March 26, 2008


By Meg Burden
Rating: 4 1/4 stars
Reviewed by Noelle

This book is dubbed Tales of the Borderlands: Book One, so we hope it heralds the beginning of a new series. The Northland and the Southlands are in a state of open prejuidice and dislike, with Northlanders treating Southlings as though they are dirty or diseased. 16 year old Ellin is a Southling staying in the Northland capital while her father secretly teaches Northlander healers his skills to help their very ill king. Southling healing is considered to be witchcraft and is illegal. But when Ellin gets locked out of the city gates, she ends up unintentionally getting the help of one of the young princes, which gets her in to see the king. Before she knows it, Ellin is living in the castle with her father, helping to heal the king. As she befriends the other princes, she becomes aware of some kind of power in her mind that lets her hear another's thoughts. Finn and Erik, the twin princes, also have the ability. But then Ellin's father explains that this power is exactly what the Northlanders hate and fear about the Southlings, and that she must hide it at all costs. Despite helping the king, Ellin and her father are still sentenced to prison for breaking the Northlander laws, but the princes help them escape. But when the pair make it back to their home in the Southland, it is just the beginning of their trials. For the Guardians know about Ellin and her powers and they are on their way to caputre her...and another group of outcast Southlings with powers are looking to recruit her for their purposes. How will Ellin ultimately use her powers? And can her past exploits with the Northlanders help change both countries for the better? An unusual story, which is packed with plot and will keep fans of fantasy quickly turning the pages to get to the next chapter. Not much is left hanging, but it is a promising beginning for a new series.

March 06, 2008

The Garden of Eve

By K. L. Going
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Noelle

Evie is resentful when her father up and moves her to Beaumont, New York to try to bring back to life a blighted orchard. Evie fiercely misses her fanciful mother, who always loved magic and stories, who recently has died of cancer. The new town is tiny, the house is old, and the orchard is right next door to a cemetary. Soon Evie notices a pale boy who inhabits the cemetary, and when she talks to him, he claims to be the ghost of a boy who just died. To add to the strangeness, Maggie, the woman who sold them the orchard on behalf of her dead brother, tells them of a curse upon the orchard. Her older sister, also named Eve, disappeared in the orchard one day, and many tales are told of the unsolved mystery. Then, to top everything off, on Evie's 11th birthday, Maggie hands her a gift from her brother--an old box that contains a seed which supposedly has come from the Garden of Eden. Evie isn't sure what to believe--is this boy Alex really a ghost? What really happened to Maggie's sister? Can this old seed really be from the Garden of Eden? All Evie knows is that a warm wind seems to blow whenever she opens the box, and she begins to imagine a glorious tree growing from the seed. She knows she has to plant it to see what happens--but can Evie believe in a world of magic when that same world robbed her of her mother? Believe it or not, all of these mysteries will be answered by the end of the book, when Evie deals with magic and reality, grief and happiness. An unusual story which effectively mixes magic into our every day world.