Monday, May 17, 2010

Fablehaven V - The Keys to the Demon Prison, by Brandon Mull

This is the final book in the Fablehaven series by Brandon Mull. I wish I could do more to spread the word about how great these books are! It's too bad they didn't get the marketing that Harry Potter or Twilight did - they could have, and they deserve to have, become much more well known. The idea behind the series - magical or mythical creatures have fled to preserves or reservations, as the normal world has stopped believing in them, and these preserves each have a caretaker. The youth characters in these books are the grandkids of a caretaker, and get involved in fighting a conspiracy to let demons out of prison that would destroy the world. The storyline is unique, the characters are believable, the fantasy world in it is different enough from anything else I've read, that I have to give the author full credit for his creativity.

As the last book in the series, this book does not disappoint. It starts out fast, and keeps going the whole time, with twists and turns and all sorts of fun stuff. I liked the ending too - it leaves me wanting more, but wraps up the story of the books nicely.

The audiobooks - the first five minutes or so I get a little bugged by the reader - slightly too diminuitive in his pronunciation and intonation. I quickly get used to it though, and he does a great job with the different voices and stuff. This series is a personal and family favorite - right up there, a very close 2nd to Harry Potter. Nice work, Brandon Mull!

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien

One of my favorite childhood memories is laying in my parents' waterbed (which was too hot to sleep in but great to get warm when you're little) and listening to my dad read the Hobbit. It became my favorite book long before I ever read it myself. My dad did the trolls' voices (turns out he censored things a bit for my little ears) and smaug's voice, and to this day, this story makes me feel warm and safe. I enjoy reading it to my kids too. My appreciation of the book hasn't diminished as I've read other works of fantasy. The lanugage is rich and cultured, and the personalities of the characters seem very real to me. The story is good for bedtime reading to young children because it progresses from adventure to adventure.

As an audiobook, it's quite good too. The reader, Rob Inglis, does a fair job on the voices. I don't care for his singing so much, but then I didn't care for the songs in the story anyway. 9 out of 10.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by J.K. Rowling

The first audiobooks I listened to are still my favorite - the Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling, read by Jim Dale. I've been waiting till the right time to post a review, and even now this is less of a review and more of a blog entry.

Some of my favorite childhood memories are of when I was little and my older sister and I would lay in my parent's waterbed and my dad would read to us The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien. I loved his voices as he read the three trolls arguing over how to cook the dwarves, as Bilbo taunted the giant spiders that had captured his friends, while he busily dispatched them with Sting, his short sword, and as he risked enchantment by dragonspeech to find Smaug's weakness. It takes me back to childhood every time I read the book, and for this reason, it will always be my favorite single work of fiction.

Well, now I have five sons, and it's my turn to carry the baton. As each successive son has reached the point where he can follow a complex story without pictures being read to him (usually around age 5) I've read the Harry Potter series to them and the next older brother has followed along for school credit. It's always so much fun for all of us. Tonight I finished reading book 7 to my now 6-year old son. As we read the part where Neville takes up Griffindor's sword, and then when Harry cast "expelliarmus" at Voldemort, my cute boy was so excited he stood up in bed and hooted and cheered.

There's not much that I enjoy more than escaping into a good work of fiction, and it is one of those choice experiences of parenting to get to share that with my kids. Thanks, J.K. Rowling, for writing such an amazing series of wholesome, rich, enthralling, and engaging books to teach our children the joys of reading.

It's so much fun to me to share this with my kids