Thursday, January 17, 2019

Pg. 69: Chris Nickson's "The Hanging Psalm"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Hanging Psalm by Chris Nickson.

About the book, from the publisher:
Leeds, 1820. Simon Westow, a Leeds thief-taker, knows all about lost property. But when he is asked to find the kidnapped daughter of a successful Leeds businessman, Simon and his assistant, Jane, face a challenge like no other. Could the answers lie within the streets of Leeds and a figure from Simon's own past?
Learn more about the book and author at Chris Nickson's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Constant Lovers.

The Page 69 Test: The Constant Lovers.

The Page 69 Test: The Iron Water.

The Page 69 Test: The Hanging Psalm.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Molly MacRae reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Molly MacRae, author of Crewel and Unusual.

Her entry begins:
My five ways I’m starting the New Year:

Warm—The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa (translated by Philip Gabriel). This is a folkloric road trip story told mostly by Nana, a wise, self-sufficient cat. Nana and Satoru, the young man with whom Nana has lived for the past five years, are travelling around Japan in a silver van, visiting Satoru’s oldest friends. I’m only in the middle of the book, and find it completely engaging. I do wonder, with some trepidation, why Satoru is looking for a new home for Nana, but I feel sure the cat’s calm, philosophical take on life will...[read on]
About Crewel and Unusual, from the publisher:
The latest mystery in this charming mystery series finds the ever-resourceful Kath Rutledge and shop ghost Geneva tangled up in an embroidery rivalry—and a murder.

Yarn shop owner Kath Rutledge is looking forward to the grand opening of the Blue Plum Vault, a co-op of small shops on Main Street. But in the week before the grand opening, Kath and her needlework group, TGIF (Thank Goodness It’s Fiber), hear rumors of an unpleasant rivalry developing between two of the new shopkeepers. Nervie Bales and Belinda Moyer declare each other’s embroidery patterns and antique embroidered linens fakes, copies—and stolen goods. Kath is caught in the middle when she’s asked to use her textile expertise to decide if there’s any truth to the accusations.

Then, the day before the grand opening, an exquisite tablecloth that Kath has fallen in love with—the pride of Belinda’s shop—is found cut to shreds. Belinda accuses Nervie of the outrage, but Nervie has an airtight alibi: she was at Kath’s shop, the Weaver’s Cat, teaching a crewel embroidery class.

Despite worries over the rivalry and vandalism, the opening is a success—until Belinda is found dead, stabbed in the back with a pair of scissors from the Weaver’s Cat. Geneva, the ghost who haunts Kath’s store, claims she saw the murderer leaving the scene of the crime. But the ghost is the ultimate unreliable witness—only Kath and her shop manager can see or hear her. That means it’s up to Kath, TGIF, and especially Geneva the ghost to solve the crime before the killer cuts another life short.
Visit Molly MacRae's website.

My Book, The Movie: Knot the Usual Suspects.

The Page 69 Test: Knot the Usual Suspects.

My Book, The Movie: Plaid and Plagiarism.

The Page 69 Test: Plaid and Plagiarism.

The Page 69 Test: Scones and Scoundrels.

My Book, The Movie: Scones and Scoundrels.

The Page 69 Test: Crewel and Unusual.

My Book, The Movie: Crewel and Unusual.

Writers Read: Molly MacRae.

--Marshal Zeringue

Victoria L. Harrison's "Fight Like a Tiger," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Fight Like a Tiger: Conway Barbour and the Challenges of the Black Middle Class in Nineteenth-Century America by Victoria L. Harrison.

The entry begins:
This is a fun exercise! First, the basics. Fight Like a Tiger follows the life of an ambitious former slave, Conway Barbour, and his adventures in search of upward mobility in the middle decades of the nineteenth century. The book argues that the idea of a black middle class traced its origins to the free black population of mid-century and developed alongside the idea of a white middle class. Barbour’s story, across four decades and several states, epitomizes that development.

He was something of a rascal, often willing to color outside the lines to reach his goals. As the story takes place across decades, (and cost is not an issue here) we might need younger and older versions of some of the main players. Donald Glover would be terrific as Barbour’s younger self; I have always envisioned Denzel Washington as an older Barbour. Charming and rather untrustworthy fills the bill.

Lupita Nyong'o would be perfect as Barbour’s first wife, Cornelia, a former slave herself. Alfre Woodard would be...[read on]
Learn more about Fight Like a Tiger at the Southern Illinois University Press website.

My Book, The Movie: Fight Like a Tiger.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top books about Trinidad and Tobago

Claire Adam was born and raised in Trinidad. She lives in London.

Her new novel is Golden Child.

One of Adam's ten favorite books about Trinidad and Tobago, as shared at the Guardian:
History of the People of Trinidad and Tobago by Eric Williams

Born in Trinidad in 1911 to a family of modest means, Williams excelled at school and won an island scholarship to St Catherine’s College, Oxford. He swiftly rose to the top of his class, ranking first among all Oxford history graduates in 1935. He completed a doctorate on the economics of the slave trade and then returned to Trinidad with a mission. He gave fiery open-air lectures in public squares, formed his own political party, steered the nation to independence in 1962 and became its first prime minister. This book was one of his many gifts to the newly formed nation of Trinidad and Tobago, and aimed to redress the great injustice that the people did not know their own history.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Pg. 99: Richard Drake's "Charles Austin Beard"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Charles Austin Beard: The Return of the Master Historian of American Imperialism by Richard Drake.

About the book, from the publisher:
Richard Drake presents a new interpretation of Charles Austin Beard's life and work. The foremost American historian and a leading public intellectual in the first half of the twentieth century, Beard participated actively in the debates about American politics and foreign policy surrounding the two world wars. Drake takes this famous man's life and rewrites his intellectual biography by placing the European dimension of Beard's thought at the center. This radical change of critical focus allows Drake to correct previous biographers' oversights and, in Charles Austin Beard, present a far more nuanced appreciation for Beard's life than we have read before.

Drake proposes a restoration of Beard's professional reputation, which he lost in large part because of his extremely unpopular opposition to America's intervention in World War II. Drake analyzes the stages of Beard's development as a historian and critic: his role as an intellectual leader in the Progressive movement, the support that he gave to the cause of American intervention in World War I, and his subsequent revisionist repudiation of Wilsonian ideals and embrace of non-interventionism in the lead-up to World War II. Many of his dire predictions about the inevitable consequences of pre-World War II American foreign policy have come to pass. Drake shows that, as Americans tally the ruinous costs—both financial and moral—of nation-building and informal empire, the life and work of this prophet of history merit a thorough reexamination.
Visit Richard Drake's website.

The Page 99 Test: Charles Austin Beard.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Jess Montgomery reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Jess Montgomery, author of The Widows: A Novel.

Her entry begins:
I tend to have several books going at once.

I try to read one poem each morning. Currently, I’m reading from Mary Oliver’s collection, A Thousand Mornings. One of her poems was in the program at the church I attend, a United Church of Christ congregation, and I found her work breathtaking in showing the depth of human experience in...[read on]
About the book, from the publisher:
Kinship, Ohio, 1924: When Lily Ross learns that her husband, Daniel Ross, the town’s widely respected sheriff, is killed while transporting a prisoner, she is devastated and vows to avenge his death.

Hours after his funeral, a stranger appears at her door. Marvena Whitcomb, a coal miner’s widow, is unaware that Daniel has died, and begs to speak with him about her missing daughter.

From miles away but worlds apart, Lily and Marvena’s lives collide as they realize that Daniel was not the man that either of them believed him to be—and that his murder is far more complex than either of them could have imagined.

Inspired by the true story of Ohio’s first female sheriff, this is a powerful debut about two women’s search for justice as they take on the corruption at the heart of their community.
Visit Jess Montgomery's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Widows.

Writers Read: Jess Montgomery.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Marius Gabriel's "The Parisians"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Parisians by Marius Gabriel.

About the book, from the publisher:
In occupied Paris, one woman risks everything to help bring down the Nazis.

Paris, 1940. The Nazis have occupied the city­—and the Ritz. The opulent old hotel, so loved by Parisians, is now full of swaggering officers, their minions and their mistresses.

For American Olivia Olsen, working as a chambermaid at the hotel means denying her nationality and living a lie, every day bringing the danger of discovery closer. When Hitler’s right-hand man moves in and makes her his pet, she sees an opportunity to help the Resistance—and draw closer to Jack, her contact, whose brusque instructions may be a shield for something more…

Within the hotel, famed designer Coco Chanel quickly learns that the new regime could work to her benefit, while Arletty, one of France’s best-loved actresses, shocks those around her—and herself—with a forbidden love.

But as the war reaches its terrible end, all three women learn the true price of their proximity to the enemy. For in the shadow of war, is anyone truly safe?
Visit Marius Gabriel's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Parisians.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top books about bad-ass modern-day magicians

David Mack is the New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty novels of science fiction, fantasy, and adventure, including the newly released The Iron Codex.

One of the author's five favorite books about bad-ass modern-day magicians, as shared at Tor.com:
The Magician King by Lev Grossman

When most fantasy readers think of Grossman’s best-selling The Magicians series, they think of it first as a portal fantasy. But its second volume features a major and hard-hitting urban fantasy element. The character of Julia Wicker, who was rejected by Brakebills despite her natural talent, refuses to abandon her pursuit of magical knowledge. Her search leads to her affiliation with a coven of urban “hedge-witches,” renegades who reject Brakebills’ stifling limitations. Though the book’s main character ostensibly is Quentin Coldwater, Julia is this book’s true heavy-hitter, because ultimately it is her illicitly obtained magical skill—and the loss and heartbreak she endures to get it—that saves the day and propels the story, albeit with dire consequences.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Pg. 99: Matthew Carr's "The Savage Frontier"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Savage Frontier: The Pyrenees in History and the Imagination by Matthew Carr.

About the book, from the publisher:
With the Catalonia crisis making international headlines, the unique cultural and geographic region bordering Spain and France has once again moved to the center of the world’s attention. In The Savage Frontier, acclaimed author and journalist Matthew Carr uncovers the fascinating, multilayered story of the Pyrenees region—at once a forbidding, mountainous frontier zone of stunning beauty, home to a unique culture, and a site of sharp conflict between nations and empires.

Carr follows the routes taken by monks, soldiers, poets, pilgrims, and refugees. He examines the people and events that have shaped the Pyrenees across the centuries, with a cast of characters including Napoleon, Hannibal, and Charlemagne; the eccentric British climber Henry Russell; Francisco Sabaté Llopart, the Catalan anarchist who waged a lone war against the Franco regime across the Pyrenees for years after the civil war; Camino de Santiago pilgrims; and the cellist Pablo Casals, who spent twenty-three years in exile only a few miles from the Spanish border to show his disgust and disapproval of the Spanish regime.

The Savage Frontier is a book that will spark a new awareness and appreciation of one of the most haunting, magical, and dramatic landscapes on earth.
Visit Matthew Carr's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Devils of Cardona.

Writers Read: Matthew Carr.

The Page 99 Test: The Savage Frontier.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is M. K. England reading?

Featured at Writers Read: M. K. England, author of The Disasters.

Her entry begins:
I'm a book juggler, and I frequently have several books going in a variety of formats at any given time.

In audio:

Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin

I'm one of those people who reads self-improvement books throughout the year, but especially at the new year. I just finished this is a great book about habit formation, narrated by the author, that embraces the fact that we're all different and there's no one right way to help a habit stick. A great way to kick off the year!

Nemesis by Brendan Reichs

I've been meaning to read this YA thriller forever and...[read on]
About The Disasters, from the publisher:
The Breakfast Club meets Guardians of the Galaxy in this YA sci-fi adventure by debut author M. K. England.

Hotshot pilot Nax Hall has a history of making poor life choices. So it’s not exactly a surprise when he’s kicked out of the elite Ellis Station Academy in less than twenty-four hours. But Nax’s one-way trip back to Earth is cut short when a terrorist group attacks the Academy.

Nax and three other washouts escape—barely—but they’re also the sole witnesses to the biggest crime in the history of space colonization. And the perfect scapegoats.

On the run, Nax and his fellow failures plan to pull off a dangerous heist to spread the truth. Because they may not be “Academy material,” and they may not even get along, but they’re the only ones left to step up and fight.

Full of high-stakes action, subversive humor, and underdogs becoming heroes, this YA sci-fi adventure is perfect for fans of Illuminae, Heart of Iron, or the cult classic TV show Firefly and is also a page-turning thrill ride that anyone—not just space nerds—can enjoy.
Visit M. K. England's website.

Writers Read: M. K. England.

--Marshal Zeringue

Molly MacRae's "Crewel and Unusual," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Crewel and Unusual (Haunted Yarn Shop Series #6) by Molly MacRae.

The entry begins:
A few years ago, I cast the recurring characters in the Haunted Yarn Shop mysteries (see My Book, The Movie – Knot the Usual Suspects, October 21, 2015). Those choices still stand, so here’s my dream cast for the characters new to the series who appear in Crewel and Unusual. (Side note: I chose this cast two weeks before the Golden Globes and I can’t believe how prescient I was considering Patricia Arquette’s win and the stir created by Jamie Lee Curtis’ stunning appearance).

For Belinda Moyer – Patricia Arquette. Belinda is bright, but not terribly well-educated. She knows a good deal when she sees one, but isn’t the savviest businesswoman. She’s suspicious and secretive. Arquette will be able to balance these contradictions sympathetically. Of course, now that Arquette has won the Golden Globe, she might be too busy.

For Martha the enamelist – Jamie Lee Curtis. Martha is confident, matter-of-fact, and doesn’t suffer fools gladly. She wears her gray hair in a long braid, so Curtis will have to wear a wig, but I bet she’ll do it and look like a goddess.

For Sierra Estep – Emma...[read on]
Visit Molly MacRae's website.

My Book, The Movie: Knot the Usual Suspects.

The Page 69 Test: Knot the Usual Suspects.

My Book, The Movie: Plaid and Plagiarism.

The Page 69 Test: Plaid and Plagiarism.

The Page 69 Test: Scones and Scoundrels.

My Book, The Movie: Scones and Scoundrels.

The Page 69 Test: Crewel and Unusual.

My Book, The Movie: Crewel and Unusual.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven top conspiracy thrillers from the 1970s

Daniel Palmer is a critically acclaimed suspense novelist.

One of his seven favorite conspiracy thrillers of the 1970s, as shared at CrimeReads:
Thomas Harris, Black Sunday

The 1975 novel by Thomas Harris (yes, the same Thomas Harris who gave us Hannibal Lecter) deals with a pact between Michael Lander, a pilot who flies the Aldrich Blimp over NFL football games, and Black September, the terrorist organization responsible for the massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics. Lander, a former POW from the Vietnam War, is deranged and angry at all the happy football fans he helps film from high above, which is why he’s willing to kill himself and take as many people as possible with him in the process. Like The Day of the Jackal, the book is a hunt as American and Israeli intelligence forces track the path of explosives into the country that will eventually lead them to a blimp bomb made of plastique and a quarter million steel darts. Harris makes the case that conspiracies don’t have to involve shadowy governments to be terrifying. He also portrays how war can do an equally good job of creating killers as any covert government operation. Black Sunday was the novel my father returned to on many occasions when he needed reminders of how to build suspense to a knuckle-whitening degree.
Learn about another book on the list.

Black Sunday is among Howard Gordon's five best thrillers with terror themes and Gerald Seymour's five riveting novels about terrorism.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 14, 2019

Pg. 99: Andrew R. Murphy's "William Penn: A Life"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: William Penn: A Life by Andrew R. Murphy.

About the book, from the publisher:
On March 4, 1681, King Charles II granted William Penn a charter for a new American colony. Pennsylvania was to be, in its founder's words, a bold "Holy Experiment" in religious freedom and toleration, a haven for those fleeing persecution in an increasingly intolerant England and across Europe. An activist, political theorist, and the proprietor of his own colony, Penn would become a household name in the New World, despite spending just four years on American soil.

Though Penn is an iconic figure in both American and British history, controversy swirled around him during his lifetime. In his early twenties, Penn became a Quaker -- an act of religious as well as political rebellion that put an end to his father's dream that young William would one day join the English elite. Yet Penn went on to a prominent public career as a Quaker spokesman, political agitator, and royal courtier. At the height of his influence, Penn was one of the best-known Dissenters in England and walked the halls of power as a close ally of King James II. At his lowest point, he found himself jailed on suspicion of treason, and later served time in debtor's prison.

Despite his importance, William Penn has remained an elusive character -- many people know his name, but few know much more than that. Andrew R. Murphy offers the first major biography of Penn in more than forty years, and the first to make full use of Penn's private papers. The result is a complex portrait of a man whose legacy we are still grappling with today. At a time when religious freedom is hotly debated in the United States and around the world, William Penn's Holy Experiment serves as both a beacon and a challenge.
Learn more about Andrew R. Murphy's research and publications at his faculty webpage and follow him on Twitter.

The Page 99 Test: Prodigal Nation.

The Page 99 Test: William Penn: A Life.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eight top examples of writing about sex

Hannah Tennant-Moore is the author of Wreck and Order.

At LitHub she tagged a "collection of credible, affecting sex scenes by writers who are celebrated not for their illicit content, but for their uncommonly precise prose and insightful observations of human nature," including:
In American Purgatorio by John Haskell—one of the great, underappreciated novels of the last decade—a man is lost, desperate, and grieving because his wife has disappeared. In an effort at healing, he tries to get himself to cross over what he calls “the sexual membrane” that “separates our everyday life from our sexual life.” He believes that feeling aroused will help him out of the prison of his own pain: “If I would have a little more desire then my thoughts—and by virtue of my thoughts, my life—would automatically focus on the world and enter the world and pull me away from my suffering.” So he hits on a woman at a party, and they go into a room together and start making out. They work hard to “cross the membrane,” but ultimately remain separate and unsatisfied because they’re each trying to...[read on]
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 69 Test: John Haskell's American Purgatorio.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Matthew Carr reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Matthew Carr, author of The Savage Frontier: The Pyrenees in History and the Imagination.

His entry begins:
When I'm writing non-fiction, my reading tends be dominated by the subject in hand. I try to read obsessively on whatever project i'm writing about so that I'm completely filled up by it. When I'm in between books, as I am now, I try to read more freely, either catching up on books I've been looking forward to, or following possibilities that interest me. I'm currently looking into the possibility of a book on the Arctic, so I read Barry Lopez's Arctic Dreams. Few people write more eloquently or gracefully about landscape and nature than Lopez. Every time I read him...[read on]
About The Savage Frontier, from the publisher:
With the Catalonia crisis making international headlines, the unique cultural and geographic region bordering Spain and France has once again moved to the center of the world’s attention. In The Savage Frontier, acclaimed author and journalist Matthew Carr uncovers the fascinating, multilayered story of the Pyrenees region—at once a forbidding, mountainous frontier zone of stunning beauty, home to a unique culture, and a site of sharp conflict between nations and empires.

Carr follows the routes taken by monks, soldiers, poets, pilgrims, and refugees. He examines the people and events that have shaped the Pyrenees across the centuries, with a cast of characters including Napoleon, Hannibal, and Charlemagne; the eccentric British climber Henry Russell; Francisco Sabaté Llopart, the Catalan anarchist who waged a lone war against the Franco regime across the Pyrenees for years after the civil war; Camino de Santiago pilgrims; and the cellist Pablo Casals, who spent twenty-three years in exile only a few miles from the Spanish border to show his disgust and disapproval of the Spanish regime.

The Savage Frontier is a book that will spark a new awareness and appreciation of one of the most haunting, magical, and dramatic landscapes on earth.
Visit Matthew Carr's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Devils of Cardona.

Writers Read: Matthew Carr.

--Marshal Zeringue

Kristen Roupenian's six best books

Kristen Roupenian's new story collection is You Know You Want This.

One of her six favorite books, as shared at The Week magazine:
My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite (2018).

This debut novel has been everywhere these past few months, and the hype is 100 percent deserved. Gorgeous, narcissistic, and Instagram-obsessed, the title character keeps accidentally-on-purpose killing her boyfriends and calling on her reliable older sister to clean up her mess. A fast-paced thriller that also brilliantly captures sisterhood's dance of love and envy.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Pg. 99: Karin Vélez's "The Miraculous Flying House of Loreto"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Miraculous Flying House of Loreto: Spreading Catholicism in the Early Modern World by Karin Vélez.

About the book, from the publisher:
In 1295, a house fell from the evening sky onto an Italian coastal road by the Adriatic Sea. Inside, awestruck locals encountered the Virgin Mary, who explained that this humble mud-brick structure was her original residence newly arrived from Nazareth. To keep it from the hands of Muslim invaders, angels had flown it to Loreto, stopping three times along the way. This story of the house of Loreto has been read as an allegory of how Catholicism spread peacefully around the world by dropping miraculously from the heavens.

In this book, Karin Vélez calls that interpretation into question by examining historical accounts of the movement of the Holy House across the Mediterranean in the thirteenth century and the Atlantic in the seventeenth century. These records indicate vast and voluntary involvement in the project of formulating a branch of Catholic devotion. Vélez surveys the efforts of European Jesuits, Slavic migrants, and indigenous peoples in Baja California, Canada, and Peru. These individuals contributed to the expansion of Catholicism by acting as unofficial authors, inadvertent pilgrims, unlicensed architects, unacknowledged artists, and unsolicited cataloguers of Loreto. Their participation in portaging Mary’s house challenges traditional views of Christianity as a prepackaged European export, and instead suggests that Christianity is the cumulative product of thousands of self-appointed editors. Vélez also demonstrates how miracle narratives can be treated seriously as historical sources that preserve traces of real events.

Drawing on rich archival materials, The Miraculous Flying House of Loreto illustrates how global Catholicism proliferated through independent initiatives of untrained laymen.
Learn more about The Miraculous Flying House of Loreto at the Princeton University Press website.

My Book, The Movie: The Miraculous Flying House of Loreto.

The Page 99 Test: The Miraculous Flying House of Loreto.

--Marshal Zeringue

Jess Montgomery's "The Widows," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Widows: A Novel by Jess Montgomery.

The entry begins:
As I wrote The Widows, I listened—repeatedly—to the soundtrack from the movie, Batman Begins. There are no bats in The Widows. The novel is set in 1920s Appalachia, as two women investigate murder and fight for their community.

But I’ve come to love writing to acoustic music. It helps me focus. And the sweeping, rhythmic score of Batman Begins was empowering to me, giving me courage to write some of the tougher scenes that at first I wanted to shirk from. (But that, of course, would not be fair to readers—or to me as a writer.)

Music also plays a role in the novel, particularly ballads and gospel. So perhaps it’s not surprising that the first thing I think about with “My Book, The Movie” for The Widows is who I’d like to write a theme song. And that is...[read on]
Visit Jess Montgomery's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Widows.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Nicolás Obregón's "Sins as Scarlet"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Sins as Scarlet: An Inspector Iwata Novel by Nicolás Obregón.

About the book, from the publisher:
In this follow-up to Nicolás Obregon’s critically acclaimed Blue Light Yokohama, Inspector Iwata returns—in a murder case in his new home of Los Angeles.

After a brutal investigation ripped apart his life, Kosuke Iwata quit both his job as a detective with the Tokyo Police Department and his country, leaving Japan for the sunnier shores of Los Angeles, California. But, although he’s determined to leave his past behind, murder still follows him.

Having set up shop as a private investigator, Iwata is approached by someone from his old life. Her daughter has been killed and the case has gone cold. Out of loyalty, Iwata agrees to take on the case and reinvestigate the homicide. However, what seems initially like a cold-blooded but simple murder takes a complex turn when a witness, a vagrant, recalls the killer's parting words: “I’m sorry.”

From the depths of Skid Row to the fatal expanse of the Sonoran Desert, Iwata tracks the disparate pieces of a mysterious and heartbreaking puzzle. But the more he unearths, the more complex this simple act of murder becomes.

Lives untangle, fates converge, and blood is spilled as Inspector Iwata returns.
Visit Nicolás Obregón's website.

The Page 69 Test: Sins as Scarlet.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top books to explore the Antarctic

Jean McNeil is the author of thirteen books, including six novels and a collection of short fiction, a collection of poetry, a travel guide and literary essays. Her work has been shortlisted for the Governor-General’s Award for fiction and the Journey Prize for short fiction (Canada).

Her 2016 book Ice Diaries: an Antarctic Memoir, which The New York Times has called 'stunningly written', won the Grand Prize at the Banff Mountain Film Festival Book Competition.

One of McNeil's best books to explore the Antarctic, as shared at the Guardian:
For a long time, Antarctica had only men to kill. Women were barred from the continent, supposedly due to the medical threats of pregnancy and the difficulty of repatriation. Not until the mid-1990s were they allowed to overwinter on British bases. Unlike Sara Wheeler or Gabrielle Walker, who offer perceptive accounts in Terra Incognita and Antarctica, Jenny Diski met a wall of rejection when she tried to travel there as an official observer, and took a berth on a cruise ship instead. Her morbid, acidic travelogue, Skating to Antarctica, is a haunting exploration of her inner Antarctic, which reflects this outsider status – all most of us will ever be on this remote continent.
Read another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Pg. 99: Matthew S. Seligmann's "Rum, Sodomy, Prayers and the Lash Revisited"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Rum, Sodomy, Prayers, and the Lash Revisited: Winston Churchill and Social Reform in the Royal Navy, 1900-1915 by Matthew S. Seligmann.

About the book, from the publisher:
"Naval tradition? Naval tradition? Monstrous. Nothing but rum, sodomy, prayers and the lash." This quotation, from Winston Churchill, is frequently dismissed as apocryphal or a jest, but, interestingly, all four of the areas of naval life singled out in it were ones that were subject to major reform initiatives while Churchill was in charge of the Royal Navy between October 1911 and May 1915. During this period, not only were there major improvements in pay and conditions for sailors, but detailed consideration was also given to the future of the spirit ration; to the punishing and eradicating of homosexual practices; to the spiritual concerns of the fleet; and to the regime of corporal punishment that underpinned naval discipline for boy sailors. In short, under Churchill, the Royal Navy introduced a social reform programme perfectly encapsulated in this elegant quip. And, yet, not only has no one studied it; many people do not even know that such a programme even existed. This book rectifies that. It shows that Churchill was not just a major architect of welfare reform as President of the Board of Trade and as Home Secretary, but that he continued to push a radical social agenda while running the Navy.
Learn more about Rum, Sodomy, Prayers, and the Lash Revisited at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Rum, Sodomy, Prayers, and the Lash Revisited.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eight books that fuel our fascination with twins

Emma Rous grew up in England, Indonesia, Kuwait, Portugal and Fiji, and from a young age she had two ambitions: to write stories, and to look after animals. She studied veterinary medicine and zoology at the University of Cambridge, then worked as a small animal veterinary surgeon for eighteen years before switching to full time writing in 2016.

The Au Pair is her first novel.

At CrimeReads Rous tagged eight novels that fuel our fascination with twins, including:
Beside Myself, Ann Morgan

Ellie and Helen are identical twins who switch places as a game when they’re six years old. Helen is the good girl, the favored daughter—or at least, she always has been, up until the point where Ellie insists on keeping Helen’s identity by refusing to switch back. The repercussions for each girl highlight just how much people’s subconscious expectations affect children’s behavior. Years later, as an adult, Helen receives a phone call that might just lead to the original deception finally being exposed.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is James L. Cambias reading?

Featured at Writers Read: James L. Cambias, author of Arkad's World.

His entry begins:
I typically have an "upstairs book" and a "downstairs book" so I'm never more than a few steps from some reading matter. I'm currently reading biographies of two very different men.

Upstairs I'm reading African Kaiser: General Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck and the Great War in Africa 1914-1918, by Robert Gaudi. It's a great book about one of my favorite historical figures: Colonel (later General) Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck, who commanded the Imperial German troops in East Africa during the First World War.

Von Lettow was an amazing military commander, who kept British and Commonwealth forces twenty times the size of his own army busy chasing him around Africa. When the war ended he was Germany's only undefeated general.

But beyond his military prowess, he seems to have been a genuinely good guy. One reason his little army was so effective was that...[read on]
About Arkad's World, from the publisher:
Young Arkad is the only human on a distant world, on his own among beings from across the Galaxy. His struggle to survive on the lawless streets of an alien city is disrupted by the arrival of three humans: an eccentric historian named Jacob, a superhuman cyborg girl called Baichi, and a mysterious ex-spy known as Ree. They seek a priceless treasure which might free Earth from alien domination. Arkad risks everything to join them on an incredible quest halfway across the planet. With his help they cross the fantastic landscape, battling pirates, mercenaries, bizarre creatures, vicious bandits and the harsh environment. But the deadliest danger comes from treachery and betrayal within the group as dark secrets and hidden loyalties come to light.
Visit James L. Cambias's website.

My Book, The Movie: A Darkling Sea.

Writers Read: James L. Cambias.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 11, 2019

Pg. 99: Lisa Greenwald's "Daughters of 1968"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Daughters of 1968: Redefining French Feminism and the Women's Liberation Movement by Lisa Greenwald.

About the book, from the publisher:
Daughters of 1968 is the story of French feminism between 1944 and 1981, when feminism played a central political role in the history of France. The key women during this epoch were often leftists committed to a materialist critique of society and were part of a postwar tradition that produced widespread social change, revamping the workplace and laws governing everything from abortion to marriage.

The May 1968 events—with their embrace of radical individualism and anti-authoritarianism—triggered a break from the past, and the women’s movement split into two strands. One became individualist and intensely activist, the other particularist and less activist, distancing itself from contemporary feminism. This theoretical debate manifested itself in battles between women and organizations on the streets and in the courts.

The history of French feminism is the history of women’s claims to individualism and citizenship that had been granted their male counterparts, at least in principle, in 1789. The few exceptions, such as Simone de Beauvoir or the 1970s activists, demonstrate the diversity and tensions within French feminism, as France moved from a corporatist and tradition-minded country to one marked by individualism and modernity.
Learn more about Daughters of 1968 at the University of Nebraska Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Daughters of 1968.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top books to read if you care about the planet

Bill McKibben is an author and environmentalist who in 2014 was awarded the Right Livelihood Prize, sometimes called the ‘alternative Nobel.’ His 1989 book The End of Nature is regarded as the first book for a general audience about climate change, and has appeared in 24 languages; he’s gone on to write a dozen more books.

His forthcoming book is Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?

One title on McKibben's 2015 list of five books to read if you care about the planet, as shared at LitHub:
The Tyranny of Oil, Antonia Juhasz: The reporter who’s really covered the most powerful and reckless industry on the planet.

“The masters of the oil industry, the companies known as ‘Big Oil,’ exercise their influence throughout this chain of events: through rapidly and ever-increasing oil and gasoline prices, a lack of viable alternatives, the erosion of democracy, environmental destruction, global warming, violence, and war.”
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Taylor Adams's "No Exit"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: No Exit: A Novel by Taylor Adams.

About the book, from the publisher:
A kidnapped little girl locked in a stranger’s van. No help for miles. What would you do?

On her way to Utah to see her dying mother, college student Darby Thorne gets caught in a fierce blizzard in the mountains of Colorado. With the roads impassable, she’s forced to wait out the storm at a remote highway rest stop. Inside are some vending machines, a coffee maker, and four complete strangers.

Desperate to find a signal to call home, Darby goes back out into the storm ... and makes a horrifying discovery. In the back of the van parked next to her car, a little girl is locked in an animal crate.

Who is the child? Why has she been taken? And how can Darby save her?

There is no cell phone reception, no telephone, and no way out. One of her fellow travelers is a kidnapper. But which one?

Trapped in an increasingly dangerous situation, with a child’s life and her own on the line, Darby must find a way to break the girl out of the van and escape.

But who can she trust?

With exquisitely controlled pacing, Taylor Adams diabolically ratchets up the tension with every page. Full of terrifying twists and hairpin turns, No Exit will have you on the edge of your seat and leave you breathless.
Visit Taylor Adams's website.

The Page 69 Test: No Exit.

--Marshal Zeringue