On my latest quest to the library, I was on the hunt for the book Scythe by Neal Shusterman. However, seeing no copies available, I found the first book of a trilogy by the same author, Everlost (No coinage is made upon the clicking of this link 😉 ). And I’ve got to say, I enjoyed it!
The book takes place in a world called Everlost. A place between life and death where lost souls find themselves when they fail to go beyond. Upon arriving, they find a new world filled with its own set of rules and rulers.
“IT BEGINS WITH AN ACCIDENT. Nick and Allie don’t survive the crash, and now their souls are stuck halfway between life and death in a sort of limbo called Everlost. It’s a magical yet dangerous place, where bands of lost souls run wild and anyone who stands in the same spot too long sinks to the center of the Earth. Frightened and determined, Nick and Allie aren’t ready to rest in peace just yet. They want their lives back, and their search for a way home will take them deep into the uncharted areas of Everlost. But the longer they stay, the more they forget about their pasts. And if all memory of home is lost, they may never escape this strange, terrible world.”
This book was a delightful surprise for me. I’ve never read any of Shusterman’s books and it made me want to explore more of his writings. I found the rules of Everlost to be intriguing. Lost children have to survive monsters and be careful not to stand in one place too long or they truly sink to the center of the earth. It creates some interesting chase scenes and scenarios that I haven’t seen done anywhere else.
I really enjoyed the dynamics of the characters. You’ll see once you read the book, but I liked how Shusterman portrayed their relationships. It was quirky, but fun!
I can’t really say that this is a spoiler, but you’re welcome to skip this section just in case.
Throughout the book, the chapter headings will have a short snippet from one of Miss Mary’s many books. Except, when you get further in, you start to find other book quotes. My absolute favorite was this one Everything Mary Says Is Wrong by Allie. When I read that line, I about died with laughter. It was a great character moment for Allie that Shusterman caught because it perfectly captured Allie’s personality as well as captured what a young girl would totally title her own book. It was just beautiful lol!
I give this book a 7/10. (I’m changing my rating system, because 1. rating books is hard. And 2. there are so many nuances to creating a good story. I feel like a score of 1-10 will do more justice for the reviews that I write). It is a book geared towards a younger audience since the main characters are in the range of 11-15.
Even so, I found myself really enjoying it. I liked the characters. I liked the world Everlost and the creative rules it had. It was truly unique and I definitely recommend you check it out!
Author : Neal Shusterman Published By : Simon & Shuster Books For Young Readers Year Published : June 20, 2008. Genre / Tags : Teen, Young Adult, Fiction, Fantasy Formats : Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook # of Pages : 336 pages (Paperback)
Thanks for taking the time to read my review! Have you read Everlost? What were your thoughts on it? Let me know in the comments!
Alpha Dawn, a high flying epic Sci-Fi with some “Firefly” vibes (And no, I don’t get any commissions for the links 😊).
Hello friends! I apologize for being absent the past couple of weeks. My life decided to turn into a big thunderstorm of stress and rain on my emotional stability. But all is well! I’m back in the blogging game with this debut self-published novel Alpha Dawn by Morgan R. R. Haze.
Now, I’m going to be real with you. There were some things that I loved about this book and some things that I did not love so much. So, let’s start at the best point.
Alpha Dawn: The Beginning
The beginning of Alpha Dawn hooked me right into its universe centered around Teragene. Whole worlds could be formed by this substance, space ships fueled by it, and people mutated by it. It’s some crazy stuff!
(And invited clever world building especially with the planet Wyatt).
A downside to this vast new galaxy was the need to explain the rules and systems about how it worked (a plague shared by all epics with complex universes). I often felt like the characters explaining their place in the world and the world’s mechanics often slowed down the action. But notwithstanding, I loved the galaxy in this book.
I loved the relationship between Jason and Ell. The idea of a man literally falling in love with his ship and people believing him to be off his rocker drew me in. I really enjoyed his and Ell’s history together (so much so, I wish the writers would write a prequel of how the Waylay got her crew together).
I also really enjoyed the history of the crew and how diverse they were. Yet, they worked together towards a common goal. There were a couple of things that did catch me off guard though and not in a good way. The next two paragraphs are spoilers, just a heads up. If you don’t want to be spoiled on the fun, just skip 🙂
Conflict, Conflict, Conflict
When Ell and Jason meet for the first time, I was sitting on the edge of my seat, waiting for drama to be thrown between them. They’ve never seen or touched each other. Ell was described as an awkward human being who’s never been good with people. So, if that’s the case, why was their first kiss so easy? I understand they love each other, but they’ve never even touched! If I was her, I’d have a horrible time sitting next to this attractive man and realizing that I’m married to him. I don’t think I’d be able to kiss him so easily. (Which brings up another question, has she ever kissed anyone before? A first kiss can be SUPER weird!) So, I just had a hard time with that.
Also, Jason and Peter. The conflict between them was excellent, but I felt like it was resolved too soon! They haven’t really spoken or seen each other in years and suddenly Jason is married with his own family/crew? I’d definitely be thrown for a loop and it would not be so easy for me to get over in just one tussle. It would take weeks if not months for me to think about and come to terms with my relationship with my brother, if ever. Maybe that’s just me, but I felt like that drama could have added more tension throughout the entire book.
Spoiler over 😛
I just felt like there were some great opportunities for page turning, enticing conflict, and it wasn’t explored as much as I would have liked. It sometimes felt too easy. (Another example being the convict they had to turn in who got bloodied up. What if he’d managed to escape?)
I’m just going to add one more pet peeve. I don’t want to thrash the book, because there were some genuine moments that I enjoyed! But I want my reviews to be honest, and I hope, helpful.
If I see the same word used as a descriptor or noun on one page, I get tired of that word. “It was monolithic, comprised of three obelisks, two being smaller than the one located in the middle. The obelisks were long and rectangular, ending in sharp points at either end. On each of the obelisks there were four docking ports which protruded like spikes, one on each side of each obelisk” (280). The word obelisk is repeated a couple more times on that page, but you get the idea. There was a trend in this and it sometimes made it difficult for me to read.
I could go on, but like I said, I don’t want to completely trash the book. I loved the idea of it and there were a few moments that made me chuckle and get excited for what was to come.
Overall Book Rating
Overall, I give this book 3/5 stars. I’ll let you decide on whether you’d like to read it or not, but I am hopeful to see improvements in book two and where the story leads. Alpha Dawn has a great premise and imaginative world building with some fun characters and lots of potential.
“In the far future humanity is in a paradox. The discovery of a dynamic ore has allowed humans to prevent their own extinction by saving their dying world. However, Terra Prime is ultimately consigned to oblivion in an unforeseen cataclysm. A cataclysm which has created the Void. Rather than be curious or fearful of unexplored space, most humans simply perceive the Void at the center of the known universe as the single greatest mystery of the cosmos…”
About the Authors
“Morgan R. R. Haze was born in the Mojave Desert. In such a barren landscape, it’s no wonder imagination to write this story was born. Yet, there is a twist… Morgan R.R. Haze is not one, but three siblings who use their penned name to write novels together.
While they were raised by the same parents, their life experiences have been vastly different: Love, extreme loss, being a wife, a husband, a mother, and a widower; being a manager, a government employee, a pharmaceutical technician, a caregiver, a teacher, a college student, and a humble janitor; all while experiencing or observing the kindness, the prejudice, the generosity, the egotism, the thoughtfulness, or the shallowness which humans are capable of, has brought a diverse perspective to this collective authorship.
Though their preferred genre to write in is Sci-Fi, they like to dabble in mystery and exploring the human condition, all told through the multi-perspective-first-person experience. Hearing the internal thoughts or conflicts within a character during their journey can help someone to empathize with them. Morgan R. R. Haze hopes you will enjoy getting to know the characters of the Teragene Universe as much as they did.” (Excerpt taken from back of Alpha Dawn).
Thanks for taking the time to read my blog! If you have any book recommendations please say so in the comments! Or if you’d like me to review your own book, please see my Review Policy and Review Request Pages. For more of my reviews, click here.
The Last Apprentice – Revenge of the Witch reminded me of my childhood. A time when I’d pick up a Goosebumps or Animorphs book and get lost in the chilling adventures of aliens, ghosts, monsters, and ghouls.
While prancing through the stacks at the library, (because who really just walks through a library? I mean, honestly) my eyes fell on this gem of a book. Not only did the cover art draw me in, but the caution on the back made it impossible for me to head home without it. “WARNING: NOT TO BE READ AFTER DARK–ESPECIALLY PAGE 148.”
First thought? That’s gutsy. Second thought: I need to find out what’s on page 148. (Clever, very clever.)
So, I grabbed the first and second book in the series. And I was not disappointed 😀
The Last Apprentice opens to the Spook, Mr. Gregory, investigating his new potential apprentice, Tom Ward. As the seventh son of a seventh son, Tom has a lot of potential to be the next great Spook, but he is everything except excited for his new adventures. The prospect of being the #1 most hated individual in all the land certainly doesn’t sound appealing, nor does the idea of being completely friendless.
Not only that, but the Spook seems determined to kill Tom. Taking him to Hangman’s Hill, having him sleep over in a haunted house, and dealing with real life witches? This new apprenticeship sure seems dangerous.
And when Tom makes a deal with a girl who wears pointy shoes, his new life takes a spin for the worst.
I give this book a solid 4/5 stars. The eerie scratch board art made me anticipate every chapter and Joseph Delaney has a great way of creating a sense of dread as you dig deeper into the story.
As a middle grade/young adult book, it had quite a few creepy moments. Not nightmare inducing:
But enough to catch my breath and feel my heart rate skyrocket. All in all, I enjoyed it and I’m looking forward to reading the second book 🙂
If you’re interested in a fun adventure with a twist of the macabre thrown in, I highly recommend it!
Driving Away Ghosts
For years, Old Gregory has been the Spook for the county, ridding the local villages of evil. Now, his time is coming to an end. But who will take over for him? Twenty-nine apprentices have tried – some floundered, some fled, some failed to stay alive.
Only Thomas Ward is left. He’s the last hope; the last apprentice.
Can Thomas succeed? Will he learn the difference between a benign witch and a malevolent one? Does the Spook’s warning against girls with pointy shoes include Alice? And what will happen if Thomas accidentally frees Mother Malkin, the most evil witch in the county…?
About the Author
Joseph Delaney formerly taught media and film studies at a high school in Blackpool, England. He lives with his family in Lancashire, in the middle of boggart territory. Much of what he wrote in The Spook’s Series is influenced by Lancashire folk tales and places of local interest.
And fun fact, apparently the haunted house where the Spook takes Tom Ward is where Joseph Delaney lived until he was 11 years old.
About The Artists:
I’d also like to give a special shout out to the artist Patrick Arrasmith for the amazing artwork that he did for this book. When I picked up The Last Apprentice, the cover design blew me away and made me realize I had to take it home. You should definitely check out his website, he’s got a lot of stunning and unique pieces on there.
Also, for the U.K. editions, David Wyatt definitely deserves a mention for his stunning cover art on the originals! I tried finding a picture of him, but could only locate his artwork. So here’s a picture of the original cover art.
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Delaney, Joseph. The Last Apprentice: Revenge of the Witch. Great Britain, The Bodley Head, 2004.
A delightful spin on the historical account of Mary, Queen of Scots and her fool.
As I was perusing the book stacks last early Saturday morning, I discovered a novel I’d never heard of before: Queen’s Own Fool. Excited by the cover and description, I added it to my stack of library books and hurried home to begin reading.
If you haven’t already finished this book, I highly recommend doing so, before reading this post. There will definitely be spoilers. Consider yourself warned 😉
What are my thoughts on the book? Charming. Delightful. Refreshing.
The story opens with our protagonist Nicola performing in a downpour with other members of Troupe Brufort. Unlike any sane individual, her uncle Armand insists that they stand in the cold rain and continue to act despite being the only people on the streets. Cue the inciting incident of a carriage pulling up. A man named Jacques steps out and speaks with Nicola’s uncle. To everyone’s shock, he invites them to perform before the king.
The Intelligent Jardinière
Several things become apparent at once about our heroine in this opening scene. She’s quick witted, willful, stubborn, honest, and comedic. Her sharp tongue gives her a barrage of beatings from her uncle, who orders her, whenever possible, to keep her mouth shut. But it is also her quick wit that saves their troupe from embarrassment as she is the only one able to get a real laugh from the noble audience. A fact that maddens her uncle to no end. And it is also her quick wit that entices Queen Mary to employ Nicola in her services.
I got to say, literary fools and jesters have a special place in my heart. I love the character who can step outside the games and call people out for their stupidity, pride, or ignorance. Their difficult task requires them to have courage and be bold in the face of lies and deceit. It’s their job to hold nothing back and I love how their comments make me think.
Nicola, the queen’s Jardinière, is no different. A few of her bold comebacks to the noble lords and ladies had me laughing out loud. (Seriously, my roommates probably thought I was crazy).
“‘Pardon me, my lord,’ I apologized. ‘Everything you say is very serious, so I am certain you always have a care before you say anything at all. But as I am just a poor fool, nothing I say matters in the least, so I might as well just say the very first thing that comes into my head'” (67). There were so many moments I was delightfully appalled by her tongue in cheek quips. Her words had the ability to cut through the masks of those around her and truly see into their souls.
For example, upon having her first real conversation with Queen Mary, her majesty offers the young girl a common, well known riddle about someone that walks on four legs, then two, then three. The normal answer is man, but Nicola offers a splendid rebuttal, “You are a dog who dances badly before a king” (36). Nicola’s bold response and explanation baffles and humors Queen Mary proving the woman to be honest and open minded.
A poor example comes from Queen Mary’s second husband, Lord Darnley. Upon meeting the man, her witty responses disarms and infuriates him. When he’s near to lashing out, she smooths things over, turning him into a man sweet as honey. The distinct opposite responses sets off alarm bells in Nicola’s mind, especially when the noble then proceeds to flirt with her. This first poor encounter, foreshadows many ills to come.
Queen’s Own Fool: Final Thoughts
Unlike many of the YA novels I’ve read, this book does NOT revolve around a central female character debating between the two men she should spend her forever with. Hallelujah.
Instead, Queen’s Own Fool delves into deep topics of corruption, war, abuse, power, loyalty, and so many more interesting subjects. Though the ending follows along events in history(at least where Queen Mary is concerned with her beheading) I never found myself becoming depressed or overly saddened by the circumstances.
I think this had to do with the strong attitude of Nicola. The girl struggled and went through a lot, but never so deep that she fell into a catatonic state (looking at you Katniss). I smiled and laughed more while reading this book than I have in a while. The queen’s end is disappointing, but accurate. You can’t change the past, no matter how much you might want to. But bonus: I actually did a little bit of historical research on the subject since the characters intrigued me so much!
If you get the chance to pick up this book, I highly recommend it. And if you have read it, what were some of your thoughts? Let me know in the comments!
With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt.
I feel like I should start singing “It’s the start of something new” from High School Musical to kick off the beginning of my brand new blog! Hello world! Thank you for checking in on my first post 😊
A little background on me: I am a reader. Lol simple as that. Stories have been a major part of my life for longer than I can remember and as soon as I learned how to read, I devoured books like there was no tomorrow. My mom soon discovered my need for a library card when I’d finish a brand new novel in a day 😅
My love for reading as only continued to grow alongside my library as I’ve discovered fantastical worlds and creatures I’d never experience in real life. Which brings me to this blog! Since reading and writing are two of my biggest passions, I thought I’d go ahead and create a book review blog.
I’m always looking for a great story to read, and I love recommending books for my friends. My goal is to join or even create a community of book lovers who enjoy getting together and talking about stories that make them laugh, cry, and learn.
Stay tuned for more updates and sign up below to stay posted on what’s in store! Also, if you have any book recommendations, please send me a message! Thanks!