It's been a while since I posted an update here, so I'm going to do a big post with short reviews of the books I've read since then a la Garish and Tweed (I love that blog!) So, here goes nothing:
Nation by Terry Pratchett
The Percy Jackson and the Olympians series: The Lightning Thief, The Sea of Monsters, The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan
I am not ashamed to admit that I love this series and I love my job because if not for it I'd probably have never read a series aimed at such a young audience. These books are really just a step up from easy chapter books. They have a fair amount of illustrations in them and whenever a more advanced word is used the younger of the sisters asks what it means, so it's great for kids just graduating to regular chapter books. The basic premise is that two young girls are rescued from the foster care system by a grandmother they had believed to be dead. Their grandmother reveals the truth to them about their family's history: that the girls are the great, great (etc) grandchildren of the Brothers Grimm and the fairy tale characters (or everafters) that they wrote about are alive and well and living in Ferryport landing. It has long been their family's job to keep peace in the town and solve any mysteries that crop up--the main one for the girls being the kidnapping of their parents by the shadowy everafter group The Scarlet Hand. Once again with this series it is fun to see well-known characters re-imagined in a modern setting, and my favorite one by far is the trickster king himself, Puck. These books are fast-paced and enjoyable but they aren't entirely fluff either; they do brush on the basics of some more complex issues like stereotyping and trust without slowing down the narrative. As much as I love these books, however, they are meant to be humorous and do not take themselves seriously and the reader shouldn't do so either-- they have a pretty loose definition of 'fairy tale' including characters from stories such as The Wizard of Oz that would be long past the time of the original Grimm Brothers besides being fictional characters, created by a known person. There are plenty of other little lapses in the logic to the characters and setting, so if you're a real purist or stickler these probably aren't for you. And as much as I love them they are, as I said, very basic and might be too juvenile for older readers. However, despite the fact that the main characters are both girls Puck plays a pretty strong role as well and the themes of the novel aren't particularly girly so they should be able to be enjoyed by both genders. I can't wait to get my hands on the next book!
The Sisters Grimm series: The Fairy-Tale Detectives, The Unusual Suspects, The Problem Child, Once Upon a Crime, Magic and Other Misdemeanors, Tales from the Hood, and The Everafter War by Michael Buckley
Here Lies Arthur by Phillip Reeve
The Navigator and City of Time by Eoin McNamee
The Extraordinary Adventures of Ordinary Boy series, The Hero Revealed by William Bonfiace