The End of the World and Beyond

This story is a sequel to The Unexpected Life of Oliver Cromwell Pitts: Being an Absolutely Accurate Autobiographical Account of My Follies, Fortune, and Fate. Side note- is that the longest title you’ve ever seen? Me too. Please read that book first, but Avi gives you a quick synopsis at the start of the book in case you can’t get your hands on it. I reviewed it here.


This book starts right where the last left off and Oliver is about to be sent to the colonies for the crime of stealing. Many of the other characters sentenced to be slaves in the colonies committed crimes that would result in community service today. The age of the convicts ranges from 6-80! Most (like Oliver) broke the law purely out of survival instincts. But, such is the reality of the 1700s. England needed labor in the Colonies, and this was an excellent way to supply the farmers with the workforce they needed.

I like this series of historical fiction; it sounds like you are reading dinkens if his language was modernized. It is a cold, cruel world where mistakes can be deadly and it was every man for himself.

Like all of Avi’s books this immerses you in what it must have been like to live at that time. It isn’t sensationalized but it is an honest look into societal norms. This is the kind of books where it takes me forever to read it aloud, because we keep stopping to discuss the events, or to Google a map or law. So, really the best kind of read aloud.

Homeschool Note: I’m adding both books on to my historical fiction list for American History. I was planning on an American centered year in 9th grade, but have just started tweaking the plan so that we can move it up to next Fall. I think it’ll fit better and free up more time in high school for something else. I’ll work on my book list for that and get it up on my Amazon page soon.

Please note that I received a free advance E ARC of this book from the publisher without a review requirement or any influence regarding review content should I choose to post a review. Apart from that, I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.

The End of the World and Beyond by Avi

January 2019

The Book of Boy


The story begins in France around 1350; the plague has swept through the area and Boy is on his own. He lives and works for a knight of the local manor. He does an excellent job of tending the goats in spite of his hunchback. He seems to understand the goats' behavior better than most people and is generally content with his life.

Boy then meets a pilgrim named Secondus who is on a quest to locate seven relics that are hidden somewhere in France and Rome. After a little while, we realize that he is ill and then find out that he hopes to gain entry to Paradise based on the quest and not on his behavior throughout his life. He hopes to be reunited with his wife and son and so is pretty manic about completing his self-proclaimed quest.

The boy hopes that St Peter will cure his hump and that he will be a “real boy,” and although Secondus is pretty sketchy, Buying your way into Heaven after a life spent sinning is a tricky business. Boy stays the course and sticks with him.

I'm not confident that the theology of this book is accurate, but it does give readers a glimpse into feudal life of the Middle Ages. Maybe one of my kind readers could let me know about the theology as I am wondering if these were the prevailing beliefs at the time?

After I finished this book all I could think of was how I was going to squeeze it into our school reading. Technically we are well past the Middle Ages so I'll probably just shelf it for now, but it is perfect for any Logic Stage (roughly 5th through 8th grade) or high school students that are studying that period. It's just the right length at under 300 pages, and the hardcover even has deckle-edged pages which in combination with the high quality paper makes it seem like you are reading an epic ancient quest. (I’m a sucker for the deckle edge)

Please note that I received a free copy of this book from the publisher without a review requirement or any influence regarding review content should I choose to post a review. Apart from that, I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.

The Book of Boy by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

Music Boxes


This reminded me of Goosebumps, in a good way.

Lindsey dreams of being a famous ballerina, and she is talented enough that her family moves from Nebraska to New York so she can pursue her dream. Madame Destinee (great name) says she has talent!

What could go wrong? Well, it’s weird the way girls keep disappearing, and at the same time, new music box ballerinas start appearing.

So, it’s scary, but in a fun Goosebumps way. I liked the larger message of being a right sibling and the sacrifices that family makes for each other.

This is a fun, quick read for middle-grade kids.

Music Boxes by Tonja Drecker

February 1, 2018

City of Ghosts


After Cassidy falls into a river, she starts seeing Jacob (who no one else can see), and it turns out she had a “near death” experience that would have been a sure death experience if (already dead) Jacob hadn’t saved her.

Cassie finds out pretty quickly that she can cross back and forth through the veil. Now, this sounds scary, but it is just the right amount of creepy for a middle-grade story. We listened to it on Audible in like three days. We had to know what would happen next.

In a way, it reminds me of The Graveyard Book. Jason has a lot of rules that he has to obey, and they mystify and intrigue Cassie. Her parents are ghost hunters, and so she already knows a bit after spirits and how to quickly tell if they are real or not.

Because I love everything Victoria Schwab writes, I was thrilled to have a middle-grade book that I could read with my 13yo. Add in that it is spooky to the max and set in Scotland and it was the perfect trifecta for us. Bonus points that Cassie is a photographer and comic book fan. It’s the kind of book that I’ll buy in book form also for re-reading every October or any month for that matter.

Note to friends: Declan gives it 10 million stars. So- high praise. Use your discretion with younger kids, but teens on up will love this one.

City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab