Sunday, July 24, 2016

What is Jennifer Keishin Armstrong reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Jennifer Keishin Armstrong, author of Seinfeldia: How a Show About Nothing Changed Everything.

Her entry begins:
I’m currently reading Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried. It’s long been on my reading list, but I’m sure on some level I’ve been putting it off for years. I didn’t need to be convinced that it’s great. I’ve taught excerpts from it in my creative writing classes, and the writing is beautiful. But my dad is a Vietnam veteran, and part of me always resists anything that documents his experience in a real way. I knew that reading the whole book would put me right in it.

Strangely, I find myself reading this amid the turmoil of releasing a book. A book about a TV show, called Seinfeldia. A “book about nothing,” as many people, including my dad, have joked. They are joking, of course, mostly. They respect what I do, even if what I do is write about TV shows. Still, it feels a lot like nothing up against the real-ish story of a Vietnam veteran’s experience at war. I like that. It’s grounding. It reminds me that I’m not saving lives here. I’m not taking lives here. Maybe I’ll make a life a little more fun for a while. That’s something, but not everything.

Everyone told me how fantastic The Things They Carried is. I believed them, but...[read on]
About Seinfeldia: How a Show About Nothing Changed Everything, from the publisher:
The hilarious behind-the-scenes story of two guys who went out for coffee and dreamed up Seinfeld—the cultural sensation that changed television and bled into the real world, altering the lives of everyone it touched.

Comedians Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld never thought anyone would watch their silly little sitcom about a New York comedian sitting around talking to his friends. NBC executives didn’t think anyone would watch either, but they bought it anyway, hiding it away in the TV dead zone of summer. But against all odds, viewers began to watch, first a few and then many, until nine years later nearly forty million Americans were tuning in weekly.

In Seinfeldia, acclaimed TV historian and entertainment writer Jennifer Keishin Armstrong celebrates the creators and fans of this American television phenomenon, bringing readers behind-the-scenes of the show while it was on the air and into the world of devotees for whom it never stopped being relevant, a world where the Soup Nazi still spends his days saying “No soup for you!”, Joe Davola gets questioned every day about his sanity, Kenny Kramer makes his living giving tours of New York sights from the show, and fans dress up in Jerry’s famous puffy shirt, dance like Elaine, and imagine plotlines for Seinfeld if it were still on TV.
Visit Jennifer Keishin Armstrong's website.

My Book, The Movie: Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted.

The Page 99 Test: Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted.

The Page 99 Test: Seinfeldia.

Writers Read: Jennifer Keishin Armstrong.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Six YA mysteries for fans of "Broadchurch"

At the BN Teen blog Samantha Randolph tagged six YA mysteries for fans of the British television series Broadchurch, including:
Local Girl Swept Away, by Ellen Wittlinger

Local Girl Swept Away features a group of friends who are shaken when one of their members is swept out to sea. Without a body, they can’t know if Lorna is alive or if she’s lost under the waves forever. The three remaining friends are grieving and uncertain, especially Jackie, who struggles with unrequited feelings for Lorna’s boyfriend. As questions about Lorna’s fate rise, the haunting sense of disillusionment and grief matches the unforgettable tone of Broadchurch. However, as in Broadchurch, a sense of possible hope on the horizon shines through.
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Hugo Drochon's "Nietzsche's Great Politics"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Nietzsche's Great Politics by Hugo Drochon.

About the book, from the publisher:
Nietzsche's impact on the world of culture, philosophy, and the arts is uncontested, but his political thought remains mired in controversy. By placing Nietzsche back in his late-nineteenth-century German context, Nietzsche's Great Politics moves away from the disputes surrounding Nietzsche's appropriation by the Nazis and challenges the use of the philosopher in postmodern democratic thought. Rather than starting with contemporary democratic theory or continental philosophy, Hugo Drochon argues that Nietzsche's political ideas must first be understood in light of Bismarck's policies, in particular his "Great Politics," which transformed the international politics of the late nineteenth century.

Nietzsche's Great Politics shows how Nietzsche made Bismarck's notion his own, enabling him to offer a vision of a unified European political order that was to serve as a counterbalance to both Britain and Russia. This order was to be led by a "good European" cultural elite whose goal would be to encourage the rebirth of Greek high culture. In relocating Nietzsche's politics to their own time, the book offers not only a novel reading of the philosopher but also a more accurate picture of why his political thought remains so relevant today.
Learn more about Nietzsche's Great Politics at the Princeton University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Nietzsche's Great Politics.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten books that capture The Fifties of Chicago

At The Culture Trip Karla Sullivan tagged ten books that capture the 1950s of Chicago, including:
White Collar Girl

A well-written historically accurate novel of a female journalist and her struggles to survive in a man’s world which is 1950s Chicago, White Collar Girl is a must-read. Even when the protagonist, Jordan Walsh, has connections to esteemed writers such as Ernest Hemingway, she fights for survival as a working girl in 1955. Renée Rosen is also author of DollFace and What the Lady Wants. Renee is a Chicago writer who completed her first novel when she was 17.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Catherine Banner's "The House at the Edge of Night"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The House at the Edge of Night by Catherine Banner.

About the book, from the publisher:
A sweeping saga about four generations of a family who live and love on an enchanting island off the coast of Italy—combining the romance of Beautiful Ruins with the magical tapestry of works by Isabel Allende.

Castellamare is an island far enough away from the mainland to be forgotten, but not far enough to escape from the world’s troubles. At the center of the island’s life is a café draped with bougainvillea called the House at the Edge of Night, where the community gathers to gossip and talk. Amedeo Esposito, a foundling from Florence, finds his destiny on the island with his beautiful wife, Pina, whose fierce intelligence, grace, and unwavering love guide her every move. An indiscretion tests their marriage, and their children—three sons and an inquisitive daughter—grow up and struggle with both humanity’s cruelty and its capacity for love and mercy.

Spanning nearly a century, through secrets and mysteries, trials and sacrifice, this beautiful and haunting novel follows the lives of the Esposito family and the other islanders who live and love on Castellamare: a cruel count and his bewitching wife, a priest who loves scandal, a prisoner of war turned poet, an outcast girl who becomes a pillar of strength, a wounded English soldier who emerges from the sea. The people of Castellamare are transformed by two world wars and a great recession, by the threat of fascism and their deep bonds of passion and friendship, and by bitter rivalries and the power of forgiveness.

Catherine Banner has written an enthralling, character-rich novel, epic in scope but intimate in feeling. At times, the island itself seems alive, a mythical place where the earth heaves with stories—and this magical novel takes you there.
Visit Catherine Banner's website.

The Page 69 Test: The House at the Edge of Night.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 22, 2016

Lisa Jewell's 6 best books

Lisa Jewell was born and raised in north London, where she lives with her husband and two daughters. She is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author of at least twelve novels.

One of the author's six best books, as shared at the Daily Express:
HIGH FIDELITY by Nick Hornby

A fantastically funny, sharp novel and massively modern at the time. It’s about a guy who runs a record store and he’s trying to work out why he split up with his girlfriend. It’s about people and a setting I understood. It also ignited a sense I’d had that I’d like to write my own novel.
Read about another entry on the list.

High Fidelity also made Jen Harper's list of seven top books to help you get through your divorce, Chris Moss's top 19 list of books on "how to be a man," Jeff Somers's list of six books that’ll make you glad you’re single, Chrissie Gruebel's top ten list of books set in London, Ted Gioia's list of ten of the best novels on music, Melissa Albert's top five list of books that inspire great mix tapes, Rob Reid's six favorite books list, Ashley Hamilton's list of 8 books to read with a broken heart, Tiffany Murray's top 10 list of rock'n'roll novels, Mark Hodkinson's critic's chart of rock music in fiction, and John Sutherland's list of the best books about listing.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Shawna Yang Ryan reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Shawna Yang Ryan, author of Green Island.

Her entry begins:
I just finished Eka Kurniawan’s Beauty is a Wound, an Indonesian novel beautifully translated by Annie Tucker.

The prostitute Dewi Ayu, who has been dead for twenty-one years, rises from her grave and discovers that her horrifically ugly youngest daughter, Beauty, is pregnant by what appears to be a ghost. From there, the reader is pulled along on an adventure that stretches back to Dutch colonialism, through the experience of forced sex workers during World War II, to independence and coups and massacres. Akin to One Hundred Years of Solitude, the book introduces a huge cast of characters and becomes a history of all their lives and of their town, Halimunda. Four hundred and sixty pages later, Kurniawan has finally given us enough context to understand who impregnated Beauty. In the meantime...[read on]
About Green Island, from the publisher:
A stunning story of love, betrayal, and family, set against the backdrop of a changing Taiwan over the course of the twentieth century.

February 28, 1947: Trapped inside the family home amid an uprising that has rocked Taipei, Dr. Tsai delivers his youngest daughter, the unnamed narrator of Green Island, just after midnight as the city is plunged into martial law. In the following weeks, as the Chinese Nationalists act to crush the opposition, Dr. Tsai becomes one of the many thousands of people dragged away from their families and thrown into prison. His return, after more than a decade, is marked by alienation from his loved ones and paranoia among his community—conflicts that loom over the growing bond he forms with his youngest daughter. Years later, this troubled past follows her to the United States, where, as a mother and a wife, she too is forced to decide between what is right and what might save her family—the same choice she witnessed her father make many years before.

As the novel sweeps across six decades and two continents, the life of the narrator shadows the course of Taiwan’s history from the end of Japanese colonial rule to the decades under martial law and, finally, to Taiwan’s transformation into a democracy. But, above all, Green Island is a lush and lyrical story of a family and a nation grappling with the nuances of complicity and survival, raising the question: how far would you be willing to go for the ones you love?
Learn more about the book and author at Shawna Yang Ryan's website.

The Page 69 Test: Water Ghosts.

The Page 69 Test: Green Island.

Writers Read: Shawna Yang Ryan.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top urban fantasy series about policing the supernatural

Melissa F. Olson is the author of six Old World novels for 47North as well as the upcoming Tor.com novella Nightshades. One entry on her list of "five urban fantasy series where partners in an actual government agency have to deal with otherworldly threats," as shared at Tor.com:
The Nathaniel Cade Series by Chris Farnsworth

A powerful vampire swears a blood oath to the office of the President, and has to work with a very young and very green White House employee to fight supernatural threats. I read Blood Oath, the first book in Christopher Farnsworth’s President’s Vampire trilogy, in between the idea for Nightshades and actually writing it, and thank goodness. Blood Oath and its sequels (please more books, Chris?) are the gold standard for how to do third person, procedural UF with plenty of action and intrigue.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 69 Test: Blood Oath.

--Marshal Zeringue

Bill Loehfelm's "Let the Devil Out," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Let the Devil Out (Maureen Coughlin Series #4) by Bill Loehfelm.

The entry begins:
From the beginning of the series, I’ve felt Rooney Mara would be the best possible Maureen Coughlin. There’s a dark, volatile incandescence to Mara that’s terrifying, exciting, and perfect and my opinion on that hasn’t changed.

So for this post, for the fourth book in the series, I’ve been thinking in a different direction, of a big, fun way to play with the idea of the Maureen Coughlin books coming to the screen. Who, if I could pick anyone, would I want in charge of the project? I think it’d be fascinating, and probably not a little bit difficult to see someone else interpret and present my material, see them rebuild the world I’ve built according to their own vision. How would it look, feel, and sound? That would be such a crazy, challenging experience, as a novelist, to share like that.

I started out thinking of directors. My first thought was Michael Mann, who’s done a couple of my favorite movies, Heat and Collateral. After seeing him shoot L.A. and Miami, I’d love to see him shoot New Orleans, especially since so much of the series takes place at night. He takes time with character building and with the smaller, human stories that unwind over the course of an exciting crime story. David...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Bill Loehfelm's website.

The Page 69 Test: Fresh Kills.

My Book, The Movie: The Devil in Her Way.

My Book, The Movie: Let the Devil Out.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Ten top books about gardens

Vivian Swift is a travel writer. Sort of. Her first book was a travel story, sort of; it was all about staying put: When Wanderers Cease to Roam. Her latest book is Gardens of Awe and Folly: A Traveler's Journal on the Meaning of Life and Gardening.

One of Swift's top ten books about gardens, as shared at the Guardian:
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Here is a garden that is not only scary, but lethal. You probably already know the story of the orphaned Mary Lennox, “the most disagreeable-looking child ever seen”, and her rehabilitation of the spooky walled-in garden with the killer tree (the one the late Mrs Craven fell out of). But you probably did not know that Hodgson Burnett wrote this iconic English fable in the US, in her home on Long Island, less than three miles from where I live. This fact inspired me to believe that great garden writers can come from anywhere, even one’s own dull suburb.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Secret Garden is one of Mary Sebag-Montefiore's top ten classics every child should read before they are 10.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Alecia Whitaker's "The Way Back Home"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Way Back Home by Alecia Whitaker.

About the book, from the publisher:
Music sensation Bird Barrett is hitting the road, headlining her first national tour after the launch of her second album. Singing to sold-out crowds can mess with a girl's sense of perspective, though. Luckily, Bird has her older brother, Dylan, and her best friend, Stella, along for the ride to keep her grounded.

Then Dylan and Stella pair off as more than friends. Feeling left behind, Bird throws herself completely into her performances, cover shoots, and high-profile interviews. And the more she tries to distract herself with her career, the further she pushes everyone away-including her longtime crush, Adam Dean, who joined the tour as her opener. When Bird breaks down, she'll need help to find her footing again. But has she pushed everyone too far? In a life like this one, a country girl needs her family and friends-and maybe an old flame-most of all.

A foot-stompin' finale to Alecia Whitaker's irresistible Wildflower series.
Learn more about the book and author at Alecia Whitaker's website.

The Page 69 Test: Wildflower.

The Page 69 Test: The Way Back Home.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten of the best whodunits

John Verdon's newest mystery-thriller featuring retired NYPD homicide detective Dave Gurney is Wolf Lake. One of the author's ten best whodunits, as shared at Publishers Weekly:
Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith

A lively sense of place captivates me. Martin Cruz Smith’s Gorky Park gave me a visceral experience not only of the weather and geography of Moscow but of the corrupt culture, tricky politics, and dangerous pressures of life there in the waning days of the Soviet Union. Insert into that twisted environment an honest, relentless detective pursuing against all odds a truth that seemingly no one in power wants him to discover, and the result is a deeply absorbing thriller.
Read about another entry on the list.

Gorky Park is among Ann Shevchenko's top ten novels set in Moscow.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Gareth Dale's "Karl Polanyi"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Karl Polanyi: A Life on the Left by Gareth Dale.

About the book, from the publisher:
Karl Polanyi (1886–1964) was one of the twentieth century's most original interpreters of the market economy. His penetrating analysis of globalization's disruptions and the Great Depression's underlying causes still serves as an effective counterargument to free market fundamentalism. This biography shows how the major personal and historical events of his life transformed him from a bourgeois radical into a Christian socialist but also informed his ambivalent stance on social democracy, communism, the New Deal, and the shifting intellectual scene of postwar America.

The book begins with Polanyi's childhood in the Habsburg Empire and his involvement with the Great War and Hungary's postwar revolution. It connects Polanyi's idealistic radicalism to the political promise and intellectual ferment of Red Vienna and the horror of fascism. The narrative revisits Polanyi's oeuvre in English, German, and Hungarian, includes exhaustive research in five archives, and features interviews with Polanyi's daughter, students, and colleagues, clarifying the contradictory aspects of the thinker's work. These personal accounts also shed light on Polanyi's connections to scholars, Christians, atheists, journalists, hot and cold warriors, and socialists of all stripes. Karl Polanyi: A Life on the Left engages with Polanyi's biography as a reflection and condensation of extraordinary times. It highlights the historical ruptures, tensions, and upheavals that the thinker sought to capture and comprehend and, in telling his story, engages with the intellectual and political history of a turbulent epoch.
Learn more about Karl Polanyi at the Columbia University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Karl Polanyi.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

What is Gail Carriger reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Gail Carriger, author of Imprudence.

Her entry begins:
Lately I've been rereading some of my favorite Space Opera. I go through phases sometimes where I just want to escape anything to do with what I write (steampunk, comedy of manners, historical). I yearn to read something completely different and space opera always seems to satisfy.

I just completed my third go round of The Paradox Series by Rachel Bach. Devi is a badass mercenary with a core set of moral values who generally bumbles along killing things until she kind-of accidentally-on-purpose saves everyone. Why I love it? I get to...[read on]
About Imprudence, from the publisher:
Rue and the crew of the Spotted Custard return from India with revelations that shake the foundations of England's scientific community. Queen Victoria is not amused, the vampires are tetchy, and something is wrong with the local werewolf pack. To top it all off, Rue's best friend Primrose keeps getting engaged to the most unacceptable military types.

Rue has family problems as well. Her vampire father is angry, her werewolf father is crazy, and her obstreperous mother is both. Worst of all, Rue's beginning to suspect what they really are... is frightened.
Learn more about the book and author at Gail Carriger's website and blog.

My Book, The Movie: Soulless.

The Page 69 Test: Changeless.

The Page 69 Test: Waistcoats & Weaponry.

The Page 69 Test: Prudence.

My Book, The Movie: Prudence.

The Page 69 Test: Manners & Mutiny.

Writers Read: Gail Carriger.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Ruth Downie's "Vita Brevis"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Vita Brevis: A Crime Novel of the Roman Empire by Ruth Downie.

About Vita Brevis, from the publisher:
Ruso and Tilla's excitement at arriving in Rome with their new baby daughter is soon dulled by their discovery that the grand facades of polished marble mask an underworld of corrupt landlords and vermin-infested tenements. There are also far too many doctors--some skilled--but others positively dangerous.

Ruso thinks he has been offered a reputable medical practice only to find that his predecessor Doctor Kleitos has fled, leaving a dead man in a barrel on the doorstep and the warning, “Be careful who you trust.” Distracted by the body and his efforts to help a friend win the hand of a rich young heiress, Ruso makes a grave mistake, causing him to question both his competence and his integrity.

With Ruso's reputation under threat, he and Tilla must protect their small family from Doctor Kleitos's debt collectors and find allies in their new home while they track down the vanished doctor and find out the truth about the heiress's dead father--Ruso's patient--and the unfortunate man in the barrel.
Learn more about the book and author at Ruth Downie's website.

The Page 69 Test: Caveat Emptor.

The Page 69 Test: Tabula Rasa.

Writers Read: Ruth Downie.

The Page 69 Test: Vita Brevis.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven can't miss YA books set in Los Angeles

At the BN Teen Blog Dahlia Adler tagged seven top YA books set in Los Angeles, including:
American Girls, by Alison Umminger

Anna needs to get away from home, and there’s no better place to run for the summer than to her half sister in LA. But all is not golden sunshine on the left coast, and Anna finds herself slipping further into darkness when a research project takes her deeper into the lives of the Manson girls. Umminger’s debut is an artful homage to sisterhood and a nuanced look at teenage girldom—different kinds of emotional abuse, complicated relationships between all sorts of family members, the dark side of Hollywood and celebrity, the lack of sympathy and humanization we have for girls we deem to be stronger than us, and the all-important question of who’s worthy/capable of redemption and what it takes to get it.
Read about another entry on the list.

Also see Becky Ferreira's list of seven of the best books set in Los Angeles.

--Marshal Zeringue

Catherine Egan's "Julia Vanishes," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Julia Vanishes by Catherine Egan.

The entry begins:
It must be incredibly strange (and exciting, of course!) for authors to watch screen adaptations of their books, the settings and characters reimagined by somebody else and surely deviating wildly from the author’s own vision.

The idea of “casting” my book stumps me almost completely; my characters are so themselves in my head that it’s impossible to imagine them any other way. However, I was able to think of actors for the older members of Julia’s gang of crooks. Csilla and Gregor, the glamorous con artist duo, are the easiest to cast, since I always imagined them as a kind of “golden age of cinema” dreamy-looking pair. I’d say Gregory Peck for Gregor and Jayne Mansfield for Csilla. Esme, the crime boss who adopted Julia and Dek after their mother’s death, is trickier. She’s a large, powerful presence, somebody capable of being tender but also turning on a dime to be truly menacing. Maybe an even-taller-than-she-really-is...[read on]
Visit Catherine Egan's website.

The Page 69 Test: Julia Vanishes.

Writers Read: Catherine Egan.

My Book, The Movie: Julia Vanishes.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

What is John Gregory Brown reading?

Featured at Writers Read: John Gregory Brown, author of A Thousand Miles from Nowhere.

His entry begins:
I spent the last nine months teaching at the prep school Deerfield Academy, most famous in literary circles for distinguished alumnus John McPhee’s The Headmaster, a wonderful biography of Frank L. Boyden, the tiny man and towering presence who helmed the school from 1902 to 1968. Although I’d spent more than two decades in academia at the college level, this was my first experience as a high school teacher, a responsibility that seemed weighty indeed: What works would I choose for my juniors in their one year of American Lit? I was tormented by having to leave so many great authors off the syllabus, by all the great works these young men and women might never encounter on their own. We dipped into Whitman and Dickinson, of course; we compared August Wilson’s Fences to Arthur Miller’s Death of A Salesman; we gave Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby its full due. We tackled stories by Alice Munro and Amy Hempel, by Raymond Carver and Ron Rash. But the five works I truly loved teaching – and that the students thus loved back – were these:

Kate Chopin’s The Awakening

For better or worse, young people these days know their way around despair. They know well how it crouches in the shadows of lives that appear to be fulfilling. And they’ve got a clear notion of what it might mean to find oneself constrained by circumstances one apparently chose of one’s own volition. Thus they see Edna Pontellier’s crisis as a familiar one, arising not just out of a society that narrowly defines who women should be but also...[read on]
About A Thousand Miles from Nowhere, from the publisher:
A tragicomic tour de force about one man's redemption through love and art.

"You have lost everything, yes?"

Everything? Henry thought; he considered the word. Had he lost everything?

Fleeing New Orleans as Hurricane Katrina approaches, Henry Garrett is haunted by the ruins of his marriage, a squandered inheritance, and the teaching job he inexplicably quit. He pulls into a small Virginia town after three days on the road, hoping to silence the ceaseless clamor in his head. But this quest for peace and quiet as the only guest at a roadside motel is destroyed when Henry finds himself at the center of a bizarre and violent tragedy. As a result, Henry winds up stranded at the ramshackle motel just outside the small town of Marimore, and it's there that he is pulled into the lives of those around him: Latangi, the motel's recently widowed proprietor, who seems to have a plan for Henry; Marge, a local secretary who marshals the collective energy of her women's church group; and the family of an old man, a prisoner, who dies in a desperate effort to provide for his infirm wife.

For his previous novels John Gregory Brown has been lauded for his "compassionate vision of human destiny" as well as his "melodic, haunting, and rhythmic prose." With A Thousand Miles from Nowhere, he assumes his place in the tradition of such masterful storytellers as Flannery O'Connor and Walker Percy, offering to readers a tragicomic tour de force about the power of art and compassion and one man's search for faith, love, and redemption.
Visit John Gregory Brown's website.

Writers Read: John Gregory Brown.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Shawna Yang Ryan's "Green Island"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Green Island by Shawna Yang Ryan.

About the book, from the publisher:
A stunning story of love, betrayal, and family, set against the backdrop of a changing Taiwan over the course of the twentieth century.

February 28, 1947: Trapped inside the family home amid an uprising that has rocked Taipei, Dr. Tsai delivers his youngest daughter, the unnamed narrator of Green Island, just after midnight as the city is plunged into martial law. In the following weeks, as the Chinese Nationalists act to crush the opposition, Dr. Tsai becomes one of the many thousands of people dragged away from their families and thrown into prison. His return, after more than a decade, is marked by alienation from his loved ones and paranoia among his community—conflicts that loom over the growing bond he forms with his youngest daughter. Years later, this troubled past follows her to the United States, where, as a mother and a wife, she too is forced to decide between what is right and what might save her family—the same choice she witnessed her father make many years before.

As the novel sweeps across six decades and two continents, the life of the narrator shadows the course of Taiwan’s history from the end of Japanese colonial rule to the decades under martial law and, finally, to Taiwan’s transformation into a democracy. But, above all, Green Island is a lush and lyrical story of a family and a nation grappling with the nuances of complicity and survival, raising the question: how far would you be willing to go for the ones you love?
Learn more about the book and author at Shawna Yang Ryan's website.

The Page 69 Test: Water Ghosts.

The Page 69 Test: Green Island.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six top YA novels for mythology lovers

At the BN Teen blog, Jenny Kawecki tagged six top Young Adult novels for mythology lovers, including:
Helen of Troy: Starcrossed, by Josephine Angelini

Helen has always been different. And keeping her strange powers secret on the super-small island of Nantucket isn’t easy. So when a new family moves to town and Helen’s first instinct is to contemplate murdering their son Lucas, well, it comes as a bit of a surprise when it turns out Lucas may be the only one who knows what’s going on with her. It’s even more of a surprise when she realizes she might be falling in love with him. But things get complicated when an entire pantheon of Greek gods seems to be out to get them, and it looks like history just might repeat itself. Starcrossed is for anyone who ever read The Iliad and wondered what the hell was up with Helen and Paris.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Jennifer Keishin Armstrong's "Seinfeldia"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Seinfeldia: How a Show About Nothing Changed Everything by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong.

About the book, from the publisher:
The hilarious behind-the-scenes story of two guys who went out for coffee and dreamed up Seinfeld—the cultural sensation that changed television and bled into the real world, altering the lives of everyone it touched.

Comedians Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld never thought anyone would watch their silly little sitcom about a New York comedian sitting around talking to his friends. NBC executives didn’t think anyone would watch either, but they bought it anyway, hiding it away in the TV dead zone of summer. But against all odds, viewers began to watch, first a few and then many, until nine years later nearly forty million Americans were tuning in weekly.

In Seinfeldia, acclaimed TV historian and entertainment writer Jennifer Keishin Armstrong celebrates the creators and fans of this American television phenomenon, bringing readers behind-the-scenes of the show while it was on the air and into the world of devotees for whom it never stopped being relevant, a world where the Soup Nazi still spends his days saying “No soup for you!”, Joe Davola gets questioned every day about his sanity, Kenny Kramer makes his living giving tours of New York sights from the show, and fans dress up in Jerry’s famous puffy shirt, dance like Elaine, and imagine plotlines for Seinfeld if it were still on TV.
Visit Jennifer Keishin Armstrong's website.

My Book, The Movie: Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted.

The Page 99 Test: Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted.

The Page 99 Test: Seinfeldia.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 18, 2016

Jessica Winter's six favorite books on girl power

Jessica Winter's first novel is Break in Case of Emergency. For The Week magazine she tagged six favorite books on girl power, including:
NW by Zadie Smith

Smith's 2012 masterpiece paints a wry and rueful portrait of contemporary Britain by zeroing in on a north London housing estate and a pair of lifelong friends: one hardworking but secretly reckless, the other all but sleepwalking through life. Their relationship is unforgettable; the fact that they never fully understand each other makes their mutual loyalty all the more moving.
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Ruth Downie reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Ruth Downie, author of Vita Brevis: A Crime Novel of the Roman Empire.

Her entry begins:
The Shepherd’s Life: A Tale of the Lake District – James Rebanks

This is a fabulous book on so many levels: a family history, a fascinating chronicle of a way of life that’s barely changed for centuries, and a howl of frustration at the lack of understanding between the education system and its rural consumers. It’s also a demonstration of the value of books. “We needed books by us and about us,” says Rebanks, and...[read on]
About Vita Brevis, from the publisher:
Ruso and Tilla's excitement at arriving in Rome with their new baby daughter is soon dulled by their discovery that the grand facades of polished marble mask an underworld of corrupt landlords and vermin-infested tenements. There are also far too many doctors--some skilled--but others positively dangerous.

Ruso thinks he has been offered a reputable medical practice only to find that his predecessor Doctor Kleitos has fled, leaving a dead man in a barrel on the doorstep and the warning, “Be careful who you trust.” Distracted by the body and his efforts to help a friend win the hand of a rich young heiress, Ruso makes a grave mistake, causing him to question both his competence and his integrity.

With Ruso's reputation under threat, he and Tilla must protect their small family from Doctor Kleitos's debt collectors and find allies in their new home while they track down the vanished doctor and find out the truth about the heiress's dead father--Ruso's patient--and the unfortunate man in the barrel.
Learn more about the book and author at Ruth Downie's website.

The Page 69 Test: Caveat Emptor.

The Page 69 Test: Tabula Rasa.

Writers Read: Ruth Downie.

--Marshal Zeringue

Janice Warman's "The World Beneath," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The World Beneath: A Novel by Janice Warman.

The entry begins:
If The World Beneath was made into a film, I’d like Ava DuVernay to direct it. As the brilliant director of Selma, the story of Martin Luther King’s campaign to win equal voting rights with a march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965, she would be ideal to look at the issues of apartheid and the 1976 Soweto uprising that are the setting for the book.

I’m also a huge fan of David Oyelowo in the Martin Luther King role and would like him to play Tsumalo, the freedom fighter on the run.

I met Ava and David at a screening of Selma at London’s Mayfair Hotel last year, and afterwards gave them each a copy of the book to read. They were both charming. So here’s hoping. We sat in the front row, and during the Q&A I asked whether Ava had thought of making a film about apartheid South Africa. She said she’d consider it; David smiled at me and said, “Why, do you have a script?” I said no, but it had been a leading question, and he laughed and said, “If this was LA, there would be scripts raining down from the back of the room!”

I would like Joshua, the boy hero, to be played by...[read on]
Follow Janice Warman on Twitter.

My Book, The Movie: The World Beneath.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Kim Wright's "Last Ride to Graceland"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Last Ride to Graceland by Kim Wright.

About the book, from the publisher:
Lauded for her “astute and engrossing” (People) writing style imbued with “originality galore” (RT Book Reviews), Kim Wright channels the best of Jennifer Weiner and Sarah Pekkanen in this delightful novel of self-discovery on the open road as one woman sets out for Graceland hoping to answer the question: Is Elvis Presley her father?

Blues musician Cory Ainsworth is barely scraping by after her mother’s death when she discovers a priceless piece of rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia hidden away in a shed out back of the family’s coastal South Carolina home: Elvis Presley’s Stutz Blackhawk, its interior a time capsule of the singer’s last day on earth.

A backup singer for the King, Cory’s mother Honey was at Graceland the day Elvis died. She quickly returned home to Beaufort and married her high school sweetheart. Yearning to uncover the secrets of her mother’s past—and possibly her own identity—Cory decides to drive the car back to Memphis and turn it over to Elvis’s estate, retracing the exact route her mother took thirty-seven years earlier. As she winds her way through the sprawling deep south with its quaint towns and long stretches of open road, the burning question in Cory’s mind—who is my father?—takes a backseat to the truth she learns about her complicated mother, the minister's daughter who spent a lifetime struggling to conceal the consequences of a single year of rebellion.
Visit Kim Wright's Facebook page.

The Page 69 Test: Last Ride to Graceland.

--Marshal Zeringue