Friday, May 25, 2018

Five unforgettable prisons in science fiction & fantasy

Corey J. White is a writer of science-fiction, horror, and other, harder to define stories. He is the author of The VoidWitch Saga, containing Killing Gravity and Void Black Shadow. One of five unforgettable prisons in science fiction and fantasy that he tagged at Tor.com:
The Quantum Thief, Hannu Rajaniemi

Trapped by Archons in the Dilemma Prison, Jean le Flambeur—the famous thief and raconteur—is faced again and again with variations of the prisoner’s dilemma, pitted against other criminals and other versions of himself in an endlessly iterative attempt at rehabilitation through game theory.

The original prisoner’s dilemma involves interrogating two prisoners, where if both prisoners stay quiet, they will both get a one year sentence, if one prisoner betrays the other (who remains quiet) they would go free at the expense of a worse sentence for the other prisoner, or where both prisoners betraying the other winds them both with a two year sentence. But when you run an infinitely iterative prison, things do tend to get boring, so simple interrogations are replaced by pistol-packing duels, games of chicken on an endless highway, or trench warfare. No matter the scenario there are always two choices: self-interest and betrayal, or cooperation.

When we first meet Flambeur, he’s not feeling too cooperative—and for his attempted betrayal of a fellow prisoner he’s treated to a bullet through the skull, rendered painfully, utterly real…until the whole dilemma is reset once again.

If all this sounds weird and deep and interesting (and the above is just the beginning—only the first few pages of the novel) then I’ve done a decent job of explaining it—if not, all blame should lie with the author of this article, and not with Hannu Rajaniemi, whose debut novel The Quantum Thief is an utterly unique slab of post-cyberpunk intrigue.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 24, 2018

What is Christina June reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Christina June, author of Everywhere You Want to Be.

Her entry begins:
I just finished the wonderful A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole. It's a contemporary romance with a royalty bent. A woman who grew up in the foster care system, and is on her way to becoming a successful scientist, turns out to be the long-lost betrothed to a handsome prince from the fictional African country, Thesolo. It's Coming to America meets The Princess Diaries plus a woman in STEM. I loved it. Naledi is a fantastic heroine--she is smart, funny, and never once...[read on]
About Everywhere You Want to Be, from the publisher:
From author Christina June comes Everywhere You Want to Be, a modern tale inspired by the classic Red Riding Hood story.

Matilda Castillo has always followed the rules, but when she gets injured senior year, she’s sure her dreams of becoming a contemporary dancer have slipped away. So when Tilly gets a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to spend the summer with a New York dance troupe, nothing can stop her from saying yes–not her mother, not her fears of the big city, and not the commitment she made to Georgetown. Tilly’s mother allows her to go on two conditions: one, Tilly will regularly visit her abuela in New Jersey, and two, after the summer, she’ll give up dancing and go off to college.

Armed with her red vintage sunglasses and her pros and cons lists, Tilly strikes out, determined to turn a summer job into a career. Along the way she meets new friends … and new enemies. Tilly isn’t the only one desperate to dance, and fellow troupe member Sabrina Wolfrik intends to succeed at any cost. But despite dodging sabotage and blackmail attempts from Sabrina, Tilly can’t help but fall in love with the city, especially since Paolo, a handsome musician from her past, is also calling New York home for the summer.

As the weeks wind down and the competition with Sabrina heats up, Tilly’s future is on the line. She must decide whether to follow her mother’s path to Georgetown or leap into the unknown to pursue her own dreams.
Visit Christina June's website.

Writers Read: Christina June.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Sarah Haywood's "The Cactus"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Cactus by Sarah Haywood.

About the book, from the publisher:
Even the prickliest cactus has its flower…

For Susan Green, messy emotions don’t fit into the equation of her perfectly ordered life. She has a flat that is ideal for one, a job that suits her passion for logic and an “interpersonal arrangement” that provides cultural and other, more intimate, benefits. But suddenly confronted with the loss of her mother and the news that she is about to become a mother herself, Susan’s greatest fear is realized. She is losing control.

When she learns that her mother’s will inexplicably favors her indolent brother, Edward, Susan’s already dismantled world is sent flying into a tailspin. As Susan’s due date draws near and her family problems become increasingly difficult to ignore, Susan finds help and self-discovery in the most unlikely of places.

Featuring an endearing cast of characters and tremendous heart, The Cactus is a poignant debut and a delightful reminder that some things can’t be explained by logic alone.
Visit Sarah Haywood's website.

Writers Read: Sarah Haywood.

My Book, The Movie: The Cactus.

The Page 69 Test: The Cactus.

--Marshal Zeringue

Glenn Cooper's "Sign of the Cross," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Sign of the Cross by Glenn Cooper.

The entry begins:
Actually I’ve been thinking about this topic lately, not for Sign of the Cross, but for my earlier Library of the Dead trilogy, which is in development as a TV series. Without getting into the thinking on that project, I’ve come to the same conclusion as many, many casting directors of late, that British and Commonwealth actors are lights-out great playing Americans. Think Damien Lewis in Homeland and Billions, Dominic West and Ruth Wilson in The Affair, Ben Mendelsohn in Bloodline, Daniel Day Lewis in Lincoln and There Will Be Blood, Andrew Lincoln and Lennie James in Walking Dead, Idris Elba in The Wire, and Matthew Rhys, ironically enough, in The Americans. The hero of my new book, the first in a new series, is Cal Donovan, a professor of history of religion and biblical archaeology at the Harvard Divinity School. He’s late forties, wicked smart (of course), handsome (of course), and athletic enough to get himself out of a scrape or two. So, going with my American conversion proposition, I’d pick...[read on]
Glenn Cooper graduated with a degree in archaeology from Harvard and was formerly the Chairman and CEO of a biotechnology company in Massachusetts. His previous thrillers, including the bestselling Library of the Dead trilogy, have sold six million copies in more than thirty languages worldwide.

Visit Glenn Cooper's website.

The Page 69 Test: Sign of the Cross.

Writers Read: Glenn Cooper.

My Book, The Movie: Sign of the Cross.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top books that reveal secret histories

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 books that "offer perspectives on history that remained hidden for a long time," including:
High Noon: The Hollywood Blacklist and the Making of an American Classic, by Glenn Frankel

We all know about the McCarthy Era and the blacklisting of Hollywood figures who had ties to the Communist Party—even ancient, dubious ties. Few of us know how this shameful aspect of America’s past directly affected the films made during this period. Frankel studies one of the most famous movies of all time, the 1952 Western High Noon, which tells the story of a marshal who is abandoned by his friends and neighbors when a gang of criminal specifically targets him, and shows how the story purposefully parallels what was happening in America at the time. The film’s screenwriter, Carl Foreman, was hauled in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee—and when he refused to name other possible communists, he was blacklisted and it took him more than a decade to make his way back. His incredible script for High Noon will never be seen in the same light after reading this book.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Pg. 99: Susan Thomson's "Rwanda: From Genocide to Precarious Peace"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Rwanda: From Genocide to Precarious Peace by Susan Thomson.

About the book, from the publisher:
A sobering study of the troubled African nation, both pre- and post-genocide, and its uncertain future

The brutal civil war between Hutu and Tutsi factions in Rwanda ended in 1994 when the Rwandan Patriotic Front came to power and embarked on an ambitious social, political, and economic project to remake the devastated central-east African nation. Susan Thomson, who witnessed the hostilities firsthand, has written a provocative modern history of the country, its rulers, and its people, covering the years prior to, during, and following the genocidal conflict. Thomson’s hard-hitting analysis explores the key political events that led to the ascendance of the Rwandan Patriotic Front and its leader, President Paul Kagame. This important and controversial study examines the country’s transition from war to reconciliation from the perspective of ordinary Rwandan citizens, Tutsi and Hutu alike, and raises serious questions about the stability of the current peace, the methods and motivations of the ruling regime and its troubling ties to the past, and the likelihood of a genocide-free future.
Learn more about Rwanda: From Genocide to Precarious Peace at the Yale University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Rwanda: From Genocide to Precarious Peace.

 --Marshal Zeringue

What is Kathleen George reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Kathleen George, author of The Blues Walked In.

Her entry begins:
I had surgery on January 16 and it was a big one that involved my spine top to bottom, so ... I read. I read a lot. I read at least 30 novels since then and have slowed down a little since I am now out and about. I read a good number of the much talked about current books like An American Marriage and Tangerine and I was appreciative of almost everything, but I will talk about the ones that still haunt me.

The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende caught me up in a redefinition of passionate love. The characters were interesting, ragged, unconventional and so was the secret love affair that lasted a lifetime. I was touched to think of such...[read on]
About The Blues Walked In, from the publisher:
Nineteen year-old Lena Horne is walking the last few blocks to her father’s hotel in Pittsburgh’s Hill District. Her chanced meeting with a Lebanese American girl, Marie David, sparks a relationship that will intertwine their lives forever. Lena will also meet Josiah Conner, a charismatic teenager who helps out at her father's hotel. Although the three are linked by a determination to be somebody, issues of race, class, family, and education threaten to disrupt their lives and the bonds between them. Years later, Josiah is arrested for the murder of a white man. Marie and Lena decide they must get Josiah out of prison—whatever the personal cost.
Learn more about the book and author at Kathleen George's website.

The Page 99 Test: Afterimage.

The Page 99 Test: The Odds.

The Page 69 Test: Hideout.

My Book, The Movie: Hideout.

The Page 69 Test: Simple.

The Page 69 Test: A Measure of Blood.

Writers Read: Kathleen George.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top books about royal marriages

Kate Williams is a novelist, social historian and broadcaster who appears regularly on radio and television as a historical and royal expert. One of five books about royal marriages she tagged at the Guardian:
Royal weddings would not exist in their present form had it not been for Queen Victoria. Her 1840 extravaganza of white and purity was meant to show how different she was from her predecessors George IV and William IV, who were seen as immoral and extravagant. Before Victoria, brides wore any colour and royal weddings were quiet, usually late-night affairs. When she drove to the ceremony in an open carriage, wearing a white gown, the giant white wedding was born, with a celebration that was designed to foster and secure public support. As Daisy Goodwin and Sara Sheridan show in their compelling study Victoria and Albert, it was the beginning of the royal couple’s stellar propaganda campaign, selling an image of the ideal family to the country and the empire.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Mindee Arnett's "Onyx & Ivory"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Onyx & Ivory by Mindee Arnett.

About Onyx & Ivory, from the publisher:
They call her Traitor Kate. It’s a title Kate Brighton inherited from her father after he tried to assassinate the high king of Rime.

Cast out of the nobility, Kate now works for the royal courier service. Only the most skilled ride for the Relay and only the fastest survive, for when night falls, the drakes—deadly flightless dragons—come out to hunt. Fortunately, Kate has a secret edge: She is a wilder, born with forbidden magic that allows her to influence the minds of animals.

And it’s this magic that leads her to a caravan massacred by drakes in broad daylight—the only survivor Corwin Tormaine, the son of the king. Her first love, the boy she swore to forget after he condemned her father to death.

With their paths once more entangled, Kate and Corwin must put the past behind them to face this new threat and an even darker menace stirring in the kingdom.
Visit Mindee Arnett's website.

The Page 69 Test: Avalon.

Writers Read: Mindee Arnett.

The Page 69 Test: Onyx & Ivory.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Humphrey Hawksley's "Man on Ice," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Man on Ice by Humphrey Hawksley.

The entry begins:
The lead protagonists are Rake Ozenna, a captain in the Alaskan National Guard’s Eskimo Scouts unit and his fiancee, Carrie Walker a trauma surgeon. Both are familiar with difficult, hostile environments but from vastly different cultural backgrounds. Carrie is from Brooklyn and Rake is an Eskimo from Little Diomede island on the Russian border. The action begins when Rake brings Carrie to see his home village. Ideal for Rake would be Rudi Youngblood (Apocalypto, Crossing Point), tough, quick-thinking, ruthless in a good way, and Carey...[read on]
Visit Humphrey Hawksley's website.

The Page 69 Test: The History Book.

My Book, The Movie: Security Breach.

My Book, The Movie: Man on Ice.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Julie Clark reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Julie Clark, author of The Ones We Choose.

Her entry begins:
I just finished an ARC of The Summer List by Amy Mason Doan. This is a gorgeous debut that will completely capture your mind and heart. It's the story of childhood friends Laura and Casey, who are re-united after...[read on]
About The Ones We Choose, from the publisher:
Lisa Genova meets 23andMe in this exploration of the genetic and emotional ties that bind, as debut author Julie Clark delivers a compelling read about a young boy desperate to find his place in this world, a mother coming to terms with her own past, and the healing power of forgiveness.

The powerful forces of science and family collide when geneticist Paige Robson finds her world in upheaval: Her eight-year-old son Miles is struggling to fit in at his new school and begins asking questions about his biological father that Paige can’t answer—until fate thrusts the anonymous donor she used into their lives.

Paige’s carefully constructed life begins to unravel as the truth of Miles’s paternity threatens to destroy everything she has grown to cherish. As Paige slowly opens herself up—by befriending an eccentric mother, confronting her own deeply buried vulnerabilities, and trying to make sense of her absent father’s unexpected return—she realizes breakthroughs aren’t only for the lab. But when tragedy strikes, Paige must face the consequences of sharing a secret only she knows.

With grace and humor, Julie Clark shows that while the science is fascinating, solving these intimate mysteries of who we are and where we come from unleashes emotions more complex than the strands of DNA that shape us.
Visit Julie Clark's website.

Writers Read: Julie Clark.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: James Hudnut-Beumler's "Strangers and Friends at the Welcome Table"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Strangers and Friends at the Welcome Table: Contemporary Christianities in the American South by James Hudnut-Beumler.

About the book, from the publisher:
In this fresh and fascinating chronicle of Christianity in the contemporary South, historian and minister James Hudnut-Beumler draws on extensive interviews and his own personal journeys throughout the region over the past decade to present a comprehensive portrait of the South’s long-dominant religion. Hudnut-Beumler traveled to both rural and urban communities, listening to the faithful talk about their lives and beliefs. What he heard pushes hard against prevailing notions of southern Christianity as an evangelical Protestant monolith so predominant as to be unremarkable.

True, outside of a few spots, no non-Christian group forms more than six-tenths of one percent of a state’s population in what Hudnut-Beumler calls the Now South. Drilling deeper, however, he discovers an unexpected, blossoming diversity in theology, practice, and outlook among southern Christians. He finds, alongside traditional Baptists, black and white, growing numbers of Christians exemplifying changes that no one could have predicted even just forty years ago, from congregations of LGBT-supportive evangelicals and Spanish-language church services to a Christian homeschooling movement so robust in some places that it may rival public education in terms of acceptance. He also finds sharp struggles and political divisions among those trying to reconcile such Christian values as morality and forgiveness—the aftermath of the mass shooting at Charleston’s Emanuel A.M.E. Church in 2015 forming just one example. This book makes clear that understanding the twenty-first-century South means recognizing many kinds of southern Christianities.
Learn more about Strangers and Friends at the Welcome Table at the University of North Carolina Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Strangers and Friends at the Welcome Table.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six of the scariest fictional digital viruses

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 terrifying fictional digital viruses and plagues, including:
Zen (Virology, by Ren Warom)

Due to the chaotic, bizarre nature of Warom’s new weird/cyberpunk thriller, it might not be quite correct to call Zen a virus. An engineered goddess imprisoned inside a polar bear that might also be an extension of her soul (I said it was chaotic and bizarre), Zen uses her viral nature to hack into the citizens of the megacity of Foon Gung and use them as her personal puppets. To make matters worse, she also infects their avatars in the Slip, a combination artificial-reality and collective subconscious, meaning she owns her infectees mind, body, and soul. It’s an insidious touch that makes Zen’s ability to unleash zombies on her enemies that much worse—knowing she’s using her godlike powers to infect a person in ways that can’t easily be cured.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 21, 2018

Pg. 69: Kathleen George's "The Blues Walked In"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Blues Walked In by Kathleen George.

About the book, from the publisher:
Nineteen year-old Lena Horne is walking the last few blocks to her father’s hotel in Pittsburgh’s Hill District. Her chanced meeting with a Lebanese American girl, Marie David, sparks a relationship that will intertwine their lives forever. Lena will also meet Josiah Conner, a charismatic teenager who helps out at her father's hotel. Although the three are linked by a determination to be somebody, issues of race, class, family, and education threaten to disrupt their lives and the bonds between them. Years later, Josiah is arrested for the murder of a white man. Marie and Lena decide they must get Josiah out of prison—whatever the personal cost.
Learn more about the book and author at Kathleen George's website.

The Page 99 Test: Afterimage.

The Page 99 Test: The Odds.

The Page 69 Test: Hideout.

My Book, The Movie: Hideout.

The Page 69 Test: Simple.

The Page 69 Test: A Measure of Blood.

The Page 69 Test: The Blues Walked In.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Glenn Cooper reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Glenn Cooper, author of Sign of the Cross.

From his entry:
I’ve got a number of books on my table, mostly for research for my work-in-progress, one for pleasure/work. The latter is Foreign Devils on the Silk Road by Peter Hopkirk. My college degree is in archaeology and I try to keep up with new developments in the field for personal and professional edification (translation: fishing for new ideas for Cal Donovan who’s an archaeologist). The Hopkirk book is a revelation to me because...[read on]
About Sign of the Cross, from the publisher:
Summoned by the Vatican, Harvard professor Cal Donovan flies to Italy to interview a young priest who has developed the stigmata of the crucifixion. Stunned to discover the priest's condition may be genuine, Cal comes to realize that the priest holds the key to an earth-shattering secret: a secret which others are desperate to control.
Glenn Cooper graduated with a degree in archaeology from Harvard and was formerly the Chairman and CEO of a biotechnology company in Massachusetts. His previous thrillers, including the bestselling Library of the Dead trilogy, have sold six million copies in more than thirty languages worldwide.

Visit Glenn Cooper's website.

The Page 69 Test: Sign of the Cross.

Writers Read: Glenn Cooper.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sarah Haywood's "The Cactus," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Cactus by Sarah Haywood.

The entry begins:
I’ve been weighing up what would work best: a big-budget Hollywood adaptation of The Cactus, or a lower-budget British one. The book is set in the UK - in London and Birmingham - but it’s a universal story that could be transplanted almost anywhere. For this blog, I’ve plumped for a British adaptation, simply because it’s closer to my original vision, but I have my US cast lined up too, should Hollywood come knocking at my door.

The Cactus is a wryly humorous, character-driven story about recognisably flawed, quirky people in a familiar domestic setting. It concerns family relationships and secrets, and the things we do to protect ourselves. Mike Leigh, whose films blend humour and pathos, would have been perfect to direct, if it weren’t for the fact that his plots and characters are crafted through improvisation. Equally perfect would be Andrea Arnold, who has a wonderful talent for making ordinary lives seem extraordinary.

My novel is narrated in the first person through the eyes of Susan Green, a strong, feisty forty-five-year-old woman who believes she’s created the ideal life for herself. She never lets anyone get close to her, so she can never be hurt. The challenge for the actor who plays Susan will be to...[read on]
Visit Sarah Haywood's website.

Writers Read: Sarah Haywood.

My Book, The Movie: The Cactus.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six books that show the workings of singular minds

Helen DeWitt is the author of the novels The Last Samurai and Lightning Rods, and the new story collection Some Trick. One of her six favorite books that illuminate the workings of singular minds, as shared at The Week magazine:
The Blind Side by Michael Lewis

Lewis shows us that Bill Walsh, who became a Hall of Fame NFL coach, had a different way of thinking about the passing game: If the system is the star, even mediocre quarterbacks can dazzle. I had no idea football was not excruciatingly boring.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Blind Side is among the Barnes & Noble Review's list of five top books on football and Malcolm Gladwell's six best books.

The Page 69 Test: The Blind Side.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Pg. 69: Lexie Elliott's "The French Girl"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The French Girl by Lexie Elliott.

About the book, from the publisher:
We all have our secrets…

They were six university students from Oxford–friends and sometimes more than friends–spending an idyllic week together in a French farmhouse. It was supposed to be the perfect summer getaway…until they met Severine, the girl next door.

For Kate Channing, Severine was an unwelcome presence, her inscrutable beauty undermining the close-knit group’s loyalties amid the already simmering tensions. And after a huge altercation on the last night of the holiday, Kate knew nothing would ever be the same. There are some things you can’t forgive. And there are some people you can’t forget…like Severine, who was never seen again.

Now, a decade later, the case is reopened when Severine’s body is found in the well behind the farmhouse. Questioned along with her friends, Kate stands to lose everything she’s worked so hard to achieve as suspicion mounts around her. Desperate to resolve her own shifting memories and fearful she will be forever bound to the woman whose presence still haunts her, Kate finds herself buried under layers of deception with no one to set her free…
Visit Lexie Elliott's website.

The Page 69 Test: The French Girl.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Mindee Arnett reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Mindee Arnett, author of Onyx & Ivory.

Her entry begins:
As usual, my reading material has been all over the board in terms of genre and themes. I started the year off with young adult fantasies like An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson and Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi. Then I switched to sci-fi for a little while, reading book 3 in The Expanse series by James S. A. Corey (which the awesome TV show of the same title is based on), and then Obsidio, the third and final book in the stellar Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, and now I’ve moved onto some middle grade.

But the book I want to talk about most, the book that has stayed with the most so far this season, is...[read on]
About Onyx & Ivory, from the publisher:
They call her Traitor Kate. It’s a title Kate Brighton inherited from her father after he tried to assassinate the high king of Rime.

Cast out of the nobility, Kate now works for the royal courier service. Only the most skilled ride for the Relay and only the fastest survive, for when night falls, the drakes—deadly flightless dragons—come out to hunt. Fortunately, Kate has a secret edge: She is a wilder, born with forbidden magic that allows her to influence the minds of animals.

And it’s this magic that leads her to a caravan massacred by drakes in broad daylight—the only survivor Corwin Tormaine, the son of the king. Her first love, the boy she swore to forget after he condemned her father to death.

With their paths once more entangled, Kate and Corwin must put the past behind them to face this new threat and an even darker menace stirring in the kingdom.
Visit Mindee Arnett's website.

The Page 69 Test: Avalon.

Writers Read: Mindee Arnett.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ben Okri's 6 best books

Poet and novelist Ben Okri was born in 1959 in Minna, northern Nigeria, to an Igbo mother and Urhobo father. He grew up in London before returning to Nigeria with his family in 1968. He is the author of The Famished Road which won the Booker Prize in 1991.

One of Okri's six best books, as shared at the Daily Express:
INVISIBLE MAN
by Ralph Ellison

An African-American novel that should be widely read. It was published in the 1950s and practically started a race war. It tells the story of a black man’s trials and tribulations. Many people have misunderstood the title, thinking how can a black man be invisible? But the real invisibility is in the mind. Windrush is a good example of that today.
Read about another entry on the list.

Invisible Man comes in second on the list of the 100 best last lines from novels; it appears among Matthew Guerrieri's five top books inspired by Beethoven's Fifth, Bruna Lobato's ten must-read classics by African American authors, Peter Dimock's top ten books that rewrite history, five novels that explore the dark side in New York City, Peter Forbes's top ten books on color, Joyce Hackett's top ten musical novels, Sam Munson's six best stoner novels, and John Mullan's list of ten of the best nameless protagonists in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Michael Zakim's "Accounting for Capitalism"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Accounting for Capitalism: The World the Clerk Made by Michael Zakim.

About the book, from the publisher:
The clerk attended his desk and counter at the intersection of two great themes of modern historical experience: the development of a market economy and of a society governed from below. Who better illustrates the daily practice and production of this modernity than someone of no particular account assigned with overseeing all the new buying and selling? In Accounting for Capitalism, Michael Zakim has written their story, a social history of capital that seeks to explain how the “bottom line” became a synonym for truth in an age shorn of absolutes, grafted onto our very sense of reason and trust.

This is a big story, told through an ostensibly marginal event: the birth of a class of “merchant clerks” in the United States in the middle of the nineteenth century. The personal trajectory of these young men from farm to metropolis, homestead to boarding house, and, most significantly, from growing things to selling them exemplified the enormous social effort required to domesticate the profit motive and turn it into the practical foundation of civic life. As Zakim reveals in his highly original study, there was nothing natural or preordained about the stunning ascendance of this capitalism and its radical transformation of the relationship between “Man and Mammon.”
Learn more about Accounting for Capitalism at the University of Chicago Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Accounting for Capitalism.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Pg. 69: Glenn Cooper's "Sign of the Cross"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Sign of the Cross: A religious conspiracy thriller by Glenn Cooper.

About the book, from the publisher:
Summoned by the Vatican, Harvard professor Cal Donovan flies to Italy to interview a young priest who has developed the stigmata of the crucifixion. Stunned to discover the priest's condition may be genuine, Cal comes to realize that the priest holds the key to an earth-shattering secret: a secret which others are desperate to control.
Visit Glenn Cooper's website.

The Page 69 Test: Sign of the Cross.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eleven top recent novels that powerfully tackle gun violence

At Entertainment Weekly Mary Kate Carr tagged eleven recent novels that powerfully tackle gun violence. One title on the list:
Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips

Joan is enjoying the end of a relaxing day at the zoo with her four-year-old son when she hears the sound of nearby gunfire. For the next three hours, Joan is on a whirlwind mission to protect herself and her son from danger, running through the zoo and hiding where she can.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 69 Test: Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Ryan Kirk reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Ryan Kirk, author of Nightblade's Honor. 

His entry begins:
I have to confess that 2018 has been a great year of reading so far. There have been a few stories that stand out to me.

The first is Abaddon's Gate, by James SA Corey. This is the third book of the much-loved Expanse series, and for good reason. I was introduced to the world by the television series, but immediately knew I needed to read the books the shows are based off of. This story deserves...[read on]
About Nightblade's Honor, from the publisher:
In the riveting sequel to Nightblade’s Vengeance, the nightblades must choose a side, and the Kingdom will either rise again…or shatter into pieces.

With the realm on the brink of war, the once-celebrated blades have become an easy target for the rage of its devastated citizens. The nightblade warrior Asa’s lifelong quest for vengeance is over, but now she finds herself on the run from the people she sought to protect. As Asa forges a new course of action in an uncertain world, her path crosses with that of a young noblewoman.

Mari knows that great opportunity lies in the heart of chaos. If the Kingdom is to rise again, Mari will need support, and she can think of no group better than the nightblades. But the nightblades have been betrayed before, and gaining their trust will not be easy.

Mari wants to save the Kingdom. Asa wants to save the people. Both are willing to risk everything. But do their quests make them allies…or enemies?
Visit Ryan Kirk's website.

The Page 69 Test: Nightblade's Vengeance.

The Page 69 Test: Nightblade's Honor.

Writers Read: Ryan Kirk.

--Marshal Zeringue

Jack Campbell's "Ascendant," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Ascendant by Jack Campbell.

The entry begins:
Who would I like to play the lead roles if Ascendant was turned into a movie?

That's a tough one. In part because some of the best actors for a certain role are ones I've already committed to roles if the later Lost Fleet series becomes movies. For example, Katee Sackhoff would be great as Mele Darcy the Marine, but I want Katee for the role of battle cruiser commander Tanya Desjani in the later books. Elena Anaya or...[read on]
Visit Jack Campbell's website.

Writers Read: Jack Campbell.

My Book, The Movie: Ascendant.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 18, 2018

Coffee with a canine: Melissa Caruso & Freya

Featured at Coffee with a Canine: Melissa Caruso & Freya.

The author, on how she and Freya were united:
Freya was a Christmas present to the whole family. When my eldest (who was five at the time) opened the surprise box we’d carried her into the house in and saw her for the first time, she whispered “It’s real!” in this awed voice, as if she’d seen a magical creature. And in a way she really did—I’m not sure...[read on]
About Melissa Caruso's The Defiant Heir, from the publisher:
Across the border, the Witch Lords of Vaskandar are preparing for war. But before an invasion can begin, they must call a rare gathering of all seventeen lords to decide a course of action.

Lady Amalia Cornaro knows that this Conclave might be her only chance to smother the growing flames of war, and she is ready to make any sacrifice if it means saving Raverra from destruction.

Amalia and Zaira must go behind enemy lines, using every ounce of wit and cunning they have, to sway Vaskandar from war. Or else it will all come down to swords and fire.
Visit Melissa Caruso's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Melissa Caruso & Freya.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Stephanie J. Rickard's "Spending to Win"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Spending to Win: Political Institutions, Economic Geography, and Government Subsidies by Stephanie J. Rickard.

About the book, from the publisher:
Governments in some democracies target economic policies, like industrial subsidies, to small groups at the expense of many. Why do some governments redistribute more narrowly than others? Their willingness to selectively target economic benefits, like subsidies to businesses, depends on the way politicians are elected and the geographic distribution of economic activities. Based on interviews with government ministers and bureaucrats, as well as parliamentary records, industry publications, local media coverage, and new quantitative data, Spending to Win: Political Institutions, Economic Geography, and Government Subsidies demonstrates that government policy-making can be explained by the combination of electoral institutions and economic geography. Specifically, it shows how institutions interact with economic geography to influence countries' economic policies and international economic relations. Identical institutions have wide-ranging effects depending on the context in which they operate. No single institution is a panacea for issues, such as income inequality, international economic conflict, or minority representation.
Stephanie Rickard is Associate Professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Learn more about Spending to Win at the Cambridge University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Spending to Win.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Samuel Miller's "A Lite Too Bright"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: A Lite Too Bright by Samuel Miller.

About the book, from the publisher:
For fans of literary classics such as The Catcher in the Rye and The Perks of Being a Wallflower comes a stirring new thought-provoking novel from debut author Sam Miller about a loss shrouded in mystery with twists and turns down every railway.

Arthur Louis Pullman the Third is on the verge of a breakdown. He’s been stripped of his college scholarship, is losing his grip on reality, and has been sent away to live with his aunt and uncle.

It’s there that Arthur discovers a journal written by his grandfather, the first Arthur Louis Pullman, an iconic Salinger-esque author who went missing the last week of his life and died hundreds of miles away from their family home. What happened in that week—and how much his actions were influenced by his Alzheimer’s—remains a mystery.

But now Arthur has his grandfather’s journal—and a final sentence containing a train route and a destination.

So Arthur embarks on a cross-country train ride to relive his grandfather’s last week, guided only by the clues left behind in the dementia-fueled journal. As Arthur gets closer to uncovering a sad and terrible truth, his journey is complicated by a shaky alliance with a girl who has secrets of her own and by escalating run-ins with a dangerous Pullman fan base.

Arthur’s not the only one chasing a legacy—and some feel there is no cost too high for the truth.
Visit Samuel Miller's website.

Writers Read: Samuel Miller.

The Page 69 Test: A Lite Too Bright.

--Marshal Zeringue

Novels that get YA anxiety right

At the BN Teen Blog Dahlia Adler rounded up some expert opinion on YA novels that get teen anxiety right. One title to make the list, recommended by Adler herself:
How it Ends, by Catherine Lo

What struck me in Lo’s debut, and which I haven’t really had hit me in the same way in any other book, is the way anxiety can take over your life in the way the insecurity it produces can quietly tear friendships apart. The way Jessie imagined people were viewing her, the way she assumed she was being judged, the way she was unable to voice her thoughts and feelings resonated with me so strongly, and watching her friendship with Annie crumble because they weren’t equipped to have the conversations they needed to have was painful to read in large part because it’s so real. This is such an underread book, and it’s a shame because when I read it, all I could think was how many people I knew would see themselves in its pages. So I hope they—you—pick it up now.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 17, 2018

What is Jack Campbell reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Jack Campbell, author of Ascendant.

His entry begins:
I've been reading a mix of fiction and non-fiction lately. In non-fiction, I've been going back over Svetlana Alexievich's The Unwomanly Face of War. It's an incredibly powerful book, combining mostly untold history with a bottom up view of major events. For the most part the book consists of short pieces of interviews with Russian women who fought on the Eastern Front in World War Two. Their voices bring out clearly their sacrifices and their achievements without any boasting, just matter-of-fact accounts such as those of then-16-year old combat medics riding on the backs of tanks into battle so they could pull wounded men out of burning tanks and...[read on]
About Ascendant, from the publisher:
A young fleet officer and a Marine stand together to defend their colony in the continuation of the powerful and action-packed Genesis Fleet saga from New York Times bestselling author Jack Campbell.

In the three years since former fleet officer Rob Geary and former Marine Mele Darcy led improvised forces to repel attacks on the newly settled world of Glenlyon, tensions have only gotten worse.

When one of Glenlyon’s warships is blown apart trying to break the blockade that has isolated the world from the rest of human-colonized space, only the destroyer Saber remains to defend it from another attack. Geary’s decision to take Saber to the nearby star Kosatka to safeguard a diplomatic mission is a risky interpretation of his orders, to say the least.

Kosatka has been fighting a growing threat from so-called rebels–who are actually soldiers from aggressive colonies. When a “peacekeeping force” carrying thousands of enemy soldiers arrives in Kosatka’s star system, the people of that world, including Lochan Nakamura and former “Red” Carmen Ochoa, face an apparently hopeless battle to retain their freedom.

It’s said that the best defense is a good offense. But even if a bold and risky move succeeds, Geary and Darcy may not survive it…
Visit Jack Campbell's website.

Writers Read: Jack Campbell.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Lucas A. Powe Jr.'s "America’s Lone Star Constitution"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: America's Lone Star Constitution: How Supreme Court Cases from Texas Shape the Nation by Lucas A. Powe Jr.

About the book, from the publisher:
Texas has created more constitutional law than any other state. In any classroom nationwide, any basic constitutional law course can be taught using nothing but Texas cases. That, however, understates the history and politics behind the cases. Beyond representing all doctrinal areas of constitutional law, Texas cases deal with the major issues of the nation. Leading legal scholar and Supreme Court historian Lucas A. Powe, Jr., charts the rich and pervasive development of Texas-inspired constitutional law. From voting rights to railroad regulations, school finance to capital punishment, poverty to civil liberties, this wide-ranging and eminently readable book provides a window into the relationship between constitutional litigation and ordinary politics at the Supreme Court, illuminating how all of the fiercest national divides over what the Constitution means took shape in Texas.
Lucas A. Powe, Jr. is Anne Green Regents Chair in the School of Law and Professor of Government at the University of Texas.

Learn more about America's Lone Star Constitution at the University of California Press website.

The Page 99 Test: America's Lone Star Constitution.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Maxine Kaplan's "The Accidental Bad Girl"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Accidental Bad Girl by Maxine Kaplan.

About the book, from the publisher:
After getting caught hooking up with her best friend’s ex on the last day of junior year, Kendall starts senior year friendless and ostracized. She plans to keep her head down until she graduates. But after discovering her online identity has been hacked and she’s being framed for stealing from a dealer, Kendall is drawn into a tenuous partnership with the mastermind of a drug ring lurking in the shadows of her Brooklyn private school. If she wants to repair her tattered reputation and save her neck, she’ll have to decide who she really is—and own it. The longer she plays the role of “bad girl,” the more she becomes her new reputation. Friends and enemies, detectives and drug dealers—no one is who they appear to be. Least of all Kendall.
Visit Maxine Kaplan's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Accidental Bad Girl.

--Marshal Zeringue

Nick Oldham's "Bad Cops," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Bad Cops by Nick Oldham.

The entry begins:
With my first Henry Christie novel having been published some twenty-one years ago, the actors who I'd imagined in that role are probably a little bit long in the tooth now, so my ideas on that score have changed somewhat. That said, as a little anecdote, I did sell the TV rights (for about eight years) to a well-known production company in the 2000s for my novel Nightmare City. Needless to say, it was never made – however, I was privy to some of the names being suggested for the Christie role back then during production meetings, one of which was an emerging actor who went on to great fame and fortune playing James Bond (you'll just have to guess who that was!). However, the TV rights lapsed and it never happened, so I'm still in dreamland – and my current favourite for the Henry Christie role is Ioan Grufford, who's just about...[read on]
Follow Nick Oldham on Facebook and Twitter.

Writers Read: Nick Oldham.

The Page 69 Test: Bad Cops.

My Book, The Movie: Bad Cops.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten books to understand happiness

Dean Burnett is a neuroscientist, lecturer, author, blogger, media pundit, science communicator, comedian and numerous other things, depending on who’s asking and what they need. Although employed as a tutor and lecturer by the Cardiff University Centre for Medical Education in his day job, Burnett is best known for his satirical science column ‘Brain Flapping‘ at the Guardian, and his internationally acclaimed debut book The Idiot Brain. His latest book is Happy Brain: Where Happiness Comes From, and Why.

One of Burnett's top ten books to understand happiness, as shared at the Guardian:
Adolf Hitler: My Part in his Downfall by Spike Milligan

When we think about what makes us happy, it often involves modern-day luxuries, such as expensive possessions, travelling, entertainments etc. But it’s possible to be happy without these things, even in the direst circumstances, as Spike’s collected war diaries demonstrate. Even amid a war zone, it seems the human brain can still find joy, laughter and pleasure.

Of course, this isn’t a given, and bleak situations will grind you down eventually. Milligan’s diaries grow more sombre and tragic as they progress. But even so, there are persistent happy moments throughout, which provide an amazing example of just how durable and persistent happiness can be.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

What is Samuel Miller reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Samuel Miller, author of A Lite Too Bright.

His entry begins:
Right now, I'm making my way through Liu Cixin's Remembrance of Earth's Past trilogy (I'm on The Dark Forest now), which is thrilling me in a way that most Sci Fi doesn't (particularly Sci Fi that's this...measured). The ideas are enormous & sprawling & deliberately force the reader to question how much we know, & how much we can know about the universe around us. I'm also a sucker for people staring down the end of humanity & talking existentially about it, & this book has...[read on]
About A Lite Too Bright, from the publisher:
For fans of literary classics such as The Catcher in the Rye and The Perks of Being a Wallflower comes a stirring new thought-provoking novel from debut author Sam Miller about a loss shrouded in mystery with twists and turns down every railway.

Arthur Louis Pullman the Third is on the verge of a breakdown. He’s been stripped of his college scholarship, is losing his grip on reality, and has been sent away to live with his aunt and uncle.

It’s there that Arthur discovers a journal written by his grandfather, the first Arthur Louis Pullman, an iconic Salinger-esque author who went missing the last week of his life and died hundreds of miles away from their family home. What happened in that week—and how much his actions were influenced by his Alzheimer’s—remains a mystery.

But now Arthur has his grandfather’s journal—and a final sentence containing a train route and a destination.

So Arthur embarks on a cross-country train ride to relive his grandfather’s last week, guided only by the clues left behind in the dementia-fueled journal. As Arthur gets closer to uncovering a sad and terrible truth, his journey is complicated by a shaky alliance with a girl who has secrets of her own and by escalating run-ins with a dangerous Pullman fan base.

Arthur’s not the only one chasing a legacy—and some feel there is no cost too high for the truth.
Visit Samuel Miller's website.

Writers Read: Samuel Miller.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: David Charles Sloane's "Is the Cemetery Dead?"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Is the Cemetery Dead? by David Charles Sloane.

About the book, from the publisher:
In modern society, we have professionalized our care for the dying and deceased in hospitals and hospices, churches and funeral homes, cemeteries and mausoleums to aid dazed and disoriented mourners. But these formal institutions can be alienating and cold, leaving people craving a more humane mourning and burial process. The burial treatment itself has come to be seen as wasteful and harmful—marked by chemicals, plush caskets, and manicured greens. Today’s bereaved are therefore increasingly turning away from the old ways of death and searching for a more personalized, environmentally responsible, and ethical means of grief.

Is the Cemetery Dead? gets to the heart of the tragedy of death, chronicling how Americans are inventing new or adapting old traditions, burial places, and memorials. In illustrative prose, David Charles Sloane shows how people are taking control of their grief by bringing their relatives home to die, interring them in natural burial grounds, mourning them online, or memorializing them streetside with a shrine, ghost bike, or RIP mural. Today’s mourners are increasingly breaking free of conventions to better embrace the person they want to remember. As Sloane shows, these changes threaten the future of the cemetery, causing cemeteries to seek to become more responsive institutions.

A trained historian, Sloane is also descendent from multiple generations of cemetery managers and he grew up in Syracuse’s Oakwood Cemetery. Enriched by these experiences, as well as his personal struggles with overwhelming grief, Sloane presents a remarkable and accessible tour of our new American way of death.
Learn more about Is the Cemetery Dead? at the University of Chicago Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Is the Cemetery Dead?.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Ryan Kirk's "Nightblade's Honor"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Nightblade's Honor by Ryan Kirk.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the riveting sequel to Nightblade’s Vengeance, the nightblades must choose a side, and the Kingdom will either rise again…or shatter into pieces.

With the realm on the brink of war, the once-celebrated blades have become an easy target for the rage of its devastated citizens. The nightblade warrior Asa’s lifelong quest for vengeance is over, but now she finds herself on the run from the people she sought to protect. As Asa forges a new course of action in an uncertain world, her path crosses with that of a young noblewoman.

Mari knows that great opportunity lies in the heart of chaos. If the Kingdom is to rise again, Mari will need support, and she can think of no group better than the nightblades. But the nightblades have been betrayed before, and gaining their trust will not be easy.

Mari wants to save the Kingdom. Asa wants to save the people. Both are willing to risk everything. But do their quests make them allies…or enemies?
Visit Ryan Kirk's website.

The Page 69 Test: Nightblade's Vengeance.

The Page 69 Test: Nightblade's Honor.

--Marshal Zeringue

Daniel Czitrom's "New York Exposed," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: New York Exposed: The Gilded Age Police Scandal that Launched the Progressive Era by Daniel Czitrom.

The entry begins:
New York Exposed tells the story of how one man’s determination to uncover and end police corruption in 1890s New York upends the city and shocks the nation. Rev. Charles H. Parkhurst’s moral crusade to clean up New York reveals in unprecedented, headline grabbing detail, the tight links between police, politicians and the underworld. The city’s vice economy—including prostitution, the saloon trade, gambling, counterfeiting and more—thrives on servicing and conning thousands of New Yorkers and out of town visitors. All of this is managed by the New York Police Department, whose captains rule their precincts like personal fiefdoms.

Parkhurst’s fiery sermon of February 14, 1892 triggers widespread criticism and infuriates the District Attorney, who brings the minister before a Grand Jury. Can he offer any specific evidence about crimes back up his corruption charges? He...[read on]
Learn more about New York Exposed at the Oxford University Press website.

My Book, The Movie: New York Exposed.

--Marshal Zeringue