Saturday, April 25, 2015

Jan-Philipp Sendker's "Whispering Shadows," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Whispering Shadows by Jan-Philipp Sendker.

The entry begins:
Many readers around the world have asked me if I was Paul Leibovitz, the main character in Whispering Shadows.

Of course I am not but there are some similarities and he would be the role (and it happened to be the lead role) I would play.

He is in his early fifties (like me), he used to be a journalist (like me), lives in Hong Kong (like I used to) and is fascinated by China (like me).

He does not have much of sense of belonging, born in Germany, growing up in New York, having lived in Asia for 30 years.

He had lost his child to leukemia and lives as...[read on]
Visit Jan-Philipp Sendker's website.

The Page 69 Test: Whispering Shadows.

My Book, The Movie: Whispering Shadows.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 24, 2015

Five of the best books about false identities

Arwen Elys Dayton's new novel is Seeker.

For Tor.com she tagged five top books about false identities, including:
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

When a spy—a young woman—ends up captured and tortured by the enemy in WWII France, the reader must grapple with the hero’s (or should I say anti-hero’s?) identity. Does she remain true to who she was, or has she sacrificed all of her ideals in order to survive?
Read about another book on the list.

Code Name Verity also appears on Melissa Albert's top five list of YA books that might make one cry, Sara Brady's list of six of the best spies in romance, Lenore Appelhans's top ten list of teen books featuring flashbacks and Lydia Syson's list of ten of the best historical novels for young readers.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Brian Fagan reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Brian Fagan, author of The Intimate Bond: How Animals Shaped Human History.

His entry begins:
I’m flitting from book to book at the moment, partly because I’ve been traveling a great deal. There are now so many interesting books to read that it’s getting harder and harder to choose from the shelves of new releases—and old ones.

I don’t normally read books on archaeology for pleasure, since that’s my daily diet, but Jason Thompson’s Wonderful Things: A History of Egyptology, Volume 1: From Antiquity to 1881 (Oxford University Press, 2015) is a captivating account of treasure hunters, antiquarians, and archaeologists along the Nile that is both definitive and a nice read. Thompson, the author of a biography of the Victorian Egyptologist John Gardner Wilkinson, brings to life both major and especially lesser known figures in the occasionally flamboyant beginnings of Egyptology. This is a book to...[read on]
About The Intimate Bond, from the publisher:
Animals, and our ever-changing relationship with them, have left an indelible mark on human history. From the dawn of our existence, animals and humans have been constantly redefining their relationship with one another, and entire civilizations have risen and fallen upon this curious bond we share with our fellow fauna. Brian Fagan unfolds this fascinating story from the first wolf who wandered into our prehistoric ancestors' camp and found companionship, to empires built on the backs of horses, donkeys, and camels, to the industrial age when some animals became commodities, often brutally exploited, and others became pets, nurtured and pampered, sometimes to absurd extremes.

Through an in-depth analysis of six truly transformative human-animal relationships, Fagan shows how our habits and our very way of life were considerably and irreversibly altered by our intimate bond with animals. Among other stories, Fagan explores how herding changed human behavior; how the humble donkey helped launch the process of globalization; and how the horse carried a hearty band of nomads across the world and toppled the emperor of China.

With characteristic care and penetrating insight, Fagan reveals the profound influence that animals have exercised on human history and how, in fact, they often drove it.
Learn more about the book and author at Brian Fagan's website.

The Page 99 Test: The Great Warming.

The Page 99 Test: The Attacking Ocean.

Writers Read: Brian Fagan.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Meredith Zeitlin's "Sophomore Year is Greek to Me"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Sophomore Year Is Greek to Me by Meredith Zeitlin.

About the book, from the publisher:
A laugh-out-loud high school adventure set in Greece, perfect for fans of Meg Cabot

High school sophomore Zona Lowell has lived in New York City her whole life, and plans to follow in the footsteps of her renowned-journalist father. But when he announces they’re moving to Athens for six months so he can work on an important new story, she’s devastated— he must have an ulterior motive. See, when Zona’s mother married an American, her huge Greek family cut off contact. But Zona never knew her mom, and now she’s supposed to uproot her entire life and meet possibly hostile relatives on their turf? Thanks… but no thanks.

In the vein of Anna and the French Kiss, Zona navigates a series of hilarious escapades, eye-opening revelations, and unexpected reunions in a foreign country—all while documenting the trip through one-of-a-kind commentary.
Visit Meredith Zeitlin's website.

The Page 69 Test: Sophomore Year Is Greek to Me.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Jeffrey Gurock's "The Holocaust Averted"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Holocaust Averted: An Alternate History of American Jewry, 1938-1967 by Jeffrey S. Gurock.

About the book, from the publisher:
The increasingly popular genre of “alternative histories” has captivated audiences by asking questions like “what if the South had won the Civil War?” Such speculation can be instructive, heighten our interest in a topic, and shed light on accepted history. In The Holocaust Averted, Jeffrey Gurock imagines what might have happened to the Jewish community in the United States if the Holocaust had never occurred and forces readers to contemplate how the road to acceptance and empowerment for today’s American Jews could have been harder than it actually was.

Based on reasonable alternatives grounded in what is known of the time, places, and participants, Gurock presents a concise narrative of his imagined war-time saga and the events that followed Hitler’s military failures. While German Jews did suffer under Nazism, the millions of Jews in Eastern Europe survived and were able to maintain their communities. Since few people were concerned with the safety of European Jews, Zionism never became popular in the United States and social antisemitism kept Jews on the margins of society. By the late 1960s, American Jewish communities were far from vibrant.

This alternate history—where, among many scenarios, Hitler is assassinated, Japan does not bomb Pearl Harbor, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt is succeeded after two terms by Robert A. Taft—does cause us to review and better appreciate history. As Gurock tells his tale, he concludes every chapter with a short section that describes what actually happened and, thus, further educates the reader.
Visit Jeffrey S. Gurock's website.

The Page 99 Test: The Holocaust Averted.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 23, 2015

What is Brendan Duffy reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Brendan Duffy, author of House of Echoes.

His entry begins:
I’m currently three-fourths of the way through Joe Hill’s short story collection, 20th Century Ghosts, and find myself rationing the remaining pages to make them last. I’ve enthusiastically devoured Hill’s novels—Heart-Shaped Box, Horns, and NOS4A2—but this collection reveals a whole new side to him. Anyone familiar with his work knows he has a top-rate imagination, but I was unprepared for how sensitive and sweet a writer he can be. To reveal such depth in as tight a format as a short story wildly impresses...[read on]
About House of Echoes, from the publisher:
In this enthralling and atmospheric thriller, one young family’s dream of a better life is about to become a nightmare.

Ben and Caroline Tierney and their two young boys are hoping to start over. Ben has hit a dead end with his new novel, Caroline has lost her banking job, and eight-year-old Charlie is being bullied at his Manhattan school.

When Ben inherits land in the village of Swannhaven, in a remote corner of upstate New York, the Tierneys believe it’s just the break they need, and they leave behind all they know to restore a sprawling estate. But as Ben uncovers Swannhaven’s chilling secrets and Charlie ventures deeper into the surrounding forest, strange things begin to happen. The Tierneys realize that their new home isn’t the fresh start they needed . . . and that the village’s haunting saga is far from over.

House of Echoes is a novel that shows how sometimes the ties that bind us are the only things that can keep us whole.
Visit Brendan Duffy's website.

Writers Read: Brendan Duffy.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Rachel Basch's "The Listener"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Listener by Rachel Basch.

About the book, from the publisher:
A wise and witty novel about the challenges to identity that arise in both adolescence and middle age—and the student and therapist who just may have the power to save each other.

Malcolm Dowd is almost positive he recognizes the freshman who shows up for a session at his office in Baxter College’s Center for Behavioral Health—he just can’t place her. When suddenly she stands, takes off her wig, and reveals herself as Noah, the young man Malcolm had been treating months earlier, it marks the start of a relationship that will change them both. After losing his wife at a young age, Malcolm dedicated himself to giving his two daughters the stable, predictable childhood he never had. But now nothing is predictable—not his young adult daughters, not himself, and certainly not Noah. Whether he’s attending class or rehearsing for the campus musical, Noah finds he’s often challenging everyone’s definition of gender. During the course of one semester, Noah’s and Malcolm’s lives become entwined in ways neither could ever have imagined. Told alternately from Malcolm’s and Noah’s perspectives The Listener explores the ways in which we conceal and reveal our identities. As truth after truth is exposed, characters are forced to reconsider themselves and reorder their lives, with few easy answers to be found for anyone. The Listener is, ultimately, about the power of human connection and the many shapes that love can take.
Visit Rachel Basch's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Listener.

--Marshal Zeringue

Martin Goldsmith's "Alex's Wake," the movie

Now showing at My Book, The Movie: Alex's Wake: The Tragic Voyage of the St. Louis to Flee Nazi Germany--and a Grandson's Journey of Love and Remembrance by Martin Goldsmith.

The entry begins:
I cannot imagine an author alive today who has not dreamed, either by day or by night, of his/her words being made flesh and flickering on a screen, either large or small. More than a few of those kind readers who have contacted me after undertaking the journey that is Alex's Wake have declared it to be movie-worthy, to which I often respond with the time-honored, "From your lips to God's ears!" Just in case that Almighty Casting Director is paying attention, here are some hopeful suggestions:

I first encountered Kenneth Branagh in London in the late '80s, where he was appearing nightly in repertory in Shakespeare's As You Like It, Much Ado About Nothing, and Hamlet. I couldn't take my eyes off him when he was on stage and have loved his work ever since, convinced that he can bring any character to vivid life. Since part of the irrational impetus for my writing Alex's Wake was to save the lives of my relatives who were murdered ten years before I was born, the idea of Mr. Branagh bringing Grandfather Alex back to life is immensely appealing. For the role of Alex's son, my Uncle Helmut, a generous, inquisitive, good-humored young man, I would love to cast the sweet yet whip-smart Eddie...[read on]
Visit the Alex's Wake website.

The Page 99 Test: Alex's Wake.

My Book, The Movie: Alex's Wake.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top books about betrayal

Karin Altenberg was born in Sweden and moved to Britain to study in 1996. Her first novel, Island of Wings, was shortlisted for the Scottish book of the year award and longlisted for the Orange prize for fiction. Her latest novel is Breaking Light.

One of Altenberg's top ten books about betrayal, as shared at the Guardian:
The End of the Affair by Graham Greene

I could have picked any of Greene’s novels: if there was ever a master of betrayal fiction, it was Greene. The End of the Affair, published in 1951, is a sad and beautiful story of love racked by jealousy and Catholic guilt. Written during the postwar austerity era, but set in wartime London, the narrative is loosely based on Greene’s affair with Lady Catherine Walston. When jealous ex-lover Maurice Bendrix realises that his major rival for the love of Sarah Miles is God, The End of the Affair is cast in new light.
Read about another book on the list.

The End of the Affair also appears on Howard Norman's six favorite books list, Newsweek's list of love-charmed novels from bomb-blitzed London, Alex Preston's top 10 list of fictional characters struggling with faith, John Mullan's lists of ten of the best explosions in literature, ten of the best umbrellas in literature, ten of the best novels about novelists, and ten of the best priests in literature, and Douglas Kennedy's top ten list of books about grief. It is one of Pico Iyer's four essential Graham Greene novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

What is Santa Montefiore reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Santa Montefiore, author of The Beekeeper's Daughter.

Her entry begins:
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

I bought it because I read her brilliant and moving The Invention of Wings over Christmas and I loved it so much – really, it’s one of the most touching, beautifully-written and fascinating novels I have ever read – that I wanted to read more of her! My mother read The Secret Life of Bees and raved about it (and she’s very hard to please) so it’s on my bedside table, waiting to be started. It’s set in South Carolina in the sixties and rather like The Invention of Wings, is about two young women: a white woman and a black slave. Reading the short blurb about the story on the back of the book I know that I am going to love it. These two courageous young women flee together when...[read on]
About The Beekeeper's Daughter, from the publisher:
From the #1 internationally bestselling author, her first book set in America, the story of a mother and daughter searching for love and happiness, unaware of the secrets that bind them. To find what they are longing for they must confront the past, and unravel the lies told long ago.

England, 1932: Grace Hamblin is growing up on the beautiful estate of the Marquess and Marchioness of Penselwood. The beekeeper’s daughter, she knows her place and what the future holds—that is until her father dies. Her childhood friend Freddie has recently become her lover, and she is thankful when they are able to marry and take over her father’s duties. But there is another man who she just can’t shake from her thoughts…

Massachusetts, 1973: Grace’s daughter Trixie Valentine is in love with an unsuitable young man. Jasper Duncliffe is wild and romantic, and in a band that might hit it big. But when his brother dies and he is called home to England, Jasper promises to come back for Trixie one day, if only she will wait for him. Grace thinks that Trixie is surely abandoned and tries to support her daughter, but Trixie brushes off her mother’s advice and comfort. She is confident that Jasper’s love for her was real…

Set on a fictional island off the coast of Massachusetts with charming architecture, beautiful landscape, and quirky islanders, The Beekeeper’s Daughter is “a multigenerational banquet of love…one of the most engrossing reads of my year” (Elin Hilderbrand).
Visit Santa Montefiore's website.

Writers Read: Santa Montefiore.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Bruce Hillman's "The Man Who Stalked Einstein"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Man Who Stalked Einstein: How Nazi Scientist Philipp Lenard Changed the Course of History by Bruce J. Hillman.

About the book, from the publisher:
By the end of World War I, Albert Einstein had become the face of the new science of theoretical physics and had made some powerful enemies. One of those enemies, Nobel Prize winner Philipp Lenard, spent a career trying to discredit him. Their story of conflict, pitting Germany’s most widely celebrated Jew against the Nazi scientist who was to become Hitler’s chief advisor on physics, had an impact far exceeding what the scientific community felt at the time. Indeed, their mutual antagonism affected the direction of science long after 1933, when Einstein took flight to America and changed the history of two nations. The Man Who Stalked Einstein details the tense relationship between Einstein and Lenard, their ideas and actions, during the eventful period between World War I and World War II.
Visit Bruce J. Hillman's website.

The Page 99 Test: The Man Who Stalked Einstein.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Ed Kovacs's "The Russian Bride"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Russian Bride by Ed Kovacs.

About the book, from the publisher:
Major Kit Bennings is an elite military intelligence agent working undercover in Moscow. When he is blackmailed and compromised by a brutal mafia don and former KGB general, he knows that his military career, if not his life, will soon be over. With little to lose, he goes rogue in the hope of saving his kidnapped sister and stopping a deadly scheme directed against America.

Yulana Petkova is a gorgeous woman, devoted mother, and Russian weapons engineer. And maybe more. Spy? Mob assassin? The shotgun marriage to stranger Kit Bennings takes her on a life-or-death hopscotch from Moscow to Los Angeles, from secret US military bases to Las Vegas, where she uses her wiles at every turn to carry out her own hidden agenda.

Hunted by killers from both Russia and the United States, Bennings struggles to stop the mobster's brilliant deception--a theft designed to go unnoticed--that will make the mafia kingpin the richest man in the world, while decimating the very heart of America's economic and intelligence institutions.
Learn more about the book and author at Ed Kovacs's website.

My Book, The Movie: Storm Damage.

The Page 69 Test: Storm Damage.

The Page 69 Test: Good Junk.

The Page 69 Test: Burnt Black.

The Page 69 Test: The Russian Bride.

--Marshal Zeringue

Joy Fielding's "Someone Is Watching," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Someone Is Watching by Joy Fielding.

The entry begins:
If Someone Is Watching were to be made into a movie, I'd love for Emma Stone to play Bailey. I actually didn't have anyone in particular in mind when I was writing the book, but having given the matter considerable thought over the last few days, I've come to think that Emma Stone would be perfect. She's probably a little young - Bailey is 29 and I think Emma Stone is at least a few years younger than that - but I still think she could make it work. She's a...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Joy Fielding's website.

The Page 69 Test: Shadow Creek.

My Book, The Movie: Shadow Creek.

Writers Read: Joy Fielding.

The Page 69 Test: Someone Is Watching.

My Book, The Movie: Someone Is Watching.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven top YA novels about best friendship

One title on Dahlia Adler's list of seven great YA novels about best friendship, as shared on the B & N Teen Blog:
Over You, by Amy Reed

When Max’s best friend, Sadie, is sidelined with mono over the summer, leaving Max effectively alone in unfamiliar territory, she could mope around in Sadie’s shadow. Instead, Max decides to embrace all the things she never would have at Sadie’s side, and by the time Sadie gets better, Max has to decide whether they really are best friends forever or better off apart. In truth, this book is almost about the opposite of best friendship—finding your own identity when you realize just how toxic the person you’ve been calling your best friend is. But as someone who’s prone to falling into those types of relationships, this is one of my favorite BFF books of all.
Read about another entry on the list.

Writers Read: Amy Reed (October 2014).

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

What is John Renehan reading?

Featured at Writers Read: John Renehan, author of The Valley.

His entry begins:
For Homework: Lord of the Flies, Peter Pan

When I’m sketching a new project (he says with exactly one book under his belt), I end up assigning myself a lot of background reading. Sometimes it’s simple research, and sometimes I can’t really articulate why a book wants to be read. Usually it ends up being fruitful, though I’m not sure which is the cart and which is the horse there. Right now I’m re-reading these two classics while I’m working on a second war book. (Don’t ask; it makes sense to me.) I last read Lord of the Flies in middle school. Turns out it’s a grown-up book. I know it’s still taught in middle/high schools, and at the time I thought I understood its symbols and themes, but reading it now at 42, and as the parent of a son, I see that I wasn’t really equipped as a teenager to appreciate it. I got the boys wrong, too. Ralph is not the self-possessed, tough-but-comfortable-in-his-humane-rationality, Christian-Bale-in-Reign-of-Fire leader I remembered him being. He’s a scared kid who’s in over his head, and he’s got a cruel edge to him that I’d forgotten. And Jack is not the simple malevolence I remembered him as. He’s not a sociopathic personality (though...[read on]
About The Valley, from the publisher:
“You’re going up the Valley.”

Black didn’t know its name, but he knew it lay deeper and higher than any other place Americans had ventured. You had to travel through a network of interlinked valleys, past all the other remote American outposts, just to get to its mouth. Everything about the place was myth and rumor, but one fact was clear: There were many valleys in the mountains of Afghanistan, and most were hard places where people died hard deaths. But there was only one Valley. It was the farthest, and the hardest, and the worst.

When Black, a deskbound admin officer, is sent up the Valley to investigate a warning shot fired by a near-forgotten platoon, he can only see it as the final bureaucratic insult in a short and unhappy Army career. What he doesn’t know is that his investigation puts at risk the centuries-old arrangements that keep this violent land in fragile balance, and will launch a shattering personal odyssey of obsession and discovery as Black reckons with the platoon’s dark secrets, accumulated over endless hours fighting and dying in defense of an indefensible piece of land.

The Valley is a riveting tour de force that changes our understanding of the men who fight our wars and announces John Renehan as one of the great American storytellers of our time.
Visit John Renehan's website.

Writers Read: John Renehan.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Emma Sky's "The Unraveling"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Unraveling: High Hopes and Missed Opportunities in Iraq by Emma Sky.

About the book, from the publisher:
When Emma Sky volunteered to help rebuild Iraq after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003, she had little idea what she was getting in to. Her assignment was only supposed to last three months. She went on to serve there longer than any other senior military or diplomatic figure, giving her an unrivaled perspective of the entire conflict.

As the representative of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Kirkuk in 2003 and then the political advisor to US General Odierno from 2007–2010, Sky was valued for her knowledge of the region and her outspoken voice. She became a tireless witness to American efforts to transform a country traumatized by decades of war, sanctions, and brutal dictatorship; to insurgencies and civil war; to the planning and implementation of the surge and the subsequent drawdown of US troops; to the corrupt political elites who used sectarianism to mobilize support; and to the takeover of a third of the country by the Islamic State.

With sharp detail and tremendous empathy, Sky provides unique insights into the US military as well as the complexities, diversity, and evolution of Iraqi society. The Unraveling is an intimate insider’s portrait of how and why the Iraq adventure failed and contains a unique analysis of the course of the war. Highlighting how nothing that happened in Iraq after 2003 was inevitable, Sky exposes the failures of the policies of both Republicans and Democrats, and the lessons that must be learned about the limitations of power.
Learn more about The Unraveling at the publisher's website.

The Page 99 Test: The Unraveling.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Michael Gregorio's "Cry Wolf"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Cry Wolf by Michael Gregorio.

About the book, from the publisher:
Introducing resourceful park ranger Sebastiano Cangio in the first of a brand-new crime series set against the glorious landscape of Italy's Umbria region.

Sebastiano Cangio is loving his dream job as a ranger in the stunning Sybillines national park in mystical Umbria. Then the first body is found. Recognizing the hallmarks of a Mafia killing and determined to stop Umbria being destroyed by organized crime, Cangio is pitted against a trail of bodies, greed and corruption that leads right to the top.
Visit Michael Gregorio's website and blog.

Michael Gregorio is the pen name of Michael G. Jacob and Daniela De Gregorio. They live in Spoleto, Italy. Michael Gregorio was awarded the Umbria del Cuore prize in 2007.

The Page 69 Test: A Visible Darkness.

The Page 69 Test: Unholy Awakening.

My Book, The Movie: Michael Gregorio's Hanno Stiffeniis novels.

The Page 69 Test: Cry Wolf.

--Marshal Zeringue

Joyce E. Salisbury's "Rome’s Christian Empress," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Rome's Christian Empress: Galla Placidia Rules at the Twilight of the Empire by Joyce E. Salisbury.

The entry begins:
Throughout the time I was writing this book, I pictured Angelina Jolie as playing the empress Placidia. First was the obvious –her looks. Galla Placidia was reputed to be stunningly beautiful with dark hair and dark eyes, and her one portrait (on the cover of my book) shows this. Beyond this, however, I’d need an actress who could express a range of emotions and embrace seemingly conflicting character traits. Placidia was deeply religious, yet she boldly exerted power even when her actions might seem unchristian at best. She approved of the execution of her stepmother; her disagreeable husband died under surprising circumstances; she was accused of inappropriate affection with her brother when she needed his support. Yet, Pope Leo knelt at her feet looking for...[read on]
Learn more about Rome's Christian Empress at the Johns Hopkins University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Rome's Christian Empress.

Writers Read: Joyce E. Salisbury.

My Book, The Movie: Rome's Christian Empress.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top books to help you celebrate the power of love

At B & N Reads, Kelly Anderson tagged five top books for newlyweds, including:
Possession, by A.S. Byatt

A book that tells the tale of overeducated academics uncovering a long-buried relationship between Victorian-era poets might not seem the most natural choice for newlyweds, but that relationship? Was hot as hell. In this time-shifting novel, A.S. Byatt tracks the discoveries of two modern-day scholars who stumble across evidence of the love affair, tantalizingly allowing us to experience the growing passions of lovers in both eras—including sexy love letters and exquisite poetry. In the end, this is a book about the lasting effects of passion and enduring love, with some of the most gorgeous falling-in-love I have ever seen. Any newlywed in the throes of honeymoon bliss will understand what one of the lovers means when they write to the other, “Did we not—did you not flame and I catch fire?… I thank God for you—if there must be a Dragon—that He was You.”
Read about the other entries on the list.

Possession also appears on Rebecca Mead's list of six favorite books that illuminate the Victorian era, Marina Warner's ten top list of fairytales, Ester Bloom's top ten list of fictional feminists, Niall Williams's list of ten of the best books that manage to make heroes out of readers, Kyle Minor's list of fifteen of the hottest affairs in literature, Emily Temple's list of the fifty greatest campus novels ever written, John Mullan's lists of ten of the best fossils in literature, ten of the most memorable libraries in literature, ten of the best fictional poets, ten of the best locks of hair in fiction, ten of the best graveyard scenes in fiction, and ten of the best lawyers in literature, and on Rachel Syme's list of the ten most attractive men in literature, Christina Koning's critic's chart of six top romances, and Elizabeth Kostova's top ten list of books for winter nights.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 20, 2015

What is Elizabeth Haynes reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Elizabeth Haynes, author of Behind Closed Doors.

Her entry begins:
I have just finished reading Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum, a novel in which the protagonist is an American called Anna who is living in Zurich, Switzerland with her Swiss husband and children. In part, the story is an exploration of how it can feel to be an ex-pat – belonging to the community by marriage and residence and yet still remaining detached from it.

Anna’s detachment becomes more obvious as the reader progresses through the book. She seems happy enough and yet her behaviour – indulging in increasingly risky and apparently unfulfilling sexual liaisons – demonstrates otherwise. The narrative shows Anna’s disconnected life through snippets of scenes from her past, as well as brief interludes of...[read on]
About Behind Closed Doors, from the publisher:
An old case makes Detective Inspector Louisa Smith some new enemies in this spellbinding second installment of New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Haynes’s Briarstone crime series that combines literary suspense and page-turning thrills.

Ten years ago, 15-year-old Scarlett Rainsford vanished while on a family holiday in Greece. Was she abducted, or did she run away from her severely dysfunctional family? Lou Smith worked the case as a police constable, and failing to find Scarlett has been one of the biggest regrets of her career. No one is more shocked than Lou to learn that Scarlett has unexpectedly been found during a Special Branch raid of a brothel in Briarstone.

Lou and her Major Crime team are already stretched working two troubling cases: nineteen-year-old Ian Palmer was found badly beaten; and soon after, bar owner Carl McVey was found half-buried in the woods, his Rolex and money gone. While Lou tries to establish the links between the two cases, DS Sam Hollands works with Special Branch to question Scarlett. What happened to her? Where has she been until now? How did she end up back here? And why is her family—with the exception of her emotionally fragile younger sister, Juliette—less than enthusiastic about her return?

When another brutal assault and homicide are linked to the McVey murder, Lou’s cases collide, and the clues all point in one terrifying direction. As the pressure and the danger mount, it becomes clear that the silent, secretive Scarlett holds the key to everything.
Visit the official Elizabeth Haynes website and blog.

Coffee with a Canine: Elizabeth Haynes & Bea.

The Page 69 Test: Under a Silent Moon.

The Page 69 Test: Behind Closed Doors.

Writers Read: Elizabeth Haynes.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Martin Goldsmith's "Alex's Wake"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Alex's Wake: The Tragic Voyage of the St. Louis to Flee Nazi Germany--and a Grandson's Journey of Love and Remembrance by Martin Goldsmith.

About the book, from the publisher:
Alex’s Wake is a tale of two parallel journeys undertaken seven decades apart. In the spring of 1939, Alex and Helmut Goldschmidt were two of more than 900 Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany aboard the St. Louis, “the saddest ship afloat” (New York Times). Turned away from Cuba, the United States, and Canada, the St. Louis returned to Europe, a stark symbol of the world’s indifference to the gathering Holocaust. The Goldschmidts disembarked in France, where they spent the next three years in six different camps before being shipped to their deaths in Auschwitz.

In the spring of 2011, Alex’s grandson, Martin Goldsmith, followed in his relatives’ footsteps on a six-week journey of remembrance and hope, an irrational quest to reverse their fate and bring himself peace. Alex’s Wake movingly recounts the detailed histories of the two journeys, the witnesses Martin encounters for whom the events of the past are a vivid part of a living present, and an intimate, honest attempt to overcome a tormented family legacy.
Visit the Alex's Wake website.

The Page 99 Test: Alex's Wake.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Jan-Philipp Sendker's "Whispering Shadows"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Whispering Shadows by Jan-Philipp Sendker.

About the book, from the publisher:
The first in a suspenseful new trilogy by the internationally bestselling author of The Art of Hearing Heartbeats, this gripping story follows a retired expat journalist in contemporary China who tries to crack a murder case as he battles his own personal demons.

American expat Paul Leibovitz was once an ambitious advisor, dedicated father, and loving husband. But after living for nearly thirty years in Hong Kong, personal tragedy strikes and Paul’s marriage unravels in the fallout.

Now Paul is living as a recluse on an outlying island of Hong Kong. When he makes a fleeting connection with Elizabeth, a distressed American woman on the verge of collapse, his life is thrown into turmoil. Less than twenty-four hours later, Elizabeth’s son is found dead in Shenzhen, and Paul, invigorated by a newfound purpose, sets out to investigate the murder on his own.

As Paul, Elizabeth, and a detective friend descend deeper into the Shenzhen underworld—against the wishes of a woman with whom Paul has had a flirtation—they discover dark secrets hidden beneath China’s booming new wealth. In a country where rich businessmen with expensive degrees can corrupt the judicial system, the potential for evil abounds.

Part love story, part crime thriller, Whispering Shadows is the captivating tale of one man’s desperate search for redemption within the vice of a world superpower, a place where secrets from the past threaten to upend the country’s unchecked drive towards modernization.
Visit Jan-Philipp Sendker's website.

The Page 69 Test: Whispering Shadows.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six of the best books with sympathetic characters in dangerous settings

Alan Gurganus's books include White People, Oldest Confederate Widow Tells All, and the novella Decoy.

At The Week magazine he tagged his six favorite books with sympathetic characters in dangerous settings, including:
Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

This early modernist masterwork anticipates contemporary loneliness. Can a single psyche, doing solitary on an island for decades, ever learn to love itself? Yes. Then relief arrives: TGIF!
Read about another entry on the list.

Robinson Crusoe is one of ten great books about hurricanes, and among Bear Grylls's top ten stories of survival and bravery.

The Page 99 Test: Robinson Crusoe.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Ten top books about the British in India

Ferdinand Mount is the author of The Tears of the Rajas: Mutiny, Money and Marriage in India 1805-1905.

One of his top ten books about the British in India, as shared at the Guardian:
A Passage to India by EM Forster (1924)

I had misremembered Forster’s celebrated book as a rather prim and joyless novel against imperialism. When I came back to it years later, I found it luscious and funny. Of course the British are absurd and don’t understand India or the Indians, and Dr Aziz and Cyril Fielding cannot truly be friends until the Raj is over and done with. But when Forster toys with his characters, he toys so gently that they never cease to breathe.
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Joyce E. Salisbury reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Joyce E. Salisbury, author of Rome's Christian Empress: Galla Placidia Rules at the Twilight of the Empire.

Her entry begins:
I read a lot of books. I won’t describe the ones that informed Rome’s Christian Empress directly because the bibliography of the book does that. Here’s some of the books that I’ve read while waiting for my book to appear. I unrepentantly love mysteries, and the more complex the better. I’ve recently read Philip Kerr’s books whose protagonist is a non-Nazi detective in Nazi Germany – most recently, If the Dead Rise Not. I also really liked Robert Galbraith's The Silkworm, and the complex and riveting Donna Tartt, The Goldfinch. To be honest, I also read every Jack Reacher novel as...[read on]
About Rome's Christian Empress, from the publisher:
In Rome’s Christian Empress, Joyce E. Salisbury brings the captivating story of Rome’s Christian empress to life. The daughter of Roman emperor Theodosius I, Galla Placidia lived at the center of imperial Roman power during the first half of the fifth century. Taken hostage after the fall of Rome to the Goths, she was married to the king and, upon his death, to a Roman general. The rare woman who traveled throughout Italy, Gaul, and Spain, she eventually returned to Rome, where her young son was crowned as the emperor of the western Roman provinces. Placidia served as his regent, ruling the Roman Empire and the provinces for twenty years.

Salisbury restores this influential, too-often forgotten woman to the center stage of this crucial period. Describing Galla Placidia’s life from childhood to death while detailing the political and military developments that influenced her—and that she influenced in turn—the book relies on religious and political sources to weave together a narrative that combines social, cultural, political, and theological history.

The Roman world changed dramatically during Placidia’s rule: the Empire became Christian, barbarian tribes settled throughout the West, and Rome began its unmistakable decline. But during her long reign, Placidia wielded formidable power. She fended off violent invaders and usurpers who challenged her Theodosian dynasty; presided over the dawn of the Catholic Church as theological controversies split the faithful and church practices and holidays were established; and spent fortunes building churches and mosaics that incorporated prominent images of herself and her family. Compulsively readable, Rome’s Christian Empress is the first full-length work to give this fascinating and complex ruler her due.
Learn more about Rome's Christian Empress at the Johns Hopkins University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Rome's Christian Empress.

Writers Read: Joyce E. Salisbury.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Joy Fielding's "Someone Is Watching"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Someone Is Watching by Joy Fielding.

About the book, from the publisher:
A pulse-pounding thriller perfect for fans of Lisa Gardner and Mary Higgins Clark with a sly nod toward Alfred Hitchcock’s classic film Rear Window, Someone Is Watching boasts the extraordinary edge-of-your-seat storytelling of bestselling author Joy Fielding at the height of her powers.

As a special investigator for a hotshot Miami law firm, Bailey Carpenter is smart, savvy, and fearless. When she’s assigned to spy on a deadbeat dad in the middle of the night, Bailey thinks nothing of the potential dangers, only that she needs to gather evidence. Then she is blindsided—attacked and nearly killed.

Now the firm grip Bailey once had on her life is shaken. Her nightmares merge into her waking hours and she’s unable to venture beyond her front door without panicking. A veritable prisoner in her own home, Bailey is uncertain whom she can trust. But old habits die hard, and soon Bailey finds a new use for her idle binoculars: casually observing from her window neighboring buildings and other people’s lives. This seemingly harmless diversion becomes a guilty pleasure when Bailey fixates on the handsome guy across the street—until she realizes that he is also watching her. Suddenly she must confront the terrifying possibility that he may be the man who shattered her life.

Though crippled by fear, Bailey knows she can’t ignore her suspicions and risk leaving a predator at large. With the police making no headway in solving her case, she’s determined to overcome her terror and reclaim the power she lost by unmasking her attacker and taking him down herself. But it’s a harrowing battle that threatens to wreck Bailey’s credibility, compromise an investigation, and maybe even claim her sanity.
Learn more about the book and author at Joy Fielding's website.

The Page 69 Test: Shadow Creek.

My Book, The Movie: Shadow Creek. 

Writers Read: Joy Fielding.

The Page 69 Test: Someone Is Watching.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Tiffany Joseph's "Race on the Move"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Race on the Move: Brazilian Migrants and the Global Reconstruction of Race by Tiffany Joseph.

About the book, from the publisher:
Race on the Move takes readers on a journey from Brazil to the United States and back again to consider how migration between the two countries is changing Brazilians' understanding of race relations. Brazil once earned a global reputation as a racial paradise, and the United States is infamous for its overt social exclusion of nonwhites. Yet, given the growing Latino and multiracial populations in the United States, the use of quotas to address racial inequality in Brazil, and the flows of people between each country, contemporary race relations in each place are starting to resemble each other.

Tiffany Joseph interviewed residents of Governador Valadares, Brazil's largest immigrant-sending city to the U.S., to ask how their immigrant experiences have transformed local racial understandings. Joseph identifies and examines a phenomenon—the transnational racial optic—through which migrants develop and ascribe social meaning to race in one country, incorporating conceptions of race from another. Analyzing the bi-directional exchange of racial ideals through the experiences of migrants, Race on the Move offers an innovative framework for understanding how race can be remade in immigrant-sending communities.
Learn more about the book and author at Tiffany D. Joseph's website.

The Page 99 Test: Race on the Move.

--Marshal Zeringue