I've got a YA with mythological roots, and an older (but still very good) sci fi romance. I was going to include the final book in a fantasy trilogy in this batch, but I think that one needs its own post.
Touch of Frost (Mythos Academy #1) by Jennifer Estep
I admit to loving the idea of a "special school where kids with magic powers go off to learn, love, grow, and fight the inevitable evil that has invaded their campus." Blame Hogwarts or Camp Half-Blood, but I am an absolute sucker for these kinds of books.
Mythos Academy is home to the future warriors and Champions of the Pantheanic gods and goddesses who try to keep Loki and his Reavers from unleashing Chaos on the world. We have Valkyries, Amazons, Spartans, Vikings, Celts, and so on. I like that Estep has opened the door to introducing many different mythological beings from around the globe. It makes this world very interesting, and we've only scratched the surface of it. Our heroine, Gwen Frost, is a recent addition to the school. A Gypsy, she feels completely out of place. She does have a gift, psychometry (she can touch something and know all about it and everyone who touched it). This gift can of course be a curse, but Gwen also really likes knowing everyones secrets. And she's not shy about using her gift to further her own aims. Luckily, Gwen does care about other people, so we don't have a megalomaniac on our hands, but I like that she has an edge to her. It felt a lot more realistic.
I'm not going to say more about specific events; there is action, danger, and the revelation of secrets that you should experience for yourself. There is a tiny bit of romance, and some angst, but it was definitely in the right amounts. I never felt like banging my head against the wall.
I will say this, though, as the book does contain the requisite smokin' hot bad boy - I am more than a little tired of the teen-boy-asshat-love-interest. There better be some damn good groveling in book 2, or maybe let Gwen meet an actual nice boy, like her new best friend did. Just sayin'.
Now is an excellent time to read book 1, because book 2 Kiss of Frost, is out November 29.
Grimspace (Sirantha Jax #1) by Ann Aguirre
I think I am on a sci fi kick (although that sci fi must have strong female
characters that kick tremendous ass), so Ann Aguirre’s sci fi series made me
feel right at home.
I read this book when I absolutely HAD TO HAVE a distraction. And it worked
I also was in the mood for something dark, and
Sirantha Jax is so completely, exceptionally screwed up. She and March and the
rest of their motley crew are beat up, broken, reaching for a dream but also so
hammered by outside and inner forces they can do little but react.
We spend most of the ride running – running from the
ominous Corporation, bounty hunters, criminals with nefarious plans, and
through it all Jax is also inwardly running from her own memories. There is
lots of action and some romance, but the romance felt natural, not forced. You
know nothing will be easy with these two, and really, who wants that?
Lots of action. Really liked the supporting characters (Dina,
Saul, the tragic Loras, even Baby Z). I also think I love Vel - a strange
occurrence since he just pops in at the end and although can look human is
really a bug-like creature, but I do. He was awesome. Must get the next book.
Here's the one caveat I'll add, because I've often heard Grimspace referred to as a "sci fi romance" - this book (and I'll hazard a guess this series) does not follow the usual Romance mold. I'd actually say it feels more like a UF with the characters, POV, action, and romance (and the romance is not central to everything like in a Romance novel).