Friday, April 18, 2014

Five top books by Gabriel García Márquez

Spurred by the author's death this week, the Telegraph's Sameer Rahim tagged five essential works by Gabriel García Márquez, including:
Love in the Time of Cholera (1985; English translation 1988)

The most approachable of García Márquez’s works, this charming novel is set in a thinly veiled Cartagena in the early 20th century, and is based on the courtship of his parents. It follows the love triangle between young lovers Florentino, Fermina and an elderly doctor called Juvernal Urbino. García Márquez spends a luxuriant 100 pages on the young lovers’ courtship: Florentino sends Fermina letters that are “a dictionary of compliments, inspired by books he had learned by heart because he had read them so often”. In a twist that appals some readers and amuses others, Fermina abruptly loses interest in the boy and instead marries the man her father chooses – Dr Urbino. This indulgent yet melancholy work, the first to be translated by Edith Grossman, examines love from many different angles. One of its pleasures is how it shows love as both superfluous and necessary.
Read about another book on the list.

Love in the Time of Cholera also made Jill Boyd's top six list of memorable marriage proposals in literature, the Christian Science Monitor's list of six novels about grand passions, Ann Brashares' six favorite books list, and Marie Arana's list of the best books about love; it is one of Hugh Thomson’s top ten books on South American journeys.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Dianne K. Salerni's "The Eighth Day"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Eighth Day by Dianne K. Salerni.

About the book, from the publisher:
When newly orphaned Jax Aubrey awakes to a world without people the day after his thirteenth birthday, he thinks it's the apocalypse. But then the next day is a regular old Thursday. Has Jax gone crazy? What's going on?

Riley Pendare, Jax's sort of clueless eighteen-year-old guardian, breaks the news: Jax just experienced the Eighth Day, an extra twenty-four-hour period between Wednesday and Thursday. Some people, like Jax and Riley, have the ability to live in all eight days. But others, like Evangeline, the teenage girl who's been hiding in the house next door for years, exist only on this special day.

At first it's awesome to have a secret day. But as Jax gets to know the very guarded Evangeline, he discovers that she is the sought-after key to an ancient spell rooted in Arthurian legend. And Riley—who forgets to pay bills and buy groceries!—is sworn to keep her safe from those who want to use her to eliminate the seven-day world and all who live there.

Jax tries to protect Evangeline, but with his new friend's life on the line, as well as the threat of human destruction, he is faced with an impossible choice: trigger a real apocalypse or sacrifice Evangeline.

With a whole extra day to figure things out, it couldn't be too hard ... right?
Visit Dianne K. Salerni's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: The Eighth Day.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top novels of desert war

Robert Allison has been a theatre director, a film music reviewer and a copy-editor. He lives in London. His novel The Letter Bearer is published by Granta Books.

One of Allison's top ten novels of desert war, as shared at the Guardian:
Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy

Widely held to be his finest novel, McCarthy's pitiless and virtuosic take on the American-Indian Wars of the 1840s won fame both for its hyperbolic, quasi-biblical prose and for its bludgeoning violence – though arguably its greatest achievement is in the creation of Judge Holden, a wily and erudite demi-god who gleefully fiddles and foxes his way from one slaughter to the next. Littered with scenes of carnage, the desert backdrop here is not only an inhospitable environment but a purgatorial doom, in which every living or natural thing seems to exist in a state of antipathy.
Read about another entry on the list.

Blood Meridian is one authority's pick for the Great Texas novel; it is among Alexandra Silverman's top fourteen wrathful stories, James Franco's six favorite books, Philipp Meyer's five best books that explain America, Peter Murphy's top ten literary preachers, David Vann's six favorite books, Robert Olmstead's six favorite books, Michael Crummey's top ten literary feuds, Philip Connors's top ten wilderness books, six books that made a difference to Kazuo Ishiguro, Clive Sinclair's top 10 westerns, Maile Meloy's six best books, and David Foster Wallace's five direly underappreciated post-1960 U.S. novels. It appears on the New York Times list of the best American fiction of the last 25 years and among the top ten works of literature according to Stephen King.

--Marshal Zeringue

Mike Harvkey's "In the Course of Human Events," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: In the Course of Human Events by Mike Harvkey.

The entry begins:
The only character in my novel who ever brought an actor to mind as I wrote was Jay Smalls, my novel's frightening patriarch and a character the author Aaron Gwyn (Wynne's War) called "a villain that would haunt Tyler Durden's dreams." Gwyn wasn't kidding; I had a dream about Jay. And in it, he looked an awful lot like John Hawkes. Hawkes's frightening "Teardrop" in Winter's Bone felt to me like a warm-up for Jay Smalls. Hawkes has a wide range, but on one side of it is some mean-spirited stuff.

He showed the opposite edge of that range in The Sessions, costarring with Helen Hunt. Hunt, aging gracefully unlike so many American actresses, has always been naturally sympathetic. But she's never been more interesting than she now, at 50. With Hawkes she had real chemistry and showed how fearless she can be if given the chance. All of this makes her a good choice for Jay's wife Jan, my book's most sympathetic character. My director of choice has been stocking his movies lately with yesterday's stars who few others bother with anymore, so I think he'd go for the this casting call.

But the story belongs to Clyde Twitty, a typical...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Mike Harvkey's website.

My Book, The Movie: In the Course of Human Events.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Pg. 99: David Kaiser's "No End Save Victory"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: No End Save Victory: How FDR Led the Nation into War by David Kaiser.

About the book, from the publisher:
While Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s first hundred days may be the most celebrated period of his presidency, the months before the attack on Pearl Harbor proved the most critical. Beginning as early as 1939 when Germany first attacked Poland, Roosevelt skillfully navigated a host of challenges—a reluctant population, an unprepared military, and disagreements within his cabinet—to prepare the country for its inevitable confrontation with the Axis.

In No End Save Victory, esteemed historian David Kaiser draws on extensive archival research to reveal the careful preparations that enabled the United States to win World War II. Alarmed by Germany and Japan’s aggressive militarism, Roosevelt understood that the United States would almost certainly be drawn into the conflict raging in Europe and Asia. However, the American populace, still traumatized by memories of the First World War, was reluctant to intervene in European and Asian affairs. Even more serious was the deplorable state of the American military. In September of 1940, Roosevelt’s military advisors told him that the US would not have the arms, ammunition, or men necessary to undertake any major military operation overseas—let alone win such a fight—until April of 1942. Aided by his closest military and civilian collaborators, Roosevelt pushed a series of military expansions through Congress that nearly doubled the size of the US Navy and Army, and increased production of the arms, tanks, bombers, and warships that would allow America to prevail in the coming fight.

Highlighting Roosevelt’s deft management of the strong personalities within his cabinet and his able navigation of the shifting tides of war, No End Save Victory is the definitive account of America’s preparations for and entry into World War II. As Kaiser shows, it was Roosevelt’s masterful leadership and prescience that prepared the reluctant nation to fight—and gave it the tools to win.
Visit David Kaiser's blog, and read more about No End Save Victory at the Basic Books website.

My Book, The Movie: No End Save Victory.

The Page 99 Test: No End Save Victory.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five of the best books for men who never read

Leo Benedictus is a freelance feature writer for the Guardian. His first novel The Afterparty was published in 2011 by Jonathan Cape. At the Guardian, he tagged five perfect books for men who never read, including:
The Old Man and the Sea By Ernest Hemingway

I'm not aware of any novel that is easier or more exciting to read. It's also so short – 99 small pages – that we are being kind even calling it a novel. It is a perfect adventure story about an old man having a hard time in the Atlantic. (And if you want it to be, it is also about much more.) You'll read the whole thing in about 40 minutes, then need a scotch.
Read about another book on the list.

The Old Man and the Sea is among Jung Chang's 6 favorite books, Kathryn Williams's thirteen best stories about pride, Scott Greenstone's twenty best books with fewer than 200 pages, Michael Palin's six favorite books, Robson Green's six best books, and Dave Boling's five best examples of how to structure a novel. N.M. Kelby has suggested that The Old Man and the Sea may be The Great Florida Novel.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: James Klise's "The Art of Secrets"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Art of Secrets by James Klise.

About the book, from the publisher:
A Fire Destroys ...
A Treasure Appears ...
A Crime Unfolds ...


When Saba Khan’s apartment burns in a mysterious fire, possibly a hate crime, her Chicago high school rallies around her. Her family moves rent-free into a luxury apartment, Saba’s Facebook page explodes, and she starts (secretly) dating a popular boy. Then a quirky piece of art donated to a school fund-raising effort for the Khans is revealed to be an unknown work by a famous artist, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, and Saba’s life turns upside down again. Should Saba’s family have all that money? Or should it go to the students who found the art? Or to the school? And just what caused that fire? Greed, jealousy, and suspicion create an increasingly tangled web as students and teachers alike debate who should get the money and begin to point fingers and make accusations. The true story of the fire that sets events in motion and what happens afterward gradually comes together in an innovative narrative made up of journal entries, interviews, articles, letters, text messages, and other documents.
Learn more about the book and author at James Klise's website and Twitter perch.

The Page 69 Test: The Art of Secrets.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Brian Doyle reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Brian Doyle, author of The Plover.

His entry begins:
The usual motley chaos and hubbub, as always featuring the startling new (Alice McDermott’s superb Someone), the relatively obscure old (the nature stories of Charles Roberts, and Farley Mowat’s People of the Deer), and the terrific half-known-in-America (the very fine essays of Helen Garner of Australia). Also maritime adventures, mostly Alexander Kent’s series now that I finally finished Patrick O’Brian, and John le Carré’s unbelievably good The Secret Pilgrim. Q: Why do we not list le Carré when we talk about the finest writers of our time? To me he’s as good as Coetzee or Naipaul, and far better as a novelist than...[read on]
About the book, from the publisher:
Declan O Donnell has sailed out of Oregon and deep into the vast, wild ocean, having had just finally enough of other people and their problems. He will go it alone, he will be his own country, he will be beholden to and beloved of no one. No man is an island, my butt, he thinks. I am that very man....

But the galaxy soon presents him with a string of odd, entertaining, and dangerous passengers, who become companions of every sort and stripe. The Plover is the story of their adventures and misadventures in the immense blue country one of their company calls Pacifica. Hounded by a mysterious enemy, reluctantly acquiring one new resident after another, Declan O Donnell’s lonely boat is eventually crammed with humor, argument, tension, and a resident herring gull.

Brian Doyle's The Plover is a sea novel, a maritime adventure, the story of a cold man melting, a compendium of small miracles, an elegy to Edmund Burke, a watery quest, a battle at sea---and a rapturous, heartfelt celebration of life’s surprising paths, planned and unplanned.
My Book, The Movie: Doyle's Bin Laden’s Bald Spot.

The Page 69 Test: Mink River.

Writers Read: Brian Doyle.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five books for fans of "Orphan Black"

Orphan Black is a Canadian science fiction television series starring Tatiana Maslany as several identical women who are revealed to be clones. At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Melissa Albert tagged five books to read if you love the show, including:
The Husband’s Secret, by Liane Moriarty

Sarah’s sisters in clonehood have followed wildly divergent paths, and she’s most horrified to learn that she’s related—in a way—to a soccer mom. But so much great fiction relies on the fact that darkness thrives in suburban spaces, tucked away under formica countertops and embedded in the DNA of tupperware parties and potlucks (and even church bake sales). Orphan Black exploits this trope fully as does Moriarty’s addictive thriller. The titular husband has a secret rivaling many in Orphan Black, and I challenge you to read the first page and not feel the urge to devour the whole thing. (Binge watching is, of course, a cousin to binge reading).
Read about another book on the list.

The Husband’s Secret is one of Sophie Hannah's top ten pageturners.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

M.L. Rowland's "Zero-Degree Murder," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Zero-Degree Murder by M.L. Rowland.

The entry begins:
Zero-Degree Murder is the first in a series of Search and Rescue mysteries featuring Gracie Kinkaid.

As a volunteer on Timber Creek Search and Rescue (SAR) in the mountains of southern California, Gracie routinely risks her life for total strangers. In Zero-Degree Murder, she’s called out on a search for hikers, members of a movie cast and crew, missing in a local wilderness area. The mission quickly goes from routine to deadly when her teammate, Steve, disappears with the radio, the only link to the outside world, and an early-season blizzard sets in. Gracie has to use all of her expertise to keep herself and mega-movie star, Rob Christian, alive not only against the elements, but against a “truly creepy” killer who’s stalking them.

A lot of people have told me this book would make a terrific movie. Taking place in the beautiful southern California mountains within the unique, relatively unknown world of Search and Rescue, it has some great characters and a lot of action with a little romance and an avalanche thrown in.

In her mid-thirties, Gracie is feisty, smart, emotionally skittish and socially inept with everyone but the guys on the SAR team. She’s a loner, estranged from her family. An EMT, she’s physically strong, experienced and skilled in the field of Search and Rescue. Her comfort zone is...[read on]
Visit M.L. Rowland's website.

My Book, The Movie: Zero-Degree Murder.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Paula A. Michaels's "Lamaze: An International History"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Lamaze: An International History by Paula A. Michaels.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Lamaze method is virtually synonymous with natural childbirth in America. In the 1970s, taking Lamaze classes was a common rite of passage to parenthood. The conscious relaxation and patterned breathing techniques touted as a natural and empowering path to the alleviation of pain in childbirth resonated with the feminist and countercultural values of the era.

In Lamaze, historian Paula A. Michaels tells the surprising story of the Lamaze method from its origins in the Soviet Union in the 1940s, to its popularization in France in the 1950s, and then to its heyday in the 1960s and 1970s in the US. Michaels shows how, for different reasons, in disparate national contexts, this technique for managing the pain of childbirth without resort to drugs found a following. The Soviet government embraced this method as a panacea to childbirth pain in the face of the material shortages that followed World War II. Heated and sometimes ideologically inflected debates surrounded the Lamaze method as it moved from East to West amid the Cold War. Physicians in France sympathetic to the communist cause helped to export it across the Iron Curtain, but politics alone fails to explain why French women embraced this approach. Arriving on American shores around 1960, the Lamaze method took on new meanings. Initially it offered a path to a safer and more satisfying birth experience, but overtly political considerations came to the fore once again as feminists appropriated it as a way to resist the patriarchal authority of male obstetricians. Drawing on a wealth of archival evidence, Michaels pieces together this complex and fascinating story at the crossroads of the history of politics, medicine, and women.

The story of Lamaze illuminates the many contentious issues that swirl around birthing practices in America and Europe. Brimming with insight, Michaels' engaging history offers an instructive intervention in the debate about how to achieve humane, empowering, and safe maternity care for all women.
Learn more about Lamaze: An International History at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Lamaze: An International History.

--Marshal Zeringue

The ten least competent time travelers

At io9, Rob Bricken came up with a list of the ten least competent time travelers, including:
Brendon Doyle and J. Cochran Darrow, The Anubis Gates

In Tim Powers' very strange time travel novel, wealthy but dying industrialist J. Cochran Darrow finds a portal to the 1880s, and hires literary scholar Brendon Doyle to check it out. Doyle immediately misses the portal back to the present; how does he acquit himself with his modern knowledge and foresight of major events? He becomes a bum. Seriously, he can't manage to even get a job washing dishes at the local tavern until, thanks to a werewolf who can transfer people's minds, he ends up in the body of one of the poets he's studied. Meanwhile, the dying Darrow sets himself up as an 1880s industrialist, and works with the werewolf to receive new, healthy bodies. Look, I feel this should be obvious, but if your time travel plan is wholly dependent on a mind-swapping werewolf, do not make that goddamned plan.
Read about another novel on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Colin Cotterill's "The Axe Factor"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Axe Factor (Jimm Juree Series #3) by Colin Cotterill.

About the book, from the publisher:
Since Jimm Juree moved, under duress, with her family to a rural village on the coast of Southern Thailand, she misses the bright lights of Chiang Mai. Most of all, she’s missed her career as a journalist, which was just getting started. In Chiang Mai, she was covering substantial stories and major crimes. But here in Maprao, Jimm has to scrape assignments from the local online journal, the Chumphon Gazette—and be happy about it when she gets one. This time they are sending her out to interview a local farang (European) writer, a man in his late fifties, originally from England, who writes award-winning crime novels, one Conrad Coralbank.

At the same time, several local women have left town without a word to anyone, leaving their possessions behind. These include the local doctor, Dr. Sumlak, who never returned from a conference, and the Thai wife of that farang writer, the aforementioned Conrad Coralbank. All of which looks a little suspicious, especially to Jimm’s grandfather, an ex-cop, who notices Coralbank’s interest in Jimm with a very jaundiced eye. With a major storm headed their way and a potential serial killer on the loose, it looks like Jimm Juree, her eccentric family, and the whole town of Maprao is in for some major changes.
Learn more about the book and author at Colin Cotterill's website.

The Page 69 Test: Killed at the Whim of a Hat.

My Book, The Movie: Killed at the Whim of a Hat.

Writers Read: Colin Cotterill (August 2011).

The Page 69 Test: The Axe Factor.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five notable works of noir

Benjamin Black, an alter ego of Irish novelist John Banville, named five favorite works of noir at Goodreads, including:
The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler

Terry Lennox's wife has been murdered, and he calls on his pal, the private eye Philip Marlowe, to spirit him across the border to Mexico. Meanwhile best-selling novelist Roger Wade has disappeared, and his wife hires Marlowe to find him. Then things get really complicated. This is surely the finest of Chandler's Marlowe novels, a complex and rancid tale of multiple betrayals.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Long Goodbye is among Melissa Albert's top four books that will drive all but the staunchest teetotaler to the nearest cocktail shaker, some Guardian readers' ten best writers in novels, David Nobbs's top five faked deaths in fiction, Malcolm Jones's ten favorite crime novels, David Nicholls' ten favorite film adaptations, and John Mullan's list of ten of the best fake deaths in fiction.

--Marshal Zeringue

Nose in a book: Sue Grafton

Who: Sue Grafton

What: Providence Rag by Bruce DeSilva

When: March 2014

Where: Left Coast Crime conference in Monterrey, CA

Photo credit: Bruce DeSilva

Visit Bruce DeSilva's website and blog.

My Book, The Movie: Providence Rag.

The Page 69 Test: Providence Rag.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

What is Elizabeth Haynes reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Elizabeth Haynes, author of Under a Silent Moon.

Her entry begins:
I’ve just finished reading The Book of You, by Claire Kendal, which is being published in the UK in April and in the US in May. This is the story of Clarissa, who is being stalked by Rafe, a colleague. Through Clarissa’s careful documenting of Rafe’s harassment of her, we feel something of the terror of being constantly watched. There is so much truth in this fictional account, so much that happens to real people every single day, making it even more frightening. This could happen to me, or to you, or to any one of us.

From a loved one, Rafe’s level of adoration would be a precious thing – from someone odious, it becomes creepy and terrifying. What makes it worse is that there is very little that can be done to stop it. The police need evidence, which is up to the individual to collect; friends and family can be dismissive, disbelieving, and even sympathetic to the stalker, used by him as a means to...[read on]
About Under a Silent Moon, from the publisher:
Two women share a grisly fate in the first entry of this exciting new British crime series—a blend of literary suspense and page-turning thriller that introduces the formidable Detective Chief Inspector Louisa Smith—from the New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Haynes, "the most exciting thing to happen to crime fiction in a long time" (Sophie Hannah, author of Kind of Cruel).

In the crisp, early hours of an autumn morning, the police are called to investigate two deaths. The first is a suspected murder at a farm on the outskirts of a small village. A beautiful young woman has been found dead, her cottage drenched with blood. The second is a reported suicide at a nearby quarry. A car with a woman's body inside has been found at the bottom of the pit.

As DCI Louisa Smith and her team gather evidence over the course of the next six days, they discover a shocking link between the two cases and the two deaths—a bond that sealed these women's terrible fates one cold night, under a silent moon.

In this compelling new detective series, Elizabeth Haynes interweaves fictional primary source materials—police reports, phone messages, interviews—and multiple character viewpoints to create a sexy, edgy, and compulsively readable tale of murder, mystery, and unsettling suspense.
Visit the official Elizabeth Haynes website and blog.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Elizabeth Haynes & Bea.

The Page 69 Test: Under a Silent Moon.

Writers Read: Elizabeth Haynes.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Andrew Pettegree's "The Invention of News"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Invention of News: How the World Came to Know About Itself by Andrew Pettegree.

About the book, from the publisher:
Long before the invention of printing, let alone the availability of a daily newspaper, people desired to be informed. In the pre-industrial era news was gathered and shared through conversation and gossip, civic ceremony, celebration, sermons, and proclamations. The age of print brought pamphlets, edicts, ballads, journals, and the first news-sheets, expanding the news community from local to worldwide. This groundbreaking book tracks the history of news in ten countries over the course of four centuries. It evaluates the unexpected variety of ways in which information was transmitted in the premodern world as well as the impact of expanding news media on contemporary events and the lives of an ever-more-informed public.

Andrew Pettegree investigates who controlled the news and who reported it; the use of news as a tool of political protest and religious reform; issues of privacy and titillation; the persistent need for news to be current and journalists trustworthy; and people’s changed sense of themselves as they experienced newly opened windows on the world. By the close of the eighteenth century, Pettegree concludes, transmission of news had become so efficient and widespread that European citizens—now aware of wars, revolutions, crime, disasters, scandals, and other events—were poised to emerge as actors in the great events unfolding around them.
Learn more about The Invention of News at the Yale University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: The Book in the Renaissance.

The Page 99 Test: The Invention of News.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven notable books for golfers and fairway fans

At the Christian Science Monitor, Ross Atkin collected excerpts from seven notable books for golfers and fairway fans. One entry on the list:
The Kingdom of Golf in America
by Richard J. Moss

“If we look at sport spectating as an extension of theater, it is clear that the nature of the venue is crucial. In all the major sport venues, except golf, the spectator’s vantage point is fixed. A stadium or an arena is simply very different from a golf course. The site of the action is clearly fixed to a prescribed area and in contrast to a golf course, the area is relatively small. The typical golf fan may wander for miles as he or she watches the action, or they may simply take up a position and watch the event pass before them. Finally, a golf fan may be at the event to see a course and a club that is ordinarily closed to the public. In the twenties, and even today, a golf tournament’s attraction may include the chance to wander the grounds and see the famous holes at Augusta, Merion, Oakmont, Baltustrol, Winged Foot, or Pebble Beach.”
Read about another entry on the list.

Also see the Barnes & Noble Review's list of five top books on golf.

--Marshal Zeringue

David Kaiser's "No End Save Victory," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: No End Save Victory: How FDR Led the Nation into War by David Kaiser.

The entry begins:
No End Save Victory is influenced by the generational approach to American history pioneered in the 1990s by William Strauss and Neil Howe. As I explain at some length in the text, most of the leadership of Roosevelt's administration--including the President himself--belonged to the Missionary generation, born approximately 1863-1883--the generation born in the wake of the Civil War, just as Boomers were born in the wake of the Second World War. They generally had a tall, stern bearing, a way with words, and a dedication to principles around which they ordered both their own lives and the life of the nation. Strauss and Howe's generational types show up very clearly in movies, and indeed, for many years I taught a course called Generations in Film exploring the last eight decades. Most of the actors I cast also came from the Missionary generation and would have done a wonderful job playing these characters. Lionel Barrymore also had the necessary mixture of gravitas and humor to play...[read on]
Visit David Kaiser's blog, and read more about No End Save Victory at the Basic Books website.

My Book, The Movie: No End Save Victory.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Carrie Arcos's "There Will Come a Time"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: There Will Come a Time by Carrie Arcos.

About the book, from the publisher:
Mark grapples with the loss of his twin sister in this heart-wrenching novel of grief and resilience from National Book Award finalist Carrie Arcos.

Mark knows grief. Ever since the accident that killed his twin sister, Grace, the only time he feels at peace is when he visits the bridge on which she died. Comfort is fleeting, but it’s almost within reach when he’s standing on the wrong side of the suicide bars. Almost.

Grace’s best friend, Hanna, says she understands what he’s going through. But she doesn’t. She can’t. It’s not just the enormity of his loss. As her twin, Mark should have known Grace as well as he knows himself. Yet when he reads her journal, it’s as if he didn’t know her at all.

As a way to remember Grace, Hanna convinces Mark to complete Grace’s bucket list from her journal. Mark’s sadness, anger, and his growing feelings for Hanna threaten to overwhelm him. But Mark can’t back out. He made a promise to honor Grace—and it’s his one chance to set things right.
Visit Carrie Arcos's website.

The Page 69 Test: There Will Come a Time.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten grade-school classics for youngsters of any age

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Melissa Albert tagged ten grade-school classics you’ll never be too old to reread, including:
The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster

Milo is just a terminally bored little boy when a large mystery package arrives in his bedroom, addressed “FOR MILO, WHO HAS PLENTY OF TIME.” And thus began a million children’s obsession with receiving mysterious, magical packages. He indifferently assembles his gift, a “genuine turnpike tollbooth,” gets into his miniature automobile, and soon finds himself in the punny, word-obsessed lands beyond, where he must brave the Doldrums, the Mountains of Ignorance, and other perils to save the banished princesses Rhyme and Reason and restore their ordering influence to the land.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Phantom Tollbooth is one of Molly Schoemann-McCann's five favorite books featuring fictional creatures, Rebecca Stead's favorite classic American novels for children that may be overlooked outside of the US and is a book Cristina García hopes parents will read to their kids.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 14, 2014

Pg. 99: Elizabeth J. Remick's "Regulating Prostitution in China"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Regulating Prostitution in China: Gender and Local Statebuilding, 1900-1937 by Elizabeth Remick.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the early decades of the twentieth century, prostitution was one of only a few fates available to women and girls besides wife, servant, or factory worker. At the turn of the century, cities across China began to register, tax, and monitor prostitutes, taking different forms in different cities. Intervention by way of prostitution regulation connected the local state, politics, and gender relations in important new ways. The decisions that local governments made about how to deal with gender, and specifically the thorny issue of prostitution, had concrete and measurable effects on the structures and capacities of the state.

This book examines how the ways in which local government chose to shape the institution of prostitution ended up transforming local states themselves. It begins by looking at the origins of prostitution regulation in Europe and how it spread from there to China via Tokyo. Elizabeth Remick then drills down into the different regulatory approaches of Guangzhou (revenue-intensive), Kunming (coercion-intensive), and Hangzhou (light regulation). In all three cases, there were distinct consequences and implications for statebuilding, some of which made governments bigger and wealthier, some of which weakened and undermined development. This study makes a strong case for why gender needs to be written into the story of statebuilding in China, even though women, generally barred from political life at that time in China, were not visible political actors.
Learn more about Regulating Prostitution in China at the Stanford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Regulating Prostitution in China.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Sandra Gulland reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Sandra Gulland, author of The Shadow Queen.

Her entry begins:
I am very slowly reading Penelope Fitzgerald: A Life by Hermione Lee.

Fitzgerald, if you're not familiar with her work, was a Booker Prize–winning English novelist, poet, essayist and biographer. Many of her novels are historical, and yet they are all amazingly slim, often under 200 pages. I admire Fitzgerald's novels for their spare yet rich quality. (They are also playfully funny.) She was short-listed for the Booker for The Bookshop, won the Booker for Offshore, and her final book, The Blue Flower—considered her masterpiece—won the National Book Critics Circle Award. The Blue Flower was named one of "the ten best historical novels" by The Observer, and The Times included Fitzgerald in a list of "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945." What's astonishing to me—and no doubt to any writer—is that she was first published at the age of 58.

The biography of Fitzgerald details her life, but Hermione Lee...[read on]
About The Shadow Queen, from the publisher:
1660, Paris

Claudette’s life is like an ever-revolving stage set. From an impoverished childhood wandering the French countryside with her family’s acting troupe, Claudette finally witnesses her mother's astonishing rise to stardom in Parisian theaters. Working with playwrights Corneille, Molière and Racine, Claudette’s life is culturally rich, but like all in the theatrical world at the time, she's socially scorned.

A series of chance encounters gradually pull Claudette into the alluring orbit of Athénaïs de Montespan, mistress to Louis XIV and reigning "Shadow Queen." Needing someone to safeguard her secrets, Athénaïs offers to hire Claudette as her personal attendant.

Enticed by the promise of riches and respectability, Claudette leaves the world of the theater only to find that court is very much like a stage, with outward shows of loyalty masking more devious intentions. This parallel is not lost on Athénaïs, who fears political enemies are plotting her ruin as young courtesans angle to take the coveted spot in the king's bed.

Indeed, Claudette's "reputable" new position is marked by spying, illicit trysts and titanic power struggles. As Athénaïs, becomes ever more desperate to hold onto the King's favor, innocent love charms move into the realm of deadly Black Magic, and Claudette is forced to consider a move that will put her own life—and the family she loves so dearly—at risk.

Set against the gilded opulence of a newly-constructed Versailles and the War of Theaters, THE SHADOW QUEEN is a seductive, gripping novel about the lure of wealth, the illusion of power, and the increasingly uneasy relationship between two strong-willed women whose actions could shape the future of France.
Visit Sandra Gulland's website.

Writers Read: Sandra Gulland.

--Marshal Zeringue

Yvette Manessis Corporon's "When The Cypress Whispers," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: When The Cypress Whispers by Yvette Manessis Corporon.

The entry begins:
If they made a movie of When The Cypress Whispers I think hands down, Olympia Dukakis would make the perfect Yia-yia, the wise Greek grandmother. A Greek American herself, Olympia embodies all of the warmth, sass and spirit of Yia-yia. I’d love to sit with her over an afternoon cup of kafe and have her read my Greek coffee cup. Even if she didn’t know what she was doing, I’m sure she’d make it up and it would all be magical and perfect and spot on – just like her accent.

As for Daphne, our hardworking, confused, trapped between two cultures single mom, I think Rachel...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Yvette Corporon's website.

Writers Read: Yvette Manessis Corporon.

My Book, The Movie: When The Cypress Whispers.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top books about missing persons

Laura Lippman's latest novel is After I'm Gone.

At the Guardian, she explained the allure of a particularly seductive and well-populated corner of literature in the preface to her top ten list of books about missing persons:
[T]he open-ended nature of missing person stories make them even more compelling [than murder stories]. They are real-life ghost stories, in which those who remain behind are haunted endlessly by the possible fates of those who have left them. In writing After I'm Gone, I thought a lot about how we can ever reconcile ourselves to the loss of someone vital. Even if – or especially if – it's a person that others feel we have no real claim on.
One title on Lippman's list:
If You Were Here, by Alafair Burke

A reporter on the hunt for nothing more than a hot story is surprised when a videotape of a subway rescue shows a woman who looks remarkably like an old friend who has been missing for years. Another great take on the age-old question of how well we know anyone – even our spouses. Especially our spouses.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 69 Test: If You Were Here.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Elizabeth Haynes's "Under a Silent Moon"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Under a Silent Moon: A Novel by Elizabeth Haynes.

About the book, from the publisher:
Two women share a grisly fate in the first entry of this exciting new British crime series—a blend of literary suspense and page-turning thriller that introduces the formidable Detective Chief Inspector Louisa Smith—from the New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Haynes, "the most exciting thing to happen to crime fiction in a long time" (Sophie Hannah, author of Kind of Cruel).

In the crisp, early hours of an autumn morning, the police are called to investigate two deaths. The first is a suspected murder at a farm on the outskirts of a small village. A beautiful young woman has been found dead, her cottage drenched with blood. The second is a reported suicide at a nearby quarry. A car with a woman's body inside has been found at the bottom of the pit.

As DCI Louisa Smith and her team gather evidence over the course of the next six days, they discover a shocking link between the two cases and the two deaths—a bond that sealed these women's terrible fates one cold night, under a silent moon.

In this compelling new detective series, Elizabeth Haynes interweaves fictional primary source materials—police reports, phone messages, interviews—and multiple character viewpoints to create a sexy, edgy, and compulsively readable tale of murder, mystery, and unsettling suspense.
Visit the official Elizabeth Haynes website and blog.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Elizabeth Haynes & Bea.

The Page 69 Test: Under a Silent Moon.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Seven of the best fictional depictions of female friendship

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Becky Ferreira tagged seven of the best fictional depictions of female friendship, including:
Jane Eyre and Helen Burns, in Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre

Jane and Helen are both whip-smart, but Jane is a rule breaker, where Helen is more of a peacemaker. Despite their differences, the pair share a unique bond, forged by their shared past as orphans and their mutual curiosity. One of the most moving passages in the whole book depicts a deep, theological discussion between the friends, as Helen lies dying of tuberculosis in Jane’s arms. It’s no surprise that this scene tugs on the heartstrings, as it was inspired by the real life loss of Brontë’s older sisters, Maria and Elizabeth, to the disease.
Read about another entry on the list.

Jane Eyre also made Becky Ferreira's top six list of the most momentous weddings in fiction, Molly Schoemann-McCann's list of five of the best--and more familiar--tropes in fiction, Julia Sawalha's six best books list, Honeysuckle Weeks's six best books list, Kathryn Harrison's list of six favorite books with parentless protagonists, Megan Abbott's top ten list of novels of teenage friendship, a list of Bettany Hughes's six best books, the Guardian's top 10 lists of "outsider books" and "romantic fiction;" it appears on Lorraine Kelly's six best books list, Esther Freud's top ten list of love stories, and Jessica Duchen's top ten list of literary Gypsies, and on John Mullan's lists of ten of the best governesses in literature, ten of the best men dressed as women, ten of the best weddings in literature, ten of the best locked rooms in literature, ten of the best pianos in literature, ten of the best breakfasts in literature, ten of the best smokes in fiction, and ten of the best cases of blindness in literature. It is one of Kate Kellaway's ten best love stories in fiction.

The Page 99 Test: Jane Eyre.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Julia R. Azari's "Delivering the People’s Message"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Delivering the People's Message: The Changing Politics of the Presidential Mandate by Julia R. Azari.

About the book, from the publisher:
Presidents have long invoked electoral mandates to justify the use of executive power. In Delivering the People’s Message, Julia R. Azari draws on an original dataset of more than 1,500 presidential communications, as well as primary documents from six presidential libraries, to systematically examine choices made by presidents ranging from Herbert Hoover in 1928 to Barack Obama during his 2008 election. Azari argues that Ronald Reagan’s election in 1980 marked a shift from the modern presidency formed by Franklin Delano Roosevelt to what she identifies as a more partisan era for the presidency. This partisan model is a form of governance in which the president appears to require a popular mandate in order to manage unruly and deeply contrary elements within his own party and succeed in the face of staunch resistance from the opposition party.

Azari finds that when the presidency enjoys high public esteem and party polarization is low, mandate rhetoric is less frequent and employs broad themes. By contrast, presidents turn to mandate rhetoric when the office loses legitimacy, as in the wake of Watergate and Vietnam and during periods of intense polarization. In the twenty-first century, these two factors have converged. As a result, presidents rely on mandate rhetoric to defend their choices to supporters and critics alike, simultaneously creating unrealistic expectations about the electoral promises they will be able to fulfill.
Learn more about Delivering the People's Message at the Cornell University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Delivering the People's Message.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top books for toddlers

In 2013 the Christian Science Monitor surveyed parents about their favorite books to read with their toddlers. One of the ten most popular titles recommended:
'Go, Dog, Go!' by P.D. Eastman

Toddlers love P.D. Eastman's colorful illustrations of red dogs and blue dogs, driving dogs and partying dogs in "Go, Dog, Go!" The text teaches concepts of position and opposites, such as in and out, up and down, while teaching kids about emotions, personal preference, and paying attention to details. "Go, Dog, Go!" was first published by Random House Books for Young Readers in 1961.

Other books by by Mr. Eastman include "Are You My Mother," "Sam and the Firefly," and "The Best Nest."
Read about another entry on the list.

Also see: Fifteen top books for toddlers.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Leah Hager Cohen reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Leah Hager Cohen, author of No Book but the World.

Her entry begins:
At this point in the semester, should anyone ask what I’m reading, I’m liable to go sort of panicky-blank. “Golly, what have I been reading?” I think, trying to visualize a book, any book, I’ve been reading, to little avail. Then it hits me: student papers. My reading life has been flooded by April showers of my college students’ work.

I actually love this time. Any grumpiness over having to defer other kinds of reading -- awaiting me at this moment: Holding on Upside Down, the new Marianne Moore biography; Maira Kalman: Various Illuminations (of a Crazy World); and...[read on]
About No Book but the World, from the publisher:
At the edge of a woods, on the grounds of a defunct “free school,” Ava and her brother, Fred, shared a dreamy and seemingly idyllic childhood—a world defined largely by their imaginations and each other’s presence. Everyone is aware of Fred’s oddness or vague impairment, but his parents’ fierce disapproval of labels keeps him free of evaluation or intervention, and constantly at Ava’s side.

Decades later, then, when Ava learns that her brother is being held in a county jail for a shocking crime, she is frantic to piece together what actually happened. A boy is dead. But could Fred really have done what he is accused of? As she is drawn deeper into the details of the crime, Ava becomes obsessed with learning the truth, convinced that she and she alone will be able to reach her brother and explain him—and his innocence—to the world.

Leah Hager Cohen brings her trademark intelligence to a psychologically gripping, richly ambiguous story that suggests we may ultimately understand one another best not with facts alone, but through our imaginations.
Visit Leah Hager Cohen's website.

Writers Read: Leah Hager Cohen.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Six top YA novels about reality TV

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog, Dahlia Adler tagged six great YA novels about reality TV, including:
Taste Test, by Kelly Fiore

As a die-hard fan of Top Chef, Chopped, and pretty much every other cooking competition show under the sun, I couldn’t have asked for a more exciting YA premise than the one delivered by Fiore here. A fast-paced read full of backstabbing and betrayal (and—blissfully—recipes), this is definitely a cast of characters that didn’t come here to make friends.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Sandra Gulland's "The Shadow Queen"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Shadow Queen: A Novel by Sandra Gulland.

About the book, from the publisher:
1660, Paris

Claudette’s life is like an ever-revolving stage set. From an impoverished childhood wandering the French countryside with her family’s acting troupe, Claudette finally witnesses her mother's astonishing rise to stardom in Parisian theaters. Working with playwrights Corneille, Molière and Racine, Claudette’s life is culturally rich, but like all in the theatrical world at the time, she's socially scorned.

A series of chance encounters gradually pull Claudette into the alluring orbit of Athénaïs de Montespan, mistress to Louis XIV and reigning "Shadow Queen." Needing someone to safeguard her secrets, Athénaïs offers to hire Claudette as her personal attendant.

Enticed by the promise of riches and respectability, Claudette leaves the world of the theater only to find that court is very much like a stage, with outward shows of loyalty masking more devious intentions. This parallel is not lost on Athénaïs, who fears political enemies are plotting her ruin as young courtesans angle to take the coveted spot in the king's bed.

Indeed, Claudette's "reputable" new position is marked by spying, illicit trysts and titanic power struggles. As Athénaïs, becomes ever more desperate to hold onto the King's favor, innocent love charms move into the realm of deadly Black Magic, and Claudette is forced to consider a move that will put her own life—and the family she loves so dearly—at risk.

Set against the gilded opulence of a newly-constructed Versailles and the War of Theaters, THE SHADOW QUEEN is a seductive, gripping novel about the lure of wealth, the illusion of power, and the increasingly uneasy relationship between two strong-willed women whose actions could shape the future of France.
Visit Sandra Gulland's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Shadow Queen.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five notable books on peace

John Gittings's books include The Changing Face of China and 2012's The Glorious Art of Peace.

One of five top books on peace he discussed with Alec Ash at The Browser:
Tales of Army Life
by Leo Tolstoy

Your third pick is Tales of Army Life. Tell us about Tolstoy the soldier as well as Tolstoy the writer.

I chose this because most of us have read War and Peace, but many of us are less familiar with Tolstoy’s later life when he stressed his pacifist convictions in the most absolute of terms. There is a tendency to regard this as a personal development of Tolstoy’s which was almost out of keeping with what came before. But if you go back to his early experiences in the Caucasus and the Crimea as a young man in the 1840s, when he began to write about war – he reported from Sevastopol during the Crimean war – you already find in him a spirit of questioning the meaning of war, and why people are prepared to kill each other, which he continues to explore in War and Peace and which leads him eventually to his pacifist position.

His position is of categorical non-violence, and he comes closer to that earlier on than is often suggested. The very last paragraph of the very first story he wrote in Tales of Army Life, from the Caucasus, was suppressed by the Russian censor precisely because he asked the question, what is the reality of war? Why do soldiers, in what way and under what influence, kill one another? That was deemed unpatriotic, and I think just disturbed the censor, who probably couldn’t understand what Tolstoy was trying to say and struck it out.

The glorification of war in literature and elsewhere was presumably prevalent right up until today’s era, in which we know the gory detail through mass media coverage?

You’re perfectly right that war is no longer glorified in the simplistic terms in which it was before – although I would add that we are more aware of the glorification of war in the past than its condemnation. That is because history tends to be written if not by the victors, then by the warriors. There were popular voices raised against war in the past which are harder for us to hear today. For example, we know less of those who were opposed to the Crusades than those who were in favour of them. Nethertheless it is true that the almost childish glorification of war, which was still possible when war was fought by soldiers in gaily coloured uniforms and at a distance, is no longer possible. We don’t “rejoice rejoice” – although again I hesitate, because that term was used by Mrs Thatcher at the end of the Falklands war.

And American culture seems to take some relish in military prowess.

It does, and while we can all recognise the bravery of soldiers who are fighting in Afghanistan today and sympathise with the sufferings of their families if they die, to call them “heroes” in a way is an afterglow of the glorification of war, even though it’s no longer usually expressed in such simple terms.
Read about another book Gittings discussed at The Browser.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ann Weisgarber's "The Promise," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Promise by Ann Weisgarber.

About the book, from the publisher:
True confessions. I’m not up on the latest when it comes to movie stars. But when I was writing The Promise, a novel set in Galveston, Texas, in 1900 at the time of a historic hurricane, I visualized Renée Zellweger as my Nan Ogden character. Nan is rough around the edges, prides herself on being self-sufficient, and can’t bear fussy manners. Renée Zellweger played a similar no-nonsense woman in Cold Mountain. Whenever I was stuck, I’d picture Renée Z. waging her finger at me for moaning about writer’s block. “You think you have it hard,” I could hear her saying. “My daddy run off when I wasn’t nothing but a little thing and I’ve just wrung the neck of a chicken for supper. Try that for hard.”

My Nan character has a very different life story but she’s...[read on]
Visit Ann Weisgarber's website.

Weisgarber is also the author of The Personal History of Rachel DuPree. She lives in Sugar Land, Texas, close to Renée Zellweger’s hometown.

My Book, The Movie: The Promise.

--Marshal Zeringue