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

The Adventurers Guild series

The Adventurers Guild - Zack Loran Clark, Nick Eliopulos, Johnny Heller Twilight of the Elves - Zack Loran Clark, Nick Eliopulos Night of Dangers - Zack Loran Clark, Nick Eliopulos
— feeling amazing


I listened to the first book in this series last summer and loved it. But I never got around to continuing the series. Last month, one of the girls at school told me that I had to read the second & third books because she loved them. I was able to borrow the audio of book 2 (Twilight of the Elves) but the third wasn't available in audio from the library. I loved the audio so much that I bought book 3 (Night of Dangers) from Audible.


This series is amazing and I loved it. It is a magical tale that emphasizes friendship and the importance of trust in the middle of a battle between the apprentices, monsters, and tricksters hiding in plain sight. In order to survive and win, the apprentices must come together and use their strengths to save each other and the town of Freestone.


The books are full of adventure, danger, compassion, and twists and turns you won't see coming. If you enjoy middle-grade fantasy stories, I predict you will love this series!

Rebel by Marie Lu

Rebel - Marie Lu


If you asked me to tell you about myself, I'd say first that I like to understand things.

- first sentence


Audience: Middle Grade

Format:  Kindle/Owned


I loved the Legend trilogy and couldn't wait to read this one. This book mostly focuses on Eden Wing (Day's little brother). It delves into his relationship with his brother and how they try to get on with their lives after the events of the Legend trilogy. They are living in Antarctica, a nation with a points system that determines your success and standard of living. The inequities of the system are gradually leading to a rebellion. Day is now known as Daniel and works with the government law enforcement agency. Eden is a star at his university and has a bright future in the Republic. But Eden is drawn to the darker side of Antarctica and finds himself crossing paths with the biggest mob boss in the city.


I loved seeing how Eden grew up and tried to distance himself from Daniel while at the same time maintaining the values they shared. The best part of this story was getting a chance for closure between June and Day (it was left unresolved at the end of the trilogy).


I highly recommend this to fans of the Legend trilogy.

Boy X - Dan  Smith

Audience: Middle Grade

Format: Hardcover/Library Copy


Bright. White. Light.

- opening words


Twelve-year-old Ash wakes up in an unfamiliar room with an IV in his arm and no memory of how he got there. As he searches for his mom, he discovers he has abilities that are beyond normal, hearing, vision, sense of smell. He witnesses people trying to escape in a helicopter and being shot down. He finds Isabel, who helps him find his mother and her father, but they are infected with a virus that could destroy the world’s population. Ash & Isabel race against the clock to stop the men who stole the virus and find the cure for their parents.

There is violence in this book including shooting, knives, and physical fighting. There are scary animals all over the island that Ash & Isabel encounter. Isabela is smart and capable and helps Ash navigate the jungle, even as his senses warn them of approaching danger. There is a lot of suspense and action that will appeal to kids. Isabel is a great example of a strong female heroine.

Playing Atari with Saddam Hussein by Fadhil al-Azzawi & Jennifer Roy

Playing Atari with Saddam Hussein: Based on a True Story - Fadhil al-Azzawi, Jennifer Roy

Audience: Middle School

Format: Hardcover/Library Copy


The afternoon the bombs start falling, I get my highest score ever on my favorite video game.


Eleven-year-old Ali Fadhil lives in Basra, Iraq. He loves American television, Superman comic books, and playing soccer with his friends. When an international coalition initiates military action to stop Saddam Hussein from invading Kuwait, Ali’s life is turned upside down. Ali’s father is serving with a medical unit and his older brother (Shirzad) is left in charge of the family. Everyone in the village is depending on government rations for food and supplies. Ali’s mother even burns his comic books for fuel to cook with. 


The book is based on co-author Fadhil’s childhood and doesn’t shy away from depicting the war. There are some pretty violent scenes in this book, including when Ali witnesses a firing squad that kills a bunch of people (even a child his age). At one point, Ali thinks his father may be dead and he often worries about his own safety.

Knock Out by K.A. Holt

Knockout - K.A. Holt

Audience: Grades 5 & up

Format: Hardcover/Library Copy


Who am I?

I am Levi.

I am small

but fast

I am smart

but dumb.

If you move the letters of my name around

you get live.

So here it is.

This is my life

This is what it's like

minute by minute

match by match

to live a Levi Life.

- first page


This novel is written in verse and tells the story of 12-year-old Levi. Levi was born weighing 2 pounds and went through some serious medical operations as a young boy. His older brother and mother are very overprotective and Levi feels trapped and longs to experience more of life. Levi’s dad encourages him to start boxing, without his mother or brother’s knowledge. Levi channels his energy and emotions into boxing and it makes him feel strong and in control. But, he is lying to his mom and brother and eventually to his dad too. 


The story is touching and has no real objectionable language or violence. Levi just wants a chance to experience life and doesn’t know how to explain this to his mom and brother. This story originated in the book House Arrest which tells the story of Levi’s brother trying to help out when Levi was an infant.

Elephant Secret by Eric Walters

Elephant Secret - Eric Walters

Audience: 5th grade & up

Format: Hardcover/Library copy


I lay on my back on the inflatable raft.

- first sentence


Sam is 14 and she has spent her life living and working at her family’s elephant sanctuary. Some of the kids at school even call her “elephant girl.” Sam (and her father, Jack) likes the elephants more than people and the elephants are their family. The elephants consider Sam and Jack part of their herd. Sam never knew her mother and she feels uncomfortable with her dad’s new girlfriend. When a rich donor (James Mercury) pays a great deal of money to have three of the elephants artificially inseminated, he also becomes a “silent” partner. But only one elephant carries to term, and when the baby is born Mercury becomes much more involved. 


During the book, Sam grapples with her feelings about her dad’s new girlfriend and her own identity. Sam is a strong girl and she stands up for what she believes in. There are some sad parts (as there always are in animal stories) and some dangerous situations, but no real violence. Overall the book is a well-written family drama that kids will love because of the suspense and the adorable elephants.

Ethan Marcus Stands Up by Michele Weber Hurwitz

Ethan Marcus Stands Up - Michele Weber Hurwitz

Audience: 3rd Grade & Up

Format: Hardcover/Library copy


The thing about this, and what I seriously don't get here, is that it was Ethan.

- first sentence


Ethan is a 7th grader who has difficulty sitting still in school all day. One day, during his last period (Language Arts), he stands up and refuses to sit down despite repeated warnings from his teacher. As a result, he receives two days of after school reflection (aka detention). This begins a series of events that ends with Ethan and his sister (Erin) both competing in the Invention Day fair. The story is told from 5 different points of view - Ethan, his best friend Brian, Erin, her best friend Zoe, and troublemaker Wesley (who may not be as bad as he seems). 

The story is a quick, easy read that is appropriate for kids even in 3rd grade - nothing too heavy or serious and a lot of humor will appeal to students who enjoy books like James Patterson’s Middle School series. 

Breakout by Kate Messner

Breakout - Kate Messner

Audience: Grades 4 & up

Format: Hardcover/Library copy


Dear Library Board,

Enclosed is my contribution to the Wolf Creek Community Time Capsule Project.

- opening lines



Wolf Creek is located in the Adirondack Mountains of New York. The town is built around a maximum-security prison and most of the residents have a least one family member working there. The book is told from the point of view of three seventh graders. Nora’s dad is the superintendent, Lizzie’s grandmother works in the kitchen, and Elidee’s brother is an inmate. Nora and Lizzie are best friends and Elidee just moved there when she didn’t get into a private school in New York City. Elidee’s mom wanted to be closer to her brother to make it easier for them to visit him. The townspeople are mostly white and the inmate population is mostly black and Latinx. Elidee is at first standoffish but she eventually becomes friendly with Nora and Lizzie. Nora and Lizzie are surprised at the way the townspeople treat Elidee and how different it is from how they are treated. A couple of inmates escape from the prison and the action revolves around how the manhunt affects life in the town. The story is told through contributions to a time-capsule project for school. The contributions include letters, press clippings, text messages, and transcribed voice recordings.


There are dangerous and suspenseful situations, and some shooting, but no overt violence. Nora & Lizzie learn about racism and try to decide how they feel about it and how to stand up for Elidee. Elidee works through her complicated feelings about the town, her brother, and everything else by writing poetry. Issues about our justice system and racial bias are explored in an accessible and sensitive manner.

24 Hours in Nowhere by Dusti Bowling

24 Hours In Nowhere - Dusti Bowling

Audience: Grades 4-7

Format: Hardcover/Library copy


Bo Taylor held my face one inch from the jumping cholla. "Eat it, Gus," he commanded.

- opening lines



In the town of Nowhere, Arizona, the only thing exciting is dirt bike riding. Thirteen-year-old Gus is a smart boy and a natural target for the town bully, Bo. When Rossi stands up to Bo, she loses her prized possession, her dirt bike, Loretta. Gus is determined to get Rossi’s bike back, but Bo’s price is gold from the town’s abandoned gold mine called, “Dead Frenchman’s Mine.” Gus ends up going to the mine with an old friend, Jessie, one of Bo’s minions, Matthew, and Rossi. The four teens end up bonding over dangerous situations and shared conversations (the are all outcasts in different ways), and the adventure changes all of them.


This book has a similar feel to Holes by Louis Sachar. The characters are likable & quirky and there are generational ties that the teens discover during their journey. Students who like adventures and solving mysteries will enjoy this book. There are positive messages throughout the book about the power of friendship, believing in yourself, and looking beyond what people seem to be on the outside.

Ivy Aberdeen's Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake

Ivy Aberdeen's Letter to the World - Ashley Herring Blake

Audience: Middle School

Format: Hardcover/Library Copy


A storm was coming which was perfect.

- first sentence


Twelve-year-old Ivy is a middle child who is trying to figure out where she belongs, among other things. Her family’s house was destroyed by a tornado and she lost the notebook filled with her secret drawings of her and another girl. Her parents and sister are totally focused on her twin baby brothers. Ivy feels invisible, ignored by her family, and confused about her crush on another girl. 


This story portrays the confusion of middle school and the difficulties of being a middle child perfectly. Ivy is confused when her first crush is a girl while all her friends are crushing on boys. Ivy isn’t sure if it is a crush or just friendship. Ivy is worried about how her sister will react if she finds out Ivy likes girls.


This book made me laugh and cry and gave me all the feels. I was right there with Ivy as she tried to deal with all her emotions and figure out who she was. I highly recommend this book to all girls, moms, and anyone else who enjoys realistic coming of age stories.

Slider by Pete Hautman

Slider - Pete Hautman

Audience: Middle School

Format: Hardcover/Library


A sixteen-inch pizza, fresh from the oven, is a thing of beauty.

- first sentence


So, that opening line tells you a great deal about this book, but not the heart of it. David loves competitive eating, both watching it as a sport and doing it himself. He bids on and accidentally buys (for $2,000, on his mom's credit card) a leftover piece of hotdog from his favorite competitive eater. David must find a way to earn the money to pay his mom back before she discovers what he did. David feels like a failure and thinks the only thing he is good at is competitive eating. On top of training for the big eating competition, David has to take care of his brother Mal (who has autism). David is very good at finding ways to help his brother deal with the world and their relationship is one of the best parts of this book.


The competitive eating parts of the book are rather gross at times, but young readers will probably enjoy that. At the beginning of the book, David goes to a frat house (he sees a bunch of college students drinking) and participates in an eating contest. Overall, it's a fun book with some heartwarming moments, if you can get past some vomiting and gross overeating. :)


All's Faire in Middle School

All's Faire in Middle School - Victoria Jamieson

Audience: Middle School

Format: Hardcover/Library


Imogene! Come down from that tree!

- first sentence



Imogene (Impy) works at a Renaissance Faire and has been homeschooled her entire life. She decides that her quest to become a knight will be attending middle school. The story realistically portrays the difficulties and challenges girls face at this time in their lives. Impy makes some questionable choices, but she eventually realizes that everyone makes mistakes and she finds ways to atone. She has difficulty understanding the cliques and double language kids use and wonders why girls say mean things when they are supposed to be your friend.


This is a great book for middle schoolers and anyone who enjoyed Roller Girl by the same author. I've noticed some reviewers question the content. At one point the girls are reading a romance novel that they hide in Impy's backpack. At home, Impy is looking at the book and writes the word "sex" in her notebook. Impy's mother starts to have "the talk" with her, but Impy changes the subject quickly and it never comes up again. This kind of stuff happens in real life and there is nothing inappropriate, but parents should decide for themselves.


In my opinion, the positive messages and relatable real-life story make this book a must-read.

A Curse so Dark and Lonely

A Curse So Dark and Lonely - Brigid Kemmerer

Audience: Young Adult

Format: e-Book/Library


There is blood under my fingernails.

- first sentence



This is a fabulous retelling of Beauty & the Beast. In Emberfall, the prince and everyone who lives on the castle grounds are cursed to live the same season over and over again. Towards the end of the season, Rhen (the prince) becomes a beast. Over the years, he has killed many villagers, but his captain of the guard (Grey) has learned how to keep the remaining people safe. As in the original, the only way to break the curse is for someone to fall in love with Rhen. Grey brings girls from the modern world to the castle in an attempt to find someone who will break the curse. One day he ends up kidnapping Harper. Harper isn't like any of the other girls Grey kidnapped over the years (of course). But she also isn't your typical "Belle" - she has cerebral palsy and she loves horses more than books.


Chapters are told in alternating viewpoints between Rhen and Harper and it's fun to see what they're thinking about how the other one behaves. There is adventure, intrigue, and  a great deal of violence. There are forces outside the castle grounds that threaten Emberfall. Harper helps Rhen and Grey come up with solutions. She is feisty and smart and doesn't give up easily. 


I loved this story and the end was surprising even though I thought I knew how it would go. I am looking forward to the next book.



The Hatching Series by Ezekiel Boone

The Hatching: A Novel - Ezekiel Boone Skitter - Ezekiel Boone Zero Day: A Novel (The Hatching Series) - Ezekiel Boone


Another series I finished for Halloween Bingo but never had a chance to review. I loved this series and highly recommend it to anyone who likes stories about the apocalypse and/or creepy crawlies. If you are in doubt, read some of the other reviews on Booklikes. :)

Kill Creek by Scott Thomas

Kill Creek - Scott Thomas, Bernard Setaro Clark

Audience: Adult

Format: Audiobook/Owned


"No house is born bad."

- first sentence



I listened to this book for Halloween Bingo at the end of September. I've been swamped with school, work, and trying to get settled in my new house so I haven't had time to write any reviews.


I enjoyed this book. It was a slow build and I kept thinking something was going to happen, but the story kept taking unexpected turns. After all this time, that's all I have. *shrugs*

Halloween Bingo 2019 Update 4







9/1/19: Ghost stories
9/2/19: Genre: Horror
9/3/19: Creepy Crawlies
9/4/19: Amateur Sleuth (not on my card)

9/5/19: American Horror Story
9/6/19: Dystopian Hellscape (not on my card)
9/7/19: Fear Street

9/8/19: Black Cat
9/9/19: Relics and Curiosities
9/10/19: A Grimm Tale  (not on my card)

9/11/19: Stranger Things
9/12/19: Creepy Carnivals (not on my card)

9/13/19: Country House Mystery (not on my card)
9/14/19: Classic Horror (not on my card)
9/15/19: Supernatural
9/16/19: Psych (not on my card)

9/17/19: Darkest London (not on my card)
9/18/19: Cozy Mystery (not on my card)
9/19/19: Southern Gothic (not on my card)

9/20/19: Read by Flashlight or Candlelight (not on my card)
9/21/19: Modern Noir (not on my card)

9/22/19: Spellbound
9/23/19: Dark Academia
9/24/19: Deadlands

9/25/19: Slasher Stories

9/26/19: In the Dark, Dark Woods

9/27/19: It was a Dark & Stormy Night

9/28/19: Paint It Black

9/29/19: Truly Terrifying (not on my card)

9/30/19: Locked Room Mystery (not on my card)

10/1/19: Raven/Free Space

10/2/19: Full Moon (not on my card)

10/3/19: King of Fear (not on my card)

10/4/19: Vampires

10/5/19: Halloween (not on my card)

10/6/19: Sleepy Hollow (not on my card)

10/7/19: Diverse Voices (not on my card)

10/8/19: Demons (not on my card)

10/9/19: International Woman of Mystery (not on my card)

10/10/19: Film at 11 (not on my card)

10/11/19: Cryptozoologist (not on my card)

10/12/19: Stone Cold Horror

10/13/19: Baker Street Irregulars (not on my card)

10/14/19: Romantic Suspense (not on my card)

10/15/19: New Release (not on my card)

10/16/19: Monsters

10/17/19: 13 (not on my card)

10/18/19: Modern Masters of Horror

10/19/19: Genre: Mystery (not on my card)

10/20/19: Classic Noir (not on my card)

10/21/19: Serial Spree Killer(not on my card)

10/23/19: Aliens (not on my card)

10/24/19: Doomsday (not on my card)

10/25/19: Gothic





Currently Reading:


Zero Day by Ezekiel Boone

Skitter by Ezekiel Boone

The Hatching by Ezekiel Boone

Kill Creek by Scott Thomas






The Shuddering by Ania Ahlborn for American Horror Story

Let Me In by John Ajvide Lindqvist for Vampires

City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab for Ghost Stories

Cold Moon Over Babylon by Malcolm McDowell for Terror in a Small Town


Currently reading

A Heart so Fierce and Broken
Brigid Kemmerer
Scott Westerfeld
Annie's Life in Lists
Kristin Mahoney
Tracing The Trails: A Constant Reader's Reflections on the Work of Stephen King
Chad CLark, Duncan Ralston, Richard Chizmar

Reading is my Escape's Read 2018 book montage

The Man in the Iron Mask
Truly Madly Guilty
The Reptile Room
The Wide Window
The Miserable Mill
The Austere Academy
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
The Nerdy Dozen
The Carnivorous Carnival
The Iron Giant
The Slippery Slope

Reading is my Escape's favorite books »

2018 Reading Challenge

2018 Reading Challenge
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