The Tales of Beedle the Bard, by J.K. Rowling
I wonder if I enjoyed it so much because I’ve just missed having new Harry Potter books to read. It was a quick read – an hour maybe – and overall, pretty delightful.

Brisingr, by Christopher Paolini
Paolini’s books, starting with Eragon (link goes to my review), have been among our favorite series, and one that Bob and I have enjoyed reading together and discussing. We’ll share the book, which means he gets first dibs in the evenings and when it’s my turn, I’ll say, “Oh! (Insert exciting scene) Does So-and-so win? Die?” and he’ll say either “I’m not that far” or “Keep reading.” I’m the reader of the house, and though he’s both faster at reading and better at comprehending, he doesn’t pick books up readily. So these books have been a delight on many fronts.

That said, Brisingr must be a ploy to get more money for the young Paolini. I think he was ill advised. I could tell you, if you were so inclined, the major points of the book and save you the nearly 800 pages of wasted time. It would have been far better to condense this book into a couple of chapters and give us some of what we enjoyed in the first two books – action! Plot!

Paolini is a young writer, and this series is perhaps most interesting because I wonder how he’ll do as he matures (and, perhaps, gets an editor/agent who isn’t interested in just turning a buck by adding a fourth book to what was supposed to be a trilogy!).

All in all, though, if your reading time is precious, don’t waste your time on this one. (And, if you’ve been around here any length of time, you know I don’t say that often!)

May Bird and the Ever After (Book One), by Jodi Lynn Anderson
When I was a kid, I wasn’t into series of books. I don’t know if there just weren’t as many published, if I skipped over the Young Adult section, or if my reading interests just led me elsewhere. My niece Rebecca, who has recently garnered an email address, has long been one of the young people in my life whose reading I watch and follow. A few weeks ago in an email where I asked about her babysitting availability, I also asked – as I do at every opportunity – what she was reading. Then I reserved it at the library and, the week before Christmas, read it.

May Bird and the Ever After was…different than I expected. Granted, I didn’t read the dust jacket (I rarely do), but somehow I always find myself surprised when a YA book is scary. This one isn’t any worse than Harry Potter – it was just a topsy-turvy-turning book, in which there’s courage in unexpected heroes. It was fast-paced and entertaining and I liked how May traveled down the hero’s path (loosely stated) with pizzazz that had me liking her and trembling that had me rooting for her.

I couldn’t get over the feeling, though, that this sort of YA series is for younger readers – 5th or 6th graders – and not as much for junior high age readers. All in all, enjoyable.

Fair warning: content deals with ghosts and specters; the “Ever After” is where the dead and undead reside. So maybe it’s not so much for younger readers, though the main character is only ten.