New Release Radar: Just Published Books You Should Really Check Out

Summer is just around the corner, when you’ll have time to read for fun again (right? right?), but there are already a ton of excellent books out there for every kind of reader. Here’s some highlights of some of my favorite, and most-anticipated, recently published books. Most of these have just come out in April, making them the newest of the new, and all are available for check out at the library.

Pure, by Julianna Baggot. Released February 2012.
Pressia was just a little girl holding a doll when the Detonations hit, but when the bombs ended, she was as irrevocably altered as the world itself, her hand fused with the doll’s head. Those who survived found themselves mutilated and fused to whatever creatures or objects were most near – some people fused with animals into Beasts, others with people and become Groupies, some even with the earth and became Dusts. The only people that survived intact were in the Dome, a protected enclave of people now known as Pures. Patridge is one such Pure, living a safe but controlled life of genetic enhancements and behavioral control, but his discovery that his mother may still be alive and outside prompts him to escape the Dome in search of her. When Pressia and Partridge meet, they begin to uncover the dark truth about the creation of the Dome, the destruction of the world, and their inevitable connection to each other. Those of you looking for something grittier and scarier than your standard teen dystopia should check out this new series about the dark, violent life after the Detonations.

Black Heart (Curse Workers, Book Three), by Holly Black. Released April 2012.
This is Book Three of Black’s standout Curse Workers series, about a family of paranormally-gifted criminals working for the magical mob, starring Cassel Sharpe, the charming con man turned good guy who is torn between his decision to work for the federal government and his love for Lila, who has become a leader in her father’s mob. Now that the entire trilogy is available, it’s the perfect time to give this funny, twisty series a try. It’s been one of my favorite paranormal mystery series since it first appeared in 2010.

The Wicked and the Just, by Jillian Anderson Coats. Released April 2012.
I’m still waiting to get my hands on this, but for those of you interested in historical fiction, this tale sounds like a brutal, complex look at both sides of the English occupation of Wales in the 1200s. It follows English girl Cecily who comes to Wales with her family to settle new land and keep down the “vicious” Welshmen, and Gwenhwyfar, a Welsh girl who must wait hand and foot on her new English mistress until the Welsh rebel against their new masters.

The Obsidian Blade, by Pete Hautman. Released April 2012.
Time travel? Alien worlds? A family in peril? This adventurous science fiction novel, the start of a trilogy, is perfect for readers looking for both action and introspection. After thirteen-year-old Tucker Feye’s parents disappear, he suspects that the strange disks of shimmering air that he keeps seeing are somehow involved, and, when he steps inside one, he is whisked away on a time-twisting journey trailed by a shadowy sect of priests and haunted by ghostlike figures.

Grave Mercy, by Robin LaFevers. Released April 2012.
Next on my to-read-NOW list because of two words: Assassin Nuns. Seventeen-year-old Ismae avoids an arranged marriage by making a place for herself at the convent of St. Martin, where she learns of her unique gifts and must determine whether she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. This is a dark and romantic historical fantasy.

I Hunt Killers, by Barry Lyga. Released April 2012.
People are describing this as a teen Dexter by way of Criminal Minds, and it fits! This is an excellent, funny, scary psychological thriller about a boy struggling to overcome his family’s history of murder. From the publisher: “What if the world’s worst serial killer…was your dad? Jasper (Jazz) Dent is a likable teenager. A charmer, one might say. But he’s also the son of the world’s most infamous serial killer, and for Dear Old Dad, Take Your Son to Work Day was year-round. Jazz has witnessed crime scenes the way cops wish they could–from the criminal’s point of view. And now bodies are piling up in Lobo’s Nod. In an effort to clear his name, Jazz joins the police in a hunt for a new serial killer. But Jazz has a secret–could he be more like his father than anyone knows?”

Froi of the Exiles (Chronicles of Lumatere, Book Two), by Melina Marchetta. Released March 2012.
This sequel to high fantasy Finnikin of the Rock is even better than anyone could expect. It’s tense, full of equal parts political intrigue, dangerous events, and slow-burning romance. Marchetta writes characters that captivate in a fantasy world that is so detailed and imaginative, it feels like a real place. This series has a special place in my heart and any hardcore fantasy fans should give it a try. From the publisher: “Three years after the curse on Lumatere was lifted, Froi has found his home . . . or so he believes. Fiercely loyal to the Queen and Finnikin, Froi has been taken roughly and lovingly in hand by the Guard sworn to protect the royal family, and has learned to control his quick temper with a warrior’s discipline. But when he is sent on a secretive mission to the kingdom of Charyn, nothing could have prepared him for what he finds in its surreal royal court. Soon he must unravel both the dark bonds of kinship and the mysteries of a half-mad princess in this barren and mysterious place. It is in Charyn that he will discover there is a song sleeping in his blood . . . and though Froi would rather not, the time has come to listen.”

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