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.
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.
This week has again been slowed down by everyone’s friend pain. But I’m still doing pretty well despite that. I’m working on about three books at the moment which I hope to finish before the end of the week.
1) Unlocked Book 8.5
2)The Dragon Warrior
3) This is Not a Ghost Story
I’m continuing to write up the summaries of the panels I went to, more for me if nothing else. I mean, you guys have the videos but I hope you’re enjoying them at little.
Due to Unlocked coming out, Shannon Messenger is doing virtual tour times for everyone who bought special editions from different places. I bought the special Barnes and Noble Edition so I get to hang out with her and other fans this afternoon.
Overall this past week or so has been pretty exciting, now I just have to get all my posts together. Tell me what kind of content you are looking to see, reviews, challenges, anything else?
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!
After her banishment in the last book, Sophie and her friends are finally free to return to the Lost Cities, but everything isn’t perfect, because not all of them have come back. Keefe left his friends to join the Neverseen, claiming he was the only one who could fix the problems his mom had caused.
Now Sophie and her friends are reeling from betrayal, but when it turns out they may not have lost Keefe after all and may have a voice on the inside. It seems like it could change everything, that is if they can trust him?
But Keefe isn’t her only worry, Sophie and The Black Swan’s Collective have discovered a symbol in Prentice’s memories that may help find the Neverseen, but it will take all the efforts of Sophie and her friends working together to figure out what it means and how it works.
But the Black Swan isn’t the only one with a plan, and when Keefe warns that her family may be threatened Sophie springs into action, but even with the help of her friends it may not be enough. Will Sophie be able to save everything she cares about or will it all come crashing down around her?
Definitely one of my favorites of the series, it kept me guessing up till the end. It also featured a lot of new places and gave page time to characters who I thought deserved attention but didn’t get it. I’ve probably read it at least 6 or 7 times and some of the stuff in here dovetails really nicely with some of the stuff later in the series. Messenger definitely has her plotting down.
For some reason, psychic type reminds me of superheroes and supervillains While they might not always have psychic powers they have powers that set them apart. This power often makes them mentally more powerful than the average person in their world.
Keeper of the Lost Cities
You shouldn’t be surprised to see this here knowing I’m a huge fan of Shannon Messenger’s writing. Sophie Foster thinks she’s just an average human girl but she’s in for a surprise when she meets Fitz, a mysterious boy who tells her she’s an elf.
She wants to laugh in his face but she’s also got secrets, she may be about to start a new life as an elf, but it may be even tougher than being a human, with strange abilities, unusual projects, new guardians, and memories that may not even be her own.
Sophie just wants to settle into a quiet life but is she part of something bigger?
The Pokemon that reminds me of this book is: Azelf
One reason it reminds me of this book is because it has elf in the name, two is because its abilities something Sophie figures out she can do, and three, because it’s the Willpower Pokemon and Sophie, has a lot of willpower to get through her new life and adventures.
A story of good and evil, though telling which is tougher than it seems. The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies―humans with extraordinary abilities―who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society. They established peace and gave hope to everyone.
Except for the villains they overthrew who are also superpowered and have a reason to have a beef with The Renegades. Take Nova, for example, she’s part of a villain group that opposes the Renegades. Nova and the Renegades have a personal history, they hurt her family, now she’s out for vengeance.
But as Nova meets and interacts with Renegade boy, Adrian, who believes in justice and in Nova herself. But should Nova listen to her heart or her past? And will her history with the supervillains even give her the chance to be on the good side?
The Pokemon that reminds me of this book is: Gallade
This Pokemon has extraordinary psychic abilities and is able to fight just like the superheroes and supervillains.
This book is kind of timely considering we are going through an epidemic at the moment. When a deadly virus swept across the planet, the vaccine created to stop the epidemic worked. Except it came with unexpected side effects for a small percentage of people. They developed superhero-like powers Americans suffering from these so-called adverse effects were given an ultimatum: Serve the country or be declared a traitor.
But there was always a third option: a life of crime.
That’s how Seventeen-year-old Ciere Giba is living, her ability to change her appearance at will makes it easy. After dealing with some mobsters Ciere must team up with a group of fellow super-powered criminals. They have to do the impossible and find the formula that gave them their abilities. It was supposed to have been destroyed years ago.
Or so they were told.
Throw in government agents and the lines between good and bad, us and them, and freedom and entrapment start to blur. As the race for the answers about the virus continues the answers could cost them all their lives.
The Pokemon this book reminds me of is: Abra
It reminds me of this book because of its ability to disappear at will reminds me of Ciere’s ability to change her appearance.
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 Enchantedand 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 Fairestor 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 Domesand 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.
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.
How do I start writing about Keeper of the Lost Cities? It has become my favorite series this year and has helped with my depression over the beginning of the spring. So I can’t promise these reviews won’t be biased a bit. But I’ll try to give the most unbiased account I can of the books. The author Shannon Messenger is also doing a read-along of each book over on Instagram.
The first book of the Keeper of the Lost Cities series opens with a girl named Sophie. She’s a twelve-year-old high school senior who doesn’t fit in with her class or her family. She meets a boy who turns everything upside down one day when she’s on a school field trip to a natural history museum.
The boy Fitz, reveals that Sophie is actually an elf. Sophie is, of course, skeptical, especially when Fitz offers to prove it to her by taking her to a place he calls the Lost Cities. Sophie thinks he’s bad news and runs off only to end up using powers she didn’t know she had in the process. With a renewed trust in Fitz, she visits the Lost Cities and finds them to be more incredible than she’s ever imagined.
Soon she accepts the truth of her being an elf. She has to deal with the loss of her human family, who can’t know about her new life. The question of where she’ll stay, and mysterious questions about her past.
Sophie, it turns out is unique even for elves. These elves are more along the line of Tolkien-esque elves, beautiful, and mysterious, only they have unique abilities such as telepathy, empath, and prokinetics. Sophie’s ability turns out to be telepathy, with the addition of the fact she has an unreadable mind, so even other telepaths can’t hear what she’s thinking.
This leads to the elves’ ruling body, the Council’s distrust of her. So they set Sophie up with a trial period at their elite academy called Foxfire. There Sophie struggles to make friends and unlearn everything she thought she knew about the world.
Meanwhile, her assigned guardians Grady and Edaline Ruewen, are a reclusive couple. They haven’t been the same since they lost their daughter Jolie, sixteen years previously, and death is uncommon in the Elvin world so they don’t find many people who understand. Sophie was paired with them due to the loss of her human family and the fact the council thought they’d have a shared bond over the loss.
But Sophie is struggling to connect here too, with the Ruewen’s stuck in the past over Jolie and not sure they want to connect with Sophie.
Yet, as she stays in the Elvin world longer she begins to find friends. Fitz who rescued her begins to hang out with her, and she finds a best friend in Edaline’s sister’s son, Dex. Soon her friend group grows larger to include Fitz’s sister as well as his friend Keefe. And Grady and Edaline finally seem to be getting to the point where they want to accept her, and Sophie finds herself beginning to bond with them as well.
But even though things are going better for her things keep drawing her back to her mysterious past. A group called The Black Swan, and something called Project Moonlark, seem to come up in every investigation Sophie tries to do about herself.
Sophie even begins to receive notes from The Black Swan, telling her to take action about events going on in the human world.
As Sophie comes closer to the truth about her past someone else is trying to stop her from discovering it and is willing to go to any lengths to do so.
Sophie is written realistically. She’s twelve at the start of the book and acts the way a twelve-year-old might act in situations she’s put in.
The cast of characters. I love the ensemble feel from this book and especially in the later books
The lack of diversity. It improves slightly in later books, but the whole cast in the earlier books are white save for a few side characters.
I’d recommend this book to any reluctant readers or fantasy fans. It’s a great set of epic adventure and the author is great with pacing and the larger plot.
Overall this is one of my favorite series so far this year due to the plot and my love of the ensemble cast.