Every weekday, we feature a different review on Booklist Online that highlights starred reviews, high-demand titles, and/or titles especially relevant to our current issue’s spotlight. We’ve collected the reviews from March 20 through 24 so that you can revisit the week’s best books.
Monday, March 20
Thick as Thieves, by Megan Whalen Turner
For Kamet, slavery has been his life since he was stolen by the Medes from his homeland as a child. But he has little desire for a different life. Kamet loses all choice in the matter when his master is poisoned. Even more than plot twists and political intrigue, what is so welcomingly familiar and so wholly real here is the depth of the characters and the tenuous, frightening instability of the world around them. There is fantasy that is an escape and fantasy that is a mirror, and this, astonishingly, is both. This world, its people, and its gods remain as fiercely alive as they were when The Thief first stole hearts. For newcomers, this is a worthy introduction; for loyal readers, it will be like coming home.
Tuesday, March 21
Anything Is Possible, by Elizabeth Strout
In this collection of short stories centered in and near the fictional town of Amgash, Illinois, last visited in My Name Is Lucy Barton (2016), Strout once again shows her talent for adroitly uncovering what makes ordinary people tick. Here, for the most part, it’s sex. It’s almost misleading to classify these as short stories; while they read fine as stand-alones, they work best as chapters that make up a novel of Amgash. Most of the stories feature Lucy herself—on the periphery, at least. Clearly, this is a must-read for fans of Lucy Barton, but it’s also an excellent introduction to Strout’s marvelously smart character studies.
Wednesday, March 22
Rodzilla, by Rob Sanders
Megalopolis is in grave danger from a soft, squishy monster, aka Rodzilla. Those who have spent time with a toddler will recognize this child’s seemingly monstrous behaviors and the havoc his explorations can inflict. Santat uses a fluorescent color palette to depict Rodzilla as a bright green dinosaur who toddles from one catastrophe to the next, dripping from every orifice. Young listeners will enjoy the story’s over-the-top humor, while slightly older kids will have fun matching the Megalopolis sites with Rod’s toys.
Thursday, March 23
Theft by Finding: Diaries, 1977–2002, by David Sedaris
Sedaris’ diaries are the wellspring for his cuttingly funny autobiographical essays, and he now presents a mesmerizing volume of deftly edited passages documenting 35 years of weird and hilarious experiences. Sedaris’ riddling title is a sly allusion to his artistic method: he is a champion eavesdropper and observer, and this selective diary is basically a set of field notes cataloging atrocious human behavior. Sedaris is caustically witty about his bad habits and artistic floundering. A socially incisive and sharply amusing chronicle of the evolution of an arresting comedic artist.
Friday, March 24
Olivia the Spy, by Ian Falconer
Falconer’s intrepid piglet returns for what might be her greatest challenge to date: blending in. Olivia overhears her mother complaining about what a handful her daughter is. Olivia begins to wonder what else her mother has been saying about her, and transforms herself into a spy to find out. Olivia’s newest escapade has a happy ending and some sensible advice regarding eavesdropping. As always, Falconer’s charcoal-and-gouache illustrations capture the dramatic flair of Olivia’s personality and lively imagination. Funny and sweet, this endearing new addition to the Olivia series doesn’t disappoint.