I adored Imaginary Corpse! It is an inventive take on a noir private investigator plot using a fantasy setting.
The Stillreal is where ideas that are too real go when their creator abruptly sends them away. Tippy is a stuffed dinosaur who solves crime in the Stillreal. However, even he is perplexed when Spindleman is beaten to “death” by The Man in the Coat. The problem is ideas can’t be killed in Stillreal, they quickly regenerate. When Spindleman doesn’t, Tippy must investigate.
Wow, I love this clever book! I admit I requested this book more for curiosity than for a great plot. I was surprised by the author’s ability to suspend my initial skepticism by chapter two.
All the noir details are here. Tippy has a root beer problem and drinks it out of a flask. He reads Encyclopedia Brown, the real children’s detective series that started my love of mysteries. Despite being a stuffed dinosaur, Tippy is a fully fleshed-out character haunted by his person’s rejection of him and the rain that caused that rejection.
Setting it in an It’s a Small World-level childhood dream is a brilliant counterpoint to the usually depressing noir world. Who doesn’t love the concept that beloved ideas live elsewhere after their creators abandon them?
Don’t worry that the Imaginary Corpse will be too kitschy. It will suck you into its universe quickly. If you have read one too many standard mysteries or noirs and feel like a palate cleanser, please take a chance on this book. You won’t be sorry. 5 stars and one of my favorite books of 2019!
Thanks to Angry Robot and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in Diane's Favorites, Fantasy, Humor, Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: Noir, Sep 10 2019
Narasumas, Applelonia, and some giant colorful rabbits traipse around a snowy fantasy land in Divine Intervention.
I wanted to like this female led graphic novel fantasy. However, the lettering was so distracting and the story so confusing that unfortunately I did not. Who notices lettering? I never did until reading this tale. Or maybe it was just too much of it? I don’t know but I can’t recommend Divine Intervention. 2 stars.
08Thanks to BHC Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in Fantasy, Graphic Novel, New Books Tagged with: Aug 8 2019
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: Jul 23 2019, magical realism, mythology
Who wouldn’t want to help their favorite fictional characters escape from the books that entrap them? Even with the occasional blunder like the Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep, a villain from Dicken’s David Copperfield, being a summoner still sounds fun.
However, when Charley realizes he is not the only summoner in the world, he and his quite normal brother must fight the other to protect the world from its most famous literary villains.
While I don’t have a PhD in English Literature like the author, I enjoyed this romp through British classics. I recognized most of the literary characters—even if some were met in graphic novels based on famous books. The book only references older works so no need to worry about wishing Hannibal Lector upon the world. My favorite part of the Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep was the dynamics of the sibling rivalry and loyalty between the brothers. Overall, an excellent choice for Victorian book nerds and readers everywhere who would like to hang out with their favorite characters if only for an evening. 4 stars!
Thanks to Redhook Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in Fantasy, Literary Fiction, Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: books, Jul 23 2019
David is having a bad day. First, he confesses his love to a co-worker. Her response is that she is engaged to the very co-worker that encouraged him to express his love. Second, he is crushed by a falling piano. High Heaven is the story of how even heaven disappoints David on this horrible day.
Initially, David is surprised and relieved to be let into heaven by Saint Peter. However, he then sees his “mansion” that looks more like a jail cell and smells strongly of ammonia. The only food on offer is generic cheese crackers and feathers are floating everywhere. When David complains, constantly, he is ostracized by the other residents.
High Heaven is a good idea that needs fleshing out. There is a need to enlarge the characterizations and explain the why behind some of the characters’ decisions. Unfortunately, this is the entire series’ run so I will never find the answers I seek. Therefore, this book gets only 3 stars.
Thanks to Ahoy Comics and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in Fantasy, Graphic Novel, New Books Tagged with: Jul 2 2019
In Soul Remains, the hapless and unlucky accountant, Sloot, is still trying to save his beloved city, Salzstadt, from everything bad. Everything bad now includes the walking dead and goblin multitudes plus the increasingly bizarre inability of city residents to see that anything is wrong.
You can’t keep Sloot down. Though he was killed at the end of the previous book in this series, he is back as a ghost. That doesn’t stop Sloot from being just as willing (and unfortunately incompetent) to save his city and the Dominator, long may he reign. The Dominator, in the meantime, has disappeared.
Readers will either laugh along with the puns and humor here and have a great time…or not. The best way to tell is by determining if you think Monty Python and/or A Fish Called Wanda is laugh-out-loud funny. If so, you will enjoy this deep dive into the creatively weird world of Sloot and the Old Country as much as I did. Soul Remains is highly recommended to those who enjoy something completely different. 4 stars!
Thanks to Black Spot Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in Fantasy, Humor, New Books Tagged with: Apr 23 2019, series
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 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