November 16, 2009

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

By Grace Lin
Rating: 4 3/4 stars

Minli lives in a tiny, poor village in China with her Ma and Ba, barely getting by on their meager portion of daily rice. Her only happiness comes from the wonderful stories her Ba tells. Then a goldfish salesman comes to the village and says goldfish will bring fortune to a home. Impulsively, Minli buys one, but when her parents, especially her mother, strongly disapprove, Minli decides to set her fish free. That is when the goldfish speaks to Minli, telling her the way to Neverending Mountain and the Man in the Moon who could possibly change their fortunes if she asks the right question. And so begins Minli's journey, where she will learn that all stories are interconnected and so is every living thing, and that happiness can be found in your own backyard. Readers will love every single minute that they spend reading this book, from the feel of the heavyweight paper stock to the colorful illustrations to the change of font when a story is related to the lessons learned by the characters as the plot progresses. This book is a pure delight from beginning to end as Minli continues on her quest to bring fortune to her family but finds so much more. A real winner!

November 13, 2009

The Siege of Macindaw

By John Flanagan
Rating: 4 stars

This is the 6th book in the quite good Ranger's Apprentice series. When we finished book 5, The Sorcerer of the North, Alyss had been taken captive by Keren, who had overthrown the lords of the castle. Will had been unable to rescue her and is hiding out with Malcolm, formerly thought to be a sorcerer, but who is merely a healer hiding out in the dense forest. Now Will is joined by his famous warrior friend Horace and by a shipload of Skandians who are grounded for the winter when their boat was irreparably damaged. Then Will discovers things are worse than he knew--Keren is making an alliance with the Scotti from over the border, who plan to invade the region in a few short weeks, forcing a long, drawn out war with Araluen. How can 25 Skandians, one warrior and one Ranger successfully siege a castle and win when normally they would need four times that number? But with a little Ranger ingenuity, anything is possible. Readers will easily be drawn back into this exciting series and be eager to see how the siege plays out. Books 7 and 8 are available in New Zealand and Australia and hopefully will shortly see publication in the U.S., so fans can look forward to more of Will's adventures.