a really surprisingly good fantasy book series for "younger readers", but I'm in college and I still think they're pretty amazing. it is kind of like lord of the rings, but instead of taking a long journey to destroy something, the main characters are on a quest to make something (a magic belt) that'll help defeat the evil shadow lord.
each book involves them traveling to a new place in Deltora with a somewhat cheesy name (lake of tears, dread mountain, etc) and coming across some horrific challenge (usually some kind of monstrous beast) and finding another gem to put in the belt.
it's a great series because it is easy to read, and it is full of neat riddles, puzzles, codes, and interesting situations and characters. apparently the author based the books on a bunch of rpg's that her kids liked, so it really has a final fantasy/zelda sort of feel to it (Lief=Link?).
I like to read them when I go home because I can usually finish two or three books in a weekend and still have like 15 more for later. she has seriously published like two sequel series to the original Deltora quest series.
the sequel ones are deltora shadowlands (meh, still entertaining) and dragons of deltora (just about as good as the original series)
SO, in a nutshell: slightly less addicting than harry potter, less wordy and complicated than LOTR, easy, fun, and has its own anime series
brother: "why are you reading those Deltora Quest books again? what are you, like 21?"
someone you know in a class that you'd feel comfortable enough to ask if you could borrow a pencil (paper, calculator, etc), but not enough to hang out with outside of class
person: "I met this really nice girl in my chem class last week, we sit together like every day!"
roommate: "Cool, you should invite her over sometime."
person: "No no..she's strictly a pencil friend."