Sunday, February 16, 2020

What is Robert Dugoni reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Robert Dugoni, author of A Cold Trail (Tracy Crosswhite #7).

His entry begins:
I just finished reading The Rescue by Steven Konkoly and I loved the way he wove in multiple story lines and his fresh take on a man wrongly convicted who gets out of prison and has to prove himself innocent against tremendous obstacles. Steven wove into the story the Russian Mafia, The FBI and US Senators, and...[read on]
About A Cold Trail, from the publisher:
In New York Times bestselling author Robert Dugoni’s riveting series, Seattle homicide detective Tracy Crosswhite returns home to a brutal murder and her haunted past.

The last time homicide detective Tracy Crosswhite was in Cedar Grove, it was to see her sister’s killer put behind bars. Now she’s returned for a respite and the chance to put her life back in order for herself, her attorney husband, Dan, and their new daughter. But tragic memories soon prove impossible to escape.

Dan is drawn into representing a local merchant whose business is jeopardized by the town’s revitalization. And Tracy is urged by the local PD to put her own skills to work on a new case: the brutal murder of a police officer’s wife and local reporter who was investigating a cold-case slaying of a young woman. As Tracy’s and Dan’s cases crisscross, Tracy’s trail becomes dangerous. It’s stirring up her own haunted past and a decades-old conspiracy in Cedar Grove that has erupted in murder. Getting to the truth is all that matters. But what’s Tracy willing to risk as a killer gets closer to her and threatens everyone she loves?
Visit Robert Dugoni's website and Facebook page.

The Page 69 Test: Wrongful Death.

The Page 69 Test: Bodily Harm.

My Book, The Movie: Bodily Harm.

The Page 69 Test: Murder One.

My Book, The Movie: Murder One.

My Book, The Movie: The Eighth Sister.

Writers Read: Robert Dugoni (April 2019).

The Page 69 Test: The Eighth Sister.

My Book, The Movie: A Cold Trail.

The Page 69 Test: A Cold Trail.

Writers Read: Robert Dugoni.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Josh Seim's "Bandage, Sort, and Hustle"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Bandage, Sort, and Hustle: Ambulance Crews on the Front Lines of Urban Suffering by Josh Seim.

About the book, from the publisher:
What is the role of the ambulance in the American city? The prevailing narrative provides a rather simple answer: saving and transporting the critically ill and injured. This is not an incorrect description, but it is incomplete.

Drawing on field observations, medical records, and his own experience as a novice emergency medical technician, sociologist Josh Seim reimagines paramedicine as a frontline institution for governing urban suffering. Bandage, Sort, and Hustle argues that the ambulance is part of a fragmented regime that is focused more on neutralizing hardships (which are disproportionately carried by poor people and people of color) than on eradicating the root causes of agony. Whether by compressing lifeless chests on the streets or by transporting the publicly intoxicated into the hospital, ambulance crews tend to handle suffering bodies near the bottom of the polarized metropolis.

Seim illustrates how this work puts crews in recurrent, and sometimes tense, contact with the emergency department nurses and police officers who share their clientele. These street-level relations, however, cannot be understood without considering the bureaucratic and capitalistic forces that control and coordinate ambulance labor from above. Beyond the ambulance, this book motivates a labor-centric model for understanding the frontline governance of down-and-out populations.
Learn more about Bandage, Sort, and Hustle, and follow Josh Seim on Twitter.

The Page 99 Test: Bandage, Sort, and Hustle.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top books on social mobility

Hashi Mohamed is a barrister and broadcaster based in London, England.

He arrived in Britain aged nine, as an unaccompanied child refugee. He attended some of Britain’s worst schools and was raised exclusively on state benefits. Yet today he is a successful barrister, with an Oxford degree and a CV that includes numerous appearances on the BBC.

In his debut book People Like Us: What it Takes to Make it in Modern Britain, Mohamed explores what his own experience can tell us about social mobility in Britain today.

At the Waterstones blog, he tagged five notable books on social mobility, Including:
Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah

Noah’s experiences growing up in South Africa as a child of a black mother and white father may seem quite far from my own experience. But his observations and conversations with his mother about his father were powerful. The need to reconcile, understand, digest and ultimately be at peace with the fact of an absent father is crucial to many people’s social mobility journey.

Whether it means finding your father for the first time, re-establishing a relationship, or learning to live with their absence, you have to do it to be able to move on with your life. On this, I am with the mother of comedian Trevor Noah. Noah, who is mixed-race, was brought up in apartheid South Africa, and born at a time when interracial relationships were still a crime. His father wasn’t around during his childhood, and when he was twenty-four, over his own protests, his mother told him:

‘Too many men grow up without their fathers, so they spend their lives with a false impression of who their father is and what a father should be. You need to find your father. You need to show him what you’ve become. You need to finish that story.'
Read about another entry on the list.

Born a Crime is among Brian Boone's five hilarious Thurber Prize-winning reads and Keith Rice's ten best books on South Africa.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Alyssa Palombo's "The Borgia Confessions," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Borgia Confessions: A Novel by Alyssa Palombo.

The entry begins:
I, for one, would love to see The Borgia Confessions on the big screen (or the small screen, should some network or streaming service want to adapt it!) and as such have thought about who I would envision playing some of the characters. There are a lot of characters in this book, so my picks for a few of the main ones are below:

Maddalena Moretti – Sophie Turner

I’m a big Game of Thrones fan, and I loved Sophie Turner’s portrayal of Sansa Stark, and the way she grew the character over the eight seasons of the show. I think for that reason that she would make a great Maddalena, and she definitely looks the part for me!

Cesare Borgia – Francois Arnaud

Okay, so this is cheating, because...[read on]
Visit Alyssa Palombo's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Violinist of Venice.

The Page 69 Test: The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence.

My Book, The Movie: The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel.

My Book, The Movie: The Borgia Confessions.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Mary Beth Norton's "1774: The Long Year of Revolution"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: 1774: The Long Year of Revolution by Mary Beth Norton.

About the book, from the publisher:
From one of our most acclaimed and original colonial historians, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, 2018 president of the American Historical Association, a groundbreaking book–the first to look at the critical “long year” of 1774 and the revolutionary change that took place from December 1773 to mid-April 1775, from the Boston Tea Party and the first Continental Congress to the Battles of Lexington and Concord.

This masterly work of historical writing, Mary Beth Norton’s first in almost a decade, looks at the sixteen months during which the traditional loyalists to King George III began their discordant “discussions” that led to their acceptance of the inevitability of war against the British Empire and to the clashes at Lexington and Concord in mid-April 1775.

Drawing extensively on pamphlets, newspapers, and personal correspondence, Norton reconstructs colonial political discourse as it happened, showing the vigorous campaign mounted by conservatives criticizing congressional actions. But by then it was too late. In early 1775, governors throughout the colonies informed colonial officials in London that they were unable to thwart the increasing power of the committees and their allied provincial congresses. Although the Declaration of Independence would not be formally adopted until July 1776, Americans, even before the outbreak of war in April 1775, had in effect “declared independence” by obeying the decrees of their new provincial governments rather than colonial officials.

The much-anticipated new book by one of America’s most dazzling historians–the culmination of more than four decades of Norton’s research and thought.
Visit Mary Beth Norton's faculty webpage.

The Page 99 Test: 1774: The Long Year of Revolution.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven top books from the end of the world

Tosca Lee is the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of The Line Between, The House of Bathory Duology (The Progeny, Firstborn), Iscariot, The Legend of Sheba, Demon: A Memoir, Havah: The Story of Eve, and the Books of Mortals series with New York Times bestseller Ted Dekker.

A notorious night-owl, she loves watching TV, eating bacon, playing video games with her kids, and sending cheesy texts to her husband. You can find Tosca hanging around the snack table or wherever bacon is served.

A Single Light, a sequel to The Line Between, is now available.

At CrimeReads, Lee tagged seven top apocalyptic reads, including:
After the Flood

Fellow Nebraskan Kassandra Montag’s 2019 debut story takes place over a century in the future after the world has been transformed into a vast scape of open water, an archipelago of mountaintops the only land above sea level. Myra and her young daughter, Pearl, embark on a dangerous journey to find the older daughter Myra believed to be dead but learns may still be alive. A Chicago Tribune Best Book of the Year.
Read about another entry on the list.

My Book, The Movie: After the Flood.

The Page 69 Test: After the Flood.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 14, 2020

Pg. 69: Lani Forbes's "The Seventh Sun"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Seventh Sun by Lani Forbes.

About the book, from the publisher:
Thrust into leadership upon the death of his emperor father, young Prince Ahkin feels completely unready for his new position. Though his royal blood controls the power of the sun, he’s now responsible for the lives of all the Chicome people. And despite all Ahkin’s efforts, the sun is fading—and the end of the world may be at hand.

For Mayana, the only daughter of the Chicome family whose blood controls the power of water, the old emperor’s death may mean that she is next. Prince Ahkin must be married before he can ascend the throne, and Mayana is one of six noble daughters presented to him as a possible wife. Those who are not chosen will be sacrificed to the gods.

Only one girl can become Ahkin’s bride. Mayana and Ahkin feel an immediate connection, but the gods themselves may be against them. Both recognize that the ancient rites of blood that keep the gods appeased may be harming the Chicome more than they help. As a bloodred comet and the fading sun bring a growing sense of dread, only two young people may hope to change their world.

Rich in imagination and romance, and based on the legends and history of the Aztec and Maya people, The Seventh Sun brings to vivid life a world on the edge of apocalyptic disaster.
Visit Lani Fobes's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Seventh Sun.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven books that blur the lines between living and dead

Jess Kidd is the award-winning author of Himself, Mr. Flood’s Last Resort, and Things in Jars. She has a PhD in creative writing from St. Mary’s University in London. She grew up as part of a large family from Ireland’s County Mayo and now lives in London with her daughter. Her first book, Himself, was shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards.

At Lit Hub, Kidd tagged seven favorite ghost stories, including:
Gabriel Garcia Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

Spanning generations and set in the fictional town of Macondo, this vast, sprawling, vivid feast of a book offers an all-pervasive variety of magical realism. With a strong flavor of the tall tale, the mundane meets the miraculous as complex lives and events unravel. Histories are set to repeat, as well as family traits and even the core character names are recycled. Fantastical happenings abound, amid wider historical shifts and ghosts serve as persistent reminders of the past.
Read about another entry on the list.

One Hundred Years of Solitude made James Reith's list of five of the greatest second novels ever written, Amor Towles's six favorite books list, Samantha Mabry's list of five books that carry curses, Sameer Rahim's list of five essential works by Gabriel García Márquez, Isabel Allende's list of six favorite books, Sara Jonsson's list of five books to read when you can't go to sleep, Juan Gabriel Vásquez's five best list of novels about South America, Pushpinder Khaneka's list of three of the best books on Colombia, Michael Jacobs's list of the top ten Colombian stories, Simon Mason's top ten list of fictional families and Rebecca Stott's five best list of historical novels. It is one of Lynda Bellingham's six best books, Walter Mosley's five favorite books, Eric Kraft's five most important books, and James Patterson's five most important books.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Constance Sayers reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Constance Sayers, author of A Witch in Time.

Her entry begins:
Back in 2017, Philipp Meyer was featured in a "By the Book" interview in the New York Times. He is one of my favorite writers—American Rust and The Son were magnificent. What struck me so much about this interview was how he structured his reading based on what he needed to do that day for writing. If he needed character development, he’d start with Virginia Woolf or if it was dialogue, Richard Pace. Quite brilliantly, Meyer likened reading for a writer to the way athletes condition their bodies. I have kept that interview with me since and follow it pretty faithfully. My reading list is prescriptive in that I often tend to read what I think I’m lacking in my own writing.

So, right now, I’m trying to think quite a bit about nostalgia for my next book and I happened upon The Great Concert of the Night by Jonathan Buckley. It follows a man whose love, an actress, has died. Through her performances and every little thing that reminds him of her (from the way she would read to the way she smelled), he commits a year of his diary entries to fully exploring their relationship, its shortcomings and his grief at losing her. Lush and heartbreaking, the book is...[read on]
About A Witch in Time, from the publisher:
A young witch is cursed to relive a doomed love affair through many lifetimes, as both troubled muse and frustrated artist, in this haunting debut novel.

Helen Lambert has lived several lives-a young piano virtuoso in 1890s Paris, an actress in 1930’s Hollywood, a rock star in 1970s Los Angeles-only she doesn’t know it. Until she meets a strange man who claims he’s watched over her for centuries, bound to her from the beginning.

At first, Helen doesn’t believe him. Her life is as normal as any other modern career woman’s. Then she begins having vivid dreams about ill-fated love and lives cut short.

Caught in a curse, Helen will be forced to relive the same tragic events that ruined her previous lives. But with each rebirth, she’s developed uncanny powers. And as the most powerful version of herself, Helen must find a way to break the curse before her time runs out.

A Witch in Time is a bewitching tale of passion, reincarnation and magic perfect for fans of A Secret History of Witches and Outlander.
Visit Constance Sayers's website.

My Book, The Movie: A Witch in Time.

The Page 69 Test: A Witch in Time.

Writers Read: Constance Sayers.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Ten of the finest literary romances ever told

Ceri Radford grew up in Swansea, studied English literature and French at Cambridge and started her career with Reuters. She has since written about books, TV, culture, society, male strippers and many other things besides for publications including The Daily Telegraph, the Times Literary Supplement, and Red Magazine.

Her first novel is A Surrey State of Affairs (AKA) Constance Harding’s (Rather) Startling Year.

At the Independent (UK), Radford tagged ten of the greatest love stories in literature, including:
The Rosie Project, by Graeme Simsion

Let’s start with something light: a successful relationship usually means adjusting to how someone else sees the world. This is more of a challenge when that someone is Don Tillman, who cooks exactly the same thing every week according to The Standardised Meal System, calculates everyone’s BMI on first glance, and decides to find a wife by distributing a questionnaire. Enter chaos in the form of Rosie, who meets none of the criteria but nonetheless, well, ticks his box. Beneath the fun and the fluff there is a quietly profound exploration of the assumptions around autism and what it means to have an atypical – or a typical – brain.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Rosie Project is among Mark Skinner's twenty great contemporary love stories, McKenzie Jean-Philippe's twenty greatest ever romance novels, Martha Greengrass's ten books for fans of Gail Honeyman's debut novel Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, Jemma Forte's top ten books about love, and Bill Gates's nine favorite books.

My Book, The Movie: The Rosie Project.

The Page 69 Test: The Rosie Project.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Marla R. Miller's "Entangled Lives"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Entangled Lives: Labor, Livelihood, and Landscapes of Change in Rural Massachusetts by Marla R. Miller.

About the book, from the publisher:
What was women's work truly like in late eighteenth-century America, and what does it tell us about the gendered social relations of labor in the early republic? In Entangled Lives, Marla R. Miller examines the lives of Anglo-, African, and Native American women in one rural New England community—Hadley, Massachusetts—during the town's slow transformation following the Revolutionary War. Peering into the homes, taverns, and farmyards of Hadley, Miller offers readers an intimate history of the working lives of these women and their vital role in the local economy.

Miller, a longtime resident of Hadley, follows a handful of eighteenth-century women working in a variety of occupations: domestic service, cloth making, health and healing, and hospitality. She asks about the social openings and opportunities this work created—and the limitations it placed on ordinary lives. Her compelling stories about women's everyday work, grounded in the material culture, built environment, and landscapes of rural western Massachusetts, reveal the larger economic networks in which Hadley operated and the subtle shifts that accompanied the emergence of the middle class in that rural community. Ultimately, this book shows how work differentiated not only men and woman but also race and class as Miller follows young, mostly white women working in domestic service, African American women negotiating labor in enslavement and freedom, and women of the rural gentry acting as both producers and employers.

Engagingly written and featuring fascinating characters, the book deftly takes us inside a society and shows us how it functions. Offering an intervention into larger conversations about local history, microhistory, and historical scholarship, Entangled Lives is a revealing journey through early America.
Learn more about Entangled Lives at the Johns Hopkins University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Betsy Ross and the Making of America.

The Page 99 Test: Entangled Lives.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten novels to reconfigure our conception of nature for the better

Michael Christie is the author of the novel If I Fall, If I Die, which was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Kirkus Prize, was selected as a New York Times Editors' Choice Pick, and was on numerous best-of 2015 lists. His linked collection of stories, The Beggar's Garden, was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, shortlisted for the Writers' Trust Prize for Fiction, and won the Vancouver Book Award. His essays and book reviews have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Globe & Mail.

Greenwood, his most recent novel, was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize.

At the Guardian, Christie tagged ten top works of eco-fiction, including:
The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Though the exact cause of the calamity that necessitates all kinds of scrabbling barbarism remains unclear, its human ramifications are described with ruthless specificity. In an interview, McCarthy later claimed that he imagined the disaster as the aftermath of a comet strike, but I don’t buy it. This is eco-fiction through and through. And now that I’m a father, I can’t help but read The Road as an ode to parenting in a fallen world; to sighting the disaster that you hope your children won’t have to face, but know deep-down they will and must. Regularly I have my own Road-type conversations with my sons: “Why do we buy gas if it’s destroying our planet, Dad?” “Because I need to get to work.” “Then why don’t you work somewhere closer to our house?” and on it goes. I mean really, what’s the best way to tell a child that this wondrous world they’ve just come to know is hurtling towards ruin?
Read about another entry on the list.

The Road appears on Emily Temple's list of the ten books that defined the 2000s, Ceridwen Christensen's list of ten novels that end their apocalypses on a beach, Steph Post's top ten list of classic (and perhaps not so classic) road trip books, a list of five of the best climate change novels, Claire Fuller's top five list of extreme survival stories, Justin Cronin's top ten list of world-ending novels, Rose Tremain's six best books list, Ian McGuire's ten top list of adventure novels, Alastair Bruce's top ten list of books about forgetting, Jeff Somers's lists of five science fiction novels that really should be considered literary classics and eight good, bad, and weird dad/child pairs in science fiction and fantasy, Amelia Gray's ten best dark books list, Weston Williams's top fifteen list of books with memorable dads, ShortList's roundup of the twenty greatest dystopian novels, Mary Miller's top ten list of the best road books, Joel Cunningham's list of eleven "literary" novels that include elements of science fiction, fantasy or horror, Claire Cameron's list of five favorite stories about unlikely survivors, Isabel Allende's six favorite books list, the Telegraph's list of the 15 most depressing books, Joseph D’Lacey's top ten list of horror books, the Barnes & Noble Review's list of five unforgettable fathers from fiction, Ken Jennings's list of eight top books about parents and kids, Anthony Horowitz's top ten list of apocalypse books, Karen Thompson Walker's list of five notable "What If?" books, John Mullan's list of ten of the top long walks in literature, Tony Bradman's top ten list of father and son stories, Ramin Karimloo's six favorite books list, Jon Krakauer's five best list of books about mortality and existential angst, William Skidelsky's list of the top ten most vivid accounts of being marooned in literature, Liz Jensen's top 10 list of environmental disaster stories, the Guardian's list of books to change the climate, David Nicholls' top ten list of literary tear jerkers, and the Times (of London) list of the 100 best books of the decade. In 2009 Sam Anderson of New York magazine claimed "that we'll still be talking about [The Road] in ten years."

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

What is Joanna Schaffhausen reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Joanna Schaffhausen, author of All the Best Lies: A Mystery.

Her entry begins:
One book I read recently was The 7 and ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, by Stuart Turton. This was a breakout book and a debut, a rare feat, so it’s interesting to read with an eye to how Turton fashioned a bestseller. First off, the title is so intriguing, right? What’s half a death? Who dies more than once? Second, the plot is fun and easy to describe: it’s “Quantum Leap” meets Agatha Christie as our narrator jumps from one body to another, doomed to repeat a single day until he can solve the murder of Evelyn Hardcastle. Finally, the puzzle aspect of the story is...[read on]
About All the Best Lies, from the publisher:
FBI agent Reed Markham is haunted by one painful unsolved mystery: who murdered his mother? Camilla was brutally stabbed to death more than forty years ago while baby Reed lay in his crib mere steps away. The trail went so cold that the Las Vegas Police Department has given up hope of solving the case. But then a shattering family secret changes everything Reed knows about his origins, his murdered mother, and his powerful adoptive father, state senator Angus Markham. Now Reed has to wonder if his mother's killer is uncomfortably close to home.

Unable to trust his family with the details of his personal investigation, Reed enlists his friend, suspended cop Ellery Hathaway, to join his quest in Vegas. Ellery has experience with both troubled families and diabolical murderers, having narrowly escaped from each of them. She's eager to skip town, too, because her own father, who abandoned her years ago, is suddenly desperate to get back in contact. He also has a secret that could change her life forever, if Ellery will let him close enough to hear it.

Far from home and relying only on each other, Reed and Ellery discover young Camilla had snared the attention of dangerous men, any of whom might have wanted to shut her up for good. They start tracing his twisted family history, knowing the path leads back to a vicious killer—one who has been hiding in plain sight for forty years and isn't about to give up now.
Visit Joanna Schaffhausen's website.

The Page 69 Test: All the Best Lies.

Writers Read: Joanna Schaffhausen.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Constance Sayers's "A Witch in Time"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: A Witch in Time by Constance Sayers.

About the book, from the publisher:
A young witch is cursed to relive a doomed love affair through many lifetimes, as both troubled muse and frustrated artist, in this haunting debut novel.

Helen Lambert has lived several lives-a young piano virtuoso in 1890s Paris, an actress in 1930’s Hollywood, a rock star in 1970s Los Angeles-only she doesn’t know it. Until she meets a strange man who claims he’s watched over her for centuries, bound to her from the beginning.

At first, Helen doesn’t believe him. Her life is as normal as any other modern career woman’s. Then she begins having vivid dreams about ill-fated love and lives cut short.

Caught in a curse, Helen will be forced to relive the same tragic events that ruined her previous lives. But with each rebirth, she’s developed uncanny powers. And as the most powerful version of herself, Helen must find a way to break the curse before her time runs out.

A Witch in Time is a bewitching tale of passion, reincarnation and magic perfect for fans of A Secret History of Witches and Outlander.
Visit Constance Sayers's website.

My Book, The Movie: A Witch in Time.

The Page 69 Test: A Witch in Time.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Joshua O. Reno's "Military Waste"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Military Waste: The Unexpected Consequences of Permanent War Readiness by Joshua O. Reno.

About the book, from the publisher:
World War III has yet to happen, and yet material evidence of this conflict is strewn everywhere: resting at the bottom of the ocean, rusting in deserts, and floating in near-Earth orbit.

In Military Waste, Joshua O. Reno offers a unique analysis of the costs of American war preparation through an examination of the lives and stories of American civilians confronted with what is left over and cast aside when a society is permanently ready for war. Using ethnographic and archival research, Reno demonstrates how obsolete military junk in its various incarnations affects people and places far from the battlegrounds that are ordinarily associated with warfare. Using a broad swath of examples—from excess planes, ships, and space debris that fall into civilian hands, to the dispossessed and polluted island territories once occupied by military bases, to the militarized masculinities of mass shooters—Military Waste reveals the unexpected and open-ended relationships that non-combatants on the home front form with a nation permanently ready for war.
Learn more about Military Waste at the University of California Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Waste Away.

The Page 99 Test: Military Waste.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eight top crime novels about people haunted by their pasts

Harry Dolan's latest novel is The Good Killer.

At CrimeReads he tagged eight compelling crime "stories of people who can’t escape their histories, no matter how much they may want to," including:
Karin Slaughter, Pretty Girls

Family history also lies at the heart of Karin Slaughter’s novel Pretty Girls, which revolves around a pair of sisters, Claire and Lydia. As teenagers growing up in Atlanta, the two girls experienced a heart-breaking tragedy: the disappearance of their older sister, Julia. From that point, their lives diverged. Lydia turned to drugs and petty crime; Claire married Paul Scott, a wealthy businessman, hoping he would take care of her. Years later, as the novel opens, Claire and Paul’s marriage seems to be a happy one. They meet for drinks at a bar and afterward duck into an alley for a playful make-out session. There they encounter a thief with a knife, and Paul, trying to protect Claire, is stabbed to death before her very eyes. After the funeral, as she’s looking through Paul’s effects, Claire discovers a cache of violent pornography on his computer: videos of young women being tortured and killed. The police are unhelpful, claiming that the videos look staged, but to Claire they seem real, and they lead her to doubt everything she thought she knew about her husband. She confides in her estranged sister Lydia, and the two of them set out to uncover Paul’s secrets, eventually coming to believe that he had a part in Julia’s long-ago disappearance. Slaughter builds the tension expertly, throwing in a series of twists and revelations that lead to an action-packed finale.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Constance Sayers's "A Witch in Time," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: A Witch in Time by Constance Sayers.

The entry begins:
I love this exercise! In college, I took a bunch of film and screenwriting classes. I’ve heard that A Witch in Time has a distinctly cinematic feel, which probably is something I did intentionally from all the years of writing scripts. I tend to always “see” my books as films as I write them.

When I’m writing, I have an idea of someone inhabiting the character—usually an actor. For the character of Luke Varner, it was always, always Canadian actor Callum Keith Rennie circa his Lew Ashby portrayal on Californication. He has that gritty appeal that I think any actor playing Luke needs. Another actor who I think could be a fabulous Luke is Tim Rozon who plays Doc Holliday on Syfy’s Wynonna Earp.

Now, the Juliet/Nora/Sandra/Helen character is a very interesting casting problem. For...[read on]
Visit Constance Sayers's website.

My Book, The Movie: A Witch in Time.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Tiffany Tsao reading?

Featured at Writers Reads: Tiffany Tsao, author of The Majesties.

Her entry begins:
I read Sangeeta Bandyopadhyay’s novel Abandon over Christmas. It was one of the most tragic and disturbing stories I’ve read in a long time. The book defies so many of the clichés and expectations about how we think mothers should act and behave. And it exposes the unrealistic burdens that are imposed on mothers even when they are deprived of any genuine compassion or aid. What the protagonist’s son, Roo, suffers as a result is especially heartbreaking and unsettling to the core. As a literary translator, I was incredibly impressed by...[read on]

About The Majesties, from the publisher:
In this riveting tale about the secrets and betrayals that can accompany exorbitant wealth, two sisters from a Chinese-Indonesian family grapple with the past after one of them poisons their entire family.

Gwendolyn and Estella have always been as close as sisters can be. Growing up in a wealthy, eminent, and sometimes deceitful family, they’ve relied on each other for support and confidence. But now Gwendolyn is lying in a coma, the sole survivor of Estella’s poisoning of their whole clan.

As Gwendolyn struggles to regain consciousness, she desperately retraces her memories, trying to uncover the moment that led to this shocking and brutal act. Was it their aunt’s mysterious death at sea? Estella’s unhappy marriage to a dangerously brutish man? Or were the shifting loyalties and unspoken resentments at the heart of their opulent world too much to bear? Can Gwendolyn, at last, confront the carefully buried mysteries in their family’s past and the truth about who she and her sister really are?

Traveling from the luxurious world of the rich and powerful in Indonesia to the most spectacular shows at Paris Fashion Week, from the sunny coasts of California to the melting pot of Melbourne’s university scene, The Majesties is a haunting and deeply evocative novel about the dark secrets that can build a family empire—and also bring it crashing down.
Visit Tiffany Tsao's website.

Writers Reads: Tiffany Tsao.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Alicia Ely Yamin's "When Misfortune Becomes Injustice"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: When Misfortune Becomes Injustice: Evolving Human Rights Struggles for Health and Social Equality by Alicia Ely Yamin.

About the book, from the publisher:
When Misfortune Becomes Injustice surveys the progress and challenges in deploying human rights to advance health and social equality over recent decades, with a focus on women's health and rights. Yamin weaves together theory and firsthand experience in a compelling narrative of how evolving legal norms, empirical knowledge, and development paradigms have interacted in the realization of health rights.

When Misfortune Becomes Injustice reveals extraordinary progress in recognizing health-related claims as legal rights and understanding the policy implications of doing so over the last few decades. Yet Yamin challenges us to consider why these advances have failed to produce greater equality within and between nations, and how the human rights praxis must now urgently address threats to social and gender justice, in health and beyond.
Learn more about When Misfortune Becomes Injustice at the Stanford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: When Misfortune Becomes Injustice.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six top books that engage with other art forms

Amina Cain is the author most recently of the short story collection Creature, and a novel, Indelicacy, which will be published this year. Her writing has appeared in Granta, n+1, The Paris Review Daily, BOMB, Full Stop, Vice, the Believer Logger, and other places.

She has also co-curated literary events, such as When Does It or You Begin?, a month long festival of writing, performance, and video at Links Hall in Chicago, Both Sides and The Center, a summer festival of readings and performances enacting various levels of proximity, intimacy, and distance at the MAK Center/Schindler House in West Hollywood, and the Errata Salon, a talk/lecture series at Betalevel in Los Angeles’ Chinatown.

At The Week magazine, Cain tagged six books that engage with other art forms, including:
The True Deceiver by Tove Jansson, translated by Thomas Teal (2009).

In the dead of winter in a Swedish village, a young woman attempts to take over the house of Anna Aemelin, an elderly children's book illustrator. The depiction of Anna's relationship to drawing is lovely, and the storytelling is incredibly visual, particularly in its descriptions of the snowy landscape.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 10, 2020

Debbie Herbert's "Scorched Grounds," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Scorched Grounds by Debbie Herbert.

The entry begins:
Since my book is heavily influenced by Southern Gothic, I'd love to see Renée Zellweger in the lead role. She was brilliant in the movie Cold Mountain.

For the role of the ne'er do well father...[read on]
Visit Debbie Herbert's website.

The Page 69 Test: Scorched Grounds.

Writers Read: Debbie Herbert.

My Book, The Movie: Scorched Grounds.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Hilary Davidson's "Don't Look Down"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Don't Look Down by Hilary Davidson.

About the book, from the publisher:
From the Amazon Charts bestselling author of One Small Sacrifice, a gripping mystery about a sinister murder that everyone wants to stay buried—except one dogged NYPD detective.

Jo Greaver is a model of success. Young and ambitious, she’s built a thriving beauty business from nothing. But she has secrets she’ll do anything to keep buried. When her blackmailer offers to meet, Jo expects to pay him off—but gets a bullet instead. Bleeding and in shock, Jo flees with no one to turn to.

When NYPD detective Sheryn Sterling and her partner, Rafael Mendoza, find Andray Baxter murdered in his own home—shot through the heart—everything points to Jo as the killer. Her blood is at the scene, and so are disturbing photos of her taken as a young teen. But Sheryn has doubts. Was the kindhearted Andray really a criminal? Why did he repeatedly report finding spyware in his apartment? Was there something shady about Jo’s sister dying a year earlier?

Something’s not right, and it’s up to Sheryn to piece together the sinister puzzle, no matter the cost.
Learn more about the book and the author at the official Hilary Davidson site.

The Page 69 Test: The Damage Done.

The Page 69 Test: Blood Always Tells.

The Page 69 Test: One Small Sacrifice.

Writers Read: Hilary Davidson (July 2019).

The Page 69 Test: Don't Look Down.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Megan Kate Nelson's "The Three-Cornered War"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Three-Cornered War: The Union, the Confederacy, and Native Peoples in the Fight for the West by Megan Kate Nelson.

About the book, from the publisher:
A dramatic, riveting, and deeply researched narrative account of the epic struggle for the West during the Civil War, revealing a little-known, vastly important episode in American history.

In The Three-Cornered War Megan Kate Nelson reveals the fascinating history of the Civil War in the American West. Exploring the connections among the Civil War, the Indian wars, and western expansion, Nelson reframes the era as one of national conflict—involving not just the North and South, but also the West.

Against the backdrop of this larger series of battles, Nelson introduces nine individuals: John R. Baylor, a Texas legislator who established the Confederate Territory of Arizona; Louisa Hawkins Canby, a Union Army wife who nursed Confederate soldiers back to health in Santa Fe; James Carleton, a professional soldier who engineered campaigns against Navajos and Apaches; Kit Carson, a famous frontiersman who led a regiment of volunteers against the Texans, Navajos, Kiowas, and Comanches; Juanita, a Navajo weaver who resisted Union campaigns against her people; Bill Davidson, a soldier who fought in all of the Confederacy’s major battles in New Mexico; Alonzo Ickis, an Iowa-born gold miner who fought on the side of the Union; John Clark, a friend of Abraham Lincoln’s who embraced the Republican vision for the West as New Mexico’s surveyor-general; and Mangas Coloradas, a revered Chiricahua Apache chief who worked to expand Apache territory in Arizona.

As we learn how these nine charismatic individuals fought for self-determination and control of the region, we also see the importance of individual actions in the midst of a larger military conflict. The Three-Cornered War is a captivating history—based on letters and diaries, military records and oral histories, and photographs and maps from the time—that sheds light on a forgotten chapter of American history.
Visit Megan Kate Nelson's website.

The Page 99 Test: The Three-Cornered War.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven top thrillers with flawed characters

Christina McDonald is a USA Today bestselling author. The Night Olivia Fell (Simon & Schuster/Gallery Books) has been optioned for television by a major Hollywood studio and her second book, Behind Every Lie, is available now.

At CrimeReads, McDonald tagged a few of her favorite thrillers with flawed characters. One title on the list:
My Lovely Wife, Samantha Downing

The protagonist of My Lovely Wife is a hands-on dad and a devoted husband, willing to do anything for his wife, Millicent. But there’s such a thing as being too devoted, and this is his fatal flaw. Whether he’s stalking potential victims for his wife or just disposing of their bodies, he soon finds himself in deep trouble because of his proclivity to do his wife’s bidding. A twisted, sinister story with an utterly compelling character, Samantha Downing is giving Gillian Flynn a run for her money.
Read about another entry on the list.

My Lovely Wife is among C.J. Tudor's seven crime novels where murder is a group activity, Lisa Levy's top seven psychological thrillers with manipulative male narrators, Kaira Rouda's top seven literary couples whose relationships are deeply disturbing in the most fascinating ways possible, and Margot Hunt's top five villains who have had about enough of domestic life.

The Page 69 Test: My Lovely Wife.

--Marshal Zeringue