Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Bernard Cornwell's six best books

Bernard Cornwell is the author of the Sharpe novels as well as a series about Saxon England; both series have been adapted for television. One of his six best books, as shared at the Daily Express:
INSIDE OF A DOG by Alexandra Horowitz

I have a dog called Whisky and I read this to find out what was going on inside his brain. What I found most interesting was the idea that family is incredibly important to dogs. It’s based on lots of observation and is a terrific read.
Read about another book on the list.

The Page 99 Test: Inside of a Dog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

What is Sara Lövestam reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Sara Lövestam, author of Wonderful Feels Like This.

Her entry begins:
I'm currently reading a fascinating book about life in the North of Sweden during the 1800s. The author, Lilian Ryd, interviewed old people from Lapland and saved their unique knowledge about "the old ways". There's everything from how to handle hundreds of reindeer with just a lasso and a dog, to the ways of finding, producing and preserving different kinds of food in the coldest and darkest of Sweden's landscapes. I'm reading it as research for a book I'm about to start writing. The title is Urfödan, which would roughly be translated as...[read on]
About Wonderful Feels Like This, from the publisher:
The Elegance of the Hedgehog meets The Perks of Being a Wallflower in Wonderful Feels Like This, a novel that celebrates being a little bit odd, finding your people, and the power of music to connect us.

For Steffi, going to school everyday is an exercise in survival. She's never fit in with any of the groups at school, and she's viciously teased by the other girls in her class. The only way she escapes is through her music—especially jazz music.

When Steffi hears her favorite jazz song playing through an open window of a retirement home on her walk home from school, she decides to go in and introduce herself.

The old man playing her favorite song is Alvar. When Alvar was a teenager in World War II Sweden, he dreamed of being in a real jazz band. Then and now, Alvar's escape is music—especially jazz music.

Through their unconventional but powerful friendship, Steffi comes to realize that she won't always be stuck and lonely in her town. She can go to music school in Stockholm. She can be a real musician. She can be a jitterbug, just like Alvar.

But how can Steffi convince her parents to let her go to Stockholm to audition? And how it that Steffi's school, the retirement home, the music, and even Steffi's worst bully are somehow all connected to Alvar? Can it be that the people least like us are the ones we need to help us tell our own stories?
Visit Sara Lövestam's website.

My Book, The Movie: Wonderful Feels Like This.

The Page 69 Test: Wonderful Feels Like This.

Writers Read: Sara Lövestam.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Johnny Shaw's "Imperial Valley"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Imperial Valley (A Jimmy Veeder Fiasco) by Johnny Shaw.

About the book, from the publisher:
Jimmy Veeder has finally settled down, completing his dramatic transformation from hell-raiser to family man. With his new wife, Angie, and eight-year-old son, Juan, he lives the quiet life. No trouble, no problems.

Or so he thought. But this is Jimmy Veeder’s Fiasco, after all.

The night after his wedding, Jimmy is lured right back into a world of danger and mayhem when childhood friend Tomás Morales, the current crime lord of Mexicali, turns up on his doorstep offering information about the whereabouts of his son’s grandfather, for whom Jimmy has been searching for years.

Jimmy and Angie head to Mexico—one part honeymoon, one part expedition to find Juan’s grandfather—accompanied by old pals Bobby Maves and Griselda.

The trip immediately careens into chaos when they find themselves shadowed by thugs, shot at by cartel soldiers, and forced into a confrontation with a violent, volatile drug lord. The fight spreads from Sinaloa back to Jimmy’s doorstep, putting everything Jimmy cares about directly in the crosshairs.
Visit Johnny Shaw's website.

The Page 69 Test: Plaster City.

The Page 69 Test: Imperial Valley.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: James McGrath Morris's "The Ambulance Drivers"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Ambulance Drivers: Hemingway, Dos Passos, and a Friendship Made and Lost in War by James McGrath Morris.

About the book, from the publisher:
Rich in evocative detail--from Paris cafés to Austrian chateaus, from the streets of Pamplona to the waters of Key West--The Ambulance Drivers tells the story of two aspiring writers, Ernest Hemingway and John Dos Passos, who met in World War I and forged a twenty-year friendship that produced some of America's greatest novels, giving voice to a generation shaken by war.

In war, Hemingway found adventure, women, and a cause. Dos Passos saw only oppression and futility. Their different visions eventually turned their private friendship into a nasty public fight, fueled by money, jealousy, and lust. This is not only a biography of the turbulent friendship between two of the century's greatest writers but also an illustration of how war inspires and destroys, unites and divides.
Learn more about the book and author at the official James McGrath Morris website.

The Page 99 Test: Pulitzer: A Life in Politics, Print, and Power.

The Page 99 Test: Eye on the Struggle.

The Page 99 Test: The Ambulance Drivers.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eight of the best YA books about loss

At the BN Teen Blog Dahlia Adler tagged eight must-read YA books about loss and grieving, including:
Goodbye Days, by Jeff Zentner

Carver, Mars, Eli, and Blake were the best of friends, so when the latter three are killed in a single car accident, Carver’s life is shattered. Adding to his grief is a heavy dose of guilt: he was the one who sent the text Mars was responding to while driving, causing the fatal crash. On top of both crushing emotions, his complicity in the accident is being investigated in both official and unofficial capacities. But mixed in with those who want vengeance are people who want something entirely different from Carver: a Goodbye Day, i.e., one last day spent doing all their favorite things they used to do with the dearly departed, in a chance to say the farewell they never had. Carver is determined to give them what they want, to earn his redemption, to bring some closure to the town, and to move forward in his own life, if he can learn to let other people fill it.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 69 Test: Goodbye Days.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 27, 2017

What is Anne LeClaire reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Anne D. LeClaire, author of The Halo Effect: A Novel.

Her entry begins:
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. I am a huge fan of Saunders’ short stories. His wit, his keen intelligence, his gift for language and story just shine. So when I read he has published a novel, it moved to the top of my must-read list. Set in a graveyard in the span of one day – the day of Willie Lincoln’s burial – and peopled by those buried there, it is a tour de force. And, for me, unexpectedly moving. As in Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology, the dead reveal not only their lives but the yearnings and fears and contradictions of the heart. I found myself caring deeply about what happened to Willie after his death. Daring in every way a book can be, Saunders...[read on]
About The Halo Effect, from the publisher:
In this tour de force, a father, shaken by tragedy, tries to avenge his daughter’s murder—and restore his family’s shattered life.

It was supposed to be a typical October evening for renowned portrait artist Will Light. Over dinner of lamb tagine, his wife, Sophie, would share news about chorus rehearsals for the upcoming holiday concert, and their teenage daughter, Lucy, would chatter about French club and field hockey. Only Lucy never came home. Her body was found, days later, in the woods.

The Eastern Seaboard town of Port Fortune used to be Will’s comfort. Now, there’s no safe harbor for him. Not even when Father Gervase asks Will to paint portraits of saints for the new cathedral. Using the townspeople as models, Will sees in each face only a mask of the darkness of evil. And he just might be painting his daughter’s killer.

As Will navigates his rage and heartbreak, Sophie tries to move on; Father Gervase becomes an unexpected ally; and Rain, Lucy’s best friend, shrouds herself in a near-silent fugue. Their paths collide in a series of inextricably linked, dark, dangerous moments that could lead to their undoing…or to their redemption.
Visit Anne D. LeClaire's website.

Writers Read: Anne D. LeClaire.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Alex Bledsoe's "Gather Her Round"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Gather Her Round by Alex Bledsoe.

About the book, from the publisher:
In critically-acclaimed Alex Bledsoe’s Tufa novel, Gather Her Round, a monster roams the woods of Cloud County, while another kind of evil lurks in the hearts of men.

Love and tragedy are not strange bedfellows among the Tufa. Young Kera Rogers disappears while hiking in the woods by Needsville. When her half-eaten remains are discovered, the blame falls upon a herd of wild hogs, a serious threat in this rural community. In response, the county’s best trackers, including game warden Jack Cates and ex-military Tufa Bronwyn Chess are assembled to hunt them down.

Kara’s boyfriend Duncan Gowen mourns her death, until he finds evidence she cheated on him with his best friend, Adam Procure. Seeking revenge, Duncan entices Adam to participate in their own boar hunt. Later, Bronwyn and Jack stumble across a devastated Duncan, who claims a giant boar impaled Adam and dragged him off. As this second death rocks the town, people begin to wonder who is really responsible.

Determined hunters pursue the ravenous horde through the Appalachians as other Tufa seek their own answers. Between literal beasts in the woods and figurative wolves in sheep’s clothing, what truths will arise come spring?
Learn more about the book and author at Alex Bledsoe's website.

The Page 69 Test: Wisp of a Thing (Tufa #2).

The Page 69 Test: Long Black Curl (Tufa #3).

My Book, The Movie: Gather Her Round (Tufa #5).

Writers Read: Alex Bledsoe.

The Page 69 Test: Gather Her Round (Tufa #5).

--Marshal Zeringue

Susan Meissner's "A Bridge Across the Ocean," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: A Bridge Across the Ocean by Susan Meissner.

The entry begins:
A Bridge Across the Ocean is a story about two European women who meet aboard the RMS Queen Mary in 1946. They are bound for America on a ship full of other war brides to be reunited with their servicemen husbands. Both women survived the hell of World War 2, but only one of them, a Parisian named Simone, is an actual war bride; the other, Annaliese, is a German ballerina pretending to be a Belgian war bride to escape a terrible situation. Annaliese’s secret is laid bare on the voyage however, and the last day of the voyage is anything but peaceful. Meanwhile in the current day, thirty-something Brette just wants to live a normal, uncomplicated life but the family gift of being able to see ghosts is making that impossible. When Brette visits the famed and notoriously haunted RMS Queen Mary, now a floating hotel in a California harbor, she comes face to face with the ghostly echoes of that 1946 crossing and is soon on a quest to uncover the truth, right an old wrong, and maybe figure out how to live in peace with the way she is.

The ideal cast:

For Simone, who is a daughter of a murdered French Resistance spy, I pick the talented Melanie Laurent, the French actress who played the courageous and devastated Shoshanna in Quentin Tarentino’s Inglorious Basterds. For Annaliese, the German ballerina married to a Nazi monster...[read on]
Visit Susan Meissner's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Susan Meissner & Bella.

My Book, The Movie: Stars Over Sunset Boulevard.

My Book, The Movie: A Bridge Across the Ocean.

--Marshal Zeringue

Bassem Youssef's six favorite books

Bassem Youssef was the host of Albernameg, the first-of-its-kind political satire show in the Middle East from 2011 until the show's termination by the Egyptian government in 2014. He now lives in the United States.

Youssef's new book is Revolution for Dummies: Laughing Through the Arab Spring.

One of his six favorite books, as shared at The Week magazine:
1984 by George Orwell

This is the "duh" choice. It's everyone's favorite book. But for me it is even more special. What I have seen in Egypt and how the media manipulated people on a daily basis might be a chapter out of Orwell's book — a chapter that is not even well written.
Read about another entry on the list.

Nineteen Eighty-four is on Joel Cunningham's list of twelve science fiction & fantasy books for the post-truth era, Stephen W. Potts's top five list of useful books about surviving surveillance, Linda Grant's top ten list of books about postwar Britain, Ella Cosmo's list of five fictional books-within-a-book too dangerous to read, the list of four books that changed Peter Twohig, the Guardian's list of the five worst book covers ever, the Independent's list of the fifteen best opening lines in literature, W.B. Gooderham's top ten list of books given in books, Katharine Trendacosta and Amanda Yesilbas's list of ten paranoid science fiction stories that could help you survive, Na'ima B. Robert's top ten list of Romeo and Juliet stories, Gabe Habash's list of ten songs inspired by books and a list of the 100 best last lines from novels. The book made Charlie Jane Anders's list of ten science fiction novels we pretend to have read, Juan E. Méndez's list of five books on torture, P. J. O’Rourke's list of the five best political satires, Daniel Johnson's five best list of books about Cold War culture, Robert Collins' top ten list of dystopian novels, Gemma Malley's top 10 list of dystopian novels for teenagers, is one of Norman Tebbit's six best books and one of the top ten works of literature according to Stephen King. It made a difference to Isla Fisher, and appears on John Mullan's lists of ten of the best Aprils in literature, ten of the best rats in literature, and ten of the best horrid children in fiction.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, March 26, 2017

What is Christina Kovac reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Christina Kovac, author of The Cutaway: A Thriller.

Her entry begins:
As of this writing, which is less than one week from the pub date of my debut novel, I’m a hot mess. My brain is pinging all over the place. Last minute tasks. All the time worries, including: will there be enough wine and beer at the launch? If not, will anyone show up? Reading is what calms me, yet it’s unfair to try any new authors, because I’m not in the right frame of mind. It’s not fair to the writer. What I need is a Joe Finder book. His writing is like a high-performance luxury car: it...[read on]
About The Cutaway, from the publisher:
The Cutaway draws you into the tangled world of corruption and cover-up as a young television producer investigates the disappearance of a beautiful Georgetown lawyer in this stunning psychological thriller, perfect for fans of Paula Hawkins and Gillian Flynn.

When brilliant TV news producer Virginia Knightly receives a disturbing “MISSING” notice on her desk related to the disappearance of a beautiful young attorney, she can’t seem to shake the image from her head. Despite skepticism from her colleagues, Knightly suspects this ambitious young lawyer may be at the heart of something far more sinister, especially since she was last seen leaving an upscale restaurant after a domestic dispute. Yet, as the only woman of power at her station, Knightly quickly finds herself investigating on her own.

Risking her career, her life, and perhaps even her own sanity, Knightly dives deep into the dark underbelly of Washington, DC business and politics in an investigation that will drag her mercilessly through the inextricable webs of corruption that bind the press, the police, and politics in our nation’s capital.

Harkening to dark thrillers such as Gone Girl, Luckiest Girl Alive, and Big Little Lies, The Cutaway is a striking debut that will haunt you long after you reach the last page.
Visit Christina Kovac's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Cutaway.

The Page 69 Test: The Cutaway.

Writers Read: Christina Kovac.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Sara Lövestam's "Wonderful Feels Like This"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Wonderful Feels Like This by Sara Lövestam.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Elegance of the Hedgehog meets The Perks of Being a Wallflower in Wonderful Feels Like This, a novel that celebrates being a little bit odd, finding your people, and the power of music to connect us.

For Steffi, going to school everyday is an exercise in survival. She's never fit in with any of the groups at school, and she's viciously teased by the other girls in her class. The only way she escapes is through her music—especially jazz music.

When Steffi hears her favorite jazz song playing through an open window of a retirement home on her walk home from school, she decides to go in and introduce herself.

The old man playing her favorite song is Alvar. When Alvar was a teenager in World War II Sweden, he dreamed of being in a real jazz band. Then and now, Alvar's escape is music—especially jazz music.

Through their unconventional but powerful friendship, Steffi comes to realize that she won't always be stuck and lonely in her town. She can go to music school in Stockholm. She can be a real musician. She can be a jitterbug, just like Alvar.

But how can Steffi convince her parents to let her go to Stockholm to audition? And how it that Steffi's school, the retirement home, the music, and even Steffi's worst bully are somehow all connected to Alvar? Can it be that the people least like us are the ones we need to help us tell our own stories?
Visit Sara Lövestam's website.

My Book, The Movie: Wonderful Feels Like This.

The Page 69 Test: Wonderful Feels Like This.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten of the unluckiest characters in science fiction & fantasy

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog, Meghan Ball tagged ten of the unluckiest characters in science fiction & fantasy, including:
Everyone (A Song of Ice and Fire, by George RR Martin)

Seriously. I mean it. Every single person in A Song of Ice and Fire, from Westeros to the Dothraki Sea. These are perhaps the unluckiest group of people in all of science fiction and fantasy, with nothing to look forward to but death, death, and more death. If you are a character in this series, you are going to die. It is going to be horrible, and probably senseless. And you’re still not one of the unluckiest of the bunch, because at least your suffering is over. If this series is a D&D campaign, every single person involved has rolled a critical miss on their luck check.
Read about another entry on the list.

A Game of Thrones is among Jeff Somers's top five dad moments in science fiction & fantasy history, Julie Kagawa's top ten dragons in fiction, Ryan Britt's six best Scout Finches from sci-fi & fantasy, Charlotte Seager's top five spoiled suppers in literature, Melissa Grey's five top female characters of under-appreciated strength, Non Pratt's top ten toxic friendships in literature, Becky Ferreira's eight best siblings in literature, and Nicole Hill's six fictional femmes who fatally smashed the glass ceiling and top six books on gluttony. A Song of Ice and Fire is among Ferreira's six favorite redheads in literature and six best books with dragons, Joel Cunningham's seven top books featuring long winters. The Red Wedding in A Storm of Swords is one of Ferreira's top six most momentous weddings in fiction. The Lannister family from A Game of Thrones is one of Jami Attenberg's top ten dysfunctional families in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Felix Arnold's "Islamic Palace Architecture in the Western Mediterranean"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Islamic Palace Architecture in the Western Mediterranean: A History by Felix Arnold.

About the book, from the publisher:
Palaces like the Aljafería and the Alhambra rank among the highest achievements of the Islamic world. In recent years archaeological work at Córdoba, Kairouan and many other sites has vastly increased our knowledge about the origin and development of Islamic palatial architecture, particularly in the Western Mediterranean region. This book offers a comprehensive and up-to-date overview of Islamic palace architecture in Spain, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and southern Italy. The author, who has himself conducted archaeological field work at several prominent sites, presents all Islamic palaces known in the region in ground plans, sections and individual descriptions. The book traces the evolution of Islamic palace architecture in the region from the 8th to the 19th century and places them within the context of the history of Islamic culture. Palace architecture is a unique source of cultural history, offering insights into the way space was conceived and the way rulers used architecture to legitimize their power. The book discusses such topics as the influence of the architecture of the Middle East on the Islamic palaces of the western Mediterranean region, the role of Greek logic and scientific progress on the design of palaces, the impact of Islamic palaces on Norman and Gothic architecture and the role of Sufism on the palatial architecture of the late medieval period.
Learn more about Islamic Palace Architecture in the Western Mediterranean at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Islamic Palace Architecture in the Western Mediterranean.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, March 25, 2017

What is Bren McClain reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Bren McClain, author of One Good Mama Bone.

Her entry begins:
Kevin Wilson’s The Family Fang. I had heard a lot of wonderful things about this book, chief of which was the hugely dysfunctional family at its center. Boy, howdy does it, but this book takes dysfunction to a whole new level. I love this book, and I’ll tell you why – I was going along laughing, laughing, laughing – at times uncontrollably -- at the outrageousness of this family’s antics. And then – wham! – I...[read on]
About One Good Mama Bone, from the publisher:
A novel of courageous parental love and the instructive, healing bonds that form between humans and animals

Set in early 1950s rural South Carolina, One Good Mama Bone chronicles Sarah Creamer’s quest to find her “mama bone” after she is left to care for a boy who is not her own but instead is the product of an affair between her husband and her best friend and neighbor, a woman she calls “Sister.” When her husband drinks himself to death, Sarah, a dirt-poor homemaker with no family to rely on and the note on the farm long past due, must find a way for her and young Emerson Bridge to survive. But the more daunting obstacle is Sarah’s fear that her mother’s words, seared in her memory since she first heard them at the age of six, were a prophesy: “You ain’t got you one good mama bone in you, girl.”

When Sarah reads in the local newspaper that a boy won $680 with his Grand Champion steer at the recent 1951 Fat Cattle Show & Sale, she sees this as their financial salvation and finds a way to get Emerson Bridge a steer from a local farmer to compete in the 1952 show. But the young calf is unsettled at Sarah’s farm, crying out in distress and growing louder as the night wears on. Some four miles away, the steer’s mother hears his cries and breaks out of a barbed-wire fence to go in search of him. The next morning Sarah finds the young steer quiet, content, and nursing on a large cow. Inspired by the mother cow’s act of love, Sarah names her Mama Red. And so Sarah’s education in motherhood begins with Mama Red as her teacher.

But Luther Dobbins, the man who sold Sarah the steer, has his sights set on winning too, and, like Sarah, he is desperate, but not for money. Dobbins is desperate for glory, wanting to regain his lost grand-champion dynasty, and he will stop at nothing to win. Emboldened by her lessons from Mama Red and her budding mama bone, Sarah is fully committed to victory until she learns the winning steer’s ultimate fate. Will she stop at nothing, even if it means betraying her teacher?

McClain’s writing is distinguished by a sophisticated and detailed portrayal of the day-to-day realities of rural poverty and an authentic sense of time and place that marks the best southern fiction. Her characters transcend their archetypes and her animal-as-teacher theme recalls the likes of Water for Elephants and The Art of Racing in the Rain. One Good Mama Bone explores the strengths and limitations of parental love, the healing power of the human-animal bond, and the ethical dilemmas of raising animals for food.
Visit Bren McClain's website.

My Book, The Movie: One Good Mama Bone.

The Page 69 Test: One Good Mama Bone.

Writers Read: Bren McClain.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Jennifer Brown's "Dare You"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Dare You by Jennifer Brown.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the second book of the suspenseful Shade Me trilogy, perfect for fans of Sara Shepard's Pretty Little Liars and Kimberly McCreight's The Outliers, Nikki Kill becomes embroiled in another mystery with the gorgeous Detective Martinez when she discovers that the Hollises are trying frame her for the murder of Peyton Hollis—and only her synesthesia can help her unravel the dark truth.

Nikki Kill didn't realize that trying to find out who killed Peyton Hollis would tangle her in a web of dangerous family secrets that would rock her identity to the core. But now that Nikki knows the truth, the all-powerful Hollises want to frame her for Peyton's murder.

And now Nikki's only chance at escaping the cold black bars of prison or the crimson grip of death is teaming up with the enigmatic Detective Martinez and relying on an ever-shifting kaleidoscope of clues...
Learn more about the book and author at Jennifer Brown's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Jennifer Brown & Ursula and Aragorn.

My Book, The Movie: Life on Mars.

The Page 69 Test: Shade Me.

The Page 69 Test: Dare You.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top supernatural mysteries

Jess Kidd has a PhD in Creative Writing from St. Mary’s University. She grew up as a part of a large family from Mayo and now lives in London with her daughter. Himself is her first novel. She is currently at work on a second novel and a collection of short stories.

One of Kidd's ten essential supernatural mysteries, as shared at Publishers Weekly:
Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel

The real mystery in Mantel’s darkly comic novel is the protagonist’s past, which is a riddle not easily solved. Alison is a stage-show medium, traveling the circuit, picking up a dour helper, Colette, en route. While Alison gives her clients comfort she knows that the afterlife is not a place of peace. Alison has her own methods of keeping her own traumatic past at bay, but history keeps resurfacing. I love this book for Mantel’s deft use of magic realism to create vile, heckling, down-to-earth ghosts. But also for the way in which Beyond Black explores how we deal with the phantoms of childhood, especially when that childhood is deeply damaged.
Read about another entry on the list.

Beyond Black is among Sarah Porter's five top books with unusual demons and devils.

--Marshal Zeringue

Becky Masterman's "A Twist of the Knife," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: A Twist of the Knife (Brigid Quinn Series, Volume 3) by Becky Masterman.

The entry begins:
When I first conceived Brigid Quinn, I had been reading a Jack Reacher novel. So I thought, what if Jack Reacher were a woman? Then I thought, what if Jack Reacher were a woman approaching 60? She'd be smart, and sexy, and physically fit, and could kill a man with her bare hands. So I guess...[read on]
Visit Becky Masterman's website.

My Book, The Movie: Rage Against the Dying.

The Page 69 Test: Rage Against the Dying.

My Book, The Movie: Fear the Darkness.

The Page 69 Test: Fear the Darkness.

My Book, The Movie: A Twist of the Knife.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, March 24, 2017

Five top YA thrillers with a supernatural twist

S. Jae-Jones is the author of Wintersong. At the BN Teen blog she tagged five YA thrillers with a supernatural twist, [spoiler alert] including:
The Hidden Memory of Objects by Danielle Mages Amato

When Megan’s brother Tyler died, the police said it was because of a drug overdose. But that’s an explanation Megan is not willing to accept. A talented found-object artist, Megan begins to experience strange hallucinations when she touches things that once belonged to her brother. These hallucinations are more than just visions; they’re a sort of psychometry in which Megan experiences the memories of the objects she touches. With her newfound gift, she begins piecing together what happened to Tyler with the help of two of her classmates, and a man who possesses the same strange talent. A fast-paced read through time and grief, grounded by a sister’s love for her brother.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Christina Kovac's "The Cutaway"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Cutaway: A Thriller by Christina Kovac.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Cutaway draws you into the tangled world of corruption and cover-up as a young television producer investigates the disappearance of a beautiful Georgetown lawyer in this stunning psychological thriller, perfect for fans of Paula Hawkins and Gillian Flynn.

When brilliant TV news producer Virginia Knightly receives a disturbing “MISSING” notice on her desk related to the disappearance of a beautiful young attorney, she can’t seem to shake the image from her head. Despite skepticism from her colleagues, Knightly suspects this ambitious young lawyer may be at the heart of something far more sinister, especially since she was last seen leaving an upscale restaurant after a domestic dispute. Yet, as the only woman of power at her station, Knightly quickly finds herself investigating on her own.

Risking her career, her life, and perhaps even her own sanity, Knightly dives deep into the dark underbelly of Washington, DC business and politics in an investigation that will drag her mercilessly through the inextricable webs of corruption that bind the press, the police, and politics in our nation’s capital.

Harkening to dark thrillers such as Gone Girl, Luckiest Girl Alive, and Big Little Lies, The Cutaway is a striking debut that will haunt you long after you reach the last page.
Visit Christina Kovac's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Cutaway.

The Page 69 Test: The Cutaway.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Alex Bledsoe reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Alex Bledsoe, author of Gather Her Round.

His entry begins:
Like most (all?) writers, I have a couple of things going simultaneously. One is, What It Used to be Like: A Portrait of My Marriage to Raymond Carver, by Maryann Burk Carver. Raymond Carver had a life very similar to mine, and his determination to continue writing despite near-Wagnerian setbacks (poverty, alcoholism, having two children by the time he was twenty) is something with which I strongly identify. I’ve read scholarly biographies and reminiscences by other writers, but this is the closest to...[read on]
About Gather Her Round, from the publisher:
In critically-acclaimed Alex Bledsoe’s Tufa novel, Gather Her Round, a monster roams the woods of Cloud County, while another kind of evil lurks in the hearts of men.

Love and tragedy are not strange bedfellows among the Tufa. Young Kera Rogers disappears while hiking in the woods by Needsville. When her half-eaten remains are discovered, the blame falls upon a herd of wild hogs, a serious threat in this rural community. In response, the county’s best trackers, including game warden Jack Cates and ex-military Tufa Bronwyn Chess are assembled to hunt them down.

Kara’s boyfriend Duncan Gowen mourns her death, until he finds evidence she cheated on him with his best friend, Adam Procure. Seeking revenge, Duncan entices Adam to participate in their own boar hunt. Later, Bronwyn and Jack stumble across a devastated Duncan, who claims a giant boar impaled Adam and dragged him off. As this second death rocks the town, people begin to wonder who is really responsible.

Determined hunters pursue the ravenous horde through the Appalachians as other Tufa seek their own answers. Between literal beasts in the woods and figurative wolves in sheep’s clothing, what truths will arise come spring?
Learn more about the book and author at Alex Bledsoe's website.

The Page 69 Test: Wisp of a Thing (Tufa #2).

The Page 69 Test: Long Black Curl (Tufa #3).

My Book, The Movie: Gather Her Round (Tufa #5).

Writers Read: Alex Bledsoe.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Nathan F. Sayre's "The Politics of Scale"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Politics of Scale: A History of Rangeland Science by Nathan F. Sayre.

About the book, from the publisher:
Rangelands are vast, making up one quarter of the United States and forty percent of the Earth’s ice-free land. And while contemporary science has revealed a great deal about the environmental impacts associated with intensive livestock production—from greenhouse gas emissions to land and water degradation—far less is known about the historic role science has played in rangeland management and politics. Steeped in US soil, this first history of rangeland science looks to the origins of rangeland ecology in the late nineteenth-century American West, exploring the larger political and economic forces that—together with scientific study—produced legacies focused on immediate economic success rather than long-term ecological well being.

During the late 1880s and early 1890s, a variety of forces—from the Homestead Act of 1862 to the extermination of bison, foreign investment, and lack of government regulation—promoted free-for-all access to and development of the western range, with disastrous environmental consequences. To address the crisis, government agencies turned to scientists, but as Nathan F. Sayre shows, range science grew in a politically fraught landscape. Neither the scientists nor the public agencies could escape the influences of bureaucrats and ranchers who demanded results, and the ideas that became scientific orthodoxy—from fire suppression and predator control to fencing and carrying capacities—contained flaws and blind spots that plague public debates about rangelands to this day. Looking at the global history of rangeland science through the Cold War and beyond, The Politics of Scale identifies the sources of past conflicts and mistakes and helps us to see a more promising path forward, one in which rangeland science is guided less by capital and the state and more by communities working in collaboration with scientists.
Learn more about The Politics of Scale at the University of Chicago Press website.

The Page 99 Test: The Politics of Scale.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, March 23, 2017

What is Tessa Arlen reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Tessa Arlen, author of A Death by Any Other Name.

Her entry begins:
I have recently finished writing a historical fiction of Diana Manners early life during the First World War where every single one of her group of male friends was killed. How on earth would one manage to come through that sort of experience in one early twenties? Was the question I asked myself over and over as I researched and wrote this novel. Among the many great books I read about this time, re-reading Robert Graves’ autobiography Goodbye To All That was pure joy if the word joy should be used in connection to the catastrophe of the Great War.

I first read Graves’ memoir of the war many years ago at school and detested it! My only regret this time around was that...[read on]
About A Death by Any Other Name, from the publisher:
A Death by Any Other Name is a delightful Edwardian mystery set in the English countryside. Building on the success of her last two mysteries in the same series, Tessa Arlen returns us to the same universe full of secrets, intrigue, and, this time, roses.

The elegant Lady Montfort and her redoubtable housekeeper Mrs. Jackson's services are called upon after a cook is framed and dismissed for poisoning a guest of the Hyde Rose Society. Promising to help her regain her job and her dignity, the pair trek out to the countryside to investigate a murder of concealed passions and secret desires. There, they are to discover a villain of audacious cunning among a group of mild-mannered, amateur rose-breeders. While they investigate, the rumor mill fills with talk about a conflict over in Prussia where someone quite important was shot. There is talk of war and they must race the clock to solve the mystery as the idyllic English summer days count down to the start of WWI.

Brimming with intrigue, Tessa Arlen's latest does not disappoint.
Visit Tessa Arlen's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Tessa Arlen & Daphne.

The Page 69 Test: Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman.

My Book, The Movie: Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman.

The Page 69 Test: Death Sits Down to Dinner.

My Book, The Movie: Death Sits Down to Dinner.

The Page 69 Test: A Death by Any Other Name.

Writers Read: Tessa Arlen.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Bren McClain's "One Good Mama Bone"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: One Good Mama Bone by Bren McClain.

About the book, from the publisher:
A novel of courageous parental love and the instructive, healing bonds that form between humans and animals

Set in early 1950s rural South Carolina, One Good Mama Bone chronicles Sarah Creamer’s quest to find her “mama bone” after she is left to care for a boy who is not her own but instead is the product of an affair between her husband and her best friend and neighbor, a woman she calls “Sister.” When her husband drinks himself to death, Sarah, a dirt-poor homemaker with no family to rely on and the note on the farm long past due, must find a way for her and young Emerson Bridge to survive. But the more daunting obstacle is Sarah’s fear that her mother’s words, seared in her memory since she first heard them at the age of six, were a prophesy: “You ain’t got you one good mama bone in you, girl.”

When Sarah reads in the local newspaper that a boy won $680 with his Grand Champion steer at the recent 1951 Fat Cattle Show & Sale, she sees this as their financial salvation and finds a way to get Emerson Bridge a steer from a local farmer to compete in the 1952 show. But the young calf is unsettled at Sarah’s farm, crying out in distress and growing louder as the night wears on. Some four miles away, the steer’s mother hears his cries and breaks out of a barbed-wire fence to go in search of him. The next morning Sarah finds the young steer quiet, content, and nursing on a large cow. Inspired by the mother cow’s act of love, Sarah names her Mama Red. And so Sarah’s education in motherhood begins with Mama Red as her teacher.

But Luther Dobbins, the man who sold Sarah the steer, has his sights set on winning too, and, like Sarah, he is desperate, but not for money. Dobbins is desperate for glory, wanting to regain his lost grand-champion dynasty, and he will stop at nothing to win. Emboldened by her lessons from Mama Red and her budding mama bone, Sarah is fully committed to victory until she learns the winning steer’s ultimate fate. Will she stop at nothing, even if it means betraying her teacher?

McClain’s writing is distinguished by a sophisticated and detailed portrayal of the day-to-day realities of rural poverty and an authentic sense of time and place that marks the best southern fiction. Her characters transcend their archetypes and her animal-as-teacher theme recalls the likes of Water for Elephants and The Art of Racing in the Rain. One Good Mama Bone explores the strengths and limitations of parental love, the healing power of the human-animal bond, and the ethical dilemmas of raising animals for food.
Visit Bren McClain's website.

My Book, The Movie: One Good Mama Bone.

The Page 69 Test: One Good Mama Bone.

--Marshal Zeringue

Christina Kovac's "The Cutaway," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Cutaway: A Thriller by Christina Kovac.

The entry begins:
The Cutaway sold its TV rights, so it will never be a feature film. But I always imagined Virginia Knightly with that same physicality as the British actress, Keira Knightley. Above average height, willowy, fragile looking—until you notice her chin. She’s got a strong, determined chin, and big intelligent eyes that refuse to look away. I love the complexity of...[read on]
Visit Christina Kovac's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Cutaway.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top stories of obsession

Sara Flannery Murphy grew up in Arkansas, where she divided her time between Little Rock and Eureka Springs, a small artists’ community in the Ozark Mountains. She received her MFA in creative writing at Washington University in St. Louis and studied library science in British Columbia. She lives in Oklahoma with her husband and son.

Murphy's newly released first novel is The Possessions.

One of the author's top ten stories of obsession, as shared at the Guardian:
Moby–Dick by Herman Melville (1851)

Captain Ahab embodies obsession as completely as any character ever will. As he stalks the whale that took his leg, his burning need for vengeance pushes aside all other considerations. My husband, an English professor, loves the novel for what he’s dubbed the “Starbuck moment”, when the first mate pleads with Ahab to give up his quest before the whole crew suffers. It’s a moment when the captain has a final chance to pull back from the brink. When he pushes ahead with his doomed quest anyway, everything that follows is all the more shocking.
Read about another entry on the list.

Moby-Dick appears among Harold Bloom's six favorite books that helped shape "the American Sublime,"  Charlotte Seager's five well-known literary monomaniacs who take things too far, Ann Leary's top ten books set in New England, Martin Seay's ten best long books, Ian McGuire's ten best adventure novels, Jeff Somers's five top books that will expand your vocabulary and entertain, Four books that changed Mary Norris, Tim Dee's ten best nature books, the Telegraph's fifteen best North American novels of all time, Nicole Hill's top ten best names in literature to give your dog, Horatio Clare's five favorite maritime novels, the Telegraph's ten great meals in literature, Brenda Wineapple's six favorite books, Scott Greenstone's top seven allegorical novels, Paul Wilson's top ten books about disability, Lynn Shepherd's ten top fictional drownings, Peter Murphy's top ten literary preachers, Penn Jillette's six favorite books, Peter F. Stevens's top ten nautical books, Katharine Quarmby's top ten disability stories, Jonathan Evison's six favorite books, Bella Bathurst's top 10 books on the sea, John Mullan's lists of ten of the best nightmares in literature and ten of the best tattoos in literature, Susan Cheever's five best books about obsession, Christopher Buckley's best books, Jane Yolen's five most important books, Chris Dodd's best books, Augusten Burroughs' five most important books, Norman Mailer's top ten works of literature, David Wroblewski's five most important books, Russell Banks' five most important books, and Philip Hoare's top ten books about whales.

My Book, The Movie: The Possessions.

The Page 69 Test: The Possessions.

--Marshal Zeringue