Reading is my ESCAPE from Reality!

“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” 

 

-- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

Alice by Christina Henry

Alice - Christina Henry

 

"One day, long ago, she'd gone seeking an adventure and found terror instead. That day had changed the course of her life, and left her hands awash in blood. It was not her fault, but this was how it must be. She understood that now."

 

Poor, trusting Alice. She went with her best friend on a supposed adventure and ended up in an insane asylum. She doesn't remember what happened, only before and after. Before, she was a sweet innocent girl who lived in the New City, and after, she was found wandering the streets of the Old City with blood on her thighs muttering about a rabbit. Now, she has the chance to escape the asylum with Hatcher (who was living on the other side of the wall for 8 years) and she is about to embark on an even stranger adventure, dark, bloody, and frankly a bit disturbing.

 

This is not the Alice you remember from the Disney movie, some of the characters are here: Alice, Cheshire, the Rabbit, the Caterpillar, but they are not as you remember them. This book is full of violence, human trafficking and, rape. Women are treated as objects at best and as sex toys or killing toys at worst. Sections of the Old City are owned by ruthless gang lords, and women are never safe there. But, this is also a story of justice and revenge. Believe me when I say Alice & her friend Hatcher (from the asylum) are no slackers when it comes to giving people what they deserve.

 

So, should you read it? Well, if you like dark, creepy, retellings which are more horror than fantasy, and if you won't be disturbed by the violence, then go for it. If you are the tiniest bit squeamish, then I suggest you pass.

Lost Boy by Christina Henry

Lost Boy: The True Story of Captain Hook - Christina Henry, Samuel Roukin

 

There is one version of my story that everyone knows. And then there is the truth. Once I loved a boy called Peter Pan. Peter brought me to his island because there were no rules and no grownups to make us mind. He brought boys from the Other Place to join in the fun, but Peter's idea of fun is sharper than a pirate's sword. He wants always to be that shining sun that we all revolve around. He'll do anything to be that sun. Peter promised we would all be young and happy forever. Peter will say I'm a villain, that I wronged him, that I never was his friend. Peter Lies.

 

What if you heard the story from another character's point of view? Would it change who you thought of as the hero??

 

If the story was anything like this, then I would say yes. This is the true story of Captain Hook. In this version, Peter is a trickster with no conscience who only cares about staying young, having fun, and getting what he wants. Before he became Captain Hook, Jamie was a strong, determined young boy, even though he was more than a bit naive. 

 

Peter brought Jamie to the island so they could stay young forever, together. And no one had better stand in the way of Peter getting his way. Is Peter magic? Is it the island? And what will happen when Jamie finally figures out the truth?

 

OK, so we all know the end, but we don't know how they get there. And that is where this story hooks you. 

 

It is bloody, violent, sad, chilling, and even sentimental at times. I loved the narration. Samuel Roukin (British accent and all) set the scene and had me immersed in the world of the lost boys.

 

Highly recommended - if you don't mind violence. The concept of "never growing up" isn't as appealing as it once was...

 

It's not such a wonderful thing

To be young.

It's heartless and selfish.

- Jamie

"The irony of life is that those who wear masks often tell us more truths than those with open faces."
The Rose Society - Marie Lu

 

 

"Once upon a time, a girl had a father, a prince, a society of friends. Then they betrayed her, and she destroyed them all."
The Rose Society - Marie Lu

- Adelina Amouteru

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

The Girl Who Drank the Moon - Kelly Barnhill

 

Yes. There is a witch in the woods. There has always been a witch.

- Opening lines

 

Magical babies are dangerous babies, Glerk tried to remind himself, day after day. When he wasn't cradling Luna. Or singing to Luna. Or whispering poetry into her ear as she slept.

-Chapter 5

 

A story can tell the truth, she knew, but a story can also lie. Stories can bend and twist and obfuscate. Controlling stories is power indeed.

- Chapter 38

 

Knowledge is powerful, but it is a terrible power when it is hoarded and hidden.

- Chapter 38

 

The village has always known about the witch, and about the sacrifice. Once a year, the Council of Elders takes the youngest baby and leaves it in the woods to appease the witch. But... the witch (Xan) has no idea why they leave the baby, so she takes it to the village across the forest and gives it to a loving home. Except for Luna... The witch accidentally feeds Luna moonlight (instead of the starlight she usually feeds the babies). The moonlight makes Luna magical. Luna grows up with Xan, Glerk (the swamp monster), and Fyrian (a Perfectly Tiny Dragon who thinks he is a Simply Enormous Dragon).

 

With characters like Xan, Glerk, Fyrian, and Luna, how could this story fail? The characters are amazing and the world is magical. People have been recommending this book to me all year, but I kept putting it off. I don't know why, but the cover just didn't appeal to me. Once I started reading it, I loved it. 

 

Recommended to: Grades 5 & up. Fans of magical stories or fairy tales.

Reading progress update: I've listened 232 out of 465 minutes.

Lost Boy: The True Story of Captain Hook - Christina Henry, Samuel Roukin

 

Jamie what are you thinking?? That trickster Peter cannot be trusted, even if he is your best friend.

 

 

 

This is a Peter Pan told from the viewpoint of Captain Hook (before he became Captain Hook) and it's quite good so far.

Everfound - Audiobook

Everfound - Neal Shusterman

 

"We can lie to ourselves, saying we believe one thing, and sometimes we convince others it's true, with the hope that by convincing others, we can convince ourselves. Wars are often waged not because of what we believe, but because of the things we want others to believe."

 

Book 3 in the Skinjacker series. I love the series, the characters, the ups & downs, basically everything about it. I am now a huge fan of Neal Shusterman. This is the second series I'm reading by him and I'm now ready for the next one.

 

This book is amazing. It takes the characters on surprising and unexpected paths that end up in quite unusual ways. No characters are just plain evil or good. They all take personal journeys and look at the world in different ways. I felt for all of them at different points in the book and I cringed at their actions at other points.

 

Recommended: Grades 7 & up. Fans of fantasy or dystopian novels.

Everwild by Neal Shusterman - Audiobook

Everwild  - Neal Shusterman, Nick Podehl

If you haven't read Everlost, then you probably shouldn't read this review. But more importantly, don't read the synopsis of this book (Everwild) on Amazon as it gives away an important plot point that the book doesn't reveal until at least the 65% mark.

 

Everlost is populated by children who died and didn't find their way to the light. They are basically ghosts, who can't be seen or interact with the living world (with one interesting exception). Places (dead spots) and things also cross to Everlost, but only those that are truly loved by someone. The children in Everlost are called Afterlights, because they have a glow about them. Afterlights will sink to the center of the earth if they stand in one place for too long, unless they are on a dead spot. In the first book, we learn that large dead spots are rare, but can be found in places that were considered important to a lot of people, such as the Twin Towers in NYC. In Everwild, Allie, Nick, Mary, and Mikey continue their journeys, although their paths have changed. Some secrets have already been discovered about Everlost, but still more questions remain unanswered.

 

Shusterman is a magnificient writer and I love losing myself in his worlds. There is no black or white, no flat good and evil. The "good" characters make mistakes or wrong choices, and the "evil" characters have motives that might have started out as good. There is a constant struggle within each character to understand their own feelings and deal with all the crazinees Everlost throws at them. Over the course of this novel, all of the characters (even the secondary ones) develop, grow, and change. There is an overarching theme of "how do we stop the evil trying to destroy the world" and yet each character has their own feelings, hopes, and dreams to deal with.

 

The instant I finished listening to this book, I began the next (and final) book in the series. This shouldn't be a surprise considering my similar reaction to the first Shusterman series I read (Unwind).

 

I'm recommending this book to grades 7 and up. Some of the actions of the characters are a bit callous in their disregard for the living world, but there are also beautiful parts that stuck with me. Fans of the Delirium or Divergent series will enjoy this one.

The Man in the Iron Mask

The Man in the Iron Mask - Alexandre Dumas

 

 

Wow. This book is nothing like the movie, at least the one I watched with Leonardo DiCaprio and Jeremy Irons. The end was so tragic and the actual prisoner in the iron mask was such a small part of the story. Seems to me it was the complete opposite in the movie. Huh. Go figure.

 

I'm glad I finally read this.

Kill Your Darlings - Red Team Suspect

Moving Target - Christina Diaz Gonzalez

 

 

 

Playing this card for the known suspect Arthur Conan Doyle (author's first name begins with C).

Moving Target

Moving Target - Christina Diaz Gonzalez

There should have been some sort of warning.

- First Sentence

 

"Everything is part of the same painting," as my dad liked to say. "But we are each the artist of our own life. We choose what colors to use."

- Chapter 1

 

 

Cassie is an eighth grader living with her father in Rome, having an ordinary, boring life (except for the fact that she is an American girl living in Rome). One day, Cassie's father comes to school and yanks her into the car, speeding through the city, blabbering about how much he loves her, how he is going to fix things, and how he should have told her when she was younger. He finally tells Cassie that the Hastati are after her. Cassie has no idea what that means and she thinks he might be crazy, but then a motorcycle pulls up and the rider starts shooting at them. When her dad gets shot, Cassie takes him to the hospital, but he insists she must run to find Brother Gregorio for help. Cassie is terrified and runs to the only place she thinks might be safe, her friend Simone's house. But when the danger follows her even there, Cassie and Simone must find Brother Gregorio and find out what all of this means.

 

 In her dad's notebook, Cassie finds this message:

The Guardian will be bound for life once the spearhead is used.

It turns out the Hastati are a two thousand year old organization entrusted with one important duty - protect the spear (The Spear of Destiny). The spear can shape destiny, but only certain people can use the power - and Cassie is the last of that bloodline.

I was just an average girl. Things like this were not supposed to happen to people like me. The palette of my life's painting was gray or maybe a boring variety of beige, not psychedelic neon.

 

Well, this book starts off running and doesn't slow down. Cassie is constantly trying to figure out who to trust and how to keep Simone and herself safe. They are racing to find the spear, but they aren't the only ones. They must figure out baffling clues at every turn and stay ahead of the two factions fighting each other for control of the spear.

 

This is an edge of your seat adventure that will keep readers guessing until the end. I highly recommend it to kids in grades 4-8 who enjoy mysterious adventure stories with strong female heroines.

 

Quest to the Uncharted Lands

The Quest to the Uncharted Lands - Jaleigh Johnson

When the Iron Glory's engines rumbled to life for its journey to the uncharted lands, it marked a new future for the world of Solace.

- First Sentence

 

This book is a fantastic companion to The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson. It isn't a sequel, it takes place in the same world with different characters. 

 

Stella Glass is the daughter of two scientists who are traveling on the Iron Glory to explore the uncharted lands of Solace. No one has ever explored this far west beyond the mountains. The Dragonfly Territories and Merrow Kingdom have finally reached an uneasy peace. They worked together on this ship and representatives from both countries are onboard. 

 

Stella is not permitted to go, but she has planned for months to stow away because she is terrified her parents won't come back. On the first night, Stella finds out she isn't the only stowaway. No children are allowed on the ship, but she sees a boy outside the engine room with his hands on the wall. His hands begin to glow, and then his eyes. Stella isn't sure who he is or what he is up to, but when he passes out, she drags him to her hiding place in the cargo hold. Someone doesn't want this voyage to succeed, but who and how can they be stopped?

 

So, in The Mark of the Dragonfly, we met Piper (a girl who connects to machines in an almost magical way), and Gee (a boy who can transform into a dragon). This book continues in the same fantasy steampunk world and the story is in the same heroic adventure vein. Again, I highly recommend it to students in grades 4 -8. It is just as good as the first.

The War that Saved my Life

The War that Saved My Life - Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

 

In the end it was the combination of the two, the end of my little war against Jamie, and the start of the big war, Hitler's war, that set me free.

- Chapter 1

 

She was not a nice person, but she cleaned up the floor. She was not a nice person, but she bandaged my foot in a white piece of cloth, and gave us two of her own shirts to wear. Miss Smith was not a nice person, but the bed she put us in was soft and clean, with smooth thin blankets and warm thicker ones.

- Chapter 7

 

Huh, I thought. Imagine dressing up tables. Imagine wasting cloth to dress up tables.

- Chapeter 18

 

I wanted Mam to be like Susan. I didn't really trust Susan not to be like Mam.

- Chapter 26

 

Ada was born with a club foot, and because of this, her mom doesn't let her leave the house. But that isn't the worst of it. Ada's mom (Mam) punishes her by putting her in a kitchen cabinet -- sometimes overnight. Mam calls Ada rubbish and tells her no one wants her with her ugly foot. Ada "escapes" this abuse by going somewhere else in her head. 

 

When Ada finds out her younger brother Jamie is to be evacuated with the other kids from his school, she is determined to go with them. The journey takes them to a small village where families have agreed to take in the evacuated children. Ada and Jamie end up living with Susan Smith, an old, grumpy spinster who doesn't really want them.

 

Ada is a heart-wrenching character. She has been taking care of her brother all his life, but no one takes care of her. She has suffered unimaginable abuse from the woman who should love her the most. She doesn't know how to accept love and kindness, and she doesn't even think she deserves it. Her mother has told her that her foot is messed up because Ada did something wrong.

 

Susan has her own issues. She recently lost her best friend and suffers from severe depression. Having Ada and Jamie around gives her something else to think about and an important responsibility - a reason to get up every day and engage with others.

 

Wow. This book is powerful. It is set in England during World War II. I loved watching Ada's development and bonding with Susan and others in the village. Despite everything Ada has been through (or maybe because of it), she is stubborn and courageous. She is also slow to trust and filled with self-doubt. The last chapter had me in tears.

 

I recommend this book to kids in grades 4-8 and their adults. I think it will touch their hearts in a major way.

Kill Your Darlings - Red Team Round 6 guess

The War that Saved My Life - Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

 

 

Using this book because it is historical fiction. (review to follow)

Everlost by Neal Shusterman - audiobook review

Everlost - Neal Shusterman

 

Nick & Allie were in a fatal car accident and ended up caught in Everlost, a sort of limbo for kids who don't make it where they are going when they die. Everlost is a magical place for things and places that no longer survive in the living world (ex. the Twin Towers). But Everlost is also full of dangers (if the kids stay in one place for too long, they sink to the center of the earth), and monsters (the Magill, the Haunter). When Nick and Allie make it to the Twin Towers, they find Mary, who calls herself the queen of lost children. But while Nick feels at home with Mary, Allie suspects Mary is hiding something.

 

This is a fun young adult story with plenty of excitement and danger. The narrator did an excellent job and didn't distract from the story at all. This is an interesting look at what could happen to souls whose journey is interrupted. Many of the kids have been around for hundreds of years, including Mary, who has written books on how to survive in Everlost. The kids all cross over in whatever they were wearing, which makes for some interesting wardrobes and nicknames for those who may have died on Halloween or during a day at the beach (think Speedo). Nick even dies with chocolate on his face. However, if the kids don't think about things, they tend to forget them, such as their name and their physical appearance.

 

Bottom line: This is an engrossing start to the trilogy, that I will be happily continuing. The world building is remarkable and the ending suggests more peril and exploits for the characters that survive. Recommended to grades 6 & up. No serious violence and no sex, only cute crushes. Most of the kids we meet are under 16.

Kill Your Darlings - Red Team Round 4 guess

Everlost - Neal Shusterman

 

 

 

I'm guessing Meg Murry for round 4, review to follow.  

Genre: young adult

Currently reading

The Midnight Star (Young Elites Book 3)
Marie Lu
The Rose Society
Marie Lu
Progress: 150/412 pages
The Iron Giant
Ted Hughes
The Last Passenger
Manel Loureiro, Andrés Alfaro

Reading is my Escape's Read 2018 book montage

Unwind
The Man in the Iron Mask
Truly Madly Guilty
The Reptile Room
The Wide Window
UnWholly
The Miserable Mill
The Austere Academy
UnSouled
The Hero Two Doors Down: Based on the True Story of Friendship Between a Boy and a Baseball Legend
The Ersatz Elevator
The Vile Village
The Hostile Hospital
UnDivided
The Nerdy Dozen
The Carnivorous Carnival
The Iron Giant
Awkward
Brave
The Slippery Slope


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2018 Reading Challenge

2018 Reading Challenge
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