Reign the Earth (The Elementae, #1)
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.But she soon learns that her husband, Calix, is motivated only by his desire to exterminate the Elementae—mystical people who can control earth, wind, air, and fire. Even more unsettling are Shalia’s feelings for her husband’s brother, which unleash a power over the earth she never knew she possessed—a power that could get her killed. As rumors of a rebellion against Calix spread, Shalia must choose between the last chance for peace and her own future as an Elementae.This intense, richly drawn high-fantasy by the author of Scarlet will hold readers spellbound.

Reign the Earth (The Elementae, #1) Details

TitleReign the Earth (The Elementae, #1)
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJan 30th, 2018
PublisherBloomsbury
ISBN-139781681191119
Rating
GenreFantasy, Young Adult

Reign the Earth (The Elementae, #1) Review

  • may ➹ (hiatus)
    January 1, 1970
    As a means of protection for my heart, soul, and sanity, I’ve been prepared to be disappointed by every book I read. But?? This book did NOT disappoint??? I’m actually shook about how much I ended up liking this???First of all: This book has very heavy themes. It’s the reason I thought I wouldn’t end up enjoying this as much as I did. For anyone who wants to read this book but isn’t sure about the triggers, I’m putting a trigger warning for rape, physical & emotional abuse, torture, and (vie As a means of protection for my heart, soul, and sanity, I’ve been prepared to be disappointed by every book I read. But?? This book did NOT disappoint??? I’m actually shook about how much I ended up liking this???First of all: This book has very heavy themes. It’s the reason I thought I wouldn’t end up enjoying this as much as I did. For anyone who wants to read this book but isn’t sure about the triggers, I’m putting a trigger warning for rape, physical & emotional abuse, torture, and (view spoiler)[possible miscarriage (hide spoiler)]. But the abuse is not glorified in any way, and the romance is not with the abuser.It was all very,, uncomfy to read about, and from other reviewers’ experiences, I thought I’d have a hard time reading it?? But no. I actually LOVED the book so I’m kind of ??? @ myself for being able to have such a fun time when there were so many dark themes.🌹🌷Reign the Earth is a novel about a girl named Shalia who marries Calix, the king of a neighboring nation, in order to establish peace. But Calix seeks to kill all Elementae—people who have powers that can control earth, water, fire, or air—and it turns out that Shalia herself is an Elemental. (Not a spoiler.)Shalia is a SUPER strong character. In the beginning, I was very “meh” with her?? I didn’t love nor hate her, just in the middle. But as the book went on and her character became stronger, I ended up liking her more and more. She was a flawed character and I became super invested in her & her emotional struggles. And there were SO many amazing quotes that I loved that showed her strong character.“My honor has nothing to do with what man is married to me, or touching me, or loves me. I will not be broken or diminished or belittled by the choices of men around me.”WHAT! A! QUEEN! (And not because, you know, she’s an actual queen… I’M SORRY.)Calix is a VERY unlikeable villain and I just feel very ?!??#[email protected]?$?! about him. He had so much potential for complexity to his character, but of course it went the cliche way of “oh my heaaaart my one true love just betrayed me!!!! so now I’m going to turn eviiiiiil”. And not only was he unlikeable because of that and seeming to be very 2-dimensional, but it’s also because he abused Shalia and behavior like that is not to be excused!! And also tortured other people!! And killed other people!! 0/10, will pass.🌹🌷The romance was,,, okay?? I’m not a fan of sappy romance, and while this was slow-burn and DEFINITELY not insta-love, I just ?? didn’t love it ??? I’m fine with it, and I don’t hate it, but whenever characters kiss passionately and say “I love you” a lot, my heart just kind of crawls out of my body so I’m literally just reading the book with no feeling whatsoever. Because while I’m a complete sap, I hate reading sap.The worldbuilding for this book was pretty good. Since I had the ARC version, I didn’t have the map available (WHICH MAKES ME SAD BECAUSE I LOVE MAPS), but I was able to clearly visualize what the world looked like in my head which I think is a great accomplishment for someone who can barely visualize what a simple character looks like!!!Also, the book was pretty fast-paced, and though it took place over a couple of months, I don’t feel like it lagged anywhere?? It was exciting and fun and suspenseful, and it was just SO easy to read for me. I usually take about nine minutes to read 10 pages, but then I took six minutes per 10 pages for this book and I’m ?? shook ???? Where are my superhuman reading abilities for other books. (But again, the heavy topics can be hard to read at times. I found myself flying through the book, but that was just my personal experience.)🌹🌷I cannot speak on the accuracy of the representation, though as far as I could tell (which is not much!), there seemed to be nothing offensive or harmful concerning the rep of the desert tribes. (Also!! How great is it that there is a WOMAN OF COLOR on the cover!!!)I also want to point out that I read the author’s note, and I recommend doing that as well, because it brought so much more perspective into her story and how much this book means to her! It made the book even more special.This was definitely a surprising read, one that I ended up actually enjoying more than I thought! While it handles heavy topics, it was fast-paced and exciting to read, and the character development was fantastic. I’d definitely recommend this if you think you can get past the darker themes!! thanks to my fav Ju for sending me this!!all quotes were taken from an advanced copy and may differ in the final publication.
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  • Brittney ~ Reverie and Ink
    January 1, 1970
    Prepare yourself for extremely heavy topics such as physical and emotional abuse, including unconsented physical relations in an arranged marriage and pregnancy (view spoiler)[with the threat of a miscarriage. (hide spoiler)] I'm not saying the author didn't handle them well, but they are definitely a prominent part of the book as a whole. It isn't a scene you can skip, it buries itself deep into the theme. Just be aware! Because of this, it was a VERY difficult book for me to finish, let alone Prepare yourself for extremely heavy topics such as physical and emotional abuse, including unconsented physical relations in an arranged marriage and pregnancy (view spoiler)[with the threat of a miscarriage. (hide spoiler)] I'm not saying the author didn't handle them well, but they are definitely a prominent part of the book as a whole. It isn't a scene you can skip, it buries itself deep into the theme. Just be aware! Because of this, it was a VERY difficult book for me to finish, let alone review.Shalia is a strong heroine who agrees to an arranged marriage to bring about peace. However, her husband is extremely cruel and itches for war. Shalia tries to change his heart and weave peace into his rule, but almost everything backfires. It doesn't help that Shalia's brothers are involved in the resistance, and if her husband finds out, she will pay the price (and oh, she does.)The writing was lovely and there were some truly outstanding characters including Shalia's brother Kairos. In fact, I really admire her whole family though they were quite sparse. I really can't say it enough though - this is not a happy book. I had to walk away from reading it a few times just for a breath of fresh air. Just be prepared if you decide to read it. The author does NOT glorify any of the abuse, but it is still difficult to read. Also, I want to note that the romance does not involve the abuser. I guess I don't really know what else to say. This is different than your average fantasy for sure and involves lots of political strategizing/etc. The plotline is unique. I can't speak to the representation but I liked the richness of the tribes, though most of the book isn't actually spent amongst Shalia's family in the desert, despite what the cover suggests. Lastly, I would like to point out that I read the authors note and I recommend everyone else do the same. I relate so much - the author has been fighting a very rough battle, one that I completely relate to. I have a different illness, but props to her for writing a book of this caliber while dealing with all that. I'm in the same boat, I'm writing a book despite there being days I can't even hash out a sentence, let alone look at a screen. I have a ton of respect for her and I'm so glad she shared her story in the back. My Blog ~ Instagram ~ Twitter ~ Etsy
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  • may ❀
    January 1, 1970
    so i absolutely ADORED the Scarlet series by A. C. Gaughen so wHEN I HEARD SHE HAD A NEW SERIES COMING OUT I WAS SCREAMING IT FROM THE ROOFTOPS (okay i wasn't actually but you get me) Pros - love me some strong fem characters- its a lot darker than you would anticipate for ya with hard topics like rape, abuse, torture, etc. - but its not like off putting, i thought they were handled and discussed well- i thought the book was well balanced between magic and world building as well as politics- slo so i absolutely ADORED the Scarlet series by A. C. Gaughen so wHEN I HEARD SHE HAD A NEW SERIES COMING OUT I WAS SCREAMING IT FROM THE ROOFTOPS (okay i wasn't actually but you get me) Pros - love me some strong fem characters- its a lot darker than you would anticipate for ya with hard topics like rape, abuse, torture, etc. - but its not like off putting, i thought they were handled and discussed well- i thought the book was well balanced between magic and world building as well as politics- slow but well paced though it did drag from time to time- the beginning wasn't v fun in terms of writing but once i made it through 50% i was racing through- galen grew on me after some time- loved the strong family ties- THE FRICKEN ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS HAD ME TEARING UP Cons - a lot of the plot was centered around the romance and it wasnt working for me till the very end- i had a v yo-yo like relationship with the romance, i hated it, then liked it, then hated it, then loved it- calix- i hate him- like a lot- the romance felt really rushed like they were throwing i love yous and i was like honey no- the writing and pacing were fine but i just feel like the nothing really happened in the first 50% and so it made it a little hard for me to keep returning to the book - idk how to explain this without spoilers but the ending was just kinda ??? resolved anywho it was a good book dont get me wrong, its just some places felt like 2 stars and others felt like 4 stars and so i have resolved to 3.5 stars!!cant wait to see where the next books in this series take us~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ FINALLY buddy reading with a bully
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  • C.G. Drews
    January 1, 1970
    This had a LOT of fantastic stuff going down in it, but it somehow didn't quite light up my earth. But it had magic! And a really Soft Sweetheart™ of a narrator, who I thought was coming across kind of insipid at first but then?? There is such strength in being loving and kind and I loved how the book ended up capturing that!+ I have to admit: it feels adult.I personally feel like YA's heart is like teens discovering who they are and learning to be independent etc. etc. Coming of age. Acne. All This had a LOT of fantastic stuff going down in it, but it somehow didn't quite light up my earth. But it had magic! And a really Soft Sweetheart™ of a narrator, who I thought was coming across kind of insipid at first but then?? There is such strength in being loving and kind and I loved how the book ended up capturing that!+ I have to admit: it feels adult.I personally feel like YA's heart is like teens discovering who they are and learning to be independent etc. etc. Coming of age. Acne. All that fun stuff. But this book is like about abusive marriages, pregnancy, and politics and I just...well. If you'd said Shalia was 20, it would've worked. (I'm actually not sure who old she was??) But it's just, I came here to read YA, not about MARRIAGE. So, for me, that was a huge downside. Not necessarily a fault of the book, just something I, personally, am not keen on reading. I thought the book wouldn't revolve so heavily a round it tbh.+ The setting was great though! Magic and deserts and the sea!I think the world had a lot of building and attention to detail and actually worked on building cultures through food and dress and religion and #YES. This pleases me. It's so tiiiiring when fantasy worlds are weak, but this felt rich and dynamic. + Also there's plenty of elemental magic to knock your socks off.Shalia is, SURPRISE, able to control the earth. But her arranged-marriage-asshat-husband would kill her if he found out. So I feel the love. Can you feel the love? It's literally everywhere. I really reallllly liked how her power centred around love though! Like she loves someone + freaks out = magic happens! Super sweet. Everyone wants rocks falling when someone falls in love with you.+ It is dark, but I actually expected darker haha.[crowd pauses to wonder about paperfury's well being]Sorrrrry. I read a lot of dark books okay?! It does feature (heavily) an abusive relationship and parts made my stomach roil. There's also a bit o' torture and plenty of death and limbs being blown off occasionally. So it is NOT a sweet story. I appreciated that it showed war as gnarly and nasty. And the sex scenes weren't graphic, just more stated that they happened. But they were awful tho, because Shalia didn't love him....which kind of brings me back to my idea that: this isn't really YA??!? I mean, ALL of these themes weren't done badly or too graphically, per se, but they're just...well.+ The characters were complex and interesting though!Calix = a horrific tOADSTOOL and I hated him so muchShalia = soft and pure but spent the whole book being a damsel so that was tiringGalen = look I read a book with a mermaid named Galen in it and I couldn't get rid of that image BUT THAT ASIDE he was a great but I'm not sure his personality particularlyZeph = some random guard who was also freaking hilariousKai = sneaky brother of Shalia and I like! I wish we had more of him!2 billion other characters = I DON'T EVEN KNOW. I'M NOT GOOD WITH SO MANY PEOPLE.+ But it's honestly SLOW and HUGE and I was really emotionally uninvested.Obviously this is just a *me* thing and I know tons and tons of people who've adored it! But I found very little to relate to/get engaged with...particularly with how many scenes were just getting dressed for dinner or some other frikkin' boring thing.So basically? It's a slowly woven political fantasy, that unpacks poisonous relationships and oppression. It had a LOT of great things, like with the world and the themes. It just didn't grow flowers in my world or anything anddddd I have the attention span of a refried gnat so it was just a bit slow. I'll show myself out, it's ok.
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  • Cait • A Page with a View
    January 1, 1970
    Disclaimer: I did skim several parts of this book because it became way too heavy, dark, and depressing. Sometimes I leave ratings off if I feel like I might have missed something crucial during the skimming, but I'm pretty confident in my rating here. I've been dismissed before as "weak" or "sheltered" for not wanting to endure endless pain and suffering in stories. But that's my honest opinion aaaaand I read for fun/to escape. I'm not here to test my endurance level for the miserable aspects o Disclaimer: I did skim several parts of this book because it became way too heavy, dark, and depressing. Sometimes I leave ratings off if I feel like I might have missed something crucial during the skimming, but I'm pretty confident in my rating here. I've been dismissed before as "weak" or "sheltered" for not wanting to endure endless pain and suffering in stories. But that's my honest opinion aaaaand I read for fun/to escape. I'm not here to test my endurance level for the miserable aspects of reality even further. And obviously I can handle some heavy stuff in stories because of course there needs to be conflict, threats, something to overcome, etc. BUT I also need... a break from that too? Some hope to get behind? Topics like questionable rape, abuse (both physical & emotional), torture, the trauma of a miscarriage, and a general lack of power were such a central part of this story that it's not something you can just read around. But at least the author wasn't supporting any of that... like Shalia doesn't excuse her cruel husband's actions and fall in love with him (thank goodness). But it was still hard to sit through for so long. And I can't really speak for the rep in this book, but the diversity was definitely great to see! I wish the story had spent more time with the tribes in the desert because the beginning was awesome.So this was not a book I personally enjoyed, yet I can't bring myself to give it less than 3 stars because the writing is good, the worldbuilding is strong, there's a creative system of elemental magic, there's a solid plot that's easy to follow, and there are some truly wonderful characters. The story just turned out to be a lot different than I was expecting... it's not the magical adventure that the cover sounded like. It's more like a lot of suffering for both the reader and characters. But I think others who are looking for more intense stories would still enjoy this!Thank you to the publisher for sending me an ARC.
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  • Andie
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 starsHaving never heard or read anything by this author before, I had no idea what to expect going in. I feel really foolish for setting my bar low because this story was seriously awesome! I was intrigued when I first read the blurb but the cover left the impression that this would be some light hearted fantasy, and that certainly was not the case at all.Despite the misleading cover, this book is not for the faint of heart. It's raw, dark, gritty, and unfiltered. I realize this book has gar 4.5 starsHaving never heard or read anything by this author before, I had no idea what to expect going in. I feel really foolish for setting my bar low because this story was seriously awesome! I was intrigued when I first read the blurb but the cover left the impression that this would be some light hearted fantasy, and that certainly was not the case at all.Despite the misleading cover, this book is not for the faint of heart. It's raw, dark, gritty, and unfiltered. I realize this book has garnered some negative attention based on it's hard topics - if you're at all a sensitive or squeamish reader then this probably isn't going to be the book for you. The story does revolve around an arranged marriage - you can expect to find domestic abuse, undesired sexual advances, and violence in general. The author doesn't skate around these issues, but neither romanticizes them. If you're not bothered or think you can get past all that then I believe you will really enjoy this read. I am extremely intrigued by any mention of elemental magic and was quite happy to see that here. I would have liked to delve more into that aspect of this world but I do believe that we've only hit the tip of that iceberg. This book really has it all - strong world building, family dynamics, friendship, romance, political intrigue, easy to follow plot, and heartbreak. Oh the heartbreak.... I won't lie, some parts really hit me in the feels and I may have shed a couple tears. Through all the hardships our protagonist has to go through, the underlying message is always clear, there is hope at the end of the tunnel. This book is so well written and I really can't recommend it enough! An excellent start to what I'm sure will become a favorite series. I cannot wait to see what comes next!*ARC kindly provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
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  • Jessica
    January 1, 1970
    Well, that was a hell of a ride! I did not expect to love this as much as I did. Not that this book looked bad, but I absolutely loved Gaughen's book Scarlet, and have been hankering to read Lady Thief and Lionheart, so I wasn't sure I wanted to try something new by her just yet. And yes, I admit I was a little like, yes, yes, elemental magic, sure, sure. But as I noticed in another review: when was the last time EARTH magic took center stage? Water and fire get all the love! Not only that, but Well, that was a hell of a ride! I did not expect to love this as much as I did. Not that this book looked bad, but I absolutely loved Gaughen's book Scarlet, and have been hankering to read Lady Thief and Lionheart, so I wasn't sure I wanted to try something new by her just yet. And yes, I admit I was a little like, yes, yes, elemental magic, sure, sure. But as I noticed in another review: when was the last time EARTH magic took center stage? Water and fire get all the love! Not only that, but I am a total sucker for desert dwelling nomad fantasy. I mean, I've only read The Blue Sword around 50 times, it's not like I was obsessed with it or anything, but still, I do love a good desert magic story. This reminded me very much of Blue Sword or, more recently, Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst. And since this book doesn't come out until the end of January, 2018, you could all read The Blue Sword and Vessel in that time! Eh, eh? Not to mention her Scarlet books! But why, why did I love this book? Because of all the sand? Nope. Because of the characters. The characters were amazing. I loved them all, except for that one, the villain, who was TERRIFYING. I mean, seriously, like I started sweating and freaking out every time they entered a scene. The villain in this book is so incredibly, horribly, realistically dangerous I could not get over it. Like, I still feel traumatized hours later. And I loved the others so much that I was genuinely afraid for them, and rightly so. The stakes are high. No punches are pulled. This is some hardcore stuff. The writing is beautiful, but she does not shy away from real tragedy and real brutality.This is a good book.
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  • Kristin Hackett (SuperSpaceChick)
    January 1, 1970
    Actual rating: 3.75
  • Justine
    January 1, 1970
    I thought this was really good. The themes of spousal violence and abuse are front and centre in the story, not romanticized in the slightest, and dealt with extremely well. I loved Shalia's strength, her commitment to ideals of redemption (which is consistent with her belief that problems can be solved without resort to violence and that people can change for the better), but not at the cost of her own safety or sense of self-worth. She is a wonderfully strong character who makes it clear that I thought this was really good. The themes of spousal violence and abuse are front and centre in the story, not romanticized in the slightest, and dealt with extremely well. I loved Shalia's strength, her commitment to ideals of redemption (which is consistent with her belief that problems can be solved without resort to violence and that people can change for the better), but not at the cost of her own safety or sense of self-worth. She is a wonderfully strong character who makes it clear that she can and will be responsible for saving herself, without losing her ability to feel love and compassion in the process. The male characters are somewhat archetypal, but really, I felt Shalia was the star of the show here, and they framed her story very well.I don't know if the next book will reflect some of the emotional fallout I would expect Shalia to experience as a result of what happens to her in this book, or if she will just be portrayed as ideally resilient. I'm hoping for the former, as I think that will give a bit more emotional maturity to the story, but in either case, I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next.
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  • Erin ღYour YA Readerღ
    January 1, 1970
    🍪🍪🍪🍪4 Cookies “I will not be broken or diminished or belittled by the choices of men around me.” Da blogSchool is over now its time to PARTYYYY!!! (Or read until 2 in the morning) Summary: Shalia becomes the Queen of the Bonelands because of an arranged marriage, to protect the desert where she once lived. Her new husband Calix turns out to hate Elementae (which is someone who has special abilities) and wants to kill them all. She also has a power over the Earth, and she falls for Calix's brothe 🍪🍪🍪🍪4 Cookies “I will not be broken or diminished or belittled by the choices of men around me.” Da blogSchool is over now its time to PARTYYYY!!! (Or read until 2 in the morning) Summary: Shalia becomes the Queen of the Bonelands because of an arranged marriage, to protect the desert where she once lived. Her new husband Calix turns out to hate Elementae (which is someone who has special abilities) and wants to kill them all. She also has a power over the Earth, and she falls for Calix's brother which makes things worse. Big oof.🍪🍪🍪🍪Storyline: The actual storyline was good. It had a lot of good twist and turns and it kept me flipping the page even through my slump. There weren't times where I was extremely bored, but there were a few pages of fluff that just bothered me. (Im extra salty when I'm in a slump) However its storyline had a good flow. It didn't jump around and totally confuse you. 🍪🍪🍪🍪🍪Writing quality: The writing quality especially for a YA novel was really good. The grammar was good, but most importantly the author kept things interesting in the writing. I hit on some of the other points above so I'm just going to stop talking now... 🍪🍪🍪Characters: -Calix: I feel like Calix was a good villain. However, it was apparent from the first pages that we met him he was going to be evil. Which is kind of sad because I like some buildup. ;) However, he was written well. He was a villain, and a cruel one at that and the author did a good job showing that in his character. Shalia: Shalia is super sweet. She's also trying to figure things out at such a young age. She grows in this book super well. By the next book I am really excited to see how much she grows, especially since she grew a lot in this one. (Character development at its best) Bestest quotes: -“Everyone wants to know they can be loved even in consideration of their most monstrous parts,”-“I am a Dragon of the desert, and nothing will slake my thirst for vengeance.” -“I won't teach my daughter that her only choice is to be sheltered by the men around her.”-“But as I shuddered against the cold, I sent a dark wish out over the sea that I would never grow to love my husband.”-“True power does not force others to make themselves smaller.” Cons: (start with the bad news): So I didn't have too many problems just bear with me with this little rant. ;) The main thing that bothered me was of how Shalia was pressured into doing so much even though she was a child herself. Even her mother pressured her to do things she obviously wasn't comfortable with. Now I think the author addressed these topics well, its just they were dark topics. It was hard to get through some of them at times without putting it aside for a few minutes. Pros: (end on a good note!):The story in general was super fun to read! I loved how the characters surprised me in their own unique ways. Each character had its own mini backstory which I thought was super interesting to read about. Shalia even though scared at the beginning, became so strong at the end. I really admire that from her character and it just shows even as a young women, she's strong and independent.
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  • Mlpmom (Book Reviewer)
    January 1, 1970
    I absolutely adored Gaughen's Scarlet series which is why I picked this up without any hesitation at all. Add in the cover and that description and I knew I would get something different, something fun, and something well written.And I did get those things but yet I can't help but feel somewhat..... disappointed. Don't get me wrong, this was a good story but it some how fell lacking from the greatness that was Scarlet. It was a bit slow and even dragged in places and the love interest and storyl I absolutely adored Gaughen's Scarlet series which is why I picked this up without any hesitation at all. Add in the cover and that description and I knew I would get something different, something fun, and something well written.And I did get those things but yet I can't help but feel somewhat..... disappointed. Don't get me wrong, this was a good story but it some how fell lacking from the greatness that was Scarlet. It was a bit slow and even dragged in places and the love interest and storyline were predictable at best and even, I hate to say it, a tiny bit cliched. But, there is a but here, it was still a really good and interesting (and most of the time entertaining) story and one I am glad that I took the time to read. I definitely won't be giving up on this author or any of her stories because she really does know how to create a unique twist on something that isn't unique at all and that is always worth a try.*ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
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  • Jess
    January 1, 1970
    FInally! Let's appreciate the earth elements for once! The fire, wind and water ones have had their time in the spotlight (no hate but *coughcough*The Grisha*coughcough*) NOW ITS TIME FOR THEIR DOWN TO EARTH (don't kill me) SISTERS (and possibly brothers) TO SHINEEEEE
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  • Erica
    January 1, 1970
    Dear book people: Please do not use this as an example of a diverse book. Despite the protagonist having brown skin, this is not a story about a person of color's life. We know she's brown because she mentions it a few times, it has no bearing on this story otherwise. That would be great if this were written by an author of color but it wasn't. Ellen Oh recently took time out of her busy life to explain this problem on Twitter. Please read what she said, it's important in light of this book.Movi Dear book people: Please do not use this as an example of a diverse book. Despite the protagonist having brown skin, this is not a story about a person of color's life. We know she's brown because she mentions it a few times, it has no bearing on this story otherwise. That would be great if this were written by an author of color but it wasn't. Ellen Oh recently took time out of her busy life to explain this problem on Twitter. Please read what she said, it's important in light of this book.Moving on to why I am the only person here* who did not like this tale about a young desert woman who agrees to marry the king of the neighboring country in order to bring peace to their lands, a desert woman who isn't necessarily high-ranking, herself, but seems to have been a marriage candidate because she's the prettiest girl in the desert. *Untrue. 3% of Goodreads reviews for this book offer it one star.1) Sloppy writing.I see several other readers disagree with this point. They feel the writing is rich and gorgeous and I am glad it spoke to them.It grated on my every nerve. For instance, the word "water" is used eight times on page 5. The characters are in an underground pool and the reader is aware there is water so overusing that one word is lazy. It's even used twice in the same sentence."Oh," I said, standing in the shallow water and I saw red blossoming in the water. Then there were descriptions that were jarring due to inaccuracy, such as the moment in which He dragged his thumb over my jaw in a bemused way. What does that mean? The husband isn't quite sure how to touch his wife's jaw so he drags his thumb over it and is slightly puzzled at the result?And speaking of jaws (not the shark), there's the scene starring Osmost the hawk: Osmost swooped, catching something up in his jawsSooo....This? Or maybe Perhaps But probably more like Or, my personal favorite even though it's a non-flight bird: Anyway, that's sloppy writing because here's the thing: If you don't know much about a general topic, it doesn't take long to find out enough to write about it in an accurate-enough fashion.A quick Google of hawk anatomy would show birds don't have jawbones so they don't have jaws.Also, birds of prey do not swoop down to the earth at zillions of miles per hour to catch things with their faces, that's just not how bird physics work. They catch their prey in their claws, which are called talons. Yes, it is true that "jaw" and "claw" rhyme but they are very different things.That's the kind of writing that throws me out of the story and makes me think the author can't be arsed to do a little work for her readers. 2) All those overplayed tropes like Misunderstandings! Romantic triangles (this one isn't really a triangle because she doesn't love both men, you know)! Melodrama! Terrible dialogue! A female main character who is constantly gasping or catching her breath! I have to admit that I was disappointed to find that between the covers of this book was a story that did not meet expectations.3) Speaking of, the back cover states: I would like to contest the idea that this is "a manifesto of female strength" or even that this is a "feminist fantasy." I would say this is perhaps nothing like either of those things. I'll go ahead and put all my whining under a spoiler so that I can discuss these topics freely. WARNING: BIG SPOILS!(view spoiler)[Again, the premise of this story is a young woman, age 17, marries the king of the country next door so that her desert people and his armies will stop fighting. He's almost 30 and has been king since he was a young teenager, if I remember correctly, and he has some serious behavioral issues. He's abusive, emotionally at first and then physically. But it's also shown that he cares deeply for his people and wants to help them and he can be a good guy, just not as a husband. Or a brother. Or a person, really.The good thing about this is that readers get to see what domestic abuse can look like. It's scary stuff and this story doesn't sweep that under the rug. The abuse doesn't happen off-page. It's uncomfortable to be in the head of a person being abused by her husband, especially as she learns to accept and roll with the violence. Buuuut...Wait, before we go further, I'd like to mention a moment in the beginning: Shalia, our brown and beautiful desert dweller who agreed to marry this man for peacefulness between countries, is highly offended with the man's brother who accidentally does not follow a desert custom that he was never told about in the first place. She calls him a "charlatan" and hates him for defiling her marriage, though he had no idea he'd done anything wrong, he was being chivalrous and helpful according to his own set of manners. This is obviously the ham fisted set-up for a love triangle because every time a female main character gets irrationally angry at a male for some hackneyed reason, it means they're going to fall in love. Feminism can't stop that, it is the way of nature.Remember this as we delve further.Shalia defines herself in light of the men who protect her. Her father protected her, her brothers protected her and one continues to do so (and often makes great show of it), it is now her husband's job to protect her. Her brother-in-law, the aforementioned "charlatan", is Captain of the Guard so it's really his job to protect her and he hand-selects the Queen's Guard who are a bunch of men tasked with protecting her. When she meets her personal guard, she thinks It was reminiscent of my brothers back home, and I found comfort in the thought. She even thinks about how her future daughter will be protected by her future son.We know that she's going to have to break down the idea that only men can take care of her. This is going to have to be part of her growth arc.And on page 213 of 432, she finds herself in a life-threatening situation with no man around to protect her! She realizes she has the power to save herself! Hooray!Unfortunately, on the next page, a man arrives and she once again flounders until he is able to save her. So maybe she's not quite ready to have the power of caring for herself.Soon after, she can't bind a wound on her side with her own two hands. I'm not sure why. She's fully-abled and she's 17 (pliable muscles! I miss those!) and I don't think she has arthritis, it hasn't been mentioned. I tried to hold a tissue that I was pretending was for soaking up blood on my side and wrapping an ACE bandage around it. Turns out, even with my old age and out-of-shapeness, I would absolutely be able to dress a wound on my ribs. I don't know why she can't except that it gives her husband a reason to take care of her and bandage her wound, thus saving and protecting her.Another thing we're quick to learn: Shalia is going to have to reconcile with showing her anger. Throughout the book, she bites back her emotions, always considering the feelings of others, with exception to her "charlatan" brother-in-law, whom she hates only not so much anymore because he's getting dreamier by the day. Coming into her own is going to include expressing her feelings, right?But it's going to be hard because her super-spy sister-in-law, Danae, one of two women with whom Shalia has regular contact, is also of the opinion that feelings are not how you fix men. Danae tells Shalia, "It's strange. You seem so wise, you know. You're very self-possessed. Strong. And I thought, when he married you, that the better parts of him would prevail."Subtext: You've been able to suppress your anger at my brother's, your husband's, abuses and that's good because that's what will probably eventually make him into a good person and fixing him is your job so keep suppressing your anger.Danae, though, also lives in fear of her brother because, as we find out on page 288, "...he'll never forgive finding me kissing another girl when I was thirteen," to which Shalia gets to gleefully gloat that her desert people don't care about a person's sexual preferences."There's a different ceremony if you choose someone of your own sex. Because you can't have children of your own, you can choose a clan and travel with them. It's not common but it's not strange."Sorry your brother persecutes you because you're gay, Danae. Had you been born a desert person, this wouldn't have happened. Now, let's stop talking about you and get back to Shalia, ok? One of the big problems in Shalia's life is that her gaslighting husband hates people who have magic and is working on killing them all, which is why there's been war, due to a prophecy saying an Elementae is going to be the end of him. Right after they get married, Shalia finds out she's an earth Elementae and you will not be surprised to know those are rare Elementaes, indeed, because of course they are. So she's hiding this newfound knowledge from her husband because he'll probably kill her if he finds out. She has to hide it from everyone in her new country because they'll turn her in and she'll be killed. She's got to survive somehow so she works with her brother and her best friend from home who magically shows up from time to time, to hide her powers while assuring her husband she's all for his getting rid of Elementae plan but, you know, maybe don't worry so much about it because... you know...spend your energy on the kingly things that matter and stuff. The point here is that she's in danger of being discovered and killed and she's just trying to fly under the radar because she knows her husband is a terrible person with a hot temper.Guess who else knows this about the king? His brother. The same brother who is a "charlatan" and who also has decided he loves Shalia and he starts flirting with her. He starts paying attention to his brother's wife knowing full well that he's endangering her with his affections and yet, he does it anyway. Then he finds out that Shalia is an Elementae and that the source of her power is Love and that when he's around her, the power just somehow manifests so it must be because she LOVES him and then he purposely hangs around her, risking her power going off! Now she's in double danger by her brother-in-law. And he's painted to be a good guy? Charlatan, indeed!So everything comes to a head near the end and we know that Shalia is going to have to stand up for herself and fight for her life and the life of the baby she's growing. And that happens...mostly. Kind of. She stands up to her oldest brother and tells him she can love whom she wants and she loves the brother-in-law. She tells her brother that the charlatan is broken but she is also broken and, together, they will be whole.I guess that means she's halfway there? She knows she can be whole but she also thinks it's going to take a man to make that happen so...she's only ever going to be able to be half of a whole, right?Finally, on page 407, she has her awakening, realizing she doesn't want to be protected anymore.Also, she wants to have sex with the brother-in-law. So she does. And he continues to be a fuck-up. He asks her if she's sure about this and that he knows she was abused and so isn't sex terrible now? She tells him that sex with his brother was always horrible, every time. He responds with, "It will be different. The only thing I want you to feel with me is pleasure."NO!Correct answer: This is not about me and my amazing sex skills. It's about you and figuring out what makes you and your body feel good. Take your time and when you feel comfortable, we'll go at your pace so you can explore your sensuality at your leisure and on your terms and I will respect any and all boundaries. We'll build from there.Granted, he throws her that bone after giving her his other bone but it's too little, too late because we all already know he just wanted to stick it in her, not give her space to allow her to care for and understand her body in light of a traumatic recent past. People who love other people don't actually CARE about the people they love, apparently.She does stand up to her abusive husband who has had her tortured by this point. She does choose the man she wants and I don't know why that's a priority but it is and she does it so yay, empowerment. She does tell her brothers that she does not want to be protected anymore. But here's what we've learned from all the female characters' tribulations:Women can't be strong until they've been beaten down by men and learn to rise up as a result.I have one more piece of BS to point out before I wrap this up.Female friendships.Why are these so hard to portray? Female friendship is not a unicorn. You can see it everywhere and yet stories insist in either portraying said friendships as toxic, as fluffy silliness, or not portraying them at all.In this story, Shalia has her best friend from childhood, a girl who is her sister in all but birth. Their friendship is shown through holding hands, interlacing fingers, arguing, and then being physically affectionate again. I told Gabe this and he said, "So, basically, our cats." He's not wrong - Toki and Evie start with snuggling, move on to washing each other, then they fight with the yelling and the smacking, and later, they're sleeping in a cuddle puddle. Yes, female friendship is like our cats.Shalia tries to create a relationship with her handmaid and it's the same thing - an afternoon of touching hands, telling secrets and inner thoughts, and that relationship doesn't really show up again.Her relationship with sis-in-law Danae is only missing the touching fingers part.It's such a shallow image of friendship, the physical affection mixed with passionate words and then no contact at all with said friends for chapter upon chapter. These friends are out of mind when out of sight and they bring little but plot device to the table.There's also the matter of Shalia fixing the country's backward notion that women can't work as she simultaneously solves hunger in the city. Now the people love her and women respect her because everything worked out perfectly and we don't need to talk about the that part of the story anymore, ever. Tidy! Convenient!Awful. (hide spoiler)]So, no, I did not like this book. I didn't like the storyline, I didn't like the writing, I didn't like the way the messages were handled, and the idea that this may be diverse and female-empowering pisses me off.You guys go ahead and enjoy this one. I can't party with you here.
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  • Jeann (Happy Indulgence)
    January 1, 1970
    Trigger warnings: emotional and physical abuse, marital rape, torture, relationship violence, childbirth/pregnancy concernsThis review was originally posted on Happy Indulgence Books. Check it out for more reviews! That was an emotional journey that caught me by surprise. I'm glad I persisted, because this is such an important story of overcoming relationship abuse. I spent a good 10 minutes crying towards the end of the story. It's definitely a darker YA fantasy that is more focused on the abus Trigger warnings: emotional and physical abuse, marital rape, torture, relationship violence, childbirth/pregnancy concernsThis review was originally posted on Happy Indulgence Books. Check it out for more reviews! That was an emotional journey that caught me by surprise. I'm glad I persisted, because this is such an important story of overcoming relationship abuse. I spent a good 10 minutes crying towards the end of the story. It's definitely a darker YA fantasy that is more focused on the abuse rather than world building, but reading to the end is worth it if you can stomach it.There’s no disputing it – Reign the Earth is a story of abuse. The mental, emotional and eventual physical abuse that Shalia goes through after being married to Calix, the King is incredibly vivid and confronting. And because of that, this is definitely not an easy read. But it’s a rewarding one, that I’m glad I stuck with til the end.When we first meet Shalia, a much beloved Princess of the desert who is the youngest daughter with four brothers, we see a young, naive girl who wants to please her husband. He orders her around, preferring to call her “wife” rather than addressing her by her name. Calix is obsessed with things like showing people who’s boss, and using his newfound Queen as a display of power rather than respecting her as an individual who can bring peace across the lands.I’m probably not the first one who would say I underestimated Shalia, wondering why she would withstand such ill treatment from her abuser, but the more I delved into the novel, the more I understood her.As YA readers, we’re conditioned to think that “strong YA heroines” come with certain attributes – they’re strong, smart, brave and usually a female fighter who can stand up on her own two feet. When we see someone like Shalia who is constantly disrespected and even put in her place by others superior to her, it’s not a stretch to automatically think her as someone who is weak. However, she shows her strength in different ways – she’s a heroine who gets to know people and their wishes, who connects with others, who often puts her own heart and needs behind others…including her emotionally abusive husband.While we as readers may be quick to write her (and him) off, we can see her constantly and consistently give him the benefit of the doubt. To know that as a King, he is only looking after the people, and that he has to make these tough choices that will result in short term pain but long term fruition. We find out that she only wants peace between the desert where she came from, and the lands that the King owns, and she believes being the ever obedient wife will lead her in that direction.Little do we know, that Calix is self obsessed and his court are the people who constantly look the other way when he orders Shalia to do his bidding. It’s not obvious at first as he tests the waters with his new wife, which had me questioning whether Calix really was the villain, but it slowly but surely descends into complete disrespect. Horrifying quotes will begin to surface such as:“You have failed at your own purpose, wife. Where is my child?…Why is your womb still cold? That is your sole value, and you cannot manage it.”“He’s not wrong, you know. Think of what a reaction I would have if I flung your lifeless body off the battlements for your brother to see.”The good news is, her giving nature and her caring heart has lead her to connect with others in her court, from her brother Kairos who watches over her, and her brother in law Galen who offers up a shoulder to cry on. With the combination of a rebellion in the midst run by her very own brother, to the elementae beings with hidden powers, things get really interesting towards the end of the book after its slow start. I loved how the book focused so much on family, especially sibling loyalty and how there were so many shades of grey when it comes to family. While Calix is pretty much a straight villain, I found more depth in the familial relationships and Shalia’s character.After a slow start, I did have to persist with the book, as I struggled with the book’s dark themes not really knowing what it would entail. There isn’t much action that happens in the story and the world building was kind of hazy, which made the abuse stand out even more. I definitely think this book should come with a trigger warning, so that you’d be able to mentally prepare yourself for what’s ahead. But let me tell you – this is a journey that’s definitely worth enduring if you can stomach it.Reign the Earth had me crying for a good 10 minutes during the end of the book, not because it was sad, per se, but because the story within its pages actually reflects real life. How many women do you hear of who find themselves in abusive relationships, not wanting to leave their partner because they believe they can change? And it’s not because these women are weak. Sometimes they are the strongest people who endure the abuse every day of their lives.There’s no denying it – Reign the Earth is an incredibly dark book, as it runs into multiple confronting themes that may be triggering for some. But it’s also one that is incredibly rewarding to read, championing the hope in the strength of women standing up to their abusers.I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Sandra
    January 1, 1970
    "A new YA fantasy in which elemental powers are reawakened after a genocide, and a girl realizes she has the power to control the earth on the same day she marries the king who hunted the Elementae to extinction."
  • Erin Bowman
    January 1, 1970
    My official blurb: With a clever, strong-willed heroine, a downright terrifying villain, and complex relationships that leap off the page, REIGN THE EARTH is the feminist fantasy I didn't know I needed. I will be thinking about Shalia's strength and fearlessness (and swooning over the slow-burn romance) as I anxiously await Book Two!My less official gushing: Guyssss this book is so good. Put it on your TBRs, stat, and then lets talk about the perfection of the slow-burn romance and also the horr My official blurb: With a clever, strong-willed heroine, a downright terrifying villain, and complex relationships that leap off the page, REIGN THE EARTH is the feminist fantasy I didn't know I needed. I will be thinking about Shalia's strength and fearlessness (and swooning over the slow-burn romance) as I anxiously await Book Two!My less official gushing: Guyssss this book is so good. Put it on your TBRs, stat, and then lets talk about the perfection of the slow-burn romance and also the horror that is the villain.
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  • Lisa
    January 1, 1970
    I think fans of solid settings and court intrigue with a dash of fantasy will enjoy this one! Shalia is a wonderful heroine, who's personality and strength is slowly revealed in a natural and beautiful way.Sadly, the set-up of the romance just wasn't for me. I couldn't connect and just plain didn't like it. That was 100 percent my personal preference though. Definitely a solid read overall.
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  • Kitkat
    January 1, 1970
    OK I know how to process this now. I hate King Calix. I hated how he treated Shalia though this entire book. He smacked her and she leaves him for a little bit. I feel better that she did however she has to go back to save the peace. I loved that she does everything to stop him from experimenting Elementae. I hated that he agrees to have their child that he yelled at her that was the only thing she was valuable for. I mean he is a horrible human being. Then he blows up Shalia's family right in f OK I know how to process this now. I hate King Calix. I hated how he treated Shalia though this entire book. He smacked her and she leaves him for a little bit. I feel better that she did however she has to go back to save the peace. I loved that she does everything to stop him from experimenting Elementae. I hated that he agrees to have their child that he yelled at her that was the only thing she was valuable for. I mean he is a horrible human being. Then he blows up Shalia's family right in front of her endangering his kid. She almost lost her child because of this monster. I was completely shocked and he wants a Genocide against Elementaes. I wanted to kill him and after she flipped out using her powers she was imprisoned. She was mentally tortured and I felt so horrible for her. I loved the romance between Galen and Shalia. They were so cute together and I loved them together! Also Danae was turned into Elementae by force because Calix experimented on her. I wanted to cry. When they all escaped including Shalia's brothers. She loses Kairos during the escape and I hope he survived. I can't wait for the sequel and I hope all my characters are alive. Sorry this was me just blabbering about how each scene was amazing. I also loved that guard who protected her! PLEASE READ THIS BOOK!!!!!!
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  • Lo Bookfrantic
    January 1, 1970
    4. 5★★★★StarsGenre: Fantasy/ MagicType: Book 1 of The Elementae SeriesPOV: First Person - FemaleThis book was incredible, I was hooked from the very first page. The magic plot and the twist was amazing. I feel in love with all the characters.Shalia at only seventeen years old made the decision to wedd the enemy in order to save her people. She didn't anticipate finding herself in the hands of the most dangerous man alive.I was absolutely in love with the bravery of her brothers, they would die t 4. 5★★★★StarsGenre: Fantasy/ MagicType: Book 1 of The Elementae SeriesPOV: First Person - FemaleThis book was incredible, I was hooked from the very first page. The magic plot and the twist was amazing. I feel in love with all the characters.Shalia at only seventeen years old made the decision to wedd the enemy in order to save her people. She didn't anticipate finding herself in the hands of the most dangerous man alive.I was absolutely in love with the bravery of her brothers, they would die to protect her and that was just amazing. Shalia had to put up with some abuse from her new husband which made me hate him even more.This story was fast pace full of action, suspense, pain and overall it was perfect for me. I devour it in one setting. Readers who enjoy young adult fantasy will find this book appealing. Super exciting to see where book two will bring us.I read this book via my library Overdrive app. Thank you public library for this.
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  • Austine (NovelKnight)
    January 1, 1970
    This book was provided by the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.If Reign the Earth is any indication of what's to come this year in YA fantasy, then everyone needs to start saving up because we're going to all be broke real soon. I started this book, made it 100 pages in and was forced to stop because I had to get some work done. . . well, I should have stopped but the book was so good that I stayed up far This book was provided by the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.If Reign the Earth is any indication of what's to come this year in YA fantasy, then everyone needs to start saving up because we're going to all be broke real soon. I started this book, made it 100 pages in and was forced to stop because I had to get some work done. . . well, I should have stopped but the book was so good that I stayed up far too late and finished it.Before I go any further, I want to mention that this book features potentially very triggering scenes related to emotional and physical abuse (including torture). The emotional abuse, especially, is present throughout the book and it's uncomfortable to read. None of it is glorified in any way; it's clear that it's meant to be viewed in a bad light and not supported in any way. With that in mind, it's that same discomfort that made me rate this book so high. Shaila marries a foreigner to achieve peace between her two peoples. She doesn't necessarily want the marriage for herself, nor does she have many disillusions about marriage, but she goes through with it for her family and her people. Her relationship with her new husband, Calix, is rough. He's a king who believes he's a god incarnate and acts as though his will is the work of the divine. He refers to her as "wife" rather than her name the vast majority of the time. He's verbally and emotionally abusive toward her, constantly putting her down for having original ideas or opinions. And he gets physically abusive with Shaila at one point.I cringed. I wanted to reach out and hug Shaila. I wanted to punch Calix in the face. Several times. And yet. . . and yet I loved this book. Because Gaughen shows how someone in a toxic situation who can't necessarily get out of it so easily can overcome it. So often in my life I've heard people ask "well why don't you just leave?" But sometimes you can't, and I know this is fantasy so the situation is not necessarily realistic to our world but it parallels in a way. Shaila is strong. Not in the physical strength sense but strong willed with a huge heart. She cares so deeply despite the potential for harm to herself. And she conquers. It's not easy, and the road to get there isn't pleasant, but I think that's true for situations in real life too.With that, there's a consistent theme of family. Shaila's people is very family oriented and that becomes a point of conflict between her and Calix that plays out time and again. I also loved the bit of forbidden love because I'm a sucker for it but I wouldn't say that played a big role until later in the book. It's definitely a slow burn and, to be honest, I wouldn't say it worked for me COMPLETELY but I still totally ship them in future books. I just wanted a bit more development in this one since it became a bigger plot point later on.And as for the rest of the book, I absolutely loved it. Elemental magic isn't exactly original but I felt like Gaughen gave it new life with the combination of the history she gave the world and the amazing cast of characters. I don't think all the characters were given the same depth as the leads so there's definitely room to expand in future books. The same for the world. It was a good amount of detail for me for an opening book but I definitely want more in the future. The pacing is a bit inconsistent. The middle dragged at times while the beginning and end were just one thing after the next. But I was so invested in the story I barely noticed. Reign the Earth  is a dark YA fantasy. Perhaps not in the way you'd traditionally think but the topics tackled are tough to read but well worth it for those who can push through. I devoured this book in one sitting and immediately told everyone I knew they needed to order it ASAP.
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  • ❄️Nani❄️
    January 1, 1970
    Never been one to shy away from heavy themed books but.... how heavy we talking here?
  • Eileen (BookCatPin)
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 Stars*Review contains mild spoilers (as it was difficult to talk about this book without touching on certain points).Reign the Earth is a story that had me gasping and praying at every turn. Featuring a strong heroine, a diverse world and an intense storyline this book packed an emotional punch.At over 400 pages Reign the Earth took its time introducing the characters and the world. Though the pacing was slow a lot happens. It's important to note that Reign the Earth is a bit darker than mos 4.5 Stars*Review contains mild spoilers (as it was difficult to talk about this book without touching on certain points).Reign the Earth is a story that had me gasping and praying at every turn. Featuring a strong heroine, a diverse world and an intense storyline this book packed an emotional punch.At over 400 pages Reign the Earth took its time introducing the characters and the world. Though the pacing was slow a lot happens. It's important to note that Reign the Earth is a bit darker than most other YA fantasies I've read. The book tackled some very serious issues which I thought were done in an efficient and realistic manner. "You choose your fate with every decision." (ARC, p. 154).Shalia's character growth was empowering. She endured unimaginable horrors and losses at the hands of her husband Calix. His hot and cold attitude towards her gave me chills. Any goodness he showed only served to amplify his cruelty every time he lashed out at her. My heart ached for all her sufferings. Yet through it all she remained on her feet. "True power does not force others to make themselves smaller." (ARC, p. 137). He couldn't break her because she was loved and she loved fiercely.My heart pounded for the forbidden romance between Shalia and Galen. He may be her brother in law but he cared much more for her wellbeing than his brother ever did. Galen's actions spoke louder and stronger than Calix's honeyed words ever would. No love triangle as Ms. Gaughen does an excellent job illustrating Shalia's romantic feelings. It was clear who belonged together (and who should rot alone in the fiery depth of hell).The bond between Shalia and her family was everything. They were everything to her. I loved seeing her faith in her father. Her mother's words were constantly on her mind. Her older brothers were her support beams while her younger siblings lit up her life. Such a beautiful family who deserved way better.Reign the Earth wraps on a hopeful tone and while I wouldn't call the ending a cliffhanger it does leave you hanging on a few things. I'll definitely be adding A.C. Gaughen to the list of authors to look out for.
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  • Arielle ⭐ Cursebreaker ⭐
    January 1, 1970
    I was lucky enough to pick up a copy of this at ALA this year and it took me until now to finally start it. The fact that I finished it in a day is a pretty good indicator of how solid of a start to a series it was. I enjoyed almost all of the main characters (and enjoyed hating the other one...) and there was some great world building and an interesting elemental-type magic scheme that seemed fresh and new.Actually for some reason certain aspects of this book reminded me of Roar by Cora Carma I was lucky enough to pick up a copy of this at ALA this year and it took me until now to finally start it. The fact that I finished it in a day is a pretty good indicator of how solid of a start to a series it was. I enjoyed almost all of the main characters (and enjoyed hating the other one...) and there was some great world building and an interesting elemental-type magic scheme that seemed fresh and new.Actually for some reason certain aspects of this book reminded me of Roar by Cora Carmack, which also had new (or new to me at least) magic concepts. So if you enjoyed that one, definitely check this out!The only think that didn't quite convince me was the romance...can't really say more right now or else it would give things away so I'll let you guys decide. :) Definitely a new series that could be really big so come January, you better make sure you get your hands on it!Huge thanks to Bloomsbury for the physical ARC! ♥
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  • Nadhira Satria
    January 1, 1970
    DNF @40%NOPE. I am bored out of my mind. Finally buddy reading this with this annoying lost child
  • Damaris (GoodChoiceReading)
    January 1, 1970
    20 HUGE STARS! 100 thumbs up! This is book is amazing from beginning to the end! Huge twist that I did not see coming at all!!!! Love it!!! Full review to come.
  • Sarah Marie
    January 1, 1970
    GO READ THIS BOOK!!!!!!!!!!Reign the Earth by A.C. GaughenFirst in The Elementae seriesALL THE STARS“Show them what the heart of the desert truly is.”Shalia is a daughter of the desert. She has always felt at home under the vast skies and living a nomadic life with her brood of brothers, sister, and parents. She is also used to her best friend, Kata, an Elementae who can wield water coming in out of her life as she embarks on a mission to restore the Elementae to their full power. As Kata return GO READ THIS BOOK!!!!!!!!!!Reign the Earth by A.C. GaughenFirst in The Elementae seriesALL THE STARS“Show them what the heart of the desert truly is.”Shalia is a daughter of the desert. She has always felt at home under the vast skies and living a nomadic life with her brood of brothers, sister, and parents. She is also used to her best friend, Kata, an Elementae who can wield water coming in out of her life as she embarks on a mission to restore the Elementae to their full power. As Kata returns, Shalia finds herself being uprooted from the desert as she is forced to marry the king of the Trifectate, Calix. Calix’s family abhor the Elementae and will stop at nothing to exterminate them from the world. Kata is convinced Shalia has the same power within her that she does, but to have it would be dangerous and will put her life on the line. I almost didn’t read this book. I almost passed up on reading one of my all-time favorite fantasy novels. I saw this book on Goodreads and overlooked it because I was getting tired of seeing the typical desert plot, but this is SO MUCH MORE than just the desert with magic. Gaughen establishes an intense world that revolves around a Three-Faced God and this in turn, is the basis for Calix ruling the Trifectate. His brother and sister represent the other faces of the god and have roles to fulfill. This world is complex and mature. It tackles religion, death, an abusive marriage, genocide, war, rebellion, sex, greed, corruption, and it is all interwoven with a simple, but refreshing magic system. I’M OBSESSED. I think this book reads very much like the Old Testament in the drama department (if you read Genesis, then you should because it is crazy). It’s even more captivating that there is a religious system introduced that heavily decrees all rules the kingdom has enacted. For instance, unless the Three-Faced God decrees that women can work at the mills, then they cannot work at the mills. (This is a chapter in the novel and I loved that and it’s so awesome to see Shalia reign as queen.) I’ve never read Gaughen before, but I will go and read her other trilogy because I loved her writing style, characterization, and worldbuilding. Did I mention I’m obsessed? GO READ THIS BOOK!!!!!!!!Whimsical Writing Scale: 5“True power does not force others to make themselves smaller,” I told him (Calix).The main female character is Shalia. At first, I wasn’t a fan. She started out by whining about how she couldn’t be an Elementae to her best friend. Hello, if my bestie had magical powers, then I ‘d want them to. Alas, she is far from whiny. She is strong, resilient, and steadfast. She wants women to work for their mills, she doesn’t want to spend her life being protected, and she is inclusive and doesn’t bat an eye when her sister-in-law confesses she’s a lesbian. I loved her. She was everything I want my heroines to be. She represents the woman I want my children to look up to. My heart wept for in this novel towards the end. This novel gets gritty and dark. It tackles topics that may be off-putting to many readers and I would consider Shalia’s journey to be one for the mature reader. In case you do want to know possible trigger warnings, I will have them in this spoiler tag. (view spoiler)[Shalia marries an emotionally, psychologically, and eventually, physically abusive asshole. He’s horrible and it is so saddening to see this, but refreshing because it fits the story. It isn’t in here for the sake of being dark. It is in here because men would control women to horrible and sickening aspects. Said asshole kills almost her whole family and this results in her almost miscarry her child, but everyone is saying it’s a daughter. It’s horrible and sickening. Not only that, but upon thinking she has lost her child, she is forced into Calix’s quistatori torture chamber. It’s depressing. (hide spoiler)]Kick-Butt Heroine: 5“I want to learn to fight with you. I won’t accept you as a protector. But I will accept you as something else. Something greater. Because with whatever scraps of my heart are left, I love you too, Galen.”The main male character is Galen. Y’ALL, the moment he lifted her veil I knew. I wasn’t disappointed by this subtle romance. Galen is the Commander of the Trifectate guards and is Calix’s brother. He is a sweetheart and I love him so much. I don’t want to spoil anything, so that’s all I say because I don’t want to slip, but OMG be still my beating heart.Swoon Worthy Scale: 5“War is never so simple as a single person’s greed.”The Villain- Calix is no joke. People rant about Tamlin, but they haven’t met the Anti-Christ, Calix. This man is absolutely horrible. I would equate him to Hitler. He is obsessed with eradicating a race he thinks poses a threat to him because of a prophecy and he experiments on them in inhumane ways. For example, he created something that drains the blood from Elementae and transports it into something else. Absolutely disgusting. Also, he’s abusive not only to his wife, but to everyone around him. He has got to go.Villain Scale: 5“When there is a rebellion, no party comes out unscathed. The whole country bears a scar so deep that no one in that generation comes out the victor, not truly.”I loved, loved the characters in this book. There’s Kata, Shalia’s best friend, and I can’t wait to see more of their relationship dynamic in the sequel. Kailos and Rian, two of Shalia’s brothers who are at the center of this story. Kailos has a hawk that protects the family and keeps them in constant contact. He’s so sweet, loyal, and calculating in the best of ways. Rian is a part of the Resistance and this poses a huge threat to Shalia’s life, but once we got to meet him I loved him. Shalia’s guards are also my favorite and my heart is breaking over them. Danae is Shalia’s sister-in-law and I feel so sorry for her, but I’m going to need her to get it together before she does something to make me hate her.Character Scale: 5Everyone should read this book because it’s AMAZING. I love it so much and it is one of the darkest novels in the YA genre I’ve come across. I think it leads more towards NA, but I don’t care. It’s wonderful and regardless of its genre, you all need to read it because you want be disappointed.Plotastic Scale: 5Cover Thoughts: It’s not a favorite, but it is growing on me.Thank you, Netgalley and Bloomsbury, for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. Seriously, thank you. I almost missed reading one of my all-time favorite novels.
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  • Jamie :)
    January 1, 1970
    DNF at 41%... Full thoughts on my blog: http://bubblybooksblog.blogspot.com/2... So when I first started reading this book I guess you could say I had medium level expectations (if thats even a thing) the book started off intriguing and I liked the idea of having elemental magic and Shalia was a good strong lead character and all-- I guess I just felt the whole book was.... lacking. I was instantly intrigued by the idea of an arranged marriage (especially to a man who is so against magic) but c DNF at 41%... Full thoughts on my blog: http://bubblybooksblog.blogspot.com/2... So when I first started reading this book I guess you could say I had medium level expectations (if thats even a thing) the book started off intriguing and I liked the idea of having elemental magic and Shalia was a good strong lead character and all-- I guess I just felt the whole book was.... lacking. I was instantly intrigued by the idea of an arranged marriage (especially to a man who is so against magic) but calix ended up being rather cruel and he just annoyed me all the time! Every scene they mentioned Calix I had to try and hold in a huge sigh of frustration at the extreme annoyance he made me feel!! And then there was the whole thing with Calix’s brother (who I liked but thought lacked character depth) he was clearly the better choice and you couldn’t deny the chemistry between him and Shalia but I just felt their romance wasn’t going anywhere (at least not anywhere soon). This surprised me because I usually love slow burning romances and this one just left me disappointed!! Unfortunately I only got about 40% through this book before I lost interest and couldn’t continue it. Bottom line this books plot just wasn’t developed as much as I had hoped and while the characters held promise they ended up lacking depth. Overall a solid 2 star read!
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  • Carina Olsen
    January 1, 1970
    This book was all kinds of fantastic. I had hopes that I would love it, but I never imagined that I would love it as much as I ended up doing. Oh, this book was so good. Also all kinds of heartbreaking and evil. Yet so perfect. I loved every moment of it. And I am now dying for the second one. Wait will be long. But worth it, I'm sure.Giving this book five stars. Because I could not stop reading this amazing book. Everything about it was thrilling. There were parts that I thought would be an iss This book was all kinds of fantastic. I had hopes that I would love it, but I never imagined that I would love it as much as I ended up doing. Oh, this book was so good. Also all kinds of heartbreaking and evil. Yet so perfect. I loved every moment of it. And I am now dying for the second one. Wait will be long. But worth it, I'm sure.Giving this book five stars. Because I could not stop reading this amazing book. Everything about it was thrilling. There were parts that I thought would be an issue for me, but it wasn't, not really. It was only heartbreaking. Yet written so good, that I could not help but love every moment of this story. Have much to share about it.Will begin by saying that this writing was all kinds of incredible. I loved every part of it. And I had no issues at all with connecting with the story and the characters. It was all beautiful. This world was amazing too, and I loved learning about it at every moment. I'm so thrilled that I loved this book so much. Yesss. I will not be spoiling the story or many of the things that happen, but I will be sharing some spoilery thoughts about the romance. As I have a terrible need to talk about how this romance works. So that will be a bit spoilery, but also something you should probably know about before starting this book. Anyway, though, I really loved this awesome book. Such amazing characters. Stunning story, full of heartbreak. But hopeful too. I felt so much for everything.This book is told from the point of view of Shalia. She is seventeen years old, and she is about to marry a man she has never before met. Her family is a desert clan, and they have lived in the desert their whole lives. And I loved that part so much, because Shalia was amazing, and reading about her home was the best. Her family was big and oh so awesome. Wish there had been more about them all. Shalia agreed to marry a king from a different place, so that there will finally be peace, and no more war between them all.And oh, I don't know how I felt about that. Shalia was such a stunning character to read about. She was strong and fierce and just so awesome. In the desert, she was the strongest girl. But then she got married and had to leave the desert, and she changed so much. From strong to broken. But then back to strong again, later on. But yeah, those were some heartbreaking parts. But anyway. About the marriage. I really wish she had not had to do that. But she wanted to, as she wanted to help her family, to keep them safe.The beginning of this book was pretty fun and safe. Loved reading about the very short time before Shalia got married. Reading a little bit about her best friend, Kata, was all kinds of awesome. I adored her. And Shalia's family was the best. We get to know two of her brothers a lot, Rian and Kairos. I am a bit unsure about Rian, but I did like him a bunch. And Kairos was simply the very best. Fun and protective and just an awesome guy. Loved that he was always there for Shalia. Because she truly did need him there. Ack.This story was all kinds of incredible and exciting and heartbreaking. I don't know how to talk about it all. There is a bit of magic included. And Shalia ends up getting such an awesome power at the beginning of this book. I loved how she learned how to use it, though it took some time. And learning the past of others with powers hurt my heart more than I can say. There is a lot of mention of torture. It was awful. And yet written so well, and I loved it so much. Sigh. But incredibly sad. Yet exciting too, I loved all of the details.This book is about Shalia marrying this king, Calix. I liked reading about the wedding, and her time with her family before that. But oh, I was worried about this book. Because of her getting married. Because of her husband not being a kind man, though she did not know that at first. But she ended up finding it out pretty fast. Shalia gets married, and is now expected to have a baby fast. Which means she's having to sleep with him every night. It hurt me so so badly. Because it was never any pleasure for her, no feelings.Which is where the spoilery parts come in. I cannot help but talk about it a little. I worried I would dislike this book, because Shalia had to sleep with this man every night. Ahh. Yet he is not the real love interest. Though it hurt my heart more than I can say, I was not bothered by this. No love triangles, no feelings for her husband at all, and all I felt about it was pain. Because Shalia deserved so much better. And her new husband was not a kind king at all. He didn't care for her the way she deserved to. Bothered me so much.Thankfully, though, this man was not the love interest. His brother was, Galen. And while that may sound a bit weird, it really wasn't. This book takes place over several months. And Shalia has no feelings for her husband, only hate. And her slowly falling for Galen gave me the happiest feelings. It gave me hope, that there could be a happy ending for Shalia. But yeah. That happy ending might take some time. So much happens in this book. So much heartbreak and death and other awful things. But it was so amazing too.I am not going to share much more about this story. While I talked a lot about the romance, I have not shared much about the plot at all. And I'm not going to. Just letting you know that the story was all kinds of interesting and exciting. I loved reading Shalia's story. It broke me, but I am hopeful too. For the most part. The ending was so exciting and evil and I loved it so. Cannot wait to read more about her. Be aware, though, that this book is pretty sad. But there is hope. And there is a lot of amazing characters included.There were so many characters in this book. I loved Shalia the very most. She was so strong, even when she was broken. Even after everything she had to go through. I loved that about her. And her story was the very best. Sigh. Just, please don't let her suffer more in book two. Ahh. I'm nervous. Yet so excited. I also loved Galen just as much as I loved her. He was incredible to read about. Protective and brave and just awesome. Wish to know him more. And oh, his sister, Danae. I loved her, and I hated her a little too.Reign the Earth was everything I was hoping it would be and more. I'm so happy with how much I loved this book. Happy that I finally read it too. I loved the writing so much, and the characters were all amazing to read about. This lovely author is all kinds of incredible. I simply cannot wait to read more books by her. Eee. Now just waiting for news about book two. I need that so very much. Reign the Earth had a stunning setting and an exciting plot. Full of surprises and awful and hopeful things. You all need to read this book.---This review was first posted on my blog, Carina's Books, here: http://carinabooks.blogspot.no/2018/0...
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  • Nina-Tala (JustAddAWord) Shannak
    January 1, 1970
    This was nothing like I first made it out to be.Starting with the subject material. See that cover? How bright and cheerfully illustrated? I actually thought that REIGN THE EARTH would straddle the line between high MG and low YA with a cover like that. And the synopsis, too. Instead, I was surprised with how utterly dark and borderline depressing the storyline was. Themes of domestic/sexual abuse, arranged marriages, and even threats of miscarriage were all heavily zoomed in on, and I would be This was nothing like I first made it out to be.Starting with the subject material. See that cover? How bright and cheerfully illustrated? I actually thought that REIGN THE EARTH would straddle the line between high MG and low YA with a cover like that. And the synopsis, too. Instead, I was surprised with how utterly dark and borderline depressing the storyline was. Themes of domestic/sexual abuse, arranged marriages, and even threats of miscarriage were all heavily zoomed in on, and I would be lying if I said I saw that coming. Because I surely did not.Look, this wasn't a bad book. It was not enjoyable, by any means, because of the dark material, and though sometimes I can handle depressing subject matter (I adore Jeff Zentner books, remember?), this was just too much. For a high fantasy, and a plot that promised forbidden powers and political intrigue, I don't think the book needed to be so heavy. Not to say the themes weren't handled well! But it was just .. gah. I found myself wondering when the suffering would end so we can get back to the epic magicky fights and dethroning evil kings and the like. And spoiler alert: The suffering never ends. Ever. Think of this as a high fantasy version of Kathleen Glasgow's GIRL IN PIECES (which I couldn't finish, because I don't enjoy crying profusely. I did finish this one, though, if only so I could review it properly). Buckle up, folks, because this is going to be a long, tearful ride.I found Shalia, our lead, to be incredibly passive in the moments that mattered most. And this shocked me, very much. I saw some reviews (and even one of my favorite authors that blurbed it!) calling REIGN THE EARTH feminist, and I just ??? No. Absolutely not. The entire Trifectate is incredibly oppressive to women, to a point where they aren't even expected to work, until Shalia suggests otherwise, or fight. The male children are trained to be soldiers, and at the completion of their training, have the choice to select a bride. Select a bride. And Shalia herself never stood up to anything, remembering only to do so when it became too late. Which lead to (surprise!) even more depressing events.The plot line seemed directionless. I spent time actually trying to figure out where the author was going with all this, to no avail. The plotline is structured so weirdly, so irregularly. Sudden burst of action that only lapse into a repeat of the same old daily routines, with little progress toward an end goal – if any. So I guess you would call the ending a surprise? But I don’t think I can be surprised after being bored numbly for the other 300+ dry pages, so I don’t even know what to make of anything that went down.The writing style is lovely, though. There is something about the way Gaughen’s style that is very appealing, and I must confess, it did help to have smooth writing in scenes were no one did much. It definitely kept me turning the pages, and I even bookmarked some pages for their pretty sentences. This was quite similar to CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE by Tomi Adeyemi. Please note, however, that REIGN THE EARTH releases before BLOOD AND BONE, so. Yeah, I can’t really comment comfortably on the similarities, since its awfully hazy what came before what, pub date aside. But yes. If you read of plan to read CoBaB (which is getting a whooole lot of hype already, and for good reason, might I add), I find it baffling that this one isn’t as talked about as well, because the two are incredibly similar. If you’re excited for the other, look forward to this one, too. All in all? A slow-paced high fantasy with much political intrigue, if you like those themes enough to brave the heavier ones. I think I’ll want to read the next book. The story has potential to be intriguing if the pace gets sorted out and the main character develops a more active role in the events around her.Thank you, Bloomsbury, for the ARC!
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  • Kayla
    January 1, 1970
    This book was so dark and depressing but in the best possible way! The story was very rich and I felt very confused throughout the start but then I started to understand the world and the characters.
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