Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Pg. 69: Crystal King's "Feast of Sorrow"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Feast of Sorrow: A Novel of Ancient Rome by Crystal King.

About the book, from the publisher:
Set amongst the scandal, wealth, and upstairs-downstairs politics of a Roman family, Crystal King’s seminal debut features the man who inspired the world’s oldest cookbook and the ambition that led to his destruction.

On a blistering day in the twenty-sixth year of Augustus Caesar’s reign, a young chef, Thrasius, is acquired for the exorbitant price of twenty thousand denarii. His purchaser is the infamous gourmet Marcus Gavius Apicius, wealthy beyond measure, obsessed with a taste for fine meals from exotic places, and a singular ambition: to serve as culinary advisor to Caesar, an honor that will cement his legacy as Rome's leading epicure.

Apicius rightfully believes that Thrasius is the key to his culinary success, and with Thrasius’s help he soon becomes known for his lavish parties and fantastic meals. Thrasius finds a family in Apicius’s household, his daughter Apicata, his wife Aelia, and her handmaiden, Passia, with whom Thrasius quickly falls in love. But as Apicius draws closer to his ultimate goal, his reckless disregard for any who might get in his way takes a dangerous turn that threatens his young family and places his entire household at the mercy of the most powerful forces in Rome.
Visit Crystal King's website.

The Page 69 Test: Feast of Sorrow.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is James Abel reading?

Featured at Writers Read: James Abel, author of Vector.

His entry begins:
Just now I've got three books on my table, all written by favorites, all there for different reasons, all there so I can learn.

Don Winslow's The Dawn Patrol, like all his books, has fantastic speed to it. Somehow Winslow manages to give us fully fleshed out characters, a complex plot, and a tour of a new area...all without...[read on]
About Vector, from the publisher:
While studying new forms of malaria at an Amazon gold rush, Joe Rush’s best friend and partner, Eddie Nakamura, disappears. Learning that many of the sick miners have also vanished, Rush begins a search for Eddie that takes him into the heart of darkness–where while battling for his life, he discovers a secret that may change the world.

Thousands of miles away, sick people are starting to flood into U.S. hospitals. When the White House admits that it has received terrorist threats, cities across the Northeast begin to shut down. Rush and his team must journey from one of the most remote spots on Earth to one of the busiest, as the clock ticks toward a kind of annihilation not thought possible. They have even less time than they think to solve the mystery, for the danger–as bad as it is–is about to get even worse.
Visit James Abel's website.

The Page 69 Test: Protocol Zero.

My Book, The Movie: Protocol Zero.

The Page 69 Test: Cold Silence.

My Book, The Movie: Cold Silence.

My Book, The Movie: Vector.

Writers Read: James Abel.

--Marshal Zeringue

Rachel Kadish's "The Weight of Ink," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish.

The entry begins:
For Ester Velasquez, who would have to radiate intelligence as well as a mix of passion and wariness, I’m going to go with Natalie Portman.

And Helen Watt? Judi Dench or Emma Thompson, each of whom would play her character quite differently…but either would bring out the intense force of Helen’s personality, her ability to intimidate others even as she isolates herself, and ultimately her vulnerability.

I was trying to think of the right actor for Rabbi ha-Coen Mendes, a beautifully gentle man blinded at the hands of Portuguese Inquisitors but nonetheless committed to a life of study. At first I imagined Ben...[read on]
Visit Rachel Kadish's official website.

The Page 69 Test: Tolstoy Lied.

My Book, The Movie: The Weight of Ink.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five books with bargains best declined

Emily Lloyd-Jones's latest novel is The Hearts We Sold. At she shared her five "favorite books featuring deals you probably don’t want to make!" One title on the list:
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

All right, all right. I get it. You look in the mirror and see a—is that a strand of gray? A new wrinkle? Sun spot? We’ve all been there. But the solution is not wishing all of your aging on a portrait, locking that poor piece of artwork in your attic, and then murdering your struggling-artist best friend. Just start a good skin care routine—it’ll be less hassle in the long run.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Picture of Dorian Gray also appears on Eric Berkowitz's list of five top books on sex and society and John Mullan's lists of ten of the best locked rooms in literature, ten of the best mirrors in literature, ten of the best disastrous performances in fiction, and ten of the best examples of ekphrasis in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Pg. 69: Anna Stephens's "Godblind"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Godblind by Anna Stephens.

About Godblind, from the publisher:
The Mireces worship the bloodthirsty Red Gods. Exiled from Rilpor a thousand years ago, and left to suffer a harsh life in the cold mountains, a new Mireces king now plots an invasion of Rilpor’s thriving cities and fertile earth.

Dom Templeson is a Watcher, a civilian warrior guarding Rilpor’s border. He is also the most powerful seer in generations, plagued with visions and prophecies. His people are devoted followers of the god of light and life, but Dom harbors deep secrets, which threaten to be exposed when Rillirin, an escaped Mireces slave, stumbles broken and bleeding into his village.

Meanwhile, more and more of Rilpor’s most powerful figures are turning to the dark rituals and bloody sacrifices of the Red Gods, including the prince, who plots to wrest the throne from his dying father in the heart of the kingdom. Can Rillirin, with her inside knowledge of the Red Gods and her shocking ties to the Mireces King, help Rilpor win the coming war?
Visit Anna Stephens's website.

My Book, The Movie: Godblind.

Writers Read: Anna Stephens.

The Page 69 Test: Godblind.

--Marshal Zeringue

Fifty of the best regency romances

At B&N Reads Tara Sonin tagged fifty must-read regency romances, including:
Six Impossible Things, by Elizabeth Boyle

Lord Rimsell is the opposite of a rake: strong, dependable, and honorable, he can be taken for his word. Which is why when he is caught after a moment of temptation with Rosalie Stratton, his course is clear: he must marry her, to protect their reputations. But Rosalie is not all she appears, and her secrets could taint Brody’s honor…
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 69 Test: Six Impossible Things.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Bill Crider reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Bill Crider, author of Dead, to Begin With: A Dan Rhodes Mystery.

His entry begins:
I read a lot of older books by writers that most people don’t remember or haven’t heard of, and my current reading is no exception: The Body Beautiful by Bill S. Ballinger, his second novel about private-eye Barr Breed (somebody sure seems to like the letter “B”). It was published in 1949 and while it’s dated, it’s still fun to read and has quite an interesting showbiz...[read on]
About Dead, to Begin With, from the publisher:
Sheriff Dan Rhodes is back again in Bill Crider's thrilling Dead, to Begin With.

"Readers will cheer Rhodes along as he sorts through a tangle of old secrets and personal relationships en route to the satisfying solution." Publishers Weekly

In Clearview, Texas, a wealthy recluse has joined the community and is leading the restoration of an old opera house. When he falls to his death, Sheriff Dan Rhodes suspects that he’s been murdered, but there doesn’t seem to be a motive. Who would want to kill someone who’s helping the town and hasn’t been around long enough to make any enemies?

The Sheriff’s suspicion proves to be true, however, and he begins to look for motives buried in the past, meanwhile having to deal with people fighting over baseball cards at a yard sale, writers who want to talk to him about his sex life, and the Clearview Ghost Hunters, headed up by Seepy Benton, who believes that the old theater is haunted. Clearview might be a small town, but there’s no shortage of excitement.
Learn more about the book and author at Bill Crider's website and blog.

Read the Page 69 Test entries for Crider's A Mammoth Murder, Murder Among the OWLS, Of All Sad Words, Murder in Four Parts, Murder in the Air, The Wild Hog Murders, Murder of a Beauty Shop Queen, Compound Murder, Half in Love with Artful Death, Between the Living and the Dead, and Survivors Will Be Shot Again.

Learn about Crider's choice of actors to portray Dan Rhodes and Seepy Benton on the big screen.

Writers Read: Bill Crider.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Sharon Sassler & Amanda Jayne Miller's "Cohabitation Nation"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Cohabitation Nation: Gender, Class, and the Remaking of Relationships by Sharon Sassler and Amanda Jayne Miller.

About the book, from the publisher:
“We have fun and we enjoy each other’s company, so why shouldn’t we just move in together?”—Lauren, from Cohabitation Nation

Living together is a typical romantic rite of passage in the United States today. In fact, census data shows a 37 percent increase in couples who choose to commit to and live with one another, forgoing marriage. And yet we know very little about this new “normal” in romantic life. When do people decide to move in together, why do they do so, and what happens to them over time?

Drawing on in-depth interviews, Sharon Sassler and Amanda Jayne Miller provide an inside view of how cohabiting relationships play out before and after couples move in together, using couples’ stories to explore the he said/she said of romantic dynamics. Delving into hot-button issues, such as housework, birth control, finances, and expectations for the future, Sassler and Miller deliver surprising insights about the impact of class and education on how relationships unfold. Showcasing the words, thoughts, and conflicts of the couples themselves, Cohabitation Nation offers a riveting and sometimes counterintuitive look at the way we live now.
Learn more about Cohabitation Nation at the University of California Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Cohabitation Nation.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 14, 2017

Six top books about boarding schools

Ruth Ware is the author of In a Dark, Dark Wood, The Woman in Cabin 10, and The Lying Game. One of her six favorite books about boarding schools, as shared at The Week magazine:
The Secret History by Donna Tartt

Fictional Hampden College, the setting for Tartt's hypnotically compelling "whydunit," is not strictly a boarding school, but the atmosphere of cloistered intensity and suffocating friendship is beautifully evocative.
Read about another book on the list.

The Secret History is on a top ten list of the best Twinkies in fiction.

--Marshal Zeringue

Erika Gasser's "Vexed with Devils," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Vexed with Devils: Manhood and Witchcraft in Old and New England by Erika Gasser.

The entry begins:
Vexed with Devils is a cultural history of the role that manhood played in early modern instances of demonic possession and witchcraft. Many people know that women were more commonly suspected, prosecuted, and executed for witchcraft in England and New England, and so the book begins with things we do not expect to see—men and manhood in witchcraft and possession—and uses them to analyze the varied ways that gender mattered for early modern people. The book contains a few case studies of particular accused witches or demoniacs (those who appeared to suffer from the symptoms of possession), and one that would suit a film adaptation is the story of Margaret Rule, a seventeen-year-old girl in Cotton Mather’s Boston congregation who appeared to be possessed in 1692-93, just after the conclusion of the famous outbreak of witchcraft at Salem.

For the role of Margaret Rule, I immediately thought of Anya Taylor-Joy, who was so electrifying as a Puritan girl in The Witch (2015). In addition to showing a facility with period language, Taylor-Joy showed vulnerability and glimpses of...[read on]
Learn more about Vexed with Devils at the NYU Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Vexed with Devils.

My Book, The Movie: Vexed with Devils.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Linnea Hartsuyker's "The Half-Drowned King"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Half-Drowned King: A Novel by Linnea Hartsuyker.

About the book, from the publisher:
An exhilarating saga of the Vikings that conjures a brutal, superstitious, and thrilling ninth-century world and the birth of a kingdom—the debut installment in a historical literary trilogy that combines the bold imagination and sweeping narrative power of Game of Thrones, Vikings, and Outlander.

Centuries ago, in a blood-soaked land ruled by legendary gods and warring men, a prophecy foretold of a high king who would come to reign over all of the north....

Ragnvald Eysteinsson, the son and grandson of kings, grew up believing that he would one day take his dead father’s place as chief of his family’s lands. But, sailing home from a raiding trip to Ireland, the young warrior is betrayed and left for dead by men in the pay of his greedy stepfather, Olaf. Rescued by a fisherman, Ragnvald is determined to have revenge for his stepfather’s betrayal, claim his birthright and the woman he loves, and rescue his beloved sister Svanhild. Opportunity may lie with Harald of Vestfold, the strong young Norse warrior rumored to be the prophesied king. Ragnvald pledges his sword to King Harald, a choice that will hold enormous consequence in the years to come.

While Ragnvald’s duty is to fight—and even die—for his honor, Svanhild must make an advantageous marriage, though her adventurous spirit yearns to see the world. Her stepfather, Olaf, has arranged a husband for her—a hard old man she neither loves nor desires. When the chance to escape Olaf’s cruelty comes at the hands of her brother’s arch rival, the shrewd young woman is forced to make a heartbreaking choice: family or freedom.

Set in a mystical and violent world defined by honor, loyalty, deceit, passion, and courage, The Half-Drowned King is an electrifying adventure that breathtakingly illuminates the Viking world and the birth of Scandinavia.
Visit Linnea Hartsuyker's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Half-Drowned King.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Saul Black reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Saul Black, author of LoveMurder.

His entry begins:
It’s a relief to be able to write this post. Or at least to be able to write it honestly. About four years ago I lost the ability to read. Nothing wrong with my eyes, nothing wrong with my brain. But something very wrong somewhere, in some embarrassingly ethereal region of my being. Heart? Mind? Psyche? Spirit?

All Catholics, whether they describe themselves as ex-Catholics or failed Catholics or lapsed Catholics (or as I suspect is my own case closet Catholics) remain Dualists, deep down. Therefore I’m thrown back on the language of the allegedly non-material: Something was wrong with my (imagine the next word uttered in a trembling and shameful whisper) soul.

Allow the drama-queenliness for a moment, gentle reader. I assure you it’s looked back on now with an indulgent smile of fond superiority, as would be childhood misdemeanour. But in the grip of his grand crisis your author enjoyed no smiles, indulgent or otherwise. For reasons too personal to enumerate here he was Not Happy. Worse, he was Not Happy With Himself.

The antecedents, I repeat, will remain grandly in shadow. All you need to know is that I was incapable of an imaginative life. Of which the obvious corollary was that I was incapable of a reading life.

I tried. Many times. My efforts culminated, spectacularly, in an attempt to re-read Don Quixote. I got...[read on]
About LoveMurder, from the publisher:
When she’s called to the murder scene, the last thing San Francisco Homicide detective Valerie Hart is expecting is for Katherine Glass to walk back into her life. Six years earlier, revulsion and fascination had gripped the nation in equal measure, as beautiful, intelligent, charming—and utterly evil—Katherine Glass had been convicted on six counts of Murder One. But the freshly-mutilated corpse in the ground-floor apartment bears all the hallmarks of Katherine’s victims. And then there’s the note, with its chilling implications. Addressed to Valerie.

To stop the slaughter, Valerie has no choice. She must ask Katherine Glass to help her decipher the killer’s twisted message. But that means re-entering the pitch-black labyrinth that is Katherine’s mind, and this time Valerie isn’t so sure which one of them will survive.
Visit Glen Duncan/Saul Black's website.

Writers Read: Saul Black.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 13, 2017

James Abel's "Vector," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Vector by James Abel.

The entry begins:
Vector, like the other three books in the Joe Rush series, features two former Marines who have become bio-terror experts and doctors. When I think of actors to play them, I think of their attitudes toward life. One is a loner, stung in the past in relationships, and weighed down by...[read on]
Visit James Abel's website.

The Page 69 Test: Protocol Zero.

My Book, The Movie: Protocol Zero.

The Page 69 Test: Cold Silence.

My Book, The Movie: Cold Silence.

My Book, The Movie: Vector.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six top zombie novels

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog Ceridwen Christensen tagged six top zombie novels. One title on the list:
The Reapers Are the Angels, by Alden Bell

Temple, the main character of The Reaper’s Are the Angels, is the harsh, pragmatic daughter of a zombie-blighted American south. In some ways, she’s more comfortable with the dead than the living; the simplicity of their needs is, if not enviable, then at least more legible than those of the living. The novel probably owes more to the Old Testament morality of the Southern Gothic than it does to Romero’s class commentary, but the zombies are the same, down to the fact that anyone who dies, turns. (A surprisingly uncommon detail, even in the most faithful zombie novel.)
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Reapers Are the Angels is on Kimberly Turner's list of ten books every zombie fan must read.

The Page 69 Test: The Reapers Are the Angels.

My Book, the Movie: The Reapers Are the Angels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Candace Ganger's "The Inevitable Collision of Birdie & Bash"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Inevitable Collision of Birdie & Bash by Candace Ganger.

About the book, from the publisher:
Sebastian Alvaréz is just trying to hold the pieces together, to not flunk out, to keep his sort-of-best friend Wild Kyle from doing something really bad. And to see his beloved Ma through chemo. But when he meets Birdie Paxton, a near-Valedictorian who doesn’t realize she’s smoking hot in her science pun T-shirt, at a party, an undeniable attraction sparks. And suddenly he’s not worried about anything. But before they are able to exchange numbers, they are pulled apart. A horrifying tragedy links Birdie and Bash together – yet neither knows it. When they finally reconnect, and are starting to fall – hard – the events of the tragedy unfold, changing both their lives in ways they can never undo. Told in alternating perspectives full of the best nerdy banter this side of Ohio, some seriously awesome skate moves, and the promise of a kiss destined to make the world stop turning, The Inevitable Collision of Birdie & Bash will break your heart and put it back together again.
Visit Candace Ganger's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Inevitable Collision of Birdie & Bash.

Writers Read: Candace Ganger.

The Page 69 Test: The Inevitable Collision of Birdie & Bash.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Niall Kishtainy's "A Little History of Economics"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: A Little History of Economics by Niall Kishtainy.

About the book, from the publisher:
A lively, inviting account of the history of economics, told through events from ancient to modern times and the ideas of great thinkers in the field

What causes poverty? Are economic crises inevitable under capitalism? Is government intervention in an economy a helpful approach or a disastrous idea? The answers to such basic economic questions matter to everyone, yet the unfamiliar jargon and math of economics can seem daunting. This clear, accessible, and even humorous book is ideal for young readers new to economics and for all readers who seek a better understanding of the full sweep of economic history and ideas.

Economic historian Niall Kishtainy organizes short, chronological chapters that center on big ideas and events. He recounts the contributions of key thinkers including Adam Smith, David Ricardo, Karl Marx, John Maynard Keynes, and others, while examining topics ranging from the invention of money and the rise of agrarianism to the Great Depression, entrepreneurship, environmental destruction, inequality, and behavioral economics. The result is a uniquely enjoyable volume that succeeds in illuminating the economic ideas and forces that shape our world.
Visit Niall Kishtainy's website and Twitter perch.

The Page 99 Test: A Little History of Economics.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Ten top books on South Africa

At Signature Keith Rice tagged ten of the best books on South Africa, including:
Hum If You Don't Know the Words by Bianca Marais

Set in Johannesburg in the 1970’s, Hum If You Don’t Know the Words is a searing chronicle of one of the most tumultuous and violent periods of the apartheid era. Played out against the backdrop of the Soweto Uprising, a series of protests that were met with a brutal and deadly response by South African authorities, Hum tells the story of a young white girl named Robin and a Xhosa woman named Beauty bound together by tragedy and desperation.
Read about another book on the list.

The Page 69 Test: Hum If You Don’t Know the Words.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Anna Stephens reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Anna Stephens, author of Godblind.

Her entry begins:
I’m slightly ashamed to admit that, other than some of her poetry when I was at school, I’d never read any Margaret Atwood, so I remedied that at the start of 2017 with The Handmaid’s Tale – before I knew it was being made into a TV series. And oh my, wasn’t I just blown away? I think what freaked me out the most about that book was how utterly plausible it is, how a version of it is happening already with so-called Islamic State – the suppression of women, of knowledge, of education, of freedom – and the reduction of women to their supposed primary function – mothers. Caregivers. Slaves. A daring, disturbing and truly frightening book, it has...[read on]
About Godblind, from the publisher:
The Mireces worship the bloodthirsty Red Gods. Exiled from Rilpor a thousand years ago, and left to suffer a harsh life in the cold mountains, a new Mireces king now plots an invasion of Rilpor’s thriving cities and fertile earth.

Dom Templeson is a Watcher, a civilian warrior guarding Rilpor’s border. He is also the most powerful seer in generations, plagued with visions and prophecies. His people are devoted followers of the god of light and life, but Dom harbors deep secrets, which threaten to be exposed when Rillirin, an escaped Mireces slave, stumbles broken and bleeding into his village.

Meanwhile, more and more of Rilpor’s most powerful figures are turning to the dark rituals and bloody sacrifices of the Red Gods, including the prince, who plots to wrest the throne from his dying father in the heart of the kingdom. Can Rillirin, with her inside knowledge of the Red Gods and her shocking ties to the Mireces King, help Rilpor win the coming war?
Visit Anna Stephens's website.

My Book, The Movie: Godblind.

Writers Read: Anna Stephens.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten female killers in fiction

At LitHub Emily Temple tagged ten top female killers in fiction, including:
Marion Seeley, Bury Me Deep, Megan Abbott

Abbot’s murderer Marion is based on the “Trunk Murderess” of the 1930’s—a woman named Winnie Ruth Judd, whose two best friends were found dead, their bodies stuffed (and in one case, chopped up and then stuffed) into two large trunks and abandoned outside a Los Angeles train station. This novel reimagines Judd’s story, diving into the relationships she might have had with these so-called friends, and her path to violence. As Abbott herself put it: “I wanted to write a novel that would look at this “tiger women,” Judd, from another vantage point, free of the tabloid trappings—a novel that would place at its center the kind of woman so frequently portrayed as a femme fatale, as a party girl hoping to snag some sugar daddy, or as a vengeful mistress bringing ruin on her married lovers. I wanted to look at such a woman from the inside.”
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 69 Test: Bury Me Deep.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 11, 2017

Pg. 69: Michael F. Haspil's "Graveyard Shift"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Graveyard Shift by Michael F. Haspil.

About the book, from the publisher:
Alex Menkaure, former pharaoh and mummy, and his vampire partner, Marcus, born in ancient Rome, are vice cops in a special Miami police unit. They fight to keep the streets safe from criminal vampires, shape-shifters, bootleg blood-dealers, and anti-vampire vigilantes.

When poisoned artificial blood drives vampires to murder, the city threatens to tear itself apart. Only an unlikely alliance with former opponents can give Alex and Marcus a fighting chance against an ancient vampire conspiracy.

If they succeed, they'll be pariahs, hunted by everyone. If they fail, the result will be a race-war bloodier than any the world has ever seen.
Visit Michael F. Haspil's website.

My Book, The Movie: Graveyard Shift.

Writers Read: Michael F. Haspil.

The Page 69 Test: Graveyard Shift.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top books set below London

Sylvia Spruck Wrigley is an American/German writer of science fiction, fantasy and aviation non-fiction. Her publications include the novella Domnall and the Borrowed Child and the novel Wail, which takes place both above and below the streets of London. One entry on her list of five favorite modern novels which focus on the world underneath the United Kingdom’s capital city, as shared at
Midnight Never Come by Marie Brennan

Midnight Never Come is the first book of Marie Brennan’s Onyx Court series: a compelling narrative of faerie England in the catacombs beneath the streets of London. This novel (and the series) is an exciting mashup of historical fiction and fantasy. The detail of Queen Elizabeth’s reign is mirrored by the politics and dark alliances of Invidiana, the ruler of the Onyx Hall. The story focuses around two courtiers longing for royal favour: the all-too-human Michael Deven for Queen Elizabeth and the disgraced faerie lady Lune for Queen Invidiana.

Like [China Miéville's] Un Lun Dun, the Onxy Court is a self-contained city underneath the capital city but, although there is also a portal to be found, the second city is unabashedly subterranean, forever in the shadow of the mortal London above. Brennan’s detailed research of the 15th century courts shines through without becoming overwhelming: the characters are strong and the plot has enough twists to carry the reader through. As the narrative reaches its climax, the depths of the intrigue and betrayal come clear.

I enjoyed the immersion in the Elizabethan world and, although it sometimes moved slowly, there was no question that the ending made it all worth it.
Read about another entry on the list.

Marie Brennan's "Midnight Never Come," the movie.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Erika Gasser's "Vexed with Devils"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Vexed with Devils: Manhood and Witchcraft in Old and New England by Erika Gasser.

About the book, from the publisher:
Stories of witchcraft and demonic possession from early modern England through the last official trials in colonial New England.

Those possessed by the devil in early modern England usually exhibited a common set of symptoms: fits, vomiting, visions, contortions, speaking in tongues, and an antipathy to prayer. However, it was a matter of interpretation, and sometimes public opinion, if these symptoms were visited upon the victim, or if they came from within. Both early modern England and colonial New England had cases that blurred the line between witchcraft and demonic possession, most famously, the Salem witch trials. While historians acknowledge some similarities in witch trials between the two regions, such as the fact that an overwhelming majority of witches were women, the histories of these cases primarily focus on local contexts and specifics. In so doing, they overlook the ways in which manhood factored into possession and witchcraft cases.

Vexed with Devils is a cultural history of witchcraft-possession phenomena that centers on the role of men and patriarchal power. Erika Gasser reveals that witchcraft trials had as much to do with who had power in the community, to impose judgement or to subvert order, as they did with religious belief. She argues that the gendered dynamics of possession and witchcraft demonstrated that contested meanings of manhood played a critical role in the struggle to maintain authority. While all men were not capable of accessing power in the same ways, many of the people involved—those who acted as if they were possessed, men accused of being witches, and men who wrote possession propaganda—invoked manhood as they struggled to advocate for themselves during these perilous times. Gasser ultimately concludes that the decline of possession and witchcraft cases was not merely a product of change over time, but rather an indication of the ways in which patriarchal power endured throughout and beyond the colonial period.

Vexed with Devils reexamines an unnerving time and offers a surprising new perspective on our own, using stories and voices which emerge from the records in ways that continue to fascinate and unsettle us.
Learn more about Vexed with Devils at the NYU Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Vexed with Devils.

--Marshal Zeringue

Fiona Davis's "The Address," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Address by Fiona Davis.

The entry begins:
Since The Address has two timelines: 1884 and 1985, there are two sets of heroes and heroines to cast. In the Gilded Age era, I’d choose the talented Gal Gadot as Sara Smythe, the protagonist who comes from London to work at the Dakota apartment house in 1884. Why? Because the character has to be able to raise one eyebrow, which Gadot executes with perfect aplomb throughout Wonder Woman. The character of Sara was inspired by a John Singer Sargent portrait of Lady Gertrude Agnew, and the resemblance between the painting and Gadot is uncanny. Gadot has the requisite beauty, skepticism, and strength for the role.

For her love interest, Theo Camden, I’d love to see...[read on]
Visit Fiona Davis's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Address.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Seven top hate-to-love romances

Sarah Skilton is the author of Bruised, a martial arts drama for young adults; and High and Dry, a hardboiled teen mystery. At the BN Teen blog she tagged seven of her "favorite books in which would-be couples turn searing hate into passionate love" including:
Seven Days of You, by Cecilia Vinesse

Sophia has spent the last five years living in Tokyo with her mother, but now her life is about to go off the rails: in one week, she’ll be returning to New Jersey and saying goodbye to her favorite city, not to mention her best friend, Mika, and long-term crush, David. So when Jamie Foster-Collins, a boy from her past, unexpectedly arrives in Japan just as she’s gearing up to leave, she’s furious. “Couldn’t he wait a week? Did he have to ruin my life? And, on top of that, did he have to steal all my leaving thunder with his stupid arriving thunder?” Turns out Sophia (“Sofa” to her friends) and Jamie have a fraught history, but in the next seven days, everything between them will change as they realize exactly what they mean to each other.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is David Burr Gerrard reading?

Featured at Writers Read: David Burr Gerrard, author of The Epiphany Machine.

The entry begins:
I was asked at a Q&A for my new novel The Epiphany Machine recently why I write speculative fiction rather than more strictly realistic fiction. My answer was that I find the world so strange that I can only see it clearly if I look at from a strange angle. And seeing the world from the strange angles other see it is the primary reason I read. (Partially for this reason, I’m not sure the distinction between realistic fiction and speculative fiction holds. There is only fiction that succeeds or fails at finding a particular angle that allows you to see the world more clearly, if only for the briefest instant.)

Eugene Lim’s new novella Dear Cyborgs sees the world from a number of strange angles—angles so strange that it’s often not clear what’s going on. The confusion in this book never pretentious or pointless—it feels intrinsic to the book’s political urgency and to the book’s pleasure. The only thing I’ve read in 2017 that’s more confusing than Eugene Lim’s Dear Cyborgs is each day’s news. Dear Cyborgs is far more...[read on]
About The Epiphany Machine, from the publisher:
Everyone else knows the truth about you, now you can know it, too.

That’s the slogan. The product: a junky contraption that tattoos personalized revelations on its users’ forearms. It’s an old con, playing on the fear that we are obvious to everybody except ourselves. This particular one’s been circulating New York since the 1960s. The ad works. And, oddly enough, so might the device…

A small stream of city dwellers buy into this cult of the epiphany machine, including Venter Lowood’s parents. This stigma follows them when they move upstate, where Venter can’t avoid the whispers of teachers and neighbors any more than he can ignore the machine’s accurate predictions: his mother’s abandonment and his father’s disinterest. So when Venter’s grandmother finally asks him to confront the epiphany machine and inoculate himself against his family’s mistakes, he’s only too happy to oblige.

Like his parents before him, Venter is quick to fall under the spell of the device’s sweat-stained, profane, and surprisingly charming operator, Adam Lyons. But unlike them, Venter gets close enough to Adam to learn a dark secret. There’s an undeniable pattern between specific epiphanies and violent crimes. And Adam won’t jeopardize the privacy of his customers by alerting the police.

It may be a hoax, but that doesn’t mean what Adam is selling isn’t also spot-on. And in this sprawling, snarling tragicomedy about accountability in contemporary America, the greater danger is that Adam Lyon’s apparatus may just be right about us all.
Visit David Burr Gerrard's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Epiphany Machine.

My Book, The Movie: The Epiphany Machine.

Writers Read: David Burr Gerrard.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top books about birds

Nicholas Royle's new book is Ornithology: Sixteen Short Stories.

One of his top ten books about birds, as shared at the Guardian:
A Convergence of Birds edited by Jonathan Safran Foer (2001)

The first thing that strikes you about this anthology of fiction and poetry inspired by the work of artist Joseph Cornell is what a beautiful object it is. Cornell, who made boxed assemblages, was a birdwatcher and, for this book, Safran Foer invited noted writers including Joyce Carol Oates, Joanna Scott, Siri Hustvedt and Lydia Davis to respond to Cornell’s Aviary series of boxes. Their pieces appear alongside full-colour plates.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Sofia Grant's "The Dress in the Window"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Dress in the Window: A Novel by Sofia Grant.

About the book, from the publisher:
World War II has ended and American women are shedding their old clothes for the gorgeous new styles. Voluminous layers of taffeta and tulle, wasp waists, and beautiful color—all so welcome after years of sensible styles and strict rationing.

Jeanne Brink and her sister Peggy both had to weather every tragedy the war had to offer—Peggy now a widowed mother, Jeanne without the fiancé she'd counted on, both living with Peggy's mother-in-law in a grim mill town. But despite their grey pasts they long for a bright future—Jeanne by creating stunning dresses for her clients with the help of her sister Peggy's brilliant sketches.

Together, they combine forces to create amazing fashions and a more prosperous life than they'd ever dreamed of before the war. But sisterly love can sometimes turn into sibling jealousy. Always playing second fiddle to her sister, Peggy yearns to make her own mark. But as they soon discover, the future is never without its surprises, ones that have the potential to make—or break—their dreams.
Visit Sofia Grant's website.

Writers Read: Sofia Grant.

The Page 69 Test: The Dress in the Window.

 --Marshal Zeringue