Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Five fictional armies you definitely don’t want to join

At Tor.com Adrian Tchaikovsky tagged five fantasy armies you don’t want to sign up for, including:
Don’t join the Vordanai army—or if you do, don’t get posted to Khandar

(The Thousand Names – Django Wexler)

Who wouldn’t take pride in the smart blue uniform of the Vordanai army? And Khandar’s a soft posting, surely? Yes, the climate’s not congenial, but all you have to do is make a showing on the streets to prop up the local despot. It’s not as if the prince is a complete ass and there’s going to be some enormous popular uprising to drive you back into the sea, eh? What’s that, there is? Well then it’s just onto the boats and back home, surely. I mean, nobody back home’s going to decide that you need to stay and fight against overwhelming odds, for someone else’s country, and for a prince who really is, all things considered, an arrogant idiot.

But it gets better! Because there’s obviously some ruckus going on back home, and now you’re not really sure just who your orders are coming from, and whether the real enemy are the Khandahari outside, or some of your fellows right beside you. And of course Khandar was a penal posting for ages, the dregs of the dregs, but surely, with all this other trouble going on, nobody’s going to start talking about mutiny…
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 20, 2017

What is Tim Pratt reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Tim Pratt, author of The Wrong Stars.

His entry begins:
I'm writing a sequel to my space opera novel The Wrong Stars right now, and it's better for me to read things outside the sub-genre I'm writing to avoid thematic and stylistic cross-contamination.

I've been re-reading a triumvirate of old favorite books lately: Connie Willis's time-travel middle ages black death novel Doomsday Book, Jerome K. Jerome's 1890s fictionalized travelogue humor classic Three Men In a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog), and Willis's quasi-sequel to Doomsday Book, To Say Nothing of the Dog, a much funnier and less bleak time-travel novel set in the Victorian era, in which Jerome K. Jerome and his friends make a cameo appearance. You can see why...[read on]
About The Wrong Stars, from the publisher:
A ragtag crew of humans and posthumans discover alien technology that could change the fate of humanity… or awaken an ancient evil and destroy all life in the galaxy.

The shady crew of the White Raven run freight and salvage at the fringes of our solar system. They discover the wreck of a centuries-old exploration vessel floating light years away from its intended destination and revive its sole occupant, who wakes with news of First Alien Contact. When the crew break it to her that humanity has alien allies already, she reveals that these are very different extra-terrestrials… and the gifts they bestowed on her could kill all humanity, or take it out to the most distant stars.
Visit Tim Pratt's website.

Writers Read: Tim Pratt.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Elizabeth L Silver's "The Tincture of Time"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Tincture of Time by Elizabeth L. Silver.

About the book, from the publisher:
Set against the unexplained stroke of the author’s newborn daughter, this stunning, unflinchingly honest memoir is a thought-provoking reflection on uncertainty in medicine and in life.

Growing up as the daughter of a dedicated surgeon, Elizabeth L. Silver felt an unquestioned faith in medicine. When her six-week-old daughter, Abby, was rushed to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit with sudden seizures, and scans revealed a serious brain bleed, her relationship to medicine began to change.

The Tincture of Time is Silver’s gorgeous and haunting chronicle of Abby’s first year. It’s a year of unending tests, doctors’ opinions, sleepless nights, promising signs and steps backward, and above all, uncertainty: The mysterious circumstances of Abby’s hospitalization attract dozens of specialists, none of whom can offer a conclusive answer about what went wrong or what the future holds. As Silver explores what it means to cope with uncertainty as a patient and parent and seeks peace in the reality that Abby’s injury may never be fully understood, she looks beyond her own story for comfort, probing literature and religion, examining the practice of medicine throughout history, and reporting the experiences of doctors, patients, and fellow caretakers. The result is a brilliant blend of personal narrative and cultural analysis, at once a poignant snapshot of a parent’s struggle and a wise meditation on the reality of uncertainty, in and out of medicine, and the hard-won truth that time is often its only cure.

Heart-wrenching, unflinchingly honest, and beautifully written, The Tincture of Time is a powerful story of parenthood, an astute examination of the boundaries of medicine, and an inspiring reminder of life’s precariousness.
Learn more about the book and author at Elizabeth L. Silver's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Execution of Noa P. Singleton.

My Book, The Movie: The Execution of Noa P. Singleton.

The Page 99 Test: The Tincture of Time.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six top books that will transport you

Louise Erdrich's new novel is Future Home of the Living God. One of the author's six favorite books that will transport you, as shared at The Week magazine:
Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada

World entered: the kitchen of a humble couple in Nazi Germany. When their son dies, they do something small but extremely brave. At the bookstore I own, we keep this novel stocked because people who read it come back and need to talk about moral courage. What better subject these days?
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Marcella Pixley's "Ready to Fall," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Ready to Fall: A Novel by Marcella Pixley.

The casting call begins:
Max Friedman: Seeking a male actor between ages 16 and 20. Tall. Gangly. All arms and legs. Slump-shouldered. Dark hair that slants into eyes. Questionable posture and awkward stride a plus. Must be able to ride a skateboard. Must look good in a pair of red converse all-star sneakers and black skinny jeans. Must possess an acerbic wit and the ability to show tumultuous expression even in silence. Other qualifications include being able to speed-sketch disturbing images of the Zombie Apocalypse. Lovers of football and...[read on]
Visit Marcella Pixley's website.

My Book, The Movie: Ready to Fall.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 19, 2017

What is Tina Connolly reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Tina Connolly, author of Seriously Hexed.

Her entry begins:
I’ve been catching up on a bunch of books by friends recently, so I’d love to mention a couple of those!

Jade City by Fonda Lee comes out this month as well, and I’ll share the blurb I sent in for it: “A sweeping saga of ambition, loyalty, and family in a gritty, densely-imagined island city. Fonda Lee explores the tension between what is owed to family, country, and yourself in a high-stakes, high-octane game of power and control.” Mix in magic, kung fu, and the Godfather and you’ve got this book. But Fonda has, like a hundred blurbs on this book already, all talking about how great it is. Go...[read on]
About Seriously Hexed, from the publisher:
Tina Connolly continues the hilarious adventures of teen witch Camellia and her mother, wicked witch Sarmine, in Seriously Hexed, the latest installment to the Andre Norton Award-nominated "Seriously Wicked" series.

Teen witch Cam has resigned herself to being a witch. Sort of. She’s willing to do small things, like magically help her boyfriend Devon get over his ongoing stage fright. But tangling with other witches is not on her wishlist. Joining her mother’s wicked witch coven is right out.

New acquaintance Poppy Jones is a Type A, A+ Student of True Witchery. She’s got all the answers, and she’s delighted to tangle with a bunch of wicked witches. She doesn’t need any reluctant witch getting in her way, especially one who knows less than a dozen spells, and has zero plans for witch college.

Then a coven meeting goes drastically awry. A hex is taking down all thirteen members of the coven, one by one—putting both girls’ mothers in jeopardy. Now the two teens are going to have to learn to work together, while simultaneously juggling werewolf puppies, celebrity demons, thirteen nasty hexes, and even nastier witches. They may have to go through hell and high water to save their mothers—but they also might find a new friendship along the way.
Visit Tina Connolly's website and Twitter perch.

My Book, The Movie: Seriously Wicked.

The Page 69 Test: Seriously Wicked.

The Page 69 Test: Seriously Shifted.

Writers Read: Tina Connolly.

--Marshal Zeringue

Coffee with a canine: Amy Giles & Sally

Featured at Coffee with a Canine: Amy Giles & Sally.

The author, on how she and Sally were united:
A few weeks after our dog Max went over the rainbow bridge, my family felt the time was right to go to the shelter and adopt a new pup. I didn’t think I was ready; my heart was still shattered. But they talked me into it, and I’m so glad they did. Sally was curled up in a tiny ball in her cage. When they pulled her out and handed her to me, it was love at first sight. Sally wrapped her paws around my neck and...[read on]
About Now Is Everything by Amy Giles:
Now Is Everything is a stirring debut novel told in alternating THEN and NOW chapters, perfect for Sarah Dessen and Jennifer Niven fans, about what one girl is willing to do to protect her past, present, and future.

The McCauleys look perfect on the outside. But nothing is ever as it seems, and this family is hiding a dark secret.

Hadley McCauley will do anything to keep her sister safe from their father. But when Hadley’s forbidden relationship with Charlie Simmons deepens, the violence at home escalates, culminating in an explosive accident that will leave everyone changed.

When Hadley attempts to take her own life at the hospital post-accident, her friends, doctors, family, and the investigator on the case want to know why. Only Hadley knows what really happened that day, and she’s not talking.
Visit Amy Giles's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Amy Giles & Sally.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six of the best ensemble casts in YA lit

Darren Croucher writes YA novels with a partner, under the name A.D. Croucher. At the BN Teen blog he tagged six of the best YA ensembles, including:
Spellbook of the Lost and Found, by Moira Fowley-Doyle

All the think pieces about what Taylor’s new song “Gorgeous” is about clearly have it all wrong: It’s not about a boy, it’s about the prose in Fowley-Doyle’s mystical, bewitching story of four Irish teens who discover a tattered old spellbook. In this beautifully written, moving tale, Olive is dealing with the drifting away of her friend, Rose, when she meets Holly, Ash, and Rowan (the nature-based names are merely the first of many lovely layers to be discovered here). They’ve all lost something, and the spellbook promises a way to get those things back. But all magic comes at a price, and Olive, Holly, Ash and Rowan have no idea what their spells will cost them. An extraordinary contemporary fairy tale, told with lush lyricism.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Liv Constantine's "The Last Mrs. Parrish"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Last Mrs. Parrish: A Novel by Liv Constantine.

About the book, from the publisher:
The mesmerizing debut about a coolly manipulative woman and a wealthy "golden couple," from a stunning new voice in psychological suspense.

Some women get everything. Some women get everything they deserve.

Amber Patterson is fed up. She’s tired of being a nobody: a plain, invisible woman who blends into the background. She deserves more—a life of money and power like the one blond-haired, blue-eyed goddess Daphne Parrish takes for granted.

To everyone in the exclusive town of Bishops Harbor, Connecticut, Daphne—a socialite and philanthropist—and her real-estate mogul husband, Jackson, are a couple straight out of a fairy tale.

Amber’s envy could eat her alive ... if she didn't have a plan. Amber uses Daphne’s compassion and caring to insinuate herself into the family’s life—the first step in a meticulous scheme to undermine her. Before long, Amber is Daphne’s closest confidante, traveling to Europe with the Parrishes and their lovely young daughters, and growing closer to Jackson. But a skeleton from her past may undermine everything that Amber has worked towards, and if it is discovered, her well-laid plan may fall to pieces.

With shocking turns and dark secrets that will keep you guessing until the very end, The Last Mrs. Parrish is a fresh, juicy, and utterly addictive thriller from a diabolically imaginative talent.
Visit Liv Constantine's website.

Writers Read: Valerie Constantine.

Writers Read: Lynne Constantine.

Coffee with a Canine: Valerie Constantine & Zorba.

Coffee with a Canine: Lynne Constantine & Greyson.

The Page 69 Test: The Last Mrs. Parrish.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Five top books that rewrite magic, myths, and ballads

Jane Yolen's latest collection of fantasy short fiction is The Emerald Circus, which has both fantasy short stories and poems about fairy tales, fantasy authors and their works, and back matter about how she wrote the tales. One of her five favorite books that rewrite magic, myths, and ballads, as shared at Tor.com:
Robin McKinley’s Beauty, rewriting of the fairy tale “Beauty and the Beast” is inventive, sensuous, nature-filled, and gorgeous. The story is often treated (see Disney) as a primer for battered wives. But this Beauty is not battered at all. She is wise, a reader, a tough young woman, and ready to save both herself and ultimately the beast. Yes, there’s a sequel of a sort—Rose Daughter, or at least another look at the story. And McKinley has done a number of other fairy tale rewrites—Rumplstiltskin and Donkey Skin have both been done well by her. But this book, her very first published novel, still remains in my mind and heart.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Cherise Wolas reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Cherise Wolas, author of The Resurrection of Joan Ashby.

Her entry begins:
I think I’ve read every day of my life since I was five. Although I dip into nonfiction occasionally, my lust is for gorgeously deep, beautifully written, powerful novels that open up new worlds, present unexpected and original truths, peopled with complex, multi-faceted characters who defy easy categorization, the way people are in real life. I adore novels that get me thinking, about the world of the novel, of the world beyond the novel, and of my own work. I adore novels where the words sparkle like gems, where the sentences are jewels, where enormous care has been taken, not only with the story, but in the telling of that story.

Right now, I’m rounding toward the finish line of Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann. Despite years of education and my own dedicated reading, I’d never read him. He dropped into my life unexpectedly while I was watching a movie in which a character pulls a copy of Buddenbrooks from his ex-wife’s...[read on]
About The Resurrection of Joan Ashby, from the publisher:
I viewed the consumptive nature of love as a threat to serious women. But the wonderful man I just married believes as I do—work is paramount, absolutely no children—and now love seems to me quite marvelous.

These words are spoken to a rapturous audience by Joan Ashby, a brilliant and intense literary sensation acclaimed for her explosively dark and singular stories.

When Joan finds herself unexpectedly pregnant, she is stunned by Martin’s delight, his instant betrayal of their pact. She makes a fateful, selfless decision then, to embrace her unintentional family.

Challenged by raising two precocious sons, it is decades before she finally completes her masterpiece novel. Poised to reclaim the spotlight, to resume the intended life she gave up for love, a betrayal of Shakespearean proportion forces her to question every choice she has made.

Epic, propulsive, incredibly ambitious, and dazzlingly written, The Resurrection of Joan Ashby is a story about sacrifice and motherhood, the burdens of expectation and genius. Cherise Wolas’s gorgeous debut introduces an indelible heroine candid about her struggles and unapologetic in her ambition.
Visit Cherise Wolas's website.

Writers Read: Cherise Wolas.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Padraic Kenney's "Dance in Chains"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Dance in Chains: Political Imprisonment in the Modern World by Padraic Kenney.

About the book, from the publisher:
States around the world imprison people for their beliefs or politically-motivated actions. Oppositional movements of all stripes celebrate their comrades behind bars. Yet they are more than symbols of repression and human rights. Dance in Chains examines the experiences of political prisoners themselves in order to understand who they are, what they do, and why it matters.

This is the first book to trace the history of modern political imprisonment from its origins in the mid-nineteenth century. The letters, diaries, and memoirs of political prisoners, as well as the records of regime policies, relate the contest in the prison cell to political conflicts between regime and opposition. Padraic Kenney draws on examples from regimes ranging from communist and fascist to colonial and democratic, including Ireland, the United Kingdom, Poland, and South Africa. They include the Fenian Brotherhood, imprisoned in England and Ireland in the 1860s, and their successors during the Irish War of Independence and the Northern Ireland Troubles; Afrikaaners suspected of treason during the Boer War; socialists fighting for Polish freedom in the Russian Empire, and then Communists denouncing "bourgeois" rule in newly-independent Poland; the opponents of apartheid South Africa and stalinist Poland; and those imprisoned by the United States in Guantanamo Bay detention camp today. Some prisons are well-known; in others, inmates suffered in obscurity. Through self-organization, education, and actions ranging from solitary non-cooperation to mass hunger strikes, these prisoners transform their incarceration and counter states' efforts to control them.

While considering the international movements that have sought to publicize the plight of political prisoners, Dance in Chains examines the actions of the prisoners themselves to find universal answers to questions about the meaning and purpose of their imprisonment.
Learn more about Dance in Chains at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Dance in Chains.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 17, 2017

Five of the best love triangles in YA lit

At the BN Teen blog, Jenny Kawecki tagged five top YA love triangles, including:
A Court of Thorns and Roses, by Sarah J. Maas

If you like your love triangles hot, heavy, and unpredictable, it’s time to check out Sarah J. Maas’ A Court of Thorns and Roses series. When human Feyre kills a faerie in wolf form, she’s taken by Tamlin, the High Lord of the Spring Court, to rule out the rest of her days in his lands. Feyre is prepared to hate him—until suddenly she doesn’t. Just when things start heating up, Feyre discovers Tamlin is cursed. To save him and the rest of the Fae realm, she’ll have to complete a harrowing trial … and to complete the trial, she’ll have to make a bargain with Rhysand, the tricky High Lord of the Night Court. As her deal slowly draws her closer to Rhys, Feyre has to decide what kind of relationship she wants, and how far she’s willing to go to protect a world that wasn’t hers to begin with.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Rachel Neumeier's "Winter of Ice and Iron," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Winter of Ice and Iron by Rachel Neumeier.

The entry begins:
Kehera Elin Raëhema – Caitlin Stasey. Kehera would need to be portrayed as a responsible, kind, somewhat serious, girl-next-door young woman; definitely not as a glamorous beauty queen. Caitlin Stasey did a great job as Ellie in Tomorrow, When the War Began – I’m sure she could play an excellent Kehera.

Eilisè – Ingvild Deila. Kehera’s friend as well as her servant, Eilisè takes her duty to her mistress very seriously. The affection between them draws Eilisè into exile with Kehera when duty alone couldn’t have compelled her to go. I think Ingvild Deila would be wonderful for this role.

Tirovay Elin Raëhema – Colin Ford. Tiro, Kehera’s younger brother, shares the Elin character. Like his sister, he’s serious, responsible, and kind. He also has to grow up very fast in this story. He would need to be played by someone who could show the rapid shift of a boy into a man. At 21, Colin Ford is....[read on]
Visit Rachel Neumeier's website.

My Book, The Movie: Winter of Ice and Iron.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five of the best books to take you on a trip to the medieval Middle East

S. A. Chakraborty's new novel is The City of Brass. At Tor.com she tagged five books "to take you beyond One Thousand and One Nights and on a trip to the medieval Middle East," including:
The Desert of Souls by Howard Andrew Jones

A historical fantasy set in eighth-century Baghdad, The Desert of Souls is a delightful adventure in the spirit of Sherlock Holmes; pairing a military captain and scholar with the very real Caliph Harun al-Rashid and his wazir, Jafar al-Barmaki—the same Abbasid-era figures who made their way into 1001 Nights. As someone rather immersed (alright, obsessed) with the history and folklore of this era, I loved the way Jones brought this world alive and got a kick out of all the “Easter eggs” within—Jafar’s future downfall, in particular!
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Michael Stanley's "Dying to Live"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Dying to Live: A Detective Kubu Mystery (Volume 6) by Michael Stanley.

About the book, from the publisher:
A Bushman is discovered dead near the Central Kalahari Game Reserve in Africa. Although the man looks old enough to have died of natural causes, the police suspect foul play, and the body is sent to Gaborone for an autopsy. Pathologist Ian MacGregor confirms the cause of death as a broken neck, but is greatly puzzled by the man’s physiology. Although he’s obviously very old, his internal organs look remarkably young. He calls in Assistant Superintendent David “Kubu” Bengu. When the Bushman’s corpse is stolen from the morgue, suddenly the case takes on a new dimension.
Learn more about the book and authors at Michael Stanley's website.

Read: Michael Stanley's top ten African crime novels.

The Page 69 Test: Deadly Harvest.

My Book, The Movie: Dying to Live.

The Page 69 Test: Dying to Live.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Eight YA must-reads with awesome origin stories

Sona Charaipotra is a New York City-based writer and editor with more than a decade’s worth of experience in print and online media. At the BN Teen blog she tagged eight YA must-reads with awesome inspirations and backstories, including:
Bone Gap, by Laura Ruby

Ruby’s Printz winner is eerie and atmospheric, and a little spooky too. When you hear the origin story of the tale, you’ll understand why. She credits the genesis of the mythology and magical realism-filled novel to life on her father’s farm, an old article about a missing boy that her father-in-law gave her, and the cornfields of Illinois. “Even in your car, you feel buried in the cornstalks, hidden in them, hidden by them,” she has said about driving though the region while doing school visits. “I could have sworn I saw the cornstalks walking. I’ve always felt that nature itself is magical and wanted to get that on the page. When I started writing I was just trying to capture the magic of this particular place, this certain landscape, that feeling of being neither here nor there that I had when I was driving through those fields.”
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Lynne Constantine reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Lynne Constantine, part of the duo writing as Liv Constantine, author of The Last Mrs. Parrish: A Novel.

Her entry begins:
I usually have a few books going at a time: one or two non-fictions (one usually pertaining to writing craft), and a novel. Currently, I’m reading Emma in the Night, a psychological thriller written by Wendy Walker, an author who also lives in Connecticut. I enjoy reading fiction in all genres, but lately have focused more on psychological thrillers since that’s what I write. One reason is that I believe it’s important to know what others in your genre are writing. The other reason is that...[read on]
About The Last Mrs. Parrish, from the publisher:
The mesmerizing debut about a coolly manipulative woman and a wealthy "golden couple," from a stunning new voice in psychological suspense.

Some women get everything. Some women get everything they deserve.

Amber Patterson is fed up. She’s tired of being a nobody: a plain, invisible woman who blends into the background. She deserves more—a life of money and power like the one blond-haired, blue-eyed goddess Daphne Parrish takes for granted.

To everyone in the exclusive town of Bishops Harbor, Connecticut, Daphne—a socialite and philanthropist—and her real-estate mogul husband, Jackson, are a couple straight out of a fairy tale.

Amber’s envy could eat her alive ... if she didn't have a plan. Amber uses Daphne’s compassion and caring to insinuate herself into the family’s life—the first step in a meticulous scheme to undermine her. Before long, Amber is Daphne’s closest confidante, traveling to Europe with the Parrishes and their lovely young daughters, and growing closer to Jackson. But a skeleton from her past may undermine everything that Amber has worked towards, and if it is discovered, her well-laid plan may fall to pieces.

With shocking turns and dark secrets that will keep you guessing until the very end, The Last Mrs. Parrish is a fresh, juicy, and utterly addictive thriller from a diabolically imaginative talent.
Visit Liv Constantine's website and Lynne Constantine's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Lynne Constantine & Greyson.

Writers Read: Lynne Constantine.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Stephen R. Bown's "Island of the Blue Foxes"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Island of the Blue Foxes: Disaster and Triumph on the World's Greatest Scientific Expedition by Stephen R. Bown.

About the book, from the publisher:
The story of the world’s largest, longest, and best financed scientific expedition of all time, triumphantly successful, gruesomely tragic, and never before fully told

The immense 18th-century scientific journey, variously known as the Second Kamchatka Expedition or the Great Northern Expedition, from St. Petersburg across Siberia to the coast of North America, involved over 3,000 people and cost Peter the Great over one-sixth of his empire’s annual revenue. Until now recorded only in academic works, this 10-year venture, led by the legendary Danish captain Vitus Bering and including scientists, artists, mariners, soldiers, and laborers, discovered Alaska, opened the Pacific fur trade, and led to fame, shipwreck, and “one of the most tragic and ghastly trials of suffering in the annals of maritime and arctic history.”
Learn more about the book and author at Stephen R. Bown's website and Facebook page.

My Book, The Movie: The Last Viking.

The Page 99 Test: White Eskimo.

My Book, The Movie: Island of the Blue Foxes.

Writers Read: Stephen R. Bown.

The Page 99 Test: Island of the Blue Foxes.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top talking animals in books

Pajtim Statovci is the award-winning author of the debut novel My Cat Yugoslavia. One of his top ten talking animals in books, as shared at the Guardian:
Pig Tales by Marie Darrieussecq

A young woman in her 20s lands a job at perfume counter. Soon after that, she understands that she’s expected to have sex with male customers. Then she starts gradually transforming into a sow. Darrieussecq’s debut novel – Truismes in the original French – was a massive success on publication in 1996. It offers one of the most distinctive and unique transformation stories of our time and explores questions of sexuality, identity and gender with much-needed insight and superb creativity.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Pg. 69: Kali Wallace's "The Memory Trees"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Memory Trees by Kali Wallace.

About the book, from the publisher:
A darkly magical novel about a mysterious family legacy, the bonds of sisterhood, and the strange and powerful ways we are shaped by the places we call home, from the critically acclaimed author of Shallow Graves.

For the first eight years of her life, an unusual apple orchard in Vermont is Sorrow Lovegood's whole world. The land has been passed down through generations of brave, resilient women, and while their offbeat habits may be ridiculed by other townspeople—especially their neighbors, the Abrams family—Sorrow and her family take pride in its odd history.

Then one winter night, an unthinkable tragedy changes everything. In the aftermath, Sorrow is sent to Miami to live with her father, away from the only home she’s ever known.

Now sixteen, Sorrow's memories of her life in Vermont are maddeningly hazy. She returns to the orchard for the summer, determined to learn more about her troubled childhood and the family she left eight years ago. But it soon becomes clear that some of her questions have difficult—even dangerous—answers. And there may be a price to pay for asking.
Visit Kali Wallace's website.

Writers Read: Kali Wallace.

The Page 69 Test: The Memory Trees.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Jake Burt reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Jake Burt, author of Greetings from Witness Protection!.

His entry begins:
Like most authors, I have a TBR pile that's in danger of toppling over and crushing me; if nobody hears from me in a few weeks, look under the mound of kidlit in my basement. I know it's a wonderful problem to have, and it's one I frequently exacerbate by interrupting the natural progression whenever a book by a favorite author comes out. That's what just happened to me - a gigantic meteor slammed into my good readerly intentions, forcing me to put everything else on hold until I finished Philip Pullman's La Belle Sauvage.

Like so many readers, I fell in love with Lyra Belacqua from the first pages of The Golden Compass, and I've harbored as vested an interest in her well being as one can for a fictional character ever since. I named my cat after her. I tried to name my daughter after her, but...[read on]
About Greetings from Witness Protection!, from the publisher:
Nicki Demere is an orphan and a pickpocket. She also happens to be the U.S. Marshals’ best bet to keep a family alive....

The marshals are looking for the perfect girl to join a mother, father, and son on the run from the nation’s most notorious criminals. After all, the bad guys are searching for a family with one kid, not two, and adding a streetwise girl who knows a little something about hiding things may be just what the marshals need.

Nicki swears she can keep the Trevor family safe, but to do so she’ll have to dodge hitmen, cyberbullies, and the specter of standardized testing, all while maintaining her marshal-mandated B-minus average. As she barely balances the responsibilities of her new identity, Nicki learns that the biggest threats to her family’s security might not lurk on the road from New York to North Carolina, but rather in her own past.

Jake Burt's debut middle-grade novel Greetings from Witness Protection! is as funny as it is poignant.
Visit Jake Burt's website.

The Page 69 Test: Greetings from Witness Protection!.

Writers Read: Jake Burt.

--Marshal Zeringue

Gary Blackwood's "Bucket's List," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Bucket's List by Gary Blackwood.

http://severnhouse.com/author/Gary+Blackwood/9664The entry begins:
To be honest, I cringe a bit at the thought of any of my books being filmed.  I’ve seen far too many failed attempts to adapt novels to the big screen (nonfiction usually fares a bit better).  With a few exceptions—Dances With Wolves comes to mind, and Blade Runner—the movie doesn’t do justice to its source, and perhaps can’t.  The two are just such different animals.

For one thing, novels are open to interpretation.  They invite—require, in fact—the participation of the reader; when we read one, we picture the characters and the settings for ourselves (with a little help from the author).  But movies are so literal; you’re stuck with actors (and their interpretations) and locations that are chosen for you.

So, assuming I got an offer I couldn’t refuse, who would I choose to stick an audience with in the role of Inspector Field?  Well, if I’d written the book a decade or two ago, my hands down choice would have been Bob Hoskins; he has that essential ability to play both menacing and funny.  And if I could resurrect an actor from the past, Sir Ralph Richardson would do nicely.  Picking someone from the current crop of box-office draws...[read on]
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--Marshal Zeringue

Ten numbers-obsessed sci-fi & fantasy stories for math nerds

Jeff Somers is the author of Lifers, the Avery Cates series from Orbit Books, Chum from Tyrus Books, and the Ustari Cycle from Pocket/Gallery, including We Are Not Good People. At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy blog he tagged ten SFF stories in "which math isn’t just a spice, it’s the main course," including:
Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson

Entire sections of this doorstopper novel read like the coolest, most entertaining math or computer science textbook you’ll ever encounter. Considering the entire plot hinges on ideas involving cryptography, programming, chemistry, and physics—not to mention spycraft—that’s not too surprising. You don’t need to hold any advanced degrees to read and enjoy this modern classic, but you do need to pay attention as Stephenson breaks down these concepts in-between two timelines, one an espionage thriller set during World War II, and the other a conspiracy drama set in the 1990s; together they an epic story about codebreaking, spies, data havens, and technology that was pretty cutting-edge when the book was published and has dated little in the decades since.
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--Marshal Zeringue