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:

Although I seem to always be one book behind in this series (Ashes of Honor I am looking at you), here is the next one, out September this year. Can’t wait – I vow to read Ashes of Honor before that.

Chimes at Midnight

Things are starting to look up for October “Toby” Daye. She’s training her squire, doing her job, and has finally allowed herself to grow closer to the local King of Cats. It seems like her life may finally be settling down…at least until dead changelings start appearing in the alleys of San Francisco, killed by an overdose of goblin fruit.

Toby’s efforts to take the problem to the Queen of the Mists are met with harsh reprisals, leaving her under sentence of exile from her home and everyone she loves. Now Toby must find a way to reverse the Queens decree, get the goblin fruit off the streets–and, oh, yes, save her own life, since more than a few of her problems have once again followed her home. And then there’s the question of the Queen herself, who seems increasingly unlikely to have a valid claim to the throne….

To find the answers, October and her friends will have to travel from the legendary Library of Stars into the hidden depths of the Kingdom of the Mists–and they’ll have to do it fast, because time is running out. In faerie, some fates are worse than death.

October Daye is about to find out what they are.

I’ve been waiting for Mark Charan Newtown’s new series for a while now. It seems like this is going to be a crime-historical-fantasy series and I can’t wait.


“I am Lucan Drakenfeld, second son of Calludian, Officer of the Sun Chamber and keeper of the peace. Sometimes people get in the way of that ambition…”

The monarchies of the Royal Vispasian Union have been bound together for two hundred years by laws maintained and enforced by the powerful Sun Chamber. As a result, nations have flourished but corruption, deprivation and murder will always find a way to thrive.

Receiving news of his father’s death Sun Chamber Officer Lucan Drakenfeld is recalled home to the ancient city of Tryum and rapidly embroiled in a mystifying case. The King’s sister has been found brutally murdered – her beaten and bloody body discovered in a locked temple. With rumours of dark spirits and political assassination, Drakenfeld has his work cut out for him trying to separate superstition from certainty. His determination to find the killer quickly makes him a target as the underworld gangs of Tryum focus on this new threat to their power.

Embarking on the biggest and most complex investigation of his career, Drakenfeld soon realises the evidence is leading him towards a motive that could ultimately bring darkness to the whole continent. The fate of the nations is in his hands.

We received an ARC of this book this week. From what we understand this one is a Kickstarter venture and it looks super interesting.

Cobweb Bride

Many are called…
She alone can save the world and become Death’s bride.

COBWEB BRIDE (Cobweb Bride Trilogy, Book One) is a history-flavored fantasy novel with romantic elements of the Persephone myth, about Death’s ultimatum to the world.

What if you killed someone and then fell in love with them?

In an alternate Renaissance world, somewhere in an imaginary “pocket” of Europe called the Kingdom of Lethe, Death comes, in the form of a grim Spaniard, to claim his Bride. Until she is found, in a single time-stopping moment all dying stops. There is no relief for the mortally wounded and the terminally ill….

Covered in white cobwebs of a thousand snow spiders she lies in the darkness… Her skin is cold as snow… Her eyes frozen… Her gaze, fiercely alive…

While kings and emperors send expeditions to search for a suitable Bride for Death, armies of the undead wage an endless war… A black knight roams the forest at the command of his undead father… Spies and political treacheries abound at the imperial Silver Court…. Murdered lovers find themselves locked in the realm of the living…

Look closer — through the cobweb filaments of her hair and along each strand shine stars…

And one small village girl, Percy—an unwanted, ungainly middle daughter—is faced with the responsibility of granting her dying grandmother the desperate release she needs.

As a result, Percy joins the crowds of other young women of the land in a desperate quest to Death’s own mysterious holding in the deepest forests of the North…

And everyone is trying to stop her.

A Western-Fantasy by Melissa Marr? Yes please.

The Arrivals

Chloe knew she shouldn’t have gone into the bar last night. Now, in addition to a pounding headache and weak limbs, she’s got the guilt of five years sobriety down the drain.

When she wakes, she’s not in the world she knows. She’s in The Wasteland, a world populated by monsters and unfamiliar landscapes, in the company of people just like her, pulled to the Wasteland out of time and place, for reasons no one knows or understands. Once there, though, their mission is clear: keep the peace, protect each other, and try not to die, because sometimes, after six days of death, you might not wake up.

But things are changing in the Wasteland. And for Jack and Kitty, brother and sister from a Wild West frontier town; Edgar, a Prohibition rumrunner and Kitty’s former lover; Francis, a former hippie and general peacemaker; Melody, a mentally-unbalanced 50s housewife; and Hector, a former carnival artist, the careful balance they’ve been keeping for years is about to be upset. All of them, and Chloe, are about to get the answer they’ve been looking for years: why have they been brought to the Wasteland in the first place? And will it be possible for them to get back home?

Man Made Boy by Jon Skovron caught my attention for its cover, because it’s a (sort of) retelling of Frankenstein and because of its author, whose books I keep meaning to read.


Love can be a real monster.
Sixteen-year-old Boy’s never left home. When you’re the son of Frankenstein’s monster and the Bride, it’s tough to go out in public, unless you want to draw the attention of a torch-wielding mob. And since Boy and his family live in a secret enclave of monsters hidden under Times Square, it’s important they maintain a low profile.

Boy’s only interactions with the world are through the Internet, where he’s a hacker extraordinaire who can hide his hulking body and stitched-together face behind a layer of code. When conflict erupts at home, Boy runs away and embarks on a cross-country road trip with the granddaughters of Jekyll and Hyde, who introduce him to malls and diners, love and heartbreak. But no matter how far Boy runs, he can’t escape his demons—both literal and figurative—until he faces his family once more.

This hilarious, romantic, and wildly imaginative tale redefines what it means to be a monster—and a man.

On Thea’s Radar:

This week, I received some truly awesome – and completely unexpected! – books in the mail. First is this new book from Madeleine E. Robins (whose Sarah Tolerance books I am very keen to read for Old School Wednesdays soon). This is a fairytale retelling of Rapunzel…from the perspective of the woman that locks the child away in a tower. CAN I GET A HELL YES? This book sounds fascinating.

Sold for Endless Rue

After a blighted childhood, young Laura finds peace and purpose in the home of a midwife and healer. Later, she enrolls in Salerno’s famed medical school—the first in the world to admit women. Laura and her adoptive mother hope that Laura can build a bridge between women’s herbal healing and the new science of medicine developing in thirteenth century Italy.

The hardest lessons are those of love; Laura falls hard for a fellow student who abandons her for a wealthy wife. Worse, her mother rejects her as “impure.” Shattered, Laura devotes herself to her work, becoming a respected medico. But her heart is still bitter, and when she sees a chance for revenge, she grabs it—and takes for her own Bieta, the newborn daughter of a woman whose husband regularly raided the physician’s garden for bitter herbs to satisfy his pregnant wife’s cravings.

Determined to protect her adored daughter from the ravages of the world, Laura isolates the young woman in a tower. Bieta, as determined as her mother, escapes, and finds adventure—and love—on the streets of Salerno.

Bieta’s betrayal of her mother’s love comes at a terrible price as lives are ruined and families are torn apart. Laura’s medical knowledge cannot heal her broken heart; only a great act of love can bring everyone forgiveness and peace.

Then, I also received this fantasy novel – love the beautiful, understated cover AND how can I resist a story about friendship and sea monsters? (I have a Thing for sea monsters.)

Sea Change

An exhilarating tale of a young woman’s transformative journey through a world of krakens, witches, bandits, and monsters

The unhappy child of two powerful parents who despise each other, young Lilly turns to the ocean to find solace, which she finds in the form of the eloquent and intelligent sea monster Octavius, a kraken. In Octavius’s many arms, Lilly learns of friendship, loyalty, and family. When Octavius, forbidden by Lilly to harm humans, is captured by seafaring traders and sold to a circus, Lilly becomes his only hope for salvation. Desperate to find him, she strikes a bargain with a witch that carries a shocking price.

Her journey to win Octavius’s freedom is difficult. The circus master wants a Coat of Illusions; the Coat tailor wants her undead husband back from a witch; the witch wants her skin back from two bandits; the bandits just want some company, but they might kill her first. Lilly’s quest tests her resolve, tries her patience, and leaves her transformed in every way.

A powerfully written debut from a young fantasy author, Sea Change is an exhilarating tale of adventure, resilience, and selflessness in the name of friendship.

Next up, a book I received from one of my friends (whose taste I implicitly trust). The Midnight Dress looks to be another fairy tale-ish type of book, this time about a cursed dress (and I love that the focus here seems to be on loneliness and friendship, not instalove!):

The Midnight Dress

Quiet misfit Rose doesn’t expect to fall in love with the sleepy beach town of Leonora. Nor does she expect to become fast friends with beautiful, vivacious Pearl Kelly, organizer of the high school float at the annual Harvest Festival parade. It’s better not to get too attached when Rose and her father live on the road, driving their caravan from one place to the next whenever her dad gets itchy feet. But Rose can’t resist the mysterious charms of the town or the popular girl, try as she might.

Pearl convinces Rose to visit Edie Baker, once a renowned dressmaker, now a rumored witch. Together Rose and Edie hand-stitch an unforgettable dress of midnight blue for Rose to wear at the Harvest Festival—a dress that will have long-lasting consequences on life in Leonora, a dress that will seal the fate of one of the girls. Karen Foxlee’s breathtaking novel weaves friendship, magic, and a murder mystery into something moving, real, and distinctly original.

Next up, a Canterbury Tales reimagining…in outer space. From James Gunn. Sold.


A grand space adventure of exploration, intrigue, redemption, and the universal spirit that unites all beings

Riley, a veteran of interstellar war, is one of many beings from many different worlds aboard a ship on a pilgrimage that spans the galaxy. However, he is not journeying to achieve transcendence, a vague mystical concept that has drawn everyone else on the ship to this journey into the unknown at the far edge of the galaxy. His mission is to find and kill the prophet who is reputed to help others transcend. While their ship speeds through space, the voyage is marred by violence and betrayal, making it clear that some of the ship’s passengers are not the spiritual seekers they claim to be.

Like the pilgrims in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, a number of those on the starship share their unique stories. But as tensions rise, Riley realizes that the ship is less like the Canterbury Tales and more like a harrowing, deadly ship of fools. When he becomes friendly with a mysterious passenger named Asha, he thinks she’s someone he can trust. However, like so many others on the ship, Asha is more than she appears. Uncovering her secrets could be the key to Riley’s personal quest, or make him question everything he thought he knew about Transcendentalism and his mission to stop it.

As you may have seen, recently Ana and I read and loved Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton (we even had her over for the UK blog tour for Among Others this week). So, imagine my delight when I stumble across a new Jo Walton title while looking through upcoming fall books! The third book in her Small Change series is being released in paperback this fall, but as I’d never heard of the series before (I know! *hangs head in shame*) I figure I’d better start with book 1:

(EDITED: Ana apparently already has a copy! I need a copy!)


One summer weekend in 1949–but not our 1949–the well-connected “Farthing set”, a group of upper-crust English families, enjoy a country retreat. Lucy is a minor daughter in one of those families; her parents were both leading figures in the group that overthrew Churchill and negotiated peace with Herr Hitler eight years before.

Despite her parents’ evident disapproval, Lucy is married–happily–to a London Jew. It was therefore quite a surprise to Lucy when she and her husband David found themselves invited to the retreat. It’s even more startling when, on the retreat’s first night, a major politician of the Farthing set is found gruesomely murdered, with abundant signs that the killing was ritualistic.

It quickly becomes clear to Lucy that she and David were brought to the retreat in order to pin the murder on him. Major political machinations are at stake, including an initiative in Parliament, supported by the Farthing set, to limit the right to vote to university graduates. But whoever’s behind the murder, and the frame-up, didn’t reckon on the principal investigator from Scotland Yard being a man with very private reasons for sympathizing with outcasts…and looking beyond the obvious.

As the trap slowly shuts on Lucy and David, they begin to see a way out–a way fraught with peril in a darkening world.

The cover for this next book is cheesetastic, but I do love the resurgence of “pre-apocalyptic” novels – what do you do when you know it is all tumbling down?

Tumble & Fall

The end of everything is filled with beginnings in this surprising pre-apocalyptic fiction

The world is spinning in the shadow of oncoming disaster. An asteroid is set to strike the earth in just one week’s time; catastrophe is unavoidable. The question isn’t how to save the world—the question is: What to do with the time that’s left? Against this stark backdrop, three teens are swept up into intertwining stories of love, friendship, and family—all with the ultimate stakes at hand.

Irresistable and inspiring, Tumble & Fall is a powerful novel of courage, love, and hope at the end of days.

And finally, this book sounds wonderfully creepy. I haven’t read a really good horror novel in a while, so fingers crossed for this one (Shirley Jackson and Stephen King comps are kind of crazy high expectation-setting, but ok I am in):

Engines of the Broken World

A chilling story with echoes of Shirley Jackson and Stephen King.

Merciful Truth and her brother, Gospel, have just pulled their dead mother into the kitchen and stowed her under the table. It was a long illness, and they wanted to bury her—they did—but it’s far too cold outside, and they know they won’t be able to dig into the frozen ground.

The Minister who lives with them, who preaches through his animal form, doesn’t make them feel any better about what they’ve done. Merciful calms her guilty feelings but only until, from the other room, she hears a voice she thought she’d never hear again. It’s her mother’s voice, and it’s singing a lullaby. . . .

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

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  • Paige
    March 23, 2013 at 11:11 am

    I am counting the days till the new Toby book — but I knew about that one. I’m intrigued by both the Vera Nazarian and the James Gunn.

    Speaking of Kickstarter campaigns, another title that’s on my radar is Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction From the Margins of History — an anthology of short stories giving voices to people with less power,money, or status. It won’t be out till next year (the Kickstarter is still going!) — but I think it’ll be great when it arrives.

  • Liz
    March 23, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    I’m looking forward to Chimes of Midnight so much.

    I’m excited that Farthing is coming out in paperback! I remember looking for it a few years ago and I couldn’t find it anywhere. Maybe I’ll have more luck this time around.

  • Eliza
    March 23, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    Oh, the new Melissa Mar book looks fascinating. Love the concept of a western fantasy. Also intrigued by the Madeleine E. Robins book, Sea Change (such a pretty, pretty cover), and The Midnight Dress in particular.

    On my radar this week is one I’m super excited about. A Corner of White – the first book in Jaclyn Moriarty‘s new trilogy, The Colors of Madeleine. Yes, indeed, a new Jaclyn Moriarty book!! Thanks to Ana I found and fell in love with the Ashbury/Brookfield books and can’t wait to get my paws on A Corner of White. I’m first on my library’s hold list but I may break down and buy it if it takes to long arriving on my hold shelf.

    From GoodReads:

    Madeleine Tully lives in Cambridge, England, the World – a city of spires, Isaac Newton and Auntie’s Tea Shop.

    Elliot Baranski lives in Bonfire, the Farms, the Kingdom of Cello – where seasons roam, the Butterfly Child sleeps in a glass jar, and bells warn of attacks from dangerous Colours.

    They are worlds apart – until a crack opens up between them; a corner of white – the slim seam of a letter.

    A mesmerising story of two worlds; the cracks between them, the science that binds them and the colours that infuse them.

    Even more exciting is that it will be available in the US & Canada in April. We need more Australian YA authors published here. Why aren’t there more? I read about all these great YA books coming out in Australia but can’t find them here. Sigh.

  • Estara Swanberg
    March 23, 2013 at 3:50 pm

    I supported Vera Nazarian’s Kickstarter, so I’ll be getting the Cobweb Bride in any case. She’s been twice Nebula nominated for her short stories, but there are also novels out by her, and she used to be the publisher of Norilana Books, which gave Tanith Lee some rereleases and some first releases to Sherwood Smith books.

    Speaking of Kickstarter. Judith Tarr, whose Lord of the Two Lands Ana has on her Kindle TBR :mrgreen:, is going to write a new book in her Avaryan Rising universe – I decided to chip in at the tier where I can also get the previous Avaryan books in e, she’ll be rereleasing those via BVC eventually, I understand.

    This is some of her most fantastic stuff, although it actually is scifi, heh. I remember there being a sleeping god being awoken and becoming friends with a guy who later ends up as his promised bride, via a sex change coming of age. I really want to know if the story was as cool & weird as I remember.

    I think I read this before her medieval Hound & Falcon trilogy, which is AWESOME (and has a spin-off in Alamut and it’s sucessor volume), it actually has Catholic church the way the middle ages would have them and kind-of-elves.

    As is always the case with Judith Tarr men and women are equally awesome, so she’s one of the authors which really opened my eyes to the potential of fantasy in the 80s, after having grown up on almost only male authors in the genre.

  • Estara Swanberg
    March 23, 2013 at 3:51 pm

    Here’s the link to Judith Tarr’s Kickstarter
    She also raises Lipizzans, by the way ^^.

  • Estara Swanberg
    March 23, 2013 at 3:56 pm

    Radarwise, next month will bring another Foreigner book by C.J. Cherryh! I’ve got Protector preordered. And I still expect Hunting by Andrea Höst to be released around the turn of the month.
    OH and she got nominated for And All the Stars in both science fiction novel AND young adult novel categories of the Aurealis Award. Considering they had 750 submissions this year, I think that’s high praise indeed ^^.

  • Linda W
    March 23, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    Wow! I want that Madeleine E. Robins book. Looks great! And a new Melissa Marr book is always an event. I’m also waiting desperately on The Color of Rain by Cori McCarthy.

  • Meghan
    March 23, 2013 at 6:16 pm

    I already pre-ordered Chimes of Midnight. 😀

    I really want to read Farthing by Jo Walton myself – it’s on the wishlist. Also very curious about Vera Nazarian’s book. It sounds good and I’m intrigued that it’s backed by Kickstarter.

  • hapax
    March 23, 2013 at 10:07 pm

    Ooooh, that James Gunn looks intriguing. When good science fiction authors tackle religion, the results can be either awesome or wince-inducing.

    Thea, if you want a GREAT Rapunzel re-telling from the POV of the witch, do check out Donna Jo Napoli’s ZEL. Actually, any of her books would make marvellous Old School Wednesday selections — not that you don’t have enough already to last a decade or so…

  • Ailsa
    March 25, 2013 at 5:56 pm

    I can’t wait for the next October Daye book – I love all of Seanan McGuire’s stories. It’s frustrating waiting so long until Ashes of Honour, but at least I still have Midnight Blue-Light Special to read 🙂

  • Tom Bruce
    March 26, 2013 at 8:44 am

    I always look forward to a new Melissa Marr book, probably my favourite author.

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