Thursday, June 30, 2011

What is Kamala Nair reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Kamala Nair, author of The Girl in the Garden, her debut novel.

Her entry begins:
The Lake by Banana Yoshimoto

I first fell in love with Banana Yoshimoto’s writing when I read Kitchen and Asleep in college. Her stories had a hypnotic effect on me. I was gripped by overwhelming hunger when I read Kitchen, and nothing I consumed could compare to the foods I was reading about on the page. The day I read Asleep, I found myself neglecting meals and schoolwork, drifting in a dream-like state between reading and sleeping. It was a wonderful surprise when I walked into a bookstore the other day and saw a new work by Yoshimoto called The Lake. I had only planned on stopping in for a quick browse, but I ended up sitting in the café for an hour with a cup of tea, reading. I bought the book and continued reading at home. The Lake is a dark tale about the mysterious bond between two emotionally...[read on]
Among the early praise for The Girl in the Garden:
“[An] accomplished debut . . . a satisfying coming-of-age tale with smooth prose and a lustrous backdrop.”
Publishers Weekly

“Elegantly turned, conveying a sense of magic…charming individual moments are sprinkled throughout… Nair gently packs the story with plenty of commentary about Indian domestic life, mythology and, most of all, its sexist culture.”
Kirkus Reviews

“A daring fairy tale of a story, Nair’s first novel audaciously tackles issues ranging from puberty to friendship to abuse, providing plenty of adventure as well.”
Booklist

“Nair effortlessly brings her childhood memories to life, peppering her novel with spellbinding Indian fables… the perfect embellishments to an already flavorful backdrop. As much as Rakhee’s coming-of-age journey owns this novel, without her grandmother, her harsh and prideful aunt Sadhana, her troubled mother, Chitra, and her sidekick cousin Krishna, this novel would lack its fresh, fascinating, and harrowing perspective on women’s ever-changing cultural and social roles. These women’s mistakes, regrets, fears, and sacrifices make them utterly relatable.”
ELLE
Learn more about the book and author at Kamala Nair's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: The Girl in the Garden.

Writers Read: Kamala Nair.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top 10 historical novels

Andrew Miller was born in Bristol in 1960. His first novel, Ingenious Pain, was published in 1997 and won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction, the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the Grinzane Cavour prize in Italy. He has since written five novels: Casanova, Oxygen, which was shortlisted for the Whitbread Novel Award and the Booker Prize in 2001, The Optimists, One Morning like a Bird, and Pure.

One of his top ten historical novels, as told to the Guardian:
The Blue Flower by Penelope Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald was one of the finest British novelists of the last 50 years. The Blue Flower – the story of the young German Romantic poet Novalis and his love for the even younger Sophie Von Kuhn – was her last novel. Nothing much happens; nothing much needs to. Fitzgerald leaves her characters to live and breathe, to clump about in their uncomfortable rooms and say wise, witty things to each other. There is something beautiful and generous in the way she holds them all. A conjuring trick of a book. Impeccable.
Read about another novel on the list.

The Blue Flower is one of Diana Quick's six best books, Sebastian Faulks' forty recommended books, and appears on Kate Blackwell's list of five books distinguished by sheer originality of language and unique vision. It was one of my favorite two books of 1995.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Brendan O’Meara's "Six Weeks in Saratoga"

Today's feature at the Page 99 Test: Six Weeks in Saratoga: How Three-Year-Old Filly Rachel Alexandra Beat the Boys and Became Horse of the Year by Brendan O'Meara.

About the book, from the publisher:
The inside story of how a three-year-old filly captured the hearts of racing fans and cemented her bid to be named Horse of the Year.

When Rachel Alexandra thundered to a stylish win against the boys in the 2009 Preakness Stakes, her connections came to the 141st Saratoga Race Course meeting wanting more than just another victory. They wanted Horse of the Year.

Her jockey, Calvin Borel, pointed triumphantly to the three-year-old filly beneath him. Rachel Alexandra was the best horse he had ever ridden and it was his job to ensure that she and her connections didn’t leave Saratoga Springs without a victory.

Hall of Fame trainer and gruff New Yorker Nick Zito felt he could slay the queen. He’d take his shots with two rival horses, Da’ Tara and Cool Coal Man, because, as he well knew, you can’t win if you don’t play.

New York Racing Association president and CEO Charlie Hayward knew that Rachel Alexandra could run elsewhere and didn’t have to come to Saratoga. The pressure was on him to keep this talented and magnetic filly on his property, but how far could he go without compromising his values?

Then there were the other horses at the meet: the Zito-trained Commentator, eight years old and looking for one last try in the Whitney Handicap; Kentucky Derby–winner Mine That Bird, aiming to reclaim his glory if he could only stay healthy; and Summer Bird, the Belmont Stakes winner, who demanded respect.

Everyone was in the twilight of their careers. What would be their legacies? How would they be remembered?

Never before has the famous racing season at Saratoga been illustrated through these threads, in real time. As we follow the jockey, the trainer, and the executive, we come to understand how they, and so many other racing fans and professionals, were drawn to the magnetism of one special horse, Rachel Alexandra.

All of this happens in six weeks, all at Saratoga.
Learn more about the book and author at Brendan O'Meara's website and blog. Follow the author on Twitter, and "like" Six Weeks on Facebook.

The Page 99 Test: Six Weeks in Saratoga.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Bernadette Pajer's "A Spark of Death"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: A Spark of Death by Bernadette Pajer.

About the book, from the publisher:
Can death bring a man back to life? When UW Professor Benjamin Bradshaw discovers a despised colleague dead inside the Faraday Cage of the Electric Machine, his carefully controlled world shatters. The facts don’t add up—the police shout murder—and Bradshaw is the lone suspect. To protect his young son and clear his name, he must find the killer. Seattle in 1901 is a bustling blend of frontier attitude and cosmopolitan swagger.

The Snoqualmie Falls Power Plant lights the city, but to most Seattleites, electricity is new-fangled and dangerous. The public wants a culprit—they want Bradshaw behind bars. The killer wants Bradshaw dead. His life and liberty threatened, Bradshaw discovers the thrill of investigation as he’s thrust deeper into the hunt. Questions abound. How had the Electric Machine’s Tesla Coil delivered a fatal shock? Was the murder personal—or connected to President McKinley’s planned visit? Were students involved, or in danger? And why had Bradshaw’s best friend, Henry, fled to Alaska the day of the murder? When Henry’s niece Missouri appears on Bradshaw’s porch in need of a home, her unorthodox views and femininity confuse and intrigue him as he struggles to protect his own haunting secret. Danger and death lurk everywhere—disguised as accidents. Has Bradshaw come alive again only to lose all he holds dear? Before it’s too late, will he discover the circuit path that led to a spark of death?
Learn more about the book and author at Bernadette Pajer's website.

The Page 69 Test: A Spark of Death.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

What is Lee Martin reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Lee Martin, author of Break the Skin.

His entry begins:
I recently read Stewart O’Nan’s novel, Emily, Alone, because I’m a big fan of Stewart’s work, and I wanted to have a look at his latest. I knew going in that this was a story about aging, as seen through the consciousness of its main character, eighty-year-old Emily Maxwell. Before I even opened the book, I felt heartened by the fact that Stewart had bravely taken on subject matter that was rife with challenges. How does one successfully tell the story of a woman who is toward the end of her life? How does one tell that story without falling into cliché and sentimentality? Well, if you’re a novelist as gifted as Stewart so clearly is, you pull it all off by...[read on]
Among the early praise for Break the Skin:
"I was worried for these characters as I'd worry for my own friends. The women want normal things--connection, stability--but get in their own way of finding peaceful lives. I love reading about characters in Illinois, a place not often depicted in fiction. This is a suspenseful, engaging book."
—Alice Elliott Dark, author of Think of England and In the Gloaming

"...Mr. Martin is a top-notch craftsman. . .what is most remarkable about Break the Skin is its restrained tone and the author's generosity toward his very needy characters. His sympathies for them rarely seem to wane, even when they are harboring criminals, conjuring hexes or plotting murder."
New York Times

"Martin, whose kidnap novel The Bright Forever (2005) was a finalist for the 2006 Pulitzer Prize in fiction, expertly applies shades of James Cain–like noir to a modern story that might have been inspired by one of the Lucinda Williams songs on this book's soundtrack. Black magic, daughters cursed by the loss or absence of their fathers, post traumatic stress syndrome, small-town secrecy and lies, pre-teen voyeurism: Welcome to life 'on the other side of right thinking.' An intoxicating small-town thriller that quickly gets under your skin."
Kirkus Reviews

“Provocative… Crackling with dark deeds and bad intentions, Martin snakes through the lives of the desperate without casting pity.”
--Publishers Weekly
Learn more about the book and author at Lee Martin's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Break the Skin.

My Book, The Movie: Break the Skin.

Writers Read: Lee Martin.

--Marshal Zeringue

Reading list: labor strikes

At the Independent Alice-Azania Jarvis compiled a brief reading list on strikes, including the work of history:
Out Of This Furnace by Thomas Bell

Set in a steel town just outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Bell's work draws upon the experience of his own immigrant ancestors. Following the fate of a family of Austrian immigrants over three generations, it focuses on three pivotal strikes in America's history: the Homestead strikes of 1892, and the Great Steel Strike of 1919. Published in 1941, it fell out of print until being reissued in the 1970s. Since then it has been an American History staple.
Read about the classic novel on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Pat Shipman's "The Animal Connection"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: The Animal Connection: A New Perspective on What Makes Us Human by Pat Shipman.

About the book, from the publisher:
A bold, illuminating new take on the love of animals that drove human evolution.

Why do humans all over the world take in and nurture other animals? This behavior might seem maladaptive-after all, every mouthful given to another species is one that you cannot eat-but in this heartening new study, acclaimed anthropologist Pat Shipman reveals that our propensity to domesticate and care for other animals is in fact among our species' greatest strengths. For the last 2.6 million years, Shipman explains, humans who coexisted with animals enjoyed definite adaptive and cultural advantages. To illustrate this point, Shipman gives us a tour of the milestones in human civilization-from agriculture to art and even language-and describes how we reached each stage through our unique relationship with other animals. The Animal Connection reaffirms our love of animals as something both innate and distinctly human, revealing that the process of domestication not only changed animals but had a resounding impact on us as well.
Learn more about the book and author at Pat Shipman's website.

Shipman is a professor of anthropology at Penn State University. Her books include Femme Fatale, a biography of Mata Hari, and the award-winning The Ape in the Tree (coauthor).

The Page 99 Test: Femme Fatale.

Writers Read: Pat Shipman (June 2009).

The Page 99 Test: The Animal Connection.

--Marshal Zeringue

Liane Moriarty's "What Alice Forgot," the movie

Now showing at My Book, The Movie: What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty.

The entry begins:
I have sold the movie rights to What Alice Forgot and the producers were talking about someone like Jennifer Aniston or Reese Witherspoon for the role of Alice. I also think Sandra Bullock would be wonderful. Alice is a whimsical, feminine character and she’s found herself in a completely confusing situation (losing ten years of her memory) but she’s not a fool, so the challenge would be to make her endearing and sympathetic, without making her just plain dippy and idiotic. I’d love to see someone like...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Liane Moriarty's website.

The Page 69 Test: What Alice Forgot.

Writers Read: Liane Moriarty.

My Book, The Movie: What Alice Forgot.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What is Christine Sismondo reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Christine Sismondo, author of America Walks into a Bar: A Spirited History of Taverns and Saloons, Speakeasies and Grog Shops.

Her entry begins:
Like everyone else, I’m sure, I’ve got this list of big books I’ve never read but feel I should have. This year, aside from a couple of new releases like My Korean Deli and Blood, Bones and Butter (both of which I’d recommend, the latter ever so slightly more), I decided to finally tackle Silent Spring, The Monk and The Fountainhead.

What I discovered, aside from Rachel Carson’s incredible eloquence, was how effective the rhetoric of personifying nature could be. I now understand exactly why Silent Spring re-shaped our legislation and the way we think about the environment.

I didn’t know what to expect from...[read on]
Among the early praise for America Walks into a Bar:
"A robust homage to the history and proliferation of bars and their vast and often overlooked cultural significance."
--Kirkus Reviews

"Breezy, anecdotal, and pun-laden yet complete with a selective bibliography of print sources, Sismondo's book surveys a myriad of American drinking establishments, accenting their importance in social, political, and cultural history and discerning subtle differences over the centuries."
--Library Journal
Visit Christine Sismondo's blog, and learn more about America Walks into a Bar at the Oxford University Press website.

Sismondo is a writer and lecturer in Humanities at York University in Toronto. She has written numerous articles about film, literature, drinking, and vice, as well as the book Mondo Cocktail, a narrative history of cocktails.

The Page 99 Test: America Walks into a Bar.

Writers Read: Christine Sismondo.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eight books for the college-bound student

At Flavorwire, Colette McIntyre tagged eight books every college-bound student should read, including:
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

Toru Okada, the protagonist of Haruki Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, is painfully passive. Hopelessly adrift, he wanders through a life that is slowly receding from him. As the characters that populate his world begin to disappear, Toru becomes involved in a series of fantastical events that occur in a seemingly innocuous well. In their most vulnerable moments, when they lack both ambition and guidance, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle will provide graduates some much-needed solitude and a fantasy to get lost in.
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Mark Knights's "The Devil in Disguise"

Today's feature at the Page 99 Test: The Devil in Disguise: Deception, Delusion, and Fanaticism in the Early English Enlightenment by Mark Knights.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Devil in Disguise illuminates the impact of the two British revolutions of the seventeenth century and the shifts in religious, political, scientific, literary, economic, social, and moral culture that they brought about.

It does so through the fascinating story of one family and their locality: the Cowpers of Hertford. Their dramatic history contains a murder mystery, bigamy, a scandal novel, and a tyrannized wife, all set against a backdrop of violently competing local factions, rampant religious prejudice, and the last conviction of a witch in England.

Spencer Cowper was accused of murdering a Quaker, and his brother William had two illegitimate children by his second 'wife'. Their scandalous lives became the source of public gossip, much to the horror of their mother, Sarah, who poured out her heart in a diary that also chronicles her feeling of being enslaved to her husband. Her two sons remained in the limelight. Both were instrumental in the prosecution of Henry Sacheverell, a firebrand cleric who preached a sermon about the illegitimacy of resistance and religious toleration. His parliamentary trial in 1710 provoked serious riots in London. William Cowper also intervened in 1712 to secure the life of Jane Wenham, whose trial provoked a wide-ranging debate about witchcraft beliefs.

The Cowpers and their town are a microcosm of a changing world. Their story suggests that an early 'Enlightenment', far from being simply a movement of ideas sparked by 'great thinkers', was shaped and advanced by local and personal struggles.
Learn more about The Devil in Disguise at the Oxford University Press website.

Mark Knights is Professor of History at Warwick University. He has written two books about later Stuart political culture, including Representation and Misrepresentation in Later Stuart Britain: Partisanship and Political Culture, and has also written elsewhere about early modern ideas, print, and discourse.

The Page 99 Test: The Devil in Disguise.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Gregg Hurwitz's "You're Next"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: You're Next by Gregg Hurwitz.

About the book, from the publisher:
Mike Wingate, abandoned by his father at four and raised in foster care, is finally living the life he always dreamed of—he’s happily married with a precocious 8-year-old daughter, and his construction company is about to finish a “green” housing development that will secure a solid future for them all. But then something from his own past, a past he doesn’t even remember, comes back to visit terror upon him and his family.

Shady characters begin threatening Mike and, when he reports them, the police seem more interested in Mike’s murky past than in protecting him. Now, with Mike, his wife Annabel and daughter Kat suddenly under attack from all sides, Mike turns to Shep, a dangerous man—and Mike’s only true friend— from his childhood days in foster care. Together they will do whatever it takes to protect Mike’s family against the hidden men behind the terrifying warning, “You’re Next.”
Learn more about the book and author at Gregg Hurwitz's website and blog.

My Book, The Movie: The Crime Writer.

The Page 69 Test: Trust No One.

Writers Read: Gregg Hurwitz.

The Page 69 Test: They're Watching.

My Book, The Movie: They're Watching.

The Page 69 Test: You're Next.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 27, 2011

What is Reavis Z. Wortham reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Reavis Z. Wortham, author of The Rock Hole.

His entry begins:
Chinaberry Sidewalks

I read to excess and usually have several books going at once. I just finished a wonderful surprise. The memoir, Chinaberry Sidewalks, by Rodney Crowell, was a book I wish I’d written. This talented musician has other skills besides writing and performing on stage. He is a true writer, and this uproarious book by a man that is within a year or two of my own age touch several chords, though luckily, I didn’t have the traumatic childhood he experienced.

It was a book I couldn’t put down, and my own writing suffered for a day and a half while I escaped to my bedroom to enjoy his descriptions of Texas thunderstorms, honky tonks, hurricanes, conversations so familiar I became homesick, and adventures reminiscent of Jean Shepherd’s In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash (the book from which Ralphie and his Red Ryder BB gun was made into A Christmas Story). I write humor, mostly outdoor humor about the guys I hunt with. I’m no stranger to laughing at Pat McManus, Donald Westlake, or Max Shulman, but Crowell actually made me laugh out loud, so much that in one scene on page 115 I had to pause and wipe away the tears. In that chapter, Crowell and his childhood cronies attack the abusive father of a friend with rocks, dirt clods, and BB guns. They might have won the battle, but when his mama hears about it and wears him out with a chinaberry switch and then when that breaks, with her hair brush, his dad’s one line response at the crest of the crisis is absolutely hilarious.

But it isn’t all...[read on]
Among the early praise for The Rock Hole:
"An accomplished first novel about life and murder in a small Texas town.... Not just scary but funny too, as Wortham nails time and place in a sure-handed, captivating way. There's a lot of good stuff in this unpretentious gem. Don't miss it."
--Kirkus Reviews

"Set in 1964, Wortham's engaging first novel takes readers to Center Springs, Tex., where 10-year-old Top has come to live with grandparents Becky and Ned Parker. Ned is both farmer and constable, used to dealing with illegal stills, minor thefts, drunks, and family disputes, but not with the kind of vicious cruelty behind a slew of animal tortures and killings. What might be an idyllic time for Top and his tomboy cousin, Pepper, is marred by their overhearing Ned and Deputy John Washington, who polices the town's black community, discussing whether the atrocities are being committed by whites, blacks, or Indians across the border in Oklahoma. When the killer turns to human victims, starting with Ned's cousin Joseph, the stage is set for a tense ending. Solid characters and a vivid depiction of a vanishing period make this a series to watch."
--Publishers Weekly

"What a gem of a book!.... I wanted to finish the book to find out what the conclusions would be but at the same time I didn't want the book to end!"
--MysteriesEtc

"Wortham does a great job of creating a foreboding atmosphere from the get-go. His assured debut is multilayered and shows his love of story­telling. The juxtaposition of the old ways with the new era—the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War—provides just the kindling needed for a crackling good mystery in a Western setting."
--Library Journal
Learn more about the book and author at Reavis Z. Wortham's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Rock Hole.

My Book, The Movie: The Rock Hole.

Writers Read: Reavis Z. Wortham.

--Marshal Zeringue

The coolest Shakespeare riffs in sci-fi & fantasy

At io9, Charlie Jane Anders and Lauren Davis developed a list of the greatest Shakespeare homages and cover versions in science fiction and fantasy.

One novel on the list (which includes many television shows and movies):
Aldous Huxley, Brave New World:

In one of the most famous dystopian (or false utopian) novels of all time, John the Savage cherishes a banned copy of Shakespeare's plays, and learns a lot about human nature from them. And of course, the book takes its title from Miranda's famous quote from The Tempest.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Christine Sismondo's "America Walks into a Bar"

Today's feature at the Page 99 Test: America Walks into a Bar: A Spirited History of Taverns and Saloons, Speakeasies and Grog Shops by Christine Sismondo.

About the book, from the publisher:
When George Washington bade farewell to his officers, he did so in New York's Fraunces Tavern. When Andrew Jackson planned his defense of New Orleans against the British in 1815, he met Jean Lafitte in a grog shop. And when John Wilkes Booth plotted with his accomplices to carry out a certain assassination, they gathered in Surratt Tavern.

In America Walks into a Bar, Christine Sismondo recounts the rich and fascinating history of an institution often reviled, yet always central to American life. She traces the tavern from England to New England, showing how even the Puritans valued "a good Beere." With fast-paced narration and lively characters, she carries the story through the twentieth century and beyond, from repeated struggles over licensing and Sunday liquor sales, from the Whiskey Rebellion to the temperance movement, from attempts to ban "treating" to Prohibition and repeal. As the cockpit of organized crime, politics, and everyday social life, the bar has remained vital--and controversial--down to the present. In 2006, when the Hurricane Katrina Emergency Tax Relief Act was passed, a rider excluded bars from applying for aid or tax breaks on the grounds that they contributed nothing to the community. Sismondo proves otherwise: the bar has contributed everything to the American story.

In this heady cocktail of agile prose and telling anecdotes, Sismondo offers a resounding toast to taprooms, taverns, saloons, speakeasies, and the local hangout where everybody knows your name.
Visit Christine Sismondo's blog, and learn more about America Walks into a Bar at the Oxford University Press website.

Sismondo is a writer and lecturer in Humanities at York University in Toronto. She has written numerous articles about film, literature, drinking, and vice, as well as the book Mondo Cocktail, a narrative history of cocktails.

The Page 99 Test: America Walks into a Bar.

--Marshal Zeringue

Coffee with a canine: Bruce Littlefield & Westminster

Today's featured duo at Coffee with a Canine: Bruce Littlefield and Westminster.

From the Q & A, on Wes's contribution to Littlefield's writing:
He’s my sidekick, my muse, and is the inspiration for The Bedtime Book for Dogs. One day I was working away at my computer on a book project, and he obviously wanted my attention. When I looked down at him, I asked, “What? You want me to write you a book?” He wagged his tail and this tale was born. It was a real “aha!” moment. He’s retained an attorney to...[read on]
Among the early praise for The Bedtime Book for Dogs:
“With its thick outlines, bright colors, beady canine eyes, and endearing dog’s-eye viewpoint, debut illustrator Heath’s artwork … gives the pages a feeling that’s half comic book, half primer. Words and commands familiar to dogs (lie down, treat, squirrel, good dog) lace the text and provide potential opportunities for interactivity with pets.”
Publishers Weekly

“The book, a simple story about a good dog who decides to walk himself because his companion is too busy, is charming, adorably illustrated, and… well, genius.”
Pet Home Magazine

“The publication of Bruce Littlefield’s The Bedtime Book for Dogs takes this (pet) obsession one stage further. Littlefield has written children’s stories to read to your dog before it goes to sleep. It’s all perfectly deranged, of course, but good-natured and loving and, in Littlefield’s case, actually rather well-written.”
—FT.com

“‘The Bedtime Book for Dogs,’ by Bruce Littlefield is adorable, cleverly incorporating into the story words that dogs actually know. (Not that I think any of you actually read to your dogs.) (Or do you?) It begins: ‘Come. Sit. Stay. I want to tell you a story. I think you’ll like it. It’s about a TREAT.’ My dog, I can assure you, would be all ears by now.”
Star Tribune

"Bruce Littlefield, reigning guru of garage sales, Airstreams, and Christmas lights goes to the dogs with this one-of-a-kind picture book, groomed for reading aloud to furry best friends. Childlike artwork and recognizable words (“come,” “stay,” “treat”) will get tails wagging. Fetch!"
–Chronogram
Visit Bruce Littlefield's website and Facebook page.

Writers Read: Bruce Littlefield.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Bruce Littlefield and Westminster.

--Marshal Zeringue

Lee Martin's "Break the Skin," the movie

Now showing at My Book, The Movie: Break the Skin by Lee Martin.

The entry begins:
It’s always fun to think about who might play whom in a movie version of one of my novels. I like to do what directors rarely do—disregard the age and look of an actor and consider instead how he or she, based on past performances, might connect with the inner lives I’ve created for my characters.

My new novel, Break the Skin, is on one level the story of a murder plot wrapped up in practical magic, but more than that it’s a story of love and how far people will go in order to feel that they matter to someone.

One of the narrators is a nineteen-year-old girl, Laney, who is boyish and sometimes timid and sometimes too forward for her own good, especially when it comes to her older friend, Delilah Dade. When the book opens, Delilah has lost her boyfriend to a woman named Rose MacAdow, and Laney, who dabbles in spells, invites Delilah to believe that Rose has placed a hex on them. The only way to stop the hex, Delilah says, is to kill Rose. Even though Delilah and Laney eventually decide the revenge plot will never work, they’ve set into motion a sequence of events that Laney, no matter how hard she tries, can’t stop. I see Laney as a combination of Hilary Swank and Ellen Page—the eagerness to please and the desire for acceptance that we see in the Hilary Swank of Boys Don’t Cry, and the sharp sweetness of Ellen Page in Juno.

Rose MacAdow is described as a big woman with a big heart, a loving woman who’s eager to protect what’s hers, a woman who believes she can control her future through spells cast for love. I had...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Lee Martin's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Break the Skin.

My Book, The Movie: Break the Skin.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 26, 2011

What is David S. Reynolds reading?

Today's featured contributor at Writer's Read: David S. Reynolds, author of Mightier than the Sword: Uncle Tom’s Cabin and the Battle for America.

His entry begins:
Having spent the last few years writing Mightier than the Sword, my book on the background and impact of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s antislavery best-seller Uncle Tom’s Cabin, I recently reread Hawthorne’s classic House of the Seven Gables, which was published in 1851, when Stowe was writing the first installments of her novel for a Washington newspaper. I read Hawthorne’s novel partly to prepare for a course I’m teaching next fall and partly to remind myself of what Hawthorne, one of America’s canonized male writers, was up to when Stowe was publishing her landmark novel.

What I found is that Hawthorne and Stowe drew on similar cultural materials but used them for very different ends. Each novel has a virtuous, angelic heroine (Eva in Uncle Tom, Phoebe Pyncheon in Seven Gables), a crabby old maid (Ophelia in Tom, Hepzibah in Gables), oppressed poor figures (Stowe’s Uncle Tom and other slaves, Hawthorne’s Maule family) opposed by corrupt, upper-crust ones (Stowe’s slaveholders, Hawthorne’s wealthy Jaffrey Pyncheon), and radical social reformers (the antislavery Northerners in Stowe, Holgrave in Hawthorne). Despite these similar ingredients...[read on]
Learn more about Mightier than the Sword at the publisher's website.

Among the early praise for Mightier than the Sword:
"[T]he author ably describes the influences and experiences that inspired Stowe to write [Uncle Tom's Cabin and] the story of its reception and impact is where Reynolds’s work really astounds."
Jeff McMillan, California Literary Review

"[A] splendid and subtle history of the novel's effect on American culture.... Reynolds sets out to show the many and often contradictory ways in which one of the nation's most important works of literature has been understood and, alas, misunderstood. He has admirably succeeded."
Fergus M. Bordewich, Wall Street Journal

"A provocative overview of the life and afterlife of one of American literature’s most important texts…. A sharp work of cross-disciplinary criticism that gives new power to a diminished novel.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“You can always count on David Reynolds to surprise and delight, and in his latest work, he does not disappoint. This time, he sets his sights on the far-ranging and fascinating impact of Harriet Beecher Stowe's mammoth bestseller, Uncle Tom's Cabin. In Reynolds’s gifted hands, Mightier Than The Sword is nothing less than an intellectual feast. Bravo for yet another superb book.”
—Jay Winik, author of April 1865 and The Great Upheaval

“A wonderful history of what may justly be considered America’s national epic. Reynolds deftly links the popular culture sources of Uncle Tom’s Cabin to its unprecedented popularity with a wide range of the American public... Mightier than the Sword is a sweeping narrative of the life of a book that continues to engage race, nation, democracy and Christianity in a contentious drama.”
—Joan Hedrick, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Harriet Beecher Stowe: A Life

“With his masterful biographies of John Brown and Walt Whitman, David Reynolds joined the ranks of the great historians of nineteenth-century America—but with Mightier than the Sword Reynolds has written his best book yet. Deeply researched and compulsively readable, Mightier the Sword is both the definitive account of the strange but true career of Uncle Tom’s Cabin and a sweeping two-hundred year history of race in America. Compact, clear, and packed with astonishing facts and provocative insights, this book will fascinate everyone from the general reader to the professional historian.”
— Debby Applegate, Pulitzer Prize winner for The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher
Read Reynolds's New York Times op-ed, "Rescuing the Real Uncle Tom."

The Page 99 Test: Mightier Than the Sword.

Writer's Read: David S. Reynolds.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten of the best foundlings in literature

At the Guardian, John Mullan named ten of the best foundlings in literature.

One entry on the list:
Eppie

The eponymous protagonist of George Eliot's Silas Marner is a misanthropic weaver who is an outcast from society. He lives only for his growing horde of gold, which is stolen from him one day. But then he finds a golden-haired little girl on his doorstep. He brings her up as his own and learns humanity again.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Silas Marner appears on Mullan's list of ten of the best misers in literature and Alexandra Styron's list of the five best books about fathers and daughters.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Craig Koslofsky's "Evening's Empire"

Today's feature at the Page 99 Test: Evening's Empire: A History of the Night in Early Modern Europe by Craig Koslofsky.

About the book, from the publisher:
What does it mean to write a history of the night? Evening's Empire is a fascinating study of the myriad ways in which early modern people understood, experienced, and transformed the night. Using diaries, letters, and legal records together with representations of the night in early modern religion, literature and art, Craig Koslofsky opens up an entirely new perspective on early modern Europe. He shows how princes, courtiers, burghers and common people 'nocturnalized' political expression, the public sphere and the use of daily time. Fear of the night was now mingled with improved opportunities for labour and leisure: the modern night was beginning to assume its characteristic shape. Evening's Empire takes the evocative history of the night into early modern politics, culture and society, revealing its importance to key themes from witchcraft, piety, and gender to colonization, race, and the Enlightenment.
Read more about Evening's Empire at the Cambridge University Press website.

Craig Koslofsky is a professor in the Department of History at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

The Page 99 Test: Evening's Empire.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Kamala Nair's "The Girl in the Garden"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: The Girl in the Garden by Kamala Nair.

About the book, from the publisher:
The redemptive journey of a young woman unsure of her engagement, who revisits in memory the events of one scorching childhood summer when her beautiful yet troubled mother spirits her away from her home to an Indian village untouched by time, where she discovers in the jungle behind her ancestral house a spellbinding garden that harbors a terrifying secret.
Learn more about the book and author at Kamala Nair's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: The Girl in the Garden.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 25, 2011

What is Sara Zarr reading?

Today's featured contributor at Writers Read: Sara Zarr, author of the novels for young adults: Story of a Girl, Sweethearts, Once Was Lost, and the forthcoming How to Save a Life.

Her entry begins:
In Zanesville by Jo Ann Beard. It's one of those books I put on my Kindle awhile ago, and I don't remember where I heard about it or what compelled me to buy. This happens a lot with e-readers. It's so easy to impulsively buy stuff the moment it catches your ear, and then later on when you finally return all your library books and get through the stack by your bed and you're on a plane, you turn on the Kindle and find all these books that you forgot about, and it's not like you can browse the flaps so you just dive in.

Here is the opening paragraph:

"We can't believe the house is on fire. It's so embarrassing first of all, and so dangerous second of all. Also, we're supposed to be in charge here, so there's a sense of somebody not doing their job."

On that same page we learn the narrator and her best friend are 14-year-old babysitters. (But this is not a young adult novel.)

The first...[read on]
Among the praise for Once Was Lost:
“Beyond delivering a gripping story, Zarr has a knack for exposing human weakness in the ordinary.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“This rare combination of in-depth character study and gripping mystery relies on a strong sense of emotional truth to do justice to some tough subject matter without graphic or violent scenes. Riveting.”
Kirkus (starred review)

“Zarr sets a hard task for herself here: interweaving a number of strong story strands and giving them equal weight, even as she tightens the whole with questions about faith and God. …comes together as an impressive whole.”
Booklist (starred review)

“[A] riveting combination of a thriller, but it's also an unusual meditation on faith....”
Adele Griffin, author of Tighter
Learn more about the book and author at Sara Zarr's website and Facebook page.

Writers Read: Sara Zarr.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five best books: novel approaches to kindness

Linda Grant is a novelist and journalist. She won the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2000 and the Lettre Ulysses Prize for the Art of Reportage in 2006. Her novels include The Clothes on Their Backs, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2008, and the recently released We Had It So Good.

At the Wall Street Journal she named a five best list of book with novel approaches to kindness, including:
Life and Fate
by Vasily Grossman (1959)

An old Russian woman, seeing a captured German soldier, raises a brick to throw at him, but at the last moment she instead hands him a piece of bread. The woman has no idea why she does this and in the years to come will remain just as baffled. Vasily Grossman's novel ostensibly concerns World War II, which he covered as a Soviet war correspondent. But his true subject is the power of kindness—random, banal or heroic—to counter the numbing dehumanization of totalitarianism. A young soldier tactfully removes a louse from the collar of a female soldier's uniform before kissing her. A middle-aged, unmarried and unloved woman, a doctor, volunteers to go into the gas chamber with an unaccompanied boy so that he will not have to die alone. Her final thought: At last, she is a mother. By the novel's end, both communism and fascism are reduced to ephemera; instinctive kindness, whatever the consequences, is what makes us human.
Read about another novel on the list.

Life and Fate also appears among Andrew Roberts's five best World War II memoirs and Antony Beevor's five best works of fiction about World War II.

--Marshal Zeringue

Reavis Z. Wortham's "The Rock Hole," the movie

Now showing at My Book, The Movie: The Rock Hole by Reavis Z. Wortham.

The entry begins:
The Rock Hole is set in rural 1964 Lamar County, Texas. A bottomland farming community, the setting is reminiscent of the classic movie, Home From the Hill, from the novel of the same name. There is not a lot of beautiful scenery, simply tree-lined rivers and fields, and many hardscrabble farms.

I had no preconceived notions about who might play these parts. The main character, Ned Parker, is based on my grandfather who was constable during that time. He isn’t your traditional svelte, good looking gumshoe, rather a time-worn, balding, pot-bellied farmer who serves his community after he gets off a tractor each day. A number of people have suggested Robert Duvall for this role, but my agent Jeanie Pantelakis at Sullivan Maxx is insistent that Ed...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Reavis Z. Wortham's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Rock Hole.

My Book, The Movie: The Rock Hole.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 24, 2011

What is Bruce Littlefield reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Bruce Littlefield, author of The Bedtime Book for Dogs.

His entry begins:
When I’m writing, I don’t get to read as much as I’d like to. (And having done 10 books in the last 10 years, I’m writing a lot!) I know many people might find that crazy—a writer not reading—but early in my career I realized if I was reading while writing a book, I’d end up mimicking the voice of the writer I was reading. And the voice of Ernest Hemingway doesn’t work too well for garage sales, though I do buy his belief that "There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

My favorite time to read is on vacation. A book on a plane is a great distraction and a book by a pool with a cocktail in hand is a great luxury. I love non-fiction.

The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs, in which the genius writer chronicles 12 months of living a strictly Biblical life, including all the facial hair that goes with it, is a recent fave. Jacobs’s devotion to his craft is to be admired (and his wife deserves a medal.) I grew up Southern Baptist in South Carolina, so...[read on]
Among the early praise for The Bedtime Book for Dogs:
“With its thick outlines, bright colors, beady canine eyes, and endearing dog’s-eye viewpoint, debut illustrator Heath’s artwork … gives the pages a feeling that’s half comic book, half primer. Words and commands familiar to dogs (lie down, treat, squirrel, good dog) lace the text and provide potential opportunities for interactivity with pets.”
Publishers Weekly

“The book, a simple story about a good dog who decides to walk himself because his companion is too busy, is charming, adorably illustrated, and… well, genius.”
Pet Home Magazine

“The publication of Bruce Littlefield’s The Bedtime Book for Dogs takes this (pet) obsession one stage further. Littlefield has written children’s stories to read to your dog before it goes to sleep. It’s all perfectly deranged, of course, but good-natured and loving and, in Littlefield’s case, actually rather well-written.”
—FT.com

“‘The Bedtime Book for Dogs,’ by Bruce Littlefield is adorable, cleverly incorporating into the story words that dogs actually know. (Not that I think any of you actually read to your dogs.) (Or do you?) It begins: ‘Come. Sit. Stay. I want to tell you a story. I think you’ll like it. It’s about a TREAT.’ My dog, I can assure you, would be all ears by now.”
Star Tribune

"Bruce Littlefield, reigning guru of garage sales, Airstreams, and Christmas lights goes to the dogs with this one-of-a-kind picture book, groomed for reading aloud to furry best friends. Childlike artwork and recognizable words (“come,” “stay,” “treat”) will get tails wagging. Fetch!"
–Chronogram
Visit Bruce Littlefield's website and Facebook page.

Writers Read: Bruce Littlefield.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five unexpected economics books

Tim Harford is the author of The Undercover Economist and The Logic of Life.

His new book is Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure.

At The Browser, he discussed with Sophie Roell five unexpected economics books, including:
For the Win
by Cory Doctorow

Let’s move onto For The Win. I was intrigued to see this was classified as young adult fiction, and the assurance that it would “appeal to any enthusiastic player of MMO [Massively Multiplayer Online] games.”

Yes. The author, Cory Doctorow, is a really interesting guy. He is one of the founders of [the blog and former magazine] Boing Boing. He’s a campaigner for internet freedom and fair dealing in intellectual property rights. And he’s also an author – writing these young adult novels. I read this book because I was writing a column about the economies inside computer games – because these games are now so complex they do have their own economies. I read the novel for background, but I really grew to admire it. It is for young adults – it’s an adventure-action story, it’s not that complicated. But it’s very well done and conveys a lot of really interesting economic ideas very well. For instance there’s the impact of globalisation, the possibility of bubbles occurring in economic systems, the idea of the race to the bottom, of sweatshops and the role of unionisation. Really key economic ideas.

Of course there are a lot of economic ideas that are not in the book. I would also say that Cory is well to the left of where I am. He thinks trade unions are incredibly important – I’m not so sure. But I was very impressed by the way he could take this novel and convey all these economic ideas without slowing the action down. There have been people who have tried to create works of fiction with an economic message – notably Ayn Rand, who has just had a film made about her work – but Cory has really done it very well. It’s a tremendous and very admirable achievement.

The story is very empowering isn’t it? The protagonists take things into their own hands?

Like all good young adult fiction it’s about protagonists of about the same age as the reader getting things done and taking control. These are 16-to-18-year-old kids across the world who are expert computer game players and able to make money playing computer games. They have to deal with thugs and crimelords and the Chinese state trying to shut them down in various ways. In the end, it becomes something bigger than just trying to make money by playing games. It’s about rights for the workers who are playing these games and are being exploited. But it’s not an economics lesson, it’s an adventure story.
Read about another book Harford tagged.

Visit Tim Harford's website.

Tim Harford: top 10 undercover economics books.

The Page 69 Test: The Undercover Economist.

The Page 69 Test:The Logic of Life.

The Page 99 Test: Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Rachel Brownstein's "Why Jane Austen?"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Why Jane Austen? by Rachel M. Brownstein.

About the book, from the publisher:
From the first publication of Pride and Prejudice to recent film versions of her life and work, Jane Austen has continued to provoke controversy and inspire fantasies of peculiar intimacy. Whether celebrated for her realism, proto-feminism, or patrician gentility, imagined as a subversive or a political conservative, Austen generates passions shaped by the ideologies and trends of her readers' time—and by her own memorable stories, characters, and elusive narrative cool.

In this book, Rachel M. Brownstein considers constructions of Jane Austen as a heroine, moralist, satirist, romantic, woman, and author and the changing notions of these categories. She finds echoes of Austen's insights and techniques in contemporary Jane-o-mania, the commercially driven, erotically charged popular vogue that aims paradoxically to preserve and liberate, to correct and collaborate with old Jane. Brownstein's brilliant discussion of the distinctiveness and distinction of Austen's genius clarifies the reasons why we read the novelist—or why we should read her-and reorients the prevailing view of her work. Reclaiming the rich comedy of Austen while constructing a new narrative of authorship, Brownstein unpacks the author's fascinating entanglement with readers and other admirers.
Learn more about the book and author at Rachel M. Brownstein's website.

The Page 99 Test: Why Jane Austen?.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Hilary Davidson's "The Damage Done"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: The Damage Done by Hilary Davidson.

About the book, from the publisher:
Lily Moore, a successful travel writer, fled to Spain to get away from her troubled, drug-addicted younger sister, Claudia. But when Claudia is found dead in a bathtub on the anniversary of their mother’s suicide, Lily must return to New York to deal with the aftermath.

The situation shifts from tragic to baffling when the body at the morgue turns out to be a stranger’s. The dead woman had been using Claudia’s identity for months. The real Claudia had vanished, reappearing briefly on the day her impostor died. As Claudia transforms from victim to suspect in the eyes of the police, Lily becomes determined to find her before they do.

Is Claudia actually missing, or is she playing an elaborate con game? And who’s responsible for the body that was found in the bathtub? An obsessive ex-lover? An emotionally disturbed young man with a rich and powerful father? Or Lily’s own former fiancé, who turns out to be more deeply involved with Claudia than he admits?

As Lily searches for answers, a shadowy figure stalks her and the danger to her grows. Determined to learn the truth at any cost, she is unprepared for the terrible toll it will take on her and those she loves.
Learn more about the book and author at Hilary Davidson's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: The Damage Done.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 23, 2011

What is Liane Moriarty reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Liane Moriarty, author of What Alice Forgot.

Her entry begins:
I’m reading the manuscript for The Kingdom of Cello by my sister (well-known YA author, Jaclyn Moriarty). I’m the first person in the world to have the privilege of reading what is going to be an extraordinary new series.

I’m also re-reading Anne Tyler’s The Amateur Marriage, for probably the third time, because I just finished writing my new novel (The Hypnotist’s Love Story), and I only let myself read Anne Tyler when I’m not writing. Otherwise I catch myself imitating her style. It’s extremely embarrassing. All my...[read on]
Among the early praise for What Alice Forgot:
"This winning not-quite amnesia story parses what happens when Alice, a married mother of three whose marriage is disintegrating, takes a knock on the head and comes to thinking she is herself, but 10 years younger and in the middle of a blossoming young marriage, with her first child on the way. As younger Alice adjusts to her older life and body, she finds much to be surprised at: a wealthy lifestyle she never dreamed of, a rejuvenated mother with a surprising love interest, and a sister whose life has turned out unexpectedly disappointing. And everyone is so sorry for something that happened with her best friend Gina, whom she doesn't remember, but apparently who helped sow the seeds of her marriage's collapse. But as the young Alice takes over the older Alice's life and applies her goofy, laissez-faire approach to living, the tension builds: what will happen if old Alice regains her memory? Alice's journey of reconciling herself to how her life came to be what it is, and her slowly building understanding of how the threads of her marriage began to unravel, is moving, well-paced, and thoroughly pleasurable."
--Publishers Weekly
Learn more about the book and author at Liane Moriarty's website.

The Page 69 Test: What Alice Forgot.

Writers Read: Liane Moriarty.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top 10 island stories

Sjón (Sigurjón B. Sigurðsson) was born in Reykjavik on the 27th of August, 1962. He started his writing career early, publishing his first book of poetry, Sýnir (Visions), in 1978. He won the Nordic Council's Literature prize for The Blue Fox, which was also longlisted for the Independent foreign fiction prize in 2009.

His new novel is From the Mouth of the Whale, which A.S. Byatt praised as the work of an "extraordinary and original writer."

Sjón named his top ten island stories for the Guardian.

One title on the list:
The Island Of Dr Moreau by HG Wells

The remote island is – of course – a perfect refuge for the crazed scientist. On the tiny Nobel Island, Dr Moreau conducted his mad experiment of turning animals into humanoid and civilised beings. He was doomed to fail as the feral instinct couldn't be bred out of his "patients". It is a story the inhabitants of poor little Iceland know all too well, albeit in reverse. In the 90s, the country's all-seeing prime minister and his trusted humpbacks decided to turn Icelanders into immoral beasts/NeoCons. Despite the crash bringing the laboratory down for a while it remains to be seen if common decency was bred out of the nation or not.
Read about another novel on the list.

Also see Romesh Gunesekera's top ten island books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: David S. Reynolds's "Mightier than the Sword"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Mightier Than the Sword: Uncle Tom's Cabin and the Battle for America by David S. Reynolds.

About the book, from the publisher:
A fascinating look at the cultural roots, political impact, and enduring legacy of Harriet Beecher Stowe's revolutionary bestseller.

Uncle Tom's Cabin is likely the most influential novel ever written by an American. In a fitting tribute to the two hundredth anniversary of Harriet Beecher Stowe's birth, Bancroft Prize-winning historian David S. Reynolds reveals her book's impact not only on the abolitionist movement and the American Civil War but also on worldwide events, including the end of serfdom in Russia, down to its influence in the twentieth century. He explores how both Stowe's background as the daughter in a famously intellectual family of preachers and her religious visions were fundamental to the novel. And he demonstrates why the book was beloved by millions-and won over even some southerners-while fueling lasting conflicts over the meaning of America. Although vilified over the years as often as praised, it has remained a cultural landmark, proliferating in the form of plays, songs, films, and merchandise-a rich legacy that has both fed and contested American racial stereotypes.
Learn more about Mightier than the Sword at the publisher's website.

Reynolds, a Distinguished Professor at the CUNY Graduate Center, is the author of Walt Whitman’s America, John Brown, Abolitionist, Beneath the American Renaissance, Faith in Fiction, and Waking Giant: America in the Age of Jackson. He is the winner of the Bancroft Prize, the Christian Gauss Award, the Ambassador Book Award, and finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Prize.

Among the early praise for Mightier than the Sword:
"[T]he author ably describes the influences and experiences that inspired Stowe to write [Uncle Tom's Cabin and] the story of its reception and impact is where Reynolds’s work really astounds."
--Jeff McMillan, California Literary Review

"[A] splendid and subtle history of the novel's effect on American culture.... Reynolds sets out to show the many and often contradictory ways in which one of the nation's most important works of literature has been understood and, alas, misunderstood. He has admirably succeeded."
--Fergus M. Bordewich, Wall Street Journal
Read Reynolds's New York Times op-ed, "Rescuing the Real Uncle Tom."

The Page 99 Test:  Waking Giant.

The Page 99 Test: Mightier Than the Sword.

--Marshal Zeringue

Michele Young-Stone's "The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors," the movie

Now showing at My Book, The Movie: The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors by Michele Young-Stone.

The entry begins:
People always ask: When your book is made into a movie, who do you want to star in it?

I have zero illusions—but lots of fantasies!!!!!! My sister used to ask if my niece could be in it as an extra. I guess… Oh, sure! What the hell…

At that time, the novel wasn’t even published. But, all that said, here is my wish list:

Becca Burke (main character—feisty redhead) Abigail Breslin with curls. She is a fantastic actress.

Buckley Pitank (next main character—victim of fate or God’s will; Biblical Job figure; wonderful boy; loves his mother more than ice cream)...[read on]
Read an excerpt from The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors, and learn more about the book and author at Michele Young-Stone's website, blog, and Facebook fan page.

The Page 69 Test: The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Michele Young-Stone & Emma (May 2010) and Coffee with a Canine: Michele Young-Stone & Emma Peel and Chauncey.

My Book, The Movie: The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Pg. 69: Lee Martin's "Break the Skin"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Break the Skin by Lee Martin.

About the book, from the publisher:
Laney—a skinny, awkward teenager alone in the world—thinks she’s found a kindred spirit in thirty-five-year-old Delilah. Then the police come to ask Laney questions and she finds herself reconstructing a story of suspense, deceit, and revenge; a story that will haunt her forever.

Seven hundred miles away, in Texas, Miss Baby has the hardened heart of a woman who has been used by men in every possible way, yet she is desperate for true love. When she meets a stranger, a man who claims he can’t remember his real name or his past but who seems gentle and trusting, Miss Baby thinks she may have finally found someone to love, someone who will protect her from the abusive men who fill her past.

But Miss Baby and Laney are connected by a terrible crime, and, bit by bit, the complex web of deceptions and seemingly small misjudgments they’ve each helped to create start to unravel. Action, speculation, and contradiction play off one another as the story is told through their first-person voices, which keep you nervously guessing all the way to the shocking, tragic climax. Break the Skin is expert storyteller Lee Martin at his very best.
Learn more about the book and author at Lee Martin's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Break the Skin.

--Marshal Zeringue