Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Five top books about Mississippi published in the past year

At Country Living, Lyn Roberts, the general manager of Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi, tagged five top books about Mississippi published in the past year, including:
Michael Farris Smith looks to the not-too-distant-future in his novel Rivers (Simon & Schuster), about a future in which weather patterns have become more violent and hurricanes like Katrina batter the coast faster than the population can rebuild, causing the federal government to declare the coast a wasteland.
Read about another book on the list.

The Page 69 Test: Rivers.

Writers Read: Michael Farris Smith.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Russel D. McLean's "Mothers of the Disappeared"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Mothers of the Disappeared: A J. McNee mystery set in Scotland by Russel D. McLean.

About the book, from the publisher:
Dundee-based private investigator J. McNee finds his past is about to catch up with him in this intriguing mystery.

When the mother of a murdered child asks PI J McNee to re-open a case he helped close during his time in the police, McNee is faced with some uncomfortable questions. Is the wrong man serving a life sentence for a series of brutal murders? If so, why did he admit his guilt before the court? McNee must make a terrifying moral choice.
Visit Russel McLean's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Good Son.

My Book, The Movie: The Lost Sister.

The Page 69 Test: Mothers of the Disappeared.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Steven P. Miller's "The Age of Evangelicalism"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Age of Evangelicalism: America's Born-Again Years by Steven P. Miller.

About the book, from the publisher:
At the start of the twenty-first century, America was awash in a sea of evangelical talk. The Purpose Driven Life. Joel Osteen. The Left Behind novels. George W. Bush. Evangelicalism had become so powerful and pervasive that political scientist Alan Wolfe wrote of "a sense in which we are all evangelicals now."

Steven P. Miller offers a dramatically different perspective: the Bush years, he argues, did not mark the pinnacle of evangelical influence, but rather the beginning of its decline. The Age of Evangelicalism chronicles the place and meaning of evangelical Christianity in America since 1970, a period Miller defines as America's "born-again years." This was a time of evangelical scares, born-again spectacles, and battles over faith in the public square. From the Jesus chic of the 1970s to the satanism panic of the 1980s, the culture wars of the 1990s, and the faith-based vogue of the early 2000s, evangelicalism expanded beyond churches and entered the mainstream in ways both subtly and obviously influential.

Born-again Christianity permeated nearly every area of American life. It was broad enough to encompass Hal Lindsey's doomsday prophecies and Marabel Morgan's sex advice, Jerry Falwell and Jimmy Carter. It made an unlikely convert of Bob Dylan and an unlikely president of a divorced Hollywood actor. As Miller shows, evangelicalism influenced not only its devotees but its many detractors: religious conservatives, secular liberals, and just about everyone in between. The Age of Evangelicalism contained multitudes: it was the age of Christian hippies and the "silent majority," of Footloose and The Passion of the Christ, of Tammy Faye Bakker the disgraced televangelist and Tammy Faye Messner the gay icon. Barack Obama was as much a part of it as Billy Graham.

The Age of Evangelicalism tells the captivating story of how born-again Christianity shaped the cultural and political climate in which millions of Americans came to terms with their times.
Learn more about The Age of Evangelicalism at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: The Age of Evangelicalism.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten of the best book series

Christian Science Monitor contributor Casey Lee strongly recommends ten favorite book series, including:
Jack Reacher

Reacher is a former military cop. He was good at his job, really good. What makes him so successful (besides his imposing physique) is that he has a clear understanding of good and bad. Reacher is not a man to see the shades of grey. He is also a man of action. If Reacher sees something wrong, or comes across someone in trouble, he doesn't hesitate. He does something about it. His rough-and-ready attitude really appeals to readers weary of protagonists inclined to agonize and over-think. Every "Reacher" book is full of action and fight scenes and author Lee Child never allows for a dull moment.
Read about another series on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Daryl Gregory reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Daryl Gregory, author of Afterparty.

His entry begins:
When I’m in the early days of writing a novel, my reading is mostly non-fiction, and mostly predatory: Can this book feed my book? When I was writing Afterparty, the stack was all neuroscience and pharmacology books, and a few about religious experiences.

Now I’ve started a new book, and I’m reading a lot about psychics—remote-viewers, palm readers, spoonbenders, psychokinetics—and the goofy government-funded programs to study and weaponize them.

The two books I’m reading right now (alternating between them based on my mood) are opposite sides of the paranormal coin. First is Reading the Enemy’s Mind: Inside Star Gate: America’s Psychic Espionage Program by Paul Smith. You know it’s serious, because it has two colons in the title. The book is a first-person account of an intelligence officer who was recruited in the 1980s for one of the army’s remote-viewer programs....[read on]
About Afterparty, from the publisher:
It begins in Toronto, in the years after the smart drug revolution. Any high school student with a chemjet and internet connection can download recipes and print drugs, or invent them. A seventeen-year-old street girl finds God through a new brain-altering drug called Numinous, used as a sacrament by a new Church that preys on the underclass. But she is arrested and put into detention, and without the drug, commits suicide.

Lyda Rose, another patient in that detention facility, has a dark secret: she was one of the original scientists who developed the drug. With the help of an ex-government agent and an imaginary, drug-induced doctor, Lyda sets out to find the other three survivors of the five who made the Numinous in a quest to set things right.

A mind-bending and violent chase across Canada and the US, Daryl Gregory's Afterparty is a marvelous mix of William Gibson’s Neuromancer, Philip K. Dick’s Ubik, and perhaps a bit of Peter Watts’s Starfish: a last chance to save civilization, or die trying.
Visit Daryl Gregory's website and blog.

My Book, The Movie: Afterparty.

The Page 69 Test: Afterparty.

Writers Read: Daryl Gregory.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Nose in a book: Mallory O'Meara

Who: Mallory O'Meara

What: Control Point by Myke Cole

When: April 2014

Where: the set of Dark Dunes Productions' new film starring Malcolm McDowell, Kids Vs. Monsters

Photo credit: Dark Dunes Productions

My Book, The Movie: Control Point.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Daryl Gregory's "Afterparty"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Afterparty by Daryl Gregory.

About the book, from the publisher:
It begins in Toronto, in the years after the smart drug revolution. Any high school student with a chemjet and internet connection can download recipes and print drugs, or invent them. A seventeen-year-old street girl finds God through a new brain-altering drug called Numinous, used as a sacrament by a new Church that preys on the underclass. But she is arrested and put into detention, and without the drug, commits suicide.

Lyda Rose, another patient in that detention facility, has a dark secret: she was one of the original scientists who developed the drug. With the help of an ex-government agent and an imaginary, drug-induced doctor, Lyda sets out to find the other three survivors of the five who made the Numinous in a quest to set things right.

A mind-bending and violent chase across Canada and the US, Daryl Gregory's Afterparty is a marvelous mix of William Gibson’s Neuromancer, Philip K. Dick’s Ubik, and perhaps a bit of Peter Watts’s Starfish: a last chance to save civilization, or die trying.
Visit Daryl Gregory's website and blog.

My Book, The Movie: Afterparty.

The Page 69 Test: Afterparty.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: John Pinheiro's "Missionaries of Republicanism"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Missionaries of Republicanism: A Religious History of the Mexican-American War by John C. Pinheiro.

About the book, from the publisher:
The term "Manifest Destiny" has traditionally been linked to U.S. westward expansion in the nineteenth century, the desire to spread republican government, and racialist theories like Anglo-Saxonism. Yet few people realize the degree to which Manifest Destiny and American republicanism relied on a deeply anti-Catholic civil-religious discourse. John C. Pinheiro traces the rise to prominence of this discourse, beginning in the 1820s and culminating in the Mexican-American War of 1846-1848.

Pinheiro begins with social reformer and Protestant evangelist Lyman Beecher, who was largely responsible for synthesizing seemingly unrelated strands of religious, patriotic, expansionist, and political sentiment into one universally understood argument about the future of the United States. When the overwhelmingly Protestant United States went to war with Catholic Mexico, this "Beecherite Synthesis" provided Americans with the most important means of defining their own identity, understanding Mexicans, and interpreting the larger meaning of the war. Anti-Catholic rhetoric constituted an integral piece of nearly every major argument for or against the war and was so universally accepted that recruiters, politicians, diplomats, journalists, soldiers, evangelical activists, abolitionists, and pacifists used it. It was also, Pinheiro shows, the primary tool used by American soldiers to interpret Mexico's culture. All this activity in turn reshaped the anti-Catholic movement. Preachers could now use caricatures of Mexicans to illustrate Roman Catholic depravity and nativists could point to Mexico as a warning about what America would be like if dominated by Catholics.

Missionaries of Republicanism provides a critical new perspective on Manifest Destiny, American republicanism, anti-Catholicism, and Mexican-American relations in the nineteenth century.
Read more about Missionaries of Republicanism at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Missionaries of Republicanism.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six of the best redheads in literature

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Becky Ferreira tagged six favorite redheads in literature, including:
Leigh-Cheri Furstenburg-Barcelona (Still Life with Woodpecker, by Tom Robbins)

It’s nearly impossible to sum up this wacky novel, so we won’t even try. Suffice it to say, Leigh-Cheri is a total manic pixie dream girl, with red hair to top it all off like a cherry on a nutty sundae. She teams up with an outlaw named the Woodpecker (also a redhead), and they have a series of surreal adventures, which include a brush with an alien race that believes all gingers are inherently evil, and that “red hair is caused by sugar and lust.” That should give you some idea of how refreshingly nutballs this book is.
Read about another entry on the list.

Still Life With Woodpecker is one of Drew Barrymore's six best books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Brian Doyle's "The Plover," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Plover by Brian Doyle.

The entry begins:
Hmm. This is a puzzler, for on the boat that is the central stage of The Plover there is:

· an ostensibly testy but not really captain, age 29 or 30, a strong guy but not huge, you know? I’d say Brad Pitt but he might be too handsome. A young Rod Taylor or Ward Bond would be great, but there I am showing my age. Chris Pine?

· his best friend, a long skinny sinewy guy with a long ponytail and long braided goatee -- a face-ponytail. One of those guys made out of steel wire. I need a lean guy about 6’ 3” here. Will...[read on]
Learn more about The Plover.

My Book, The Movie: Doyle's Bin Laden’s Bald Spot.

The Page 69 Test: Mink River.

Writers Read: Brian Doyle.

My Book, The Movie: The Plover.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 21, 2014

Nine books so funny you're probably going to laugh

One title on Kirkus Reviews' list of books so funny you're guaranteed to laugh:
KIDS THESE DAYS
by Drew Perry

"A funny, frenzied tale of a terrified man plummeting helplessly into his own adulthood."

Meet Walter and Alice. They're screwed.
Read about another book on the list.

Also see Hallie Ephron's top ten books for a good laugh.

The Page 69 Test: Kids These Days.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Ken Baker's "How I Got Skinny, Famous, and Fell Madly in Love"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: How I Got Skinny, Famous, and Fell Madly in Love by Ken Baker.

About the book, from the publisher:
"Thick. Heavy. Big boned. Plump. Full figured. Chunky. Womanly. Large. Curvy. Plus-size. Hefty." To sixteen-year-old Emery Jackson, these are all just euphemisms for the big "F" word—"fat." Living on a Southern California beach with her workout fiend dad, underwear model sister, and former model mother, it is impossible for Emery not to be aware of her weight.

Emery is okay with how things are. That is, until her "momager" signs her up for Fifty Pounds to Freedom, a reality show in which Emery will have to lose fifty pounds in fifty days in order to win the million dollars that will solve her family's financial woes. Emery is skeptical of the process, but when the pounds start to come off and the ratings skyrocket, she finds it hard to resist the adoration of her new figure and the world of fame. Emery knows that things have changed. But is it for the better?
Visit Ken Baker's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

Writers Read: Ken Baker.

The Page 69 Test: How I Got Skinny, Famous, and Fell Madly in Love.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Carol E. Harrison's "Romantic Catholics"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Romantic Catholics: France's Postrevolutionary Generation in Search of a Modern Faith by Carol E. Harrison.

About the book, from the publisher:
In this well-written and imaginatively structured book, Carol E. Harrison brings to life a cohort of nineteenth-century French men and women who argued that a reformed Catholicism could reconcile the divisions in French culture and society that were the legacy of revolution and empire. They include, most prominently, Charles de Montalembert, Pauline Craven, Amélie and Frédéric Ozanam, Léopoldine Hugo, Maurice de Guérin, and Victorine Monniot. The men and women whose stories appear in Romantic Catholics were bound together by filial love, friendship, and in some cases marriage. Harrison draws on their diaries, letters, and published works to construct a portrait of a generation linked by a determination to live their faith in a modern world.

Rejecting both the atomizing force of revolutionary liberalism and the increasing intransigence of the church hierarchy, the romantic Catholics advocated a middle way, in which a revitalized Catholic faith and liberty formed the basis for modern society. Harrison traces the history of nineteenth-century France and, in parallel, the life course of these individuals as they grow up, learn independence, and take on the responsibilities and disappointments of adulthood. Although the shared goals of the romantic Catholics were never realized in French politics and culture, Harrison's work offers a significant corrective to the traditional understanding of the opposition between religion and the secular republican tradition in France.
Learn more about Romantic Catholics at the Cornell University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Romantic Catholics.

--Marshal Zeringue

Coffee with a canine: Suzanne Johnson & Tank and Shane

Featured at Coffee with a Canine: Suzanne Johnson & Tank and Shane.

The author, on how she and Tank and Shane were united:
Shane was acquired by subterfuge. She’d escaped wherever she originally lived and followed home the child of a coworker’s illegal immigrant neighbors. They threw away her collar but then proceeded to neglect her, locking her up in their overgrown backyard and leaving her to play with old beer cans and sleep on a wet, molded mattress. My coworker staged an intervention. In the dead of night, after getting me to agree to take the poor little terrier named Flicky, he stole her. We made the handoff on a street corner in New Orleans’ Mid-City the next day. She was totally unsocialized. Have you ever met an unsocialized 1-year-old terrier? Oh my God. I had no idea what I was in for.

Fortunately, about three months into our harrowing relationship, she made friends with a shaggy, emaciated stray, who proceeded to sit outside my fence for days--until I let him in and fed him while calling animal control to take him away. He cried when they put him in the truck, breaking my heart, so I followed them to the pound and paid $50 to adopt the dog I’d just turned in. Welcome...[read on]
About Elysian Fields, the latest novel in Johnson's Sentinels of New Orleans series, from the publisher:
Elysian Fields by Suzanne Johnson is the fun, fast-paced third book in the Sentinels of New Orleans, a series of urban fantasy novels filled with wizards, mermen, and pirates. In the tradition of the Sookie Stackhouse books, these novels are perfect for readers of paranormal fiction and “fans of Charlaine Harris and Cat Adams.” (Booklist)

The mer feud has been settled, but life in South Louisiana still has more twists and turns than the muddy Mississippi.

New Orleanians are under attack from a copycat killer mimicking the crimes of a 1918 serial murderer known as the Axeman of New Orleans. Thanks to a tip from the undead pirate Jean Lafitte, DJ Jaco knows the attacks aren’t random—an unknown necromancer has resurrected the original Axeman of New Orleans, and his ultimate target is a certain blonde wizard. Namely, DJ.

Combating an undead serial killer as troubles pile up around her isn’t easy. Jake Warin’s loup-garou nature is spiraling downward, enigmatic neighbor Quince Randolph is acting weirder than ever, the Elders are insisting on lessons in elven magic from the world’s most annoying wizard, and former partner Alex Warin just turned up on DJ’s to-do list. Not to mention big maneuvers are afoot in the halls of preternatural power.

Suddenly, moving to the Beyond as Jean Lafitte’s pirate wench could be DJ’s best option.
Learn more about the book and author at Suzanne Johnson's website.

The Page 69 Test: Elysian Fields.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Suzanne Johnson & Tank and Shane.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Colin Cotterill reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Colin Cotterill, author of The Axe Factor (Jimm Juree Series #3).

His entry begins:
A little shockaroo in this edition of Writers Read. Invariably I’m forced to admit to reading non-fiction or to have the Mad Magazine Christmas edition open on my bedside table. But, surprise, I am reading fiction and I haven’t given up before the end of chapter one as I usually do. There is a tag to this story. A few months ago I was sent a newspaper item in which a famous author; in this case, Isabel Allende, was asked what she’d been reading lately (not unlike this column except I’m not a famous author and hardly anybody cares). She openly admitted - not to reading a Colin Cotterill - but to have gone through the entire series. Not one to miss an opportunity for a blurb I wrote to Ms Allende and thanked her for the kind words. She replied and we became sort of pen friends. Then, woe betide, her books started to arrive at my post office. I hadn’t had a chance to tell her that...[read on]
About The Axe Factor, 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.

Writers Read: Colin Cotterill.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Five notable books on The Cold War

One title on the Barnes & Noble Review's list of five top books on The Cold War:
You Are One of Them
by Elliott Holt

During the peak of Cold War hysteria in the early 1980s, best friends Jenny and Sarah write covert letters to the Kremlin requesting a political truce. Jenny’s letter receives a reply, and she’s invited to visit the USSR -- without Sarah. A few years later, Sarah gets word that Jenny and her entire family died in a plane crash. But when Sarah receives a cryptic note from abroad that says Jenny may not be dead, she sets off for Russia to find her former best friend and the truth behind the enigmatic conflict of the century. A highly original debut from Elliott Holt, You Are One of Them takes a pivotal era of modern history and gives it an intimate and insightful edge.
Read about another book on the list.

Also see--Five best forgotten Cold War thrillers, Five best windows on the Cold War, Five best books about Cold War culture, and Five best Cold War classics.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Heather Brittain Bergstrom's "Steal the North"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Steal the North: A Novel by Heather Brittain Bergstrom.

About the book, from the publisher:
A novel of love in all its forms: for the land, for family, and the once-in-a-lifetime kind that catches two people when they least expect it

Emmy is a shy, sheltered sixteen-year-old when her mom, Kate, sends her to eastern Washington to an aunt and uncle she never knew she had. Fifteen years earlier, Kate had abandoned her sister, Beth, when she fled her painful past and their fundamentalist church. And now, Beth believes Emmy’s participation in a faith healing is her last hope for having a child.

Emmy goes reluctantly, but before long she knows she has come home. She feels tied to the rugged landscape of coulees and scablands. And she meets Reuben, the Native American boy next door.

In a part of the country where the age-old tensions of cowboys versus Indians still play out, theirs is the kind of magical, fraught love that can only survive with the passion and resilience of youth. Their story is mirrored by the generation before them, who fears that their mistakes are doomed to repeat themselves in Emmy and Reuben. With Louise Erdrich’s sense of place and a love story in the tradition of Water for Elephants, this is an atmospheric family drama in which the question of home is a spiritual one, in which getting over the past is the only hope for the future.
Visit Heather Brittain Bergstrom's website and Facebook page.

The Page 69 Test: Steal the North.

--Marshal Zeringue

Daryl Gregory's "Afterparty," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Afterparty by Daryl Gregory.

The entry begins:
I don’t usually have anyone famous in mind while I’m writing… but Lyda Rose, the hard-drinking and technically insane protagonist of Afterparty, was written with this woman in mind. That’s Lucinda Williams. I have no idea if she can act. But I know she could play Lyda. Lemmee explain.

Lyda’s an ex-neuroscientist. Ten years before, she overdosed on a drug she helped create. In small doses, Numinous gives that feeling of grace, of being in touch with some higher power. But OD, and it can install a permanent hallucination of a deity in your brain.

Now, ten years later, an underground church is making Numinous again, and Lyda has to shut them down. Her only companions are Ollie, a neuroatypical escapee from a psych ward, and Lyda’s own personal...[read on]
Visit Daryl Gregory's website and blog.

My Book, The Movie: Afterparty.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five books that changed Elizabeth Gilbert

Elizabeth Gilbert is the best-selling author of the memoir Eat, Pray, Love and the recent novel The Signature of All Things.

One of five books that changed her, as shared with the Sydney Morning Herald:
For Whom the Bell Tolls - Ernest Hemingway

When I was 14 years old, I went to my father one evening and asked him if he had any suggestions for something that I could read. I didn't want books for kids any more, and I told him as much. He went into our living room and looked on a high top shelf of his own bookshelf. I remember the silence as he considered. I loved how seriously he took my request. Then he took down Hemingway. "I think you can read this," he said. It felt like a literary rite of passage, from childhood into adulthood.
Read about another book on the list.

For Whom the Bell Tolls is among Michael Dobbs's six best books, John Mullan's ten best bridges in literature, Elmore Leonard's ten favorite books, John McCain's five best books about men in battle.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Pg. 99: Alex Beam's "American Crucifixion"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: American Crucifixion: The Murder of Joseph Smith and the Fate of the Mormon Church by Alex Beam.

About the book, from the publisher:
On June 27, 1844, a mob stormed the jail in the dusty frontier town of Carthage, Illinois. Clamorous and angry, they were hunting down a man they saw as a grave threat to their otherwise quiet lives: the founding prophet of Mormonism, Joseph Smith. They wanted blood.

At thirty-nine years old, Smith had already lived an outsized life. In addition to starting his own religion and creating his own “Golden Bible”—the Book of Mormon—he had worked as a water-dowser and treasure hunter. He’d led his people to Ohio, then Missouri, then Illinois, where he founded a city larger than fledgling Chicago. He was running for president. And, secretly, he had married more than thirty women.
Alex Beam is an award-winning columnist for the Boston Globe. His writing has also appeared in the Atlantic, Slate, the New York Times and many other magazines. His nonfiction books include Gracefully Insane: Life and Death Inside America's Premier Mental Hospital and A Great Idea at the Time, both New York Times Notable Books.

Visit Alex Beam's column archive at the Boston Globe and Twitter perch.

My Book, The Movie: Gracefully Insane.

The Page 69 Test: Gracefully Insane.

The Page 99 Test: Great Idea at the Time.

The Page 99 Test: American Crucifixion.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: M.L. Rowland's "Zero-Degree Murder"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Zero-Degree Murder by M.L. Rowland.

About the book, from the publisher:
Search and rescue expert Gracie Kinkaid risks her life on a daily basis to save strangers. But going up against a coldhearted murderer is one kind of danger she’s not prepared for…

As a volunteer for Timber Creek Search and Rescue, missing out on holiday festivities is nothing new to Gracie. After all, disasters don’t stop happening because of a cooked turkey. So when Gracie is called out on Thanksgiving for four hikers missing in the wilderness of Southern California, she packs up her gear and heads out to find them.

The mission quickly goes from routine to deadly. An early season blizzard sets in. The one missing person the team does find, famous actor Rob Christian, remembers being attacked by someone else on the trail, someone trying to kill him. And Gracie’s partner leaves to get backup, taking the radio—their only link to the outside world—with him.

Alone in the mountains, Gracie will have to use all her expertise to keep Rob alive. But with an unknown killer lurking somewhere in the dark, even that might not be enough to save them…
Visit M.L. Rowland's website.

My Book, The Movie: Zero-Degree Murder.

The Page 69 Test: Zero-Degree Murder.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top dogs in children's books

Cliff McNish has just published his first dog-themed book aimed at 8-12 year-olds: Going Home. The author named his top ten dogs in children's books for the Guardian, including:
Toto from the Oz books by L. Frank Baum

Reliable Toto. But did you know that in the later Oz books, as other animals are revealed to have the ability to speak, Toto finally admits that he can speak too — he just chooses not to! In the 1939 film adaptation of The Wizard of Oz Toto was played by a female brindle terrier named Terry who was actually paid more than the human actors at $125 per week.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Wicked Witch of the West is one of Paul Goat Allen's ten most badass women in fantasy literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Ken Baker reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Ken Baker, author of How I Got Skinny, Famous, and Fell Madly in Love.

His entry begins:
I have a reading list normally as eclectic as the collection of randomness (drum set, sports gear, earthquake kit) in my garage. And my current list conforms to this trend.

I am reading the novel The Circle by Dave Eggers. I’ve been a fan of Dave’s work going back to A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. His latest book is scary in how spot-on he is about how we are living the Big Brother future in the present! All you Facebookers must...[read on]
About How I Got Skinny, Famous, and Fell Madly in Love, from the publisher:
"Thick. Heavy. Big boned. Plump. Full figured. Chunky. Womanly. Large. Curvy. Plus-size. Hefty." To sixteen-year-old Emery Jackson, these are all just euphemisms for the big "F" word—"fat." Living on a Southern California beach with her workout fiend dad, underwear model sister, and former model mother, it is impossible for Emery not to be aware of her weight.

Emery is okay with how things are. That is, until her "momager" signs her up for Fifty Pounds to Freedom, a reality show in which Emery will have to lose fifty pounds in fifty days in order to win the million dollars that will solve her family's financial woes. Emery is skeptical of the process, but when the pounds start to come off and the ratings skyrocket, she finds it hard to resist the adoration of her new figure and the world of fame. Emery knows that things have changed. But is it for the better?
Visit Ken Baker's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

Writers Read: Ken Baker.

--Marshal Zeringue

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