Saturday, September 05, 2015

Ginger Adams Otis’ "Firefight," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Firefight: The Century-Long Battle to Integrate New York’s Bravest by Ginger Adams Otis.

The entry begins:
It’s hardly a leap for me to imagine my book as a movie because the firefighters I’m writing about -- flesh-and-blood smoke eaters here in New York City –are genuinely larger-than-life. Their drive and charisma would easily translate to the big screen, and firefighting itself is inherently dramatic. Firefight would also adapt well to a period piece, given what it reveals the earliest first black firefighters in NYC and around the country and the discrimination they encountered. Wesley Williams, one of the city’s original pioneers, was a tremendous individual and any actor who got to portray him would be very lucky indeed! Here’s my casting wish list for Firefight the movie:

Young Wesley Williams: this one is easy, it should be his great-grandson, Chris Myers! He’s a Juilliard-trained Broadway actor who could bring his family history to life.

Older Wesley Williams: the perfect man for this role is Hisham Tawfiq, a working (soon-to-be-retired) FDNY firefighter now, Hisham is also a working actor currently starring in Blacklist with James Spader.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg: this actor is a little young but he could bring a lot of the Bloombergian qualities to vivid life, Peter...[read on]
Read more about Firefight: The Century-Long Battle to Integrate New York’s Bravest at Ginger Adams Otis’ website.

My Book, The Movie: Firefight.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 04, 2015

What is Peter Lefcourt reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Peter Lefcourt, author of Purgatory Gardens.

His entry begins:
At the moment, I am reading a book of stories by Alice Munro, entitled Runaway. Full disclosure: I am reading it because it was the choice of my reading group. I dove in reluctantly, but found myself gradually being seduced by the sheer originality of the author’s mind. Munro uses time in a most unconventional and effective manner, bouncing back and forth between present, past and future. Her characters are...[read on]
About Purgatory Gardens, from the publisher:
Sammy Dee is a mid-level Long Island mafioso in witness protection. Didier Onyekachukwu was the corrupt minister of finance of the former Upper Volta. Both men find themselves in middle age, living in the Southern California version of genteel poverty in a down-market condo complex called Paradise Gardens. Enter Marcy Gray, a “mature” actress barely getting by on a meager SAG pension. She is looking for a guy to help her through the duration and, frankly, at this point her standards are not as high as they should be; she’d settle for someone who doesn’t pick his teeth at the table and who drives at night. Occasional sex and some travel wouldn’t hurt. Her search has narrowed to two fellow residents: Sammy and Didier, who, being male, are mostly interested in getting into Marcy Gray’s pants. Though a little of the money they mistakenly think she has wouldn’t hurt either.

Once both men realize that the other is the primary obstacle to Marcy’s affections, each decides to put a hit on the other, and winds up unknowingly hiring the same father-son demolition squad.

As the contract killers play both of their clients against one another, Marcy manages to keep both men out of her bed until one or the other of her prospects passes muster. Poisoned pizza, blown-up cars, sex in the sauna, and media madness ensue. It’s Elmore Leonard meets Carl Hiaasen as directed by the Coen brothers.

With Purgatory Gardens, Lefcourt is back at the top of his game as one of America’s leading comedic writers.
Visit Peter Lefcourt's website.

My Book, The Movie: Purgatory Gardens.

The Page 69 Test: Purgatory Gardens.

Writers Read: Peter Lefcourt.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five of the best books where nature is the antagonist

Jeff Somers is the author of Lifers, the Avery Cates series from Orbit Books, Chum from Tyrus Books, and We Are Not Good People from Pocket/Gallery. He has published over thirty short stories as well.

At B & N Reads Somers tagged five books with Mother Nature as antagonist, including:
Into Thin Air, by Jon Krakauer

Krakauer once again shows us how nature is always our antagonist, whether we realize it or not. While researching a magazine article about the commercialization of climbing Mount Everest and guide companies promising wealthy amateurs the opportunity to stand atop the summit in relative safety, Krakauer got more than he bargained for. A freak storm killed eight climbers, including some of the best-known in the world, and left dozens of others—including himself—in desperate straits. His tale of survival remains one of the most harrowing committed to paper. Above the mountain’s “Dead Zone,” nature is all there is, and it does not like human beings. The story continues to be adapted at regular intervals, but so far no one has quite captured its sadness, desperation, and heroism.
Read about another entry on the list.

Into Thin Air is among Nicole Dieker's top nine books even non-readers will love, James Mustich's five top books about mountaineering, and Ed Douglas's ten best survival stories.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Matthew McGevna's "Little Beasts"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Little Beasts by Matthew McGevna.

About the book, from the publisher:
Turnbull is a working-class town full of weary people who struggle to make ends meet. Evictions, alcoholism, and random violence are commonplace. In the heat of July 1983, when eight-year-olds James Illworth, Dallas Darwin, and Felix Cassidy leave their homes to play in the woods, they have to navigate between the potentially violent world of angry adults and even angrier teens. Little do they know that by the end of the summer, one of them will lay dead, after a bit of playful bullying from older teens escalates to tragedy.

Loosely based on a real crime that took place on Long Island in 1979, Little Beasts is a panorama of a poor, mostly white neighborhood surrounded by the affluent communities of the East End. After the murder, the novel’s main characters must come to grips with the aftermath, face down the decisions they’ve made, and reestablish their faith in the possibility of a better world.
Visit Matthew McGevna's website.

Writers Read: Matthew McGevna.

The Page 69 Test: Little Beasts.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Christine Leigh Heyrman's "American Apostles"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: American Apostles: When Evangelicals Entered the World of Islam by Christine Leigh Heyrman.

About the book, from the publisher:
The surprising tale of the first American Protestant missionaries to proselytize in the Muslim world

In American Apostles, the Bancroft Prize-winning historian Christine Leigh Heyrman brilliantly chronicles the first fateful collision between American missionaries and the diverse religious cultures of the Levant. Pliny Fisk, Levi Parsons, Jonas King: though virtually unknown today, these three young New Englanders commanded attention across the United States two hundred years ago. Poor boys steeped in the biblical prophecies of evangelical Protestantism, they became the founding members of the Palestine mission and ventured to Ottoman Turkey, Egypt, and Syria, where they sought to expose the falsity of Muhammad's creed and to restore these bastions of Islam to true Christianity. Not only among the first Americans to travel throughout the Middle East, the Palestine missionaries also played a crucial role in shaping their compatriots' understanding of the Muslim world.

As Heyrman shows, the missionaries thrilled their American readers with tales of crossing the Sinai on camel, sailing a canal boat up the Nile, and exploring the ancient city of Jerusalem. But their private journals and letters often tell a story far removed from the tales they spun for home consumption, revealing that their missions did not go according to plan. Instead of converting the Middle East, the members of the Palestine mission themselves experienced unforeseen spiritual challenges as they debated with Muslims, Jews, and Eastern Christians and pursued an elusive Bostonian convert to Islam. As events confounded their expectations, some of the missionaries developed a cosmopolitan curiosity about-even an appreciation of-Islam. But others devised images of Muslims for their American audiences that would both fuel the first wave of Islamophobia in the United States and forge the future character of evangelical Protestantism itself.

American Apostles brings to life evangelicals' first encounters with the Middle East and uncovers their complicated legacy. The Palestine mission held the promise of acquainting Americans with a fuller and more accurate understanding of Islam, but ultimately it bolstered a more militant Christianity, one that became the unofficial creed of the United States over the course of the nineteenth century. The political and religious consequences of that outcome endure to this day.
Learn more about American Apostles at the publisher's website.

The Page 99 Test: American Apostles.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 03, 2015

What is James R. Benn reading?

Featured at Writers Read: James R. Benn, author of The White Ghost.

One book he tagged:
Real Tigers, by Mick Herron.

I was lucky enough to get an advance reading copy of this entry in Mick Herron’s series, featuring disgraced MI5 agents exiled to Slough House and sentenced to career-ending mounds of meaningless paperwork. When one of them is kidnapped, the team reluctantly goes into action. Literate and funny, this one...[read on]
About The White Ghost, from the publisher:
In the Pacific during WWII, Billy Boyle must discover if skipper, and future president, Jack Kennedy is a cold-blooded killer.

1943: In the midst of the brutal, hard-fought Solomon Islands campaign between the Allies and the Japanese forces, Lieutenant Billy Boyle receives an odd assignment: he’s sent by the powerful Kennedy family to investigate a murder in which PT skipper (and future president) Jack Kennedy has been implicated. The victim is a native coastwatcher, an allied intelligence operative, whom Kennedy discovered on the island of Tulagi with his head bashed in. That’s Kennedy’s story, anyhow.

Kennedy was recovering in the Navy hospital on the island after the sinking of his PT-109 motor torpedo boat. The military hasn’t decided yet whether to make him a hero for surviving the attack, or have him court-martialed for losing the boat, and the last thing the Kennedy clan wants is a murder charge hanging over his head. Billy knows firsthand that he shouldn’t trust Jack: the man is a charmer, a womanizer, and, when it suits his needs, a liar. But would he kill someone in cold blood? And if so, why? The first murder is followed by two more, and to find the killer, Billy must sort through a tangled, shifting web of motives and identities, even as combat rages all around him.
Learn more about the Billy Boyle WWII Mystery Series at James R. Benn's website.

The Page 99 Test: The First Wave.

The Page 69 Test: Evil for Evil.

The Page 69 Test: Rag and Bone.

My Book, The Movie: Death's Door.

Writers Read: James R. Benn.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five book series conclusions that will rip your heart out

Stephanie Diaz's latest novel is Evolution, the conclusion to her young adult sci-fi series that began with Extraction. For Tor.com she tagged five "series conclusions that will leave you devastated by the final chapter," including:
Flame, Amy Kathleen Ryan (Sky Chasers Series)

The Sky Chasers series manages to capture the vastness and adventure of a space adventure while also exploring riveting moral questions. In the series, fifteen-year-old Waverly and a group of fellow young women traveling aboard a generation ship from Earth, the Empyrean, are kidnapped by the leaders of a second gen ship dealing with a very serious problem: None of their crew members have been able to conceive offspring. Waverly and the other girls from the Empyrean were all conceived in space, so they should be able to help solve the gen ship’s problem. Of course, it’s the last thing the girls want to do for strangers who’ve just stolen them away from their families. The danger only gets worse for the girls throughout the three installments of the series, finishing with a conclusion in Flame that doesn’t disappoint.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eytan Bayme's "High Holiday Porn," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: High Holiday Porn: A Memoir by Eytan Bayme.

The entry begins:
High Holiday Porn is set within the New York City Jewish Modern Orthodox community in the late 1980s and 90s. It’s an insular world with religious rules and rituals, but also connected to secularism through education, culture and proximity to the metropolitan area. I grew up in a religious household, studied at a religious school and attended synagogue weekly, yet I was fascinated by the outside world and all it had to offer, particularly relating to sex. For this reason, I think it’s important that the film version of High Holiday Porn be placed in the hands of a director (or directors) who’s comfortable with subtly unique settings and time periods. Joel and Ethan Coen, specifically, would be ideal choices. All their films take place in slightly unfamiliar times and places (1930s Art Deco New York in Hudsucker Proxy, 1970s New York folk scene in Inside Llewyn Davis) and I think the Coens would handle the particularities of Modern Orthodox New York - caught between tradition and the modern world - with the same careful and considerate detail. In addition, in their depiction of suburban Conservative Judaism in A Serious Man, they incorporated the role and influence of community over its members— a theme that constantly comes up in High Holiday Porn— and I think it would be...[read on]
Visit Eytan Bayme's website.

My Book, The Movie: High Holiday Porn.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Peter Lefcourt's "Purgatory Gardens"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Purgatory Gardens: A Novel by Peter Lefcourt.

About the book, from the publisher:
Sammy Dee is a mid-level Long Island mafioso in witness protection. Didier Onyekachukwu was the corrupt minister of finance of the former Upper Volta. Both men find themselves in middle age, living in the Southern California version of genteel poverty in a down-market condo complex called Paradise Gardens. Enter Marcy Gray, a “mature” actress barely getting by on a meager SAG pension. She is looking for a guy to help her through the duration and, frankly, at this point her standards are not as high as they should be; she’d settle for someone who doesn’t pick his teeth at the table and who drives at night. Occasional sex and some travel wouldn’t hurt. Her search has narrowed to two fellow residents: Sammy and Didier, who, being male, are mostly interested in getting into Marcy Gray’s pants. Though a little of the money they mistakenly think she has wouldn’t hurt either.

Once both men realize that the other is the primary obstacle to Marcy’s affections, each decides to put a hit on the other, and winds up unknowingly hiring the same father-son demolition squad.

As the contract killers play both of their clients against one another, Marcy manages to keep both men out of her bed until one or the other of her prospects passes muster. Poisoned pizza, blown-up cars, sex in the sauna, and media madness ensue. It’s Elmore Leonard meets Carl Hiaasen as directed by the Coen brothers.

With Purgatory Gardens, Lefcourt is back at the top of his game as one of America’s leading comedic writers.
Visit Peter Lefcourt's website.

My Book, The Movie: Purgatory Gardens.

The Page 69 Test: Purgatory Gardens.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Top 10 cricket scenes in fiction

Richard Tomlinson is the author of Amazing Grace: The Man Who Was WG, a biography of W.G. Grace, widely considered one of cricket's greatest-ever players. At the Guardian Tomlinson tagged ten top cricket scenes in fiction, including:
Netherland by Joseph O’Neill (2008)

Hans van den Brock, a Wall Street bank analyst, seeks solace from a broken marriage by joining Staten Island cricket club. One sweltering afternoon, a Trinidadian umpire called Chuck Ramkissoon orders a bowler out of the attack for delivering dangerous bouncers. The fielders protest and then scatter when a man wanders onto the field brandishing a gun. Ramkissoon stays put and persuades the intruder to leave the field. We already know that the umpire will die a gangster’s death, his handcuffed body dumped in a canal. Why then, does he deliver a homily after the game about cricket as a lesson in civility? In one passage of play (or rather, non-play), O’Neill sets up a sub-plot that deserves a novel in itself.
Read about another entry on the list.

Also see: Shehan Karunatilaka's top ten books on cricket.

Netherland is among Brooke Hauser's six favorite books about immigrants.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Sharon Huss Roat reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Sharon Huss Roat, author of Between the Notes.

Her entry begins:
Almost all of my reading material over the past year has come in the form of Advance Reader Copies from other 2015 debut YA authors who are fellow members of the Fearless Fifteeners. The two in my hands right now are by authors I will be appearing with at book events this fall, so I’ve been very anxious to read their books. I also was intrigued by these two titles because they are very different from my own, and I find it better to be reading something that is not too similar to what I am currently writing.

First is The Cost of All Things by Maggie Lehrman, which I just finished reading this morning. And whoa, it was good. The story is told from four different points of view, three of which are in the present and one in the past. Sounds complicated and hard to follow, but it wasn’t. Kudos to Maggie for pulling that off, and weaving a fascinating magical...[read on]
About Between the Notes, from the publisher:
After Ivy is forced to move to "the wrong side of the tracks" due to economic hard times, she discovers that not everything—or everyone—is what they seem, even herself. Fans of Jenny Han and Sarah Dessen will love this funny, poignant, and relatable story.

When Ivy Emerson's family loses their house—complete with her beloved piano—the fear of what's to come seizes her like a bad case of stage fright. Forced to give up her allowance, her cell phone, and the window seat in her lilac-colored bedroom, Ivy moves with her family from her affluent neighborhood to Lakeside, aka "the wrong side of the tracks." Hiding the truth from her friends—and the cute new guy in school, who may have secrets of his own—seems like a good idea at first. But when the bad-boy-next door threatens to ruin everything, Ivy's carefully crafted lies begin to unravel ... and there is no way to stop them.

Once things get to the breaking point, Ivy turns to her music, some surprising new friends, and the trusting heart of her disabled little brother. And she may be surprised that not everyone is who she thought they were . . . including herself.
Visit Sharon Huss Roat's website.

The Page 69 Test: Between the Notes.

Writers Read: Sharon Huss Roat.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Samuel Moyn's "Christian Human Rights"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Christian Human Rights by Samuel Moyn.

About the book, from the publisher:
In Christian Human Rights, Samuel Moyn asserts that the rise of human rights after World War II was prefigured and inspired by a defense of the dignity of the human person that first arose in Christian churches and religious thought in the years just prior to the outbreak of the war. The Roman Catholic Church and transatlantic Protestant circles dominated the public discussion of the new principles in what became the last European golden age for the Christian faith. At the same time, West European governments after World War II, particularly in the ascendant Christian Democratic parties, became more tolerant of public expressions of religious piety. Human rights rose to public prominence in the space opened up by these dual developments of the early Cold War.

Moyn argues that human dignity became central to Christian political discourse as early as 1937. Pius XII's wartime Christmas addresses announced the basic idea of universal human rights as a principle of world, and not merely state, order. By focusing on the 1930s and 1940s, Moyn demonstrates how the language of human rights was separated from the secular heritage of the French Revolution and put to use by postwar democracies governed by Christian parties, which reinvented them to impose moral constraints on individuals, support conservative family structures, and preserve existing social hierarchies. The book ends with a provocative chapter that traces contemporary European struggles to assimilate Muslim immigrants to the continent's legacy of Christian human rights.
Learn more about Christian Human Rights at the University of Pennsylvania Press website.

The Page 99 Test: The Last Utopia: Human Rights in History.

The Page 99 Test: Christian Human Rights.

--Marshal Zeringue

Coffee with a canine: Nicole Galland & Leuco

Featured at Coffee with a Canine: Nicole Galland & Leuco.

The author, on how Leuco got her name and her aliases:
She’s a Portuguese Water Dog, and so we wanted to give her the name of a Portuguese water goddess. We couldn't find any that we liked, so we settled for a Greek water goddess, Leucothia. That was shortened to Leuco, although as all of our friends who know Latin kept pointing out, “Leuco” means white and she is black. It also sounds like a male name, and she’s a girly-girl. She has no official aliases but she gets called “pup” as lot, as in “Who’s the puppiest pup that ever pupped?” I try to only do that in private. In fact I can’t believe...[read on]
About Stepdog, from the publisher:
From the author of The Fool’s Tale and I, Iago comes a disarmingly charming and warm-hearted “romcom” about a woman, her dog, and the man who has to prove that he is good enough for both of them.

Sara Renault fired Rory O’Connor from his part-time job at a Boston art museum, and in response, Rory—an Irish actor secretly nursing a crush on his beautiful boss—threw caution to the wind, leaned over, and kissed her. Now Sara and Rory are madly in love.

When Rory’s visa runs out on the cusp of his big Hollywood break, Sara insists that he marry her to get a green card. In a matter of weeks they’ve gone from being friendly work colleagues to a live-in couple, and it’s all grand . . . except for Sara’s dog, Cody, who had been a gift from Sara’s sociopath ex-boyfriend. Sara’s over-attachment to her dog is the only thing she and Rory fight about.

When Rory scores both his green card and the lead role in an upcoming TV pilot, he and Sara (and Cody) prepare to move to Los Angeles. But just before their departure, Cody is kidnapped by Sara’s ex—and it is entirely Rory’s fault. Sara is furious and broken-hearted. Desperate to get back into Sara’s good graces, Rory takes off and tracks Cody and the dog-napper to North Carolina. Can Rory rescue Cody and convince Sara that they belong together—with Cody—as a family? First they’ll need to survive a madcap adventure that takes them all across the heartland of America.

Stepdog is a refreshing and hilarious romantic comedy that asks: How far would you go for the one you love?
Visit Nicole Galland's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

The Page 69 Test: Stepdog.

My Book, The Movie: Stepdog.

Writers Read: Nicole Galland.

Coffee with a Canine: Nicole Galland & Leuco.

--Marshal Zeringue

Twenty of the creepiest YA books to keep you up all night

Rachel Paxton-Gillilan is a freelance writer and semi-professional nerd.

At the B & N Teen Blog she tagged twenty "perfectly creepy YAs to keep you up all night," including:
Awake, by Natasha Preston

From the author who brought us the horror of The Cellar, Awake follows Scarlett Garner as she struggles to remember bits and pieces of her life before age four. After a car accident causes strange dreams and memories to float to the surface, she’s left with even more questions about her past. When a cute new guy moves to town, Scarlett feels an instant spark—but all is not as it seems. Noah is part of a cult called Eternal Light, a cult that just might get Scarlett killed. Full of secrets and suspense, this book will have you trying to put together the puzzle long into the night.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Pg. 69: Elisa Albert's "After Birth"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: After Birth by Elisa Albert.

About the book, from the publisher:
A widely acclaimed young writer’s fierce new novel, in which childbirth and new motherhood are as high stakes a proving ground as any combat zone

A year has passed since Ari gave birth to Walker, though it went so badly awry she has trouble calling it “birth” and still she can't locate herself in her altered universe. Amid the strange, disjointed rhythms of her days and nights and another impending winter in upstate New York, Ari is a tree without roots, struggling to keep her branches aloft.

When Mina, a one-time cult musician — older, self-contained, alone, and nine-months pregnant —moves to town, Ari sees the possibility of a new friend, despite her unfortunate habit of generally mistrusting women. Soon they become comrades-in-arms, and the previously hostile terrain seems almost navigable.

With piercing insight, purifying anger, and outrageous humor, Elisa Albert issues a wake-up call to a culture that turns its new mothers into exiles, and expects them to act like natives. Like Lionel Shriver’s We Need to Talk About Kevin and Anne Enright’s The Gathering, this is a daring and resonant novel from one of our most visceral writers.
Learn more about the author and her work at Elisa Albert's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Book of Dahlia.

The Page 69 Test: After Birth.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Julia Keller reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Julia Keller, author of Last Ragged Breath.

The entry begins:
No fiery manifesto, no passionate proclamation, no defiant diatribe—but somehow, this became My Summer of Re-reading. I began revisiting books that I’d first loved long ago. New novels have been in the mix, too, of course—who can resist a fresh face?—but for the most part, I’ve strolled down literature’s memory lane. I re-read My Mortal Enemy by Willa Cather, and found nuances I’d missed the first time around in the brief but pungent story of a woman’s self-betrayal, and then I moved on to Night And Day by Virginia Woolf.

Like everyone, I love To the Lighthouse and Mrs. Dalloway, the novels for which Woolf is mostly known, but for some reason I picked up this, her second novel, once again. I know I’ve read it before—I wrote my doctoral dissertation on Virginia Woolf and read each of her novels multiple times—but...[read on]
About Last Ragged Breath, from the publisher:
From the night-black depths of a coalmine to the sun-struck peaks of the Appalachian Mountains, from a riveting murder mystery to a poignant meditation on the meaning of love and family, the latest novel in the critically acclaimed series strikes out for new territory: the sorrow and outrage that spring from a real-life chapter in West Virginia history.

Royce Dillard doesn't remember much about the day his parents-and one hundred and twenty-three other souls-died in the 1972 Buffalo Creek disaster. He was only two years old when he was ripped from his mother's arms. But now Dillard, who lives off the grid with only a passel of dogs for company, is fighting for his life one more time: He's on trial for murder.

Prosecutor Bell Elkins faces her toughest challenge yet in this haunting story of vengeance, greed and the fierce struggle for social justice. Richly imagined, vividly written and deeply felt, Last Ragged Breath is set in West Virginia, but it really takes place in a land we all know: the country called home.
Learn more about the book and author at Julia Keller's website.

Writers Read: Julia Keller (September 2012).

Writers Read: Julia Keller (September 2013).

Writers Read: Julia Keller (September 2014).

Writers Read: Julia Keller.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six top books about characters in impossible situations

Adam Johnson is the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Orphan Master's Son and the newly released story story collection Fortune Smiles.

One of his six powerful books about characters in impossible situations, as shared at The Week magazine:
Girl at War by Sara Nović

This powerful, gorgeous debut novel moves back and forth in time from the protagonist's childhood experience of civil war in the Balkans to her postwar attempt to live a normal life in New York. Haunted and adrift, she must return to Croatia to confront the secrets she left behind there.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Peter Lefcourt's "Purgatory Gardens," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Purgatory Gardens: A Novel by Peter Lefcourt.

The entry begins:
This is a no-brainer:

MARCY GRAY, the aging actress and eternal ingénue: Meryl Streep.

SAMMY DEE, the ex-mafioso in Witness Protection: If we can’t bring James Gandolfini back, I’d go with Jack...[read on]
Visit Peter Lefcourt's website.

My Book, The Movie: Purgatory Gardens.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 31, 2015

Pg. 69: Sharon Huss Roat's "Between the Notes"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Between the Notes by Sharon Huss Roat.

About the book, from the publisher:
After Ivy is forced to move to "the wrong side of the tracks" due to economic hard times, she discovers that not everything—or everyone—is what they seem, even herself. Fans of Jenny Han and Sarah Dessen will love this funny, poignant, and relatable story.

When Ivy Emerson's family loses their house—complete with her beloved piano—the fear of what's to come seizes her like a bad case of stage fright. Forced to give up her allowance, her cell phone, and the window seat in her lilac-colored bedroom, Ivy moves with her family from her affluent neighborhood to Lakeside, aka "the wrong side of the tracks." Hiding the truth from her friends—and the cute new guy in school, who may have secrets of his own—seems like a good idea at first. But when the bad-boy-next door threatens to ruin everything, Ivy's carefully crafted lies begin to unravel . . . and there is no way to stop them.

Once things get to the breaking point, Ivy turns to her music, some surprising new friends, and the trusting heart of her disabled little brother. And she may be surprised that not everyone is who she thought they were . . . including herself.
Visit Sharon Huss Roat's website.

The Page 69 Test: Between the Notes.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten of the most evocative fictional castles and manors

Helen Maslin's first book is a YA ghost story called Darkmere. At the Guardian she tagged ten of the best castles and manors in fiction, including:
Castle Dracula from Dracula by Bram Stoker

Easily the spookiest place on this list is Castle Dracula. “A vast ruined castle, from whose tall black windows came no ray of light, and whose broken battlements showed a jagged line against the moonlit sky.”

Young solicitor, Jonathan Harker, is sent to the Transylvanian home of Count Dracula on business. He travels through wild, snowy country swarming with wolves, as the locals cross themselves and try to deter him. Upon reaching the castle, finds it worn and dilapidated, but still an impenetrable stronghold. Harker soon realises he has no way of escape.

The interior of the castle is decorated with costly furnishings, cups and plates of gold, and there is a good library. No servants however – and no mirrors. The castle is seething with menace and Harker becomes increasingly desperate to leave. Eventually, he climbs out of the window to discover a ruined chapel containing fifty great wooden boxes filled with earth. In one, lays Dracula. “I saw the dead eyes, and in them, dead though they were, such a look of hate, though unconscious of me or my presence that I fled from the place...”
Read about another entry on the list.

Dracula is on John Mullan's list of the ten best coach rides in literature, Rowan Somerville's top ten list of good sex in fiction, Arthur Phillips' list of six favorite books set in places that their authors never visited, and Anthony Browne's six best books list. It is one of the books on John Mullan's lists of ten of the best teeth in literature, ten of the best wolves in literature and ten of the best mirrors in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Thomas Cobb reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Thomas Cobb, author of Darkness the Color of Snow.

The entry begins:
Starting with the present and working back a couple of weeks, these are the books I’ve been reading.

Bodies Electric by Colin Harrison. This is an older book of Harrison’s, his second novel if I’m not mistaken. I’m only fifty or so pages in, but Harrison has already set the major conflict as Jack Whitman, who works for The Corporation tries to do a good deed for a woman he met on the subway. The Corporation would seem not in favor of doing good deeds. Colin Harrison is, perhaps, the best...[read on]
About Darkness the Color of Snow, from the publisher:
Like No Country for Old Men and Snow Falling on Cedars, a haunting, suspenseful, and dazzlingly written novel of secrets, corruption, tragedy, and vengeance from the author of Crazy Heart—the basis of the 2009 Academy Award-winning film—an electrifying crime drama and psychological thriller in which a young cop becomes the focal point for a community’s grief and rage in the aftermath of a tragic accident.

Out on a rural highway on a cold, icy night, Patrolman Ronny Forbert sits in his cruiser trying to keep warm and make time pass until his shift ends. Then a familiar beater Jeep Cherokee comes speeding over a hill, forcing the rookie cop to chase after it. The driver is his old friend turned nemesis, Matt Laferiere, the rogue son of a man as beaten down as the town itself.

Within minutes, what begins as a clear-cut arrest for drunk driving spirals out of control into a heated argument between two young men with a troubled past and ends in a fatal hit and run on an icy stretch of blacktop.

As the news spreads around town, Police Chief Gordy Hawkins remains certain that Ronny Forbert followed the rules, at least most of them, and he’s willing to stand by the young cop. But a few manipulative people in town see opportunity in the tragedy. As uneasy relationships, dark secrets, and old grievances reveal themselves, the people of this small, tightly woven community decide that a crime must have been committed, and someone—Officer Ronny Forbert—must pay a price, a choice that will hold devastating consequences for them all.
Learn more about the author and his work at Thomas Cobb's website.

Cobb's books include Crazy Heart, which was adapted into a 2009 Academy Award-winning film starring Jeff Bridges, and Shavetail.

The Page 69 Test: Shavetail.

My Book, The Movie: Crazy Heart.

The Page 69 Test: Darkness the Color of Snow.

Writers Read: Thomas Cobb.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Watt Key's "Among the Swamp People"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Among the Swamp People: Life in Alabama’s Mobile-Tensaw River Delta by Watt Key.

About the book, from the publisher:
Among the Swamp People is the story of author Watt Key’s discovery of the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta. “The swamp” consists of almost 260,000 acres of wetlands located just north of Mobile Bay. There he leases a habitable outcropping of land and constructs a primitive cabin from driftwood to serve as a private getaway. His story is one that chronicles the beauties of the delta’s unparalleled natural wonders, the difficulties of survival within it, and an extraordinary community of characters—by turns generous and violent, gracious and paranoid, hilarious and reckless—who live, thrive, and perish there.

There is no way into the delta except by small boat. To most it would appear a maze of rivers and creeks between stunted swamp trees and mud. Key observes that there are few places where one can step out of a boat without “sinking to the knees in muck the consistency of axle grease. It is the only place I know where gloom and beauty can coexist at such extremes. And it never occurred to me that a land seemingly so bleak could hide such beauty and adventure.”

It also chronicles Key’s maturation as a writer, from a twenty-five-year-old computer programmer with no formal training as a writer to a highly successful, award-winning writer of fiction for a young adult audience with three acclaimed novels published to date.

In learning to make a place for himself in the wild, as in learning to write, Key’s story is one of “hoping someone—even if just myself—would find value in my creations.”
Visit Watt Key's website.

The Page 99 Test: Among the Swamp People.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Nose in a book: Madeleine Moyn


Who: Madeleine Moyn

What: Christian Human Rights by Samuel Moyn

When: August 21, 2015

Where: Cambridge, MA

Photo credit: Samuel Moyn

Learn more about Christian Human Rights.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tamara Ellis Smith's "Another Kind of Hurricane," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Another Kind of Hurricane by Tamara Ellis Smith.

The entry begins:
I love color and shape, I love picture book illustrations, and I love movies – but I don't think in images at all. I think in words, and, more specifically in sounds and rhythms and energy. That said, I have definitely imagined Another Kind of Hurricane as a movie – Oh that would be so exciting! – but I have envisioned actors based on their energies more than anything. I love strong and quirky woven together. A few people have been in my mind from the get-go who bring that mix to their work.

I see Alfre Woodard as Ms. Cyn. I think I first saw her way back when in Passion Fish and have loved her ever since. She is fierce and funny, and has a sense of wisdom about her, a sense of knowing the truth of the matter.

I see Sam...[read on]
Visit Tamara Ellis Smith's website.

My Book, The Movie: Another Kind of Hurricane.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five of the best novels about mothers and daughters

Patricia Abbott is the author of more than 125 stories that have appeared online, in print journals and in various anthologies. She is the author of Monkey Justice and Home Invasion and co-editor of Discount Noir. She won a Derringer award for her story "My Hero."

Abbott's new novel is Concrete Angel.

One of the author's five favorite novels about mothers and daughters, as shared at Crimespree Magazine:
MILDRED PIERCE by James Cain.

None of the four books above influenced me, at least consciously, when writing CONCRETE ANGEL. But MILDRED PIERCE did. I wanted to show the flip side of the mother-daughter coin by writing a story where the daughter makes all the sacrifices for an ungrateful mother. This is what happens to Mildred. The more she loves her daughter, the worse her daughter seems to behave. A heart-breaking story–as are all the five listed.
Read about another entry on the list.

Mildred Pierce is among Ester Bloom's ten favorite fictional feminists.

The Page 69 Test: Concrete Angel.

Writers Read: Patricia Abbott.

My Book, The Movie: Concrete Angel.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Priscilla Cummings's "Cheating for the Chicken Man"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Cheating for the Chicken Man by Priscilla Cummings.

About the book, from the publisher:
A companion novel to Priscilla Cumming’s highly acclaimed The Red Kayak and The Journey Back

Thirteen-year-old Kate Tyler must ask herself how far she will go to protect her older brother, J.T., when he returns home after nearly a year in a juvenile detention facility, only to find himself ostracized and bullied as he attempts to make a fresh start. Kate compromises her own values and risks getting herself into serious trouble as she launches a secret campaign to protect her brother long enough for him to find his place in the family – and in the world – again.

As a follow-up to Red Kayak, Cheating for the Chicken Man brings J.T., Kate, and Brady Parks together again as they struggle with the complicated issues of fairness, friendship, and forgiveness.
Visit Priscilla Cummings's website.

The Page 69 Test: Cheating for the Chicken Man.

--Marshal Zeringue