19 March 2018

Stacked-Up Book Thoughts: 3 Good Books

My eye is on the start of spring, which is coming up in a few days. I'm going to ignore the temperatures and the snow flurries and pretend that deck season is right around the corner.

My busy work time is slowing down, and I plan to take advantage of my break by getting in some long walks and reading more in the evenings.

Other than that, nothing much going on around here. We're catching up with Homeland on Showtime and the new David Letterman show (My Next Guest Needs No Introduction) on Netflix.

What I read last week

Review: Only Killers and Thieves by Paul HowarthOnly Killers and Thieves by Paul Howarth (Harper, Feb. 6): Put this book on your must-read or must-listen list right now. Set in rural Australia in the 1880s, this is the story of two brothers caught up in something they are too young and too unprepared to understand. Tommy (15 years old) and Billy (16) turn to their unscrupulous neighbor for help in the aftermath of a family tragedy; he gives the boys help but not without a price. From the haunting descriptions of the stark Australian landscape to the fully realized characters and heartbreaking, horrifying action, this book took over my life right from the first sentences:

They stalked the ruined scrubland, searching for something to kill. Two boys, not quite men, tiny in a landscape withered by drought and drenched in unbroken sun.
I know the novel has been described as a kind of western, which might throw some of you off. It’s really a coming-of-age story, and although there is plenty of action, it’s a very character-driven story. My heart went out to the boys, especially Tommy, and I understood their different reactions to what they witnessed and what they did. The unfolding of Only Killers and Thieves will be stronger if you go into the book blind. Try to avoid reading the summary or spoilery reviews. The unabridged audiobook (Harper Audio; 11 hr, 29 min) read by David Linski is so, so good. Linski embodied the characters and helped bring them alive for me. His varied pacing and volume matched the text perfectly, and I was completely won over by his performance. In print (which was my husband’s choice) or in audio, this book will be on many best-of 2018 list. Don’t miss out.

Review: Conspiracy in Death by J. D. RobbConspiracy in Death by J. D. Robb (Brilliance Audio; 12 hr, 27 min) read by Susan Ericksen. Seeing as this is the 8th entry in the long series (I think Robb’s up to book 46 now), I don’t have much new to say about these futuristic sci-fi, police procedural, romance mashups except that I really like them. In this outing our homicide detective hero, Eve Dallas, is searching for who or what is behind a series of murders involving organ harvesting. The technology of Dallas’s world is always fascinating, and this book focuses on medical issues as well as a unique lie-detector test. Although the In Death books are gritty, Robb always manages to keep Dallas’s marriage steamy, and the main characters continue to grow and change. The audiobooks are always a treat and are short enough to squeeze in between more recently published books.

Review: Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi (Disney Hyperion; March 27): If you’re a Rick Riordan fan, you’ll love this new Pandava series, published under his imprint, Rick Riordan Presents. The style of Aru Shah is very much in line with the Percy Jackson books, but this time the story is set in the Hindu universe: the tales, the ancient books, and the gods are Indian and so is our heroine. Twelve-year-old Aru Shah lives on the grounds of a cultural museum in Atlanta, Georgia, where her archaeologist mother is the curator. Aru has free run of the museum, but is told never, ever to light the Lamp of Bharata—if she does, the world will end. Of course, on a dare from snotty classmates, Aru lights the lamp. The world doesn’t end right away, but time freezes. This is when Aru learns who she really is: a reincarnated Pandava warrior and thus a demi-god. With help of Mini (a sister Pandava) and a talking pigeon sidekick, Aru must solve riddles, find the keys to the land of death, fight off demons, and save the world. Humor, fast action, great characters, and tricky puzzles make this a lot of fun to read. Aru and Mini are flawed and sometimes scared; they bicker a little but are ultimately loyal. In the end, they find their inner strengths. Highly recommended for middle grade readers and for diversifying your reading list. I really loved meeting Aru and can’t wait for her next adventures.


Sarah (Sarah's Book Shelves) 3/19/18, 7:30 AM  

Killers and Thieves looks super interesting! I love Australia...added it to my "must try before the end of the year" TBR.

Susie | Novel Visits 3/19/18, 8:30 AM  

I saw you mention Killers and Thieves somewhere else earlier, but forgot to write it down. I didn't make that mistake today! It sounds great!

bermudaonion 3/19/18, 8:51 AM  

I'll try to move Only Killers and Thieves up my TBR - I can tell you loved it.

Kay 3/19/18, 9:36 AM  

Spring will come, I'm sure. I saw bluebonnets for the first time this year over the weekend. And that means the rest of our wildflowers are not far behind. Yay!! Totally understand your enjoyment of Eve and Roarke. Ha!

Kathy Martin 3/19/18, 10:05 AM  

I am a huge fan of the In Death series. I love to watch Eve and Roarke's relationship develop. I also enjoyed Aru Shah. The calendar might say Spring is coming this week but we're probably still a month out in reality here in my part of Minnesota. Come see my week here. Happy reading!

Laurel-Rain Snow 3/19/18, 10:11 AM  

Every time I see a J.D. Robb book, I am reminded that I've been meaning to read more of them.

Enjoy your week...and here are MY WEEKLY UPDATES

(Diane) bookchickdi 3/19/18, 10:50 AM  

You convinced me to read Only Killers and Thieves.

Tina 3/19/18, 10:51 AM  

That Australian setting has me interested, I will add it to my long list at Goodreads

JoAnn 3/19/18, 12:44 PM  

Killers and Thieves sounds great. The "western" label might have put me off, so I'm glad to have your recommendation. On to the audio wish list it goes!

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz 3/19/18, 7:31 PM  

I love your thoughts on Killers. I’m tempted now....

Yvonne 3/19/18, 7:58 PM  

I really should get back to the J.D. Robb series. I only read the first couple and it was good. I'm hoping spring gets here already, but they are saying another storm for us later in the week. Yuck! Have a great week!

Nise' 3/19/18, 9:28 PM  

I am expecting Only Killers and Thieves on audio! Glad it was a great listen. I am ignoring the weather too and getting into the spring mindset.

Greg 3/20/18, 1:10 AM  

I hope the weather cooperates and it starts feeling like spring soon. :)

Only Killers and Thieves does sound like a powerful read, and it's new to me too. Good to know.

Mystica 3/20/18, 10:48 AM  

The description of the Australian novel sounds fascinating.

Martha Eskuchen 3/22/18, 9:44 PM  

I am at 16 in the JD Robb series which I enjoy on audio.
Aru Shah looks like fun.
Hopefully deck season is around the corner for you. Happy Reading!

DMS 3/25/18, 4:02 PM  

I have been curious about this book since I first saw the cover. It sounds amazing. Loved your review. Thanks for sharing. :)

Daryl 3/26/18, 8:26 AM  

ooh more goodies .. thanks!

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