October 29, 2008


By Robin McKinley
Rating: 4 1/2 stars

In this quietly compelling fantasy, the quiet beekeeper Mirasol has lately been named as Chalice, the one who helps bind and calm the earthlines on the manor. The earthlines affect all of nature in their realm. Usually the Chalice has been an apprentice for years, but after the sudden deaths of both Willowlands' Master and Chalice, there was no one to take up the mantle and the earthlines are unsettled. But as Mirasol struggles to learn about and fulfill her new role, it is nothing compared to the new Master. He has been recalled from seven years training as an Elemental priest of Fire and is no longer quite...human. But with the help of her bees and honey, Mirasol begins to get her feet under her and to slowly win the respect of the manor's people. But everyone still seems to fear the Master, and when a shocking challenge is made to his right to hold the manor, Mirasol realizes she has to choose who to support and who to save. Ultimately, someone must be sacrificed to save Willowlands...but who shall it be? Deeply rooted in nature and lovingly written, readers will sympathize with Mirasol and be drawn into the characters and the hard decisions they must make to do what is right, even if they may fail. Good stuff! Fans of McKinley's other works will not be disappointed.

October 21, 2008


By Cornelia Funke
Rating: 4 3/4 stars

The long awaited final book in the Inkworld trilogy was well worth the wait. In this final installment, the evil Adderhead has taken over Ombra now that he has the White Book that makes him immortal. Dustfinger is dead, and Meggie has read the creepy Orpheus to Inkworld to try and bring him back for Farid's sake, but Orpheus is more interested in writing and reading treasures and fanciful things to fill his pockets with gold. Meanwhile Mo has become the outlaw Bluejay, in league with the Black Prince, and is constantly hunted even while the gang does as many good deeds as they can for the poor and harried population. Now it is Mo who does not want to return to the world that he left, and Resa and Meggie fear they have lost him to the character of the Bluejay. But all cannot be black. Dustfinger does return and the Adderhead's daughter Violante offers Mo a bargain. She will take him in protective custody and arrange to meet her father at her mother's old castle to hand him over and in return, he will kill the Adderhead so that she can rule Ombra. But even the best laid plans can go awry, especially with the maliciously smooth tongue of Orpheus changing the storyline. The Black Prince, the robbers, and many of the gang are on the run from the Adder's men, Resa tries to take matters into her own hands, and overlooked characters can end up saving the day. There is not enough time to unravel all of the plot threads in a simple review, but fans of the first two books will barely be able to put this hefty tome down as every road is filled with twists and turns. Room for a sequel is generously left open, and perhaps we shall thrill to new adventures some day. But for now, thumbs up for a fabulous ending.