Monday, May 25, 2015

Pg. 69: Elizabeth J. Duncan's "Slated for Death"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Slated for Death: A Penny Brannigan Mystery by Elizabeth J. Duncan.

About the book, from the publisher:
When the body of well-liked and respectable Glenda Roberts is discovered at the bottom of a former slate mine, now a busy tourist attraction, pandemonium erupts in the North Wales town of Llanelen. Penny Brannigan finds herself drawn into the investigation when jars of her house-brand hand cream are found among counterfeit inventory Glenda and her sister were selling.

Police are convinced that the mine operator whose asthmatic son suffered an almost-fatal attack due to the merchandise is responsible for Glenda's death. But Penny's not so sure. A visit to Glenda's mother only deepens her conviction that a hidden family secret is the real reason for the murder.

Elizabeth J. Duncan's Slated for Death is a wonderful traditional mystery with snappy dialogue, lively characters and an enchanting setting.
Visit Elizabeth J. Duncan's website and blog.

Coffee with a Canine: Elizabeth J. Duncan and Dolly.

The Page 69 Test: The Cold Light of Mourning.

The Page 69 Test: A Brush with Death.

The Page 69 Test: Never Laugh As a Hearse Goes By.

The Page 69 Test: Slated for Death.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Will Walton reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Will Walton, author of Anything Could Happen.

His entry begins:
I love this question. Today, I’ll be reading The Transcriptionist, by Amy Rowland—I’m totally smitten with the concept: a lonely transcriptionist in New York who’s starting to lose her grip on reality! I just read...[read on]
About Anything Could Happen, from the publisher:
A phenomenal debut about a gay Southern boy in love with his straight best friend.

Tretch Farm lives in a very small town where everybody's in everybody else's business. Which makes it hard for him to be in love with his best friend, Matt Gooby. Matt has two gay dads, but isn't all that gay himself . . . which doesn't stop Tretch from loving him anyway. Things get even more complicated when a girl falls for Tretch, and Tretch doesn't know how to put her off without revealing everything to everyone. Meanwhile, his family is facing some challenges of its own, and it's going to take Tretch coming out and coming to peace with his situation for his life to move forward.

ANYTHING COULD HAPPEN is a poignant, hard-hitting exploration of love and friendship, a provocative debut that shows that sometimes we have to let things fall apart before we can make them whole again.
Visit Will Walton's website.

Writers Read: Will Walton.

--Marshal Zeringue

Coffee with a canine: Michael Harwood & Reggie

Featured at Coffee with a Canine: Michael Harwood & Reggie.

The author, on how Reggie got his name:
We named him after Reggie Kray one half of the Kray twins, the notorious London gangsters of the 1960’s. We thought we might get another Frenchie and call him Ronnie after the other twin...[read on]
About Michael Harwood's novel, Manservant:
In this bitingly witty, saucy, acutely observed debut novel, Michael Harwood pulls back the damask drapes to reveal life among the modern aristocracy--upstairs, downstairs, and occasionally, behind stairs...

Anthony Gowers assists guests at a high-end London hotel with the kind of requests that can't be filled from a room-service menu. His reward: lavish tips and a closet full of cashmere. Then a client's after-hours entertainment ends in a tabloid scandal, and Anthony quickly becomes the city's best-dressed unemployed person...

In desperation, Anthony takes a position in the countryside as personal butler to Lord Shanderson. As a former Royal footman, Anthony is well versed in the peerage's peculiar ways. But Castle Beadale conceals an abundance of intrigue behind its stately doors. On the surface, Lord Shanderson is a model English gentleman--with a few personal interests that Anthony is sure the absent Lady Shanderson knows nothing about. But when the horrendously high-maintenance Lady Shanderson returns, tempers will flare, secrets will be exposed, and Anthony must decide whether the perks of privilege he's enjoyed are worth the price he's compelled to pay...
Visit Michael Harwood's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

Coffee with a Canine: Michael Harwood & Reggie.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Seven YA novels for pop-culture obsessives

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

At the B & N Teen Blog she tagged seven Young Adult novels for the pop-culture obsessed, including:
Life in Outer Space, by Melissa Keil

If movies are your scene, then Life in Outer Space is the book for you. Sam is a total movie nerd, spending his free time talking about slasher flicks and World of Warcraft. The movie references are plentiful, and the nerd factor is high. Sam’s pretty happy with his group of assorted misfits, but when Camilla, the statistical anomaly who breaks social barriers, enters the picture, his easy world is turned upside down. And like the best teen movies, this book is laugh-out-loud funny and full of classic teen angst.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Anita Hughes's "French Coast," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: French Coast by Anita Hughes.

The entry begins:
One of the biggest inspirations for French Coast was To Catch A Thief with Cary Grant and Grace Kelly - my favorite couple in cinema. French Coast and To Catch A Thief are both set at the fabulous Carlton-Intercontinental Hotel in Cannes. I watched the movie a half dozen times to soak up the spectacular architecture and interior design while writing the book!

So when I was asked to cast French Coast in my mind, I jumped at the chance. Here are my selections:

It's not hard to imagine Blake Lively as Serena. (Especially as she played Serena on Gossip Girl). Blake Lively is beautiful and confident and wears clothes wonderfully, I think she would be perfect for the part.

I imagine someone bright and bubbly as Zoe - perhaps Selena Gomez or...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Anita Hughes's website.

My Book, The Movie: Market Street.

My Book, The Movie: Lake Como.

My Book, The Movie: French Coast.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Cedric de Leon's "The Origins of Right to Work"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Origins of Right to Work: Antilabor Democracy in Nineteenth-Century Chicago by Cedric de Leon.

About the book, from the publisher:
“Right to work” states weaken collective bargaining rights and limit the ability of unions to effectively advocate on behalf of workers. As more and more states consider enacting right-to-work laws, observers trace the contemporary attack on organized labor to the 1980s and the Reagan era. In The Origins of Right to Work, however, Cedric de Leon contends that this antagonism began a century earlier with the Northern victory in the U.S. Civil War, when the political establishment revised the English common-law doctrine of conspiracy to equate collective bargaining with the enslavement of free white men.

In doing so, de Leon connects past and present, raising critical questions that address pressing social issues. Drawing on the changing relationship between political parties and workers in nineteenth-century Chicago, de Leon concludes that if workers’ collective rights are to be preserved in a global economy, workers must chart a course of political independence and overcome long-standing racial and ethnic divisions.
Learn more about The Origins of Right to Work at the Cornell University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: The Origins of Right to Work.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Matthew Crawford's 6 favorite books

Matthew B. Crawford is the author of Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work and The World Beyond Your Head: On Becoming an Individual in an Age of Distraction. One of his six favorite books, as shared at The Week magazine:
Addiction by Design by Natasha Dow Schüll

Why do people park themselves at slot machines for eight-hour stretches? Not to win money, but to get "in the zone," a state of repetitive absorption where the frustrations of life beyond the screen fall away. Vegas has long been honing the dark arts of screen-based behaviorist conditioning, but the business model has wider appeal.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is E. E. Cooper reading?

Featured at Writers Read: E. E. Cooper, author of Vanished.

Her entry begins:
I read a wide variety of things and am always collecting suggestions from other people of what I should read next. I tell myself that I’m not going to buy any more books until I read the ones I already have--but I have zero willpower to resist two books that I’m recommending now for totally different reasons are:

So You've Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson: This book is non-fiction and tackles the phenomenon of Internet shaming where someone does something wrong and then what must seem like the entire world piles on social media to make sure they are taken to task for what they said or did. It’s an interesting form of bullying and as someone who is involved in...[read on]
About Vanished, from the publisher:
Gone Girl meets Pretty Little Liars in the first book of this fast-paced psychological thriller series full of delicious twists and turns.

Friendship. Obsession. Deception. Love.

Kalah knows better than to fall for Beth Taylor . . . but that doesn't stop her from falling hard and falling fast, heart first into a sea of complications.

Then Beth vanishes. She skips town on her eighteenth birthday, leaving behind a flurry of rumors and a string of broken hearts. Not even Beth's best friend, Britney, knows where she went. Beth didn't even tell Kalah good-bye.

One of the rumors links Beth to Britney's boyfriend, and Kalah doesn't want to believe the betrayal. But Brit clearly believes it—and before Kalah can sort out the truth, Britney is dead.

When Beth finally reaches out to Kalah in the wake of Brit's suicide, Kalah wants to trust what Beth tells her. But she's swiftly realizing that nothing here is as it seems. Kalah's caught in the middle of a deadly psychological game, and only she can untangle the deceptions and lies to reveal the unthinkable truth.
Learn more about Vanished at E.E. Cooper's website.

Writers Read: E. E. Cooper.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top sci-fi sagas for teens

Paul Magrs' latest novel is Lost on Mars.

At the Guardian, he tagged his top ten sci-fi sagas for teens, including:
Splinter of the Mind’s Eye by Alan Dean Foster

Disney is kicking the Star Wars franchise back into life this year with a new series of sequel movies and tie-in novels and comics which expand the canonical universe that’s still so far, far away. But here was the very first sequel, a tense and exciting drama on a deadly swamp world that pitched Luke and Leia and the droids against Vader and his troopers. I was eight in 1978 when this came out and I was agog. Reading this was like being let into secrets about what happened after that first, brilliant movie.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Ed Ifkovic's "Café Europa"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Café Europa: An Edna Ferber Mystery by Ed Ifkovic.

About the book, from the publisher:
In 1914, as rumors of war float across Europe, Edna Ferber travels to Budapest with Winifred Moss, a famous London suffragette, to visit the homeland of her dead father and to see the sights. Author Edna is fascinated by ancient Emperor Franz Joseph and by the faltering Austro-Hungarian Empire, its pomp and circumstance so removed from the daily life of the people she meets. Sitting daily in the Café Europa at her hotel, she listens to unfettered Hearst reporter Harold Gibbon as he predicts the coming war and the end of feudalistic life in Europe while patrons chatter.

Then a shocking murder in a midnight garden changes everything.

Headstrong Cassandra Blaine is supposed to marry into the Austrian nobility in one of those arranged matches like Consuela Vanderbilt’s still popular with wealthy American parents eager for titles and impoverished European nobility who have them to offer. But Cassandra is murdered, and her former lover, the dashing Hungarian Endre Molnár, is the prime suspect. Taken with the young man and convinced of his innocence, Edna begins investigating with the help of Winifred and two avant-garde Hungarian artists. Meanwhile possible war with Serbia is the topic of the day as Archduke Franz Ferdinand prepares to head to Sarajevo. While the world braces for disaster, Edna uncovers the truth –and it scares her.
Visit Ed Ifkovic's website.

Writers Read: Ed Ifkovic.

My Book, The Movie: Café Europa.

The Page 69 Test: Café Europa.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 22, 2015

Pg. 99: Susan J. Terrio's "Whose Child Am I?"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Whose Child Am I?: Unaccompanied, Undocumented Children in U.S. Immigration Custody by Susan J. Terrio.

About the book, from the publisher:
In 2014, the arrest and detention of thousands of desperate young migrants at the southwest border of the United States exposed the U.S. government's shadowy juvenile detention system, which had escaped public scrutiny for years. This book tells the story of six Central American and Mexican children who are driven from their homes by violence and deprivation, and who embark alone, risking their lives, on the perilous journey north. They suffer coercive arrests at the U.S. border, then land in detention, only to be caught up in the battle to obtain legal status. Whose Child Am I? looks inside a vast, labyrinthine system by documenting in detail the experiences of these youths, beginning with their arrest by immigration authorities, their subsequent placement in federal detention, followed by their appearance in deportation proceedings and release from custody, and, finally, ending with their struggle to build new lives in the United States. This book shows how the U.S. government got into the business of detaining children and what we can learn from this troubled history.
Learn more about Whose Child Am I? at the University of California Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Whose Child Am I?.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten dark books

Amelia Gray's new story collection is Gutshot.

One of her ten best dark books, as shared at Publishers Weekly:
Tampa by Alissa Nutting

Twenty-six-year-old Celeste is a sexy, smart teacher married to a handsome football captain type. She’s also an unrepentant and repeated sex offender, seducing and raping her teenage students. The story of her sexual obsessions offer up a cringing response to the gendered imbalance of sexual assault. Nutting’s work is meticulous and relentless and funny, a sharp satire of romance writing with a side of death.
Read about another entry on the list.

Tampa is also among Tiffany Gibert's ten erotic books hotter and better than Fifty Shades of Grey and Kristi Steffen's top five titles told from the perspective of an extremely disturbed individual you would never want to meet.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Melissa Grey reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Melissa Grey, author of The Girl at Midnight.

Her entry begins:
I like having several irons in the fire when it comes to reading. If I want to prolong one book or if I hit a spot that isn’t right for whatever mood I’m in, I can pick something else up and not lose my reading momentum. Here’s what I’m reading right now:

Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman – This is a book I’ve tried to read several times but the timing was never quite right. It’s one of those books where I really needed to be in the right frame of mind for the story’s slowly building atmosphere. Gaiman’s prose is beautiful and I’m really enjoying how he’s slowly building the mythology around Anansi and...[read on]
About The Girl at Midnight, from the publisher:
For fans of Cassandra Clare’s City of Bones and Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke & Bone, The Girl at Midnight is the story of a modern girl caught in an ancient war.

Beneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, an ancient race of people with feathers for hair and magic running through their veins. Age-old enchantments keep them hidden from humans. All but one. Echo is a runaway pickpocket who survives by selling stolen treasures on the black market, and the Avicen are the only family she’s ever known.

Echo is clever and daring, and at times she can be brash, but above all else she’s fiercely loyal. So when a centuries-old war crests on the borders of her home, she decides it’s time to act.

Legend has it that there is a way to end the conflict once and for all: find the Firebird, a mythical entity believed to possess power the likes of which the world has never seen. It will be no easy task, though if life as a thief has taught Echo anything, it’s how to hunt down what she wants ... and how to take it.

But some jobs aren’t as straightforward as they seem. And this one might just set the world on fire.
Visit Melissa Grey's website.

Writers Read: Melissa Grey.

--Marshal Zeringue

Charlotte Gordon's "Romantic Outlaws," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Her Daughter Mary Shelley by Charlotte Gordon.

The entry begins:
Jessica Chastain, of course. That’s who should play Mary Shelley. The character Chastain played in Zero, Dark, Thirty reminds me of Shelley: young, brilliant, hard-headed, self-disciplined, and yet somehow vulnerable. Plus, she has that great red hair and Mary Shelley was famous for her gorgeous red locks. The tricky thing about Shelley is capturing her wildness and, weirdly, her seriousness. At age sixteen, she’d run away with the already married Percy Shelley, scandalizing all of London society. But she was not just a rebellious teenager. She spent each day teaching herself ancient Greek and working on her writing. She was only nineteen when she wrote Frankenstein.

As for Mary Wollstonecraft, Kate...[read on]
Visit Charlotte Gordon's website.

My Book, The Movie: Romantic Outlaws.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Nose in a book: Erin as "Sally"

Who: Erin as "Sally"

What: Catch a Falling Star by Kim Culbertson

When: May 2015

Where: Children's Theatre Ensemble production of Headin' for the Hills, Northern California

Visit Kim Culbertson's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Kim Culbertson and Maya.

The Page 69 Test: Catch a Falling Star.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Linda Grimes's "The Big Fix"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Big Fix by Linda Grimes.

About the book, from the publisher:
Linda Grimes's sexy and hilarious urban fantasy series that began with In a Fix and Quick Fix continues in The Big Fix.

Aura adaptor extraordinaire Ciel Halligan, who uses her chameleon-like abilities to fix her clients' problems--as them--is filling in on set for action superstar Jackson Gunn, whose snake phobia is standing in the way of his completing his latest mega-millions Hollywood blockbuster. There's only one thing Jack fears more than snakes, and that's the possibility of his fans finding out he screams at the sight of one. Going from hero to laughing stock isn't part of his career plan.

Seems like a simple enough job to Ciel, who doesn't particularly like snakes, but figures she can tolerate an afternoon with them, for the right price--which Jack is offering, and then some. What she doesn't count on is finding out that while she was busy wrangling snakes for him, his wife was busy getting killed. When Ciel goes to break the sad news to the star, she finds out Jack was AWOL from her client hideaway at the time of the murder.

Ciel begins to suspect Jack's phobia was phony, and that he only hired her to provide him with an alibi--but if she goes to the police, she'll have to explain how she knows he wasn't really on set. Up against a wall, Ciel calls on her best-friend-turned-love-interest Billy, and her not-so-ex-crush Mark, to help her set up the sting of a lifetime.
Learn more about the book and author at Linda Grimes's website.

My Book, The Movie: In a Fix.

Writers Read: Linda Grimes.

The Page 69 Test: The Big Fix.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top rural noir novels

Tom Bouman's Dry Bones in the Valley won the 2015 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Mystery/Thriller and the 2015 Edgar Award for Best First Novel.

For the Guardian Bouman tagged his top ten rural noir novels, including:
A Land More Kind Than Home (2012) by Wiley Cash

I have referred elsewhere to this novel as “bighearted”, and I have yet to think of a better word for it. Cash’s work shows how the line between gothic fiction and rural noir can blur, exemplified particularly in the person of Carson Chambliss, a snake-handling preacher disfigured by chemical burns sustained in the production of methamphetamine.
Read about another entry on the list.

My Book, The Movie: A Land More Kind Than Home.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Kristin Kobes Du Mez's "A New Gospel for Women"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: A New Gospel for Women: Katharine Bushnell and the Challenge of Christian Feminism by Kristin Kobes Du Mez.

About the book, from the publisher:
A New Gospel for Women tells the story of Katharine Bushnell (1855-1946), author of God's Word to Women, one of the most innovative and comprehensive feminist theologies ever written. An internationally-known social reformer and women's rights activist, Bushnell rose to prominence through her highly publicized campaigns against prostitution and the trafficking of women in America, in colonial India, and throughout East Asia. In each of these cases, the intrepid reformer struggled to come to terms with the fact that it was Christian men who were guilty of committing acts of appalling cruelty against women. Ultimately, Bushnell concluded that Christianity itself - or rather, the patriarchal distortion of true Christianity - must be to blame.

A work of history, biography, and historical theology, Kristin Kobes DuMez's book provides a vivid account of Bushnell's life. It maps a concise introduction to her fascinating theology, revealing, for example, Bushnell's belief that gender bias tainted both the King James and the Revised Versions of the English Bible. As Du Mez demonstrates, Bushnell insisted that God created women to be strong and independent, that Adam, not Eve, bore responsibility for the Fall, and that it was through Christ, "the great emancipator of women," that women would achieve spiritual and social redemption.

A New Gospel for Women restores Bushnell to her rightful place in history. It illuminates the dynamic and often thorny relationship between faith and feminism in modern America by mapping Bushnell's story and her subsequent disappearance from the historical record. Most pointedly, the book reveals the challenges confronting Christian feminists today who wish to construct a sexual ethic that is both Christian and feminist, one rooted not in the Victorian era, but rather one suited to the modern world.
Learn more about A New Gospel for Women at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: A New Gospel for Women.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Charlotte Jacobs reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Charlotte DeCroes Jacobs, author of Jonas Salk: A Life.

Her entry begins:
I tend to read and study nonfiction books. Two of my favorites are Candice Millard’s River of Doubt and more recently Daniel James Brown’s The Boys in the Boat. Both are master storytellers who have mastered...[read on]
About Jonas Salk: A Life, from the publisher:
When a waiting world learned on April 12, 1955, that Jonas Salk had successfully created a vaccine to prevent poliomyelitis, he became a hero overnight. Born in a New York tenement, humble in manner, Salk had all the makings of a twentieth-century icon-a knight in a white coat. In the wake of his achievement, he received a staggering number of awards and honors; for years his name ranked with Gandhi and Churchill on lists of the most revered people. And yet the one group whose adulation he craved--the scientific community--remained ominously silent. "The worst tragedy that could have befallen me was my success," Salk later said. "I knew right away that I was through-cast out."

In the first complete biography of Jonas Salk, Charlotte DeCroes Jacobs unravels Salk's story to reveal an unconventional scientist and a misunderstood and vulnerable man. Despite his incredible success in developing the polio vaccine, Salk was ostracized by his fellow scientists, who accused him of failing to give proper credit to other researchers and scorned his taste for media attention. Even before success catapulted him into the limelight, Salk was an inscrutable man disliked by many of his peers. Driven by an intense desire to aid mankind, he was initially oblivious and eventually resigned to the personal cost--as well as the costs suffered by his family and friends. And yet Salk remained, in the eyes of the public, an adored hero.

Based on hundreds of personal interviews and unprecedented access to Salk's sealed archives, Jacobs' biography offers the most complete picture of this complicated figure. Salk's story has never been fully told; until now, his role in preventing polio has overshadowed his part in co-developing the first influenza vaccine, his effort to meld the sciences and humanities in the magnificent Salk Institute, and his pioneering work on AIDS. A vivid and intimate portrait, this will become the standard work on the remarkable life of Jonas Salk.
Visit Charlotte Jacobs's website.

My Book, The Movie: Jonas Salk: A Life.

The Page 99 Test: Jonas Salk: A Life.

Writers Read: Charlotte DeCroes Jacobs.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Pg. 69: Nancy Thayer's "The Guest Cottage"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Guest Cottage: A Novel by Nancy Thayer.

About the book, from the publisher:
New York Times bestselling author Nancy Thayer whisks readers back to the beloved island of Nantucket in this delightful novel about two single parents who accidentally rent the same summer house—and must soon decide where their hearts truly lie.

Sensible thirty-six-year-old Sophie Anderson has always known what to do. She knows her role in life: supportive wife of a successful architect and calm, capable mother of two. But on a warm summer night, as the house grows quiet around her and her children fall asleep, she wonders what’s missing from her life. When her husband echoes that lonely question, announcing that he’s leaving her for another woman, Sophie realizes she has no idea what’s next. Impulsively renting a guest cottage on Nantucket from her friend Susie Swenson, Sophie rounds up her kids, Jonah and Lacey, and leaves Boston for a quiet family vacation, minus one.

Also minus one is Trevor Black, a software entrepreneur who has recently lost his wife. Trevor is the last person to imagine himself, age thirty and on his own, raising a little boy like Leo—smart and sweet, but grappling constantly with his mother’s death, growing more and more closed off. Hoping a quiet summer on the Nantucket coast will help him reconnect with Leo, Trevor rents a guest house on the beautiful island from his friend Ivan Swenson.

Best-laid plans run awry when Sophie and Trevor realize they’ve mistakenly rented the same house. Still, determined to make this a summer their kids will always remember, the two agree to share the Swensons’ Nantucket house. But as the summer unfolds and the families grow close, Sophie and Trevor must ask themselves if the guest cottage is all they want to share.

Inspiring and true to life, The Guest Cottage is Nancy Thayer at her finest, inscribing in graceful, knowing prose matters of the heart and the meaning of family.
Learn more about the book and author at Nancy Thayer's website.

The Page 69 Test: Summer House.

The Page 69 Test: Beachcombers.

My Book, The Movie: Beachcombers.

Writers Read: Nancy Thayer.

My Book, The Movie: The Guest Cottage.

The Page 69 Test: The Guest Cottage.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ed Ifkovic's "Café Europa," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Café Europa by Ed Ifkovic.

The entry begins:
In my Edna Ferber mysteries, my amateur sleuth/novelist solves murders over the course of her long lifetime, as early as 1904 when she is nineteen and a nosy small-town reporter, until the 1950s, when she is in her seventies and covered with fame and fortune. Early on, writing about Edna in her seventies in Lone Star, I actually envisioned veteran actor Elaine Stritch embodying the feisty, tart-tongued Ferber as she watched the movie production of her novel Giant in Hollywood, socializing with the likes of James Dean and Elizabeth Taylor. Stritch had, indeed, played the take-no-prisoners Parthy Hawks in Showboat, many years before. But Stritch died last year, and so went that idea.

Nevertheless, there is one actress who repeatedly comes to my mind as someone capable of embodying Ferber at different stages of her life:...[read on]
Visit Ed Ifkovic's website.

Writers Read: Ed Ifkovic.

My Book, The Movie: Café Europa.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Karen M. Paget's "Patriotic Betrayal"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Patriotic Betrayal: The Inside Story of the CIA’s Secret Campaign to Enroll American Students in the Crusade Against Communism by Karen M. Paget.

About the book, from the publisher:
In this revelatory book, Karen M. Paget shows how the CIA turned the National Student Association into an intelligence asset during the Cold War, with students used—often wittingly and sometimes unwittingly—as undercover agents inside America and abroad. In 1967, Ramparts magazine exposed the story, prompting the Agency into engineering a successful cover-up. Now Paget, drawing on archival sources, declassified documents, and more than 150 interviews, shows that the Ramparts story revealed only a small part of the plot.

A cautionary tale, throwing sharp light on the persistent argument, heard even now, about whether America’s national-security interests can be advanced by skullduggery and deception, Patriotic Betrayal, says Karl E. Meyer, a former editorial board member of the New York Times and The Washington Post, evokes “the aura of a John le Carré novel with its self-serving rationalizations, its layers of duplicity, and its bureaucratic doubletalk.” And Hugh Wilford, author of The Mighty Wurlitzer: How the CIA Played America, calls Patriotic Betrayal “extremely valuable as a case study of relations between the CIA and one of its front groups, greatly extending and enriching our knowledge and understanding of the complex dynamics involved in such covert, state-private relationships; it offers a fascinating portrayal of post-World War II U.S. political culture in microcosm."
Visit Karen M. Paget's website.

The Page 99 Test: Patriotic Betrayal.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven top girl packs in YA fiction

At the B&N Teen Blog Natalie Zutter tagged seven of the best girl packs in YA fiction, including:
The Year of Secret Assignments, by Jaclyn Moriarty

While the Ashbury-Brookfield pen pal program is designed to bring together the aforementioned boys’ and girls’ schools, the events of that momentous school year actually strengthen Cassie, Lydia, and Emily’s friendship. At first, each girl seems to have found her match in her male pen pal—new partners in crime and potential love interests. But when Cassie’s pen pal does the unimaginable, Emily and Lydia realize they’ve become too wrapped up in their correspondences to pay attention to their friend. With some help from their new pen pals, they enact the ultimate revenge plot.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Nose in a book: Ana (of California)

Who: Ana

What: Drive Me Crazy by Terra Elan McVoy

When: May 14, 2015

Where: Northern California

Photo credit: Kim Culbertson

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Ed Ifkovic reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Ed Ifkovic, author of Café Europa: An Edna Ferber Mystery.

His entry begins:
One of many delights I have in my occasional lunches with my friend Carole Shmurak, a follow mystery writer, is our discussion of books currently being read. Recently Carole mentioned a book—and, in fact, a writer—I was unfamiliar with. The book was L. A. Requiem, and the author Robert Crais. Somehow this well-regarded novel had gone unnoticed by me—but not for long. Carole’s praise and enthusiasm inspired me to purchase the paperback that very afternoon, and I am now in the middle of reading the novel.

And revelation it is: I know I’ll be devouring all of Crais’ works in short order. It’s a habit formed as a bookish teenager. Whenever I discovered any writer I liked, I’d haunt the public library in town until...[read on]
About Café Europa, from the publisher:
In 1914, as rumors of war float across Europe, Edna Ferber travels to Budapest with Winifred Moss, a famous London suffragette, to visit the homeland of her dead father and to see the sights. Author Edna is fascinated by ancient Emperor Franz Joseph and by the faltering Austro-Hungarian Empire, its pomp and circumstance so removed from the daily life of the people she meets. Sitting daily in the Café Europa at her hotel, she listens to unfettered Hearst reporter Harold Gibbon as he predicts the coming war and the end of feudalistic life in Europe while patrons chatter.

Then a shocking murder in a midnight garden changes everything.

Headstrong Cassandra Blaine is supposed to marry into the Austrian nobility in one of those arranged matches like Consuela Vanderbilt’s still popular with wealthy American parents eager for titles and impoverished European nobility who have them to offer. But Cassandra is murdered, and her former lover, the dashing Hungarian Endre Molnár, is the prime suspect. Taken with the young man and convinced of his innocence, Edna begins investigating with the help of Winifred and two avant-garde Hungarian artists. Meanwhile possible war with Serbia is the topic of the day as Archduke Franz Ferdinand prepares to head to Sarajevo. While the world braces for disaster, Edna uncovers the truth –and it scares her.
Visit Ed Ifkovic's website.

Writers Read: Ed Ifkovic.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Michael J. Martinez's "The Venusian Gambit"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Venusian Gambit: Book Three of the Daedalus Series by Michael J. Martinez.

About the book, from the publisher:
The last chapter of the dimension-spanning Daedalus series brings the nineteenth and twenty-second centuries together for an explosive finale in the jungles of Venus!

In the year 2135, dangerous alien life-forms freed in the destruction of Saturn’s moon Enceladus are making their way toward Earth. A task force spearheaded by Lieutenant Commander Shaila Jain is scrambling to beat them there while simultaneously trying to save crewmember Stephane Durand, who was infected during the mission to Saturn and is now controlled by a form of life intent on reopening a transdimensional rift and destroying the human race. But Jain doesn’t realize that the possessed Stephane has bigger plans, beaming critical data to other conspirators suspiciously heading not for Earth, but for Venus...

In 1809—a Napoleonic era far different from our own—the French have occupied England with their Corps Eternélle, undead soldiers risen through the darkest Alchemy. Only the actions of Lord Admiral Thomas Weatherby and the Royal Navy have kept the French contained to Earth. But the machinations of old enemies point to a bold and daring gambit: an ancient weapon, presumed lost in the jungles of Venus.

Now, Weatherby must choose whether to stay and fight to retake his homeland or pursue the French to the green planet. And Shaila must decide if it’s possible to save the man she loves, or if he must be sacrificed for the good of two dimensions. In the dark alien jungles of Venus, humanity’s fate in both dimensions hangs in the balance—forcing past and present to once again join forces against an ancient terror.
Visit Michael J. Martinez's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Venusian Gambit.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Ilana Feldman's "Police Encounters"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Police Encounters: Security and Surveillance in Gaza under Egyptian Rule by Ilana Feldman.

About the book, from the publisher:
Egypt came to govern Gaza as a result of a war, a failed effort to maintain Arab Palestine. Throughout the twenty years of its administration (1948–1967), Egyptian policing of Gaza concerned itself not only with crime and politics, but also with control of social and moral order. Through surveillance, interrogation, and a network of local informants, the police extended their reach across the public domain and into private life, seeing Palestinians as both security threats and vulnerable subjects who needed protection. Security practices produced suspicion and safety simultaneously.

Police Encounters explores the paradox of Egyptian rule. Drawing on a rich and detailed archive of daily police records, the book describes an extensive security apparatus guided by intersecting concerns about national interest, social propriety, and everyday illegality. In pursuit of security, Egyptian policing established a relatively safe society, but also one that blocked independent political activity. The repressive aspects of the security society that developed in Gaza under Egyptian rule are beyond dispute. But repression does not tell the entire story about its impact on Gaza. Policing also provided opportunities for people to make claims of government, influence their neighbors, and protect their families.
Learn more about Police Encounters at the Stanford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Police Encounters.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten of the best (unconventional) ghosts in literature

Judith Claire Mitchell is the author of the novels The Last Day of the War and A Reunion of Ghosts. She teaches undergraduate and graduate fiction workshops at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she is a professor of English and the director of the MFA program in creative writing. She has received grants and fellowships from the Michener-Copernicus Society of America, the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, the Wisconsin Arts Board, and Bread Loaf, among others. She lives in Madison with her husband, the artist Don Friedlich, and Josie the West Highland White Terrier.

At the Guardian Mitchell tagged ten of the best (unconventional) ghosts--"they may not necessarily scare, but they manage to haunt, long after the pages have been turned"--in literature, including:
Holiday in Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones

When murder victim Susie Salmon, played by Saoirse Ronan in Peter Jackson’s film version, ascends to heaven, she spies a distant entity galloping towards her. The figure turns out to be Holiday, her long-deceased dog, joyfully greeting his newly deceased owner. Did I bawl like a baby on reading about this particular reunion of ghosts? You bet I did.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Lovely Bones is among Laura McHugh's ten favorite books about serial killers and Tamzin Outhwaite's six best books.

Coffee with a Canine: Judith Claire Mitchell & Josie.

The Page 69 Test: A Reunion of Ghosts.

--Marshal Zeringue