SPOILERSThe Floating Islands
by Rachel Neumeier
I've had my eye on this one for awhile now but it was only in hardcover. I finally gave in though because of the sale price and I'm really glad I did. I LOVE it. Great young adult fantasy novel, great worldbuilding, great characters.
Trei is recently orphaned and thanks to the rejection by his paternal uncle, he travels to the Floating Islands hopeful that his mother's brother will take him in. Upon arriving at the Islands he is awestruck by the kujurai, men who fly the skies and protect the islands. His uncle's family welcomes him with a little reluctance by his cousin Araene. I think most of it was that she was worried he was going to discover her alternate identity as a boy attending the University to learn how to cook. Girls on the island are not allowed to attend or really do much of anything at all and Araene has found a way around that, for the time being.
Trei is quickly deemed sky-mad and applies for the kujurai while Araene stumbles upon the hidden school and finds out she's a mage. Fun stuff ensues until the Floating Islands are besieged by the Tolounnese and the cousins must figure out how to stop them.