Coincidence Makers
March 12th, 2018 by diane92345

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: , ,

Last Equation of Isaac Severy
March 6th, 2018 by diane92345

Complex and completely different from other thrillers, the Last Equation of Isaac Severy is highly recommended.

Isaac Severy is a famous mathematician.  Now retired, he is still working on his last equation: how to use chaos theory to predict Los Angeles traffic.  As the book opens, Isaac is preparing a breakfast for two in his home. The next day Isaac is found dead in his hot tub along with a set of live Christmas lights with a single bulb crushed. His death is accepted as a suicide. At his funeral, his adopted granddaughter, Hazel, opens a cryptic note from Isaac mailed the day before his death. Isaac tells Hazel that he is only the first of three people soon to die.  He commands her to destroy the work he left behind in a mysterious room 137 and deliver his last equation to the elusive John Raspanti. Hazel is advised to not involve other members of the family or the police. Isaac states that he selected Hazel for these tasks because she would be the least likely to be suspected. He says that he cannot do the tasks himself because he is being followed.

Isaac’s note leads Hazel on a merry chase through literature, mathematics and physics. Hazel works with various family members while trying to follow the instructions in Isaac’s puzzling letter.  Neither Hazel nor the reader can identify who is a hero and who is a villain.  This book has a multitude of side plots.   What is the elusive and wealthy P. Boone Lyons after?  Why is a physicist who has been dead for sixty years attempting to contact Hazel?

Ostensibly a thriller, the family dynamics are almost more intriguing. Phillip is a tenured physics professor at CalTech.  However, his opportunities of winning a coveted Nobel prize are slipping away and his best years are behind him. Tom is released from a long prison term.  Why was he in prison and how does that relate to Hazel and Gregory’s fear of his release?

Since the family relationships are rather confusing, I created this handy family tree.

Severy_Family_Tree

Since Isaac’s work is with chaos theory, it follows that the reader truly doesn’t understand what is going on until almost the end of the book. It is reminiscent of the movie Chinatown, where there are a multitude of plot layers that don’t cohere until the end. I like that uncertainty but some may not. However, the resolution definitely is worth the wait.

The Last Equation of Isaac Severy is a brilliant tour-de-force from a debut author.  It is highly recommended to thriller readers.  It would also appeal to fans of quirky family dynamics like those in movie, The Royal Tenenbaums. 5 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, Touchstone Books, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

Posted in Diane's Favorites, Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: , , ,

Girls Burn Brighter
March 5th, 2018 by diane92345

Girls Burn Brighter is a thick flavorful soup of a novel full of the spices of India. It is also a heart wrenching tale of two poor young Indian women’s hopes, dreams and grim realities.

Young Poornima is the oldest of two sisters with a younger brother when her mother dies from cancer. Needing someone to run the other sari fabric loom, her father hires Savitha, another young woman from an even poorer family. Poornima and Savitha become best friends. When tradition and violence divides them onto separate life paths, the novel alternates their stories.

Growing up poor is harsh anywhere, but in India in 2001, female baby’s names aren’t even recorded in the village records. Within this novel, females are useless except for three things: housekeeping, sex and babies. It is an unrelentingly dark viewpoint that permeates this book. However, parts of the book show an excitement for the physical details of life: the smells, sounds and colors of India.

Girls Burn Brighter had some great pre-release reviews so I picked it up. I didn’t even know the basic plot when I began reading this book and I believe that is best. It is highly recommended literary women’s fiction. While reading its heroines’ horrifying stories, it does make your relatively insignificant problems seem petty at best. I just pray that this story is not in any way based on fact. 4 stars!

Be aware that this novel has some adult content and themes and so should be read only by adults.

Thanks to the publisher, Flatiron, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

Posted in Literary Fiction Tagged with: , ,

Dark Tales Hound of the Baskervilles
February 28th, 2018 by diane92345

The famous Sherlock Holmes story is adapted into a graphic novel.

Holmes is asked to investigate the death of Sir Charles Baskerville. Sir Charles appears to have died of fright while walking on the foggy moors near his estate. Mysterious footprints of a hound are found nearby. The locals suspect a centuries old curse on the Baskerville house is to blame for Sir Charles’ death.

Set in atmospheric Dartmoor England, Dark Tales: The Hound of the Baskervilles is one of the first psychological thrillers. This is also one of few stories where Watson gets to play detective without Holmes initial assistance. The plot lets the reader also play detective as all the clues to the conclusion are there, but not necessarily in plain sight.

The story was written in 1901 but remains relevant to today’s audiences. The Hound of the Baskervilles is usually regarded as Arthur Conan Doyle’s finest Sherlock Holmes novel. It is based on a legend surrounding a real English Squire in the 17th century.

Dark Tales: The Hound of the Baskervilles is a great way to attract new, especially younger, readers to Doyle’s intriguing plot. One note for viewers of the famous 1939 movie with Basil Rathbone, the movie added scenes particularly at the end. This graphic novel follows the book’s plot perfectly so nothing is lost in the translation.

For parents and teachers of mystery readers who are reluctant to read the original novel, this is an excellent choice. For all others, it receives 3 stars.

Thanks to the publisher, Quarto/Canterbury Classics, and NetGalley for providing an advanced copy.

Posted in Graphic Novel, Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: ,