Toft, Di. Wolven.
Nominated for the Cybils by Nicola Manning
Nat is promised a dog by his mother and grandparents, but he doesn't plan on the mangy, smelly, wolf like creature that Farmer Tate is selling. If he doesn't taken Woody, however, he knows the dog will die. What he doesn't know is that Woody is a shapeshifter who has escaped a horrible government institution. Things become complicated when Nat has to fend off the bullying of Teddy Davis (who gets his comeupance!), the evil intentions of Lucas Scales (who is a werewolf), and the questionable help of Ophelia Tate. The government may have disbanded the experiements at Helleborine Halt, but Woody and Nat are still imperiled by them.
Strengths: Oddly appealing. Read this one over my morning tea. Perhaps it was the sympathetic treatement of Nat getting his new dog, or the fact that the words flabbergasted and lugubrious were used in the first two pages (unlike the nameless and horrid e book I read last night that had a comma fault within the first three words!), but I really enjoyed this. It's very English, too, had lots of action, bullies being put in their place-- just good stuff. There is a sequel, Wolven: The Twilight Circus out in the UK, and another, Bad Wolf Rising, coming in the spring.
Weaknesses: Never found out enough about Nat's father, but perhaps that is taken care of in the sequels.
Fagan, Deva. The Magical Misadventures of Prunella Bogthistle.
Nominated for the Cybils by Saundra Mitchell.
Prunella is trying very hard to be as evil as her grandmother, an accomplished bogwitch, but she just doesn't have it in her. When Barnaby almost comes to grief in her yard, she ends up helping him escape, and then, having angered her grandmother, runs away with him to help find the Mirable Chalice, whose disappearance is bringing devastation and grief to the uplands. Prunella also intends to find the fabled grimoire of Esmerelda, in order to learn how to become more evil. As she travels the countryside with Barnaby, however, she finds that she enjoys helping people more than hurting them. There are plenty of twists in the quest to find the chalice, and a nice, gentle romance/friendship between Prunella and Barnaby.
Strengths: Again, enjoyed this one more than I thought I would. The quasi-medieval setting usually annoys me, but there was enough of a twist to it that it worked. The characters were flawed but well-developed, and the cover art actually reflects the way the they are described in the book!
Weaknesses: Not sure if I have an audience for this in my library. Maybe fans of Pierce's Alanna, but I'm finding it hard to think of a student who would want to read this, which is a shame.