Like many foolhardy ideas, The Book Smugglers was born of a time of great adversity. Faced with threats from their significant others concerning the overwhelming volume of books purchased on a daily basis, Ana Grilo and Thea James resorted to “smuggling” books home in huge handbags to avoid scrutiny. In 2008, the devious duo founded The Book Smugglers – a review blog dedicated to speculative and genre fiction for all ages, and an outlet for Ana and Thea’s bottomless obsession with books and assorted SFF popgeekery.1

Hence, our title as Book Smugglers.

About Thea:

Thea James works for a large publishing house by day, and is a Book Smuggler by night. When she’s not here at The Book Smugglers, or swamped in pending papers and proposals, she can be found blogging over at Kirkus with Ana. (If she’s not there either, try the local bar.)

About Ana:

Ana Grilo is a Brazilian who moved to the UK because of the weather. No, seriously. She works with translations in RL and hopes one day The Book Smugglers will be her day job. When she’s not here at The Book Smugglers, or hogging our Twitter feed, she can be found blogging over at Kirkus with Thea.

Want More Book Smugglers?

Subscribe to our RSS feed, follow us on Twitter, find us on Facebook, geek out with us on tumblr, or chat with us over at Kirkus.

In accordance with the new FTC Guidelines for blogging and endorsements, The Book Smugglers would like everyone to know that while we do purchase our own books for review on occasion, you should assume that every book reviewed here at The Book Smugglers was provided to the reviewers by the publisher or the author for free unless specified otherwise.

  1. Of course, over the years the secret is literally out of the oversized handbag – our partners have since the inception of this blog caught on to our devious smuggling ways. Plus, you know, ebooks make the smuggling thing a LOT more manageable!

25 Responses to About

  1. [...] wouldn’t I like The Magicians, you ask? Well, there was this review from Ana at The Book Smuggler. I stumbled upon it and it made me think this might not be a book for [...]

  2. [...] you heard of The Book Smugglers? For reviews and recommendations of YA lit with a predilection for the fantastical. They try to [...]

  3. Bill Cherf says:

    Think airline travel is such a hassle? Try time travel!

    Joseph Richards was a star university tailback and Zoomy brat who had a gift for learning languages. Recruited by a shadowy organization called the Philology Annex, Richards went through rigorous training at Fort Bragg and then grueling deep hypnosis sessions in the ancient Egyptian language. Why? Because he signed up to become a temporal field agent.

    Bow Tie. The First Manuscript of the Richards’ Trust is the frontend of a trilogy that chronicles the early temporal adventures of Joseph Richards, who as a result becomes an Egyptologist. What a cover!

    As for myself, I am a former university professor of ancient history and archaeology, who has been there and dug that. I’m a big fan of Tom Clancy’s earlier works and Michael Crichton. Bottom line: I just, flat make science fiction, ancient history, and archaeology come alive.

    So what do you think?

    Come visit my website, sample some chapters, and begin to explore the temporal adventures of Egyptologist Joseph Richards at http://www.wjcherf.com.

    If I have caught your interest, kindly send me an email and I will make arrangements for a copy or ecopy of Bow Tie to arrive at your doorstep.

    Best regards,

    Bill Cherf

  4. This is fantastic! Just ran across your blog and it makes me most happy that I did! :)

  5. Mike Jecks says:

    Brilliant web pages, ladies, and you’ve reminded me I need to check up a load of new books. In the meantime, if you’re interested in medieval English stories … let me know. I’ll see if Simon & Schuster will send you one or two copies.
    Happy reading!

    Michael Jecks

  6. Tash says:

    Ohh i just love this! I’m a 25 year old bookseller from Melbourne and just happened to come across your blog. You both have such similar taste in books as i do so i will be jotting down some titles to order in asap. Thank you for putting this blog out there for all us book junkies. It’s fantastic!

  7. [...] look thoughtful and considerate year round. And provide a perfect hiding-in-plain-sight approach to smuggling in personal [...]

  8. wat?! says:

    lesbians?

  9. Ladies, I’ve got a couple of titles out on Amazon Kindle – Made in Great Britain and No Lesser Devil – and I would really appreciate your review. Thanks a lot and Good Luck with the blog!
    Best Regards from Mike

  10. Ana Grilo:
    I wrote and I had published here in Brazil an multimedia ebook, “O Jogo dos Papeletes Coloridos”, a digital book that gathers hypermedia text, music and videos, and can be accessed by many digital devices. It brings paintings, watercolors and other fine arts that I’ve made. Afterwards, I wrote music for each work, linking them with a character, event or chapter of the book. The final step was create videos . As result, we have text, image, music and movement, everything integrated, consistent, made by the same author, the same person.

    In spite of the fact the book has been published in Portuguese, ( not yet translated to English – it isn’t a problem to you, right?), and believing that it might interest you, since it indicates a shift towards the near future in the publishing market, I decided write to you, to inform you about this brazilian novelty, provinding you with some links, in case you want take a look: http://www.facebook.com/pages/O-Jogo-dos-Papeletes-Coloridos/363988133630162, or http://www.psantoro.com.br.
    Thank you!

  11. If you are really OCD, u will read the following.

    I’m a therapist in a children’s mental health program. In 2006, I started the Lacy Dawn Adventures project to raise funds for the prevention of child abuse in West Virginia where I live. Three short stories were published. I received minimal author proceeds (one magazine was on-line only). My first novel, Rarity from the Hollow, was published shortly thereafter as an ebook by a company that went down a month later – it only sold 10 copies despite having won a prize and the receipt of several glowing book reviews, including one by The Missouri Review. As advertised, half of the $120 that I received was donated to Children’s Home Society of West Virginia to help find permanent homes for children in temporary shelters.

    In 2012, Rarity was reprinted by a company in Leeds, England, as an ebook, paperback, and preorder hardback. However, in the interim so much had changed in the book industry. It now takes a lot of money to compete with zillions of self-published books that have not even been edited. So far, I have received no money from the publisher. I’m writing to request a book review. Rarity has only received one since its reprint (available on Goodreads) because another new industry has recently been created – paid for book reviews – and I make a very low salary. Following is additional information that includes the first chapter. I have eight copies of the paperback, but am reluctant to mail you one because of postage. A local bookstore will take them on consignment. Please let me know if you are interested in posting a review or helping in any other way.

    Thanks,

    Robert Eggleton

    RARITY FROM THE HOLLOW

    ROBERT EGGELTON
    411 Pages
    Science Fiction/Fantasy
    ISBN: 1907133062 / ISBN-13: 9781907133060
    Dog Horn Publishing, Leeds, England
    To purchase:
    http://www.amazon.com/Rarity-from-the-Hollow-ebook/dp/B007JDI508
    http://www.lulu.com/shop/robert-eggleton/rarity-from-the-hollow/paperback/product-20203207.html
    http://www.doghornpublishing.com/books/rarity_from_the_hollow.html
    Author proceeds are donated to prevent child abuse in West Virginia. http://www.lacydawnadventures.com
    Review by Adicus Ryan Garton (excerpt), Atomjack Science Fiction Magazine http://susurruspress.com/Atomjack/7/current.htm
    “Imagine Wizard of Oz and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy smashed together and taking place in a hollow in the hills of West Virginia. Now you have an idea of what to expect when you sit down to read Rarity From the Hollow….”
    …unabashed, unashamed exploration of the life of young Lacy Dawn, as she learns that she is the savior of the universe. The naked, genderless android, Dot-com… Add her abusive father, her weak-willed mother, a sexually-abused ghost for a best friend…trees that talk to her, a dog that can communicate telepathically with cockroaches and so much more.
    There is so much to this story, and its writing is so unblinkingly honest…spares us nothing…her father beating her and her mother, the emotions…the dark creeping insanity that eats away at her Iraq-veteran father, and the life in general of people too poor, too uneducated to escape.
    In part, it is a grueling exposition of what children endure when …abused. …the only way…to escape is to learn that she is the savior… strong, tough, smart—all those attributes that any child should have—and she reminds us that children are survivors, adaptive and optimistic.
    But don’t think you’re going to be reading something harsh and brutal and tragic. This book is laugh-out-loud funny at times, satiric of almost everything it touches upon…The characters from the hollow and from the planet Shptiludrp (the Mall of the Universe) are funny almost to the point of tears.
    …It’s absolutely fantastic….”
    Adicus Ryan Garton is the editor of the online science fiction magazine Atomjack. He is currently teaching English in South Korea. Email: Adicus Ryan Garton
    First Chapter:
    Cozy in Cardboard
    Inside her first clubhouse, Lacy Dawn glanced over fifth grade spelling words for tomorrow’s quiz at school. She already knew all the words in the textbook and most others in any human language.
    Nothing’s more important than an education.
    The clubhouse was a cardboard box in the front yard that her grandmother’s new refrigerator had occupied until an hour before. Her father brought it home for her to play in.
    The nicest thing he’s ever done.
    Faith lay beside her with a hand over the words and split fingers to cheat as they were called off. She lived in the next house up the hollow. Every other Wednesday for the last two months, the supervised child psychologist came to their school, pulled her out of class, and evaluated suspected learning disabilities. Lacy Dawn underlined a word with a fingernail.
    All she needs is a little motivation.
    Before they had crawled in, Lacy Dawn tapped the upper corner of the box with a flashlight and proclaimed, “The place of all things possible — especially you passing the fifth grade so we’ll be together in the sixth.”
    Please concentrate, Faith. Try this one.
    “Armadillo.”
    “A, R, M, … A … D, I, L, D, O,” Faith demonstrated her intellect.
    “That’s weak. This is a bonus word so you’ll get extra points. Come on.”
    Lacy Dawn nodded and looked for a new word.
    I’ll trick her by going out of order – a word she can’t turn into another punch line.
    “Don’t talk about it and the image will go away. Let’s get back to studying,” Lacy Dawn said.
    My mommy don’t like sex. It’s just her job and she told me so.
    Faith turned her open spelling book over, which saved its page, and rolled onto her side. Lacy Dawn did the same and snuggled her back against the paper wall. Face to face — a foot of smoothness between — they took a break. The outside was outside.
    At their parents’ insistence, each wore play clothing — unisex hand-me-downs that didn’t fit as well as school clothing. They’d been careful not to get muddy before crawling into the box. They’d not played in the creek and both were cleaner than the usual evening. The clubhouse floor remained an open invitation to anybody who had the opportunity to consider relief from daily stressors.
    “How’d you get so smart, Lacy Dawn? Your parents are dumb asses just like mine.”
    “You ain’t no dumb ass and you’re going to pass the fifth grade.”
    “Big deal — I’m still fat and ugly,” Faith said.
    “I’m doing the best I can. I figure by the time I turn eleven I can fix that too. For now, just concentrate on passing and don’t become special education. I need you. You’re my best friend.”
    “Ain’t no other girls our age close in the hollow. That’s the only reason you like me. Watch out. There’s a pincher bug crawling in.”
    Lacy Dawn sat almost upright because there was not quite enough headroom in the refrigerator box. She scooted the bug out the opening. (delete here for word count) Faith watched the bug attempt re-entry, picked it up, and threw it a yard away into the grass. It didn’t get hurt. Lacy Dawn smiled her approval. The new clubhouse was a sacred place where nothing was supposed to hurt.
    “Daddy said I can use the tarp whenever he finishes the overhaul on the car in the driveway. That way, our clubhouse will last a long time,” Lacy Dawn said.
    “Chewy, chewy tootsie roll. Everything in this hollow rots, especially the people. You know that.”
    “We ain’t rotten,” Lacy Dawn gestured with open palms. “There are a lot of good things here — like all the beautiful flowers. Just focus on your spelling and I’ll fix everything else. This time I want a 100% and a good letter to your mommy.”
    “She won’t read it,” Faith said.
    “Yes she will. She loves you and it’ll make her feel good. Besides, she has to or the teacher will call Welfare. Your daddy would be investigated — unless you do decide to become special education. That’s how parents get out of it. The kid lets them off the hook by deciding to become a SPED. Then there ain’t nothing Welfare can do about it because the kid is the problem and not the parents.”
    “I ain’t got no problems,” Faith said.
    “Then pass this spelling test.”
    “I thought if I messed up long enough, eventually somebody would help me out. I just need a place to live where people don’t argue all the time. That ain’t much.”
    “Maybe you are a SPED. There’s always an argument in a family. Pass the test you retard,” Lacy Dawn opened her spelling book.
    Faith flipped her book over too, rolled onto her stomach and looked at the spelling words. Lacy Dawn handed her the flashlight because it was getting dark and grinned when Faith’s lips started moving as she memorized. Faith noticed and clamped her lips shut between thumb and index finger.
    This is boring. I learned all these words last year.
    “Don’t use up the batteries or Daddy will know I took it,” Lacy Dawn said.
    “Alright — I’ll pass the quiz, but just ’cause you told me to. This is a gamble and you’d better come through if it backfires. Ain’t nothing wrong with being a SPED. The work is easier and the teacher lets you do puzzles.”
    “You’re my best friend,” Lacy Dawn closed the book.
    They rolled back on their sides to enjoy the smoothness. The cricket chorus echoed throughout the hollow and the frogs peeped. An ant attempted entry but changed its direction before either rescued it. Unnoticed, Lacy Dawn’s father threw the tarp over the box and slid in the trouble light. It was still on and hot. The bulb burned Lacy Dawn’s calf.
    He didn’t mean to hurt me — the second nicest thing he’s ever done.
    “Test?” Lacy Dawn announced with the better light, and called off, “Poverty.”
    “I love you,” Faith responded.
    “Me too, but spell the word.”
    “P is for poor. O is for oranges from the Salvation Army Christmas basket. V is for varicose veins that Mommy has from getting pregnant every year. E is for everybody messes up sometimes — sorry. R is for I’m always right about everything except when you tell me I’m wrong — like now. T is for it’s too late for me to pass no matter what we do and Y is for you know it too.”
    “Faith, it’s almost dark! Go home before your mommy worries,” Lacy Dawn’s mother yelled from the front porch and stepped back into the house to finish supper. The engine of the VW in the driveway cranked but wouldn’t start. It turned slower as its battery died, too.
    Faith slid out of the box with her spelling book in-hand. She farted from the effort. A clean breeze away, she squished a mosquito that had landed on her elbow and watched Lacy Dawn hold her breath as she scooted out of the clubhouse, pinching her nose with fingers of one hand, holding the trouble light with the other, and pushing her spelling book forward with her knees. The moon was almost full. There would be plenty of light to watch Faith walk up the gravel road. Outside the clubhouse, they stood face to face and ready to hug. It lasted a lightning bug statement until adult intrusion.
    “Give it back. This thing won’t start,” Lacy Dawn’s father grabbed the trouble light out of her hand and walked away.
    “All we ever have is beans for supper. Sorry about the fart.”
    “Don’t complain. Complaining is like sitting in a rocking chair. You can get lots of motion but you ain’t going anywhere,” Lacy Dawn said.
    “Why didn’t you tell me that last year?” Faith asked. “I’ve wasted a lot of time.”
    “I just now figured it out. Sorry.”
    “Some savior you are. I put my whole life in your hands. I’ll pass tomorrow’s spelling quiz and everything. But you, my best friend who’s supposed to fix the world just now tell me that complaining won’t work and will probably get me switched.”
    “You’re complaining again.”
    “Oh yeah,” Faith said.
    “Before you go home, I need to tell you something.”
    To avoid Lacy Dawn’s father working in the driveway, Faith slid down the bank to the dirt road. Her butt became too muddy to reenter the clubhouse regardless of need. Lacy Dawn stayed in the yard, pulled the tarp taut over the cardboard, and waited for Faith to respond.
    “I don’t need no more encouragement. I’ll pass the spelling quiz tomorrow just for you, but I may miss armadillo for fun. Our teacher deserves it,” Faith said.
    “That joke’s too childish. She won’t laugh. Besides, dildos are serious business since she ain’t got no husband no more. Make 100%. That’s what I want.”
    “Okay. See you tomorrow.” Faith took a step up the road.
    “Wait. I want to tell you something. I’ve got another best friend. That’s how I got so smart. He teaches me stuff.”
    “A boy? You’ve got a boyfriend?”
    “Not exactly,” Lacy Dawn put a finger over her lips to silence Faith. Her father was hooking up a battery charger. She slid down the bank, too.
    He probably couldn’t hear us, but why take the chance.
    A minute later, hand in hand, they walked the road toward Faith’s house.
    “Did you let him see your panties?” Faith asked.
    “No. I ain’t got no good pair. Besides, he don’t like me that way. He’s like a friend who’s a teacher — not a boyfriend. I just wanted you to know that I get extra help learning stuff.”
    “Where’s he live?”
    Lacy Dawn pointed to the sky with her free hand.
    “Jesus is everybody’s friend,” Faith said.
    “It ain’t Jesus, you moron,” Lacy Dawn turned around to walk home. “His name’s DotCom and….”
    Her mother watched from the middle of the road until both children were safe.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Great site!

  13. Long Arms says:

    I have a new favourite book – it’s called Red Silk, I’ve read it like 7 times. You should totally review it.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Some awesome reviews here! Keep up the good work.

    I used to go to this great book club in Soho, London but we lost touch. It was run by a lovely lady called Jo. If anyone knows of it please email me wesleyandgrouptext@gmail.com!

  15. Nazia says:

    Hi! You have a new follower here! Your blog is really nice and it would be amazing if you could visit mine. :) Thanks!

  16. Liddle-Oldman says:

    Hullo! Seanan McGuire’s LJ pointed at you, and now I’m intrigued. Also, your origin story reminds me of nothing so much as the Blessed Leibowitz — hopefully with a much happier result.

  17. Elizabeth says:

    This is a very cleverly designed site. I like the title, the look feel and navigation of the site, and the way you review the books, particularly the monthly joint reviews. You seem to be doing for young adult science fiction and fantasy, what Siskel and Ebert did for movies. Good luck!

  18. I love the description of being totally obsessed with books. What a great way of getting books by offering reviews. I think the mental picture of over sized hand bags is great. You must get some interesting reading material. Great work.

  19. celia gago says:

    Congratulations!

  20. Reviews and help with promotion of Rarity from the Hollow needed. Half of author proceeds are donated to prevent child abuse. See sample above.

  21. Abbie says:

    Oh I just LOVE this ‘About’ page so much. Can’t wait to see your reviews in my feed. My smuggling strategy: I buy books online, they arrive in the mailbox, I’m always first one home to secret them in with all the junk mail!

  22. Abbie, I hope that you have a very large hiding place. We have so many books that I live in a Library. And, my wife won’t let go of a single one. She’s retired. I will be in a couple of years. Since we only have one child (almost 40 now), I just hope that we don’t leave him with more to handle than…. He’s an ebook reader.

  23. Sara Varone says:

    I have a new favorite book – it’s called 50 Shades of Grey, I’ve read it like 7 times. You should review it.

  24. […] close out today’s post, I present to you: The Book Smugglers. They’re currently accepting fairy tale submissions for their upcoming issue. And […]

  25. A new review of Rarity from the Hollow was published last night in the Electric Review. http://electricrev.net/2014/08/12/a-universe-on-the-edge/

    In Baryonline 103, Barry Hunter concluded his review: “… I can almost hear a blue grass version of Metallica while reading this. I expect to see more from Eggleton and Lacy Dawn. Good satire is hard to find and science fiction satire is even harder to find.” Mia, a book reviewer for Coffee Times Romance concluded her review: “…But I was surprised that as I read more of the book, the people had a way of touching a part of you that I was not expecting at all. A good read for any lover of satire and science fiction. A well written book.” After stating that Rarity from the Hollow was one of the most unusual books that he had read in a long time, Darrell Bain, 2005 Fictionwise Ebook Author of the Year and 2007 Double Eppie Award Winner, closed his review with, “…You’ll enjoy the ride with Lacy Dawn and friends and family, but don’t expect the ride to be without bumps and enough food for thought to last you a long time.”

    Similarly, author William DeVault said in his review, “…one of those strange and exciting bits of literature that captures you with its uniqueness and then lingers on your mind, reasserting itself from time to time to remind you that your reality may not be everyone else’s. A rich and original work, full of aspects and images that are certain to make it worth recommending to friends you wish to impress. Not for everyone, but for those ready to embrace the offbeat, a welcome surprise.”

    J.D. Nelson, poet, MadVerse, compared the writing to both Stephen King and Ray Bradbury (big compliments): “Eggleton counters the story’s dark mood with touches of warmth and humor, ? la Ray Bradbury. .. His frank and honest portrayal of poverty in rural Appalachia is reminiscent of Stephen King’s use of “everyday horrors”….

    Kevin Patrick Mahoney on Authortrek compared it to Dean Koontz (!!!): “…the subject matter is dark and strong, unflinching in its portrayal of human darkness, and not for the faint-hearted or easily offended. Robert Eggleton is not afraid of employing complex style and structure to fit the needs of his story. The mixture of sci-fi, gritty reality, humour, and the mode of thriller reminds me a great deal of Dean Koontz’s writing, and Robert Eggleton may indeed have the potential to follow in Dean Koontz’s footsteps.”

    Evelyn Somers, Editor, The Missouri Review didn’t compare it to any works by others but echoed Mahoney: “Among its strengths are an ultra-convincing depiction of the lives, especially the inner lives, of the Appalachian characters. The grim details of their existence are delivered with such flat understatement that at times they almost become comic. And just when you think enough is enough, this world is too plain ugly, Lacy Dawn’s father (who is being “fixed” with DotCom’s help) gets a job and Lacy Dawn, her mother and her dog take off for a trip to the mall “out of state” with Lacy Dawn’s android friend, now her “fiance” (though as Lacy’s mother points out, he doesn’t have any private parts, not even “a bump.”) In the space between a few lines we go from hardscrabble realism to pure sci-fi/fantasy. It’s quite a trip.”

    As previously promoted above, Adicus Ryan Garton, publisher of Atomjack Science Fiction Magazine said it was the Wizard of Oz (L. Frank Baum) and Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams) smashed together. I was elated as Hitchhikers is my favorite all time novel.

    Now, my writing has been compared to Kurt Vonnegut’s style! Please check out the above cited review. Thanks.

    Robert

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