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Literally the only ideas I thought were even a little bit creative were the candy that changed taste according to your mood and the banshee that doesn't look like a banshee Aside from that, it felt like the author was filling in a paint-by-numbers on how to write a popular fantasy series without actually caring about common sense or creativity. View all 10 comments. This is why I love Middle Grade reads! Shannon Messenger's debut is fantastic! There's plenty of adventure, some snark, a lot of fun, and a mystery to be solved. Did I mention there might be a little bit of danger?

I love a middle grade book that gives me a richly detailed story, world and characters to fall in love with. This book exceeded all that, and then some. I didn't feel like I was reading a middle grade book. I felt l This is why I love Middle Grade reads! I felt like I was introduced to an incredible world were I met some unforgettable characters and went on a totally awesome journey with them. Oooh and there's also this really, really cool thing that Sophie can do, but I can't tell you what it is. Okay, it's not just Sophie, but some of the characters of these really amazing powers that tie into the secrets that get revealed in this book.

You can't go on a fun adventure and not have fun characters right? The characters are so much fun to get to know, and really made this book amazing for me. Sophie, our main protagonist is a young character I think readers are really going to love. She's someone who's incredibly bright, she has this amazing ability, and she's also someone who along the way in discovering more about herself and a new world she never knew existed, makes a mistake or two.

Her discovery and her growing into the person she is by the end of the book was only half of what I loved about Shannon's debut. The other half might have to do with the guys that become apart of Sophie's life, Keefe, Fitz, and Dez. Let's just say the story livens up a bit when they're around and I might have pledged myself to Team Keefe! When I think of middle grade books I think back to those stories that excited me and took me to places that existed along side my the world I lived in.

They allowed me to take incredibly journeys, expanded my imagination, moved me in some way, made reading fun, and enjoyable, and introduced me to some characters and worlds that are still with me today. It's going to be on of those books that just excites many of it's young readers and reminds it's older readers why we fell in love with reading in the first place.

Not that anyone can replace Harry Potter, but I think parents who are looking for another book series they can read and connect with their kids on some sort of level with will find they can do that with Shannon's KEEPER of the Lost Cities. I LOVE this book! It's one of my all time favorite MG books, and will be at the top of list of favorite reads at the end of this year. View 2 comments. Aug 29, BrooKe rated it really liked it Shelves: ebooks. And you have it. But, for real, it reminded me so much of TSfGaE; it was everything good about that series and more.

It's also worth mentioning how drop dead gorgeous every single cover in this series is. It's actually shocking. P L O T I was afraid at the beginning because the pacing was shit 3. P L O T I was afraid at the beginning because the pacing was shit. It was absolutely rubbish.

This quote pretty much sums it up: "You look confused," he observed. We plunged headfirst into a high fantasy magic land. Sophie was a human and we got basically nothing about the first eleven years of her existence, her human life. Barely anything was pre-established, it was so much in such a short span of time and everything was so in your face. It was very info-dumpy, too. I didn't like the beginning at all.

The only thing I cared for was the The Lightning Thief nostalgia because it was similar in that it was a middle-grade series that all started one faithful day during a museum field trip. It was way too much. But on a brighter note, it was so rushed it seemed almost immature and, while that was annoying, it was also kind of charming in a weird way?

Things seemed a lot less formal than what I'm used to reading in fantasy which was refreshing, I guess. Also, I doubt this was intentional but it definitely helped me to relate to how overwhelming Sophie found everything at the start. The world building was also rushed. It also grew tiresome how constantly I was reminded of how inferior earth was to the elf world. Just about every description in the fantasy realm alluded to being superior to earth in absolutely every respect. I suppose it was meant to represent an ideal world but with magic and a way to poke fun at issues such as climate change and crime and stuff.

That's nice and all but can't you describe elf land I can't remember if it was given a general name?

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I'm sorry; I'm an earth lover and I've been triggered Enough of my whining. The pacing significantly improved from around 70 pages onward. As soon as the school setting was introduced and things were, let's say, settled, the story flowed seamlessly in a way that was both natural and gripping.

The classes were super fun, the character antics and events as well, and all the while there was this air of mystery lingering that kept me interested and had me coming up with many theories. It felt like a genuine school experience with an investigating lead and a kind of distant larger threat that said lead is too young to know that much about. In that, it reminded me a lot of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. The magic system was so cool! Telepaths, Empaths, Vanishers, Conjurers, Impacters, etc.

I'm certainly excited to learn more about these abilities and what they can branch out to. I'm particularly curious about Empaths. She was a senior in high school at the age of twelve, she had photographic memory, she was extraordinarily intelligent, magical and special. Everything seemed to come so easily for her, her successes being ridiculously convenient, but things changed once she hit Foxfire. I like that she was set up to be this insanely powerful, talented and seemingly perfect girl overflowing with potential only to have her actually struggle with several classes at school.

It sounds horrible but I really enjoyed seeing her mess up! Learning how she worked through her failures was what really made her endearing to me. She was so determined and conscientious in school despite everything else that went on in her whirlwind life.

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Sophie just could not catch a bloody break which makes me worry on her behalf in the next, what, five books? I don't even know how many installments this series has. Point is, she really grew on me by the end regardless of the fact that I'm still grimacing at her name thanks to a certain bitch from The School for Good and Evil series. Dex was great.

He was probably the first character to show a personality in the entire book. He was always so excited about everything, he was super blunt and he was just too cute. Dex was a great friend to Sophie, too, and, while he was irrational at times, I sympathise with his loathing of 'Wonderboys'. It's a totally realistic reaction and I appreciate him for being so real. Keefe stole the show even if he was pretty brief.

His appearances were like candy because I just ate him up. He was hilarious and never - and I mean NEVER - failed to make me smile - and that's not just because his name is so weird it's funny. Fitz was I can't say much about a character that was often present but had no presence.

The stereotypical nice guy heartthrob that's just kind of there for people - characters and readers alike - to crush on. Biana, while ever so slightly more interesting than her bro Fitz, was also very brief. I think she has more potential, though. Whatever; it's only the first book. I'm guessing this will be a gradual thing.

I got a decent understanding of most characters but never got too much. That's good because I know them but I don't know too much for them to become dry later on. Yes, I said later on. I'm definitely continuing this series. Especially considering this is a middle-grade series, I could really appreciate there being so many parental figures that were involved in the younger mains' lives.

Alden, Elwin, Grady, Edaline, Tiergen - they were all really present and made to be unique and interesting. It's a common issue I have when authors neglect adults in their cast, depicting them as stale, worrisome and or authoritative people who think they know what's up but really don't, instead focusing all their efforts into the younger characters in order to achieve optimal quirkiness with them alone. Edaline and Grady, specifically, hooked me. She's helped them attempt to move on and live their lives normally and happily. In return, they act as such good parents to her even if they do face obvious indecision.

They're so healthy for each other. Lil' twelve-year-old Sophie was in awe of how handsome fifteen-year-old Fitz was and it was kind of adorable.


I should have counted how many times she got lost in his teal eyes. I kind of wish there was more to their relationship established early on. It's a childish crush on Sophie's part whilst Fitz just extends seemingly superficial kindness to her as he does with everyone else except that one mean girl at school that isn't his sister. To end on a great note: The Sophie-Keefe friendship is where it's at! It worked SO well! He'd always be teasing her and is so straightforward with her, encouraging her in his own super endearingly snarky way: "Look, I'm not good at the serious, supportive thing-but trust me, you're going to be fine.

So stop doubting yourself and go prove me right. You know, so I can brag about it. A solid start.

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I want to know what happens next and I hear the books only get better from here! This has been my Brooke review. Aug 21, VGA rated it it was amazing. Final count! Here's the count for ships! Sophitz: 16 Keefoster: 7 So, as you can see, so far Sophitz has an overwhelming lead! Will Keefoster be able to catch up next book? You'll see in the nnnnnnnnnnnnext book! I'm going to put the amount for the book, and then an overall amount You see, my mom had the genius idea of highlighting important stuff in yellow, funny in pink, Sophitz moments in blue for his blue eyes that Sophie's always talking about and orange for team Foster-Keefe she never rea Final count!

I'm going to put the amount for the book, and then an overall amount You see, my mom had the genius idea of highlighting important stuff in yellow, funny in pink, Sophitz moments in blue for his blue eyes that Sophie's always talking about and orange for team Foster-Keefe she never really made it clear why I'll put up a count once I'm done! And yes, my mom's a Keeper fan.

You can thank moi for that If anyone wants me to I'll put up the number for pink highlights funny and yellow used to be the important parts, but had been changed to pretty much anything else View all 14 comments. Nov 27, Kate Willis rated it liked it Shelves: fantasy. I picked this book up on whim when I remembered hearing a friend mention the series. It was such a neat idea, and I loved the world building! The mystery element was definitely the best part of the book, and I found myself surprised every time a new clue was discovered.

Brilliantly executed. And hooray for cool old neighbors! Wink, wink. I especially enjoyed some of the el I picked this book up on whim when I remembered hearing a friend mention the series. I especially enjoyed some of the elvin traditions like the thinking caps. Not recommended for younger readers because of children in view spoiler [near death danger including kidnapping hide spoiler ] , view spoiler [discussion of fertility issues and remedies hide spoiler ] , and a few relationship crazy thoughts typical of the main character and her peers' age group.

Best quote: He grabbed her arms to steady her. View all 9 comments. Jul 18, R. Gammon rated it really liked it. Pure guilty pleasure but lots of fun. Feb 08, Thalia Grace rated it it was amazing. This was a reread, but I don't remember when I read the book the first time.

All I remember was that I loved it so much. And Keefe!!! I am rereading the first three books in await for the 4th and final book in the series because I don't remember much of it, and I don't want to be confused. When I was reading it, I caught all sorts of clever details that I missed the first time around which lead me to enjoy this much much more. And since I had already rated it 5 stars, I don't know how to increas This was a reread, but I don't remember when I read the book the first time.

And since I had already rated it 5 stars, I don't know how to increase it. I deals with larger worldly problems, and the characters are so complex and have in depth personalities. I am so attached to all the character and I love them all. What I also love is that they are so different and unique from one another.

And incase you're wondering I ship sophie and keefe not sophie and fitz. View all 6 comments. Feb 09, kazually rated it did not like it Shelves: 1-star , meh , twisty-af , lol-no , series , pls-die , boring. Oct 17, Jillian Heise rated it it was amazing Shelves: middle-grade. SO good! Loved this middle grades fantasy novel by wonderful debut author.

Will definitely appeal to fans of Harry Potter and The Unwanteds. I knew I really liked Shannon Messenger from following her on twitter and on her blog, and then when SO good! I knew I really liked Shannon Messenger from following her on twitter and on her blog, and then when I heard she had a middle grades and a young adult book coming out as her debut, I was really looking forward to reading them-especially when I read the summary of each.

It is a long book, but as it is written so well for the middle grades level, it isn't overwhelming. There is something just so engaging and fun and entertaining in Shannon Messenger's third person, descriptive, writing style, and I devoured this book in two days and didn't want to stop reading until I knew what would happen to these characters and world I wanted to be a part of. I wasn't sure exactly what to expect from the summary alone, and I never expected the "place that is vastly different form what she has ever known" to be so well-developed and thought out.

As I was reading an advance reader copy, it was missing the map artwork, so I look forward to getting a finished copy to enhance the reading experience even more. The world of the elves and not what you ever pictured elves to be is filled with fantastical creatures especially love Iggy! This parallel world is such a discovery, not only for Sophie, but for the reader as well. The way it is described made me want to go live there as well. Beyond the Lost Cities within the elven world themselves, there is also Foxfire, which is the school for the nobility that Sophie ends up in.

It is a school where she will be trained in her special ability and where she discovers people, places, things, strength, and friendships beyond what she ever would have imagined, and what I would have imagined as well. The only thing that threw me a little bit as I read this book was the number of characters because their names are not ones we're used to hearing, so it did take awhile to keep track of who was who in the beginning. Not only do we get Sophie who has to make some tough decisions and look for people to support her, but we also get Fitz and his family, along with a multitude of other characters throughout the elf world.

We see some of the most interesting jobs as Sophie meets these characters which adds to our understanding of how this world works. As she goes to school, we also meet Dex and Keefe among other classmates, and these two become some of the most entertaining characters to interact with Sophie.

I kind of adore Keefe myself. He is the snarky guy who brings the humor that Sophie so desperately needs as she adjusts to her new life, and deep down, he is a really good, caring boy. We get some hints as to deeper things going on with Keefe, and I hope we get more of him in the next book. I also really adore Sophie. She has core values that I admire and fights for what she believes and knows is the right thing, even if it means she might get into trouble.

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  • I rooted for her as she is a young girl with so much strength and determination to do the right thing and help those she cares about. She is a strong character for the audience of this book. Talking about Family is important: Sophie has to leave her family to join this hidden world where she actually belongs, and that means she is in a new place, realizing everything she thought she knew is not the way the world actually works, and has no family to rely on and call her own.

    When she gets placed with guardians to take responsibility for her, she has a whole new set of relationship dynamics to work on. In the end, the storyline with Sophie searching for family and her understanding of loss, adds such depth to the character and the overall book, and adds a dimension that I think many kids will relate to. I know these elements of searching for family to love her and support her and call her own brought some of the most poignant moments of the story for me. Because what child doesn't want a family to feel safe with and loved by?

    There was much more of an emotional element to this book than I expected going into it, and that's a great thing. Now let's talk about Plot: While all of the subplots going on in this book add depth and interest to the story, the overall conflict at hand is a mystery as to why Sophie was living in the human world. Unfortunately, as Sophie is so young, the adults looking into things don't want to include her in the search, but as the clues build up, Sophie has to take it upon herself to try to find out what's happening and why and who is behind it.

    Messenger has written a novel with a tightly woven plot strongly balancing small elements, character development, descriptive details, world-building information, and enough action to keep things moving at an engaging pace. I want to talk Sequel: I know a sequel is coming, and I can't wait to read it! Although I knew there would be a book following this one, I still feel that this book wrapped up its storyline in a satisfying way. There are no major cliffhangers here, but it still sets up where the second book will go for the next school year.

    I think this book will be a big middle grades hit for those who like fantasy and mystery books. From the Preface at the very start, I was hooked on the story as I was instantly pulled into what would have happened to get Sophie to this point. As the story wound it's way toward that time near the end, it became even more engaging. I think if you are a teacher or librarian or parent of middle school age kids, you and they will feel the same. Oct 11, Faith Hough rated it it was amazing Shelves: for-the-boys , fantasy , upper-middle-grade.

    I needed a few days to write this review, because if I had written it right away, it would have been one big chunk of gushing. I haven't read a middle grade fantasy that kept me as enthralled through all its pages since Harry Potter. She has a photographic memory, is at the top of her high school class, and is constantly bombarded by the pounding of other people's thoug I needed a few days to write this review, because if I had written it right away, it would have been one big chunk of gushing.

    She has a photographic memory, is at the top of her high school class, and is constantly bombarded by the pounding of other people's thoughts inside her mind. So when she discovers that she is not in fact human, but an elf, she's not completely surprised. But she is disappointed to find that even in the world where she belongs, she's still different.

    It becomes clear that Sophie is a powerful force that the good guys can't explain and the bad guys want to exploit. But you're kept guessing the entire story as to who exactly is good and who is bad, as to what Sophie is intended for, and as to whether on earth you will be able to survive until the next book in the series comes out Best part: supporting characters. I do love those secondary and tertiary characters that bring a story to life, and Shannon Messenger created a cast that I really want to hang out with again and again.

    As I said before: middle grade fantasy is alive and well! Readers also enjoyed. Young Adult. About Shannon Messenger. Mar 22, Minutes Buy. Jan 10, ISBN Mar 22, ISBN Mar 22, Minutes. Willa has lately learned that an old classmate—socialite Paxton Osgood—has restored the house to its former glory, with plans to turn it into a top-flight inn.

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    Thrust together in an unlikely friendship, united by a full-blooded mystery, Willa and Paxton must confront the passions and betrayals that once bound their families—and uncover the truths that have transcended time to touch the hearts of the living. Allen masterfully weaves a Southern world of believable characters and keeps readers flipping pages with this dreamy one-nighter. And Willa herself has long strived to build a life beyond the brooding Jackson family shadow.

    No easy task in a town shaped by years of tradition and the well-marked boundaries of the haves and have-nots. But Willa has lately learned that an old classmate—socialite do-gooder Paxton Osgood—of the very prominent Osgood family, has restored the Blue Ridge Madam to her former glory, with plans to open a top-flight inn. Maybe, at last, the troubled past can be laid to rest while something new and wonderful rises from its ashes. Although the black community acknowledges and appears to accept the legislators' notice, it resists the notice's message by manipulating the content of the proclamation.

    Appearing to acquiesce and accept the name of Mains Avenue, the community holds onto its memories by referring to Mains Avenue as "Not Doctor Street. Thus, the emphasis on writing notes and recording information provides an insightful commentary on the function of written language and indirectly mocks the national legislation created to protect black citizens' rights.

    Smith is "the little insurance agent" who keeps each of his insurance records on a "little yellow card" and who lives in a "little yellow house. Smith's life. Also note that Porter's ranting speech later in the chapter, when he is threatening to kill himself, is oddly similar to Mr. Smith's note. Porter yells, "I love ya! I love ya all"; Mr. Smith's note reads, "I loved you all. Smith writes, "I will take off from Mercy. The scene of Mr. Smith's flight from Mercy Hospital also demonstrates Morrison's delight in wordplay and her skill in merging fact and fiction to create a new reality.

    For example, Mr. Smith, a fictional character, works for North Carolina Mutual Life, an actual black-owned insurance company. February 18, , the date of his proposed flight, is Morrison's birth date. Morrison's emphasis on the transforming power of language is illustrated by her fluency in the language of domination and submission, which enables her to convey the race and class of various characters solely through their interactions — mannerisms, choice of words, body language, and forms of address. For example, when the white hospital nurse initially addresses Mrs.

    Bains, the "stout woman," outside the hospital with a gruff "You," Mrs. Bains' eyebrows "lifted at the carelessness of the address.

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    Bains' change in character when she realizes that a white woman is addressing her: "Then, seeing where the voice came from, she lowered her brows and veiled her eyes. The "You" with which the nurse addresses Mrs. Bains raises another important theme in the novel: legal names. Except for Mr. Smith, whose radical act places him physically and psychologically outside the community's control, characters are not referred to by their legal names. Instead, they obtain their identities — "the dead doctor's daughter," "the gold-toothed man," "the singing woman" — from the community, which functions as a chorus, or social commentator.

    This distinction between what people are named and what they are called is important: For African Americans, community identity often supersedes individual identity. The vital link between the community and the individual is further emphasized by the black spectators' and the white hospital staff's different opinions of Mr. Smith: The black spectators see Mr.

    Smith as a member of their community, but the staff sees him as a problem. Ironically, the white staff, symbolic of early twentieth-century white society, is blithely unaware that they are responsible for "the Negro problem," which they are now attempting to resolve: "They wondered if one of those things that racial-uplift groups were always organizing was taking place.

    Consequently, they hold different views of reality. Readers should also note Morrison's multifaceted approach to language, which often reveals hidden meanings behind seemingly innocuous words and phrases. For example, Ruth's cloche hat marks her as a well-dressed woman, but since the term also designates a covering for delicate plants, it supports the evolving image of Ruth as a fragile, vulnerable female.

    Similarly, the reference to the cupola dome-like, cloche-like structure on the roof of Mercy Hospital suggests an image of the hospital as a church, but the hospital offers neither mercy nor charity. Another example of hidden meanings here in Chapter 1 is when the narrator says, "Then in , when colored men were being drafted.

    Although black soldiers participated in all U. By drawing more attention to seemingly trivial details — for example, the velvet rose petals — than the main event of Mr. Smith's flight, Morrison introduces another recurring theme in the novel: Events that are trivialized, discounted, or ignored are often more important than those that command our attention. The novel also provides a biting social commentary on contemporary American culture, in which people are often judged in terms of race, gender, or material wealth rather than on the basis of their personal character and integrity. Ebooks

    Because color symbolism plays a key role in the novel, readers should be aware of the themes and images suggested by various colors. Smith's blue silk wings mirror the colors in the United States national flag. Consequently, we can surmise that Milkman's story is the story of a young man struggling to come to terms with his dual identity as both an American and as a black man in white America. Other key color references in Chapter 1 include Pilate's navy-blue cap and Ruth's gray coat, which allude to the Union blue and Confederate gray during the American Civil War, fought in large part over the issue of slavery, and the white linen that covers Ruth's mahogany table — an image of whiteness concealing, or negating, the blackness of mahogany.

    Ruth's fantasy, in which she envisions herself as a "cauldron issuing spinning gold," provides a rare moment of insight into her true character and probes the origins of her spiritual death. It also introduces gold as a "thread," an image that recurs throughout the novel and further establishes the theme of the quilt — Pilate has a quilt wrapped around her as she stands outside the hospital — as a symbol of African-American culture.

    Only through fantasy can she reunite the fragments of her shattered self-image and see herself as a whole, functioning human being.