Tuesday, July 31, 2018

What is Prentis Rollins reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Prentis Rollins, author of The Furnace: A Graphic Novel.

His entry begins:
I recently, finally, read The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. I say ‘finally’ because it’s a classic of American literature, very often required reading in high school—but it’s one of those books that if you don’t read it then, likely as not you never will.

But I did, and I’m glad. Sinclair spent seven weeks working in Packingtown (the gigantic stock yard/meat processing and packaging facility) in Chicago in 1904 as research for the novel. The experiences of many of the immigrant workers he met there are telescoped into his protagonist, Jurgis Rudkus, who has newly arrived with his family from Lithuania. Through Jurgis’ eyes we witness the appalling ordeal these immigrants endured—the relentlessly long hours working in shockingly unsanitary conditions, the low wages (kept low by the ever-growing surplus of men and women clamoring for work), the ubiquity of predatory conmen and political bosses, the miserably shabby housing, and the poisonous food (Jurgis has no idea that the milk his infant son drinks is watered-down and doctored with...[read on]
About The Furnace, from the publisher:
Timely and heartfelt, Rollins’ graphic novel debut The Furnace is a literary science fiction glimpse into our future, for fans of Black Mirror and The Twilight Zone

One decision. Thousands of lives ruined. Can someone ever repent for the sins of their past?

When Professor Walton Honderich was a young grad student, he participated in a government prison program and committed an act that led to the death of his friend, the brilliant physicist Marc Lepore, and resulted in unimaginable torment for an entire class of people across the United States.

Twenty years later, now an insecure father slipping into alcoholism, Walton struggles against the ghosts that haunt him in a futuristic New York City.

With full-color art and a cutting-edge critique of our increasingly technological world, The Furnace speaks fluently to the terrifying scope of the surveillance state, the dangerous allure of legacy, and the hope of redemption despite our flaws.
Visit Prentis Rollins's website.

Learn about Rollins's five top novels dealing with time travel.

My Book, The Movie: The Furnace.

The Page 69 Test: The Furnace.

Writers Read: Prentis Rollins.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Johnny Shaw's "The Upper Hand"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Upper Hand by Johnny Shaw.

About the book, from the publisher:
Fifteen years ago, Axel, Gretchen, and Kurt Ucker lost their father. At the same time, they learned that he had secretly been a thief their whole lives—and left a fortune unaccounted for. Since then, the Uckers have lived a precarious existence. Their small town shunned and shamed them. Their mother, Bertha, retreated into her religion and her favorite televangelist, Brother Tobin Floom. Axel got a dead-end job. Gretchen turned to petty crime. And Kurt stayed with his mom and his garage band.

When Bertha dies, she leaves everything she has to Floom and his gold-plated revival. The Uckers are at a loss for words. And an inheritance, a house, and a future.

Until their long-lost aunt shows up with a secret: Floom is their grandfather; some new relatives: a family of liars, cheats, and thieves; and best of all, a plan: infiltrate Floom’s multimillion-dollar ministry and pull off the grandest heist in Ucker family history.

When you’ve got nothing left to lose, you might as well risk it all.
Visit Johnny Shaw's website.

The Page 69 Test: Plaster City.

The Page 69 Test: Imperial Valley.

The Page 69 Test: The Upper Hand.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Theodore M. Porter's "Genetics in the Madhouse"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Genetics in the Madhouse: The Unknown History of Human Heredity by Theodore M. Porter.

About the book, from the publisher:
The untold story of how hereditary data in mental hospitals gave rise to the science of human heredity

In the early 1800s, a century before there was any concept of the gene, physicians in insane asylums began to record causes of madness in their admission books. Almost from the beginning, they pointed to heredity as the most important of these causes. As doctors and state officials steadily lost faith in the capacity of asylum care to stem the terrible increase of insanity, they began emphasizing the need to curb the reproduction of the insane. They became obsessed with identifying weak or tainted families and anticipating the outcomes of their marriages. Genetics in the Madhouse is the untold story of how the collection and sorting of hereditary data in mental hospitals, schools for "feebleminded" children, and prisons gave rise to a new science of human heredity.

In this compelling book, Theodore Porter draws on untapped archival evidence from across Europe and North America to bring to light the hidden history behind modern genetics. He looks at the institutional use of pedigree charts, censuses of mental illness, medical-social surveys, and other data techniques--innovative quantitative practices that were worked out in the madhouse long before the manipulation of DNA became possible in the lab. Porter argues that asylum doctors developed many of the ideologies and methods of what would come to be known as eugenics, and deepens our appreciation of the moral issues at stake in data work conducted on the border of subjectivity and science.

A bold rethinking of asylum work, Genetics in the Madhouse shows how heredity was a human science as well as a medical and biological one.
Learn more about Genetics in the Madhouse at the Princeton University Press.

The Page 99 Test: Genetics in the Madhouse.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six of the best food scenes in fiction

Kate Christensen's new novel is The Last Cruise.

One of her six favorite food scenes in fiction, as shared at The Week magazine:
Moby-Dick by Herman Melville

Everyone loves the Try Pots Inn scene. I jones for a bowlful of the clam chowder every time I read the description: "Small juicy clams, scarcely bigger than hazelnuts, mixed with pounded ship biscuit, and salted pork cut up into little flakes; the whole enriched with butter, and plentifully seasoned with pepper and salt."
Read about another entry on the list.

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 30, 2018

What is Libby Page reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Libby Page, author of The Lido.

Her entry begins:
I think most writers start as readers, and I am no exception! I read constantly. I like to read a real mix of fiction and non-fiction and I have recently started dipping back in to children’s books too. Children’s books were how I fell in love with reading, so it is a joy to go back to them and remind myself of how that passion first started. As an author I do feel a certain pressure to read the ‘right’ kind of books but I am trying to resist this and maintain reading as something I do simply for enjoyment.

The most recent book I finished was Northern Lights by Philip Pullman, borrowed from my local library. I never read the Northern Lights trilogy as a child but they were some of the favourite books of both my sister and boyfriend, so I decided to give them a go. I found it a little slow to start with but before I knew it...[read on]
About The Lido, from the publisher:
WE'RE NEVER TOO OLD TO MAKE NEW FRIENDS—OR TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE

Rosemary Peterson has lived in Brixton, London, all her life but everything is changing.

The library where she used to work has closed. The family grocery store has become a trendy bar. And now the lido, an outdoor pool where she's swum daily since its opening, is threatened with closure by a local housing developer. It was at the lido that Rosemary escaped the devastation of World War II; here she fell in love with her husband, George; here she found community during her marriage and since George’s death.

Twentysomething Kate Matthews has moved to Brixton and feels desperately alone. A once promising writer, she now covers forgettable stories for her local paper. That is, until she’s assigned to write about the lido’s closing. Soon Kate’s portrait of the pool focuses on a singular woman: Rosemary. And as Rosemary slowly opens up to Kate, both women are nourished and transformed in ways they never thought possible.

In the tradition of Fredrik Backman’s A Man Called Ove, The Lido is a charming, feel-good novel that captures the heart and spirit of a community across generations—an irresistible tale of love, loss, aging, and friendship.
Visit Libby Page's website.

Writers Read: Libby Page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top books about Zimbabwe

Panashe Chigumadzi is a Zimbabwean-born novelist and essayist. Raised in South Africa, she is the author of Sweet Medicine (2015), which won the 2016 K. Sello Duiker Literary Award. She is the founding editor of Vanguard magazine, a platform for young black women coming of age in post-apartheid South Africa. A contributing editor to the Johannesburg Review of Books, her work has featured in titles including The Guardian, The New York Times, Transition, Chimurenga, Washington Post and Die Ziet. These Bones Will Rise Again (June 2018) is her first book to publish in the UK.

One of five of the best books about Zimbabwe Chigumadzi tagged at the Guardian:
No novelist has dealt more extensively with Zimbabwe’s history than Yvonne Vera, who died aged 40 in 2005. In her fifth and final novel, The Stone Virgins (2002), Vera writes of two sisters who suffer and survive the violences of Gukurahundi, the 1980s massacres of more than 20,000 Ndebele “dissidents” by the Korean-trained Fifth Brigade of the Zimbabwean armed forces. Dense and opaque at times, Vera’s interrogation of the suppression of memory and language in “the years of deafness and struggle” invites us to explore how we listen to the silences that continue to echo in the aftermath of Zimbabwe’s violent past and present.
Read about another book on the list.

Also see Petina Gappah's top ten books about Zimbabwe.

--Marshal Zeringue

Danielle Girard's "Expose," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Expose (Dr. Schwartzman Series Book 3) by Danielle Girard.

The entry begins:
I don’t know any writer who hasn’t toyed with the “perfect cast” for his or her novel. I’m certainly among the masses.

And some days when the words don’t come, I’m on the IMDb website for much much longer than I should be, going back and forth between Idris Elba and Michael B Jordan to play Inspector Hal Harris. Medical Examiner Annabelle Schwartzman is a little tougher as most actresses are simply gorgeous and I think of Anna as being an attractive woman but not so gorgeous. That said, I think an actress who can...[read on]
Visit Danielle Girard's website.

My Book, The Movie: Expose.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Tiffany Brownlee's "Wrong in All the Right Ways"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Wrong in All the Right Ways: A Novel by Tiffany Brownlee.

About the book, from the publisher:
An attraction between foster siblings sets fire to forbidden love in this contemporary reimagining of Wuthering Heights.

Emma’s life has always gone according to her very careful plans. But things take a turn toward the unexpected when she falls in love for the first time with the one person in the world who’s off-limits: her new foster brother, the gorgeous and tormented Dylan McAndrews.

Meanwhile, Emma’s AP English class is reading Wuthering Heights, and she’s been assigned to echo Emily Bronte’s style in an epistolary format. With irrepressible feelings and no one to confide in, she’s got a lot to write about. Distraught by the escalating intensity of their mutual attraction, Emma and Dylan try to constrain their romance to the page—for fear of threatening Dylan’s chances at being adopted into a loving home. But the strength of first love is all-consuming, and they soon get enveloped in a passionate, secretive relationship with a very uncertain outcome.

Tiffany Brownlee's Wrong in All the Right Ways marks the exciting debut of a fresh voice in contemporary teen fiction.
Visit Tiffany Brownlee's website.

My Book, The Movie: Wrong in All the Right Ways.

Writers Read: Tiffany Brownlee.

The Page 69 Test: Wrong in All the Right Ways.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Coffee with a canine: Amber Brock & Bitty, Fred and Vicki

Featured at Coffee with a Canine: Amber Brock & Bitty, Fred and Vicki.

The author, on how her dogs got their names:
Fred came from the rescue with his name, and he was such a perfect “Fred.” I couldn’t bear to change it! Bitty was originally Chex, but I started calling her “Little Bit” and “Bitty” because at the time she was the smallest in our pack. Now we have Vicki, who was Cinderella at the rescue. Vicki is an obscure reference to an episode of The Simpsons, and we gave her the name because she does a little tap dance when she’s excited about dinner—bonus points to...[read on]
About Brock's novel Lady Be Good, from the publisher:
Set in the 1950s, Lady Be Good marks Amber Brock's mesmerizing return, sweeping readers into the world of the mischievous, status-obsessed daughter of a hotel magnate and the electric nightlife of three iconic cities: New York, Miami, and Havana.

Kitty Tessler is the winsome and clever only child of self-made hotel and nightclub tycoon Nicolas Tessler. Kitty may not have the same pedigree as the tennis club set she admires, but she still sees herself as every inch the socialite--spending her days perfecting her "look" and her nights charming all the blue-blooded boys who frequent her father's clubs. It seems like the fun will never end until Kitty's father issues a terrible ultimatum: she may no longer date the idle rich. Instead, Kitty must marry Andre, her father's second-in-command, and take her place as the First Lady of his hotel empire. Kitty is forced to come up with a wily and elaborate plan to protect her own lofty ideas for the future, as well as to save her best friend, Henrietta Bancroft, from a doomed engagement; Kitty will steal Henrietta's fiancé, a fabulously wealthy but terribly unkind man from a powerful family--thereby delivering the one-two punch of securing her now-fragile place on the social ladder and keeping her friend from a miserable marriage.

Then Kitty meets Max, a member of a band visiting New York from her father's Miami club, and her plans take a turn. Smitten, but still eager to convince her father of her commitment to Andre, Kitty and Hen follow Max, Andre, and the rest of the band back down to Miami--and later to Cuba. As Kitty spends more time with Max, she begins waking up to the beauty--and the injustice--of the world beyond her small, privileged corner of Manhattan. And when her well-intended yet manipulative efforts backfire, Kitty is forced to reconsider her choices and her future before she loses everyone she loves.
Visit Amber Brock's website.

My Book, The Movie: Lady Be Good.

Coffee with a Canine: Amber Brock & Bitty, Fred and Vicki.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Spencer Wise reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Spencer Wise, author of The Emperor of Shoes.

His entry begins:
I’ve been on the road for over a month touring, so I’ve had to poach some time here and there to read. Mostly short stories. I adored Elizabeth McCracken’s collection Thunderstruck. It’s a few years old. What I love about it--the narrators and protagonists are all laughing about things you absolutely aren’t supposed to laugh about. The grandmother in “Hungry” mocks her granddaughter’s appetites at the same time she encourages them. The granddaughter loves “heat-lamped fried chicken and tall glasses of cubed Jell-O”and she’s already split one pair of pants and didn’t care in the slightest. It’s hilarious and wrong. None of this cheek-pinching nonsense, here’s a grandmother that...[read on]
About The Emperor of Shoes, from the publisher:
From an exciting new voice in literary fiction, a transfixing story about an expatriate in southern China and his burgeoning relationship with a seamstress intent on inspiring dramatic political change

Alex Cohen, a twenty-six-year-old Jewish Bostonian, is living in southern China, where his father runs their family-owned shoe factory. Alex reluctantly assumes the helm of the company, but as he explores the plant’s vast floors and assembly lines, he comes to a grim realization: employees are exploited, regulatory systems are corrupt and Alex’s own father is engaging in bribes to protect the bottom line.

When Alex meets a seamstress named Ivy, his sympathies begin to shift. She is an embedded organizer of a pro-democratic Chinese party, secretly sowing dissonance among her fellow laborers. Will Alex remain loyal to his father and his heritage? Or will the sparks of revolution ignite?

Deftly plotted and vibrantly drawn, The Emperor of Shoes is a timely meditation on idealism, ambition, father-son rivalry and cultural revolution, set against a vivid backdrop of social and technological change.
Visit Spencer Wise's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Emperor of Shoes.

Writers Read: Spencer Wise.

--Marshal Zeringue

Four books that changed Meaghan Wilson Anastasios

Meaghan Wilson Anastasios holds a PhD in art history and cultural economics and has been a lecturer at the University of Melbourne. She is also a researcher and writer for film and TV. She co-wrote the bestselling historical novel, The Water Diviner, based on the script for the film of the same name starring Russell Crowe.

One of four books that changed the author, as shared at the Sydney Morning Herald:
THE BLACK BOOK
Orhan Pamuk

The first local who exposed Istanbul's beating heart to me was the city's unofficial biographer, Orhan Pamuk, whose work I discovered at a bookshop in Beyoglu on one of my first visits to the exotic city. The fable of Galip and his missing wife, Ruya, whose name in Turkish means "dream", is a parallel tale of a man's search for truth and a portrait of a city struggling with a deep-seated identity crisis. Pamuk's depiction of life in Istanbul has been a constant companion to me as I've wandered its streets over the years.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Robert W. Fieseler's "Tinderbox"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Tinderbox: The Untold Story of the Up Stairs Lounge Fire and the Rise of Gay Liberation by Robert W. Fieseler.

About the book, from the publisher:
An essential work of American civil rights history, Tinderbox mesmerizingly reconstructs the 1973 fire that devastated New Orleans’ subterranean gay community.

Buried for decades, the Up Stairs Lounge tragedy has only recently emerged as a catalyzing event of the gay liberation movement. In revelatory detail, Robert W. Fieseler chronicles the tragic event that claimed the lives of thirty-one men and one woman on June 24, 1973, at a New Orleans bar, the largest mass murder of gays until 2016. Relying on unprecedented access to survivors and archives, Fieseler creates an indelible portrait of a closeted, blue- collar gay world that flourished before an arsonist ignited an inferno that destroyed an entire community. The aftermath was no less traumatic—families ashamed to claim loved ones, the Catholic Church refusing proper burial rights, the city impervious to the survivors’ needs—revealing a world of toxic prejudice that thrived well past Stonewall. Yet the impassioned activism that followed proved essential to the emergence of a fledgling gay movement. Tinderbox restores honor to a forgotten generation of civil-rights martyrs.
Visit Robert W. Fieseler's website.

The Page 99 Test: Tinderbox.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Twenty-five of the most irresistible Hollywood novels

At Entertainment Weekly David Canfield and Seija Rankin twenty-five of the best Hollywood novels, including:
American Dream Machine, by Matthew Specktor

Two generations of Hollywood royalty make up this tender, pointed exploration of the movie business — and, in turn, of American life. Matthew Specktor tells the story of Beau, a talent agent, his rivalry with another agent, and his grooming of his son to claim a throne of his own. All of this plays out, intriguingly, against the backdrop of the culturally turbulent ’60s and ’70s.
Read about another entry on the list.

American Dream Machine is among Tim Walker's ten top Hollywood novels.

The Page 69 Test: American Dream Machine.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Tiffany Brownlee reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Tiffany Brownlee, author of Wrong in All the Right Ways.

Her entry begins:
I’m such a sucker for YA romances (which explains why I wrote one), and nothing is better than kicking back by the pool or on the beach with a summer romance, so that’s all I’ve been reading lately. I just finished Always Never Yours, a recent debut from Austin Siegemund-Broka and Emily Wibberley. In a nutshell: it’s about a girl named Megan who has just been cast as Juliet in her school’s Shakespeare production. She’s single and pours herself into the role as a distraction from her failing love life. In walks Owen, an aspiring playwright who agrees to...[read on]
About Wrong in All the Right Ways, from the publisher:
An attraction between foster siblings sets fire to forbidden love in this contemporary reimagining of Wuthering Heights.

Emma’s life has always gone according to her very careful plans. But things take a turn toward the unexpected when she falls in love for the first time with the one person in the world who’s off-limits: her new foster brother, the gorgeous and tormented Dylan McAndrews.

Meanwhile, Emma’s AP English class is reading Wuthering Heights, and she’s been assigned to echo Emily Bronte’s style in an epistolary format. With irrepressible feelings and no one to confide in, she’s got a lot to write about. Distraught by the escalating intensity of their mutual attraction, Emma and Dylan try to constrain their romance to the page—for fear of threatening Dylan’s chances at being adopted into a loving home. But the strength of first love is all-consuming, and they soon get enveloped in a passionate, secretive relationship with a very uncertain outcome.

Tiffany Brownlee's Wrong in All the Right Ways marks the exciting debut of a fresh voice in contemporary teen fiction.
Visit Tiffany Brownlee's website.

My Book, The Movie: Wrong in All the Right Ways.

Writers Read: Tiffany Brownlee.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Prentis Rollins's "The Furnace"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Furnace: A Graphic Novel by Prentis Rollins.

About the book, from the publisher:
Timely and heartfelt, Rollins’ graphic novel debut The Furnace is a literary science fiction glimpse into our future, for fans of Black Mirror and The Twilight Zone

One decision. Thousands of lives ruined. Can someone ever repent for the sins of their past?

When Professor Walton Honderich was a young grad student, he participated in a government prison program and committed an act that led to the death of his friend, the brilliant physicist Marc Lepore, and resulted in unimaginable torment for an entire class of people across the United States.

Twenty years later, now an insecure father slipping into alcoholism, Walton struggles against the ghosts that haunt him in a futuristic New York City.

With full-color art and a cutting-edge critique of our increasingly technological world, The Furnace speaks fluently to the terrifying scope of the surveillance state, the dangerous allure of legacy, and the hope of redemption despite our flaws.
Visit Prentis Rollins's website.

Learn about Rollins's five top novels dealing with time travel.

My Book, The Movie: The Furnace.

The Page 69 Test: The Furnace.

--Marshal Zeringue

Amber Brock's "Lady Be Good," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Lady Be Good: A Novel by Amber Brock.

The entry begins:
This is a particularly easy exercise for me, since I tend to use actors and actresses as “models” for my characters. I’m careful to avoid letting the people I know inspire my work, so using famous figures is a foolproof way to do that. If Lady Be Good were a movie, this would be the cast:

Kitty Tessler: Emma Stone. She does cool and mischievous better than anyone.

Hen Bancroft (the best friend): Mamie Gummer. Her classic, upper-class look is perfect for Hen.

Max Zillman (the love interest): Jake...[read on]
Visit Amber Brock's website.

My Book, The Movie: Lady Be Good.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 27, 2018

Four stories with awesome autistic protagonists

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog Joel Cunningham tagged four top stories with awesome autistic protagonists, including:
An Unkindness of Ghosts, by Rivers Solomon

Aster is a Black intersex autistic woman who lives on a theocratic generation ship. Treated as a slave because of her race and the deck where she grew up, Aster has also managed to pick up skill as a medic and connections on the upper decks. She believes she can use them – and a set of mysterious notes left by her dead mother – to tear her oppressive society down. This is a dark book in which the characters are treated brutally, but also a powerful one. For me, the nuances of how Aster’s peers deal with mental illness, neurodivergence, and trauma are especially fascinating.
Read about another entry on the list.

An Unkindness of Ghosts is among Joel Cunningham's top11 sci-fi & fantasy books or series with a powerful message of social justice.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Elizabeth Klehfoth reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Elizabeth Klehfoth, author of All These Beautiful Strangers: A Novel.

Her entry begins:
I recently finished Judy Blundell’s The High Season, which follows three women in a small town in the Hamptons that’s on the brink of becoming trendy and fashionable among the extremely wealthy and celebrity crowd. There’s Ruthie, a forty-something director of a local museum, who has a teen daughter and is hopeful of rekindling her relationship with her separated husband. Although Ruthie and her husband own a house in town, they are forced to rent it out during the summer to afford to keep it. When they rent it out to Adeline Clay, a wealthy socialite, and her son, Ruthie’s life quickly...[read on]
About All These Beautiful Strangers, from the publisher:
A young woman haunted by a family tragedy is caught up in a dangerous web of lies and deception involving a secret society in this highly charged, addictive psychological thriller that combines the dishy gamesmanship of Gossip Girl with the murky atmosphere of The Secret History.

One summer day, Grace Fairchild, the beautiful young wife of real estate mogul Alistair Calloway, vanished from the family’s lake house without a trace, leaving behind her seven-year old daughter, Charlie, and a slew of unanswered questions.

Years later, seventeen-year-old Charlie still struggles with the dark legacy of her family name and the mystery surrounding her mother. Determined to finally let go of the past, she throws herself into life at Knollwood, the prestigious New England school she attends. Charlie quickly becomes friends with Knollwood’s "it" crowd.

Charlie has also been tapped by the A’s—the school’s elite secret society well known for terrorizing the faculty, administration, and their enemies. To become a member of the A’s, Charlie must play The Game, a semester-long, diabolical high-stakes scavenger hunt that will jeopardize her friendships, her reputation, even her place at Knollwood.

As the dark events of past and present converge, Charlie begins to fear that she may not survive the terrible truth about her family, her school, and her own life.
Visit Elizabeth Klehfoth's website.

Writers Read: Elizabeth Klehfoth.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Spencer Wise's "The Emperor of Shoes"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Emperor of Shoes by Spencer Wise.

About the book, from the publisher:
From an exciting new voice in literary fiction, a transfixing story about an expatriate in southern China and his burgeoning relationship with a seamstress intent on inspiring dramatic political change

Alex Cohen, a twenty-six-year-old Jewish Bostonian, is living in southern China, where his father runs their family-owned shoe factory. Alex reluctantly assumes the helm of the company, but as he explores the plant’s vast floors and assembly lines, he comes to a grim realization: employees are exploited, regulatory systems are corrupt and Alex’s own father is engaging in bribes to protect the bottom line.

When Alex meets a seamstress named Ivy, his sympathies begin to shift. She is an embedded organizer of a pro-democratic Chinese party, secretly sowing dissonance among her fellow laborers. Will Alex remain loyal to his father and his heritage? Or will the sparks of revolution ignite?

Deftly plotted and vibrantly drawn, The Emperor of Shoes is a timely meditation on idealism, ambition, father-son rivalry and cultural revolution, set against a vivid backdrop of social and technological change.
Visit Spencer Wise's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Emperor of Shoes.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Kristján Kristjánsson's "Virtuous Emotions"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Virtuous Emotions by Kristján Kristjánsson.

About the book, from the publisher:
Many people are drawn towards virtue ethics because of the central place it gives to emotions in the good life. Yet it may seem odd to evaluate emotions as virtuous or non-virtuous, for how can we be held responsible for those powerful feelings that simply engulf us? And how can education help us to manage our emotional lives? The aim of this book is to offer readers a new Aristotelian analysis and moral justification of a number of emotions that Aristotle did not mention (awe, grief, and jealousy), or relegated, at best, to the level of the semi-virtuous (shame), or made disparaging remarks about (gratitude), or rejected explicitly (pity, understood as pain at another person's deserved bad fortune). Kristjan Kristjansson argues that there are good Aristotelian reasons for understanding those emotions either as virtuous or as indirectly conducive to virtue. Virtuous Emotions begins with an overview of Aristotle's ideas on the nature of emotions and of emotional value, and concludes with an account of Aristotelian emotion education.
Learn more about Virtuous Emotions at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Virtuous Emotions.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Top ten tales from the frontier

Paul Howarth was born and grew up in Great Britain before moving to Melbourne in his late twenties. He lived in Australia for more than six years, gained dual citizenship in 2012, and now lives in Norwich, United Kingdom, with his family. In 2015, he received a master’s degree from the University of East Anglia’s creative writing program, the most prestigious course of its kind in the UK, where he was awarded the Malcolm Bradbury Scholarship.

Howarth's new novel is Only Killers and Thieves.

One of the author's top ten tales from the frontier, as shared at the Guardian:
Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy

McCarthy is one of the great chroniclers of the American frontier and its inhabitants. I could have just as easily chosen The Road, or the Border Trilogy, but for me Blood Meridian is his masterpiece, a tale of murder, pillage and (bare) survival in the lawless US/Mexican borderlands, written in McCarthy’s poetic, near-biblical signature style. Often hailed as one of the great American novels, it is a staggering work.
Read about another entry on the list.

Blood Meridian is one authority's pick for the Great Texas novel; it is among Craig DiLouie’s ten top fantasy books steeped in the Southern Gothic, Graham McTavish's six best books, ShortList's roundup of literature's forty greatest villains, Brian Boone's five great novels that will probably never be made into movies, Sarah Porter's five best books with unusual demons and devils, Chet Williamson's top ten novels about deranged killers, Callan Wink's ten best books set in the American West, Simon Sebag Montefiore's six favorite books, Richard Kadrey's five books about awful, awful people, Jason Sizemore's top five books that will entertain and drop you into the depths of despair, Robert Allison's top ten novels of desert war, Alexandra Silverman's top fourteen wrathful stories, James Franco's six favorite books, Philipp Meyer's five best books that explain America, Peter Murphy's top ten literary preachers, David Vann's six favorite books, Robert Olmstead's six favorite books, Michael Crummey's top ten literary feuds, Philip Connors's top ten wilderness books, six books that made a difference to Kazuo Ishiguro, Clive Sinclair's top 10 westerns, Maile Meloy's six best books, and David Foster Wallace's five direly underappreciated post-1960 U.S. novels. It appears on the New York Times list of the best American fiction of the last 25 years and among the top ten works of literature according to Stephen King.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Derek Milman reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Derek Milman, author of Scream All Night.

His entry begins:
I'm reading David Sedaris' new book, Calypso. I had been reading a lot of YA recently, and some literary fiction, and I needed a change of pace. The book has Sedaris' typical droll observations on things, and some of his lines are just hilarious. I've laughed out loud a number of times. But to me this book is a little more melancholic and heavy than other works I've read by Sedaris; the stories he tells are woven together with a thicker through-line. There are darker shadows here: getting older, mortality, settling into middle age, the strain of...[read on]
About Scream All Night, from the publisher:
DARIO HEYWARD KNOWS ONE THING: He’s never going back to Moldavia Studios, the iconic castle that served as the set, studio, and home to the cast and crew of dozens of cult classic B-horror movies. It’s been three years since Dario’s even seen the place, after getting legally emancipated from his father, the infamous director of Moldavia’s creature features.

But then Dario’s brother invites him home to a mysterious ceremony involving his father and a tribute to his first film—The Curse of the Mummy’s Tongue. Dario swears his homecoming will be a one-time visit. A way for him to get closure on his past—and reunite with Hayley, his first love and costar of Zombie Children of the Harvest Sun, a production fraught with real-life tragedy—and say good-bye for good. But the unthinkable happens—Dario gets sucked back into the twisted world of Moldavia and the horrors, both real and imagined, he’s left there.

With only months to rescue the sinking studio and everyone who has built their lives there, Dario must confront the demons of his past—and the uncertainties of his future. But can he escape the place that’s haunted him his whole life?
Visit Derek Milman's website.

My Book, The Movie: Scream All Night.

Writers Read: Derek Milman.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Kali Wallace's "City of Islands"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: City of Islands by Kali Wallace.

About the book, from the publisher:
In a foggy archipelago called the City of Islands, twelve-year-old Mara has always been fascinated by the magic that drifts on the air as songs. But as a servant for the powerful Lady of the Tides, Mara must earn her keep by searching for magical treasures deep in the murky ocean.

Then Mara finds the skeletons of strange hybrid creatures that haven’t existed in the city for centuries—all humming with a powerful spell-song. Convinced her discovery will earn her the opportunity to study magic, Mara shares them with the Lady. But instead of a reward, the Lady gives Mara a new challenge: to sneak into the island fortress, the Winter Blade.

Now Mara must dive deeper than ever before to survive her mission. The chilling truths that Mara uncovers along the way, about her past as well as about the secrets of her beloved city, are more dangerous—and magical—than she ever imagined.
Visit Kali Wallace's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Memory Trees.

The Page 69 Test: City of Islands.

--Marshal Zeringue

Gwen Florio's "Silent Hearts," the movie

Featured at My Book, the Movie: Silent Hearts: A Novel by Gwen Florio.

The entry begins:
Such fun to think about this. One of the things I’d wish most for Silent Hearts: The Movie is that a film about Muslim characters will actually feature Muslim actors – Ayesha Omar or Nazanin Boniadi for Farida, say, or Azita Ghanizada as Khurshid. Fawad Khan would make an appropriately handsome Gul (it’s possible I watched several YouTube clips just to be sure).

As for my Americans, some of Leonardo DiCaprio’s roles feature the hard, controlling persona I imagine Martin to have. And, where I wrote the character of Liv as a blond Scandinavian from Minnesota...[read on]
Visit Gwen Florio's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Gwen Florio & Nell.

My Book, the Movie: Silent Hearts.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Seven of the best Venetian books

Judith Mackrell's latest book is The Unfinished Palazzo. One of her favorite books inspired by Venice, as shared at the Waterstones blog:
The Bellini Card by Jason Goodwin

A very different Venice is evoked in this period detective novel. Goodwin’s unlikely hero is Yashim, a eunuch from the Ottoman court who possesses a rare aptitude for solving crimes, and in The Bellini Card he takes Yashim and his side kick to Venice in search of a lost Bellini portrait. The period is 1840 when La Serenissima is under Austrian occupation, its aristocracy has been stripped its powers and its economy is in serious decline. Goodwin paints a wonderfully convincing picture of the once-fabled city now playing for its life against a tense backdrop of international politics.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 69 Test: The Bellini Card.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Erin Bowman reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Erin Bowman, author of Contagion.

Her entry begins:
With launch approaching and a new baby in the house, I'm not reading something at the moment. But I recently finished and adored Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough. This is a verse novel about the life of Italian Baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi, who was raped by her teacher and endured a lengthy trial prosecuting him in which she was tortured to verify her testimony. Blood Water Paint was a powerful, haunting read, and in the heat of the MeToo movement, it resonated with me strongly. Gae Polisner, one of the authors who blurbed the book, said...[read on]
About Contagion, from the publisher:
After receiving a distress call from a drill team on a distant planet, a skeleton crew is sent into deep space to perform a standard search-and-rescue mission.

When they arrive, they find the planet littered with the remains of the project—including its members’ dead bodies. As they try to piece together what could have possibly decimated an entire project, they discover that some things are best left buried—and some monsters are only too ready to awaken.
Visit Erin Bowman's website.

The Page 69 Test: Contagion.

Writers Read: Erin Bowman.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Carrie Vaughn's "The Wild Dead"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Wild Dead by Carrie Vaughn.

About the book, from the publisher:
A century after environmental and economic collapse, the people of the Coast Road have rebuilt their own sort of civilization, striving not to make the mistakes their ancestors did. They strictly ration and manage resources, including the ability to have children. Enid of Haven is an investigator, who with her new partner, Teeg, is called on to mediate a dispute over an old building in a far-flung settlement at the edge of Coast Road territory. The investigators’ decision seems straightforward — and then the body of a young woman turns up in the nearby marshland. Almost more shocking than that, she’s not from the Coast Road, but from one of the outsider camps belonging to the nomads and wild folk who live outside the Coast Road communities. Now one of them is dead, and Enid wants to find out who killed her, even as Teeg argues that the murder isn’t their problem. In a dystopian future of isolated communities, can our moral sense survive the worst hard times?
Learn more about the author and her work at Carrie Vaughn's website and Facebook page.

The Page 99 Test: Kitty and the Silver Bullet.

The Page 99 Test: Kitty and the Dead Man's Hand.

The Page 69 Test: Discord's Apple.

The Page 69 Test: The Wild Dead.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Michèle Mendelssohn's "Making Oscar Wilde"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Making Oscar Wilde by Michèle Mendelssohn.

About the book, from the publisher:
Witty, inspiring, and charismatic, Oscar Wilde is one of the Greats of English literature. Today, his plays and stories are beloved around the world. But it was not always so. His afterlife has given him the legitimacy that life denied him. Making Oscar Wilde reveals the untold story of young Oscar's career in Victorian England and post-Civil War America. Set on two continents, it tracks a larger-than-life hero on an unforgettable adventure to make his name and gain international acclaim. "Success is a science," Wilde believed, "if you have the conditions, you get the result."

Combining new evidence and gripping cultural history, Michele Mendelssohn dramatizes Wilde's rise, fall, and resurrection as part of a spectacular transatlantic pageant. With superb style and an instinct for story-telling, she brings to life the charming young Irishman who set out to captivate the United States and Britain with his words and ended up conquering the world.

Following the twists and turns of Wilde's journey, Mendelssohn vividly depicts sensation-hungry Victorian journalism and popular entertainment alongside racial controversies, sex scandals, and the growth of Irish nationalism. This ground-breaking revisionist history shows how Wilde's tumultuous early life embodies the story of the Victorian era as it tottered towards modernity. Riveting and original, Making Oscar Wilde is a masterful account of a life like no other.
Learn more about Making Oscar Wilde at the Oxford University Press website, and visit Michèle Mendelssohn's Twitter perch.

The Page 99 Test: Making Oscar Wilde.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Coffee with a canine: Gwen Florio & Nell

Featured at Coffee with a Canine: Gwen Florio & Nell.

The author, on the fictional canines with a tie to Nell:
[Nell]’s the model, behavior-wise, for Bub the border collie who plays a large part in the five novels in my Lola Wicks crime series. Readers reacted so strongly to Bub’s role in the first book that I had to write him into the others. Do you know how hard it is to find different things for a dog to do over five books? But Bub, like Nell, is endlessly...[read on]
About Gwen Florio's Silent Hearts, from the publisher:
For fans of A Thousand Splendid Suns comes a stirring novel set in Afghanistan​ about two women—an American aid worker and her local interpreter—who form an unexpected friendship despite their utterly different life experiences and the ever-increasing violence that surrounds them in Kabul.

In 2001, Kabul is suddenly a place of possibility as people fling off years of repressive Taliban rule. This hopeful chaos brings together American aid worker Liv Stoellner and Farida Basra, an educated Pakistani woman still adjusting to her arranged marriage to Gul, the son of an Afghan strongman whose family spent years of exile in Pakistan before returning to Kabul.

Both Liv and her husband take positions at an NGO that helps Afghan women recover from the Taliban years. They see the move as a reboot—Martin for his moribund academic career, Liv for their marriage. But for Farida and Gul, the move to Kabul is fraught, severing all ties with Farida’s family and her former world, and forcing Gul to confront a chapter in his life he’d desperately tried to erase.

The two women, brought together by Farida’s work as an interpreter, form a nascent friendship based on their growing mutual love for Afghanistan, though Liv remains unaware that Farida is reporting information about the Americans’ activities to Gul’s family, who have ties to the black market.

As the bond between Farida and Liv deepens, war-scarred Kabul acts in different ways upon them, as well as their husbands. Silent Hearts is an absorbing, complex portrayal of two very different but equally resilient women caught in the conflict of a war that will test them in ways they never imagined.
Visit Gwen Florio's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Gwen Florio & Nell.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top books about artificial intelligence

Nick Harkaway is the author of a nonfiction work about digital culture, The Blind Giant: Being Human in a Digital World, and the novels The Gone-Away World, Angelmaker, Tigerman, and Gnomon. Harkaway happens to be the son of John Le Carré.

One of his five favorite books about AI, as shared at the Guardian:
[The] distinction between true AI and the powerful machine learning tools of Google and Amazon is tackled head-on by Hector Levesque in Common Sense, the Turing Test, and the Quest for Real AI. A professor emeritus in the computer science department at the University of Toronto, Levesque fearlessly zips us through John Searle’s “Chinese room” argument and the problem of common sense before delving deeper to the complexities of the “Winograd Schema”. Don’t be alarmed: this book makes everything clear.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Sibel Hodge reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Sibel Hodge, author of Into the Darkness.

Her entry begins:
You Don't Know Me by Imran Mahmood. The topic of UK gangs is so timely right now and I just love books that tell a story in an unusual way. It's masterfully narrated by a young man on trial for murder, giving his final closing speech to the jury. It tackles many very real social issues that are often glossed over or ignored, because if it's not happening to you, why should you care? It delves into gang culture in a realistic and relatable way (kudos to the author for his research!). And shows how you can never really...[read on]
About Into the Darkness, from the publisher:
The Missing…

In a hidden basement, eighteen-year-old Toni is held captive and no one can hear her screams. She’s been abducted after investigating unspeakable things in the darkest corners of the Internet.

The Vigilante…

Fearing the worst, Toni’s mother turns to ex-SAS operative Mitchell to help find her missing daughter. And when Mitchell discovers Toni’s fate rests in the hands of pure evil, he races against the clock to find Toni and bring her out alive. But even that might not be enough to save her.

The Detective…

DS Warren Carter is looking forward to a new job and a simpler life. But when he’s called in to investigate the brutal murder of a seemingly normal couple, he becomes entangled in lives that are anything but simple. And as he digs deeper, he uncovers a crime more twisted than he could ever have imagined.
Visit Sibel Hodge's website.

My Book, The Movie: Untouchable.

My Book, The Movie: Into the Darkness.

Writers Read: Sibel Hodge.

--Marshal Zeringue

Danielle Banas's "The Supervillain and Me," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Supervillain and Me by Danielle Banas.

The entry begins:
When I write I always imagine the scene playing out as if it were part of a movie, however, I don’t picture specific actors as my characters until either very late in the first draft or until the first draft has been completed. I flip-flopped between many actors while I was writing and editing The Supervillain and Me, but finally I settled on Lili Reinhart for my main character, Abby. I love watching her play Betty Cooper on Riverdale, and she definitely has the right look for Abby. The version of Betty that she plays is a total badass, and Abby has many badass qualities as well, so I think she would knock it out of the park.

To play the accused supervillain Iron Phantom, I hands down choose Casey...[read on]
Visit Danielle Banas's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Danielle Banas & Cooper.

My Book, The Movie: The Supervillain and Me.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 23, 2018

David Baldacci's six favorite books with an element of mystery

David Baldacci's newest novel is The Fallen.

One of his six favorite books with an element of mystery, as shared at The Week magazine:
The Shetland Island Mysteries by Ann Cleeves

Cleeves' tales, set on islands off the northern coast of Scotland, star local police detective Jimmy Perez. If you crave atmosphere in your mystery novels, especially craggy, gloomy, windswept, and solitary, you have come to the right series.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 99 Test: Raven Black.

The Page 99 Test: White Nights.

The Page 99 Test: Red Bones.

The Page 69 Test: Blue Lightning.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Erin Bowman's "Contagion"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Contagion by Erin Bowman.

About the book, from the publisher:
After receiving a distress call from a drill team on a distant planet, a skeleton crew is sent into deep space to perform a standard search-and-rescue mission.

When they arrive, they find the planet littered with the remains of the project—including its members’ dead bodies. As they try to piece together what could have possibly decimated an entire project, they discover that some things are best left buried—and some monsters are only too ready to awaken.
Visit Erin Bowman's website.

The Page 69 Test: Contagion.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Kenneth A. Reinert's "No Small Hope"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: No Small Hope: Towards the Universal Provision of Basic Goods by Kenneth A. Reinert.

About the book, from the publisher:
With headlines focused on human suffering-civil wars, refugee flows, the spread of disease due to hunger and poor sanitation, population growth, climate change-it is easy to dive into despair. What is needed, instead, is a radical rethinking of global policy to realize the potential for improving the human condition.

This book provides hope by examining the basic needs for a fundamental shift in thinking about development and human security for both practical and ethical reasons. Kenneth A. Reinert calls for a basic goods approach that focuses on the provision of nutritious food, clean water, sanitation, health services, education services, housing, electricity, and human security services. This approach bridges two perspectives: that of standard growth, which emphasizes increasing GDP per capita, and that of capabilities/human development, which puts priority on the realization of human potential. Reinert argues that only when growth leads to an increase in the broad-based provision of basic goods and services will the hoped-for expansion of human capabilities and development be achieved.

No Small Hope places the basic goods approach on the firm foundation of objective human needs and subsistence rights. It offers a practical agenda for making progress towards human development by focusing on the real determinants of human well-being in an ethical system of moral minimalism. In a world of climate change, increased risk of natural disasters and increased refugee flows, the basic goods approach promises to help alleviate ongoing suffering and address vast deprivations in basic needs fulfillment.
Learn more about No Small Hope at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: No Small Hope.

--Marshal Zeringue