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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Fablehaven #5 Keys to the Demon Prison


Fablehaven #5 Keys to the Demon Prison by Brandon Mull

(Summary taken from the inside book jacket) "After many 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 loved this book! As you may remember, I didn't love this series at first. I think it was Book 3 that for sure hooked me, and the finale was all it needed to be. I am really sad to let the story go and to say good-bye to the characters. There is plenty of action and romance and trickery for everyone. I had no idea how Mr. Mull would finish it, and it worked. The last line wasn't my favorite, for some reason, but it fit. I really liked this series and my son is on Book #4 so it's fun to talk with him about the stories. It is clean and well-written. Mr. Mull has really grown in his writing since the first book, and it's fun to take that journey with authors. He is creative and imaginative, and it is a good, fun read. If you are reading the series, you have to finish it off by reading the finale, you won't be disappointed.

Rating: PG-13 Violence (killing the demons, fighting, death of some characters) No profanity or "physical intimacy" scenes.

Recommendation: 3rd grade and up! This is good, clean fun for the whole family. Yes, there is some death and violence, but it isn't over the top or too gory. If you think your child can handle a few characters dying (they are not the main characters) and some demon-killing then they will be fine reading it.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Across a Harvested Field

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Across a Harvested Field by Robert Goble

(Summary taken from the back of the book) "To Jordan Fairchild, the dark-haired girl renting his basement apartment seems somewhat quiet and reclusive. Just a business arrangement, he thinks, as he watches her sign the name "Nattie Hand" on the contract. Though two thousand miles away, Celeste Betancourt, an attractive Georgetown graduate student he met through a mutual friend, has captured his attention. A budding friendship with Nattie soon begins to bloom. Little does Jordan know his girl-next-door renter is none other than the world-famous pop star, a.k.a. Natalia Antonali, who recently disappeared from the public eye; little does he know how much his friendship will mean to her, how, for the first time, a love begins to grow, untainted by 'Natalia,' and how she hopes Jordan never discovers the truth."

I need to begin by saying that this author, Mr. Goble, found me on Facebook and sent me this book to review. I thank him for the opportunity and hope that he still "Like"(s) my blog after reading my review.  Although I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS or Mormon are other sometimes used names), LDS fiction has never been my favorite genre. Unfortunately for Mr. Goble, this book did not change my opinion of LDS fiction. One look at the cover and I knew I was in trouble. I would never have picked this book off the shelf. Having said that, I did read it. I liked the characters in the book, but the whole scenario just seemed too impossible. How would a superstar (comparable to Brittney Spears) end up in Magna, UT? It never explained why she chose to go there or how she even knew where it was. I thought Jordan was a nice guy, but the pieces didn't really fit together for me. I felt bad that he had lost his family at such a young age, and I could have empathy for him, but I just could not see a widowed man in his mid-to-late twenties canning pumpkins, peaches, and pears. My husband does help me when I can fruit, but he would NEVER do it if I weren't around. That just never felt right to me, but maybe other men would do it. And then the thought that "Nattie" and "Natalia" might be the same person never crossed his mind as he saw her on the news and in magazines, never? I don't know.

Mr. Goble's writing style is different. He uses a lot of parenthesis to explain little side-notes that add to the "cheesy" feeling in the book. I was also confused....was it LDS fiction or not? Let me explain: you would expect an LDS fiction book to have references to LDS buildings, church meetings, and standards (not smoking or drinking alcohol, or using profanity), but you would also expect the characters to follow those standards. There was a lot of profanity in this book. Not all the worst words, but a lot of little four-letter words. It drove me crazy. His writing feels forced. He tries in a few instances to have Jordan sound intellectual, but it comes across as someone trying to sound intellectual, not as someone who is actually intellectual.  I think Mr. Goble would have made the whole thing feel better if he had taken all the LDS references out and just made it a fictional love story. To all LDS fiction writers everywhere--that is what readers want, just good, clean reads. We are LDS and we consider ourselves normal, everyday people, not a group that needs special books written just for us. Besides, you will get a lot more readers if everyone can read it and not just one group.

Anyway, this happens to be one of my "soap-box" topics, so please forgive me for going on. Overall, the middle of the book was the best. It actually had me turning pages to see what happened with the paparazzi and with Jordan finding out the truth. Except that I hated how Jordan went into this mad rage and ruined everything in a split second. His rage was over-the-top. The ending was okay but unbelievable. I didn't hate the book, but I would not recommend it to my friends because I know they feel the same way I do about LDS fiction. If you like the genre and are okay with profanity then I would recommend it.

Rating: PG-13 (Profanity, some kissing and some innuendos)

Recommendation: High school and up. I would recommend it if you enjoy LDS fiction and are okay with profanity.