Thursday, November 14, 2019

Book Reviews | Fablehaven #1-5 by Brandon Mull

Fablehaven is a middle grade fantasy series from Brandon Mull.

Fablehaven by Brandon Mull

For centuries mystical creatures of all description were gathered into a hidden refuge called Fablehaven to prevent their extinction. The sanctuary survives today as one of the last strongholds of true magic. Enchanting? Absolutely. Exciting? You bet. Safe? Well, actually, quite the opposite.

Kendra and her brother, Seth, have no idea that their grandfather is the current caretaker of Fablehaven. Inside the gated woods, ancient laws keep relative order among greedy trolls, mischievous satyrs, plotting witches, spiteful imps, and jealous fairies. However, when the rules get broken -- Seth is a bit too curious and reckless for his own good -- powerful forces of evil are unleashed, and Kendra and her brother face the greatest challenge of their lives. To save their family, Fablehaven, and perhaps even the world, Kendra and Seth must find the courage to do what they fear most.

Not only is my 10 year old now reading from my bookshelves, he's selecting books I haven't read yet. I admit to being jealous when he started reading Fablehaven. During this first book, he thought the series was one step below Harry Potter, but it managed to surpass Harry Potter in the second book. After finishing book two, he made a comment about how badly he wanted me to read this series so I threw my TBR out of the window. Sorry commitments, I'll come back to you some day!

I have my doubts that Fablehaven will surpass Harry Potter for me, but it is a great series! I really loved this first book, and I'm excited by how much my son loves reading fantasy. He has an amazing year of reading ahead of him.

Fablehaven is a sanctuary for mystical creatures. That sounds lovely and all, but mystical creatures are arrogant and dangerous. The main characters in Fablehaven discover their grandparents are the caretakers of Fablehaven, and a lot of adventure ensues. I can't wait to see what happens in the rest of the series. It's a middle grade book, and while it's magical and adventurous, it goes to some really dark places, too. I highly recommend this one to middle grade fantasy fans. If you don't read middle grade (I'm sorry to hear that), this is a great series to gift a young reader who does.


Rise of the Evening Star by Brandon Mull

At the end of the school year, Kendra and her brother Seth find themselves racing back to Fablehaven, a refuge for mythical and magical creatures.

Grandpa Sorenson, the caretaker, invites three specialists -- a potion master, a magical relics collector, and a mystical creature trapper -- to help protect the property from the Society of the Evening Star, an ancient organization determined to infiltrate the preserve and steal a hidden artifact of great power.

Time is running out. The Evening Star is storming the gates. If the artifact falls into the wrong hands, it could mean the downfall of other preserves and possibly the world.

Will Kendra learn to use her fairy gifts in time? Will Seth stay out of trouble?
Why is this not a movie series?

I'm really enjoying the Fablehaven series. It is just the pick me up I've been needing lately, and I'm having a blast reading this series with my son.

The creatures and the action and the roles of the main characters really kicked into gear in this second installment. I love that the main characters are brother and sister. Brandon Mull writes kids so well.


Grip of the Shadow Plague by Brandon Mull

Very strange things are afoot at Fablehaven. Someone or something has released a plague that transforms beings of light into creatures of darkness. Seth discovers the problem early, but as the infectious disease spreads, it becomes clear that the preserves cannot hold out for long. In dire need of help, the Sorensons question where to turn. The Sphinx has always given sound advice - but is he a traitor? Inside the Quiet Box, Vanessa might have information that could lead to a cure - but can she be trusted?

Meanwhile, Kendra and members of the Knights of the Dawn must journey to a distant preserve and retrieve another hidden artifact.

Will the Society of the Evening Star recover it first? Will the plague eclipse all light at Fablehaven?

Grip of the Shadow Plague took a turn toward the darkness! A shadow plague is taking over Fablehaven and turning the light creatures into dark creatures. YES! Only it wasn't dark enough for my sick and twisted soul. Give me all of the darkness!

I'm still really enjoying this series. The kids are evolving and becoming much more independent characters. I'm a little sad by this because I enjoyed the presence of their grandparents in this series. Parents always disappear in MG/YA books. I understand why, but I would like to see more books where the parents are present.

I'm looking forward to seeing what happens in the next one. We get dragons!


Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary by Brandon Mull

Brace yourself for a shocking secret.

Two hidden artifacts have been found. Three more remain unrecovered. More preserves face destruction as the Society of the Evening Star relentlessly pursues new talismans. Reading in Patton’s Journal of Secrets, Kendra learns the location of the key to a vault housing one of the artifacts. In order to retrieve it, the Knights of the Dawn must enter a death trap — a dragon sanctuary called Wyrmroost. The mission cannot proceed without stealing a sacred object zealously guarded by the centaurs. Anybody seen Seth?

The race is on to acquire all five of the artifact keys to the great demon prison. Will the Knights of the Dawn conquer Wyrmroost? Who can stop the Sphinx? Can Vanessa be trusted to help? What artifact will be found next?

Book 4 of the Fablehaven series was a fun one to buddy read with my son! The title is Secrets of the Dragon Santuary and there were secrets alright. I was happy this one started out with the grandparents being back in the picture. As per usual, though, Seth and Kendra are off to save the world (or at least Fablehaven). There was some interesting world building and magic in this one. You definitely have to suspend some disbelief, but hey, good times.


Keys to the Demon Prison by Brandon Mull

After centuries of plotting, the Sphinx—leader of the Society of the Evening Star—is after the final artifacts needed to open the great demon prison, Zzyxx. If the legendary prison is opened, a tide of evil is certain to usurp control of the world.

In an effort to intercept the final artifacts, Kendra, Seth and the Knights of the Dawn race to strange and exotic preserves across the globe. The stakes have never been higher. The risks have never been more deadly.

In this explosive series finale, allegiances will be confirmed and secrets revealed as the forces of light and darkness collide in a desperate, climactic battle to control the keys to the demon prison.

I'm done! It was tough getting through 2,412 pages of a series in a short period of time, but the Fablehaven series was a really solid read. Keys to the Demon Prison is my son's favorite book of all time now. What a successful ending! Kendra and Seth are so grown up, and I may have gotten a little teary at their parents at the end of this one.

There is a sequel series (Dragonwatch). My son has already flown through the first two and is finishing up the third one that was just released this month. I'm choosing to sit that one out, but he's loving it. If you enjoy middle grade fantasy, definitely give this one a chance. Otherwise, gift it to an up and coming reader in your life.


I really enjoyed getting to read these with my son. Overall, I give the series ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐.

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Wednesday, November 13, 2019

On My Wishlist {22}

On My Wishlist is where I share a few books that have recently made it onto my wishlist. These are the books that have recently caught my eye:

Walking to Aldebaran by Adrian Tchaikovsky
Published May 28th 2019 by Solaris

Chilling story of a lost astronaut on an alien artefact from Arthur C. Clarke award-winning Adrian Tchaikovsky

My name is Gary Rendell. I’m an astronaut. When they asked me as a kid what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said, “astronaut, please!” I dreamed astronaut, I worked astronaut, I studied astronaut.

I got lucky; when a probe sent out to explore the Oort Cloud found a strange alien rock and an international team of scientists was put together to go and look at it, I made the draw.

I got even luckier. When disaster hit and our team was split up, scattered through the endless cold tunnels, I somehow survived.

Now I’m lost, and alone, and scared, and there’s something horrible in here.

Lucky me.

Lucky, lucky, lucky.

After reading Mogsy review of the audio for Walking to Aldebaran, I'm convinced I need it in my life!

Architects of Memory by Karen Osborne
Expected publication: August 25th 2020 by Tor Books

Terminally Ill salvage pilot Ash Jackson lost everything in the war with the alien Vai, but she'll be damned if she loses her future. Her plan: to buy, beg, or lie her way out of corporate indenture and fine a cure.

When her crew salvages a genocidal weapon from a ravaged starship above a dead colony, Ash uncovers a conspiracy of corporate intrigue and betrayal that threatens to turn her into a living weapon.
Tammy featured Architects of Memory in her Future Fiction feature. I really want to check it out!

Scary Stories for Young Foxes by Christian McKay Heidicker
Published August 20th 2019 by Henry Holt and Company

Christian McKay Heidicker draws inspiration from Bram Stoker, H. P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allen Poe for his debut middle-grade novel, a thrilling portrait of survival and an unforgettable tale of friendship.

The haunted season has arrived in the Antler Wood. No fox kit is safe.

When Mia and Uly are separated from their litters, they discover a dangerous world full of monsters. In order to find a den to call home, they must venture through field and forest, facing unspeakable things that dwell in the darkness: a zombie who hungers for their flesh, a witch who tries to steal their skins, a ghost who hunts them through the snow . . . and other things too scary to mention.

Featuring eight interconnected stories and sixteen hauntingly beautiful illustrations, Scary Stories for Young Foxes contains the kinds of adventures and thrills you love to listen to beside a campfire in the dark of night. Fans of Neil Gaiman, Jonathan Auxier, and R. L. Stine have found their next favorite book.

Is it possible for a book to be too perfect? I want to find out.

Are you planning to read any of these new or upcoming releases? What books have recently made it onto your wishlist?

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Monday, November 11, 2019

Book Reviews | Little Paranoias: Stories by Sonora Taylor

Little Paranoias: Stories is a horror collection from Sonora Taylor.

Is it a knock on the door, or a gust of wind? A trick of the light, or someone who’ll see what you’ve done?

“Little Paranoias: Stories” features twenty tales of the little things that drive our deepest fears. It tells the stories of terror and sorrow, lust at the end of the world and death as an unwanted second chance. It dives into the darkest corners of the minds of men, women, and children. It wanders into the forest and touches every corner of the capital. Everyone has something to fear — but after all, it’s those little paranoias that drive our day-to-day.
I've been really excited to check out Little Paranoias. Earlier this year I read Sonora Taylor's novel Without Condition, and I was looking forward to checking out more of her work. (She also published a story on the Ladies of Horror Fiction podcast so be sure to check that out!)

One thing I really loved about this collection was the varying lengths of all of the stories. From flash fiction to poetry to longer stories, it never felt repetitive, and I never got bogged down. I have a hard time sitting down with a collection or an anthology and reading it straight through. I didn't have that trouble at all with Little Paranoias. Each of the stories held on to my attention, and I flew through the collection.

Fall is the best time of year for reading short stories, and Little Paranoias is a solid collection I would recommend putting on your list.


Review copy provided by author

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Sunday, November 10, 2019

Recent Updates and Currently Reading | November 10

Hola todos. It's blogging day! This is the first weekend I've been home in... I can't remember. After the long, hellish week I just had, I was determined at all cost to be home.

I'm behind in NaNoWriMo, too, but I'm OK with that. I'm learning a lot about how and when I can write in my current environment which is progress.

There was a lot of misinformation being thrown around on twitter yesterday regarding FTC disclosures. I'm curious: what do you say in your reviews when you receive a book for review purposes? I always say "Review copy provided by ______".

The Goodreads Awards are live for voting. There are a lot of women horror/horror adjacent authors on the list this year. That was great to see!

Imyril and Dear Geek Place are hosting SciFi Month this month. I'm hoping to add in a scifi book or two this month.

Finished Reading

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead [dnf] - This was not my cup of tea. I made 35% and just couldn't go on. It's my book club's current selection so I have major guilt about showing up this week just to say it was an impossible task, but I don't want to use the only time I have reading something I don't like.

Coco by Walt Disney Company ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ - It bugs me that "Disney Press" is the author. Every other publisher is able to credit novelizations. Anyhow, I'm trying to strengthen my Spanish listening skills so I bought the Coco novelization on audio. It's really good!

Currently Reading

I'm hosting a readalong of The Eye of the World on Instagram, and it starts tomorrow. I'm so sorry, I should have said something earlier. If anyone wants to jump in, please let me know and I'll get you added to the group. We are reading through the end of the month.

Recent Acquisitions

After falling madly in love with To Be Taught If Fortunate {review}, I bought Becky Chambers' Wayfarers series. And no, my books don't match. I bought the first book from Book Depository, the second book from Amazon, and the third book from 2nd and Charles because it was the most cost effective way to buy them. I'm trying not to let it bother me. :)

So what about you? Let me know what you're reading this week or leave me some links!

This post is being shared as part of Book Date's It's Monday! What Are You Reading? and Caffeinated Book Reviewer's The Sunday Post.

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Sunday, November 3, 2019

October Wrap Up and Currently Reading

I hope everyone had a spooky Halloween season!! October flew by for me. I have major blogger guilt, but I'm blaming it on the Astros making it into the post-season. It's too soon to talk about that, though.

Is anyone doing NaNoWriMo this year? I'm going to attempt a life/blogging balance while participating in NaNoWriMo this year. If you need a buddy, add me! I definitely need support.

Posted Since My Last Update

October Wrap Up

Since I was a horrible blogger in October, I'm going to roll my wrap up into my update post so you can see what all I have been reading. These are the books I read in October (stay tuned for reviews):

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier {reread} ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Dust (Silo #3) by Hugh Howey ⭐⭐⭐⭐★

Keys to the Demon Prison (Fablehaven #5) by Brandon Mull ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Lock Every Door by Riley Sager ⭐⭐⭐⭐★

Super Simple Story Structure: A Quick Guide to Plotting and Writing Your Novel (Writing As A Second Career Book 1)
by Lisa M. Lilly ⭐⭐⭐⭐★

Little Paranoias: Stories by Sonora Taylor ⭐⭐⭐⭐★

Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand ⭐⭐★★★

Writing a Killer Thriller: An Editor's Guide to Writing Compelling Fiction by Jodie Renner ⭐⭐★★★

The Institute by Stephen King ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Currently Reading

I'm currently reading The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead with my local bookclub.

I'm also making my way through Larry Brooks' Story Engineering: Character Development, Story Concept, Scene Construction.

Recent Acquisitions

Ninth House (Alex Stern #1) by Leigh Bardugo

A Lush and Seething Hell: Two Tales of Cosmic Horror by John Hornor Jacobs

Ormeshadow by Priya Sharma

So what about you? Let me know what you're reading this week or leave me some links!

This post is being shared as part of Book Date's It's Monday! What Are You Reading? and Caffeinated Book Reviewer's The Sunday Post.

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