Eragon, Christopher Paolini:
This one was a media darling and best seller. It's a fantasy novel that's basically a ripoff of Tolkien (Aragorn vs. Eragon -- coincidence? I think not) and some other fantasy authors. It's ok as a middle school level read, but I didn't love it and I'm not planning on reading the rest of the series. I hear they get more violent and less middle-schoolish. I liked Eragon's dragon, though. She was the best character in the book.
Cotillion, Georgette Heyer:
This was recommended by a friend. It's set in Jane Austen's Regency England. It took me a while to get into it. She's a little heavy on the period slang, esp her main male character, but once you get past that, it's a fun story. Very light, but good characterizations and it made me giggle. She's written about 50 books, so it's nice to know I have a fall back when I need some escapist reading.
North and South, Elizabeth Gaskell:
Despite the title, it's not about the Civil War! :) It's set in England in about 1850 and Gaskell is contrasting the old rural, aristocratic England with the new Industrial England in Manchester. It was really interesting because that's exactly where the Lukes were and what they were doing in 1850: working in the mills in Manchester, and also because it's just a well-written book. I liked the main characters a lot. I liked the romance part; it reminded me of Pride and Prejudice several times. Gaskell is a really good writer, and I hear the BBC movie version is great, too!
Happy New Year!