Totally Digging These Books

Every once in a while  (often) I don’t have legitimate advice to give, at least none that you can’t already get from agents far more wise than I. I think “what to blog about that’s useful?” I work on tome-sized posts about three-dimensional characters, what makes a bad agent vs. a good agent (coming soon), how to reign in your characters when they start running away from (with?) you. Craft and business aside, what shall I talk about, I wonder. 

How about books I’ve really enjoyed/loved. Research – knowing what a prospective agent loves and/or has  represented – is the most important step, I think, for an aspiring writer to find the right agent. So, it’s at least semi-useful for me to talk about the books I’ve been totally digging recently. 

Making the list, y’all, in no particular order:

NOBODY BUT US by Kristin Halbrook

January 29th 2013

Harper Teen

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The Copy 

They’re young. They’re in love. They’re on the run.

Zoe wants to save Will as much as Will wants to save Zoe. When Will turns eighteen, they decide to run away together. But they never expected their escape to be so fraught with danger….

When the whole world is after you, sometimes it seems like you can’t run fast enough.

Nobody But Us, told in alternating perspectives from Will and Zoe, is an unflinching novel, in turns heartbreaking and hopeful, about survival, choices, and love…and how having love doesn’t always mean that you get a happy ending. Described as “beautiful, heartbreaking, and exhilarating” by Kody Keplinger, author of The DUFF, Nobody But Us will prove irresistible to fans of Nina Lacour, Jenny Han, and Sara Zarr. – (image and copy owned and courtesy of HarperTeen, y’all)

My Thoughts: I thank the Galley Gods that I got the chance to get an early review copy.  This is a wonderful debut for Kristin. Bonnie and Clyde-ish, with that careening sense of inevitable disaster, it’s literally the perfect blend of contemporary and suspense. I’m a huge fan of literary YA  that, while contemporary, still feels tense and nerve-wracking. Without serial killers or stalkers (not that there’s anything wrong with a good serial killer or stalker villain) this was enthralling and intense and I want one of my own. 

THIS IS NOT A TEST by Courtney Summers

June 19th 2012

St. Martin’s Griffin
 
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The Copy:
 
It’s the end of the world. Six students have taken cover in Cortege High but shelter is little comfort when the dead outside won’t stop pounding on the doors. One bite is all it takes to kill a person and bring them back as a monstrous version of their former self. To Sloane Price, that doesn’t sound so bad. Six months ago, her world collapsed and since then, she’s failed to find a reason to keep going. Now seems like the perfect time to give up. As Sloane eagerly waits for the barricades to fall, she’s forced to witness the apocalypse through the eyes of five people who actually wantto live. But as the days crawl by, the motivations for survival change in startling ways and soon the group’s fate is determined less and less by what’s happening outside and more and more by the unpredictable and violent bids for life—and death—inside. When everything is gone, what do you hold on to? (image and copy owned and courtesy of St. Martin’s Griffin).
 
My Thoughts: Oh Courtney, you wild literary devil. So this is one of the books that rocks the commercial hook, paces like a bat out of hell, and also follows this incredibly stunning character arc that  just twisted my big, softie heart. The hook got me interested, but it was the voice and the gritty emotional core of the novel, that kept me rooted. 
 
 
KEPT IN THE DARK by Penny Hancock
 
Plume
 
August 28th, 2012
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The Copy: When her neighbor’s fifteen-year-old nephew goes missing, Sonia is the last person that anyone would suspect. At forty-three, she is a strikingly attractive wife and mother. And like the River House, her lovely home overlooking the Thames, Sonia’s life is a picture of perfection and normalcy—until she meets Jez. From the moment he shows up on Sonia’s doorstep, the gorgeous teenage boy awakens a torrent of memories that threaten to reveal a terrifying truth. Drawn to Jez by a compulsion that she scarcely understands, Sonia takes him captive—prepared to sacrifice everything to keep him. (image and copy owned and courtesy of Plume)
 
My Thoughts: Polarizing, as so many psychological thrillers are, this books seems to be casting people on sides of a great divide: those who love this and those who most certainly do NOT. I side with the former. This is straight-up, all-out creepy. At times, it grossed me out. Freaked me out. Gave me a stomach ache. I can understand why not everyone would feel as enamored as I. It’s not an easy book, but it’s visceral, gripping, and utterly unique. Bravo, I say.  
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