Vanessa Diaz is the newest addition to the Catapult team. She recently left a decade-long corporate career to read and sell books all day and wonders why she didn't do it sooner! She writes for a book blog and for herself in her spare time, hoping to pen a book of her own someday.
I absolutely love books, movies, etc that take a villain and give them some a fully fleshed-out backstory, especially when that villain is a woman and the story is complex and nuanced (think Elphaba in Wicked or Maleficent). This is precisely what Madeline Miller does in Circe: she takes the witch from The Odyssey and gives her a beautiful, harrowing, complicated narrative to create a character that you feel for, root for, cry for, hope for. This is an age-old story turned stay-up-all-night page turner that I am absolutely in love with. Mythology rocks.
Victoria Schwab (aka V.E. Schwab) is one of my absolute favorite fantasy authors! She writes novels for adults as well as YA and Middle Grade fiction and all of it is just brilliant, mind-bendy, world-building perfection. I read City of Ghosts in one sitting on an airplane and was sucked right into Cass’ ghost-hunting escapades in Edinburgh. It’s both a fun page-turner and a love letter to that specific gorgeous and haunted feel of one of my favorite cities in the world.
Two students meet at a fancy New England college; Will is a transfer student who's walked away from a lifetime of religious faith and the outwardly social Phoebe is secretly crushed by guilt over her mother's recent death. The two meet and soon find themselves in a romance that is both all-consuming and lacking in depth when a mysterious religious cult draws Phoebe in with a promise of redemption. As Phoebe is increasingly lured by an extremist version of the very faith that Will has abandoned, we arrive at a dark, twisted place where desire, violence, faith, and grief all melt into one another with quiet but vicious repercussions. This is a slim debut but it explodes in just a couple of hundred pages.
Wow. Just… wow. This the story of Miguel Angel de la Cruz, a Mexican septuagenarian living out the last of his days. He decides to throw himself one big birthday party to go out with a bang when his mother passes away just days before. The story takes place over the course of just a few days as Angel’s family gathers for a “double-header” weekend, introducing readers to a diverse cast of characters who jump off the page and force you to feel. Inspired very directly by the loss of Urrea’s own brother to cancer, this beautiful, heartbreaking and hilarious novel is an homage to his brother and a very intentional middle-finger to the immigrant narratives touted by our current administration. Still sort of wondering whether Señor Urrea maybe knows some of my family members...
This book is brilliantly done - it pays homage to the mystery greats but manages not to be super predictable, a delightful blend of British cozy and contemporary mystery. This isn't exactly a short read (not that it's huge, but substantial at 500ish pages) and I devoured it in one sitting on a Sunday, sitting on the couch eating Goldfish crackers and tea (and wine, sssh) because I could not be bothered to spare time for a real meal. One of my favorite books I've read this year - gave me major Agatha Christie vibes.
This West African fantasy is set in Orisha, where the maji were rooted out and massacred by a ruthless king who feared their magic. Zélie is a diviner who has the chance to restore magic to Orisha, but she must first outrun the prince who wants nothing more than to see her and her kind dead. With her brother and a defiant pricess by her side, Zélie embarks on a quest to defeat the oppressive monarchy and harness her newly awoken magical abilites for good. The story is compeling the world-building lush and the links to contemporary cultural discssions hard to miss. This is a must-read for lovers of fantasy and anyone still chasing that Wakanda high.
First, I swear that I do indeed read stuff that's not set in England. Secondly, I recommend this book left and right because it's just such a superb example of the ridiculous prowess of the one, the only, the original queen of crime. The tale she weaves and the final reveal are nothing short of ingenious, especially when you consider how long ago she was killing the game (no pun intended). You think you know where she's going with this one and then BAM. Fooled you. All hail! -Vanessa
I probably read this twenty times when I was a kid. It is just so good! Little Claudia Kincaid decides she wants to run away, but not just anywhere: she's going to run away to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and find a way to live there. She bamboozles her little brother into going along for the ride and pulls off her master plan, and the two end up stumbling upon a headline-making mystery in the process. I've been reading mysteries (and trying to live inside a swanky museum, sssh) ever since. -Vanessa
I'll admit that I have a major soft spot for books about books, especially ones like this with a touch of mystery. Reclusive author Vida Winter is famous for a particular collection of stories where the thirteenth tale is missing. Facing the final years of her life, she's finally ready to reveal the secret of the missing story. She selects a biographer and bookseller (someone pick me for this PLEEEEASE) to tell her story to, taking readers on adventure set long ago in the English countryside. Be stil, my heart!
What would you do with your life if you knew the day you would die? This beautiful family saga begins during a New York city summer in the 60s and is told in four parts, one for each of the Gold siblings who are told the exact date on which they will die by a gypsy woman and who go on to live lives forever shaped by this knowledge. We meet Simon, a young gay man eager to explore his identity freely; Klara, a sensitive dreamer desperate to be a professional magician. Daniel, an army doctor looking for stability in his work; and Varya, a scientist looking to slow – or even stop- the effects of aging. Their story is a captivating look at the ways in which foreknowledge affects the trajectory of our lives, at the concept of fate, and of the delicate and intricate ties that bind – or sometimes don’t bind - a family.