9/10Even better than its companion novel, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon (which won a Newbery honor), this book takes Chinese mythology to a new audience. Its interesting language and many short tales interspersed with the main narrative make it a unique and highly enjoyable read.
One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
6/10While this story was sweet, I felt it was unrealistic that its narrator was actually 16. She felt much younger, especially as she was supposed to have grown up in a rather rough life with a mother who verged on negligent. It is listed as for grades 5 and up, which feels more appropriate, but our library has it listed as YA. Probably because of the narrator's age. Still, the foster mother was great, and I really liked Carley. Verged on sappy but held it off fairly well.
The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann
8/10A middle grade story of fairies colliding with Victorian England, this was a fun tale that had great plotting. Sometimes the characters were a little overly simplistic, especially when it came to vocalizing their motivations and plans, but I really enjoyed the Steampunk-ish vibe and had a lot of fun with it. The author is only 18, and he began writing this when he was 16, which kids will love to hear and which promises growing skills in the future, I hope.
Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst
10/10Amazing, beautiful, powerful. This whirlwind tale of religion, love, politics, war and tradition was just perfectly done. The characters were so well drawn, especially our heroine, Liyana. I felt her emotions so acutely, and the writing was somehow lush and spare all at once. I adored every minute of it. Highly recommended.
Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier
9/10A high fantasy tale of fairies and a world brought under the sway of an evil king, this book was a wonderfully done traditional sort of fairy tale. I loved the different "canny folk" we meet and our main character, Neryn, was a great heroine. The love story, such as it was, was very moving and well written.
The Second Life of Abigail Walker by Frances O'Roark Dowell
7/10A cute, non-preachy tale that melds the bullying of a young, overweight girl and the healing wounds of a traumatized Iraq veteran, with a healthy dose of magical realism. I really enjoyed this, although I do wish we saw Abigail find some way to truly get through to her parents. I understand the author was trying for a more realistic ending rather than all ends tied up and everyone perfectly happy, but I just felt bad for her mother. Less so her father. Hmph.
A seriously good week of reading. I'm trying to get a lot in so that I don't fall short over the holidays and fail to meet my goal of 250 books! I don't think I'll aim for that number again - it is getting a little rough. 200 I can hit easily, but 250 steps over into the realm of work. Although my career is based in books, I read for pleasure and I'd like to keep it that way!