The novel's title refers to a custom observed at traditional Mexican festivals. Masks must be "danced" to have value. Of course, it also implies dangeThe novel's title refers to a custom observed at traditional Mexican festivals. Masks must be "danced" to have value. Of course, it also implies dangerous actions. Who would dare dance with a tiger? In tone and structure, author Lili Wright pays homage to Latin American magical realists such as Juan Rulfo, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Isabelle Allende. Chapters alternate various characters' points of view, building a layered narrative with overlapping detail. Wright employs refrains, such as that which occurs when a character is faced with a crucial decision. A character might see a strip of light under a door or painted lines on a highway, then: "Timeline. Tightrope. Arrow." And that character will study that light or that painted line until they make up their mind. The characters, the heroine Anna included, tend to all wax poetic, with the unifying motivation being the desire to hide, masking oneself, and to transform into something beyond oneself. While I found the imagery and navel-gazing out of balance with the action, I also enjoyed many of the characters' reflective moments. As she's lying by omission in a text to her father, Anna says, "Every liar needed exclamation points." As if exclamation points were the masks of punctuation marks. I am now curious to read the author's memoir, Learning to Float: The Journey of a Woman, a Dog, and Just Enough Men.
(I received an ARC of this novel from Penguin's First to Read program.)...more
The title from Bryn Greenwood's debut novel comes from a paragraph near the end of the book: "I liked learning things. How numbers worked together toThe title from Bryn Greenwood's debut novel comes from a paragraph near the end of the book: "I liked learning things. How numbers worked together to explain the stars. How molecules made the world. All the ugly and wonderful things people had done in the last two thousand years." The child of a meth dealer and a strung-out mother, Wavy is an ethereal creature. Parenting is completely absent, until it isn't; then it nurtures nothing but damage. As a CASA advocate for children who have fallen into the maw of Child Protective Services, I know situations like Wavy's exist. Often, children's truths are stranger than fiction, stranger even than Wavy's truth, which lies astronomically far away from other people's perceptions. The only tender, nurturing aspect of her gritty, gritty existence comes from Kellen, a tattoo-smattered gorilla of a biker dude who is 14 years Wavy's senior. Kellen, who had a rough go of childhood, too, falls in love with the girl at first sight. Despite the pedaphilic implications, their story works. The narrative unfolds in alternating viewpoints of main and secondary characters, and Greenwood does a masterful job of creating sympathetic characters -- of showing us the wonderful amidst the ugly. I found myself asking, Am I rooting for the love story of a tattooed bruiser of a biker and the way underage child of a meth dealer? Yes. Yes, I am. [I had the opportunity to read an ARC of this book, thanks to BookBrowse.com]...more
Originally published as "The Seeker" in India, this novel follows the journey of Max on his yogic quest for transcendence. A compelling story that takOriginally published as "The Seeker" in India, this novel follows the journey of Max on his yogic quest for transcendence. A compelling story that takes readers from the streets of New York and the office chairs of Wall Street to the Indian Himalayas and an ashram in drought-stricken South India, the novel will appeal to those seeking spiritual food for thought. Inspired by author Karan Bajaj's yearlong sabbatical studying yoga in a South Indian Ashram, meditating in complete silence in the Vedantic tradition in the Indian Himalayas, and living as a Buddhist Monk in a Scottish monastery, the book's three parts (Traveler, Yogi, Sage) focus on Max's pursuit of yoga, meditation, and spirituality -- selfless oneness with the universe. The yoga positions and mechanics are specifically detailed, but the writing could use polish, as many sentences are awkward, much of the dialog is stilted, and the narrative bogs down with exposition. Don't even get me started with the weirdness of the sex scenes. And in the fraught journey to the conclusion, the ending itself seemed abrupt and implausible. I'm hopeful that Karan Bajaj will write a memoir. His story is indeed a fascinating one, and one worth reading -- in any genre....more
I recieved an advanced reader copy through Penguin's First to Read program. If Jane Eyre and Dexter Morgan (TV's vigilante serial killer) had a baby inI recieved an advanced reader copy through Penguin's First to Read program. If Jane Eyre and Dexter Morgan (TV's vigilante serial killer) had a baby in the very early Victorian era, she would be Jane Steele -- which, by the way, is a fitting name indeed for this edgy, dark heroine. The novel, "a Gothic retelling of Jayne Eyre," is beautifully written, paying homage to Charlotte Bronte in tone, then riffing into a wry thriller. The story veered about 1/3 of the way through into what might be construed as a different story, but it worked for me because of familiarity with and anticipation of plot points from Jane Eyre. The author has developed well-rounded characters and woven in themes such as the significance of names, self-delusion and self-conceptualization, guilt, mercy, gallows humor, and the nature of storytelling. "I hope that the epitaph of the human race when the world ends will be: Here perished a species which lived to tell stories. We tell stories to strangers to ingratiate ourselves, stories to lovers to better adhere us skin to skin, stories in our heads to banish the demons." I recommend this book to Gothic novel fans and to readers who have yet to read Bronte's classic novel....more
This YA science fiction novel has intriguing dystopian world-building and a satisfying dose of romance. Character development suffers slightly due toThis YA science fiction novel has intriguing dystopian world-building and a satisfying dose of romance. Character development suffers slightly due to non-stop action, but this is clearly the beginning of a series, so here's hoping for a balance in subsequent books. I'd say that the author succeeded in creating anticipation for what's going to happen next to these characters....more