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:

Came across this upcoming Middle Grade novel and when I saw the word “Loki” in its title, it went immediately on my radar.


In Viking times, Norse myths predicted the end of the world, an event called Ragnarok that only the gods can stop. When this apocalypse happens, the gods must battle the monsters—wolves the size of the sun, serpents that span the seabeds—all bent on destroying the world.

The gods died a long time ago.

Matt Thorsen knows every Norse myth, saga, and god as if it was family history—because it is family history. Most people in the modern-day town of Blackwell, South Dakota, in fact, are direct descendants of either Thor or Loki, including Matt’s classmates Fen and Laurie Brekke.

However, knowing the legends and completely believing them are two different things. When the rune readers reveal that Ragnarok is coming and kids—led by Matt—will stand in for the gods in the final battle, he can hardly believe it. Matt, Laurie, and Fen’s lives will never be the same as they race to put together an unstoppable team to prevent the end of the world.

I saw this next book in a recent list – 10 Teen reads you can’t miss – at EW and it sounded so good I bought it straight away. I will, in fact, be reviewing it next week.


Fifteen-year-old Alys is not a witch. But that doesn’t matter–the villagers think she is and have staked her out on a hillside as a sacrifice to the local dragon.

It’s late, it’s cold, and it’s raining, and Alys can think of only one thing–revenge. But first she’s got to escape, and even if she does, how can one girl possibly take on an entire town alone?

Then the dragon arrives–a dragon that could quite possibly be the perfect ally. . . .

I believe this to be the second (or maybe even third) upcoming novel set in the early twenties featuring magicians/illusionists. Is that a NEW THING?


Anna Van Housen is thirteen the first time she breaks her mother out of jail. By sixteen she’s street smart and savvy, assisting her mother, the renowned medium Marguerite Van Housen, in her stage show and séances, and easily navigating the underground world of magicians, mediums and mentalists in 1920’s New York City. Handcuffs and sleight of hand illusions have never been much of a challenge for Anna. The real trick is keeping her true gifts secret from her opportunistic mother, who will stop at nothing to gain her ambition of becoming the most famous medium who ever lived. But when a strange, serious young man moves into the flat downstairs, introducing her to a secret society that studies people with gifts like hers, he threatens to reveal the secrets Anna has fought so hard to keep, forcing her to face the truth about her past. Could the stories her mother has told her really be true? Could she really be the illegitimate daughter of the greatest magician of all?

Born of Illusion is the first book in a new series. Each book in the series will introduce a new historical figure, whose legend is shrouded in magic, along with the young woman whose fate is irrevocably tied to his. The through line in each of the books will be The Ghost Club, the real life secret society that was founded in 1862 by the likes of Charles Dickens, Sir Conan Doyle, and W. B. Yeats to advance mankind’s knowledge of the paranormal. The first three books in the series will deal with Houdini, Aleister Crowley and Rasputin.

Another MG novel that looks super cute:


Introducing Violet Mackerel, a charismatic new chapter book star with a zest for life and an endearing, relatable voice akin to Ramona Quimby and Junie B. Jones. Violet is a seven-year-old with a knack for appreciating the smallest things in life: her “Theory of Finding Small Things” states that the moment of finding a tiny treasure usually coincides with the moment of having a genius idea. This creative little girl always strives to think outside the box, so when she spots a small china bird that she desperately wants, she forms an imaginative plan for getting it—and her methods are anything but ordinary!

Violet Mackerel’s Brilliant Plot is the first book in an irresistibly charming series starring Violet and her family that has pitch-perfect perspective and plenty of laugh-out-loud humor.

I recently received an ARC of Silent Saturday in the post and it sounds really great, I will definitely be reviewing it in 2013:


Seventeen-year-old Veerle is frustrated with life in suburban Brussels. But a chance encounter with a hidden society, whose members illegally break into unoccupied buildings around the city, soon opens up a whole new world of excitement – and danger.

When one of the society’s founding members disappears, Veerle suspects foul play. But nothing can prepare her for the horror that is about to unfold when an old foe emerges from the shadows… No one is safe, and The Hunter will strike again…

And how spooky is this cover – and the blurb too!


It happened on Halloween.

The world ended.

And a dangerous Game brought it back to life.

Seventeen-year-old Michael and his five-year-old brother, Patrick, have been battling monsters in The Game for weeks.

In the rural mountains of West Virginia, armed with only their rifle and their love for each other, the brothers follow Instructions from the mysterious Game Master. They spend their days searching for survivors, their nights fighting endless hordes of “Bellows”—creatures that roam the dark, roaring for flesh. And at this Game, Michael and Patrick are very good.

But The Game is changing.

The Bellows are evolving.

The Game Master is leading Michael and Patrick to other survivors—survivors who don’t play by the rules.

And the brothers will never be the same.

T. Michael Martin’s debut novel is a transcendent thriller filled with electrifying action, searing emotional insight, and unexpected romance.

On Thea’s Radar:

First up, a book I saw recently reviewed in Shelf Awareness. It sounds haunting and heavy, but a book I definitely want to give a try.


From an award-winning author comes an audacious, high-concept noir set in Auschwitz that straddles past and present

New York, the present: An old woman and her husband sit down for a breakfast of black bread and coffee at a table set for ten. Eight chairs remain empty.

Auschwitz, Spring 1944: Following a successful escape from the camp, a group of ten prisoners are rounded up for execution. But at the last minute, counter-orders are given. Since the camp needs every inmate for labor, only one prisoner will be sacrificed. And it is the job of the other nine prisoners, locked up in an empty building in Block 11 with nothing but a piece of paper and pencil, to decide by dawn who will die. Otherwise they will all go to the gallows.

Thus begins a night of storytelling with tales of horror, secrecy, and betrayal, but also of love and great humanity, as these ten prisoners debate who deserves to live and who deserves to die. The night is filled with violence, emotion, and shocking revelations. Degli Antoni wrestles with questions of guilt and forgiveness, selfishness and sacrifice, in this unforgettable novel set during the most trying of times.

I just received this next book in the mail, and it sounds fantastic – I’m a big Larry Niven fan, so of course want to read this as soon as I can. DAMMIT, I need more time to read!


In this first collaboration by science fiction masters Larry Niven (Ringworld) and Gregory Benford (Timescape), the limits of wonder are redrawn once again as a human expedition to another star system is jeopardized by an encounter with an astonishingly immense artifact in interstellar space: a bowl-shaped structure half-englobing a star, with a habitable area equivalent to many millions of Earths…and it’s on a direct path heading for the same system as the human ship.

A landing party is sent to investigate the Bowl, but when the explorers are separated—one group captured by the gigantic structure’s alien inhabitants, the other pursued across its strange and dangerous landscape—the mystery of the Bowl’s origins and purpose propel the human voyagers toward discoveries that will transform their understanding of their place in the universe.

This next book sounds right up my alley – horrific apocalyptic attack scenario – thanks to dear Ana for bringing it to my attention!


Attack. Not isolated. Fate of Americans unknown.

Amy is watching TV when it happens, when the world is attacked by Them. These vile creatures are rapidly devouring mankind. Most of the population is overtaken, but Amy manages to survive—and even rescue “Baby,” a toddler she finds in an abandoned supermarket. Marooned in Amy’s house, the girls do everything they can to survive—and avoid Them at all costs.

After years of hiding, they are miraculously rescued and taken to New Hope, a colony of survivors living in a former government research compound. While at first the colony seems like a dream with plenty of food, safety, and shelter, New Hope slowly reveals that it is far from ideal. And Amy soon realizes that unless things change, she’ll lose Baby—and much more.

Rebellious, courageous, and tender, this unforgettable duo will have you on the edge of your seat as you tear through the pulse-pounding narrow escapes and horrifying twists of fate in this thrilling debut from author Demitria Lunetta.

This next title kind of reminds me of Lightborn by Tricia Sullivan, which was a solid SF/Dystopian read. I’m intrigued.


No one crosses the wall of light . . . except for one girl who doesn’t remember who she is, where she came from, or how she survived. A harrowing, powerful debut thriller about finding yourself and protecting your future—no matter how short and uncertain it may be.

The Arclight is the last defense. The Fade can’t get in. Outside the Arclight’s border of high-powered beams is the Dark. And between the Light and the Dark is the Grey, a narrow, barren no-man’s-land. That’s where the rescue team finds Marina, a lone teenage girl with no memory of the horrors she faced or the family she lost. Marina is the only person who has ever survived an encounter with the Fade. She’s the first hope humanity has had in generations, but she could also be the catalyst for their final destruction. Because the Fade will stop at nothing to get her back. Marina knows it. Tobin, who’s determined to take his revenge on the Fade, knows it. Anne-Marie, who just wishes it were all over, knows it.

When one of the Fade infiltrates the Arclight and Marina recognizes it, she will begin to unlock secrets she didn’t even know she had. Who will Marina become? Who can she never be again?

Given my current situation in a water-logged New York, this next title hits a little close to home. Still, I’ll give it a shot.


Sixteen-year-old Ren is a daredevil mobile racer who will risk everything to survive in the Ward, what remains of a water-logged Manhattan. To save her sister, who is suffering from a deadly illness thought to be caused by years of pollution, Ren accepts a secret mission from the government: to search for a freshwater source in the Ward, with the hope of it leading to a cure.

However, she never expects that her search will lead to dangerous encounters with a passionate young scientist; a web of deceit and lies; and an earth-shattering mystery that’s lurking deep beneath the water’s rippling surface.

Jordana Frankel’s ambitious debut novel and the first in a two-book series, The Ward is arresting, cinematic, and thrilling—perfect for fans of Scott Westerfeld or Ann Aguirre.

And finally, another book from Ana brought to my attention (thank you, Ana Banana!):


Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Isn’t that what they say? But how close is too close when they may be one in the same?

The Seven Stages War left much of the planet a charred wasteland. The future belongs to the next generation’s chosen few who must rebuild it. But to enter this elite group, candidates must first pass The Testing—their one chance at a college education and a rewarding career.
Cia Vale is honored to be chosen as a Testing candidate; eager to prove her worthiness as a University student and future leader of the United Commonwealth. But on the eve of her departure, her father’s advice hints at a darker side to her upcoming studies–trust no one.

But surely she can trust Tomas, her handsome childhood friend who offers an alliance? Tomas, who seems to care more about her with the passing of every grueling (and deadly) day of the Testing. To survive, Cia must choose: love without truth or life without trust.

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

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8 Responses to On the Smugglers’ Radar

  1. de Pizan says:

    Vivian Vande Velde is awesome, and Dragon’s Bait is by far my favorite book by her. I will add a slight caveat, I don’t know if it’s that she writes for more of a middle grade audience or if it’s just her own quirk, but many of her books have a tendency to feel just a little too short. Like they’d benefit from being another 50 pages or so (although on the other hand, it’s kind of a refreshing rarity in these days when it seems like most MG/YA are too bloated at 350+ pages).

  2. Charlotte says:

    Yep, I’m right with you on the “Loki” + ! front, Ana! Have you ever read Runemarks, by Joanne Harris? It’s an excellent Norse mg/younger YA fantasy.

  3. I can’t wait for Loki’s Wolves! You know I don’t read much MG, but that’s Kelly Armstrong and Melissa Marr. Excited!

    Kaz

  4. I meant, Kelley Armstrong. *sigh* Sorry for the extra comment, but I hate spelling author names wrong.

    :) Kaz

  5. I am pumped for The End Games, the cover reminds me of the Chaos Walking covers and so that’s a positive association in my mind.

    I’m about to add Dragon’s Bait and Loki’s Wolves to my TBR in a hot second!

  6. janicu says:

    DRAGON’S BAIT is one of my fave Vande Velde’s, but I agree with de Pizan — wish it was longer, or had a sequel!

  7. Linda W says:

    I read Dragon’s Bait, so I’m looking forward to your review.

  8. John J. says:

    LOKI’S WOLVES looks *so* enjoyable. Adding it to my list, now.

    DRAGON’S BAIT also sounds kind of awesome. Vivian Van Velde is an author that I hold in ridiculously high esteem, yet I’ve only read one of her books – but it was impressionable and I remember it to this day. HEIR APPARENT. Highly recommended, though I’d really be interested to see how it would read years later, considering that I read it what would probably be seven years ago.

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