On the Radar

On the Smugglers’ Radar

On The Smugglers’ Radar” is a feature for books that have caught our eye: books we have heard of via other bloggers, directly from publishers, and/or from our regular incursions into the Amazon jungle. Thus, the Smugglers’ Radar was born. Because we want far more books than we can possibly buy or review (what else is new?), we thought we would make the Smugglers’ Radar into a weekly feature – so YOU can tell us which books you have on your radar as well!

On Ana’s Radar:

Poison Tree got on my radar this week after one of our readers recommended it to us. OK, so I may not be really keen on this cover, but I plan to check out this author soon.

The rich stew of the author’s creations—SingleEarth, vampires, shapeshifters, Tristes, the Bruja Guilds—are at full boil here in the story of two 20-ish young women trying to out run their very different pasts, and figure out where they fit in and who they might become. Each has landed in a more “normal” place, and each wonders if, like a tattoo that can’t be covered up, they can ever really fit into “normal.”

In our latest Stash post, we talked about the NPR List of Top 100 YA Novels and how horrified I was that Hush Hush made the list. It generated an interesting discussion with one of our readers who ended up recommending a book that went immediately into my radar:

From the winner of the Michael L. Printz Award and the Carnegie Medal, a work of astonishing intimacy and depth
Using a pillow book as her form, nineteen-year-old Cordelia Kenn sets out to write out her life for her unborn daughter. What emerges is a portrait of an extraordinary girl, who writes frankly of love, sex, poetry, nature, faith, and of herself in the world. Her thoughts range widely: on Shakespeare and breasts, periods and piano playing, friendship and trees, consciousness and sleep, and much more besides. As she writes of William Blacklin, the boy she chooses as her first lover, or Julie, the teacher who encourages her spiritual life, Cordelia maddens, fascinates, and ultimately seduces the reader. This is a character never to be forgotten from a writer at the height of his powers.

Apparently this book has been out for a while but I only really paid attention to it this week – I don’t even know what brought it finally to my attention but now…now I want this so badly.

They say I’m evil. The police. The newspapers. The girls from school who shake their heads on the six o’clock news and say they always knew there was something not quite right about me. And everyone believes it. Including you. But you don’t know. You don’t know who I used to be.

Who I could have been.

Awaiting trial at Archway Young Offenders Institution, Emily Koll is going to tell her side of the story for the first time.

Heart-Shaped Bruise is a compulsive and moving novel about infamy, identity and how far a person might go to seek revenge.

Another title that has been brought to my attention by a friend who knows my luuuurve for MG title. It sounds and looks lovely, right? Kinda reminds me of His Dark Materials!

A girl’s love for her raven may put her life in jeopardy in this gripping tale.

In Keara’s world, every child has a darkbeast—a creature that takes dark emotions like anger, pride, and rebellion. Keara’s darkbeast is Caw, a raven, and Keara can be free of her worst feelings by transferring them to Caw. He is her constant companion, and they are magically bound to each other until Keara’s twelfth birthday. For on that day Keara must kill her darkbeast—that is the law. Refusing to kill a darkbeast is an offense to the gods, and such heresy is harshly punished by the feared Inquisitors.

But Keara cannot imagine life without Caw. And she finds herself drawn to the Travelers, actors who tour the country performing revels. Keara is fascinated by their hints of a grand life beyond her tiny village. As her birthday approaches, Keara readies herself to leave childhood—and Caw—behind forever. But when the time comes for the sacrifice, will she be able to kill the creature that is so close to her? And if she cannot, where will she turn, and how can she escape the Inquisitors?

I was browsing GoodReads and came across Amber House and thought that the cover was very pretty but the first line of the blurb cemented it for me: “I was sixteen the first time my grandmother died . . .”.

“I was sixteen the first time my grandmother died . . .”

Sarah Parsons has never seen Amber House, the grand Maryland estate that’s been in her family for three centuries. She’s never walked its hedge maze nor found its secret chambers; she’s never glimpsed the shades that haunt it, nor hunted for lost diamonds in its walls.

But all of that is about to change. After her grandmother passes away, Sarah and her friend Jackson decide to search for the diamonds–and the house comes alive. She discovers that she can see visions of the house’s past, like the eighteenth-century sea captain who hid the jewels, or the glamorous great-grandmother driven mad by grief. She grows closer to both Jackson and a young man named Richard Hathaway, whose family histories are each deeply entwined with her own. But when the visions start to threaten the person she holds most dear, Sarah must do everything she can to get to the bottom of the house’s secrets, and stop the course of history before it is cemented forever.

This final entry was brought to my attention by its publisher who offered a review copy and I said yes basically as soon as I read the blurb. It sounds fascinating:

n a time of post-Revolutionary fervor in Richmond, Virginia, an imposing twenty-four-year-old slave named Gabriel, known for his courage and intellect, plotted a rebellion involving thousands of African- American freedom seekers armed with refashioned pitchforks and other implements of Gabriel’s blacksmith trade. The revolt would be thwarted by a confluence of fierce weather and human betrayal, but Gabriel retained his dignity to the end. History knows little of Gabriel’s early life. But here, author Gigi Amateau imagines a childhood shaped by a mother’s devotion, a father’s passion for liberation, and a friendship with a white master’s son who later proved cowardly and cruel. She gives vibrant life to Gabriel’s love for his wife-to-be, Nanny, a slave woman whose freedom he worked tirelessly, and futilely, to buy. Interwoven with original documents, this poignant, illuminating novel gives a personal face to a remarkable moment in history.

An 1800 insurrection planned by a literate slave known as “Prosser’s Gabriel” inspires a historical novel following one extraordinary man’s life.

On Thea’s Radar:

First up, that Heart-Shaped Bruise book looks eerily like Heart-Shaped Box (the text and colors and everything, in addition to the title!). But on to my picks. First up, thanks to Ana for finding this lovely book for me – love the cover, love the strange, awesome premise:

Four nearly identical girls on a desert island. An unexpected new arrival. A gently warped near future where nothing is quite as it seems.

Veronika. Caroline. Isobel. Eleanor. One blond, one brunette, one redhead, one with hair black as tar. Four otherwise identical girls who spend their days in sync, tasked to learn. But when May, a very different kind of girl—the lone survivor of a recent shipwreck—suddenly and mysteriously arrives on the island, an unsettling mirror is about to be held up to the life the girls have never before questioned.

Sly and unsettling, Gordon Dahlquist’s timeless and evocative storytelling blurs the lines between contemporary and sci-fi with a story that is sure to linger in readers’ minds long after the final page has been turned.

This next cover is blah, but I like the sound of the book and the concept of “nobodies” being perfect assassins. (Hey, look, another assassin YA book!)

There are people in this world who are Nobody. No one sees them. No one notices them. They live their lives under the radar, forgotten as soon as you turn away.

That’s why they make the perfect assassins.

The Institute finds these people when they’re young and takes them away for training. But an untrained Nobody is a threat to their organization. And threats must be eliminated.

Sixteen-year-old Claire has been invisible her whole life, missed by the Institute’s monitoring. But now they’ve ID’ed her and send seventeen-year-old Nix to remove her. Yet the moment he lays eyes on her, he can’t make the hit. It’s as if Claire and Nix are the only people in the world for each other. And they are—because no one else ever notices them.

I stumbled across this forthcoming book, the new novel from Soon I Will Be Invincible author, Austin Grossman (which reminds me…I need to read that book). It’s got a gorgeous cover, and a fun Cory Doctorow-ish/Ready Player One kind of vibe, no?

A novel of mystery, videogames, and the people who create them, by the bestselling author of Soon I Will Be Invincible, Austin Grossman.

When Russell joins Black Arts games, the hottest studio in the game industry, he meets an eccentric crew of nerds hacking the frontiers of both technology and entertainment. But when their revolutionary next-gen game is threatened by a mysterious software glitch, Russell finds himself in a race to save both his job and the people he has grown to care about.

The bug is the first clue in a mystery leading back twenty years through real and virtual worlds, corporate boardrooms and high school computer camp, to a secret that changed a friendship and the history of gaming. YOU is a thrilling, hilarious, authentic portrait of the world of professional game makers; and the story of how learning to play can save your life.

Next up, a time traveling mystery/thriller. Full disclosure, I finished taking an editing class with the editor of this particular book, and I cannot wait to read it very soon.

A mind-bending, genre-twisting debut novel

In West Akron, there lived a reclusive elderly man who always wore mittens, even in July. He had no friends and no family; all over town, he was known only as the Man from Primrose Lane. And on a summer day in 2008, someone murdered him.

Four years later, David Neff is a broken man. The bestselling author of a true-crime book about an Ohio serial killer, Neff went into exile after his wife’s inexplicable suicide. That is, until an unexpected visit from an old friend introduces him to the strange mystery of “the man with a thousand mittens.” Soon Neff finds himself drawn back into a world he thought he had left behind forever. But the closer he gets to uncovering the true identity of the Man from Primrose Lane, the more he begins to understand the dangerous power of his own obsessions and how they may be connected to the deaths of both his beloved wife and the old hermit.

With a deft and singular blend of suspense, literature, and horror, The Man from Primrose Lane boasts as many twists and turns as a roller coaster. It’s a spellbinding journey of redemption and a reflection on the roles of fate, destiny, and obsession when it comes to matters of the heart.

On my last trip to The Strand, I saw this book on sale for a ridiculously low price. I’ve been meaning to try Mal Peet, and this Carnegie award winning title in particular. Plus, this opening line has already won me over: “In the end, it was her grandfather, William Hyde, who gave the unborn child her name. He was serious about names; he’d had several himself.”

When her grandfather dies, Tamar inherits a box containing a series of clues and coded messages. Out of the past, another Tamar emerges, a man involved in the terrifying world of resistance fighters in Nazi-occupied Holland half a century before. His story is one of passionate love, jealousy, and tragedy set against the daily fear and casual horror of the Second World War — and unraveling it is about to transform Tamar’s life forever.

From acclaimed British sensation Mal Peet comes a masterful story of adventure, love, secrets, and betrayal in time of war, both past and present.

Apparently Christopher Pike – beloved author of my favorite middle school/YA reading days – has a new series coming out shortly!?! Witch World sounds like classic, throwback, illustrated covers with neon-lettering Pike. In other words, I cannot wait for this book.

Witches are real—and each of us may be one—in this all-new paranormal suspense novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Christopher Pike.

Heading off for a weekend in Las Vegas with her friends, Jessie Ralle has only one worry—how to make it through the road trip in the same car with her Ex, Jimmy Kelter. The guy who broke her heart five months ago when he dumped her for no reason. The guy who’s finally ready to tell her why he did it, because he wants her back.

But what Jessie doesn’t realize is that Jimmy is the least of her problems.

In Las Vegas she meets Russ, a mesmerizing stranger who shows her how to gamble, and who never seems to lose. Curious, Jessie wants to know his secret, and in response, alone in his hotel room, he teaches her a game that opens a door to another reality.

To Witch World.

Suddenly Jessie discovers that she’s stumbled into a world where some people can do the impossible, and others may not even be human. For a time she fears she’s lost her mind. Are there really witches? Is she one of them?

#1 Bestselling author Christopher Pike offers up another classic edge-of-your-seat thrill ride that keeps you guessing right until the last page.

This book was recently released and sounds pretty awesome – I’m a sucker for a good zombie apocalypse novel, and I’ve been a fan of Tananarive Due’s horror novels for a while now.

What happens when an unprecedented infection sweeps the world, leaving the earth on the brink of the Apocalypse? But this infection goes far beyond disease. Beyond even the nightmare images of walking dead or flesh-eating ghouls. The infected are turning into creatures unlike anything ever dreamed of . . . more complex, more mysterious, and more deadly.

Trapped in the northwestern United States as winter begins to fall, Terry and Kendra have only one choice: they and their friends must cross a thousand miles of no-man’s-land in a rickety school bus, battling ravenous hordes, human raiders, and their own fears.

In the midst of apocalypse, they find something no one could have anticipated . . . love.

And that’s it from us! What books do you have on YOUR radar?

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  • Lenore
    August 18, 2012 at 2:11 am

    I found the cover of THE DIFFERENT GIRL on Goodreads this week — it’s the kind of cover that would make me buy the book immediately! Love it!

  • Dyah
    August 18, 2012 at 5:34 am

    Any of you in the mood for some dragon fantasy? I’d recommend Seraphina by Rachel Hartman… It’s very good.

  • AnimeJune
    August 18, 2012 at 10:32 am

    NOBODY reminds me of that episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer where the girl nobody notices turns invisible and is recruited as an assassin by the end of the episode. That would definitely make for a cool novel!

  • Angie
    August 18, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    TAMAR is good. I’d love to hear what you thought of it, Thea.

  • Deirdre
    August 18, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    I recently read Devil’s Wake and I quite enjoyed it even though I don’t in general care for most zombie novels. (The last zombie novel I enjoyed was Feed, but after reading Deadline and disliking it for a number of reasons I haven’t bothered finishing that series). Devil’s Wake looks like it will be part of a series (at least I hope so, since the ending leaves a lot of unaswered questions.)

  • Amy C
    August 18, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    Squeed so hard when I saw Tamar and Aidan Chambers on the list! ;____; If you like Tamar, Aidan Chambers’ Postcards from No Man’s Land is always a really good read. (I don’t know about This Is All, as I haven’t read it, but Postcards is an absolutely lovely read about discovering one’s self and has many, many insightful things to say, especially about sexuality and love. It’s much less thriller-y than Tamar, as you can guess the plot twist fairly easily- obviously, the plot twist isn’t the meat of the novel, it’s the insights and character development- but it has the same setup of alternating modern and historical POV’s. In fact, The Shell House is a blend; they’re my historical trio. xD The Shell House uses alternating POV’s and explores the concept of sexuality, less so than in Postcards but still very, very much there, but is a WWI historical POV; there’s just so many parallels between the three novels.) (Okay, I’ll shut up now, especially since this will be super embarrassing if you absolutely end up loathing Tamar and Aidan Chambers’s works.)

  • Anonymous
    August 19, 2012 at 11:10 am

    Yeah, Poison Tree’s cover isn’t the most fantastic ever but it IS a WOC on the cover. That’s got to count for something!

  • Carol
    August 19, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    Heart shaped Bruise looks very interesting but Amazon says the Kindle edition isn’t currently available ??? That’s kind of odd, the only review is from a Kindle edition. 🙁

  • Helen
    August 19, 2012 at 7:51 pm

    I like the sound of Nobody but after the way she ended her raised by wolves series I swore I’d never read anything by Barnes again!

  • Alex
    August 19, 2012 at 8:57 pm

    I rather enjoyed The Amber House, but there were a few things I can see might be issues for some people. I’d like to hear what you guys have to say about it!

  • Andria Buchanan
    August 20, 2012 at 5:08 am

    These look really good.

  • April Books & Wine
    August 20, 2012 at 9:18 am

    I LOVE Aidan Chambers. I loved Postcards From No Man’s Land which is excellent and has some LGBT themes. And okay, I read This Is All a few summers ago on the first away from home overnight beach house trip I went on with my boyfriend and while it’s long and some parts are totally weird (it’s split into several books and one book you have to hold the physical book at a weird angle to read), it’s really good. I loved how it all comes together. I’m not sure how much you’ll like it, though because some parts are really convoluted. But personally, I loved it.

    ALSOOOOOO! I have both Amber House and Come August, Come Freedom on my BEA12 TBR pile as well and am wicked pumped for them.

    AND! As for Thea’s picks, I’ve read a few good reviews for Tamar but my library never seems to have it when I look it up. Sigh. Guess depending on your review I may have to order it or not. AND! Witch World totally showed up at my house as a surprised and I was all what is this lovely noise! But now, I am super excited for it, because WITCHES! YAY!

  • Leeanna
    August 20, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    I’ll be curious to see what you think of The Poison Tree and Amelia Atwater-Rhodes’s writing. I like her books, but they always leave me wanting more story.

  • Kate
    August 20, 2012 at 11:17 pm

    You’ve got a lot of really intriguing titles here! I think a lot of them will go on my ever-lengthening to-read list. Not sure about the Christopher Pike one, though–I’ve been skeptical about him since reading about the whole racefail incident.

  • Alyssa @ Books Take You Places
    August 21, 2012 at 8:59 am

    I read Amber House and I actually really liked it! It was one of those books that I was entertained by while reading but then it snuck into my brain and now I can’t stop thinking about it. My review is going to go up in a few weeks, I’ll keep you posted! 😀

  • Laura
    August 23, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    I really liked This is All, although it could have done with a hefty edit. I wondered if you’d read Dorothy Dunnett or Ariana Franklin, both brilliant (and very funny) historical fiction writers. I owe you a recommendation, as I just read Becoming Bindy Mackenzie, and absolutely loved it. Thank you for that! You may have my first born child any time you want.

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