Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Pg. 69: Daphne Kalotay's "Blue Hours"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Blue Hours by Daphne Kalotay.

About the book, from the publisher:
A mystery linking Manhattan circa 1991 to eastern Afghanistan in 2012, Blue Hours tells of a life-changing friendship between two memorable heroines. When we first meet Mim, she is a recent college graduate who has disavowed her lower middle class roots to befriend Kyra, a dancer and daughter of privilege, until calamity causes their estrangement. Twenty years later, Kyra has gone missing from her NGO's headquarters in Jalalabad, and Mim—now a recluse in rural New England—embarks on a mid-life journey to find her.

Anchored by an uninvited voyage into an extraordinary place, with a love story at its core, Blue Hours combines the adventure and moral complexity of Lillian Hellman's Julia and Ann Patchett's State of Wonder to tell a global story at an intimate level. In its ethical provocations, Blue Hours becomes an unconventional page-turner, confronting America's role in the conflicted, interconnected world.
Learn more about the book and author at Daphne Kalotay's website.

The Page 69 Test: Sight Reading.

The Page 69 Test: Blue Hours.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Heather Child reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Heather Child, author of Everything About You.

Her entry begins:
I read a mixture of fiction and non-fiction, the latter often as research for whatever I’m writing.

This is what brought me to Selfie by Will Storr. It’s ostensibly about our current selfie-taking celebrity culture, but I was surprised to find it a far-reaching study that chronicles how the concept of ‘the individual’ came to be revered, from ancient Greece through to American neoliberalism.

Putting the self first is a western - rather than universal - cultural tendency, and it’s fascinating to read about how research was wilfully misused to argue that high self-esteem would solve all social ills – violence, drug abuse, teenage pregnancy etc – so that the majority of US primary schools put programmes in place to boost it. Of course, low self-esteem isn’t great either, but...[read on]
About Everything About You, from the publisher:
THINK TWICE BEFORE YOU SHARE YOUR LIFE ONLINE.

Freya has a new virtual assistant. It knows what she likes, knows what she wants and knows whose voice she most needs to hear: her missing sister's.

It adopts her sister's personality, recreating her through a life lived online. But this virtual version of her sister knows things it shouldn't be possible to know. It's almost as if the missing girl is still out there somewhere, feeding fresh updates into the cloud. But that's impossible. Isn't it?
Visit Heather Child's website.

The Page 69 Test: Everything About You.

Writers Read: Heather Child.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Coffee with a canine: Cate Holahan & Westley

Featured at Coffee with a Canine: Cate Holahan & Westley.

The author, on how Westley got his name:
My husband and I named him Westley after the pirate in The Princess Bride. We’d hoped he would do “as you wish.” Like the Dread Pirate Roberts, he really does as...[read on]
About Cate Holahan's novel, One Little Secret:
The glass beach house was supposed to be the getaway that Susan needed. Eager to help her transplanted family set down roots in their new town—and desperate for some kid-free conversation—she invites her new neighbors to join in on a week-long sublet with her and her workaholic husband.

Over the course of the first evening, liquor loosens inhibitions and lips. The three couples begin picking up on the others’ marital tensions and work frustrations, as well as revealing their own. But someone says too much. And the next morning one of the women is discovered dead on the private beach.

Town detective Gabby Watkins must figure out who permanently silenced the deceased. As she investigates, she learns that everyone in the glass house was hiding something that could tie them to the murder, and that the biggest secrets of all are often in plain sight for anyone willing to look.
Visit Cate Holahan's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Cate Holahan & Westley.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Tyson Reeder's "Smugglers, Pirates, and Patriots"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Smugglers, Pirates, and Patriots: Free Trade in the Age of Revolution by Tyson Reeder.

About the book, from the publisher:
After emerging victorious from their revolution against the British Empire, many North Americans associated commercial freedom with independence and republicanism. Optimistic about the liberation movements sweeping Latin America, they were particularly eager to disrupt the Portuguese Empire. Anticipating the establishment of a Brazilian republic that they assumed would give them commercial preference, they aimed to aid Brazilian independence through contraband, plunder, and revolution. In contrast to the British Empire's reaction to the American Revolution, Lisbon officials liberalized imperial trade when revolutionary fervor threatened the Portuguese Empire in the 1780s and 1790s. In 1808, to save the empire from Napoleon's army, the Portuguese court relocated to Rio de Janeiro and opened Brazilian ports to foreign commerce. By 1822, the year Brazil declared independence, it had become the undisputed center of U.S. trade with the Portuguese Empire. However, by that point, Brazilians tended to associate freer trade with the consolidation of monarchical power and imperial strength, and, by the end of the 1820s, it was clear that Brazilians would retain a monarchy despite their independence.

Smugglers, Pirates, and Patriots delineates the differences between the British and Portuguese empires as they struggled with revolutionary tumult. It reveals how those differences led to turbulent transnational exchanges between the United States and Brazil as merchants, smugglers, rogue officials, slave traders, and pirates sought to trade outside legal confines. Tyson Reeder argues that although U.S. traders had forged their commerce with Brazil convinced that they could secure republican trade partners there, they were instead forced to reconcile their vision of the Americas as a haven for republics with the reality of a monarchy residing in the hemisphere. He shows that as twilight fell on the Age of Revolution, Brazil and the United States became fellow slave powers rather than fellow republics.
Learn more about Smugglers, Pirates, and Patriots at the University of Pennsylvania Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Smugglers, Pirates, and Patriots.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Claire Lombardo's "The Most Fun We Ever Had"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo.

About the book, from the publisher:
A dazzling, multigenerational novel in which the four adult daughters of a Chicago couple–still madly in love after forty years–recklessly ignite old rivalries until a long-buried secret threatens to shatter the lives they’ve built.

When Marilyn Connolly and David Sorenson fall in love in the 1970s, they are blithely ignorant of all that’s to come. By 2016, their four radically different daughters are each in a state of unrest: Wendy, widowed young, soothes herself with booze and younger men; Violet, a litigator-turned-stay-at-home-mom, battles anxiety and self-doubt when the darkest part of her past resurfaces; Liza, a neurotic and newly tenured professor, finds herself pregnant with a baby she’s not sure she wants by a man she’s not sure she loves; and Grace, the dawdling youngest daughter, begins living a lie that no one in her family even suspects. Above it all, the daughters share the lingering fear that they will never find a love quite like their parents’.

As the novel moves through the tumultuous year following the arrival of Jonah Bendt–given up by one of the daughters in a closed adoption fifteen years before–we are shown the rich and varied tapestry of the Sorensons’ past: years marred by adolescence, infidelity, and resentment, but also the transcendent moments of joy that make everything else worthwhile.

Spanning nearly half a century, and set against the quintessential American backdrop of Chicago and its prospering suburbs, Lombardo’s debut explores the triumphs and burdens of love, the fraught tethers of parenthood and sisterhood, and the baffling mixture of affection, abhorrence, resistance, and submission we feel for those closest to us. In painting this luminous portrait of a family’s becoming, Lombardo joins the ranks of writers such as Celeste Ng, Elizabeth Strout, and Jonathan Franzen as visionary chroniclers of our modern lives.
Visit Claire Lombardo's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Most Fun We Ever Had.

--Marshal Zeringue

Erin Lee Carr's six favorite books

Erin Lee Carr is a director, producer, and writer based in New York City. Named one of the “30 Under 30” most influential people in media by Forbes, Carr directed At the Heart of Gold, about the USA Gymnastics scandal, and I Love You: Now Die, about the Michelle Carter murder-by-texting trial, both for HBO. Her memoir, All That You Leave Behind, deals with the loss of her father and guiding light, former New York Times journalist David Carr.

At The Week magazine Carr shared her six favorite books. One title on the list:
The Night of the Gun by David Carr (2008).

I know I'm biased, but I really believe that The Night of the Gun is a masterpiece of reporting, writing, and portraiture. It's not just an alcoholism and drug memoir; it's also about parenting and a young man becoming an adult and how difficult and painful it is, and what to do when the chips are down. I love how many twists and turns it takes. I don't think anybody knew how to write like my dad.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 15, 2019

What is Julie McElwain reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Julie McElwain, author of Betrayal in Time.

Her entry begins:
Lethal White, by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling) and The Accidental Dictionary by Paul Anthony Jones

Lethal White is the fourth installment in the Cormoran Strike/Robin Ellacott detective series, and I was as engrossed and entertained as the other three books. The mystery begins when an obviously mentally disturbed man named Billy seeks help over the long ago murder of a child. Or what he believes to be the murder of a child. While Strike and Robin are intrigued enough to launch an investigation into Billy’s claim, they have to wonder how much is true, and how much is simply a fantasy created by a delusional mind. Rowling writes mysteries as brilliantly as she writes magic (ala her Harry Potter series). Lethal White is filled with interesting characters that have plenty of motives to keep their secrets tightly locked away — and one person who will resort to murder to get what they want. Equally important to the story is the ongoing and evolving relationship between Strike and Robin. For that...[read on]
About Betrayal in Time, from the publisher:
Kendra Donovan’s adventures in nineteenth-century England continue when she is called upon to investigate the murder of a spymaster.

February 1816: A race through the icy, twisting cobblestone streets of London ends inside an abandoned church—and a horrific discovery. Bow Street Runner Sam Kelly is called to investigate the grisly murder of Sir Giles Holbrooke, who was left naked and garroted, with his tongue cut out. Yet as perplexing as that crime is, it becomes even stranger when symbols that resemble crosses mysteriously begin to appear across the dead man’s flesh during autopsy. Is it a message from the killer?

Sam turns to the one person in the kingdom who he believes can answer that question and solve the bizarre murder—the Duke of Aldridge’s odd but brilliant ward, Kendra Donovan.

While Kendra has been trying to adapt to her new life in the early nineteenth century, she is eager to use her skills as a twenty-first century FBI agent again. And she will need all her investigative prowess, because Sir Giles was not an average citizen. He was one of England’s most clever spymasters, whose life had been filled with intrigue and subterfuge.

Kendra’s return to the gritty streets and glittering ballrooms of London takes her down increasingly dangerous paths. When another body is discovered, murdered in the same apparently ritualistic manner as Sir Giles, the American begins to realize that they are dealing with a killer with an agenda, whose mind has been twisted by rage and bitterness so that the price of a perceived betrayal is death.
Visit Julie McElwain's website.

The Page 69 Test: Caught in Time.

My Book, The Movie: Betrayal in Time.

The Page 69 Test: Betrayal in Time.

Writers Read: Julie McElwain.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Nick Haddad's "The Last Butterflies"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Last Butterflies: A Scientist's Quest to Save a Rare and Vanishing Creature by Nick Haddad.

About the book, from the publisher:
A remarkable look at the rarest butterflies, how global changes threaten their existence, and how we can bring them back from near-extinction

Most of us have heard of such popular butterflies as the Monarch or Painted Lady. But what about the Fender’s Blue? Or the St. Francis’ Satyr? Because of their extreme rarity, these butterflies are not well-known, yet they are remarkable species with important lessons to teach us. The Last Butterflies spotlights the rarest of these creatures—some numbering no more than what can be held in one hand. Drawing from his own first-hand experiences, Nick Haddad explores the challenges of tracking these vanishing butterflies, why they are disappearing, and why they are worth saving. He also provides startling insights into the effects of human activity and environmental change on the planet’s biodiversity.

Weaving a vivid and personal narrative with ideas from ecology and conservation, Haddad illustrates the race against time to reverse the decline of six butterfly species. Many scientists mistakenly assume we fully understand butterflies’ natural histories. Yet, as with the Large Blue in England, we too often know too little and the conservation consequences are dire. Haddad argues that a hands-off approach is not effective and that in many instances, like for the Fender’s Blue and Bay Checkerspot, active and aggressive management is necessary. With deliberate conservation, rare butterflies can coexist with people, inhabit urban fringes, and, in the case of the St. Francis’ Satyr, even reside on bomb ranges and military land. Haddad shows that through the efforts to protect and restore butterflies, we might learn how to successfully confront conservation issues for all animals and plants.

A moving account of extinction, recovery, and hope, The Last Butterflies demonstrates the great value of these beautiful insects to science, conservation, and people.
Visit Nick Haddad's website and Twitter perch.

The Page 99 Test: The Last Butterflies.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eleven top “ragtag crews” in space opera books

Jeff Somers is the author of Writing Without Rules, the Avery Cates series, The Ustari Cycle, Lifers, and Chum (among many other books) and numerous short stories.

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog he tagged eleven of the best “ragtag crews” in space opera books today, including:
Barbary Station, by R.E. Stearns

There’s a fine line between a ragtag crew and a band of space pirates, but we’re slipping in R.E. Starns’ Shieldrunner Pirates books—starting with Barbary Station—on a technacality, since at the time the series begins, the pirates’ reputation far outstrips their actual ability for plundering the galaxy, what with their troubles with a space station’s rogue A.I. It was that once-fearsome rep that attracted many of their ragtag members, including disgruntled engineering students/lovers Adda and Iridian, who pulled off a con to impress Captain Sloane after they left school with deep debt and no job prospects. Sloane’s crew always seems to be up against the ropes, which gives the series the feel of a classic ragtag tale. The final volume of the trilogy, Gravity of a Distant Sun, arrives early next year.
Read about another entry on the list.

Barbary Station is among Somers's thirteen unlucky ill-fated voyages in science fiction.

My Book, The Movie: Barbary Station.

The Page 69 Test: Mutiny at Vesta.

--Marshal Zeringue

Keely Hutton's "Secret Soldiers," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Secret Soldiers by Keely Hutton.

The entry begins:
If I could cast a movie adaptation of Secret Soldiers, I would pick the following talented actors for the main roles.

Thomas – Noah Jupe, the young British actor who played Marcus Abbott in A Quiet Place could handle the emotional range of the 13-year-old Dover miner desperate to get to the Western Front.

George – Levi Miller, the young Australian actor who played Peter in Pan and Calvin in A Wrinkle in Time could bring the charismatic London street urchin to life.

Charlie – Jacob Tremblay, the young Canadian actor who played Auggie in Wonder and Jack in Room would break hearts as...[read on]
Visit Keely Hutton's website.

The Page 69 Test: Soldier Boy.

My Book, The Movie: Soldier Boy.

The Page 69 Test: Secret Soldiers.

Writers Read: Keely Hutton.

My Book, The Movie: Secret Soldiers.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Pg. 69: Mindee Arnett's "Shadow & Flame"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Shadow & Flame by Mindee Arnett.

About the book, from the publisher:
They call her the Wilder Queen. It’s a title given to Kate Brighton for her role in the war between the wilder rebellion and the Rimish empire. It’s a title that was hard earned: Kate may have saved her people, but many were lost in the conflict, immortalized in the tattoos of fire that grace her arms.

And it’s a title that Kate never wanted. The rebellion may have made a home for themselves in a country that wants to cast them out, but the peace will never be safe while Edwin, the illegitimate king of Rime, sits upon its throne. And for that, the Wilder Queen must keep hers.

Now war is brewing once again. Kate and her allies receive word of a threat to their ambassador in the Rimish capital; meanwhile, across the channel in Seva, an army is being assembled to conquer Rime—and a prisoner slave named Clash may hold the key to ending the conflict once and for all.

As enemies close in on Kate and Clash from all sides, they must choose where their loyalties lie—with their people, with their loved ones, or with themselves.

The epic story that began with Onyx & Ivory comes to a stunning conclusion as acclaimed author Mindee Arnett throws readers into a beautiful, terrifying world poised on a razor’s edge in its struggle for survival.
Visit Mindee Arnett's website.

The Page 69 Test: Avalon.

The Page 69 Test: Onyx & Ivory.

The Page 69 Test: Shadow & Flame.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top crime novels with small-town settings & big social issues

Terry Shames grew up in Texas, and her Samuel Craddock series, set in the fictitious town of Jarrett Creek, is based on the fascinating people, landscape, and culture of the small town where her grandparents lived.

The first book in the series A Killing at Cotton Hill received the Macavity Award for Best First Mystery of 2013.

The newest (and eighth) book in the series is A Risky Undertaking for Loretta Singletary.

At CrimeReads, Shames tagged ten favorite crime novels that "use small-town settings to explore the day's most important and complex issues," including:

Craig Johnson, Depth of Winter

Issue: Organized Crime

Walt Longmire, Craig Johnson’s sheriff and hero of fictional Absaroka County, Wyoming, tackles the issue of drugs in Depth of Winter. The head of a violent cartel has kidnapped his daughter. The American and Mexican governments are reluctant to step in, and Walt becomes a one-man army against the cartel.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Robin Wolfe Scheffler's "A Contagious Cause"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: A Contagious Cause: The American Hunt for Cancer Viruses and the Rise of Molecular Medicine by Robin Wolfe Scheffler.

About the book, from the publisher:
Is cancer a contagious disease? In the late nineteenth century this idea, and attending efforts to identify a cancer “germ,” inspired fear and ignited controversy. Yet speculation that cancer might be contagious also contained a kernel of hope that the strategies used against infectious diseases, especially vaccination, might be able to subdue this dread disease. Today, nearly one in six cancers are thought to have an infectious cause, but the path to that understanding was twisting and turbulent.

A Contagious Cause is the first book to trace the century-long hunt for a human cancer virus in America, an effort whose scale exceeded that of the Human Genome Project. The government’s campaign merged the worlds of molecular biology, public health, and military planning in the name of translating laboratory discoveries into useful medical therapies. However, its expansion into biomedical research sparked fierce conflict. Many biologists dismissed the suggestion that research should be planned and the idea of curing cancer by a vaccine or any other means as unrealistic, if not dangerous. Although the American hunt was ultimately fruitless, this effort nonetheless profoundly shaped our understanding of life at its most fundamental levels. A Contagious Cause links laboratory and legislature as has rarely been done before, creating a new chapter in the histories of science and American politics.
Learn more about A Contagious Cause at the University of Chicago Press website.

The Page 99 Test: A Contagious Cause.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Top ten books for "Stranger Things" fans

At the Waterstones blog, Mark Skinner tagged ten top reads for Stranger Things fans, including:
Wanderers
Chuck Wendig

Wanderers takes the reader on a journey through a crippled America, where an army of sleepwalkers may hold the key to a mysterious epidemic that is claiming the lives of millions. Wendig’s writing is astonishingly consistent throughout the novel’s 800 pages, with the humanity he brings to his huge cast complementing the disturbing twists and turns of the narrative in the most rewarding fashion.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Hilary Davidson reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Hilary Davidson, author of One Small Sacrifice (Shadows of New York).

Her entry begins:
I was on book tour recently, and my most recent reading has been influenced by the writers I appeared with. I’d never met Laird Barron before we did an event together at Scottsdale’s Poisoned Pen, but I’d heard about his work in the horror genre. Before our event, I read his new novel, Black Mountain, which is the second in his Isaiah Coleridge series. There were a lot of reasons I loved the book, starting with how the author incorporated mythology from several cultures. Isaiah Coleridge himself is half-Maori, half-Celt, and there are dreamlike sequences that are very different from what I’ve encountered in most crime novels. The private investigator novel is well-trod terrain, but Barron’s version came with...[read on]
About One Small Sacrifice, from the publisher:
An apparent suicide. A mysterious disappearance. Did one man get away with murder—twice?

NYPD detective Sheryn Sterling has had her eye on Alex Traynor ever since his friend Cori fell to her death under suspicious circumstances a year ago. Cori’s death was ruled a suicide, but Sheryn thinks Alex—a wartime photojournalist suffering from PTSD—got away with murder.

When Alex’s fiancĂ©e, Emily, a talented and beloved local doctor, suddenly goes missing, Sheryn suspects that Alex is again at the center of a sticky case. Sheryn dislikes loose ends, and Cori’s death had way too many of them.

But as Sheryn starts pulling at the threads in this web, her whole theory unravels. Everyone involved remembers the night Cori died differently—and the truth about her death could be the key to solving Emily’s disappearance.
Learn more about the book and the author at the official Hilary Davidson site.

The Page 69 Test: The Damage Done.

The Page 69 Test: Blood Always Tells.

The Page 69 Test: One Small Sacrifice.

Writers Read: Hilary Davidson.

--Marshal Zeringue

J. Todd Scott's "This Side of Night," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: This Side of Night by J. Todd Scott.

The entry begins:
This is a more interesting question now that I’ve been more actively involved in the “Hollywood side” of things on several projects, including the adaptation and development of my own books. Throughout the process, I’ve met both actors and directors, and I find the whole book-to-script-to-screen process fascinating…and slow…and frustrating….

That being said, I love the idea of making films, and often visualize how I’d “shoot” my own novel scenes as I write them. I’ve always had a “pocket list” of directors I’d be thrilled to see work on the Big Bend novels (and frankly, This Side of Night is probably the most “cinematic” of the three), but there are some great female directors working now I’d love to see tackle my stuff, particularly since America Reynosa is such a central character. In no particular order: Jennifer Kent, Sarah Polley, and...[read on]
Visit J. Todd Scott's website.

The Page 69 Test: High White Sun.

My Book, The Movie: High White Sun.

My Book, The Movie: This Side of Night.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 12, 2019

Pg. 69: Heather Child's "Everything About You"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Everything About You by Heather Child.

About the book, from the publisher:
THINK TWICE BEFORE YOU SHARE YOUR LIFE ONLINE.

Freya has a new virtual assistant. It knows what she likes, knows what she wants and knows whose voice she most needs to hear: her missing sister's.

It adopts her sister's personality, recreating her through a life lived online. But this virtual version of her sister knows things it shouldn't be possible to know. It's almost as if the missing girl is still out there somewhere, feeding fresh updates into the cloud. But that's impossible. Isn't it?
Visit Heather Child's website.

The Page 69 Test: Everything About You.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Jacquelyn Dowd Hall's "Sisters and Rebels"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Sisters and Rebels: A Struggle for the Soul of America by Jacquelyn Dowd Hall.

About the book, from the publisher:
Three sisters from the South wrestle with orthodoxies of race, sexuality, and privilege.

Descendants of a prominent slaveholding family, Elizabeth, Grace, and Katharine Lumpkin grew up in a culture of white supremacy. But while Elizabeth remained a lifelong believer, her younger sisters chose vastly different lives. Seeking their fortunes in the North, Grace and Katharine reinvented themselves as radical thinkers whose literary works and organizing efforts brought the nation’s attention to issues of region, race, and labor.

In Sisters and Rebels, National Humanities Award–winning historian Jacquelyn Dowd Hall follows the divergent paths of the Lumpkin sisters, who were “estranged and yet forever entangled” by their mutual obsession with the South. Tracing the wounds and unsung victories of the past through to the contemporary moment, Hall revives a buried tradition of Southern expatriation and progressivism; explores the lost, revolutionary zeal of the early twentieth century; and muses on the fraught ties of sisterhood.

Grounded in decades of research, the family’s private papers, and interviews with Katharine and Grace, Sisters and Rebels unfolds an epic narrative of American history through the lives and works of three Southern women.
Visit Jacquelyn Dowd Hall's website.

The Page 99 Test: Sisters and Rebels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven unlikable women characters

Kristen Lepionka is the Shamus Award-winning and Anthony and Macavity Award-nominated author of The Last Place You Look and What You Want to See. Her newest Roxane Weary mystery is The Stories You Tell. She grew up mostly in her local public library, where she could be found with a big stack of adult mysteries before she was out of middle school. Lepionka is a co-founder of the feminist podcast Unlikeable Female Characters, and she lives in Columbus, Ohio, with her partner and two cats.

One of Lepionka's seven favorite unlikable female characters, as shared at CrimeReads:

They All Fall Down (Rachel Howzell Hall)

This thriller is a smart, modern update to a locked-room mystery like And Then There Were None, and it’s chock full of deliciously unlikeable characters who all converge on a remote island for different reasons. I interviewed Rachel back in March, and we talked about how women of color, in particular, are forced to confront expectations of “being nice” all the time.
Learn about another entry on the list.

The Page 69 Test: They All Fall Down.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Pg. 69: Julie McElwain's "Betrayal in Time"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Betrayal in Time by Julie McElwain.

About the book, from the publisher:
Kendra Donovan’s adventures in nineteenth-century England continue when she is called upon to investigate the murder of a spymaster.

February 1816: A race through the icy, twisting cobblestone streets of London ends inside an abandoned church—and a horrific discovery. Bow Street Runner Sam Kelly is called to investigate the grisly murder of Sir Giles Holbrooke, who was left naked and garroted, with his tongue cut out. Yet as perplexing as that crime is, it becomes even stranger when symbols that resemble crosses mysteriously begin to appear across the dead man’s flesh during autopsy. Is it a message from the killer?

Sam turns to the one person in the kingdom who he believes can answer that question and solve the bizarre murder—the Duke of Aldridge’s odd but brilliant ward, Kendra Donovan.

While Kendra has been trying to adapt to her new life in the early nineteenth century, she is eager to use her skills as a twenty-first century FBI agent again. And she will need all her investigative prowess, because Sir Giles was not an average citizen. He was one of England’s most clever spymasters, whose life had been filled with intrigue and subterfuge.

Kendra’s return to the gritty streets and glittering ballrooms of London takes her down increasingly dangerous paths. When another body is discovered, murdered in the same apparently ritualistic manner as Sir Giles, the American begins to realize that they are dealing with a killer with an agenda, whose mind has been twisted by rage and bitterness so that the price of a perceived betrayal is death.
Visit Julie McElwain's website.

The Page 69 Test: Caught in Time.

My Book, The Movie: Betrayal in Time.

The Page 69 Test: Betrayal in Time.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Keely Hutton reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Keely Hutton, author of Secret Soldiers.

From her entry:
In May, I read King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo. I am a huge fan of Bardugo’s novels, and King of Scars did not disappoint. I was delighted to find characters from her Grisha Trilogy and Six of Crows duology in the first book of her new duology. Her beautiful writing, memorable characters, and fast-paced adventures immerse you in the Grishaverse she’s created and leave you wishing the next novel was already available.

Following King of Scars, I read Refugee by Alan Gratz. A teacher-friend recommended the book, and I devoured it in two days. This heartbreaking middle grade novel follows...[read on]
About Secret Soldiers, from the publisher:
Over a quarter million underage British boys fought on the Allied front lines of the Great War, but not all of them fought on the battlefield—some fought beneath it, as revealed in this middle-grade historical adventure about a deadly underground mission.

Secret Soldiers
follows the journey of Thomas, a thirteen-year-old coal miner, who lies about his age to join the Claykickers, a specialized crew of soldiers known as “tunnelers,” in hopes of finding his missing older brother. Thomas works in the tunnels of the Western Front alongside three other soldier boys whose constant bickering and inexperience in mining may prove more lethal than the enemy digging toward them. But as they burrow deeper beneath the battlefield, the boys discover the men they hope to become and forge a bond of brotherhood.

Secret Soldiers is another stunning story of strength, perseverance, and love from Keely Hutton.
Visit Keely Hutton's website.

The Page 69 Test: Soldier Boy.

My Book, The Movie: Soldier Boy.

The Page 69 Test: Secret Soldiers.

Writers Read: Keely Hutton.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Kajsa Norman's "Sweden's Dark Soul"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Sweden's Dark Soul: The Unravelling of a Utopia by Kajsa Norman.

About the book, from the publisher:
Reporter Chang Frick grew up dark-haired in a nation of blonds. Ostracized as a child, in adulthood he set out to expose the hypocrisy of Swedish society. When he revealed the cover-up of mass sexual assaults on teen girls at a 2015 music festival, he provoked a chain reaction that rattled the nation. Sweden's elites shirked responsibility and rushed to discredit him.

Although Sweden boasts the world's oldest free press, its history of homogeneity and social engineering has created a culture where few dare dissent from consensus, those who do are driven to extremes, and there is no place for outsiders--even those who conform.

In this groundbreaking book, investigative journalist Kajsa Norman turns her fearless gaze on the oppressive forces at the heart of Sweden's 'model democracy'. Weaving the history of its social politics with the stories of Frick and other outcasts, Norman exposes the darkness in the Swedish soul.
Visit Kajsa Norman's website.

The Page 99 Test: Sweden's Dark Soul.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten books on Burma

David Eimer is the author of the critically acclaimed The Emperor Far Away: Travels at the Edge of China. A former China correspondent for the Sunday Telegraph, Eimer was the Southeast Asia correspondent for the Daily Telegraph between 2012 and 2014. He is currently based in Bangkok.

His new book is A Savage Dreamland: Journeys in Burma.

One of Eimer's ten top books on Burma, as shared at the Guardian:
Burmese Days by George Orwell

The sweet sibilance of the title alone makes this a compulsory choice. Orwell spent five years in Burma in the 1920s as a policeman, alternately racked with self-loathing over his role as a colonial enforcer and enraged by the locals’ increasing disdain for the British presence in their country. All that bile came out in this devastating portrait of small-minded, deeply racist Brits in a tiny up-country town. It is a damning indictment of imperial rule.
Read about another entry on the list.

See Rory MacLean's top ten books on Burma.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Pg. 69: S.J. Rozan's "Paper Son"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Paper Son by S. J. Rozan.

About the book, from the publisher:
The latest Lydia Chin/Bill Smith mystery takes the acclaimed detective duo into the Deep South to investigate a murder within the Chinese community.

The Most Southern Place on Earth: that’s what they call the Mississippi Delta. It’s not a place Lydia Chin, an American-born Chinese private detective from Chinatown, NYC, ever thought she’d have reason to go. But when her mother tells her a cousin Lydia didn’t know she had is in jail in Clarksdale, Mississippi—and that Lydia has to rush down south and get him out—Lydia finds herself rolling down Highway 61 with Bill Smith, her partner, behind the wheel.

From the river levees to the refinement of Oxford, from old cotton gins to new computer scams, Lydia soon finds that nothing in Mississippi is as she expected it to be. Including her cousin’s legal troubles—or possibly even his innocence. Can she uncover the truth in a place more foreign to her than any she’s ever seen?
Visit S.J. Rozan's website.

The Page 69 Test: Paper Son.

--Marshal Zeringue

Julie McElwain's "Betrayal in Time," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Betrayal in Time by Julie McElwain.

The entry begins:
When my first book, A Murder in Time, was published, many people asked me who I envisioned as Kendra when I was writing the book. Honestly, I didn’t have anyone in mind when I was writing the novel. Kendra was purely a figment of my imagination. However, since A Murder in Time was optioned for a TV series, I have had a chance to fantasize a bit. I love that there are a lot of action-oriented roles for women in Hollywood these days — where a woman saves the day rather than waiting to be saved. Kendra is a super-smart, slightly awkward, kick-ass woman who saves the day. Based on that, I can see several actresses in the role, but narrowed them down to the following four. Cobie Smulders, who showed off her comedic skills in How I Met Your Mother, and then flexed her muscle (literally) by playing Turner in Jack Reacher: Never Go Back as well as Maria in the Avengers movies. Summer Glau. She was the Terminator in the TV series. Really...[read on]
Visit Julie McElwain's website.

The Page 69 Test: Caught in Time.

My Book, The Movie: Betrayal in Time.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Sharon Marcus's "The Drama of Celebrity"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Drama of Celebrity by Sharon Marcus.

About the book, from the publisher:
A bold new account of how celebrity works

Why do so many people care so much about celebrities? Who decides who gets to be a star? What are the privileges and pleasures of fandom? Do celebrities ever deserve the outsized attention they receive?

In this fascinating and deeply researched book, Sharon Marcus challenges everything you thought you knew about our obsession with fame. Icons are not merely famous for being famous; the media alone cannot make or break stars; fans are not simply passive dupes. Instead, journalists, the public, and celebrities themselves all compete, passionately and expertly, to shape the stories we tell about celebrities and fans. The result: a high-stakes drama as endless as it is unpredictable.

Drawing on scrapbooks, personal diaries, and vintage fan mail, Marcus traces celebrity culture back to its nineteenth-century roots, when people the world over found themselves captivated by celebrity chefs, bad-boy poets, and actors such as the “divine” Sarah Bernhardt (1844–1923), as famous in her day as the Beatles in theirs. Known in her youth for sleeping in a coffin, hailed in maturity as a woman of genius, Bernhardt became a global superstar thanks to savvy engagement with her era’s most innovative media and technologies: the popular press, commercial photography, and speedy new forms of travel.

Whether you love celebrity culture or hate it, The Drama of Celebrity will change how you think about one of the most important phenomena of modern times.
Learn more about The Drama of Celebrity at the Princeton University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: The Drama of Celebrity.

--Marshal Zeringue

Nine notable moral compromises in crime fiction

Carl Vonderau is the author of Murderabilia, a thriller that takes place in the upper crust world of private banking. Like the protagonist, William McNary, he has been a private banker and was raised in a Christian Science family.

At CrimeReads Vonderau tagged nine of the greatest moral compromises in crime fiction, including:
Give me Your Hand, by Megan Abbott

Kit wants to escape her past for a different reason than Clarice Starling. Her best friend in high school, Diane, spurred her to academic achievement. But Diane also committed a terrible crime. When she confessed to Kit, Kit shunned her but never went to the police. Kit has felt complicit ever since.

The story is told in flashbacks and present time. In the present, Kit works in a prestigious research lab and is shocked when Diane joins the same lab. A terrible accident occurs and Kit may be held criminally responsible. She needs Diane’s help to cover it up and save her career. Diane hopes that Kit will now forgive her. But Kit’s compromise leads to more lies. She is becoming like Diane, inexorably edging toward worse things. Both the past and the present crimes tie them together.

This novel poses a contemporary question: What sacrifice will very ambitious women make for their careers? Long a male question, this is now firmly one for female characters, as well. The three principal women in the novel—Kit, Diane, and Dr. Severin, the professor in charge of the lab—have all chosen their careers over their romantic relationships. As people die, Kit feels guilty and bereft. At the same time, she can’t help feeling proud of being in this prestigious lab that’s doing groundbreaking research. She basks in the glow of Dr. Severin’s compliments and feels her future unfurling. Ambition is as much a morally ambiguous ally as Diane.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Pg. 69: Keely Hutton's "Secret Soldiers"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Secret Soldiers by Keely Hutton.

About the book, from the publisher:
Over a quarter million underage British boys fought on the Allied front lines of the Great War, but not all of them fought on the battlefield—some fought beneath it, as revealed in this middle-grade historical adventure about a deadly underground mission.

Secret Soldiers
follows the journey of Thomas, a thirteen-year-old coal miner, who lies about his age to join the Claykickers, a specialized crew of soldiers known as “tunnelers,” in hopes of finding his missing older brother. Thomas works in the tunnels of the Western Front alongside three other soldier boys whose constant bickering and inexperience in mining may prove more lethal than the enemy digging toward them. But as they burrow deeper beneath the battlefield, the boys discover the men they hope to become and forge a bond of brotherhood.

Secret Soldiers is another stunning story of strength, perseverance, and love from Keely Hutton.
Visit Keely Hutton's website.

The Page 69 Test: Soldier Boy.

My Book, The Movie: Soldier Boy.

Writers Read: Keely Hutton (July 2017).

The Page 69 Test: Secret Soldiers.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Garry Disher reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Garry Disher, author of Under the Cold Bright Lights.

His entry begins:
An Australian, I have been reading more Australian fiction recently, especially the crime novels The Dry by Jane Harper, and Scrublands by Chris Hammer. My crime novel Bitter Wash Road (published by Soho in the US), sits comfortably with both books in a sub-genre we might call "outback noir". The setting is remote rural rather than urban, and, crucially, the lead investigators are...[read on]
About Under the Cold Bright Lights, from the publisher:
A cold-case investigator will stop at nothing to find justice in this gripping standalone by Australian crime legend Garry Disher.

The young detectives think Alan Auhl is washed up, but that doesn’t faze him. He does things his own way—and gets results.

He still lives with his ex-wife, offand on, in a big house full of random boarders and hard-luck stories. And he’s still a cop, even though he retired from Homicide some years ago.

He works cold cases now. Like the death of John Elphick—his daughters are still convinced he was murdered; the coroner is not so sure. Or the skeleton that’s just been found under a concrete slab. Or the doctor who killed two wives and a girlfriend, and left no evidence at all.

Auhl will stick with these cases until justice is done. One way or another.
Visit Garry Disher's website.

The Page 69 Test: Under the Cold Bright Lights.

Writers Read: Garry Disher.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top sweltering Southern Gothic horror novels

At Tor.com Emily Hughes tagged five deliciously creepy Southern Gothic horror books, including:

The Reapers Are The Angels by Alden Bell

This is the zombie apocalypse made dreamlike and humid, Homer’s Odyssey with wicked blades, mannered soldiers, and grotesques at every turn. Temple, barely 16 and born into a world overrun by the dead years before, sees beauty everywhere—in schools of fish, in abandoned towns reclaimed by nature, even in the masses of the undead around her. She’s a wanderer with a hungry mind, traveling as much of the country as she can, running from a tragedy that devastated her years before—and from the man who’s hunting her.

Temple and her pursuer travel the American south from Florida to Texas, a landscape filled with desiccated walking corpses, moss-hung mansions, mutant hillbilly dynasties, refugee trains, and incandescent beauty. Bell has a knack for writing indelible imagery, and the prose here will haunt you well beyond the last page.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Reapers Are the Angels is among Ceridwen Christensen's six top zombie novels and Kimberly Turner's ten books every zombie fan must read.

The Page 69 Test: The Reapers Are the Angels.

My Book, the Movie: The Reapers Are the Angels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Adia Harvey Wingfield's "Flatlining"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Flatlining: Race, Work, and Health Care in the New Economy by Adia Harvey Wingfield.

About the book, from the publisher:
What happens to black health care professionals in the new economy, where work is insecure and organizational resources are scarce? In Flatlining, Adia Harvey Wingfield exposes how hospitals, clinics, and other institutions participate in “racial outsourcing,” relying heavily on black doctors, nurses, technicians, and physician assistants to do “equity work”—extra labor that makes organizations and their services more accessible to communities of color. Wingfield argues that as these organizations become more profit driven, they come to depend on black health care professionals to perform equity work to serve increasingly diverse constituencies. Yet black workers often do this labor without recognition, compensation, or support. Operating at the intersection of work, race, gender, and class, Wingfield makes plain the challenges that black employees must overcome and reveals the complicated issues of inequality in today’s workplaces and communities.
Learn more about Flatlining at the University of California Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Flatlining.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 08, 2019

Pg. 69: Lexie Elliott's "The Missing Years"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Missing Years by Lexie Elliott.

About the book, from the publisher:
The French Girl captivated readers with a twisting tale of psychological suspense. Now author Lexie Elliott heads to the foothills of the Scottish Highlands, where a woman’s tangled family history comes back to haunt her…

An eerie, old Scottish manor in the middle of nowhere that’s now hers.


Ailsa Calder has inherited half of a house. The other half belongs to a man who disappeared without a trace twenty-seven years ago–her father.

Leaving London behind to settle the inheritance from her mother’s estate, Ailsa returns to her childhood home, nestled amongst the craggy peaks of the Scottish Highlands, joined by the half-sister who’s almost a stranger to her.

Ailsa can’t escape the claustrophobic feeling that the house itself is watching her– as if her past hungers to consume her. She also can’t ignore how the neighborhood animals refuse to set one foot within the gates of the garden.

When the first nighttime intruder shows up, Ailsa fears that the manor’s careless rugged beauty could cost her everything.
Visit Lexie Elliott's website.

The Page 69 Test: The French Girl.

My Book, The Movie: The French Girl.

The Page 69 Test: The Missing Years.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Aminah Mae Safi reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Aminah Mae Safi, author of Tell Me How You Really Feel.

Her entry begins:
In terms of Young Adult, I've been reading If I'm Being Honest by Austin Siegemund-Broka and Emily Wibberly which has a great heroine— the mean girl who is usually the villain of most YA books. So I love turning that trope on its head. Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo, which is a fantastic just one day kind of story— it's Roman Holiday with a K-pop star in Hong Kong. And When the Light Went Out by Bridget Morrissey, because she's such a master of creating ensemble casts where you can keep everyone separate in your mind and understand all the character's underlying motivations and wants so cleanly. I love reading to learn a new way of telling a story and a more masterful way of...[read on]
About Tell Me How You Really Feel, from the publisher:
Aminah Mae Safi's Tell Me How You Really Feel is an ode to romantic comedies, following two girls on opposite sides of the social scale as they work together to make a movie and try very hard not to fall in love.

The first time Sana Khan asked out a girl–Rachel Recht—it went so badly that she never did it again. Rachel is a film buff and aspiring director, and she’s seen Carrie enough times to learn you can never trust cheerleaders (and beautiful people). Rachel was furious that Sana tried to prank her by asking her on a date.

But when it comes time for Rachel to cast her senior project, she realizes that there’s no more perfect lead than Sana—the girl she's sneered at in the halls for the past three years. And poor Sana—she says yes. She never did really get over that first crush, even if Rachel can barely stand to be in the same room as her.

Told in alternative viewpoints and set against the backdrop of Los Angeles in the springtime, when the rainy season rolls in and the Santa Ana's can still blow—these two girls are about to learn that in the city of dreams, anything is possible—even love.
Visit Aminah Mae Safi's website.

Writers Read: Aminah Mae Safi.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: John White's "The Contemporary Western"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Contemporary Western: An American Genre Post 9/11 by John White.

About the book, from the publisher:
The September 11th attacks in 2001 and the subsequent 'War on Terror' have had a profound effect on American cinema, and the contemporary Western is no exception. In this book, John White explores how films such as Open Range, True Grit and Jane Got a Gun reinforce a conservative myth of America exceptionalism; endorsing the use of extreme force in dealing with enemies and highlighting the importance of defending the homeland. Placing their characters within a dark world of confusion and horror, these films reflect the United States' post-9/11 uncertainties, and the conflict between civilised values and the brutality employed to defend them.
Learn more about The Contemporary Western at the publisher's website.

The Page 99 Test: The Contemporary Western.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top literary dystopias

At the Waterstones blog, Mark Skinner tagged five great literary dystopias, including:
Station Eleven
Emily St. John Mandel

Bursting with themes and ideas, Station Eleven is a literary novel that uses the architecture of dystopian fiction to ask searching questions about art and life, survival and decay. Mandel skillfully details the relationships between a group of travelling actors before and after a flu pandemic wipes out 99% of the world’s population.
Read about another entry on the list.

Station Eleven is among Claudia Gray's five essential books about plagues and pandemics, K Chess's five top fictional books inside of real books, Rebecca Kauffman's ten top musical novels, Nathan Englander’s ten favorite books, M.L. Rio’s five top novels inspired by Shakespeare, Anne Corlett's five top books with different takes on the apocalypse, Christopher Priest’s five top sci-fi books that make use of music, and Anne Charnock's five favorite books with fictitious works of art.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 07, 2019

Adam Mitzner's "A Matter of Will," the movie

Featured at My Book, the Movie: A Matter of Will by Adam Mitzner.

The entry begins:
As it turns out, A Matter of Will is already under option for film treatment by Company X and Emily Siegel. We haven’t discussed actors yet, but if they let me cast it (and I know they won’t), I’d go with:

Will Matthews — Ansel Elgort. I loved him in Baby Driver, and he is a graduate of New York City’s high school of performing arts, which both my daughters attended.

Sam Abaddon — The part calls for someone too handsome to be believed, with a definite dark side. Jon Hamm could do it justice, but it might hew too close to his Don Draper character. Idris Elba would also kill it, and…[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Adam Mitzner's website.

The Page 69 Test: A Conflict of Interest.

My Book, The Movie: A Conflict of Interest.

The Page 69 Test: A Case of Redemption.

My Book, The Movie: A Case of Redemption.

The Page 69 Test: Losing Faith.

My Book, The Movie: Losing Faith.

The Page 69 Test: A Matter of Will.

Writers Read: Adam Mitzner.

My Book, the Movie: A Matter of Will.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Garry Disher's "Under the Cold Bright Lights"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Under the Cold Bright Lights by Garry Disher.

About the book, from the publisher:
A cold-case investigator will stop at nothing to find justice in this gripping standalone by Australian crime legend Garry Disher.

The young detectives think Alan Auhl is washed up, but that doesn’t faze him. He does things his own way—and gets results.

He still lives with his ex-wife, offand on, in a big house full of random boarders and hard-luck stories. And he’s still a cop, even though he retired from Homicide some years ago.

He works cold cases now. Like the death of John Elphick—his daughters are still convinced he was murdered; the coroner is not so sure. Or the skeleton that’s just been found under a concrete slab. Or the doctor who killed two wives and a girlfriend, and left no evidence at all.

Auhl will stick with these cases until justice is done. One way or another.
Visit Garry Disher's website.

The Page 69 Test: Under the Cold Bright Lights.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six novels that explore the dark side of female relationships

Emily Liebert's new novel is Pretty Revenge.

At CrimeReads she tagged six novels that examine the dark side of female relationships, including:
The Last Time I Saw You by Liv Constantine (Harper)

Kate English’s mother, Lily, has been murdered in her swanky suburban home in Baltimore, and her former best friend from high school, Blaire, shows up at the funeral. Despite their falling out fifteen years earlier, all is forgiven, and Blaire adopts the role of Kate’s staunch protector and unrelenting investigator, as Lily’s killer looms. This novel is transfixing and full of twists and turns that will leave you breathless.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 69 Test: The Last Time I Saw You.

--Marshal Zeringue