Thursday, February 28, 2019

What is Stephanie Kate Strohm reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Stephanie Kate Strohm, author of That's Not What I Heard.

Her entry begins:
I just finished reading Persuasion, by Jane Austen. The summer before my senior year of high school, I read all of Austen's books...except this one. I'm not sure why I skipped it - I was reading them in the order they'd been published, so perhaps I just ran out of steam at the end of the summer - but I am so glad I returned to it! It was absolutely wonderful. Captain Wentworth is every bit as swoony as...[read on]
About That's Not What I Heard, from the publisher:
What did you hear?

Kimberly Landis-Lilley and Teddy Lin are over. Yes, the Kim and Teddy broke up.

At least that's what Phil Spooner thinks he overheard and then told Jess Howard, Kim's best friend. Something about Teddy not liking Kim's Instas? Or was it that Teddy is moving to Italy and didn't want to do long distance? Or that Kim slid into someone else's DMs?

Jess told her boyfriend, Elvis, that he needs to be on Kim's side. Especially if he wants to keep her as his girlfriend. But Elvis is also Teddy's best friend.

Now, Kim's run out of school for the day. Jess is furious. Elvis is confused. And half the lunch period won't talk to Teddy. Even the teachers have taken sides.

William Henry Harrison High will never be the same again!
Visit Stephanie Kate Strohm's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Stephanie Kate Strohm & Lorelei Lee Strohm-Lando.

The Page 69 Test: The Taming of the Drew.

My Book, The Movie: The Taming of the Drew.

The Page 69 Test: That's Not What I Heard.

Writers Read: Stephanie Kate Strohm.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Kate Quinn's "The Huntress"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Huntress: A Novel by Kate Quinn.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the aftermath of war, the hunter becomes the hunted…

Bold and fearless, Nina Markova always dreamed of flying. When the Nazis attack the Soviet Union, she risks everything to join the legendary Night Witches, an all-female night bomber regiment wreaking havoc on the invading Germans. When she is stranded behind enemy lines, Nina becomes the prey of a lethal Nazi murderess known as the Huntress, and only Nina’s bravery and cunning will keep her alive.

Transformed by the horrors he witnessed from Omaha Beach to the Nuremberg Trials, British war correspondent Ian Graham has become a Nazi hunter. Yet one target eludes him: a vicious predator known as the Huntress. To find her, the fierce, disciplined investigator joins forces with the only witness to escape the Huntress alive: the brazen, cocksure Nina. But a shared secret could derail their mission unless Ian and Nina force themselves to confront it.

Growing up in post-war Boston, seventeen-year-old Jordan McBride is determined to become a photographer. When her long-widowed father unexpectedly comes homes with a new fiancée, Jordan is thrilled. But there is something disconcerting about the soft-spoken German widow. Certain that danger is lurking, Jordan begins to delve into her new stepmother’s past—only to discover that there are mysteries buried deep in her family ... secrets that may threaten all Jordan holds dear.

In this immersive, heart-wrenching story, Kate Quinn illuminates the consequences of war on individual lives, and the price we pay to seek justice and truth.
Learn more about the book and author at Kate Quinn's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Kate Quinn and Caesar.

My Book, The Movie: Empress of the Seven Hills.

The Page 69 Test: The Serpent and the Pearl.

The Page 69 Test: The Lion and the Rose.

The Page 69 Test: Lady of the Eternal City.

The Page 69 Test: The Alice Network.

Writers Read: Kate Quinn (June 2017).

The Page 69 Test: The Huntress.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: W. K. Stratton's "The Wild Bunch"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Wild Bunch: Sam Peckinpah, a Revolution in Hollywood, and the Making of a Legendary Film by W. K. Stratton.

About the book, from the publisher:
For the fiftieth anniversary of the film, W.K. Stratton's definitive history of the making of The Wild Bunch, named one of the greatest Westerns of all time by the American Film Institute.

Sam Peckinpah's film The Wild Bunch, named one of the greatest films of all time by the American Film Institute, is the story of a gang of outlaws who are one big steal from retirement. When their attempted train robbery goes awry, the gang flees to Mexico and falls in with a brutal general of the Mexican Revolution, who offers them the job of a lifetime. Conceived by a stuntman, directed by a blacklisted director, and shot in the sand and heat of the Mexican desert, the movie seemed doomed. Instead, it became an instant classic with a dark, violent take on the Western movie tradition.

In The Wild Bunch, W.K. Stratton tells the fascinating history of the making of the movie and documents for the first time the extraordinary contribution of Mexican and Mexican-American actors and crew members to the movie's success. Shaped by infamous director Sam Peckinpah, and starring such visionary actors as William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Edmond O'Brien, and Robert Ryan, the movie was also the product of an industry and a nation in transition. By 1968, when the movie was filmed, the studio system that had perpetuated the myth of the valiant cowboy in movies like The Searchers had collapsed, and America was riled by Vietnam, race riots, and assassinations. The Wild Bunch spoke to America in its moment, when war and senseless violence seemed to define both domestic and international life.

The Wild Bunch is an authoritative history of the making of a movie and the era behind it.
Visit W. K. Stratton's website.

Writers Read: W. K. Stratton.

My Book, The Movie: The Wild Bunch.

The Page 99 Test: The Wild Bunch.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top books about women and the sea

Charlotte Runcie is an author and journalist. Her first book, Salt on Your Tongue, is a nonfiction story about women, art and the sea, and the epic nature of childbirth, told through the myths and legends of salt water.

One of her ten favorite books about women and the sea, as shared at the Guardian:
The Waves by Virginia Woolf

I don’t need to introduce Woolf’s classic experimental novel to you, but no list of books about women and the sea would be complete without it. It’s a work of interconnecting lives and ways of seeing the world, all flowing into one another. The way it’s written reflects the sea itself, with waves of narrative rushing in on top of one another, forever in flux. It’s the essential modern example of a woman writing about the sea and about people.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

What is John Wall reading?

Featured at Writers Read: John Wall, author of Streamliner: Raymond Loewy and Image-making in the Age of American Industrial Design.

His entry begins:
Typically I switch my reading between non-fiction biographies, histories and crime fiction (with the occasional spy thriller thrown in for momentum). Lately, I've taken to re-reading books already in my collection because I'm running out of bookshelf space.

The newest title is Killers of the Flower Moon, by David Grann, an involving investigation into a turn-of-the-20th century crime against the Osage nation in Oklahoma. Grann details how the ruling elite systematically murdered Native Americans to steal lucrative oil leases. Trivia fans will recognize that the Oklahoma town of Pawhuska, where several stories are set, is where...[read on]
About Streamliner, from the publisher:
Born in Paris in 1893 and trained as an engineer, Raymond Loewy revolutionized twentieth-century American industrial design. Combining salesmanship and media savvy, he created bright, smooth, and colorful logos for major corporations that included Greyhound, Exxon, and Nabisco. His designs for Studebaker automobiles, Sears Coldspot refrigerators, Lucky Strike cigarette packs, and Pennsylvania Railroad locomotives are iconic. Beyond his timeless designs, Loewy carefully built an international reputation through the assiduous courting of journalists and tastemakers to become the face of both a new profession and a consumer-driven vision of the American dream.

In Streamliner, John Wall traces the evolution of an industry through the lens of Loewy’s eclectic life, distinctive work, and invented persona. How, he asks, did Loewy build a business while transforming himself into a national brand a half century before "branding" became relevant? Placing Loewy in context with the emerging consumer culture of the latter half of the twentieth century, Wall explores how his approach to business complemented—or differed from—that of his well-known contemporaries, including industrial designers Henry Dreyfuss, Walter Teague, and Norman Bel Geddes. Wall also reveals how Loewy tailored his lifestyle to cement the image of "designer" in the public imagination, and why the self-promotion that drove Loewy to the top of his profession began to work against him at the end of his career. Streamliner is an important and engaging work on one of the longest-lived careers in industrial design.
Learn more about Streamliner, and visit John Wall's website.

Writers Read: John Wall.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Stephanie Kate Strohm's "That's Not What I Heard"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: That's Not What I Heard by Stephanie Kate Strohm.

About the book, from the publisher:
What did you hear?

Kimberly Landis-Lilley and Teddy Lin are over. Yes, the Kim and Teddy broke up.

At least that's what Phil Spooner thinks he overheard and then told Jess Howard, Kim's best friend. Something about Teddy not liking Kim's Instas? Or was it that Teddy is moving to Italy and didn't want to do long distance? Or that Kim slid into someone else's DMs?

Jess told her boyfriend, Elvis, that he needs to be on Kim's side. Especially if he wants to keep her as his girlfriend. But Elvis is also Teddy's best friend.

Now, Kim's run out of school for the day. Jess is furious. Elvis is confused. And half the lunch period won't talk to Teddy. Even the teachers have taken sides.

William Henry Harrison High will never be the same again!
Visit Stephanie Kate Strohm's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Stephanie Kate Strohm & Lorelei Lee Strohm-Lando.

The Page 69 Test: The Taming of the Drew.

My Book, The Movie: The Taming of the Drew.

The Page 69 Test: That's Not What I Heard.

--Marshal Zeringue

Soraya Lane's "The Spitfire Girls," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Spitfire Girls by Soraya M. Lane.

The entry begins:
I am very visual when I start writing a new book, and I like to be able to “see” my characters, so I actually spend time “casting” my characters, which usually involves scanning the internet for images to match with each character, and then I create a Pinterest board. For my new release, The Spitfire Girls, I would love to see Emilia Clarke (of Game of Thrones & Me Before You fame) as my petite, gutsy pilot Ruby; Jessica Biel as capable leader May; and Jennifer...[read on]
Visit Soraya Lane's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Spitfire Girls.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six SFF novels inspired by the worlds of Africa

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog Ross Johnson tagged six "favorite recent sci-fi and fantasy novels that explore worlds inspired by African nations and traditions, past, present and future," including:
Black Leopard, Red Wolf, by Marlon James

The year is young, but James’ lyrical, bloody, deeply human fantasy is already on track to be one of the year’s best and most buzzworthy works of fantasy. It introduces Tracker (his only name), a pragmatically ruthless but not entirely amoral hunter for hire. When he’s paid to find a long-missing child, we set out with him and his band of mercenaries on a tour through a lush vision of fantasy land inspired by pan-African and pre-colonial history, myth, and trauma. The landscape is beautiful and unforgiving, while the characters are earthy, complex, and unapologetically queer.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

What is Kristyn Kusek Lewis reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Kristyn Kusek Lewis, author of Half of What You Hear.

Her entry begins:
I am an equal-opportunity reader—I like highbrow, lowbrow, and everything in-between. I am also usually reading two books simultaneously—one fiction, one nonfiction.

I recently finished the Pulitzer Prize-winning Less by Andrew Sean Greer, which is a bittersweet satire about a failing novelist who, on the cusp of his fiftieth birthday, accepts a number of not-so-great invitations to literary events around the world to escape his own heartbreak and feelings of self-doubt. It is hilarious and heart-wrenching and...[read on]
About Half of What You Hear, from the publisher:
From well-loved women’s fiction writer Kristyn Kusek Lewis comes a breakout novel about a woman moving to a small community and uncovering the many secrets that hide behind closed doors—perfect for fans of Liane Moriarty and Elin Hilderbrand.

Greyhill, Virginia—refuge of old money, old mansions, and old-fashioned ideas about who belongs and who doesn’t—just got a few new residents. When Bess Warner arrives in town with her husband Cole and their kids, she thinks she knows what to expect. Sure, moving to Cole’s small hometown means she’ll have to live across the street from her mother-in-law, and yes, there’s going to be a lot to learn as they take over Cole’s family’s inn-keeping business, but Bess believes it will be the perfect escape from Washington. She needs it to be. After losing her White House job under a cloud of scandal, she hardly knows who she is anymore.

But Bess quickly discovers that fitting in is easier said than done. Instead of the simpler life she’d banked on, she finds herself preoccupied by barbed questions from gossipy locals and her own worries over how her twins are acclimating at the town’s elite private school. When the opportunity to write an article for the Washington Post’s lifestyle supplement falls into Bess’s lap, she thinks it might finally be her opportunity to find her footing here…even if the subject of the piece is Greyhill’s most notorious resident.

Susannah “Cricket” Lane, fruit of the town’s deepest-rooted family tree, is a special sort of outsider, having just returned to Greyhill from New York after a decades-long hiatus. The long absence has always been the subject of suspicion, not that the eccentric Susannah cares what anyone thinks; as a matter of fact, she seems bent on antagonizing as many people as possible. But is Susannah being sincere with Bess—or is she using their strangely intense interview sessions for her to further an agenda that includes peeling back the layers of Greyhill’s darkest secrets?

As Bess discovers unsettling truths about Susannah and Greyhill at large, ones that bring her into the secrets of prior generations, she begins to learn how difficult it is to start over in a town that runs on talk, and that sometimes, the best way to find yourself is to uncover what everyone around you is hiding....
Visit Kristyn Kusek Lewis's website.

The Page 69 Test: Save Me.

Writers Read: Kristyn Kusek Lewis.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Lindsey Stoddard's "Right as Rain"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Right as Rain by Lindsey Stoddard.

About the book, from the publisher:
From the critically acclaimed author of Just Like Jackie comes a strikingly tender novel about one family’s heartbreak and the compassion that carries them through, perfect for fans of Sara Pennypacker, Lisa Graff, and Ann M. Martin.

It’s been almost a year since Rain’s brother Guthrie died, and her parents still don’t know it was all Rain’s fault. In fact, no one does—Rain buried her secret deep, no matter how heavy it weighs on her heart.

So when her mom suggests moving the family from Vermont to New York City, Rain agrees. But life in the big city is different. She’s never seen so many people in one place—or felt more like an outsider.

With her parents fighting more than ever and the anniversary of Guthrie’s death approaching, Rain is determined to keep her big secret close to her heart. But even she knows that when you bury things deep, they grow up twice as tall.

Readers will fall in love with the pluck and warmth of Stoddard’s latest heroine and the strength that even a small heart can lend.
Visit Lindsey Stoddard's website.

The Page 69 Test: Right as Rain.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Elaine Shannon's "Hunting LeRoux"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Hunting LeRoux: The Inside Story of the DEA Takedown of a Criminal Genius and His Empire by Elaine Shannon.

About the book, from the publisher:
The story of Paul LeRoux, the twisted-genius entrepreneur and cold-blooded killer who brought revolutionary innovation to international crime, and the exclusive inside story of how the DEA’s elite, secretive 960 Group brought him down.

Paul LeRoux was born in Zimbabwe and raised in South Africa. After a first career as a pioneering cybersecurity entrepreneur, he plunged hellbent into the dark side, using his extraordinary talents to develop a disruptive new business model for transnational organized crime. Along the way he created a mercenary force of ex-U.S. and NATO sharpshooters to carry out contract murders for his own pleasure and profit. The criminal empire he built was Cartel 4.0, utilizing the gig economy and the tools of the Digital Age: encrypted mobile devices, cloud sharing and novel money-laundering techniques. LeRoux’s businesses, cyber-linked by his own dark worldwide web, stretched from Southeast Asia across the Middle East and Africa to Brazil; they generated hundreds of millions of dollars in sales of arms, drugs, chemicals, bombs, missile technology and murder. He dealt with rogue nations—Iran and North Korea—as well as the Chinese Triads, Somali pirates, Serb mafia, outlaw bikers, militants, corrupt African and Asian officials and coup-plotters.

Initially, LeRoux appeared as a ghost image on law enforcement and intelligence radar, an inexplicable presence in the middle of a variety of criminal endeavors. He was Netflix to Blockbuster, Spotify to Tower Records. A bold disruptor, his methods brought international crime into the age of innovation, making his operations barely detectable and LeRoux nearly invisible. But he gained the attention of a small band of bold, unorthodox DEA agents, whose brief was tracking down drugs-and-arms trafficking kingpins who contributed to war and global instability. The 960 Group, an element of the DEA’s Special Operations Division, had launched some of the most complex, coordinated and dangerous operations in the agency’s history. They used unorthodox methods and undercover informants to penetrate LeRoux’s inner circle and bring him down.

For five years Elaine Shannon immersed herself in LeRoux’s shadowy world. She gained exclusive access to the agents and players, including undercover operatives who looked LeRoux in the eye on a daily basis. Shannon takes us on a shocking tour of this dark frontier, going deep into the operations and the mind of a singularly visionary and frightening figure—Escobar and Victor Bout along with the innovative vision of Steve Jobs rolled into one. She puts you in the room with these people and their moment-to-moment encounters, jeopardy, frustration, anger and small victories, creating a narrative with a breath-taking edge, immediacy and a stranger-than-fiction reality.

Remarkable, disturbing, and utterly engrossing, Hunting LeRoux introduces a new breed of criminal spawned by the savage, greed-exalting underside of the Age of Innovation—and a new kind of true crime story. It is a look into the future—a future that is dark.
Visit Elaine Shannon's website.

The Page 99 Test: Hunting LeRoux.

--Marshal Zeringue

Fifteen of the best books with a twist

Sophie Hannah is the New York Times-bestselling author of numerous psychological thrillers. Her latest novel is The Next to Die.

At CrimeReads she tagged fifteen excellent examples of novels with genuine twists, including:
The Witch Elm by Tana French

French is my favorite living crime writer. Her books are magic—it’s as simple as that. This one, about a skull found in a tree trunk many years after it first became a skull, contains a twist so unusual and unexpected that it turns everything you think you’ve learned and understood on its head. Apart from anything else, it turns up in a place where you’d least expect to find a twist… You’ll have to read it to understand what I mean!
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 25, 2019

What is S. Andrew Swann reading?

Featured at Writers Read: S. Andrew Swann, author of Marked.

His entry begins:
I've been on a Space Opera kick recently. I've been reading stuff by Alastair Reynolds and Iain M. Banks. I've always had a soft spot for star-spanning civilizations, and both authors have a way of vividly bringing the idea to life without it being some misplaced analog of some other historical period. Especially refreshing in both authors' work is the idea of new social structures, in both cases envisioning something that's arguably utopian (In Banks' case the Culture, in Reynolds' case the Demarchists) and in both cases subverting the utopia by imagining all the logistical details that would be necessary to make the "utopia" work. In both cases they've also occasionally cast their "utopia" as...[read on]
About Marked, from the publisher:
This dark portal fantasy introduces Detective Dana Rohan, an officer who solves crimes using the Mark that allows her to travel to alternate pasts and futures.

Detective Dana Rohan has an excellent arrest and conviction rate. But even her partner doesn’t know the real reason why.

All her life Dana has borne a Mark of unknown origin that she’s kept secret. A Mark that allows her to walk into alternate pasts and futures. A Mark that allows her to go back and see any crime as it’s being committed. But the life she’s carefully built around this secret ability begins to crumble when she’s assaulted by a ragged old man. He babbles an incoherent warning that “the Shadows are coming,” right before he is killed by an armored monstrosity out of another century. The armored attacker vanishes, leaving the old man to die in Dana’s arms, and she realizes that he bears the same Mark she does.

Soon Dana finds herself hunted by Shadows coming from out of Chaos. She must flee through a host of alternate worlds as she finds out the true meaning of the Mark on her skin, and why someone wants to kill her for it.
Visit S. Andrew Swann's website.

The Page 69 Test: Marked.

Writers Read: S. Andrew Swann.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: James L. Cambias's "Arkad's World"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Arkad's World by James L. Cambias.

About the book, 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.

My Book, The Movie: Arkad's World.

The Page 69 Test: Arkad's World.

--Marshal Zeringue

W. K. Stratton's "The Wild Bunch," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Wild Bunch: Sam Peckinpah, a Revolution in Hollywood, and the Making of a Legendary Film by W. K. Stratton.

The entry begins:
As I wrote Sam Peckinpah, a Revolution in Hollywood, and the Making of a Legendary Film, it actually did play out like a movie in my mind, though my book is a nonfiction work about, well, the making of a movie. My book had a definite story arc built around this question: Could an artist, in this case Sam Peckinpah, be able to achieve a second act in American life after squandering his first? Peckinpah had been blacklisted in Hollywood during the mid-1960s, not for political reasons, but because of his “difficult” personality and alcoholism. It was not clear at all whether he would be given a chance to return to the director’s chair for a big screen production. When, through almost a fluke set of circumstances, he wound up with the opportunity to direct The Wild Bunch, it was a make it or break it proposition. He had to succeed in order to have a career as a director.

The Wild Bunch is an outlaw picture, a story concerning the complicated relationships among men on the edge, set along the U.S.-Mexico border during the Mexican Revolution. Peckinpah felt kinship to the characters in his greatest movie. Yet he was also a soft-spoken man with a somewhat slight build who was well educated and very well read. He put himself through enormous hardships in Mexico during the filming of his movie.

Years ago, I kicked around the notion of a movie about the making of Peckinpah’s notorious Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia. For that dream picture, I saw Tommy Lee Jones playing Peckinpah. But now, for a movie about the making of The Wild Bunch, I think I’d choose...[read on]
Visit W. K. Stratton's website.

Writers Read: W. K. Stratton.

My Book, The Movie: The Wild Bunch.

--Marshal Zeringue

Leila Aboulela's six recommended books

Leila Aboulela was born in Cairo, grew up in Khartoum and moved in her mid-twenties to Scotland. She is the author of five novels, Bird Summons, The Translator, a New York Times 100 Notable Books of the Year, The Kindness of Enemies, Minaret and Lyrics Alley, Fiction Winner of the Scottish Book Awards. Aboulela was the first winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing and her latest story collection, Elsewhere, Home won the Saltire Fiction Book of the Year Award.

At The Week magazine Aboulela recommended six books, including:
Autumn Quail by Naguib Mahfouz (1962).

The Egyptian revolution of 1952 sweeps civil servant Isa aside; he loses his job and his fiancée dumps him. Mahfouz, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1988, details Isa's fall on the wrong side of history — all of this against the bleak backdrop of a wintry windswept Alexandria, empty of holidaymakers.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, February 24, 2019

What is Jo Perry reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Jo Perry, author of Dead is Beautiful.

Her entry begins:
Right now I am neck-deep into David Keenan's astounding, moving, brutalist/rhapsodic This Is Memorial Device: An Hallucinated Oral History of the Post-Punk Music Scene in Airdrie, Coatbridge and environs 1978–1986, a fictional memoir that I picked up as research for the book I'm currently writing, but which is so spectacularly good that I'm reading it because of its pure, melancholy energy, and the miraculous, anatomical way it recreates the dangerous, intoxicating and mysterious evanescence of...[read on]
About Dead is Beautiful, from the publisher:
DEAD IS BEAUTIFUL, the fourth in the series (Dead Is Better, Dead Is Best, Dead Is Good), finds Rose leading Charlie from the peace of the afterlife to the place he hates most on earth, “Beverly Fucking Hills” where a mature, protected tree harboring a protected bird is being illegally cut down.

The tree-assault leads Charlie and Rose to a to murder and to the person Charlie loathes most in life and in death, the sibling he refers to only as “his shit brother,” who is in danger.

Charlie fights-across the borders of life and death–for the man who never fought for him, and with the help of a fearless Scotsman, a beautiful witch, and a pissed-off owl, Charlie must stop a cruel and exploitative scheme and protect his beloved Rose.
Visit Jo Perry's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Jo Perry & Lola and Lucy.

My Book, The Movie: Dead is Better.

The Page 69 Test: Dead is Better.

My Book, The Movie: Dead is Best.

The Page 69 Test: Dead is Best.

My Book, The Movie: Dead Is Good.

The Page 69 Test: Dead Is Good.

The Page 69 Test: Dead is Beautiful.

My Book, The Movie: Dead is Beautiful.

Writers Read: Jo Perry.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Kathleen Day's "Broken Bargain"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Broken Bargain: Bankers, Bailouts, and the Struggle to Tame Wall Street by Kathleen Day.

About the book, from the publisher:
A history of major financial crises—and how taxpayers have been left with the bill

In the 1930s, battered and humbled by the Great Depression, the U.S. financial sector struck a grand bargain with the federal government. Bankers gained a safety net in exchange for certain curbs on their freedom: transparency rules, record-keeping and antifraud measures, and fiduciary responsibilities. Despite subsequent periodic changes in these regulations, the underlying bargain played a major role in preserving the stability of the financial markets as well as the larger economy. By the free-market era of the 1980s and 90s, however, Wall Street argued that rules embodied in New Deal–era regulations to protect consumers and ultimately taxpayers were no longer needed—and government agreed.

This engaging history documents the country’s financial crises, focusing on those of the 1920s, the 1980s, and the 2000s, and reveals how the two more recent crises arose from the neglect of this fundamental bargain, and how taxpayers have been left with the bill.
Learn more about Broken Bargain at the Yale University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Broken Bargain.

--Marshal Zeringue

The ten best books about Hollywood

At the Guardian film critic Peter Bradshaw tagged the best books about Hollywood, including:
When the American new wave arrived in the late 60s, it turned the business (briefly) on its head. In Scenes from a Revolution [US title: Pictures at a Revolution], journalist Mark Harris has the nifty idea of analysing the movies nominated for the best picture Oscar in 1967 – including Bonnie and Clyde, The Graduate and In the Heat of the Night – finding in them a guide to how Hollywood and the US were managing the issues of crime, authority, racism and sex.
Read about another entry on the list.

In 2012 Pictures at a Revolution made Nick Hornby's six favorite books list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 23, 2019

What is Christina McDonald reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Christina McDonald, author of The Night Olivia Fell.

Her entry begins:
Intricate, spellbinding, addictive, I was looking for a book that was twisty and unpredictable, so when I was offered a copy of Alice Feeney’s new novel I Know Who You Are, I knew I had to read it.

The book follows actress Aimee Sinclair, whose husband has suddenly disappeared. At first she isn’t too afraid—they had a big fight the night before—but as the chapters progress and we learn more about that fight (and other events) we begin to trust Aimee less and less.

Alternating with Aimee’s story is that of a little girl who was kidnapped years before. Alice Feeney is...[read on]
About The Night Olivia Fell, from the publisher:
A search for the truth. A lifetime of lies.

In the small hours of the morning, Abi Knight is startled awake by the phone call no mother ever wants to get: her teenage daughter Olivia has fallen off a bridge. Not only is Olivia brain dead, she’s pregnant and must remain on life support to keep her baby alive. And then Abi sees the angry bruises circling Olivia’s wrists.

When the police unexpectedly rule Olivia’s fall an accident, Abi decides to find out what really happened that night. Heartbroken and grieving, she unravels the threads of her daughter’s life. Was Olivia’s fall an accident? Or something far more sinister?

Christina McDonald weaves a suspenseful and heartwrenching tale of hidden relationships, devastating lies, and the power of a mother’s love. With flashbacks of Olivia’s own resolve to uncover family secrets, this taut and emotional novel asks: how well do you know your children? And how well do they know you?
Visit Christina McDonald's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Night Olivia Fell.

Writers Read: Christina McDonald.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: S. Andrew Swann's "Marked"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Marked by S. Andrew Swann.

About the book, from the publisher:
This dark portal fantasy introduces Detective Dana Rohan, an officer who solves crimes using the Mark that allows her to travel to alternate pasts and futures.

Detective Dana Rohan has an excellent arrest and conviction rate. But even her partner doesn’t know the real reason why.

All her life Dana has borne a Mark of unknown origin that she’s kept secret. A Mark that allows her to walk into alternate pasts and futures. A Mark that allows her to go back and see any crime as it’s being committed. But the life she’s carefully built around this secret ability begins to crumble when she’s assaulted by a ragged old man. He babbles an incoherent warning that “the Shadows are coming,” right before he is killed by an armored monstrosity out of another century. The armored attacker vanishes, leaving the old man to die in Dana’s arms, and she realizes that he bears the same Mark she does.

Soon Dana finds herself hunted by Shadows coming from out of Chaos. She must flee through a host of alternate worlds as she finds out the true meaning of the Mark on her skin, and why someone wants to kill her for it.
Visit S. Andrew Swann's website.

The Page 69 Test: Marked.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top scary books by women

Maryse Meijer is the author of Heartbreaker (2016), Northwood (2018), and Rag (2019). She lives in Chicago.

At Publishers Weekly Meijer tagged ten essential scary books by women, including:
Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss

Smart, socially isolated teenager Silvie and her family join a class of archaeology students in the woods to re-enact the lives of a pre-industrial tribe. As the males of the group split off from the women, engaged in more and more violent and mysterious pursuits at the base of the Ghost Wall, Silvie wonders if her father’s worldview—that psychological and physical violence must necessarily be inscribed not only on female bodies, but all bodies of nature—is her only inheritance. The tense realism of Moss’s prose, juxtaposed with the increasingly mythical movement of the text, begs the reader to question the ways in which we are willing to sacrifice ourselves, and others, in the name of preserving male supremacy. A potent, exquisitely written reminder of the how effectively a horror story can expose and reflect contemporary social concerns.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 22, 2019

What is W. K. Stratton reading?

Featured at Writers Read: W. K. Stratton, author of The Wild Bunch: Sam Peckinpah, a Revolution in Hollywood, and the Making of a Legendary Film.

His entry begins:
My work on Sam Peckinpah, a Revolution in Hollywood, and the Making of a Legendary Film brought me into contact with the fabulous author Luís Alberto Urrea. He’s a great guy, and I learned from him that The Wild Bunch is his favorite movie. Connecting with him led me to reread Urrea’s books I’d already read and seek out those I hadn’t. I knew Urrea’s novel The Hummingbird’s Daughter and his nonfiction masterpiece The Devil’s Highway, which should have won the Pulitzer Prize. Revisiting those...[read on]
About The Wild Bunch, from the publisher:
For the fiftieth anniversary of the film, W.K. Stratton's definitive history of the making of The Wild Bunch, named one of the greatest Westerns of all time by the American Film Institute.

Sam Peckinpah's film The Wild Bunch, named one of the greatest films of all time by the American Film Institute, is the story of a gang of outlaws who are one big steal from retirement. When their attempted train robbery goes awry, the gang flees to Mexico and falls in with a brutal general of the Mexican Revolution, who offers them the job of a lifetime. Conceived by a stuntman, directed by a blacklisted director, and shot in the sand and heat of the Mexican desert, the movie seemed doomed. Instead, it became an instant classic with a dark, violent take on the Western movie tradition.

In The Wild Bunch, W.K. Stratton tells the fascinating history of the making of the movie and documents for the first time the extraordinary contribution of Mexican and Mexican-American actors and crew members to the movie's success. Shaped by infamous director Sam Peckinpah, and starring such visionary actors as William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Edmond O'Brien, and Robert Ryan, the movie was also the product of an industry and a nation in transition. By 1968, when the movie was filmed, the studio system that had perpetuated the myth of the valiant cowboy in movies like The Searchers had collapsed, and America was riled by Vietnam, race riots, and assassinations. The Wild Bunch spoke to America in its moment, when war and senseless violence seemed to define both domestic and international life.

The Wild Bunch is an authoritative history of the making of a movie and the era behind it.
Visit W. K. Stratton's website.

Writers Read: W. K. Stratton.

--Marshal Zeringue

Jo Perry's "Dead Is Beautiful," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Dead is Beautiful by Jo Perry.

About the book, from the publisher:
In case your readers don't know, my protagonists are a murdered man and a dead dog he encounters in the afterlife.

That said, being alive should not disqualify any human (or canine actors) from the parts. I have always thought that Jonah Hill before he lost weight would have made a perfect Charles, but now that he's slim, I nominate...[read on]
Visit Jo Perry's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Jo Perry & Lola and Lucy.

My Book, The Movie: Dead is Better.

The Page 69 Test: Dead is Better.

My Book, The Movie: Dead is Best.

The Page 69 Test: Dead is Best.

My Book, The Movie: Dead Is Good.

The Page 69 Test: Dead Is Good.

The Page 69 Test: Dead is Beautiful.

My Book, The Movie: Dead is Beautiful.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Darius Bost's "Evidence of Being"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Evidence of Being: The Black Gay Cultural Renaissance and the Politics of Violence by Darius Bost.

About the book, from the publisher:
Evidence of Being opens on a grim scene: Washington DC’s gay black community in the 1980s, ravaged by AIDS, the crack epidemic, and a series of unsolved murders, seemingly abandoned by the government and mainstream culture. Yet in this darkest of moments, a new vision of community and hope managed to emerge. Darius Bost’s account of the media, poetry, and performance of this time and place reveals a stunning confluence of activism and the arts. In Washington and New York during the 1980s and ’90s, gay black men banded together, using creative expression as a tool to challenge the widespread views that marked them as unworthy of grief. They created art that enriched and reimagined their lives in the face of pain and neglect, while at the same time forging a path toward bold new modes of existence. At once a corrective to the predominantly white male accounts of the AIDS crisis and an openhearted depiction of the possibilities of black gay life, Evidence of Being above all insists on the primacy of community over loneliness, and hope over despair.
Learn more about Evidence of Being at the University of Chicago Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Evidence of Being.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten books about coming out

Kate Davies studied English at Oxford University before becoming a writer and editor of children’s books. She also writes comedy scripts and had a short-lived career as a burlesque dancer.

In at the Deep End is her debut novel.

At the Guardian Davies tagged ten very good books about coming out, including:
More Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin

This features one of the most iconic comings-out in queer literature: Michael Tolliver’s Letter to Mama. “If you and Papa are responsible for the way I am, then I thank you with all my heart, for it’s the light and joy of my life,” he writes. The fictional letter helped Maupin come out to his own parents – he knew they would read it and realise. Eventually he received a reply from his father: “Dear Teddy, As you know, your mother is very ill, so any additional stress can only exacerbate the situation.”
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 21, 2019

What is Laura Benedict reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Laura Benedict, author of The Stranger Inside.

Her entry begins:
Last year was The Year I Discovered Library Audio Books. Now, if I’m not asleep or around other people (and not writing), I nearly always have an audio book streaming through my AirPods. I rarely listen to music because it seems like an unnecessary interruption of a story. Audiobooks have been a part of my reading life for decades, but having access through the library means I can listen far more often. A few of the truly excellent ones I’ve listened to lately: Circe by Madeline Miller, American Housewife (essays) by Helen Ellis, Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy, and...[read on]
About The Stranger Inside, from the publisher:
There’s a stranger living in Kimber Hannon’s house. He tells the police that he has every right to be there, and he has the paperwork to prove it. But Kimber definitely didn’t invite this man to move in. He tells her that he knows something about her, and he wants everyone else to know it too.

“I was there. I saw what you did.”

These words reveal a connection to Kimber’s distant past, and dark secrets she’d long ago left buried. This trespasser isn’t after anything as simple as her money or her charming Craftsman bungalow. He wants to move into her carefully orchestrated life–and destroy it.
Visit Laura Benedict's website.

The Page 69 Test: Bliss House.

The Page 69 Test: The Abandoned Heart.

The Page 69 Test: The Stranger Inside.

Writers Read: Laura Benedict.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Christina McDonald's "The Night Olivia Fell"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Night Olivia Fell by Christina McDonald.

About the book, from the publisher:
A search for the truth. A lifetime of lies.

In the small hours of the morning, Abi Knight is startled awake by the phone call no mother ever wants to get: her teenage daughter Olivia has fallen off a bridge. Not only is Olivia brain dead, she’s pregnant and must remain on life support to keep her baby alive. And then Abi sees the angry bruises circling Olivia’s wrists.

When the police unexpectedly rule Olivia’s fall an accident, Abi decides to find out what really happened that night. Heartbroken and grieving, she unravels the threads of her daughter’s life. Was Olivia’s fall an accident? Or something far more sinister?

Christina McDonald weaves a suspenseful and heartwrenching tale of hidden relationships, devastating lies, and the power of a mother’s love. With flashbacks of Olivia’s own resolve to uncover family secrets, this taut and emotional novel asks: how well do you know your children? And how well do they know you?
Visit Christina McDonald's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Night Olivia Fell.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eight crime novels featuring intense female friendship

Adele Parks was born in Teesside, North East England. Her first novel, Playing Away, was published in 2000, and since then she's written well over a dozen international bestsellers, translated into twenty-six languages.

Parks's latest novel is I Invited Her In.

At CrimeReads she tagged eight "favorite thrillers and domestic noir novels centered around female friendship gone sour," including:
Tana French, The Secret Place

It has been argued that French is one of the most consistently exciting crime novelists working today. The Secret Place is her fifth Dublin Murder Squad book, and it may be her most bold novel yet. A deeply chilling portrait of the ways in which teenage female friendships can overrule any conventional morality. It is set in a girls’ boarding school where a 16-year-old boy was murdered. The so-called “secret place” is a board where the students can anonymously post love letters, secrets, and clues. The question is, which tightly knit group of teenage girls is responsible?
Read about another entry on the list.

The Secret Place is among Kristen Lepionka's ten top female detectives in fiction, the B&N Reads editors' five favorite fun, fearless femmes fatales in fiction, and Kelly Anderson's seven amazing female friendships in fiction.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Debra Gwartney's "I Am a Stranger Here Myself"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: I Am a Stranger Here Myself by Debra Gwartney.

About the book, from the publisher:
Part history, part memoir, I Am a Stranger Here Myself taps dimensions of human yearning: the need to belong, the snarl of family history, and embracing womanhood in the patriarchal American West. Gwartney becomes fascinated with the missionary Narcissa Prentiss Whitman, the first Caucasian woman to cross the Rocky Mountains and one of fourteen people killed at the Whitman Mission in 1847 by Cayuse Indians. Whitman’s role as a white woman drawn in to “settle” the West reflects the tough-as-nails women in Gwartney’s own family. Arranged in four sections as a series of interlocking explorations and ruminations, Gwartney uses Whitman as a touchstone to spin a tightly woven narrative about identity, the power of womanhood, and coming to peace with one’s most cherished place.
Visit Debra Gwartney's website.

The Page 99 Test: I Am a Stranger Here Myself.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

What is Snowden Wright reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Snowden Wright, author of American Pop: A Novel.

His entry begins:
The other day, as I sat down to work on my next book, I didn’t draw a blank so much as draw blankly. Everything I wrote came out as simultaneously functional and bland as grocery-store sushi. The sentences did not sing. The language did not effervesce. Even the dialogue with exclamation points seemed to be spoken in monotone.

Cue my usual solution to that kind of problem. I stood from my desk and wandered around my apartment, browsing my bookshelves, pulling down books at random, and reading the sentences I’d check-marked and underlined on first reading them. Rereading select passages from books I love rarely fails to jog my creativity. Here’s a sampling of what I perused that day.

“Sleeping in a cabin beside Henry in the first weeks after the sale, Moses had thought that it was already a strange world that made him a slave to a white man, but God had indeed set it twirling and twisting every which way when he put black people to owning their own kind.” Edward P. Jones, The Known World

I’m such an evangelist for this novel. As you can tell by that line...[read on]
About American Pop, from the publisher:
The story of a family.
The story of an empire.
The story of a nation.


Moving from Mississippi to Paris to New York and back again, a saga of family, ambition, passion, and tragedy that brings to life one unforgettable Southern dynasty—the Forsters, founders of the world’s first major soft-drink company—against the backdrop of more than a century of American cultural history.

The child of immigrants, Houghton Forster has always wanted more—from his time as a young boy in Mississippi, working twelve-hour days at his father’s drugstore; to the moment he first laid eyes on his future wife, Annabelle Teague, a true Southern belle of aristocratic lineage; to his invention of the delicious fizzy drink that would transform him from tiller boy into the founder of an empire, the Panola Cola Company, and entice a youthful, enterprising nation entering a hopeful new age.

Now the heads of a preeminent American family spoken about in the same breath as the Hearsts and the Rockefellers, Houghton and Annabelle raise their four children with the expectation they’ll one day become world leaders. The burden of greatness falls early on eldest son Montgomery, a handsome and successful politician who has never recovered from the horrors and heartbreak of the Great War. His younger siblings Ramsey and Lance, known as the “infernal twins,” are rivals not only in wit and beauty, but in their utter carelessness with the lives and hearts of others. Their brother Harold, as gentle and caring as the twins can be cruel, is slowed by a mental disability—and later generations seem equally plagued by misfortune, forcing Houghton to seriously consider who should control the company after he’s gone.

An irresistible tour de force of original storytelling, American Pop blends fact and fiction, the mundane and the mythical, and utilizes techniques of historical reportage to capture how, in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s words, “families are always rising and falling in America,” and to explore the many ways in which nostalgia can manipulate cultural memory—and the stories we choose to tell about ourselves.
Visit Snowden Wright's website.

The Page 69 Test: American Pop.

Writers Read: Snowden Wright.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Jo Perry's "Dead is Beautiful"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Dead is Beautiful by Jo Perry.

About the book, from the publisher:
DEAD IS BEAUTIFUL, the fourth in the series (Dead Is Better, Dead Is Best, Dead Is Good), finds Rose leading Charlie from the peace of the afterlife to the place he hates most on earth, “Beverly Fucking Hills” where a mature, protected tree harboring a protected bird is being illegally cut down.

The tree-assault leads Charlie and Rose to a to murder and to the person Charlie loathes most in life and in death, the sibling he refers to only as “his shit brother,” who is in danger.

Charlie fights-across the borders of life and death–for the man who never fought for him, and with the help of a fearless Scotsman, a beautiful witch, and a pissed-off owl, Charlie must stop a cruel and exploitative scheme and protect his beloved Rose.
Visit Jo Perry's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Jo Perry & Lola and Lucy.

My Book, The Movie: Dead is Better.

The Page 69 Test: Dead is Better.

My Book, The Movie: Dead is Best.

The Page 69 Test: Dead is Best.

My Book, The Movie: Dead Is Good.

The Page 69 Test: Dead Is Good.

The Page 69 Test: Dead is Beautiful.

--Marshal Zeringue

A.F. Brady's "Once a Liar," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Once a Liar by A.F. Brady.

The entry begins:
Peter Caine: I would love to see Jon Hamm or Tom Hardy play Peter. Both actors are exceedingly good looking, and both play evil so well. I have heard that they are really nice guys in real life, and that’s exactly the kind of person I’m after. Someone who is playing a sociopath, and doing it convincingly, because that taps into the nuances of Peter’s own struggles within himself.

Juliette: I would love to have someone who personifies grace, elegance and kindness, but packs a heavy dose of “not gonna take your shit.” Either Katharine…[read on]
Visit A.F. Brady's website.

Coffee with a Canine: A.F. Brady & Maurice.

The Page 69 Test: Once a Liar.

Writers Read: A.F. Brady.

My Book, The Movie: Once a Liar.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six top books about LGBT life

John Boyne’s latest novel for younger readers is My Brother’s Name Is Jessica. At the Guardian he tagged "some classic, personal novels and true accounts of the battle for civil rights," including:
It’s a rite of passage for every young gay man to read Edmund White’s A Boy’s Own Story, the classic tale of a teenager coming to terms with his homosexuality. I first read it when I was 15 years old, hiding the book at the back of my wardrobe, terrified that anyone might find it and discover my terrible secret! It was dangerous, it was seductive, but it spoke to me in such a way that I felt sure it had been written for me alone, a conviction shared by many of its readers. White remains a hero, a stalwart, a champion for the ages.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

What is Elinor Lipman reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Elinor Lipman, author of Good Riddance.

Her entry begins:
I know you think happy endings are for the sentimental and soft, for the unserious, for the romantically inclined; for the beach. Along the narrative path there is very likely love—its ups and downs, its pain and its pleasures. And if the author follows the excellent examples of William Shakespeare, you’ll probably get a marriage as the tale’s comic closure.

None of these titles are new or necessarily on my night-stand at this moment, but Valentine’s Day is approaching, and I love them with all my heart.

The Republic of Love by Carol Shields
I was lucky enough to review this book, a novel less known than her Pulitzer-Prize-winning Stone Diaries, when it was released in 1992, and I opened my rave, “Try to imagine a more delicious premise for a novel: a 35-year-old high-achieving folklorist who studies mermaid legends meets a thrice-divorced 40-year-old radio deejay, provoking an instant, intense devotion that neither -- as romance-starved as they are -- can fully metabolize.” I continued, “Ah...[read on]
About Good Riddance, from the publisher:
The delightful new romantic comedy from Elinor Lipman, in which one woman’s trash becomes another woman’s treasure, with deliriously entertaining results.

Daphne Maritch doesn't quite know what to make of the heavily annotated high school yearbook she inherits from her mother, who held this relic dear. Too dear. The late June Winter Maritch was the teacher to whom the class of '68 had dedicated its yearbook, and in turn she went on to attend every reunion, scribbling notes and observations after each one—not always charitably—and noting who overstepped boundaries of many kinds.

In a fit of decluttering (the yearbook did not, Daphne concluded, "spark joy"), she discards it when she moves to a small New York City apartment. But when it's found in the recycling bin by a busybody neighbor/documentary filmmaker, the yearbook's mysteries—not to mention her own family's—take on a whole new urgency, and Daphne finds herself entangled in a series of events both poignant and absurd.
Visit Elinor Lipman's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Family Man.

The Page 99 Test: I Can't Complain.

The Page 69 Test: Good Riddance.

Writers Read: Elinor Lipman.

--Marshal Zeringue