Monday, April 9, 2018

Author Spotlight: Beyond a Darkened Shore by Jessica Leake + Interview

Posted by HelloJennyReviews at 9:00 AM


Once upon a time, Jessica Leake was a psychotherapist, but even though she loved her clients, she couldn't stop writing. She wrote and wrote until she got her first book published, and then she wrote some more. In between all that writing she had four beautiful and hilarious children with her husband (best friend and man she's known since high school; also hilarious), moved back to her adopted hometown of Greenville, SC, built a chicken coop, and got a bunch of chickens that poop breakfast every morning. She also has two dogs to keep the chickens in line. (The dogs made her write that last bit.)

Title: Beyond a Darkened Shore
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Author: Jessica Leake
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication: April 10th 2017
Cover Rating: 5/5
Reading format: Provided Hardback

Beyond a Darkened Shore by Jessica Leake is the story of Ciara and Leif. They must save their world from demise while forming an alliance together. But this alliance won't be so easy considering Leif's people have been attacking Ciara's for years. But they make it work because one wants revenge while the other wants to protect their family. Also... VIKINGS!!!!

Ciara is the princess, and heir to the throne, of Mide. She has a unique ability that makes her extremely deadly in combat. Her father pretty much allows her to run things while he is away because of this power. But Ciara is feared by all of her clansmen because of her power even though she only uses it to keep them all safe. When Ciara starts getting visions about her people being wiped out by a murderous race of giants, she has to make a decision, stay and be obedient to her father, or leave and team up with her enemy in order to defeat this threat.

Lief is a Northman. He is meant to be this big brute that kills everything in his path but he had to pay a price in order to get his inhuman strength. Leif's group attack Ciara's home and he ends up captured and held as Ciara's prisoner. She just wants to question him about what happened to her father's group but things end up a lot more... complicated and Leif and Ciara end up fleeing her home to go after these giants.

Once they leave on their journey, so many things go wrong and they run into some interesting creatures and roadblocks along the way. This book is FILLED with mythology and I absolutely loved it. There is also a little bit of romance that I waited so long for. Someone please tell me it's okay to swoon over the big, scary brute that can kill people with his bare hands.

This story is extremely fast paced and very well written. The author organized everything and paced everything so beautifully. There is romance, that is expected and VERY welcome(I WAITED FOREVER!!) and the main character is this really amazing female lead. I would say this book has all the qualities most people look for when they are searching for a great YA Fantasy read. The author did an amazing job crafting this world and her characters.

In the end, this book surprised me so much with how amazing it was. I actually had FUN reading this story and I enjoyed the characters immensely. The ending was pretty clean cut but I am so hoping there will be more in this world. At the moment, this is just a stand-alone but the world this author build is so fantastic and inclusive that I just want to stay here forever.

Overall, I gave the book 5/5 stars.




1) Where did the inspiration for Beyond a Darkened Shore come from? 
I’ve always loved anything to do with Ireland, and I knew I wanted to do something with Celtic mythology, so as I was researching periods of time in Irish history, I learned that there was a time when Vikings were playing a large part in Irish history. They were not only raiding the coasts of Ireland but had even taken over one of their major ports (Dublin). In some cases, they were intermarrying with the Celts, in a fascinating blend of cultures. I was like: Celtic mythology AND Norse mythology/Vikings?? Sign me up!

2) Do you think the Young Adult genre is important for young readers?
Absolutely. As someone who grew up without a lot of young adult book options, and so was reading full-on romance novels + Dean Koontz in middle school, I think YA books are so, so important. Why? Because then you can read about things you’re actually dealing with. Even in the fantasy genre, you might not be actively dealing with fighting off Vikings from raiding your castle, but you might be dealing with not knowing how you fit in or who you want to be, or even with parents who don’t seem to understand you. I like that YA is a safe and fun way to explore those things. 

3) Are you a coffee or a tea person?
Both! Coffee in the morning and tea in the afternoon ☺. 

4) Who are some of your favorite Young Adult authors?
In no particular order (just taken from looking at my Goodreads books, lol): Leigh Bardugo, Sabaa Tahir, Robin McKinley, Roshani Chokshi, Holly Black, Sarah J. Maas, and Mary Pearson. 

5) Are you currently working on any new books?
Yes! Next up is THROUGH THE WHITE WOOD, which will be released in Winter 2019 from HarperTeen, and it’s set in 11th century Russia. It’s like FROSTBLOOD meets THE BEAR AND THE NIGHTINGALE because it has elemental powers, Russian folklore, and a fairy-tale feel. 

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