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Book Review: Dragonwatch by Brandon Mull

March 14, 2017

Title: Dragonwatch

Author: Brandon Mull

Series: Fablehaven #6

Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy

Rating: 4/5 stars

Release Date: March 14, 2017

The Overview: In the hidden dragon sanctuary of Wyrmroost, Celebrant the Just, King of the Dragons, plots his revenge. He has long seen the sanctuaries as prisons, and he wants nothing more than to overthrow his captors and return the world to the Age of Dragons, when he and his kind ruled and reigned without borders. The time has come to break free and reclaim his power. No one person is capable of stopping Celebrant and his dragon horde. It will take the ancient order of Dragonwatch to gather again if there is any chance of saving the world from destruction. In ancient times, Dragonwatch was a group of wizards, enchantresses, dragon slayers, and others who originally confined the majority of dragons into sanctuaries. But nearly all of the original Dragonwatch members are gone, and so the wizard Agad reaches out to Grandpa Sorenson for help. As Kendra and Seth confront this new danger, they must draw upon all their skills, talents, and knowledge as only they have the ability to function together as a powerful dragon tamer. Together they must battle against forces with superior supernatural powers and breathtaking magical abilities. How will the epic dragon showdown end? Will dragons overthrow humans and change the world as we know it? -Goodreads

The Review:

I am a HUGE Fablehaven fan, considering it my all-time favorite middle grade series (aside from Harry Potter – the untouchable). I loved it for its fun storyline, boundless surprises, and sense of wonder. If you’d asked me which element of Fablehaven I’d wanted to read more about, the dragon sanctuary would have been my pick, hands down. Not only was it a magical place to visit, but I thought Mull had only scratched the surface of what it had to offer. I was thrilled when Dragonwatch was announced!

Before diving in, I’d been under the impression that Dragonwatch was going to be a true spinoff with new characters and everything. But it isn’t a spinoff… IT’S A CONTINUATION!!! Taking place right where Kendra and Seth left off their adventures in Keys to the Demon Prison (Book #5). Reading about these characters again felt like coming home. I remembered how sad I was when the original series ended, so Dragonwatch was a special treat for sure – and there’s more to come!

The best part of this novel for me were the dragons – I loved the different varieties and personalities, and think we’ll only get more detail as the series continues. There was also a fun adventure that included lots of creative obstacles for the characters to figure out and overcome. The plot was well constructed, but I don’t think that was completely evident from the beginning. The first third of the book, while immersed in Fablehaven awesomeness, took a long time to get to the selling point of the novel – the dragon sanctuary. While I enjoyed every moment, I can’t help but wonder if I would have enjoyed it a mite more had it moved along a bit quicker.

Overall, I’m excited for more adventures in this world and can’t wait for the next book!

I’d like to thank NetGalley, Shadow Mountain Publishing, and Brandon Mull for the opportunity to read and review an early copy of Dragonwatch.

Other books you might like:

 by Niki Hawkes

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Coming Soon: Dragonwatch by Brandon Mull

March 14, 2017

Title: Dragonwatch

Author: Brandon Mull

Series: Fablehaven #6

Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy

Release Date: March 14, 2017

The Overview: In the hidden dragon sanctuary of Wyrmroost, Celebrant the Just, King of the Dragons, plots his revenge. He has long seen the sanctuaries as prisons, and he wants nothing more than to overthrow his captors and return the world to the Age of Dragons, when he and his kind ruled and reigned without borders. The time has come to break free and reclaim his power. No one person is capable of stopping Celebrant and his dragon horde. It will take the ancient order of Dragonwatch to gather again if there is any chance of saving the world from destruction. In ancient times, Dragonwatch was a group of wizards, enchantresses, dragon slayers, and others who originally confined the majority of dragons into sanctuaries. But nearly all of the original Dragonwatch members are gone, and so the wizard Agad reaches out to Grandpa Sorenson for help. As Kendra and Seth confront this new danger, they must draw upon all their skills, talents, and knowledge as only they have the ability to function together as a powerful dragon tamer. Together they must battle against forces with superior supernatural powers and breathtaking magical abilities. How will the epic dragon showdown end? Will dragons overthrow humans and change the world as we know it? -Goodreads

Waiting on Wednesday
Hosted by Breaking the Spine

I LOVED Fablehaven, and if you’d asked me which element of the whole series I’d like to see expanded on, I would’ve shouted “The Dragon Sanctuary!!” From the rooftops. Therefore, I am SO FREAKING EXCITED that my wish is coming true! This spinoff/continuation series is going to be amazing and I can’t wait!

What book are you waiting on?

 by Niki Hawkes

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Stacking the Shelves – September 2014 Edition!

Stacking the shelves

Hosted by Tinga’s Reviews

I have to admit, of all of the memes my fellow bloggers participate in, Stacking the Shelves is my favorite. I love seeing the books other readers are bringing home and especially love getting peeks at all of the ARCs floating around out there (I don’t get physical copies often, so it’s nice to live vicariously through those that do). Because I’m doing a self-imposed Read 4, Buy 1 challenge, I only participate in STS once a month – let’s face it, no one needs a play-by-play of the single titles I’m getting every couple of weeks. This month, however, could of been a different story because I broke my rule (*sort of) and I broke it in style!

New Hardcopies:

 Considering I only purchased a couple “new” books this month, I can think of many other authors I’d be THIS excited to add to my collection! And two of them are SIGNED!!!! The Kim Harrison one will have to wait until I’m caught up in the series (I’ve been savoring them), but I am ready and eager to devour this short story collection by Patricia Briggs! And, of course, I’ve already read and loved the Rothfuss. :)

“Used” Hardcopies:

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 *You see, there is an addendum in my R4B1 challenge (which I added, of course) which states that I may break the rules and buy books if 1) I find them at a screaming deal or 2) they are among the half-dozen titles I’ve been searching for to complete certain series within my hardcover collection. Thank goodness for this amazing bookstore in Seattle, because I found almost ALL THE THINGS I have been looking for, and at a bargain to boot!! So, technically I cheated (from a financial standpoint), but technically all of these titles fall into that “addendum” category so I’m letting it slide…

It amazes me how us book-lovers can rationalize away potentially destructive behaviors… Books are definitely my drug of choice.

The Used Bookstore of All Things AWESOME:

And this is where I sold my soul. Seriously, this bookstore went on for miles! The photo on the right is ALL Science Fiction/ Fantasy, and there was even more behind me! I was in heaven. :-)

Library Books:

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Four books really isn’t that many to have checked out at a time, so why have I been so stressed? Oh, yeah! It’s because I went to request-crazy and put another 10+ books on hold (which will be trickling in within the next month). Reading new books before I buy them is a part of my strategy to cut back on book buying (and it’s working), but I still occasionally feel like library books fall into that deadly “obligation” category, regardless of how awesome they are. In any case, I’m stoked to read anything by Ann Aguirre, and Shaheen over at Speculating on SpecFic has me all pumped about The Falcon Throne (read her review and you’ll see why), so I’m still excited about this month’s haul.

ARCs:

 Seriously, what would I do without Netgalley and Edelweiss? While these books may not be at the top of my priority list, I’m definitely excited that I have the opportunity to read them!

 Well, that just about does it for my adventures in book buying this month – I hope you enjoyed going on that mini journey with me. I just have one more question: what books stacked YOUR shelves this month? :-)

by Niki Hawkes

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Book Review: The Inventor’s Secret by Chad Morris

Inventor's secretTitle: The Inventor’s Secret

Author: Chad Morris

Series: Cragbridge Hall #1

Genre: Middle Grade

Rating: 4/5 stars

The Overview: Imagine a school in the year 2074 where students don’t read history, but watch it happen around them; where running in gym class isn’t around a track, but up a virtual mountain; and where learning about animals means becoming one through an avatar. Welcome to Cragbridge Hall, the most advanced and prestigious school in the world. Twin siblings Abby and Derick Cragbridge are excited as new students to use their famed grandfather’s inventions that make Cragbridge Hall so incredible. But when their grandfather and parents go missing, the twins begin following a trail of clues left by their grandfather. They must find out where their family is, learn who they can trust, and discover what secrets are hidden within Cragbridge Hall. Abby and Derick soon realize they are caught in a race with a fierce adversary to discover their grandfather’s greatest secret–a dangerous discovery that could alter both history and reality.

Inventor's secret 2

The Review:

There came a point in my life where I realized I just wasn’t enjoying middle grade books as much as I used to. It was a horrifying discovery because, after all, these were the titles I grew up on – the very genre that nurtured my love of reading. Nowadays, it takes a remarkable-sounding novel to even get me interested. The Inventor’s Secret was among those exceptions.

It had all of the adventure I was hoping for, but also had some other cool, unexpected elements. For one, there was an overall mystery that held some appeal for my adult tastes: Abby and Derick had to solve a series of clues left by their grandfather to figure out what happened to both him and their parents. Combine the puzzle-solving tasks with some really neat classroom challenges, and I was sold. Those challenges even reminded me of the obstacles Harry Potter faced while going after the Sorcerer’s Stone… Resonance.

The Inventor’s Secret also introduced something that gives my inner child a major geek-out: ANIMAL AVATARS!!! How cool is that? I always love books that incorporate wildlife, and the unique presentation of this concept is what initially drew me to the book. Essentially, these kids are hooked up to a computer that transfers their minds over to mechanical animals (oh, how I wish I was a student at this school). This element reminded me of the Animorphs series by Applegate, which gets extra credit for sparking my love of reading when I was ten… More resonance.

As much as I love mystery, adventure, and animal avatars, I also love when I feel like I’ve learned something from a book (be it potion-making, science, basket weaving, whatever!). I liked this one, especially because it took an ordinary school subject, history, and made it fun! The classrooms were equipped with virtual projectors that surrounded the students with scenes from the past, essentially making them part of the action. Morris made history come alive while simultaneously making me want to learn more about each event (I don’t know exactly how accurate the references were, but I imagine they were well researched). Add all of that awesomeness to some good old time-travel, and the possibilities are endless.

You can see how many great elements this book brought to the table. There was honestly nothing I didn’t like about it. The writing was geared more towards younger readers than Fablehaven or Harry Potter, but not by much. All in all, I highly recommend this title and am excited for the sequel.

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes

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Coming Soon: Sky Jumpers: The Forbidden Flats by Peggy Eddelman

forbidden flatsTitle: Sky Jumpers:  The Forbidden Flats

Author: Peggy Eddelman

Series: Sky Jumpers #2

Genre: Middle Grade

Release Date: September 2, 2014

The Overview: Twelve-year-old Hope has always felt a little different from everyone else who lives in White Rock. She tries hard, but she doesn’t always think before she acts. She takes big risks. Sometimes her risks pay off, but sometimes they fail. Sometimes she fails. Hope knows that the most dangerous thing about living in White Rock is that it’s so close to the deadly Bomb’s Breath—the invisible, fifteen-foot-thick band of compressed air that’s hovered over the earth since the Green Bombs of World War III. The citizens of White Rock live in fear of the Bomb’s Breath. Only Hope has figured out a way to go through it—and lived to tell the tale. But when a massive tremor rips across the earth, the Bomb’s Breath begins to lower over White Rock. It’s up to Hope and her friends Brock and Aaren to make the dangerous journey far from home across the bandit-ridden Forbidden Flats to the wilds of the Rocky Mountains and obtain the one thing that may be able to stop it—before the Bomb’s Breath sinks too far and destroys them all. This time, Hope can’t fail.

forbidden flats

 Hosted by Breaking the Spine

 I thought the first book in this series (Sky Jumpers) was a fun story with great characters and a cool atmosphere. I’m predicting that Sky Jumpers: The Forbidden Flat will be even better than the first book because now that the world is established there is nothing left but to explore it!  I am super excited to see how the story continues and think Eddelman is a strong addition to the middle grade market.

 What book are you waiting on? Have you read Sky Jumpers yet?

by Niki Hawkes

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Book Review: Sky Raiders by Brandon Mull

sky raidersTitle: Sky Raiders

Author: Brandon Mull

Series: Five Kingdoms #1

Genre: Middle Grade

Release Date: March 11, 2013

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

The OverviewCole Randolph was just trying to have a fun time with his friends on Halloween (and maybe get to know Jenna Hunt a little better). But when a spooky haunted house turns out to be a portal to something much creepier, Cole finds himself on an adventure on a whole different level. After Cole sees his friends whisked away to some mysterious place underneath the haunted house, he dives in after them and ends up in The Outskirts.

The Outskirts are made up of five kingdoms that lie between wakefulness and dreaming, reality and imagination, life and death. Its an in-between place. Some people are born there. Some find their way there from our world, or from other worlds. And once you come to the Outskirts, its very hard to leave. With the magic of the Outskirts starting to unravel, its up to Cole and an unusual girl named Mira to rescue his friends, set things right in the Outskirts, and hopefully find his way back home before his existence is forgotten.

sky raiders

The Review:

What a fun new series from Brandon Mull! Sky Raiders had everything I’ve come to expect from this author: truckloads of imagination, epic adventures, and characters who are so relatable they take you back to your childhood. Aside from JK Rowling, Mull is definitely my favorite middle grade author and I’m excited to see every new book from him get stronger and stronger.

As an adult, I definitely enjoyed Sky Raiders because the kids were quick-witted and the overall plot was complex enough to keep me engaged. It’s one of those books that gets interesting right away and really doesn’t let up until the end – perfect for kids who have a difficult time focusing long enough to read. While Fablehaven will always be my all time favorite from Mull, I’m thrilled that I now have another solid story to hand to kids looking for next great read.

As I’ve mentioned, Mull always has a great deal of imagination in the books he writes. I have found that, especially in children’s books, too much imagination can make the story a little too far-fetched and silly for my tastes. In this case, however, Mull created a new world where wacky, random things can be made real through a particular magic called “shaping.” Because this world had a solid set of rules, all the fantastical creations became feasible even if they were sometimes a bit random. Was it still a bit too much? For me, maybe a little; for a  ten-year-old (i.e. the target audience) it was perfect.

Overall, I really enjoyed Sky Raiders – it had many neat elements that I’m sure we’ve only scratched the surface of at this point. It’s one of the main reasons I’m eager to read on in this series – I can’t wait to find out more about the Five Kingdoms!

Recommended Reading: I would be eager hand this book to any kid who enjoys books with magic – especially ones who loved the Beyonders series by the same author. It’s definitely geared towards a younger audience, so I would probably only hand it to an adult if they mention they like middle grade titles.

Other books you might like:

Thank you Edelweiss for the chance to read and review this title!

by Niki Hawkes