“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?