Saturday, October 25, 2014

Bob Odenkirk's 6 favorite books

Actor, director, and comedy sketch writer Bob Odenkirk was a prominent co-star on AMC's Breaking Bad. His new book of comic essays is A Load of Hooey.

One of his six favorite books, as shared at The Week magazine:
The Dog of the South by Charles Portis

A hilarious narrator goes on a loony mission to catch up with his runaway wife, following the trail of credit card receipts she leaves from Arkansas to Belize. He's driven by resentment and pettiness — and yet he is also clearly entertained by the world around him. This is, to me, a very American voice.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Peter Watts's "Echopraxia," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Echopraxia by Peter Watts.

The entry begins:
Let's start behind the camera. It's almost tempting to nominate Shane Carruth for Director— after Primer and Upstream Color, don't you want to see what he could do with a budget of more than $8.67?— but given that Echopraxia seems to have left about half its readers confused, we might not want a director whose claim to fame is that his first movie took three viewings to understand. I've got nothing against challenging one's audience, but there can be too much of a good thing.

David Fincher, maybe— the man has a real way with mood, he's received more than his fair share of rave reviews, and bad direction was definitely not one of Alien 3's many faults. Fight Club was brilliant. Also, after The Social Network and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Fincher could probably get Trent Reznor back on board for soundtrack duties, which would be a bonus. I'd green-light Fincher in a second. He'd be the safe choice.

But if I didn’t want to play it safe, I'd risk the whole wad on Steven Soderburgh. He's shown a deft and subtle hand at first-contact scenarios (yeah, Solaris tanked commercially, but I liked it better than Tarkovsky's version). Contagion proves that he knows how to do Science right, which is almost unheard-of in Hollywood. And he was executive producer on what was, if not the best movie based on a Philip K. Dick novel, certainly the most Dickish movie based on a Philip K. Dick novel. I'd be fascinated to see what Soderburgh could do with Echopraxia.

Prometheus alumni need not apply. Sorry Ridley.

Screenplay? That would be me. Not because I've...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Peter Watts's website.

Blindsight is one of Charlie Jane Anders's ten great science fiction novels, published since 2000, that raise huge, important questions.

My Book, The Movie: Peter Watts's Rifters trilogy.

The Page 69 Test: Echopraxia.

My Book, The Movie: Echopraxia.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 24, 2014

Eight top scary stories for the Halloween season

At Time Out New York Tiffany Gibert tagged eight scary stories for the Halloween season, including:
The Boy Who Drew Monsters: A Novel by Keith Donohue

No one in Jack Peters's small coastal town is safe when the monsters he draws come alive. Dissolving notions of reality and fiction, this hypnotic read leaves behind an eerie narrative about what haunting aberrations might lurk just outside our peripheral vision.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 69 Test: The Boy Who Drew Monsters.

Writers Read: Keith Donohue.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Natalie C. Parker's "Beware the Wild"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Beware the Wild by Natalie C. Parker.

About the book, from the publisher:
Southern Gothic gets a whole new twist in this debut novel, sure to appeal to fans of the New York Times bestselling Beautiful Creatures series.

The swamp in Sterling's small Louisiana town proves to have a power over its inhabitants when her brother disappears and no one but Sterling even remembers that he existed. Now Sterling, with the help of brooding loner Heath, who's had his own creepy experience with the swamp, must fight back and reclaim what—and who—the swamp has taken.

Beware the Wild is a riveting and atmospheric page-turner readers won't want to miss.
Visit Natalie C. Parker's website.

The Page 69 Test: Beware the Wild.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Ran Zwigenberg's "Hiroshima: The Origins of Global Memory Culture"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Hiroshima: The Origins of Global Memory Culture by Ran Zwigenberg.

About the book, from the publisher:
In 1962, a Hiroshima peace delegation and an Auschwitz survivor's organization exchanged relics and testimonies, including the bones and ashes of Auschwitz victims. This symbolic encounter, in which the dead were literally conscripted in the service of the politics of the living, serves as a cornerstone of this volume, capturing how memory was utilized to rebuild and redefine a shattered world. This is a powerful study of the contentious history of remembrance and the commemoration of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima in the context of the global development of Holocaust and World War II memory. Emphasizing the importance of nuclear issues in the 1950s and 1960s, Zwigenberg traces the rise of global commemoration culture through the reconstruction of Hiroshima as a 'City of Bright Peace', memorials and museums, global tourism, developments in psychiatry, and the emergence of the figure of the survivor-witness and its consequences for global memory practices.
Learn more about Hiroshima: The Origins of Global Memory Culture at the Cambridge University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Hiroshima: The Origins of Global Memory Culture.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six top new thought-provoking novels

Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist and author. At Psychology Today she tagged six new memorable and thought-provoking novels, including:
All I Love and Know by Judith Frank begins simply enough. When Daniel’s twin brother and sister-in-law, Joel and Ilana, are killed in an explosion in Jerusalem, Daniel and his partner Matt fly to Israel. Matt passes the time listing the many thoughts he’d been having of which he was ashamed, including: "Will he ever get to just be a normal, young, shallow queen again, or would tragedy dog him for the rest of his born days?" Then:
But Matt knew these questions were bullshit, that he was evading the real issue: If Joel and Ilana had really done what they said they were going to do, he and Daniel would be returning home with their kids, and the life he knew would open up into dark seas he couldn’t even begin to chart.
Will the Israeli court give the two young orphaned children, as instructed in the will, to the gay couple, or to their Israeli grandparents or to Daniel’s parents who want them very much? Author Judith Frank does a masterful job of letting readers feel what the protagonists feel. Relationships are strained all around as the would-be fathers try to mesh their former dreams with this new kind of family life.

It all rings true, from the deeply psychological personal struggles and the ways children mourn, to the question of how to feel and respond to the terrorist act. This issue-packed novel repeatedly moved me.
Read about another book on the list.

The Page 69 Test: All I Love and Know.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 23, 2014

What is Patrick Taylor reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Patrick Taylor, author of An Irish Doctor in Peace and at War: An Irish Country Novel.

The entry begins:
Ten Fighter Boys. Foreward by Jimmy Corbin: First published by Collins in 1942, reissued by Collins 2008

There are sentences from books indelibly etched in my mind from boyhood. “Call me Ishmael,” “I am born.” There is another. I’ll tell you about it later. My father served in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve during WWII. When I was a boy he used my bedroom as his library. Two of my favourite books were Spitfire Pilot by David Crook, and Ten Fighter Boys. Reading them I began to appreciate the immense bravery of the young men who fought in the Battle of Britain in the sumer and autumn of 1940. My interest in military history sprang from those works. Ten Fighter Boys was an unedited collection of the stories of ten Spitfire pilots on 66 Squadron stationed at Biggin Hill.

To my intense delight while looking for something to read on a recent flight to England and Ireland in part to visit a naval hospital which...[read on]
About An Irish Doctor in Peace and at War, from the publisher:
Long before Doctor Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly became a fixture in the colourful Irish village of Ballybucklebo, he was a young M.B. with plans to marry midwife Dierdre Mawhinney. Those plans were complicated by the outbreak of World War II and the call of duty. Assigned to the HMS Warspite, a formidable 30,000-ton battleship, Surgeon Lieutenant O’Reilly soon found himself face-to-face with the hardships of war, tending to the dreadnought’s crew of 1,200 as well as to the many casualties brought aboard.

Life in Ballybuckebo is a far cry from the strife of war, but over two decades later O’Reilly and his younger colleagues still have plenty of challenges: an outbreak of German measles, the odd tropical disease, a hard-fought pie-baking contest, and a local man whose mule-headed adherence to tradition is standing in the way of his son’s future. Now older and wiser, O’Reilly has prescriptions for whatever ails…until a secret from the past threatens to unravel his own peace of mind.

Shifting deftly between two very different eras, Patrick Taylor’s latest Irish Country novel reveals more about O’Reilly’s tumultuous past, even as Ballybucklebo faces the future in its own singular fashion.
Learn more about the book and author at Patrick Taylor's website.

My Book, The Movie: An Irish Doctor in Peace and at War.

The Page 69 Test: An Irish Doctor in Peace and at War.

Writers Read: Patrick Taylor.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Karen Miller's "The Falcon Throne"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Falcon Throne by Karen Miller.

About the book, from the publisher:
NO ONE IS INNOCENT. EVERY CROWN IS TARNISHED.

A royal child, believed dead, sets his eyes on regaining his father's stolen throne.

A bastard lord, uprising against his tyrant cousin, sheds more blood than he bargained for.

A duke's widow, defending her daughter, defies the ambitious lord who'd control them both.

And two brothers, divided by ambition, will learn the true meaning of treachery.

All of this will come to pass, and the only certainty is that nothing will remain as it once was. As royal houses rise and fall, empires are reborn and friends become enemies, it becomes clear that much will be demanded of those who follow the path to power.
Learn more about the author and her work at Karen Miller's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Falcon Throne.

The Page 69 Test: The Falcon Throne.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Ryan K. Smith's "Robert Morris's Folly"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Robert Morris's Folly: The Architectural and Financial Failures of an American Founder by Ryan K. Smith.

About the book, from the publisher:
In 1798 Robert Morris—“financier of the American Revolution,” confidant of George Washington, former U.S. senator—plunged from the peaks of wealth and prestige into debtors' prison and public contempt. How could one of the richest men in the United States, one of only two founders who signed the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution, suffer such a downfall?

This book examines for the first time the extravagant Philadelphia town house Robert Morris built and its role in bringing about his ruin. Part biography, part architectural history, the book recounts Morris’s wild successes as a merchant, his recklessness as a land speculator, and his unrestrained passion in building his palatial, doomed mansion, once hailed as the most expensive private building in the United States but later known as “Morris’s Folly.” Setting Morris’s tale in the context of the nation’s founding, this volume refocuses attention on an essential yet nearly forgotten American figure while also illuminating the origins of America’s ongoing, ambivalent attitudes toward the superwealthy and their sensational excesses.
Learn more about Robert Morris's Folly at the Yale University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Robert Morris's Folly.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top civil war novels

Prize-winning author Robert Wilton worked in a number of British Government Departments, including a stint as Private Secretary to three successive UK Secretaries of State for Defence.

At the Guardian he named ten top civil war novels, including:
Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson

The divisions in Britain continued to fester, over the religion and thus the identity of the king. In Scotland, the effects were bitter and lasting, and they inspired two great novelists. Sir Walter Scott pretty much invented historical fiction and, indeed, historical Scotland; his masterstroke was getting the Prince Regent to wear tartan on a visit to Edinburgh, reconciling Hanoverian and Jacobite traditions with a healthy dose of pantomime. But arguably he’s lasted less well than Robert Louis Stevenson, now recognised as a writer of high literary skill and brilliant imagination, as well as a pioneering critic of colonialism. The Samoans, among whom he settled, called him “the teller of tales”, and readers who return to him as adults are still caught up in the engaging pace and clarity of those tales. Set against the lingering Jacobite tensions, and built around real individuals and incidents, Kidnapped is a simple, timeless adventure.
Read about another entry on the list.

Kidnapped also appears among Janis MacKay's top ten books set on the ocean, Joshua Glenn's top 32 adventure novels of the 19th century, Charlie Fletcher's top ten swashbuckling tales of derring-do, M. C. Beaton's five best cozy mysteries and on John Mullan's lists of ten of the best wicked uncles in literature, ten of the best misers in literature, ten of the best shipwrecks, and ten of the best towers in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Dave Zeltserman's "The Boy Who Killed Demons," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Boy Who Killed Demons by Dave Zeltserman.

The entry begins:
The Boy Who Killed Demons has a number of teenage leads, and since I'm not up on teenage actors, I'm going to cop out here and use some adult actors, but when they were teenagers.

Henry Dudlow: Tom Hanks at fifteen

Sally Freeman: Evangeline Lilly at fifteen

Henry's father: Ty Burrell

Henry's mother: Julie...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Dave Zeltserman's website and blog.

My Book, The Movie: Small Crimes.

The Page 69 Test: Pariah.

The Page 69 Test: Outsourced.

My Book, The Movie: Outsourced.

The Page 69 Test: A Killer's Essence.

My Book, The Movie: A Killer's Essence.

Writers Read: Dave Zeltserman.

The Page 69 Test: The Boy Who Killed Demons.

My Book, The Movie: The Boy Who Killed Demons.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Six YA books which take place over the course of 24 hours

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog, Dahlia Adler tagged six Young Adult which all take place over the course of twenty-four hours, including:
Graffiti Moon, by Cath Crowley

Lucy has one plan for the night now that high school is over, and it’s to track down mysterious graffiti artist Shadow. She’s not interested in getting help from Ed, the disaster of a date she had once upon a time. But Ed insists he can help her find Shadow, and it’s an offer Lucy can’t refuse. Too bad she doesn’t realize that the man behind the art is far, far closer than she thinks, and that one night will change everything she thinks she knows about love.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Patrick Taylor's "An Irish Doctor in Peace and at War"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: An Irish Doctor in Peace and at War: An Irish Country Novel by Patrick Taylor.

About the book, from the publisher:
Long before Doctor Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly became a fixture in the colourful Irish village of Ballybucklebo, he was a young M.B. with plans to marry midwife Dierdre Mawhinney. Those plans were complicated by the outbreak of World War II and the call of duty. Assigned to the HMS Warspite, a formidable 30,000-ton battleship, Surgeon Lieutenant O’Reilly soon found himself face-to-face with the hardships of war, tending to the dreadnought’s crew of 1,200 as well as to the many casualties brought aboard.

Life in Ballybuckebo is a far cry from the strife of war, but over two decades later O’Reilly and his younger colleagues still have plenty of challenges: an outbreak of German measles, the odd tropical disease, a hard-fought pie-baking contest, and a local man whose mule-headed adherence to tradition is standing in the way of his son’s future. Now older and wiser, O’Reilly has prescriptions for whatever ails…until a secret from the past threatens to unravel his own peace of mind.

Shifting deftly between two very different eras, Patrick Taylor’s latest Irish Country novel reveals more about O’Reilly’s tumultuous past, even as Ballybucklebo faces the future in its own singular fashion.
Learn more about the book and author at Patrick Taylor's website.

My Book, The Movie: An Irish Doctor in Peace and at War.

The Page 69 Test: An Irish Doctor in Peace and at War.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Amy Bentley's "Inventing Baby Food"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Inventing Baby Food: Taste, Health, and the Industrialization of the American Diet by Amy Bentley.

About the book, from the publisher:
Food consumption is a significant and complex social activity—and what a society chooses to feed its children reveals much about its tastes and ideas regarding health. In this groundbreaking historical work, Amy Bentley explores how the invention of commercial baby food shaped American notions of infancy and influenced the evolution of parental and pediatric care.

Until the late nineteenth century, infants were almost exclusively fed breast milk. But over the course of a few short decades, Americans began feeding their babies formula and solid foods, frequently as early as a few weeks after birth.

By the 1950s, commercial baby food had become emblematic of all things modern in postwar America. Little jars of baby food were thought to resolve a multitude of problems in the domestic sphere: they reduced parental anxieties about nutrition and health; they made caretakers feel empowered; and they offered women entering the workforce an irresistible convenience. But these baby food products laden with sugar, salt, and starch also became a gateway to the industrialized diet that blossomed during this period.

Today, baby food continues to be shaped by medical, commercial, and parenting trends. Baby food producers now contend with health and nutrition problems as well as the rise of alternative food movements. All of this matters because, as the author suggests, it’s during infancy that American palates become acclimated to tastes and textures, including those of highly processed, minimally nutritious, and calorie-dense industrial food products.
Learn more about Inventing Baby Food at the University of California Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Inventing Baby Food.

--Marshal Zeringue

Cover story: "Gulag Town, Company Town"

Alan Barenberg is assistant professor of history at Texas Tech University.

His new book is Gulag Town, Company Town: Forced Labor and Its Legacy in Vorkuta.

Here Barenberg explains the connection of the book's cover to the pages within:
The cover image comes from a collection of photographs that Polish prisoners took after they were released from a prison camp in Vorkuta, an Arctic camp complex that was among the most notorious in the Soviet Gulag. Like many other former prisoners, these Polish ex-prisoners spent time in the city after they were released while awaiting papers allowing them to return home. This particular image shows ex-prisoner Anna Szyszko picking flowers in the tundra just outside the barbed wire that enclosed one of the sections of the Vorkuta camp. I first encountered this photograph at the Hoover Institution Archives at Stanford University, but the original photograph resides at the KARTA Center Foundation (Warsaw, Poland). KARTA graciously granted permission to use it as the cover.

I chose this photograph as the cover because it visually demonstrates a very important part of the book’s argument. Gulag Town, Company Town argues that the the Gulag was not an “archipelago” – instead, it was tightly integrated with Soviet society at large . The flowers in the foreground are juxtaposed with the prison camp buildings in the background, with the barbed wire standing in between. This visually demonstrates the proximity between life on the “outside” and the world of the Gulag “zone.” The figure of the recently-released Szyszko represents the ambiguous nature of identity and status for many prisoners and ex-prisoners: although her back is to the camp “zone” of her past, she remains close to it even as she engages in the most “normal” of activities, picking flowers. Szyszko’s serious, knowing glance is directed at the viewer, reminding us that this photograph is composed deliberately and intended to convey a particular message. The first time I saw this photograph I was absolutely transfixed, and I remain so every time I see it.
Learn more about Gulag Town, Company Town at the Yale University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Mike Maden reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Mike Maden, author of Blue Warrior.

His entry begins:
I just read my first John D. MacDonald book, The Deep Blue Good-By, the first in the Travis McGee series. I hadn’t been introduced to him before and only swerved into the series because so many other great writers pointed him out. Books from that decade can be a little slow and artificial. Too often, you’re painfully aware that you’re actually reading rather than simply experiencing the story. But McGee’s prose is swift and sweet, like a natural golf swing. It reads as...[read on]
About Blue Warrior, from the publisher:
A brutal conflict in Mali and an international race for rare elements sets the stage for Troy Pearce and his drone technology to rescue an old friend in this adrenaline-fueled series.

Blue Warrior is set in the remote Sahara Desert, where a recently discovered deposit of strategically indispensable Rare Earth Elements (REEs) ignites an international rush to secure them.

Standing in the way are the Tuaregs, the fierce tribe of warrior nomads of the desert wasteland, who are fighting for their independence. The Chinese offer to help the Malian government crush the rebellion by the Tuaregs in order to gain a foothold in the area, and Al-Qaeda jihadis join the fight. In the midst of all this chaos are Troy Pearce’s closest friend and a mysterious woman from his past who ask him for help.

Deploying his team and his newest drones to rescue his friends and save the rebellion, Troy finds that he might need more than technology to survive the battle and root out the real puppet masters behind the Tuareg genocide.
Visit Mike Maden's website, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

My Book, The Movie: Drone.

The Page 69 Test: Drone.

My Book, The Movie: Blue Warrior.

The Page 69 Test: Blue Warrior.

Writers Read: Mike Maden.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Top ten interesting characters who just happen to have a disability

Kim Hood is Young Adult author of Finding a Voice.

At the Guardian, she tagged her top ten interesting characters who just happen to have a disability, including:
Christopher, in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon

Christopher made it easier for people of all ages to understand the world from an autistic point of view. His bravery, despite his many fears and tendency to become overwhelmed by too much stimulus, makes him a character to cheer for.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is among Julia Donaldson's six best books and Melvyn Burgess's top ten books written for teenagers.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Charlie Lovett's "First Impressions"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: First Impressions: A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen by Charlie Lovett.

About the book, from the publisher:
A thrilling literary mystery costarring Jane Austen from the New York Times bestselling author of The Bookman’s Tale

Charlie Lovett first delighted readers with his New York Times bestselling debut, The Bookman’s Tale. Now, Lovett weaves another brilliantly imagined mystery, this time featuring one of English literature’s most popular and beloved authors: Jane Austen.

Book lover and Austen enthusiast Sophie Collingwood has recently taken a job at an antiquarian bookshop in London when two different customers request a copy of the same obscure book: the second edition of Little Book of Allegories by Richard Mansfield. Their queries draw Sophie into a mystery that will cast doubt on the true authorship of Pride and Prejudice—and ultimately threaten Sophie’s life.

In a dual narrative that alternates between Sophie’s quest to uncover the truth—while choosing between two suitors—and a young Jane Austen’s touching friendship with the aging cleric Richard Mansfield, Lovett weaves a romantic, suspenseful, and utterly compelling novel about love in all its forms and the joys of a life lived in books.
Learn more about the book and author at Charlie Lovett's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Bookman's Tale.

Writers Read: Charlie Lovett.

My Book, The Movie: The Bookman's Tale.

The Page 69 Test: First Impressions.

--Marshal Zeringue

Karen Miller's "The Falcon Throne," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Falcon Throne by Karen Miller.

The entry begins:
If I were to name every actor I'd cast in The Falcon Throne I think I'd still be here this time next year. But what I can do is mention the characters who most readily allied themselves with actors in my imagination. So, in no particular order:

Humbert - Roger Allam

I suspect that most people would know Allam from his portrayal of Javert in the original London cast of Les Miserables and, more recently, his work as DI Fred Thursday in the splendid early life of Morse series, Endeavour. But for me, it was his outstanding performance as Falstaff in The Globe's production of Henry IV Part 1 that caught my attention. You can see it for yourself on dvd and I urge you to do so. It is a truly astonishing piece of theatre and I defy anyone not to be outrageously entertained. Humbert isn't a rogue the way Falstaff is a rogue, but...[read on]
Learn more about the author and her work at Karen Miller's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Falcon Throne.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Martin J. S. Rudwick's "Earth’s Deep History"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Earth's Deep History: How It Was Discovered and Why It Matters by Martin J. S. Rudwick.

About the book, from the publisher:
Earth has been witness to mammoths and dinosaurs, global ice ages, continents colliding or splitting apart, comets and asteroids crashing catastrophically to the surface, as well as the birth of humans who are curious to understand it all. But how was it discovered? How was the evidence for it collected and interpreted? And what kinds of people have sought to reconstruct this past that no human witnessed or recorded? In this sweeping and magisterial book, Martin J. S. Rudwick, the premier historian of the earth sciences, tells the gripping human story of the gradual realization that the Earth’s history has not only been unimaginably long but also astonishingly eventful.

Rudwick begins in the seventeenth century with Archbishop James Ussher, who famously dated the creation of the cosmos to 4004 BC. His narrative then turns to the crucial period of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, when inquisitive intellectuals, who came to call themselves “geologists,” began to interpret rocks and fossils, mountains and volcanoes, as natural archives of Earth’s history. He then shows how this geological evidence was used—and is still being used—to reconstruct a history of the Earth that is as varied and unpredictable as human history itself. Along the way, Rudwick defies the popular view of this story as a conflict between science and religion and reveals that the modern scientific account of the Earth’s deep history retains strong roots in Judaeo-Christian ideas.

Extensively illustrated, Earth’s Deep History is an engaging and impressive capstone to Rudwick’s distinguished career. Though the story of the Earth is inconceivable in length, Rudwick moves with grace from the earliest imaginings of our planet’s deep past to today’s scientific discoveries, proving that this is a tale at once timeless and timely.
Learn more about Earth's Deep History at the University of Chicago Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Earth's Deep History.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 20, 2014

Ten must-read Russian novels

At Off the Shelf, Andrew Kaufman tagged ten Russian novels to read before you die, including:
And Quiet Flows the Don
by Mikhail Sholokhov

Often compared to War and Peace, this epic historical novel traces the fate of a typical Cossack family over a tumultuous ten-year period, from just before the beginning of World War I to the bloody civil war following the Russian Revolution of 1917. Early twentieth-century Russian history comes alive in Sholokhov’s well-developed characters who must contend not only with a society under siege, but ill-fated romances, family feuds, and a secret past that haunts the present.
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Charlie Lovett reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Charlie Lovett, author of First Impressions: A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen.

Part of his entry:
I am the president of the Board of Directors of my local literary non-profit, Bookmarks, which hosts a fantastic book festival every year. I always discover some great reads at the festival and this year was no exception. My favorite new find was Lev Grossman’s The Magicians. Lev is a great guy and I enjoyed getting to know him, and as a kid who grew up on Narnia his book really hit the mark. I’m looking forward to the other two books in the trilogy, but in the meantime I delved into his brilliant article about...[read on]
About First Impressions, from the publisher:
A thrilling literary mystery costarring Jane Austen from the New York Times bestselling author of The Bookman’s Tale

Charlie Lovett first delighted readers with his New York Times bestselling debut, The Bookman’s Tale. Now, Lovett weaves another brilliantly imagined mystery, this time featuring one of English literature’s most popular and beloved authors: Jane Austen.

Book lover and Austen enthusiast Sophie Collingwood has recently taken a job at an antiquarian bookshop in London when two different customers request a copy of the same obscure book: the second edition of Little Book of Allegories by Richard Mansfield. Their queries draw Sophie into a mystery that will cast doubt on the true authorship of Pride and Prejudice—and ultimately threaten Sophie’s life.

In a dual narrative that alternates between Sophie’s quest to uncover the truth—while choosing between two suitors—and a young Jane Austen’s touching friendship with the aging cleric Richard Mansfield, Lovett weaves a romantic, suspenseful, and utterly compelling novel about love in all its forms and the joys of a life lived in books.
Learn more about the book and author at Charlie Lovett's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Bookman's Tale.

My Book, The Movie: The Bookman's Tale.

Writers Read: Charlie Lovett.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Mike Maden's "Blue Warrior"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Blue Warrior by Mike Maden.

About the book, from the publisher:
A brutal conflict in Mali and an international race for rare elements sets the stage for Troy Pearce and his drone technology to rescue an old friend in this adrenaline-fueled series.

Blue Warrior is set in the remote Sahara Desert, where a recently discovered deposit of strategically indispensable Rare Earth Elements (REEs) ignites an international rush to secure them.

Standing in the way are the Tuaregs, the fierce tribe of warrior nomads of the desert wasteland, who are fighting for their independence. The Chinese offer to help the Malian government crush the rebellion by the Tuaregs in order to gain a foothold in the area, and Al-Qaeda jihadis join the fight. In the midst of all this chaos are Troy Pearce’s closest friend and a mysterious woman from his past who ask him for help.

Deploying his team and his newest drones to rescue his friends and save the rebellion, Troy finds that he might need more than technology to survive the battle and root out the real puppet masters behind the Tuareg genocide.
Visit Mike Maden's website, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

My Book, The Movie: Drone.

The Page 69 Test: Drone.

My Book, The Movie: Blue Warrior.

The Page 69 Test: Blue Warrior.

--Marshal Zeringue

Patrick Taylor's "An Irish Doctor in Peace and at War," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: An Irish Doctor in Peace and at War by Patrick Taylor.

The entry begins:
I would cast the primary characters as follows and invite the readers to cast the minor players:

Doctor Fingal O’Reilly — Liam Neeson

Doctor Barry Laverty — A young Leonardo DiCaprio

Kitty O’Reilly — Minnie...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Patrick Taylor's website.

My Book, The Movie: An Irish Doctor in Peace and at War.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Ten of the best fictional detectives

Lucy Worsley is the author of The Art of the English Murder: From Jack the Ripper and Sherlock Holmes to Agatha Christie and Alfred Hitchcock.

She tagged a ten best list of fictional detectives for Publishers Weekly, including:
Philip Marlowe (The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler, 1938)

‘Cosy crime’ dominated the British publishing industry between the wars. Murders seemed to happen mainly in country house libraries, and the characters became clich├ęd. It all got a bit boring.

A breath of fresh air arrived in 1938 with Raymond Chandler’s amoral, laconic, ‘hard-boiled’ detective, Philip Marlowe. Although Chandler was educated at Dulwich College in London, he ended up on America’s west coast. His short, sharp novels brought violence back into crime fiction.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Big Sleep also appears on Becky Ferreira's list of seven of the best books set in Los Angeles, Ian Rankin's list of five perfect mysteries, Kathryn Williams's reading list on greed, Gigi Levangie Grazer's list of six favorite books that became movies, Megan Wasson's list of five top books on Los Angeles, Greil Marcus's six recommended books list, Barry Forshaw's critic's chart of six American noir masters, David Nicholls' list of favorite film adaptations, and the Guardian's list of ten of the best smokes in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Boyd Cothran's "Remembering the Modoc War"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Remembering the Modoc War: Redemptive Violence and the Making of American Innocence by Boyd Cothran.

About the book, from the publisher:
On October 3, 1873, the U.S. Army hanged four Modoc headmen at Oregon's Fort Klamath. The condemned had supposedly murdered the only U.S. Army general to die during the Indian wars of the nineteenth century. Their much-anticipated execution marked the end of the Modoc War of 1872–73. But as Boyd Cothran demonstrates, the conflict's close marked the beginning of a new struggle over the memory of the war. Examining representations of the Modoc War in the context of rapidly expanding cultural and commercial marketplaces, Cothran shows how settlers created and sold narratives of the conflict that blamed the Modocs. These stories portrayed Indigenous people as the instigators of violence and white Americans as innocent victims.

Cothran examines the production and circulation of these narratives, from sensationalized published histories and staged lectures featuring Modoc survivors of the war to commemorations and promotional efforts to sell newly opened Indian lands to settlers. As Cothran argues, these narratives of American innocence justified not only violence against Indians in the settlement of the West but also the broader process of U.S. territorial and imperial expansion.
Learn more about Remembering the Modoc War at the University of North Carolina Press website, and visit Boyd Cothran's website.

The Page 99 Test: Remembering the Modoc War.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top modernizers in literature

John Grindrod is the author of Concretopia: A Journey Around the Rebuilding of Postwar Britain.

At the Guardian he tagged ten books--half are novels, half biographies--that "give a flavour of what the modern movement in architecture and planning was up to, particularly in postwar Britain." One entry on the list:
The Glass Room by Simon Mawer (2009)

The elegant glass room of the novel’s title is heavily based on Mies van der Rohe’s 1920s Villa Tugendhat in Brno. Mies’s fictional counterpart is Rainer von Abt, and the house he designs remains the central conceit of the book, from where we move from bourgeois high living to Nazi invasion and beyond. Mawer fuses big history with domestic drama in a Booker-shortlisted novel that sometimes lacks the lightness of the building.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue