Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Five top books about bad-ass modern-day magicians

David Mack is the New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty novels of science fiction, fantasy, and adventure, including the newly released The Iron Codex.

One of the author's five favorite books about bad-ass modern-day magicians, as shared at Tor.com:
The Magician King by Lev Grossman

When most fantasy readers think of Grossman’s best-selling The Magicians series, they think of it first as a portal fantasy. But its second volume features a major and hard-hitting urban fantasy element. The character of Julia Wicker, who was rejected by Brakebills despite her natural talent, refuses to abandon her pursuit of magical knowledge. Her search leads to her affiliation with a coven of urban “hedge-witches,” renegades who reject Brakebills’ stifling limitations. Though the book’s main character ostensibly is Quentin Coldwater, Julia is this book’s true heavy-hitter, because ultimately it is her illicitly obtained magical skill—and the loss and heartbreak she endures to get it—that saves the day and propels the story, albeit with dire consequences.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Pg. 99: Matthew Carr's "The Savage Frontier"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Savage Frontier: The Pyrenees in History and the Imagination by Matthew Carr.

About the book, from the publisher:
With the Catalonia crisis making international headlines, the unique cultural and geographic region bordering Spain and France has once again moved to the center of the world’s attention. In The Savage Frontier, acclaimed author and journalist Matthew Carr uncovers the fascinating, multilayered story of the Pyrenees region—at once a forbidding, mountainous frontier zone of stunning beauty, home to a unique culture, and a site of sharp conflict between nations and empires.

Carr follows the routes taken by monks, soldiers, poets, pilgrims, and refugees. He examines the people and events that have shaped the Pyrenees across the centuries, with a cast of characters including Napoleon, Hannibal, and Charlemagne; the eccentric British climber Henry Russell; Francisco Sabaté Llopart, the Catalan anarchist who waged a lone war against the Franco regime across the Pyrenees for years after the civil war; Camino de Santiago pilgrims; and the cellist Pablo Casals, who spent twenty-three years in exile only a few miles from the Spanish border to show his disgust and disapproval of the Spanish regime.

The Savage Frontier is a book that will spark a new awareness and appreciation of one of the most haunting, magical, and dramatic landscapes on earth.
Visit Matthew Carr's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Devils of Cardona.

Writers Read: Matthew Carr.

The Page 99 Test: The Savage Frontier.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is M. K. England reading?

Featured at Writers Read: M. K. England, author of The Disasters.

Her entry begins:
I'm a book juggler, and I frequently have several books going in a variety of formats at any given time.

In audio:

Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin

I'm one of those people who reads self-improvement books throughout the year, but especially at the new year. I just finished this is a great book about habit formation, narrated by the author, that embraces the fact that we're all different and there's no one right way to help a habit stick. A great way to kick off the year!

Nemesis by Brendan Reichs

I've been meaning to read this YA thriller forever and...[read on]
About The Disasters, from the publisher:
The Breakfast Club meets Guardians of the Galaxy in this YA sci-fi adventure by debut author M. K. England.

Hotshot pilot Nax Hall has a history of making poor life choices. So it’s not exactly a surprise when he’s kicked out of the elite Ellis Station Academy in less than twenty-four hours. But Nax’s one-way trip back to Earth is cut short when a terrorist group attacks the Academy.

Nax and three other washouts escape—barely—but they’re also the sole witnesses to the biggest crime in the history of space colonization. And the perfect scapegoats.

On the run, Nax and his fellow failures plan to pull off a dangerous heist to spread the truth. Because they may not be “Academy material,” and they may not even get along, but they’re the only ones left to step up and fight.

Full of high-stakes action, subversive humor, and underdogs becoming heroes, this YA sci-fi adventure is perfect for fans of Illuminae, Heart of Iron, or the cult classic TV show Firefly and is also a page-turning thrill ride that anyone—not just space nerds—can enjoy.
Visit M. K. England's website.

Writers Read: M. K. England.

--Marshal Zeringue

Molly MacRae's "Crewel and Unusual," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Crewel and Unusual (Haunted Yarn Shop Series #6) by Molly MacRae.

The entry begins:
A few years ago, I cast the recurring characters in the Haunted Yarn Shop mysteries (see My Book, The Movie – Knot the Usual Suspects, October 21, 2015). Those choices still stand, so here’s my dream cast for the characters new to the series who appear in Crewel and Unusual. (Side note: I chose this cast two weeks before the Golden Globes and I can’t believe how prescient I was considering Patricia Arquette’s win and the stir created by Jamie Lee Curtis’ stunning appearance).

For Belinda Moyer – Patricia Arquette. Belinda is bright, but not terribly well-educated. She knows a good deal when she sees one, but isn’t the savviest businesswoman. She’s suspicious and secretive. Arquette will be able to balance these contradictions sympathetically. Of course, now that Arquette has won the Golden Globe, she might be too busy.

For Martha the enamelist – Jamie Lee Curtis. Martha is confident, matter-of-fact, and doesn’t suffer fools gladly. She wears her gray hair in a long braid, so Curtis will have to wear a wig, but I bet she’ll do it and look like a goddess.

For Sierra Estep – Emma...[read on]
Visit Molly MacRae's website.

My Book, The Movie: Knot the Usual Suspects.

The Page 69 Test: Knot the Usual Suspects.

My Book, The Movie: Plaid and Plagiarism.

The Page 69 Test: Plaid and Plagiarism.

The Page 69 Test: Scones and Scoundrels.

My Book, The Movie: Scones and Scoundrels.

The Page 69 Test: Crewel and Unusual.

My Book, The Movie: Crewel and Unusual.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven top conspiracy thrillers from the 1970s

Daniel Palmer is a critically acclaimed suspense novelist.

One of his seven favorite conspiracy thrillers of the 1970s, as shared at CrimeReads:
Thomas Harris, Black Sunday

The 1975 novel by Thomas Harris (yes, the same Thomas Harris who gave us Hannibal Lecter) deals with a pact between Michael Lander, a pilot who flies the Aldrich Blimp over NFL football games, and Black September, the terrorist organization responsible for the massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics. Lander, a former POW from the Vietnam War, is deranged and angry at all the happy football fans he helps film from high above, which is why he’s willing to kill himself and take as many people as possible with him in the process. Like The Day of the Jackal, the book is a hunt as American and Israeli intelligence forces track the path of explosives into the country that will eventually lead them to a blimp bomb made of plastique and a quarter million steel darts. Harris makes the case that conspiracies don’t have to involve shadowy governments to be terrifying. He also portrays how war can do an equally good job of creating killers as any covert government operation. Black Sunday was the novel my father returned to on many occasions when he needed reminders of how to build suspense to a knuckle-whitening degree.
Learn about another book on the list.

Black Sunday is among Howard Gordon's five best thrillers with terror themes and Gerald Seymour's five riveting novels about terrorism.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 14, 2019

Pg. 99: Andrew R. Murphy's "William Penn: A Life"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: William Penn: A Life by Andrew R. Murphy.

About the book, from the publisher:
On March 4, 1681, King Charles II granted William Penn a charter for a new American colony. Pennsylvania was to be, in its founder's words, a bold "Holy Experiment" in religious freedom and toleration, a haven for those fleeing persecution in an increasingly intolerant England and across Europe. An activist, political theorist, and the proprietor of his own colony, Penn would become a household name in the New World, despite spending just four years on American soil.

Though Penn is an iconic figure in both American and British history, controversy swirled around him during his lifetime. In his early twenties, Penn became a Quaker -- an act of religious as well as political rebellion that put an end to his father's dream that young William would one day join the English elite. Yet Penn went on to a prominent public career as a Quaker spokesman, political agitator, and royal courtier. At the height of his influence, Penn was one of the best-known Dissenters in England and walked the halls of power as a close ally of King James II. At his lowest point, he found himself jailed on suspicion of treason, and later served time in debtor's prison.

Despite his importance, William Penn has remained an elusive character -- many people know his name, but few know much more than that. Andrew R. Murphy offers the first major biography of Penn in more than forty years, and the first to make full use of Penn's private papers. The result is a complex portrait of a man whose legacy we are still grappling with today. At a time when religious freedom is hotly debated in the United States and around the world, William Penn's Holy Experiment serves as both a beacon and a challenge.
Learn more about Andrew R. Murphy's research and publications at his faculty webpage and follow him on Twitter.

The Page 99 Test: Prodigal Nation.

The Page 99 Test: William Penn: A Life.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eight top examples of writing about sex

Hannah Tennant-Moore is the author of Wreck and Order.

At LitHub she tagged a "collection of credible, affecting sex scenes by writers who are celebrated not for their illicit content, but for their uncommonly precise prose and insightful observations of human nature," including:
In American Purgatorio by John Haskell—one of the great, underappreciated novels of the last decade—a man is lost, desperate, and grieving because his wife has disappeared. In an effort at healing, he tries to get himself to cross over what he calls “the sexual membrane” that “separates our everyday life from our sexual life.” He believes that feeling aroused will help him out of the prison of his own pain: “If I would have a little more desire then my thoughts—and by virtue of my thoughts, my life—would automatically focus on the world and enter the world and pull me away from my suffering.” So he hits on a woman at a party, and they go into a room together and start making out. They work hard to “cross the membrane,” but ultimately remain separate and unsatisfied because they’re each trying to...[read on]
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 69 Test: John Haskell's American Purgatorio.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Matthew Carr reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Matthew Carr, author of The Savage Frontier: The Pyrenees in History and the Imagination.

His entry begins:
When I'm writing non-fiction, my reading tends be dominated by the subject in hand. I try to read obsessively on whatever project i'm writing about so that I'm completely filled up by it. When I'm in between books, as I am now, I try to read more freely, either catching up on books I've been looking forward to, or following possibilities that interest me. I'm currently looking into the possibility of a book on the Arctic, so I read Barry Lopez's Arctic Dreams. Few people write more eloquently or gracefully about landscape and nature than Lopez. Every time I read him...[read on]
About The Savage Frontier, from the publisher:
With the Catalonia crisis making international headlines, the unique cultural and geographic region bordering Spain and France has once again moved to the center of the world’s attention. In The Savage Frontier, acclaimed author and journalist Matthew Carr uncovers the fascinating, multilayered story of the Pyrenees region—at once a forbidding, mountainous frontier zone of stunning beauty, home to a unique culture, and a site of sharp conflict between nations and empires.

Carr follows the routes taken by monks, soldiers, poets, pilgrims, and refugees. He examines the people and events that have shaped the Pyrenees across the centuries, with a cast of characters including Napoleon, Hannibal, and Charlemagne; the eccentric British climber Henry Russell; Francisco Sabaté Llopart, the Catalan anarchist who waged a lone war against the Franco regime across the Pyrenees for years after the civil war; Camino de Santiago pilgrims; and the cellist Pablo Casals, who spent twenty-three years in exile only a few miles from the Spanish border to show his disgust and disapproval of the Spanish regime.

The Savage Frontier is a book that will spark a new awareness and appreciation of one of the most haunting, magical, and dramatic landscapes on earth.
Visit Matthew Carr's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Devils of Cardona.

Writers Read: Matthew Carr.

--Marshal Zeringue

Kristen Roupenian's six best books

Kristen Roupenian's new story collection is You Know You Want This.

One of her six favorite books, as shared at The Week magazine:
My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite (2018).

This debut novel has been everywhere these past few months, and the hype is 100 percent deserved. Gorgeous, narcissistic, and Instagram-obsessed, the title character keeps accidentally-on-purpose killing her boyfriends and calling on her reliable older sister to clean up her mess. A fast-paced thriller that also brilliantly captures sisterhood's dance of love and envy.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Pg. 99: Karin Vélez's "The Miraculous Flying House of Loreto"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Miraculous Flying House of Loreto: Spreading Catholicism in the Early Modern World by Karin Vélez.

About the book, from the publisher:
In 1295, a house fell from the evening sky onto an Italian coastal road by the Adriatic Sea. Inside, awestruck locals encountered the Virgin Mary, who explained that this humble mud-brick structure was her original residence newly arrived from Nazareth. To keep it from the hands of Muslim invaders, angels had flown it to Loreto, stopping three times along the way. This story of the house of Loreto has been read as an allegory of how Catholicism spread peacefully around the world by dropping miraculously from the heavens.

In this book, Karin Vélez calls that interpretation into question by examining historical accounts of the movement of the Holy House across the Mediterranean in the thirteenth century and the Atlantic in the seventeenth century. These records indicate vast and voluntary involvement in the project of formulating a branch of Catholic devotion. Vélez surveys the efforts of European Jesuits, Slavic migrants, and indigenous peoples in Baja California, Canada, and Peru. These individuals contributed to the expansion of Catholicism by acting as unofficial authors, inadvertent pilgrims, unlicensed architects, unacknowledged artists, and unsolicited cataloguers of Loreto. Their participation in portaging Mary’s house challenges traditional views of Christianity as a prepackaged European export, and instead suggests that Christianity is the cumulative product of thousands of self-appointed editors. Vélez also demonstrates how miracle narratives can be treated seriously as historical sources that preserve traces of real events.

Drawing on rich archival materials, The Miraculous Flying House of Loreto illustrates how global Catholicism proliferated through independent initiatives of untrained laymen.
Learn more about The Miraculous Flying House of Loreto at the Princeton University Press website.

My Book, The Movie: The Miraculous Flying House of Loreto.

The Page 99 Test: The Miraculous Flying House of Loreto.

--Marshal Zeringue

Jess Montgomery's "The Widows," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Widows: A Novel by Jess Montgomery.

The entry begins:
As I wrote The Widows, I listened—repeatedly—to the soundtrack from the movie, Batman Begins. There are no bats in The Widows. The novel is set in 1920s Appalachia, as two women investigate murder and fight for their community.

But I’ve come to love writing to acoustic music. It helps me focus. And the sweeping, rhythmic score of Batman Begins was empowering to me, giving me courage to write some of the tougher scenes that at first I wanted to shirk from. (But that, of course, would not be fair to readers—or to me as a writer.)

Music also plays a role in the novel, particularly ballads and gospel. So perhaps it’s not surprising that the first thing I think about with “My Book, The Movie” for The Widows is who I’d like to write a theme song. And that is...[read on]
Visit Jess Montgomery's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Widows.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Nicolás Obregón's "Sins as Scarlet"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Sins as Scarlet: An Inspector Iwata Novel by Nicolás Obregón.

About the book, from the publisher:
In this follow-up to Nicolás Obregon’s critically acclaimed Blue Light Yokohama, Inspector Iwata returns—in a murder case in his new home of Los Angeles.

After a brutal investigation ripped apart his life, Kosuke Iwata quit both his job as a detective with the Tokyo Police Department and his country, leaving Japan for the sunnier shores of Los Angeles, California. But, although he’s determined to leave his past behind, murder still follows him.

Having set up shop as a private investigator, Iwata is approached by someone from his old life. Her daughter has been killed and the case has gone cold. Out of loyalty, Iwata agrees to take on the case and reinvestigate the homicide. However, what seems initially like a cold-blooded but simple murder takes a complex turn when a witness, a vagrant, recalls the killer's parting words: “I’m sorry.”

From the depths of Skid Row to the fatal expanse of the Sonoran Desert, Iwata tracks the disparate pieces of a mysterious and heartbreaking puzzle. But the more he unearths, the more complex this simple act of murder becomes.

Lives untangle, fates converge, and blood is spilled as Inspector Iwata returns.
Visit Nicolás Obregón's website.

The Page 69 Test: Sins as Scarlet.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top books to explore the Antarctic

Jean McNeil is the author of thirteen books, including six novels and a collection of short fiction, a collection of poetry, a travel guide and literary essays. Her work has been shortlisted for the Governor-General’s Award for fiction and the Journey Prize for short fiction (Canada).

Her 2016 book Ice Diaries: an Antarctic Memoir, which The New York Times has called 'stunningly written', won the Grand Prize at the Banff Mountain Film Festival Book Competition.

One of McNeil's best books to explore the Antarctic, as shared at the Guardian:
For a long time, Antarctica had only men to kill. Women were barred from the continent, supposedly due to the medical threats of pregnancy and the difficulty of repatriation. Not until the mid-1990s were they allowed to overwinter on British bases. Unlike Sara Wheeler or Gabrielle Walker, who offer perceptive accounts in Terra Incognita and Antarctica, Jenny Diski met a wall of rejection when she tried to travel there as an official observer, and took a berth on a cruise ship instead. Her morbid, acidic travelogue, Skating to Antarctica, is a haunting exploration of her inner Antarctic, which reflects this outsider status – all most of us will ever be on this remote continent.
Read another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Pg. 99: Matthew S. Seligmann's "Rum, Sodomy, Prayers and the Lash Revisited"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Rum, Sodomy, Prayers, and the Lash Revisited: Winston Churchill and Social Reform in the Royal Navy, 1900-1915 by Matthew S. Seligmann.

About the book, from the publisher:
"Naval tradition? Naval tradition? Monstrous. Nothing but rum, sodomy, prayers and the lash." This quotation, from Winston Churchill, is frequently dismissed as apocryphal or a jest, but, interestingly, all four of the areas of naval life singled out in it were ones that were subject to major reform initiatives while Churchill was in charge of the Royal Navy between October 1911 and May 1915. During this period, not only were there major improvements in pay and conditions for sailors, but detailed consideration was also given to the future of the spirit ration; to the punishing and eradicating of homosexual practices; to the spiritual concerns of the fleet; and to the regime of corporal punishment that underpinned naval discipline for boy sailors. In short, under Churchill, the Royal Navy introduced a social reform programme perfectly encapsulated in this elegant quip. And, yet, not only has no one studied it; many people do not even know that such a programme even existed. This book rectifies that. It shows that Churchill was not just a major architect of welfare reform as President of the Board of Trade and as Home Secretary, but that he continued to push a radical social agenda while running the Navy.
Learn more about Rum, Sodomy, Prayers, and the Lash Revisited at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Rum, Sodomy, Prayers, and the Lash Revisited.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eight books that fuel our fascination with twins

Emma Rous grew up in England, Indonesia, Kuwait, Portugal and Fiji, and from a young age she had two ambitions: to write stories, and to look after animals. She studied veterinary medicine and zoology at the University of Cambridge, then worked as a small animal veterinary surgeon for eighteen years before switching to full time writing in 2016.

The Au Pair is her first novel.

At CrimeReads Rous tagged eight novels that fuel our fascination with twins, including:
Beside Myself, Ann Morgan

Ellie and Helen are identical twins who switch places as a game when they’re six years old. Helen is the good girl, the favored daughter—or at least, she always has been, up until the point where Ellie insists on keeping Helen’s identity by refusing to switch back. The repercussions for each girl highlight just how much people’s subconscious expectations affect children’s behavior. Years later, as an adult, Helen receives a phone call that might just lead to the original deception finally being exposed.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is James L. Cambias reading?

Featured at Writers Read: James L. Cambias, author of Arkad's World.

His entry begins:
I typically have an "upstairs book" and a "downstairs book" so I'm never more than a few steps from some reading matter. I'm currently reading biographies of two very different men.

Upstairs I'm reading African Kaiser: General Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck and the Great War in Africa 1914-1918, by Robert Gaudi. It's a great book about one of my favorite historical figures: Colonel (later General) Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck, who commanded the Imperial German troops in East Africa during the First World War.

Von Lettow was an amazing military commander, who kept British and Commonwealth forces twenty times the size of his own army busy chasing him around Africa. When the war ended he was Germany's only undefeated general.

But beyond his military prowess, he seems to have been a genuinely good guy. One reason his little army was so effective was that...[read on]
About Arkad's World, from the publisher:
Young Arkad is the only human on a distant world, on his own among beings from across the Galaxy. His struggle to survive on the lawless streets of an alien city is disrupted by the arrival of three humans: an eccentric historian named Jacob, a superhuman cyborg girl called Baichi, and a mysterious ex-spy known as Ree. They seek a priceless treasure which might free Earth from alien domination. Arkad risks everything to join them on an incredible quest halfway across the planet. With his help they cross the fantastic landscape, battling pirates, mercenaries, bizarre creatures, vicious bandits and the harsh environment. But the deadliest danger comes from treachery and betrayal within the group as dark secrets and hidden loyalties come to light.
Visit James L. Cambias's website.

My Book, The Movie: A Darkling Sea.

Writers Read: James L. Cambias.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 11, 2019

Pg. 99: Lisa Greenwald's "Daughters of 1968"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Daughters of 1968: Redefining French Feminism and the Women's Liberation Movement by Lisa Greenwald.

About the book, from the publisher:
Daughters of 1968 is the story of French feminism between 1944 and 1981, when feminism played a central political role in the history of France. The key women during this epoch were often leftists committed to a materialist critique of society and were part of a postwar tradition that produced widespread social change, revamping the workplace and laws governing everything from abortion to marriage.

The May 1968 events—with their embrace of radical individualism and anti-authoritarianism—triggered a break from the past, and the women’s movement split into two strands. One became individualist and intensely activist, the other particularist and less activist, distancing itself from contemporary feminism. This theoretical debate manifested itself in battles between women and organizations on the streets and in the courts.

The history of French feminism is the history of women’s claims to individualism and citizenship that had been granted their male counterparts, at least in principle, in 1789. The few exceptions, such as Simone de Beauvoir or the 1970s activists, demonstrate the diversity and tensions within French feminism, as France moved from a corporatist and tradition-minded country to one marked by individualism and modernity.
Learn more about Daughters of 1968 at the University of Nebraska Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Daughters of 1968.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top books to read if you care about the planet

Bill McKibben is an author and environmentalist who in 2014 was awarded the Right Livelihood Prize, sometimes called the ‘alternative Nobel.’ His 1989 book The End of Nature is regarded as the first book for a general audience about climate change, and has appeared in 24 languages; he’s gone on to write a dozen more books.

His forthcoming book is Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?

One title on McKibben's 2015 list of five books to read if you care about the planet, as shared at LitHub:
The Tyranny of Oil, Antonia Juhasz: The reporter who’s really covered the most powerful and reckless industry on the planet.

“The masters of the oil industry, the companies known as ‘Big Oil,’ exercise their influence throughout this chain of events: through rapidly and ever-increasing oil and gasoline prices, a lack of viable alternatives, the erosion of democracy, environmental destruction, global warming, violence, and war.”
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Taylor Adams's "No Exit"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: No Exit: A Novel by Taylor Adams.

About the book, from the publisher:
A kidnapped little girl locked in a stranger’s van. No help for miles. What would you do?

On her way to Utah to see her dying mother, college student Darby Thorne gets caught in a fierce blizzard in the mountains of Colorado. With the roads impassable, she’s forced to wait out the storm at a remote highway rest stop. Inside are some vending machines, a coffee maker, and four complete strangers.

Desperate to find a signal to call home, Darby goes back out into the storm ... and makes a horrifying discovery. In the back of the van parked next to her car, a little girl is locked in an animal crate.

Who is the child? Why has she been taken? And how can Darby save her?

There is no cell phone reception, no telephone, and no way out. One of her fellow travelers is a kidnapper. But which one?

Trapped in an increasingly dangerous situation, with a child’s life and her own on the line, Darby must find a way to break the girl out of the van and escape.

But who can she trust?

With exquisitely controlled pacing, Taylor Adams diabolically ratchets up the tension with every page. Full of terrifying twists and hairpin turns, No Exit will have you on the edge of your seat and leave you breathless.
Visit Taylor Adams's website.

The Page 69 Test: No Exit.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Ten top books to read when the carnival is calling you

Steph Post is the author of A Tree Born Crooked, Lightwood, and Walk in the Fire, as well as a short story writer, reader, teacher and dog lover (among many other things...).

Her new novel is Miraculum.

At The Rumpus Post tagged ten books to read when the carnival is calling you, including:
The Changeling by Joy Williams

Reading Williams’s The Changeling may be the closest you can ever reach to stepping inside the mirrored funhouse of a fictional character’s mind. In a shadowy landscape—part seedy Americana, part Kennedy-esque Camelot, part primordial myth-making—we float along with Pearl as she drinks her way through endless days and tries to ignore the mounting anxiety growing like the ring of near-feral children who always surround her. Though punctuated with stark moments of lucidity, The Changeling is truly a beautiful nightmare exploring motherhood, womanhood, and the darker instincts bubbling up within us all.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: David A. Taylor's "Cork Wars"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Cork Wars: Intrigue and Industry in World War II by David A. Taylor.

About the book, from the publisher:
In 1940, with German U-boats blockading all commerce across the Atlantic Ocean, a fireball at the Crown Cork and Seal factory lit the sky over Baltimore. The newspapers said that you could see its glow as far north as Philadelphia and as far south as Annapolis. Rumors of Nazi sabotage led to an FBI investigation and pulled an entire industry into the machinery of national security as America stood on the brink of war.

In Cork Wars, David A. Taylor traces this fascinating story through the lives of three men and their families, who were all drawn into this dangerous intersection of enterprise and espionage. At the heart of this tale is self-made mogul Charles McManus, son of Irish immigrants, who grew up on Baltimore’s rough streets. McManus ran Crown Cork and Seal, a company that manufactured everything from bottle caps to oil-tight gaskets for fighter planes. Frank DiCara, as a young teenager growing up in Highlandtown, watched from his bedroom window as the fire blazed at the factory. Just a few years later, under pressure to support his family after the death of his father, DiCara quit school and got a job at Crown. Meanwhile, Melchor Marsa, Catalan by birth, managed Crown Cork and Seal’s plants in Spain and Portugal—and was perfectly placed to be recruited as a spy.

McManus, DiCara, and Marsa were connected by the unique properties of a seemingly innocuous substance. Cork, unrivaled as a sealant and insulator, was used in gaskets, bomber insulation, and ammunition, making it crucial to the war effort. From secret missions in North Africa to 4-H clubs growing seedlings in America to secret intelligence agents working undercover in the industry, this book examines cork’s surprising wartime significance. Drawing on in-depth interviews with surviving family members, personal collections, and recently declassified government records, Taylor weaves this by turns beautiful, dark, and outrageous narrative with the drama of a thriller. From the factory floor to the corner office, Cork Wars reflects shifts in our ideas of modernity, the environment, and the materials and norms of American life. World War II buffs—and anyone interested in a good yarn—will be gripped by this bold and frightening tale of a forgotten episode of American history.
Visit David A. Taylor's website.

The Page 99 Test: Cork Wars.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Thomas Perry reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Thomas Perry, author of The Burglar.

His entry begins:
What I find unusual at the moment is that this month I’ve been reading books that other people chose for me, and observing my own reactions. On March 3, 2019 I’ll be moderating a panel at the Tucson Festival of Books. I always start by reading the most recent books of the panelists. Here they are, in the order in which I read them.

The Friend by Sigrid Nunez. This just won the National Book Award. I’m often puzzled by the choices of award panels, but this time I’m not. This is a fine novel and I was lucky to have it included. The book is a kind of journal in which a no-longer-young woman who’s spent much of her life reading and discussing great books addresses “You,” a male friend who has committed suicide. He was her professor, mentor, briefly her lover, and her closest friend for the rest of his life. He has, at least according to his unpleasant and probably-lying third and final wife, left her his Great Dane. The book is...[read on]
About The Burglar, from the publisher:
Elle Stowell is a young woman with an unconventional profession: burglary. But Elle is no petty thief—with just the right combination of smarts, looks, and skills, she can easily stroll through ritzy Bel Air neighborhoods and pick out the perfect home for plucking the most valuable items. This is how Elle has always gotten by—she is good at it, and she thrives on the thrill. But after stumbling upon a grisly triple homicide while stealing from the home of a wealthy art dealer, Elle discovers that she is no longer the only one sneaking around. Somebody is searching for her.

As Elle realizes that her knowledge of the high-profile murder has made her a target, she races to solve the case before becoming the next casualty, using her breaking-and-entering skills to uncover the truth about exactly who the victims were and why someone might have wanted them dead. With high-stakes action and shocking revelations, The Burglar will keep readers on the edge of their seats as they barrel towards the heart-racing conclusion.
Learn more about the book and author at Thomas Perry's website and Facebook page.

The Page 69 Test: Silence.

The Page 99 Test: Nightlife.

The Page 69/99 Test: Fidelity.

The Page 69/99 Test: Runner.

The Page 69 Test: Strip.

The Page 69 Test: The Informant.

The Page 69 Test: The Boyfriend.

The Page 69 Test: A String of Beads.

The Page 69 Test: Forty Thieves.

The Page 69 Test: The Old Man.

The Page 69 Test: The Bomb Maker.

The Page 69 Test: The Burglar.

Writers Read: Thomas Perry.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five fully immersive psychological suspense novels

Laura Sims's new novel is Looker.

At CrimeReads she tagged five fully immersive novels of psychological suspense, including:
The Cry of the Owl by Patricia Highsmith

Highsmith is a master at peeling back the skin to reveal the heart of human nature, and The Cry of the Owl, her fourth book, is a particularly potent specimen. I read the novel years ago, and though the details have faded, I’ve never forgotten how the book feels, or the dark territory it explores. Her protagonist, Robert, is depressed after his divorce and wonders about the regular daily routine his therapist has encouraged him to adopt: waking in the morning, going to work, eating three meals a day, and so on. Robert tries, but makes a crack in this socially acceptable routine by spying on a girl through the windows of her isolated house. One might expect a typical stalker narrative to unravel from there, but when the girl, Jenny, catches him watching her, the story takes a bizarre and brilliant turn. No one captures mood and internal psychological landscapes like Highsmith does, in plain language and with minimal description; it’s a kind of magic act she performs.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Cry of the Owl is among John Mullan's ten best owls in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Mark Alpert's "The Coming Storm," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Coming Storm: A Thriller by Mark Alpert.

The entry begins:
My latest science thriller, The Coming Storm, is set in a dystopian near-future in which global warming has swamped New York City and a brutal White House has forced immigrants and the poor into the flooded detention zones. The novel’s heroine, Jenna Khan, is a brilliant geneticist who quits her laboratory after the government uses her genetic-engineering research for its ruthless campaign of repression.

Jenna is a Muslim woman in her thirties, a daughter of Pakistani immigrants. A good actress to portray her would Sofia Boutella, who appeared in Atomic Blonde and Star Trek Beyond. Boutella has done plenty of physically demanding roles, and that talent would definitely come in handy for playing Jenna, who has to race across Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens to stay ahead of the militarized federal police.

Jenna’s companion at the start of the novel is Derek Powell, a former soldier victimized by the government’s experiments. He’s an ambiguous character, part hero and part villain, so my choice for this role would be Michael...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Mark Alpert's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Omega Theory.

My Book, The Movie: Extinction.

My Book, The Movie: The Furies.

My Book, The Movie: The Coming Storm.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Murad Idris's "War for Peace"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: War for Peace: Genealogies of a Violent Ideal in Western and Islamic Thought by Murad Idris.

About the book, from the publisher:
Peace is a universal ideal, but its political life is a great paradox: "peace" is the opposite of war, but it also enables war. If peace is the elimination of war, then what does it mean to wage war for the sake of peace? What does peace mean when some say that they are committed to it but that their enemies do not value it? Why is it that associating peace with other ideals, like justice, friendship, security, and law, does little to distance peace from war?

Although political theory has dealt extensively with most major concepts that today define "the political" it has paid relatively scant critical attention to peace, the very concept that is often said to be the major aim and ideal of humanity. In War for Peace, Murad Idris looks at the ways that peace has been treated across the writings of ten thinkers from ancient and modern political thought, from Plato to Immanuel Kant and Sayyid Qutb, to produce an original and striking account of what peace means and how it works. Idris argues that peace is parasitical in that the addition of other ideals into peace, such as law, security, and friendship, reduces it to consensus and actually facilitates war; it is provincial in that its universalized content reflects particularistic desires and fears, constructions of difference, and hierarchies within humanity; and it is polemical, in that its idealization is not only the product of antagonisms, but also enables hostility. War for Peace uncovers the basis of peace's moralities and the political functions of its idealizations, historically and into the present. This bold and ambitious book confronts readers with the impurity of peace as an ideal, and the pressing need to think beyond universal peace.
Learn more about War for Peace at the Oxford University Pres website.

The Page 99 Test: War for Peace.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top Quakers in fiction

Bridget Collins, an amateur bookbinder, actor and Quaker, is the author of The Binding and seven books for teenagers.

One of ten notable Quakers in fiction she tagged for the Guardian:
Honor Bright in The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier

There’s a lot to love about Honor Bright, starting with her name. Leaving her family and Quaker Meeting behind her, she travels from England to America to start a new life, where she’s drawn into the Underground Railroad, the network that supported runaway slaves on their way to freedom. Although Honor finds solace in the quiet of Meeting, what really gives her strength is the grace of sincere friendship.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Molly MacRae's "Crewel and Unusual"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Crewel and Unusual (Haunted Yarn Shop Series #6) by Molly MacRae.

About the book, from the publisher:
The latest mystery in this charming mystery series finds the ever-resourceful Kath Rutledge and shop ghost Geneva tangled up in an embroidery rivalry—and a murder.

Yarn shop owner Kath Rutledge is looking forward to the grand opening of the Blue Plum Vault, a co-op of small shops on Main Street. But in the week before the grand opening, Kath and her needlework group, TGIF (Thank Goodness It’s Fiber), hear rumors of an unpleasant rivalry developing between two of the new shopkeepers. Nervie Bales and Belinda Moyer declare each other’s embroidery patterns and antique embroidered linens fakes, copies—and stolen goods. Kath is caught in the middle when she’s asked to use her textile expertise to decide if there’s any truth to the accusations.

Then, the day before the grand opening, an exquisite tablecloth that Kath has fallen in love with—the pride of Belinda’s shop—is found cut to shreds. Belinda accuses Nervie of the outrage, but Nervie has an airtight alibi: she was at Kath’s shop, the Weaver’s Cat, teaching a crewel embroidery class.

Despite worries over the rivalry and vandalism, the opening is a success—until Belinda is found dead, stabbed in the back with a pair of scissors from the Weaver’s Cat. Geneva, the ghost who haunts Kath’s store, claims she saw the murderer leaving the scene of the crime. But the ghost is the ultimate unreliable witness—only Kath and her shop manager can see or hear her. That means it’s up to Kath, TGIF, and especially Geneva the ghost to solve the crime before the killer cuts another life short.
Visit Molly MacRae's website.

My Book, The Movie: Plaid and Plagiarism.

The Page 69 Test: Plaid and Plagiarism.

The Page 69 Test: Scones and Scoundrels.

My Book, The Movie: Scones and Scoundrels.

The Page 69 Test: Crewel and Unusual.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Eight notable fictional Nixons

Alan Glynn's latest novel is Under the Night (US title: Receptor). One of eight notable fictional Nixons he tagged for CrimeReads:
The Public Burning, by Robert Coover

Coover’s novel was published in 1977, but it is an account of the events leading up to the executions of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg in 1953, when Nixon was Eisenhower’s VP. The book is a carnivalesque phantasmagoria with a cast of thousands that is intercut with chapters that make up a sort of unfiltered prequel to [Nixon's memoir] Six Crises. Again, the madcap stuff tends to be unrelenting and can be tiresome, but it is the intriguing, hilarious, and, yes, moving chapters narrated by Nixon that make this novel worth seeking out. And that is what you’ll have to do, because The Public Burning, always described as “controversial,” has had a chequered history in terms of its availability.
Read about another Nixon on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Raymond Taras's "Nationhood, Migration and Global Politics"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Nationhood, Migration and Global Politics: An Introduction by Raymond Taras.

About the book, from the publisher:
A new introduction to contemporary nationhood that sets it apart from national identity, nationalism and diversity

Drawing on extensive research in transnationalism and ethnic conflict around the world, Raymond Taras introduces the concepts of nation and nationalism as they now stand in light of major demographic changes brought about by global migration. The result is a framework for understanding the emergence of postmodern nationhood in the era of globalisation and beyond.

Based on rich case studies of immigration worldwide, Taras shows that nationhood occurs when the receiving state negotiates ethnic differences to form a natural bond with immigrants, rather than insisting on blind loyalty to the majority culture. The goal is a broad, value-added society of diverse peoples and successful prevention of criminality, ghettoisation, extremism and even radicalisation through reasonable immigrant integration.
Learn more about Nationhood, Migration and Global Politics at the publisher's website.

The Page 99 Test: Nationhood, Migration and Global Politics.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is David Housewright reading?

Featured at Writers Read: David Housewright, author of First, Kill the Lawyers: A Holland Taylor Mystery.

His entry begins:
I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I’m reading Julie Klassen, an award-winning author of Historical Romance novels. I’m not a romance kind of guy. Hell, I play hockey 26 weeks out of the years. But I met Julie at a couple of literary events here in Minnesota and liked her very much. She is smart, funny, and considerate so I thought I’d give her books a chance. Damn, they’re good! First they’re not really Historical Romance despite what the lady might tell you. They’re straight up thrillers and as suspenseful as anything you’ll read by Tami Hoag and PJ Tracy (which I also know, like and read). My advice, start with The Secret of Pembrooke Park, which won the Minnesota Book Award...[read on]
About First, Kill the Lawyers, from the publisher:
P.I. Holland Taylor returns in David Housewright’s Edgar Award-winning series with First, Kill the Lawyers, where Taylor is hired to recover stolen files before they are leaked, ruining more than just the careers of five local lawyers.

Five prominent attorneys in Minneapolis have had their computer systems hacked and very sensitive case files stolen. Those attorneys are then contacted by an association of local whistleblowers known as NIMN and are quietly alerted that they have received those documents from an anonymous source. If those files are released, then not only will those lawyers be ruined, but it might even destroy the integrity of the entire Minnesota legal system. This group of lawyers turns to Private Investigator Holland Taylor with a simple directive: stop the disclosure any way you can.

But while the directive is simple, the case is not. To find the missing files and the person responsible, Holland must first dive into the five cases covered in the files—divorce, bribery, class action, rape, and murder. While Taylor is untangling the associates and connections between the cases and families affected, things take another mysterious turn and the time before the files are released is running out. As the situation becomes more threatening, Holland Taylor is trapped in the middle of what is legal and what is ethical—between right, wrong, and deadly.
Learn more about the book and author at David Housewright's website and Facebook page.

My Book, The Movie: The Last Kind Word.

The Page 69 Test: The Last Kind Word.

The Page 69 Test: Stealing the Countess.

The Page 69 Test: What the Dead Leave Behind.

The Page 69 Test: First, Kill the Lawyers.

Writers Read: David Housewright.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six of the best literary grudges

Sophie Hannah's new book is How to Hold a Grudge: From Resentment to Contentment—The Power of Grudges to Transform Your Life.

One of the author's six favorite literary grudges, as shared at The Week magazine:
Mice by Gordon Reece

In this gripping novel about a bullied schoolgirl named Shelley, the reader soon shares all of the protagonist's grudges. Then an intruder breaks into Shelley's home, and she decides it's time to stop being a victim. Reece's jewel of a thriller left me breathless — and proud to be a grudge-holder.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 07, 2019

Eyal Kless's "The Lost Puzzler," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Lost Puzzler: The Tarakan Chronicles by Eyal Kless.

The entry begins:
One constant remark I receive from readers of The Lost Puzzler, is that it is “definitely a movie, or a TV series…no definitely a movie.”

I am pretty happy about this because frankly, I saw this book playing in front of my eyes so many times, I had to keep reminding myself that it hadn’t happened (yet!)

There are four main characters in The Lost Puzzler (and several more minor characters with very memorable roles,) but I will concentrate on the ones that I feel closest to.

Vincha is by far the strongest female character and the main driving force behind the storyline. We meet her when she is in her 40s. A tough ex-mercenary called a Salvationist, who used to raid a mysterious alien city in search for technology and loot. She is not a dainty woman, I do imagine her being able to floor a man with a well-aimed punch, and she can take a lot of damage too. Vincha is also an ex-addict, and she lies, cheats, steals and fights with no hesitation. A few tough female actresses come to mind. My first thought would be the young Sigourney Weaver, but I bet even Sigourney would think twice before facing ex-Xena princess warrior Lucy Lawless (now that’s a great name). Game of Thrones’...[read on]
Visit Eyal Kless's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Lost Puzzler.

My Book, The Movie: The Lost Puzzler.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Robert Lyman's "Under a Darkening Sky"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Under a Darkening Sky: The American Experience in Nazi Europe: 1939-1941 by Robert Lyman.

About the book, from the publisher:
A vivid social history of the American expatriate experience in Europe between 1939 and 1941, as the Nazi menace brings a shadow over the continent, heralding the storms of war.

A poignant and powerful portrait of Europe in the years between 1939 and 1941—as the Nazi menace marches toward the greatest man-made catastrophe the world has ever experienced—Under A Darkening Sky focuses on a diverse group of expatriate Americans. Told through the eyes and observations of these characters caught up in these seismic events, the story unfolds alongside a war that slowly drags a reluctant United States into its violent embrace. This vibrant narrative takes these dramatic personalities and evokes the engagement between Europe and a reluctant America from the September 3rd, 1939—when Britain declares war—through the tragedy of Pearl Harbor in December 1941. In a distinctively energetic storyline, Robert Lyman brings together a wide range of encounters, conversations, and memories. It includes individuals from across the social spectrum, from Josephine Baker to the young Americans who volunteered to fight in the RAF, as part of the famous “Eagle Squadrons.” Hundreds of young Americans—like the aces James Goodison, Art Donahue, and the wealthy playboy Billy Fiske, who was the first American volunteer in the RAF to die in action during the Battle of Britain—smuggled themselves into Canada so that they could volunteer for the cockpits of Spitfires and Hurricanes, as they flew against the deadly Luftwaffe over ever-darkening skies in London.
Visit Robert Lyman's website.

The Page 99 Test: Under a Darkening Sky.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Thomas Perry's "The Burglar"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Burglar by Thomas Perry.

About the book, from the publisher:
Elle Stowell is a young woman with an unconventional profession: burglary. But Elle is no petty thief—with just the right combination of smarts, looks, and skills, she can easily stroll through ritzy Bel Air neighborhoods and pick out the perfect home for plucking the most valuable items. This is how Elle has always gotten by—she is good at it, and she thrives on the thrill. But after stumbling upon a grisly triple homicide while stealing from the home of a wealthy art dealer, Elle discovers that she is no longer the only one sneaking around. Somebody is searching for her.

As Elle realizes that her knowledge of the high-profile murder has made her a target, she races to solve the case before becoming the next casualty, using her breaking-and-entering skills to uncover the truth about exactly who the victims were and why someone might have wanted them dead. With high-stakes action and shocking revelations, The Burglar will keep readers on the edge of their seats as they barrel towards the heart-racing conclusion.
Learn more about the book and author at Thomas Perry's website and Facebook page.

The Page 69 Test: Silence.

The Page 99 Test: Nightlife.

The Page 69/99 Test: Fidelity.

The Page 69/99 Test: Runner.

The Page 69 Test: Strip.

The Page 69 Test: The Informant.

The Page 69 Test: The Boyfriend.

The Page 69 Test: A String of Beads.

The Page 69 Test: Forty Thieves.

The Page 69 Test: The Old Man.

The Page 69 Test: The Bomb Maker.

The Page 69 Test: The Burglar.

--Marshal Zeringue

Steven Pinker's ten favorite books

Steven Pinker is a Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University. He conducts research on language and cognition, writes for publications such as the New York Times, Time and The Atlantic. His books including The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works, The Blank Slate, The Stuff of Thought, The Better Angels of Our Nature, The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century, and Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress.

One of his ten favorite books, as shared at Vulture.com:
“Atrocities,” by Matthew White

This chronicle of history’s hundred deadliest wars and massacres, including death tolls, is a good way to settle bets (who was worse, Genghis Khan or Hitler?), brush up on your history, and be stunned by the cruelty and stupidity of our species. It was a useful source when I wrote “The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined.”
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 06, 2019

What is David Drake reading?

Featured at Writers Read: David Drake, author of The Storm.

His entry begins:
A Bright Shining Lie/Neil Sheehan

I'm a Nam vet--drafted out of Duke Law School in 1968 and sent to War Zone C, then Cambodia, with the 11th Armored Cavalry. I read memoirs of participants in the war, but rarely histories. I was given this book by a friend.

Sheehan was In Country as a correspondent and was a friend of John Paul Vann, the subject of this biography. Vann was a committed anti-communist and believed in the war--but not in the way the war was fought by...[read on]
About The Storm, from the publisher:
THE THRILLING RE-TELLING OF ARTHURIAN LEGEND FROM MASTER OF SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY DAVID DRAKE CONTINUES! A young Champion must rescue a friend and battle an enemy at the heart of a chaotic world.

The universe has shattered into chaos and monsters. Jon, the Leader, is dedicating his life to reuniting the scattered hamlets into a Commonwealth where all humans can live protected against the darkness and the things that live in that darkness.

But no man can reshape the universe by himself. Jon has Makers to build weapons and clerks to handle the business of government—but he also needs Champions to face the powers of chaos which will not listen to any argument but force.

Lord Pal of Beune is one of those Champions. He has fought monsters and evil on behalf of Mankind, and he will fight them again. But now Guntram, the man who transformed Pal from an ignorant rube into a bulwark of the Commonwealth, has disappeared. Pal must locate his friend and mentor—and then he must battle an entity which may be at the core of the splintered universe!

Pal of Beune: A humane man in a universe full of inhumanity.

Pal of Beune: A strong man in a universe where some recognize only strength.

Pal of Beune: A hero who will keep going until something stops him—and who hasn't been stopped yet!
Visit David Drake's website.

Writers Read: David Drake.

--Marshal Zeringue