Sunday, July 05, 2015

Nina George's "The Little Paris Bookshop," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George.

From her entry:
You see: I am not so much into casting. I am also not so much into movies or celebs, so I am not sure, which living or dead actor could go for M. Perdu or all the stuff and personage. I never saw Jean Perdu from outside, I saw him from inside. If his eyes are blue, green or warm, if his hair is brown or gone – this was never the point.

And: I still believe that making movies is an art of its own. A regisseur, an actress, a cutter – they are artists in their manner, and experts to develop a new piece of art out of any book! So when I now say: Ehm, maybe George Clooney would fit?, this may not be the perfect choice for...[read on]
Visit Nina George's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Little Paris Bookshop.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Victoria Shorr reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Victoria Shorr, author of Backlands.

Her entry begins:
Funny you should ask—I am on a Coleridge bender at the moment, and it's all I want to talk about. It started this winter, when someone mentioned Alathea Hayter's Voyage in Vain, about Coleridge traveling to Malta to escape home—and opium. Something caught my imagination—I knew little of Coleridge beyond what we all know, "Kubla Khan," the interrupted opium dream. I picked up the book, and found myself immediately drawn—as were so many of Coleridge's contemporaries—into a life of seething, half-thrilling, half maddening poetic passion, and the era of the Sublime—almost a voyage itself, far away from our own "Get Comfortable" lives and times. I then went on to the two volume biography by the brilliant Richard Holmes...[read on]
About Backlands, from the publisher:
In this Bonnie and Clyde story of love and betrayal, a band of outlaws fight for control of the brutal Brazilian outback.

Set in the sparse frontier settlements of northeastern Brazil—a dry, forbidding, and wild region the size of Texas, known locally as the Sertao—Backlands tells the true story of a group of nomadic outlaws who reigned over the area from about 1922 until 1938. Taking from the rich, admired—and feared—by the poor, they were led by the famously charismatic bandit Lampiao. The gang maintained their influence by fighting off all the police and soldiers the region could muster.

A one-eyed goat rancher who first set out to avenge his father's murder in a lawless land, Lampiao proved to be too good a leader, fighter, and strategist to ever return home again. By 1925 he commanded the biggest gang of outlaws in Brazil. Known to this day as a "prince," Lampiao had everything: brains, money, power, charisma, and luck. Everything but love, until he met Maria Bonita.

"You teach me to make lace, and I'll teach you to make love"—this was the song the bandits marched to, across the vast open reaches of their starkly beautiful backlands, and it was Maria Bonita who made it come true. She was stuck in a loveless marriage when she met Lampiao, but she rode off with him, becoming "Queen of the Bandits." Together the couple—still celebrated folk heroes—would become the country's most wanted figures, protecting their extraordinary freedom through cunning.

Victoria Shorr's stunning literary debut tells Maria's story, her narrative of the intense freedoms, terrors, and sorrows of this chosen life, the end of which is clear to her all along. With the federal government in Rio mobilizing against the bandits, Backlands describes the epic final days of Lampiao’s "fatal month," July on the River of Disorder, as the gang struggles to summon their good star to save them one more time.
Visit Victoria Shorr's website.

The Page 69 Test: Backlands. 

My Book, The Movie: Backlands.

Writers Read: Victoria Shorr.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eight top revolutionary SF/F novels

"Revolution and rebellion are powerful concepts in real life and in fiction," Jeff Somers reminds us. "Science fiction and fantasy in particular offer us the opportunity to imagine revolutions both glorious and sinister, epic and underwhelming." One of Somers's top eight revolutionary SF/F novels, as shared at the B & N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog:
To Reign in Hell, by Steven Brust

Heavily inspired by Milton’s Paradise Lost, Brust recreates the story of Satan’s revolt in heaven with a reimagining that casts Yahweh as merely the greatest among equals who have created a fortress of order against chaos—known as Heaven. Heaven is not impervious, however, and is destroyed several times, prompting Yahweh, who declares himself god, to propose the creation of a second stronghold: Earth. Satan, tasked with compelling angels to sacrifice themselves in order to bring Yahweh’s vision to fruition, doubts the new deity’s right to demand so much from other angels, and slowly moves towards open rebellion. For his trouble, he is cast out, forming his own third fortress against chaos: Hell.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Mara Buchbinder's "All in Your Head"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: All in Your Head: Making Sense of Pediatric Pain by Mara Buchbinder.

About the book, from the publisher:
Although pain is a universal human experience, many view the pain of others as private, resistant to language, and, therefore, essentially unknowable. And, yet, despite the obvious limits to comprehending another’s internal state, language is all that we have to translate pain from the solitary and unknowable to a phenomenon richly described in literature, medicine, and everyday life. Without denying the private dimensions of pain, All in Your Head offers an entirely fresh perspective that considers how pain may be configured, managed, explained, and even experienced in deeply relational ways.

Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork in a pediatric pain clinic in California, Mara Buchbinder explores how clinicians, adolescent patients, and their families make sense of puzzling symptoms and work to alleviate pain. Through careful attention to the language of pain—including narratives, conversations, models, and metaphors—and detailed analysis of how young pain sufferers make meaning through interactions with others, her book reveals that however private pain may be, making sense of it is profoundly social.
Learn more about All in Your Head at the University of California Press website.

The Page 99 Test: All in Your Head.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Laura Levine's "Death by Tiara," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Death by Tiara by Laura Levine.

The entry begins:
Because my mysteries are comedic and my heroine, Jaine Austen, has been known to sling a one-liner or two—and because she’s not your typical Hollywood Skinny Girl—I thought comedienne Carolyn Rea would make a terrific Jaine. Of course, that was fourteen years ago when I first started writing the series. Now I’d love to get Melissa...[read on]
Visit Laura Levine's website.

The Page 69 Test: Killing Cupid.

My Book, The Movie: Death by Tiara.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five fictional books-within-a-book too dangerous to read

At B & N Reads, Ella Cosmo tagged five fictional books too dangerous to read, including:
Lullaby, by Chuck Palahniuk

In Palahniuk’s Lullaby, a children’s book is the source of a unique and terrifying outbreak. Simply named Poems & Rhymes, the book’s dark magic is triggered by reading the lullabies written inside; doing so imbues the reader with the power to kill instantly. This dark magic is uncovered by reporter Carl Streator, who embarks upon a breakneck quest to stop the spread of the infection by any means necessary. Accompanied by what can only be described as a ragtag group of co-adventurers, the novel is by turns refreshingly humorous and terrifying, keeping readers on their toes. Lullaby is one of those books that keeps you up late at night, because you just have to find out what happens next. Almost as though the power of Lullaby has infected you, too…
Read about another entry on the list.

Lullaby is among Ella Cosmo's five top supernatural books that promise to keep you up late at night.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Andrew Roe's "The Miracle Girl"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Miracle Girl by Andrew Roe.

About the book, from the publisher:
The crowds keep coming. More and more every day it seems . . . drawn by rumor and whisper and desperate wish. Somehow they heard about the little girl on Shaker Street.

They come to see eight-year-old Anabelle Vincent, who lies in a comalike state—unable to move or speak. They come because a visitor experienced what seemed like a miracle and believed it was because of Anabelle. Word spread. There were more visitors. More miracles. But is there a connection? And does it matter?

Set against the backdrop of the approaching millennium—with all its buzz about reckoning and doom–this impressive debut novel is narrated by Anabelle herself; by her devoted mother, who cares for her child while struggling to make sense of the media frenzy surrounding her; by Anabelle’s estranged father, who is dealing with the guilt of his actions; and by the people who come seeking the child’s help, her guidance, and her healing. Yet it tells a larger cultural story about the human yearning for the miraculous to be true, about how becoming a believer—in something, anything, even if you don’t understand it—can sustain you.
Learn more about the book and author at Andrew Roe's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Miracle Girl.

The Page 69 Test: The Miracle Girl.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 03, 2015

Ten top books about the mafia

Born in Sicily, Roberto Dainotto is professor of romance studies and literature at Duke University, where he teaches courses on modern and contemporary Italian culture. His latest book is The Mafia: A Cultural History.

One of Dainotto's top ten books about the mafia, as shared at the Guardian:
Mafia Brotherhoods by John Dickie (2014)

Historian Dickie is a master storyteller – which is fortunate for the reader of this 800-page tome, whose pages turn very quickly. It is one of the few books I know that attempt to trace the exhaustive history not of one, but of three Italian criminal organisations: ’ndrangheta, camorra, and mafia.
Read about another entry on the list.

Also see Alice-Azania Jarvis's reading list on the mafia.

--Marshal Zeringue

Victoria Shorr's "Backlands," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Backlands by Victoria Shorr.

The entry begins:
The characters in Backlands were real people, Brazilian outlaws, brave and tough and smart, and having traveled in the region and talked to so many people like them, people who knew them, it's harder for me to make that leap into casting than it would be for someone who only knew their story. The dream would be to cast the movie the way they cast Tom Jones, which absolutely caught the book by the tail. But...[read on]
Visit Victoria Shorr's website.

The Page 69 Test: Backlands. 

My Book, The Movie: Backlands.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Sara Solovitch's "Playing Scared"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Playing Scared: A History and Memoir of Stage Fright by Sara Solovitch.

About the book, from the publisher:
Stage fright is one of the human psyche's deepest fears. Laurence Olivier learned to adapt to it, as have actors Salma Hayek and Hugh Grant. Musicians such as George Harrison and Adele have battled it and learned to cope. Others never do: In 1973, Pittsburgh Pirates All-Star pitcher Steve Blass suddenly could no longer find the strike zone; his career ended soon after. Surveys in the United States repeatedly rank public speaking as one of the top fears, affecting up to 74 percent of people.

Sara Solovitch studied piano as a young child and fell in love with music. At ten, she played Bach and Mozart in her hometown's annual music festival, but was overwhelmed by fear. As a teen, she attended Eastman School of Music, where stage fright led her to give up aspirations of becoming a professional pianist. In her late fifties, Sara gave herself a one-year deadline to tame performance anxiety and play before an audience. She resumed music lessons, while exploring meditation, exposure therapy, cognitive therapy, biofeedback, beta blockers, and other remedies. She performed in airports, hospitals, and retirement homes before renting a public hall and performing for fifty guests on her sixtieth birthday.

Using her own journey as inspiration, Solovitch has written a thoughtful and insightful examination of the myriad causes of stage fright and the equally diverse ways to overcome it, and a tribute to pursuing personal growth at any age.
Visit Sara Solovitch's website.

My Book, The Movie: Playing Scared.

Writers Read: Sara Solovitch.

The Page 99 Test: Playing Scared.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Carola Dunn reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Carola Dunn, author of Superfluous Women (Daisy Dalrymple Mysteries, Volume 22).

Her entry begins:
I've been travelling, driving from Oregon to Southern California and back. The perfect reading for the motel evenings (and also for staying in a house with young children) is Discover magazine. I've been a subscriber since it was called Science '80. Every issue is full of fascinating stories about what's going on in the world of scientific research, from archeology, anthropology, and medicine to cosmology. I always read it from cover to cover, though I usually don't understand the physics, even at this popular level.

The latest issue but one has an article about an astrophysicist who has come up with a hypothesis about dark matter: that it doesn't exist. His theory, based on a development of Newtonian gravity, would do away with the clash between Einsteinian gravity and quantum mechanics. I don't claim to fully comprehend the arguments but that sounds to me like a good idea! The great thing about Discover is that it doesn't bombard me with math which I wouldn't understand at...[read on]
About Superfluous Women, from the publisher:
In England in the late 1920s, The Honourable Daisy Dalrymple Fletcher, on a convalescent trip to the countryside, goes to visit three old school friends in the area. The three, all unmarried, have recently bought a house together. They are a part of the generation of "superfluous women"--brought up expecting marriage and a family, but left without any prospects after more than 700,000 British men were killed in the Great War.

Daisy and her husband Alec--Detective Chief Inspector Alec Fletcher, of Scotland Yard --go for a Sunday lunch with Daisy's friends, where one of the women mentions a wine cellar below their house, which remains curiously locked, no key to be found. Alec offers to pick the lock, but when he opens the door, what greets them is not a cache of wine, but the stench of a long-dead body.

And with that, what was a pleasant Sunday lunch has taken an unexpected turn. Now Daisy's three friends are the most obvious suspects in a murder and her husband Alec is a witness, so he can't officially take over the investigation. So before the local detective, Superintendent Underwood, can officially bring charges against her friends, Daisy is determined to use all her resources (Alec) and skills to solve the mystery behind this perplexing locked-room crime.
Learn more about the book and author at Carola Dunn's website and blog.

Coffee with a Canine: Carola Dunn and Trillian.

The Page 69 Test: Heirs of the Body.

The Page 69 Test: Superfluous Women.

Writers Read: Carola Dunn.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Pg. 69: Jonathan David Kranz's "Our Brothers at the Bottom of the Bottom of the Sea"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Our Brothers at the Bottom of the Bottom of the Sea by Jonathan David Kranz.

About the book, from the publisher:
Don't fall, Ethan scrawls in red permanent marker across the rides and signs of Sea Town. Since his brother Jason's death, Ethan can't let go of his big brother.

Don't fall, Rachel reads as she prepares to dump back into the ocean the shells her brother Curtis collected. Curtis had Down syndrome, but that isn't why he plummeted to his death from the Rock-It Roll-It Coaster.

Together, Ethan and Rachel are about to discover just how far a man will go to protect his kingdom.

With lyrical storytelling, Jonathan David Kranz spins an irresistible tale of mystery and grief, guilt and culpability.
Visit Jonathan David Kranz's website.

The Page 69 Test: Our Brothers at the Bottom of the Bottom of the Sea.

--Marshal Zeringue

Andrew Roe's "The Miracle Girl," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Miracle Girl by Andrew Roe.

The entry begins:
My wife is my first reader, and when she read The Miracle Girl for the first time, one of the first things she told me was that it would make a good movie. I hadn’t thought of that while writing it, plus it always seemed like turning the book into a movie would be a challenge due to the large cast of characters and multiple points of view, as well as the significant amount of time/pages spent on interior stuff. All that said, however, I’d love it if my novel was adapted into a film. Who wouldn’t?

Jennifer Connelly was my wife’s choice to play the title character’s mother, Karen, who’s overwhelmed by caring for her daughter (eight-year-old Anabelle is in a coma-like state after a car accident) and also must deal with the growing number of visitors to her house who believe the girl can perform miracles. And I liked that choice, too, but over time (I worked on the book for several years) we both agreed that, since the character in the book is in her late 20s, Jennifer Connelly had probably aged out of the appropriate demographic. So another Jennifer might work better: Jennifer...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Andrew Roe's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Miracle Girl.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten Hollywood novels

Michael Friedman’s new book is Martian Dawn & Other Novels, a collection of three novels.

One of the author's ten best Hollywood novels, as shared at Publishers Weekly:
Children of Light by Robert Stone (1986)

I love this novel’s pacing and crisp dialogue; the deftness with which Stone draws his colorful minor characters; and the authority with which he handles the details of a film set. Divorced screenwriter, playwright and actor Gordon Walker is a major league coke addict, alcoholic and ladies man. Despite all good advice to the contrary, he insists on travelling from LA to the Mexico film set where his screenplay (an adaptation of the novel The Awakening by Kate Chopin) is being shot to visit old flame Lee Verger, the movie’s schizophrenic star. You know it’s not going to be pretty, and it isn’t.
Read about another book on the list.

Children of Light is among David Bowman's five great noir novels from the post-Chandler generations and Jane Ciabattari's five best novels on Hollywood.

--Marshal Zeringue

Coffee with a canine: Bill Vaughn & Hanna and Zoe

Featured at Coffee with a Canine: Bill Vaughn & Hanna and Zoe.

The author, on daily life with his dogs:
The dogs sleep with us. Zoe likes to get going at dawn, so we rarely get to sleep in. As the coffee brews we start off with ten minutes of Chuckit at a distance of a hundred yards. (Or this could be Farley, depending on what pasture we use.) Hanna doesn’t fetch, but prefers to carry a tennis ball as she “herds” Zoe. After their breakfast and the decanting of our coffee into a carafe, we play another ten minutes of Chuckit (or Farley). Then they run down our long driveway to help us fetch the newspaper. Later, the dogs play Fence. This is a game they invented in which they run along one of our four-hundred-yard fencelines—sealed with steel webbing to keep them in, as the many free-range neighbor dogs chase them from the safety of the other side. Much barking, much gnashing. In the afternoon they play Big Ball, a big inflated horse ball the dogs like to throw themselves against and push around. Then there will be swimming and stick-chasing in one of our sloughs. The day might include more chase games, moshing and maybe White Ball, a game the dogs play with a soccer ball. At dinner, they...[read on]
About Vaughn's book, Hawthorn: The Tree That Has Nourished, Healed, and Inspired Through the Ages, from the publisher:
One of humankind’s oldest companions, the hawthorn tree is bound up in the memories of every recorded age and the plot lines of cultures across the Northern Hemisphere. In Hawthorn, Bill Vaughn examines the little-recognized political, cultural, and natural history of this ancient spiky plant. Used for thousands of years in the impenetrable living fences that defined the landscapes of Europe, the hawthorn eventually helped feed the class antagonism that led to widespread social upheaval. In the American Midwest, hawthorn-inspired hedges on the prairies made nineteenth-century farming economically rewarding for the first time. Later, in Normandy, mazelike hedgerows bristling with these thorns nearly cost the Allies World War II. Vaughn shines light on the full scope of the tree’s influence over human events. He also explores medicinal value of the hawthorn, the use of its fruit in the world’s first wine, and the symbolic role its spikes and flowers played in pagan beliefs and Christian iconography. As entertaining as it is illuminating, this book is the first full appreciation of the hawthorn’s abundant connections with humanity.
Visit Bill Vaughn's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Bill Vaughn & Hanna and Zoe.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Renate Blumenfeld-Kosinski's "The Strange Case of Ermine de Reims"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Strange Case of Ermine de Reims: A Medieval Woman Between Demons and Saints by Renate Blumenfeld-Kosinski.

About the book, from the publisher:
In 1384, a poor and illiterate peasant woman named Ermine moved to the city of Reims with her elderly husband. Her era was troubled by war, plague, and schism within the Catholic Church, and Ermine could easily have slipped unobserved through the cracks of history. After the loss of her husband, however, things took a remarkable but frightening turn. For the last ten months of her life, Ermine was tormented by nightly visions of angels and demons. In her nocturnal terrors, she was attacked by animals, beaten and kidnapped by devils in disguise, and exposed to carnal spectacles; on other nights, she was blessed by saints, even visited by the Virgin Mary. She confessed these strange occurrences to an Augustinian friar known as Jean le Graveur, who recorded them all in vivid detail.

Was Ermine a saint in the making, an impostor, an incipient witch, or a madwoman? Renate Blumenfeld-Kosinski ponders answers to these questions in the historical and theological context of this troubled woman's experiences. With empathy and acuity, Blumenfeld-Kosinski examines Ermine's life in fourteenth-century Reims, her relationship with her confessor, her ascetic and devotional practices, and her reported encounters with heavenly and hellish beings. Supplemented by translated excerpts from Jean's account, The Strange Case of Ermine de Reims brings to life an episode that helped precipitate one of the major clerical controversies of late medieval Europe, revealing surprising truths about the era's conceptions of piety and possession.
Writers Read: Renate Blumenfeld-Kosinski.

My Book, The Movie: The Strange Case of Ermine de Reims.

The Page 99 Test: The Strange Case of Ermine de Reims.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

What is Sara Solovitch reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Sara Solovitch, author of Playing Scared: A History and Memoir of Stage Fright.

Her entry begins:
I’m in the middle of Francine Prose’s novel, Bigfoot Dreams. Like all her books, it’s sharp-elbowed and wickedly funny. Prose has a way of commenting on the culture that makes you look at things in a whole new light. In this book, she tells the story of a smart and cynical reporter whose job it is to make up stories for her sleazy tabloid newspaper. One day, she makes up a story that turns out to be true – truer than she ever could have imagined. And that’s the story that ruins everybody’s life. This is a book about a midlife crisis in which...[read on]
About Playing Scared, from the publisher:
Stage fright is one of the human psyche's deepest fears. Laurence Olivier learned to adapt to it, as have actors Salma Hayek and Hugh Grant. Musicians such as George Harrison and Adele have battled it and learned to cope. Others never do: In 1973, Pittsburgh Pirates All-Star pitcher Steve Blass suddenly could no longer find the strike zone; his career ended soon after. Surveys in the United States repeatedly rank public speaking as one of the top fears, affecting up to 74 percent of people.

Sara Solovitch studied piano as a young child and fell in love with music. At ten, she played Bach and Mozart in her hometown's annual music festival, but was overwhelmed by fear. As a teen, she attended Eastman School of Music, where stage fright led her to give up aspirations of becoming a professional pianist. In her late fifties, Sara gave herself a one-year deadline to tame performance anxiety and play before an audience. She resumed music lessons, while exploring meditation, exposure therapy, cognitive therapy, biofeedback, beta blockers, and other remedies. She performed in airports, hospitals, and retirement homes before renting a public hall and performing for fifty guests on her sixtieth birthday.

Using her own journey as inspiration, Solovitch has written a thoughtful and insightful examination of the myriad causes of stage fright and the equally diverse ways to overcome it, and a tribute to pursuing personal growth at any age.
Visit Sara Solovitch's website.

My Book, The Movie: Playing Scared.

Writers Read: Sara Solovitch.

--Marshal Zeringue

Catherine A. Winn's "Beyond Suspicion," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Beyond Suspicion by Catherine A. Winn.

The entry begins:
Beyond Suspicion made into a movie, “Woo-hoo!” Where do I sign?

If I could pick the lead? Willow Shields from The Hunger Games would be the only actress on my list.

Shelby Palmer, my main character, changes from a sweet, naïve, aggravated-by-parents fifteen-year-old sophomore from suburbia to a courageous young woman who draws on inner strength in a life and death struggle to save her little brother and herself from murderous...[read on]
Visit Catherine A. Winn's website.

My Book, The Movie: Beyond Suspicion.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six irresistible literary genre benders

At B & N Reads Nicole Hill tagged six "literary works that break barriers, combining genre tropes and standards to produce entirely unique, enthralling stories," including:
The Book of Speculation, by Erika Swyler

Is there anything more fulfilling than a book about books? Swyler’s savvy enough to know the answer is no, and thus centers her debut on Simon, a young librarian, with a, shall we say, dysfunctional family background involving a whole lot of circus folk. As so often happens, a mysterious book shows up on his doorstep one day. The book is a log from an 18th-century traveling carnival, which would be odd enough, but it also details strange reports of magic and misfortune, including the drowning of a circus mermaid. As it happens, Simon’s family tree is filled with women who’ve met watery ends, and all on the same date. Part historical thriller, part mystery, and part fantasy, The Book of Speculation traces this family curse and unravels a quandary generations in the making.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Victoria Shorr's "Backlands"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Backlands by Victoria Shorr.

About the book, from the publisher:
In this Bonnie and Clyde story of love and betrayal, a band of outlaws fight for control of the brutal Brazilian outback.

Set in the sparse frontier settlements of northeastern Brazil—a dry, forbidding, and wild region the size of Texas, known locally as the Sertao—Backlands tells the true story of a group of nomadic outlaws who reigned over the area from about 1922 until 1938. Taking from the rich, admired—and feared—by the poor, they were led by the famously charismatic bandit Lampiao. The gang maintained their influence by fighting off all the police and soldiers the region could muster.

A one-eyed goat rancher who first set out to avenge his father's murder in a lawless land, Lampiao proved to be too good a leader, fighter, and strategist to ever return home again. By 1925 he commanded the biggest gang of outlaws in Brazil. Known to this day as a "prince," Lampiao had everything: brains, money, power, charisma, and luck. Everything but love, until he met Maria Bonita.

"You teach me to make lace, and I'll teach you to make love"—this was the song the bandits marched to, across the vast open reaches of their starkly beautiful backlands, and it was Maria Bonita who made it come true. She was stuck in a loveless marriage when she met Lampiao, but she rode off with him, becoming "Queen of the Bandits." Together the couple—still celebrated folk heroes—would become the country's most wanted figures, protecting their extraordinary freedom through cunning.

Victoria Shorr's stunning literary debut tells Maria's story, her narrative of the intense freedoms, terrors, and sorrows of this chosen life, the end of which is clear to her all along. With the federal government in Rio mobilizing against the bandits, Backlands describes the epic final days of Lampiao’s "fatal month," July on the River of Disorder, as the gang struggles to summon their good star to save them one more time.
Visit Victoria Shorr's website.

The Page 69 Test: Backlands.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Pg. 99: Nancy Sherman's "Afterwar"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Afterwar: Healing the Moral Wounds of Our Soldiers by Nancy Sherman.

About the book, from the publisher:
Movies like American Sniper and The Hurt Locker hint at the inner scars our soldiers incur during service in a war zone. The moral dimensions of their psychological injuries--guilt, shame, feeling responsible for doing wrong or being wronged-elude conventional treatment. Georgetown philosophy professor Nancy Sherman turns her focus to these moral injuries in Afterwar. She argues that psychology and medicine alone are inadequate to help with many of the most painful questions veterans are bringing home from war.

Trained in both ancient ethics and psychoanalysis, and with twenty years of experience working with the military, Sherman draws on in-depth interviews with servicemen and women to paint a richly textured and compassionate picture of the moral and psychological aftermath of America's longest wars. She explores how veterans can go about reawakening their feelings without becoming re-traumatized; how they can replace resentment with trust; and the changes that need to be made in order for this to happen-by military courts, VA hospitals, and the civilians who have been shielded from the heaviest burdens of war.

2.6 million soldiers are currently returning home from war, the greatest number since Vietnam. Facing an increase in suicides and post-traumatic stress, the military has embraced measures such as resilience training and positive psychology to heal mind as well as body. Sherman argues that some psychological wounds of war need a kind of healing through moral understanding that is the special province of philosophical engagement and listening.
Visit Nancy Sherman's website and Facebook page.

The Page 99 Test: Afterwar.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sara Solovitch's "Playing Scared," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Playing Scared: A History and Memoir of Stage Fright by Sara Solovitch.

The entry begins:
A lot of my friends have asked me who would play me in the movie version of my book. What woman of a certain age – brash yet vulnerable, willing to face her demons – is up to the role? I initially thought of Susan Sarandon, the bad girl in Bull Durham. But after discovering...[read on]
Visit Sara Solovitch's website.

My Book, The Movie: Playing Scared.

--Marshal Zeringue

Winston Churchill’s ten top books

Winston Churchill never actually published a “Top Ten” list of his favorite books. But he did read a great many books and was known for his strong opinions. So Jonathan Rose, William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of History at Drew University and author of The Literary Churchill: Author, Reader, Actor, was able to speculate that Churchill’s top ten books list might include:
It Can’t Happen Here, Sinclair Lewis

This dystopian nightmare envisioned America under the Fascist jackboot, ruled by a corn pone despot clearly based on Huey Long. When Long was shot and killed, Churchill gloated over the demise of “the most clownish of the Dictator tribe.”
Read about another entry on the list.

My Book, The Movie: The Literary Churchill.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Eleanor Kuhns reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Eleanor Kuhns, author of Death in Salem.

Her entry begins:
I just finished a mystery titled Run You Down by Julia Dahl. This is the second (after Invisible City) and they are both great. Rebekah is the daughter of an Ultra-Orthodox woman who leaves the Orthodox community but finds she has real difficulty in adjusting to the outside world. One of the lines I most appreciated came from a young Jew who was contemplating leaving but couldn’t figure out, without the severe rules of his culture, how he would know what was right and wrong. Since I live within miles of...[read on]
About Death in Salem, from the publisher:
It's 1796, and traveling weaver Will Rees is visiting Salem, Massachusetts. He's in town to buy a luxurious gift for his pregnant wife, a few yards of well-made fabric from the traders at the famed Salem harbor. While traveling through Salem, however, Rees comes upon a funeral procession for the deceased Mrs. Antiss Boothe. When Rees happens upon Twig, a friend who fought alongside him in the war, he learns that Mrs. Boothe had been very ill, and her death had not come as a surprise. But the next morning, the town is abuzz with the news that Mr. Boothe has also died--and this time it is clearly murder. When the woman that Twig loves falls under suspicion, Twig persuades Rees to stay in Salem, despite the family waiting for him back home in Maine, and help solve the murder.

Rees is quickly pulled into the murky politics of both Salem and the Boothe family, who have long been involved in the robust shipping and trading industry on the Salem harbor. Everyone Rees meets seems to be keeping some kind of secret, but could any of them actually have committed murder?

Will Rees returns in Death in Salem, the next delightful historical mystery from MB/MWA First Novel Competition winner Eleanor Kuhns.
Learn more about the book and author at Eleanor Kuhns's blog and Facebook page.

Coffee with a Canine: Eleanor Kuhns & Shelby.

My Book, The Movie: Death of a Dyer.

The Page 69 Test: Death of a Dyer.

The Page 69 Test: Death in Salem.

Writers Read: Eleanor Kuhns.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 29, 2015

Pg. 69: Carola Dunn's "Superfluous Women"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Superfluous Women (Daisy Dalrymple Mysteries, Volume 22) by Carola Dunn.

About the book, from the publisher:
In England in the late 1920s, The Honourable Daisy Dalrymple Fletcher, on a convalescent trip to the countryside, goes to visit three old school friends in the area. The three, all unmarried, have recently bought a house together. They are a part of the generation of "superfluous women"--brought up expecting marriage and a family, but left without any prospects after more than 700,000 British men were killed in the Great War.

Daisy and her husband Alec--Detective Chief Inspector Alec Fletcher, of Scotland Yard --go for a Sunday lunch with Daisy's friends, where one of the women mentions a wine cellar below their house, which remains curiously locked, no key to be found. Alec offers to pick the lock, but when he opens the door, what greets them is not a cache of wine, but the stench of a long-dead body.

And with that, what was a pleasant Sunday lunch has taken an unexpected turn. Now Daisy's three friends are the most obvious suspects in a murder and her husband Alec is a witness, so he can't officially take over the investigation. So before the local detective, Superintendent Underwood, can officially bring charges against her friends, Daisy is determined to use all her resources (Alec) and skills to solve the mystery behind this perplexing locked-room crime.
Learn more about the book and author at Carola Dunn's website and blog.

Coffee with a Canine: Carola Dunn and Trillian.

The Page 69 Test: Heirs of the Body.

The Page 69 Test: Superfluous Women.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven of the unluckiest archetypes in fiction

At B & N Reads Tori Telfer tagged seven archetypes who just can’t seem to catch a literary break, including:
The Character Who Has a Phobia That’s Cruelly Exploited By the Author

Ever noticed how Ron Weasley, who has a terrible fear of spiders, is always encountering spiders? Can’t you just see J.K. Rowling cackling with glee every time she types “NEED MORE SPIDERS IN THIS SCENE” on her Macbook Pro? Or what about Captain Hook, who’s always being chased by his worst fear ever: the crocodile? It’s practically authorial sadism.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Amanda M. Czerniawski's "Fashioning Fat"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Fashioning Fat: Inside Plus-Size Modeling by Amanda M. Czerniawski.

About the book, from the publisher:
For two and a half years, Amanda Czerniawski was a sociologist turned plus-size model. Journeying into a world where, as a size 10, she was not considered an average body type, but rather, for the fashion industry, “plus-sized,” Czerniawski studied the standards of work and image production in the plus-sized model industry. Fashioning Fat takes us through a model’s day-to-day activities, first at open calls at modeling agencies and then through the fashion shows and photo shoots. Czerniawski also interviewed 35 plus-size models about their lives in the world of fashion, bringing to life the strange contradictions of being an object of non-idealized beauty.

Fashioning Fat shows us that the mission of many of these models is to challenge our standards of beauty that privilege the thin body; they show us that fat can be sexy. Many plus-size models do often succeed in overcoming years of self-loathing and shame over their bodies, yet, as Czerniawski shows, these women are not the ones in charge of beauty’s construction or dissemination. At the corporate level, the fashion industry perpetuates their objectification. Plus-size models must conform to an image created by fashion’s tastemakers, as their bodies must fit within narrowly defined parameters of size and shape—an experience not too different from that of straight-sized models. Ultimately, plus-size models find that they are still molding their bodies to fit an image instead of molding an image of beauty to fit their bodies. A much-needed behind-the-scenes look at this growing industry, Fashioning Fat is a fascinating, unique, and important contribution to our understanding of beauty.
Learn more about Fashioning Fat at the NYU Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Fashioning Fat.

--Marshal Zeringue

Renate Blumenfeld-Kosinski's "The Strange Case of Ermine de Reims," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Strange Case of Ermine de Reims: A Medieval Woman Between Demons and Saints by Renate Blumenfeld-Kosinski.

The entry begins:
Unlike my previous scholarly books this one actually has a plot and a riveting one at that. A simple woman named Ermine, widowed and penniless in late medieval Reims, moves into a room near her confessor, an Augustinian friar, whose ambition is to make her a saint. For the last ten months of her life she has horrible visions of demons in human and animal shape that invade her room and even take her on an aerial journey on a demonic flying horse. She’s middle-aged and apparently still attractive to some men since at one point she receives a marriage proposal. Her confessor is accused of having a sexual interest in her and demons accost her in the street calling her a whore. After her death of the plague in 1396 her confessor gets in touch with Jean Gerson, the powerful chancellor of the University of Paris -- who’s a kind of arbiter of the supernatural -- and sends him the text of the visions that he transcribed from Ermine’s testimony. He wants Gerson’s opinion on whether Ermine was indeed saintly. Gerson is ultracautious (he says neither yes, nor no) but twenty years later condemns her as an impostor.

So there are some juicy roles in this drama. First of all Ermine: she’s illiterate but seems to have some charisma. My first choice would be the Belgian actress...[read on]
Writers Read: Renate Blumenfeld-Kosinski.

My Book, The Movie: The Strange Case of Ermine de Reims.

--Marshal Zeringue

Coffee with a canine: Amy Fellner Dominy & Riley

Featured at Coffee with a Canine: Amy Fellner Dominy & Riley.

The author, on how she and Riley were united:
He was first introduced to my daughter, Rachel, by her third grade teacher who brought in a litter of puppies. It took one afternoon for her to convince us that we had to...[read on]
About Amy Fellner Dominy's A Matter of Heart, from the publisher:
Readers will happily sink into this emotionally grounded, contemporary young adult novel about the sudden end of one girl’s Olympic swimming dreams and the struggles she endures before realizing there are many things that define who we are.

Sixteen-year-old Abby Lipman is on track to win the state swim championships and qualify for the Olympic trials when a fainting incident at a swim meet leads to the diagnosis of a deadly heart condition. Now Abby is forced to discover who she is without the one thing that’s defined her entire life.
Visit Amy Fellner Dominy's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

Coffee with a Canine: Amy Fellner Dominy & Riley.

--Marshal Zeringue