Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Pg. 69: A.J. Banner's "After Nightfall"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: After Nightfall by A.J. Banner.

About the book, from the publisher:
From the bestselling author of The Good Neighbor comes a gripping thriller about an engagement party gone fatally awry.

Imagine your closest friend utterly betraying you. Years later, when she seeks forgiveness, you invite her to your engagement party as a gesture of reconciliation. But seething hostilities rise to the surface, ruining everyone’s evening. After an awful night, your friend’s battered, lifeless body is found at the bottom of a rocky cliff.

Newly engaged Marissa Parlette is living this nightmare. She should be celebrating her upcoming wedding, but she can’t shake the image of her friend lying dead on the beach. Did she fall? Was she pushed? Or did she take a purposeful step into darkness? Desperate for answers, Marissa digs deep into the events of the party. But what she remembers happening after nightfall now carries sinister implications: the ugly sniping, the clandestine meetings, the drunken flirtations. The more she investigates, the more she questions everything she thought she knew about her friends, the man she once trusted, and even herself.

Bestselling author A. J. Banner keeps readers on a razor-sharp edge in this intricately plotted novel of psychological suspense…in which nothing is as it seems.
Visit A.J. Banner's website.

The Page 69 Test: After Nightfall.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top real-life monsters in fiction

Glenn Skwerer is a psychiatrist who lives and practices in the Boston area. He was inspired by reading August Kubizek’s memoir, The Young Hitler I Knew, to look more closely at the psychology of the friendship between Kubizek and Hitler, and to recast it entirely as fiction. The Tristan Chord is his first book.

One of Skwerer's top ten "interesting and complex fictional portraits of monstrous characters from real life," as shared at the Guardian:
Child of God by Cormac McCarthy

The character of Lester Ballard in this novel was inspired by an actual killer, whom McCarthy refused to name, in the Appalachian hill country of Tennessee. At 27, Ballard is living alone in an abandoned house, scavenging and stealing. When he finds a young woman dead in her car, he takes her corpse home, has sex with it, and begins building a stolen wardrobe for it. He then shoots and kills another woman, adopts her corpse – and so on. He is so isolated, so ill at ease in the world, so impulse-ridden, he can only find intimacy with a corpse. Ballard is monstrous, and pitiful. As one might expect, this is not an easy book to read.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Marcia Bjornerud's "Timefulness"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Timefulness: How Thinking Like a Geologist Can Help Save the World by Marcia Bjornerud.

About the book, from the publisher:
Why an awareness of Earth’s temporal rhythms is critical to our planetary survival

Few of us have any conception of the enormous timescales in our planet’s long history, and this narrow perspective underlies many of the environmental problems we are creating for ourselves. The passage of nine days, which is how long a drop of water typically stays in Earth’s atmosphere, is something we can easily grasp. But spans of hundreds of years—the time a molecule of carbon dioxide resides in the atmosphere—approach the limits of our comprehension. Our everyday lives are shaped by processes that vastly predate us, and our habits will in turn have consequences that will outlast us by generations. Timefulness reveals how knowing the rhythms of Earth’s deep past and conceiving of time as a geologist does can give us the perspective we need for a more sustainable future.

Marcia Bjornerud shows how geologists chart the planet’s past, explaining how we can determine the pace of solid Earth processes such as mountain building and erosion and comparing them with the more unstable rhythms of the oceans and atmosphere. These overlapping rates of change in the Earth system—some fast, some slow—demand a poly-temporal worldview, one that Bjornerud calls “timefulness.” She explains why timefulness is vital in the Anthropocene, this human epoch of accelerating planetary change, and proposes sensible solutions for building a more time-literate society.

This compelling book presents a new way of thinking about our place in time, enabling us to make decisions on multigenerational timescales. The lifespan of Earth may seem unfathomable compared to the brevity of human existence, but this view of time denies our deep roots in Earth’s history—and the magnitude of our effects on the planet.
Learn more about Timefulness at the Princeton University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Timefulness.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Tim Pratt reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Tim Pratt, author of The Dreaming Stars.

His entry begins:
I just read City of Miracles, the last book in the Divine Cities trilogy by Robert Jackson Bennett, and it prompted me to go back and re-read the first two, City of Stairs and City of Blades. They're a wonderful strange blend of spy thriller and epic fantasy, set in a world where a civilization ruled by several literal gods subjugated and oppressed the world... until one of the enslaved people devised a weapon that could kill the gods. The ensuing war destroyed the dominant culture, because almost everything in their world, from weather to architecture to food, was created by miracles... and when the gods died, most of...[read on]
About The Dreaming Stars, from the publisher:
Ancient aliens, the Axiom, will kill us all – when they wake up. In deep space, a swarm of nanoparticles threatens the colonies, transforming everything it meets into computronium – including the colonists. The crew of the White Raven investigate, and discover an Axiom facility filled with aliens hibernating while their minds roam a vast virtual reality. The treacherous Sebastien wakes up, claiming his altered brain architecture can help the crew deactivate the swarm – from inside the Axiom simulation. To protect humanity, beleaguered Captain Callie Machedo must trust him, but if Sebastien still plans to dominate the universe using Axiom tech, they could be in a whole lot of trouble.
Visit Tim Pratt's website.

Writers Read: Tim Pratt.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Six top stories that find the drama in utopian settings

At Tor.com James Davis Nicoll tagged six stories that find the drama in utopian settings, including:
Pacific Edge is that rara avis, a Kim Stanley Robinson book about which I will make favourable comments. Set in a utopian world in which the excesses of capitalism and environmental degradation have been brought to heel, it’s a setting in which most people can expect to enjoy perfectly acceptable middle-class lives of placid ambitions and ecological moderation. Aside from people with burning desires to build strip malls or dark satanic mills, Pacific Edge’s world seems one where it would be easy to be happy.

Except, of course, if one is an essentially unlovable prig like the novel’s lead, Kevin Claiborne, whose steadfast adherence to the ethic that makes his world the quasi-utopia that it is does not make him one iota more desirable to Ramona, the woman with whom he is smitten. Convinced that he is in a romantic triangle, Kevin contends mightily against the man he sees as his rival. It’s a romance with a happy ending, although not for Kevin.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Ashley Weaver's "An Act of Villainy"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: An Act of Villainy: An Amory Ames Mystery (Volume 5) by Ashley Weaver.

About the book, from the publisher:
"So you've gotten yourself involved with another murder, have you?"

Walking through London’s West End after a night at the theater, Amory Ames and her husband Milo run into wealthy investor and former actor Gerard Holloway. Holloway and his wife Georgina are old friends of theirs, and when Holloway invites them to the dress rehearsal of a new play he is directing, Amory readily accepts.

However, Amory is shocked to learn that Holloway has cast his mistress, actress Flora Bell, in the lead role. Furthermore, the casual invitation is not what it seems—he admits to Amory and Milo that Flora has been receiving threatening letters, and he needs their help in finding the mysterious sender. Despite Amory’s conflicting feelings—not only does she feel loyalty to Georgina, but the disintegration of the Holloways’ perfect marriage seems to bode ill for her own sometimes delicate relationship—her curiosity gets the better of her, and she begins to make inquiries.

It quickly becomes clear that each member of the cast has reason to resent Flora—and with a group so skilled in the art of deception, it isn’t easy to separate truth from illusion. When vague threats escalate, the scene is set for murder, and Amory and Milo must find the killer before the final curtain falls.
Visit Ashley Weaver's website.

The Page 69 Test: A Most Novel Revenge.

The Page 69 Test: An Act of Villainy.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six top comic works written by women

Emma Thompson is a British actress, screenwriter, activist, author and comedienne. She stars in The Children Act, a film based on the novel by Ian McEwan. One of her six favorite comic works written by women, as shared at The Week magazine:
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Gentle, probing, sharp, bitter, and sweet all at once, the first novel Jane Austen finished also includes one of the finest comic characters ever created — Isabella Thorpe — who's silly and self-serving in equal measure. Henry Tilney was my first literary love. I've lost count of the number of times I stole him from Catherine Morland by sweeping into Bath's famous Pump Rooms in a tube top and slingbacks.
Read about another entry on the list.

Northanger Abbey is among Nicole Hill's top five novels written as genre parodies that stand on their own, Helen Maslin's ten most evocative fictional castles and manors, and Johanna Lane's five best imaginary castles in fiction.

--Marshal Zeringue

Catharine Riggs's "What She Gave Away," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: What She Gave Away: A Thriller by Catharine Riggs.

The entry begins:
The movie question is fun…film rights anyone? I am a seat-of-the-pants writer so the characters morph as I go along. I create a storyboard once I commence the second draft and the characters are fixed in my head. Picturing an actress to play Kathi, the weight-obsessed, middle-aged, inebriated housewife with a penchant for denial was not difficult. Early on I settled on Nicole Kidman, a talented actress who has the ability to morph into a variety of roles.

Casting Crystal was not so easy. She’s a plus-size millennial who...[read on]
Visit Catharine Riggs's website.

My Book, The Movie: What She Gave Away.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 17, 2018

What is Katie Sise reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Katie Sise, author of We Were Mothers: A Novel.

Her entry begins:
I’m reading two terrific books right now, both nonfiction, both very different. One author I know personally, and the other I feel like I do. My friend Fran Hauser’s new book is called The Myth of The Nice Girl. It empowers women to step into their kindness and lead effectively. Fran embodies this! It’s so refreshing to read a book that values innate kindness and generosity in the workplace, instead of teaching women to squash their kindness in order to succeed. The other book on my nightstand is The Tenth Island, a memoir by Diana Marcum. It’s a...[read on]
About We Were Mothers, from the publisher:
A brilliant, twisty novel about a missing woman, an unfaithful husband, and the dark secrets that will destroy two perfect families.

A scandalous revelation is about to devastate a picturesque town where the houses are immaculate and the neighborhoods are tightly knit. Devoted mother Cora O’Connell has found the journal of her friend Laurel’s daughter—a beautiful college student who lives next door—revealing an illicit encounter. Hours later, Laurel makes a shattering discovery of her own: her daughter has vanished without a trace. Over the course of one weekend, the crises of two close families are about to trigger a chain reaction that will expose a far more disturbing web of secrets. Now everything is at stake as they’re forced to confront the lies they have told in order to survive.
Visit Katie Sise's website.

Writers Read: Katie Sise.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Sofka Zinovieff's "Putney"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Putney: A Novel by Sofka Zinovieff.

About the book, from the publisher:
A provocative and absorbing novel about a teenage girl’s intoxicating romance with a powerful older man and her discovery, decades later, that her happy memories are hiding a painful truth.

A rising star in the London arts scene of the early 1970s, gifted composer Ralph Boyd is approached by renowned novelist Edmund Greenslay to score a stage adaptation of his most famous work. Welcomed into Greenslay’s sprawling bohemian house in Putney, an artistic and prosperous district in southwest London, the musical wunderkind is introduced to Edmund’s beautiful activist wife Ellie, his aloof son Theo, and his young daughter Daphne, who quickly becomes Ralph’s muse.

Ralph showers Daphne with tokens of his affection—clandestine gifts and secret notes. In a home that is exciting but often lonely, Daphne finds Ralph to be a dazzling companion for many years. When Ralph accompanies Daphne alone to meet her parents in Greece, their relationship intensifies irrevocably. One person knows the truth about their relationship: Daphne’s best friend Jane, whose awe of the intoxicating Greenslay family ensures her silence.

Decades later Daphne is back in London. After years lost to decadence and drug abuse, she is struggling to create a normal, stable life for herself and her adolescent daughter. When circumstances bring her back in touch with her long-lost friend, Jane, their reunion inevitably turns to Ralph, now a world-famous musician also living in the city. Daphne’s recollections of her youth and her growing anxiety over her own young daughter eventually lead to an explosive realization that propels her to confront Ralph and their years spent together.

Masterfully told from three diverse viewpoints—victim, perpetrator, and witness—Putney is a subtle and enormously powerful novel about consent, agency, and what we tell ourselves to justify what we do, and what others do to us.
Visit Sofka Zinovieff's website.

My Book, The Movie: Putney.

Writers Read: Sofka Zinovieff.

The Page 69 Test: Putney.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Eric Jay Dolin's "Black Flags, Blue Waters"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Black Flags, Blue Waters: The Epic History of America's Most Notorious Pirates by Eric Jay Dolin.

About the book, from the publisher:
With surprising tales of vicious mutineers, imperial riches, and high-seas intrigue, Black Flags, Blue Waters vividly reanimates the “Golden Age” of piracy in the Americas.

Set against the backdrop of the Age of Exploration, Black Flags, Blue Waters reveals the dramatic and surprising history of American piracy’s “Golden Age”—spanning the late 1600s through the early 1700s—when lawless pirates plied the coastal waters of North America and beyond. Best-selling author Eric Jay Dolin illustrates how American colonists at first supported these outrageous pirates in an early display of solidarity against the Crown, and then violently opposed them. Through engrossing episodes of roguish glamour and extreme brutality, Dolin depicts the star pirates of this period, among them towering Blackbeard, ill-fated Captain Kidd, and sadistic Edward Low, who delighted in torturing his prey. Also brilliantly detailed are the pirates’ manifold enemies, including colonial governor John Winthrop, evangelist Cotton Mather, and young Benjamin Franklin. Upending popular misconceptions and cartoonish stereotypes, Dolin provides this wholly original account of the seafaring outlaws whose raids reflect the precarious nature of American colonial life.
Learn more about the book and author at Eric Jay Dolin's website.

The Page 99 Test: Fur, Fortune, and Empire.

The Page 99 Test: When America First Met China.

The Page 69 Test: Brilliant Beacons.

The Page 99 Test: Brilliant Beacons.

Writers Read: Eric Jay Dolin.

The Page 99 Test: Black Flags, Blue Waters.

--Marshal Zeringue

Four books that changed Stephen Giles

Stephen Giles is the author behind the Ivy Pocket children's series, which has been translated into twenty-five languages. He lives in Australia. The Boy at the Keyhole is his first work for adults.

One of four books that changed the author, as shared at the Sydney Morning Herald:
DINNER AT THE HOMESICK RESTAURANT
Anne Tyler

This book deepened my understanding of what great fiction can do. As a young writer I suppose I thought it was all about the big moments, the crisis or the crossroads, but Anne Tyler's writing showed me the profound power of small moments, beautifully illuminated. I've read many books about fractured families, but here is a delicate portrait of ordinary people rendered with such honesty. It's a story that is unsentimental and heartbreaking all at once.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, September 16, 2018

What is David Sosnowski reading?

Featured at Writers Read: David Sosnowski, author of Happy Doomsday: A Novel.

His entry begins:
What is David Sosnowski reading? An even split of male and female authors of fiction and non-fiction, it seems. Specifically, and in no particular order:

The Overstory by Richard Powers: While reading this powerful novel I kept thinking of the Lorax saying, “I speak for the trees…” That’s exactly what this book does: It speaks for the trees, as well as generations of humans who have taken these slower-paced beings into their hearts. Recent research has shown that trees have the ability to communicate over long distances, can warn of threats and defend themselves – behavior previously thought reserved for fauna, not flora. Powers uses these emerging truths and treats everything from the American chestnut to banyan trees to the mighty redwoods like...[read on]
About Happy Doomsday, from the publisher:
The end of the world is the weirdest time to come of age.

Welcome to the end of the world. One minute, people are going about their lives, and the next—not. In the wake of the inexplicable purge, only a handful of young misfits remains.

When it all went down, “Wizard of Odd” Dev Brinkman was seeking shelter from the taunts of his classmates. Goth girl Lucy Abernathy had lost her best friend and had no clue where to turn. And Twinkie-loving quarterback “Marcus” Haddad was learning why you never discuss politics and religion in polite company—or online.

As if life when you’re sixteen isn’t confusing enough, throw in the challenges of postapocalyptic subsistence, a case of survivor’s guilt turned up to seven billion, and the small task of rebuilding humankind…

No one said doomsday would be a breeze. But for Dev, Lucy, and Marcus, the greatest hope—and greatest threat—will come when they find each other.
Visit David Sosnowski's website.

My Book, The Movie: Happy Doomsday.

The Page 69 Test: Happy Doomsday.

Writers Read: David Sosnowski.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five stories that dish up cannibalism

Karin Tidbeck is originally from Stockholm, Sweden. She lives and works in Malmö as a freelance writer, translator and creative writing teacher, and writes fiction in Swedish and English. She debuted in 2010 with the Swedish short story collection Vem är Arvid Pekon?. Her English debut, the 2012 collection Jagannath, was awarded the Crawford Award 2013 and shortlisted for the World Fantasy Award as well as honor listed for the Tiptree Award. Her novel debut, Amatka, was shortlisted for the Locus Award and Prix Utopiales 2018.

At Tor.com Tidbeck served up five stories that involve cannibalism, including:
Sandwich in Exquisite Corpse by Poppy Z Brite

Serial killer Andrew meets decadent playboy Jay. They click. They go off on a cannibalistic serial killer spree that is both beautifully written and at times extremely difficult reading: Brite goes into poetic, graphic and minute detail. Contains a packed lunch in the form of a sandwich with a piece of flank lightly fried in butter.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Clare Mulley's "The Women Who Flew For Hitler," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Women Who Flew For Hitler by Clare Mulley.

The entry begins:
What could be more filmic? Hanna Reitsch and Melitta von Stauffenberg both learnt to fly over the same green slopes of north-east Germany in the 1930s. This was the glamorous age of flight, when Amelia Earhart had her own fashion line and En Avion was the perfume of choice. Female pilots anywhere were considered courageous, but nowhere were they considered more extraordinary than in Nazi Germany, which promoted the idea that women’s real place was in church, the kitchen and the nursery. Hanna and Melitta were exceptional, and with the war they became the only women to serve the regime as test pilots, the only two female Flight Captains in Nazi Germany, and both recipients of the Iron Cross.

You might have thought, then, that Hanna and Melitta would have supported one another, but in fact there was no love lost between them. With her bubbly personality, blond hair and blue-eyes, Hanna seemed the perfect example of Aryan maidenhood, and she was soon an ardent supporter of what she considered to be the dynamic new Nazi regime. Melitta...[read on]
Visit Clare Mulley's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Women Who Flew For Hitler.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Pg. 69: Margaret Mizushima's "Burning Ridge"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Burning Ridge: A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery by Margaret Mizushima.

About the book, from the publisher:
Featuring Mattie Cobb and her K-9 partner Robo, Burning Ridge by critically acclaimed author Margaret Mizushima is just the treat for fans of Alex Kava.

Colorado’s Redstone Ridge is a place of extraordinary beauty, but this rugged mountain wilderness harbors a horrifying secret. When a charred body is discovered in a shallow grave on the ridge, officer Mattie Cobb and her K-9 partner Robo are called in to spearhead the investigation. But this is no ordinary crime—and it soon becomes clear that Mattie has a close personal connection to the dead man.

Joined by local veterinarian Cole Walker, the pair scours the mountaintop for evidence and makes another gruesome discovery: the skeletonized remains of two adults and a child. And then, the unthinkable happens. Could Mattie become the next victim in the murderer’s deadly game?

A deranged killer torments Mattie with a litany of dark secrets that call into question her very identity. As a towering blaze races across the ridge, Cole and Robo search desperately for her—but time is running out in Margaret Mizushima’s fourth spine-tingling Timber Creek K-9 mystery, Burning Ridge.
Visit Margaret Mizushima's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Margaret Mizushima & Hannah, Bertie, Lily and Tess.

My Book, The Movie: Burning Ridge.

Writers Read: Margaret Mizushima.

The Page 69 Test: Burning Ridge.

--Marshal Zeringue

John Boyne's six best books

John Boyne is an Irish author best known for The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas, which was made into a film in 2008. His latest novel is A Ladder To The Sky. One of his six best books, as shared at the Daily Express:
MOBY DICK by Herman Melville

Every few books, I try to get through a classic that I’ve never read.

I was talking recently with John Irving who’d just got a Moby Dick tattoo, plus I was doing a festival on Nantucket, where the story starts.

People say it’s a slog and there’s too much about whales but it’s strangely hypnotic.
Read about another entry on the list.

Moby-Dick appears among Kate Christensen's best food scenes in fiction, Emily Temple's ten literary classics we're supposed to like...but don't, Sara Flannery Murphy ten top stories of obsession, Harold Bloom's six favorite books that helped shape "the American Sublime,"  Charlotte Seager's five well-known literary monomaniacs who take things too far, Ann Leary's top ten books set in New England, Martin Seay's ten best long books, Ian McGuire's ten best adventure novels, Jeff Somers's five top books that will expand your vocabulary and entertain, Four books that changed Mary Norris, Tim Dee's ten best nature books, the Telegraph's fifteen best North American novels of all time, Nicole Hill's top ten best names in literature to give your dog, Horatio Clare's five favorite maritime novels, the Telegraph's ten great meals in literature, Brenda Wineapple's six favorite books, Scott Greenstone's top seven allegorical novels, Paul Wilson's top ten books about disability, Lynn Shepherd's ten top fictional drownings, Peter Murphy's top ten literary preachers, Penn Jillette's six favorite books, Peter F. Stevens's top ten nautical books, Katharine Quarmby's top ten disability stories, Jonathan Evison's six favorite books, Bella Bathurst's top 10 books on the sea, John Mullan's lists of ten of the best nightmares in literature and ten of the best tattoos in literature, Susan Cheever's five best books about obsession, Christopher Buckley's best books, Jane Yolen's five most important books, Chris Dodd's best books, Augusten Burroughs' five most important books, Norman Mailer's top ten works of literature, David Wroblewski's five most important books, Russell Banks' five most important books, and Philip Hoare's top ten books about whales.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Tanya Marquardt's "Stray"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Stray: Memoir of a Runaway by Tanya Marquardt.

About the book, from the publisher:
Brutal and beautiful, Stray is the true story of a girl who runs away and finds herself.

After growing up in a dysfunctional and emotionally abusive home, Tanya Marquardt runs away on her sixteenth birthday. Her departure is an act of rebellion and survival—whatever she is heading toward has to be better than what she is leaving behind.

Struggling with her inner demons, Tanya must learn to take care of herself during two chaotic years in the working-class mill town of Port Alberni, followed by the early-nineties underground goth scene in Vancouver, British Columbia. She finds a chosen family in her fellow misfits, and the bond they form is fierce and unflinching.

Told with raw honesty and strength, Stray reveals Tanya’s fight to embrace the vulnerable, beguiling parts of herself and heal the wounds of her past as she forges her own path to a new life.
Visit Tanya Marquardt's website.

My Book, The Movie: Stray.

The Page 99 Test: Stray.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Stephen Aryan reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Stephen Aryan, author of Magefall.

His entry begins:
I tend to read a mix of SFF books and then something non-fiction. Sometimes this is an autobiography and sometimes it’s a book about something that has caught my interest.

A non-fiction book I recently read is called Why We Sleep - The New Science of Sleep by Matthew Walker. Professor Walker is a neuroscientist of renown and there are a number of talks on YouTube and other places if you want to take a look. But this book, which was an international bestseller, focuses on the importance of getting enough sleep.

The book contains some shocking and quite eye-opening facts about sleep. We spend a large portion of our life asleep and putting dreams aside for now (another section of the book does look at them), part of the book focuses on what sleep does for the human body and the human mind. It repairs the body in so many ways I never realised. It rebuilds our immune system and helps us to fight infections and disease. Our brain goes through a number of different phases while we’re asleep, processing memories, sorting them into sections like a computer archiving files. But then there’s the other side that no one really talks about. The damage, the life-threatening damage over a long period of time, of not getting enough sleep. The book does a deep dive into the dangers of...[read on]
About Magefall, from the publisher:
When magic is feared, the mages must learn to fight for themselves in this powerful sequel to the standout epic fantasy Mageborn by Stephen Aryan.

The land is in turmoil. Mages are hunted by men and gods alike. Even their own kind betray each other in the name of safety and protection.

With their last refuge fallen, two young mages must conspire against a god to show the world that their abilities aren’t a curse; they are the only way to ensure lasting peace. Under the threat of anti-magic fanatics, Wren struggles to find her place as a leader and to keep her people safe as they build a new home. While Danoph searches for answers on a spiritual journey, determined to find out who he really is and where he came from in an effort to calm the coming storm.

Their world has turned against them, yet only they can save the world.
Visit Stephen Aryan's website.

My Book, The Movie: Battlemage.

The Page 69 Test: Battlemage.

Writers Read: Stephen Aryan.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 14, 2018

Coffee with a canine: Andrew Peterson & Gia, Lilli, and Fiona

Featured at Coffee with a Canine: Andrew Peterson & Gia, Lilli, and Fiona.

The author, on how his dogs got their names:
We usually try to name our dogs after their ethnic origin. Lilli is named Lillith, a very old German name. Lilli’s also known as the “Monster” and “Gomer Girl.” Gia’s breed originates from Italy. She’s also referred to as “Peanut” and “Brown Sugar.” Fiona is an old Irish name and I especially like it because I love Princess Fiona in Shrek! She’s also referred to as...[read on]
About the latest novel in Andrew Peterson's Nathan McBride Series, Hired to Kill, from the publisher:
In this fast-paced thriller, special operative Nathan McBride battles the most treacherous enemy he’s ever faced—and the one hitting closest to home.

After simultaneous deadly terror attacks on San Diego and the nation’s capital, Nathan learns that the mass murders weren’t random events—they targeted his family.

And the threat is far from over. Part of a larger plot involving a sabotaged North Korean bioweapons facility and an ISIS training camp in northern Mexico, a third attack—bigger than 9/11—is being hatched by cold-blooded killers.

With the US Border Patrol and the CIA supporting the mission, Nathan teams up with longtime family friend Vincent Beaumont, the CEO of America’s largest private military contractor.

In a harrowing firefight, Nathan’s assault team will have to neutralize the terrorist cell, recover the weapons of mass destruction, and get them safely across the international border. The lives of thousands are at risk as Nathan weighs his lust for revenge against the most crucial part of the mission—taking the ringleaders alive—which might just cost him his life.
Learn more about the book and author at Andrew Peterson's website.

The Page 69 Test: First to Kill.

Coffee with a Canine: Andrew Peterson & Gia, Lilli, and Fiona.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five books featuring characters who wake up in strange situations

Parker Peevyhouse is the author of the critically acclaimed collection of novellas for young adults, Where Futures End, which was named a best book for teens by the New York Public Library, Chicago Public Library, and Bank Street. Her science fiction thriller, The Echo Room, is out in September from Tor Teen.

One of the author's five top books starring characters who wake up in strange situations, as shared at Tor.com:
The Rook by Daniel O’Malley

A woman finds herself standing in a park, surrounded by dead people wearing latex gloves, her memory completely gone. A letter in her pocket explains that she is in terrible danger and tries to help her return to a life she doesn’t remember, including a bizarre government job and supernatural coworkers. It’s a fish-out-of-water scenario that’s even more fun because in order to keep herself alive, the main character must pretend that she knows exactly what’s going on—like why sentient mold is invading the city—even while she understands nothing.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 69 Test: The Rook.

--Marshal Zeringue

Jacob Stone's "Cruel," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Cruel: A Morris Brick Thriller #4 by Jacob Stone.

The entry begins:
Cruel would have a large cast, and I’m going to limit my casting to the MBI team and several of the more important characters from Cruel.

First off, Morris Brick. My ex-LAPD homicide detective and serial killer hunter, is tough, smart, and relentless, and when I did My Book, My Movie for the first two books in the series, Deranged and Crazed, I cast Jason Isaacs in this role since he showed from the Showtime series Brotherhood that he could play all that brilliantly. Also he physically looks like Morris. But in Malicious, Philip Stonehedge tells Morris about a studio plan to make a movie about the events from Crazed, and since the studio execs were planning to cast Woody Harrelson in that role, I’ll make that change also.

Evangeline Lilly would be a good choice to play Natalie Brick, Morris’s...[read on]
Jacob Stone is the byline chosen by award-winning author Dave Zeltserman for his Morris Brick series of serial-killer thrillers. Visit Zeltserman's website.

My Book, The Movie: Deranged.

The Page 69 Test: Deranged.

My Book, The Movie: Crazed.

The Page 69 Test: Crazed.

My Book, The Movie: Cruel.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 13, 2018

What is Sofka Zinovieff reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Sofka Zinovieff, author of Putney: A Novel.

Her entry begins:
Cressida Connolly’s After the Party, is set in the little-known milieu of England’s nicely-spoken fascists in the late 1930s. They revered Oswald Mosley, attended the cheery, black-shirt summer camps on the south coast and were taken aback when during the war, they were suddenly flung in jail as traitors. Phyllis is a political innocent who never really understands what she has done wrong, even when she is exiled on the Isle of Man (ironically, along with German Jews as well as other British fascists). Connolly’s lyrical writing is razor-sharp and wonderfully funny. She has also taken on a subject which resonates only too powerfully with current politics. It always was easy for...[read on]
About Putney, from the publisher:
A provocative and absorbing novel about a teenage girl’s intoxicating romance with a powerful older man and her discovery, decades later, that her happy memories are hiding a painful truth.

A rising star in the London arts scene of the early 1970s, gifted composer Ralph Boyd is approached by renowned novelist Edmund Greenslay to score a stage adaptation of his most famous work. Welcomed into Greenslay’s sprawling bohemian house in Putney, an artistic and prosperous district in southwest London, the musical wunderkind is introduced to Edmund’s beautiful activist wife Ellie, his aloof son Theo, and his young daughter Daphne, who quickly becomes Ralph’s muse.

Ralph showers Daphne with tokens of his affection—clandestine gifts and secret notes. In a home that is exciting but often lonely, Daphne finds Ralph to be a dazzling companion for many years. When Ralph accompanies Daphne alone to meet her parents in Greece, their relationship intensifies irrevocably. One person knows the truth about their relationship: Daphne’s best friend Jane, whose awe of the intoxicating Greenslay family ensures her silence.

Decades later Daphne is back in London. After years lost to decadence and drug abuse, she is struggling to create a normal, stable life for herself and her adolescent daughter. When circumstances bring her back in touch with her long-lost friend, Jane, their reunion inevitably turns to Ralph, now a world-famous musician also living in the city. Daphne’s recollections of her youth and her growing anxiety over her own young daughter eventually lead to an explosive realization that propels her to confront Ralph and their years spent together.

Masterfully told from three diverse viewpoints—victim, perpetrator, and witness—Putney is a subtle and enormously powerful novel about consent, agency, and what we tell ourselves to justify what we do, and what others do to us.
Visit Sofka Zinovieff's website.

My Book, The Movie: Putney.

Writers Read: Sofka Zinovieff.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Adam Kotsko's "Neoliberalism’s Demons"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Neoliberalism's Demons: On the Political Theology of Late Capital by Adam Kotsko.

About the book, from the publisher:
By both its supporters and detractors, neoliberalism is usually considered an economic policy agenda. Neoliberalism's Demons argues that it is much more than that: a complete worldview, neoliberalism presents the competitive marketplace as the model for true human flourishing. And it has enjoyed great success: from the struggle for "global competitiveness" on the world stage down to our individual practices of self-branding and social networking, neoliberalism has transformed every aspect of our shared social life.

The book explores the sources of neoliberalism's remarkable success and the roots of its current decline. Neoliberalism's appeal is its promise of freedom in the form of unfettered free choice. But that freedom is a trap: we have just enough freedom to be accountable for our failings, but not enough to create genuine change. If we choose rightly, we ratify our own exploitation. And if we choose wrongly, we are consigned to the outer darkness—and then demonized as the cause of social ills. By tracing the political and theological roots of the neoliberal concept of freedom, Adam Kotsko offers a fresh perspective, one that emphasizes the dynamics of race, gender, and sexuality. More than that, he accounts for the rise of right-wing populism, arguing that, far from breaking with the neoliberal model, it actually doubles down on neoliberalism's most destructive features.
Visit Adam Kotsko's website.

The Page 99 Test: The Prince of This World.

The Page 99 Test: Neoliberalism's Demons.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: David Sosnowski's "Happy Doomsday"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Happy Doomsday: A Novel by David Sosnowski.

About the book, from the publisher:
The end of the world is the weirdest time to come of age.

Welcome to the end of the world. One minute, people are going about their lives, and the next—not. In the wake of the inexplicable purge, only a handful of young misfits remains.

When it all went down, “Wizard of Odd” Dev Brinkman was seeking shelter from the taunts of his classmates. Goth girl Lucy Abernathy had lost her best friend and had no clue where to turn. And Twinkie-loving quarterback “Marcus” Haddad was learning why you never discuss politics and religion in polite company—or online.

As if life when you’re sixteen isn’t confusing enough, throw in the challenges of postapocalyptic subsistence, a case of survivor’s guilt turned up to seven billion, and the small task of rebuilding humankind…

No one said doomsday would be a breeze. But for Dev, Lucy, and Marcus, the greatest hope—and greatest threat—will come when they find each other.
Visit David Sosnowski's website.

My Book, The Movie: Happy Doomsday.

The Page 69 Test: Happy Doomsday.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top trains in novels

Sarah Ward is the author of The Shrouded Path and three previous books in the DC Childs crime series set in the Derbyshire Peak District.

One of her top ten trains in novels, as shared at the Guardian:
From Russia with Love by Ian Fleming

Moving trains are perfect settings for murder plots, and no one does it better than Fleming. I could have chosen a few of his books but I love this one for its thrilling conclusion on the Orient Express. James Bond outwits an assassin by placing his metal cigarette case between the pages of a book, which deflects a bullet aimed at his heart – pure 007.
Read about another entry on the list.

Also see Andrew Martin's top ten books about trains.

From Russia with Love also made John Lawton's top ten list of Cold War noir novels, Sinclair McKay's five best list of books on ciphers and codebreakers during World War II and after, John Mullan's lists of ten of the best housekeepers in literature, ten of the best chess games in fiction, ten of the best punch-ups in fiction, and ten of the best breakfasts in literature, and a list of eleven presidents' favorite books. It is on Keith Jeffery's five best list of books on Britain's Secret Service and Samuel Muston's ten best list of spy novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

What is Margaret Mizushima reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Margaret Mizushima, author of Burning Ridge: A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery.

Her entry begins:
I’m typically reading both fiction and nonfiction, and the book I pick up depends on which room I’m in when I decide to sit and rest. In nonfiction, I’ve lately focused on books about writing and books about childhood trauma (to help with the character arc of my protagonist Deputy Mattie Cobb).

Here are the books you would find scattered around my home today:

South California Purples, by Baron R. Birtcher. I ordered this novel months ago and am finally able to grab a few moments to savor it. Set in 1973, this book captures the turmoil and transition of its era while it tells the story of an Oregon cattle rancher who is involuntarily conscripted to help law enforcement with the government auction of a herd of wild mustangs, despite the protest and interference of local citizens. Birtcher’s depiction of the times, landscape descriptions, and dialogue are a pleasure to read, and the book is a...[read on]
About Burning Ridge, from the publisher:
Featuring Mattie Cobb and her K-9 partner Robo, Burning Ridge by critically acclaimed author Margaret Mizushima is just the treat for fans of Alex Kava.

Colorado’s Redstone Ridge is a place of extraordinary beauty, but this rugged mountain wilderness harbors a horrifying secret. When a charred body is discovered in a shallow grave on the ridge, officer Mattie Cobb and her K-9 partner Robo are called in to spearhead the investigation. But this is no ordinary crime—and it soon becomes clear that Mattie has a close personal connection to the dead man.

Joined by local veterinarian Cole Walker, the pair scours the mountaintop for evidence and makes another gruesome discovery: the skeletonized remains of two adults and a child. And then, the unthinkable happens. Could Mattie become the next victim in the murderer’s deadly game?

A deranged killer torments Mattie with a litany of dark secrets that call into question her very identity. As a towering blaze races across the ridge, Cole and Robo search desperately for her—but time is running out in Margaret Mizushima’s fourth spine-tingling Timber Creek K-9 mystery, Burning Ridge.
Visit Margaret Mizushima's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Margaret Mizushima & Hannah, Bertie, Lily and Tess.

My Book, The Movie: Burning Ridge.

Writers Read: Margaret Mizushima.

--Marshal Zeringue

Fifteen books to read on a French holiday

At the Waterstones blog Martha Greengrass tagged fifteen books to take on a French vacation. One title on the list:
The Little Paris Bookshop
Nina George

A delightfully bittersweet tale about the distance one man will travel for the sake of love. Presiding over a ‘literary apothecary’ on the Seine, a man masks the pain in his own heart by prescribing the books to heal the wounds of others. Then a revelation from the past prompts him to up-anchor and begin a singular journey of discovery toward a resolution that is genuinely life affirming.
Read about another entry on the list.

My Book, The Movie: The Little Paris Bookshop.

The Page 69 Test: The Little Paris Bookshop.

--Marshal Zeringue

Mary Schmidt Campbell's "An American Odyssey," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: An American Odyssey: The Life and Work of Romare Bearden by Mary Schmidt Campbell.

Her entry begins:
Netlfix would be my platform of choice for An American Odyssey: the Life and Work of Romare Bearden. A six part series would open with a middle aged Bearden hospitalized in Bellevue, having “blown a fuse” and suffered a nervous breakdown. His once moderately successful career as a painter has disintegrated. His efforts at becoming a songwriter and amassing enough money to return to Paris, the city that made him feel liberated, have failed.

The action begins with him sitting a table at the hospital, therapeutically making “arts and crafts” as a flashback returns the action to his coming of age as an artist in Harlem, “when Harlem was in Vogue.” The next two episodes recount his mother’s dazzling dominance among the Black middle class and his rebellion against this “respectability” and rising fame as a radical activist and race man. While his mother hosts salons and writes the social column for the Chicago Defender, Bearden immerses himself in his day job, casework with Harlem’s poor and spends his nights with the “Dawn Patrol” in the definitely anti-uplift scene of Harlem’s often transgressive cabarets.

Then his world falls apart. Episode three opens with the 1943 riot in Harlem, his mother’s unexpected death, and...[read on]
Learn more about An American Odyssey at the Oxford University Press website.

My Book, The Movie: An American Odyssey.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Timothy Larsen's "John Stuart Mill: A Secular Life"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: John Stuart Mill: A Secular Life by Timothy Larsen.

About the book, from the publisher:
John Stuart Mill observed in his Autobiography that he was a rare case in nineteenth-century Britain because he had not lost his religion but never had any. He was a freethinker from beginning to end. What is not often realized, however, is that Mill's life was nevertheless impinged upon by religion at every turn. This is true both of the close relationships that shaped him and of his own, internal thoughts. Mill was a religious sceptic, but not the kind of person which that term usually conjures up. The unexpected presence and prominence of spirituality is not only there in Mill's late, startling essay, 'Theism', in which he makes the case for hope in God and in Christ. It is everywhere--in his immediate family, his best friends, and his vision for the future. It is even there in such a seemingly unlikely place as his Logic, which repeatedly addresses religious themes. John Stuart Mill: A Secular Life is a biography which follows one of Britain's most well-respected intellectuals through all of the key moments in his life from falling in love to sitting in Parliament and beyond. It also explores his classic works including, On Liberty, Principles of Political Economy, Utilitarianism, and The Subjection of Women. In this well-researched study which offers original findings and insights, Timothy Larsen presents the Mill you never knew. The Mill that even some of his closest disciples never knew. This is John Stuart Mill, the Saint of Rationalism--a secular life and a spiritual life.
Learn more about John Stuart Mill: A Secular Life at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: John Stuart Mill: A Secular Life.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

What is Eric Jay Dolin reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Eric Jay Dolin, author of Black Flags, Blue Waters: The Epic History of America's Most Notorious Pirates.

His entry begins:
I always pick book topics that I know little about. That is because, I want to stay interested and engaged in the researching and writing process, which takes roughly 18 months to 2 years from start to finish. By not knowing much about a topic, you are guaranteed to find surprises virtually every day, and that keeps it exciting, and, hopefully, that excitement translates to the written page.

Since I know little about my topics, almost all of my reading is focused on books related to the topic I am working on at the moment. That leaves me hardly any time for pleasure reading. But, there is one way in which I get outside of my bubble. I am often asked to write blurbs for upcoming history and natural history publications. This introduces me to some great books (at least the ones I blurb; there are quite a few books I am asked to blurb, but don’t because I didn’t find the books very appealing).

Three of the most recent books I blurbed are Thor Hanson’s, Buzz: The Nature and Necessity of Honey Bees (2018); Ben Goldfarb’s, Eager: The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter (2018); and...[read on]
About Black Flags, Blue Waters, from the publisher:
With surprising tales of vicious mutineers, imperial riches, and high-seas intrigue, Black Flags, Blue Waters vividly reanimates the “Golden Age” of piracy in the Americas.

Set against the backdrop of the Age of Exploration, Black Flags, Blue Waters reveals the dramatic and surprising history of American piracy’s “Golden Age”—spanning the late 1600s through the early 1700s—when lawless pirates plied the coastal waters of North America and beyond. Best-selling author Eric Jay Dolin illustrates how American colonists at first supported these outrageous pirates in an early display of solidarity against the Crown, and then violently opposed them. Through engrossing episodes of roguish glamour and extreme brutality, Dolin depicts the star pirates of this period, among them towering Blackbeard, ill-fated Captain Kidd, and sadistic Edward Low, who delighted in torturing his prey. Also brilliantly detailed are the pirates’ manifold enemies, including colonial governor John Winthrop, evangelist Cotton Mather, and young Benjamin Franklin. Upending popular misconceptions and cartoonish stereotypes, Dolin provides this wholly original account of the seafaring outlaws whose raids reflect the precarious nature of American colonial life.
Learn more about the book and author at Eric Jay Dolin's website.

The Page 99 Test: Fur, Fortune, and Empire.

The Page 99 Test: When America First Met China.

The Page 69 Test: Brilliant Beacons.

The Page 99 Test: Brilliant Beacons.

Writers Read: Eric Jay Dolin.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six top books about history’s forgotten women

Jenni Murray is a journalist and broadcaster who has presented BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour since 1987. Her latest book is A History of the World in 21 Women. One of Murray's six best books about history’s forgotten women, as shared at the Guardian:
Sarah Waters’ Fingersmith is the only novel whose plot twist surprised me so much that I actually jumped out of my chair and shrieked: “Oh no!” The main characters in this gripping story set in Victorian London are both orphans and victims of low-life cruelty: Sue is raised in a Dickensian den of thieves; Maud lives with her uncle, who has her catalogue his collection of pornography. Lesbian love finally conquers all.
Read about another entry on the list.

Fingersmith is among Santa Montefiore's six best books, Stuart Jeffries's five sexiest scenes in literature, and Kirsty Logan's ten best LGBT sex scenes in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Mary Kubica's "When the Lights Go Out"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: When the Lights Go Out by Mary Kubica.

About the book, from the publisher:
Jessie Sloane is on the path to rebuilding her life after years of caring for her ailing mother. She rents a new apartment and applies for college. But when the college informs her that her social security number has raised a red flag, Jessie discovers a shocking detail that forces her to question everything she’s ever known.

Finding herself suddenly at the center of a bizarre mystery, Jessie tumbles down a rabbit hole, which is only exacerbated by a relentless lack of sleep. As days pass and the insomnia worsens, it plays with Jessie’s mind. Her judgment is blurred, her thoughts hampered by fatigue. Jessie begins to see things until she can no longer tell the difference between what’s real and what she’s only imagined.

Meanwhile, twenty years earlier and two hundred and fifty miles away, another woman’s split-second decision may hold the key to Jessie’s secret past. Is Jessie really who she thinks she is? Has her whole life been a lie? The truth will shock her to her core…if she lives long enough to discover it.
Visit Mary Kubica's website.

The Page 69 Test: Every Last Lie.

The Page 69 Test: When the Lights Go Out.

--Marshal Zeringue

Twenty top 9/11 books

In 2011 Justin Webb, Pankaj Mishra, and Jason Burke tagged twenty of the best 9/11 books at the Guardian, including:
The Looming Tower by Lawrence Wright

A well-deserved Pulitzer prize winner. It’s a potted history of how the world reached the point where the 9/11 plot could be hatched, the players and their motivations. It’s tautly written and has enough anecdote to lighten the gloomy load. For me, the most illuminating pages deal with the weird psychosexual hang-ups of some of the jihadists, their contempt for women suffused with a genuine fear of being seduced. I spent eight years reporting from the US for the BBC and I never read a more compelling account of the circumstances that brought us to 9/11.-JW
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 10, 2018

What is Lisa Black reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Lisa Black, author of Suffer the Children: A Gardiner and Renner Novel.

Her entry begins:
My most recent release, Suffer the Children, has my forensic scientist Maggie and homicide detective Jack investigating a series of murders at a juvenile detention facility. This facility is trying very hard to be forward-thinking and progressive in providing the best programs for the children in its care, mostly teenagers, most of whom have committed violent acts including murder. So not having any children of my own I had to do a great deal of research in violent children, the treatment of violent children, dysfunctional families, foster programs and juvenile detention facilities--but one book that stuck in my head the most was called One Small Boat. This memoir of a foster mother was written by Kathy Harrison. She and her husband had a daughter of their own but took in a lot of foster girls over the years. They stuck with girls because it just made things easier in terms of sleeping arrangements, clothing, toys etc. This book convinced me that every child’s story is different so every child needs a situation that’s tailored to their issues. Despite the grim-sounding outline it was a fun book to read; the narrator has...[read on]
About Suffer the Children, from the publisher:
Maggie Gardiner, forensics expert for the Cleveland police department, and Jack Renner, a homicide detective with a killer secret, return in bestselling author Lisa Black’s new thriller as they confront the darkest threat yet to their careers—and their lives.

The body of fifteen-year-old Rachael Donahue—abandoned by society, raised in foster homes, and violently unapproachable—has been discovered at the bottom of a stairwell at Firebird, the secure facility for juvenile offenders in Cleveland. For Maggie and Jack, Rachael’s death comes with a disturbing twist—the girl may have been involved with a much older man.

But Rachael’s not the only resident at the center to come to a dead end. Firebird’s ten-year-old “wild child” has overdosed in the infirmary—back-to-back tragedies that appear to be terrible accidents. As a forensic investigator, Maggie knows appearances can be deceiving. And Jack knows all about deceit. That’s why they both suspect a cold-blooded murderer is carrying out a deadly agenda.

As Maggie’s ex-husband gets nearer to uncovering the secrets that Maggie and Jack must hide, it becomes increasingly harder for them to protect a new and vulnerable victim from a killer with unfathomable demons.
Learn more about the book and author at Lisa Black's website.

The Page 69 Test: That Darkness.

My Book, The Movie: Unpunished.

The Page 69 Test: Unpunished.

My Book, The Movie: Perish.

The Page 69 Test: Perish.

The Page 69 Test: Suffer the Children.

Writers Read: Lisa Black.

--Marshal Zeringue