On the Radar

On the Smugglers’ Radar

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:

Here! A new novella set in the award-winning, critically-acclaimed Xuya universe by Aliette de Bodard!

Welcome to the Scattered Pearls Belt, a collection of ring habitats and orbitals ruled by exiled human scholars and powerful families, and held together by living mindships who carry people and freight between the stars. In this fluid society, human and mindship avatars mingle in corridors and in function rooms, and physical and virtual realities overlap, the appareance of environments easily modified and adapted to interlocutors or current mood.

A transport ship discharged from military service after a traumatic injury, The Shadow’s Child now ekes out a precarious living as a brewer of mind-altering drugs for the comfort of space-travellers. Meanwhile, abrasive and eccentric scholar Long Chau wants to find a corpse for a scientific study. When Long Chau walks into her office, The Shadow’s Child expects an unpleasant but easy assignment. When the corpse turns out to have been murdered, Long Chau feels compelled to investigate, dragging The Shadow’s Child with her.

As they dig deep into the victim’s past, The Shadow’s Child realises that the investigation points to Long Chau’s own murky past–and, ultimately, to the dark and unbearable void that lies between the stars…


This middle grade debut looks amazing:

When best friends Tai and Mila are reunited after a summer apart, their friendship threatens to combust from the pressure of secrets, middle school, and the looming dance auditions for a new talented-and-gifted program. A memorably raw story about a complex friendship between two very different African American girls. For fans of Jason Reynolds’s Ghost and Rebecca Stead’s Goodbye Stranger.
Jamila Phillips and Tai Johnson have been inseparable since they were toddlers. In Pirate’s Cove—a low-income housing project in Texas—Mila’s single father does everything he can to support his kids and his community. Tai lives across the street with her grandmother, who is the only family she needs. As summer comes to a close, Tai can’t wait for Mila to return from spending a month with her aunt in the suburbs. But both girls are grappling with secrets, and Mila is different when she returns, seeming to put all her energy toward the upcoming dance auditions for the new talented-and-gifted program.

Paula Chase’s middle grade debut is driven by universal themes of friendship and budding romance, while also exploring complex issues that affect many young teens. Full of ballet, basketball, family, and daily life in Pirate’s Cove, Paula Chase’s memorable novel is perfect for fans of Ali Benjamin’s The Thing About Jellyfish and Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich’s and Audrey Vernick’s Two Naomis.


And speaking of awesome-looking Middle Grade, check out this one coming from no other than Daniel José Older!

From New York Times bestselling author Daniel José Older, the astounding first book in a new series that blends history and fantasy like never before.

It’s 1863 and dinosaurs roam the streets of New York as the Civil War rages between raptor-mounted armies down South. Magdalys Roca and her friends from the Colored Orphan Asylum are on a field trip when the Draft Riots break out, and a number of their fellow orphans are kidnapped by an evil magistrate, Richard Riker.

Magdalys and her friends flee to Brooklyn and settle in the Dactyl Hill neighborhood, where black and brown New Yorkers have set up an independent community—a safe haven from the threats of Manhattan. Together with the Vigilance Committee, they train to fly on dactylback, discover new friends and amazing dinosaurs, and plot to take down Riker. Can Magdalys and the squad rescue the rest of their friends before it’s too late?



Cassidy Blake’s parents are The Inspectres, a (somewhat inept) ghost-hunting team. But Cass herself can REALLY see ghosts. In fact, her best friend, Jacob, just happens to be one.

When The Inspectres head to ultra-haunted Edinburgh, Scotland, for their new TV show, Cass — and Jacob — come along. In Scotland, Cass is surrounded by ghosts, not all of them friendly. Then she meets Lara, a girl who can also see the dead. But Lara tells Cassidy that as an In-betweener, their job is to send ghosts permanently beyond the Veil. Cass isn’t sure about her new mission, but she does know the sinister Red Raven haunting the city doesn’t belong in her world. Cassidy’s powers will draw her into an epic fight that stretches through the worlds of the living and the dead, in order to save herself.


I am really looking forward to reading Americanized which I hear is excellent!

The hilarious, poignant, true story of one teen’s experience growing up in America as an undocumented immigrant from the Middle East.

At thirteen, bright-eyed, straight-A student Sara Saedi uncovered a terrible family secret: she was breaking the law simply by living in the United States. Only two years old when her parents fled Iran, she didn’t learn of her undocumented status until her older sister wanted to apply for an after-school job, but couldn’t because she didn’t have a Social Security number.

Fear of deportation kept Sara up at night, but it didn’t keep her from being a teenager. She desperately wanted a green card, along with clear skin, her own car, and a boyfriend.

From discovering that her parents secretly divorced to facilitate her mother’s green card application to learning how to tame her unibrow, Sara pivots gracefully from the terrifying prospect that she might be kicked out of the country to the almost-as-terrifying possibility that she might be the only one without a date to the prom. This moving, often hilarious story is for anyone who has ever shared either fear.


On Thea’s Radar:

First up on my list is a new novella that can be read as a standalone in the Witchland series, which I just received in the mail:

Before Safi and Iseult battled a Bloodwitch…

Before Merik returned from the dead…

Ryber Fortiza was a Sightwitch Sister at a secluded convent, waiting to be called by her goddess into the depths of the mountain. There she would receive the gift of foretelling. But when that call never comes, Ryber finds herself the only Sister without the Sight.

Years pass and Ryber’s misfit pain becomes a dull ache, until one day, Sisters who already possess the Sight are summoned into the mountain, never to return. Soon, Ryber is the only Sister left. Now, it is up to her to save her Sisters, though she does not have the Sight — and though she does not know what might await her inside the mountain.

On her journey underground, she encounters a young captain named Kullen Ikray, who has no memory of who he is or how he got there. Together, the two travel ever deeper in search of answers, their road filled with horrors, and what they find at the end of that road will alter the fate of the Witchlands forever.


Next up, a fantasy novel I received in the mail recently:

I was seven years old the first time my uncle poisoned me…

Outwardly, Jovan is the lifelong friend of the Chancellor’s charming, irresponsible Heir. Quiet. Forgettable. In secret, he’s a master of poisons and chemicals, trained to protect the Chancellor’s family from treachery. When the Chancellor succumbs to an unknown poison and an army lays siege to the city, Jovan and his sister Kalina must protect the Heir and save their city-state.

But treachery lurks in every corner, and the ancient spirits of the land are rising… and angry.


And then this book, also from the mail (and with a blurb from Ann Leckie):

After the climate wars, a floating city is constructed in the Arctic Circle, a remarkable feat of mechanical and social engineering, complete with geothermal heating and sustainable energy. The city’s denizens have become accustomed to a roughshod new way of living, however, the city is starting to fray along the edges—crime and corruption have set in, the contradictions of incredible wealth alongside direst poverty are spawning unrest, and a new disease called “the breaks” is ravaging the population.

When a strange new visitor arrives—a woman riding an orca, with a polar bear at her side—the city is entranced. The “orcamancer,” as she’s known, very subtly brings together four people—each living on the periphery—to stage unprecedented acts of resistance. By banding together to save their city before it crumbles under the weight of its own decay, they will learn shocking truths about themselves.

Blackfish City is a remarkably urgent—and ultimately very hopeful—novel about political corruption, organized crime, technology run amok, the consequences of climate change, gender identity, and the unifying power of human connection.


And last but not least, this new title from Claire North that I am dying to read:

From one of the most powerful writers in modern fiction comes a dystopian vision of a world where money reigns supreme, and nothing is so precious that it can’t be bought….

The penalty for Dani Cumali’s murder: £84,000.

Theo works in the Criminal Audit Office. He assesses each crime that crosses his desk and makes sure the correct debt to society is paid in full.

These days, there’s no need to go to prison – provided that you can afford to pay the penalty for the crime you’ve committed. If you’re rich enough, you can get away with murder.

But Dani’s murder is different. When Theo finds her lifeless body, and a hired killer standing over her and calmly calling the police to confess, he can’t let her death become just an entry on a balance sheet.

Someone is responsible. And Theo is going to find them and make them pay.


And that’s it from us! What books do you have on YOUR radar?

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