Part Game of Thrones, part The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and part Viking mythology, Winter Riddle is a thinking person’s fantasy. And it’s hilarious!
At the North Pole, Volgha the Winter Witch is just trying to live an introverted life. However, her younger sister took over the kingdom, her mentor is now a tree and Santa is the worst neighbor ever. Enter the wacky fantasy world of Winter Riddle.
Incorporating Viking myth, witchy lore, familiars and Santa in one plot doesn’t even sound possible. However, the author achieves it with this funny tale. The less you know of the plot of Winter Riddle, the more fun you will have reading this wonderful book. It is perfect for Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy fans as the humor is similarly absurd. 5 stars!
Thanks to Black Spot Books and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Fantasy, Humor, New Books Tagged with: Nov 1 2018, Santa
Whether you write mysteries, fantasy or science fiction, Putting the Science in Fiction is an exceptional way to avoid factual errors. But it is also just a great way to catch up with current technology trends.
When your spaceship dramatically explodes into a fiery cataclysm, scientists everywhere are screaming (with laughter). Of course, in space, no one can hear you scream. However, you should also know that without oxygen, you know like in outer space, fiery explosions can’t occur. To avoid giggling scientists, read this book.
The range of subject matter within Putting the Science in Fiction is impressive. From simple lab protocols to poisons, genetic engineering, mental health issues, disasters, rocket science, biology, computer science and more, this book has something for everyone. Each story is written by an expert in their field. Most are less than ten pages long.
Even for non-writers, some of the misconceptions exposed are fascinating. Walt Disney probably wasted his money freezing his head. Most of the Terminator series is impossible. However, the storm trooper’s pulse (really an intermittent laser) cannon has already been tested successfully by the US Navy. Unfortunately, Luke’s lightsaber is a non-starter as are all of the rebel’s ships. I guess we know who really would have won the (star) war.
Okay, I admit it: I am a total nerd. I absolutely loved this book. I am planning to use it at parties to debunk (okay, maybe ruin) popular movies. However, even as a non-writer, Putting the Science in Fiction gave me at least five great plots for a future bestselling novel. Unfortunately, it won’t be written by me. Perhaps you will write it so I can have the pleasure of seeing my idea in print. 5 stars!
Thanks to the publisher, Writer’s Digest, and NetGalley for an advance copy.
Posted in Fantasy, Mystery & Thrillers, Non-fiction, Science Fiction Tagged with: Oct 16 2018, science, writing guide
Sancia is a master thief. She lives in Foundryside, a slum outside the four ruling merchant houses in the town of Tevanne. In Foundryside, scribing is used to make objects do the will of the scribner.
When we first meet Sancia, she is using a complicated plan to break into a safe at the well-guarded Tevanne waterfront. She has a special skill of feeling the emotions and particularly the flaws of inanimate and animate objects simply by touching them. This is a great gift for a thief as walls can tell her where their handholds are and safes can tell her their combinations. However, it is a problem in real life. Sancia has to keep her entire body covered so she isn’t receiving the emanations constantly. The more she uses her gift, the more her head aches. When she returns triumphantly with her booty, she is curious what is in the box she has stolen. What she finds is Clef, a key with a big personality.
Foundryside has fantastic worldbuilding. No one would want to live in Foundryside, but a quick visit is fun. The mood is playful. The setting is imaginative. Sancia is a great character who readers will love. I love a good genre mash-up and this combines a fantasy world with a thief’s tale. It seems like a combination of Ocean’s Eleven with Les Miserables (if you can picture that!) The fact that the rich are fat and evil while the poor are struggling with just survival seems fitting for our times. Overall, if you liked Artemis by Andy Weir, you will probably enjoy this book too. 4 stars!
Thanks to Crown Publishing and NetGalley for an advanced copy.
Posted in Fantasy Tagged with: Aug 21 2018
If Welcome to Nightvale and the Hunger Games were mixed into a smoothie, it would taste like the Silliest Stories Out of Bustleburg.
With a royal family in addition to a mayor, the town of Bustleburg is not your typical town. Run by major polluters Dellaflame safety services and Toxaco, Bustleburg outlaws ovens, trees and libraries as fire risks. Birds and museums are also outlawed. There is a five-tiered caste system with the rich living the good life in Privilege Pond where the forbidden items are still allowed.
Containing 21 connected stories, this book is an interesting dive into an intriguing world. It would be a good choice for fantasy fans. 3 stars!
Thanks to JMS Books LLC and NetGalley for a copy.
Posted in Fantasy, Paranormal Tagged with: Jul 7 2018
Da Vinci Code + World War Z + Jurassic Park divided by the Bible = Maze Master.
The LucentB virus is 100% deadly and is moving outward from France. Anna enlists the help of Christian professor, Martin, to find “Marham-i-Isa, the legendary healing ointment created by Jesus to heal the sick and raise the dead”—perhaps the only hope for humanity. While searching the Middle East for the ointment, Anna is also looking for her former mentor, the famed geneticist Hakari. In a parallel plot, Hakari is being driven mad by visions of shapes and his belief that he is the second coming of Christ. Wars break out as the virus spreads and nations look desperately for a cure. On battlefields, huge “angels of light” are spotted. Have the end times prophesied by the Bible arrived? Or is it something inherited in our Denisovan pre-historic genes that started the virus and the rest is pure human folly?
I loved the Da Vinci Code back in the day but I adore this book even more! It has the genre mashup that I like so much. It’s apocalyptic and scientific. With its factual underpinnings, it could actually happen. The setting and characterization are well done. It moves at a lightning pace. Overall, it is highly recommended for thriller readers. Open-minded fans of horror, science fiction and Christian fiction might also enjoy it. 5 stars!
Thanks to the publisher, St Martin’s Press, and NetGalley for granting my wish for an advanced copy.
Posted in Christian, Diane's Favorites, Fantasy, Mystery & Thrillers, Science Fiction Tagged with: apocalypse, Jul 17 2018
Meh…Providence is not a place I enjoyed visiting.
While a junior in high school in Providence Rhode Island, Jon is kidnapped. His best friend and possible love of his life, Chloe, is heartbroken. However, she and his parents eventually assume he is dead and move on with their lives.
Four years later, Jon wakes up. His only clue to what happened is a note from his former substitute teacher and captor, Mr. Blair, in a beaten-up paperback copy of The Dunwich Horror by H.P. Lovecraft. The note states.
“You were in a medically induced coma. You are free. […] You have power. […] We did good work down here, Jon, and it will be interesting to see the way things play out. You’re welcome, Jon.”
Six years later, Eggs is a Providence police detective looking for the cause of a rash of heart attack deaths in young adults. His department believes they were natural deaths but Eggs is obsessed. Eggs and his wife, Lo, have an institutionalized son, Chuckie.
Providence is a fantasy in the vain of the 2012 film Chronicle and perhaps Stephen King’s Carrie. While it contains the love story of Jon and Chloe, it is not strictly a romance like the author’s most popular book, You. I didn’t read You so I had no previously conceived ideas for this novel. Judging by other reviews, if you loved You, you will not like Providence much.
My biggest issue with Providence is with the characters. None are sympathetic. Poor Jon had all his problems thrust upon him but as a reader I truly didn’t care what happened to him. Chloe is so indecisive that I felt like slapping her. Her high school friends after Jon’s disappearance feel like 80s movie stereotypes (the popular girl, the jock, the art girl). Eggs’ feeling toward his son do not seem genuine but are obviously a plot device.
Another issue is the plot slows to a crawl in the middle of the book. If I wasn’t reading a review copy, I would have put it down or at best skipped to the ending.
Some readers seemed to enjoy this book. To me, it seemed derivative, slow, and populated solely with unsympathetic characters. Unfortunately, I can’t recommend it except to hardcore Lovecraft fans. 2 stars.
Thanks to the publisher, Random House-Lenny Books, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.
Posted in Fantasy, Mystery & Thrillers, Paranormal, Romance Tagged with: Jun 19 2018
Peril in the Old Country is a hilarious quest fantasy!
Sloot Peril is an accountant who has a nervous condition. He lives in the Old Country where swearing causes goblins to physically appear. There is so much bureaucracy that a union provides professional line waiters. Sloot is a patriot who despises the country just past the Old Country’s giant wall, Carpathia. What happens when he:
- Is recruited to be the financial manager of his mega-rich boss’ son
- Finds out a shocking truth about himself
- Is recruited to be a Carpathian spy
- Does the one thing his boss told him not to do—on his first day
The puns come fast and furious in Peril in the Old Country. There are running gags about swear words and shoes throughout. It is a zany ride. The world building is terrific and hilarious. Is it fantasy? Is it horror? I don’t know but it is highly recommended for readers looking for something different. This book is perfect for fans of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’s style of humor. 42 stars! [sorry, wrong book] 4 stars!
Thanks to the publisher, Black Spot Books, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.
Posted in Fantasy, Horror, Humor Tagged with: Jun 5 2018
“It all started with a tooth. A metal tooth that could bring the dead back to life.”
Green Lantern senses an evil presence emanating from the deep recesses of the Batcave. The Joker escapes from his electronic cage. Batman is given a dagger by his ex, Talia, to help him in his search for the elusive 8th metal. Meanwhile, the Joker is playing his tricks. This time he says he is trying to help Batman by destroying a machine. You know you’re in for some bad sh*t when the Greek Gods go back to Olympius and bar the door.
The two Dark Days’ prelude stories, Forge 1 and Casting 1, are the best in this volume. Both the art and story are superb. The other stories vary in quality and relationship to Dark Nights Metal. All are interesting for showing how art and writing styles have changed over the years. Other stories included are:
- Final Crisis 6-7,
- Batman: Return of Bruce Wayne 1
- Batman 38-39
- Nightwing 17
- Detective Comics 950
- Multiverse Guidebook 1
If you plan to read Dark Nights: Metal when its collection is released June 12, Dark Days: Road to Metal is a great reminder of its backstory. Plus it’s a great value at 256 pages. The artwork, especially of the Joker and mecha-Batman from the cover, is beautiful and detailed. The dark multiverse plot forcing an epic war is great and continues down the recent dark path of Batman.
Dark Days: Road to Metal is highly recommended. 5 stars!
Thanks to the publisher, DC Comics, and NetGalley for an advanced copy. Now onto my ARC of Dark Nights Metal. I can’t wait! Review to be published on its June 12 publication date.
Posted in Diane's Favorites, Fantasy, Graphic Novel Tagged with: batman, dark metal, dark multiverse, May 22 2018
Equal parts Alice in Wonderland and the Lord of the Rings with a pinch of politics and religion plus maybe some leftover LSD from the 60s. Rice Boy is a true quest tale with the survival of the world at its core.
The One Electronic, T-O-E for short, is looking for the true messiah. The past 3,000 years have been filled with one fake after another. If T-O-E stops searching for a messiah, he will die. One day after the latest messiah has died, T-O-E asks Rice Boy to be the next messiah. All Rice Boy needs to do is meet with the Tree Keeper downstream in the Dorlish Wood. Rice Boy refuses and T-O-E leaves. Soon, Rice Boy decides to go on a quest to the Dorlish Wood. He meets Gerund going the same way on a quest to kill the Bleach Beast. They decide to journey together. There are two sinister foes, Golgo and Dolly on Rice Boy’s trail.
I love Alice in Wonderland and have read a multitude of remixes and updates of it. Rice Boy is the best of the bunch. It has the feeling of Alice in Wonderland (everything is just enough similar and just enough off to give a feeling of discomfort). The art is brightly colored. The tale is just bizarre enough. The mash-up of religion, politics and fantasy really works to create a deliciously different fairy tale.
While marketed as a young adult title, I would recommend it for anyone who enjoys fantasy and especially those who are bored by the similarity of so many recent plots. Rice Boy is magnificently unlike everything else. Plus at 460 pages, it is well worth the price tag.
Thanks to the publisher, Iron Circus Comics, for an advanced copy.
Posted in Diane's Favorites, Fantasy, Graphic Novel, Teen & Young Adult Tagged with: Feb 27 2018
Lydie is a short tear-jerker that rewards readers with beautiful artwork and a compelling plot.
Set in a French cul-de-sac in an unnamed French town, Lydie tells the story of a set of neighbors that band together to help Camille, a mentally impaired French girl, in a very unusual way. The street is nicknamed mustachioed baby court due to a graffitied baby on a soap billboard at the end of the street. There are many points-of-view depicted in Lydie including from a statue of the Virgin Mary located on one of the buildings.
Set in 1932, life was both harsher and more neighborly than it is today. Camille loses her baby named Lydie during childbirth. A few months later, Camille believes that angels have brought back her child from heaven. First her father and then all her neighbors support Camille’s fantasy. By speaking to an invisible child who grows increasing older as the novel continues, the neighbors help Camille deal with her grief of her dead child. The end of this novel is the best part of all.
Since this graphic novel vividly depicts life in all its harshness, it is recommended only for adults. While it is ultimately a feel-good plot, it is also a true tearjerker. The artwork is very good too. 4 stars!
Thanks to the publisher, Europe Comics, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.
Posted in Fantasy, Graphic Novel, Paranormal Tagged with: ghosts, Mar 21 2018
Highly recommended adventure tale for tween girls.
Beatrice and the Basilisk is an modern updating of an adventure tale. However, it seems so realistic that it could happen again tomorrow in your town. This book is perfect for tween or younger girls. While the heroine is 12, she acts more mature than most 12 year olds.
I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway but that has not impacted my review.
There is another book by this author, which is reviewed here.
Posted in Children, Fantasy, Kindle Unlimited Tagged with: middle grade
Like light science fiction, fantasy and/or romance? Don’t mind a slow build-up to a fantastic finish? If so, the Coincidence Makers is for you.
Emily, Eric and Guy meet in a 16-month training class for Coincidence Makers (CMs). CMs are secret agents that work for the government. They “are creators of possibilities, givers of hints, winkers of tempting winks, discoverers of options.” Some examples of their work is Lennon meeting Paul McCartney, the development of corn flakes, and the discovery of penicillin. There are other behind-the-scenes government workers too like imaginary friends, dream weavers, luck distributors, etc.
I love the idea of mixing Men in Black with Harry Potter’s first year at Hogwarts. However, the execution was rather sluggish for the first half. I enjoyed the flashbacks to their schooling much more than their jobs immediately after graduation. I think it would have been better as a trilogy of books with the first only showing the training, the second standard CM work and the third book showing the highest level of CM work. With all of those topics put in this relatively short novel, it seems like an opportunity for a more in depth exploration of this world was missed. For the intriguing world, the Coincidence Makers receives 3 stars. However, the excellent ending ups the stars to 4.
The Coincidence Makers is recommended for soft science fiction or fantasy readers that are willing to wait patiently for a big payoff. Don’t quit reading before the halfway mark as the finale is definitely worth a few more hours of your time. If you are not patient, just wait for the sure to be awesome movie (or movies) based on this book.
Thanks to the publisher, St. Martins Press, and NetGalley for an advance copy.
Posted in Fantasy, Romance, Science Fiction Tagged with: genre mash-up, Mar 6 2018, original
Have you ever thought, “Every plot has already been used so what’s the point in reading (or writing) another”? If so, Smoke City is going to surprise you. No book or movie is anywhere near its plot for imagination and creativity.
Smoke City is a captivating genre-smashing novel. Here are the major genres that are colliding like atoms within this novel:
- Historical fiction (Joan of Arc’s death)
- Horror (ghost story)
- Tragedy (predestination during reincarnation)
- Adventure (adult male bonding during a road trip)
- Literary fiction (famous artist hits the skids)
- Magical realism (see above)
It sounds like it would be a huge mess. But somehow it works!
Half-visible wraiths nicknamed smokes are appearing in Southern California and northern Mexico. Mike Vale, a washed up previously famous artist is desperately trying to get to a funeral in Los Angeles.
Mike picks up Marvin Deitz after Marvin is unceremoniously kicked out of his record store’s lease by his shady, possibly mob-connected, landlord. Marvin is convinced that he will die violently before his 57th birthday in a few days. Why? Throughout his multitude of reincarnations, he never lives to 57. Marvin is convinced he is being punished for executing Joan of Arc in 1431. His therapist thinks it is just a delusion. Convinced he has seen the current incarnation of Joan of Arc on a talk show, Marvin is going to Los Angeles in the hopes of finding forgiveness from a woman he has never met–at least in this lifetime.
On the way to LA, the pair pick up a stowaway, Casper. The plot continues to get curiouser and curiouser from there.
Deciding to read this book takes a leap of faith. There is no comparable book or movie to say it resembles. Smoke City was written by a relatively unknown writer and published by a small press. However, take this reviewer’s advice and read this book. It is truly fantastic and totally different from any other book you will read this year! Kirkus Reviews gushed (for them) that it was “strangely satisfying”. It is worth 5+ stars!
Posted in Diane's Favorites, Fantasy, Horror, Literary Fiction, Paranormal Tagged with: Historical fiction, Jan 23 2018, magical realism
Great paranormal mystery set in near future New Zealand.
Penny is a scientist who has just opened a her own business. Her first criminal case includes a missing person, a large pool of blood and a ceremonial bowl.
Her brother, Matiu, is her driver in 2040s Auckland where pollution is rampant and few can afford private cars. Luckily, their rich parents run a car service, which is where Matiu works. Matiu has a criminal past and is recently out of prison on probation. Matiu has a special power.
It’s his blessing, his curse, to feel the veil that lies between the worlds, to touch it as it slips and slides in his grasp, rasps along his senses, teases at his dreams.
Matiu and Penny begin to solve the crime–not just do crime scene analysis as Penny has been contracted to do by the police. The clues to the solution are as varied as Rasputin and the Egyptian god Osiris.
The best part of the Hounds of the Underworld is the prickly but humorous sibling dynamics. Setting the novel in near future New Zealand is so brilliant! I’ve never read another novel with that setting so it feels fresh in a genre that frequently feels overused and stale. I also felt that the characters acted in ways that most people would react in similar circumstances.
The ending was engrossing and a real page-turner. However, it did leave a couple of major plot points hanging so I took one star off for that. This is book one in a planned series so I understand the point of having a cliffhanger but I thought this was a bit too much. Hopefully, the next book in the Path to Ra series will be published soon!
I would highly recommend this book to any mystery lover who wants more diverse plot elements than your standard genre book. This novel combines four genres: mystery, fantasy, light science fiction and paranormal. And it does it with style! Just don’t expect all the plot’s skeins to be neatly rolled up at the end.
I received this book in a Librarything giveaway but that has not impacted my review.
Posted in Fantasy, Kindle Unlimited, Mystery & Thrillers, Paranormal, Science Fiction Tagged with: near future, New Zealand, Siblings
Heathen is a coming out story interwoven with Norse mythology.
Heathen tells the story of Aydis, a Viking young woman who can fight as well as any male warrior. After kissing a girl (and liking it), her father is forced by the tribe’s elders to punish her. Aydis must marry a man of her father’s choosing or he must kill her. Her father pretends to kill her but instead banishes her from the tribe.
With only her trusty horse, Saga, Aydis decides to rescue the Valkyrie Brynhild from a mountain surrounded by fire. During her quest, Aydis meets and sometimes fights many Norse gods. There are three chapters in this volume and this summary is only part of chapter one. Many more adventures occur later.
The coming out plot was interesting though short. Hopefully, this plot line will be explored more in future volumes of this series. The mythological setting was my favorite part. Who doesn’t enjoy a good quest complete with battles with temperamental gods? The author does a great job explaining the back stories of the gods without overdoing the detail. The artwork is unusual but clearly sets the fantasy mood.
If you like Marvel’s Thor movie/comics or the great Neil Gaiman book, Norse Mythology, Heathen will be a real treat for you as it was for me.
Thanks to the Vault Comics and netgalley for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Fantasy, Graphic Novel Tagged with: Lgbtqia, mythology
Beautiful Artwork and a Compelling Plot
I picked up this graphic novel because it combines two of my favorite genres: graphic novels and mysteries. Am I ever glad I did!
A British man visiting Los Angeles has his flight back home canceled. While waiting, he visits an old friend before returning to his temporary home. Too anxious to go to sleep, he meets an old man who offers a story in exchange for a cigarette and a book of matches.
The tale he tells is a reworking of the origin story in the Bible. It is a creation story of the universe with many familiar names such as God, Lucifer and three angels. However, the plot is twisted just enough that you know you reading a Neil Gaiman.
It is also a mystery, perhaps more than one. One of the angels is killed and another named Vengeance is tasked by Lucifer to solve the crime. I won’t spoil the end but trust me, it is excellent and resolves the plot and subplots perfectly. When it was finished, I thought that was the only logical way to end the book but then I wondered why I didn’t foresee the end. That is how a great mystery ought to make you feel so kudos to Mr. Gaiman.
I have to comment on the beautiful artwork. The pastel colors with dramatic pops of red and bright golden yellow emphasize the story’s plot points perfectly. I started reading this on my Kindle in black and white. But quickly decided to read it on my tablet to get the full effect of the art. I would recommend others do the same (or read it on paper).
Overall, I can’t recommend this book highly enough. I wish I could turn the rating stars up to 11!
Posted in Diane's Favorites, Fantasy, Graphic Novel, Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: angels, mythology