Monday, September 5, 2011

Countdown: Fantasy Edition

Ever since I was a little kid I've been a huge fan of the fantasy genre. My dad started out reading me books like The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Hobbit was another of his favorites, and the list goes on. At the time, those books scared me, but not enough to keep me from wanting him to keep picking others just like them. There's just something about the creativity in this genre and the limitless possibilities that pulls me in and keeps me wanting to find others like my favorites to add to the shelves in my apartment. Add to that the fact that some of my favorite authors are huge in the genre and I just can't seem to get enough. As long as this genre keeps turning out great reads, I'm not sure I'll ever find another genre that intrigues me quite so much. Here are just a few that I'm looking forward to reading real soon.

Countdown Pick #1:
The Clockwork Prince (The Infernal Devices, #2) by Cassandra Clare (12/1/2011)

In the magical underworld of Victorian London, Tessa Gray has at last found safety with the Shadowhunters. But that safety proves fleeting when rogue forces in the Clave plot to see her protector, Charlotte, replaced as head of the Institute. If Charlotte loses her position, Tessa will be out on the street—and easy prey for the mysterious Magister, who wants to use Tessa’s powers for his own dark ends. The special Collector’s First Edition will include a never-before-seen letter from Will to his family!With the help of the handsome, self-destructive Will and the fiercely devoted Jem, Tessa discovers that the Magister’s war on the Shadowhunters is deeply personal. He blames them for a long-ago tragedy that shattered his life. To unravel the secrets of the past, the trio journeys from mist-shrouded Yorkshire to a manor house that holds untold horrors, from the slums of London to an enchanted ballroom where Tessa discovers that the truth of her parentage is more sinister than she had imagined. When they encounter a clockwork demon bearing a warning for Will, they realize that the Magister himself knows their every move—and that one of their own has betrayed them. Tessa finds her heart drawn more and more to Jem, though her longing for Will, despite his dark moods, continues to unsettle her. But something is changing in Will—the wall he has built around himself is crumbling. Could finding the Magister free Will from his secrets and...

Somehow Clare has found a way to grab a reader's attention and make them forget they're reading fiction. All that matters is finding out what happens next and how the characters make out. The Moral Instruments series became an overnight success and I don't see The Infernal Devices being any different. Clary and Jace may have captured the hearts of readers everywhere, but I've got to say that the characters she's come up with in this series are just as wonderful.

I was hesitant to take this series on only because I wanted to wait to start it only when I knew I would be able to give it my full attention and without bias. I didn't want to be wishing that the characters in her previous series would pop up on the pages, I wanted to be ready for the introduction to the new ones. When I finally picked up the series opener I was ready and excited to enter Clare's world of the Shadowhunters and see a little further into the past and how everything got started.

Countdown Pick #2:
Crossed (Matched Trilogy, #2) by Ally Condie (11/1/2011)

In search of a future that may not exist and faced with the decision of who to share it with, Cassia journeys to the Outer Provinces in pursuit of Ky - taken by the Society to his certain death - only to find that he has escaped, leaving a series of clues in his wake.

Cassia's quest leads her to question much of what she holds dear, even as she finds glimmers of a different life across the border. But as Cassia nears resolve and certainty about her future with Ky, an invitation for rebellion, an unexpected betrayal, and a surprise visit from Xander - who may hold the key to the uprising and, still, to Cassia's heart - change the game once again. Nothing is as expected on the edge of Society, where crosses and double crosses make the path more twisted than ever.

After finishing the first book in this trilogy, Matched, I was dying to get my hands on the the sequel. Condie's world fascinated me. Dystopian novels were not overcrowding my shelves at the time, but there was no way I could walk away from this series. Still wanting to know what Ky's fate was, if Cassia could find him, and where Xander would fit into it all, November just can't get here soon enough.

Condie debuted this novel and without any previous works of hers read, my expectations were not incredibly high. I didn't know what to expect. Now I will admit the circumstances have changed. Matched was such a stellar opening that I can only hope that the intensity, action packed pages, and quick pace continues on with this trilogy. Other than The Hunger Games, this trilogy was second on my list of favorite dystopian novels. It began to change my opinion of the genre, no longer thinking of it as a one hit wonder reserved only for Suzanne Collins' works. So cross your fingers with me that the magic continues on with Crossed.

Countdown Pick #3:
Destined (House of Night, #9) by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast (10/25/2011

In Destined, the forces of Light and Dark collide as their epic struggle focuses on Tulsa's House of Night. Zoey is home where she belongs, safe with her Guardian Warrior, Stark, by her side and preparing to face off against Neferet. Kalona has released his hold on Rephaim, and, through Nyx's gift of a human form, he and Stevie Rae are finally able to be together if Rephaim can truly walk the path of the Goddess and stay free of his father's shadow.

But is Zoey really safe? Does she truly know those who are closest to her? And will love win when it is tested by the very soul of Darkness? Find out what s destined in the next thrilling chapter of the House of Night series.

The House of Night
broke the mold for me when it comes to a long running series. Normally my interest wanes after too many books in one series, it all starts to seem like too much. Like the far reaching circumstances and extended scenes that in my opinion might not be integral to the overall plot begin to fill like they're just words filling up the page in order to extend the page count. Not so with this series. I'm definitely not bored, I still want to see where the story goes, and I absolutely still worry about the characters' futures. I can't wait to see where the Cast duo takes Zoey and her friends next.

I'll admit to being a little less worried going into this installment as I was with some of the previous installments. With the end of Awakened, I was somewhat content with the way things were working out. I had some ideas and hopes of how this installment and future ones in the series would go, but I'm content to sit back and crack open this book and just see where the pages take readers next.

Countdown Pick #4:
Frost (Stork, #2) by Wendy Delsol (10/1/2011)

In this sequel to STORK, Katla Leblanc has to employ her grit, spirit, and special gifts to rescue the boy she loves.

After the drama of finding out that she’s a Stork, a member of an ancient and mystical order of women, and that her boyfriend, Jack, is a descendent of the Winter People able to control the weather, Katla Leblanc is delighted when all signs point to a busy and peaceful Christmas. That is, until the snowstorm Jack summons as a gift to Katla turns into the storm of the century, attracting Brigid, a gorgeous scientist who, in turn, attracts Jack. Between the school play, a bedridden, pregnant mother’s to-do lists, and keeping an eye on her aging grandfather, Katla doesn’t have time to question Brigid’s motives or deal with Jack’s increasingly cold behavior. But Katla’s suspicions mount when Jack joins Brigid on a research expedition to Greenland, and when the two of them go missing, it becomes clear that Katla is the only one who can save her beloved Jack from the Snow Queen who holds him prisoner. Adventure, romance, and myth combine in this winter escapade for teens who like a bit of fire with their ice.

I've always loved a good romance, and while I like to see the happily-ever-afters happen for my favorite couples, I don't mind it when it takes them a while to get there. It's nice to know that they earned it sometimes. Too many times have I read a novel where the characters are not altogether all that nice and in my opinion deserving of these great guys or these great girls and yet somehow the author still ends the book with the two together, whether they're nice characters or not. While that may be realistic, sometimes I want to read to get away from how things are in real life, and see that on the fictional pages of some books, only the nice guys get the great girls, and vice versa.

In this sequel it seems Katla and Jack will have their work cut out for them if they want the fairy tale ending. I'm anxious for October reads and will be crossing my fingers as always that Katla and Jack can work things out. Are you with me?

Countdown Pick #5:
Spell Bound (Hex Hall, #3) by Rachel Hawkins (3/13/2012)

Just as Sophie Mercer has come to accept her extraordinary magical powers as a demon, the Prodigium Council strips them away. Now Sophie is defenseless, alone, and at the mercy of her sworn enemies—the Brannicks, a family of warrior women who hunt down the Prodigium. Or at least that’s what Sophie thinks, until she makes a surprising discovery. The Brannicks know an epic war is coming, and they believe Sophie is the only one powerful enough to stop the world from ending. But without her magic, Sophie isn’t as confident.

Sophie’s bound for one hell of a ride—can she get her powers back before it’s too late?

Hex Hall
became one of those series that hit my funny bone and had me laughing and enjoying myself throughout the entire book. Hawkins keeps it light and fun with Sophie and her friends. With this third installment it sounds like it may be taking a turn for the more series side. The second book most definitely had darker edge to it with the newly discovered demons and the way things were left off at the end, but I've got the feeling that Hawkins will take it even further with her next book. Sophie's without her powers and there's a war right around the corner that she will of course play a big role in. Can things go right for Sophie? Will Archer and Cal be by her side? As friends or more? So many questions and I can't wait to get some answers.

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