Thursday, February 28, 2013

Free books: "Pure" and "Fuse"

Grand Central Publishing and the Campaign for the American Reader are giving away a set of the first two books of the Pure Trilogy by Julianna Baggott, Pure and Fuse.

HOW TO ENTER: (1) send an email to this address:

(2) In the subject line, type "Pure and Fuse".

(3) Include your name (or alias or whatever you wish to be called if I email you to tell you you've won the book) in the body of the email.

[I will not sell or share your email address; nor will I be in touch with you unless it is to tell you you have won the book.  I promise.]

Contest closes on Tuesday, March 19th.

Only one entry per person, please.

Winner must have a US mailing address.

Learn more about the book and author at Julianna Baggott's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Pure.

Writer Read: Julianna Baggott.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Ian Roulstone & John Norbury's "Invisible in the Storm"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Invisible in the Storm: The Role of Mathematics in Understanding Weather by Ian Roulstone & John Norbury.

About the book, from the publisher:
Invisible in the Storm is the first book to recount the history, personalities, and ideas behind one of the greatest scientific successes of modern times--the use of mathematics in weather prediction. Although humans have tried to forecast weather for millennia, mathematical principles were used in meteorology only after the turn of the twentieth century. From the first proposal for using mathematics to predict weather, to the supercomputers that now process meteorological information gathered from satellites and weather stations, Ian Roulstone and John Norbury narrate the groundbreaking evolution of modern forecasting.

The authors begin with Vilhelm Bjerknes, a Norwegian physicist and meteorologist who in 1904 came up with a method now known as numerical weather prediction. Although his proposed calculations could not be implemented without computers, his early attempts, along with those of Lewis Fry Richardson, marked a turning point in atmospheric science. Roulstone and Norbury describe the discovery of chaos theory's butterfly effect, in which tiny variations in initial conditions produce large variations in the long-term behavior of a system--dashing the hopes of perfect predictability for weather patterns. They explore how weather forecasters today formulate their ideas through state-of-the-art mathematics, taking into account limitations to predictability. Millions of variables--known, unknown, and approximate--as well as billions of calculations, are involved in every forecast, producing informative and fascinating modern computer simulations of the Earth system.

Accessible and timely, Invisible in the Storm explains the crucial role of mathematics in understanding the ever-changing weather.
Learn more about Invisible in the Storm at the Princeton University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Invisible in the Storm.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Thomas Perry's "The Boyfriend"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: The Boyfriend by Thomas Perry.

About the book, from the publisher:
Thomas Perry is unparalleled when it comes to writing unputdownable thrillers, and in The Boyfriend he raises the stakes in a riveting, sexy novel of unbearable suspense.

Jack Till, a retired LAPD homicide detective, now works as a private investigator, comfortable in chasing down routine cases. But when the parents of a recently murdered young girl ask for his help after the police come up empty, Till reluctantly takes the case. The victim had been working as a high-class prostitute, and as Till digs deeper he finds that the she was one of several young female escorts killed in different cities in the same manner—all had strawberry blonde hair, and all were shot with a 9mm in their home.

Till must find his way around the secretive online escort business, decoding ads placed by young women who use false names, advertise using other women’s pictures, and are constantly on the move. Yet when Till is finally able to catch up with the killer, he finds that the man he’s after is far more dangerous and volatile than he ever could have imagined. As the body count rises, Till must risk his life to find this seductive and ruthless killer whose murderous spree masks a far deadlier agenda.

Take a great new protagonist, add a ruthless and seductive villain, stir in a plot so gripping you won’t be able to put the book down, and you have the recipe for another classic Thomas Perry thriller.
Learn more about the book and author at Thomas Perry's website and Facebook page.

The Page 69 Test: Silence.

The Page 99 Test: Nightlife.

Writers Read: Thomas Perry (August 2007).

The Page 69/99 Test: Fidelity.

The Page 69/99 Test: Runner.

The Page 69 Test: Strip.

The Page 69 Test: The Informant.

Writer's Read: Thomas Perry (May 2011).

The Page 69 Test: The Boyfriend.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten books that rewrite history

Peter Dimock is the author of the novel, George Anderson: Notes for a Love Song in Imperial Time.

For Publishers Weekly, he came up with ten "works of literature, written or published between the 1927 and 2001, whose authors seem intent upon jolting their readers into radical distrust of the conventional history that they had been given through which to experience their present," including:
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

This is twentieth-century American history narrated from the perspective of a member of the community whose labor created the country and whose historical experience in the New World could provide the knowledge of the nature of modernity that might allow twentieth-century democracy to survive. But the narrator is also someone whom most of his fellow citizens simply refuse to see (and who are not consciously aware of this refusal). At the beginning of the novel the reader finds the narrator living underground listening to Louis Armstrong’s recording of “(What Did I Do to Be So) Black and Blue.” The lyrics of the last verse go, “How will it end...Ain't got a friend/My only sin...Is in my skin/What did I do...To be so/ Black and blue?” The narrator comments, “This ordinary music demanded action of the kind of which I was incapable, and yet, had I lingered there beneath the surface I might have attempted to act. Nevertheless, I know now that few really listen to this music.”
Read about another novel on the list.

Invisible Man comes in second on the list of the 100 best last lines from novels; it appears among five novels that explore the dark side in New York City, Peter Forbes's top ten books on color, Joyce Hackett's top ten musical novels, Sam Munson's six best stoner novels, and John Mullan's list of ten of the best nameless protagonists in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Roger Hobbs reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Roger Hobbs, author of Ghostman.

His entry begins:
I have a complicated relationship with reading. Most of the books I read aren't really for entertainment, but for research. I enjoy taking a book apart. I like to examine the elements of its construction, the merits and demerits of the prose, and quality of the plot twists that drive it forward. I read everything at a snail's speed for this reason. For me the real pleasure is in the study, not the story. So here are three I've been studying recently.

Hit Man, by Laurence Block. I've recently been on something of a Laurence Block kick. It is almost shameful that I've never read him before, because he's not only a legendary writer in my genre but also Hit Man is truly magnificent. It features Block's awesome protagonist, Keller, who is a professional assassin. Block uses simple phrases to reveal his character's inner emotions. Even when Keller is doing something simple, like watching TV or going out to eat at a restaurant, Block can write the scene in such a way that it becomes instantly intriguing, deeply emotional, and powerfully resonant. I'm studying it for its...[read on]
About Ghostman, from the publisher:
Stunningly dark, hugely intelligent and thoroughly addictive, Ghostman announces the arrival of an exciting and highly distinctive novelist.

When a casino robbery in Atlantic City goes horribly awry, the man who orchestrated it is obliged to call in a favor from someone who’s occasionally called Jack. While it’s doubtful that anyone knows his actual name or anything at all about his true identity, or even if he’s still alive, he’s in his mid-thirties and lives completely off the grid, a criminal’s criminal who does entirely as he pleases and is almost impossible to get in touch with. But within hours a private jet is flying this exceptionally experienced fixer and cleaner-upper from Seattle to New Jersey and right into a spectacular mess: one heister dead in the parking lot, another winged but on the run, the shooter a complete mystery, the $1.2 million in freshly printed bills god knows where and the FBI already waiting for Jack at the airport, to be joined shortly by other extremely interested and elusive parties. He has only forty-eight hours until the twice-stolen cash literally explodes, taking with it the wider, byzantine ambitions behind the theft. To contend with all this will require every gram of his skill, ingenuity and self-protective instincts, especially when offense and defense soon become meaningless terms. And as he maneuvers these exceedingly slippery slopes, he relives the botched bank robbery in Kuala Lumpur five years earlier that has now landed him this unwanted new assignment.

From its riveting opening pages, Ghostman effortlessly pulls the reader into Jack’s refined and peculiar world—and the sophisticated shadowboxing grows ever more intense as he moves, hour by hour, toward a constantly reimprovised solution. With a quicksilver plot, gripping prose and masterly expertise, Roger Hobbs has given us a novel that will immediately place him in the company of our most esteemed crime writers.
Learn more about the book and author at Roger Hobbs's website.

The Page 69 Test: Ghostman.

Writers Read: Roger Hobbs.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Free book: "The Mapmaker's War"

Atria Books and the Campaign for the American Reader are giving away a copy of the new novel, The Mapmaker's War by Ronlyn Domingue.

HOW TO ENTER: (1) send an email to this address:

(2) In the subject line, type The Mapmaker's War.

(3) Include your name (or alias or whatever you wish to be called if I email you to tell you you've won the book) in the body of the email.

[I will not sell or share your email address; nor will I be in touch with you unless it is to tell you you have won the book.  I promise.]

Contest closes on Tuesday, March 5th.

Only one entry per person, please.

Winner must have a US mailing address.

Learn more about The Mapmaker's War at the publisher's website.

Visit Ronlyn Domingue's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Zoltan J. Acs's "Why Philanthropy Matters"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Why Philanthropy Matters: How the Wealthy Give, and What It Means for Our Economic Well-Being by Zoltan J. Acs.

About the book, from the publisher:
Philanthropy has long been a distinctive feature of American culture, but its crucial role in the economic well-being of the nation--and the world--has remained largely unexplored. Why Philanthropy Matters takes an in-depth look at philanthropy as an underappreciated force in capitalism, measures its critical influence on the free-market system, and demonstrates how American philanthropy could serve as a model for the productive reinvestment of wealth in other countries. Factoring in philanthropic cycles that help balance the economy, Zoltan Acs offers a richer picture of capitalism, and a more accurate backdrop for considering policies that would promote the capitalist system for the good of all.

Examining the dynamics of American-style capitalism since the eighteenth century, Acs argues that philanthropy achieves three critical outcomes. It deals with the question of what to do with wealth--keep it, tax it, or give it away. It complements government in creating public goods. And, by focusing on education, science, and medicine, philanthropy has a positive effect on economic growth and productivity. Acs describes how individuals such as Benjamin Franklin, Andrew Carnegie, Bill Gates, and Oprah Winfrey have used their wealth to establish institutions and promote knowledge, and Acs shows how philanthropy has given an edge to capitalism by promoting vital forces--like university research--necessary for technological innovation, economic equality, and economic security. Philanthropy also serves as a guide for countries with less flexible capitalist institutions, and Acs makes the case for a larger, global philanthropic culture.

Providing a new perspective on the development of capitalism, Why Philanthropy Matters highlights philanthropy's critical links to the economic progress, health, and future of the United States--and beyond.
Learn more about Why Philanthropy Matters at the Princeton University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Why Philanthropy Matters.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top Bildungsromans

Emily Bazelon's new book is Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy.

For The Daily Beast, she named her five favorite coming-of-age stories.  One title on the list:
This Beautiful Life
by Helen Schulman

The best parts of Schulman’s cautionary novel about teen sexting are told from the point of view of Jake, a 15-year-old at the New York prep school Riverdale. He gets a porn video from a younger girl named Daisy, and in a rash, unthinking moment forwards it to one friend—as you can imagine, that proves to be a mistake of devastating proportions. The book takes place in the rarefied society of wealthy New York, but its reach is much broader, I think, and I give Schulman a lot of credit for the care she takes with the teenage characters, especially the boys, who have stuck with me.
Read about another book on the list.

Read "Don’t Be a Bystander: How to teach kids to step in and stop bullies in their tracks" by Emily Bazelon.

Writers Read: Emily Bazelon (September 2007).

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Bruce Macbain's "The Bull Slayer"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: The Bull Slayer by Bruce Macbain.

About the book, from the publisher:
A turbulent frontier province, rotten with corruption and seething with hatred of Rome—a barbarian god whose devotees may include a murderer —a clever and unscrupulous faith healer who knows everyone’s secrets—a boy who struggles toward manhood though stricken with the Sacred Disease: these are the elements in a mystery that Pliny, newly appointed governor of Bithynia, confronts when a high Roman official is found murdered on a desolate hillside, miles from the capital. But as Pliny pursues one baffling lead after another, he is being betrayed where he least expects it:his beautiful wife, neglected and lonely in an alien city, falls desperately in love with a handsome young provincial—an affair which threatens to bring not only pain but ruin to Pliny’s career. All these threads come together in a surprising and tragic finale.
Learn more about the book and author at Bruce Macbain's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Bull Slayer.

--Marshal Zeringue

Mark Alpert's "Extinction," the movie

Now showing at My Book, The Movie: Extinction by Mark Alpert.

The entry begins:
Someone once told me that adding a helicopter scene to a movie will, on average, boost the movie’s box-office take by a surprisingly large amount -- $30 million, $50 million, I forget how much exactly. I have no idea if this is really true, but just to be on the safe side I put helicopter scenes in all of my novels. Besides, helicopters are fun! I flew in a Huey helicopter over Honduras in the mid-Eighties when the military was assigning National Guard units to build roads in that country. (They were also deployed there to intimidate the Sandinistas across the border in Nicaragua.) I was just a cub reporter then, accompanying some of the Guardsmen from Alabama, but the helicopter crew let me sit next to the side door and wear the radio headset and everything.

Anyway, I tried to relive that experience by writing a helicopter battle into my latest science thriller, Extinction. The book is about the merger of man and machine, so it has lots of fascinating and ominous technologies: bionic arms, artificial eyes, cyborg insects (this is a real-life project funded by the Pentagon -- the bugs have electronics implanted in their brains and flight muscles so they can serve as radio-controlled micro-drones). But the most ominous technology of all is Supreme Harmony, a surveillance network created by the Chinese government to crack down on political dissidents. To analyze all the thousands of hours of video collected by the cyborg insect drones, the Chinese Ministry of State Security...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Mark Alpert's website.

A longtime science journalist, Alpert specializes in writing novels that incorporate real theories and technologies. His earlier books — Final Theory and its sequel, The Omega Theory — have been published in more than twenty languages.

My Book, The Movie: The Omega Theory.

My Book, The Movie: Extinction.

--Marshal Zeringue

Free book: "The Pretty One"

Little, Brown and Company and the Campaign for the American Reader are giving away a copy of The Pretty One: A Novel about Sisters by Lucinda Rosenfeld.

HOW TO ENTER: (1) send an email to this address:

(2) In the subject line, type The Pretty One.

(3) Include your name (or alias or whatever you wish to be called if I email you to tell you you've won the book) in the body of the email.

[I will not sell or share your email address; nor will I be in touch with you unless it is to tell you you have won the book.  I promise.]

Contest closes on Thursday, March 28th.

Only one entry per person, please.

Winner must have a US mailing address.

Read more about The Pretty One at the publisher's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Pretty One.

--Marshal Zeringue

Coffee with a canine: Diane Kelly & Reggie, Junior, and Brownie

The current featured quartet at Coffee with a Canine: Diane Kelly & Reggie, Junior, and Brownie.

The author, on how she and Reggie and Junior were united:
I had a dachshund mix who lived to be 19 ½. I’d had him since I graduated from college and it was really hard when he passed away since he’d been with me my whole adult life. When he died 3 years ago, we knew we wanted to get more dogs. A house doesn’t feel like a home without a dog or two. I took my kids to the city shelter and let them each pick a dog. My daughter picked Reggie and my son picked Junior. The dogs are a good match. They get along great and...[read on]
About the book, from the publisher:
When it comes to exposing tax fraud, Tara and her partner Eddie are really cleaning up. From their brilliant takedown of the disappearing “Tax Wizard” to their perfectly planned downfall of the “Deduction Diva,” they’ve earned the respect of their peers at Criminal Investigations. Now Tara’s ready to celebrate with an ice-cold pitcher of peach sangria—even if her next case is totally the pits…

Tara’s looking forward to a challenge but, back at the office, everyone’s looking for love. Her boss Lu “The Lobo” Lobozinski and office virgin Josh Schmidt are signing up for an online dating service, and—to Tara’s dismay—so is her crush, Special Agent Nick Pratt. Tara’s trying to act chill. But when she learns that her next case involves cash-funneling to terrorists, it’s not just her love life that’s on the rocks. It’s her life, period.
Learn more about the book and author at Diane Kelly's website, blog, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

My Book, The Movie: Death, Taxes, and Peach Sangria.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Diane Kelly & Reggie, Junior, and Brownie.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

What is CJ Lyons reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: CJ Lyons, author of Black Sheep.

Her entry begins:
The Wisdom of Psychopaths: What Saints, Spies, and Serial Killers Can Teach Us About Success, by Kevin Dutton

In my 17 years of practicing pediatrics and pediatric ER medicine, I dealt with a lot of sociopaths (aka Psychopaths). Gangbangers, fellow physicians, parents on power trips, law enforcement officers, charge nurses…really no occupation or segment of society was immune.

This ubiquitous nature of a personality disorder that was supposed to have a prevalence of only 1-4% of the population outside of the ER, always bothered me. Especially the fact that these people at first glance seemed so damn normal.

As a thriller author I also write a lot of sociopath characters—most of whom are not the villains. Instead they reflect the spectrum of our society, just like the sociopaths I met in the ER. Including a fair number who are covert operatives, law enforcement officers, physicians, nurses, lawyers, and politicians.

So of course when I saw the title of Kevin Dutton's latest book and read an excerpt, I realized this was a must read for any thriller/suspense author.

The Wisdom of Psychopaths was...[read on]
About Black Sheep, from the publisher:
It’s the one mystery Supervisory Special Agent Caitlyn Tierney has never solved: her father’s unexplained suicide after arresting his best friend for murder. It drove Caitlyn to become one of the FBI’s best agents—and often the most unorthodox. Her latest case is no exception when the man she holds responsible for her father's death asks for help in finding his missing daughter. Caitlyn’s search brings her back to her North Carolina hometown, now vibrant with new money, old lies, and an unknown enemy who will do anything to keep Caitlyn from the learning the truth—and who will kill to keep it buried…
Learn more about the author and her work at CJ Lyons' website.

The Page 69 Test: Black Sheep.

Writers Read: CJ Lyons.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ben Mankiewicz's 6 favorite books

Among Ben Mankiewicz's six favorite books are three books about the movie business, including:
Tender Comrades edited by Patrick McGilligan and Paul Buhle.

Somehow the shame of the Hollywood blacklist remains unknown to millions of movie lovers. This oral history collection tells the story with an intimacy that only those who were blacklisted could convey. The upside is that the pitiful deceit of the House Un-American Activities Committee makes you feel better about Congress today.
Read about another book on Ben Mankiewicz's list.

Also see Leo Braudy's five best books on Hollywood, Steven J. Ross's five best books on politics & the movie industryStefan Kanfer's five best books on remarkable Hollywood lives, and Jane Ciabattari's five best list of novels on Hollywood.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Barry Siegel's "Manifest Injustice"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Manifest Injustice: The True Story of a Convicted Murderer and the Lawyers Who Fought for His Freedom by Barry Siegel.

About the book, from the publisher:
In this remarkable legal page-turner, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Barry Siegel recounts the dramatic, decades-long saga of Bill Macumber, imprisoned for thirty-eight years for a double homicide he denies committing. In the spring of 1962, a school bus full of students stumbled across a mysterious crime scene on an isolated stretch of Arizona desert: an abandoned car and two bodies. This brutal murder of a young couple bewildered the sheriff’s department of Maricopa County for years. Despite a few promising leads—including several chilling confessions from Ernest Valenzuela, a violent repeat offender—the case went cold. More than a decade later, a clerk in the sheriff ’s department, Carol Macumber, came forward to tell police that her estranged husband had confessed to the murders. Though the evidence linking Bill Macumber to the incident was questionable, he was arrested and charged with the crime. During his trial, the judge refused to allow the confession of now-deceased Ernest Valenzuela to be admitted as evidence in part because of the attorney-client privilege. Bill Macumber was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison.

The case, rife with extraordinary irregularities, attracted the sustained involvement of the Arizona Justice Project, one of the first and most respected of the non-profit groups that represent victims of manifest injustice across the country. With more twists and turns than a Hollywood movie, Macumber’s story illuminates startling, upsetting truths about our justice system, which kept a possibly innocent man locked up for almost forty years, and introduces readers to the generations of dedicated lawyers who never stopped working on his behalf, lawyers who ultimately achieved stunning results. With precise journalistic detail, intimate access and masterly storytelling, Barry Siegel will change your understanding of American jurisprudence, police procedure, and what constitutes justice in our country today.
Learn more about the book and author at Barry Siegel’s website.

Siegel is a Pulitzer Prize winning former national correspondent for the Los Angeles Times and he directs the literary journalism program at UC Irvine where he is a professor of English. He is the author of six books, including Shades of Gray and Claim of Privilege.

The Page 99 Test: Claim of Privilege.

The Page 99 Test: Manifest Injustice.

--Marshal Zeringue

Free book: "A Slap in the Face"

Oxford University Press and the Campaign for the American Reader are giving away a copy of A Slap in the Face: Why Insults Hurt--And Why They Shouldn't by William B. Irvine.

HOW TO ENTER: (1) send an email to this address:

(2) In the subject line, type A Slap in the Face.

(3) Include your name (or alias or whatever you wish to be called if I email you to tell you you've won the book) in the body of the email.

[I will not sell or share your email address; nor will I be in touch with you unless it is to tell you you have won the book.  I promise.]

Contest closes on Thursday, March 28th.

Only one entry per person, please.

Winner must have a US mailing address.

Read more about A Slap in the Face at the publisher's website.

Learn more about the author and his work at William B. Irvine's website.

The Page 99 Test: William B. Irvine's A Guide to the Good Life.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Gareth Crocker's "Journey from Darkness"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Journey from Darkness by Gareth Crocker.

About the book, from the publisher:
An African adventure set on the border between South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe. Escaping an England crippled by The Great War, twin brothers Edward and Derek Hughes head to South Africa. Inspired by their late father’s diary, they intend to help save the country’s dwindling elephant population from savage poaching that has placed them on the brink of oblivion. Soon after their arrival they discover a rare female Desert Elephant—an animal believed by many to be a myth—following an ancient ghost trail to Bechuanaland. But the matriarch is being pursued by relentless shadows—a black light even more murderous than the war. To save her, the brothers will have to journey into the darkness.
Learn more about the book and author at Gareth Crocker's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Finding Jack.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Gareth Crocker & Jill, Hannah, Rusty and Jack.

The Page 69 Test: Journey from Darkness.

--Marshal Zeringue

Lucinda Rosenfeld's "The Pretty One," the movie

Now showing at My Book, The Movie: The Pretty One by Lucinda Rosenfeld.

The entry begins:
There are so many characters in The Pretty One that I'm going to limit the casting to my fictional family (i.e. the Hellingers). Here goes:

Bob Hellinger - Donald Sutherland

Carol Hellinger – Barbra Streisand

Perri Hellinger – Tina Fey (alternate: Rosemarie...[read on]
About the book, from the publisher:
Perfect. Pretty. Political. For nearly forty years, The Hellinger sisters of Hastings-on-Hudson-namely, Imperia (Perri), Olympia (Pia), and Augusta (Gus)--have played the roles set down by their loving but domineering mother Carol. Perri, a mother of three, rules her four-bedroom palace in Westchester with a velvet fist, managing to fold even fitted sheets into immaculate rectangles. Pia, a gorgeous and fashionable Chelsea art gallery worker, still turns heads after becoming a single mother via sperm donation. And Gus, a fiercely independent lawyer and activist, doesn't let her break-up from her girlfriend stop her from attending New Year's Day protests on her way to family brunch.

But the Hellinger women aren't pulling off their roles the way they once did. Perri, increasingly filled with rage over the lack of appreciation from her recently unemployed husband Mike, is engaging in a steamy text flirtation with a college fling. Meanwhile Pia, desperate to find someone to share in the pain and joy of raising her three-year-old daughter Lola, can't stop fantasizing about Donor #6103. And Gus, heartbroken over the loss of her girlfriend, finds herself magnetically drawn to Jeff, Mike's frat boy of a little brother. Each woman is unable to believe that anyone, especially her sisters, could understand what it's like to be her. But when a freak accident lands their mother to the hospital, a chain of events is set in motion that will send each Hellinger sister rocketing out of her comfort zone, leaving her to wonder: was this the role she was truly born to play?

With The Pretty One, author Lucinda Rosenfeld does for siblings what she did for female friendship in I'm So Happy for You, turning her wickedly funny and sharply observant eye on the pleasures and punishments of lifelong sisterhood.
Learn more about The Pretty One at the publisher's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Pretty One.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 25, 2013

What is Gail Carriger reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Gail Carriger, author of Etiquette & Espionage.

Her entry begins:
A friend came across a beat up old copy of Godey's Lady's Book and Magazine Vol. LXXV From July to December, 1872 in her grandmother's attic and mailed it to me. (Not all that uncommon, actually, when on writes books set in the Victorian Era one suddenly becomes the recipient of primary sources ~ it's marvelous). Despite the fact that I'm supposed to be immersed in the 1850s working on the next Finishing School book, I'm enjoying Godey's far too much to put down. It's a bound journal collection of several issues of a woman's fashion magazine. It has everything a young lady might want: from bursts of romantic and sentimental fiction like "Fannie's Fourth of July"; to a Works Department wherein one can learn to DIY such useful items as a Case for Holding Tatting Work; to Fashion plates with the latest dresses, hats, and drawers; to cooking tips such as the Management of Hot Indian Pickles. I...[read on]
About Etiquette & Espionage, from the publisher:
It's one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It's quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to Finishing School.

New York Times bestselling author Gail Carriger makes her young adult debut with Etiquette & Espionage, the first book in the Finishing School series.
Learn more about the book and author at Gail Carriger's website and blog.

My Book, The Movie: Soulless.

The Page 69 Test: Changeless.

Writers Read: Gail Carriger (November 2010).

Writers Read: Gail Carriger.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five notable novels of the literary life

D.J. Taylor was born in 1960, went to Norwich School and St John's College, Oxford, and is the author of two acclaimed biographies, Thackerary (1999), and Orwell: The Life, which won the Whitbread Biography Prize in 2003. He has written nine novels, the most recent being Derby Day (2011), At the Chime of a City Clock (2010), Ask Alice (2009) and Kept: A Victorian Mystery (2006).

Taylor is also well known as a critic and reviewer, and his other books include A Vain Conceit: British Fiction in the 1980s (1989) and After the War: the Novel and England since 1945 (1993). His journalism appears in the Independent and the Independent on Sunday, the Guardian, The Tablet, the Spectator, the New Statesman and, anonymously, in Private Eye.

For the Wall Street Journal he named five top novels of the literary life, including:
Keep the Aspidistra Flying
by George Orwell (1936)

Such is the debt that this bitter account of a poet's attempts to keep his head above water in the London of the mid-1930s owes to "New Grub Street" that Orwell's friend the novelist Anthony Powell remarked that "the Gissing had to stop." Driven by a masochistic urge to escape the shackles of "the money God," the book's ground-down hero, Gordon Comstock, forsakes his "good" job in an advertising agency for drudging in a Hampstead bookshop and living in a seedy lodging house where the steady arrival of letters from editors rejecting his poems inspires him to almost fantastical depths of resentment. ("The sods! The bloody sods...! Why not say outright, 'We don't want your bloody poems. We only take poems from chaps we were at Cambridge with.' ") A crisis presents itself when Gordon's girlfriend, Rosemary, announces that she is expecting a baby; rather unexpectedly, given the novel's bleakly naturalistic air, Gordon does the decent thing, but the disparagement of a literary marketplace that gets by on pulling strings and backstairs intrigues burns unrepentantly on.
Read about another book on the list.

Also see D.J. Taylor's top 10 literary parodies.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Jenny White's "Muslim Nationalism and the New Turks"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Muslim Nationalism and the New Turks by Jenny White.

About the book, from the publisher:
Turkey has leapt to international prominence as an economic and political powerhouse under its elected Muslim government, and is looked on by many as a model for other Muslim countries in the wake of the Arab Spring. This book reveals how Turkish national identity and the meanings of Islam and secularism have undergone radical changes in today's Turkey, and asks whether the Turkish model should be viewed as a success story or cautionary tale.

Jenny White shows how Turkey's Muslim elites have mounted a powerful political and economic challenge to the country's secularists, developing an alternative definition of the nation based on a nostalgic revival of Turkey's Ottoman past. These Muslim nationalists have pushed aside the Republican ideal of a nation defined by purity of blood, language, and culture. They see no contradiction in pious Muslims running a secular state, and increasingly express their Muslim identity through participation in economic networks and a lifestyle of Islamic fashion and leisure. For many younger Turks, religious and national identities, like commodities, have become objects of choice and forms of personal expression.

This provocative book traces how Muslim nationalists blur the line between the secular and the Islamic, supporting globalization and political liberalism, yet remaining mired in authoritarianism, intolerance, and cultural norms hostile to minorities and women.
Learn more about the book and author at the Princeton University Press website and Jenny White's website.

The Page 99 Test: Muslim Nationalism and the New Turks.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Dana Sachs's "The Secret of the Nightingale Palace"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: The Secret of the Nightingale Palace by Dana Sachs.

About the book, from the publisher:
Struggling to move on after her husband's death, thirty-five-year-old Anna receives an unexpected phone call from her estranged grandmother, Goldie, summoning her to New York. A demanding woman with a sharp tongue and a devotion to fashion and etiquette, Goldie has not softened in the five years since she and her granddaughter last spoke. Now she wants Anna to drive her to San Francisco to return a collection of exquisite Japanese art to a long-lost friend.

Hours of sitting behind the wheel of Goldie's Rolls-Royce soften Anna's attitude toward her grandmother, and as the miles pass, old hurts begin to heal. Yet no matter how close they become, Goldie harbors painful secrets about her youthful days in 1940s San Francisco that she cannot share. But if she truly wants to help her granddaughter find happiness again, she must eventually confront the truths of her life.

Moving back and forth across time and told in the voices of both Anna and Goldie, The Secret of the Nightingale Palace is a searing portrait of family, betrayal, sacrifice, and forgiveness—and a testament to the enduring power of love.
Learn more about the book and author at Dana Sachs's website, blog, and Facebook page.

The Page 69 Test: The Secret of the Nightingale Palace.

--Marshal Zeringue

Coffee with a canine: Katherine Bouton & Maxie

Today's featured duo at Coffee with a Canine: Katherine Bouton and Maxie.

The author, on Maxie's best quality:
He's funny. And he goes absolutely bananas with joy every time I walk in the front door, which is gratifying. But he's pretty undiscriminating about that too -- my grown children, my husband, any of my friends, the guy delivering Chinese food. He's...[read on]
About Bouton's new book, Shouting Won't Help: Why I--and 50 Million Other Americans--Can't Hear You, from the publisher:
For twenty-two years, Katherine Bouton had a secret that grew harder to keep every day. An editor at The New York Times, at daily editorial meetings she couldn’t hear what her colleagues were saying. She had gone profoundly deaf in her left ear; her right was getting worse. As she once put it, she was “the kind of person who might have used an ear trumpet in the nineteenth century.”

Audiologists agree that we’re experiencing a national epidemic of hearing impairment. At present, 50 million Americans suffer some degree of hearing loss—17 percent of the population. And hearing loss is not exclusively a product of growing old. The usual onset is between the ages of nineteen and forty-four, and in many cases the cause is unknown.

Shouting Won’t Help is a deftly written, deeply felt look at a widespread and misunderstood phenomenon. In the style of Jerome Groopman and Atul Gawande, and using her experience as a guide, Bouton examines the problem personally, psychologically, and physiologically. She speaks with doctors, audiologists, and neurobiologists, and with a variety of people afflicted with midlife hearing loss, braiding their stories with her own to illuminate the startling effects of the condition.

The result is a surprisingly engaging account of what it’s like to live with an invisible disability—and a robust prescription for our nation’s increasing problem with deafness.
Visit Katherine Bouton's website and blog, and follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Katherine Bouton and Maxie.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, February 24, 2013

What is Teddy Wayne reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Teddy Wayne, author of The Love Song of Jonny Valentine.

His entry begins:
I'm reading two forthcoming books, The Night Gwen Stacy Died, by Sarah Bruni (out in July), and The Facades, by Eric Lundgren (for September). Both are smart and funny and moving, linguistically and formally inventive, and the product of...[read on]:
About The Love Song of Jonny Valentine, from the publisher:
When Whiting Writers’ Award winner Teddy Wayne published his critically acclaimed debut, Kapitoil, it was hailed as “one of the best novels of [this] generation” by the Boston Globe and was shortlisted for a spate of national prizes.

Jonathan Franzen wrote in The Daily Beast that “no other writer, as far as I know, has invented such a funny and compelling voice and story for [this type of character.]” Now, in The Love Song of Jonny Valentine, Wayne turns his sharp wit, flawless narrative ventriloquism, and humane sensibility to our monstrous obsession with fame.

Megastar Jonny Valentine, eleven-year-old icon of bubblegum pop, knows that the fans don’t love him for who he is. The talented singer’s image, voice, and even hairdo have been relentlessly packaged—by his L.A. label and his hard-partying manager-mother, Jane—into bite-size pabulum. But within the marketing machine, somewhere, Jonny is still a vulnerable little boy, perplexed by his budding sexuality and his heartthrob status, dependent on Jane, and endlessly searching for his absent father in Internet fan sites, lonely emails, and the crowds of faceless fans.

Poignant, brilliant, and viciously funny, told through the eyes of one of the most unforgettable child narrators, this literary masterpiece explores with devastating insight and empathy the underbelly of success in 21st-century America. The Love Song of Jonny Valentine is a tour de force by a standout voice of his generation.
Learn more about the book and author at Teddy Wayne's website.

The Page 69 Test: Kapitoil.

Writers Read: Teddy Wayne.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top 10 animal stories

Sarah Lean is the author of A Dog Called Homeless and A Horse for Angel.

One of her top ten animal stories, as told to the Guardian:
Charlotte's Web by EB White

This is one of my favourites and for no small part because of the unique portrayal of Charlotte, the nurturing spider. The circle of life is woven in an intricate web of the miraculous and the ordinary as Wilbur the pig's life hangs in the balance. Outstanding from the first line onwards.
Read about another book on the list.

Charlotte's Web is a book Kate DiCamillo hopes parents will read to their kids.

--Marshal Zeringue

David Menconi's "Ryan Adams: Losering," the movie

Now showing at My Book, The Movie: Ryan Adams: Losering by David Menconi.

The entry begins:
When it comes to casting the Ryan Adams bio-pic based on Losering, I went through that process a long time ago – only in reverse. Going on two decades ago, I was writing Off The Record, a roman a clef set in the music business that focused on a crazy-brilliant-troubled rock star overcome with self-consciousness. Since this was my first (and so far only) foray into book-length fiction, the characters were pretty directly based on real people I knew.

The plot called for my rock-star character, Tommy Aguilar, to be a charming never-do-well who remained likable even while doing objectionable things, plus a brilliant musician. On both counts, Ryan was the perfect model. During Whiskeytown’s mid-’90s days as a local Raleigh band, I went to every show I could and lurked about, committing Ryan’s mannerisms to memory. Ryan had was a great performer who had a flair for the dramatic in everything from onstage presentation to offstage interviews, making an impression with even the most mundane movements and gestures. He worked guitars, microphones, beer bottles and cigarettes (not to mention admirers and haters) with equal facility. It was like watching a Rock Star 101 master class, hardscrabble bar-band life as performance art at the highest level.

And so Ryan became...[read on]
Learn more about Ryan Adams: Losering, A Story of Whiskeytown at the author’s blog.

The Page 99 Test: Ryan Adams: Losering.

My Book, The Movie: Ryan Adams: Losering.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Aya Hirata Kimura's "Hidden Hunger"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Hidden Hunger: Gender and the Politics of Smarter Foods by Aya Hirata Kimura.

About the book, from the publisher:
For decades, NGOs targeting world hunger focused on ensuring that adequate quantities of food were being sent to those in need. In the 1990s, the international food policy community turned its focus to the "hidden hunger" of micronutrient deficiencies, a problem that resulted in two scientific solutions: fortification, the addition of nutrients to processed foods, and biofortification, the modification of crops to produce more nutritious yields. This hidden hunger was presented as a scientific problem to be solved by “experts” and scientifically engineered smart foods rather than through local knowledge, which was deemed unscientific and, hence, irrelevant.

In Hidden Hunger, Aya Hirata Kimura explores this recent emphasis on micronutrients and smart foods within the international development community and, in particular, how the voices of women were silenced despite their expertise in food purchasing and preparation. Kimura grounds her analysis in case studies of attempts to enrich and market three basic foods—rice, wheat flour, and baby food—in Indonesia. She shows the power of nutritionism and how its technical focus enhanced the power of corporations as a government partner while restricting public participation in the making of policy for public health and food. She also analyzes the role of advertising to promote fortified foodstuffs and traces the history of Golden Rice, a crop genetically engineered to alleviate vitamin A deficiencies. Situating the recent turn to smart food in Indonesia and elsewhere as part of a long history of technical attempts to solve the Third World food problem, Kimura deftly analyzes the intersection of scientific expertise, market forces, and gendered knowledge to illuminate how hidden hunger ultimately defined women as victims rather than as active agents.
Learn more about Hidden Hunger at the Cornell University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Hidden Hunger.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Free book: "Gifts of the Crow"

Atria Books and the Campaign for the American Reader are giving away a copy of the new paperback Gifts of the Crow: How Perception, Emotion, and Thought Allow Smart Birds to Behave Like Humans by John Marzluff and Tony Angell.

HOW TO ENTER: (1) send an email to this address:

(2) In the subject line, type Gifts of the Crow.

(3) Include your name (or alias or whatever you wish to be called if I email you to tell you you've won the book) in the body of the email.

[I will not sell or share your email address; nor will I be in touch with you unless it is to tell you you have won the book.  I promise.]

Contest closes on Thursday, February 28th.

Only one entry per person, please.

Winner must have a US mailing address.

Learn more about Gifts of the Crow at the publisher's website.

John Marzluff and Tony Angell's are also author and illustrator of In the Company of Crows and Ravens (2005).

The Page 99 Test: In the Company of Crows and Ravens.

The Page 99 Test: Gifts of the Crow.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Alison Gaylin reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Alison Gaylin, author of Into the Dark.

Her entry begins:
Ever since Fifth Grade, when I picked up Helter Skelter thinking it was a book about The Beatles, I’ve been a huge fan of true crime – and I just finished reading one that ranks among my favorites. People Who Eat Darkness, by Richard Lloyd Parry, is a harrowing, fascinating account of Lucie Blackman, the young British girl who traveled to Japan to work as a hostess – and wound up brutally murdered. In extraordinary detail, Parry takes the reader into the shadowy world of the foreign hostess circuit in Japan – something I was utterly unfamiliar with before reading the book, but now...[read on]
About Into the Dark, from the publisher:
Can a stranger share your memories?

That's the question that haunts Brenna Spector when she first sees footage of missing webcam performer Lula Belle. Naked but hidden in shadow, the "performance artist" shares her deepest, darkest secrets with her unseen male audience ... secrets that, to Brenna, are chillingly familiar.

Brenna has perfect memory, able to recall in astonishing detail every moment of every day of her adult life. But her childhood—those carefree years before the traumatic disappearance of her sister, Clea—is frustratingly vague. When Brenna listens to the stories Lula Belle tells her audience, stories only Brenna and Clea could know, those years come to life again in vivid detail. Convinced the missing internet performer has ties to her sister, Brenna takes the case—and in her quest for Lula Belle unravels a web of obsession, sex, guilt, and murder that could regain her family ... or cost her life.
Learn more about the book and author at Alison Gaylin's website.

The Page 69 Test: Into the Dark.

Writers Read: Alison Gaylin.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Dennis Mahoney's " Fellow Mortals"

This weekend's feature at the Page 69 Test: Fellow Mortals by Dennis Mahoney.

About the book, from the publisher:
An affecting story about how relationships are built—and burned—by desperate needs and obligations

When Henry Cooper sets out on his mail route on Arcadia Street one crisp spring morning, he has no idea that his world is about to change. He is simply enjoying the sunshine as he lights up a cigar and tosses the match to the ground, entirely unaware that he has just started a fire that will destroy a neighborhood and kill a young wife.

Even though the fire has been put out, it has ignited a lurking menace in an otherwise apparently peaceful suburb. In Fellow Mortals, Dennis Mahoney depicts the fire’s aftermath in the lives of its survivors. There’s Henry’s wife, Ava, devoted to her husband but yearning to recover a simpler time in their marriage. There’s the angry neighbor, Peg, who wants Henry to pay for what he’s done, no matter the cost—which ends up being grave. And then there’s Sam Bailey, the sculptor who lost his wife in the fire and has retreated to the woods to carve mysterious figures out of trees. As Sam struggles to overcome his anger and loss, Henry becomes the focal point of deepening loyalties and resentments, leaving them all vulnerable to hidden dangers and reliant on the bonds that have emerged, unexpectedly, from tragedy.

With sparse and handsome prose reminiscent of Raymond Carver and early Stewart O’Nan, Mahoney’s probing first novel charts the fall of a man who has spent his life working to be decent and shows us a community trying desperately to hold itself together.
Learn more about the book and author at Dennis Mahoney's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Fellow Mortals.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five of the best books on crossing cultures

Pico Iyer is the author of several books about cultures converging, including Video Night in Kathmandu, The Lady and the Monk, The Global Soul, Abandon, and, most recently, The Man Within My Head.

One of his five top books on crossing cultures, as told to the Wall Street Journal:
Istanbul
by Orhan Pamuk (2003)

Orhan Pamuk has written, for most of his life, at a desk overlooking both Asia and Europe—and the bridge over the Bosporus that links them—and all his work is about the identity of people close enough to the West to realize just how far away they remain. But none of Pamuk's intricate novels has quite the emotional directness and poignancy of this memoir in disguise. Roaming around the back streets and forgotten corners of his beloved hometown, he takes us into its very heart—of melancholy and neglectedness—and tries to rescue its secrets from the many notions that foreigners have projected upon it. As the latest rap song from some Hollywood blockbuster overlaps with the call to prayer outside his window, Pamuk cannot turn away from the so-called clash of civilizations. But in "Istanbul" he gives us his most rooted and soulful work, asking us what it is to have a home and providing us with the most haunting, heartfelt travel book of our young global century.
Read about a novel on Iyer's list.

Istanbul one of Sel├žuk Altun's top 10 Turkish books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 22, 2013

Pg. 99: John & Colleen Marzluff's "Dog Days, Raven Nights"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Dog Days, Raven Nights by John M. Marzluff and Colleen Marzluff.

About Dog Days, Raven Nights, from the publisher:
Twenty years ago, fresh out of graduate school and recently married, John and Colleen Marzluff left Arizona for a small cabin in the mountains of western Maine. Their mission: to conduct the first-ever extensive study of the winter ecology of the Common Raven under the tutelage of biologist Bernd Heinrich.

Drawing on field notes and personal diaries, they vividly and eloquently chronicle their three-year endeavor to research a mysterious and often misunderstood bird—assembling a gigantic aviary, climbing sentry trees, building bird blinds in the forest, capturing and sustaining 300 ravens as study subjects, and enduring harsh Maine winters in pursuit of their goal. They also shared the unique challenges and joys of raising, training, and racing the sled dogs that assisted them in their work.

Accompanied by Evon Zerbetz's lovely linocut illustrations, Dog Days, Raven Nights is a fascinating, behind-the-scenes look at the adventures of field science and an insightful exploration of the nature of relationships, both animal and human.
Learn more about Dog Days, Raven Nights at the Yale University Press website.

John Marzluff's books include In the Company of Crows and Ravens and Gifts of the Crow.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Colleen and John Marzluff & Reese, Digit and Bellatrix.

The Page 99 Test: Dog Days, Raven Nights.

--Marshal Zeringue

Free book: "Once Upon a Flock"

Atria Books and the Campaign for the American Reader are giving away a copy of the new book, Once Upon a Flock: Life with My Soulful Chickens by Lauren Scheuer.

HOW TO ENTER: (1) send an email to this address:

(2) In the subject line, type Once Upon a Flock.

(3) Include your name (or alias or whatever you wish to be called if I email you to tell you you've won the book) in the body of the email.

[I will not sell or share your email address; nor will I be in touch with you unless it is to tell you you have won the book.  I promise.]

Contest closes on Tuesday, March 26th.

Only one entry per person, please.

Winner must have a US mailing address.

Learn more about Once Upon a Flock at the publisher's website.

Visit Lauren Scheuer's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue