On the Smugglers’ Radar: Top 10 Most Highly Coveted Books of 2012 (Part 2 of 2)

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. 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!

As 2011 comes to a close, we have decided to start the countdown of the 20 books (each, obviously!) we are the *most* excited for in the coming year. This weekend, we each present you with our most highly coveted top 20 books of 2012. This is the second of two posts – listed below are our official Top 10 of 2012!

On Ana’s Radar:

My top 10 was pretty use to narrow down, to be honest – I have been DYING for these books!

In no particular order:

I absolutely loved Cloud Roads by Martha Wells and I can’t wait for its sequel The Serpent Sea – it’s out very soon, in early January so, YAY!

Moon, once a solitary wanderer, has become consort to Jade, sister queen of the Indigo Cloud court. Together, they travel with their people on a pair of flying ships in hopes of finding a new home for their colony. Moon finally feels like he’s found a tribe where he belongs. But when the travelers reach the ancestral home of Indigo Cloud, shrouded within the trunk of a mountain-sized tree, they discover a blight infecting its core. Nearby they find the remains of the invaders who may be responsible, as well as evidence of a devastating theft. This discovery sends Moon and the hunters of Indigo Cloud on a quest for the heartstone of the tree — a quest that will lead them far away, across the Serpent Sea.

Another favourite read of 2011 was Never Knew Another by J.M. McDermott and I am dying to read the sequel, When We Were Executioners (out in early February).

J. M. McDermott returns to Dogsland in the stunning novel When We Were Executioners, book two of a sweeping fantasy series that revels in the small details of life. Corporal Jona, the demon-stained Lord of Joni, died in the woods. His lover, the Senta Rachel Nolander, is a demon-tainted fugitive, running from the wolfskin-clad priest and priestess of Erin, who track her through the city based on dreams plucked from Jona’s crying skull, plotting to cleanse the world of the lovers’ demonic taint. Past and present collide as the tale of two ill-fated outcasts unfolds, and the executioners of Erin grow ever closer to their quarry.

Speaking of sequels and series, Meljean Brook’s final book in the Guardian series is coming out at some point later in the year. I have been following this series for years now and I can’t wait to see how the author will be wrapping it all up. It’s also Michael’s own book and I am so curious to see him as a protagonist! No cover yet, so here is my favorite cover so far (and also, favorite book in the series, the heroine is SO AWESOME).

N.K. Jemisin has become one of my favourite writers with her Inheritance Trilogy. In 2012 she kicks off a new series (Dreamblood) with The Killing Moon (out in May). I am SO there.

In the city-state of Gujaareh, peace is the only law. Along its ancient stone streets, where time is marked by the river’s floods, there is no crime or violence. Within the city’s colored shadows, priests of the dream-goddess harvest the wild power of the sleeping mind as magic, using it to heal, soothe… and kill.

But when corruption blooms at the heart of Gujaareh’s great temple, Ehiru — most famous of the city’s Gatherers — cannot defeat it alone. With the aid of his cold-eyed apprentice and a beautiful foreign spy, he must thwart a conspiracy whose roots lie in his own past. And to prevent the unleashing of deadly forbidden magic, he must somehow defeat a Gatherer’s most terrifying nemesis: the Reaper.

I seem to be entering a new Reading Phase right now and becoming obsessed with retellings of mythological and/or historical works (there is a running bet between us about what’s going to be my new things. I have a new thing every year). Gil Marsh by A.C.E. Bauer (out in February) is a Contemporary YA retelling of the freaking Epic of Gilgamesh. I have no words to express how much I want to read this book.

Good looking, athletic, and smart, Gill Marsh is the most popular kid at Uruk High School, even though he is only a junior. When Enko, a new kid from Montreal, shows up, Gil is wary. Yet Enko is easy going and matches Gil’s athletic prowess without being a threat. Soon, the two become inseparable friends, practicing, studying, and double-dating.

Then suddenly, to everyone’s shock, Enko succombs to an aggressive cancer.

When Enko’s parents take his body and return to Canada, Gil is unable to even say good bye. He is inconsolable. Determined to find Enko’s grave, Gil sneaks away and heads north.

Closely based on the ancient story of Gilgamesh, the Sumerian King from 3000 BC, A. C. E. Bauer has carefully woven the classic elements of myth to follow Gil’s quest and explore the grief and growth of a young man.

Another no-brainer for me is The Wood Queen by Karen Mahoney (out in February), sequel to The Iron Witch (which I lurved). I won’t be reviewing this one though as Karen is a very good friend of mine (she better send me the book soon or else. I am just saying).

Donna Underwood is in deep trouble.An ancient alchemical order is holding her accountable for destroying the last precious drops of the elixar of life. Never mind the fact that Donna was acting to free her friend, Navin, from the dangerous clutches of the Wood Queen at the time. But what the alchemists have in store is nothing compared to the wrath of the fey. The Wood Queen has been tricked and Donna must pay. Get ready for all hell – quite literally – to break loose…

Another sequel to a top 2011 read I am looking forward to is The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There (Fairyland, #2) by Cat M. Valente. No cover or pub date either but if features very highly on this list.

Sarah Rees Brennan, also a fave author, has two books coming out next year as well (HA, yes, I am cheating again): Unspoken the first in a new Southern Gothic series which promises to be AWESOME (no cover, no date of publication published on September 25 2012) and Team Human, co-written with Justine Larbalestier. This books sounds so cool, I actually thought it was a hoax until I got an ARC in my hands.

When a vampire shows up at Mel’s high school, it’s up to Mel to keep her best friend from falling in love with him. Add a mysterious disappearance, a cranky vampire cop, a number of unlikely romantic entanglements, and the occasional zombie, and soon Mel is hip-deep in an adventure that is equal parts hilarious and poignant.

Smugglivus is awesome for many reasons (not that I am biased or anything) but one of them is how I get to hear about so many new books that I had no idea existed. Case in point: Fair Coin E.C. Myers (out in March), which featured in a couple of guest posts and now is a Must Have book for me.

Ephraim is horrified when he comes home from school one day to find his mother unconscious at the kitchen table, clutching a bottle of pills. Even more disturbing than her suicide attempt is the reason for it: the dead boy she identified at the hospital that afternoon—a boy who looks exactly like him.

While examining his dead double’s belongings, Ephraim discovers a strange coin that makes his wishes come true each time he flips it. Before long, he’s wished his alcoholic mother into a model parent, and the girl he’s liked since second grade suddenly notices him.

But Ephraim soon realizes that the coin comes with consequences—several wishes go disastrously wrong, his best friend Nathan becomes obsessed with the coin, and the world begins to change in unexpected ways.

As Ephraim learns the coin’s secrets and how to control its power, he must find a way to keep it from Nathan and return to the world he remembers.

Remember how I started this post saying “in no particular order”? I sort of lied. I DO have ONE book that is my top top top most highly coveted book of 2012 and it is:

Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 12, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs… for now.

Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.

Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.

I mean, it’s John Green! How could it not be?

On Thea’s Radar:

As I said yesterday, narrowing down these books was a painful experience – but I think I have an amazing top 10. I cannot freaking wait to get my grubby hands on each of these books!

First up, the new Scalzi has my heart all a-pitter pattering. As a life-long Star Trek fan, and a more recent Scalzi fan, of course I’m thrilled for Redshirts.

Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the Universal Union Capital Ship Intrepid, flagship of the Universal Union since the year 2456. It’s a prestige posting, and Andrew is thrilled all the more to be assigned to the ship’s Xenobiology laboratory. Life couldn’t be better…until Andrew begins to pick up on the fact that (1) every Away Mission involves some kind of lethal confrontation with alien forces, (2) the ship’s captain, its chief science officer, and the handsome Lieutenant Kerensky always survive these confrontations, and (3) at least one low-ranked crew member is, sadly, always killed. Not surprisingly, a great deal of energy belowdecks is expended on avoiding, at all costs, being assigned to an Away Mission. Then Andrew stumbles on information that completely transforms his and his colleagues’ understanding of what the starship Intrepid really is…and offers them a crazy, high-risk chance to save their own lives.

Aaaaaand I love all the alternate covers, too:

Next up, Dan Wells wrote some of my favorite books of the past few years with his John Cleaver I Am Not A Serial Killer books. I was sad to see the trilogy end, but am unbelievably thrilled that the awesome Mr. Wells has not one but TWO books out in the coming year! So…I’m kind of cheating and counting them as one spot on the list.

The human race is all but extinct after a war with Partials—engineered organic beings identical to humans—has decimated the population. Reduced to tens of thousands by RM, a weaponized virus to which only a fraction of humanity is immune, the survivors in North America have huddled together on Long Island while the Partials have mysteriously retreated. The threat of the Partials is still imminent, but worse, no baby has been born immune to RM in more than a decade. Our time is running out.

Kira, a sixteen-year-old medic in training, is on the front lines of this battle, seeing RM ravage the community while mandatory pregnancy laws threaten to launch what’s left of humanity into civil war, and she’s not content to stand by and watch. But as she makes a desperate decision to save the last of her race, she will discover that the survival of humans and Partials alike rests in her attempts to uncover the connections between them—connections that humanity has forgotten, or perhaps never even knew were there.

Dan Wells, acclaimed author of I Am Not a Serial Killer, takes readers on a pulse-pounding journey into a world where the very concept of what it means to be human is in question—one where our humanity is both our greatest liability and our only hope for survival.

And then…

From the author of I Am Not a Serial Killer

Dan Wells won instant acclaim for his three-novel debut about the adventures of John Wayne Cleaver, a heroic young man who is a potential serial killer. All who read the trilogy were struck by the distinctive and believable voice Wells created for John.

Now he returns with another innovative thriller told in a very different, equally unique voice. A voice that comes to us from the realm of madness.

Michael Shipman is paranoid schizophrenic; he suffers from hallucinations, delusions, and complex fantasies of persecution and horror. That’s bad enough. But what can he do if some of the monsters he sees turn out to be real?

Who can you trust if you can’t even trust yourself? The Hollow City is a mesmerizing journey into madness, where the greatest enemy of all is your own mind.

Next up is Veronica Roth’s Insurgent. The first book in the series, Divergent completely sneaked up on me – and the more I think about it, the more I love it.

One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris’s initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

New York Times bestselling author Veronica Roth’s much-anticipated second book of the dystopian Divergent series is another intoxicating thrill ride of a story, rich with hallmark twists, heartbreaks, romance, and powerful insights about human nature.

The next title is a no-brainer. Michael Grant’s Gone series is one of my favorites, ever. Consistently, the most recent book in the series earns a spot on my top 10 of the year list – naturally, I jumped around like a crazed, sugar-hopped up child when I got an ARC of Fear in the mail.

This is a blood-pumping, white-knuckle sci-fi thriller of epic proportions.

Night is falling in the FAYZ. Even though it’s been nearly a year since everyone over the age of fifteen disappeared, the sun has continued to shine on the kids of Perdido Beach. Now, though, the gaiaphage has blotted out the sun and plunged the FAYZ into perpetual gloom. Divided and dispirited, the survivors face their greatest enemy yet – the darkness of their own minds…


For those discovering the epic bestselling Dark Tower series for the first time—and for its legions of dedicated fans—an immensely satisfying stand-alone novel and perfect introduction to the series.Beginning in 1974, gaining momentum in the 1980s and coming to a thrilling conclusion when the last three novels were published in 2003-2004, the Dark Tower epic fantasy saga stands as Stephen King’s most beguiling achievement. It has been the basis for a long-running Marvel comic series.

Now, with The Wind Through the Keyhole, King has returned to the rich landscape of Mid-World. This story within a story within a story finds Roland Deschain, Mid-World’s last gunslinger, in his early days during the guilt-ridden year following his mother’s death. Sent by his father to investigate evidence of a murderous shape-shifter, a “skin-man,” Roland takes charge of Bill Streeter, a brave but terrified boy who is the sole surviving witness to the beast’s most recent slaughter. Roland, himself only a teenager, calms the boy by reciting a story from the Book of Eld that his mother used to read to him at bedtime. “A person’s never too old for stories,” he says to Bill. “Man and boy, girl and woman, we live for them.”

Sure to captivate the avid fans of the Dark Tower epic, this is an enchanting introduction to Roland’s world and the power of Stephen King’s storytelling magic.

2011 is the year that I officially discovered Rachel Neumeier, who has quickly moved up the ranks as one of my favorite authors. I cannot wait for this new series (and hope to read more from her in the Floating Islands series, too).

Orphaned, two sisters are left to find their own fortunes.

Sweet and proper, Karah’s future seems secure at a glamorous Flower House. She could be pampered for the rest of her life… if she agrees to play their game.

Nemienne, neither sweet nor proper, has fewer choices. Left with no alternative, she accepts a mysterious mage’s offer of an apprenticeship. Agreeing means a home and survival, but can Nemienne trust the mage?

With the arrival of a foreign bard into the quiet city, dangerous secrets are unearthed, and both sisters find themselves at the center of a plot that threatens not only to upset their newly found lives, but also to destroy their kingdom.

I loved Ship Breaker, Paolo Bacigalupi’s debut YA novel – even more than I loved his adult novel, The Windup Girl. As such, I have incredibly high hopes for The Drowned Cities, and I don’t have any doubts that the talented Mr. Bacigalupi will deliver.

In this exhilarating companion to Printz Award winner and National Book Award finalist Ship Breaker, Paolo Bacigalupi brilliantly captures a dark future America that has devolved into unending civil wars, driven by demagogues who recruit children to become soulless killing machines. Two refugees of these wars, Mahlia and Mouse, are known as “war maggots”: survivors who have barely managed to escape the unspeakable violence plaguing the war-torn lands of the Drowned Cities. But their fragile safety is threatened when they discover a wounded half-man–a bioengineered war beast named Tool, who is hunted by a vengeful band of soldiers. When tragedy strikes, Mahlia is faced with an impossible decision: risk everything to save the boy who once saved her, or flee to her own safety.

Drawing upon the brutal truths of current events, The Drowned Cities is a powerful story of loyalty, survival, and heart-pounding adventure.

In addition to having one of the most badass covers I’d seen in a while, Leviathan Wakes won me over with its brisk pacing, strong characters, and pulp-noir-in-space feel. I cannot wait for Caliban’s War – which has another lovely cover and awesome title, I might add.

We are not alone.

The alien protomolecule is clear evidence of an intelligence beyond human reckoning. No one knows what exactly is being built on Venus, but whatever it is, it is vast, powerful, and terrifying.

When a creature of unknown origin and seemingly impossible physiology attacks soldiers on Ganymede, the fragile balance of power in the Solar System shatters. Now, the race is on to discover if the protomolecule has escaped Venus, or if someone is building an army of super-soldiers.

Jim Holden is the center of it all. In spite of everything, he’s still the best man for the job to find out what happened on Ganymede. Either way, the protomolecule is loose and Holden must find a way to stop it before war engulfs the entire system.

CALIBAN’S WAR is an action-packed space adventure following in the footsteps of the critically acclaimed Leviathan Wakes.

Next up is the dystopian novel from Smugglivus Guest Author Julianna Baggott. Blurbed by some of my favorite authors, already optioned for film, there’s a lot of buzz around Pure‘s release. Hopefully, the book will live up to the hype.

We know you are here, our brothers and sisters . . .

Pressia barely remembers the Detonations or much about life during the Before. In her sleeping cabinet behind the rubble of an old barbershop where she lives with her grandfather, she thinks about what is lost-how the world went from amusement parks, movie theaters, birthday parties, fathers and mothers . . . to ash and dust, scars, permanent burns, and fused, damaged bodies. And now, at an age when everyone is required to turn themselves over to the militia to either be trained as a soldier or, if they are too damaged and weak, to be used as live targets, Pressia can no longer pretend to be small. Pressia is on the run.

Burn a Pure and Breathe the Ash . . .

There are those who escaped the apocalypse unmarked. Pures. They are tucked safely inside the Dome that protects their healthy, superior bodies. Yet Partridge, whose father is one of the most influential men in the Dome, feels isolated and lonely. Different. He thinks about loss-maybe just because his family is broken; his father is emotionally distant; his brother killed himself; and his mother never made it inside their shelter. Or maybe it’s his claustrophobia: his feeling that this Dome has become a swaddling of intensely rigid order. So when a slipped phrase suggests his mother might still be alive, Partridge risks his life to leave the Dome to find her.

When Pressia meets Partridge, their worlds shatter all over again.

And last but CERTAINLY not least, the long awaited third novel from Kristin Cashore. Bitterblue has been on my most highly anticipated list for two years now – and I cannot wait for the actual book release! (No official synopsis yet)

Bitterblue is a companion book to both Graceling and Fire and takes place in the seven kingdoms eight years after Graceling. This third book will tie all three books together in some way. Bitterblue is the eighteen-year-old protagonist, and Katsa, Po, Giddon, Helda, and other characters from Graceling will be part of the fabric of the book.

So there you have it! Our Top 10 Most Highly Coveted Books of 2012. How about you? What are YOUR most anticipated reads of the coming year?


  • Stacy
    December 25, 2011 at 2:16 am

    oh, my God. I’m still reeling from the discovery that Stephen King’s got another Dark Tower book coming out, and from the new books I have to add to my TBR pile after reading this post. I’ve never read Dan Wells–I can’t wait to dive into his books!

    I have a disgustingly large library of mumblemumblehundreds of books I’ve picked up so I haven’t got a new reads must list. :/ I want them all.

    Delighted to find your site.

  • Chachic
    December 25, 2011 at 4:26 am

    Yes to Bitterblue! It feels like we’ve been waiting for it for so long. I’ve been curious about Bitterblue ever since I finished reading Graceling back when it first came out. Team Human and The Fault In Our Stars are on my wishlist as well.

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  • Thea
    December 25, 2011 at 9:13 am

    Stacy – RIGHT!?! I cannot believe we are getting another Dark Tower book!! EEEEEEE!! Be still, my heart! And I hope you enjoy Dan Wells – his first trilogy is complete now, so you can check out his older stuff (start with I Am Not A Serial Killer, which is kind of like a Young Dexter meets the X-Files). I am really excited to read his new stuff this year!

    I am right there with you with a disgustingly large library of unread books *avoids eye contact with overflowing bookshelf* There is ALWAYS room for more!

    Chachic – YES! I feel like it has been ages, too, and I cannot wait for this book. I think I loved Fire more than Graceling, so I have extremely high hopes for Bitterblue (as Cashore seems to keep getting better)! What I would do for an ARC…

  • Kristen
    December 25, 2011 at 9:58 am

    Yes, I cannot wait for The Serpent Sea, The Killing Moon, or Bitterblue, either! House of Shadows also sounds really good. And there’s several books there that are sequels to books I should really get to reading!

    I also have really high hopes for Bitterblue because I thought Fire was a better book than Graceling. They were both enjoyable, but I just LOVED Fire so much!

  • Amy @ Tripping Over Books
    December 26, 2011 at 8:05 am

    Woot! I can’t wait for SO MANY OF THESE! But Bitterblue…I can’t even. When the cover and release date were announced I screamed out loud, I was so excited. Also, there is a synopsis in the Summer 2012 Penguin Young Reader’s catalog. (Bitterblue is on the cover.)

    Eight years after Graceling, Bitterblue is now queen of Monsea. But the influence of her father, a violent psychopath with mind-altering abilities, lives on. Her advisors, who have run things since Leck died, believe in a forward-thinking plan: Pardon all who committed terrible acts under Leck’s reign, and forget anything bad ever happened. But when Bitterblue begins sneaking outside the castle—disguised and alone—to walk the streets of her own city, she starts realizing that the kingdom has been under the thirty-five-year spell of a madman, and the only way to move forward is to revisit the past.
    Two thieves, who only steal what has already been stolen, change her life forever. They hold a key to the truth of Leck’s reign. And one of them, with an extreme skill called a Grace that he hasn’t yet identified, holds a key to her heart.

    BOOM. Sounds so good! 😀

  • Tiffany M.
    December 26, 2011 at 7:06 pm

    Bitterblue!!!! I am so excited for that one!!! I also have quite the library of books that have not been read yet, but seem to always find room for at least one more addition. =)
    House of Shadows, Killing Moon, and Team Human are also books I’m looking forward to!

  • Sarah Rees Brennan
    December 26, 2011 at 7:46 pm

    Southern Gothic series which promises to be AWESOME (no cover, no date of publication)

    Date of publication: September 25 2012.

    Also it’s not a Southern Gothic. None of those newfangled things for me, I’m from Europe! It’s a regular Gothic set in England: if I can’t have a terrifying ancestral manor built in the 1300s/1400s, what’s the point? 😉

    Having been so churlish as to correct you, now I simply sit and clap in happiness you are anticipating!

    Also I filch other books for my own reading list! Oh the Killing Moon sounds AMAZING! And of course I was pre-excited for Bitterblue. First time I’ve seen the UK cover that is sooooon to be mine. Soon, my precious, soon…

  • hapax
    December 27, 2011 at 8:11 am

    I love this forward look, but while reading both posts, I kept thinking, “But what about BITTERBLUE? Surely they didn’t forget BITTERBLUE?”

    I’m so glad not to be disappoonted by y’all!

    Two additional books that I’m on tenterhooks for: Chima’s CRIMSON CROWN, the last of the Seven Realms books, and Holly Black’s BLACK HEART, end of the Curse Workers trilogy.

  • Ashley
    December 27, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    It looks like Cloud Roads (book before Serpent Sea) is free on Kindle via Amazon right now. Bonus!!! 🙂

  • sarah
    January 1, 2012 at 8:20 pm

    thea: i’m reading pure right now. i snagged an arc at the american library association conference in june. i have about 100 pages left and i’m having mixed emotions about it. have you managed to get an arc yet?

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