Working Stiff by Rachel Caine
Working Stiff is a dark and interesting take on zombies filled with moral ambiguities and layered characters. While a bit slow in places, it definitely has the potential to become an excellent series. Recommended for fans of My Life as a White Trash Zombie and Unholy Magic -- imagine it as somewhere between the two.
The Cipher by Diana Pharaoh Francis
The Cipher gets off to a promising start, and, after stalling a bit in the middle, delivers a solid finish. While the book is a little overly focused on what seems like a strange romance, overall the unusual magic system and the last third or so of the book manage to make up for it. Recommended for fans of Holly Lisle and possibly Kate Elliot.
Red-Headed Stepchild by Jaye Wells
Sabina Kane #1
Red-Headed Stepchild doesn't do much to stand out from the urban fantasy crowd, but it is an enjoyable read, though Sabina can be annoying at times. Recommended for anyone who's craving more urban fantasy and doesn't need anything particularly new.
Mister Monday by Garth Nix
Keys to the Kingdom #1
I find that Garth Nix's works generally have excellent, unique magic systems but fail to live up to their world-building prowess in the storytelling department. Like Nix's other books, Mister Monday has a fascinating world, but the story doesn't really capture the reader's attention until the last third or so. That's not to say the writing is bad -- it's not -- but somehow I always expect the writing to be as compelling as the world. Recommended for fans of The Graveyard Book and a less funny Percy Jackson and the Olympians.
Cursed by Jennifer L. Armentrout
In an almost exact reversal of Garth Nix's strengths, Jennifer L. Armentrout is a captivating writer who doesn't seem to publish anything really original. Like her other works, Cursed is nothing you haven't seen before, but the addictive quality of JLA's writing carries it towards the front of the YA line. Recommended for fans of the usual YA paranormal suspects.
I guess it's no wonder I wasn't in much of a hurry to publish these -- they were all good but not really excellent. I could, however, easily see other readers very much enjoying any of them, depending on tastes, so if one sounds interesting, definitely give it a try. All of them are also the first in their series, so they might be worth trying anyway; the best books often come later.