Nation, Kaleb. Bran Hambric and the Specter Key.
Nominated for the Cybils by Zane. Review copy provided by the publisher.
Bran is still trying to find out more information about his mother, and when cleaning out safe deposit boxes at the bank, he finds one with her name on it. He takes it to a safe location to open it, because magic is illegal in the town of Dunce, and he is a mage. While he can't open the box, it leads him to a hotel where he finds a fairy named Nim who leads him to his father... who turns out to be very evil. His friend Astara is killed, or perhaps just stolen by the Specters. The box continues to be a problem, since it holds a key an evil mage really wants. In the end, everything works out, and it looks like there may be another sequel. (This is book 2.)
Strengths: Even though it had some of the goofy names that make me wince, this kept me reading. There's a fair amount of action, intriguing characters, and an easy-to-follow plot.
Weaknesses: Definitely not a stand alone. I had only read the first couple of chapters of Bran Hambric and the Farfield Curse, so I didn't understand a lot of the setting or characters. This was especially jarring when there were lengthy descriptions of things like Fridd's Day celebrations.
Westerfeld, Scott. Behemoth.
Nominated for the Cybils by Melissa Baldwin
Did read this, and thought I could put together a review, but everything has tefloned right out of my brain. This was a very well-written book, and a physically beautiful one at that. I think I am going to have to add "Steampunk" to "talking animals" and "quirky Southern navel-gazing" to lists of things that are never going to be successful for me personally. Will students like this? Well, Leviathan has been a hard sell, but students who liked Reeves' Hungry City Chronicles and Oppel's Airborn series will enjoy these.
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