Countdown Pick #1: The Marked (Delcroix Academy, #2) by Inara Scott (4/3/2012)
Dancia’s back at Delcroix, but this year, everything’s different. Dancia’s Talented, and her powers have earned her an invitation to join Delcroix’s real raison d’etre –the Program. Dancia’s wanted to use her powers to help people all her life — and now Delcroix is going to give her the training she needs to use her Talent for good. At least…that’s what the school saysshe’ll learn to do with her powers. Her cuter-than-cute boyfriend Cam insists that it’s true, and so do all the other students. But there’s still a little voice inside her head that wonders — if the Program’s so great, why did her almost-only-a-friend- Jack run away rather than join? And why would the school be getting attacked by angry ex-students? Dancia’s a loyal student…and a loyal girlfriend. But if finding out what’s really going on means talking to Jack, well — it’s a risk she just might have to take.
Scott's series opener, The Candidates, got me hooked and I added Delcroix Academy to a must read series. Now that Dancia's back at Delcroix I've got loose ends I'm hoping have been or will be tied up. How are Dancia and Cam doing? Where will Jack fit in when he comes back...because he has to come back right? Are the ex-students against The Program for good reason, or were they the problem and The Program merely wanted to control any possible future problems they could cause? I enjoyed Scott's quick pace and well written scenes and I'm hoping to see more of that with this latest installment.
Countdown Pick #2: Shattered Souls (Souls, #1) by Mary Lindsey (12/8/2011)
A thrilling debut story of death, love, destiny and danger...
Lenzi hears voices and has visions - gravestones, floods, a boy with steel gray eyes. Her boyfriend, Zak, can't help, and everything keeps getting louder and more intense. Then Lenzi meets Alden, the boy from her dreams, who reveals that she's a reincarnated Speaker - someone who can talk to and help lost souls - and that he has been her Protector for centuries.
Now Lenzi must choose between her life with Zak and the life she is destined to lead with Alden. But time is running out: a malevolent spirit is out to destroy Lenzi, and he will kill her if she doesn't make a decision soon.
I always love the chance to check out a debut author. I can't tell you how many of my favorite authors were originally found through their debut works. I may have stumbled upon them by accident or was given a recommendation, but either way they were lucky finds. There's something just so fresh and exciting about an author's first go in the publishing world. I'm not saying they're always the author's best books, but I've had really good luck in the past with debuts and I'm hoping this year is no different. Lindsey seems to have thrown a little bit of everything in this one: romance, suspense, paranormal abilities, and so much more. I might just need to add this one to my Christmas wish list.
Countdown Pick #3: The Pearl Wars (Skyship Academy, #1) by Nick James (9/8/2011)
A devastated Earth's last hope is found in Pearls: small, mysterious orbs that fall from space and are capable of supplying enough energy to power entire cities. Battling to control the Pearls are the Skyship dwellers—political dissidents who live in massive ships in the Earth's stratosphere—and the corrupt Surface government.
Jesse Fisher, a Skyship slacker, and Cassius Stevenson, a young Surface operative, cross paths when they both venture into forbidden territory in pursuit of Pearls. Their chance encounter triggers an unexpected reaction, endowing each boy with remarkable—and dangerous—abilities that their respective governments would stop at nothing to possess.
Enemies thrust together with a common goal, Jesse and Cassius make their way to the ruins of Seattle to uncover the truth about their new powers, the past they didn't know they shared, and a shocking secret about the Pearls.
I've always considered myself a creative and imaginative person to a certain extent. But when I hear about a book like this one, James puts me to shame. His fictional/dystopian world knows no bounds. He's got an entire world going on in this book that is so colorful, dangerous, exciting and terrifying, that I just don't know where someone gets ideas like these. And I haven't even read the book yet! It sounds amazing and I am really looking forward to dedicating some time and checking James' work out for myself. Can it be as good as it sounds? I sure hope so.
Countdown Pick #4: Witch Eyes (Witch Eyes, #1) by Scott Tracey (9/8/2011)
Braden's witch eyes give him an enormous power. A mere look causes a kaleidoscopic explosion of emotions, memories, darkness, and magic. But this rare gift is also his biggest curse.
Compelled to learn about his shadowed past and the family he never knew, Braden is drawn to the city of Belle Dam, where he is soon caught between two feuding witch dynasties. Sworn rivals Catherine Lansing and Jason Thorpe will use anything—lies, manipulation, illusion, and even murder—to seize control of Braden's powers. To stop an ancient evil from destroying the town, Braden must master his gift, even through the shocking discovery that Jason is his father. While his feelings for an enigmatic boy named Trey grow deeper, Braden realizes a terrible truth: Trey is Catherine Lansing's son . . . and Braden may be destined to kill him.
No matter how many times I see it done, I'm still always impressed to find a genre like paranormal romance, and a certain main element like witches and witchcraft, spun in a new way. This genre and these elements have been used in so many different ways and by so many different authors, you would think all the ideas have been used up. Not so, as Tracey proves with his debut novel. I'll admit that I haven't read it for myself yet, but from the looks and sounds of it, I've got to say it sure seems unique to me. A witch eye and feuding families will to do anything to gain the power it wields for themselves. Oh yes, this could get ugly. Family ties, romances that are forbidden, and secrets long ago buried are up for grabs. Sign me up please, I can't wait.
Countdown Pick #5: Half Blood (Covenant, #1) by Jennifer Armentrout (10/15/2011)
The Hematoi descend from the unions of gods and mortals, and the children of two Hematoi-pure-bloods-have godlike powers. Children of Hematoi and mortals-well, not so much. Half-bloods only have two options: become trained Sentinels who hunt and kill daimons or become servants in the homes of the pures.Seventeen-year-old Alexandria would rather risk her life fighting than waste it scrubbing toilets, but she may end up slumming it anyway.
There are several rules that students at the Covenant must follow. Alex has problems with them all, but especially rule #1:Relationships between pures and halfs are forbidden.Unfortunately, she's crushing hard on the totally hot pure-blood Aiden. But falling for Aiden isn't her biggest problem--staying alive long enough to graduate the Covenant and become a Sentinel is. If she fails in her duty, she faces a future worse than death or slavery: being turned into a daimon, and being hunted by Aiden. And that would kind of suck.
Mythology of any kind is a major draw for me. Always has been and I imagine it always will be. Gods and goddesses, their powers, the destruction they cause, the lives they influence, all of it fascinates me. Armentrout's got it all going on in her debut from the looks of it and I'm adding this one to my list. The main character sounds sweet and yet like sh also has a spunky side to her...love it. There is of course a hint of a romance or at least a crush and lots of consequences that come with every character's every action. Watch out fantasy lovers, this might be one you want to add to your bookshelves.