Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Six sci-fi novels about ecological disaster & environments gone mad

Sam Reader is a writer and conventions editor for The Geek Initiative. He also writes literary criticism and reviews at strangelibrary.com. At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog he tagged "six science fiction novels about ecological disasters and environments gone mad," including:
Wonderblood, by Julia Whicker

An unexplained disaster in Kansas released “wonderblood” into the soil, causing mass destruction, disease, and death. In the years since, humanity has built itself a kingdom centered around the rocket towers of Cape Canaveral and perverted the studies of science into a weird form of religion, punishing actual science and medicine as a form of heresy and depending on astrology, religion, and the totemic worship of heretics’ shrunken heads. The world is thrown into an uproar by the arrival of Aurora, a young woman who gets caught in the struggle between a traveling carnival owned by a prophecy-obsessed megalomaniac and the kingdom’s chief advisor, just as mysterious lights appear in the sky. Whicker captures a tone somewhere between dark fairy tale and grotesque new weird fantasy, setting her violent, apocalyptic science-fantasy in a grotesque, fully-realized setting augmented by equally surreal illustrations, creating a strange and hopefully timeless work of climate apocalypse fiction.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

What is Carol Goodman reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Carol Goodman, author of The Other Mother.

Her entry begins:
When the editor was kind enough to ask me to contribute to Writers Read I thought: “Aha! I’ve got this!” Usually such requests catch me in a lowbrow moment when I’ve just read the latest potboiler suspense novel. Not that there’s anything wrong with potboiler suspense novels—they’re what I write and I write them because I love reading them. In fact, I recently read two delicious ones: A.J. Finn’s The Woman in the Window and Greer Hendricks’ and Sarah Pekkanen’s The Wife Between Us, both compulsively readable novels featuring unreliable narrators, shifting identities, and some hard drinking. All my favorite things! But this time I also had a tonier response: I just finished reading Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë.

I’d read it in my teens, but unlike Jane Eyre, which I’ve reread four times, I hadn’t reread it since. My vague recollections of the novel were of romantic wanderings on windswept moors, Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon playing the star-crossed lovers Cathy and Heathcliff in the 1939 film, and some ghosts. But wasn’t there a whole second half of the book concerning...[read on]
About The Other Mother, from the publisher:
From the author of the internationally bestselling The Lake of Dead Languages comes a gripping novel about madness, motherhood, love, and trust.

When Daphne Marist and her infant daughter, Chloe, pull up the gravel drive to the home of Daphne’s new employer, it feels like they’ve entered a whole new world. Tucked in the Catskills, the stone mansion looks like something out of a fairy tale, its lush landscaping hiding the view of the mental asylum just beyond its border. Daphne secured the live-in position using an assumed name and fake credentials, telling no one that she’s on the run from a controlling husband who has threatened to take her daughter away.

Daphne’s new life is a far cry from the one she had in Westchester where, just months before, she and her husband welcomed little Chloe. From the start, Daphne tries to be a good mother, but she’s plagued by dark moods and intrusive thoughts that convince her she’s capable of harming her own daughter. When Daphne is diagnosed with Post Partum Mood Disorder, her downward spiral feels unstoppable—until she meets Laurel Hobbes.

Laurel, who also has a daughter named Chloe, is everything Daphne isn’t: charismatic, sophisticated, fearless. They immediately form an intense friendship, revealing secrets to one another they thought they’d never share. Soon, they start to look alike, dress alike, and talk alike, their lives mirroring one another in strange and disturbing ways. But Daphne realizes only too late that being friends with Laurel will come at a very shocking price—one that will ultimately lead her to that towering mansion in the Catskills where terrifying, long-hidden truths will finally be revealed....
Visit Carol Goodman's website.

Writers Read: Carol Goodman.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Simon Beaufort's "Mind of a Killer"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Mind of A Killer by Simon Beaufort.

About the book, from the publisher:
Newspaper reporter Alec Londale discovers that a series of seemingly random murders may be connected in this absorbing historical mystery.

1882. Following up a story about a fatal house fire, newspaper reporter Alec Londale discovers that the victim's death was no accident. But why would someone murder a humble shop assistant and steal part of his brain? Alec is about to uncover evidence of a shocking conspiracy that reaches the highest echelons of Victorian society.
Visit Simon Beaufort's website.

The Page 69 Test: Mind of A Killer.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Michael Ramirez's "Destined for Greatness"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Destined for Greatness: Passions, Dreams, and Aspirations in a College Music Town by Michael Ramirez.

About the book, from the publisher:
Pursuing the dream of a musical vocation—particularly in rock music—is typically regarded as an adolescent pipedream. Music is marked as an appropriate leisure activity, but one that should be discarded upon entering adulthood. How then do many men and women aspire to forge careers in music upon entering adulthood?

In Destined for Greatness, sociologist Michael Ramirez examines the lives of forty-eight independent rock musicians who seek out such non-normative choices in a college town renowned for its music scene. He explores the rich life course trajectories of women and men to explore the extent to which pathways are structured to allow some, but not all, individuals to fashion careers in music worlds. Ramirez suggests a more nuanced understanding of factors that enable the pursuit of musical livelihoods well into adulthood.
Learn more about Destined for Greatness at the Rutgers University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Destined for Greatness.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six top stories of deception

Sara Shepard's new novel--her first adult thriller--is The Elizas. One of her six favorite stories of deception, as shared at The Week magazine:
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Deception doesn't occur only in thrillers — a complicated relationship can be just as fertile ground. In this beautifully written new book, a great domestic betrayal occurs, but it's one that's arguably justified.
Read about another entry on the list.

An American Marriage is among Julia Dahl's ten top books about miscarriages of justice.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 23, 2018

J. E. Smyth's "Nobody's Girl Friday," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Nobody's Girl Friday: The Women Who Ran Hollywood by J. E. Smyth.

The entry begins:
It’s a catchy title. But a feature film? Meh. I happen to think actress Olivia de Havilland was quite right about Feud (2017) and the scandalous way the male screenwriter portrayed her, playing fast and loose with the facts to construct a story about another Hollywood catfight between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. The California judge was correct when she said no one “owns history,” but 75 years ago, Hollywood producers routinely consulted living historical subjects and scrutinized the script to avoid libel suits. I think in this recent case, the writer was too sloppy or stupid to realize Ms. de Havilland was still alive.

What I would like is to develop Nobody’s Girl Friday as...[read on]
Learn more about Nobody's Girl Friday at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Nobody's Girl Friday.

My Book, The Movie: Nobody's Girl Friday.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Patrice Sarath reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Patrice Sarath, author of The Sisters Mederos.

Her entry begins:
I’m going through a nonfiction phase, specifically about Native Americans, so two books that I’ve devoured recently are Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Tribe in American History, by S.C. Gwynne, and...[read on]
About The Sisters Mederos, from the publisher:
House Mederos was once the wealthiest merchant family in Port Saint Frey. Now the family is disgraced, impoverished, and humbled by the powerful Merchants Guild. Daughters Yvienne and Tesara Mederos are determined to uncover who was behind their family’s downfall and get revenge. But Tesara has a secret – could it have been her wild magic that caused the storm that destroyed the family’s merchant fleet? The sisters’ schemes quickly get out of hand – gambling is one thing, but robbing people is another…

Together the sisters must trust each another to keep their secrets and save their family.
Learn more about the book and author at Patrice Sarath's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: The Unexpected Miss Bennet.

Writers Read: Patrice Sarath.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Alex Grecian's "The Saint of Wolves and Butchers"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Saint of Wolves and Butchers by Alex Grecian.

About the book, from the publisher:
From the bestselling author of The Yard comes a chilling contemporary thriller about an enigmatic hunter on the trail of a Nazi who has secretly continued his devilish work here in America.

Travis Roan and his dog, Bear, are hunters: They travel the world pursuing evildoers in order to bring them to justice. They have now come to Kansas on the trail of Rudolph Bormann, a Nazi doctor and concentration camp administrator who snuck into the U.S. under the name Rudy Goodman in the 1950s and has at last been identified. Travis quickly learns that Goodman has powerful friends who will go to any length to protect the Nazi; what he doesn’t know is that Goodman has furtively continued his diabolical work, amassing a congregation of followers who believe he possesses Godlike powers. Caught between these men is Kansas State Trooper Skottie Foster, an African American woman and a good cop who must find a way to keep peace in her district–until she realizes the struggle between Roan and Bormann will put her and her family in grave peril.
Visit Alex Grecian's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Devil's Workshop.

The Page 69 Test: The Saint of Wolves and Butchers.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten of the best anti-novels

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 Reads blog he tagged ten top anti-novels, including:
Remainder, by Tom McCarthy

This is actually one of the easier anti-novels on this list to enter, the story of a man who suffers debilitating brain damage after an accident he doesn’t quite remember and is awarded a fortune in damages, money he uses to hire people to recreate moments from his life he only partially remembers. His obsession with these moments leads him to reenact increasingly violent events that may or may not have actually happened, as the whole thing spins into what might be the textbook example of the most unreliable narration of all time. The questions McCarthy raises about memory, and identity, and how we can rely on what we “know” make the effort well worth it.
Read about another entry on the list.

Remainder is among Emily Temple's fifty best novels about madness.

The Page 69 Test: Remainder.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Coffee with a canine: Arin Greenwood & Murray

Featured at Coffee with a Canine: Arin Greenwood & Murray.

The author, on how Murray got his name:
The general rule in our household is that I bring home the pets and my husband gets to name them. Our dog's full name is Murray Rothbark. He's named after one of my husband's favorite economists, Murray Rothbard. My husband works at a think tank called the R Street Institute, and our Murray actually holds a position there as well - he's director of canine policy. He's got bylines on a couple of published op-eds, too, if...[read on]
About Greenwood's new novel, Your Robot Dog Will Die, from the publisher:
Fusing the heart of Julie of the Wolves with the imagination of Little Brother and Ship Breaker, this speculative YA is a must-read for any dog lover.

Seventeen-year-old Nano Miller was born and raised on Dog Island: home to Mechanical Tail, the company behind lifelike replacements for “man’s best friend.” The island is also home to the last living dogs, all but extinct. When a global genetic experiment went awry and canines stopped wagging their tails, mass hysteria ensued and the species was systematically euthanized. Here, they are studied in a natural and feral state.

Nano’s life has become a cycle of annual heartbreak. Every spring, Mechanical Tail gives her the latest robot dog model to test, only to tear it from her arms a year later. This year is complicated by another heartbreak: the loss of her brother, Billy, who recently vanished without a trace. But nothing can prepare her for a discovery that upends everything she’s taken for granted: it’s a living puppy that miraculously wags its tail. There is no way she’s letting this dog go.
Visit Arin Greenwood's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Arin Greenwood & Murray.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Keith Gandal's "War Isn’t the Only Hell"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: War Isn't the Only Hell: A New Reading of World War I American Literature by Keith Gandal.

About the book, from the publisher:
American World War I literature has long been interpreted as an alienated outcry against modern warfare and government propaganda. This prevailing reading ignores the US army’s unprecedented attempt during World War I to assign men—except, notoriously, African Americans—to positions and ranks based on merit. And it misses the fact that the culture granted masculinity only to combatants, while the noncombatant majority of doughboys experienced a different alienation: that of shame.

Drawing on military archives, current research by social-military historians, and his own readings of thirteen major writers, Keith Gandal seeks to put American literature written after the Great War in its proper context—as a response to the shocks of war and meritocracy. The supposedly antiwar texts of noncombatant Lost Generation authors Dos Passos, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Cummings, and Faulkner addressed—often in coded ways—the noncombatant failure to measure up.

Gandal also examines combat-soldier writers William March, Thomas Boyd, Laurence Stallings, and Hervey Allen. Their works are considered straight-forward antiwar narratives, but they are in addition shaped by experiences of meritocratic recognition, especially meaningful for socially disadvantaged men. Gandal furthermore contextualizes the sole World War I novel by an African American veteran, Victor Daly, revealing a complex experience of both army discrimination and empowerment among the French. Finally, Gandal explores three women writers—Katherine Anne Porter, Willa Cather, and Ellen La Motte—who saw the war create frontline opportunities for women while allowing them to be arbiters of masculinity at home. Ultimately, War Isn’t the Only Hell shows how American World War I literature registered the profound ways in which new military practices and a foreign war unsettled traditional American hierarchies of class, ethnicity, gender, and even race.
Learn more about War Isn't the Only Hell at the Johns Hopkins University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: War Isn't the Only Hell.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five of the best fictional femme fatales

Peter Swanson's latest novel is All the Beautiful Lies. One of his five favorite fictional femme fatales, as shared at the Waterstones blog:
Phyllis Nirdlinger in Double Indemnity by James M. Cain (1945)

Cain specialized in the dangerous female, but Phyllis Nirdlinger, immortalized by Barbara Stanwyk in Billy Wilder’s film version, is my favorite. A bored Southern California housewife who talks an insurance agent into killing her husband, she is almost feral in her devotion to murder. The movie is one of the all time greats, but the book is far more chilling, especially the end. There is a poisonous toxicity to the character that expresses itself in both her villainy and her sexuality. A disturbing (but in a good way) book.
Read about another entry on the list.

Double Indemnity is among Carlos Ruiz Zafón's top ten 20th-century gothic novels and Malcolm Jones' ten favorite crime novels.

See John Mullan's ten best femmes fatales in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Nell Hampton's "Lord of the Pies," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Lord of the Pies: A Kensington Palace Chef Mystery by Nell Hampton.

The entry begins:
I think my book is better as a television series. I think you could enjoy seeing each episode play out allowing the characters room to grow.

I would like Carrie Ann to be played by Kelly Cuoco and I can imagine her new friend Penny played by Karen Gillan who played Amy Pond – my favorite Dr. Who character.

Martin Freeman is a favorite actor. I think he could play...[read on]
Visit Nell Hampton / Nancy J. Parra's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

Coffee with a Canine: Nancy J. Parra and Little Dog.

The Page 69 Test: Lord of the Pies.

Writers Read: Nell Hampton.

My Book, The Movie: Lord of the Pies.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, April 21, 2018

What is Jack McDevitt reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Jack McDevitt, author of The Long Sunset (Part of The Academy).

His entry begins:
I’m still trying to catch up on reading assignments from my college years, which takes us back to the 1950’s. The writing abilities of people like Hemingway, Willa Cather, Henry James, and Jane Austen continue to blow me away. Two weeks ago, I finished my first plunge into Theodore Dreiser, and, as I’ve done with others, I wondered how it had taken me so long to catch up with him. The novel was Sister Carrie, in which a young woman moves to Chicago to live with her married sister while she tries to find a job. This is somewhere around 1910, a time when employment wasn’t readily available. She’s pretty quickly out on her own, trailed by two older men who, despite occasionally questionable behavior, nevertheless gained my empathy as they wrecked their lives, and came close to ruining Carrie’s. The novel provides a strong sense of...[read on]
About The Long Sunset, from the publisher:
From Nebula Award winner Jack McDevitt comes the eighth installment in the popular The Academy series—Priscilla “Hutch” Hutchins discovers an interstellar message from a highly advanced race that could be her last chance for a mission before the program is shut down for good.

Hutch has been the Academy’s best pilot for decades. She’s had numerous first contact encounters and even became a minor celebrity. But world politics have shifted from exploration to a growing fear that the program will run into an extraterrestrial race more advanced than humanity and war.

Despite taking part in the recent scientific breakthrough that rejuvenates the human body and expands one’s lifespan, Hutch finds herself as a famous interstellar pilot with little to do, until a message from an alien race arrives.

The message is a piece of music from an unexplored area. Despite the fact that this alien race could pose a great danger and that this message could have taken several thousand years to travel, the program prepares the last interstellar ship for the journey. As the paranoia grows, Hutch and her crew make an early escape—but what they find at the other end of the galaxy is completely unexpected.
Learn more about the book and author at Jack McDevitt's website.

The Page 69 Test: Firebird.

The Page 69 Test: Thunderbird.

My Book, The Movie: Thunderbird.

Writers Read: Jack McDevitt.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eight books or series that make great party themes

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 Reads blog he tagged eight books that make great party themes, including:
Casino Royale, by Ian Fleming

Finally, it’s easy to forget that Fleming wasn’t just a skilled writer of spy thrillers, he was an inveterate snob who loved good wine, good food, and high living—all of which made it into his books in the details. Naturally, you’ll be serving Martinis at this party, but you can also craft a spectacular menu simply by taking notes while you read: crabs on buttered toast, smoked salmon and Brizzola—and of course, scrambled eggs, which Bond refers to so often in the books, they are quite clearly his favorite food.
Read about another entry on the list.

Casino Royale also made Alan Judd's list of five favorite spy novels, Maddie Crum's top ten fictional characters who just might be psychopaths, Lee Child's list of six favorite debut novels, Danny Wallace's six best books list, Mary Horlock's list of the five best psychos in fiction, John Mullan's list of ten of the best floggings in fiction, Meg Rosoff's top 10 adult books for teenagers list, and Peter Millar's critic's chart of top spy books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Teresa Dovalpage's "Death Comes in through the Kitchen"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Death Comes in through the Kitchen by Teresa Dovalpage.

About the book, from the publisher:
Set in Havana during the Black Spring of 2003, a charming but poison-laced culinary mystery reveals the darker side of the modern Revolution, complete with authentic Cuban recipes

Matt, a San Diego journalist, arrives in Havana to marry his girlfriend, Yarmila, a 24-year-old Cuban woman whom he first met through her food blog. But Yarmi isn’t there to meet him at the airport, and when he hitches a ride to her apartment, he finds her lying dead in the bathtub.

With Yarmi’s murder, lovelorn Matt is immediately embroiled in a Cuban adventure he didn’t bargain for. The police and secret service have him down as their main suspect, and in an effort to clear his name, he must embark on his own investigation into what really happened. The more Matt learns about his erstwhile fiancée, though, the more he realizes he had no idea who she was at all—but did anyone?
Visit Teresa Dovalpage's website.

Writers Read: Teresa Dovalpage.

The Page 69 Test: Death Comes in through the Kitchen.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 20, 2018

Pg. 99: David Vogel's "California Greenin'"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: California Greenin': How the Golden State Became an Environmental Leader by David Vogel.

About the book, from the publisher:
A political history of environmental policy and regulation in California, from the Gold Rush to the present

Over the course of its 150-year history, California has successfully protected its scenic wilderness areas, restricted coastal oil drilling, regulated automobile emissions, preserved coastal access, improved energy efficiency, and, most recently, addressed global climate change. How has this state, more than any other, enacted so many innovative and stringent environmental regulations over such a long period of time? The first comprehensive look at California's history of environmental leadership, California Greenin' shows why the Golden State has been at the forefront in setting new environmental standards, often leading the rest of the nation.

From the establishment of Yosemite, America's first protected wilderness, and the prohibition of dumping gold-mining debris in the nineteenth century to sweeping climate- change legislation in the twenty-first, David Vogel traces California's remarkable environmental policy trajectory. He explains that this pathbreaking role developed because California had more to lose from environmental deterioration and more to gain from preserving its stunning natural geography. As a result, citizens and civic groups effectively mobilized to protect and restore their state's natural beauty and, importantly, were often backed both by business interests and bystrong regulatory authorities. Business support for environmental regulation in California reveals that strict standards are not only compatible with economic growth but can also contribute to it. Vogel also examines areas where California has fallen short, particularly in water management and the state's dependence on automobile transportation.

As environmental policy debates continue to grow more heated, California Greenin' demonstrates that the Golden State's impressive record of environmental accomplishments holds lessons not just for the country but for the world.
Learn more about California Greenin' at the Princeton University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: The Politics of Precaution.

The Page 99 Test: California Greenin'.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is D.J. Butler reading?

Featured at Writers Read: D.J. Butler, author of Witchy Winter.

The entry begins:
I just finished reading Moby Dick for the second time. I think it deserves its claim to be a contender for the great American novel; it's sui generis, it doesn't belong to our time but it didn't really belong to its own time, either. I felt I owed MD a reread after a twenty-year hiatus because I don't think I grappled with it deeply enough the first time. Contemplating the thesis that the white whale might represent suicide gave me an additional hook in the material, and I really enjoyed this reading. I expect I'll...[read on]
About Witchy Winter, from the publisher:
TOIL AND TROUBLE

Sarah Calhoun paid a hard price for her entry onto the stage of the Empire’s politics, but she survived. Now she rides north into the Ohio and her father’s kingdom, Cahokia. To win the Serpent Throne, she’ll have to defeat seven other candidates, win over the kingdom’s regent, and learn the will of a hidden goddess—while mastering her people’s inscrutable ways and watching her own back.

In New Orleans, a new and unorthodox priest arises to plague the chevalier and embody the curse of the murdered Bishop Ukwu. He battles the chevalier’s ordinary forces as well as a troop of Old World mamelukes for control of the city and the mouth of the great Mississippi River. Dodging between these rival titans, a crew of Catalan pirates—whose captain was once a close associate of Mad Hannah Penn—grapples with the chevalier over the fate of one of their mates.

Meanwhile, a failed ceremony and a sick infant send the Anishinaabe hunter Ma’iingan on a journey across the Empire to Cavalier Johnsland, to a troubled foster child named Nathaniel. Ma’iingan is promised that Nathaniel is a mighty healer and can save his imperiled baby, but first Nathaniel—a pale young man with a twisted ear who hears the voices of unseen beings—must himself be rescued, from oppression, imprisonment, and madness.
Visit D.J. Butler's website.

The Page 69 Test: Witchy Winter.

Writers Read: D.J. Butler.

--Marshal Zeringue

Spencer Kope's "Whispers of the Dead," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Whispers of the Dead by Spencer Kope.

The entry begins:
I’m guessing there are a lot of writers out there who, like me, flesh out their characters well before ever putting them to paper. I’ve gone as far as to cut out pictures of people that look like the mental image I have of a character. These go on my storyboard, where they constantly reinforce that image.

When I started writing Collecting the Dead, the first book in the Special Tracking Unit series, I pictured man-tracker Magnus “Steps” Craig as a shorter, mid-twenties version of Jared Padalecki, who plays Sam Winchester in the series Supernatural. He just seemed to fit. Sam’s brother Dean (played by Jensen Ackles) isn’t exactly what I pictured for Special Agent Jimmy Donovan, but he’s close enough. Maybe I just liked the way Sam and Dean work together and pictured Steps and Jimmy doing the same.

Or maybe I was watching too many episodes of Supernatural....

The third member of the Special Tracking Unit is the sometimes snarky Diane Parker. Though Diane is only in her mid-fifties, I’d love to see her played by...[read on]
Visit Spencer Kope's website.

Writers Read: Spencer Kope.

The Page 69 Test: Whispers of the Dead.

My Book, The Movie: Whispers of the Dead.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top novels about painters

Amy Sackville is an author and a teacher of creative writing at the University of Kent. Her most recent novel is Painter to the King. One of her ten favorite literary works on artists, as shared at the Guardian:
The Vegetarian by Han Kang, translated by Deborah Smith

The central story of this elusive, disturbing novel concerns the eponymous vegetarian’s brother-in-law, a video artist so possessed by dreams of bodies painted with plants that he is driven to make them a reality. This hallucinatory, erotic and frightening novel is haunted by the unknowable and the obscure.
Learn about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Pg. 69: Sam Wiebe's "Cut You Down"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Cut You Down by Sam Wiebe.

About Cut You Down, from the publisher:
No one knows what happened to Tabitha Sorenson, a brilliant but troubled college student who vanished in the aftermath of a scandal involving millions of dollars in school funds Hired to find the missing girl by her professor (and admirer) Dana Essex, private investigator Dave Wakeland is tossed into a world of suburban gangsters, corrupt authorities, and a contract killer with an unhealthy fondness for blades—all of them ready to guard their secrets at any cost.

Aided by Sonia Drego, a police officer and former lover with dangerous secrets of her own, Wakeland's world is upended when the investigation takes a deadly turn. Suspecting he may have been played for a rube by the woman who hired him, the young PI crosses borders—and lines—in his hunt for a sadistic killer, a journey of discovery that takes him from the back alleys of a rapidly modernizing Vancouver to the wilds of Washington State to a disorienting suburban sprawl, where nothing is as it seems.
Visit Sam Wiebe's website.

My Book, The Movie: Invisible Dead.

The Page 69 Test: Invisible Dead.

Writers Read: Sam Wiebe.

The Page 69 Test: Cut You Down.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Teresa Dovalpage reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Teresa Dovalpage, author of Death Comes in through the Kitchen.

Her entry begins:
I just finished reading Halsey Street by Naima Coster, released early this year. It deals with family issues, particularly-mother daughter relationships, and I am fascinated by the way they are portrayed. You won’t find the idealized, always self-sacrificing, long-suffering, tamale-making Latina mother there. Mirella, the main character’s mother, is everything but. Ay, que relief! The novel also tackles big issues like poverty, gentrification, and race, but (another big sigh of relief here) without preaching. The story is nuanced with flawed, vulnerable and true-to-life characters. Will there be...[read on]
About Death Comes in through the Kitchen, from the publisher:
Set in Havana during the Black Spring of 2003, a charming but poison-laced culinary mystery reveals the darker side of the modern Revolution, complete with authentic Cuban recipes

Matt, a San Diego journalist, arrives in Havana to marry his girlfriend, Yarmila, a 24-year-old Cuban woman whom he first met through her food blog. But Yarmi isn’t there to meet him at the airport, and when he hitches a ride to her apartment, he finds her lying dead in the bathtub.

With Yarmi’s murder, lovelorn Matt is immediately embroiled in a Cuban adventure he didn’t bargain for. The police and secret service have him down as their main suspect, and in an effort to clear his name, he must embark on his own investigation into what really happened. The more Matt learns about his erstwhile fiancée, though, the more he realizes he had no idea who she was at all—but did anyone?
Visit Teresa Dovalpage's website.

Writers Read: Teresa Dovalpage.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Kate White's "The Gutsy Girl Handbook"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Gutsy Girl Handbook: Your Manifesto for Success by Kate White.

About the book, from the publisher:
Bestselling author, professional speaker, and former editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan, Kate White shares the nine core principles gutsy women need to go bigger, bolder, and achieve the full level of success they desire.

Twenty-two years ago Kate White wrote the bestselling career bible Why Good Girls Don't Get Ahead but Gutsy Girls Do, and helped thousands of women push their success to the next level. Now a new generation of women, still eyeing the pay gap and glass ceiling, needs its own set of rules for today's modern workplace.

In THE GUTSY GIRL HANDBOOK White presents the nine core principles that have guided her career, offering dozens of straightforward, doable strategies for women in any field and at any stage in their professional lives. Drawing on original research, and sharing new success stories and never-before told examples from her time as the editor-in-chief of Cosmo, White inspires women to own their excellence, break the rules (or make their own), ask for the money and opportunities they deserve, and refuse to apologize for who they are and what they want.

THE GUTSY GIRL HANDBOOK is a resource for women who want to build confidence, negotiate a great salary and perks, manage meetings, mansplaining, and interruptions, and create game-changing "notice me" ideas. This all-new, accessible handbook is a great gift for graduates, and a must-read for professional women of all levels.
Visit Kate White's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

The Page 69 Test: Even If It Kills Her.

The Page 69 Test: Eyes on You.

The Page 99 Test: The Gutsy Girl Handbook.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven top YA books about reproductive rights

Sarah Skilton is the author of Bruised, a martial arts drama for young adults; and High and Dry, a hardboiled teen mystery. At the BN Teen blog she tagged seven YA books about reproductive rights, including:
A Girl Called Fearless and A Girl Undone, by Catherine Linka

This thrilling, award-winning duology is set in an eerily realistic contemporary Los Angeles in which the Paternalist Movement (how creepy is that name?) ascended to power after a plaguelike food illness killed fifty million American women. The men left in charge of society have determined the best way to “protect” the females who remain is to control their every move. That’s how teenage Avie has been “contracted,” with her dad’s blessing, to a thirty-seven-year-old man, a religious leader with mommy issues. (The other option was a fifty-three-year-old, shudder.) Though she doesn’t view herself as fearless, Avie’s decision to join the underground resistance, pitting her against friends, family, and the U.S. government, is the definition of brave.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 99 Test: A Girl Undone.

My Book, The Movie: A Girl Undone.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Pg. 69: D.J. Butler's "Witchy Winter"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Witchy Winter by D.J. Butler.

About the book, from the publisher:
TOIL AND TROUBLE

Sarah Calhoun paid a hard price for her entry onto the stage of the Empire’s politics, but she survived. Now she rides north into the Ohio and her father’s kingdom, Cahokia. To win the Serpent Throne, she’ll have to defeat seven other candidates, win over the kingdom’s regent, and learn the will of a hidden goddess—while mastering her people’s inscrutable ways and watching her own back.

In New Orleans, a new and unorthodox priest arises to plague the chevalier and embody the curse of the murdered Bishop Ukwu. He battles the chevalier’s ordinary forces as well as a troop of Old World mamelukes for control of the city and the mouth of the great Mississippi River. Dodging between these rival titans, a crew of Catalan pirates—whose captain was once a close associate of Mad Hannah Penn—grapples with the chevalier over the fate of one of their mates.

Meanwhile, a failed ceremony and a sick infant send the Anishinaabe hunter Ma’iingan on a journey across the Empire to Cavalier Johnsland, to a troubled foster child named Nathaniel. Ma’iingan is promised that Nathaniel is a mighty healer and can save his imperiled baby, but first Nathaniel—a pale young man with a twisted ear who hears the voices of unseen beings—must himself be rescued, from oppression, imprisonment, and madness.
Visit D.J. Butler's website.

The Page 69 Test: Witchy Winter.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Mariah Fredericks reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Mariah Fredericks, author of A Death of No Importance.

Her entry begins:
Confession: I am a book slut. I flit from read to read, and it’s rare I read just one book all the way through. I read a lot for research, so I always have a fiction and non-fiction going. And usually one re-read.

My mystery series is set in 1910s New York, so when Greater Gotham: A History of New York City from 1898 to 1919, Mike Wallace’s follow up to his magisterial Gotham, came out, I went straight to the bookstore and told them to bring it up from the stockroom. I could say I’m reading this book, but it’s more like I’m married to it. This is what...[read on]
About A Death of No Importance, from the publisher:
Through her exquisite prose, sharp observation and deft plotting, Mariah Fredericks invites us into the heart of a changing New York in her remarkable debut adult novel.

New York City, 1910. Invisible until she’s needed, Jane Prescott has perfected the art of serving as a ladies’ maid to the city’s upper echelons. When she takes up a position with the Benchley family, dismissed by the city’s elite as “new money”, Jane realizes that while she may not have financial privilege, she has a power they do not—she understands the rules of high society. The Benchleys cause further outrage when their daughter Charlotte becomes engaged to notorious playboy Norrie, the son of the eminent Newsome family.

But when Norrie is found murdered at a party, Jane discovers she is uniquely positioned—she’s a woman no one sees, but who witnesses everything; who possesses no social power, but that of fierce intellect—and therefore has the tools to solve his murder. There are many with grudges to bear: from the family Norrie was supposed to marry into, to the survivors of a tragic accident in a mine owned by the Newsomes, to the rising anarchists who are sick of those born into wealth getting away with anything they want. Jane also knows that in both high society and the city’s underbelly, morals can become cheap in the wrong hands: scandal and violence simmer just beneath the surface—and can break out at any time.
Visit Mariah Fredericks's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Girl in the Park.

The Page 69 Test: A Death of No Importance.

Writers Read: Mariah Fredericks.

--Marshal Zeringue

Cherie Burns's "Searching for Beauty," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Searching for Beauty—The Life of Millicent Rogers, the American Heiress Who Taught the World About Style by Cherie Burns.

The entry begins:
When I wrote Searching for Beauty—The Life of Millicent Rogers, I believed a wonderful movie lay within Rogers’s story. Any actress would want to play the beautiful, willful, stylish Standard Oil heiress who struggled to lead her stylish life out from under the oppression of, yes, wealth and the power it bestows on families to dominate their children. Millicent lived her life emblematic of each decade of the twentieth century until the movie star Clark Gable dumped her in Hollywood in 1946. She was a debutante, a flapper, a fashion muse, an expat, and poster girl for the US war effort in WWII. Her son would have even told you she’d been a spy. Then she came to New Mexico and found a different kind of peace and beauty with the landscape and Native American men than she had been able to achieve elsewhere. She was never still, always searching and changing. In my imagination I have seen Cate Blanchett, Gwyneth Paltrow, Charlize Theron, and...[read on]
Visit Cherie Burns's website.

My Book, The Movie: Diving for Starfish.

My Book, The Movie: Searching for Beauty.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five nonfiction books about fairies in the real world

Alex Bledsoe grew up in west Tennessee an hour north of Graceland (home of Elvis) and twenty minutes from Nutbush (birthplace of Tina Turner). He has been a reporter, editor, photographer and door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman. He now lives in a Wisconsin town famous for trolls.

Bledsoe's new novel is The Fairies of Sadieville, the sixth book in his Tufa series.

One of the author's five favorite non-fiction books about fairies in the real world, as shared at Tor.com:
[W]e have 2014’s Seeing Fairies: from the Files of the Fairy Investigation Society by Marjorie T. Johnson. This is another compilation of encounters, many of them of the purely mental variety, but from the twentieth century. Ms. Johnson, a member of the FIS, compiled them, but they weren’t published in English until after her death, in 2014. If you believe fairies aren’t compatible with the modern world, these stories will make you rethink that. Many of the stories take place in America, and there’s no substantial difference between these Old and New World fairies. There’s a certain sameness to them, as with any compilation, so it’s a better to read in bursts than all at one sitting. But as far as bringing us up to the end of the twentieth century, it shows us that fairies are alive and well in our beliefs, if not in our world.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 69 Test: The Fairies of Sadieville.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Pg. 69: Spencer Kope's "Whispers of the Dead"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Whispers of the Dead by Spencer Kope.

About the book, from the publisher:
A series of bizarre murders—the victims nearly unidentifiable—forces FBI tracker “Steps” Craig to match wits with the most cold-blooded killer he’s ever encountered.

There has been a murder, but not only is the identity of the victim unknown, most of the body itself is missing. All that’s been found is a pair of feet, stored in a portable cooler, and left in the house of a Federal judge in El Paso, Texas. The killer apparently broke into the judge’s house, left his grizzly message, and disappeared without a trace. With no clues as to the killer, the person killed, or the intent behind the cooler, all the authorities really know is that this likely isn’t the killer’s first—or his last—victim.

Magnus “Steps” Craig is an FBI agent and an elite tracker, easily the best in the world. Steps is renowned for his incredible ability to find and follow trails over any surface. As part of the three-man special team, FBI’s Special Tracking Unit (STU), he is called in on cases where his skills are indispensable. But there’s a secret to his skill. Steps has a kind of synesthesia, an ability that allows him to see whatever each particular person has touched in a unique color—what Steps calls ‘shine.’ His ability is known to only a few people—his father, the director of the FBI, and his partner, Special Agent Jimmy Donovan.

While the Special Tracking Unit tries to grapple with the gruesome scene in El Paso, they soon discover another, earlier victim. Once again, only the feet—in a disposable icebox—were left behind. With almost no clues besides the body parts, Steps and his team find themselves enmeshed in the most difficult case of their careers. And The Icebox Killer has only just begun.
Visit Spencer Kope's website.

Writers Read: Spencer Kope.

The Page 69 Test: Whispers of the Dead.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Sam Wiebe reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Sam Wiebe, author of Cut You Down.

His entry begins:
Sheena Kamal’s follow-up to her best-selling debut The Lost Ones is titled It All Falls Down. It takes flawed heroine Nora Watts from Vancouver to Detroit in search of clues to her father’s mysterious death, and to her own fractured family life. It builds on the strengths of the first book, while adding new dimensions to the character and delving into topics like North America’s treatment of refugees and soldiers. I really like Nora’s (and Kamal’s) sense of...[read on]
About Cut You Down, from the publisher:
No one knows what happened to Tabitha Sorenson, a brilliant but troubled college student who vanished in the aftermath of a scandal involving millions of dollars in school funds Hired to find the missing girl by her professor (and admirer) Dana Essex, private investigator Dave Wakeland is tossed into a world of suburban gangsters, corrupt authorities, and a contract killer with an unhealthy fondness for blades—all of them ready to guard their secrets at any cost.

Aided by Sonia Drego, a police officer and former lover with dangerous secrets of her own, Wakeland's world is upended when the investigation takes a deadly turn. Suspecting he may have been played for a rube by the woman who hired him, the young PI crosses borders—and lines—in his hunt for a sadistic killer, a journey of discovery that takes him from the back alleys of a rapidly modernizing Vancouver to the wilds of Washington State to a disorienting suburban sprawl, where nothing is as it seems.
Visit Sam Wiebe's website.

My Book, The Movie: Invisible Dead.

The Page 69 Test: Invisible Dead.

Writers Read: Sam Wiebe.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thirteen unlucky ill-fated voyages in science fiction

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 thirteen unlucky ill-fated voyages in science fiction, including:
Barbary Station, by R.E. Stearns

When brainy engineering students/lovers Adda and Iridian graduate from school with few job prospects, they come to the conclusion that life as inner-solar system pirates will prove far more fruitful than scraping for a paycheck—plus, they already have an in with the pirate crew that has taken over the remote Barbary Station, turning it into an outpost from which they can plunder anyone who dares to come near. Except the legends of riches onboard the station turn out to be just that, and when Adda and Iridian cruise in in a hijacked colony ship, expecting a warm welcome, they are instead quickly conscripted into a war between Barbary’s human population and the malevolent AI that controls it. It seems the computer system responsible for keeping everyone alive has decided that people are a virus that need to be wiped out, and thus far, it has been doing a damn good job of things. Maybe selling out and working for the man doesn’t sound too bad after all.
Read about another entry on the list.

My Book, The Movie: Barbary Station.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: J. E. Smyth's "Nobody's Girl Friday"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Nobody's Girl Friday: The Women Who Ran Hollywood by J. E. Smyth.

About the book, from the publisher:
Looking back on her career in 1977, Bette Davis remembered with pride, "Women owned Hollywood for twenty years." She had a point. Between 1930 and 1950, over 40% of film industry employees were women, 25% of all screenwriters were female, one woman ran MGM behind the scenes, over a dozen women worked as producers, a woman headed the Screen Writers Guild three times, and press claimed Hollywood was a generation or two ahead of the rest of the country in terms of gender equality and employment.

The first comprehensive history of Hollywood's high-flying career women during the studio era, Nobody's Girl Friday covers the impact of the executives, producers, editors, writers, agents, designers, directors, and actresses who shaped Hollywood film production and style, led their unions, climbed to the top during the war, and fought the blacklist.

Based on a decade of archival research, author J.E. Smyth uncovers a formidable generation working within the American film industry and brings their voices back into the history of Hollywood. Their achievements, struggles, and perspectives fundamentally challenge popular ideas about director-based auteurism, male dominance, and female disempowerment in the years between First and Second Wave Feminism.

Nobody's Girl Friday is a revisionist history, but it's also a deeply personal, collective account of hundreds of working women, the studios they worked for, and the films they helped to make. For many years, historians and critics have insisted that both American feminism and the power of women in Hollywood declined and virtually disappeared from the 1920s through the 1960s. But Smyth vindicates Bette Davis's claim. The story of the women who called the shots in studio-era Hollywood has never fully been told-until now.
Learn more about Nobody's Girl Friday at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Nobody's Girl Friday.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 16, 2018

Fifteen of the most powerful memoirs about addiction & recovery

At Entertainment Weekly Mary Kate Carr and David Canfield tagged the fifteen most powerful memoirs about addiction and recovery. One title on the list:
More, Now, Again by Elizabeth Wurtzel

The acclaimed author of Prozac Nation goes from depression to addiction with this equally devastating personal account. Wurtzel reveals how drugs fueled her post-breakout period, describing with unbearable specificity how her doctor’s prescription of Ritalin, intended to help her function, only brought her down.
Read about another title on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Mariah Fredericks's "A Death of No Importance"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: A Death of No Importance by Mariah Fredericks.

About the book, from the publisher:
Through her exquisite prose, sharp observation and deft plotting, Mariah Fredericks invites us into the heart of a changing New York in her remarkable debut adult novel.

New York City, 1910. Invisible until she’s needed, Jane Prescott has perfected the art of serving as a ladies’ maid to the city’s upper echelons. When she takes up a position with the Benchley family, dismissed by the city’s elite as “new money”, Jane realizes that while she may not have financial privilege, she has a power they do not—she understands the rules of high society. The Benchleys cause further outrage when their daughter Charlotte becomes engaged to notorious playboy Norrie, the son of the eminent Newsome family.

But when Norrie is found murdered at a party, Jane discovers she is uniquely positioned—she’s a woman no one sees, but who witnesses everything; who possesses no social power, but that of fierce intellect—and therefore has the tools to solve his murder. There are many with grudges to bear: from the family Norrie was supposed to marry into, to the survivors of a tragic accident in a mine owned by the Newsomes, to the rising anarchists who are sick of those born into wealth getting away with anything they want. Jane also knows that in both high society and the city’s underbelly, morals can become cheap in the wrong hands: scandal and violence simmer just beneath the surface—and can break out at any time.
Visit Mariah Fredericks's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Girl in the Park.

The Page 69 Test: A Death of No Importance.

--Marshal Zeringue

Susan Henderson's "The Flicker of Old Dreams," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Flicker of Old Dreams by Susan Henderson.

The entry begins:
There is some Hollywood interest in this book, so let's hope all this casting is for real.

The book is about the death of small town America as told by a mortician. Mary, the narrator of the book, is the town's embalmer and more comfortable with the dead than the living. She's socially awkward but has a strong sense of self. Is there a female Edward Norton? An introverted Amanda Palmer? Whoever plays her has to be quirky and layered and have things to say but lack the courage to say them.

Matthew Gray Gubler (from Criminal Minds) or Ezra Miller (Perks of Being a Wallflower) could play Robert, the damaged outcast who returns to this small town to be with his terminally ill mother. His homecoming peels a scab off an old wound in town and sets...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Susan Henderson's website.

The Page 69 Test: Up From the Blue.

The Page 69 Test: The Flicker of Old Dreams.

Writers Read: Susan Henderson.

My Book, The Movie: The Flicker of Old Dreams.

--Marshal Zeringue

Coffee with a canine: Jennifer Caloyeras & Reba and Dingo

Featured at Coffee with a Canine: Jennifer Caloyeras & Reba and Dingo.

The author, on one of her dogs' favorite outdoor destinations:
We recently took them to Three Rivers, California at the base of the Sequoia National Park. They loved it! There was a small creek for them to play in and so many new smells to smell. Coyotes definitely came out at night, so we were...[read on]
About Caloyeras's short fiction collection, Unruly Creatures:
In this collection rife with humor and pathos, alienated characters struggle to subvert, contain, control, and even escape their bodies. A teenage girl grapples with pubic hair grown wild, a biologist finds herself in love with a gorilla, a prisoner yearns to escape her biological destiny.

In some stories, the bodies have surrogates: a high-school girl babysits an elderly woman's plastic doll while negotiating her own sexual awakening, and a young man finds that he can only receive affection from his father when he is in costume. Dark humor and magical realism put into sharp relief the everyday trials of Americans in a story collection that asks, in what way are we more than the sum of our parts.
Visit Jennifer Caloyeras's website, blog, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

Coffee with a Canine: Jennifer Caloyeras & Reba and Dingo (May 2015).

Coffee with a Canine: Jennifer Caloyeras & Reba and Dingo.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, April 15, 2018

What is Spencer Kope reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Spencer Kope, author of Whispers of the Dead.

His entry begins:
I recently finished Ready Player One, and what a cool ride. I loved the story, not just because it paints an accurate picture of what I believe our dystopic future might look like, but because it also looks back to the best decade of my life: the 1980s. It’s one of the best stories I’ve read in a while, so I also picked up a first printing to add to my collection of first editions. Now that the Spielberg movie is out, I’ll be...[read on]
About Whispers of the Dead, from the publisher:
A series of bizarre murders—the victims nearly unidentifiable—forces FBI tracker “Steps” Craig to match wits with the most cold-blooded killer he’s ever encountered.

There has been a murder, but not only is the identity of the victim unknown, most of the body itself is missing. All that’s been found is a pair of feet, stored in a portable cooler, and left in the house of a Federal judge in El Paso, Texas. The killer apparently broke into the judge’s house, left his grizzly message, and disappeared without a trace. With no clues as to the killer, the person killed, or the intent behind the cooler, all the authorities really know is that this likely isn’t the killer’s first—or his last—victim.

Magnus “Steps” Craig is an FBI agent and an elite tracker, easily the best in the world. Steps is renowned for his incredible ability to find and follow trails over any surface. As part of the three-man special team, FBI’s Special Tracking Unit (STU), he is called in on cases where his skills are indispensable. But there’s a secret to his skill. Steps has a kind of synesthesia, an ability that allows him to see whatever each particular person has touched in a unique color—what Steps calls ‘shine.’ His ability is known to only a few people—his father, the director of the FBI, and his partner, Special Agent Jimmy Donovan.

While the Special Tracking Unit tries to grapple with the gruesome scene in El Paso, they soon discover another, earlier victim. Once again, only the feet—in a disposable icebox—were left behind. With almost no clues besides the body parts, Steps and his team find themselves enmeshed in the most difficult case of their careers. And The Icebox Killer has only just begun.
Visit Spencer Kope's website.

Writers Read: Spencer Kope.

--Marshal Zeringue