Tamora Pierce's books are full of hard-working, honest heroes who care about what is right and have adventures making sure that bad guys don't win. Oh, they also have magic and talking animals and nobles and kings and STUFF. The main characters usually can do magic, and often get special pets that help them out in special ways.
If this sounds like fun (if you are either a child or willing to read with a child's eagerness and lack of cynicism) then grab any of her books you can find. Her latest, Bloodhound, has all the usual ingredients -- Beka has been working as a cop (a Dog) in a fantasy city. She trains hard, but also has the help of her powerful friend, a star disguised as a cat, as well as spooky eyes and a close friendship with the Rogue, the head of the underworld in the city. When counterfeit coins begin turning up in the city, she joins in the investigation, following it to new cities with new dangers and new friends. Pierce likes to push boundaries a bit; gay characters are an unremarked part of the background in many of her YA titles, and in this book she includes a transgendered minor character.
Recommended for middle school and up. I give this book a B+.