Moss, Jenny. Shadow.
Nominated for the Cybils by Sally Beringer.
Shadow has been with Queen Audrey for as long as she can remember, suffering the indignity of sleeping on the floor, doing menial tasks, and not even having her own name. She is somehow supposed to protect the queen, who has been prophesied to die before her 16th birthday. When Audrey does die, there is nothing Shadow can do to save her, but she is about to be blamed for the death, so Sir Kenway, who was in love with Audrey, spirits her off to the forest in search of a witch who can protect her. While there, Shadow learns the mystery behind her identity, and also realizes that only she can protect the kingdom from the various problems that are plaguing it.
Strengths: The writing flows very smoothly, the story makes sense, and there is a strong sense of place.
Weaknesses: Shadow was too limp a heroine for my tastes. Her romance with Kenway seeemed somehow... icky. He pushed her around a bit too much. I saw the twist in the plot coming. This read more like a YA book to me, not that anything was inappropriate. There was more introspection about identity than action.
Meyer, Stephenie. The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner.
Bree is a newborn vampire who hangs around with other new vampires who are having trouble controlling their thirst and who are given free range to go about marauding and killing humans. Bree seems to have a little more sense of humanity and propriety, but it's not enough to save her. I am SO glad that I only bought one copy of this. Sure, it will get checked out, but fans of Twilight like the book for the romance, and this is pretty short on that. Instead, we have some gruesome feeding going on. Yuck. Definitely keep this one away from 5th graders who are bound and determined to read the series.