane

Series: The Lady Janies #1
Authors: Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows
Narrator: Katherine Kellgren
Publication Date: June 7, 2016
Publisher: HarperTeen
Listening Length: 13 hours and 48 minutes
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Romance, Humor
Cover Artist: ---
My Rating: ★★★★★

My Lady JaneMy Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This is by far the most enjoyable and entertaining Audiobook that I’ve listened to, to date! Going into it, I didn’t realize My Lady Jane was a historical fiction retelling with a huge side of humor and fantastical twists. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this book and would recommend it to anyone!

Not only is the story very well written, the narration by Katherine Kellgren absolutely makes this audiobook come to life. Being the only narrator, Katherine does an amazing job at differentiating between several different characters. Her voice is dynamic and mimics the situation naturally and effortlessly.

Because Katherine’s vocal style is so natural, it makes connecting to the characters incredibly easy. Her ability to change accents is effortless and gave me the impression that I was listening to several different narrators depict the characters instead of one!

If you desire a good laugh, a little bit of (distorted) history, and some very likable characters, My Lady Jane is the next pick for you!

Vulgarity: None!
Sexual content: There are some discussions about the topic, but its executed in a way that isn’t awkward for the reader–just funny.
Violence: Minimal.

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eARC Review: Ace Of Shades by Amanda Foody

eARC Review: Ace Of Shades by Amanda Foody

Welcome to the City of Sin, where casino families reign, gangs infest the streets… and secrets hide in every shadow. Partial synopsis provided by Goodreads. Ace Of Shades Series: The Shadow Game #1Author: Amanda FoodyPublication Date: April 10, 2018Publisher: Harlequin TeenPage Count: 416Format: eARCGenre: Young […]

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Fairy Tale Friday #5: The Adventures of Pinocchio (Le avventure di Pinocchio) by Carlo Collodi

Fairy Tale Friday #5: The Adventures of Pinocchio (Le avventure di Pinocchio) by Carlo Collodi

The Adventures of Pinocchio (Le Avventure Di Pinocchio) By Carlo Collodi The Adventures of Pinocchio, originally titled Le Avventure Di Pinocchio was written by Carlo Lorenzini, better known by his pen name of Carlo Collodi. Carlo was an Italian author, who liked writing about characters […]

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eARC Review: Bacon Pie by Candace Robinson & Gerardo Delgadillo and Author Interview with Candace Robinson!

eARC Review: Bacon Pie by Candace Robinson & Gerardo Delgadillo and Author Interview with Candace Robinson!

Release day April 13, 2018!

When a showdown between Lia and Kiev lands them in the principal's office, they're forced into volunteer work at the cringe-worthy Piggy Palooza Festival, or risk being suspended. Lia and Kiev aren’t thrilled about the situation, especially when it interferes with Lia's relaxed life and Kiev's theater role. But by working together, they may find more than just bacon—possibly a little love in the air.

Partial synopsis provided by Goodreads.

Bacon Pie

Authors: Candace Robinson & Gerardo Delgadillo
Publication Date: April 13, 2018
Publisher: Evernight Teen
Page Count: 241
Format: eARC
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Cover Artist: Jay Aheer
My Rating: ★★★

High school is a defining time for teens. Studying, extra-curricular activities, and love interests, are all large focal points in the lives of students. For Kiev, Lia, Cole, and Barnabas, this all holds true. Kiev, a theater-lover aspires to be cast for the role of Horatio in the Shakespeare play school is putting on. Lia, an old-school video gamer, spends much of her time hanging out with her best friend Barnabas. Cole, a girl-hungry teen, constantly seeks out his next love interest. Each is on his or her quest for individuality.

These differences, however, cause issues between the characters. Kiev tends to be a know-it-all, even if he doesn’t mean to be. He gets a bad rapport with Lia after answering her questions in class. She assumes that he is trying to show her up, and it infuriates her. One day, when confronted by Kiev about why she doesn’t like him, she punches him in the nose. The two are sent to the principle’s office and punished for the altercation.

Kiev and Lia are force to set their differences aside when they are both mandated to work community service at the local Piggy Palooza event. After spending some time with one another, they begin to realize that their opinions of one another were jaded. As true feelings begin to surface, the two must work out their feelings about one another, and help one another through trials to come. 

Bacon PieBacon Pie by Candace Robinson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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

When I first heard the title of this book, I couldn’t help be curious about it. While the Young Adult contemporary genre isn’t really my style, I still wanted to check this book out because I’ve been following (one of) the author(s) since her first book was published. As always, the writing style and quirkiness throughout this book do not disappoint. The reader is able to quickly immerse themselves in the story without much obstructing their path.

World Building

Bacon Pie is set in a small town in Texas, where the hot and dry climate is palpable. Because the setting takes place in a realistic present-tense, not a lot of world building is necessary to immerse the reader in the plot. Notably, the region is important, as its population has a lot of diversity.

Pacing & Readability

I find that contemporary books do not require much prompting in order to get the plot moving. The same is true here, as Bacon Pie, from the opening scene to finale feels as though I’ve stepped into the character’s lives and understand exactly where they are at. The pacing remains consistent, with few valleys of slowness here and there.

Point-Of-View & Characters

The point-of-view alternates between Kiev and Lia. I felt that Kiev was definitely the main character between the two, but they both were well-developed for the plot.

Kiev Jimenez comes from Latino origins. At home, he, his father, and sister only speak English, while at school he speaks English. Kiev’s mother left a few years ago, and they haven’t seen her since. Her leaving caused a fissure between him and his sister Vi. Amidst juggling his strained homelife, Kiev has a deep passion for theater and is rather knowledgeable. His goal is to become Horatio in his school’s play.

Lia (Ophelia) Abbie has grown up with two dads. Spending most of her time with her close friend Barnabas, she immediately reveals her feelings about Kiev and his close friend Cole.

Cole Novotny serves as the comic-relief throughout the story. Constantly stalking the school halls for his next love interest, he relies on Kiev to reign him in. While he is comical (at times), his immaturity is apparent in the way that he handles each and every situation.

Monica Serrano serves as a partial antagonist. Interested in Kiev, she causes jealousy to blossom between Cole and Kiev’s relationship. Later on, when a certain young woman changes her perspective of Kiev, Monica becomes the “competition.”

Major Themes

⇒ Diversity

Diversity is represented racially and sexually. Majority of the more prominent characters come from families with diverse traits. Kiev and Monica are both Latino/a, and Barnabas comes from a culturally diverse family as well. Lia has two fathers (along with a mother who isn’t in the picture much).

⇒ Depression

While this isn’t as big of a theme, I thought it mentionable. Kiev’s mother left his family a few years back, causing a big change to take place in his daily life. His sister Vi was deeply affected and retreated within herself. Struggling to cope with the loss of her mother, Vi spirals into her own bought of depression and harmful coping methods. The repercussions of her methods estrange her from others and make her difficult to interact with. In the end, she was able to reach out to her mother in order to tell her how she felt about the fact that she left them behind. I think the way the affected characters handled this aspect ended in a positive light.

⇒ Assuming

Assumptions between characters are constantly causing issues. Because no one directly confronts others, assumptions are made. This is most apparent in Lia’s opinion of Kiev. However, when she learns the truth behind what she thought was true, she realized that what she had made to be a big issue, was nothing at all.

Overall Feelings

Things that I liked:

⇒ The writing is seamless and there isn’t an obvious gap between each writer’s voice.
⇒ It was an easy and quick read.
⇒ The diversity.
⇒ The incorporation of Shakespeare.

Things that I didn’t like:

⇒ The language.
⇒ While I liked the comic relief that Cole’s character brought to the story, I didn’t care for his “mouth.” He reminded me too much of those kids back in high school that got away with murder because they were “smooth talkers” even though they weren’t (if that makes sense.)
⇒ At times the plot would lag a bit and wasn’t constantly engaging me. However, I think this is preferential on my end, rather than it being the fault of the book.
⇒ The underaged drinking.

Overall, I thought this was a likable read. While I don’t normally read Young Adult Contemporary, I find that when I do, they serve as great palette cleansers between dense and lengthy books. It’s nice to be able to pick up a book and finish it in nearly one sitting, due to its likable characters and dash of quirkiness. While I didn’t care for the amount of language used, and Cole’s (sometimes obnoxious) personality, it didn’t sway me from appreciating the easy flow of conversation and plotline.

Vulgarity: Quite a lot. 113 words total.
Sexual content: Kissing and some references to more. Cole is in general quite sexual with his speech.
Violence: There are two punching scenes.

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This Q&A features author Candace Robinson!

1) How was it co-authoring this book? Do you have any pointers for writers who hope to co-author a book in the future?
 
It actually wasn’t bad! We’d pretty much take turns writing chapters, send it to the other person to edit and look over, and then begin the next chapter. A big pointer for people that want to co-write is to do a test run and bounce ideas back and forth first. I had been asked to co-write a book before, and the problem was the writing styles were completely different. The bouncing of ideas was going no where! I think that’s why most people choose to not co-write lol. But after Bacon Pie, I would definitely do it again in the future if the story felt right.
 
2) Bacon is a large theme throughout this book. What was the inspiration behind it?
 
So we had an idea to do a small-town type of festival feel, and I wanted different events like butter carving. Somehow that led to the festival being centered around bacon and pig related things! 
 
3) What is your favorite part of Bacon Pie?
 
I’d have to go with the butter carving scene between Lia and Kiev!
 
4) You write in a few different genres. Which is your favorite to write in? To read?
 
I actually find writing darker elements the most satisfactory, but with all my books, I tend to go quirky in areas and that’s my favorite aspect. As for reading, I read mostly YA—Sarah J. Maas for fantasy, Tahereh Mafi for dystopia, and Jenn Bennett for contemporary. I also love the Under the Never Sky series, The Bear and the Nightingale, Trick by Natalia Jaster. Too many to name!
 
5) Which character do you like most in this book?
 
Oh, that’s a toughy. I’d have to go with Lia, though. Mainly because she is one of the funnest characters I have ever written. As for Gerardo’s character’s, I have to go with Cole, just because he’s so ridiculous yet awesome.

 

About Candace Robinson

Candace Robinson spends her days consumed by words. When she’s not writing stories, she maintains a book review blog. Her life consists of avoiding migraines, admiring Bonsai trees, and living with her husband and daughter in Texas—where it can be forty degrees one day and eighty the next.

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 […]

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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: […]

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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.

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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.

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