Gods of Jade and Shadow
July 28th, 2019 by diane92345

A mighty quest awaits young Casiopea when she links up with the Mayan god of death in Gods of Jade and Shadow.

Casiopea is an eighteen-year-old girl in rural Mexico in the 1920s. After bleeding on a bunch of bones in a chest, she awakens Hun-Kame, the Mayan god of death. They embark on a quest to retrieve the god’s missing bones and defeat his evil brother so he can take his rightful place as king of the underworld.

I adored this historical fiction fairy tale of quests, fate, and magical realism. If any of those themes resonate with you, pick up a copy of Gods of Jade and Shadow. You won’t be sorry. 4.5 stars!

Thanks to Del Rey and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Fantasy, New Books Tagged with: , ,

Time After Time
June 23rd, 2019 by diane92345

Take one part Benjamin Button, one part Age of Adaline, and one part a history of Grand Central Station. Stir together and you have Time After Time.

Joe is a leverman in 1937 in New York’s Grand Central Station. When he meets Nora, a confused young lady without either luggage or coat, he offers to walk her home. Along the way she vanishes. A year later, they meet again. She is still wearing the same tattered blue dress. Once Joe and Nora discover the restrictions of Nora’s universe, they begin to fall for each other. But Nora doesn’t age and Joe was already ten years older than her in 1937 making their future together uncertain.

I liked the three main characters of this novel: Joe, Nora, and most of all Grand Central Station. The history of the Station drew me in even more than the plot. As a frequent reader of thrillers, Time After Time seemed to move at a snail’s pace in the middle third. However, that may just be me. I also didn’t enjoy the ending of Joe and Nora’s love story. For literary or historical fiction readers, the pacing will probably be fine. In the author’s Q&A at the end of the book, the author explains that most of the story is based on true stories merged together. If you are a fan of historical romance, this is a good choice. 3 stars!

Thanks to Random House and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Historical Fiction, New Books, Romance Tagged with: , ,

Tears of the Trufflepig
May 19th, 2019 by diane92345

Tears of the Trufflepig is a surrealistic deep dive into where our current cultural road may lead. Tense US/Mexico border relations, genetically modified food, and a further divide between the haves and the have nots are all here.

In the future, worldwide food shortages have decimated the world’s population. Scientists have found a method of generating synthetic food. Drugs are legal in the US so Mexican cartels sell filtered animals to the rich. Filtered animals are genetically modified reincarnations of extinct species. Estaban Bellacosa works as an expeditor for a cartel. Paco is an investigative reporter looking into the filtering trade. When they meet during a dinner of filtered animals, the cartel’s troubles begin.

Tears of the Trufflepig is a hallucinogenic, but believable, trip to a troubled future. The tale reminds me of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, where a certain suspension of belief is required to enjoy the plot. For readers that are looking for something different and are okay with a non-linear plot, this is a good choice. There is one caveat. There are many phrases in Spanish within the text that might be confusing for non-Spanish speakers. 3.5 stars!

Thanks to Farrar, Strauss & Giroux and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Literary Fiction, Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: , ,

Dinner List
September 14th, 2018 by diane92345

It’s a familar party game. Put your five favorite people, living or dead, on your Dinner List. This book speculates on what would happen if the dinner actually occurred.

Sabrina arrives at her thirtieth birthday dinner at a trendy restaurant. Seated at the table are the five guests she named. Audrey Hepburn, her college philosophy Professor Conrad, her ex-boyfriend Tobias, her estranged father Robert, and her college best friend Jessica are all relaxed and not surprised to be at dinner together. Sabrina is worried that she is either insane or dreaming.

During dinner, flashbacks show the history Sabrina has with these people and why they were added to her dinner list. However, the focus is Sabrina and Tobias’ relationship and why it ended.

I love the magical realism genre (I’m looking at you Haruki Murakami). This book has a magical atmosphere in a more realistic setting. It was innovative of the author to use an old party game as a plot driver. The conclusion is heartfelt and felt organic to the characters. Be aware that the Dinner List is sad in parts. Several of the dinner guests are dead so any revelations will be ultimately bittersweet with the knowledge unusable after the dinner ends. The Dinner List is highly recommended for fans of Me Before You and the Fault in our Stars. 5 stars!

Thanks to Flatiron Books and NetGalley for an advance copy.

Posted in Literary Fiction Tagged with: ,

Smoke City
January 22nd, 2018 by diane92345

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: , ,

Streak of Chalk
October 24th, 2017 by diane92345

With beautiful artwork and a plot that can be interpreted many ways, this is a perfect book club read.

Streak of Chalk tells the story of two strangers on a mysterious island where the only residents are the proprietor of an inn/general store and her silent adult son. There is also a lighthouse that hasn’t worked in years and a wall where graffiti has been left by previous visitors to the island.

It is difficult to even decide what genre to which this graphic novel belongs. It has elements of romance, thriller, and mystery. There is even one line that may indicate a possibly science-fiction interpretation of the plot.

Streak of Chalk definitely uses magical realism like that in the Murakami’s Wind-up Bird Chronicle. It challenges a reader’s assumptions regarding reality. The artwork is sumptuous and won several awards when this novel was originally released in 1994.

Streak of Chalk is recommended for book clubs and readers looking for a book that will engender lively discussions and thoughts well after the the last page is read. 5 stars! However, there is some nudity and sexual situations that are not appropriate for younger readers.

Thanks to the publisher, NBM Publishing, and NetGalley for an advanced review copy. Streak of Chalk was released October 1, 2017.

Posted in Graphic Novel Tagged with: