Tag Archives: revenge

Only Killers and Thieves by Paul Howarth

Only Killers and Thieves by Paul Howarth. February 6, 2018. Harper, 325 p. ISBN: 9780062690968.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD.

Two brothers are exposed to the brutal realities of life and the seductive cruelty of power in this riveting debut novel—a story of savagery and race, injustice and honor, set in the untamed frontier of 1880s Australia—reminiscent of Philipp Meyer’s The Son and the novels of Cormac McCarthy.

An epic tale of revenge and survival, Only Killers and Thieves is a gripping and utterly transporting debut, bringing to vivid life a colonial Australia that bears a striking resemblance to the American Wild West in its formative years.

It is 1885, and a crippling drought threatens to ruin the McBride family. Their land is parched, their cattle starving. When the rain finally comes, it is a miracle that renews their hope for survival. But returning home from an afternoon swimming at a remote waterhole filled by the downpour, fourteen-year-old Tommy and sixteen-year-old Billy meet with a shocking tragedy.

Thirsting for vengeance against the man they believe has wronged them—their former Aboriginal stockman—the distraught brothers turn to the ruthless and cunning John Sullivan, the wealthiest landowner in the region and their father’s former employer. Sullivan gathers a posse led by the dangerous and fascinating Inspector Edmund Noone and his Queensland Native Police, an infamous arm of British colonial power charged with the “dispersal” of indigenous Australians to “protect” white settler rights. As they ride across the barren outback in pursuit, their harsh and horrifying journey will have a devastating impact on Tommy, tormenting him for the rest of his life—and will hold enduring consequences for a young country struggling to come into its own.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: 

 

Reviews

Booklist (December 1, 2017 (Vol. 114, No. 7))
This debut novel is set in Australia in the mid-1880s. A lengthy drought is likely to spell disaster for the McBride family’s cattle ranch, but, just when the situation seems hopeless, rain comes—three solid days of it. It should be a time of great joy for the McBride sons—16-year-old Billy and 14-year-old Tommy—but, instead, with the rain comes tragedy: returning home one day, the boys find their parents have been murdered. Engulfed by rage, they plead with a rival cattle farmer to help them find the people responsible. But how far are the boys willing to go to get revenge? Rich in character and period atmosphere, this effective blend of family saga and historical mystery will please fans of Jeffrey Archer and Wilbur Smith.

Kirkus Reviews starred (December 1, 2017)
Howarth’s impressive debut is a Wild West saga transported to 19th-century Queensland, Australia. Two brothers come of age during a bloody wilderness manhunt against the background of a shameful era in Australia’s racial history.Brothers Tommy and Billy are the sons of rancher Ned McBride, who’s barely surviving under the thumb of land baron John Sullivan. Sullivan’s local rule is aided by his association with Inspector Edmund Noone, a leader of the Native Mounted Police, which carried out the genocide of Australia’s indigenous people. Racial tensions escalate after the two brothers witness a lynching, and soon afterward they find their parents murdered—apparently by their aboriginal stockman Joseph, whose gun is found nearby. They have no choice but to join forces with Noone and Sullivan, who set out to take revenge on Joseph—or on any other tribal people they encounter on the hunt for him. The story deals unflinchingly with the brutality of Australian rule, and the true circumstances of the parents’ murders are ultimately revealed. But the heart of the story is the complicated relationship between the brothers, as Tommy’s developing conscience threatens his bond with the older Billy, who has committed to Sullivan’s cause. One turning point for Tommy is his attachment to an aboriginal woman whose family has been slaughtered by their posse. While this book has a historical point to make, it also works as a suspenseful mystery and a resonant bildungsroman.

About the Author

Paul Howarth was born and grew up in Great Britain before moving to Melbourne in his late twenties. He lived in Australia for more than six years, gained dual citizenship in 2012, and now lives in Norwich, United Kingdom, with his family.

In 2015, he received a master’s degree from the University of East Anglia’s creative writing program, the most prestigious course of its kind in the UK, where he was awarded the Malcolm Bradbury Scholarship.

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Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds. October 24, 2017. Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books, 320 p. ISBN: 9781481438254.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 720.

A cannon. A strap.
A piece. A biscuit.
A burner. A heater.
A chopper. A gat.
A hammer
A tool
for RULE

Or, you can call it a gun. That’s what fifteen-year-old Will has shoved in the back waistband of his jeans. See, his brother Shawn was just murdered. And Will knows the rules. No crying. No snitching. Revenge. That’s where Will’s now heading, with that gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, the gun that was his brother’s gun. He gets on the elevator, seventh floor, stoked. He knows who he’s after. Or does he? As the elevator stops on the sixth floor, on comes Buck. Buck, Will finds out, is who gave Shawn the gun before Will took the gun. Buck tells Will to check that the gun is even loaded. And that’s when Will sees that one bullet is missing. And the only one who could have fired Shawn’s gun was Shawn. Huh. Will didn’t know that Shawn had ever actually USED his gun. Bigger huh. BUCK IS DEAD. But Buck’s in the elevator? Just as Will’s trying to think this through, the door to the next floor opens. A teenage girl gets on, waves away the smoke from Dead Buck’s cigarette. Will doesn’t know her, but she knew him. Knew. When they were eight. And stray bullets had cut through the playground, and Will had tried to cover her, but she was hit anyway, and so what she wants to know, on that fifth floor elevator stop, is, what if Will, Will with the gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, MISSES.

And so it goes, the whole long way down, as the elevator stops on each floor, and at each stop someone connected to his brother gets on to give Will a piece to a bigger story than the one he thinks he knows. A story that might never know an END…if WILL gets off that elevator.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language, Smoking, Gun violence

 

Video Reviews

Reviews

Booklist starred (July 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 21))
Grades 7-12. Spanning a mere one minute and seven seconds, Reynolds’ new free-verse novel is an intense snapshot of the chain reaction caused by pulling a trigger. First, 15-year-old Will Holloman sets the scene by relating his brother Shawn’s murder two days prior—gunned down while buying soap for their mother. Next, he lays out The Rules: don’t cry, don’t snitch, always get revenge. Now that the reader is up to speed, Will tucks Shawn’s gun into his waistband and steps into an elevator, steeled to execute rule number three and shoot his brother’s killer. Yet, the simple seven-floor descent becomes a revelatory trip. At each floor, the doors open to admit someone killed by the same cycle of violence that Will’s about to enter. He’s properly freaked out, but as the seconds tick by and floors count down, each new occupant drops some knowledge and pushes Will to examine his plans for that gun. Reynolds’ concise verses echo like shots against the white space of the page, their impact resounding. He peels back the individual stories that led to this moment in the elevator and exposes a culture inured to violence because poverty, gang life, or injustice has left them with no other option. In this all-too-real portrait of survival, Reynolds goes toe-to-toe with where, or even if, love and choice are allowed to exist.

Kirkus Reviews starred (July 15, 2017)
After 15-year-old Will sees his older brother, Shawn, gunned down on the streets, he sets out to do the expected: the rules dictate no crying, no snitching, and revenge. Though the African-American teen has never held one, Will leaves his apartment with his brother’s gun tucked in his waistband. As he travels down on the elevator, the door opens on certain floors, and Will is confronted with a different figure from his past, each a victim of gun violence, each important in his life. They also force Will to face the questions he has about his plan. As each “ghost” speaks, Will realizes how much of his own story has been unknown to him and how intricately woven they are. Told in free-verse poems, this is a raw, powerful, and emotional depiction of urban violence. The structure of the novel heightens the tension, as each stop of the elevator brings a new challenge until the narrative arrives at its taut, ambiguous ending. There is considerable symbolism, including the 15 bullets in the gun and the way the elevator rules parallel street rules. Reynolds masterfully weaves in textured glimpses of the supporting characters. Throughout, readers get a vivid picture of Will and the people in his life, all trying to cope with the circumstances of their environment while expressing the love, uncertainty, and hope that all humans share. This astonishing book will generate much needed discussion. (Verse fiction. 12-adult)

About the Author

After earning a BA in English from The University of Maryland, College Park, he moved to Brooklyn, New York, where you can often find him walking the four blocks from the train to his apartment talking to himself. Well, not really talking to himself, but just repeating character names and plot lines he thought of on the train, over and over again, because he’s afraid he’ll forget it all before he gets home. His website is www.jasonwritesbooks.com.

Teacher Resources

Long Way Down Reading Group Guide

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Long Way Down on Amazon

Long Way Down on Goodreads

Long Way Down Publisher Page

A Good Idea by Cristina Moracho

A Good Idea by Cristina Moracho. February 28, 2017. Viking Books for Young Readers, 368 p. ISBN: 9780451476241.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

Can the right kind of boy get away with killing the wrong kind of girl?

Finley and Betty’s close friendship survived Fin’s ninth-grade move from their coastal Maine town to Manhattan. Calls, letters, and summer visits continued to bind them together, and in the fall of their senior year, they both applied to NYU, planning to reunite for good as roommates.

Then Betty disappears. Her ex-boyfriend Calder admits to drowning her, but his confession is thrown out, and soon the entire town believes he was coerced and Betty has simply run away. Fin knows the truth, and she returns to Williston for one final summer, determined to get justice for her friend, even if it means putting her loved ones—and herself—at risk.

But Williston is a town full of secrets, where a delicate framework holds everything together, and Fin is not the only one with an agenda. How much is she willing to damage to get her revenge and learn the truth about Betty’s disappearance, which is more complicated than she ever imagined—and infinitely more devastating?

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language; Strong sexual themes; Drugs; Underage drinking

 

Reviews

Booklist (December 15, 2016 (Vol. 113, No. 8))
Grades 9-12. Calder Miller confessed to the murder of Betty Flynn. Yet, as a minor without a present lawyer—and the son of Williston’s manipulative mayor—he walked free. But Finley Blake, Betty’s best friend, is ready to settle the score. Slitting tires, sparking fires, and doggedly interrogating classmates and locals alike, Finley demands nothing short of the truth: why did Calder do it? While her perilous ploys successfully bring Betty, a “mercurial” force with a long tarnished reputation, to the forefront of Williston’s clouded memory, they also unearth a series of startling secrets. Finley soon finds herself—and those she cares most about—haunted not only by danger but also boundless uncertainty. Finley’s brooding first-person narrative, precocious and often deluged with drug use, doesn’t always accommodate deep secondary-character development. Still, Moracho’s setting, a sleepy coastal town swathed in superstition and sea, shines. Edgy, atmospheric, and sometimes steamy, this is a thoughtful portrait of grief and an engaging examination of the risks we take for the ones we love. Ideal for mystery enthusiasts and noir newcomers.

Kirkus Reviews (November 1, 2016)
A young woman returns for the summer from her mother’s in New York City to her dad’s house in a small Maine town, intent on uncovering what actually happened to her best friend, who is only officially recognized by the police as missing even though her ex-boyfriend confessed to—but then recanted—having killed her. Finley is set to begin at NYU in the fall, but the loss of her troubled friend Betty drives her back to insular Williston to spend one final summer there in the late 1990s. An incredibly tangled web immediately presents itself, and she meets Serena, whom Betty met when her parents sent her to a religious summer camp and to whom Finley develops an intense attraction. Together, they do all they can to force the truth to come to light. Lushly evocative writing sets an atmospherically dark and foreboding tone from the start, and secrets are harbored by nearly every character, all of whom appear to be white. Finley is a distant narrator, tough and smart, and though she spends a fair amount of time downing pills, drinking, and having sex with both the town drug dealer, Owen, and Serena, her grief and anger over Betty are believable motivating forces that keep her asking questions and seeking revenge. A discomfiting, gripping mystery with plenty of sharp edges. (Fiction. 14 & up)

About the Author

Cristina Moracho is a novelist and freelance writer/editor. Her debut novel was Althea & Oliver (Viking). She lives in Red Hook, Brooklyn, where she makes all the bad decisions.

Her website is www.cristinamoracho.com.

 

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Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo. September 27, 2016. Henry Holt & Co., 560 p. ISBN: 9781627792134.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 810.

When you can’t beat the odds, change the game.

Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and badly weakened, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of the Grisha world.

Sequel to: Six of Crows

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language; Violence; Mild sexual themes; Alcohol; Smoking

 

Book Trailer

Author Interview

Reviews

School Library Journal Xpress (October 1, 2016)
Gr 7 Up-Teens will be excited to return to Bardugo’s marvelous world, first visited in her “Grisha Trilogy” and in this duology’s previous Six of Crows. They will be treated to a visit from old friends-the graceful (and deadly) Inej; Nina, the Grisha Heartrender; Wylan, the discarded, illiterate merchant’s son; and the mysterious and vengeful Kaz. Characters from the original trilogy (most notably Stormhund, prince-turned-privateer) also make an entrance in the heart of the slums of Ketterdam. Plots to take control of the city’s underworld abound as Kaz rallies his allies and takes on the might of the rapacious merchant class and Pekka Rollins, King of the Barrel and ruler of the dregs of the city. Following the death of his brother, the antihero has surrounded himself with the castoffs of Ketterdam, all of them very young, defective in some way, and abandoned. Together they will either rule the city victoriously or fail magnificently. While it isn’t absolutely necessary to have read the other titles in Bardugo’s series, readers will be better served by this continuation if they are already familiar with the complex world and characters. This fast-paced dive into the Barrel, where fortunes are made and lost and life itself hangs in the balance, will keep readers enthralled long past bedtime. VERDICT A must-purchase for all YA collections.-Jane Henriksen Baird, Anchorage Public Library,

Kirkus Reviews starred (August 15, 2016)
This hefty sequel to Six of Crows (2015) brings high-tension conclusions to the many intertwined intrigues of Ketterdam.It’s time for revenge—has been ever since old-before-his-time crook Kaz and his friends were double-crossed by the merchant princes of Ketterdam, an early-industrial Amsterdam-like fantasy city filled to the brim with crime and corruption. Disabled, infuriated, and perpetually scheming Kaz, the light-skinned teen mastermind, coordinates the efforts to rescue Inej. Though Kaz is loath to admit weakness, Inej is his, for he can’t bear any harm come to the knife-wielding, brown-skinned Suli acrobat. Their team is rounded out by Wylan, a light-skinned chemist and musician whose merchant father tried to have him murdered and who can’t read due to a print disability; Wylan’s brown-skinned biracial boyfriend, Jesper, a flirtatious gambler with ADHD; Nina, the pale brunette Grisha witch and recovering addict from Russia-like Ravka; Matthias, Nina’s national enemy and great love, a big, white, blond drüskelle warrior from the cold northern lands; and Kuwei, the rescued Shu boy everyone wants to kidnap. Can these kids rescue everyone who needs rescuing in Ketterdam’s vile political swamp? This is dark and violent—one notable scene features a parade of teens armed with revolvers, rifles, pistols, explosives, and flash bombs—but gut-wrenchingly genuine. Astonishingly, Bardugo keeps all these balls in the air over the 500-plus pages of narrative. How can such a hefty tome be un-put-down-able excitement from beginning to end?

About the Author

Leigh Bardugo is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Grisha Trilogy (Shadow and Bone, Siege and Storm, and Ruin and Rising).

She was born in Jerusalem, grew up in Los Angeles, and graduated from Yale University, and has worked in advertising, journalism, and most recently, makeup and special effects. These days, she’s lives and writes in Hollywood where she can occasionally be heard singing with her band.

She would be elated if you visited her web site.

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Crooked Kingdom on Amazon

Crooked Kingdom on JLG

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