In his other novels, such as "Serena," Ron Rash captures the gentle (or violent) interactions between humans set against the beauty of the natural world, especially the rugged Appalachians. In "The Cove," Merritt Hicks provides a thoughtful rendering of Rash's new novel about a doomed love affair — once again set in Appalachia — in the turbulent years of World War I. Superstition surrounds a shadowy cove where a young woman and her brother live … until a stranger's arrival threatens their calm, idyllic world. (May)
MacMillan Audio, $39.99, ages 12 and up
The scenario of Andrew Fukuda's "The Hunt" is so wildly fantastic (in a good way) that narrator Sean Runnette delivers just what this story needs: a clear, steady voice. Runnette doesn't need to overdramatize this story of a world dominated by vampires and of a young boy, Gene, who attends school and struggles to hide the fact that he's human. When his father's bitten, starts to transform and races outside to commit suicide in the bright sunlight, Gene's sense of isolation is complete. He's not thinking of his society, however; he's just mourning the loss of his family: "My father was right," Runnette reads slowly, thoughtfully, "I became alone that day. We were once a family of four, but that was a long time ago."
As for the book's title, and Gene's involvement in an awful hunt, Fukuda's story has a very clear message: There are many societies that have their hunger games, not just Katniss'. (May)
Mud, Sweat, and Tears
It's a good choice to pair a British actor with a British author — in this case, actor Tom Patrick Stephens gives life to the story of outdoorsman Bear Grylls. "Mud, Sweat, and Tears" describes his family's history and what he did before striking it big with his "Man Vs. Wild" TV series. That includes his early love of mountaineering and sailing, reaching the summit of Mt. Everest and a stint as a commando with British Special Forces. The only drawback to Stephens' performance of this autobiography is that he makes Grylls sound, well, far too calm: Maybe if he were chewing on raw fish or sinking in a quicksand pool, he'd sound a bit more believable. (May)
My Extraordinary Ordinary Life