Sunday, April 30, 2017

Five books about what was happening behind the scenes of famous novels

At B&N Reads Jeff Somers tagged "five absorbing investigations into what was happening behind the scenes of five famous novels," including:
The Most Dangerous Book: The Battle for James Joyce’s Ulysses, by Kevin Birmingham

When people imagine the classic suffering novelist, they may not always realize Jame Joyce is the original template. He struggled to get his work published in his lifetime, suffered myriad physical maladies exacerbated by constant money troubles, and loved recklessly. His novel Ulysses is one of the most difficult and most celebrated in the English language—and for a time was banned as obscene. Birmingham follows Joyce’s life from the initial inspiration for what became Ulysses in 1904 to its final vindication and publication in the U.S. in 1934. He takes what sounds like a dry legalistic plod and makes it into a thriller, with the Good Guys fighting small-minded bluenoses in the name of one of the greatest novels ever written.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Stephen P. Kiernan reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Stephen P. Kiernan, author of The Baker's Secret.

His entry begins:
I just finished The Stars Are Fire by Anita Shreve, which I enjoyed. The plot is deceptively simple, and the main character is so sympathetic I found myself rooting for her more fiercely with every page. I also...[read on]
About The Baker's Secret, from the publisher:
From the multiple-award-winning, critically acclaimed author of The Hummingbird and The Curiosity comes a dazzling novel of World War II—a shimmering tale of courage, determination, optimism, and the resilience of the human spirit, set in a small Normandy village on the eve of D-Day.

On June 5, 1944, as dawn rises over a small town on the Normandy coast of France, Emmanuelle is making the bread that has sustained her fellow villagers in the dark days since the Germans invaded her country.

Only twenty-two, Emma learned to bake at the side of a master, Ezra Kuchen, the village baker since before she was born. Apprenticed to Ezra at thirteen, Emma watched with shame and anger as her kind mentor was forced to wear the six-pointed yellow star on his clothing. She was likewise powerless to help when they pulled Ezra from his shop at gunpoint, the first of many villagers stolen away and never seen again.

In the years that her sleepy coastal village has suffered under the enemy, Emma has silently, stealthily fought back. Each day, she receives an extra ration of flour to bake a dozen baguettes for the occupying troops. And each day, she mixes that precious flour with ground straw to create enough dough for two extra loaves—contraband bread she shares with the hungry villagers. Under the cold, watchful eyes of armed soldiers, she builds a clandestine network of barter and trade that she and the villagers use to thwart their occupiers.

But her gift to the village is more than these few crusty loaves. Emma gives the people a taste of hope—the faith that one day the Allies will arrive to save them.
Learn more about the book and author at Stephen Kiernan's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Curiosity.

The Page 69 Test: The Curiosity.

Writers Read: Stephen P. Kiernan.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Four books that changed Mardi McConnochie

Mardi McConnochie is an Australian author and playwright.

One of four books that changed her, as shared at the Sydney Morning Herald:
THE ODYSSEY
Homer

Another ocean quest, and undoubtedly an influence on C.S. Lewis as well, I love The Odyssey for its episodic journeying structure, and its weirdness (especially when you compare it with The Iliad). There's something wonderfully open about narratives where someone goes out into the unknown just to see what's out there.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Odyssey is among Four books that changed Nicole Trilivas, Jill Ciment's ten top dog stories, Shaun Byron Fitzpatrick's top seven bad witches in literature, Ellen Cooney's ten top canine-human literary duos, Nicole Hill's ten best names in literature to give your dog, Alexandra Silverman's biggest fictional literary crushes, James Marriott and Mika Minio-Paluello's top ten journeys across the Mediterranean and Caspian seas, Panayiota Kuvetakis's top ten fictional female friends who would make good real-life friends, James Marriott and Mika Minio-Paluello's top ten journeys across the Mediterranean and Caspian Sea, Tony Bradman's top 10 list of father and son stories, John Mullan's lists ten of the best shipwrecks in literature, ten of the best monsters in literature, ten of the best examples of rowing in literature, and ten of the best caves in literature, as well as Madeline Miller's top ten list of classical books, Justin Somper's top ten list of pirate books, and Carsten Jensen's list of the top ten seafaring tales.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: D. Nolan Clark's "Forgotten Worlds"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Forgotten Worlds by D. Nolan Clark.

About the book, from the publisher:
The sequel to D. Nolan Clark's epic space adventure Forsaken Skies.

The battle is over. But the war has only just begun.

Aleister Lanoe has won a stunning victory against the alien armada that threatened Niraya, but it's not enough to satisfy his desire for vengeance. He won't rest until he's located the armada's homeworld and reduced it to ashes.

Yet his personal vendetta will have to wait. Lanoe now faces a desperate race against time, and the merciless Centrocor corporation, if he's to secure the Earth's future - and discover the truth he seeks.
Learn more about the book and author at David Wellington's website.

The Page 69 Test: Forsaken Skies.

The Page 69 Test: Forgotten Worlds.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten of the best standalone urban fantasy novels

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog, Meghan Ball tagged ten top standalone urban fantasy novels, including:
Fevre Dream, by George RR Martin

Now this is a most rare creature these days: a single-volume book from George R.R. Martin. That will be a relief to you A Song of Ice and Fire fans eager for his next book, though Martin actually got his start with a string of standalones (The Armageddon Rag could fit here just as easily). Certainly Fevre Dream couldn’t be more far removed from epic fantasy. For one thing: vampires. It’s a fascinating blend of historical mystery and vampire horror. Abner Marsh is a riverboat captain in the rural American south who longs for a beautiful steamship to call his own. When a rich man approaches him with a deal that’s too good to be true, he can’t help but grab his chance. Too bad his new partner is a bloodsucker. Soon, Abner finds himself in the middle of a fight between his partner and an ancient evil bent on literally painting the town red. It’s a fun outing from Martin in a genre he isn’t known for these days. Definitely take a chance on this outstanding Mark Twain-y vampire tale.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: William Epstein's "The Masses are the Ruling Classes"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Masses are the Ruling Classes: Policy Romanticism, Democratic Populism, and Social Welfare in America by William Epstein.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Masses are the Ruling Classes proposes the radical, yet seemingly innocuous view that social policy in the United States is determined by mass consent. Contemporary explanations of decision making in the US typically attribute power over policy making to a variety of hidden forces and illegitimate elites holding the masses innocent of their own problems. Yet the enormous openness of the society and near-universal suffrage sustain democratic consent as more plausible than the alternatives -- conspiracy, propaganda, usurpation, autonomous government, and imperfect pluralism. Contrary to prevailing explanations, government is not either autonomous or out of control, business and wealthy individuals have not usurped control of the nation, large segments of the population are not dispossessed of the vote or of a voice in public affairs, and the media has not formed a conspiracy with Hollywood and liberals to deny Americans their God-given freedoms. Despite the multitude of problems that the nation faces, its citizens are not oppressed. In this pithy yet provocative book, Epstein argues that Democracy in the United States is not progressive but is instead populist, and that the core of the populist ideology is romantic rather than pragmatic.
Learn more about The Masses are the Ruling Classes at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: The Masses are the Ruling Classes.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 28, 2017

Robert Newman's 6 best books

Robert Newman is a British comedian, political activist, and author. His new book on brain science is Neuropolis. One of his six best books, as shared at the Daily Express:
ARE YOU AN ILLUSION? by Mary Midgley

Midgley is our greatest living philosopher and a lively and sharp writer. This takes issue with all the pseudo-science about how you don’t really exist or have free will. It led me to doing The Brain Show which then became Neuropolis.
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Suzanne Nelson reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Suzanne Nelson, author of Donut Go Breaking My Heart.

Her entry begins:
I wish I could show you a photo of my nightstand here, because it's stacked to overflowing with dozens of books in my to-read and currently-reading piles. My reading tastes are eclectic and numerous.

I've loved reading To Capture What We Cannot Keep, by Beatrice Colin. The book's title and beautiful cover were what first drew me to it, but the historical premise and setting (late 1880s Paris, France, during the time in which the Eiffel Tower was under construction) appealed to me, too. I relish historical fiction, and this book, especially, with its glimpses into the lives of the now-famous artists, architects, and engineers of the period, was a pleasure to read. Caitriona Wallace is a strong, intelligent heroine struggling against the confines of her social position and role as a widowed woman in her thirties, and I rooted for her with every page I read. I also loved the...[read on]
About Donut Go Breaking My Heart, from the publisher:
Sheyda is a behind-the-scenes girl. She loves helping out in the kitchen of Doughlicious, the donut shop run by the parents of her best friend, Kiri. And Sheyda loves designing stage sets while Kiri performs in the spotlight. Then lights, camera...surprise! Tween heartthrob Cabe Sadler is filming his next big movie in Doughlicious. Kiri is sure this will lead to stardom and perhaps a date with Cabe. But somehow it's Sheyda who gets picked for a small role in the film. To make matters worse, Cabe seems spoiled and rude. Too bad he's so cute. Can Sheyda overcome her stage fright, get to know the real Cabe, and find her own kind of stardom?
Visit Suzanne Nelson's website.

The Page 69 Test: Donut Go Breaking My Heart.

Writers Read: Suzanne Nelson.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Alyssa Palombo's "The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence: A Story of Botticelli by Alyssa Palombo.

About the book, from the publisher:
A girl as beautiful as Simonetta Cattaneo never wants for marriage proposals in 15th Century Italy, but she jumps at the chance to marry Marco Vespucci. Marco is young, handsome and well-educated. Not to mention he is one of the powerful Medici family’s favored circle.

Even before her marriage with Marco is set, Simonetta is swept up into Lorenzo and Giuliano de’ Medici’s glittering circle of politicians, poets, artists, and philosophers. The men of Florence—most notably the rakish Giuliano de’ Medici—become enthralled with her beauty. That she is educated and an ardent reader of poetry makes her more desirable and fashionable still. But it is her acquaintance with a young painter, Sandro Botticelli, which strikes her heart most. Botticelli immediately invites Simonetta, newly proclaimed the most beautiful woman in Florence, to pose for him. As Simonetta learns to navigate her marriage, her place in Florentine society, and the politics of beauty and desire, she and Botticelli develop a passionate intimacy, one that leads to her immortalization in his masterpiece, The Birth of Venus.

Alyssa Palombo’s The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence vividly captures the dangerous allure of the artist and muse bond with candor and unforgettable passion.
Visit Alyssa Palombo's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Violinist of Venice.

The Page 69 Test: The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence.

--Marshal Zeringue

Alexis Boylan's "Ashcan Art, Whiteness, and the Unspectacular Man," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Ashcan Art, Whiteness, and the Unspectacular Man by Alexis L. Boylan.

The entry begins:
Movie pitch: Six men, all artists, find their way to New York City at the turn-of-the-twentieth century and find friendship and love. They are also crushed emotionally and creatively by capitalism.

On the one hand, this book would be super tricky to adapt into a movie because so much of what I argue is happening in the paintings, which is not very cinematic. It is also part of the point of the book that in this historical moment, we need to remember that different media (painting, illustration, film, and photography) are vying for cultural dominance. Photographers want to prove their work can be fine art, illustrators are trying to not be edged out by photographers, and painters are going to silent films and trying to reimagine what they could add to narrative now that pictures move. So perhaps it is blasphemous to make these painters and their attempts to stay modern and relevant into a movie.

On the other hand, I think this could be a very interesting story about male friendship and competition. In movies male friendships tend to be highlighted through some kind competition over a woman, a love triangle. Or, we are introduced to men as friends but then the story turns one into a villain and one into the hero. But these six Ashcan artists were friends in ways that were less overtly dramatic, but definitely complex. They competed for work and visibility, but they also helped each other. They shared studios, swapped teaching gigs, gossiped, wrote about art, and went drinking and carousing together. They got good reviews and bad reviews. They wanted to be rich and famous and have followers, and they struggled and hustled to make that happen. Some were luckier than others. I guess the crux of this tale would be about men, friendship, ambition, and aging. It would also be a different kind of representation of artists; not as super emotive and raging but as people with jobs. People who had to keep working for money. In that way, maybe this could be a great film, both in terms of giving complexity to men and their friendships and to explore the limitations of those friendships.

Cast:

Robert Henri: He is often called the “leader” of the Ashcan Circle, but I argue against this in my book. He’s got vision and he’s a supportive friend. He’s a young widower and has a deep restlessness. Henri was not the traditional “good-looking” guy, but he was handsome. Erza Miller is young for the role, but he has the look and sad undercurrent.

Everett Shinn: He’s the jerk of the group. And super good looking. But basically an ass of a person...[read on]
Learn more about Ashcan Art, Whiteness, and the Unspectacular Man.

My Book, The Movie: Ashcan Art, Whiteness, and the Unspectacular Man.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 27, 2017

What is Ellen Meeropol reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Ellen Meeropol, author of Kinship of Clover.

Her entry begins:
I’m reading Earth As It Is by Jan Maher and I’m enthralled. Set in the 1930’s, the story is about Charlie, a heterosexual cross-dresser. I was initially interested mostly because my second novel, On Hurricane Island, has a heterosexual cross-dresser, and I was curious to learn more. I was quickly drawn into Charlie’s early struggles to understand his desire to dress in women’s clothes - hardly acceptable in small-town Texas society - and his transformation into...[read on]
About Kinship of Clover, from the publisher:
From the author of House Arrest and On Hurricane Island comes a thrilling new activist novel that begs the question, “How far is too far?”

He was nine when the vines first wrapped themselves around him and burrowed into his skin. Now a college botany major, Jeremy is desperately looking for a way to listen to the plants and stave off their extinction. But when the grip of the vines becomes too intense and Health Services starts asking questions, he flees to Brooklyn, where fate puts him face to face with a group of climate-justice activists who assure him they have a plan to save the planet, and his plants. As the group readies itself to make a big Earth Day splash, Jeremy soon realizes these eco-terrorists’ devotion to activism might have him—and those closest to him—tangled up in more trouble than he was prepared to face. With the help of a determined, differently abled flame from his childhood, Zoe; her deteriorating, once–rabble-rousing grandmother; and some shocking and illuminating revelations from the past, Jeremy must weigh completing his mission to save the plants against protecting the ones he loves, and confront the most critical question of all: how do you stay true to the people you care about while trying to change the world?
Visit Ellen Meeropol's website.

See Meeropol's list of five political novels to change the world.

The Page 69 Test: Kinship of Clover.

Writers Read: Ellen Meeropol.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Suzanne Nelson's "Donut Go Breaking My Heart"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Donut Go Breaking My Heart by Suzanne Nelson.

About the book, from the publisher:
Sheyda is a behind-the-scenes girl. She loves helping out in the kitchen of Doughlicious, the donut shop run by the parents of her best friend, Kiri. And Sheyda loves designing stage sets while Kiri performs in the spotlight. Then lights, camera...surprise! Tween heartthrob Cabe Sadler is filming his next big movie in Doughlicious. Kiri is sure this will lead to stardom and perhaps a date with Cabe. But somehow it's Sheyda who gets picked for a small role in the film. To make matters worse, Cabe seems spoiled and rude. Too bad he's so cute. Can Sheyda overcome her stage fright, get to know the real Cabe, and find her own kind of stardom?
Visit Suzanne Nelson's website.

The Page 69 Test: Donut Go Breaking My Heart.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Jason King's "Faith with Benefits"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Faith with Benefits: Hookup Culture on Catholic Campuses by Jason King.

About the book, from the publisher:
Hookup culture has become widespread on college campuses, and Catholic colleges are no exception. Indeed, despite the fact that most students on Catholic campuses report being unhappy with casual sexual encounters, most studies have found no difference between Catholic colleges and their secular counterparts when it comes to hooking up. Drawing on a survey of over 1000 students from 26 institutions, as well as in-depth interviews, Jason King argues that religious culture on Catholic campuses can, in fact, have an impact on the school's hookup culture, but when it comes to how that relationship works: it's complicated.

In Faith with Benefits, King shows the complex way these dynamics play out at Catholic colleges and universities. There is no straightforward relationship between orthodoxy and hookup culture--some of the schools with the weakest Catholic identities also have weaker hookup cultures. And not all students define the culture in the same way. Some see a hookup as just a casual encounter, where others see it as a gateway to a relationship.

Faith with Benefits gives voice to students, revealing how their faith, the faith of their friends, and the institutional structures of their campus give rise to different hookup cultures. In doing so, King addresses the questions of students who don't know where to turn for practical guidance on how to navigate ever-shifting campus cultures, reconciling their faith with their relationships. Students, parents, faculty, administrators-indeed, anyone who cares about Catholic teenagers and young adults-will find much of value in this book.
Learn more about Faith with Benefits at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Faith with Benefits.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top terrible houses in fiction

Xan Brooks is an award-winning writer, editor and broadcaster. He spent his rude youth as part of the founding editorial team of the Big Issue magazine and his respectable middle period as an associate editor at the Guardian, specializing in film. The Clocks in This House All Tell Different Times is his first novel.

One of Brooks's top ten terrible houses in fiction, as shared at the Guardian:
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

Ishiguro is the master of the dramatic side-eye, a writer who affects to position himself at one remove from the plot’s centre, quietly attending to the place settings and all but daring us to look elsewhere. The Remains of the Day, then, is the memoir of a dutiful butler (Stevens) at lavish Darlington Hall. But it is also (at heart, really) the tale of a passion that threatens to pop his starched collar and of a faithless, would-be quisling aristocracy in the runup to the second world war. Stevens clearly feels that certain doors are off limits. Ishiguro, very gently, invites us to prise them open.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Remains of the Day is among Molly Schoemann-McCann's nine great books for people who love Downton Abbey, Lucy Lethbridge's ten top books about servants, and Tim Vine's six best books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

What is Lee Irby reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Lee Irby, author of Unreliable.

His entry begins:
I’m reading a massive study of the Gulf of Mexico, entitled The Gulf: The Making of An American Sea by Jack E. Davis because (1) he is one of my best friends and an incredible historian and (2) this work is monumentally important and explores a subject we think we know but really don’t, the Gulf of Mexico. I’m surrounded by this body of water and yet I understood little of its unique history. Davis has a way of taking a topic and finding the most compelling way to examine it--often through personal stories, but he has also mastered the ecology, geology, and biology of the entire Gulf coast, from South Padre to Key West. He is just as conversant about the mound-building Calusa as he is...[read on]
About Unreliable, from the publisher:
Riotous and riveting, this is the story of a charming college professor who most definitely did not—but maybe did—kill his ex-wife. Or someone else. Or no one. Irby plays with the thriller trope in unimaginably clever ways.

Edwin Stith, a failed novelist and college writing instructor in upstate New York, is returning home for the weekend to Richmond, Virginia, to celebrate his mother’s wedding—to a much younger man. Edwin has a peculiar relationship with the truth. He is a liar who is brutally honest. He may or may not be sleeping with his students, he may or may not be getting fired, and he may or may not have killed his ex-wife, a lover, and his brand-new stepsister.

Stith’s dysfunctional homecoming leads him deep into a morass of long-gestating secrets and dangers, of old-flames still burning strong and new passions ready to consume everything he holds dear. But family dysfunction is only eclipsed by Edwin’s own, leading to profound suspense and utter hilarity. Lee Irby has crafted a sizzling modern classic of dark urges, lies, and secrets that harks back to the unsettling obsessions of Edgar Allan Poe—with a masterful ending that will have you thinking for days.
Learn more about Unreliable.

My Book, The Movie: Unreliable.

The Page 69 Test: Unreliable.

Writers Read: Lee Irby.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Elizabeth Boyle's "Six Impossible Things"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Six Impossible Things by Elizabeth Boyle.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the sixth novel of the enchanting Rhymes With Love series from New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Boyle, a nobleman falls in love with a beautiful spy he must protect

Lord Rimswell is a man of honor and absolutes. If he says something is impossible, it is. Yet his life of right and wrong is turned upside down when he finds himself in a compromising situation with the most unyielding, yet maddeningly beautiful, woman in London. If only he had not given in to the irresistible temptation to kiss her. Now he must marry her.
Visit Elizabeth Boyle's website.

Writers Read: Elizabeth Boyle.

The Page 69 Test: Six Impossible Things.

--Marshal Zeringue

Jane Corry's "My Husband's Wife," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: My Husband's Wife: A Novel by Jane Corry.

The entry begins:
If they make my book into a film, here’s who I’d like to play the lead role.

I actually had a variation of Cate Blanchett in my head when I wrote Lily who is one of my two main characters. But the other day I spotted a picture of the actress Rose Byrne and thought - that’s my Lily! She has exactly the same bone structure. Strangely,...[read on]
Learn more about My Husband's Wife. Follow Jane Corry on Twitter and Facebook.

My Book, The Movie: My Husband's Wife.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six books that will rearrange your childhood memories

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog Jeff Somers tagged "six books turn comforting, innocent entertainments into something subversive and disturbing," including:
Meddling Kids, by Edgar Cantero

Most of us have fond memories of the gang from Scooby Doo, the original meddling kids, forever foiling the overly complex schemes of criminals in abandoned amusement parks everywhere. In his forthcoming novel, Cantero isn’t writing literally about Shaggy and Scooby and the rest, but the Blyton Summer Detective Club is clearly modeled on the Scooby gang. In 1990, thirteen years after disbanding in the wake of the case of the Sleepy Lake monster, things are looking grim for the former teen detectives. Some are dead, some are wanted criminals, others are missing. The survivors become convinced their misery is connected to that final case, and they return to Sleepy Lake to face it—and bring unimaginable, Lovecraftian horrors floating to the surface. If you loved those old cartoons more than Scooby Snacks, this book will make you wonder what in the world Shaggy could possibly do to support himself in the real world, and you’ll flinch every time they rip a Halloween mask off of some criminal mastermind.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Pg. 99: Steven Casey's "The War Beat, Europe"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The War Beat, Europe: The American Media at War Against Nazi Germany by Steven Casey.

About the book, from the publisher:
From the North African desert to the bloody stalemate in Italy, from the London blitz to the D-Day beaches, a group of highly courageous and extremely talented American journalists reported the war against Nazi Germany for a grateful audience. Based on a wealth of previously untapped primary sources, War Beat, Europe provides the first comprehensive account of what these reporters witnessed, what they were allowed to publish, and how their reports shaped the home front's perception of some of the most pivotal battles in American history.

In a dramatic and fast-paced narrative, Steven Casey takes readers from the inner councils of government, where Franklin D. Roosevelt and George Marshall held clear views about how much blood and gore Americans could stomach, to the command centers in London, Algiers, Naples, and Paris, where many reporters were stuck with the dreary task of reporting the war by communiqué. At the heart of this book is the epic journey of reporters like Wes Gallagher and Don Whitehead of the Associated Press, Drew Middleton of the New York Times, Bill Stoneman of the Chicago Daily News, and John Thompson of the Chicago Tribune; of columnists like Ernie Pyle and Hal Boyle; and of photographers like Margaret Bourke-White and Robert Capa. These men and women risked their lives on countless occasions to get their dispatches and their images back home. In providing coverage of war in an open society, they also balanced the weighty responsibility of adhering to censorship regulations while working to sell newspapers and maintaining American support for the war.

These reporters were driven by a combination of ambition, patriotism, and belief in the cause. War Beat, Europe shows how they earned their reputation as America's golden generation of journalists and wrote the first draft of World War II history for posterity.
Learn more about The War Beat, Europe at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: When Soldiers Fall.

The Page 99 Test: The War Beat, Europe.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten war memoirs

One of Andrew Sharples' ten top war memoirs, as shared at the Guardian:
The Junior Officers’ Reading Club by Patrick Hennessey

This was the first book about the war in Afghanistan I could properly relate to. Patrick Hennessey trained with me at Sandhurst and we served in Iraq at the same time. In The Junior Officers’ Reading Club he brings to life what it was like to join the army in the post 9/11 world, with the promise that we, unlike the previous generation, would get to fight. When reality fails to live up to expectations on a relatively peaceful tour in Iraq, the author’s frustration begins to build. He finally gets everything he joined for and more when he reaches Helmand.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Ellen Meeropol's "Kinship of Clover"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Kinship of Clover by Ellen Meeropol.

About the book, from the publisher:
From the author of House Arrest and On Hurricane Island comes a thrilling new activist novel that begs the question, “How far is too far?”

He was nine when the vines first wrapped themselves around him and burrowed into his skin. Now a college botany major, Jeremy is desperately looking for a way to listen to the plants and stave off their extinction. But when the grip of the vines becomes too intense and Health Services starts asking questions, he flees to Brooklyn, where fate puts him face to face with a group of climate-justice activists who assure him they have a plan to save the planet, and his plants. As the group readies itself to make a big Earth Day splash, Jeremy soon realizes these eco-terrorists’ devotion to activism might have him—and those closest to him—tangled up in more trouble than he was prepared to face. With the help of a determined, differently abled flame from his childhood, Zoe; her deteriorating, once–rabble-rousing grandmother; and some shocking and illuminating revelations from the past, Jeremy must weigh completing his mission to save the plants against protecting the ones he loves, and confront the most critical question of all: how do you stay true to the people you care about while trying to change the world?
Visit Ellen Meeropol's website.

See Meeropol's list of five political novels to change the world.

The Page 69 Test: Kinship of Clover.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Elizabeth Boyle reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Elizabeth Boyle, author of Six Impossible Things.

Her entry begins:
I always look forward to Laura Lee Guhrke’s books, and her latest, The Truth and Love and Dukes, is no exception. I know before I open one of her romances, that the story is going to be moving and quite possibly tear jerking, but most of all a great read, but what I love most about her books is that there is always a point about 50 pages in where she manages a twist that sends the story in a new direction I was not expecting.

That moment as a reader (and a writer) where I think to myself, “Oh, no, she didn’t.” Well...[read on]
About Six Impossible Things, from the publisher:
In the sixth novel of the enchanting Rhymes With Love series from New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Boyle, a nobleman falls in love with a beautiful spy he must protect

Lord Rimswell is a man of honor and absolutes. If he says something is impossible, it is. Yet his life of right and wrong is turned upside down when he finds himself in a compromising situation with the most unyielding, yet maddeningly beautiful, woman in London. If only he had not given in to the irresistible temptation to kiss her. Now he must marry her.
Visit Elizabeth Boyle's website.

Writers Read: Elizabeth Boyle.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 24, 2017

Tobin Miller Shearer's "Two Weeks Every Summer," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Two Weeks Every Summer: Fresh Air Children and the Problem of Race in America by Tobin Miller Shearer.

The entry begins:
So, here’s the pitch.

Two Weeks Every Summer is not about children. It is not about the city. It’s not even about fresh air. The book is about sex and violence and mystery. Those three themes will make this movie sizzle.

First, the sex. In the movie, we will dramatize the sexual tensions present in white families hosting children of color as they approach dating age. We show a white middle class family at dinner – father, mother, daughter, son – discussing the sleeping arrangements after their long-time Fresh Air guest – an African-American twelve-year old from the Bronx – arrives the following day. The tension is understated but palpable when the twelve-year-old daughter notes how handsome their guest is and that she can hardly wait to see him.

A second major scene will dramatize the violence associated with the programs. The camera will pan across the aftermath of one of the hundreds of rebellions that broke out after Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated in 1968. Switch to a press conference where the director of the Fresh Air Fund, played by...[read on]
Learn more about Two Weeks Every Summer at the Cornell University Press website.

My Book, The Movie: Two Weeks Every Summer.

--Marshal Zeringue

Twenty top books for the beginner fantasy reader

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy blog Nicole Hill tagged twenty top fantasies to introduce beginners to the genre, including:
The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss

In his Kingkiller Chronicle series, Rothfuss has managed to nail all the prototypical elements of high fantasy without ever succumbing to cliché or reduction. (The series is also Lin-Manuel Miranda-approved.) There is a unique intimacy in The Name of the Wind, because it’s narrated by its own hero, Kvothe, who relates to the listener and the reader the details of his daring and magic-infested life.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Name of the Wind is among Meghan Ball's top ten fictional educational institutions from SFF books and Arwen Elys Dayton's five top books about false identities.

My Book, The Movie: The Name of the Wind.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Mugambi Jouet's "Exceptional America"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Exceptional America: What Divides Americans from the World and from Each Other by Mugambi Jouet.

About the book, from the publisher:
Why did Donald Trump follow Barack Obama into the White House? Why is America so polarized? And how does American exceptionalism explain these social changes?

In this provocative book, Mugambi Jouet describes why Americans are far more divided than other Westerners over basic issues, including wealth inequality, health care, climate change, evolution, gender roles, abortion, gay rights, sex, gun control, mass incarceration, the death penalty, torture, human rights, and war. Raised in Paris by a French mother and Kenyan father, Jouet then lived in the Bible Belt, Manhattan, and beyond. Drawing inspiration from Alexis de Tocqueville, he wields his multicultural sensibility to parse how the intense polarization of U.S. conservatives and liberals has become a key dimension of American exceptionalism—an idea widely misunderstood as American superiority. While exceptionalism once was a source of strength, it may now spell decline, as unique features of U.S. history, politics, law, culture, religion, and race relations foster grave conflicts. They also shed light on the intriguing ideological evolution of American conservatism, which long predated Trumpism. Anti-intellectualism, conspiracy-mongering, a visceral suspicion of government, and Christian fundamentalism are far more common in America than the rest of the Western world—Europe, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Exceptional America dissects the American soul, in all of its peculiar, clashing, and striking manifestations.
Learn more about Exceptional America at the University of California Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Exceptional America.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six top books for understanding how cities work

Richard Florida is one of the world’s leading urbanists. His latest book is The New Urban Crisis: How Our Cities Are Increasing Inequality, Deepening Segregation, and Failing the Middle Class-and What We Can Do About It. One of the author's six favorite books on urban capitalism, innovation, and inequality, as shared at The Week magazine:
The Economy of Cities by Jane Jacobs

Her earlier book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, is better known, but this 1969 book is her masterwork, the one she said she wanted to be remembered for. In it, she outlines her theory of cities — as opposed to companies and industries — as the basic platforms that make innovation possible.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, April 23, 2017

What is Cassandra Rose Clarke reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Cassandra Rose Clarke, author of Star's End.

Her entry begins:
I’m a multi-reader, so here are the three books that currently have me totally ensnared:

It, by Stephen King: I have never read this before, despite reading Stephen King quite a bit in junior high. I was always most interested in his short stories; as a kid his novels intimidated me. Actually, they still intimidate me. The paperback version of It that I bought at Barnes and Noble the other day has a two and half inch spine. Seriously, I measured it. I’m only about a quarter of an inch in, but already I can see why this book has the reputation it does. I’m not one to really be scared by books, but...[read on]
About Star's End, from the publisher:
A new space opera about a young woman who must face the truth about her father’s past from critically acclaimed author Cassandra Rose Clarke.

The Corominas family owns a small planet system, which consists of one gaseous planet and four terraformed moons, nicknamed the Four Sisters. Phillip Coromina, the patriarch of the family, earned his wealth through a manufacturing company he started as a young man and is preparing his eldest daughter, Esme, to take over the company when he dies.

When Esme comes of age and begins to take over the business, she gradually discovers the reach of her father’s company, the sinister aspects of its work with alien DNA, and the shocking betrayal that estranged her three half-sisters from their father. After a lifetime of following her father’s orders, Esme must decide if she should agree to his dying wish of assembling her sisters for a last goodbye or face her role in her family’s tragic undoing.
Visit Cassandra Rose Clarke's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Mad Scientist's Daughter.

The Page 69 Test: Star's End.

Writers Read: Cassandra Rose Clarke.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top feminist YA books

At the BN Teen blog, Jenny Kawecki tagged "five feminist reads that’ll have you raising hell while you wait" for the release of Jennifer Mathieu’s upcoming novel, Moxie, including:
Under a Painted Sky, by Stacey Lee

It’s Missouri in 1849, and Chinese American Samantha dreams of becoming a professional musician. But soon after her father dies in a fire, Samantha finds herself a fugitive in the aftermath of her landlord’s attempt to sexually assault her. Rather than heading back to New York to pursue her dreams, Samantha finds herself hiding from the law with runaway slave Annamae. Disguised as boys, the two girls make their way over the Oregon Trail, falling in with a trio of cowboys as they try to stay ahead of their past. If you’re looking for strong female friendship in the wild west, this is the book for you.
Read about another entry on the list.

Under a Painted Sky is among Sarah Skilton's seven top YA duos on the run and top six YA books featuring cross-cultural friendships, Eric Smith's top five YA reads for fans of the Wild West, Nicole Hill's five top historical YA novels about adventurous and independent-minded women, John Hansen's ten must-read YA novels you've probably never heard of, and Dahlia Adler's seven top YA novels about best friendship.

My Book, The Movie: Under a Painted Sky.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Hannah Lillith Assadi's "Sonora"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Sonora by Hannah Lillith Assadi.

About the book, from the publisher:
A fevered, lyrical debut about two young women drawn into an ever-intensifying friendship set against the stark, haunted landscape of the Sonoran desert and the ecstatic frenzy of New York City.

Ahlam, the daughter of a Palestinian refugee and his Israeli wife, grows up in the arid lands of desert suburbia outside of Phoenix. In a stark landscape where coyotes prowl and mysterious lights occasionally pass through the nighttime sky, Ahlam’s imagination reigns. She battles chronic fever dreams and isolation. When she meets her tempestuous counterpart Laura, the two fall into infatuated partnership, experimenting with drugs and sex and boys, and watching helplessly as a series of mysterious deaths claim high school classmates.

The girls flee their pasts for New York City, but as their emotional bond heightens, the intensity of their lives becomes unbearable. In search of love, ecstasy, oblivion, and belonging, Ahlam and Laura’s drive to outrun the ghosts of home threatens to undo them altogether.
Visit Hannah Lillith Assadi's website.

The Page 69 Test: Sonora.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ian Ogilvy's six best books

Ian Ogilvy played Simon Templar in the 1970s TV series Return Of The Saint and has appeared in Upstairs, Downstairs and Murder, She Wrote. One of his six best books, as shared at the Daily Express:
VANITY FAIR by William Makepeace Thackeray

A huge book that I’ve only recently read. I’ve been having a catch-up of books I should have read. Becky Sharp’s one of the best characters ever written. You hate and love her at the same time. It’s a wonderful piece of juggling with the readers’ reactions.
Read about another entry on the list.

Vanity Fair also appears on Vikram Chandra's list of five books that changed him, Joanna Trollope's six favorite books list, Maddie Crum's top ten list of fictional characters who just might be psychopaths, Allegra Frazier's list of five of her favorite fictional gold diggers, John Mullan's list of ten of the most memorable governesses in literature, Stella Tillyard's list of favorite historical novels, John Mullan's lists of ten of the best fat men in literature and ten of the best pianos in literature, and Thomas Mallon's list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Pg. 99: Timothy H. Dixon's "Curbing Catastrophe"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Curbing Catastrophe: Natural Hazards and Risk Reduction in the Modern World by Timothy H. Dixon.

About the book, from the publisher:
What does Japan's 2011 nuclear accident have in common with the 2005 flooding of New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina? This thought-provoking book presents a compelling account of recent and historical disasters, both natural and human-caused, drawing out common themes and providing a holistic understanding of hazards, disasters and mitigation, for anyone interested in this important and topical subject. Based on his on-the-ground experience with several major recent disasters, Timothy H. Dixon explores the science, politics and economics behind a variety of disasters and environmental issues, arguing that many of the worst effects are avoidable. He describes examples of planning and safety failures, provides forecasts of future disasters and proposes solutions for hazard mitigation. The book shows how billions of dollars and countless lives could be saved by adopting longer-term thinking for infrastructure planning and building, and argues that better communication is vital in reducing global risks and preventing future catastrophes.
Learn more about Curbing Catastrophe at the Cambridge University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Curbing Catastrophe.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven top books to celebrate Earth Day

At B&N Reads Jeff Somers tagged seven books to celebrate Earth Day, including:
An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, by Al Gore

More than a decade ago, former Vice President Al Gore became the public face of climate change with the release of An Inconvenient Truth. In many ways, that film raised the profile of our troubled environment and changed the conversation about climate change and our role in combating it—and yet, very little seems to have actually changed. On Earth Day, in 2017, we argue about the causes of what’s happening to our planet, and Gore’s new book offers data and eye-witness experience that should be compelling to anyone willing to explore the issue. An Inconvenient Sequel builds the case that human beings are the main cause of climate change, then offers concrete steps we can still take to change the course of our shared future. Fuel up your debate machine with information straight from one of the foremost experts on the subject, then wade into the battle for the planet on April 22—and every day after.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Nicole Helget reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Nicole Helget, author of The End of the Wild.

Her entry begins:
I have a different book or reading device in every area of the house, in the car, and on the porch. Next to my bed, I keep Sarah Kendzior’s essay collection, The View From Flyover Country. She’s a fantastic journalist, who has spent her career studying totalitarianist regimes and whose twitter feed is the first thing I consult in the morning before I turn on the news and get my morning fix of rage and inspiration to be a better writer, teacher, neighbor, and citizen. Her book is a collection of some of her best works on the economy, globalization, academics, and culture. I am daily in contact with rural people, many of whom voted for Trump, and I’m...[read on]
About The End of the Wild, from the publisher:
A timely coming of age novel set against a backdrop of the controversial issue of fracking.

Eleven-year-old Fern's rundown home borders a pristine forest, where her impoverished family hunts and forages for food. It's also her refuge from the crushing responsibility of caring for her wild younger brothers and PTSD-stricken stepfather. But when a fracking company rolls into town, Fern realizes that her special grove could be ripped away, and no one else seems to care.

Her stepfather thinks a job with the frackers could help pull the family out of poverty. Her wealthy grandfather--who wants to take custody of Fern and her brothers--likes the business it brings to his manufacturing company. Facing adversity from all sides, can one young girl make a difference in the fate of her family and their way of life?

This modern, beautifully written story from the acclaimed author of Wonder at the Edge of the World explores the timely themes of poverty, environmental protection, what makes a family, and finding your place in the world.
Learn more about the book and author at Nicole Helget's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Turtle Catcher.

The Page 69 Test: The End of the Wild.

Writers Read: Nicole Helget.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 21, 2017

Flaubert's 5th best book

Peter Brooks is the author of Flaubert in the Ruins of Paris: The Story of a Friendship, a Novel, and a Terrible Year. Number five on his ranked list of favorite Flaubert's works:
Bouvard and Pécuchet

Flaubert’s strangest but in some ways most characteristic work—left unfinished at his death—in which he exercises a kind of cosmic irony on the pretentions of his time and his contemporaries. His main figures, Bouvard and Pécuchet—seemingly Tweedledum and Tweedledee, but they do eventually become distinguishable one from another—are copyists who retire and move to Normandy and undertake a number of do-it-yourself projects studied up in books—always with dire results. From farming to horticulture to history writing to child rearing, all their experiments tend to prove the fatuousness of most human knowledge. Yet their comic misadventures eventually lead them to a mentality like their creator’s: perceiving human stupidity and no longer being able to tolerate it. The work of a master ironist no longer restraining himself in unleashing his contempt for his surroundings. There is a really great translation of the novel by Mark Polizzotti, published by Dalkey Archive.
Read about Peter Brooks's favorite Flaubert book.

Bouvard and Pécuchet also appears on Adam Ehrlich Sachs's list of ten of the funniest books, Michael Foley's top ten list of absurd classics, John Mullan's list of ten of the best unfinished literary works, and John Sutherland's list of the best books about listing.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Lee Irby's "Unreliable"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Unreliable: A Novel by Lee Irby.

About the book, from the publisher:
Riotous and riveting, this is the story of a charming college professor who most definitely did not—but maybe did—kill his ex-wife. Or someone else. Or no one. Irby plays with the thriller trope in unimaginably clever ways.

Edwin Stith, a failed novelist and college writing instructor in upstate New York, is returning home for the weekend to Richmond, Virginia, to celebrate his mother’s wedding—to a much younger man. Edwin has a peculiar relationship with the truth. He is a liar who is brutally honest. He may or may not be sleeping with his students, he may or may not be getting fired, and he may or may not have killed his ex-wife, a lover, and his brand-new stepsister.

Stith’s dysfunctional homecoming leads him deep into a morass of long-gestating secrets and dangers, of old-flames still burning strong and new passions ready to consume everything he holds dear. But family dysfunction is only eclipsed by Edwin’s own, leading to profound suspense and utter hilarity. Lee Irby has crafted a sizzling modern classic of dark urges, lies, and secrets that harks back to the unsettling obsessions of Edgar Allan Poe—with a masterful ending that will have you thinking for days.
Learn more about Unreliable.

My Book, The Movie: Unreliable.

The Page 69 Test: Unreliable.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eight inspiring picture books for Earth Day

At the BN Kids blog Charlotte Taylor tagged eight top picture books for Earth Day, including:
Wangari’s Trees of Peace, by Jeanette Winter

When Wangari was a little girl in Kenya, she lived surrounded by trees. But when she returned to her home in the countryside after being away at school for several years, she was horrified to see how few remained. And without the trees, life was harder and hotter. So Wangari decided to take action, and start planting. Other women joined her, and the Green Belt Movement has planted more that 30 million trees. This accessible and enjoyable picture book is a great introduction to this inspiring woman, who went from the first nine trees she planted in her backyard to win the Nobel Peace Prize for her environmental activism.
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Pg. 99: Rebecca Schuman's "Schadenfreude, A Love Story"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Schadenfreude, A Love Story: Me, the Germans, and 20 Years of Attempted Transformations, Unfortunate Miscommunications, and Humiliating Situations That Only They Have Words For by Rebecca Schuman.

About the book, from the publisher:
Sometimes Love Gets Lost in Translation

You know that feeling you get watching the elevator doors slam shut just before your toxic coworker can step in? Or seeing a parking ticket on a Hummer? There’s a word for this mix of malice and joy, and the Germans (of course) invented it. It’s Schadenfreude, deriving pleasure from others’ misfortune. Misfortune happens to be a specialty of Slate columnist Rebecca Schuman—and this is great news for the Germans. For Rebecca adores the Vaterland with the kind of single-minded passion its Volk usually reserve for beer, soccer, and being right all the time.

Let’s just say the affection isn’t mutual.

Schadenfreude is the story of a teenage Jewish intellectual who falls in love – in love with a boy (who breaks her heart), a language (that’s nearly impossible to master), a culture (that’s nihilistic, but punctual), and a landscape (that’s breathtaking when there’s not a wall in the way). Rebecca is an everyday, misunderstood 90’s teenager with a passion for Pearl Jam and Ethan Hawke circa Reality Bites, until two men walk into her high school Civics class: Dylan Gellner, with deep brown eyes and an even deeper soul, and Franz Kafka, hitching a ride in Dylan’s backpack. These two men are the axe to the frozen sea that is Rebecca’s spirit, and what flows forth is a passion for all things German. First love might be fleeting, but Kafka is forever, and in pursuit of this elusive passion Rebecca will spend two decades stuttering and stumbling through German sentences, trying to win over a people who can’t be bothered.

At once a snapshot of a young woman finding herself, and a country slowly starting to stitch itself back together after nearly a century of war (both hot and cold), Schadenfreude, A Love Story is an exhilarating, hilarious, and yes, maybe even heartfelt memoir proving that sometimes the truest loves play hard to get.
Visit Rebecca Schuman's website.

The Page 99 Test: Schadenfreude, A Love Story.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top books about trees

Fiona Stafford is professor of English language and literature, University of Oxford. Her latest book is The Long, Long Life of Trees.

One of Stafford's top ten books about trees, as shared at the Guardian:
The Woodlanders by Thomas Hardy

Hardy’s novels all show a deep understanding of the natural world, but this one’s so thick with trees that at times the human characters almost get lost in the woods. The woodlands supply everyone with fuel, timber, fruit and a livelihood, but Hardy, never comfortable with pleasing pastoral, directs us to the ominous figure of the elm looming over Marty ’s father. Paralysed by fear of this tree, Mr South becomes too ill to leave his house, but when Dr Fitzpiers arrives with a fresh approach and orders the tree to be felled, the shock of its removal proves far too great. His patient dies the next day.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Woodlanders is on John Mullan's list of ten of the best locks of hair in fiction.

The Page 99 Test: Thomas Hardy's The Woodlanders.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Brian Staveley reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Brian Staveley, author of Skullsworn.

His entry begins:
Silk, by Alessandro Baricco, is a stunning novella that’s one part fairy tale, one part historical fiction, and one part heartbreaking romance. It tells the tale of Hervé Joncour, a merchant who travels the world to find silkworm eggs to sell in the French town where he lives. As the European and African silkworms succumb to disease, he must travel further and further, leaving his wife, Hélène, for months at a time. At last, his travels bring him to Japan, where he falls in love with a woman to whom he never speaks.

The story covers years and thousands of miles, but rather than try to render everything, Baricco chooses his moments. Joncour will cross all of Europe and Asia in a short paragraph, but then we get the chance to...[read on]
About Skullsworn, from the publisher:
Pyrre Lakatur is not, to her mind, an assassin, not a murderer—she is a priestess. At least, she will be once she passes her final trial.

The problem isn’t the killing. The problem, rather, is love. For to complete her trial, Pyrre has ten days to kill the seven people enumerated in an ancient song, including “the one who made your mind and body sing with love / who will not come again.”

Pyrre isn’t sure she’s ever been in love. And if she fails to find someone who can draw such passion from her, or fails to kill that someone, her order will give her to their god, the God of Death. Pyrre’s not afraid to die, but she hates to fail, and so, as her trial is set to begin, she returns to the city of her birth in the hope of finding love ... and ending it on the edge of her sword.
Visit Brian Staveley's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Providence of Fire.

Writers Read: Brian Staveley.

--Marshal Zeringue