Sorry for the super late announcement but Helen from Crispy Confession won the book giveaway. Hopefully they get their gift before New Years, but who knows, just wanted to give a shout out.
Unlocked Book 8.5
Unlocked definitely isn’t like any other Keeper of the Lost Cities book. First and foremost the illustrations are gorgeous, I have to acknowledge the issue with illustrator Laura Hollingsworth and her issue with not drawing LGBTQ content. As someone who is a writer myself I believe she has the right to draw or not draw what she believes in. I don’t agree with it. However as a creator on the LGBT spectrum I can understand where she’s coming from.
Besides the illustrations we have a lovely map, which apparently took lots of emails to get right, the main characters registry files, Keefe’s is extra delightful. We have a compendium of the different powers that elves can have, information about the different races and their rules and homelands. We also have Keeper recipes which I can’t wait to try.
Then we have the novella, we get to see inside Keefe’s head for the first time and it’s very interesting. He’s going through a lot so seeing through his eyes at this time is particularly unique. Sophie’s responses to what is going on are new as well. We get to see a different side to the Moonlark. As for what these new sides to Keefe and Sophie will mean in book 9 Shannon left us with another cliffhanger. No one in the Keeper fandom is surprised by now.
Shannon did a great job giving fans both a compendium to reference and a novella that will lead into book 9. Not sure how many authors could have pulled this off but she did a great job mixing the two, 5 stars.
Be sure to enter the contest it this week!
Shannon and James Riley (author of books like Story Thieves, Half Upon a Time and new Revenge of Magic series.) Meet to discuss all things Keeper, some qustions were from Barnes and Noble some were from the fans. She talked about the need for part of a book inside of Keefe head due to the changes he was going through in the novella. She also talked about the fact she had gotten so many questions over the years about different powers and information it was nice to put it all in one place.
She discussed the map at length talking about how tough it was having a map draw that wasn’t from a sea-based perspective. She noted that she and her editor had piles of emails on the map and that it was probably her favorite thing.
As for Keefe she noted his scenes were hard to write because he didn’t like to focus on the tough emotions he needed to focus on and that even inside his own head he’d make jokes to distract himself from harder truths and that that was something she wasn’t used to working with.
Shannon also talked about the fact that Fitz was loosely based on Mr. Darcy, in the fact that he was so caught up in his privilege he couldn’t see what other were going through.
She also noted she’d wanted a plan where Jolie came back but it made Jolie look like such a villain after all Grady and Edaline had mourned for her that she scraped it, she also had thought of giving Grady and Edaline another child but wanted to keep the focus on Sophie in the end.
When asked how long the series would go she talked about how lucky she was that her publisher was working with her to see how long the story naturally went, so she didn’t have an answer to that.
Overall it was a cute and fun interview, I learned some new Keeper facts that I didn’t know, also Iggy was originally going to wear little outfits instead of change colors but Shannon scrapped that because she though Iggy would tear up the outfits.
Be sure to enter my Keeper giveaway it goes till the tenth! Instructions are on the original post here.
So through my own faulty book ordering I got two copies of Keeper of the Lost Cities Book 8.5: Unlocked. So I’m doing a giveaway.
You need to be 18+, if your younger someone enter for you.
US only, sorry all my international friends, I just can’t pay shipping.
Follow my blog for an entry, if you are already following have friend/followers follow the blog and mention your name, they get an entry plus you get an entry.
Want extra entries follow me on Twitter and Instagram.
The contest will be up till December tenth when I decide a winner through a random generator.
The Keeper of the Lost Cities: Legacy
So I’ve been meaning to put this review up but with Unlocked coming out in less than a month (don’t ask me how many copies I’m buying) I figured I’d better put this up so I’d have room to review Unlocked which I’m going to stay up and finish in like a day.
This is the eighth book in The Keeper of the Lost Cities series. It clocks in at 789 pages so I’m not sure it’s the longest in the series but it’s one of the longest.
The series focuses on Sophie Foster and her friends. This book specifically has Sophie and her friends reeling after one of their group is taken by the enemy, The Neverseen. In the book Sophie and her friends are finally seen as equals by the Elvin council after years of strife but what does all that responsibility mean, and will Sophie and her friends be able to stop the enemy’s plans and save their friend in the process.
Sophie wants to know who her biological parents are, but the Black Swan, who created her won’t tell her and it’s essential to the match, where elves are given lists of who they can marry, so its essential information if she wants to be with Fitz. But Mr. Forkle doesn’t seem to think so. He sees staying single for centuries as a solution which is why Sophie starts to investigate the issue on her own, with Keefe’s help.
Just when she’s about to start working on it, the Council offers her a unique position in the nobility, she will be a Regent and a leader of a team of her friends, and Stina Heks, her frienemy. They will be responsible for helping the council with some of the same concerns that The Black Swan has about the dwarves and their missing friend Tam’s ability as a Shade being used against them.
But Sophie isn’t the only one with blank spots in her past, Keefe’s mother, Lady Gisela the leader of the Neverseen, erased some of his memories and wants him to face up to something called his ‘legacy’. When their friend Tam warns he’s been ordered to kill Keefe, Sophie must do everything she can to keep Keefe out of the line of fire. But Keefe may be a part of something much bigger than Sophie can even imagine so keeping him out of the line of fire may be impossible.
Sophie is also trying to put together a plan to face the dwarves and figure out how to be the leader of her new team called Team Valiant. All while Keefe is throwing mind-bending ideas about who her biological parents might be and she is trying to be Fitz’s girlfriend.
Keeping everything in balance seems impossible especially when Mr. Forkle throws her new information about the fact that one of her abilities may be malfunctioning and she may have to risk her life to get it to reset, again.
But none of them can stop the showdown that is coming with the enemy, and Keefe’s legacy is coming for him whether he likes it or not, will Sophie be able to keep Keefe, herself, and her friends safe, or will everything fall apart?
This book may be long but it’s also one of my favorites and I can’t wait till book 8.5 Unlocked comes out in November! Less than a month from now but still way too long!
I realize I’m a few days late on this one, I have no excuse. However, I’m going to blame the time change here in the US. I’ve had a headache since Sunday, it’s been annoying.
I’m going to write about my four favorite authors, and while I do feature some white writers I feature some writers of color as well.
Of course, few writers of color are never enough and I’m going to be doing a series featuring more women of color authors and minority authors, over the next month or so.
If you haven’t noticed by the fifteen thousand reviews I’ve done of her books. Shannon Messenger is one of my favorite writers. Definitely my favorite middle-grade writer. She’s the author of the Keeper of the Lost Cities series, which is on its eighth book with more to come in the next two years. She is by far the author I’ve re-read the most.
Saadia Faruqi is a Pakistani American author, essayist and interfaith activist. Her book Meet Yasmin!, the first book in an early reader series about a Pakistani-American girl. Meet Yasmin! is also my favorite picture book series because Yasmin is so genuine. I’ve only read the first book because that’s all my library has, but it was enough to make the series and the author a favorite.
Gail Carson Levine
Gail Carson Levine is one of the big names in children’s literature. She’s inspired generations of writers with her feminist classics like Ella Enchanted and Fairest. She’s also still writing today with her upcoming book A Ceiling Made of Eggshells. One of my favorite classic writers. I love her stories, my favorite probably being Fairest or Ella Enchanted.
Hena Khan is a Pakistani American writer. She is the author of the middle-grade novels Amina’s Voice and More to the Story and picture books Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns, Under My Hijab, and It’s Ramadan, Curious George. I love her middle-grade books and love how she brings her culture into her books.
I’m going to be featuring more Women of Color and Minority authors because even though there are some on this list one can never talk about underrepresented authors enough.
In my continued backlog reviews, I’m focusing on the next book in Shannon Messenger’s The Keeper of The Lost Cities series. The fourth book Neverseen is also one of my favorites.
TW: Mention of torture, and murder.
Spoilers for Neverseen
After the events of the last book, Sophie and her friends are on the run from the Elvin Council and hide with the mysterious organization that helped create Sophie, The Black Swan.
Sophie and her friends don’t exactly trust The Black Swan, after all, the organization has refused to reveal who they are, and put Sophie and her friends in danger multiple times. Sophie also isn’t looking forward to working closely with her creators.
The group ends up spending some time in Florence, a human city, also known as a Forbidden City to the elves, trying to solve The Black Swan‘s clue about their hideout. On the way, they find out someone may have been following them in their journey.
But even when The Black Swan reveals their identities, things are still a mystery. However, they offer to share a memory Sophie has been trying to trigger since the second book and the two enter into a rocky alliance. Sophie does meet someone new that she trusts while staying with the Black Swan, a gnome named Calla. Sophie learns that Calla was a part of Project Moonlark, the project that helped create Sophie and Sophie finds herself becoming friends with the kind gnome.
However, the rest of The Black Swan wants the group to focus on lessons and strengthing their skills. Why? They are going to rescue Prentice from Exile, the Elvin prison where he was sent after his mind was broken. Now that Sophie can heal minds healing Prentice might just hold the answers they need to find the rebels. But Prentice isn’t the only thing the group has to worry about.
When a mysterious plague starts effecting the gnomes, residents of the Lost Cities and helpers to the elves in exchange for protection. Sophie worries that something bigger might be afoot with the orges and that it might have something to do with her reading the orge king’s mind in the last book.
But when the raid on Exile doesn’t go as plan Sophie must make a bargain that puts her and her friends in danger at the elves school for hopeless cases, Exillium. While attending she meets two mysterious elves who may hold clues about the plague, if only Sophie can get them to trust her enough to reveal them.
As the plague worsens Sophie must find the answers to save her new friend and the gnomes that live in the Lost Cities but are she and her group ready for a betrayal that hits close to home for more than one of Sophie’s friends.
This is one of my favorite books of the series because of a lot of characters I really like getting introduced, including The Black Swan’s collective. The group also gets closer and certain issues between different characters are resolved from previous books. I’d say however it is one of the sadder books of the series though I won’t say why.
Five Favorite Things:
- Calla, she’s just a great character and the bond she and Sophie share is really sweet.
- We get to see more of the group interacting with each other.
- We get to see more of one of the parents of the group.
- Two new, favorite characters are introduced.
- Sophie learns more about her past.
Overall I really enjoyed the book, it has got some mentions of physical violence, but nothing too over the top so I think it would be fine for a mature middle schooler.
Another review focusing on my favorite series, as I try to get through my super-long backlog of reviews. Everblaze is actually one of my favorite books in the series, I think it helps the characters shift and grow in ways they need to for later in the series.
Spoilers for Everblaze below:
Picking up where The Keeper of the Lost Cities: Exile left off, The Keeper of the Lost Cities: Everblaze finds Sophie Foster is facing problems both at home and with her friends. Now that she can do mind healings, healings that bring a person back from a coma-like state which destroys their mind and memories called a break.
This ability is coming under fire from the Council, who are concerned about who it should and should not be used on, especially when it comes to the person who helped protect Sophie’s existence, Prentice.
Not only that but the rebels may be closing in, when Sophie finds a tracker on her alicorn friend Silveny, it’s clear that the rebels can get anywhere they want and that they are after Silveny. They also keep finding a way to track Sophie, and when she find out that their enemies, the orges may be involved the stakes become higher.
With The Black Swan ignoring her calls for help, Sophie and her friends are on their own to solve the mystery of how the rebels keep finding them. The answers may be more heartbreaking than any of them can handle.
But this isn’t Sophie’s only problem, while the Council won’t approve the mind healing for Prentice, they approve it for Fintan, the elf who helped start the Everblaze fires in the first Keeper of the Lost Cities. Since he kept his memories from Sophie and Alden during his memory break, the Council thinks Sophie will have another shot at secrets that will lead them to the rebels.
But when an accident occurs, one that shakes up the Elvin world and places the blame of Sophie, it leaves her willing to take risks that land her in a world of trouble and nearly start a war.
With the Elvin world trying to recover from the shock of the accident, they must also find a proper punishment for Sophie for nearly starting a war. The Black Swan finally starts communicating, but the answers they provide are going to change everything.
When Sophie’s punishment is an awful ability restricting circlet which her friend Dex made by accident, Sophie must sit on the sidelines as her friends take the risks for The Black Swan.
But Sophie finds a project while she’s limited by the circlet, trying to find Grady and Edaline’s daughter Jolie’s connection to The Black Swan, something that Prentice showed her when she tried to read his mind in The Keeper of the Lost Cities: Exile. She may discover that the rebels are closer than she ever imagined. And the secret she discovers will shake up not only her family but the world.
Sophie and her friends have made themselves public enemy number one, and the Council will soon be after them. Sophie’s friend Keefe must face a life-changing secret, and everything the group of friends knows about the world will change. But first, they have to survive a showdown with the rebels, who they now know as the Neverseen, and it’s not clear whether or not if everyone will make it out alive.
This is one of my favorite books in the series, mostly because Sophie and her friends get closer. After The Black Swan shuts them out they have to rely on each other, Sophie also gets closer with her guardians, Grady and Edaline. In this book you can start seeing the beginning of the great friendships and family connections you’ll see later in the series.
5 Favorite Things
- The way Sophie’s friends help her out and they start to form a cohesive group.
- Biana more of a part of this book as she and Sophie get over some of the drama that happened in the previous two book.
- Keefe appears more in this book.
- The larger Elvin world is introduced more.
- More of Grady and Edaline.
Overall this book is a solid 4.5 and was one of my favorite books from last year.
I’ll start out by saying that while I love Shannon Messenger’s work this is my least favorite book in the series for a number of reasons.
Sophie is finally settling into her life in the Lost Cities. She’s been adopted by Grady and Edaline Ruewen, guardians she was placed with in the first book. But her kidnappers are still free, leaving her with goblin bodyguard Sandor shadowing her every move.
She’s also experiencing certain problems she doesn’t know how to explain, such as the light being painful to look at and Fitz Vacker, her telepathic friend and the boy who rescued her in the first book, being able to transmit into her supposedly impenetrable mind. But she’s trying to put that out of her mind and focusing on having a normal life.
When she’s out on an adventure with Grady looking for a mythical creature she finds something that the Elvin world has been looking for, for millennia, an alicorn. Sophie finds out that the elves believe if any creature goes extinct the world will lose something precious and for millennia they’ve only had one male alicorn, Greyfell.
Sophie finds out that the alicorn’s name is Silveny, and realizes she can communicate with her since her unusual telepathy allows her to talk with speak with animals. Because of this unique connection.
Sophie is tasked with preparing this new alicorn for the Sanctuary, a place where the elves keep all the animals they are trying to protect. But there are people who don’t think Sophie is qualified, including certain members of the elves rulers, the Council, so Sophie has extra pressure to succeed in taming wary Silveny.
But Silveny isn’t the only complication in Sophie’s life, the mysterious group, The Black Swan, is back in contact with her. They send her a charm and message that she takes to her mentor Alden Vacker, the note leads Alden to a drastic decision involving Sophie. Sophie isn’t sure she can handle the responsibility, but Alden assures her with his signature phrase “No reason to worry”.
However something goes wrong and Alden’s mind breaks, basically the Elvin equivalent of an irreversible coma that destroys the person’s memories and sanity. Breaks usually happen from guilt and Sophie can’t help but think that communicating with Prentice, while she was helping Alden during their risky task, may have pushed Alden over the edge.
Prentice, was the Keeper who kept Sophie’s existence a secret and who now has a broken mind due to a memory break a method of getting someone’s secrets that also destroys their sanity and that since Alden now realized Prentice is innocent, it put him over the edge guilt wise.
Sophie must deal with the repercussions of being involved in the break, especially when her friends, Alden’s children, Fitz and Biana are unwilling to speak to her because they blame her for what happened.
Fitz even goes so far as to claim some of the symptoms Sophie has been suffering from, might mean she’s malfunctioning, and that she was the reason his father broke because she couldn’t help him properly.
Sophie tries to put this idea out of her mind, but when other events seem to confirm the idea. Sophie is heartbroken, however, when she learns there may be a way to bring Alden back from the break, she tries to find out what is wrong with her and how the secrets of her past may be able to help Alden.
Keefe Sencen, Fitz’s best friend and one of Sophie’s friends get in on her plans to help Alden and the two realize they must trust The Black Swan with Sophie’s life and Alden’s when The Black Swan promise they can fix the symptoms Sophie has been experiencing and give her a way to help Alden.
It wasn’t that the writing was bad in this book. Everything Shannon Messenger writes is excellent. However, the amount of Sophie bashing that goes on just makes this book very annoying for me. It’s understandable plot-wise, but it’s still annoying. She is pretty much against herself, and nearly everyone else is too. I think that’s one of the reasons two of my favorite things in the book are Keefe, because he’s so helpful to Sophie, and Silveny because she’s just a super positive sparkly horse.
Top 5 Favorite Things:
- Keefe, he adds much-needed humor to the book
- Grady and Edaline, they have to make a decision to put Sophie ahead of their own fears and it makes them really awesome.
- Silveny because she’s a positive sparkly horse.
- Prentice, because it’s his first appearance and the way his mind is portrayed is interesting.
- The Black Swan themselves because we learn more about them.
So I’m writing this on Saturday and it’s already been a pretty productive week. I wrote about 5 posts for this week. I’ve also written about 5 posts for the next couple of weeks, so I’m super ahead which give me more time to socialize with the bookstagram community, write extra posts, etc. So that makes me happy.
I’m happier overall this month so far. I think in part because I changed my medicine and quit my job. I’m working on a case for disability so just focusing on that, and not having to worry about work have been super helpful to my mental health.
I finished two books this week both by Stephaine Burgis: The Girl with the Dragon Heart and The Dragon with the Chocolate Heart.
The Girl with the Dragon Heart
The Dragon with the Chocolate Heart
My reviews for The Dragon with the Chocolate Heart and The Girl with the Dragon Heart will be up in the next week or two. I’m also about to start the third book in the series, which aren’t direct sequels of each other but are loosely connected.
The third book is called
The Princess who Flew with Dragons
I’m also working on a few graphic novels including one that is amazing and includes both POC and trans representation. I can’t wait to finish it and review it.
I also have gotten two backlog reviews done. Both for Shannon Messenger’s The Keeper of the Lost Cities series. These should be up in the next two weeks and I’m very happy to be reviewing them and trying to be impartial because it’s my favorite series. Not sure I’m completely succeeding though. 😛
I’ve nearly gotten to the end of Pokemon Sheild, I beat the Dark Gym, I beat the dragon gym, and I beat both of the semi-final challengers. So now all I think I have to do is beat the champion. I’m really enjoying this game, and I am looking forward to going back and catching and evolving more Pokemon even after I finish the main story.
My psychical health hasn’t been great because changing meds is a pain. Plus my chronic migraines are being extra chronic this week. So I have been tired or in pain lots of days this week. But I seem to be feeling a bit better overall, so hopefully next week will be better.
I’m feeling much better mentally overall than I did in January. I’m also feeling more productive, which isn’t an indicator of value but it makes me feel better about being able to do some things without my mental health shutting me down.
I’ve been kinder to myself this week, and have not let things that would otherwise be a big deal feel like and become disasters. I’m doing better learning to treat mistakes as simply learning experiences and not the end of the world.
I hope your mental health is doing well too!
I did my first tarot reading for someone else this week. I’d love to start doing that more, I’m starting for free because I’m learning, so reach out to me if you want a reading.
I’m also happy about getting back into the habit of doing an old hobby of mine, baking. I’m trying to make today or at the beginning of next week.