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Agave Blues by Ruthie Marlenée is a Kobo Plus Bookish Event pick #koboplus #literaryfiction #magicalrealism #hispanicamericanliterature #giveaway

Title: Agave Blues


Author: Ruthie Marlenée


Genre: Literary Fiction/ Magical Realism/Hispanic American Literature & Fiction


Book Blurb:


Mix together a little family, drama, ghosts and Tequila and you come up with a one hell of a cocktail!




Standing at the border, breathing in the field, I suddenly missed this place, like I’d missed a favorite cousin. And then when a small dove landed on the tip of an agave plant, I stepped a little closer, but the bird took off deeper into the field. Dwarfed by agave on either side, I chased the dove, remembering how I would run through here as a child with my cousin, Gabriel.


When I came to a slight peak in the meadow, I stopped. Hands on my knees, I lifted my head, gulping in more air. The sounds of children squealing pierced the wind but when I looked all around, I was alone. As I took in the view across to the north, like a valley of death, I felt my eyes go wide, goose bumps erupting on my arms. What used to be rows of thriving agave were now just shriveled plants in dirt choked by weeds. Beyond the edge of the field, scrubby mesquites and ancient oak trees dotted the landscape. Further out, I could see a dried-up riverbed where a couple of emaciated‑looking cows grazed. I rubbed my arms and then reached into my pocket to pull out the picture from Papá’s wallet. I held it out in front of me. The river used to be full. I felt a twinge in my stomach, steeling myself for the pain to follow. But, incredibly, nothing ached.


Stretched before me was the exact panoramic view where my father had taken my picture as a girl. I could almost see myself running toward the camera, legs thin as churros caked in red cinnamon powder, twin braids flying in the wind.


“Papá,” I whispered now and then cleared my throat as I continued to wander back through the rows of agave.


The ancient sky above this part of the field seemed to sparkle with more sapphire and certainly bluer than any sky I’d ever seen in Los Angeles. The dew on the tips of agave glistened like liquid sugar drops. The heart of the field pulsed with life. Insects appeared larger—butterflies more vibrant. Bees buzzed boisterously. The belly of the field was sweet and incandescent, like a child’s birthday cake topped with a generous arrangement of candles.


An orchestra of sound vibrated through me, infusing me with warmth penetrating my being, dulling my pain—like a good Tequila. I twirled slowly, so enthralled by my surroundings. Another dove joined the first one, and I followed them both deeper into the field until, out of nowhere, I came up behind a man seated in front of a short easel and a canvas.


I stopped in my tracks, taking a moment to watch him paint. With his back to me, I strained to peek over his shoulder. He sat barefoot and cross-legged and I could see that he had a reedy frame draped with a loose, gauzy linen-colored tunic and drawstring pants. His head full of obsidian-colored hair gleamed halo-like in the sun. Staring at the canvas, I sucked in a quiet breath when I noticed no brush gliding across the painting—no hands involved in the creation bleeding onto the work. Shaking my head, I squeezed my eyes shut, but quickly re-opened them. And then before I could try to make sense of what unfolded before my very eyes, and as if sensing my presence, without turning around, the man said, “Come closer, Maya.”


Mind scrambled now like a kaleidoscope of vividly colored emotions, I stammered. “I’m so sorry. I just—hey—how did you know my—that it was me?”


The young man remained seated, turning his head slowly. Seemingly, ageless, genderless, he beamed as radiantly as Buddha, himself. And as he tilted his head back to look up at me, I peered at him, mesmerized, almost able to see his soul. I saw the field weaving through his blue-green eyes and at once I could see myself as a child running through that field hand-in-hand with my cousin, giggling like raindrops.


“Oh my God. Gabriel you’re all grown up,” I said, quickly distracted by the sound of a child laughing. I looked all around and then turned back toward him.


“Do you still paint?” my cousin asked me in a voice so delicate I feared he might crack if I answered too loudly.


I heard the child again and cocked my head slightly. “Not anymore. I’ve lost the touch—don’t you hear that?”


“Yes, I hear her.” He paused and returned to his work. “It’s all in the brushes.”


I walked over and picked up one of his brushes, examined it, then put it to my ear. “The brushes?”


“The touch, the strokes,” Gabriel said quietly, dabbing on some paint from his pallet this time using a brush.


As I looked closer, I kept seeing things, like a hidden picture quality where you see something, then look again, and then you don’t see it. There was an underpainting in turquoise, giving it a glowing backlit feeling. He’d layered so much paint, very thin, like washes, so fine and translucent that I could see the layer underneath. I noticed the intricacies of the agave plant he painted—small insects crawling across the points, clouds floating lazily across the sky. And then as the clouds overhead drifted by, the painting took on a different look in the different light. In one moment, the dominant color glowed a teal green, luminous, as if being lit from behind. And then in the next moment, the red tones came to the fore, glowing garnet. Peering closer at the agave plant, I gasped. In the gathering dew, I saw a distorted reflection of my own face and held my breath. This painting was alive.


“Oh my God! Is this one of those magic fields like in Field of Dreams or something?”


“This is a field of reality,” he answered, matter-of-factly.


I opened my mouth to ask another question, but the sound of a braying burro sidetracked me.


“You heard that, right?” I asked, craning my head.


“Of course,” Gabriel, responded never lifting his head. “Chuey and Don Pio.”


Buy Links (including Goodreads and BookBub):







What makes your featured book a must-read?  


Especially during Women’s Month, this is a must-read about a resilient woman and a Latina, a devoted mother and daughter navigating the world of Tequila which historically has been dominated by men.


Sometimes, la sangre atrae and when Maya gets the call to go back to her agave roots to claim the body of her long-missing father, her world changes forever.

 Set against the backdrop of her childhood in Mexico, Agave Blues is the story of ailing attorney Maya, in a broken relationship and butting heads with her teenage daughter, Lily. Maya swore never to return, but once she sets foot on the mystical grounds, she uncovers her family's turbulent history and how Tequila has blurred deep secrets that have altered her life, both emotionally and physically.

 She realizes what's missing in her life―magic, mystery, art, unconditional love, and the truth of her past. The fields seem to heal her and her relationships, so she extends her stay and reconnects with her family. But when she encounters the handsome yet haunted Antonio, a childhood crush resurfaces, only to cause her more grief as she tries to master the art of the Tequila business.


Giveaway –


Enter to win a $15 Kobo or Amazon gift card:



Open Internationally. 


Runs March 5 – March 11, 2024.


Winner will be drawn on March 12, 2024.


Author Biography:


Ruthie Marlenée is a native Californian with Mexican roots now residing in the desert of the Coachella Valley. Marlenée earned a Writers’ Certificate in Fiction from UCLA and is the author of Isabela’s Island, Curse of the Ninth, nominated for a James Kirkwood Literary Prize and Agave Blues, which received an Honorable Mention by the International Latino Book Awards for the Isabel Allende Most Inspirational Fiction Book Award. Her writing has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize. She is a member of Macondo Writers Workshop, Inlandia Institute, Palm Springs Writers Guild, and a WriteGirl Mentor.


Her poetry and short stories can be found in various publications, including Shark Reef, The Coiled Serpent Anthology, So To Speak, Detour Ahead, What They Leave Behind: A Latinx Anthology, Silver Birch Press, Slow Lightning: Impractical Poetry and Writing From Inlandia. She’s received awards for her screenplays from the Women’s International Film Festival, the Oaxaca Film Festival, Carmesi International Fest, Santa Barbara International Screenplay Awards and the Mexico International Film Festival.


Social Media Links:


Instagram  ruthiemarlenee

1 Comment

N. N. Light
N. N. Light
Mar 08

Thank you, Ruthie, for sharing your book in our Kobo Plus Bookish Event!

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