My rating: 9.5/10
Charlie Bone and the Shadow: The seventh (out of a predicted eight) in the Children of the Red King series by Jenny Nimmo is perhaps the second-best installment so far. There's more meat to it than almost any other one before it, with the notable exception of Charlie Bone and the Hidden King. Not to mention its story is the most original. Not to mention it leaves some really juicy loose ends to be tied up in Book Eight. Long story short: if you've read the others, you'll love it, if you haven't, then start reading. I promise, you'll like it.
My rating: 9/10
Sinner: Ted Dekker's latest, the final book in the Paradise trilogy, is perhaps one of his best yet. You really should read it. Enough said.
My rating: 10/10
Brisingr: And here comes the highest profile review of the bunch. Book Three of Christopher Paolini's much-debated Inheritance Cycle arrived amidst an outpour of criticism and talk about the book being only a guilty pleasure. I personally disliked the way Eldest ended, feeling it to be far too cliche, so I understand the criticism. I came into it unsure of its worth. But I read it anyway.
And you know what? It's worth reading. It's really worth reading. Paolini (or Paolini's editor) is really stretching his wings now-- no pun intended. His story is starting to really take flight in new and more interesting ways. And yes, that pun was intended. I know, it's bad. So sue me.
Eragon's finally realizing that making all of those oaths he made in the previous two volumes might not have been a good idea, as he now has bargains he must uphold with Roran, the Varden, Elva, Oromis, Orik, and more. He has to juggle with the realization of his father's identity, putting his personal desires behind him, and becoming the Dragon Rider he was destined to be. Many revelations await him-- among them, perhaps, the secret of the evil king Galbatorix's power. But he still has miles (and many, many pages) to go before he sleeps.
It's almost as if Paolini has read all of the fan criticism out there and tried to do what it asks. This installment doesn't feel like a STAR WARS ripoff. Eragon isn't quite as pampered as he feels he should be. The characters feel more real. And amidst all of these feelings, there's a death scene which is executed (man, the bad puns keep on coming) in a fresh way. You'll actually be excited about this series again, and be able by the end to forgive Paolini for some of his past misdoings.
My rating: 9.5/10