Countdown Pick #1: What We Saw At Night by Jacquelyn Mitchard (01/08/2013)
Like the yearning, doomed young clones in Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go, three teenagers with XP (a life-threatening allergy to sunlight) are a species unto themselves. As seen through the eyes of 16-year-old Allie Kim, they roam the silent streets, looking for adventure, while others sleep. When Allie's best friend introduces the trio to Parkour, the stunt-sport of running and climbing off forest cliffs and tall buildings (risky in daylight and potentially deadly by darkness), they feel truly alive, equal to the "daytimers."
On a random summer night, while scaling a building like any other, the three happen to peer into an empty apartment and glimpse an older man with what looks like a dead girl. A game of cat-and-mouse ensues that escalates through the underground world of hospital confinement, off-the-grid sports, and forbidden love. Allie, who can never see the light of day, discovers she's the lone key to stopping a human monster.
So I'm confused and yet still intrigued with this one. I'm not sure if it's because I'm lacking the knowledge on Never Let Me Go, or what but I'm not quite sure if I'm supposed to be familiar with this type of character or if it's OK that I'm new to this whole thing, but I still for some reason want to check this book out. I usually find myself going into mysteries with a slight hesitation because once I get into them I don't like to pause for even a second because I have to know the answers, and as soon as humanly possible. So this one sounds like it'll fit the bill perfectly...I guess I'll just have to clear my schedule when I set out to read it.
Countdown Pick #2: Cinders and Sapphires (At Somerton, #1) by Leila Rasheed (01/22/2013)
One house, two worlds...
Rose Cliffe has never met a young lady like her new mistress. Clever, rich, and beautiful, Ada Averley treats Rose as an equal. And Rose could use a friend. Especially now that she, at barely sixteen, has risen to the position of ladies’ maid. Rose knows she should be grateful to have a place at a house like Somerton. Still, she can’t help but wonder what her life might have been had she been born a lady, like Ada.
For the first time in a decade, the Averleys have returned to Somerton, their majestic ancestral estate. But terrible scandal has followed Ada’s beloved father all the way from India. Now Ada finds herself torn between her own happiness and her family’s honor. Only she has the power to restore the Averley name—but it would mean giving up her one true love . . . someone she could never persuade her father to accept.
Sumptuous and enticing, the first novel in the At Somerton series introduces two worlds, utterly different yet entangled, where ruthless ambition, forbidden attraction, and unspoken dreams are hidden behind dutiful smiles and glittering jewels. All those secrets are waiting . . . at Somerton.
I love these kinds of stories. The girls at two very different ends of the spectrum is always so compelling. And hearing the different voices from the different types of characters is always the makings of an excellent narration. I'm looking forward to hearing all about the romance, the tragedy, the secrets, all of it!
Countdown Pick #3: Boundless (Unearthly, #3) by Cynthia Hand (01/22/2013)
The past few years have held more surprises than part-angel Clara Gardner could ever have anticipated. Yet from the dizzying highs of first love, to the agonizing low of losing someone close to her, the one thing she can no longer deny is that she was never meant to live a normal life.
Since discovering the special role she plays among the other angel-bloods, Clara has been determined to protect Tucker Avery from the evil that follows her . . . even if it means breaking both their hearts. Leaving town seems like the best option, so she’s headed back to California - and so is Christian Prescott, the irresistible boy from the vision that started her on this journey in the first place.
As Clara makes her way in a world that is frighteningly new, she discovers that the fallen angel who attacked her is watching her every move. And he’s not the only one. . . . With the battle against the Black Wings looming, Clara knows she must finally fulfil her destiny. But it won’t come without sacrifices and betrayal.
In the riveting finale of the Unearthly series, Clara must decide her fate once and for all.
I know I've talked about this series before but I can't say it enough, how much I've found myself enjoying these installments and Hand's writing. Her characters are compelling and her writing and pace keep my flying through the pages and wanting to hurry up to the end to see what fate lies in wait for all the characters I've come to love so much. So while these final installments are always a bit bittersweet, I'll take it because I'm just on the edge of my seat wanting to know how it will all turn out for Clara and her fellow cast of characters.
Countdown Pick #4: Shades of Earth (Across the Universe, #3) by Beth Revis (01/15/2013)
Amy and Elder have finally left the oppressive walls of the spaceshipGodspeed behind. They're ready to start life afresh--to build a home--on Centauri-Earth, the planet that Amy has traveled 25 trillion miles across the universe to experience.
But this new Earth isn't the paradise Amy had been hoping for. There are giant pterodactyl-like birds, purple flowers with mind-numbing toxins, and mysterious, unexplained ruins that hold more secrets than their stone walls first let on. The biggest secret of all? Godspeed's former passengers aren't alone on this planet. And if they're going to stay, they'll have to fight.
Amy and Elder must race to discover who--or what--else is out there if they are to have any hope of saving their struggling colony and building a future together. They will have to look inward to the very core of what makes them human on this, their most harrowing journey yet. Because if the colony collapses? Then everything they have sacrificed--friends, family, life on Earth--will have been for nothing.
FUELED BY LIES.
RULED BY CHAOS.
It's a series that I've unfortunately fallen behind on. I really enjoyed the series opener, and for some reason wasn't able to squeeze in reading the second installment, but that will have to change. With this trilogy coming to an end with this final installment, I'm going to do my best to read the sequel either before or very shortly after this one is scheduled to hit the shelves so that I can go from one right to the other. Once again I always hate to see a series come to a close, but this one sounds like the makings of one heck of an ending, right?
Countdown Pick #5: The Essence (The Pledge, #2) by Kimberly Derting (01/01/2013)
“Danger, dread, mystery, and romance” (Booklist) continue in the second book of The Pledge trilogy, as Charlie’s reign is under siege from the most unusual of enemies.
At the luminous conclusion of The Pledge, Charlaina defeated the tyrant Sabara and took her place as Queen of Ludania. But Charlie knows that Sabara has not disappeared: The evil queen’s Essence is fused to Charlie’s psyche, ready to arise at the first sign of weakness.
Charlie is not weak, but she’s being pushed to the brink. In addition to suppressing the ever-present influence of Sabara, she’s busy being queen—and battling a growing resistance determined to return Ludania to its discriminatory caste system. Charlie wants to be the same girl Max loves, who Brook trusts, but she’s Your Majesty now, and she feels torn in two.As Charlie journeys to an annual summit to meet with leaders of nearby Queendoms—an event where her ability to understand all languages will be the utmost asset—she is faced with the ultimate betrayal. And the only person she can turn to for help is the evil soul residing within.
Here is an example of a series installment that sways to me one side or the other. For whatever reason, this series has flown under my radar, but when I came across this second installment I seem to have found the right incentive to go back and check out the series from the beginning so that I'll be able to fully enjoy this sequel the way it was meant to be read. Has anyone read the series opener? Good reviews, bad reviews? Let me know.