I started out by rereading a couple of books on my bookshelf that I read a few years ago. I am also listening to the audiobooks in the Inheritance Cycle in preparation for the final book, Inheritance, that is actually on the list.
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
When newly popular Frankie finds herself excluded from her boyfriend's all-male secret society, she does what any smart, self-respecting, budding feminist would do--she comes up with a brilliant plot to take over as "Alpha Dog" of the Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds. Her daring pranks are soon the talk of the whole school, but the reaction is still not quite what she expected.
I thoroughly enjoyed this thought-provoking and entertaining book. The only reason I didn't give it five stars is because I was slightly disappointed in the ending.
First Crossing: Stories about Teen Immigrants by Donald R. Gallo (ed.)
A collection of ten short stories centered around teenage immigrants and some of the issues they face.
Just as in real life, the immigrants in these stories are from many different cultural backgrounds and come to live in America for a wide variety of reasons. Some of the highlights: "First Crossing" about a Mexican boy's first illegal trip into the US; "Pulling Up Stakes" about a Transylvanian boy who finds himself befriended by a group of vampire-loving goth kids; "The Green Armchair" about a young girl who works in her father's furniture repair shop.
Eragon (audiobook) by Christopher Paolini
First in the Inheritance series.
Eragon is a teenaged orphan who lives with his uncle's family. They are poor and when Eragon finds a beautiful blue stone, he tries to trade it for food.
The stone turns out to be a dragon's egg. The egg chooses Eragon and hatches for him. He is set on a course to become a dragon rider.
Eragon is a fairly typical fantasy adventure. While the writing is often immature and well-read fantasy fans we notice many details borrowed from other books and movies, the book is still entertaining and worth a look for fantasy fans.
Eldest (audiobook) by Christopher Paolini
Second book in the Inheritance series.
Though the Star Wars parallel continues, I did like this one better than Eragon because Paolini's writing has matured.
The story picks right where Eragon left off. Though Eragon and Saphira made it through the battle at Tronjheim, Galbatorix still rules Alagaesia. To get ready for the battle against Galbatorix, Eragon visits the elves, where he and Saphira hone their communication and improve their battle skills.
Meanwhile, back at Carvahall, Eragon's cousin Roran leads a rebellion against Galbatorix after Roran's fiancée, Katrina, is kidnapped. He blames Eragon for keeping the mysterious stone and starting the whole mess.
While Eragon's story falls flat in many places, I loved Roran's story. He is a simple man who rises to do extraordinary things when he must. The same applies to Eragon, but I just find Roran more interesting (even though he doesn't get a dragon).