Sunday, September 22, 2019

Six thrillers set during the first Gulf War

Siri Mitchell is the author of over a dozen novels. She has also written two novels under the pseudonym of Iris Anthony. She graduated from the University of Washington with a business degree and has worked in various levels of government.

Mitchell's newest novel is State of Lies.

One of her six favorite thrillers set during the first Gulf War, as shared at CrimeReads:
American Hero (reissued as Wag the Dog), by Larry Beinhart (1993)

This book scandalized the nation by calling into question the motives of politicians who lead countries into war. With the kismet of great timing, the book was published just as the public mood in the U.S. was turning from unquestioning patriotism to cynicism. He described war as an orchestrated production that might primarily serve not to free a country from an oppressor, but to re-elect a president.
Read about another book on the list.

Wag the Dog is among Megan Wasson's ten best classic political novels and Michael Kempner's five best books on public relations.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Pg. 99: Derrick E. White's "Blood, Sweat, & Tears"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Blood, Sweat, and Tears: Jake Gaither, Florida A&M, and the History of Black College Football by Derrick E. White.

About the book, from the publisher:
Black college football began during the nadir of African American life after the Civil War. The first game occurred in 1892, a little less than four years before the Supreme Court ruled segregation legal in Plessy v. Ferguson. In spite of Jim Crow segregation, Black colleges produced some of the best football programs in the country. They mentored young men who became teachers, preachers, lawyers, and doctors--not to mention many other professions--and transformed Black communities. But when higher education was integrated, the programs faced existential challenges as predominately white institutions steadily set about recruiting their student athletes and hiring their coaches. Blood, Sweat, and Tears explores the legacy of Black college football, with Florida A&M’s Jake Gaither as its central character, one of the most successful coaches in its history. A paradoxical figure, Gaither led one of the most respected Black college football programs, yet many questioned his loyalties during the height of the civil rights movement.

Among the first broad-based histories of Black college athletics, Derrick E. White’s sweeping story complicates the heroic narrative of integration and grapples with the complexities and contradictions of one of the most important sources of Black pride in the twentieth century.
Learn more about Blood, Sweat, and Tears at The University of North Carolina Press website. Follow Derrick E. White on Twitter.

The Page 99 Test: Blood, Sweat, and Tears.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top British country house novels

At the Waterstones blog, Mark Skinner tagged ten of the best country house novels, including:
Ian McEwan

A masterly evocation of the mores and morals of the 1930s upper class, McEwan’s rich, character-driven narrative examines the nature of guilt and the onerous quest for redemption. A moving love story brimming with repressed passion and festering jealousy, Atonement is a period novel of supreme acuity.
Read about another entry on the list.

Atonement also appears on Julia Dahl's top ten list of books about miscarriages of justice, Tim Lott's top ten list of summers in fiction, Ellen McCarthy's list of six favorite books about weddings and marriage, David Treuer's six favorite books list, Kirkus Reviews's list of eleven books whose final pages will shock you, Nicole Hill's list of eleven books in which the main character dies, Isla Blair's six best books list, Jessica Soffer's top ten list of book endings, Jane Ciabattari's list of five masterpieces of fiction that also worked as films, and on John Mullan's lists of ten of the best birthday parties in literature, ten of the best misdirected messages in literature, ten of the best scenes on London Underground, ten of the best breakages in literature, ten of the best weddings in literature, and ten of the best identical twins in fiction. It is one of Stephanie Beacham's six best books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Lynn Cullen's "The Sisters of Summit Avenue," the movie

Featured at My Book, the Movie: The Sisters of Summit Avenue by Lynn Cullen.

About the book, from the publisher:
My dad, Bill Doughty, made a Christmas card every year. Each year he thought of new ways to present his family, proudly celebrating what it was like to be a Doughty (which was just being an ordinary middle-class American, but that did not dim his pride.) His everyday scenes included one of the eleven of us gathered around a birthday cake. Another showed us celebrating the seasons, some of us swinging tennis rackets, others in Halloween costumes, he himself pushing a lawn-mower. He told a story in pictures of his deep appreciation for his riches, which he always measured in family.

It has occurred to me that I'm doing something similar with The Sisters of Summit Avenue. A departure from my previous books because it centers around a fictitious family instead of a historical figure, (although there's plenty of Depression-era history in it,) I call it my It's a Wonderful Life. As in that favorite old film, the sisters in the book stand to lose what they do have because...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Lynn Cullen's website.

My Book, The Movie: Mrs. Poe.

The Page 69 Test: Mrs. Poe.

The Page 69 Test: Twain's End.

The Page 69 Test: The Sisters of Summit Avenue.

My Book, the Movie: The Sisters of Summit Avenue.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 20, 2019

Pg. 99: David Sorkin's "Jewish Emancipation"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Jewish Emancipation: A History Across Five Centuries by David Sorkin.

About the book, from the publisher:
The first comprehensive history of how Jews became citizens in the modern world

For all their unquestionable importance, the Holocaust and the founding of the State of Israel now loom so large in modern Jewish history that we have mostly lost sight of the fact that they are only part of—and indeed reactions to—the central event of that history: emancipation. In this book, David Sorkin seeks to reorient Jewish history by offering the first comprehensive account in any language of the process by which Jews became citizens with civil and political rights in the modern world. Ranging from the mid-sixteenth century to the beginning of the twenty-first, Jewish Emancipation tells the ongoing story of how Jews have gained, kept, lost, and recovered rights in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, the United States, and Israel.

Emancipation, Sorkin shows, was not a one-time or linear event that began with the Enlightenment or French Revolution and culminated with Jews' acquisition of rights in Central Europe in 1867–71 or Russia in 1917. Rather, emancipation was and is a complex, multidirectional, and ambiguous process characterized by deflections and reversals, defeats and successes, triumphs and tragedies. For example, American Jews mobilized twice for emancipation: in the nineteenth century for political rights, and in the twentieth for lost civil rights. Similarly, Israel itself has struggled from the start to institute equality among its heterogeneous citizens.

By telling the story of this foundational but neglected event, Jewish Emancipation reveals the lost contours of Jewish history over the past half millennium.
Learn more about Jewish Emancipation at the Princeton University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Jewish Emancipation.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eight novels with monstrous mothers

Evelyn Toynton’s most recent novel is Inheritance.

At CrimeReads the author tagged eight favorite books which "contain mothers who regard their children chiefly as a means to their own gratification, or as obstacles to that gratification, without any concern for those children’s happiness." One title on the list:
Sigrid Nunez, A Feather on the Breath of God

It might be too harsh to call the German war bride in Sigrid Nunez’s deeply humane autobiographical novel an out-and-out monster, since her bitter disappointment with life may account for her failure to show her children the love they hunger for. Nor does Nunez present her as monstrous; she seems to feel more sympathy for her than this reader at least could muster. Still…”The everlasting struggle against the soiled collar and scuff-marked floor brought on true despair. In that struggle, as every housewife knows, children the worst enemy. Her big cleaning days were the darkest days of my childhood. She booted us out of one room after another, her mood growing steadily meaner.” Above all, though, it is her frequently voiced contempt for the sad, silent Chinese man she married, her lack of restraint about expressing that contempt to her daughters, that is hard to forgive. Again, I am talking about myself here. Clearly, Nunez herself has long since forgiven her. All the self-pity, the indignation, with which another writer might have imbued this story is wholly absent.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Tyler Hayes's "The Imaginary Corpse"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Imaginary Corpse by Tyler Hayes.

About the book, from the publisher:
Most ideas fade away when we’re done with them. Some we love enough to become Real. But what about the ones we love, and walk away from?

Tippy the triceratops was once a little girl’s imaginary friend, a dinosaur detective who could help her make sense of the world. But when her father died, Tippy fell into the Stillreal, the underbelly of the Imagination, where discarded ideas go when they’re too Real to disappear. Now, he passes time doing detective work for other unwanted ideas – until Tippy runs into the Man in the Coat, a nightmare monster who can do the impossible: kill an idea permanently. Now Tippy must overcome his own trauma and solve the case, before there’s nothing left but imaginary corpses.
Visit Tyler Hayes's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Imaginary Corpse.

The Page 69 Test: The Imaginary Corpse.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Five top fantasy books steeped in history

Jennifer Giesbrecht's debut novel is The Monster of Elendhaven.

At she tagged five favorite fantasy books steeped in history, including:
The Poppy War—R.F. Kuang

The Poppy War is a lot of things: a coming of age story for its orphaned protagonist Rin, a curiously grim magical school romp, a brutal war drama. It’s also meant to be a rough analogue to the life of Mao Zedong. Kuang drew historical inspiration from her own family’s stories about China’s tumultuous 20th century to craft her startling debut. Direct allegories in spec fiction are a difficult balancing act to pull off, but The Poppy War is never once broad, nor didactic. It flawlessly weaves together its medieval fantasy school setting with a backdrop pulled from the Opium and Sino-Japanese Wars without missing a stitch. She avoids gratuity by using her historical influence to grapple with a very real historical question: what is the psychology of a dictator? Not a “fantasy” dictator—some evil King malingering away in his castle with a divine mandate—but the kind of dictator produced by the world we live in right now, one driven initially by virtues we recognize as inarguably good; one stepped in cultural ideas that are still relevant to us today. This makes The Poppy War something rare and exciting: a true fantasy novel of the current modern era, shining the light of empathetic verisimilitude on a subject difficult to conceptualize when approached factually.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Poppy War is among Ross Johnson's twenty-five epic fantasies for fans of Game of Thrones.

The Page 69 Test: The Poppy War.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Enze Han's "Asymmetrical Neighbors"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Asymmetrical Neighbors: Borderland State Building between China and Southeast Asia by Enze Han.

About the book, from the publisher:
Is the process of state building a unilateral, national venture, or is it something more collaborative, taking place in the interstices between adjoining countries?

To answer this question, Asymmetrical Neighbors takes a comparative look at the state building process along China, Myanmar, and Thailand's common borderland area. It shows that the variations in state building among these neighboring countries are the result of an interactive process that occurs across national boundaries. Departing from existing approaches that look at such processes from the angle of singular, bounded territorial states, the book argues that a more fruitful method is to examine how state and nation building in one country can influence, and be influenced by, the same processes across borders. It argues that the success or failure of one country's state building is a process that extends beyond domestic factors such as war preparation, political institutions, and geographic and demographic variables. Rather, it shows that we should conceptualize state building as an interactive process heavily influenced by a "neighborhood effect." Furthermore, the book moves beyond the academic boundaries that divide arbitrarily China studies and Southeast Asian studies by providing an analysis that ties the state and nation building processes in China with those of Southeast Asia.
Learn more about Asymmetrical Neighbors at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Asymmetrical Neighbors.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Monique Truong's "The Sweetest Fruits"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Sweetest Fruits: A Novel by Monique Truong.

About the book, from the publisher:
A Greek woman tells of how she willed herself out of her father’s cloistered house, married an Irish officer in the British Army, and came to Ireland with her two-year-old son in 1852, only to be forced to leave without him soon after. An African American woman, born into slavery on a Kentucky plantation, makes her way to Cincinnati after the Civil War to work as a boarding house cook, where in 1872 she meets and marries an up-and-coming newspaper reporter. In Matsue, Japan, in 1891, a former samurai’s daughter is introduced to a newly arrived English teacher, and becomes the mother of his four children and his unsung literary collaborator.

The lives of writers can often best be understood through the eyes of those who nurtured them and made their work possible. In The Sweetest Fruits, these three women tell the story of their time with Lafcadio Hearn, a globetrotting writer best known for his books about Meiji-era Japan. In their own unorthodox ways, these women are also intrepid travelers and explorers. Their accounts witness Hearn’s remarkable life but also seek to witness their own existence and luminous will to live unbounded by gender, race, and the mores of their time. Each is a gifted storyteller with her own precise reason for sharing her story, and together their voices offer a revealing, often contradictory portrait of Hearn. With brilliant sensitivity and an unstinting eye, Truong illuminates the women’s tenacity and their struggles in a novel that circumnavigates the globe in the search for love, family, home, and belonging.
Visit Monique Truong's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Sweetest Fruits.

--Marshal Zeringue

Derek Milman's "Swipe Right For Murder," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Swipe Right for Murder by Derek Milman.

The entry begins:
Someone recently tweeted that if Timothée Chalamet didn't play Aidan, my main character, in a movie adaptation, they would be enraged. Truthfully, Chalamet might be better suited for the slightly older Shiloh (the Eve Kendall to Aidan's Roger Thornhill, to make a North by Northwest comparison here, a film which heavily influenced the book, except I upended the usual classic Hollywood structure and made the novel super queer). The truth is...[read on]
Visit Derek Milman's website.

My Book, The Movie: Scream All Night.

Writers Read: Derek Milman.

The Page 69 Test: Swipe Right for Murder.

My Book, The Movie: Swipe Right for Murder.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Top ten novels about burning issues for young adults

Sif Sigmarsdóttir is a writer and a journalist. She was born in the apparent feminist utopia that is Iceland and now lives in London.

The Sharp Edge of a Snowflake is her second book in the English language.

At the Guardian, Sigmarsdóttir tagged her top ten novels for young adults about current affairs. One entry on the list:
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

A reassuring trivia for all aspiring writers: before Angie Thomas wrote The Hate U Give, she’d written another book that was rejected by more than 150 agents. In 2017, Thomas’s debut became a publishing sensation. It went straight into the bestseller chart and stayed there for a year. It’s a powerful look at the Black Lives Matter movement. A mandatory read that should be on the syllabus of every school, everywhere.
Read about another book on the list.

The Hate U Give is among Natasha Ochshorn's seven banned books that should be required reading.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Charlie Michael's "French Blockbusters"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: French Blockbusters: Cultural Politics of a Transnational Cinema by Charlie Michael.

About the book, from the publisher:
The digitised spectacles conjured by a word like 'blockbuster' may create a certain cognitive dissonance with received ideas about French cinema - long celebrated as a model for philosophical, economic and aesthetic resistance to globalised popular culture. While the Gallic 'cultural exception' remains a forceful current to this day, this book shows how the onslaught of Hollywood mega-franchises and new media platforms since the 1980s has also provoked an overtly commercialised response from French producers eager to redefine the stakes and scope of their own traditions.

Cutting a swath through recent French-produced cinema, French Blockbusters offers the first book-length consideration of the theoretical implications, historical impact and cultural consequences of recent popular films that are rapidly changing what it means to make - or to see - a 'French' film today. From English-language action vehicles like Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (Besson, 2017) to revisionist historical films like Of Gods and Men (Beauvois, 2011) and crowd-pleasing comedies like Intouchables (Toledano & Nakache, 2011), the variously filiated 'local blockbusters' from contemporary France brim with the seeds of cultural contradiction, but also with the energy of a counter-history.
Learn more about French Blockbusters at the Edinburgh University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: French Blockbusters.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Lynn Cullen's "The Sisters of Summit Avenue"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Sisters of Summit Avenue by Lynn Cullen.

About the book, from the publisher:
From Lynn Cullen, the bestselling author of Mrs. Poe and Twain’s End, comes a powerful novel set in the Midwest during the Great Depression, about two sisters bound together by love, duty, and pain.

Ruth has been single-handedly raising four young daughters and running her family’s Indiana farm for eight long years, ever since her husband, John, fell into a comatose state, infected by the infamous “sleeping sickness” devastating families across the country. If only she could trade places with her older sister, June, who is the envy of everyone she meets: blonde and beautiful, married to a wealthy doctor, living in a mansion in St. Paul. And June has a coveted job, too, as one of “the Bettys,” the perky recipe developers who populate General Mills’ famous Betty Crocker test kitchens. But these gilded trappings hide sorrows: she has borne no children. And the man she used to love more than anything belongs to Ruth.

When the two sisters reluctantly reunite after a long estrangement, June’s bitterness about her sister’s betrayal sets into motion a confrontation that’s been years in the making. And their mother, Dorothy, who’s brought the two of them together, has her own dark secrets, which might blow up the fragile peace she hopes to restore between her daughters.

An emotional journey of redemption, inner strength, and the ties that bind families together, for better or worse, The Sisters of Summit Avenue is a heartfelt love letter to mothers, daughters, and sisters everywhere.
Learn more about the book and author at Lynn Cullen's website.

My Book, The Movie: Mrs. Poe.

The Page 69 Test: Mrs. Poe.

The Page 69 Test: Twain's End.

The Page 69 Test: The Sisters of Summit Avenue.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eight novels featuring atypical amateur detectives

Sarah Lotz is a novelist and screenwriter with a fondness for the macabre.

Her books include Day Four, The Three, and most recently, Missing Person, a novel about a group of amateur detectives infiltrated by the sadistic killer whose crimes they’re investigating.

At CrimeReads, Lotz tagged eight novels featuring unlikely amateur detectives, including:
The Cutting Room, by Louise Welsh

Set in Glasgow, which Welsh portrays so viscerally it’s practically a character itself, this debut deservedly hoovered up most of the crime awards going when it was first published in 2002. The protagonist is a cruelly witty, introspective, promiscuous auctioneer, who is asked to dispose of the possessions of a man who clearly has some very dodgy secrets tucked away in the attic. Unputdownable and laced with delicious black humour.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Cutting Room is among Irvine Welsh's five best crime novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Tyler Hayes's "The Imaginary Corpse," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Imaginary Corpse by Tyler Hayes.

The entry begins:
Given the mixed-media nature of the world(s) of The Imaginary Corpse, I picture it being, at least in part, an animated film, so I go into any dream-casting thinking about voice more than look. Even if some one of the more photorealistic Friends are played by live actors, prostheses and other special effects wouldn't look out of place in the film.

When I think of Tippy's voice, I think of Joseph Gordon-Levitt. A softened, kinder version of the cadences he used in Brick or Looper (well, with way fewer impressions of Bruce Willis) would really capture the spirit of our triceratops detective.

For Spindleman, I hear Matthew Mercer. The children he voices on Critical Role are regularly both heartwarming and heart-rending, and he would lend Spindleman the appropriate pathos.

For Chip Dixon, I'd go with...[read on]
Visit Tyler Hayes's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Imaginary Corpse.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Marco Z. Garrido's "The Patchwork City"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Patchwork City: Class, Space, and Politics in Metro Manila by Marco Z. Garrido.

About the book, from the publisher:
In contemporary Manila, slums and squatter settlements are peppered throughout the city, often pushing right up against the walled enclaves of the privileged, creating the complex geopolitical pattern of Marco Z. Garrido’s “patchwork city.” Garrido documents the fragmentation of Manila into a mélange of spaces defined by class, particularly slums and upper- and middle-class enclaves. He then looks beyond urban fragmentation to delineate its effects on class relations and politics, arguing that the proliferation of these slums and enclaves and their subsequent proximity have intensified class relations. For enclave residents, the proximity of slums is a source of insecurity, compelling them to impose spatial boundaries on slum residents. For slum residents, the regular imposition of these boundaries creates a pervasive sense of discrimination. Class boundaries then sharpen along the housing divide, and the urban poor and middle class emerge not as labor and capital but as squatters and “villagers,” Manila’s name for subdivision residents. Garrido further examines the politicization of this divide with the case of the populist president Joseph Estrada, finding the two sides drawn into contention over not just the right to the city, but the nature of democracy itself.

The Patchwork City illuminates how segregation, class relations, and democracy are all intensely connected. It makes clear, ultimately, that class as a social structure is as indispensable to the study of Manila—and of many other cities of the Global South—as race is to the study of American cities.
Learn more about The Patchwork City at the University of Chicago Press website.

The Page 99 Test: The Patchwork City.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Gilly Macmillan's "The Nanny"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Nanny: A Novel by Gilly Macmillan.

About the book, from the publisher:
When her beloved nanny, Hannah, left without a trace in the summer of 1988, seven-year-old Jocelyn Holt was devastated. Haunted by the loss, Jo grew up bitter and distant, and eventually left her parents and Lake Hall, their faded aristocratic home, behind.

Thirty years later, Jo returns to the house and is forced to confront her troubled relationship with her mother. But when human remains are accidentally uncovered in a lake on the estate, Jo begins to question everything she thought she knew.

Then an unexpected visitor knocks on the door and Jo’s world is destroyed again. Desperate to piece together the gaping holes in her memory, Jo must uncover who her nanny really was, why she left, and if she can trust her own mother…

In this compulsively readable tale of secrets, lies, and deception, Gilly Macmillan explores the darkest impulses and desires of the human heart. Diabolically clever, The Nanny reminds us that sometimes the truth hurts so much you’d rather hear the lie.
Visit Gilly Macmillan's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Nanny.

The Page 69 Test: The Nanny.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven of the best books about the techniques of persuasion

Edith Hall is Professor in the Classics Department at King's College London.

Her books include Aristotle's Way: How Ancient Wisdom Can Change Your Life.

At the Guardian, Hall tagged some of the best books on the "techniques of persuasion – which the ancient Greeks called the science of rhetoric" – including:
The instrumentality of ancient speechmaking in the political oratory of more recent times is also explored in Garry Wills’s Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words that Remade America. Wills examines the inspiration behind Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 address at the Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Pennsylvania – Pericles’ oration at the funeral of the Athenian war dead of 431BC, recorded by Thucydides. Pericles rousingly concluded, “Such is the city for whose sake these men nobly fought and died; they could not bear the thought that she might be taken from them; and every one of us who survive should gladly toil on her behalf.” Lincoln praised not the dead but the principles on which their country was founded.

Wills argues that his speech was revolutionary in assuming that the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution, was the supreme articulation of American government. He proposed that the US is a single nation and a single people, rather than an association of separate states. Lincoln follows Pericles in grasping a historic opportunity to frame a vision of his whole community and its values. He also followed the classical structure of Pericles’ oration in discussing first the dead and secondly the living – survivors, the bereaved – and instructing them on their future.
Read about another entry on the list.

Lincoln at Gettysburg is among Laurence Tribe's six book recommendations.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 16, 2019

What is Ashley Weaver reading"

Featured at Writers Read: Ashley Weaver, author of A Dangerous Engagement (An Amory Ames Mystery, Volume 6).

Her entry begins:
I’m currently reading Homer’s The Iliad. Every year a friend and I pick five classics of literature to read, and this is the final book on my list for 2019. I read large chunks of it in school, but this is my first time reading it cover-to-cover. It’s amazing how something written so long ago still has the power to stir the emotions. I have the Robert Fagles translation, and I’m really enjoying the clarity and beauty of the language.

My historical topic of interest this year has been polar exploration. I’m enjoying A Wretched and Precarious Situation: In Search of the Last Arctic Frontier by David Welky, which is the fascinating account of a group of explorers searching for “Crocker Land,” a distant and uncharted landscape spotted while...[read on]
About A Dangerous Engagement, from the publisher:
A Dangerous Engagement is the stylish, charming sixth novel in the Edgar-nominated Amory Ames mystery series by Ashley Weaver, set in 1930s New York.

As they travel by ship to New York for her childhood friend Tabitha’s wedding, Amory Ames gazes out at the city’s iconic skyline, excited by the prospect of being a bridesmaid. Her husband Milo, however, is convinced their trip will be deadly dull, since Prohibition is in full swing. But when a member of the wedding party is found murdered on the front steps of the bride’s home, the happy plans take a darker twist.

Amory discovers that the dead groomsman has links to the notorious—and notoriously handsome—gangster Leon De Lora, and soon she and Milo find themselves drawn into another mystery. While the police seem to think that New York’s criminal underworld is at play, Amory feels they can’t ignore the wedding party either. Tabitha’s fiancé Tom Smith appears to be a good man, but he has secrets of his own, and the others in the group seem strangely unaffected by the death of their friend...

In an unfamiliar city, not knowing who they can trust, Milo and Amory are drawn into the glamorous, dangerous world of nightclubs and bootleggers. But as they draw closer to unraveling the web of lies and half-truths the murdered man has left in his wake, the killer is weaving a web of his own.
Visit Ashley Weaver's website.

The Page 69 Test: A Most Novel Revenge.

The Page 69 Test: An Act of Villainy.

Writers Read: Ashley Weaver.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Derek Milman's "Swipe Right For Murder"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Swipe Right for Murder by Derek Milman.

About the book, from the publisher:
An epic case of mistaken identity puts a teen looking for a hookup on the run from both the FBI and a murderous cult in this compulsively readable thriller.

Finding himself alone in a posh New York City hotel room for the night, Aidan does what any red-blooded seventeen-year-old would do–tries to hook up with someone new. But that lapse in judgement leads him to a room with a dead guy and a mysterious flash drive…two things that spark an epic case of mistaken identity that puts Aidan on the run–from the authorities, his friends, his family, the people who are out to kill him–and especially from his own troubled past.

Inspired by a Hitchcock classic, this whirlwind mistaken-identity caper has razor-sharp humor, devastating emotional stakes, and a thrilling storyline with an explosive conclusion to make this the most compelling YA novel of the year.
Visit Derek Milman's website.

My Book, The Movie: Scream All Night.

Writers Read: Derek Milman.

The Page 69 Test: Swipe Right for Murder.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Jennie Bristow's "Stop Mugging Grandma"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Stop Mugging Grandma: The 'Generation Wars' and Why Boomer Blaming Won't Solve Anything by Jennie Bristow.

About the book, from the publisher:
A decisive intervention in the "war" between generations, asking who stands to gain from conflict between baby boomers and millennials

Millennials have been incited to regard their parents’ generation as entitled and selfish, and to blame the baby boomers of the Sixties for the cultural and economic problems of today. But is it true that young people have been victimized by their elders?

In this book, Jennie Bristow looks at generational labels and the groups of people they apply to. Bristow argues that the prominence and popularity of terms like "baby boomer," "millennial," and "snowflake" in mainstream media operates as a smoke screen—directing attention away from important issues such as housing, education, pensions, and employment. Bristow systematically disputes the myths that surround the "generational war," exposing it to be nothing more than a tool by which the political and social elite can avoid public scrutiny. With her lively and engaging style, Bristow highlights the major issues and concerns surrounding the sociological blame game.
Visit Jennie Bristow's website.

The Page 99 Test: Stop Mugging Grandma.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six of Samantha Powers's recommended books

Samantha Power is the Anna Lindh Professor of the Practice of Global Leadership and Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School and William D. Zabel ’61 Professor of Practice in Human Rights at Harvard Law School.

From 2013 to 2017 Power served as the 28th U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, as well as a member of President Obama’s cabinet. Her new memoir is The Education of an Idealist.

At The Week magazine Power shared six of her favorite books, including:
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson (2014).

In this enraging yet ultimately inspiring memoir, the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative recounts his work championing those denied fair trials, whether because of their skin color or their lack of means. Stevenson, whether in the Supreme Court or with an incarcerated client, never loses sight of those he refuses to leave behind.
Read about another entry on the list.

Just Mercy is among Brené Brown's six top books that inspire bravery.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Pg. 69: Richard C. Morais's "The Man with No Borders"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Man with No Borders: A Novel by Richard C. Morais.

About the book, from the publisher:
A father comes to terms with his mortality and secrets in a heartrending novel of family and forgiveness from the New York Times bestselling author of The Hundred-Foot Journey.

It is a time of reckoning for José María Álvarez, an aristocratic Spanish banker living in a Swiss village with his American wife. Nearing the end of a long and tumultuous life, he’s overcome by hallucinatory memories of the past. Among his most cherished memories are those of his boyhood in 1950s Franco-era Spain and the bucolic afternoons he spent salmon fishing on the Sella River with his father, uncle, and much-loved younger brother. But these fond reveries are soon eclipsed by something greater. José’s regrets and dark family secrets are flooding back, as is the devastating tragedy that drove José into exile and makes him bear the burden of a soul-deep guilt.

Now, as his three estranged sons return to their father’s side, José hopes to outpace death long enough to finally put his house in order and exorcise its demons. Only in his quest for redemption can José begin to understand the meaning of his life—and what his legacy has meant to others.
Visit Richard C. Morais's website.

Watch a video of the author explaining why he wrote the novel.

The Page 69 Test: The Man with No Borders.

--Marshal Zeringue

Gilly Macmillan's "The Nanny," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Nanny: A Novel by Gilly Macmillan.

The entry begins:
If they make The Nanny into a film, I would love to see Emma Stone play Jo, the young widow who is at the centre of the story. Emma Stone has that girl next door look but can turn on a haughty look. The actress playing Jo needs to be able to pack a punch in every expression on screen and Emma Stone could most definitely deliver that.

For the nanny character, Hannah, I think either Frances McDormand or Olivia Colman. Hannah is a nuanced character. She needs to very watchable.

For Ruby, the youngest character in the book at just 11 years old. I think a new and undiscovered actress should play her. Somebody who can bring a touch of tomboy, a fierce intelligence and a lot of bravery.

My favourite character in the book is the complex and surprising Lady Virginia Holt. She is Jo’s mother and Ruby’s grandmother...[read on]
Visit Gilly Macmillan's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Nanny.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five of fiction's most chilling extreme religion believers

Lizzy Barber studied English at Cambridge University. Having previously dabbled in acting and film development, she has spent the last ten years as head of marketing for a restaurant group.

Her first novel, A Girl Named Anna, won the Daily Mail and Random House First Novel Prize 2017.

Barber lives in London with her husband, a food writer.

At CrimeReads she tagged five favorite novels featuring extreme religion believers, including:
Children of Paradise, by Fred D’Aguiar

Also inspired by reality, Fred D’Aguiar’s mesmerizing psychological thriller turns to the People’s Temple for inspiration. In a South American commune, a young girl is singled out by the cult’s omnipotent leader, leading the girl’s mother, Joyce, to call her faith and everything she has known into question. A thrilling re-imagining of the horrific Jonestown massacre, Children of Paradise examines the tragic consequences of obsession and religious fanaticism.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Pg. 99: Ian Stewart's "Do Dice Play God?"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Do Dice Play God?: The Mathematics of Uncertainty by Ian Stewart.

About the book, from the publisher:
A celebrated mathematician explores how math helps us make sense of the unpredictable

We would like to believe we can know things for certain. We want to be able to figure out who will win an election, if the stock market will crash, or if a suspect definitely committed a crime. But the odds are not in our favor. Life is full of uncertainty — indeed, scientific advances indicate that the universe might be fundamentally inexact — and humans are terrible at guessing. When asked to predict the outcome of a chance event, we are almost always wrong.

Thankfully, there is hope. As award-winning mathematician Ian Stewart reveals, over the course of history, mathematics has given us some of the tools we need to better manage the uncertainty that pervades our lives. From forecasting, to medical research, to figuring out how to win Let’s Make a Deal, Do Dice Play God? is a surprising and satisfying tour of what we can know, and what we never will.
Learn more about the book at the author's website.

See Ian Stewart's top ten popular mathematics books.

The Page 99 Test: Why Beauty Is Truth.

The Page 99 Test: In Pursuit of the Unknown.

The Page 99 Test: Visions of Infinity.

The Page 99 Test: Do Dice Play God?.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Juliet Marillier reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Juliet Marillier, author of The Harp of Kings.

Her entry begins:
I’m currently reading an excellent non-fiction book, Our Dogs, Ourselves, by Alexandra Horowitz. The author is senior research fellow and head of the Dog Cognition Lab at Barnard College, Columbia University. She has written three previous books including the New York Times bestseller, Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know.

I’m thoroughly enjoying Our Dogs, Ourselves, which is a substantial, engagingly written, extremely well researched examination of the relationship between human and dog. The author, who has her own small menagerie, discusses with respect and insight the often contradictory nature of the way we think about and relate to dogs. As a foster carer and sometimes adopter of ageing and/or infirm rescue dogs, I was delighted to find...[read on]
About The Harp of Kings, from the publisher:
A young woman is both a bard—and a warrior—in this thrilling historical fantasy from the author of the Sevenwaters novels.

Eighteen-year-old Liobhan is a powerful singer and an expert whistle player. Her brother has a voice to melt the hardest heart, and is a rare talent on the harp. But Liobhan’s burning ambition is to join the elite warrior band on Swan Island. She and her brother train there to compete for places, and find themselves joining a mission while still candidates. Their unusual blend of skills makes them ideal for this particular job, which requires going undercover as traveling minstrels. For Swan Island trains both warriors and spies.

Their mission: to find and retrieve a precious harp, an ancient symbol of kingship, which has gone missing. If the instrument is not played at the upcoming coronation, the candidate will not be accepted and the kingdom will be thrown into disarray. Faced with plotting courtiers and tight-lipped druids, an insightful storyteller, and a boorish Crown Prince, Liobhan soon realizes an Otherworld power may be meddling in the affairs of the kingdom. When ambition clashes with conscience, Liobhan must make a bold decision—and the consequences may break her heart.
Learn more about the book and author at Juliet Marillier's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Juliet Marillier & Pippa, Gretel, and Sara.

The Page 69 Test: Heart’s Blood.

The Page 69 Test: Seer of Sevenwaters.

The Page 69 Test: Flame of Sevenwaters.

The Page 69 Test: The Caller.

Writers Read: Juliet Marillier.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten authors pushing space opera forward

John Birmingham is the author of Emergence, Resistance, Ascendance, After America, Without Warning, Final Impact, Designated Targets, Weapons of Choice, and other novels, as well as Leviathan, which won the National Award for Nonfiction at Australia’s Adelaide Festival of the Arts, and the novella Stalin’s Hammer: Rome. He has written for The Sydney Morning Herald, Rolling Stone, Penthouse, Playboy, and numerous other magazines.

Birmingham's newest novel is The Cruel Stars.

At Publishers Weekly he tagged ten authors shaking up space opera, including:
Empire of Silence by Chrisopher Ruocchio

There’s a peculiar derangement that comes over many SF writers, where they suddenly start trying to squeeze a lifetime’s worth of fantasy tropes into their narrative starships. (Seriously, Peter F. Hamilton, just build another Dyson sphere and fill it it full of hostile aliens. Enough already!) But Ruocchio could mash up genres at the Olympics and have the dais to himself. He wins gold silver and bronze for the brilliant Sun Eater series, a head spinning stew of speculative future history, retrofuturist fantasy, and utterly entrancing recursive loops back through all some of the oldest memes in the history of story telling, all made new by Hadrian Marlowe, his creator-destroyer of imaginary worlds. You will lose yourself in these books and stay happily lost again and again.
Read about another entry on the list.

My Book, The Movie: Empire of Silence.

The Page 69 Test: Empire of Silence.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 13, 2019

Pg. 69: Melissa Payne's "The Secrets of Lost Stones"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Secrets of Lost Stones by Melissa Payne.

About the book, from the publisher:
A soul-stirring novel about the bonds between mother and child and the redemption that comes with facing the past and letting it go.

Thirty-two-year-old Jess Abbot has lost everything: her job, her apartment, and—most heart-wrenching—her eight-year-old son, Chance, to a tragic accident. Haunted by memories and grief, Jess packs what’s left and heads for the small mountain town of Pine Lake, where she takes a position as caregiver to an eccentric old woman.

A rumored clairvoyant, Lucy is strange but welcoming and immediately intuits Jess as a “loose end” in need of closure. But Jess isn’t the only guest in Lucy’s large Victorian home. There’s also Star, a teenage runaway with a secret too painful to share. And the little boy with heart-shaped stones, who comes with a hope for reconciliation—and a warning.

Soon Jess learns that she’s not the only lost soul running from the ghosts of the past. She and Star have been brought together for a reason: to be saved by the very thing that destroyed them.
Visit Melissa Payne's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Melissa Payne & Max.

My Book, The Movie: The Secrets of Lost Stones.

The Page 69 Test: The Secrets of Lost Stones.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top Londons in fantasy fiction

Deborah Hewitt lives in the UK, somewhere south of Glasgow and north of London. She’s the proud owner of two brilliant boys and one very elderly dog. When she’s not writing, she can be found watching her boys play football in a muddy field, drinking tea or teaching in her classroom. Occasionally she cooks. Her family wishes she wouldn’t. The Nightjar is her first book.

At Hewitt tagged five favorite Londons in fantasy fiction, including:
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

This is boss level stuff. The big one. The London-inspired fantasy that spawned them all. Set in the mid-1990s, the story follows Richard Mayhew, a mild-mannered city-worker, whose life is forever changed when he helps the mysterious Door (a girl, not a tall wooden thing with handles) and is catapulted into a strange and wonderful adventure beneath the city. There, in London Below, Richard will find his destiny. Neverwhere plays with London locations and the underground tube network in the most ingenious way—Night’s Bridge, Earl’s Court, Angel Islington, Black Friars are all literal interpretations. A dark and magical world that feels real because… it is real. Sort of.
Read about another entry on the list.

Neverwhere is among Sam Reader's top six horror books that will make you reconsider riding the aubway, Brad Abraham's five top books about magic, Nicole Hill's eight fantastical destinations she'd like to visit, and Monique Alice's top seven books for readers who love Haruki Murakami.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Victor Fan's "Extraterritoriality"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Extraterritoriality: Locating Hong Kong Cinema and Media by Victor Fan.

About the book, from the publisher:
Examining how Hong Kong filmmakers, spectators and critics wrestled with this perturbation between the Leftist Riots (1967) and the aftermath of the Umbrella Movement (2014), this book traces how Hong Kong's extraterritoriality has been framed: in its position of being doubly occupied and doubly abandoned by contesting juridical, political, linguistic and cultural forces.

Extraterritoriality scrutinises creative works in mainstream cinema, independent films, television, video artworks and documentaries - especially those by marginalised artists - actively rewriting and reconfiguring how Hong Kong cinema and media are to be defined and located.
Visit Victor Fan's website.

The Page 99 Test: Extraterritoriality.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Ten top spy novels by women, about women

Susan Elia MacNeal is the author of The New York Times, Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, and USA Today-bestselling Maggie Hope mystery series, starting with the Edgar Award-nominated and Barry Award-winning Mr. Churchill’s Secretary.

Her latest book is The Prisoner in the Castle, the eighth novel in the series.

At CrimeReads, MacNeal tagged ten "favorite novels with female spies, written by women (with one exception), and inspired by the feats of the heroic women who served as spies in WWII." One title on the list:
Mistress of the Ritz by Melanie Benjamin

Melanie Benjamin’s Mistress of the Ritz is based on the real-life stories of the American women who secretly worked for the Resistance, while mingling with the occupying Germans at the iconic Hôtel Ritz in Paris. Benjamin weaves in the true story of Blanche Auzello (née Rubenstein) who was the wife of the long-reigning Managing Director of the Ritz, Claude Auzello. If you’d like to read more about Madam Auzello, read Queen of the Ritz, by Samuel Marx.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Melissa Payne's "The Secrets of Lost Stones," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Secrets of Lost Stones by Melissa Payne.

The entry begins:
As I wrote The Secrets of Lost Stones, the story played like a movie in my head, but when I sat down to answer which actresses would play Jess, Star and Lucy, I drew a blank. Jess is a grief-stricken mother who blames herself for her young son’s death. Star is a fifteen-year-old homeless teen who believes that she is better off alone and living on the streets than with a family. And Lucy is an eccentric elderly woman who has a gift for tying loose ends for people who are hurting. When I wrote these characters I imagined their motives, their deepest fears, a glimpse of their souls, but not necessarily their faces. Until now. So here goes. For spirited and strong Star, I’d choose Rooney Mara from Tanner Hall, but with the hair and edginess she brought to her epic role in Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Jess is best portrayed by...[read on]
Visit Melissa Payne's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Melissa Payne & Max.

My Book, The Movie: The Secrets of Lost Stones.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Caitlin Horrocks's "The Vexations"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Vexations by Caitlin Horrocks.

About the book, from the publisher:
Erik Satie begins life with every possible advantage. But after the dual blows of his mother’s early death and his father’s breakdown upend his childhood, Erik and his younger siblings — Louise and Conrad — are scattered. Later, as an ambitious young composer, Erik flings himself into the Parisian art scene, aiming for greatness but achieving only notoriety.

As the years, then decades, pass, he alienates those in his circle as often as he inspires them, lashing out at friends and lovers like Claude Debussy and Suzanne Valadon. Only Louise and Conrad are steadfast allies. Together they strive to maintain their faith in their brother’s talent and hold fast the badly frayed threads of family. But in a journey that will take her from Normandy to Paris to Argentina, Louise is rocked by a severe loss that ultimately forces her into a reckoning with how Erik — obsessed with his art and hungry for fame — will never be the brother she’s wished for.

With her buoyant, vivid reimagination of an iconic artist’s eventful life, Caitlin Horrocks has written a captivating and ceaselessly entertaining novel about the tenacious bonds of family and the costs of greatness, both to ourselves and to those we love.
Visit Caitlin Horrocks's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Vexations.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top culinary memoirs

Isabel Vincent is a Canadian investigative journalist who writes for the New York Post, an alumna of the University of Toronto Varsity newspaper, and the author of several books, including Gilded Lily: Lily Safra, The Making of One of the World's Wealthiest Widows and Dinner with Edward: A Story of an Unexpected Friendship.

At the Guardian Vincent tagged ten of the best culinary memoirs, including:
Cooking for Mr Latte: A Food Lover’s Courtship With Recipes by Amanda Hesser

The “Mr Latte” of the title is the author’s boyfriend, a writer for the highbrow New Yorker who has rather lowbrow tastes in food. Although affable and intelligent, he ends each exquisite meal they share with the fine-dining faux pas of a latte. First told in instalments for the New York Times where Hesser worked as a food writer, this is as much a love letter to New York and food as it is to the man Hesser ends up marrying.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue