Thursday, November 30, 2017

Pg. 69: Jennifer Kincheloe's "The Woman in the Camphor Trunk"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Woman in the Camphor Trunk: An Anna Blanc Mystery by Jennifer Kincheloe.

About the book, from the publisher:
Los Angeles, 1908. In Chinatown, the most dangerous beat in Los Angeles, police matron Anna Blanc and her former sweetheart, Detective Joe Singer, discover the body of a white missionary woman, stuffed in a trunk in the apartment of her Chinese lover.

If news about the murder gets out, there will be a violent backlash against the Chinese. Joe and Anna work to solve the crime quietly and keep the death a secret, reluctantly helped by the good-looking Mr. Jones, a prominent local leader.

Meanwhile, the kidnapping of two slave girls fuels existing tensions, leaving Chinatown poised on the verge of a bloody tong war. Joe orders Anna to stay away, but Anna is determined to solve the crime before news of the murder is leaked and Chinatown explodes.
Visit Jennifer Kincheloe's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Woman in the Camphor Trunk.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Sarah Rayne reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Sarah Rayne, author of Chord of Evil.

One book she tagged:
Broome Stages by Clemence Dane

Written in 1930. Clemence Dane was a highly thought-of novelist and playwright of her era. (Best known plays are Will Shakespeare, Granite, and Bill of Divorcement).

I discovered this book about thirty years ago and lost an entire four-day bank holiday reading it. Saying you read a book in four days is a huge compliment to pay an author, but there’s a curious downside to it.  On the one hand it’s terrific that the book was so compelling you couldn’t put it down – on the other hand, the author probably spent a minimum of a year writing and researching it.

Broome Stages is a very long book indeed – 700 pages – and in a very general way is a family saga.  But it’s like no family saga I’ve ever read, before or since. It spans the years between 1715 and 1930, and it covers seven generations of a theatrical family.  The story begins with travelling players in tavern courtyards, and traces the family’s rise – through the marvellous fruity old Victorian actor managers who re-wrote Shakespeare to suit themselves, and into the early years of the 20th century, with the dawn of the early movies. It’s about the changing world of the theatre, but it’s also about the Broomes themselves – their loves and hates, and feuds and plots.  It’s about their fortunes in the theatre world – the buying of theatres, the building of a theatrical dynasty.

The writing is exquisite – polished and lovely, and the characters and their backgrounds are so...[read on]
About Chord of Evil, from the publisher:
A mysterious 1940s portrait leads researcher Phineas Fox to uncover a devastating wartime secret in this chilling novel of suspense.

Researcher Phineas Fox has agreed to help track down his neighbour's cousin, who has disappeared without trace, leaving a single clue to her whereabouts: an obscure 1940s portrait of an alleged murderess. What exactly happened back in 1941 - and what is the connection with Arabella's disappearance?
Visit Sarah Rayne's website.

Writers Read: Sarah Rayne.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: David M. Edelstein's "Over the Horizon"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Over the Horizon: Time, Uncertainty, and the Rise of Great Powers by David M. Edelstein.

About the book, from the publisher:
How do established powers react to growing competitors? The United States currently faces a dilemma with regard to China and others over whether to embrace competition and thus substantial present-day costs or collaborate with its rivals to garner short-term gains while letting them become more powerful. This problem lends considerable urgency to the lessons to be learned from Over the Horizon. David M. Edelstein analyzes past rising powers in his search for answers that point the way forward for the United States as it strives to maintain control over its competitors.

Edelstein focuses on the time horizons of political leaders and the effects of long-term uncertainty on decision-making. He notes how state leaders tend to procrastinate when dealing with long-term threats, hoping instead to profit from short-term cooperation, and are reluctant to act precipitously in an uncertain environment. To test his novel theory, Edelstein uses lessons learned from history’s great powers: late nineteenth-century Germany, the United States at the turn of the twentieth century, interwar Germany, and the Soviet Union at the origins of the Cold War. Over the Horizon demonstrates that cooperation between declining and rising powers is more common than we might think, although declining states may later regret having given upstarts time to mature into true threats.
Learn more about Over the Horizon at the Cornell University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Occupational Hazards.

The Page 99 Test: Over the Horizon.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten of the best sci-fi locked-room mysteries

Jeff Somers is the author of Lifers, the Avery Cates series from Orbit Books, Chum from Tyrus Books, and the Ustari Cycle from Pocket/Gallery, including We Are Not Good People. At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy blog he tagged ten fiendishly clever sci-fi locked room mysteries, including:
Places in the Darkness, by Chris Brookmyre

The space station Ciudad de Cielo (the City in the Sky) hangs in orbit hundreds of miles above the Earth, and for many, represents humanity’s aspirations of escaping the clutches of gravity once and for all. For the people on the station, it’s something else entirely—a claustrophobic prison where drug-running and prostitution fuel endless gang wars and implantable memories offer both the opportunity for limitless knowledge and the potential for horrifying manipulation. These criminal elements are tolerated until a body shows up, bringing Nikki “Fix” Freeman on board to investigate, accompanied by straight-laced government rep Alice Blake. Nikki isn’t thrilled to be hobbled by Alice, but as more dead bodies show up on the station, they both realize they may not be able to trust their own memories—and that a gang war may be the least dangerous problem in the City in the Sky. Brookmyre has written armloads of crime novels, so it’s no surprise the mystery here comes off well—but it turns out he’s also just as sharp at the sci-fi stuff.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Pg. 69: Richard Baker's "Valiant Dust"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Valiant Dust: Breaker of Empires (Volume 1) by Richard Baker.

About the book, from the publisher:
In a stylish, smart, new military science fiction series, Richard Baker begins the adventures of Sikander North in an era of great interstellar colonial powers. Valiant Dust combines the intrigues of interstellar colonial diplomacy with explosive military action.

Sikander Singh North has always had it easy—until he joined the crew of the Aquilan Commonwealth starship CSS Hector. As the ship’s new gunnery officer and only Kashmiri, he must constantly prove himself better than his Aquilan crewmates, even if he has to use his fists. When the Hector is called to help with a planetary uprising, he’ll have to earn his unit’s respect, find who’s arming the rebels, and deal with the headstrong daughter of the colonial ruler—all while dodging bullets.

Sikander’s military career is off to an explosive start—but only if he and CSS Hector can survive his first mission.
Visit Richard Baker's website.

Writers Read: Richard Baker.

The Page 69 Test: Valiant Dust.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Rachel Neumeier reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Rachel Neumeier, author of Winter of Ice and Iron.

Her entry begins:
Somehow in 2017 everything that made the biggest impression on me had a strong historical component, though the works I have in mind ranged from almost-secondary-world fantasy to straight historical.

Earlier this summer, I read an older trilogy by a new-to-me author, Naomi Kritzer: Freedom’s Gate, Freedom’s Apprentice and Freedom’s Sisters. Here we have fantasy where history has been altered enough the resulting world is hardly recognizable. In Kritzer’s world, Alexander the Great lived a long life and conquered the world, or near enough. Now a long-subjugated people is edging toward revolution while enslaved djinni complicate matters. Magic is powerful, but practitioners inevitably develop bipolar syndrome, which is shown realistically although not in modern terms. Through the whole trilogy, complicated ethical dilemmas are fundamental, even more so than physical conflict. This is also a story where...[read on]
About Winter of Ice and Iron, from the publisher:
In this gorgeous, dark fantasy in the spirit of Jacqueline Carey, a princess and a duke must protect the people of their nations when a terrible threat leaves everyone in danger.

With the Mad King of Emmer in the north and the vicious King of Pohorir in the east, Kehara Raehema knows her country is in a vulnerable position. She never expected to give up everything she loves to save her people, but when the Mad King’s fury leaves her land in danger, she has no choice but to try any stratagem that might buy time for her people to prepare for war—no matter the personal cost.

Hundreds of miles away, the pitiless Wolf Duke of Pohorir, Innisth Eanete, dreams of breaking his people and his province free of the king he despises. But he has no way to make that happen—until chance unexpectedly leaves Kehara on his doorstep and at his mercy.

Yet in a land where immanent spirits inhabit the earth, political disaster is not the greatest peril one can face. Now, as the year rushes toward the dangerous midwinter, Kehera and Innisth find themselves unwilling allies, and their joined strength is all that stands between the peoples of the Four Kingdoms and utter catastrophe.
Visit Rachel Neumeier's website.

My Book, The Movie: Winter of Ice and Iron.

The Page 69 Test: Winter of Ice and Iron.

Writers Read: Rachel Neumeier.

--Marshal Zeringue

Jacqueline Jones's "Goddess of Anarchy," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Goddess of Anarchy: The Life and Times of Lucy Parsons, American Radical by Jacqueline Jones.

The entry begins:
If I were the casting director for Goddess of Anarchy: The Movie, my first priority would be to find an especially resilient, resourceful actress to play the leading role.  Lucy Parsons lived a long, turbulent life (1851 to 1942) spanning the end of slavery, the Civil War, Reconstruction, the Gilded Age, the Progressive Era, World War I and the Red Scare, the 1920s, and the Great Depression. So the lead would have to age convincingly, Miss-Jane-Pittman style, over the course of the story.  During her career as an anarchist—as a public speaker, writer, and editor— Parsons became a celebrity; covered obsessively by radical and mainstream newspapers, she inspired fear in her critics and adoration in her supporters.  The lead would have to project Parsons’s haughty contempt for capitalists, her thrill at speechifying in front of large crowds, her love of fine clothes, and her vanity about her own good looks.

Lucy Parsons was born to an enslaved woman and a white man (possibly her owner or an overseer) on a Virginia plantation in 1851.  Nevertheless, she claimed that she was the daughter of Native American and Hispanic parents—presumably because she feared that her ideas would not receive a fair hearing if it were known that she was of African descent.  So I am thinking along the lines of Ruth Negga, Halle Berry, or...[read on]
Learn more about Goddess of Anarchy at the Basic Books website.

My Book, The Movie: Goddess of Anarchy.

--Marshal Zeringue

Krysten Ritter's six favorite mystery novels

Krysten Ritter is the star of the Netflix series Jessica Jones. Her debut novel is Bonfire.

One of Ritter's six favorite mystery books, as shared at The Week magazine:
The Good Girl by Mary Kubica

I found this book on Instagram — which to me is one of the best places to find new books — and I read the sample on Amazon. From that moment, I couldn't shake it and simply had to get my hands on it. I read it in 48 hours. Kubica's writing sucks you right in and won't let you go until you're finished.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Good Girl is among Jeff Somer's' six novels that explore Stockholm Syndrome.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Pg. 69: Julie E. Czerneda's "To Guard Against the Dark"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: To Guard Against the Dark by Julie E. Czerneda.

About the book, from the publisher:
The final book in the hard science fiction Reunification trilogy, the thrilling conclusion to the award-winning Clan Chronicles

Jason Morgan is a troubling mystery to friends and enemies alike: once a starship captain and trader, then Joined to the most powerful member of the Clan, Sira di Sarc, following her and her kind out of known space.

Only to return, alone and silent.

But he’s returned to a Trade Pact under seige and desperate. The Assemblers continue to be a threat. Other species have sensed opportunity and threaten what stability remains, including those who dwell in the M’hir. What Morgan knows could save them all, or doom them.

For not all of the Clan followed Sira. And peace isn’t what they seek.
Visit Julie E. Czerneda's website.

The Page 69 Test: To Guard Against the Dark.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Lynne Viola's "Stalinist Perpetrators on Trial"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Stalinist Perpetrators on Trial: Scenes from the Great Terror in Soviet Ukraine by Lynne Viola.

About the book, from the publisher:
Between the summer of 1937 and November 1938, the Stalinist regime arrested over 1.5 million people for "counterrevolutionary" and "anti-Soviet" activity and either summarily executed or exiled them to the Gulag. While we now know a great deal about the experience of victims of the Great Terror, we know almost nothing about the lower- and middle-level Narodnyi Komissariat Vnutrennikh Del (NKVD), or secret police, cadres who carried out Stalin's murderous policies. Unlike the postwar, public trials of Nazi war criminals, NKVD operatives were tried secretly. And what exactly happened in those courtrooms was unknown until now.

In what has been dubbed "the purge of the purgers," almost one thousand NKVD officers were prosecuted by Soviet military courts. Scapegoated for violating Soviet law, they were charged with multiple counts of fabrication of evidence, falsification of interrogation protocols, use of torture to secure "confessions," and murder during pre-trial detention of "suspects" - and many were sentenced to execution themselves. The documentation generated by these trials, including verbatim interrogation records and written confessions signed by perpetrators; testimony by victims, witnesses, and experts; and transcripts of court sessions, provides a glimpse behind the curtains of the terror. It depicts how the terror was implemented, what happened, and who was responsible, demonstrating that orders from above worked in conjunction with a series of situational factors to shape the contours of state violence.

Based on chilling and revelatory new archival documents from the Ukrainian secret police archives, Stalinist Perpetrators on Trial illuminates the darkest recesses of Soviet repression -- the interrogation room, the prison cell, and the place of execution -- and sheds new light on those who carried out the Great Terror.
Learn more about Stalinist Perpetrators on Trial at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: The Unknown Gulag.

The Page 99 Test: Stalinist Perpetrators on Trial.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Marcella Pixley reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Marcella Pixley, author of Ready to Fall.

Her entry begins:
As a writer, I often read in order to teach myself something I want to master. I look for writers whose work contains some aspect of a strategy or structure I am trying to hone in my own fiction and then I devour everything I can find that will teach me what I want to learn from them. Most recently, I have been in love with Elizabeth Strout’s writing, and over the past months, I have poured through each of her novels, underlining passages, re-reading pages and trying to learn what she is doing to make her characters shine the way they do. I appreciate the way she shows how fragile we are as human beings. She captures the imperfection of our love for each other, and how desperately we yearn to connect with the people in our families and our communities who matter most to us. Strout is a master at creating silent tensions between her characters, demonstrating...[read on]
About Ready to Fall, from the publisher:
A young adult novel about a teen who finds hope and a fresh start after a terrible loss, and learns that being strong means letting go.

When Max Friedman’s mother dies of cancer, instead of facing his loss, Max imagines that her tumor has taken up residence in his brain. It's a terrible tenant—isolating him from family, distracting him in school, and taunting him mercilessly about his manhood. With the tumor in charge, Max implodes, slipping farther and farther away from reality.

Finally, Max is sent to the artsy, off-beat Baldwin School to regain his footing. He joins a group of theater misfits in a steam-punk production of Hamlet where he becomes friends with Fish, a girl with pink hair and a troubled past, and The Monk, an edgy upperclassman who refuses to let go of the things he loves. For a while, Max almost feels happy. But his tumor is always lurking in the wings—until one night it knocks him down and Max is forced to face the truth, not just about the tumor, but about how hard it is to let go of the past. At turns lyrical, haunting, and triumphant, Ready to Fall is a story of grief, love, rebellion and starting fresh from acclaimed author Marcella Pixley.
Visit Marcella Pixley's website.

My Book, The Movie: Ready to Fall.

Writers Read: Marcella Pixley.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top YA books set at boarding school

Alyssa Sheinmel's new novel is R.I.P. Eliza Hart. At the BN Teen blog she tagged five favorite books set at boarding school, including:
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, by E. Lockhart

Boarding school books don’t have to be all doom and gloom! This award-winning novel from bestselling author E. Lockhart is sharply funny. Frankie Landau-Banks has gone from unassuming to attention grabbing over the summer. Suddenly, she has a new figure, a new attitude, and a new set of goals for her sophomore year—namely, to make some changes at her elite (and old-fashioned) boarding school, Alabaster Preparatory Academy. Her gorgeous and popular boyfriend, Matthew Livingston, belongs to a long-standing secret society on campus called The Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds. The group is famous for outrageous pranks—and its male-only membership policy. Frankie plots to infiltrate the group and make a statement about the school’s sexist and classist environment.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks is among Jenny Kawecki's top seven YA books to beat your back to school blues and five kickass feminist YA books, Kayla Whaley's five best opening scenes in YA lit, Sona Charaipotra's five top YA books to read when you're burnt out on love, and Sabrina Rojas Weiss's ten favorite boarding school novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 27, 2017

Pg. 69: Rachel Neumeier's "Winter of Ice and Iron"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Winter of Ice and Iron by Rachel Neumeier.

About the book, from the publisher:
In this gorgeous, dark fantasy in the spirit of Jacqueline Carey, a princess and a duke must protect the people of their nations when a terrible threat leaves everyone in danger.

With the Mad King of Emmer in the north and the vicious King of Pohorir in the east, Kehara Raehema knows her country is in a vulnerable position. She never expected to give up everything she loves to save her people, but when the Mad King’s fury leaves her land in danger, she has no choice but to try any stratagem that might buy time for her people to prepare for war—no matter the personal cost.

Hundreds of miles away, the pitiless Wolf Duke of Pohorir, Innisth Eanete, dreams of breaking his people and his province free of the king he despises. But he has no way to make that happen—until chance unexpectedly leaves Kehara on his doorstep and at his mercy.

Yet in a land where immanent spirits inhabit the earth, political disaster is not the greatest peril one can face. Now, as the year rushes toward the dangerous midwinter, Kehera and Innisth find themselves unwilling allies, and their joined strength is all that stands between the peoples of the Four Kingdoms and utter catastrophe.
Visit Rachel Neumeier's website.

My Book, The Movie: Winter of Ice and Iron.

The Page 69 Test: Winter of Ice and Iron.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Michael Patrick Cullinane's "Theodore Roosevelt's Ghost"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Theodore Roosevelt's Ghost: The History and Memory of an American Icon by Michael Patrick Cullinane.

About the book, from the publisher:
A century after his death, Theodore Roosevelt remains one of the most recognizable figures in U.S. history, with depictions of the president ranging from the brave commander of the Rough Riders to a trailblazing progressive politician and early environmentalist to little more than a caricature of grinning teeth hiding behind a mustache and pince-nez. Theodore Roosevelt’s Ghost follows the continuing shifts and changes in this president’s reputation since his unexpected passing in 1919.

In the most comprehensive examination of Roosevelt’s legacy, Michael Patrick Cullinane explores the frequent refashioning of this American icon in popular memory. The immediate aftermath of Roosevelt’s death created a groundswell of mourning and goodwill that ensured his place among the great Americans of his generation, a stature bolstered by the charitable and political work of his surviving family. When Franklin Roosevelt ascended to the presidency, he worked to situate himself as the natural heir of Theodore Roosevelt, reshaping his distant cousin’s legacy to reflect New Deal values of progressivism, intervention, and patriotism. Others retroactively adapted Roosevelt’s actions and political record to fit the discourse of social movements from anticommunism to civil rights, with varying degrees of success. Richard Nixon’s frequent invocation led to a decline in Roosevelt’s popularity and a corresponding revival effort by scholars endeavoring to give an accurate, nuanced picture of the 26th president.
Learn more about Theodore Roosevelt's Ghost at the LSU Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Theodore Roosevelt's Ghost.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten books about mental hospitals

A.F. Brady is a writer, psychotherapist and mental health counsellor. Her debut novel is The Blind.

One of the author's ten best books about mental hospitals, as shared at the Guardian:
Gracefully Insane: The Rise and Fall of America’s Premier Mental Hospital by Alex Beam

A fictionalised setting for both The Bell Jar and Girl, Interrupted, McLean Hospital is the main character in Beam’s non-fiction work. He describes the hospital at administrative, clinical and patient levels, and explores the history of the physical plant itself, the society surrounding it, and its ultimate fate. Through the decades that McLean served as the backdrop for myriad stories of tragedy and recovery, Beam takes a critical, often aloof and sometimes comical approach to describing and dismantling the mysteries and nuances of a famed institution.
Read about another entry on the list.

My Book, The Movie: Gracefully Insane.

The Page 69 Test: Gracefully Insane.

--Marshal Zeringue

Irene Radford's "A Spoonful of Magic," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: A Spoonful of Magic by Irene Radford.

The entry begins:
How would I cast A Spoonful of Magic? Hands down Danica McKellar from Boy Meets World and lately a lot of Hallmark movies has that quirky little smile that will charm the socks off her audience fits the part of Daffy, Daphne Rose Wallace Deschants. In the book Daffy is a blonde, so my first thought went to Sarah Michelle Geller or Kristen Bell, but they don’t have that special smile that shouts innocence while hiding a cool cunning.

The part of G, Gabrielle Sebastian Deschants, was modeled on a younger...[read on]
Visit Irene Radford's website and Facebook page.

My Book, The Movie: The Broken Dragon.

The Page 69 Test: The Broken Dragon.

My Book, The Movie: A Spoonful of Magic.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 26, 2017

What is Gary Blackwood reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Gary Blackwood, author of Bucket's List.

His entry begins:
I’m convinced that, in most cases, whether or not a particular book or a particular author speaks to us depends on how willing we are to listen.  In real life, of course, we tend to seek out people whose opinions and outlooks coincide with ours.  But in the case of books, though obviously it’s important what an author says, I think how he or she says it is just as important.  The truth is, I generally spend a lot more time with authors than I do with any of my flesh and blood friends, so I like them to be good company.

D. E. Stevenson is delightful company.  I discovered her only within the last year or so, when I stumbled upon a reissue of the charming Miss Buncle’s Book.  I’ve been seeking her out ever since, most recently between the covers of her WWII-era saga, Amberwell.  Though Stevenson ...[read on]
About Bucket's List, from the publisher:
Introducing private investigator Charley Field, the true-life inspiration behind Charles Dickens' Inspector Bucket, in an http://severnhouse.com/author/Gary+Blackwood/9664intriguing new Victorian mystery series.

1853. When the body of a prostitute is found in Hyde Park, veteran sleuth Charley Field is disinclined to believe the official verdict of suicide. Convinced the woman was murdered, he determines to track down the mysterious client who visited her the day she died. But there is more to this murder than even Charley could have imagined.
Learn more about Bucket's List.

My Book, The Movie: Bucket's List.

The Page 69 Test: Bucket's List.

Writers Read: Gary Blackwood.

--Marshal Zeringue

Terry Waite's six best books

Terry Waite was the Church of England hostage negotiator held captive in Beirut by Hezbollah from 1987 to 1991. His books include Taken On Trust and Solitude. One of Waite's six best books, as shared at the Daily Express:
WAR AND PEACE by Leo Tolstoy

A wonderful survey of the Tsarist era in Russian history and the gradual decline of the families.

It's a Russian Forsyte Saga really. The 1972 BBC production, when Anthony Hopkins played Pierre, brought it to life for me.
Read about another entry on the list.

War and Peace appears among Adrian Edmondson's six best books, Robert Newman's six best books, John Cleese's six favorite books, Kate Kellaway's ten best Christmases in literature, the Telegraph's ten best historical novels, Simon Sebag Montefiore's five top books about Moscow, Oliver Ford Davies's six best books, Stella Tillyard's four favorite historical novels, Ann Shevchenko's top ten novels set in Moscow, Karl Marlantes' top ten war stories, Niall Ferguson's five most important books, Norman Mailer's top ten works of literature, and John Mullan's lists of ten of the best battles in literature, ten of the best floggings in fiction, and ten of the best literary explosions.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Cherise Wolas's "The Resurrection of Joan Ashby"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Resurrection of Joan Ashby: A Novel by Cherise Wolas.

About the book, from the publisher:
I viewed the consumptive nature of love as a threat to serious women. But the wonderful man I just married believes as I do—work is paramount, absolutely no children—and now love seems to me quite marvelous.

These words are spoken to a rapturous audience by Joan Ashby, a brilliant and intense literary sensation acclaimed for her explosively dark and singular stories.

When Joan finds herself unexpectedly pregnant, she is stunned by Martin’s delight, his instant betrayal of their pact. She makes a fateful, selfless decision then, to embrace her unintentional family.

Challenged by raising two precocious sons, it is decades before she finally completes her masterpiece novel. Poised to reclaim the spotlight, to resume the intended life she gave up for love, a betrayal of Shakespearean proportion forces her to question every choice she has made.
Epic, propulsive, incredibly ambitious, and dazzlingly written, The Resurrection of Joan Ashby is a story about sacrifice and motherhood, the burdens of expectation and genius. Cherise Wolas’s gorgeous debut introduces an indelible heroine candid about her struggles and unapologetic in her ambition.
Visit Cherise Wolas's website.

Writers Read: Cherise Wolas.

The Page 69 Test: The Resurrection of Joan Ashby.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Five of the best coming-of-age stories

In 2012 David Nicholls tagged five favorite coming-of-age stories at the Telegraph. One title on the list:
I’ve never willingly watched a team sport, but I loved Chad Harbach’s The Art of Fielding (2011), about a flawed but gifted shortstop – whatever that is – in a college baseball team. Only ostensibly about baseball, it’s a wonderfully funny, sad campus novel that’s enjoyable even for readers who, like me, can’t quite catch a ball.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Art of Fielding is among Jean Hanff Korelitz's top ten campus novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Richard Baker reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Richard Baker, author of Valiant Dust: Breaker of Empires (Volume 1).

His entry begins:
Like a lot of people, I’m usually working on a couple of books at a time. The two that are currently competing for my attention are Harry Turtledove’s Fallout and Peter Cawdron’s Retrograde.

Fallout is the second book in Turtledove’s new alternate history series The Hot War (following up on Bombs Away, the start of the series). The premise is dark and simple: What would have happened if Douglas Macarthur got his way in 1951 and the U.S. responded to China’s intervention in the Korean War by dropping the Bomb? The answer is that things get horrible in a hurry. I’m a longtime Turtledove fan and enough of a history buff to really enjoy the what-if game; it’s amazing how great events sometimes turn on very small hinges, and Turtledove is of course the master at exploring the repercussions. I’m actually...[read on]
About Valiant Dust, from the publisher:
In a stylish, smart, new military science fiction series, Richard Baker begins the adventures of Sikander North in an era of great interstellar colonial powers. Valiant Dust combines the intrigues of interstellar colonial diplomacy with explosive military action.

Sikander Singh North has always had it easy—until he joined the crew of the Aquilan Commonwealth starship CSS Hector. As the ship’s new gunnery officer and only Kashmiri, he must constantly prove himself better than his Aquilan crewmates, even if he has to use his fists. When the Hector is called to help with a planetary uprising, he’ll have to earn his unit’s respect, find who’s arming the rebels, and deal with the headstrong daughter of the colonial ruler—all while dodging bullets.

Sikander’s military career is off to an explosive start—but only if he and CSS Hector can survive his first mission.
Visit Richard Baker's website.

Writers Read: Richard Baker.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Rachel Fulton Brown's "Mary and the Art of Prayer"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Mary and the Art of Prayer: The Hours of the Virgin in Medieval Christian Life and Thought by Rachel Fulton Brown.

About the book, from the publisher:
Would you like to learn to pray like a medieval Christian? In Mary and the Art of Prayer, Rachel Fulton Brown traces the history of the medieval practice of praising Mary through the complex of prayers known as the Hours of the Virgin. More than just a work of comprehensive historical scholarship, the book asks readers to immerse themselves in the experience of believing in and praying to Mary. Mary and the Art of Prayer crosses the boundaries that modern scholars typically place between observation and experience, between the world of provable facts and the world of imagination, suggesting what it would have been like for medieval Christians to encounter Mary in prayer.

Mary and the Art of Prayer opens with a history of the devotion of the Hours or “Little Office” of the Virgin. It then guides readers in the practice of saying this Office, including its invitatory (Ave Maria), antiphons, psalms, lessons, and prayers. The book works on several levels at once. It provides a new methodology for thinking about devotion and prayer; a new appreciation of the scope of and audience for the Hours of the Virgin; a new understanding of how Mary functions theologically and devotionally; and a new reading of sources not previously taken into account. A courageous and moving work, it will transform our ideas of what scholarship is and what it can accomplish.
Learn more about Mary and the Art of Prayer at the Columbia University Press website, and visit Rachel Fulton Brown's blog.

The Page 99 Test: Mary and the Art of Prayer.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five notable forgotten classics worth revisiting

In 2013 Parul Sehgal tagged (for NPR) five forgotten classics worth revisiting, including:
I Await the Devil's Coming by Mary Maclane and Jessa Crispin

In 1902, a moody young woman living in Montana published her diary. It sold 100,000 copies in its first month, and its 19-year-old author, Mary MacLane, become notorious. She left her small town immediately, lived hard, and died young. Her book went out of print shortly after. Recently republished, it's a small masterpiece, full of camp and swagger — aspects her reviewers miss, but her readers never do. Instead of aligning her ecstatic paranoia with Poe and Thomas Bernhard, she's been lumped in with other white women who write a confessional vein, which does her a disservice. MacLane never confesses — not even to her diary. She's prophesying. She can sound like an off-kilter Whitman with odes to her "red blood," her "sound, sensitive liver" that "rests gently with its thin yellow bile in sweet content," the "poetry" of her "fine feminine body."

Isolated by her oddness (so she says) and consigned to life in "a place of sand and barrenness," MacLane seems to have spent most of her time taking long, angry walks, proclaiming her genius, chatting with the devil, and fantasizing about her English teacher whom she calls "the anemone lady." Bored to tears in Butte, Mont., she may have been, but out of a desire to mine her mind and celebrate her body, she produced this sour little torch song — to herself, to fiery ambition, and above all, to her will. "Today I walked far away over the sand in the teeth of a bitter wind. The wind was determined that I should turn and come back, and equally I was determined I would go on. I went on."
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 24, 2017

Pg. 69: Gary Blackwood's "Bucket's List"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Bucket's List by Gary Blackwood.

http://severnhouse.com/author/Gary+Blackwood/9664About the book, from the publisher:
Introducing private investigator Charley Field, the true-life inspiration behind Charles Dickens' Inspector Bucket, in an intriguing new Victorian mystery series.

1853. When the body of a prostitute is found in Hyde Park, veteran sleuth Charley Field is disinclined to believe the official verdict of suicide. Convinced the woman was murdered, he determines to track down the mysterious client who visited her the day she died. But there is more to this murder than even Charley could have imagined.
Learn more about Bucket's List.

My Book, The Movie: Bucket's List.

The Page 69 Test: Bucket's List.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tara Goedjen's "The Breathless," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Breathless by Tara Goedjen.

The entry begins:
The two leads would be easy. If I could have my dream cast, I’d want sixteen-year-old Mae Cole to be played by Millie Bobby Brown from Stranger Things. Besides being a fan of the show, I love how Millie plays Eleven, who starts off the series as a quiet, mysterious, gifted, and troubled girl: all qualities that embody Mae in The Breathless.

I’d also want Cage Shaw, my other main character, to be played by Nick...[read on]
Visit Tara Goedjen's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Breathless.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Chris Brookmyre reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Chris Brookmyre, author of Places in the Darkness.

His entry begins:
Denise Mina’s The Long Drop won the 2017 McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year, and deservedly so. Based on the true story of mass-murderer Peter Manuel, who killed whole families in their homes in 1950s Glasgow, this book is like reaching into a wound in the city’s soul. It is a speculative account of Manuel’s inexplicable drinking odyssey around Glasgow one night in the company of a man whose family he killed, and whose own innocence comes increasingly into question. This is a novel so visceral you can...[read on]
About Places in the Darkness, from the publisher:
A propulsive science fiction tale of murder and memory, all set on a futuristic space station.

Hundreds of miles above Earth, the space station Ciudad de Cielo–The City in the Sky–is a beacon of hope for humanity’s expansion into the stars. But not everyone aboard shares such noble ideals.

Bootlegging, booze, and prostitution form a lucrative underground economy for rival gangs, which the authorities are happy to turn a blind eye to until a disassembled corpse is found dancing in the micro-gravity.

In charge of the murder investigation is Nikki “Fix” Freeman, who is not thrilled to have Alice Blake, an uptight government goody-two-shoes, riding shotgun. As the bodies pile up, and the partners are forced to question their own memories, Nikki and Alice begin to realize that gang warfare may not be the only cause for the violence.
Visit Christopher Brookmyre's website.

The Page 69 Test: Bred in the Bone.

My Book, The Movie: Dead Girl Walking.

Writers Read: Chris Brookmyre.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top books on late-stage capitalism

Marie Myung-Ok Lee is a staff writer for The Millions. Her essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Nation, Slate, Salon, Guernica, Poets & Writers, and The Guardian. Her novel is forthcoming with Simon & Schuster (when she finally finishes it). She teaches fiction at Columbia and shares a hometown with Bob Dylan. One of five books on late-stage capitalism she tagged at The Millions:
Weapons of Math Destruction (2016) by Cathy O’Neil

O’Neil has worked both as an academic and as a quant for a hedge fund, which puts her in a unique position to investigate how computer algorithms (many of them secret and proprietary) and “big data” are part of a new, non-human way to evaluate things like public school teacher performance and hiring prospects. Many of these algorithms, she contends, are based on “poisonous assumptions,” and—surprise, surprise—in aggregate mostly affect and penalize the poor, who have to face the faceless numbers with little recourse, while the rich use their cronyism, nepotism, and old-boy networks to get ahead—all the while pretending American economic life is a meritocracy.
Read about another title on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Pg. 69: Dave Connis's "The Temptation of Adam"

Featured the Page 69 Test: The Temptation of Adam: A Novel by Dave Connis.

About the book, from the publisher:
Adam Hawthorne is fine. Yeah, his mother left, his older sister went with her, and his dad would rather read Nicholas Sparks novels than talk to him. And yeah, he spends his nights watching self-curated porn video playlists. But Adam is fine. When a family friend discovers Adam’s porn addiction, he’s forced to join an addiction support group: the self-proclaimed Knights of Vice. He goes because he has to, but the honesty of the Knights starts to slip past his defenses. Combine that with his sister’s out-of-the-blue return and the attention of a girl he meets in an AA meeting, and all the work Adam has put into being fine begins to unravel. Now Adam has to face the causes and effects of his addiction, before he loses his new friends, his prodigal sister, and his almost semi-sort-of girlfriend.
Visit Dave Connis's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Temptation of Adam.

Writers Read: Dave Connis.

The Page 69 Test: The Temptation of Adam.

--Marshal Zeringue

Four books that changed Tess Evans

Tess Evans is the author of the novels Book of Lost Threads, The Memory Tree, Mercy Street, and The Ballad of Banjo Crossing. One of four books that changed her, as shared at the Sydney Morning Herald:
THE RIVER OF ADVENTURE Enid Blyton

When I was six, I read my first chapter book, The River of Adventure. A quiet, cautious child, there I was, with bold and daring friends, participating in astonishing adventures. This, my first independent reading, taught me the joy of complete immersion in a novel. That's how I became a reader. Now, many years later, I still believe that the best possible place to be lost is in a book.
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Daniel Siemens's "Stormtroopers"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Stormtroopers: A New History of Hitler's Brownshirts by Daniel Siemens.

About the book, from the publisher:
The first full history of the Nazi Stormtroopers whose muscle brought Hitler to power, with revelations concerning their longevity and their contributions to the Holocaust

Germany’s Stormtroopers engaged in a vicious siege of violence that propelled the National Socialists to power in the 1930s. Known also as the SA or Brownshirts, these “ordinary” men waged a loosely structured campaign of intimidation and savagery across the nation from the 1920s to the “Night of the Long Knives” in 1934, when Chief of Staff Ernst R√∂hm and many other SA leaders were assassinated on Hitler’s orders.

In this deeply researched history, Daniel Siemens explores not only the roots of the SA and its swift decapitation but also its previously unrecognized transformation into a million-member Nazi organization, its activities in German-occupied territories during World War II, and its particular contributions to the Holocaust. The author provides portraits of individual members and their victims and examines their milieu, culture, and ideology. His book tells the long-overdue story of the SA and its devastating impact on German citizens and the fate of their country.
Learn more about Stormtroopers at the Yale University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Stormtroopers.

--Marshal Zeringue

Minette Walters's 6 best books

Minette Walters is England’s bestselling crime writer. Her new novel is The Last Hours.

One of the author's six best books, as shared at the Daily Express:
THE POWER AND THE GLORY by Graham Greene

My favourite author. He wrote page-turners about people who understand their flaws and try to triumph above them.

This is about a hopeless whisky priest in Latin America, where religion is banned and he is the only one left who can bring solace to people. You can’t read it without crying.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Power and the Glory also appears among Joanna Cannon's top ten clerics in fiction, Michael Arditti's top ten novels about priests, and on John Mullan's lists of ten of the best nameless protagonists and ten of the best episodes of drunkenness in literature. It is one of seven books that made a difference to Colin Firth.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

What is Dave Connis reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Dave Connis, author of The Temptation of Adam: A Novel.

His entry begins:
I've recently decided to branch my reading out from fiction because I've been on a straight diet of fiction since high school. I'm 27.

I recently finished Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance and it was phenomenal. I wanted to read it because it paints an insider picture of the people I live around and helped me understand the layers of hurt and hopelessness that I'm seeing in the houses down the street. Because of how much Hillbilly Elegy impacted me, I decided to go on a non-fiction binge.

I just finished...[read on]
About The Temptation of Adam, from the publisher:
Adam Hawthorne is fine. Yeah, his mother left, his older sister went with her, and his dad would rather read Nicholas Sparks novels than talk to him. And yeah, he spends his nights watching self-curated porn video playlists. But Adam is fine. When a family friend discovers Adam’s porn addiction, he’s forced to join an addiction support group: the self-proclaimed Knights of Vice. He goes because he has to, but the honesty of the Knights starts to slip past his defenses. Combine that with his sister’s out-of-the-blue return and the attention of a girl he meets in an AA meeting, and all the work Adam has put into being fine begins to unravel. Now Adam has to face the causes and effects of his addiction, before he loses his new friends, his prodigal sister, and his almost semi-sort-of girlfriend.
Visit Dave Connis's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Temptation of Adam.

Writers Read: Dave Connis.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Tina Connolly's "Seriously Hexed"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Seriously Hexed by Tina Connolly.

About the book, from the publisher:
Tina Connolly continues the hilarious adventures of teen witch Camellia and her mother, wicked witch Sarmine, in Seriously Hexed, the latest installment to the Andre Norton Award-nominated "Seriously Wicked" series.

Teen witch Cam has resigned herself to being a witch. Sort of. She’s willing to do small things, like magically help her boyfriend Devon get over his ongoing stage fright. But tangling with other witches is not on her wishlist. Joining her mother’s wicked witch coven is right out.

New acquaintance Poppy Jones is a Type A, A+ Student of True Witchery. She’s got all the answers, and she’s delighted to tangle with a bunch of wicked witches. She doesn’t need any reluctant witch getting in her way, especially one who knows less than a dozen spells, and has zero plans for witch college.

Then a coven meeting goes drastically awry. A hex is taking down all thirteen members of the coven, one by one—putting both girls’ mothers in jeopardy. Now the two teens are going to have to learn to work together, while simultaneously juggling werewolf puppies, celebrity demons, thirteen nasty hexes, and even nastier witches. They may have to go through hell and high water to save their mothers—but they also might find a new friendship along the way.
Visit Tina Connolly's website and Twitter perch.

My Book, The Movie: Seriously Wicked.

The Page 69 Test: Seriously Wicked.

The Page 69 Test: Seriously Shifted.

Writers Read: Tina Connolly.

The Page 69 Test: Seriously Hexed.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top political texts on black consciousness

At the Guardian, David Olusoga tagged ten key political texts on black consciousness, including:
The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin (1963)

We are living through something of a Baldwin renaissance, in large part thanks to Raoul Peck’s brilliant documentary I Am Not Your Negro. Any number of Baldwin’s books might earn a place on this list, but The Fire Next Time stands out. Consisting of two essays, one addressed to Baldwin’s nephew, it is a passionate and visceral plea to black and white America. It is the only document I know of that expresses the civil rights case as eloquently as the speeches of Martin Luther King.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

A. J. Cross's "Something Evil Comes," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Something Evil Comes by A. J. Cross.

The entry begins:
If only.

I’ll get straight to it: I would choose a younger Jeff Bridges for the role of the American police officer, Lieutenant Joseph Corrigan, a man of few but always relevant words, a recurrent character in my books and a member of the Unsolved Crime Unit. Why? You’ve seen Jeff Bridges and you needs to ask? As I bash my keyboard I’m looking at one of my husband’s guitar catalogues, this one for Eastman. Here is Jeff on the cover, gazing direct to camera in black boots, denim and leather coat, a hand resting on an Eastman guitar, his hair long and worn back from his face. A good, strong head. Not a man to waste words. Oh, yes.

Another recurrent character is DI Bernard Watts, Birmingham UK born and bred, now at an age and stage of career when he feels outflanked by the much younger, mostly graduate intake of officers. Inside my head...[read on]
Learn more about Something Evil Comes.

My Book, The Movie: Something Evil Comes.

--Marshal Zeringue