Monday, December 10, 2018

Pg. 69: Sara Driscoll's "Storm Rising"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Storm Rising by Sara Driscoll.

About the book, from the publisher:
The heart-pounding thriller of a series continues as FBI Special Agent Meg Jennings and her search-and-rescue K-9 companion confront the fury of nature—and the more dangerous nature of man...

In the wake of a devastating hurricane, Special Agent Meg Jennings and her Labrador, Hawk—invaluable members of the FBI’s Human Scent Evidence Team—have been deployed to Virginia Beach. They have their work cut out for them. Amid graveyards of debris, and the buried cries for help, the search and rescue operation begins. The most alarming discovery is yet to come—a teenage girl hiding in the Great Dismal Swamp. Shaken by the storm, she has reason to be scared. But this young survivor is terrified of so much more.

Her name is Emma—a disheveled runaway lost to the sordid underbelly of a Virginia sex-trafficking ring. Its leader has disappeared in the chaos—along with other victims. With so much evidence, and so many witnesses, seemingly washed away, Meg joins forces with Special Agent Walter Van Cleave to ensure no further harm comes to their vulnerable charge. They soon discover that this is no small-time localized syndicate. Its branches are rooted in some of the most influential powers in Virginia. Now as Meg’s investigation digs deeper, she’s making some very dangerous enemies. And one by one, they’re coming out of the storm to stop her.
Learn more about Storm Rising: An FBI K-9 Novel.

The Page 69 Test: Lone Wolf.

Coffee with a Canine: M. Ann Vanderlaan & her dogs.

The Page 69 Test: Storm Rising.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six top coming-of age-memoirs

Christine O'Brien's new book is Crave: A Memoir of Food and Longing.

One of six favorite coming-of age-memoirs she tagged at LitHub:
A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah

In 1993 Ishmael Beah, age 12, sets off from his village in Sierra Leone with his brother and friends to another town, a day’s walk, to perform in a talent show. The civil war that has been raging on the outskirts of his awareness suddenly becomes real. The theme of innocence lost runs through Beah’s depiction of a world turned upside down as he is forced to become a child soldier. A naturally happy person, Beah’s overriding question—Can we remain happy in the face of tragedy?—gets answered in unexpected ways.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, December 09, 2018

What is Fran Hawthorne reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Fran Hawthorne, author of The Heirs.

Her entry begins:
I belong to three book clubs. Plus, I review fiction for the New York Journal of Books. Of course I want to read my friends’ newest oeuvres. And I always try to read books about the Holocaust, Poland, and other topics related to my novel The Heirs and also to the new novel I’m working on –- In short, I can hardly remember the book I read two books ago.

Luckily, I do remember some of the best:

I recently reviewed Gone So Long -- the story of a father’s attempt to reconcile with his long-estranged daughter after he’s been imprisoned for murdering her mother -- by the National Book Award finalist Andre Dubus III. To quote my own review: “Gone So Long has everything a novel could ask for: It’s a literary page-turner that explores the grit and pain of working class lives through complex personalities and...[read on]
About The Heirs, from the publisher:
After breaking her hip in a serious accident, Eleanor Ritter's mother, Rose, a Holocaust survivor now living in New Jersey, suddenly starts talking about her harrowing childhood in Poland and the taboo subjects she has refused to discuss for half a century -– even speaking in long-forgotten Polish. Around the same time, Eleanor learns that the parents of her nine-year-old son's soccer teammate, Tadek, are Catholics from Poland.

As Eleanor becomes fixated with digging into the histories of both her mother and Tadek’s family, her obsession strains her already difficult relationship with Rose, as well as her marriage to Nick, an IT technician who is himself caught up in preparing for the feared Y2K turn-of-the-millennium.

Eleanor starts flirting heavily with the soccer coach, ignoring her twelve-year-old daughter’s growing rebellion and her son’s misery when he becomes the team pariah for badly messing up several games. Meanwhile, the “sure-fire” tech stock that Eleanor bought behind Nick’s back is losing money. Even as her quest nourishes an odd friendship with Tadek’s mother, it forces Eleanor to face the unavoidable questions:

How many generations does guilt carry on? What did your grandparents do to my grandparents
Visit Fran Hawthorne's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Heirs.

The Page 69 Test: The Heirs.

Writers Read: Fran Hawthorne.

--Marshal Zeringue

Nineteen top short books and stories

In 2016 Maris Kreizman tagged nineteen "of the most entertaining and mind-opening stories, novellas, essays, and short treatises from the recent past" for Vulture.com. One title on the list:
The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid (2007)

The 9/11 novel that stuck with me the most, and it remains as relevant as ever today. The Reluctant Fundamentalist follows a Muslim man who’s an avid chaser of the American dream, but who, while facing a bombardment of harassment after the attack on the towers, spirals toward hatred of the Western way of life.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist is among Ian MacKenzie's ten top books about Americans abroad, Emily Temple's ten top contemporary novels by and about Muslims, Laila Lalami's eight top books about Muslim life for a nation that knows little about Islam, Porochista Khakpour's top ten novels about 9/11, Jimmy So's five best 9/11 novels, and Ahmede Hussain's five top books in recent South Asian literature.

The Page 69 Test: The Reluctant Fundamentalist.

--Marshal Zeringue

Alan Cumyn's "North to Benjamin," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: North to Benjamin by Alan Cumyn.

The entry begins:
I see North to Benjamin as a distant cousin to My Life As a Dog. Whoever plays Edgar, however, would not be quite like Anton Glanzelius in that earlier, and marvellous, film. Even though they both end up literally barking for a time, the Edgar who is dragged north by his unstable mother in my story would be a quieter, less rambunctious boy. His survival instincts are honed toward having him disappear, remain unnoticed, staying still and quiet while observing everything.

Who would that actor be? A challenge for the casting director to find! I imagine someone with large eyes that can express everything including...[read on]
Visit Alan Cumyn's website.

Writers Read: Alan Cumyn.

My Book, The Movie: North to Benjamin.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Suparna Roychoudhury's "Phantasmatic Shakespeare"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Phantasmatic Shakespeare: Imagination in the Age of Early Modern Science by Suparna Roychoudhury.

About the book, from the publisher:
Representations of the mind have a central place in Shakespeare’s artistic imagination, as we see in Bottom struggling to articulate his dream, Macbeth reaching for a dagger that is not there, and Prospero humbling his enemies with spectacular illusions. Phantasmatic Shakespeare examines the intersection between early modern literature and early modern understandings of the mind’s ability to perceive and imagine. Suparna Roychoudhury argues that Shakespeare’s portrayal of the imagination participates in sixteenth-century psychological discourse and reflects also how fields of anatomy, medicine, mathematics, and natural history jolted and reshaped conceptions of mentality. Although the new sciences did not displace the older psychology of phantasms, they inflected how Renaissance natural philosophers and physicians thought and wrote about the brain’s image-making faculty. The many hallucinations, illusions, and dreams scattered throughout Shakespeare’s works exploit this epistemological ferment, deriving their complexity from the ambiguities raised by early modern science.

Phantasmatic Shakespeare considers aspects of imagination that were destabilized during Shakespeare’s period—its place in the brain; its legitimacy as a form of knowledge; its pathologies; its relation to matter, light, and nature—reading these in concert with canonical works such as King Lear, Macbeth, and The Tempest. Shakespeare, Roychoudhury shows, was influenced by paradigmatic epistemic shifts of his time, and he in turn demonstrated how the mysteries of cognition could be the subject of powerful art.
Learn more about Phantasmatic Shakespeare at the Cornell University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Phantasmatic Shakespeare.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, December 08, 2018

Five classic novels about when technology betrays us

Ezekiel Boone is the internationally bestselling author of The Hatching, Skitter, and Zero Day. His latest novel is The Mansion.

At CrimeReads he tagged five top thrillers about when technology betrays us, including:
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

Atwood takes a hard look at genetic engineering, asking about the morality—and the dangers—of messing with what it means to be human a decade before CRISPR technology made those questions no longer hypothetical. It’s the first book in a trilogy, but I think it stands on its own. Atwood does what all of the best writers do, which is to wrap these larger questions up in the smaller story of a few characters and their relationships to each other. Creepy as hell at least partially because of how plausible it is that we might end up with something similar to the corporate dystopian future she presents.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Oryx and Crake is among Jeff Somers's six books in which the internet helps destroy the world, Chuck Wendig's five books that prove mankind shouldn’t play with technology, S.J. Watson's six best books, James Dawson’s list of ten ways in which writers have established barriers to love just for the sake of a great story, Torie Bosch's top twelve great pandemic novels, Annalee Newitz's top ten works of fiction that might change the way you look at nature and Liz Jensen's top ten environmental disaster stories.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is G. A. McKevett reading?

Featured at Writers Read: G. A. McKevett, author of Murder in Her Stocking.

Her entry begins:
At the moment, I’m reading two books, one for entertainment and the other for self-improvement. The entertaining one is a novel, Deadly Focus, written by a dear, longtime friend of mine, Sue Hinkin. She has been writing quality fiction for decades, but has only now been published. One of the most determined and dedicated artists I’ve ever known, Sue has inspired everyone in her realm, and we all knew it was simply a matter of time until...[read on]
About Murder in Her Stocking, from the publisher:
As the Moonlight Magnolia Agency revisits old memories on Christmas Eve, Granny Reid takes the reins back thirty years to the 1980s—back when she went by Stella, everyone’s hair was bigger, and sweaters were colorful disasters. But murder never went out of style...

Christmas has arrived in sleepy McGill, Georgia, but holiday cheer can’t keep temperamental Stella Reid from swinging a rolling pin at anyone who crosses her bad side—and this season, there are plenty. First an anonymous grinch vandalizes a celebrated nativity display. Far worse, the scandalous Prissy Carr is found dead in an alley behind a tavern. With police puzzled over the murder, Stella decides to stir the local gossip pot for clues on the culprit’s identity...

Turns out Prissy held a prominent spot on the naughty list, and suspects pile up like presents on Christmas morning. Unfortunately, the more progress Stella makes, the more fears she must confront. With a neighbor in peril and the futures of her beloved grandchildren at risk, Stella must somehow set everything straight and bring a cunning criminal to justice before December 25th...
Visit G.A. McKevett's website.

My Book, The Movie: Murder in Her Stocking.

The Page 69 Test: Murder in Her Stocking.

Writers Read: G. A. McKevett.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Ellie Alexander's "The Pint of No Return"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Pint of No Return: A Sloan Krause Mystery (Volume 2) by Ellie Alexander.

About the book, from the publisher:
Amateur sleuth Sloan Krause returns in The Pint of No Return, another delightful cozy by Ellie Alexander—this time investigating a movie star who's murdered not long after arriving in Leavenworth, WA to film his latest project.

No other festival compares to Oktoberfest in Leavenworth, Washington. The whole town is buzzing with excitement over this year’s activities and eagerly awaiting Nitro’s latest offering Cherrywizen, made with locally sourced cherries. But local brewmaster Sloan Krause is tapped out. Between trying to manage the pub, her pending divorce with Mac, and her mounting feelings for Garrett, she’s fermenting in internal turmoil.

To complicate matters, dreamy movie star Mitchell Morgan and his production crew have arrived in the village to film during the authentic Bavarian brewfest. Mitchell has his eye on Sloan and a taste for Nitro’s Cherrywizen. Sloan escapes his advances for good when she finds Mitchell slumped over the bar. Is this a case of one pint too many, or has Mitchell been murdered by microbrew?
Visit Ellie Alexander's website.

My Book, The Movie: Fudge and Jury.

The Page 69 Test: Fudge and Jury.

The Page 69 Test: Death on Tap.

My Book, The Movie: Another One Bites the Crust.

The Page 69 Test: The Pint of No Return.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, December 07, 2018

Twenty-six of the best very long books

Boris Kachka is the books editor for New York magazine and the author of Hothouse and Becoming a Veterinarian. At Vulture.com he tagged twenty-six very long books worth the time they’ll take to read, including:
War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy (1869, 1,296 pp.)

On top of everything else the Russian master accomplished in this historical novel about the Napoleonic era in Russia, he really nailed the title. By shifting focus from the battlefield to the home front and back, he captured the total effect of war on armies and aristocrats, husbands and wives.
Learn about another book on the list.

War and Peace appears among Kirsty Gunn's ten top books about unrequited love, Terry Waite's six best books, Adrian Edmondson's six best books, Robert Newman's six best books, John Cleese's six favorite books, Kate Kellaway's ten best Christmases in literature, the Telegraph's ten best historical novels, Simon Sebag Montefiore's five top books about Moscow, Oliver Ford Davies's six best books, Stella Tillyard's four favorite historical novels, Ann Shevchenko's top ten novels set in Moscow, Karl Marlantes' top ten war stories, Niall Ferguson's five most important books, Norman Mailer's top ten works of literature, and John Mullan's lists of ten of the best battles in literature, ten of the best floggings in fiction, and ten of the best literary explosions.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: John Zubrzycki's "Empire of Enchantment"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Empire of Enchantment: The Story of Indian Magic by John Zubrzycki.

About the book, from the publisher:
India's association with magicians goes back thousands of years. Conjurors and illusionists dazzled the courts of Hindu maharajas and Mughal emperors. As British dominion spread over the subcontinent, such wonder-workers became synonymous with India. Western magicians appropriated Indian attire, tricks and stage names; switching their turbans for top hats, Indian jugglers fought back and earned their grudging respect.

This book tells the extraordinary story of how Indian magic descended from the realm of the gods to become part of daily ritual and popular entertainment across the globe. Recounting tales of levitating Brahmins, resurrections, prophesying monkeys and "the most famous trick never performed," Empire of Enchantment vividly charts Indian magic's epic journey from street to the stage.

This heavily illustrated book tells the extraordinary, untold story of how Indian magic descended from the realm of the gods to become part of daily ritual and popular entertainment across the globe. Drawing on ancient religious texts, early travelers' accounts, colonial records, modern visual sources, and magicians' own testimony, Empire of Enchantment is a vibrant narrative of India's magical traditions, from Vedic times to the present day.
Visit John Zubrzycki's website.

Writers Read: John Zubrzycki.

The Page 99 Test: Empire of Enchantment.

--Marshal Zeringue

Kitty Zeldis's "Not Our Kind," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Not Our Kind: A Novel by Kitty Zeldis.

The entry begins:
Almost every writer hopes her or his book will be chosen to leap from page to screen and since I’m no different, I’ve been entertaining myself with such fantasies as soon as the book was completed.

To play Patricia Bellamy I would chose Cate Blanchett; I think she has the looks, the demeanor and haughty composure that masks a turbulent soul.

I imagine Eleanor as played by Rachel...[read on]
Kitty Zeldis is the pseudonym for a novelist and non-fiction writer of books for adults and children. She lives with her family in Brooklyn, NY.

My Book, The Movie: Not Our Kind.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, December 06, 2018

Eight top books about female friendship

Jacqueline Mroz is the author of Scattered Seeds: In Search of Family and Identity in the Sperm Donor Generation.

At LitHub she tagged her eight favorite books about female friendship. One title on the list:
The Hot One: A Memoir of Friendship, Sex, and Murder, by Carolyn Murnick

Friendship breakups can happen in real life, too, as found in this 2017 memoir. In the book, the author recounts what happened to her best friend from childhood, Ashley. When the girls were young, they both felt like outsiders, but when they entered different high schools, they grew apart, and Ashley started hanging out with the fast crowd. She was the hot girl; sexually precocious and popular. After high school, she moved to Los Angeles, where she became a stripper and an escort, while Carolyn attended college. A few years later, Carolyn is shocked to find out that Ashley had died—stabbed to death at the age of 22. She travel to LA to find out what happened to her friend, and who killed her.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Constantine J. Singer's "Strange Days"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Strange Days by Constantine J. Singer.

About the book, from the publisher:
Alex Mata doesn’t want to worry about rumors of alien incursions–he’d rather just skate and tag and play guitar. But when he comes home to find an alien has murdered his parents, he’s forced to confront a new reality: aliens are real, his parents are dead, and nobody will believe him if he tells. On the run, Alex finds himself led to the compound of tech guru Jeffrey Sabazios, the only public figure who stands firm in his belief that aliens are coming.

At Sabazios’s invitation, Alex becomes a Witness, one of a special group of teens gifted with an ability that could save the Earth: they can glide through time and witness futures. When a Witness sees a future, that guarantees it will happen the way it’s been seen, making their work humanity’s best hope for stopping the alien threat. Guided by Sabazios, befriended by his fellow time travelers, and maybe even falling in love, Alex starts feeling like the compound is a real home–until a rogue glide shows him the dangerous truth about his new situation.

Now in a race against time, Alex is forced to reevaluate who he can love, who he can trust, and who he needs to leave behind.

Debut author Constantine Singer’s fresh-voiced protagonist leaps off the page in this captivating novel that weaves sci-fi and contemporary fiction.
Visit Constantine J. Singer's website.

The Page 69 Test: Strange Days.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten of the best Victorian Gothic novels

Laura Purcell is the author of The Silent Companions and The Corset. At CrimeReads she tagged ten favorite Victorian Gothic novels, including:
Emma Donoghue, The Wonder

Best known for the award-winning Room, Donoghue has also written a raft of dark and compulsive historical novels. This, her latest, follows veteran nurse Lib Wright to a small Irish village where a miracle has supposedly taken place. Lib’s new patient, Anna, has survived for months without food. She claims to be eating manna from heaven, but not everyone is convinced. While Lib tries to find a rational explanation for Anna’s predicament, she is caught in an atmosphere of hardship and religious fervour. Dealing with tough ethical choices, this is a claustrophobic read that tugs on the heartstrings.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Alan Cumyn reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Alan Cumyn, author of North to Benjamin.

His entry begins:
I have been living in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) for the last couple of months and waited till I got here before reading a few of the classics. Everyone references Graham Greene's The Quiet American, and now I can see why – the rich atmosphere of the city in the 1950s, the brilliant way the book encapsulates so many central themes of the country in the love triangle between the aging Brit Fowler, the brash young American Pyle, and the beautiful local flower Phuong. Complicating all of their lives is the seamy politics of the place and of the day. So much has changed in the city in the more than 60 years since Greene finished the book, but you can...[read on]
About North to Benjamin, from the publisher:
Hatchet meets Maybe a Fox in this piercing novel about Edgar, a boy who has lost the ability to speak and can only bark, and his dog Benjamin as they travel through the freezing Yukon wilderness in order to stop Edgar’s mother from making a huge mistake.

Eleven-year-old Edgar knows whenever his mother gets “the look” they won’t be staying wherever they are for much longer. Soon it will be another town, another school, and, for Mom, another man. This time they’re leaving Toronto—and Roger—behind for the wilds of northwestern Canada.

For once, though, Edgar is excited. They’ll be housesitting, and with the house comes Benjamin, an old Newfoundland for Edgar to take care of. Soon after landing in Dawson, Edgar and his mom meet Caroline, a girl Edgar’s age, and her dad, Ceese. The moment his mom and Ceese meet, Edgar knows She’s going to make him the next Roger; the next man his mom will leave. It doesn’t matter that Ceese has a longtime girlfriend, or that Edgar and Caroline are becoming friends—his mom always gets what she wants.

Edgar talks to Benjamin about his concerns, and to Edgar’s great surprise, Benjamin not only understands, but wordlessly answers. Just as surprising, Edgar loses his ability to speak to anyone but Benjamin; whenever he tries to talk to a human, his voice becomes a bark. But his mom and Ceese begin to take things too far, and Edgar needs his voice, his human voice, more than ever. Desperate to stop his mother from ruining other people’s lives and upturning their own once again, Edgar embarks on a dangerous journey across the frozen Yukon River with only Benjamin by his side.

But the wilderness is not kind. Edgar and Benjamin find themselves in a situation right out of Edgar’s favorite Jack London story. With cracking ice, freezing water, bone-chilling temperatures, and looming, lurking wolves, Edgar must find a way to survive before he can stop his mother from wrecking everything.
Visit Alan Cumyn's website.

Writers Read: Alan Cumyn.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Ten top books about the seasons

Axel Lindén lives with his family on a farm in Sweden. Counting Sheep: Reflections and Observations of a Swedish Shepherd is his first book.

One of the author's ten best books about the seasons, as shared at the Guardian:
The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill by Mark Bittner

Bittner describes his fascinating relationship with a flock of wild parrots that he discovers in his bohemian neighbourhood in San Francisco. The book portrays the surprising and charming love story between man, animal and nature, especially the relationship between the wild and the tame. In one of the finest scenes, the wild parrots chatter in triumph having survived the cold winter nights and welcome the spring, reminding them of their Amazonian origins.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Daniel T. Rodgers's "As a City on a Hill"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: As a City on a Hill: The Story of America's Most Famous Lay Sermon by Daniel T. Rodgers.

About the book, from the publisher:
How an obscure Puritan sermon came to be seen as a founding document of American identity and exceptionalism

“For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill,” John Winthrop warned his fellow Puritans at New England’s founding in 1630. More than three centuries later, Ronald Reagan remade that passage into a timeless celebration of American promise. How were Winthrop’s long-forgotten words reinvented as a central statement of American identity and exceptionalism? In As a City on a Hill, leading American intellectual historian Daniel Rodgers tells the surprising story of one of the most celebrated documents in the canon of the American idea. In doing so, he brings to life the ideas Winthrop’s text carried in its own time and the sharply different yearnings that have been attributed to it since.

As a City on a Hill shows how much more malleable, more saturated with vulnerability, and less distinctly American Winthrop’s “Model of Christian Charity” was than the document that twentieth-century Americans invented. Across almost four centuries, Rodgers traces striking shifts in the meaning of Winthrop’s words—from Winthrop’s own anxious reckoning with the scrutiny of the world, through Abraham Lincoln’s haunting reference to this “almost chosen people,” to the “city on a hill” that African Americans hoped to construct in Liberia, to the era of Donald Trump.

As a City on a Hill reveals the circuitous, unexpected ways Winthrop’s words came to lodge in American consciousness. At the same time, the book offers a probing reflection on how nationalism encourages the invention of “timeless” texts to straighten out the crooked realities of the past.
Learn more about As a City on a Hill at the Princeton University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Age of Fracture.

The Page 99 Test: As a City on a Hill.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thelma Adams's "Bittersweet Brooklyn," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Bittersweet Brooklyn: A Novel by Thelma Adams.

The entry begins:
In honor of Rachel Brosnahan's return in Season 2 of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon this week, I'm casting her in my novel Bittersweet Brooklyn:

Brosnahan is my ideal actress to play my leading lady Thelma Lorber, the big-hearted younger sister of the Brooklyn Jewish mobster, Abie "Little Yiddle" Lorber. During the 1920s, she's a vivacious neighborhood girl who loves to go dancing and to the movies. She falls in love, has a son and then tumbles straight into the narrow straits of the 1930s – and the dead body of Pretty Amberg that her favorite brother is chopping up in...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Thelma Adams' website.

The Page 69 Test: Playdate.

My Book, The Movie: Playdate.

The Page 69 Test: Bittersweet Brooklyn.

My Book, The Movie: Bittersweet Brooklyn.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten of the best holiday-themed SFF books

E. J. Wenstrom believes in complicated heroes, horrifying monsters, purple hair dye and standing to the right on escalators so the left side can walk.

Her award-winning fantasy series Chronicles of the Third Realm War features a peculiar mashup of Greek mythology, Judeo-Christian folklore, and an extra dash of her own special brand of chaos.

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy blog Wenstrom tagged ten top holiday-themed science fiction & fantasy books, including:
A Lot Like Christmas: Stories, by Connie Willis

This prolific (and prolifically awarded) science fiction author has delivered her share of holiday-themed stories and novellas over the course of her 30-year career. This collection brings together many that her fans are sure to love. Drawing from motifs ranging from holiday pageants, to Christmas dinner, to Secret Santas, and many more of our favorite (or perhaps least favorite) holiday events, this collection taps into a breadth of emotion that makes the futuristic deeply human. In most of these tales, the author’s penchant for gentle satire and characters who are truly characters is on full display, so considering this if your Christmas spirit needs lifting.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

What is Harriet Brown reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Harriet Brown, author of Shadow Daughter: A Memoir of Estrangement.

Her entry begins:
I’m always reading several books at a time. I just finished The Other Einstein, by Marie Benedict, a work of historical fiction about Albert Einstein’s first wife, Mitza Maric. She was a brilliant physicist and mathematician who was completely overshadowed by her famous husband. She contributed a lot to Einstein’s work, especially the theory of relativity; some suggest it was actually her theory. We’ll never know for sure. But what we do know is that...[read on]
About Shadow Daughter, from the publisher:
A riveting, provocative, and ultimately hopeful exploration of mother-daughter estrangement, woven with research and anecdotes, from an award-winning journalist.

The day of her mother’s funeral, Harriet Brown was five thousand miles away. For years they’d gone through cycles of estrangement and connection, drastic blow-ups and equally dramatic reconciliations. By the time her mother died at seventy-six, they hadn’t spoken at all in several years. Her mother’s death sent Brown on a journey of exploration, one that considered guilt and trauma, rage and betrayal, and forgiveness.

Shadow Daughter tackles a subject we rarely discuss as a culture. Family estrangements — between parents and children, siblings, multiple generations — are surprisingly common, and even families that aren’t officially estranged often have some experience of deep conflicts. Despite the fact that the issue touches most people one way or another, estrangement is still shrouded in secrecy, stigma, and shame. We simply don’t talk about it, and that silence can make an already difficult situation even harder. Brown tells her story with clear-eyed honesty and hard-won wisdom; she also shared interviews with others who are estranged, as well as the most recent research on this taboo topic.

Ultimately, Shadow Daughter is a thoughtful, provocative, and deeply researched exploration of the ties that bind and break, forgiveness, reconciliation, and what family really means.
Visit Harriet Brown's website.

Writers Read: Harriet Brown.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top dirty cop novels

Adrian McKinty's books include the Detective Sean Duffy novels The Cold Cold Ground, I Hear the Sirens in the Street, In the Morning I'll Be Gone, Gun Street Girl, Rain Dogs and Police at the Station and They Don't Look Friendly, and the standalone historical The Sun Is God. The Cold Cold Ground won the Spinetingler Award. I Hear the Sirens in the Street won the Barry Award and was shortlisted for the Ned Kelly Award. In the Morning I'll Be Gone won the Ned Kelly Award and was selected by the American Library Association as one of the top-10 crime fiction novels of 2014. Gun Street Girl was shortlisted for the Anthony, Ned Kelly, and Edgar Awards.

In 2017 at CrimeReads he tagged his top ten dirty cop novels, including:
Don Winslow, The Force

What Wambaugh and Ellroy do for the LAPD Winslow does for the NYPD. There have been many great dirty New York cop novels but Winslow has really done something special here by embracing police corruption as the raison d’etre of an entire segment of the force. Detective Sergeant Dennis Malone leads the Manhattan North Special Task Force, an elite unit established to combat drug gangs, organized crime and gun running. Years of undercover work and dirty deals have compromised Malone and his cohorts so that by the beginning of the book they’re a well oiled thieving machine. Unfortunately for Malone the feds and Internal Affairs are looking for a sacrificial lamb to appease the punters and from then on the book is cop versus cop, cop versus DA, cop versus FBI—pretty much everything except cop versus criminals. A masterpiece of the genre.
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: G.A. McKevett's "Murder in Her Stocking"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Murder in Her Stocking by G. A. McKevett.

About the book, from the publisher:
As the Moonlight Magnolia Agency revisits old memories on Christmas Eve, Granny Reid takes the reins back thirty years to the 1980s—back when she went by Stella, everyone’s hair was bigger, and sweaters were colorful disasters. But murder never went out of style...

Christmas has arrived in sleepy McGill, Georgia, but holiday cheer can’t keep temperamental Stella Reid from swinging a rolling pin at anyone who crosses her bad side—and this season, there are plenty. First an anonymous grinch vandalizes a celebrated nativity display. Far worse, the scandalous Prissy Carr is found dead in an alley behind a tavern. With police puzzled over the murder, Stella decides to stir the local gossip pot for clues on the culprit’s identity...

Turns out Prissy held a prominent spot on the naughty list, and suspects pile up like presents on Christmas morning. Unfortunately, the more progress Stella makes, the more fears she must confront. With a neighbor in peril and the futures of her beloved grandchildren at risk, Stella must somehow set everything straight and bring a cunning criminal to justice before December 25th...
Visit G.A. McKevett's website.

My Book, The Movie: Murder in Her Stocking.

The Page 69 Test: Murder in Her Stocking.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five books to inspire a love of reading

Liz Pichon is an award-winning children's book author and illustrator. At the Guardian she tagged five books that inspired her love of reading, including:
Like many, I discovered Sue Townsend’s The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾ through the TV series – which was good, but I preferred the book. I’m sure most kids would be able to identify with Adrian’s tricky life, even if they didn’t know what a bath cube was. (Think fancy fizzy bath bomb – only square and more like chalk.) It’s so brilliantly written, and funny too.
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue