Friday, August 01, 2014

Emily Arsenault's "What Strange Creatures," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: What Strange Creatures by Emily Arsenault.

The entry begins:
What Strange Creatures is about a woman, Theresa, whose brother is accused of a murder. Theresa is quirky and self-deprecating and loyal. When I considered who I’d have play her, a particular actress came to mind so immediately that I going to ignore the fact that she is probably a little too old for the role now: Joan Cusack. She has just the right balance of intelligence and goofiness. I’m thinking of how entertaining she was in School of Rock. Of course, I’d probably want her to tone down the silliness just a bit for this role, since What Strange Creatures is a murder mystery and of course, consequently, some pretty tragic things happen. Still, I wrote several of Theresa’s amateur sleuthing scenes to be comedically uncomfortable for her, and I think Joan Cusack could convey that kind of humor rather well.

No actor came so immediately to mind for Theresa’s brother, but Jake...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Emily Arsenault's website.

Arsenault is also the author of The Broken Teaglass, In Search of the Rose Notes, and Miss Me When I'm Gone.

The Page 69 Test: The Broken Teaglass.

My Book, The Movie: What Strange Creatures.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 31, 2014

What is Katrina Leno reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Katrina Leno, author of The Half Life of Molly Pierce.

Her entry begins:
We Are the Goldens by Dana Reinhardt. I read about 20% of this book before I went to sleep on a Monday night, and I finished the rest of it while flying cross-country the following day. I love reading a book blind—I don’t like to read many descriptions or reviews beforehand, because inevitably your reading of the book will then by tainted by other peoples’ reading of the book. So I’d only heard whispers of this (mostly people saying how much they enjoyed it), and I think it’s the sort of book where going in...[read on]
About The Half Life of Molly Pierce, from the publisher:
A gorgeous and visceral page-turner reminiscent of the film Memento, The Half Life of Molly Pierce is perfect for fans of Gabrielle Zevin's Elsewhere and Lauren Oliver's Before I Fall.

For all of her seventeen years, Molly feels like she's missed bits and pieces of her life. Now she's figuring out why. Now she's remembering her own secrets. And in doing so, Molly uncovers the separate life she seems to have led . . . and the love that she can't let go.
Visit Katrina Leno's website.

Writers Read: Katrina Leno.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five great books about small towns

For the Barnes & Noble Review, Jessica Ferri tagged five top books about American small towns, including:
The Optimist’s Daughter
by Eudora Welty

Perhaps in order to gain perspective on small-town life, one must escape, only to return after some distance. In Eudora Welty’s The Optimist’s Daughter, Laurel travels back home to New Orleans to see her father, Clint, a judge undergoing an operation on his detached retina. But when Clint unexpectedly dies, Laurel is left to organize a funeral and put up with her father’s second wife, the imbecilic Fay. The two women travel to Mississippi, where the Judge wanted to be buried and where Laurel grew up, bringing up memories of Laurel’s beloved mother, Becky. “‘Fay, my mother knew you’d get in her house. She never needed to be told. She predicted you,” Becky says. ” ‘Predict? You predict the weather,’ said Fay. You are the weather, thought Laurel. And the weather to come: there’ll be many a one more like you, in this life.” With her sharp wit and eccentric cast of characters, Welty captures the geyser of emotions that can occur when one returns to their childhood home.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: David M. Edelstein's "Occupational Hazards"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Occupational Hazards: Success and Failure in Military Occupation by David M. Edelstein.

About the book, from the publisher:
Few would contest that the U.S. occupation of Iraq is a clear example of just how fraught a military occupation can become. In Occupational Hazards, David M. Edelstein elucidates the occasional successes of military occupations and their more frequent failures. Edelstein has identified twenty-six cases since 1815 in which an outside power seized control of a territory where the occupying party had no long-term claim on sovereignty.

In a book that has implications for present-day policy, he draws evidence from such historical cases as well as from four current occupations—Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq—where the outcome is not yet known. Occupation is difficult, in Edelstein's view, because ambitious goals require considerable time and resources, yet both the occupied population and the occupying power want occupation to end quickly and inexpensively; in drawn-out occupations, impatience grows and resources dwindle.

This combination sabotages the occupying power's ability to accomplish two tasks: convince an occupied population to suppress its nationalist desires and sustain its own commitment to the occupation. Structural conditions and strategic choices play crucial roles in the success or failure of an occupation. In describing those factors, Edelstein prescribes a course of action for the future.
Learn more about Occupational Hazards at the Cornell University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Occupational Hazards.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: "The Cracks in the Kingdom"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Cracks in the Kingdom: Book 2 of The Colors of Madeleine by Jaclyn Moriarty.

About the book, from the publisher:
The second in Jaclyn Moriarty's brilliant, acclaimed fantasy trilogy, The Colors of Madeleine!

Picking up where A CORNER OF WHITE left off, Elliot is more determined to find his father than ever, now that he knows he's still alive. But first he must help Princess Ko find her own missing family, as the secret search for the royals of Cello begins. As part of the Royal Youth Alliance, Elliot will travel all over the Kingdom of Cello looking for any clue or detail or spell that could bring them (and maybe his own father) home. But once he learns that the royal family has been trapped in the World all this time, with no memory of their former lives, his real value to the Alliance becomes clear: He's the only one with a connection to the World, through Madeleine.

Together, through notes, letters, and late nights, Elliot and Madeleine must find a way to travel across worlds and bring missing loved ones home. The stakes are high, the writing both hilarious and heart-poundingly suspenseful, and the experience of reading it, sheer pleasure.
Visit Jaclyn Moriarty's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: The Cracks in the Kingdom.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eight new books to sharpen your awareness of injustice

Some staff members at In These Times tagged a few new books that "will sharpen your awareness of injustice and even provide you with some new tools to fight it," including:
Mining Capitalism: The Relationship Between Corporations and Their Critics by Stuart Kirsch

Through a detailed depiction of a fight over a mine in Papua New Guinea, Kirsch, an anthropologist at the University of Michigan, analyzes the methods corporations use to silence critics and advance their agendas.
Read about another book on the list.

Visit Stuart Kirsch's webpage.

The Page 99 Test: Mining Capitalism.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Erika Marks's "It Comes In Waves," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: It Comes In Waves by Erika Marks.

The entry begins:
I am a card-carrying movie junkie. Just ask my husband. It’s a joke in our house that we offer the perfect balance of knowledge to our two children: he, the biologist, covers the science, while I take care of the very important subject of enlightening our daughters about all things cinematic.

So it goes without saying that I see my novels as movies all the while I am writing them, and  It Comes In Waves was no exception. Sometimes I cast my books right away, other times I have to let the characters evolve and grow before it is clear to me who they resemble, or who they might be played by if my book was ever made into a movie....

Okay, here we go…

Claire: She’s tough but very vulnerable, a woman struggling to connect with her daughter, but also longing for the lost passion of her days as a champion surfer when she was madly in love and full of hope. I think Diane Lane would make a fantastic Claire in that she’d show the perfect combination of grit and fragility, and that all-important rawness of someone faced with their past and forced to confront it.

Jill: She’s the opposite of Claire but the role would need to be played by someone equally gifted at portraying the nuances of a woman, wife, mother, friend at a crossroads in her own life. I could envision Ashley...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Erika Marks's website.

Marks is also the author of The Guest House, Little Gale Gumbo, and The Mermaid Collector.

My Book, The Movie: Little Gale Gumbo.

My Book, The Movie: It Comes In Waves.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten stories with a youthful protagonist

John Boyne is the author of numerous works of fiction, including The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, a young adult novel that became an international bestseller and was made into an award-winning film.

One of his top ten child narrators, as shared at the Guardian:
Black Swan Green by David Mitchell

My favourite of Mitchell's novels lacks the astonishing movements through time and place that characterize his work, but this story of thirteen-year-old Jason Taylor, a stammerer, during the summer of the Falklands War is his most emotional and heartfelt book. Mitchell has recounted how some of his character's experiences mirror his own, which adds an intriguing autobiographical element to the narrative, and for those looking forward to September's The Bone Clocks, there's a nice connection between the two novels with a sort-of-shared character.
Read about another entry on the list.

Also see: The ten best books with teenage narrators.

--Marshal Zeringue

Free books: Terra Elan McVoy's "In Deep" & "Criminal"

The Campaign for the American Reader and Terra Elan McVoy are giving away a copy of the author's new YA novel In Deep and a copy of her 2013 YA novel Criminal, both personalized.

HOW TO ENTER: (1) send an email to this address:

(2) In the subject line, type In Deep.

(3) Include your name (or alias or whatever you wish to be called if I email you to tell you you've won the books) in the body of the email.

[I will not sell or share your email address; nor will I be in touch with you unless it is to tell you you have won the book.  I promise.]

Contest closes at 6PM (CST) on Wednesday, August 6, 2014.

Note: check your email on August 7th to see if you've won: you'll have 2 days to respond with your address and how you'd like your books personalized. If I don't hear from you in 48 hours, I'll pick another winner.

Only one entry per person, please.

Winner must have a US mailing address.

Read more about In Deep and Criminal.

Visit Terra Elan McVoy's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Laurie Faria Stolarz's "Welcome to the Dark House"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Welcome to the Dark House by Laurie Faria Stolarz.

About the book, from the publisher:
What's your worst nightmare?

For Ivy Jensen, it's the eyes of a killer that haunt her nights. For Parker Bradley, it's bloodthirsty sea serpents that slither in his dreams.

And for seven essay contestants, it's their worst nightmares that win them an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at director Justin Blake's latest, confidential project. Ivy doesn't even like scary movies, but she's ready to face her real-world fears. Parker's sympathetic words and perfect smile help keep her spirits up. . . at least for now.

Not everyone is so charming, though. Horror-film fanatic Garth Vader wants to stir up trouble. It's bad enough he has to stay in the middle of nowhere with this group-the girl who locks herself in her room; the know-it-all roommate; "Mister Sensitive"; and the one who's too cheery for her own good. Someone has to make things interesting.

Except, things are already a little weird. The hostess is a serial-killer look-alike, the dream-stealing Nightmare Elf is lurking about, and the seventh member of the group is missing.
Visit Laurie Stolarz's website.

The Page 69 Test: Welcome to the Dark House.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Ed Lin reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Ed Lin, author of Ghost Month.

His entry begins:
I love reading musicians' autobiographies, maybe because I had always wanted to be in a fully functioning band. Miles Davis, Chuck Berry and Brian Wilson have all penned incredible books and now Dead Boy co-founder Cheetah Chrome has joined them with the publication of A Dead Boy's Tale: From the Front Lines of Punk Rock. Best live-on-stage photo caption ever: "I think I got thrown in jail after...[read on]
About Ghost Month, from the publisher:
August is Ghost Month in Taiwan—a time to commemorate the dead: burn incense, visit shrines, commemorate ancestors, and avoid unlucky situations, large purchases, and bodies of water. Jing-nan, a young man who runs a food stand in a bustling Taipei night market, doesn’t consider himself superstitious, but this August is going to haunt him no matter what he does. He is shocked to the core when he learns his ex-girlfriend from high school has been murdered. She was found scantily clad and shot in the chest on the side of a highway where she was selling betel nuts to passing truck drivers. Beyond his harrowing grief for this lost love of his life, Jing-nan is also confused by the news: “betel nut beauties” are usually women in the most desperate of circumstances; the job is almost as taboo as prostitution. But Julia Huang had been the valedictorian of their high school, and the last time Jing-nan spoke to her she was enrolled in NYU’s honor program, far away in New York. The facts don’t add up. Julia’s parents don’t think so, either, and the police seem to have closed the case without asking any questions. The Huangs beg Jing-nan if he can do some investigating on his own—reconnect with old classmates, see if he can learn anything about Julia’s life that she might have kept from them. Reluctantly, he agrees, for Julia’s sake; but nothing can prepare him for what he learns, or how it will change his life.
Learn more about the book and author at Ed Lin's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Snakes Can't Run.

The Page 69 Test: One Red Bastard.

My Book, The Movie: Ghost Month.

Writers Read: Ed Lin.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Shannon Moroney's "Through the Glass," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Through the Glass by Shannon Moroney.

Part of her entry:
At its core, Through the Glass is a story of one woman on two journeys. The first is private and personal: I am trying to rebuild my life after my husband’s crimes and to overcome trauma, stigma and guilt-by-association. I’m trying to understand who he was and how he could have done what he did. The second journey is public and political: I am a citizen, bearing witness on a justice system that leaves victims out in the cold and a society that can be as stigmatizing as it can be compassionate. My eyes are being opened to the plight of offender’s families, the limits of a retributive justice system, and the vast need for systems that actually heal people.

It would be so easy to make a lurid, sensational and cheap film based on the most scant facts of my story. I say this because I’ve seen various media outlets do it: eye-catching headlines superimposed on crime scene tape, like “Tall, Dark and Homicidal: I married a Rapist”. They make me cringe. It would break my heart to see my book—and my life—made out in this simplistic, tabloid and fear-mongering way. My vision is a film with integrity, intelligence and complexity, one that is as much about the universal, human themes of love and loss, trust and betrayal, hope and grief, as it is about true crime.

I would be proud of a film made in the vein of Dead Man Walking or Erin Brockovich, as both capture so beautifully the lives of ordinary women who find themselves in extraordinary circumstances, called to active duty in battles they didn’t want or ask for. Although the women are played by glamorous Hollywood stars, they are not themselves glamorous, nor perfect. They struggle. They face criticism. They have...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Shannon Moroney's website.

My Book, The Movie: Through the Glass.

--Marshal Zeringue

Four top books for armchair travelers

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Ellen Wehle tagged four top books about adventures abroad, including:
A Paris Apartment, by Michelle Gable

Surely we’ve all had this daydream: one day the boss calls us into his office and asks us to go spend a month in Paris. For April Vogt, the offer is not only a daydream-come-true, but a much needed escape. At home, her husband is cheating on her and her personal life is coming apart. Before you can say crêpes suzette, she is on the plane.

April’s assignment is to appraise the furnishings of an apartment sealed up and abandoned during WWII. Untouched for 70 years, it’s an auctioneer’s treasure trove, packed with furniture and paintings from the Belle Epoque, but that’s not all. The apartment’s real treasure is its previous resident, the glamorous courtesan Marthe. When April discovers Marthe’s diaries, she is soon drawn into the mystery of the other woman’s life, and the secrets her apartment still holds.
Read about another book on the list.

The Page 69 Test: A Paris Apartment.

My Book, The Movie: A Paris Apartment.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Marianne Malone's "The Secret of the Key"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Secret of the Key: A Sixty-Eight Rooms Adventure by Marianne Malone.

About the book, from the publisher:
Chicago sixth graders Ruthie and Jack think they’ve learned everything about the magic of the Art Institute’s Thorne Rooms. But the magic starts to act strangely when Ruthie and Jack discover two rings that are out of place—and out of time—and a portal that shouldn’t be open but somehow is. Ruthie and Jack follow the clues to seventeenth-century England and the Brownlow house, where they meet the Brownlow’s governess, Rebecca. But Rebecca has a few secrets of her own—and she might even be in the wrong century! Can Ruthie and Jack discover the truth about Rebecca’s mysterious past, or will they end up stuck in the wrong century themselves? Their quest for answers takes them from 1930s New York City and San Francisco to turn-of-the-century China. The only one who can truly answer their questions may be the woman who started it all: the room’s creator, Narcissa Thorne. But to talk to Mrs. Thorne, they’ll have to go back in time and find her!

Unlock the magic . . . in the exciting conclusion to the Sixty-Eight Rooms Adventures!
Visit Marianne Malone's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Secret of the Key.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Matthew Tribbe's "No Requiem for the Space Age"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: No Requiem for the Space Age: The Apollo Moon Landings and American Culture by Matthew D. Tribbe.

About the book, from the publisher:
During the summer of 1969-the summer Americans first walked on the moon-musician and poet Patti Smith recalled strolling down the Coney Island Boardwalk to a refreshment stand, where "pictures of Jesus, President Kennedy, and the astronauts were taped to the wall behind the register." Such was the zeitgeist in the year of the moon. Yet this holy trinity of 1960s America would quickly fall apart. Although Jesus and John F. Kennedy remained iconic, by the time the Apollo Program came to a premature end just three years later few Americans mourned its passing.

Why did support for the space program decrease so sharply by the early 1970s? Rooted in profound scientific and technological leaps, rational technocratic management, and an ambitious view of the universe as a realm susceptible to human mastery, the Apollo moon landings were the grandest manifestation of postwar American progress and seemed to prove that the United States could accomplish anything to which it committed its energies and resources. To the great dismay of its many proponents, however, NASA found the ground shifting beneath its feet as a fierce wave of anti-rationalism arose throughout American society, fostering a cultural environment in which growing numbers of Americans began to contest rather than embrace the rationalist values and vision of progress that Apollo embodied.

Shifting the conversation of Apollo from its Cold War origins to larger trends in American culture and society, and probing an eclectic mix of voices from the era, including intellectuals, religious leaders, rock musicians, politicians, and a variety of everyday Americans, Matthew Tribbe paints an electrifying portrait of a nation in the midst of questioning the very values that had guided it through the postwar years as it began to develop new conceptions of progress that had little to do with blasting ever more men to the moon. No Requiem for the Space Age offers a narrative of the 1960s and 1970s unlike any told before, with the story of Apollo as the story of America itself in a time of dramatic cultural change.
Learn more about No Requiem for the Space Age at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: No Requiem for the Space Age.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 28, 2014

What is Tammy Kaehler reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Tammy Kaehler, author of Avoidable Contact.

Her entry begins:
I tend to read a lot of female authors, because I belong to an organization that puts on a Festival of Women Authors every year, and I’m constantly reading to evaluate potential guests. My current list is no exception….

I’m in the middle of Lian Dolan’s Elizabeth the First Wife in order to recommend the author for our event. It seems that Dolan and I graduated from the same college, only five years apart, and we have a mutual contact who recommended Dolan’s books so highly, I had to pick one up. At the halfway point, I’m glad to report that the advance praise I heard is accurate. Elizabeth is a funny, lighthearted novel about relationships (romantic and otherwise) and self-discovery, set in Pasadena, California, and Ashland, Oregon. I’m...[read on]
About Avoidable Contact, from the publisher:
Racecar driver Kate Reilly is suited up and ready for the start of the legendary 24 Hours of Daytona. But what’s ahead will test her will and nerve more than any other endurance race….

Even before the green flag waves over Daytona International Speedway comes word that Kate’s boyfriend Stuart is fighting for his life after a hit-and-run earlier in the day. Still reeling from that news, Kate must absorb other shocks in the race’s opening hours, including an on-track accident with tragic consequences and an eyewitness who claims Stuart was run down deliberately.

Convinced the reason for Stuart’s attack can be found in the race paddock, Kate and her best friend Holly join forces with an investigative reporter to find out who’s after Stuart and why. Alternating stints behind the wheel of her Corvette racecar with stretches of quizzing colleagues and searching for clues, Kate taps every possible source—friend, foe, and family—to help her unmask Stuart’s attacker.

As the race clock counts down to zero hour, Kate must confront her own deeply held fears about life, death, love, and trust before she can sort the truth from the lies around her. Only then can she identify who’s willing to kill to keep a secret buried—and stop them before they lash out again.
Learn more about the book and author at Tammy Kaehler's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Dead Man’s Switch.

My Book, The Movie: Dead Man's Switch.

The Page 69 Test: Braking Points.

Writers Read: Tammy Kaehler.

--Marshal Zeringue

Germaine Greer's 6 favorite books

Germaine Greer is an Australian academic and journalist, and a major feminist voice of the mid-twentieth century. She earned her PhD from the University of Cambridge in 1967. Greer's ideas have created controversy ever since The Female Eunuch became an international bestseller in 1970. She is the author of many other books including Sex and Destiny: The Politics of Human Fertility (1984); The Change: Women, Ageing and the Menopause (1991); Shakespeare's Wife (2007); and The Whole Woman (1999).

Greer's new memoir, White Beech, is an account of the decade she spent converting land that was once a dairy farm back to its primeval state.

One of her six favorite books, as shared at The Week magazine:
The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley

For my seventh birthday, my grandmother gave me this 1863 classic about a child laborer who transforms into a tiny sea creature. My grandmother probably thought that it was just the thing for a child who spent her summers poking around rock pools, but its perverse mixture of real natural history with preposterous fable puzzled me for years.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Amanda Kyle Williams's " Don't Talk to Strangers"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Don't Talk to Strangers by Amanda Kyle Williams.

About the book, from the publisher:
Hailed by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution as “one of the most addictive new series heroines,” Keye Street is the brilliant, brash heart of a sizzling thriller full of fear and temptation, judgments and secrets, infidelity and murder.

He likes them smart.

In the woods of Whisper, Georgia, two bodies are found: one recently dead, the other decayed from a decade of exposure to the elements. The sheriff is going to need help to track down an experienced predator—one who abducts girls and holds them for months before ending their lives. Enter ex–FBI profiler and private investigator Keye Street.

He lives for the struggle.

After a few weeks, Keye is finally used to sharing her downtown Atlanta loft with her boyfriend, A.P.D. Lieutenant Aaron Rauser. Along with their pets (his dog, her cat) they seem almost like a family. But when Rauser plunks a few ice cubes in a tumbler and pours a whiskey, Keye tenses. Her addiction recovery is tenuous at best.

And loves the fear.

Though reluctant to head out into the country, Keye agrees to assist Sheriff Ken Meltzer. Once in Whisper, where the locals have no love for outsiders, Keye starts to piece together a psychological profile: The killer is someone who stalks and plans and waits. But why does the sociopath hold the victims for so long, and what horrible things must they endure? When a third girl goes missing, Keye races against time to connect the scant bits of evidence. All the while, she cannot shake the chilling feeling: Something dark and disturbing lives in these woods—and it is watching her every move.
Visit Amanda Kyle Williams's website.

The Page 69 Test: Don't Talk to Strangers.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ed Lin's "Ghost Month," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Ghost Month by Ed Lin.

The entry begins:
If Ghost Month were made into a film, as the author I would have little to no power in casting it.

I'd be pleased, however, to see in the protagonist Jing-nan's role Mark Chao, who memorably portrayed a guy being raised by a single mom who goes on to join a gang for protection in the Taiwanese film Monga. He can appear conflicted and yet still resolute on what he's decided to do. Most importantly he looks like a music snob. I can see his eyes rolling if someone said Interpol were the new Joy Division.

I'd like to see Louis Ozawa Changchien in the role of the Taiwanese American. Is he a villain? Or is he really looking out for Jing-nan? Louis has a great menacing side, as shown in Predators and The Bourne Legacy, and he can...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Ed Lin's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Snakes Can't Run.

The Page 69 Test: One Red Bastard.

Writers Read: Ed Lin (May 2012).

My Book, The Movie: Ghost Month.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Ten top animal villains

Piers Torday was born in Northumberland, which is possibly the one part of England where more animals live than people. After working as a producer and writer in theatre, live comedy and TV, he now lives in London where there are more animals than you might think. His book The Last Wild was released in the US in March and is followed by the sequel, The Dark Wild.

One of Torday's top ten animal villains, as shared at the Guardian:
General Woundwort from Watership Down by Richard Adams

Don’t think rabbits are scary? Think again. Perhaps, in literary terms, a descendant of Napoleon, a large rabbit who “bares his long teeth like a rat’s fangs”. The real life territorial nature of rabbits is given serious bite through this ruthless character’s attempts to grab power, mad enough to nearly kill a cat and attack a dog…
Read about another entry on the list.

Watership Down is a book Junot Díaz hopes parents will read to their kids.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Kelly Fiore reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Kelly Fiore, author of Just Like the Movies.

Her entry begins:
Lately, most of the books I read are one of two things – books by friends or books highly recommended by friends. My first recent-read is a little bit of both. Dahlia Adler is an amazingly talented author who I also consider a good friend.

Behind the Scenes by Dahila Adler

There are a lot of things I love about Dahlia’s writing style and characterization, but I think the way she builds friendships is what draws me most to her work. I can hear Dahlia in her characters in the very best way. Her humor, her sarcasm, her emotions – all of them feel so genuine. I may have chosen Dahlia’s book because I know her, but I read the book – and raved about the book – because I loved it. It was, in all ways, an embodiment of what I love about...[read on]
About Just Like the Movies, from the publisher:
Pretty, popular Marijke Monti and over-achieving nerd-girl Lily Spencer have little in common—except that neither feels successful when it comes to love. Marijke can’t get her boyfriend to say “I love you” and Lily can’t get a boyfriend at all. When the girls end up at a late night showing of Titanic, sniffling along with the sinking ship, they realize that their love lives could—and should—be better. Which sparks an idea: Why can’t life be like a movie? Why can’t they create perfect romantic situations? Now they have a budding friendship and a plan—to act out grand gestures and get the guys of their dreams. It seems like fun at first, but reality turns out to be much more complicated, and they didn’t take into account that finding true love usually requires finding yourself first.
Visit Kelly Fiore's website.

Writers Read: Kelly Fiore.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five books that changed Dav Pilkey

Dav Pilkey has written and illustrated numerous popular, award-winning books for children, including the Captain Underpants and Dumb Bunnies series.

One of five books that changed him, as shared with the Sydney Morning Herald:
Peanuts Treasury - Charles M. Schulz

I grew up with ADHD and dyslexia, so reading was a real challenge for me as a kid. Struggling through a book was difficult and boring, so I avoided it whenever I could. My teachers weren't fans of these books. I still remember one librarian telling me that they weren't even real books at all. It didn't matter. They got me to read. They held my attention. And the more time I spent poring through these books, the more proficient I became at reading. These books not only taught me how to read, they taught me that reading can be fun.
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Robert Geraci's "Virtually Sacred"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Virtually Sacred: Myth and Meaning in World of Warcraft and Second Life by Robert M. Geraci.

About the book, from the publisher:
Millions of users have taken up residence in virtual worlds, and in those worlds they find opportunities to revisit and rewrite their religious lives. Robert M. Geraci argues that virtual worlds and video games have become a locus for the satisfaction of religious needs, providing many users with devoted communities, opportunities for ethical reflection, a meaningful experience of history and human activity, and a sense of transcendence. Using interviews, surveys, and his own first-hand experience within the virtual worlds, Geraci shows how World of Warcraft and Second Life provide participants with the opportunity to rethink what it means to be religious in the contemporary world. Not all participants use virtual worlds for religious purposes, but many online residents use them to rearrange or replace religious practice as designers and users collaborate in the production of a new spiritual marketplace.

Using World of Warcraft and Second Life as case studies, this book shows that many residents now use virtual worlds to re-imagine their traditions and work to restore them to "authentic" sanctity, or else replace religious institutions with virtual communities that provide meaning and purpose to human life. For some online residents, virtual worlds are even keys to a post-human future where technology can help us transcend mortal life. Geraci argues that World of Warcraft and Second Life are "virtually sacred" because they do religious work. They often do such work without regard for-and frequently in conflict with-traditional religious institutions and practices; ultimately they participate in our sacred landscape as outsiders, competitors, and collaborators.
Learn more about Virtually Sacred at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Virtually Sacred.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Ten of the best fictional feminists

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Ester Bloom tagged ten favorite fictional feminists, including:
Mildred Pierce (Mildred Pierce, by James M. Cain)

Care for a pie, or some chicken? The no-nonsense housewife at the center of this small, midcentury masterpiece, tired of being subject to various men, launches her own entrepreneurial enterprise. It goes great! Until, at least, she is undermined by her conniving daughter, who represents Traditional Femininity and a patriarchal society’s desire to keep women in their place. Ultimately, though, we have no doubt that Mildred, like the other feminists in this list, will rise from her own ashes. She is too tough and resourceful to do otherwise.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Adam Nevill's "The House of Small Shadows"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The House of Small Shadows by Adam Nevill.

About the book, from the publisher:
Catherine's last job ended badly. Corporate bullying at a top antiques publication saw her fired and forced to leave London, but she was determined to get her life back. A new job and a few therapists later, things look much brighter. Especially when a challenging new project presents itself — to catalogue the late M. H. Mason's wildly eccentric cache of antique dolls and puppets. Rarest of all, she'll get to examine his elaborate displays of posed, costumed and preserved animals, depicting bloody scenes from World War II. Catherine can't believe her luck when Mason's elderly niece invites her to stay at Red House itself, where she maintains the collection until his niece exposes her to the dark message behind her uncle's "Art." Catherine tries to concentrate on the job, but Mason's damaged visions begin to raise dark shadows from her own past. Shadows she'd hoped therapy had finally erased. Soon the barriers between reality, sanity and memory start to merge and some truths seem too terrible to be real... in The House of Small Shadows by Adam Nevill.
Learn more about the book and author at Adam Nevill's website.

The Page 69 Test: The House of Small Shadows.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Kimberly Elkins reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Kimberly Elkins, author of What Is Visible.

Her entry begins:
At this stage in my life, I always seem to be skipping back and forth between books, double- or triple-dipping, paying attention to whichever direction my emotional, intellectual, or even spiritual compass guides that day or that hour.

An esteemed writer friend recommended David Samuel Levinson’s recent debut novel, Antonia Lively Breaks the Silence, and I immediately saw why: the prose is brilliant--lush but precise--and the breathtaking plot the kind usually reserved for genre works, but here elevated to Nabokovian literary heights. You know you really love a book when...[read on]
About What Is Visible, from the publisher:
A vividly original literary novel based on the astounding true-life story of Laura Bridgman, the first deaf and blind person who learned language and blazed a trail for Helen Keller.

At age two, Laura Bridgman lost four of her five senses to scarlet fever. At age seven, she was taken to Perkins Institute in Boston to determine if a child so terribly afflicted could be taught. At age twelve, Charles Dickens declared her his prime interest for visiting America. And by age twenty, she was considered the nineteenth century's second most famous woman, having mastered language and charmed the world with her brilliance. Not since The Diving Bell and the Butterfly has a book proven so profoundly moving in illuminating the challenges of living in a completely unique inner world.

With Laura-by turns mischievous, temperamental, and witty-as the book's primary narrator, the fascinating kaleidoscope of characters includes the founder of Perkins Institute, Samuel Gridley Howe, with whom she was in love; his wife, the glamorous Julia Ward Howe, a renowned writer, abolitionist, and suffragist; Laura's beloved teacher, who married a missionary and died insane from syphilis; an Irish orphan with whom Laura had a tumultuous affair; Annie Sullivan; and even the young Helen Keller.

Deeply enthralling and rich with lyricism, WHAT IS VISIBLE chronicles the breathtaking experiment that Laura Bridgman embodied and its links to the great social, philosophical, theological, and educational changes rocking Victorian America. Given Laura's worldwide fame in the nineteenth century, it is astonishing that she has been virtually erased from history. WHAT IS VISIBLE will set the record straight.
Visit Kimberly Elkins's website.

My Book, The Movie: What Is Visible.

The Page 69 Test: What Is Visible.

Writers Read: Kimberly Elkins.

--Marshal Zeringue

Arthur Allen's "The Fantastic Laboratory of Dr. Weigl," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Fantastic Laboratory of Dr. Weigl by Arthur Allen.

The entry begins:
I’m Steven Spielberg, or Agnieska Holland, or … Steven Soderbergh? Jim Jarmusch? It’s another beautiful day in Hollywood. The casting agent is in my office now (is that how it works?) and, over wheatgrass juice, Ethiopian coffee and macadamia nuts, we’re examining her selections for my pic, The Fantastic Laboratory of Dr. Weigl….

For some reason I’ve always imagined Ben Kingsley in the role of Ludwik Fleck. He’s monkish, intelligent, sly —a reprise of Kingsley’s 1982 role as Mahatma Gandhi. On the other hand, maybe Kingsley’s too old. Adrien Brody? Moritz Bleibtreu? (Run, Lola, Run; Munich.)

Ernestyna Fleck I had figured as Meryl Streep… but she’s a bit long in the tooth for the role (did it take me that long to finish this book?). Sophie Marceau? Marion Cotillard?

Already, I can see that it’s a good thing I didn’t quit my day job…

For Rudolf Weigl...[read on]
Learn more about The Fantastic Laboratory of Dr. Weigl: How Two Brave Scientists Battled Typhus and Sabotaged the Nazis.

Visit Arthur Allen's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Fantastic Laboratory of Dr. Weigl.

--Marshal Zeringue