Sunday, February 14, 2016

Top five best worst couples in literature

Jeff Somers is the author of Lifers, the Avery Cates series from Orbit Books, Chum from Tyrus Books, and We Are Not Good People from Pocket/Gallery. He has published over thirty short stories as well. One title on Somers's list of five of the best worst couples in literature, as shared at B & N Reads:
The Least Charismatic Main Characters in a Highly Successful Novel Award: Amy and Nick Dunne (Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn) SPOILERS AHEAD

Let’s contemplate the Dunnes: she’s a sociopath so broken by her parents’ selfish upbringing that she considers faking her own murder in order to punish her husband a reasonable course of action. He’s a slow-witted weakling who wallows in self-pity and failure, so self-involved he doesn’t notice his wife is framing him for her own murder right under his nose. If the twisty story in this book wasn’t so darn great, it would be unbearable to spend even five minutes with these two. Next time you find yourself wishing you were in a relationship, ask yourself if you know any Nick and Amys in your life—you almost certainly do. Now, consider yourself lucky you’re not them.
Read about another entry on the list.

Gone Girl made C.A. Higgins's top five list of books with plot twists that flip your perception, Ruth Ware's top ten list of psychological thrillers, Jane Alexander's top ten list of treasure hunts in fiction, Fanny Blake's list of five top books about revenge, Monique Alice's list of six great fictional evil geniuses, Jeff Somers's lists of six books that’ll make you glad you’re single and five books with an outstanding standalone scene that can be read on its own, Lucie Whitehouse's ten top list of psychological suspense novels with marriages at their heart and Kathryn Williams's list of eight of fiction’s craziest unreliable narrators.

Also see: The ten worst couples in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Amy Eckert's "Outsourcing War"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Outsourcing War: The Just War Tradition in the Age of Military Privatization by Amy E. Eckert.

About the book, from the publisher:
Recent decades have seen an increasing reliance on private military contractors (PMCs) to provide logistical services, training, maintenance, and combat troops. In Outsourcing War, Amy E. Eckert examines the ethical implications involved in the widespread use of PMCs, and in particular questions whether they can fit within customary ways of understanding the ethical prosecution of warfare. Her concern is with the ius in bello (right conduct in war) strand of just war theory.

Just war theorizing is generally built on the assumption that states, and states alone, wield a monopoly on the legitimate use of force. Who holds responsibility for the actions of PMCs? What ethical standards might they be required to observe? How might deviations from such standards be punished? The privatization of warfare poses significant challenges because of its reliance on a statist view of the world. Eckert argues that the tradition of just war theory—which predates the international system of states—can evolve to apply to this changing world order. With an eye toward the practical problems of military command, Eckert delves into particular cases where PMCs have played an active role in armed conflict and derives from those cases the modifications necessary to apply just principles to new agents in the landscape of war.
Learn more about Outsourcing War at the Cornell University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Outsourcing War.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Pg. 69: Jim Kokoris's "It’s. Nice. Outside."

Featured at the Page 69 Test: It's. Nice. Outside. by Jim Kokoris.

About the book, from the publisher:
Meet John Nichols. He’s fifty-something years old, an ex-basketball player, ex-author, ex-philanderer, ex-husband, ex-high school English teacher. And he’s the father of three: two overachieving adult daughters and 19-year-old Ethan, who will never be an adult. John’s older daughter is getting married, and as the family members travel to the celebration, John is secretly preparing for a life change that will alter his family’s hearts forever.

The five Nichols’ are held together by love and humor, as well as the spiky parts of sisterly competition and a difficult baby brother. Parents John and Mary have devoted themselves to caregiving, and John especially finds himself caught in the tension between being a parent and being true to himself. So when a new challenge comes their way in the wake of a road trip and wedding plans, the family bonds are stretched and tested. Funny, heartbreaking, and generous, IT’S. NICE. OUTSIDE. asks: What happens when you have to let go of the person who has been holding you up?
Visit Jim Kokoris's website.

The Page 69 Test: It's. Nice. Outside..

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Nicholas Searle reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Nicholas Searle, author of The Good Liar.

His entry begins:
The Green Road by Anne Enright
It’s an embarrassment that I haven’t read this sooner as I love Anne Enright’s writing, but I have had so many books stacking up. Cool, crystal-clear prose and while we can sense where we’re heading (I’m between a third and half way through) we’ve no idea yet what lies at our destination. It’s written episodically through the main characters’ different points of view and Enright varies her voice accordingly. Very...[read on]
About The Good Liar, from the publisher:
Spinning a page-turning story of literary suspense that begins in the present and unwinds back more than half a century, this unforgettable debut channels the haunting allure of Atonement as its masterfully woven web of lies, secrets, and betrayals unravels to a shocking conclusion.

Veteran con artist Roy spots an obvious easy mark when he meets Betty, a wealthy widow, online. In no time at all, he’s moved into Betty’s lovely cottage and is preparing to accompany her on a romantic trip to Europe. Betty’s grandson disapproves of their blossoming relationship, but Roy is sure this scheme will be a success. He knows what he’s doing.

As this remarkable feat of storytelling weaves together Roy’s and Betty’s futures, it also unwinds their pasts. Dancing across almost a century, decades that encompass unthinkable cruelty, extraordinary resilience, and remarkable kindness, The Good Liar is an epic narrative of sin, salvation, and survival—and for Roy and Betty, there is a reckoning to be made when the endgame of Roy’s crooked plot plays out.
Follow Nicholas Searle on Twitter.

The Page 69 Test: The Good Liar.

My Book, The Movie: The Good Liar.

Writers Read: Nicholas Searle.

--Marshal Zeringue

Fifteen contemporary YAs that make fabulous valentines

One title on Dahlia Adler's list of fifteen contemporary YA books that make fabulous valentines, as shared on the B & N Teen Blog:
Girl Against the Universe, by Paula Stokes

Maguire is straight-up bad luck; there’s no other way to explain why terrible things happen around her, hurting and even killing people who dare get too close. So to be safe, Maguire shelters herself from the outside world as much as humanly possible. But when she finds a reason to force herself to overcome her fears, the cute guy she meets in her therapist’s office is only too happy to help, especially when they learn both of their solutions revolve around tennis. (Insert joke about “love-love” here.) Though this adorably bittersweet love story of personal growth won’t be released by this V-Day, you can pick up her last one, The Art of Lainey, while you impatiently wait.
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Phillip DePoy's "A Prisoner in Malta," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: A Prisoner in Malta by Phillip DePoy.

The entry begins:
Like most writers I know, I actually see the books as I’m writing them—kind of watching them happen and trying to capture it all in words, right? So I don’t really think of actors when I’m in the middle of the writing. I just see the characters as they appear. But once the book’s done it’s a lot of fun to talk with my wife about who should make the movie. Unfortunately, I like the Coen Brothers and Wes Anderson—Truffaut, for that matter. All of whom are entirely wrong for making a period movie about Christopher Marlowe. Plus, you know, Truffaut’s dead. Sure, the book’s got a lot of action. In fact, one review said “enough action for a summer movie; eat your heart out James Bond.” No kidding. It’s about a young playwright and brawler who finds himself employed by Queen Elizabeth I to solve a murder and save the Kingdom. So then we think, is there enough spectacle in the book to interest Peter Jackson? Maybe. So we start casting. Let’s see if we could get Antonio Banderas to play Dr. Lopez, the Queen’s physician and Marlowe’s mentor. Scarlett...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Phillip DePoy's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Drifter's Wheel.

The Page 69 Test: A Corpse's Nightmare.

The Page 69 Test: December's Thorn.

My Book, The Movie: December's Thorn.

The Page 69 Test: A Prisoner in Malta.

My Book, The Movie: A Prisoner in Malta.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 12, 2016

Pg. 69: Barry Lancet's "Pacific Burn"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Pacific Burn by Barry Lancet.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the third book in “what will likely be a long and successful series” (San Francisco Magazine), Japanese antiques dealer and PI Jim Brodie goes up against the CIA, FBI, Department of Homeland Security—and a killer operating on both sides of the Pacific.

In recognition for his role in solving the Japantown murders in San Francisco, antiques dealer and sometime-PI Jim Brodie has just been brought on as the liaison for the mayor’s new Pacific Rim Friendship Program. Brodie in turn recruits his friend, the renowned Japanese artist Ken Nobuki, and after a promising meeting with city officials and a picture-perfect photo op, Brodie and Nobuki leave City Hall for a waiting limo.

But as soon as they exit the building, a sniper attacks them from the roof of the Asian Art Museum. Quick thinking allows Brodie to escape, but Nobuki ends up hospitalized and in a coma. Brodie soon realizes that, with the suspicious and untimely death of Nobuki’s oldest son a week earlier in Napa Valley, someone may be targeting his friend’s family—and killing them off one by one.

Suspects are nearly too numerous to name—and could be in the United States or anywhere along the Pacific Rim. The quest for answers takes Brodie from his beloved San Francisco to Washington, DC, in a confrontation with the DHS, the CIA, and the FBI; then on to Tokyo, Kyoto, and beyond, in search of what his Japanese sources tell him is a legendary killer in both senses of the word—said to be more rumor than real, but deadlier than anything else they’ve ever encountered if the whispers are true.
Learn about Barry Lancet's top ten mysteries set in Asia.

Visit Barry Lancet's website.

The Page 69 Test: Pacific Burn.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Bethanie Deeney Murguia reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Bethanie Deeney Murguia, author of Cockatoo, Too.

Her entry begins:
There are currently two books on my nightstand. The first is The Adventures of Miss Petitfour, by Anne Michaels. What’s not to adore about a book in which the main character and her sixteen cats fly, ala Mary Poppins, with the aid of various tablecloths? My six year old and I are enjoying it together. It’s delightfully written, fun to read aloud, and we love Miss Petitfour’s...[read on]
About Cockatoo, Too, from the publisher:
Cockatoo. Cockatoo two? Cockatoo, too? Two cockatoos! Two cockatoos, too? Cockatoo tutus! Two cockatoos meet two more cockatoos in tutus and two tutued toucans. And then two more! Can they all can-can? They can! The cockatoos and toucans join together for a dance and ask the reader: “Can you can-can too?” Bethanie Deeney Murguia’s fabulous book combines fantastically funny wordplay with lush, vibrant illustrations that will make readers want to can-can along!
Visit Bethanie Deeney Murguia's website.

Writers Read: Bethanie Deeney Murguia.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Lynda Mugglestone's "Samuel Johnson and the Journey into Words"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Samuel Johnson and the Journey into Words by Lynda Mugglestone.

About the book, from the publisher:
Popular readings of Johnson as a dictionary-maker often see him as a writer who both laments and attempts to control the state of the language. Lynda Mugglestone looks at the range of Johnson's writings on, and the complexity of his thinking about, language and lexicography. She shows how these reveal him probing problems not just of meaning and use but what he considered the related issues of control, obedience, and justice, as well as the difficulties of power when exerted over the 'sea of words'. She examines his attitudes to language change, loan words, spelling, history, and authority, describing, too, the evolution of his ideas about the nature, purpose, and methods of lexicography, and shows how these reflect his own and others' thinking about politics, culture, and society. The book offers a careful reassessment of Johnson's prescriptive practice, examining in detail his commitment to evidence, and the uses to which this might be put.

Dictionary-making, for Johnson, came to be seen as a long and difficult voyage round the world of the English language. While such images play their own role in lexicographical tradition, Johnson would, as this volume explores, also make them very much his own in a range of distinctive, and illuminating, ways. Johnson's metaphors invite us to consider-and reconsider-the processes by which a dictionary might be made and the kind of destination it might seek, as well as the state of language that might be reached by such endeavours. For Johnson, where the dictionary-maker might go, and what should be accomplished along the way, can often seem to raise pertinent and perhaps troubling questions.

Lynda Mugglestone's generous, wide-ranging account casts new light on Johnson's life in language and provides a convincing reassessment of his impact on English culture, the making of dictionaries, and their role in a nation's identity. She ends by considering the power of Johnson's legacy and the degree to which his work continues to guide our attitudes to language and what we variously expect dictionaries to be and do.
Learn more about Samuel Johnson and the Journey into Words at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Samuel Johnson and the Journey into Words.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top doomed romances in YA fiction

Catherine Doyle lives in the west of Ireland. She holds a bachelor's degree in Psychology and a master's degree in English from the National University of Ireland, Galway. Her latest book, Inferno, is the second part of the Blood for Blood series.

For the Guardian she tagged her top ten doomed romances in YA fiction, including:
Violet Markey and Theodore Finch in All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

By page three, you know this book is going to punch you in the heart. Don’t fight it. Just lay back and let it happen. Violet and Finch first meet on top of the Bell Tower at school, a not-so-subtle foreshadowing of how precarious their relationship turns out to be. Violet is still mourning the death of her sister, and Finch is suffering from severe bipolar depression. In each other, they find solace. Niven writes love in a way that reaches out of the pages and pulls you in. Unfortunately, you’re still there when heartbreak hits. It inches towards you, slowly, slowly, until you’ve cried yourself into severe dehydration without even realising it.
Read about another entry on the list.

All The Bright Places is among Shaun Byron Fitzpatrick's seven new YA novels that deal with death.

Writers Read: Jennifer Niven (January 2015).

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Patricia Ward's "Skinner Luce," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Skinner Luce by Patricia Ward.

The entry begins:
I always imagined Skinner Luce as a movie or a graphic novel, but didn’t have the know-how to pull it off. The setting of this story would translate beautifully onto the big screen--the cityscape in winter, the whirling snow and ice, the choppy bay. And tucked away inside this frozen world, the grimy houses and rooms where terrible, secret things take place while humans stroll by, oblivious. Throughout, the stark wintery imagery would convey the daily desperation that defines serv existence, further emphasized when they doll themselves up so pitifully for the Nafikh, who swat them around like flies. In contrast, Lucy’s visits home would provide pockets of warmth and normalcy, a respite from the oppressive strangeness of her serv life. The clutter of Eva’s house and Lucy’s childhood bedroom, the ease with which she moves through these recognizable spaces, would highlight the freakish world she inhabits when she’s away, and make her efforts to forge some kind of normal life all the more poignant.

The atmosphere of Skinner Luce is definitely Indie not Blockbuster....[read on]
Visit Patricia Ward's website.

The Page 69 Test: Skinner Luce.

My Book, The Movie: Skinner Luce.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Lena Coakley's "Worlds of Ink and Shadow"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Worlds of Ink and Shadow: A Novel of the Brontes by Lena Coakley.

About the book, from the publisher:
Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne. The Brontë siblings find escape from their constrained lives via their rich imaginations. The glittering world of Verdopolis and the romantic and melancholy world of Gondal literally come to life under their pens, offering the sort of romance and intrigue missing from their isolated parsonage home. But at what price? As Branwell begins to slip into madness and the sisters feel their real lives slipping away, they must weigh the cost of their powerful imaginations, even as the characters they have created—the brooding Rogue and dashing Duke of Zamorna—refuse to let them go.

Gorgeously written and based on the Brontës’ juvenilia, Worlds of Ink and Shadow brings to life one of history’s most celebrated literary families in a thrilling, suspenseful fantasy.
Learn more about the book and author at Lena Coakley's website, and follow her at Facebook and Twitter.

The Page 69 Test: Worlds of Ink and Shadow.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Kate Hilton reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Kate Hilton, author of The Hole in the Middle.

Her entry begins:
I read a fairly balanced diet of fiction and non-fiction, and I usually have one of each on the go at any given time.

On the fiction side, I’ve been on a historical novel binge lately. Delicious. I like my historicals to be meticulously researched, with elegant prose and a little romance.

My most recent read, Jennifer Robson’s Moonlight Over Paris, fit the bill admirably. I adored it. I’m a fan of Robson’s work, and I was waiting for this one to arrive so that I could gobble it down. There is something particularly irresistible about Paris in the 1920s, a time and place of immense creativity and rebirth. I cheered for the romantic leads, Helena and Sam - for their relationship with each other, but also for each character's development from a citizen of the pre-war world into an individual of the modern age. Robson handles these vast social transitions with the subtlety and care of...[read on]
About The Hole in the Middle, from the publisher:
The heartfelt and hilarious, international bestselling debut about having it all without losing your mind.

Sophie Whelan is the kind of woman who prides herself on doing it all. In a single day, she can host a vegan-friendly and lactose-free dinner for ten, thwart a PTA president intent on forcing her to volunteer, and outwit her hostile ‘assistant’ in order to get her work done on time.

With her fortieth birthday looming, and her carefully coordinated existence beginning to come apart at the seams, Sophie begins feeling like she needs more from her life—and especially from her husband, Jesse.

The last thing Sophie needs is a new complication in her life. But when an opportunity from her past suddenly reappears, Sophie is forced to confront the choices she’s made and decide if her chaotic life is really a dream come true—or the biggest mistake she’s ever made…
Visit Kate Hilton's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

Writers Read: Kate Hilton.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top books for the broken-hearted

Susie Steiner is the author of Missing, Presumed. One of her top ten books for the broken-hearted, as shared at the Guardian:
The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank

This collection of linked short stories spent 16 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list after it was published in 1999. Loosely at its centre is Jane Rosenal, a wisecracking single New Yorker who is suffering at the dating frontline and in some senses this book is a riposte to The Rules – a brutal and demoralising dating manual published five years earlier. Though shoehorned into the chick-lit genre by some reviewers, and inevitably lined up alongside Bridget Jones, Bank was also likened to Lorrie Moore for the gentle ironies in her literary style. Truly wonderful.
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Sarah Tobin's "Everyday Piety: Islam and Economy in Jordan"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Everyday Piety: Islam and Economy in Jordan by Sarah A. Tobin.

About the book, from the publisher:
Working and living as an authentic Muslim—comporting oneself in an Islamically appropriate way—in the global economy can be very challenging. How do middle-class Muslims living in the Middle East navigate contemporary economic demands in a distinctly Islamic way? What are the impacts of these efforts on their Islamic piety? To what authority does one turn when questions arise? What happens when the answers vary and there is little or no consensus? To answer these questions, Everyday Piety examines the intersection of globalization and Islamic religious life in the city of Amman, Jordan.

Drawing on in-depth ethnographic fieldwork in Amman, Sarah A. Tobin demonstrates that Muslims combine their interests in exerting a visible Islam with the opportunities and challenges of advanced capitalism in an urban setting, which ultimately results in the cultivation of a "neoliberal Islamic piety." Neoliberal piety, Tobin contends, is created by both Islamizing economic practices and economizing Islamic piety, and is done in ways that reflect a modern, cosmopolitan style and aesthetic, revealing a keen interest in displays of authenticity on the part of the actors. Tobin highlights sites at which economic life and Islamic virtue intersect: Ramadan, the hijab, Islamic economics, Islamic banking, and consumption. Each case reflects the shift from conditions and contexts of highly regulated and legalized moral behaviors to greater levels of uncertainty and indeterminacy. In its ethnographic richness, this book shows that actors make normative claims of an authentic, real Islam in economic practice and measure them against standards that derive from Islamic law, other sources of knowledge, and the pragmatics of everyday life.
Learn more about Everyday Piety: Islam and Economy in Jordan at the Cornell University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Everyday Piety: Islam and Economy in Jordan.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Pg. 69: Suzanne Redfearn's "No Ordinary Life"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: No Ordinary Life by Suzanne Redfearn.

About the book, from the publisher:
Suzanne Redfearn delivers another gripping page-turner in her latest novel, a story about a young mother's fight to protect her children from the dangerous world of Hollywood.

Faye Martin never expected her husband to abandon her and their three children . . . or that she'd have to struggle every day to make ends meet. So when her four-year-old daughter is discovered through a YouTube video and offered a starring role on a television series, it seems like her prayers have been answered. But when the reality of their new life settles in, Faye realizes that fame and fortune don't come without a price. In a world where everyone is an actor and every move is scrutinized by millions, it's impossible to know whom to trust, and Faye finds herself utterly alone in her struggle to save her family.

Emotionally riveting and insightful, NO ORDINARY LIFE is an unforgettable novel about the preciousness of childhood and the difficult choices a mother needs to make in order to protect this fragile time in her children's lives.
Visit Suzanne Redfearn's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

Coffee with a Canine: Suzanne Redfearn and Cooper.

My Book, The Movie: Hush Little Baby.

The Page 69 Test: Hush Little Baby.

The Page 69 Test: No Ordinary Life.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Jennifer Longo reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Jennifer Longo, author of Up to This Pointe.

Her entry begins:
The Only Child by Guojing

China's 'One Child' policy has ended, and now a generation of only children has grown up. This gorgeous book tells a story in black and white images of one Only Child, left home alone one day, who ventures out into the wintery world to find her grandmother's house. She falls into peril and is rescued by a stag who takes her on a magical journey. It is a deeply emotional exploration of loneliness, bravery, imagination and love, based on the author's experience growing up with no siblings. This book is gorgeous, but tape a pack of tissues to the bow when you wrap it. The reader...[read on]
About Up to This Pointe, from the publisher:
Harper had a plan. It went south. Hand this utterly unique contemporary YA to anyone a who loves ballet or is a little too wrapped up in their Plan A. (It’s okay to fail, people!)

Harper Scott is a dancer. She and her best friend, Kate, have one goal: becoming professional ballerinas. And Harper won’t let anything—or anyone—get in the way of The Plan, not even the boy she and Kate are both drawn to.

Harper is a Scott. She’s related to Robert Falcon Scott, the explorer who died racing Amundsen and Shackleton to the South Pole. Amundsen won because he had a plan, and Harper has always followed his model. So when Harper’s life takes an unexpected turn, she finagles (read: lies) her way to the icy dark of McMurdo Station . . . in Antarctica. Extreme, but somehow fitting—apparently she has always been in the dark, dancing on ice this whole time. And no one warned her. Not her family, not her best friend, not even the boy who has somehow found a way into her heart. It will take a visit from Shackleton’s ghost–the explorer who didn’t make it to the South Pole, but who got all of his men out alive–to teach Harper that success isn’t always what’s important, sometimes it’s more important to learn how to fail successfully.
Learn more about the book and author at Jennifer Longo's website.

The Page 69 Test: Six Feet Over It.

My Book, The Movie: Six Feet Over It.

The Page 69 Test: Up to This Pointe.

Writers Read: Jennifer Longo.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten of 2016's cleverest novels with killer elevator pitches

Jeff Somers is the author of Lifers, the Avery Cates series from Orbit Books, Chum from Tyrus Books, and We Are Not Good People from Pocket/Gallery. He has published over thirty short stories as well. One title on Somers's list of ten of 2016's cleverest novels with great premises, as shared at B & N Reads:
And Again by Jessica Chiarella

Four terminally ill patients are given new bodies that are perfect copies of their old ones, except without all the imperfections—wrinkles, illnesses, scars, all gone. But while that sounds like a dream, the four discover there’s a terrible price, as decades of learning and training have also vanished, while compulsions, addictions, and other problems persist. That’s a deep-dive premise that promises to make for an absorbing, thought-provoking story.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Nicholas Searle's "The Good Liar," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Good Liar: A Novel by Nicholas Searle.

The entry begins:
The writer who says that they’ve never considered their book as a movie is lying. I’ve thought so many times of people who could play this or that role in the film of the book. It’s great fun.

Anyone who’s read The Good Liar will, though, very quickly recognise the difficulty in casting the lead actors. Which exactly would the lead roles be? The specific issue is to do with the span of time covered by the book as it reveals its secrets. But to explain that particular problem any further would run the risk of giving spoilers. And I’m not about to ruin the reader’s fun by doing that.

So let’s stick with the two people we meet at the very beginning of the book: Roy and Betty. They are, after all, genuinely the...[read on]
Follow Nicholas Searle on Twitter.

The Page 69 Test: The Good Liar.

My Book, The Movie: The Good Liar.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Pg. 99: Richard L. Hasen's "Plutocrats United"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Plutocrats United: Campaign Money, the Supreme Court, and the Distortion of American Elections by Richard L. Hasen.

About the book, from the publisher:
Campaign financing is one of today’s most divisive political issues. The left asserts that the electoral process is rife with corruption. The right protests that the real aim of campaign limits is to suppress political activity and protect incumbents. Meanwhile, money flows freely on both sides. In Plutocrats United, Richard Hasen argues that both left and right avoid the key issue of the new Citizens United era: balancing political inequality with free speech.

The Supreme Court has long held that corruption and its appearance are the only reasons to constitutionally restrict campaign funds. Progressives often agree but have a much broader view of corruption. Hasen argues for a new focus and way forward: if the government is to ensure robust political debate, the Supreme Court should allow limits on money in politics to prevent those with great economic power from distorting the political process.
Learn more about Plutocrats United at the Yale University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Plutocrats United.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Jeri Westerson's "The Silence of Stones"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Silence of Stones: A Crispin Guest Medieval Noir by Jeri Westerson.

About the book, from the publisher:
London, 1388. When the mythical Stone of Destiny disappears from the throne of England, the populace takes it as a sign that rebellion is near. Desperate, Richard calls in Crispin Guest to find the missing stone and uses Crispin's page Jack Tucker as leverage. Unless Crispin can find the stone in three day's time, Jack will hang for treason.
Learn more about the author and her work at Jeri Westerson's website and her "Getting Medieval" blog.

The Page 69 Test: Veil of Lies.

The Page 69 Test: Serpent in the Thorns.

The Page 69 Test: The Demon's Parchment.

My Book, The Movie: The Demon's Parchment.

The Page 69 Test: Troubled Bones.

The Page 69 Test: Blood Lance.

The Page 69 Test: Shadow of the Alchemist.

The Page 69 Test: Cup of Blood.

The Page 69 Test: The Silence of Stones.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Gigi Pandian reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Gigi Pandian, author of The Masquerading Magician.

One title she tagged:
The Golden Age of Murder by Martin Edwards
This is an engrossing history of the Detection Club, the private club of mystery novelists that began in England during the Golden Age of Detective Fiction. Edwards focuses most on three of the founding members, Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, and Anthony Berkeley, all of whom had fascinating hidden lives. There are also stories about other club members, including my personal favorite Golden Age writer, John Dickson Carr. My copy of the book is now filled with notes in the margins about new-to-me classic mysteries I plan to...[read on]
About The Masquerading Magician, from the publisher:
Deciphering an ancient alchemy book is more difficult than Zoe Faust bargained for. She’d much rather be gardening and exploring her new hometown of Portland, Oregon—but time is running out for living gargoyle Dorian Robert-Houdin. If Zoe isn’t able to unlock an unusual alchemy book’s secrets soon, the French gargoyle will remain awake but trapped in stone forever.

When Zoe gives herself a rare night out to attend a classic magic show, she realizes the stage magicians are much more than they seem. A murder at the theater leads back to a string of unsolved robberies and murders in Portland’s past, and a mystery far more personal than Zoe and Dorian ever imagined.
Visit Gigi Pandian's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

Writers Read: Gigi Pandian.

--Marshal Zeringue

Cover story: "Houston Bound"

Tyina L. Steptoe is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Arizona.

Her new book is Houston Bound: Culture and Color in a Jim Crow City. Here Steptoe explains the connection of the book's cover to the pages within:
Sam “Lightnin’” Hopkins lopes down a city street in a black residential area of Houston. His guitar is tucked under his right arm and a cigarette dangles from his mouth. This image of Hopkins, captured by fellow musician Ed Badeaux, first appeared on the cover of Hopkins’s 1961 album, “Walkin’ This Road by Myself.” The image currently graces the cover of my book, Houston Bound: Culture and Color in a Jim Crow City. In addition to using Hopkins’s image, I also took the book’s title from a 1962 song he recorded called “Houston Bound.” The photograph and song appealed to me because both convey the idea of movement.

Houston Bound is a book about migrants, specifically black East Texans, Creoles of color from Louisiana, Tejanos, and Mexicans who moved to the city between the 1920s and 1960s. As these groups settled in Houston, they challenged notions of race, especially the meanings of blackness and whiteness. Born in Centerville, Texas, in 1912, Hopkins moved to the city in the late 1930s. His songs show the significance of mobility to him and the other Houston transplants who populate the pages of my book.

Before moving permanently to Houston, Hopkins spent some time working as a sharecropper. Planting and plowing on rented land gave his life a sense of confinement. He was bound by contract to a parcel of land, and endless cycles of debt often kept sharecroppers like him tied to a white landowner’s property. But the songs Hopkins recorded as a blues performer portray a man who had found freedom in mobility. He stopped farming to pursue work as a bluesman. Soon, he was wandering the roads of eastern Texas as an itinerant musician. In the process, he transformed from a sharecropper into a man with the ability to roam.

Recorded in New York City in 1960, the song “Houston Bound” further emphasizes migration and mobility, while also establishing the musician’s ties to his adopted hometown. The lyrics place him in New York, which he portrays as a temporary lover: “I’m so sorry to leave you, baby, but darling, I really got to say goodbye.” In the second verse, Hopkins’s virtuosic guitar playing provides sonic clues about the significance of mobility and his ties to Houston. When he sings, “My plane leaves early in the morning,” his fingers skillfully climb toward higher notes, mimicking his ascension into the skies. But when he proclaims, “Po’ Lightnin’ just gotta be Houston bound,” his fingers gravitate to lower notes that ground him back at home in Texas. By the time he recorded the song, he was no longer a sharecropper or an itinerant musician from East Texas searching for the next barn party. His work as a professional musician took him to places like New York, but he had a new home in the city of Houston. Like the image of Hopkins walking with his guitar, the song “Houston Bound” asserts a black Texan’s mobility in a society that often trapped and confined people like him.
Learn more about Houston Bound: Culture and Color in a Jim Crow City at the University of California Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five YA books for fans of the Wild West

Eric Smith is the author of The Geek’s Guide to Dating and Inked. One of five YA reads for fans of the Wild West that he tagged at the B&N Teen blog:
Revenge and the Wild, by Michelle Modesto

Modesto’s debut hit shelves just this week, and you want to get your hands on it right now. Westie is the adopted daughter of a local inventor, with a mechanical arm and a thirst for vengeance. She’s wild, and she’s haunted by memories of her family, slain by cannibals on the road to Rogue City, a place as full of magic as it is of pistols. Now, if your eyes are widening at the mechanical arm, the inventor, and magic…good. This here’s a different western, and we’re all about it.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 08, 2016

Jennifer Robson's "Moonlight Over Paris," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Moonlight Over Paris by Jennifer Robson.

The entry begins:
My difficulty, when dream-casting one of my books, is that I tend to create my characters with a very specific image of each one in my head, and usually they don’t bear much resemblance to particular actors or public figures. If pressed, though, I would say that Alicia Vikander, who played Vera Brittain in the recent film adaptation of Testament of Youth, is a pretty close match for the Helena I carry around in my head. I also like Saoirse Ronan (so wonderful in Brooklyn) and Mia...[read on]
Visit Jennifer Robson's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Jennifer Robson & Ellie.

My Book, The Movie: After the War Is Over.

The Page 69 Test: After the War Is Over.

Writers Read: Jennifer Robson.

My Book, The Movie: Moonlight Over Paris.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: William C. Dietz's "Graveyard"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Graveyard: The Mutant Files by William C. Dietz.

About the book, from the publisher:
2069, Los Angeles. Decades after a bioterrorist attack decimated the population and left many of the survivors horribly mutated, the “norms” have forced mutants into dangerous areas known as red zones. And the tensions between the two groups are threatening to boil over…

LAPD detective Cassandra Lee is known for her single-mindedness, and right now, she’s got only one goal—track down the Bonebreaker, the man who murdered her father. But her quest for justice is derailed when LA comes under attack.

The Aztec Empire, a Central American group determined to take back the U.S. territories that their Spanish ancestors once controlled, has led a mutant army into California. Suddenly caught in the middle of a war, Lee must put all her energy into keeping her city safe while unearthing the political secrets of LA’s shady mayor. And with the Bonebreaker hunting her down, losing focus even for a second could mean death…
Visit William C. Dietz's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

The Page 69 Test: Andromeda's Fall.

My Book, The Movie: Andromeda's Fall.

The Page 69 Test: Andromeda's Choice.

The Page 69 Test: Deadeye.

My Book, The Movie: Deadeye.

The Page 69 Test: Graveyard.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Chad Pearson reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Chad Pearson, author of Reform or Repression: Organizing America's Anti-Union Movement.

His entry begins:
During the course of researching what became my book, I discovered that employers, all of whom wanted control over their workforces, could be rather violent. Several employers active in the turn-of-the-century anti-union open-shop movement were once active in Civil War-era vigilante organizations. For example, Wilbur F. Sanders, one of the leaders of the anti-union Citizens’ Industrial Association of America, served as the lawyer for the Montana Vigilantes in the 1860s. And N. F. Thompson, another prominent Progressive Era union opponent, had served in the Ku Klux Klan with Nathan Bedford Forrest while he lived in Middle Tennessee. More than three decade later, Thompson called for a “justifiable homicide law.” Thompson believed that employers and non-union workers deserved the right to murder union activists responsible for seeking to prevent strikebreakers from entering workplaces. One of my book’s themes explores the long history of employer violence.

Questions about labor-management tensions--and employers’ belligerency in particular-- continue to interest me, and I’m currently looking at underexplored events to better understand these questions. Rather than focus exclusively on the industrialized northeast or Midwest, I have been drawn to the nineteenth century South. Military conflicts offer some useful examples for scholars of labor and management. In recent years, a number of scholars have re-introduced readers to the important insights found in W. E. B. Du Bois’s 1935 Black Reconstruction, an outstanding class struggle study that takes seriously the agency of the close to four million slaves during the Civil War and its immediate aftermath. He famously calls their involvement “a general strike.” A number of terrific books, including David Roediger’s Seizing Freedom: Slave Emancipation and Liberty for All, David Williams’s I Freed Myself: African Americans Self-Emancipation in the Civil War Era, and...[read on]
About Reform or Repression, from the publisher:
Historians have characterized the open-shop movement of the early twentieth century as a cynical attempt by business to undercut the labor movement by twisting the American ideals of independence and self-sufficiency to their own ends. The precursors to today's right-to-work movement, advocates of the open shop in the Progressive Era argued that honest workers should have the right to choose whether or not to join a union free from all pressure. At the same time, business owners systematically prevented unionization in their workplaces.

While most scholars portray union opponents as knee-jerk conservatives, Chad Pearson demonstrates that many open-shop proponents identified themselves as progressive reformers and benevolent guardians of America's economic and political institutions. By exploring the ways in which employers and their allies in journalism, law, politics, and religion drew attention to the reformist, rather than repressive, character of the open-shop movement, Pearson's book forces us to consider the origins, character, and limitations of this movement in new ways. Throughout his study, Pearson describes class tensions, noting that open-shop campaigns primarily benefited management and the nation's most economically privileged members at the expense of ordinary people.

Pearson's analysis of archives, trade journals, newspapers, speeches, and other primary sources elucidates the mentalities of his subjects and their times, rediscovering forgotten leaders and offering fresh perspectives on well-known figures such as Theodore Roosevelt, Louis Brandeis, Booker T. Washington and George Creel. Reform or Repression sheds light on businessmen who viewed strong urban-based employers' and citizens' associations, weak unions, and managerial benevolence as the key to their own, as well as the nation's, progress and prosperity.
Learn more about Reform or Repression at the University of Pennsylvania Press website.

Writers Read: Chad Pearson.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sebastian Faulks's six favorite books

Sebastian Faulks's novels include Birdsong, Human Traces, Charlotte Gray, and In Where My Heart Used To Beat. One of his six favorite books, as shared at The Week magazine:
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark

Spark's most famous novel is justly celebrated for the cunning way it tells its tale from different angles. Jean Brodie, a charismatic schoolteacher, has a powerful grip on her credulous teenage pupils. The extent of her dangerous self-deceit is laid bare with cruel humor and precision.
Read about another book on the list.

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is among Stuart Husband's top ten fictional teachers, Rachel Cooke's top ten spinsters, Karin Altenberg's top ten books about betrayal, Megan Abbott's five most dangerous mentors in fiction, the Barnes & Noble Review's list of five top books on teaching and learning and Ian Rankin's six best books. Miss Jean Brodie is one of John Mullan's ten best teachers in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Caroline Shaw's "Britannia's Embrace"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Britannia's Embrace: Modern Humanitarianism and the Imperial Origins of Refugee Relief by Caroline Shaw.

About the book,from the publisher:
On the eve of the American Revolution, the refugee was, according to British tradition, a Protestant who sought shelter from continental persecution. By the turn of the twentieth century, however, British refuge would be celebrated internationally as being open to all persecuted foreigners. Britain had become a haven for fugitives as diverse as Karl Marx and Louis Napoleon, Simón Bolívar and Frederick Douglass. How and why did the refugee category expand? How, in a period when no law forbade foreigners entry to Britain, did the refugee emerge as a category for humanitarian and political action? Why did the plight of these particular foreigners become such a characteristically British concern?

Current understandings about the origins of refuge have focused on the period after 1914. Britannia's Embrace offers the first historical analysis of the origins of this modern humanitarian norm in the long nineteenth century. At a time when Britons were reshaping their own political culture, this charitable endeavor became constitutive of what it meant to be liberal on the global stage. Like British anti-slavery, its sister movement, campaigning on behalf of foreign refugees seemed to give purpose to the growing empire and the resources of empire gave it greater strength. By the dawn of the twentieth century, British efforts on behalf of persecuted foreigners declined precipitously, but its legacies in law and in modern humanitarian politics would be long-lasting.

In telling this story, Britannia's Embrace puts refugee relief front and center in histories of human rights and international law and of studies of Britain in the world. In so doing, it describes the dynamic relationship between law, resources, and moral storytelling that remains critical to humanitarianism today.
Learn more about Britannia's Embrace at the Oxford University Press website.

Cover story: Britannia's Embrace.

The Page 99 Test: Britannia's Embrace.

--Marshal Zeringue