Tag Archives: Desert

Review: Reign the Earth by A. C. Gaughen

Reign the Earth by A. C. GaughenReign the Earth
A. C. Gaughen
Published on January 30, 2018

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About Reign the Earth
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.

My Review
It might sound silly, but the first thing that struck me about this book is the fact that Shalia approached her arranged marriage with the attitude that she would try to fall in love with her husband and have a good life with him even though the match wasn’t driven by love. I liked that the story didn’t set up with the more typical approach where she’d be chafing under the arranged marriage and looking to escape it from the beginning.

Shalia and her family drew me into the story with their customs and love and loyalty to each other. One of my favorite characters was Shalia’s brother Kai with his hawk. I loved the way he both protected her and respected her.

I read Reign the Earth a few weeks past the birth of my daughter, so I haven’t been getting very much sleep—and when I do sleep, it’s usually just an hour or two at most. So when I say I found it hard to put this book down, and a couple of times even stayed up to keep on reading, that’s pretty serious! Already, I’m anxious for the sequel, even though I’m sure it won’t be out for a while.

If you liked The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi, you will probably like Reign the Earth with its clash of kingdoms, rich relationships and magical elements.

Recommended for Ages 14 up.

Cultural Elements
Shalia describes herself and her people as having brown skin, and her husband’s people as having pale skin. One character briefly mentions she’s a lesbian.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Mild profanity used very infrequently.

Romance/Sexual Content
Kissing between a man and woman. Sex is implied but not specifically described. One character tells Shalia she kissed a girl.

Spiritual Content
Calix and his brother and sister are said to literally be the three faces of their god. Shalia shares some of the customs of her family which have some spiritual origin. Her childhood friend, a priestess’s daughter, has traveled the world opening sacred sites so that powers can manifest in people across the world.

Violent Content
References and brief descriptions of torture. Battle scenes with some gore and fatality. An abusive relationship between a man and woman escalates from words to threats to physical violence.

Drug Content

Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


Review: Edna in the Desert by Maddy Lederman

Edna in the Desert
Maddy Lederman
eLectio Publishing
Published September 9, 2013

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Thirteen year-old Edna is out of control, and her wealthy, indulged parents are out of ideas for how to handle her. As a last-ditch effort to reform their daughter, Edna’s parents drop her off at an isolated cabin in the desert with only her stoic grandmother and Vietnam veteran grandfather for company. Furious, Edna pulls out all her most manipulative, most challenging behaviors, but this time they have no effect. She is left with no choice but to survive the next two months with her grandparents, zero technology and a never-ending chore list. Her feelings about the desert change when she meets handsome seventeen year-old Johnny Bishop. When Edna stumbles onto the idea to throw a birthday party for grandpa, who hasn’t spoken in years, what begins as a ploy to gain more time with Johnny evolves into a deeper compassion and understanding for her grandparents and their difficult lives.

Lederman creates a memorable cast of characters, each unique and fascinating. As a parent, it’s frightening to witness Edna’s cool confidence and mastery at manipulation. One wants to slap them all the way to parenting classes. Edna’s grandmother is probably the most complex and interesting character of the cast. The narrative is peppered with truly insightful moments, though frequent ricochets from one character’s deep point-of-view to another’s sometimes interrupt the flow of the story. The deepening of Edna’s character and values and the closeness she develops with her grandparents make this a sweet, moving story.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
A couple references but no explicit words used. A crude sexual comment from an inebriated adult to a teenager.

Sexual Content
Thirteen year-old Edna and a much older teenaged boy engage in some pretty frantic kissing, but the exchange stops before clothes come off. Edna references the fascination her friends have with kissing and kissing games. She thinks the games are gross, but she recounts her friends’ participation briefly.

Spiritual Content
Edna and her grandparents attend church listen to a sermon about Jesus refusing bread from the Devil after forty days without food in the desert. Edna thinks about her own life and in what ways she might be experiencing temptation she needs to resist. She spends some time each day practicing something she thinks of as a Tibetan monk way of life, in which she tries not to force time to pass but exists in the present.

A boy punches a man in the face after he says something crude about a girl.

Drug Content
At a hotel, two couples who’ve been drinking heavily invite Edna and her friend to play volleyball with them. No teenage drinking.

Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.