Sunday, July 23, 2017

Seven classic books about cycling

Bella Bathurst is a writer and photojournalist. Her books include The Lighthouse Stevensons, which won the 1999 Somerset Maugham Award, The Wreckers, which became a BBC Timewatch documentary, and The Bicycle Book, which was shortlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year 2011.

For the Guardian she tagged seven of the best books about cycling, including:
Lance Armstrong: It’s Not About the Bike

Controversial. But in truth there can be very few keen cyclists who didn’t have a copy of this on their bookshelves at one time, and who since Armstrong’s Miltonian fall from grace have not hurled it with great force towards the nearest charity shop. Reading it now, knowing that every motivational phrase, every ultra-alpha anecdote, every straight-up clear-eyed statement is untrue, is like reading a reversed image of the original text. If nothing else, it functions as a perfect psychological template of the lengths to which fear can push us.
Read about another book on the list.

It’s Not About the Bike is one of Matt Seaton's top ten books about cycling.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 22, 2017

What is Claire Booth reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Claire Booth, author of Another Man's Ground.

Her entry begins:
Right now, I’m reading Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America, by Jill Leovy. Frankly, I’m embarrassed that I missed this when it first came out in 2015. It is an absolutely phenomenal piece of reporting. Leovy spent years covering South Central LA, and she turns her reporting into a tour de force indictment of how the system fails communities like South Central. She argues that...[read on]
About Another Man's Ground, from the publisher:
It starts out as an interesting little theft case. Branson, Missouri’s new Sheriff Hank Worth is called out to look at stands of trees that have been stripped of their bark, which the property owner had planned to harvest for the booming herbal supplement market. At first, Hank easily balances the demands of the investigation with his fledging political career. He was appointed several months earlier to the vacant sheriff position, but he needs to win the fast-approaching election in order to keep his job. He thinks the campaign will go well, as long as he’s able to keep secret the fact that a group of undocumented immigrants – hired to cut down the stripped trees – have fled into the forest and he’s deliberately not looking for them.

But then the discovery of a murder victim deep in the Ozark backwoods sets him in the middle of a generations-old feud that explodes into danger not only for him, but also for the immigrants, his deputies, and his family. He must rush to find a murderer before election day, and protect the vulnerable in Branson County, where politicking is hell and trespassing can get you killed.

In Another Man's Ground, her next novel featuring Sheriff Hank Worth, acclaimed author Claire Booth delivers a taut, witty mystery that will grip readers from the opening pages to the breathless conclusion.
Visit Claire Booth's website.

My Book, The Movie: Another Man's Ground.

The Page 69 Test: Another Man's Ground.

Writers Read: Claire Booth.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six crucial YA city stories

Darren Croucher writes YA novels with a partner, under the name A.D. Croucher. At the BN Teen blog he tagged six YA novels "that make particularly evocative use of their rich—and very real—urban settings," including:
Shadowshaper, by Daniel José Older

A long, hot summer in Brooklyn is where this tale of shadowshapers—people who can infuse their art with demon-fighting magic—is deeply and richly set. With Puerto Rican teenager Sierra Santiago as its compelling lead character, the novel dives deep into the rich histories of the borough and the people who live there. By filling this visceral version of Brooklyn with a rippling mirage of otherworldliness, the author gives us a truly magical take on a very real place. A wonderfully detailed urban fantasy that overflows with danger and wonder.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Leigh Fought's "Women in the World of Frederick Douglass"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Women in the World of Frederick Douglass by Leigh Fought.

About the book, from the publisher:
In his extensive writings, Frederick Douglass revealed little about his private life. His famous autobiographies present him overcoming unimaginable trials to gain his freedom and establish his identity-all in service to his public role as an abolitionist. But in both the public and domestic spheres, Douglass relied on a complicated array of relationships with women: white and black, slave-mistresses and family, political collaborators and intellectual companions, wives and daughters. And the great man needed them throughout a turbulent life that was never so linear and self-made as he often wished to portray it.

In Women in the World of Frederick Douglass, Leigh Fought illuminates the life of the famed abolitionist off the public stage. She begins with the women he knew during his life as a slave: his mother, from whom he was separated; his grandmother, who raised him; his slave mistresses, including the one who taught him how to read; and his first wife, Anna Murray, a free woman who helped him escape to freedom and managed the household that allowed him to build his career. Fought examines Douglass's varied relationships with white women-including Maria Weston Chapman, Julia Griffiths, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Ottilie Assing--who were crucial to the success of his newspapers, were active in the antislavery and women's movements, and promoted his work nationally and internationally. She also considers Douglass's relationship with his daughter Rosetta, who symbolized her parents' middle class prominence but was caught navigating between their public and private worlds. Late in life, Douglass remarried to a white woman, Helen Pitts, who preserved his papers, home, and legacy for history.

By examining the circle of women around Frederick Douglass, this work brings these figures into sharper focus and reveals a fuller and more complex image of the self-proclaimed "woman's rights man."
Learn more about Women in the World of Frederick Douglass at the Oxford University Press website.

My Book, The Movie: Women in the World of Frederick Douglass.

The Page 99 Test: Women in the World of Frederick Douglass.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Beth McMullen's "Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls by Beth McMullen.

About the book, from the publisher:
A girl discovers her boarding school is actually an elite spy-training program, and she must learn the skills of the trade in order to find her mother in this action-packed middle grade debut.

After a botched escape plan from her boarding school, Abigail is stunned to discover the school is actually a cover for an elite spy ring called The Center, along with being training grounds for future spies. Even more shocking? Abigail’s mother is a top agent for The Center and she has gone MIA, with valuable information that many people would like to have—at any cost. Along with a former nemesis and charming boy from her grade, Abigail goes through a crash course in Spy Training 101, often with hilarious—and sometimes painful—results. But Abigail realizes she might be a better spy-in-training than she thought—and the answers to her mother’s whereabouts are a lot closer than she thinks…A girl discovers her boarding school is actually an elite spy-training program, and she must learn the skills of the trade in order to find her mother in this action-packed middle grade debut. After a botched escape plan from her boarding school, Abigail is stunned to discover the school is actually a cover for an elite spy ring called The Center, along with being training grounds for future spies. Even more shocking? Abigail’s mother is a top agent for The Center and she has gone MIA, with valuable information that many people would like to have—at any cost. Along with a former nemesis and charming boy from her grade, Abigail goes through a crash course in Spy Training 101, often with hilarious—and sometimes painful—results. But Abigail realizes she might be a better spy-in-training than she thought—and the answers to her mother’s whereabouts are a lot closer than she thinks…
Visit Beth McMullen's website.

The Page 69 Test: Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 21, 2017

Five top SFF books written collaboratively

Andrew Neil Gray and J. S. Herbison are partners in life as well as in writing. The Ghost Line is their first fiction collaboration. One of their five best SFF books written collaboratively, as shared at Tor.com:
The Mote in God’s Eye by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle

Set a thousand years in the future, in a culture still recovering from the civil war that caused the fall of the first human empire, this novel is a classic of first contact and the first collaboration of many between Niven and Pournelle. After a slower-than-light alien spaceship arrives in a nearby system, a human expedition is scrambled to visit a red supergiant star called Murcheson’s Eye and investigate the spaceship’s origin. Unlike many aliens-meet-humans books, here first contact comes on human terms, and it’s wildly original. The aliens are complicated, secretive, and intriguingly other, and the book is a thoughtful page-turner.

After this success, Niven and Pournelle went on to write other classics together such as Lucifer’s Hammer, Inferno and Footfall (still one of the best and most realistic alien invasion novels out there). They’ve also both had fruitful collaborations with numerous other SF authors, including David Gerrold, Steven Barnes, Dean Ing, Poul Anderson, and Gregory Benford.
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Deborah E. Kennedy reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Deborah E. Kennedy, author of Tornado Weather: A Novel.

Her entry begins:
A Very Private Eye: An Autobiography in Diaries and Letters, by Barbara Pym. Edited by Hazel Holt and Hilary Pym

I am always reading this book. I am never not reading it. A mash-up of letters, diary entries, and back-of-receipt jottings from the irreplaceable, inimitable Barbara Pym, it's the book equivalent of the perfect English breakfast – nourishing, funny, perfectly balanced. And there's always something new to discover and laugh about and sigh over. Critics often refer to Pym as the second-coming of Jane Austen, but...[read on]
About Tornado Weather, from the publisher:
Five-year-old Daisy Gonzalez’s father is always waiting for her at the bus stop. But today, he isn’t, and Daisy disappears.

When Daisy goes missing, nearly everyone in town suspects or knows something different about what happened. And they also know a lot about each other. The immigrants who work in the dairy farm know their employers’ secrets. The hairdresser knows everything except what’s happening in her own backyard. And the roadkill collector knows love and heartbreak more than anyone would ever expect. They are all connected, in ways small and profound, open and secret.

By turns unsettling, dark, and wry, Kennedy’s powerful voice brings the town’s rich fabric to life. Tornado Weather is an affecting portrait of a complex and flawed cast of characters striving to find fulfillment in their lives – and Kennedy brilliantly shows that there is nothing average about an average life.
Follow Deborah E. Kennedy on Facebook and Twitter.

My Book, The Movie: Tornado Weather.

The Page 69 Test: Tornado Weather.

Writers Read: Deborah E. Kennedy.

--Marshal Zeringue

Jo Perry's "Dead Is Good," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Dead Is Good by Jo Perry.

The entry begins:
I still think Jonah Hill would make a fine Charles Stone, my chunky, rueful, murdered protagonist, even though Hill is now extremely slim. Zach Galifianakis could step in as Charlie, too--he's good at playing self-deprecating, smart, and messed up men. And Charles is messed up in Dead Is Good, as he returns to to the living world help the one woman he truly loved in life, and whom still loves in death, Grace Morgan. Grace is a prickly, brave and complicated person––a performance artist who breaks barriers, who likes to shock, and who can be haughty and remote. I would love to see...[read on]
Visit Jo Perry's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Jo Perry & Lola and Lucy.

My Book, The Movie: Dead is Better.

The Page 69 Test: Dead is Better.

My Book, The Movie: Dead is Best.

The Page 69 Test: Dead is Best.

My Book, The Movie: Dead Is Good.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six fictional robots too smart for their own good

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy blog Nicole Hill tagged six robots too smart for their own good, including:
Raymond Electromatic (Killing Is My Business, by Adam Christopher)

It’s a lonely business, being the world’s last robot. Or at least it would be if Raymond Electromatic could feel emotions, or hold a memory inside his memory banks for longer than 24 hours. As it is, this hard-boiled private eye just gets on with his business, which, these days, happens to be as a hirable hitman. It’s a nasty line of work, but one Ray’s uniquely suited for, alongside his supercomputer Ada. In this second book of Christopher’s series, we learn Ray may be a little too good at his job, even if his memory resets every day.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 69 Test: Made to Kill (Ray Electromatic Mysteries, Volume 1).

My Book, The Movie: Made to Kill.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Pg. 69: Janelle Brown's "Watch Me Disappear"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Watch Me Disappear by Janelle Brown.

About the book, from the publisher:
The disappearance of a beautiful, charismatic mother leaves her family to piece together her secrets in this propulsive novel for fans of Big Little Lies—from the bestselling author of All We Ever Wanted Was Everything.

Who you want people to be makes you blind to who they really are.

It’s been a year since Billie Flanagan—a Berkeley mom with an enviable life—went on a solo hike in Desolation Wilderness and vanished from the trail. Her body was never found, just a shattered cellphone and a solitary hiking boot. Her husband and teenage daughter have been coping with Billie’s death the best they can: Jonathan drinks as he works on a loving memoir about his marriage; Olive grows remote, from both her father and her friends at the all-girls school she attends.

But then Olive starts having strange visions of her mother, still alive. Jonathan worries about Olive’s emotional stability, until he starts unearthing secrets from Billie’s past that bring into question everything he thought he understood about his wife. Who was the woman he knew as Billie Flanagan?

Together, Olive and Jonathan embark on a quest for the truth—about Billie, but also about themselves, learning, in the process, about all the ways that love can distort what we choose to see. Janelle Brown’s insights into the dynamics of intimate relationships will make you question the stories you tell yourself about the people you love, while her nervy storytelling will keep you guessing until the very last page.
Learn more about the book and author at Janelle Brown's website.

The Page 69 Test: All We Ever Wanted Was Everything.

The Page 69 Test: Watch Me Disappear.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Nancy Kress reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Nancy Kress, author of Tomorrow's Kin: Book 1 of the Yesterday's Kin Trilogy.

Her entry begins:
The last three books I’ve read have differed wildly from each other. A few weeks ago I finished Charlie Jane Anders’s Nebula-winning novel, All The Birds In The Sky. Although I’m not usually a fan of science-and-magic-alltogether-O, this book worked for three reasons: First, it is a romp, with the science not meant to be taken seriously. Second, the writing is so good. Anders has a genuine gift for metaphor. Third, the characters are affecting; I was rooting for them to win out, which...[read on]
About Tomorrow's Kin, from the publisher:
Tomorrow's Kin is the first volume in and all new hard science fiction trilogy by Nancy Kress based on the Nebula Award-winning Yesterday's Kin.

The aliens have arrived... they've landed their Embassy ship on a platform in New York Harbor, and will only speak with the United Nations. They say that their world is so different from Earth, in terms of gravity and atmosphere, that they cannot leave their ship. The population of Earth has erupted in fear and speculation.

One day Dr. Marianne Jenner, an obscure scientist working with the human genome, receives an invitation that she cannot refuse. The Secret Service arrives at her college to escort her to New York, for she has been invited, along with the Secretary General of the UN and a few other ambassadors, to visit the alien Embassy.

The truth is about to be revealed. Earth’s most elite scientists have ten months to prevent a disaster—and not everyone is willing to wait.
Follow Nancy Kress on Twitter and Facebook.

The Page 69 Test: Dogs.

The Page 69 Test: After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall.

The Page 69 Test: Tomorrow's Kin.

Writers Read: Nancy Kress.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top opening scenes in books

Catherine Lacey's most recent novel is The Answers.

One of her top ten opening scenes in books, as shared at The Guardian:
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

“You don’t know about me, without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, but that ain’t no matter. That book was made by Mr Mark Twain, and he told the truth, mainly. There was things he stretched, but mainly he told the truth. That is nothing.”

It’s all about the voice and playfulness and warmth here. It’s another example of how Twain could transfer the sound of a story well-told to the page, giving it nuance and depth without losing any colloquial heat.
Read about another entry on the list.

Huckleberry Finn is among Saci Lloyd's ten top political books for teenagers, Dan Ariely's six top books about, or by, liars, Josh Lacey's top ten pseudonymous books, Katie Couric's favorite books, James Gray's six best books, and John Mullan's lists of ten of the best literary men dressed as women, ten of the best vendettas in literature and ten of the best child narrators in literature. It is one of Stephen King's top ten works of literature. Director Spike Jonze and the Where the Wild Things Are film team tagged Huckleberry Finn on their list of the top 10 rascals in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Sabine Frühstück's "Playing War"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Playing War: Children and the Paradoxes of Modern Militarism in Japan by Sabine Frühstück.

About the book, from the publisher:
In Playing War, Sabine Frühstück makes a bold proposition: that for over a century throughout Japan and beyond, children and concepts of childhood have been appropriated as tools for decidedly unchildlike purposes: to validate, moralize, humanize, and naturalize war, and to sentimentalize peace. She argues that modern conceptions of war insist on and exploit a specific and static notion of the child: that the child, though the embodiment of vulnerability and innocence, nonetheless possesses an inherent will to war, and that this seemingly contradictory creature demonstrates what it means to be human. In examining the intersection of children/childhood with war/military, Frühstück identifies the insidious factors perpetuating this alliance, thus rethinking the very foundations of modern militarism. She interrogates how essentialist notions of both childhood and war have been productively intertwined; how assumptions about childhood and war have converged; and how children and childhood have worked as symbolic constructions and powerful rhetorical tools, particularly in the decades between the nation- and empire-building efforts of the late-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries up to the uneven manifestations of globalization at the beginning of the twenty-first.
Learn more about Playing War at the University of California Press.

The Page 99 Test: Playing War.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Pg. 69: Gary Corby's "Death On Delos"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Death on Delos by Gary Corby.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the seventh in Gary Corby’s Athenian Mystery series, Nico and Diotima must solve a murder case while also preparing to have a baby. Set on the sacred island of Delos in 5th century BC, Death on Delos is full of humor and historical intrigue.

Greece, 454 BC: The sacred isle of Delos, the birthplace of the divine twins Apollo and Artemis, has been a most holy pilgrimage site for centuries. Delos is also home to the military fund kept by the Delian League, the alliance of city-states that defended Greece against the Persians, and that vast treasury is protected only by the priests and priestesses of the tiny isle and a scant armed guard.

Then one day the charismatic Athenian statesman Pericles arrives at the head of a small army to forcibly take the treasury back to the safety of Athens. With him are Nico, the only private agent in ancient Athens, and his heavily pregnant wife and partner in sleuthing, the priestess Diotima. She has been selected to give this year’s annual offering to holy Artemis.

In the face of righteous resistance from the priests, Pericles assigns Nico to bribe their leader. But before he can get very far with this dubiously unholy task, Nico ends up with a murder on his hands.

It is a crime against the gods to die or be born on the sacred island. Thanks to the violence over the treasury, the first blasphemy has already been committed. Can Nico solve the murder and get Diotima off the island before they accidentally commit the second?
Visit Gary Corby's website.

Five books that changed Gary Corby.

The Page 69 Test: The Pericles Commission.

My Book, The Movie: The Pericles Commission.

My Book, The Movie: The Ionia Sanction.

The Page 69 Test: The Ionia Sanction.

The Page 69 Test: Sacred Games.

My Book, The Movie: Sacred Games.

The Page 69 Test: The Marathon Conspiracy.

My Book, The Movie: The Marathon Conspiracy.

My Book, The Movie: Death Ex Machina.

The Page 69 Test: Death Ex Machina.

My Book, The Movie: The Singer from Memphis.

The Page 69 Test: The Singer from Memphis.

My Book, The Movie: Death on Delos.

The Page 69 Test: Death on Delos.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Kathleen Anne Kenney reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Kathleen Anne Kenney, author of Girl on the Leeside.

Her entry begins:
I just read The Help – finally. I’ve seen the film twice and was ashamed I hadn’t read the novel, which I had bought years ago. It is truly an almost perfect novel. The character development, setting descriptions, situations, and depictions of personal stakes are drawn beautifully. For me as a reader, novels set in tumultuous historic periods are very compelling, if done well. Character development and an memorable setting are what I look for in a story. This novel had no stereotypes, no false steps, no...[read on]
About Girl on the Leeside, from the publisher:
A young, aspiring poet in a quiet Irish village thinks her life of books suits her perfectly until a charismatic newcomer from America broadens her horizons.

Siobhan Doyle grew up with her Uncle Kee at their family pub The Leeside, in rural Ireland. Kee has been staunchly overprotective of Siobhan ever since her mother’s death in an IRA bombing, but now that she’s an adult, it’s clear that in protecting her Kee has unwittingly kept her in a state of arrested development. The pair are content to remain forever in their quiet haven, reading and discussing Irish poetry, but for both Siobhan and Kee fate intervenes.

A visiting American literary scholar awakens Siobhan to the possibility of a fulfilling life away from The Leeside. And her relationship with Kee falters after the revelation that her father is still alive. In the face of these changes, Siobhan reaches a surprising decision about her future. Lyrical and heartfelt, Kathleen Anne Kenney’s Girl on the Leeside deserves a place alongside contemporary literature’s best-loved coming-of-age novels.
Visit Kathleen Anne Kenney's website.

My Book, The Movie: Girl on the Leeside.

Writers Read: Kathleen Anne Kenney.

--Marshal Zeringue

Jack Grimwood's "Moskva," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Moskva by Jack Grimwood.

The entry begins:
I think Casablanca era Humphrey Bogart for Tom Fox. Either that or early Bond Daniel Craig. Both have the cynicism and the damage and the need to do the right thing, at war with a wish for the world to leave them alone.

The Tom Hiddleston from Only Lovers Left Alive for Dennisov. Just the right mixture of dangerous, charming and barking mad for an alcoholic, ex special forces, son of a Soviet general. The CGI guys could probably have fun with his artificial leg made from a helicopter spring too.

I know everyone thinks of him as...[read on]
Visit Jack Grimwood's website.

My Book, The Movie: Moskva by Jack Grimwood.

--Marshal Zeringue

Fifty of the funniest books of all time

Whitney Collins is the author of The Hamster Won't Die: A Treasury of Feral Humor, creator of the website The Zen of Gen X. At B&N Reads she tagged fifty of the funniest books ever written:
Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About, by Mil Millington

Though the title sounds like a blog entry, this scream of a novel is actually fiction at its finest. Main character Pel, who lives with his feisty girlfriend Ursula, is unequipped to handle the downward spiral that occurs when he takes over his boss’s job. From run-ins with the Chinese mafia to stolen money and missing coworkers, Perl’s misadventures also include a series of laugh-out-loud arguments with his stalwart and stubborn love interest. This read proves a thriller can also be a killer comedy.
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Pg. 69: Claire Booth's "Another Man's Ground"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Another Man's Ground: Sheriff Hank Worth Mysteries (Volume 2) by Claire Booth.

About the book, from the publisher:
It starts out as an interesting little theft case. Branson, Missouri’s new Sheriff Hank Worth is called out to look at stands of trees that have been stripped of their bark, which the property owner had planned to harvest for the booming herbal supplement market. At first, Hank easily balances the demands of the investigation with his fledging political career. He was appointed several months earlier to the vacant sheriff position, but he needs to win the fast-approaching election in order to keep his job. He thinks the campaign will go well, as long as he’s able to keep secret the fact that a group of undocumented immigrants – hired to cut down the stripped trees – have fled into the forest and he’s deliberately not looking for them.

But then the discovery of a murder victim deep in the Ozark backwoods sets him in the middle of a generations-old feud that explodes into danger not only for him, but also for the immigrants, his deputies, and his family. He must rush to find a murderer before election day, and protect the vulnerable in Branson County, where politicking is hell and trespassing can get you killed.

In Another Man's Ground, her next novel featuring Sheriff Hank Worth, acclaimed author Claire Booth delivers a taut, witty mystery that will grip readers from the opening pages to the breathless conclusion.
Visit Claire Booth's website.

My Book, The Movie: Another Man's Ground.

The Page 69 Test: Another Man's Ground.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Rick Wartzman's "The End of Loyalty"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The End of Loyalty: The Rise and Fall of Good Jobs in America by Rick Wartzman.

About the book, from the publisher:
Having a good, stable job used to be the bedrock of the American Dream. Not anymore.

In this richly detailed and eye-opening book, Rick Wartzman chronicles the erosion of the relationship between American companies and their workers. Through the stories of four major employers--General Motors, General Electric, Kodak, and Coca-Cola--he shows how big businesses once took responsibility for providing their workers and retirees with an array of social benefits. At the height of the post-World War II economy, these companies also believed that worker pay needed to be kept high in order to preserve morale and keep the economy humming. Productivity boomed.

But the corporate social contract didn't last. By tracing the ups and downs of these four corporate icons over seventy years, Wartzman illustrates just how much has been lost: job security and steadily rising pay, guaranteed pensions, robust health benefits, and much more. Charting the Golden Age of the '50s and '60s; the turbulent years of the '70s and '80s; and the growth of downsizing, outsourcing, and instability in the modern era, Wartzman's narrative is a biography of the American Dream gone sideways.

Deeply researched and compelling, The End of Loyalty will make you rethink how Americans can begin to resurrect the middle class.
Learn more about The End of Loyalty at the Hachette Book Group website.

The Page 99 Test: Obscene in the Extreme: The Burning and Banning of John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath.

The Page 99 Test: The End of Loyalty.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top books that resemble science fiction

Karen Heuler’s stories have appeared in over 100 literary and speculative magazines and anthologies. She has published four novels and three story collections with university and small presses, and a recent collection was chosen for Publishers Weekly’s Best Books of 2013 list. She has received an O. Henry award, been shortlisted for a Pushcart prize, for the Iowa short fiction award, the Bellwether award, and twice for the Shirley Jackson award for short fiction. Her new novella, In Search of Lost Time, is about a woman who can steal time.

One of Heuler's five favorite books that "stand at the doorway between realistic and speculative," as shared at Tor.com:
Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift

In the 18th century some travel books were entirely made up by authors who never actually went on their fabled journey, travel being as arduous as it was. People were—and still are—delighted to believe just about anything when it comes to strangers. Travel is an unparalleled opportunity to champion one’s own personal beliefs about politics, race, class, gender, and cultural irregularities, and to give instances of the mindless rituals of people who are not like us. There is no greater sense of superiority than that of noting how every other society can be improved. They will never see the errors of their ways if we don’t point it out to them.
Read about another entry on the list.

Gulliver's Travels appears on David Dalglish's list of eight favorite airborne societies in fantasy fiction, Lindsay Taylor and Suzanne Smith's list of ten favorite fantasy realms, Conn Iggulden's top ten list of books about tiny people, Antonio Carluccio's list of his six favorite books, and John Mullan's lists of ten of the top imaginary meetings in literature and ten of the best vegetables in literature; it is one of Neil deGrasse Tyson's 5 most important books.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Kendra Elliot reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Kendra Elliot, author of  A Merciful Truth.

Her entry begins:
Over the last few weeks I read five fantasy books. I was finishing up my own book and needed something soothing for my brain. Since I write twisty suspense plots with murder, death, and violence, I often turn to historical romance to rest my neurons, but this time I got hooked on the Kingfountain series by Jeff Wheeler. I plowed through the first four and...[read on]
About A Merciful Truth, from the publisher:
Raised by a family of survivalists, FBI agent Mercy Kilpatrick can take on any challenge—even the hostile reception to her homecoming. But she’s not the only one causing chaos in the rural community of Eagle’s Nest, Oregon. At first believed to be teenage pranks, a series of fires takes a deadly turn with the murder of two sheriff’s deputies. Now, along with Police Chief Truman Daly, Mercy is on the hunt for an arsonist turned killer.

Still shunned by her family and members of the community, Mercy must keep her ear close to the ground to pick up any leads. And it’s not long before she hears rumors of the area’s growing antigovernment militia movement. If the arsonist is among their ranks, Mercy is determined to smoke the culprit out. But when her investigation uncovers a shocking secret, will this hunt for a madman turn into her own trial by fire?
Visit Kendra Elliot's website.

The Page 69 Test: A Merciful Truth.

Writers Read: Kendra Elliot.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 17, 2017

Pg. 69: Deborah E. Kennedy's "Tornado Weather"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Tornado Weather: A Novel by Deborah E. Kennedy.

About the book, from the publisher:
Five-year-old Daisy Gonzalez’s father is always waiting for her at the bus stop. But today, he isn’t, and Daisy disappears.

When Daisy goes missing, nearly everyone in town suspects or knows something different about what happened. And they also know a lot about each other. The immigrants who work in the dairy farm know their employers’ secrets. The hairdresser knows everything except what’s happening in her own backyard. And the roadkill collector knows love and heartbreak more than anyone would ever expect. They are all connected, in ways small and profound, open and secret.

By turns unsettling, dark, and wry, Kennedy’s powerful voice brings the town’s rich fabric to life. Tornado Weather is an affecting portrait of a complex and flawed cast of characters striving to find fulfillment in their lives – and Kennedy brilliantly shows that there is nothing average about an average life.
Follow Deborah E. Kennedy on Facebook and Twitter.

My Book, The Movie: Tornado Weather.

The Page 69 Test: Tornado Weather.

--Marshal Zeringue

Gail Godwin's six favorite books with remote settings

Gail Godwin is a three-time National Book Award finalist and the bestselling author of twelve critically acclaimed novels, including Violet Clay, Father Melancholy's Daughter, Evensong, The Good Husband and Evenings at Five. She is also the author of The Making of a Writer, her journal in two volumes (ed. Rob Neufeld). She has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, National Endowment for the Arts grants for both fiction and libretto writing, and the Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Godwin's new novel is Grief Cottage.

One of the author's six favorite books with remote settings, as shared at The Week magazine:
The Water Is Wide by Pat Conroy

"The lushness of the island and the remarkable isolation of the school appealed to the do-gooder in me," Conroy explains in this 1972 memoir, about the year he spent as a young man teaching Gullah children on a South Carolina barrier island.
Read about another entry on the list.

My Book, The Movie: Grief Cottage.

The Page 69 Test: Grief Cottage.

Writers Read: Gail Godwin.

--Marshal Zeringue

Gary Corby's "Death On Delos," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Death on Delos by Gary Corby.

The entry begins:
Death On Delos is set on a small, isolated island, complete with a holy sanctuary and a substantial number of slightly odd people. Too many to cast here! So let me give you a snapshot.

The detective in this story is the female lead! Plus, she's pregnant. For Diotima I will therefore cast Alyssa Milano, because not many actors could do a funny, pregnant detective, but I suspect she could.

For Nico, hero of my tale, I want to cast Kyle MacLachlan. He was the detective in both Blue Velvet and the FBI agent in the original Twin Peaks. I think he could probably cope with the weirdness in which Nico is constantly enmeshed.

For Meren, the priestess of Artemis I will cast Merryn Anderson. That's because Meren was named for Merryn. She's a friend of ours, and there's a story behind this. When I was...[read on]
Visit Gary Corby's website.

Five books that changed Gary Corby.

The Page 69 Test: The Pericles Commission.

My Book, The Movie: The Pericles Commission.

My Book, The Movie: The Ionia Sanction.

The Page 69 Test: The Ionia Sanction.

The Page 69 Test: Sacred Games.

My Book, The Movie: Sacred Games.

The Page 69 Test: The Marathon Conspiracy.

My Book, The Movie: The Marathon Conspiracy.

My Book, The Movie: Death Ex Machina.

The Page 69 Test: Death Ex Machina.

My Book, The Movie: The Singer from Memphis.

The Page 69 Test: The Singer from Memphis.

My Book, The Movie: Death on Delos.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Alan E. Bernstein's "Hell and Its Rivals"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Hell and Its Rivals: Death and Retribution among Christians, Jews, and Muslims in the Early Middle Ages by Alan E. Bernstein.

About the book, from the publisher:
The idea of punishment after death—whereby the souls of the wicked are consigned to Hell (Gehenna, Gehinnom, or Jahannam)—emerged out of beliefs found across the Mediterranean, from ancient Egypt to Zoroastrian Persia, and became fundamental to the Abrahamic religions. Once Hell achieved doctrinal expression in the New Testament, the Talmud, and the Qur'an, thinkers began to question Hell’s eternity, and to consider possible alternatives—hell’s rivals. Some imagined outright escape, others periodic but temporary relief within the torments. One option, including Purgatory and, in the Eastern Orthodox tradition, the Middle State, was to consider the punishments to be temporary and purifying. Despite these moral and theological hesitations, the idea of Hell has remained a historical and theological force until the present.

In Hell and Its Rivals, Alan E. Bernstein examines an array of sources from within and beyond the three Abrahamic faiths—including theology, chronicles, legal charters, edifying tales, and narratives of near-death experiences—to analyze the origins and evolution of belief in Hell. Key social institutions, including slavery, capital punishment, and monarchy, also affected the afterlife beliefs of Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Reflection on hell encouraged a stigmatization of "the other" that in turn emphasized the differences between these religions. Yet, despite these rivalries, each community proclaimed eternal punishment and answered related challenges to it in similar terms. For all that divided them, they agreed on the need for—and fact of—Hell.
Learn about Hell and Its Rivals at the Cornell University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Hell and Its Rivals.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 16, 2017

What is Bianca Marais reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Bianca Marais, author of Hum If You Don’t Know the Words.

Her entry begins:
I’ve just finished reading What it Means When a Man Falls From the Sky, a short story collection by Lesley Nneka Arimah. I don’t usually read short stories, mainly because I find that just as I become invested in the characters, the story’s over, but since I grew up in South Africa, I really love African stories and the author writes a lot about Nigeria where she spent some time in her youth....[read on]
About Hum If You Don’t Know the Words, from the publisher:
Perfect for readers of The Secret Life of Bees and The Help, a perceptive and searing look at Apartheid-era South Africa, told through one unique family brought together by tragedy.

Life under Apartheid has created a secure future for Robin Conrad, a ten-year-old white girl living with her parents in 1970s Johannesburg. In the same nation but worlds apart, Beauty Mbali, a Xhosa woman in a rural village in the Bantu homeland of the Transkei, struggles to raise her children alone after her husband’s death. Both lives have been built upon the division of race, and their meeting should never have occurred…until the Soweto Uprising, in which a protest by black students ignites racial conflict, alters the fault lines on which their society is built, and shatters their worlds when Robin’s parents are left dead and Beauty’s daughter goes missing.

After Robin is sent to live with her loving but irresponsible aunt, Beauty is hired to care for Robin while continuing the search for her daughter. In Beauty, Robin finds the security and family that she craves, and the two forge an inextricable bond through their deep personal losses. But Robin knows that if Beauty finds her daughter, Robin could lose her new caretaker forever, so she makes a desperate decision with devastating consequences. Her quest to make amends and find redemption is a journey of self-discovery in which she learns the harsh truths of the society that once promised her protection.

Told through Beauty and Robin’s alternating perspectives, the interwoven narratives create a rich and complex tapestry of the emotions and tensions at the heart of Apartheid-era South Africa. Hum If You Don’t Know the Words is a beautifully rendered look at loss, racism, and the creation of family.
Visit Bianca Marais's website.

The Page 69 Test: Hum If You Don’t Know the Words.

Writers Read: Bianca Marais.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five damn-near perfect (dark) novels

Karen Runge is an author and visual artist based in Johannesburg, South Africa. She is the author of the short story collection Seven Sins and the novel Seeing Double. One of her five (damn-near) perfect (dark) novels:
SENSELESS, by Stona Fitch

“Removing an eye is easy. All it takes is a confident man and a coffee spoon.”

Reading this book is easy. All it takes is an open mind and a stress ball. And maybe a pillow to scream into. And a big box of tissues. And a counsellor at the end of it when you look up and recognise the world you’re living in.

Lots of folks like to slam body horror as mere (mere?) torture porn, but this is proof that there can be a lot more to it than that. (And what’s wrong with torture porn anyway? But I guess that’s another topic.) This book takes a hard look at society, politics, and the implied liability of the individual in a consumerist society.

Here we follow Elliot Gast, a little fish in the business ocean of a mega trade corporation. While strolling around Brussels one evening post-gourmet dinner, he’s kidnapped by a group of political extremists who make him both poster and whipping boy for all the evils they feel America is wreaking on the world, specifically European economies. Whether he’s responsible for any of this or not (and this book is pitched grey enough to invite you to think on that—and on your own guilt while you’re at it, regardless of nationality), there’s no escape for Gast—or the reader. This is the kind of book that will have you periodically snapping the pages shut and taking deep breaths. But with the empathy Fitch builds in us for his character, there’s just no way you’ll be able to stop reading and leave poor Gast alone in there. Happy nightmares.

So yes, this is a book about torture, about body horror. But it’s also political, current, purposeful. Coming in at around 50K words, it may be a short read but it’s by no means a smooth ride. This is a great example of how extreme violence can be an essential component for far-reaching dark fiction. And at the end… blow me down if you don’t wind up feeling something very close to uplifted. The mysteries of great story-telling.

It takes guts to write a book like this. It takes genius to pull it off so flawlessly.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 99 Test: Senseless.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Nancy Kress's "Tomorrow's Kin"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Tomorrow's Kin: Book 1 of the Yesterday's Kin Trilogy by Nancy Kress.

About the book, from the publisher:
Tomorrow's Kin is the first volume in and all new hard science fiction trilogy by Nancy Kress based on the Nebula Award-winning Yesterday's Kin.

The aliens have arrived... they've landed their Embassy ship on a platform in New York Harbor, and will only speak with the United Nations. They say that their world is so different from Earth, in terms of gravity and atmosphere, that they cannot leave their ship. The population of Earth has erupted in fear and speculation.

One day Dr. Marianne Jenner, an obscure scientist working with the human genome, receives an invitation that she cannot refuse. The Secret Service arrives at her college to escort her to New York, for she has been invited, along with the Secretary General of the UN and a few other ambassadors, to visit the alien Embassy.

The truth is about to be revealed. Earth’s most elite scientists have ten months to prevent a disaster—and not everyone is willing to wait.
Follow Nancy Kress on Twitter and Facebook.

The Page 69 Test: Dogs.

The Page 69 Test: After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall.

The Page 69 Test: Tomorrow's Kin.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Coffee with a canine: Tamara Bundy & Toby

Featured at Coffee with a Canine: Tamara Bundy & Toby.

The author, on how Toby got his name:
They called him “Toby” at the SCPA so I thought that was his name –the one he was surrendered with. But after we started calling him that for a few months after we got him, I realized the workers gave him a random name. I think I would have chosen something different had I known –but it’s too late now. At least he finally...[read on]
About Tamara Bundy's Walking with Miss Millie, from the publisher:
A poignant middle grade debut about the friendship between a white girl and an elderly black woman in the 1960s South

Alice is angry at having to move to Rainbow, Georgia—a too small, too hot, dried-up place she’s sure will never feel like home. Then she gets put in charge of walking her elderly neighbor’s dog. But Clarence won’t budge without Miss Millie, so Alice and Miss Millie walk him together.

Strolling with Clarence and Miss Millie quickly becomes the highlight of Alice’s day and opens her eyes to all sorts of new things to marvel over. During their walks, they meet a mix of people, and Alice sees that although there are some bullies and phonies, there are plenty of kind folks, too. Miss Millie shares her family’s story with Alice, showing her the painful impact segregation has had on their town. And with Miss Millie, Alice is finally able to express her own heartache over why her family had to move there in the first place.

Tamara Bundy’s beautifully written debut celebrates the wonder and power of friendship: how it can be found when we least expect it and make any place a home.
Visit Tamara Bundy's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Tamara Bundy & Toby.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eight top books about the horrors of adolescence

Sam Reader is a writer and conventions editor for The Geek Initiative. He also writes literary criticism and reviews at strangelibrary.com. One of eight books about the horrors of adolescence he tagged at the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog:
Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury

Bradbury’s gothic fantasy novel follows two young boys who must stop a sinister carnival of “autumn people” who feed on negative emotions and the dissatisfaction of the townsfolk in the places they visit. Bradbury sets up a framework that would become more or less conventional, capitalizing on that universal teenage certainty that, well, parents just don’t understand. with the town’s children well aware that Cooger and Dark’s Pandemonium Carnival (really, why would anyone go to something with that name?) is a terrifying spectacle that sucks the life and souls out of their friends and neighbors, and the adults without a clue. But rather than drop the grownups on the wrong side of a dividing line, Bradbury instead allows the ones who can get in touch with their inner child to fight back against the monsters, and eventually become invaluable allies against the Pandemonium Carnival’s dark delights.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: William Lafi Youmans's "An Unlikely Audience"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: An Unlikely Audience: Al Jazeera's Struggle in America by William Lafi Youmans.

About the book, from the publisher:
In 2006, the Al Jazeera Media Network sought to penetrate the United States media sphere, the world's most influential national market for English language news. These unyielding ambitions surprised those who knew the network as the Arab media service President Bush lambasted as "hateful propaganda" in his 2004 State of the Union address. The world watched skeptically yet curiously as Al Jazeera labored to establish a presence in the famously insular American market.

The network's decade-long struggle included both fleeting successes, like the sudden surge of popular interest during the Arab spring, as well as momentous failures. The April 2016 closure of its $2 billion Al Jazeera America channel was just one of a series of setbacks. An Unlikely Audience investigates the inner workings of a complex news organization fighting to overcome deep obstacles, foster strategic alliances and build its identity in a country notoriously disinterested in international news.

William Youmans argues counter-intuitively that making sense of Al Jazeera's tortured push into the United States as a national news market, actually requires a local lens. He reveals the network's appeal to American audiences by presenting its three independent US-facing subsidiaries in their primary locales of production: Al Jazeera English (AJE) in Washington, DC, Al Jazeera America (AJAM) in New York, and AJ+ in San Francisco. These cities are centers of vital industries-media-politics, commercial TV news and technology, respectively. As Youmans shows, the success of the outlets hinged on the locations in which they operated because Al Jazeera assimilated aspects of their core industries. An Unlikely Audience proves that place is critical to the formation and evolution of multi-national media organizations, despite the rise of communication technologies that many believe make location less relevant.

Mining data from over 50 interviews since 2010, internal documents, and original surveys, the book offers a brisk and authoritative account of the world's most recognizable media-brand and its decade-long ingress into the US - crucial background for Al Jazeera's continued expansion in the United States.
Visit William Youmans's website.

The Page 99 Test: An Unlikely Audience.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Jean E. Pendziwol reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Jean E. Pendziwol, author of The Lightkeeper's Daughters.

Her entry begins:
Like many other writers, I get very picky about what I read when I’m writing and avoid novels in my own genre when I’m actively drafting. Right now, I’m in the research stage of my next project, which means I’ve been able to expand my reading and get “caught up” on my to-be-read list.

As a Canadian, I have read several of Margaret Atwood’s books over the years, but somehow her dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale slipped through the cracks. Because the story has recently been adapted for TV and broadcast on Hulu, and the themes echo the current political dynamic in the United States, it has experienced a renewed popularity and I felt it was time to dig up a copy. I’m glad I did. Set in a near-future New England when the United States government has been overthrown by a totalitarian Christian theocracy, it explores themes of...[read on]
About The Lightkeeper's Daughters, from the publisher:
Though her mind is still sharp, Elizabeth's eyes have failed. No longer able to linger over her beloved books or gaze at the paintings that move her spirit, she fills the void with music and memories of her family—a past that suddenly becomes all too present when her late father's journals are found amid the ruins of an old shipwreck.

With the help of Morgan, a delinquent teenage performing community service, Elizabeth goes through the diaries, a journey through time that brings the two women closer together. Entry by entry, these unlikely friends are drawn deep into a world far removed from their own—to Porphyry Island on Lake Superior, where Elizabeth’s father manned the lighthouse seventy years before.

As the words on these musty pages come alive, Elizabeth and Morgan begin to realize that their fates are connected to the isolated island in ways they never dreamed. While the discovery of Morgan's connection sheds light onto her own family mysteries, the faded pages of the journals hold more questions than answers for Elizabeth, and threaten the very core of who she is.
Visit Jean E. Pendziwol's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Lightkeeper's Daughters.

Writers Read: Jean E. Pendziwol.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 14, 2017

Five of the best books with ambitious birds

Nancy Kress’s SF has won six Nebulas, two Hugos, a Sturgeon, and the John W. Campbell Award. Her most recent book is Tomorrow's Kin, an expansion of the Nebula-winning novella “Yesterday’s Kin,” which takes the story forward several generations.

One of Kress's five favorite "birds that are more than warm-blooded bipeds—birds with ambition," as shared at Tor.com:
All The Birds in The Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

This novel, winner of the 2017 Nebula, defies classification. It’s a coming-of-age YA, it’s a dystopian cautionary tale, it’s a war between (and within) magic and science, it’s a love story, it’s genuinely strange in the best possible way. It’s also about birds, who here serve a dual function: They introduce the heroine to her magical powers as a future witch. They also act the traditional part of canaries in a coal mine, warning of eminent disaster, this time for the whole world. “Too late!” they cry, until the lovely writing and quirky inventiveness of Anders’s plot mitigate that to, “Almost too late. Practically too late.”

Never has a pigeon been so prescient.
Read about another book on the list.

All The Birds in The Sky is among Laura Lam's five top books about futuristic California.

My Book, The Movie: All the Birds in the Sky.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: "Girl on the Leeside"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Girl on the Leeside: A Novel by Kathleen Anne Kenney.

About the book, from the publisher:
A young, aspiring poet in a quiet Irish village thinks her life of books suits her perfectly until a charismatic newcomer from America broadens her horizons.

Siobhan Doyle grew up with her Uncle Kee at their family pub The Leeside, in rural Ireland. Kee has been staunchly overprotective of Siobhan ever since her mother’s death in an IRA bombing, but now that she’s an adult, it’s clear that in protecting her Kee has unwittingly kept her in a state of arrested development. The pair are content to remain forever in their quiet haven, reading and discussing Irish poetry, but for both Siobhan and Kee fate intervenes.

A visiting American literary scholar awakens Siobhan to the possibility of a fulfilling life away from The Leeside. And her relationship with Kee falters after the revelation that her father is still alive. In the face of these changes, Siobhan reaches a surprising decision about her future. Lyrical and heartfelt, Kathleen Anne Kenney’s Girl on the Leeside deserves a place alongside contemporary literature’s best-loved coming-of-age novels.
Visit Kathleen Anne Kenney's website.

My Book, The Movie: Girl on the Leeside.

The Page 69 Test: Girl on the Leeside.

--Marshal Zeringue