“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:
I super enjoyed The Serpent’s Secret and can’t wait for the second book in the series:
The sequel to the critically acclaimed debut-fantasy The Serpent’s Secret!
When the Demon Queen shows up in her bedroom, smelling of acid and surrounded by evil-looking bees, 12-year-old Kiranmala is uninterested. After all, it’s been four months since she last heard from her friends in the Kingdom Beyond, the alternate dimension where she was born as an Indian princess. But after a call to action over an interdimensional television station and a visit with some all-seeing birds, Kiran decides that she has to once again return to her homeland, where society is fraying, a reality show is taking over, and her friends are in danger.
However, things are a lot less clear than the last time she was in the Kingdom Beyond. Kiran must once again battle witches, solve riddles, and avoid her evil Serpent King father — all while figuring out who are her true friends, and what it really means to be a demon.
You all know by now how much I luuurve Tana French’s thrillers and there is one out soon!
From the writer who “inspires cultic devotion in readers” (The New Yorker) and has been called “incandescent” by Stephen King, “absolutely mesmerizing” by Gillian Flynn, and “unputdownable” (People), comes a gripping new novel that turns a crime story inside out.
Toby is a happy-go-lucky charmer who’s dodged a scrape at work and is celebrating with friends when the night takes a turn that will change his life – he surprises two burglars who beat him and leave him for dead. Struggling to recover from his injuries, beginning to understand that he might never be the same man again, he takes refuge at his family’s ancestral home to care for his dying uncle Hugo. Then a skull is found in the trunk of an elm tree in the garden – and as detectives close in, Toby is forced to face the possibility that his past may not be what he has always believed.
A spellbinding standalone from one of the best suspense writers working today, The Witch Elm asks what we become, and what we’re capable of, when we no longer know who we are.
Tessa Gratton’s upcoming new novel, Strange Grace also sounds amazeballs:
Once, a witch made a pact with a devil. The legend says they loved each other, but can the story be trusted at all? Find out in this lush, atmospheric fantasy novel that entwines love, lies, and sacrifice.
Long ago, a village made a bargain with the devil: to ensure their prosperity, when the Slaughter Moon rises, the village must sacrifice a young man into the depths of the Devil’s Forest.
Only this year, the Slaughter Moon has risen early.
Bound by duty, secrets, and the love they share for one another, Mairwen, a spirited witch; Rhun, the expected saint; and Arthur, a restless outcast, will each have a role to play as the devil demands a body to fill the bargain. But the devil these friends find is not the one they expect, and the lies they uncover will turn their town—and their hearts—inside out.
I really CANNOT WAIT for this duology by Tehlor Kay Mejia:
In this daring and romantic fantasy debut set in an alternate version of Mexico, society-wife-in-training Dani has a great awakening after being recruited by rebel spies and falling for her biggest rival. Perfect for fans of The Handmaid’s Tale and Latinx authors Zoraida Córdova and Anna-Marie McLemore.
At the Medio School for Girls, distinguished young women are trained for one of two roles in their polarized society. Depending on her specialization, a graduate will one day run a husband’s household or raise his children, but both are promised a life of comfort and luxury, far from the frequent political uprisings of the lower class.
Daniela Vargas is the school’s top student, but her bright future depends upon no one discovering her darkest secret—that her pedigree is a lie. Her parents sacrificed everything to obtain forged identification papers so Dani could rise above her station. Now that her marriage to an important politico’s son is fast approaching, she must keep the truth hidden or be sent back to the fringes of society, where famine and poverty rule supreme.
On her graduation night, Dani seems to be in the clear, despite the surprises that unfold. But nothing prepares her for all the difficult choices she must make, especially when she is asked to spy for a resistance group desperately fighting to bring equality to Medio. Will Dani cling to the privilege her parents fought to win for her or give up everything she’s strived for in pursuit of a free Medio—and a chance at a forbidden love?
The first in a sizzling fantasy duology from debut author Tehlor Kay Mejia, We Set the Dark on Fire is a boldly feminist look at freedom, family, and fighting the power.
And finally, this SF YA by a Brazilian author! IT SOUNDS SO GOOD:
A high-stakes survival story about eight teenagers who outlive an alien attack—perfect for fans of The 5th Wave
Clover Martinez has always been a survivor. But that takes on a whole new meaning when aliens destroy earth as she knows it, killing everyone she loves.
When Clover hears an inexplicable radio message, she’s shocked to learn there are other survivors—and that they’re all at the former Area 51. When she arrives, she’s greeted by a band of misfits who call themselves The Last Teenagers on Earth.
Only they aren’t the ragtag group of heroes Clover was expecting. The group seems more interested in hiding than fighting back, and Clover starts to wonder if she was better off alone. But then she finds a hidden spaceship, and she doesn’t know what to believe…or who to trust.
On Thea’s Radar:
So many exciting new books this week! First up, a new post-apocalyptic Neal Shusterman title, co-written with his son:
When the California drought escalates to catastrophic proportions, one teen is forced to make life and death decisions for her family in this harrowing story of survival from New York Times bestselling author Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman.
The drought—or the Tap-Out, as everyone calls it—has been going on for a while now. Everyone’s lives have become an endless list of don’ts: don’t water the lawn, don’t fill up your pool, don’t take long showers.
Until the taps run dry.
Suddenly, Alyssa’s quiet suburban street spirals into a warzone of desperation; neighbors and families turned against each other on the hunt for water. And when her parents don’t return and her life—and the life of her brother—is threatened, Alyssa has to make impossible choices if she’s going to survive.
Next up, this fantasy book that I cannot wait to dive into (UK cover featured below):
I was seven years old the first time my uncle poisoned me . . .
Only a handful of people in Silasta know Jovan’s real purpose in life. To most, he is just another son of the ruling class. The quiet, forgettable friend of the Chancellor’s charming, irresponsible heir. In reality, Jovan has been trained for most of his life to detect, concoct and withstand poisons in order to protect the ruling family.
His sister Kalina is too frail to share in their secret family duty. While other women of the city hold positions of power and responsibility, her path is full of secrets and lies – some hidden even from her own brother.
Until now, peace has reigned in Silasta for hundreds of years. But when the Chancellor succumbs to an unknown poison and an army storms the gates, the so-called Bright City is completely unprepared. It falls to Jovan and Kalina to protect the heir and save their homeland – but first they must make their way through a new world of unexpected treachery, a world where the ancient spirits are rising . . . and angry.
This fabulous epic fantasy debut will appeal to readers of Joe Abercrombie and Terry Brooks, Robin Hobb and Mark Lawrence and all points in between.
Then, there’s this thriller that sounds like something I need to read:
Twin brothers Ty and Cory Bic are on the run. When they encounter a dying deer in the middle of a remote mountain road with fresh tire tracks swerving down into a ravine, they know they have to help. But when they reach the wrecked car the vehicle appears empty, with signs that the driver escaped.
Until they hear a sound coming from the trunk.
Ty and Cory are escaping demons of their own. But what they discover in the trunk puts them in the crosshairs of something darker and more sinister than their wildest nightmares.
Told through a gripping, lightning-fast narrative that alternates between present and past, this unputdownable survival thriller unravels the tangled circumstances that led Ty and Cory to the deer in the road and set them on a perilous course through the wilderness of the Pacific Northwest.
This kitschy take on B-horror/scifi films from the 60s sounds AWESOME and I want it NOW:
From the author of Cure for the Common Universe comes a monster-movie-like novel that bravely challenges perceived notions of beauty, identity, and modern voyeurism.
Phoebe Lane is a lightning rod for monsters.
She and her mom are forced to flee flesh-eating plants, blobs from outer space, and radioactive ants. They survive thanks to Phoebe’s dad—an invisible titan, whose giant eyes warn them where the next monster attack will take place.
All Phoebe wants is to stop running from motel to motel and start living a monster-free life in New York or Paris. But when her mom mysteriously vanishes, Phoebe is left to fend for herself in small-town Pennybrooke.
That’s when Phoebe starts to transform…
Christian McKay Heidicker returns with a book unlike any other, challenging perceived notions of beauty, identity, and what it means to be a monster.
Last but not least, one more thriller (and I loved the author’s scifi/fantasy interconnected-vignette novel Where Futures End):
The only thing worse than being locked in is facing what you locked out.
Rett Ward knows how to hide. He’s had six years of practice at Walling Home, the state-run boarding school where he learned how to keep his head down to survive.
But when Rett wakes up locked in a small depot with no memory of how he got there, he can’t hide. Not from the stranger in the next room. Or from the fact that there’s someone else’s blood on his jumpsuit.
Worse, every time he tries to escape, he wakes up right back where he started. Same day, same stranger, same bloodstained jumpsuit.
As memories start to surface, Rett realizes that the logo on the walls is familiar, the stranger isn’t a stranger, and the blood on his jumpsuit belongs to someone—or something—banging on the door to get in.
The Echo Room by Parker Peevyhouse is a smart, claustrophobic, speculative thriller with an immersive psychological mystery.
And that’s it from us! What books do you have on YOUR radar?