Rating: Loved (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)
NPCs was one clever, fun book.
The story started with a bunch of young boys sitting around a table, playing Dungeons and Dragon-- er, Spells, Swords, & Stealth. Most of the players didn't take it seriously/weren't playing well, they were doing the "my character is everything I wish I was! Killing everything! Taking no back-talk! Getting all the treasure! 100% perfect!" thing that new players do. As such, they tended to die. A lot.
Their characters died (stupid death, too) and the story didn't miss a beat -- it continued on with how the NPCs of the D&D/SS&S campaign world reacted to the adventurers dying. I was tickled and amused to see that! What a fun idea! I've never seen a story like that before!
Most of the story followed those NPCs as they formed a party and tried to take over the roles of the PCs who had died. It was so believably handled, and so much fun. (I keep coming back to that: This was such a fun, clever idea.)
I wavered between rating this a Liked and a Loved, because the middle dragged just a tad (there was a fight scene that I swear went on for a third of the book), but everything other than that one part was so darned enjoyable, I went with Loved rating.
An extra fun side note: The main character's name was Thistle! The same name I've used online for decades! That tickled me so endlessly.
I already have the second book in this series (Split the Party) and will be reading that next.
The Time Garden by Edward Eager
Rating: Okay (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)
While there was nothing wrong with this book, it didn't hold my interest at all. The only thing I semi-enjoyed about it was the glimpse of a much older world (it was published in the 50s or 60s). None of the children came off as children to me, though that could have been because of the datedness -- maybe kids of the 50s did speak like the ones in this book.
I didn't reach the 50% mark, thus the book doesn't count towards my total for the year.