Let's see now. New time period: from the last week of December 2009 to the last week of December 2010, since I'm including books read in the last month. Goal: 50 books. Children's books will count as 1/2 a book, rereads as a full book unless I change my mind.
1. Ten Little Indians by Sherman Alexie: These are stories about love, loss, sacrifice, and what shapes us, whether it's basketball, the love for the written word, or infidelity. Mostly happening in and around Seattle, the main characters are Indian, primarily from the Spokane tribe - which makes sense, since Alexie himself is Spokane. I really enjoyed this short story collection; the characters are varied and thoroughly fleshed-out. 5 out of 5.
2. The Summoner by Gail Z. Martin: First in a fantasy trilogy called Chronicles of the Necromancer, the story introduces a nicely built fantasy world of magic, goddesses, and ghosts. While 'a prince on the run and a ragtag group he finds along the way must stop an evil power from taking over their world' is not anything new, the characters are interesting, gender-varied and believable, and I like the system of magic and politics between the various countries. 4 and 1/2 out of 5.
3. The Blood King by Gail Z. Martin: Second in the trilogy. The drama and anticipation built up nicely, but I thought the conclusion itself was kind of abrupt. We'll see if the third book picks up speed or meanders... Even with the pacing, I enjoyed the story and new plot entanglements. 4 out of 5.
4. Witch & Wizard by James Patterson (and in small print Gabrielle Charbonnet): This was a christmas gift from a friend, sweet but misguided. I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone else. It seems to be trying to appeal to YA and fantasy readers, but the language and style isn't really coherent. There are randomly invented slang words, abrupt violence mixed with childish language, and no real depth to the story or characters. It feels deliberately dumbed down to create a (false) sense of mystery: if I had to describe it with one phrase, I'd say it was ham-handed. Honestly, there's a distinct difference between a story for young adults and a story that hasn't been written well. 2 out of 5.