Maddy's life: not so rockin'. Her parents split, she's stuck in a new, small town at a school full of Aberzombies and Haters, she has a crush on someone she really shouldn't like, and she's stuck with the nickname Freak Girl. Sometimes it's enough to retreat into her drawing -- her manga is totally important to her -- but when she gets Fields of Fantasy for her birthday, she knows she's found the one place she can be herself. In the game world, Maddy can transform from refular outcast high school student to Allora, a beautiful Elfin princess with magical powers to take down enemies with a snap of her fingers and a wave of her wand.
As Allora, Maddy's virtual life is perfect, and she even fnds a little romance. But a real gamer girl understands that real life comes first -- Maddy can't escape from her IRL problems. She has to find ways to kick back at the Haters, rock her manga, and find the new, real-life friends she knows she deserves.

Published: 2008, by Dutton's Children's Books

*Despite the icky modern-teenage-girl feeling that summary practically oozes, it is a good read. Didn't you catch the words: video games, manga, and Elfin princess?

On the first day, there was mystery.
Arthur Penhaligon is not supposed to be a hero. He is, in fact, supposed to die an early death. But then his life is saved by a key shaped like the minute hand of a clock.
Arthur is safe -- but his world is not. Along with the key comes a plague brought by bizarre creatures from another realm. A stranger named Mister Monday, his avenging messengers with bloodstained wings, and an army of dog-faced Fetchers will stop at nothing to get the key back -- even if it means destroying Arthur and everything around him.
Desperate, Arthur ventures into a mysterious house -- a house that only he can see. It is in this house that Arthur must unravel the secrets of the key -- and discover his true fate.

Published: 2003, by Scholastic Inc.

*This is a confusing, surreal book. Sometimes it is incoherent. But all three of those adjectives describe my personality, and this book suits me well. I love the vague, complex, and not-quite-clear elements of this book, and indeed, the series.

Happily Never After

It's a familiar story: in spite of the obstacles put in her way by her wicked stepmother, Ella goes to the ball, sweeps Prince Charming off his feet, and is chosen to be his bride. Now she's comfortably ensconced in the palace, awaiting marriage to the man of her dreams. It's happily ever after time, right?
Wrong! Life for Ella has become an endless round of lessons and restrictions; even worse, Prince Charming turns out to be more like Prince Boring. Why can't she talk with him the way she can talk with Jed, her earnest young tutor?
Slowly, Ella comes to realize she doesn't want the life she fought so hard to win. But breaking her engagement proves more difficult -- and dangerous -- than escaping her stepmother's tyranny.

Published: 1999, by Aladdin Paperbacks

*I can't remember if I liked Ella or not - I last read this three or four years ago - but this book still sticks out in my mind. I sort of recall a dungeon scene. But I loved it in middle school.