We like...

Graceling by Kristin Cashmore

Graceling, by Kristin CashmoreThis is a fantasy novel that will knock your socks off!  In Graceling, we follow the story of Kasta, a kick-butt heroine who has one green eye and one blue.  In this world, the different pairing of eyes means that the person is graced- or born with an extreme skill.  (i.e. dancing, fighting, sewing, storytelling, etc).  Kasta has the Grace of killing.  She is forced into service of her horrible uncle and king, Randa, King of the Middluns, as his henchman.  She is charged with punishing and torturing anyone who displeases him. 

To counter balance the injustice that she deals out, Kasta also forms a council that complete secret missions that undermines the king and brings justice to the people. 

Katsa has friends in her cousin Raffin, her attendant Helda, and others who form The Council.  But it is Prince Po that she meets someone who can fully understand her. 

Overall, a wonderful story with a strong heroine, magic, friendship, and love.

The cover caught my eye.
It was an awesome read!
Kali, on the off chance that I beat her to this book.
Beauty by Robin McKinley

This is one of my all-time favorite books.  It should be noted that I simply adore retellings of classic fairy tales.  Beauty is Robin McKinley’s retelling of Beauty and the Beast.  In this rendition, there are three sisters, Grace, Hope, and Honour.  Honour, having a bit of a dislike for her name, creates a nickname, Beauty, which sticks. 

Beauty’s father is a wealthy merchant who loses his fortune and is forced to relocate his family to the countryside.  On his way back from a business trip the father becomes lost in the woods, finds an enchanted castle, and is treated like a king for a night.  The next morning he leaves, but picks a rose for his youngest daughter Beauty, leading the master of the magical castle - a disfigured beast - to demand repayment in the form of the merchant's youngest daughter.  He returns home with the news, Beauty agrees...and you know the rest.  

I’ve enjoyed the author in the past, so when I saw this one I just went for it.
I love retellings of fairy tale classics.
The Disney Queen herself, Lori, who would probably dance a jig while reading this book.
The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

The Book ThiefThis is a story told by Death, which is entirely appropriate considering the book takes place during 1939-1943 of World War II.  This is the story of Liesel Meminger, a young German girl growing up in Nazi Germany and also our book thief.

Liesel Meminger is sent to live in Molching Germany “with a foster family in a working-class neighborhood of tough kids, acid-tongued mothers, and loving fathers who earn their living by the work of their hands (Francisca Goldsmith, 2011).”  Liesel arrives having just stolen her first book The Gravediggers Handbook acquired at the gravesite of her younger brother who died in route.  From 1939 through 1943, Liesel collects more stolen books as well as an interesting set of friends: the boy Rudy, the Jewish refugee Max, the mayor’s reclusive wife, and especially her foster parents, Rosa and Hans Hubermann.  

It was recommended by a coworker.
The Book Thief is an intriguing read that quickly sucks you into the story. It’s quirky in the sense that it is narrated by Death personified who has a very wry sense of humo
Lori, the history buff, who would enjoy the wit of Death as much as I.
Emily and Einstein by Linda Francis Lee

This is a novel of second chances.  Sandy Portman is on his way home to ask his wife, Emily, for a divorce when he is killed in a car accident.  His soul takes up residence in a dog named Einstein that Emily rescues.  After Sandy's death, Emily discovers her marriage was full of lies and begins a journey with Einstein's help to discover the truth about her husband and their marriage.

The cute dog on the cover caught my eye and I love dog stories.
Compelled to find out what happened to Emily and Einstein.
Anyone who loves dogs and believes in the healing power of dogs.