Fablehaven #4 Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary

Fablehaven #4 Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary by Brandon Mull
(Summary taken from the back of the book) “Two hidden artifacts have been found. More preserves face destruction as the Society of the Evening Star relentlessly pursues new talismans. Desperate to stop them, Kendra discovers the location of the key to a vault housing one of the artifacts in Patton’s Journal of Secrets. In order to retrieve the key, the Knights of the Dawn must enter a death trap–a dragon sanctuary called Wyrmroost. Will anyone who enters the sanctuary make it out alive? Or have Kendra and Seth finally gotten in too deep?”
Brandon Mull keeps getting better. His writing is advancing and so are his twists and turns. I am hooked. This book has been my favorite (did I say that about the last one?) so far. Seth drives me crazy. Seriously. I am way too much like Kendra…a rule follower….I go crazy every time Seth moves or speaks. Ahhhhh. But I digress. I really liked this book. It actually surprised me a couple of times. I did not predict the twist at the end. There is action and romance and suspense. There are dragons and giants and all sorts of other magical creatures. I definitely recommend this book, especially if you have read the previous three and enjoyed them. Now my only problem is finding a copy of #5 to read!
Rating: PG-PG 13 (Dark, some gruesome and gory parts, and there is a death of a main character)
Recommendation: I will still allow my third grader to read this book, but it is a little more gory and dark than the previous books. There are some scary parts and some gruesome parts as well. One of the main characters dies, which I didn’t like. I guess there was a death in the previous book as well, but it wasn’t a character you felt as close to. I’ll definitely talk to my son about what happened and hopefully debrief him a bit. 8-9 and up, depending on the child and his maturity.

Fablehaven #3 Grip of the Shadow Plague

Fablehaven #3 Grip of the Shadow Plague by Brandon Mull
(Summary taken from the back book cover) “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 preserve 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?”
Okay, I have to admit…..I think he finally got me. I liked the last book, but this one is much better. I think Mull has finally caught me….dare I say I might be excited about reading #4??? There is still that young adult flair to the book, but it is much better written and is fun. The whole plague thing really got to me….At this point I am glad I stuck with the series. I almost didn’t even read #2, but since my kids wanted to read them I decided I better keep going. Mull’s writing is getting better and there is more of that spark that keeps me reading. It is still really clean and there is enough excitement to keep the younger kids reading, which I love. I definitely recommend this book. It would be a good read-aloud as well.
Rating: PG (My 7 year-old is reading it. It is a stretch for him, so I keep asking him questions to make sure he understands, but he really likes it. My 8 year-old breezed right through and loved it.) There are monsters and some evil creatures and action with those, but it is good, clean fun!
Recommendation: As a read-aloud I would say 6, maybe 5 if you have a more mature 5 year-old. This is great for 2nd, 3rd, and up to read on their own. I recommend any series that is clean and fun and gets kids reading, and this book does that!  I enjoyed it as an adult so I’d recommend it to my friends for a fun, easy read.

The Lightning Thief

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson Book #1) by Rick Riordan

(Summary taken from the back of the book) “Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school…again. And that’s the least of his troubles. Lately, mythological monsters and the gods of Mount Olympus seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy’s Greek mythology textbook and into his life. And worse, he’s angered a few of them. Zeus’s master lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect. Now Percy and his friends have just ten days to find and return Zeus’s stolen property and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus. But to succeed on his quest, Percy will have to do more than catch the true thief: he must come to terms with the father who abandoned him; solve the riddle of the Oracle, which warms him of betrayal by a friend; and unravel a treachery more powerful than the gods themselves.”

This is a young adult book. It is a fun and easy read. I read it to my kids and they LOVED it! They are downstairs right now playing “Percy Jackson.” It’s great and I love it! I love stories that draw kids in and make them enjoy reading. I liked it myself, even. I liked how Riordan brings boring Greek mythology to life in this modern era. Mount Olympus right above New York City??? Awesome! There was suspense, mystery, action, betrayal, sword fighting, and monsters. What could be better???  I would definitely recommend this book. I wouldn’t quite put it up with Harry Potter, but close. Like I said before, I love books that pull kids in, and this one does just that….plus it’s fun for me too!

Rating: PG  (6 and up) My 4 year-old heard bits and pieces and wasn’t too interested. She didn’t understand a lot of it. It is a great read-aloud. There are some parts where I could tell they may have understood it better if they had seen the writing and so I did show them, but for the most part it was a great read-aloud. My 8 year-old could have read it by himself. He would have understood most of it. He would be able to read the words, but complete comprehension??? I don’t know. There were gods’ names that I didn’t know how to pronounce. The mythology is a little over their heads. They had no idea what the River Styx was or the Underworld or even Mount Olympus. For that reason I was glad I read it to them. I think they would have understood most of it but things like those I mentioned above are important pieces to the story so if they don’t know what they are then they won’t grasp the whole meaning. There is some monster violence but no profanity. Great for kids.

Recommendation: Third Grade and Up. If your third grader is reading it alone, a lesson on mythology is a must! Also, help with pronunciation would also be helpful.

Fablehaven #2 Rise of the Evening Star

Fablehaven #2 Rise of the Evening Star by Brandon Mull
(Summary taken from the back of the book) “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 invites three specialists–a potion master, a collector of magical relics, and a trapper of mystical creatures–to help protect the property from the Society of the Evening Star, an ancient orgainization determined to steal a hidden artifact of great power. Time is running out. If the artifact falls into the wrong hands, it could mean the downfall of other preserves and possibly the world.” 
I liked this book a lot more than I liked the first one. I think it seemed more “real,” if that’s possible. It caught my attention more. There are still some corny parts, but overall I liked it. It’s a good, easy read that is entertaining and good when you just want a fun book. It is fairly well written and has some good twists and turns. The last page brings a surprise, even though I had thought about the possibility of it while reading. I like the characters and the story. It is good, clean fun. There is some gore and some scarier scenes, but there is no language and no “physical intimacy.”
Rating: PG  There is some gore and might be scary for littler children.
Recommendation: 1st grade and up, if being read to. If reading alone probably 2nd or 3rd grade. My 2nd grader wants to read it. It may be a little too difficult for him, but I think I’ll let him try. I think I’ll read it aloud though.