Thursday, June 04, 2020

Q&A with Wesley King

From my Q&A with Wesley King, author of Sara and the Search for Normal:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

In this case, a great deal. The title Sara and the Search for Normal is very much a description of the central concept in this story, which is how we can define our own versions of normal. As a young girl suffering with a multitude of mental disorders, Sara is obsessed with becoming normal...that is, more like her peers. She has a list of rules to follow toward the end, but she can never quite manage it. This story is about how she learns self-acceptance, and therein, finds...[read on]
Visit Wesley King's website.

Q&A with Wesley King.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 03, 2020

Seven crime novels where vengeance is completely justified

T.R. Ragan (Theresa Ragan) is a New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. Her exciting Lizzy Gardner series: Abducted, Dead Weight, A Dark Mind, Obsessed, Almost Dead, and Evil Never Dies, has received tremendous praise. In August 2015 Evil Never Dies hit #7 on the Wall Street Journal bestselling list. Since publishing in 2011, she has sold over three million books and has been mentioned in the Wall Street Journal, the L.A. Times, PC Magazine, Huffington Post, and Publishers Weekly.

Ragan grew up in a family of five girls in Lafayette, California. An avid traveler, her wanderings have carried her to Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, China, Thailand, and Nepal, where she narrowly survived being chased by a killer elephant.

Her new novel is Don't Make a Sound.

At CrimeReads Ragan tagged seven "revenge stories about ordinary people who are thrown into extraordinary circumstances," including:
A Small Town by Thomas Perry

Twelve inmates break out of prison and create havoc in a small town. Years later, the fugitives have yet to be found. Then Leah Hawkins, a local cop who lost a loved one, is called in to find the men and take them down; one at a time. The building tension kept me on the edge of my seat. This book has it all—horror, heartbreak, and violence—but it’s Homicide Police Detective Leah Hawkins who drives the story as she sets out alone to take care of business. Although suspension of belief is required at times, this is an entertaining read with a gutsy, clever protagonist. I cheered her on until the very end.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 69 Test: A Small Town.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Heather Gudenkauf's "This Is How I Lied"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: This Is How I Lied: A Novel by Heather Gudenkauf.

About the book, from the publisher:
Everyone has a secret they’ll do anything to hide…

Twenty-five years ago, the body of sixteen-year-old Eve Knox was found in the caves near her home in small-town Grotto, Iowa—discovered by her best friend, Maggie, and her sister, Nola. There were a handful of suspects, including her boyfriend, Nick, but without sufficient evidence the case ultimately went cold.

For decades Maggie was haunted by Eve’s death and that horrible night. Now a detective in Grotto, and seven months pregnant, she is thrust back into the past when a new piece of evidence surfaces and the case is reopened. As Maggie investigates and reexamines the clues, secrets about what really happened begin to emerge. But someone in town knows more than they’re letting on, and they’ll stop at nothing to keep the truth buried deep.
Visit Heather Gudenkauf's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Heather Gudenkauf and Maxine.

Coffee with a Canine: Heather Gudenkauf & Lolo.

My Book, The Movie: Not A Sound.

The Page 69 Test: Not A Sound.

Writers Read: Heather Gudenkauf (April 2019).

The Page 69 Test: Before She Was Found.

The Page 69 Test: This Is How I Lied.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Natalie Carnes's "Motherhood: A Confession"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Motherhood: A Confession by Natalie Carnes.

About the book, from the publisher:
A meditation on the conversions, betrayals, and divine revelations of motherhood.

What if Augustine's Confessions had been written not by a man, but by a mother? How might her tales of desire, temptation, and transformation differ from his? In this memoir, Natalie Carnes describes giving birth to a daughter and beginning a story of conversion strikingly unlike Augustine's—even as his journey becomes a surprising companion to her own.

The challenges Carnes recounts will be familiar to many parents. She wonders what and how much she should ask her daughter to suffer in resisting racism, patriarchy, and injustice. She wrestles with an impulse to compel her child to flourish, and reflects on what this desire reveals about human freedom. She negotiates the conflicting demands of a religiously divided home, a working motherhood, and a variety of social expectations, and traces the hopes and anxieties such negotiations expose. The demands of motherhood continually open for her new modes of reflection about deep Christian commitments and age-old human questions.

Addressing first her child and then her God, Carnes narrates how a child she once held within her body grows increasingly separate, provoking painful but generative change. Having given birth, she finds that she herself is reborn.
Visit Natalie Carnes's website.

The Page 99 Test: Image and Presence.

The Page 99 Test: Motherhood: A Confession.

--Marshal Zeringue

Q&A with David Pepper

From my Q&A with David Pepper, author of The Voter File:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

My hope is that the title The Voter File walks the reader right into the story. To political watchers or insiders who understand what “the voter file” is, they’ll instantly surmise that something is happening at the very heart of a political campaign, or campaigns. And that the stakes are high. And their assumption will quickly be proven right.

To those who haven’t heard of the term, my hope is that in this age of technology, where data is king—so valuable, and so in need of security—the notion of a large “file" or database of voters instantly strikes the reader as both intriguing and unsettling. Enough to...[read on]
Visit David Pepper's website.

Q&A with David Pepper.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 02, 2020

Five top books to transport you to other worlds

Tade Thompson lives and works in the south of England. He is the author of the Rosewater trilogy (winner of the Nommo Award and John W. Campbell finalist), The Murders of Molly Southbourne (nominated for the Shirley Jackson Award, the British Science Fiction Award, and the Nommo Award), and Making Wolf (winner of the Golden Tentacle Award).

At the Guardian, he tagged five of the best books to transport you to other worlds, including:
Robert Macfarlane takes us on an evocative journey through the dark spaces of the underworld in Underland, a poetic, sometimes psychedelic exploration of the planet we live on that travels through geology, myth and history. Danger and death lurk in this exploration of time and place, as well as the beauty of Macfarlane’s lush prose. This is a book you can get lost in – a perfect way to escape the quarantine and be back in time for supper.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Debra Bokur's "The Fire Thief," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Fire Thief by Debra Bokur.

The entry begins:
My Dark Paradise Mysteries series is set in Hawaii, and The Fire Thief delves into the potential connection between ancient indigenous legends and several violent deaths that begin with the murder of a teenage surfer. Detective Kali Māhoe of the Maui Police Department balances her police training, a degree in anthropology and her knowledge of the islands’ dark lore to connect the dots. Aided by her uncle, Police Captain Walter Alaka’i, she investigates sightings of a faceless, malevolent spirit that appears to be connected to a string of solar panel thefts, all leading back to the bodies collecting on Maui’s sandy beaches.

I was a theater major, and practically everything I write begins in my head as a screenplay, so casting a film version of The Fire Thief happened early in the story process. My descent into make-believe even included an imaginary lunch with director Ron Howard, during which he offered to give me his dessert if I’d agree to let him direct the movie. Not only did I say yes, but in the spirit of fostering a good working relationship, I let him keep half his slice of pineapple upside-down cake.

When I write the character of Kali Māhoe, it’s an image of actress Keisha Castle-Hughes that wanders around my writing room. You might know her from Whale Rider, a film role that earned her a 2004 Academy Award nomination when she was only 13 years old. More recently...[read on]
Visit Debra Bokur's website.

Q&A with Debra Bokur.

The Page 69 Test: The Fire Thief.

My Book, The Movie: The Fire Thief.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Eve Yohalem's "The Truth According to Blue"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Truth According to Blue by Eve Yohalem.

About the book, from the publisher:
A heartfelt middle grade adventure about one girl's search for sunken treasure, friendship, and her place in the world.

Thirteen-year-old Blue Broen is on the hunt for a legendary ship of gold, lost centuries ago when her ancestors sailed to New York. Blue knows her overprotective parents won't approve of her mission to find their family's long-lost fortune, so she keeps it a secret from everyone except her constant companion, Otis, an 80-pound diabetic alert dog. But it's hard to keep things quiet with rival treasure hunters on the loose, and with Blue's reputation as the local poster child for a type 1 diabetes fundraiser.

Blue's quest gets even harder when she's forced to befriend Jules, the brainy but bratty daughter of a vacationing movie star who arrives on the scene and won't leave Blue alone. While Blue initially resents getting stuck with this spoiled seventh grade stranger, Jules soon proves Blue's not the only one who knows about secrets — and adventure.

Will Blue unravel a three hundred year-old family mystery, learn to stand up for herself, and find the missing treasure? Or is she destined to be nothing more than "diabetes girl" forever?
Visit Eve Yohalem's website.

Q&A with Eve Yohalem.

The Page 69 Test: The Truth According to Blue.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Caroline Mezger's "Forging Germans"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Forging Germans: Youth, Nation, and the National Socialist Mobilization of Ethnic Germans in Yugoslavia, 1918-1944 by Caroline Mezger.

About the book, from the publisher:
Forging Germans explores the German nationalization and eventual National Socialist radicalization of ethnic Germans in the Batschka and the Western Banat, two multiethnic, post-Habsburg borderland territories currently in northern Serbia. Deploying a comparative approach, Caroline Mezger investigates the experiences of ethnic German children and youth in interwar Yugoslavia and under Hungarian and German occupation during World War II, as local and Third Reich cultural, religious, political, and military organizations wrestled over young people's national (self-) identification and loyalty. Ethnic German children and youth targeted by these nationalization endeavors moved beyond being the objects of nationalist activism to become agents of nationalization themselves, as they actively negotiated, redefined, proselytized, lived, and died for the "Germanness" ascribed to them.

Interweaving original oral history interviews, untapped archival materials from Germany, Hungary, and Serbia, and diverse historical press sources, Forging Germans provides incisive insight into the experiences and memories of one of Europe's most contested wartime demographics, probing the relationship between larger historical circumstances and individual agency and subjectivity.
Learn more about Forging Germans at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Forging Germans.

--Marshal Zeringue

Q&A with Matthew Carr

From my Q&A with Matthew Carr, author of Black Sun Rising:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

Black Sun Rising is a suitably ominous and mysterious title, and it also references certain symbols and expectations at the heart of the novel that students familiar with the history of Nazism and pre-Nazi movements will recognise. The original working title, which was at the forefront of my mind while writing the book, was Degeneration – a reference to the nineteenth century social critic Max Nordau’s book with the same title.

The concept of degeneration – cultural, physical political, national, social - was a recurring obsession in Belle Epoque Europe, and it’s a key theme in the novel, whether it refers to Harry Lawton’s ongoing struggle with epilepsy, the racist paranoia of Randolph Foulkes and his circle, or the violent insurrection known as Tragic Week.

That said, I think Black Sun Rising is a more appealing and inviting title, and by the time readers reach the final page its real meaning will...[read on]
Visit Matthew Carr's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Devils of Cardona.

Writers Read: Matthew Carr (January 2019).

The Page 99 Test: The Savage Frontier.

Q&A with Matthew Carr.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 01, 2020

Seven novels that show the range and depth of gentrification fiction

Lisa Braxton is an essayist, short story writer, and novelist. She earned her MFA in creative writing from Southern New Hampshire University, her Master of Science in Journalism Broadcasting from Northwestern University and her Bachelor of Arts in Mass Media from Hampton University.

Her debut novel is The Talking Drum.

At CrimeReads, Braxton tagged "seven books [that] tackle the theme of gentrification through different lenses: eerie plots, a whodunnit-mystery, family drama, and reimagining of a classic tale." One title on the list:
Everything Here is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee

Family loyalty is tested in this novel in which mental illness is the centerpiece. Miranda is elder sister to Lucia, a brilliant journalist whose periodic descent into severe psychosis has taxed their relationship and left Miranda emotionally exhausted. The characters’ world comes to life in vivid descriptions of the gentrifying Lower East Side of 1990s New York City, the heavily immigrant towns along the Hudson River, and several communities in Ecuador.
Read about another entry on the list.

Everything Here is Beautiful is among Lynda Cohen Loigman's eight compelling books of sisterly friction.

My Book, The Movie: Everything Here Is Beautiful.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Debra Bokur's "The Fire Thief"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Fire Thief by Debra Bokur.

About the book, from the publisher:
The scenery may be beautiful, but dangerous secrets are buried beneath paradise in this first thriller featuring Maui detective Kali Māhoe.

Under a promising morning sky, police captain Walter Alaka’i makes a tragic discovery: the body of a teenage surfer bobbing among the lava rocks of Maui’s southeastern shore. It appears to be an ill-fated accident, but closer inspection reveals something far more sinister than the results of a savage wave gone wrong. Now that Alaka’i is looking at a homicide, he solicits the help of his niece, Detective Kali Māhoe.

The granddaughter of one of Hawaii’s most respected spiritual leaders, and on the transcendent path to becoming a kahu herself, Kali sees evidence of a strange ritual murder. The suspicion is reinforced by a rash of sightings of a noppera-bō—a faceless and malicious spirit many believe to be more than superstition. When a grisly sacrifice is left on the doorstep of a local, and another body washes ashore, Kali fears that the deadly secret ceremonies on Maui are just beginning.

To uncover a motive and find the killer, Kali leans on her skills at logic and detection. But she must also draw on her own personal history with the uncanny legends of the islands. Now, as the skies above Maui grow darker, and as she balances reason and superstition, Kali can only wonder: Who’ll be the next to die? And who—or what—is she even on the trail of?
Visit Debra Bokur's website.

Q&A with Debra Bokur.

The Page 69 Test: The Fire Thief.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Garrett Peck's "A Decade of Disruption"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: A Decade of Disruption: America in the New Millennium by Garrett Peck.

About the book, from the publisher:
An eye-opening history evoking the disruptive first decade of the twenty-first century in America.

Dubya. The 9/11 terrorist attacks. Enron and WorldCom. The Iraq War. Hurricane Katrina. The disruptive nature of the internet. An anxious aging population redefining retirement. The gay community demanding full civil rights. A society becoming ever more “brown.” The housing bubble and the Great Recession. The historic election of Barack Obama—and the angry Tea Party reaction.

The United States experienced a turbulent first decade of the 21st century, tumultuous years of economic crises, social and technological change, and war. This “lost decade” (2000–2010) was bookended by two financial crises: the dot-com meltdown, followed by the Great Recession. Banks deemed “too big to fail” were rescued when the federal government bailed them out, but meanwhile millions lost their homes to foreclosure and witnessed the wipeout of their retirement savings.

The fallout from the Great Recession led to the hyper-polarized society of the years that followed, when populists ran amok on both the left and the right and Americans divided into two distinct tribes. A Decade of Disruption is a timely re-examination of the recent past that reveals how we’ve arrived at our current era of cultural division.
Learn more about the book and author at Garrett Peck's website.

Garrett Peck's best books about Prohibition.

Writers Read: Garrett Peck (January 2010).

The Page 99 Test: The Prohibition Hangover.

The Page 99 Test: Capital Beer.

The Page 99 Test: A Decade of Disruption.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Laird Barron reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Laird Barron, author of Worse Angels.

From his entry:
Turning to a novel already out in the wild, Hilary Davidson’s One Small Sacrifice is the inaugural title in her new mystery series featuring a police detective and a war photographer. Davidson grounds the more dramatic elements of One Small Sacrifice in scenes of domestic tranquility. Perhaps owing to her experience as a travel writer, she has a knack for colorful detail that imbues both her setting of NYC and the cast of characters with a sense of realism and warm...[read on]
About Worse Angels, from the publisher:
Ex-mob enforcer-turned-private investigator Isaiah Coleridge pits himself against a rich and powerful foe when he digs into a possible murder and a sketchy real-estate deal worth billions.

Ex-majordomo and bodyguard to an industrial tycoon-cum-U.S. senator, Badja Adeyemi is in hiding and shortly on his way to either a jail cell or a grave, depending on who finds him first. In his final days as a free man, he hires Isaiah Coleridge to tie up a loose end: the suspicious death of his nephew four years earlier. At the time police declared it an accident, and Adeyemi isn’t sure it wasn’t, but one final look may bring his sister peace.

So it is that Coleridge and his investigative partner, Lionel Robard, find themselves in the upper reaches of New York State, in a tiny town that is home to outsized secrets and an unnerving cabal of locals who are protecting them. At the epicenter of it all is the site of a stalled supercollider project, an immense subterranean construction that may have an even deeper, more insidious purpose....
Visit Laird Barron's website.

Q&A with Laird Barron.

Writers Read: Laird Barron.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Five top campus novels

Kate Weinberg was born and lives in London. She studied English at Oxford and creative writing in East Anglia. She has worked as a slush pile reader, a bookshop assistant, a journalist and a ghost writer.

The Truants is her first novel.

At the Waterstones blog she tagged five favorite university-based novels, including:
The Secret History by Donna Tartt

I know, I know. It’s hardly an original or offbeat recommendation. But The Secret History is the perfect campus novel. I’ve read it and reread it. All told, I’d say I’ve read it more than fifty times. And the reason it’s the campus novel you have to read is because it’s a why-dunit combined with a coming-of-age story told by Richard Papen, who is the Nick Carraway (The Great Gatsby’s narrator) of campus novel narrators. I could tell you more about it, line by line, but let me just say this: I once met Donna Tartt and, having read the book so many times, I presumed we were friends and asked her what drugs she’d taken at college. She blanked me.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Secret History is on a top ten list of the best Twinkies in fiction, and among Emily Temple's twenty best campus novels and Ruth Ware's top six books about boarding schools.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: J. M. M. Nuanez's "Birdie and Me"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Birdie and Me by J. M. M. Nuanez.

About the book, from the publisher:
An emotional and uplifting debut about a girl named Jack and her gender creative little brother, Birdie, searching for the place where they can be their true and best selves.

After their mama dies, Jack and Birdie find themselves without a place to call home. And when Mama’s two brothers each try to provide one–first sweet Uncle Carl, then gruff Uncle Patrick–the results are funny, tender, and tragic.

They’re also somehow ... spectacular.

With voices and characters that soar off the page, J. M. M. Nuanez’s debut novel depicts an unlikely family caught in a situation none of them would have chosen, and the beautiful ways in which they finally come to understand one another. Perfect for fans of The Thing about Jellyfish and Counting By Sevens.
Visit J. M. M. Nuanez's website.

Writers Read: J. M. M. Nuanez.

The Page 69 Test: Birdie and Me.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Andre M. Perry's "Know Your Price"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Know Your Price: Valuing Black Lives and Property in America’s Black Cities by Andre M. Perry.

About the book, from the publisher:
The deliberate devaluation of Blacks and their communities has had very real, far-reaching, and negative economic and social effects. An enduring white supremacist myth claims brutal conditions in Black communities are mainly the result of Black people’s collective choices and moral failings. “That’s just how they are” or “there’s really no excuse”: we’ve all heard those not so subtle digs.

But there is nothing wrong with Black people that ending racism can’t solve. We haven’t known how much the country will gain by properly valuing homes and businesses, family structures, voters, and school districts in Black neighborhoods. And we need to know.

Noted educator, journalist, and scholar Andre Perry takes readers on a tour of six Black-majority cities whose assets and strengths are undervalued. Perry begins in his hometown of Wilkinsburg, a small city east of Pittsburgh that, unlike its much larger neighbor, is struggling and failing to attract new jobs and industry. Bringing his own personal story of growing up in Black-majority Wilkinsburg, Perry also spotlights five others where he has deep connections: Detroit, Birmingham, New Orleans, Atlanta, and Washington, D.C. He provides an intimate look at the assets that should be of greater value to residents—and that can be if they demand it.

Perry provides a new means of determining the value of Black communities. Rejecting policies shaped by flawed perspectives of the past and present, it gives fresh insights on the historical effects of racism and provides a new value paradigm to limit them in the future.

Know Your Price demonstrates the worth of Black people’s intrinsic personal strengths, real property, and traditional institutions. These assets are a means of empowerment and, as Perry argues in this provocative and very personal book, are what we need to know and understand to build Black prosperity.
Learn more about Know Your Price.

The Page 99 Test: Know Your Price.

--Marshal Zeringue

Q&A with Laird Barron

From my Q&A with Laird Barron, author of Worse Angels:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

So much depends upon the title; it’s a load-bearing structure. I’ve always thought so, probably because I concentrated upon poetry early in my development as a writer.

I provided the publisher with a list of alternatives to the working title; I won’t tell you what it was because writers are magpies. Worse Angels is the one the Putnam team chose. It does the job—protagonist Isaiah Coleridge has a dark past as an enforcer for the Chicago Outfit. Now he’s out and carving his own destiny. A man of contradictions, in no small part due to the fact various powers vie to influence, if not outright control him. He’s constantly pulled in one direction or another. Seeking a more righteous path, he endeavors to heed his better angels. In this instance, looking into the suspicious death of a young security officer at a stalled supercollider site. The problem is, as sinister forces impede the investigation, his darker angels have their own ideas about the manner and methods with which he should conduct himself. After all, what are our worse angels but...[read on]
Visit Laird Barron's website.

Q&A with Laird Barron.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Ten top thrillers featuring missing persons

Lisa Regan is the USA Today & Wall Street Journal bestselling author of the Detective Josie Quinn series as well as several other crime fiction titles. She has a Bachelor’s degree in English and a Master of Education degree from Bloomsburg University. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, Crime Writers Association, and Mystery Writers of America. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband, daughter and Boston Terrier named Mr. Phillip.

Regan's latest Josie Quinn novel is Find Her Alive.

At The Strand Magazine Regan tagged ten favorite thrillers featuring missing persons, including:
The Edge of Normal by Carla Norton

Twenty-two year old Reeve LeClaire spent years in captivity as a young girl but now, with the help of her therapist, Dr. Lerner, she is trying to manage her PTSD and put her life back together. When another abducted girl, Tilly, is recovered alive and recounts having gone through an ordeal similar to Reeve’s, Dr. Lerner enlists Reeve’s help to mentor the young girl. But the more that Reeve delves into the girl’s account, the deeper she is drawn into the criminal investigation. She knows better than anyone how predators work and she’s determined to help find this one. Norton’s talent is best showcased in the way she delves into the psyches of Reeve and Tilly. A taut, exceptionally written book.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Natalie Jenner's "The Jane Austen Society," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Jane Austen Society: A Novel by Natalie Jenner.

The entry begins:
In The Jane Austen Society there are eight main characters who band together at the end of WWII to save Jane Austen’s house, which is a bit of a handful for any producer to both cast and afford. Drawing quick distinctions between all these characters, both physically and temperamentally, became critical early on in the writing. But one thing they almost all had in common: a bona fide British accent. As a result, my dream cast would be a who’s who of leading actors in British film and television.

Because I write without any kind of an outline or idea of what lies ahead, I get to know my characters over time. But with The Jane Austen Society, one particular actor and his performances directly influenced one of my characters right from the start. Benjamin Gray is the widowed village doctor in my story, as well as the keeper of everyone's secrets. When I was writing, I kept imagining this pillar of the town who was so handsome and tall and comforting in tone, but also so inwardly tormented. In that respect the character called to mind the performance by British actor Richard Armitage in the 2004 BBC drama North and South where he played John Thornton, who has always struck me as the ultimate romantic period drama hero. I could see Matthew Goode for the character of the lawyer, Andrew Forrester, who is described as ramrod-straight in both posture and behaviour. For the farmer Adam in my book, I think James Norton from the television series Grantchester and the recent BBC War & Peace would capture the quiet gentleness of that character, and Tom Hughes of the ITV series Victoria would make a perfectly cutting Yardley, the Sotheby’s auctioneer. As for Jack Leonard, the rakish Hollywood producer who is so ostensibly lucky and golden, only...[read on]
Visit Natalie Jenner's website.

Q&A with Natalie Jenner.

My Book, The Movie: The Jane Austen Society.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Elizabeth Shackelford's "The Dissent Channel"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Dissent Channel: American Diplomacy in a Dishonest Age by Elizabeth Shackelford.

About the book, from the publisher:
A young diplomat’s account of her assignment in South Sudan, a firsthand example of US foreign policy that has failed in its diplomacy and accountability around the world.

In 2017, Elizabeth Shackelford wrote a pointed resignation letter to her then boss, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. She had watched as the State Department was gutted, and now she urged him to stem the bleeding by showing leadership and commitment to his diplomats and the country. If he couldn’t do that, she said, “I humbly recommend that you follow me out the door.”

With that, she sat down to write her story and share an urgent message.

In The Dissent Channel, former diplomat Elizabeth Shackelford shows that this is not a new problem. Her experience in 2013 during the precarious rise and devastating fall of the world’s newest country, South Sudan, exposes a foreign policy driven more by inertia than principles, to suit short-term political needs over long-term strategies.

Through her story, Shackelford makes policy and politics come alive. And in navigating both American bureaucracy and the fraught history and present of South Sudan, she conveys an urgent message about the devolving state of US foreign policy.
Follow Elizabeth Shackelford on Twitter.

The Page 99 Test: The Dissent Channel.

--Marshal Zeringue

Q&A with T.R. Ragan

From my Q&A with T.R. Ragan, author of Don't Make a Sound:
Do you see much of yourself in your characters? Do they have any connection to your personality, or are they a world apart?

Every protagonist I write has a piece of me in him or her. I want fairness and justice in the world, and my characters want that too. Within the pages I write, I get justice. As I mentioned before, I was quite shy growing up, which I believe made me an easy target for predators. My shyness led to fear, and later, to anger. It wasn’t until my early thirties that I found a way to let go of my anger and fear, not only through the books I read, but through the books I wrote. My characters could say and do things that I could not. With every book I wrote, I grew stronger. I no longer live in fear. Just like my characters, I can...[read on]
Visit T.R. Ragan's website.

The Page 69 Test: Furious.

Writers Read: T.R. Ragan (May 2016).

My Book, The Movie: Furious.

Q&A with T.R. Ragan.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 29, 2020

Ten psychological thrillers featuring sibling rivalry

Hannah Mary McKinnon was born in the UK, grew up in Switzerland and moved to Canada in 2010. After a successful career in recruitment, she quit the corporate world in favor of writing. She now lives in Oakville, Ontario, with her husband and three sons.

McKinnon's new novel is Sister Dear.

At CrimeReads she tagged ten favorite psychological thrillers with sibling rivalry at the heart of them, including:
This Is How I Lied by Heather Gudenkauf

More than two decades ago, the body of teenager Eve Knox was found in nearby caves by her best friend Maggie, and Eve’s sister, Nola. When potential new evidence is uncovered, Maggie, now a detective and seven months pregnant, is determined to find out what happened to Eve that night. Full of dark twists and questionable characters with even more questionable motives, Gudenkauf is a master at writing small-town creepy.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Emily B. Martin's "Sunshield"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Sunshield by Emily B. Martin.

About the book, from the publisher:
A lawless wilderness. A polished court. Individual fates, each on a quest to expose a system of corruption.

The desolate canyons of Alcoro—and the people desperate enough to hide there—couldn’t be more different from the opulent glass palace and lush forests of Moquoia. But the harsh desert and gleaming court are linked through their past, present, and future: a history of abductions in the desert to power Moquoia’s quarries and factories, and a bleak, inhumane future built on the sweat and sacrifice of these bond laborers.

But events unfolding in the present could change everything. In the desert, outlaw Lark—known to most as the Sunshield Bandit—has built a name for herself attacking slavers’ wagons and freeing the captives inside. But while she shakes the foundation of Moquoia’s stratified society, she also has to fight to protect her rescuees—and herself—from the unforgiving world around them.

In the Moquoian court, young ambassador Veran hopes to finally make his mark by dismantling the unjust labor system, if he can navigate the strict hierarchy and inexplicable hostility of the prince.

And caught in the middle of it all, Tamsin is trapped within four walls, the epicenter of a secret political coup to overthrow the Moquoian monarchy and perpetuate the age-old system of injustice.

Separated by seas of trees and sand, the outlaw, the diplomat, and the prisoner are more connected than anyone realizes. Their personal fates might just tip the balance of power in the Eastern World—if that very power doesn’t destroy them first.
Visit Emily B. Martin's website and check out her six stunning eco-fantasies for nature lovers.

The Page 69 Test: Sunshield.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Leslie Woodcock Tentler's "American Catholics"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: American Catholics: A History by Leslie Woodcock Tentler.

About the book, from the publisher:
A sweeping history of American Catholicism from the arrival of the first Spanish missionaries to the present

This comprehensive survey of Catholic history in what became the United States spans nearly five hundred years, from the arrival of the first Spanish missionaries to the present. Distinguished historian Leslie Tentler explores lay religious practice and the impact of clergy on Catholic life and culture as she seeks to answer the question, What did it mean to be a “good Catholic” at particular times and in particular places?

In its focus on Catholics’ participation in American politics and Catholic intellectual life, this book includes in-depth discussions of Catholics, race, and the Civil War; Catholics and public life in the twentieth century; and Catholic education and intellectual life. Shedding light on topics of recent interest such as the role of Catholic women in parish and community life, Catholic reproductive ethics regarding birth control, and the Catholic church sex-abuse crisis, this engaging history provides an up-to-date account of the history of American Catholicism.
Learn more about American Catholics at the Yale University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: American Catholics: A History.

--Marshal Zeringue

Q&A with Eve Yohalem

From my Q&A with Eve Yohalem, author of The Truth According to Blue:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

The title is catchy, but the picture on the book jacket tells the story: two girls and a dog on a dock, scanning the water, a sunken ship beneath them. Summer fun! Adventure! Mystery! Well, yes, that’s all in the book (or at least I hope so). But Blue has type 1 diabetes, and Otis is a service dog as well as a beloved pet. If you look closely, you’ll see Otis is bowing down, which is how he alerts Blue that her blood sugar is low. He isn’t playing; he’s telling her she needs to...[read on]
Visit Eve Yohalem's website.

Q&A with Eve Yohalem.

--Marshal Zeringue