I normally like to dedicate a whole post to each book, but I thought I'd do some short thoughts on a few things I've read and haven't blogged. Links go to the Amazon reviews pages. Since I read all of these several months to years ago, details may be fuzzy - take these recommendations at your own risk!
The Explosionist by Jenny Davidson. In a really interesting alternate 1938, Sophie's world is composed equally of science and spiritualism. Raised by her Great Aunt Tabitha, she has frequent encounters with the most brilliant scientific minds of the day and all kinds of psychic mediums - from the charlatans to the truly spooky. When a medium is murdered, Sophie is drawn farther than she wanted to go into political intrigue and her own abilities to communicate with the dead. Also, Sophie must face her feelings for her chemistry teacher (who may or may not be a terrorist) and her best friend Mikael. I devoured this book and couldn't wait for the sequel - which is the problem, because the sequel was extremely disappointing. Everything that I found interesting about The Explosionist seemed to be omitted from Invisible Things. I haven't cared enough to even see if the third book has been published.
The Complete Tales of Winnie-The-Pooh by A.A. Milne, illus. by Ernest Shepard. I finished this book, had a good cry, and then put it on my Christmas list - not my daughter's, but mine. Without being didactic, these stories illustrate what it means to be friends, and it really seems so simple. There is an abundance of funny, wise quotations, and the Shepard illustrations are perfection. I can't do it justice - I loved it.
Thirteenth Child by Patricia Wrede. Eff's twin brother is the seventh son of a seventh son, destined to become a great magician - she herself is the thirteenth child in her family, which many believe to be a sign of bad luck if not evil. She gets the chance to develop her own magical abilities when her family moves to a frontier town - a place where settlements face the expected challenges of life on the edge of civilization, plus wildlife like mammoths and steam dragons. Wrede has created a fascinating world that will appeal to fans of fantasy and westerns alike - I really enjoyed both this and the sequel, Across the Great Barrier.
Fire by Kristin Cashore. This prequel to Graceling tells the story of another kingdom. Here, there are beautiful and dangerous versions of animals, which people call monsters. Fire is a human monster, and her life is complicated by the love of her best friend, being pressed into service to prevent a plot against the king, and the continuing suspicion of many that she may be no better than her father, who used his powers to nearly bring the kingdom into ruin. This is another action and romance-filled fantasy with an unforgettable heroine. Recommended for older teens.