“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:
Although I have yet to read Colson Whitehead’s well-received The Underground Railroad, I am looking forward to the author’s upcoming new book:
In this bravura follow-up to the Pulitzer Prize, and National Book Award-winning #1 New York Times bestseller The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead brilliantly dramatizes another strand of American history through the story of two boys sentenced to a hellish reform school in Jim Crow-era Florida.
As the Civil Rights movement begins to reach the black enclave of Frenchtown in segregated Tallahassee, Elwood Curtis takes the words of Dr. Martin Luther King to heart: He is “as good as anyone.” Abandoned by his parents, but kept on the straight and narrow by his grandmother, Elwood is about to enroll in the local black college. But for a black boy in the Jim Crow South of the early 1960s, one innocent mistake is enough to destroy the future. Elwood is sentenced to a juvenile reformatory called the Nickel Academy, whose mission statement says it provides “physical, intellectual and moral training” so the delinquent boys in their charge can become “honorable and honest men.”
In reality, the Nickel Academy is a grotesque chamber of horrors where the sadistic staff beats and sexually abuses the students, corrupt officials and locals steal food and supplies, and any boy who resists is likely to disappear “out back.” Stunned to find himself in such a vicious environment, Elwood tries to hold onto Dr. King’s ringing assertion “Throw us in jail and we will still love you.” His friend Turner thinks Elwood is worse than naive, that the world is crooked, and that the only way to survive is to scheme and avoid trouble.
The tension between Elwood’s ideals and Turner’s skepticism leads to a decision whose repercussions will echo down the decades. Formed in the crucible of the evils Jim Crow wrought, the boys’ fates will be determined by what they endured at the Nickel Academy.
Based on the real story of a reform school in Florida that operated for one hundred and eleven years and warped the lives of thousands of children, The Nickel Boys is a devastating, driven narrative that showcases a great American novelist writing at the height of his powers.
Laura Ruby’s new novel sounds great too – the author says it’s a “mystery wrapped up in a fairy tale wrapped up in a historical”. I want it! (To be fair: I would read it on the strength of its title alone!)
Speaking of Mysteries, here is another, already out, featuring lady sleuths:
In London, 1946, the two women who recently started The Right Sort Marriage Bureau find their new livelihood endangered when a client is arrested for the murder of anotherIn a London slowly recovering from the ravages of World War II, two very different women join forces to launch a business venture in the heart of Mayfair—The Right Sort Marriage Bureau. Miss Iris Sparks, avuncular and unmarried, and Mrs. Gwendolyn Bainbridge, practical and widowed with a young son, are determined to achieve some independence and do some good in a rapidly changing world.
But the promising start to their marriage bureau is threatened when their newest client, Tillie La Salle, is found murdered and the man arrested for the crime is one Dickie Trower, the prospective husband they matched her with. While the police are convinced they have their man, Miss Sparks and Mrs. Bainbridge are not. To clear Trower’s name—and to rescue their fledging operation’s reputation—Sparks and Bainbridge decide to investigate on their own, using the skills and contacts they’ve each acquired through life and their individual adventures during the recent war.
In this charming, compelling debut, Allison Montclair blends meticulous research with two brilliantly imagined main characters into the first in a wonderful new series.
I really liked Moïra Fowley-Doyle’s The Accident Season so when I heard she had a new novel about the Magdalene sisters in Ireland, I immediately wanted to read it:
Unflinching and gorgeously written, this feminist novel is important, timely, and a compulsive read. From the highly acclaimed author of the beloved The Accident Season comes an epic breakout novel examining the very topical and controversial issue of women’s sexual and reproductive rights, which has never been higher on the public’s radar.
When Deena’s wild older sister Mandy goes missing, presumed dead, Deena refuses to believe it’s true. Especially when letters start arriving—letters from Mandy—which proclaim that their family’s blighted history is not just bad luck or bad decisions but a curse, handed down to women from generation to generation. Mandy’s gone to find the root of the curse before it’s too late for Deena. But is the curse even real? And is Mandy still alive? Deena’s desperate, cross-country search for her beloved sister—guided only by the notes that mysteriously appear at each destination, leading her to former Magdalene laundry sites and more—is a love letter to women and a heartbreaking cathartic journey.
It is no secret I love a good tale about memory and here is The Memory Police – and it sounds great:
On an unnamed island off an unnamed coast, objects are disappearing: first hats, then ribbons, birds, roses—until things become much more serious. Most of the island’s inhabitants are oblivious to these changes, while those few imbued with the power to recall the lost objects live in fear of the draconian Memory Police, who are committed to ensuring that what has disappeared remains forgotten.
When a young woman who is struggling to maintain her career as a novelist discovers that her editor is in danger from the Memory Police, she concocts a plan to hide him beneath her floorboards. As fear and loss close in around them, they cling to her wiring as the last way of preserving the past.
A surreal, provocative fable about the power of memory and the trauma of loss, The Memory Police is a stunning new work from one of the most exciting contemporary authors writing in any language.
On Thea’s Radar:
I got a cool thing in the mail and I cannot wait to read it based solely on the She-Ra evocative cover–also look at the beautiful UK cover too?
On Choosing Day, children of Adranna who reach the age of fourteen are finally eligible to undergo the tests to determine if they are worthy of bonding a Frostsliver. Only one in a hundred are destined to succeed. If chosen, they will have to climb to the top of the glacier and cut a piece off for themselves, so that they may be granted the powers they’ve always dreamed of.
When Sabira is chosen, an entire world of possibilities opens up to her. But in order to see it through, she’ll have to embark on a dangerous pilgrimage to the top of the glacier. When a huge avalanche traps her on the glacier and destroys the pass, she must face up to the merciless mountain — but there are dark and fiery secrets hiding in its depths…
I also got a copy of this in the mail–which shares a title with a horror movie I particularly love:
Olivia is curious about the people moving into 16 Olcott Place. The last family there moved out in the dead of night, and the new family, the Donahues, has no idea why. Olivia becomes fast friends with Janie Donahue . . . so she’s there at the house when the first of the letters arrives:
‘I am the Sentry of Glennon Heights. Long ago I claimed 16 Olcott Place as levy for my guardianship. The walls will not tolerate your trespass. The ceilings will bleed and the windows will shatter. If you do not cease your intrusion, the rooms will soon smell of corpses.’
Who is the Sentry? And why does the Sentry want the Donahues out of the house badly enough to kill? As Olivia and Janie explore the house, they find a number of sinister secrets . . . and as they explore their town, they find a hidden history that the Sentry wants to remain hidden forever. You can lock the doors. You can close the windows. But you can’t keep the Sentry out. . . .
Then there’s this book, about a world in which dragons no longer exist (hmm), and she has 4 dragon eggs to protect (hmmmmm), and a family power struggle and secret history (HMMMMMM). It may be too soon… but I love a good dragon-bonding story so maybe I’ll try it out.
On the island of Arcosi, dragons and their riders used to rule the skies. But now they are only legends, found in bedtime stories, on beautiful murals and ancient jewellery. When servant girl Milla witnesses a murder and finds herself caring for the last four dragon eggs, she is forced to keep them secret amidst the growing tensions in the city. But how can Milla and her friends keep the eggs safe when it means endangering everything she’s ever loved? Fiery friendships, forgotten family and the struggle for power collide as Milla’s fight to save the dragons leads her to discover her own hidden past.
This next book sounds like a thriller-version of The Book of M and I’m intrigued:
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From thebestselling author of Dark Matter and the Wayward Pines trilogy comes a relentless thriller about time, identity, and memory—his most ambitious, mind-boggling, irresistible work to date, and the inspiration for Shondaland’s upcoming Netflix film.
“An action-packed, brilliantly unique ride that had me up late and shirking responsibilities until I had devoured the last page . . . a fantastic read.”—Andy Weir, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Martian
Memory makes reality. That’s what New York City cop Barry Sutton is learning as he investigates the devastating phenomenon the media has dubbed False Memory Syndrome—a mysterious affliction that drives its victims mad with memories of a life they never lived.
Neuroscientist Helena Smith already understands the power of memory. It’s why she’s dedicated her life to creating a technology that will let us preserve our most precious moments of our pasts. If she succeeds, anyone will be able to re-experience a first kiss, the birth of a child, the final moment with a dying parent.
As Barry searches for the truth, he comes face-to-face with an opponent more terrifying than any disease—a force that attacks not just our minds but the very fabric of the past. And as its effects begin to unmake the world as we know it, only he and Helena, working together, will stand a chance at defeating it.
But how can they make a stand when reality itself is shifting and crumbling all around them?
Finally, I have been waiting on tenterhooks for this book, which blends Hatchet with Revenge:
“This tense wire of a novel thrums with suspense. . . . [this book] just might be the highlight of your summer.”–The New York Times
Cheryl Strayed’s Wild meets The Revenant in this heart-pounding story of survival and revenge in the unforgiving wilderness.
After: Jess is alone. Her cabin has burned to the ground. She knows if she doesn’t act fast, the cold will kill her before she has time to worry about food. But she is still alive—for now.
Before: Jess hadn’t seen her survivalist, off-the-grid dad in over a decade. But after a car crash killed her mother and left her injured, she was forced to move to his cabin in the remote Canadian wilderness. Just as Jess was beginning to get to know him, a secret from his past paid them a visit, leaving her father dead and Jess stranded.
After: With only her father’s dog for company, Jess must forage and hunt for food, build shelter, and keep herself warm. Some days it feels like the wild is out to destroy her, but she’s stronger than she ever imagined.
Jess will survive. She has to. She knows who killed her father…and she wants revenge.
And that’s it from us! What books do you have on your radar?