Sunday, March 29, 2009

Fablehaven: Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary

It only came out on Tuesday, but by Wednesday night I had finished the fourth book in the Fablehaven saga: Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary. Brandon Mull is my hero. He published Fablehaven and then just took off running. I have yet to read a fantasy book put out by Shadow Mountain that matches the brilliance of Fablehaven.

The Society of the Evening Star is an evil group determined to unleash a demon that has been trapped, whose freedom would wreak havoc on the entire world. Five magical items are needed in order open the prison. The Evening Star has one. The Knights of the Dawn have another. The race is on between to the two groups to find the other three. Kendra and Seth, brother and sister, have proven themselves valuable to the Knights of the Dawn in their bravery and determination to keep the world safe. Their enemies know their abilities and potential. The Society of the Evening Star is patient and cunning in its goals. Their main weapon is deception, and decption is certainly explored in this novel, as are the issues of trust and betrayal. As the world seems to be falling towards the influence of the Evening Star, who can be trusted? What about former traitors who seem repentant? Can they truly change? Can they ever be trusted again? Now is a critical time to make these decisions, because the latest book in the saga requires our heroes to journey to Wyrmroot, a forbidden sanctuary of dangerous creatures, such as basilisks, griffens, and of course, dragons! Bravery and skill will not be enough to complete their mission. They must trust each other, or there is no hope.

If you have read the other Fablehaven books and haven't picked up the newest yet, hurry and do so! I swear each book gets better than the last, even though I think it's impossible for the next book to be better. If you haven't read Fablehaven yet, shame! You are missing out! Hurry out and buy it, ESPECIALLY if you liked Harry Potter. Fablehaven is another wonderful story that appeals to all ages.

Also, as a side note, later this year Brandon Mull is publishing another book called Pingo. The advertisement for it says, "What happens when your imaginary friend turns into your imaginary enemy?" What a great idea! It's totally something I would have done. I'm anxious to buy it, even though it is a children's picture book. I can guarantee that when it comes out, it will have a place on this blog.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Hourglass Door

This book has not yet been released, but around June 16th, hurry to the nearest bookstore and buy The Hourglass Door by Lisa Mangum. I read an Advanced Reader's Copy from Deseret Book and I absolutely loved it! It was another book that I just could not put down. I read the entire thing in less than five hours. I don't want to give anything away, so I am going to be very careful about how I mention it.

The book is about a girl named Abby. She is a high school senior who has always had her life planned out for her, from her boyfriend to college. But she hates having things so predictable all the time. When she considers going to a different college, her best friend freaks out. When she mentions not going bowling for her birthday, her parents can't believe it. She wants something different! So she gets it. A new boy named Dante arrives at her school. He says he is a foreign-exchange student from Italy. But there is something mysterious about this boy. And what is his connection to the band "Zero Hour" that has arrived to play in town? And why, when she is with him, does time go berserk? Ah! I wish I could tell you, but you have to find out for yourself!

Both the writing and the storytelling in this book are superb. Honestly, I cannot believe that this is Lisa Mangum's first book. The storyline is intriguing with several twists and turns that made me laugh, go wide-eyed, and loudly whisper, "No way!" One of my favorite parts of the whole book was when I got the very end and saw an advertisement for a sequel. I was so excited that there is going to be more!!! Girls will love this book for the romance aspect, especially if they liked Twilight. Boys will like this book because of intriguing history, abilities, and science (and if you're like me, a little romance never hurts as long as it doesn't go too far). Stephanie Meyer, it's time to step aside and allow Lisa Mangum to take the stage. This book has earned her a very prominent and well-deserved position.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Nick of Time

For anybody who loves Robert Louis Stevenson and/or historical fiction, I highly recommend Nick of Time by Ted Bell. The title of the book is appropriate in two ways. First of all, Nick has the tendency to come to the rescue or make important decisions in the "nick of time," as the phrase goes. However, the title takes on a whole new meaning when one day Nick finds a sea chest with a time machine inside. Nick literally becomes able to master time and thereby becomes "Nick of Time."

The story takes place in pre-WWII on the Greybeard Island in the English Channel. Nick's father is a spy for Winston Churchill and is keeping watch for Nazi submarines until the government becomes displeased with this "un-asked for" assignment and decides to relocate the entire family to the mainland. Just as this is happening, Nick finds a sea chest from the early 1800s in perfect condition on the beach. That same day he encounters pirates that look like they've come from the early 1800s as well. Only later does Nick discover the chest was sent to him by one of his ancestors, imploring him to travel back in time and save his ancestor's ship and warn Lord Admiral Nelson of the upcoming battle at Trafalgar. Suddenly, Nick and his sister are caught up in two different wars with two deadly enemies in two different times.

Nick of Time deals with the classic morals of honor and heroism. Because Nick has done a lot of reading, he has always imagined what it would be like to be a hero. As he is plunged into the heat of battle, he learns exactly what heroism requires. Heroism and honor both require tremendous sacrifice, especially when the sacrifice seems impossible. Reading the book made me think about my own honor and heroism and has given me the desire to live in an honorable and heroic way. A mark of a good book is one that makes you a better person by having read it. Nick of Time easily fulfills this qualification.

I don't want to give anything else away, but I will say that I could hardly put the book down. It is an adventure story that is extremely well-written and well-told. Again, Ted Bell is a modern Robert Louis Stevenson. His fantastic descriptions made me feel like I was in the heat of the battle as two ships waged war against each other. I could almost taste the gunpowder in the air and hear the sound of swords clashing and the screams of the dying men. Absolutely amazing! I cannot imagine anybody being disappointed with this book. I bought it on a whim and I must say that it has been my best purchase so far this year. It has earned its proud place on my bookshelf, though I can guarantee it won't have much time to collect dust before I decide to read it again.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Slathbog's Gold

This week I finished the latest book published for young readers by Shadow Mountairin: Slathbog's Gold by M. L. Forman. The story of the book was very enjoyable. I have told my friends that M. L. Forman is a Tolkien for young readers. His book contains elves, dwarves, dragons, and even wraiths. Many of the adventures reminded me of similar adventures from Tolkien's The Hobbit or Lord of the Rings trilogy. I think Slathbog's Gold would be the perfect introduction for young readers to get into Tolkien.

The book is about a teenager named Alex who enters a strange shop one day and immediately finds himself going on an adventure. He is now an Adventurer and he is going with a group of seven others to defeat the evil dragon Slathbog, who has terrorized the land. Alex can barely believe that any of this is real. what adds more to his amazement, when he goes into a shop to select a weapon, the shop owner tells him he qualifies for a staff, something only wizards are able to use. Such is the beginning of Alex's road to find his destiny.

There were only two problems I had with this novel. First of all, everybody laughs ALL THE TIME! Now, don't get me wrong. I love to laugh (Ha ha ha!--sorry, Mary Poppins moment there). But the laughter seems a little too unreal at times. I am glad that the eight people on the adventure are always so happy (except Tayo), but by the end of the book the laughter started to distract me.

My only other qualm is that the story went way too fast. On one hand, though, this could be a compliment on the book. It pulled me into the story so much that when I got to the end I thought, "What? It's already over?" The book says that the whole adventure takes a year, but I didn't feel like it because it went so fast. But again, I must remind myself that I have read Tolkien and this book is written for younger readers. Overall, the book was very enjoyable and it definitely deserves itself place among the other Shadow Mountain books that I love so much: such as Fablehaven, Farworld, and 13th Reality. I highly recommend this book to anybody interested in the fantasy genre.

Sunday, March 8, 2009


Inkheart, written by Cornelia Funke, is a masterpiece! I enjoyed this book more than the first three Harry Potter books. The story is about a young girl named Meggie, who one night sees a stranger in front of her house. She tells her father, Mo, about the man and her father is suddenly very serious. The man is called Dustfinger and he calls Mo “Silvertongue.” Much later in the story, Meggie discovers that when her father reads a book out loud, he has the power to bring something from the book into our world. Years earlier, he had accidently read three characters from a book called Inkheart into our world. Besides Dustfinger, he brought Capricorn and Basta, two of the worst villains ever created. The book is about Meggie and Mo’s adventures as they deal with Dustfinger, who only wants to return to his world, and Capricorn, who is determined to rule the world. It’s a great book! I highly recommend it to anybody who likes Fantasy.


One of my favorite parts is towards the middle of the book when Meggie and Mo meet the author of Inkheart. As a writer myself, I really enjoyed getting this character’s perspective. When our heroes mention Capricorn, the author says, “Ah, yes! He was the perfect villain!” To which they basically reply, “Yeah, we know. Thanks a lot.” It was fun to see the author’s reactions as he sees his creations come to life, comparing them with how he imagined them and also knowing their unwritten weaknesses.

Another one of my favorite parts of this book is that each chapter begins with a quote from a pre-existing book, such as Peter Pan or The Princess Bride. That quote has something to do with what happens in that chapter. It is absolutely brilliant! I cannot wait to read the rest of the trilogy.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Graveyard Book

I guess my first review will be the book I most frequently read. Maybe I'll work backwards a little since I have read so much this semester, though I might interject a few books I've read in the past.

Anyway, my first review is of The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. It tells the story of Nobody Owens (he goes by Bod), a young mortal boy being raised by ghosts in a graveyard. While in the graveyard, he is capable of certain ghost-like qualities that do not work once he leaves (for example, the ability to walk through walls, or tombstones as the case may be). He is conflicted with the idea of staying in the graveyard or searching for the man named Jack, who killed Bod's parents when he was just a baby.

It is absolute brilliant work. My favorite part about it, though is when Bod is talking to Silas, his guardian about wanting to go out into the world. Silas warns him that the man named Jack is still searching for him, wanting to kill him. Bod replies, "It's only death. I mean, all of my best friends are dead." Silas then tells him, "Yes . . . they are. And they are, for the most part, done with the world. You are not. You are alive, Bod. That means you have infinite potential. You can do anything, make anything, dream anything. If you change the world, the world will change. Potential. Once you're dead, it's gone . . . That potential is finished."

A book about a boy raised by ghosts makes the reader ponder the meaning of life and all it has to offer. I loved this reflection. I highly recommend this book to anyone. I normally do not like books with ghosts and supernatural creatures, but The Graveyard Book is definitely the exception to the rule.