Book Review - Flashback by Shannon Messenger

February 18, 2019

I've been keeping up with Shannon Messenger's Keeper of the Lost Cities series since the third book came out, so I was very excited when the seventh one released just a couple months ago! I'm not usually a hardcore fan of middle-grade books (*cough* save the greats, like Harry Potter and Artemis Fowl, and a select few), but Keeper of the Lost Cities is some quality stuff, y'all.

And as such, here I am to rave about review Flashback for you guys. Let's go.

4 Stars

For a middle grade series, I've always been super surprised by how well-written the Keeper of the Lost Cities series is - and Flashback is no exception. It totally surprised me at every turn, and I couldn't stop reading it once I picked it up! So, SO good (plus, I mean ... since I've been anticipating this book since forever and always, did anyone actually think I would put it down once I got my paws on it? xD)

From The Back Cover 

In this unforgettable seventh book, Sophie must let the past and present blur together, because the deadliest secrets are always the ones that get erased.

Sophie Foster doesn’t know what—or whom—to believe. And in a game with this many players, the worst mistake can be focusing on the wrong threat.

But when the Neverseen prove that Sophie’s far more vulnerable than she ever imagined, she realizes it’s time to change the rules. Her powerful abilities can only protect her so far. To face down ruthless enemies, she must learn to fight.

Unfortunately, battle training can’t help a beloved friend who’s facing a whole different danger—where the only solution involves one of the biggest risks Sophie and her friends have ever taken. And the distraction might be exactly what the villains have been waiting for.

- How well-crafted the characters were. The characters in Flashback were amazing, as they have been for the entire series, but one thing really stuck out to me this time - the fact that this a middle grade series, and yet the characters are SO full fleshed out. Middle grade has some gems, yeah, but the characters in Flashback are seriously great. Their growth from the first book to this one is amazing, and I love love loved getting to read more of Sophie Foster's story. (I also majorly appreciate that Sophie is strong without coming off as bossy, and that she actually goes to people for help and has adults she trusts and leans on. That was epic - I always hate it when young characters do stupid stuff in books just because they think all adults know nothing and that teenagers rule the world xD)

- The ingenuity of it all. Okay, I'll just come right out and admit it - there are a lot of tropes in fantasy that are so worn out. The regular, run-of-the-mill ones that people use all the live-long day. Keeper of the Lost Cities takes a TON of those tropes and totally flips them around (or adds new shiny elements that make them so epic it doesn't even matter anymore) - and Flashback threw in some new twists that I REALLY loved and didn't see coming. I enjoyed that a ton.

- The cliffhanger. WEIRD, I KNOW. But I have the memory of a literal goldfish, and this series continues to be THE ONLY one where I can still remember the ending of the book I just read almost word-for-word when the next one comes out. And I don't even know why? But I love it? And the cliffhanger for Flashback was just as insane as the cliffhangers in the rest of the series. I shall definitely still remember it when the eighth book comes out ;D.

- There were a few instances of "telling". I actually find that this happens a lot in middle grade books? And while it didn't happen very much in Flashback, it did still happen now and then. Not enough to annoy me much, really (I was too concentrated on the epic stuff to care, ha!), but enough that it deserved noting *shrugs*.

Flashback was a worthy addition to the Keeper of the Lost Cities series, and I absolutely CANNOT wait for the next book. I think this is the longest series I've ever kept up with, and it still feels weird to say I've been reading it since the third book? xD (because I have a smol attention span and I also usually find out about books/series AFTER they're been released, ha!) Would definitely recommend it for any of y'all looking for an especially good middle grade series, or a series that flips a TON of fantasy tropes.

And there are my thoughts on the latest Shannon Messenger book! I hope y'all are having a wonderful February so far - keep being epic, my friends! <3  

~ Savannah Grace 

have you read Flashback?
what's your favorite middle grade series?

What I Wish I'd Known When I Started Blogging

February 9, 2019

And here we come to a post that I've been wanting to write for quite some time 😂.

I've been blogging for about two and a half years now, so I was very excited when Livy Lynn invited me to to be a part of her Fire Starter blog tour, to celebrate the release of her new online course, Fire Starter. I'll be talking about tips for beginning bloggers (aka What I Wish I'd Known When I Started Blogging), and then I'll be telling you about the EPIC Fire Starter course and the giveaway going on to celebrate its release. So don't go anywhere, because you're definitely going to want to hear about that 😉.

So - shall we dig right in?

Quality Trumps Quantity

If you're trying to be a successful blogger, please please please choose quality over quantity. That's not to say that you should only post once every couple months and then forget about it, but quality almost always trumps quantity in the blogging world. If you can only post twice a month, but they're quality posts, then that's better than posting four or five times with sub-par posts. I, like the amateur I was, posted seven or eight times a month when I first started blogging, but a lot of those posts weren't as good quality as they could have been. Nowadays, I post about three or four times a month. Between quality and quantity in the blogging world, quality will always win - because there are zillions of other blogs out there that are sub-par, but yours can stand out if your posts are good quality.    

Keep Your Posts Timely

What do I mean by "timely posts"? Well, a post like "how  to write fascinating main characters" will always be relevant, but a post like "what we can learn from Marvel's Infinity War" is best posted around the time that Infinity War releases, while everyone is still hyped about it. If you have a blogging schedule, it's super helpful to write down events that will be happening around the time of your posts. This way, you can make sure that you keep your posts relevant. I pretty much NEVER did "timely" posts back when I first started blogging, but now I try to keep up with the books and movies being released so that my posts stay relevant. Definitely wish I'd known to do that when I first started this blog! 😂 

Post Wisely

This is a lesson I also wish I'd learned sooner than I did, haha! But posting wisely is very important, because that post is out there for all eyes to see. There are, ah ... multiple posts that I did when I first started blogging that I kind of wish weren't still floating around out there, haha! So when you're getting ready to post something, definitely sit back and evaluate whether or not you're going to still want this post in the blogosphere in the next year or two. If you aren't sure, don't post it! Or work on it some more until it's a post you're happy with, and then post it. Trust me - your future self will thank you 😂.

Reach Out to Other Bloggers

Just because you're a new blogger doesn't mean you can't reach out to other bloggers to ask for advice, or to see if they want to swap guest posts! The blogging community is SUPER supportive and helpful, seriously. Don't be worried about contacting your favorite blogger and asking them for advice, or just telling them you love their posts. Trust me, they'll be thrilled to get a message from you! Reaching out to other bloggers, whether it's just to connect (which is great!) or to ask a smol favor is a great first step for your blog. Without having reached out to people in the blogging community, Inspiring Writes definitely wouldn't be where it is - for example, a lot of people say that my blog design is pretty, and that's only because I have great blogging friends that help me out with it whenever I run into trouble (seriously - I would be lost without them!).

Coding and Design Tricks

Speaking of design - learning a little bit of coding, or some simple design tricks, is SUPER helpful for setting your blog apart from the rest. I actually had a private blog for a couple years before I started this one, so I had already learned the basics - but my public blog still looked like this a few months after I first got it up and running ...

A collage of photos I stole from who knows where as the header, generic PicMonkey font, and what is that sassy small font over on my sidebar? 😂 (and oh my gracious do I look young in that photo, wow) (also I WAS DOING A DESIGN TUTORIAL POST. Savvy, honey, you weren't ready for that yet 😂).

But then I went on a huge coding + design kick, and learned a bucketload of stuff I wish I'd learned BEFORE I started publicly blogging. Some of the most helpful sites I found (which range from very advanced to fairly beginner) were Design Your Own Blog, Code It Pretty, I Can Build A Blog, and XOmisse. Just learning a tiny bit more about design and coding really helped me in the blogging game, and it's definitely something I wish I'd known more about before I started my public blog.     

Whew, that was quite a bit - and it was only the tip of the iceberg, actually! If you want me to do a part two of sorts for this post, let me know down in the comments, and I might just have to do another 😉.   

Alright, enough rambling - like I said earlier, I'm doing this post as part of the stellar Livy Lynn's blog tour to celebrate her brand new Fire Starter! Fire Starter is Livy's brand-new online course, and guys - it sounds absolutely AH-MAZING. The official product page is right HERE.

And you can check out the promo video for the course right HERE! Livy is super friendly and knows a ton about the blogging world, and this course is absolutely going to be an incredible help to so many people. And if you use my code - savannah - you can get $100 off Fire Starter!

So y'all can take advantage of that if you're still on the fence about signing up for Fire Starter 😉. And there's also an awesome giveaway going on! To celebrate the release of Fire Starter, Livy is giving away a free Skype (or email, if that's what you prefer) Session to talk about blogging goals, writing advice, and how to take your blog to the next level! Entering is super simple - just hop over to Livy's blog and sign up for her email updates, and you're all set. (and you'll get a free e-book when you sign up, too, so ... *sneaks over and signs myself up because BOOKS* xD)

I hope this post was helpful to you guys, and that you'll go check out Fire Starter, because it sounds AMAZING. I should be back with another post for you guys in about a week or two - until then, keep being epic, my friends 💕.

~ Savannah Grace

are you signing up for Fire Starter?
what's something you wish you'd known about blogging when you started?

* this post contains affiliate links. Should you click through to purchase Fire Starter on this page, a small fee will be given to Inspiring Writes with no extra cost to you.