Saturday, November 16, 2019

Five books that explore the physical & emotional impact of dementia

Emma Healey is the author of Elizabeth Is Missing and Whistle in the Dark.

At the Guardian, she tagged five titles that explore the physical and emotional impact of dementia, including:
Looking at the condition from the outside can only get us so far, but the best fiction can almost put us inside the head of another person. The “For” section of Ali Smith’s brilliant novel There But For The recreates the internal workings of a mind with dementia. Written as a stream of consciousness, vivid moments from the past are presented between parentheses and in the present tense, giving the sense that those memories are much more immediate than the past-tense contemporary account. Playful and quick witted, the sum total of a woman’s life – her tragedies, jokes and certainties – is jumbled together, yet Smith creates a vivid sense of a person rather than a sufferer.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Cedric de Leon's "Crisis!"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Crisis!: When Political Parties Lose the Consent to Rule by Cedric de Leon.

About the book, from the publisher:
A timely analysis of the power and limits of political parties—and the lessons of the Civil War and the New Deal in the Age of Trump.

American voters have long been familiar with the phenomenon of the presidential frontrunner. In 2008, it was Hillary Clinton. In 1844, it was Martin Van Buren. And in neither election did the prominent Democrat win the party's nomination. Insurgent candidates went on to win the nomination and the presidency, plunging the two-party system into disarray over the years that followed.

In this book, Cedric de Leon analyzes two pivotal crises in the American two-party system: the first resulting in the demise of the Whig party and secession of eleven southern states in 1861, and the present crisis splintering the Democratic and Republican parties and leading to the election of Donald Trump. Recasting these stories through the actions of political parties, de Leon draws unsettling parallels in the political maneuvering that ultimately causes once-dominant political parties to lose the people's consent to rule.

Crisis! takes us beyond the common explanations of social determinants to illuminate how political parties actively shape national stability and breakdown. The secession crisis and the election of Donald Trump suggest that politicians and voters abandon the political establishment not only because people are suffering, but also because the party system itself is unable to absorb an existential challenge to its power. Just as the U.S. Civil War meant the difference between the survival of a slaveholding republic and the birth of liberal democracy, what political elites and civil society organizations do today can mean the difference between fascism and democracy.
Learn more about Crisis!: When Political Parties Lose the Consent to Rule at the Stanford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: The Origins of Right to Work: Antilabor Democracy in Nineteenth-Century Chicago by Cedric de Leon.

The Page 99 Test: Crisis!: When Political Parties Lose the Consent to Rule.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven novels about the struggle of being a writer

Gnesis Villar, an intern at Electric Literature, tagged seven books about the struggle of being a writer, including:
Less by Andrew Sean Greer

Arthur Less is about to turn fifty and is failing—at writing, at dating, at life in general. After receiving a wedding invitation from his not-boyfriend of nine years Arthur is at a crossroads. He can’t say yes because of the awkwardness but he also can’t say no because it would look like defeat. So he comes up with a half-baked idea to travel the world, going to every literary event he’s been invited to. From a romance cut short in Paris to a near-deadly fall in Berlin, Arthur along the way finds his first love and his last.
Read about another entry on the list.

Less is among Sarah Skilton's six novel novels about novelists.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 15, 2019

What is Chad Zunker reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Chad Zunker, author of An Equal Justice.

His entry begins:
I’m currently knee deep in Lying Next To Me, a fantastic new domestic thriller by Gregg Olsen about a husband whose life gets shattered when his wife is abducted right in front of him. Of course, not everything is what it seems. As a husband with my own young kids, the book is absolutely gripping for me. Gregg...[read on]
About An Equal Justice, from the publisher:
Inside a prestigious law firm, a rookie lawyer is pulled into a dark maze of lies and violence.

An ambitious Stanford graduate, David Adams has begun a fast-track career at Austin’s most prestigious law firm. It’s a personal victory for the rising superstar—a satisfying reversal from his impoverished and despairing childhood. Now he has the life he’s always wanted: an extravagant salary, a high-rise condo, a luxury SUV, and no limit to how far he can go in the eyes of the top partners.

But after the shocking suicide of a fellow associate—one who, in his final hours, offered David an ominous warning—he feels the pull of powerful forces behind the corporation’s enviable trappings. The suicide leads unexpectedly to David’s discovery of a secret enclave of the city’s homeless, where he can’t help but feel an affinity to these outcast souls. Nor can he ignore the feeling that they hold the key to the truth behind a dark conspiracy.

When one of his new street friends is murdered, David’s clear doubts about his employer start shifting into a dark reality. Now torn between two worlds, David must surrender all that he’s achieved to fight for a larger cause of justice—and become his firm’s most dangerous acquisition.
Visit Chad Zunker's website.

My Book, The Movie: Hunt The Lion.

The Page 69 Test: Hunt the Lion.

Writers Read: Chad Zunker.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top Victorian mysteries set outside England

Will Thomas is the author of the critically acclaimed Cyrus Barker and Thomas Llewelyn series, including Some Danger Involved, Fatal Enquiry, Old Scores, and Blood Is Blood. He lives in Oklahoma.

At CrimeReads he tagged five favorite "Victorian mystery novels set around the world—yes, that's right, outside England." One title on the list:
The Fencing Master, by Arturo Perez-Reverte (Harcourt Brace and Company, 1998)

Set in Madrid in 1868 during a period of great political unrest, this book concerns Don Jaime, a fencing master and man of honor in a time when such a concept was considered outmoded. He declines a request from a young woman to teach her a forbidden fencing technique, but soon she draws him into the modern world of revolution and political intrigue, where honor is considered as quaint and old fashioned as the weapon he teaches his pupils to use. Is he a dinosaur, or does what he has to teach the young woman still have worth in this “modern” century? This is a Perez-Reverte masterpiece.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Olivia Hawker's "One for the Blackbird, One for the Crow"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: One for the Blackbird, One for the Crow by Olivia Hawker.

About the book, from the publisher:
Wyoming, 1876. For as long as they have lived on the frontier, the Bemis and Webber families have relied on each other. With no other settlers for miles, it is a matter of survival. But when Ernest Bemis finds his wife, Cora, in a compromising situation with their neighbor, he doesn’t think of survival. In one impulsive moment, a man is dead, Ernest is off to prison, and the women left behind are divided by rage and remorse.

Losing her husband to Cora’s indiscretion is another hardship for stoic Nettie Mae. But as a brutal Wyoming winter bears down, Cora and Nettie Mae have no choice but to come together as one family—to share the duties of working the land and raising their children. There’s Nettie Mae’s son, Clyde—no longer a boy, but not yet a man—who must navigate the road to adulthood without a father to guide him, and Cora’s daughter, Beulah, who is as wild and untamable as her prairie home.

Bound by the uncommon threads in their lives and the challenges that lie ahead, Cora and Nettie Mae begin to forge an unexpected sisterhood. But when a love blossoms between Clyde and Beulah, bonds are once again tested, and these two resilient women must finally decide whether they can learn to trust each other—or else risk losing everything they hold dear.
Visit Olivia Hawker's website.

My Book, The Movie: One for the Blackbird, One for the Crow.

The Page 69 Test: One for the Blackbird, One for the Crow.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Five top fantasy action reads with lyrical prose

Howard Andrew Jones's new novel is Upon the Flight of the Queen.

At Tor.com he tagged five favorite fantasy action stories "with great characters and some lovely writing," including:
Last Song Before Night by Ilana C. Myer

There’s a reason NPR described Ilana C. Myer’s first novel as “lyrical, dynamic, and winningly melodic.” That’s a wonderful summation of some of the book’s strengths, and can serve equally well as a descriptor for Myer’s writing throughout the trilogy.

I really can’t understand why her wonderful prose hasn’t earned this gifted author a wider audience. Maybe it’s because people think “lyrical” means slow. Yes, the descriptions are gorgeous, but don’t wander in expecting languid limpid pools to be the subject page after page. Here, have a glimpse from deep in the book and see what she does with the simple act of a musician playing before a fireside audience.
His hands stroked the strings almost tenderly, to start, but that of course did not last. As with so many things, tenderness was only a beginning, giving way to need and violence. And on the first chord where tenderness gave way to need, Edrien’s voice joined the music of the strings, lifted in a chant that recalled the earliest songs of the people who had wandered these mountains, the songs they had bequeathed, over centuries, to their children. That much, at least, he owed his hosts. But it was a song he had written himself, combining their traditional forms with his own inspiration as a young man. It was one of the songs that had made his name what it was.

The children were talking and laughing at first, but soon Edrien was aware that in addition to the darkness that encircled them, they were ensconced in breathless silence that only his music filled.
The flawed and driven characters and the mysteries they uncover propel this book so that you’re soon turning the pages with anticipation. Myers supplies plenty of dynamic tension and layered backstories. When violence occurs in a Myers scene, it is sharp and deadly. I love that much of the book (and those that follow) are set in a musical college that actually feels like a real institution where fantasy bards would train, one with fascinating traditions and secrets so engaging I really wish I’d thought of them myself. And best of all, each book is a little bit better than the one that precedes it, and they start out strong indeed.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sarah Deming's "Gravity," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Gravity by Sarah Deming.

The entry begins:
I wrote Gravity like it was a movie. It moves around a lot: Brooklyn to Spokane to China to Rio. It has a large cast of diverse characters that I hoped would offer juicy opportunities for actors of color.

My husband, who is a crime fiction buff, tells me that Dashiell Hammett tried to see his novel The Maltese Falcon like it was a movie and write that way. That was inspiring to me.

I've always found screenwriting classes/manuals -- stuff like Story and Save the Cat -- to be far more helpful and practical than fiction writing guides. I think about things like act breaks, subtext, the picture I'm painting on stage. I want every important character to be charismatic and to undergo some kind of change or development throughout the arc of the story.

My book is YA, so the main characters are young and offer the opportunity for fresh new faces. I can see some of the real boxers I know playing the roles they inspired. Chris Colbert, who inspired the male lead D-Minus, is already the star of a Netflix documentary called Counterpunch. Two-time Olympic champion...[read on]
Visit Sarah Deming's website.

My Book, The Movie: Gravity.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Brandon R. Byrd's "The Black Republic"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Black Republic: African Americans and the Fate of Haiti by Brandon R. Byrd.

About the book, from the publisher:
In The Black Republic, Brandon R. Byrd explores the ambivalent attitudes that African American leaders in the post-Civil War era held toward Haiti, the first and only black republic in the Western Hemisphere. Following emancipation, African American leaders of all kinds—politicians, journalists, ministers, writers, educators, artists, and diplomats—identified new and urgent connections with Haiti, a nation long understood as an example of black self-determination. They celebrated not only its diplomatic recognition by the United States but also the renewed relevance of the Haitian Revolution.

While a number of African American leaders defended the sovereignty of a black republic whose fate they saw as intertwined with their own, others expressed concern over Haiti's fitness as a model black republic, scrutinizing whether the nation truly reflected the "civilized" progress of the black race. Influenced by the imperialist rhetoric of their day, many African Americans across the political spectrum espoused a politics of racial uplift, taking responsibility for the "improvement" of Haitian education, politics, culture, and society. They considered Haiti an uncertain experiment in black self-governance: it might succeed and vindicate the capabilities of African Americans demanding their own right to self-determination or it might fail and condemn the black diasporic population to second-class status for the foreseeable future.

When the United States military occupied Haiti in 1915, it created a crisis for W. E. B. Du Bois and other black activists and intellectuals who had long grappled with the meaning of Haitian independence. The resulting demand for and idea of a liberated Haiti became a cornerstone of the anticapitalist, anticolonial, and antiracist radical black internationalism that flourished between World War I and World War II. Spanning the Reconstruction, post-Reconstruction, and Jim Crow eras, The Black Republic recovers a crucial and overlooked chapter of African American internationalism and political thought.
Visit Brandon R. Byrd's website.

The Page 99 Test: The Black Republic.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten golden age detective novels

Nicola Upson was born in Suffolk and read English at Downing College, Cambridge. She has worked in theatre and as a freelance journalist, and is the author of two non-fiction works and the recipient of an Escalator Award from the Arts Council England. Her debut novel, An Expert in Murder, was the first in a series of crime novels to feature Josephine Tey—one of the leading authors of Britain's age of crime-writing. The newest novel in the series is Sorry for the Dead. Her research for the books has included many conversations with people who lived through the period and who knew Josephine Tey well, most notably Sir John Gielgud.

At the Guardian, Upson tagged ten favorite golden age detective novels, including:
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie (1939)

Christie was ruthless with her characters and readers. Nothing is off-limits: the child did it; the policeman did it; they all did it. No pillar of the community was above suspicion. It’s hard to think of a more brutal novel than this groundbreaking, characteristically ingenious story of 10 people invited to a small island, only to be killed off one by one. It is almost unbearably claustrophobic and its dazzling solution is a scream against injustice.
Read about another entry on the list.

And Then There Were None is among Jane Robins's ten favorite creepy psychological thrillers, Molly Schoemann-McCann's nine great books for people who love Downton Abbey, Sjón's top ten island stories, and Pascal Bruckner's five best books on guilt.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Pg. 69: Elizabeth LaBan's "Beside Herself"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Beside Herself by Elizabeth LaBan.

About the book, from the publisher:
With her signature wit and charm, bestselling author Elizabeth LaBan shows how marriage doesn’t necessarily follow a straight line and unexpected detours might just bring you back to the place you most want to be.

When she finds out her husband cheated, Hannah Bent thinks her marriage is over. Isn’t that what happens after an affair? But she’s seen friends divorce, and it’s not pretty. Plus, she and Joel have kids and an otherwise-happy life, and she still loves him, although begrudgingly.

Furious and feeling stuck, she suggests having her own affair to even the score. Joel, desperate for forgiveness, agrees. But does she really want to go through with it? And how exactly does a married mother of two get back in the dating pool? Many awkward dates follow until she finds a deep and unexpected connection where she was least looking for it.

Just as she thinks she’s made a decision, her journey to happiness is waylaid by storms of doubt. But the important thing is that she’s finally figuring out what she truly wants for herself, and she understands that whatever choice she makes must be hers and hers alone.
Visit Elizabeth LaBan's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Restaurant Critic's Wife.

The Page 69 Test: Not Perfect.

Writers Read: Elizabeth LaBan.

The Page 69 Test: Beside Herself.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Hank Early reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Hank Early, author of Echoes of the Fall: An Earl Marcus Mystery.

His entry begins:
I’ve got two books going at the moment, which is a new thing for me. In the past, I’ve been very much a one book at a time kind of guy, but over the last few years, I’ve discovered audiobooks on my long dayjob commute, and that means I have a book by my bed and one in my car.

In bed, I’ve been reading the hardback of Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo. It’s an interesting book, that feels a little bit like reading a lurid true crime pulp from yesteryear. Odd comparison, right? Well, maybe not. The occult rituals in the novel have the same powerful pull on my imagination. They’re gross and scary and you feel a little… wrong reading about them, but at the same time you absolutely can’t look away. Beyond that, Bardugo is...[read on]
About Echoes of the Fall, from the publisher:
Earl Marcus has faced a litany of demons in his time, but a grisly murder sends him spiraling into a vortex of long-buried secrets.

After losing a hotly contested sheriff's race to the lackey of corrupt politician Jeb Walsh, Earl Marcus has had the worst summer of his life. But worst turns deadly when a body turns up on Earl's front lawn, accompanied by a cryptic letter.

Earl finds a cell phone in the victim's car and tracks it to The Harden School, an old, isolated campus surrounded by barbed wire and locked gates, and catches a sneak peek at a file labeled complaints, where he finds a familiar name: Jeb Walsh. Jeb's ex-wife Eleanor had lodged multiple complaints against the school on behalf of her son, and when he contacts Eleanor, the horrifying truth begins to emerge.

Desperate to make a connection between the school and the dead man, Earl journeys into a world where nothing is sacred.
Visit Hank Early's website.

The Page 69 Test: Echoes of the Fall.

My Book, The Movie: Echoes of the Fall.

Writers Read: Hank Early.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Pekka Hämäläinen's "Lakota America"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Lakota America: A New History of Indigenous Power by Pekka Hämäläinen.

About the book, from the publisher:
The first comprehensive history of the Lakota Indians and their profound role in shaping America’s history

This first complete account of the Lakota Indians traces their rich and often surprising history from the early sixteenth to the early twenty-first century. Pekka Hämäläinen explores the Lakotas’ roots as marginal hunter-gatherers and reveals how they reinvented themselves twice: first as a river people who dominated the Missouri Valley, America’s great commercial artery, and then—in what was America’s first sweeping westward expansion—as a horse people who ruled supreme on the vast high plains.

The Lakotas are imprinted in American historical memory. Red Cloud, Crazy Horse, and Sitting Bull are iconic figures in the American imagination, but in this groundbreaking book they emerge as something different: the architects of Lakota America, an expansive and enduring Indigenous regime that commanded human fates in the North American interior for generations. Hämäläinen’s deeply researched and engagingly written history places the Lakotas at the center of American history, and the results are revelatory.
Learn more about Lakota America at the Yale University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Lakota America.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten terrifying home invasions in fiction

Michael J. Seidlinger is a Filipino American author of My Pet Serial Killer, Dreams of Being, The Fun We’ve Had, and nine other books.

At CrimeReads he tagged ten of the most terrifying home invasions in fiction, including:
The Need by Helen Phillips

The National Book Award longlisted novel by Helen Phillips is a cerebral one, about a mother home alone with two young children when they hear someone, or something, coming from the family room. Of course, the narrative bends and buckles and shifts, becoming far more than mere home invasion; however, those moments are some of the most successful committed to the page, with countless blood curdling cliffhangers that leave you breathless.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Coffee with a canine: Tracey S. Phillips & Jack and Mimi

Featured at Coffee with a Canine: Tracey S. Phillips & Jack and Mimi.

The author, on the treats her dogs enjoy:
The dogs get treats all the time! I’ll tell you a funny story about Jack. When he was a puppy, we had a long and very cold winter here, like there are never long cold winters in Wisconsin. He was a very active dog (still is for a 12 year old) and we needed to keep him busy. So we spent time teaching him tricks. He learned how to sit up, roll over, shake, pound it (with a fist), speak, and even play dead. If you shoot him with your finger and say “Bang!” he falls over, dead. He’s very treat motivated so he’ll perform these tricks any time for a handful of Charlie Bears. Funny thing about him though, we could never teach him to come when he was called. Now...[read on]
About Tracey Phillips's Best Kept Secrets, from the publisher:
Best friends tell each other everything.

Even their deepest, darkest secrets–pinky promise.

Right?


Morgan Jewell and Fay Ramsey are enjoying their last summer together before college. Fay is shy, with a controlling mother, and Morgan is the perfect, wild, loud-mouthed yang to Fay’s yin. But when Fay is found dead, Morgan’s entire world crumbles.

Years later, Morgan is still haunted by the abrupt end to her best friend’s life. She knew Fay held a secret in those final days, but Morgan, now a homicide detective, has failed to make a picture out of the crooked puzzle pieces she left behind. Nothing makes sense. The leads have run dry. Until she’s called to the scene of a murder: a woman whose body is left mangled, too similar to Fay’s to ignore.

Could it be? Morgan vowed to do right by Fay. This is the case she’s been waiting for to set her back on the killer’s trail. But the closer she gets, the harder it forces her to confront the memories of herself and her best friend. What was her secret? What got her killed? Maybe Morgan didn’t know her at all.
Visit Tracey S. Phillips's website.

My Book, The Movie: Best Kept Secrets.

The Page 69 Test: Best Kept Secrets.

Coffee with a Canine: Tracey S. Phillips & Jack and Mimi.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Nathan Spannaus's "Preserving Islamic Tradition"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Preserving Islamic Tradition: Abu Nasr Qursawi and the Beginnings of Modern Reformism by Nathan Spannaus.

About the book, from the publisher:
The end of the eighteenth century was a transformational period for the Muslim communities of the Russian Empire and their relationship with the tsarist state. Though they had been under Russian rule since the sixteenth century, it was at this time that they were incorporated into the imperial bureaucracy, most significantly through the founding of an official hierarchy for the Islamic religious scholars in 1788.

The introduction of a state-backed structure for Muslim religious institutions altered Islamic religious authority and, in turn, religious discourse. One of the major figures to emerge from this new context was Abu Nasr Qursawi (1776-1812). A controversial figure who was condemned for heresy in Bukhara in 1808, Qursawi put forward a sweeping reform of the Islamic scholarly tradition. Focusing on taqlid, the principle of conformity to established doctrine, Qursawi argued that its overuse had weakened scholarship in the areas of Islamic law (fiqh) and theology (kalam) and undermined scholars' ability to serve as religious guides.

In Preserving Islamic Tradition, Nathan Spannaus presents the first detailed analysis of Qursawi's reformist project, both in its contours and broad historical setting. Spannaus shows how state control of Muslim institutions impacted religious discourse, but also how it altered the entire religious environment into the twentieth century. Addressing issues of modernity, secularity, tradition, and intellectual history, Preserving Islamic Tradition demonstrates how the interaction with a European imperial state transformed the Islamic tradition, both directly and indirectly, and elicited new forms of religious thought and discourse.
Learn more about Preserving Islamic Tradition at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Preserving Islamic Tradition.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Margaret Mizushima's "Tracking Game"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Tracking Game: A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery by Margaret Mizushima.

About the book, from the publisher:
Two brutal murders, a menacing band of poachers, and a fearsome creature on the loose in the mountains plunge Mattie Cobb and her K-9 partner Robo into a sinister vortex.

An explosion outside a community dance sends Mattie Cobb and Cole Walker reeling into the night, where they discover a burning van and beside it the body of outfitter Nate Fletcher. But the explosion didn't kill Nate—it was two gunshots to the heart.

The investigation leads them to the home of rancher Doyle Redman, whose daughter is Nate's widow, and the object of one of their suspect's affection. But before they can make an arrest, they receive an emergency call from a man who's been shot in the mountains. Mattie and Robo rush to the scene, only to be confronted by the ominous growl of a wild predator.

As new players emerge on the scene, Mattie begins to understand the true danger that's enveloping Timber Creek. They journey into the cold, misty mountains to track the animal—but discover something even more deadly in Tracking Game, the fifth installment in Margaret Mizushima's Timber Creek K-9 mysteries.
Visit Margaret Mizushima's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Margaret Mizushima & Hannah, Bertie, Lily and Tess.

My Book, The Movie: Burning Ridge.

The Page 69 Test: Burning Ridge.

Writers Read: Margaret Mizushima.

The Page 69 Test: Tracking Game.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top stories where nature is trying to kill you

Rin Chupeco has written obscure manuals for complicated computer programs, talked people out of their money at event shows, and done many other terrible things. She now writes about ghosts and fantastic worlds but is still sometimes mistaken for a revenant. She is the author of The Girl from the Well, its sequel, The Suffering, and the Bone Witch trilogy.

Her new novel is The Never Tilting World.

At Tor.com, Chupeco tagged five favorite stories where nature does its best to kill you, including:
Hothouse by Brian W. Aldiss

When the novel begins, the worse has already happened (at least, by contemporary standards); humans have changed, both physically and physiologically. Their world is slowly dying, and they are seeking out ways to survive this catastrophe, including escaping into space. All of the protagonists described in the novel are unrecognizable to readers as human, though with similar motivations to staying alive. The sun has expanded to fill the sky, and plants have evolved their own nervous systems, mimicking human physical features such as eyes and acquiring a taste for meat and flesh. The vegetable kingdom has mutated into a parasitical species that’s succeeded in wiping out other animals and endangering what’s left of humankind, which is not the kind of story you usually see in post-apocalyptic novels – which is probably why the premise sounds so terrifying. I’d come in to the book assuming that the strange beings were supporting characters and that the humans would show up soon, then soon realized that the strange beings were the humans!
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 11, 2019

Hank Early's "Echoes of the Fall," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Echoes of the Fall: An Earl Marcus Mystery by Hank Early.

The entry begins:
Confession: I’ve had the Earl Marcus Netflix series cast for some time. I’m just waiting on some Hollywood type to wake up and see what a goldmine these books are and get to work on the adaptation. Kidding, of course. Kind of. Okay, well, maybe I’m not. Hear me out.

Earl Marcus would be played by David Harbour of Stranger Things fame. My wife gave me the idea when we watched Stranger Things together and she said, “That sheriff is exactly how I pictured Earl Marcus when I read your first book.” Full disclosure: it wasn’t exactly how I pictured him (in my mind, Earl is skinnier and grayer), but close enough.

Earl’s two sidekicks is where it really gets fun. Ronnie is without question Walton Goggins. Goggins has the ability to project the chaos and instability of Ronnie while still displaying his considerable vulnerability and innate goodness. And let’s face it, Goggins would look great tatted up with a guitar slung around his neck while he and the boys...[read on]
Visit Hank Early's website.

The Page 69 Test: Echoes of the Fall.

My Book, The Movie: Echoes of the Fall.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six top mafia classics

Sean Rea studied at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, majoring in communications and minoring in management. The Don of Siracusa is his first novel. Rea has traveled much of America and nearly all of Italy. Like his protagonist, Stefano, from a young age Sean was exposed to the world of big business through his father and nonno, and he drew on much of this in crafting the business aspects of Siracusa. Rea is a long-time fan of the crime-fiction genre and all things mafia-related.

At CrimeReads he tagged six mafia classics you won't want to miss, including:
Donnie Brasco by Joseph Pistone

Pistone’s tale of his infiltration into the mob provides fascinating, and sometimes tedious, insight into the daily workings of the mafia in the 1970’s. Any fan of organized crime novels would do well to read this one. The accompanying movie is also considered an all-time great.
Read about another entry on the list.

Donnie Brasco is among Dana Ridenour's five best books about working undercover.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: David J. Silverman's "This Land Is Their Land"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: This Land Is Their Land: The Wampanoag Indians, Plymouth Colony, and the Troubled History of Thanksgiving by David J. Silverman.

About the book, from the publisher:
Ahead of the 400th anniversary of the first Thanksgiving, a new look at the Plymouth colony's founding events, told for the first time with Wampanoag people at the heart of the story.

In March 1621, when Plymouth's survival was hanging in the balance, the Wampanoag sachem (or chief), Ousamequin (Massasoit), and Plymouth's governor, John Carver, declared their people's friendship for each other and a commitment to mutual defense. Later that autumn, the English gathered their first successful harvest and lifted the specter of starvation. Ousamequin and 90 of his men then visited Plymouth for the “First Thanksgiving.” The treaty remained operative until King Philip's War in 1675, when 50 years of uneasy peace between the two parties would come to an end.

400 years after that famous meal, historian David J. Silverman sheds profound new light on the events that led to the creation, and bloody dissolution, of this alliance. Focusing on the Wampanoag Indians, Silverman deepens the narrative to consider tensions that developed well before 1620 and lasted long after the devastating war-tracing the Wampanoags' ongoing struggle for self-determination up to this very day.

This unsettling history reveals why some modern Native people hold a Day of Mourning on Thanksgiving, a holiday which celebrates a myth of colonialism and white proprietorship of the United States. This Land is Their Land shows that it is time to rethink how we, as a pluralistic nation, tell the history of Thanksgiving.
Learn more about This Land Is Their Land at the Bloomsbury website.

The Page 99 Test: This Land Is Their Land.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven acclaimed books about and from East Germany

Olivia Giovetti a writer and multidisciplinary artist interested in how our lives intersect through culture and the humanities.

At LitHub she tagged seven top books about and from East Germany, including:
Anna Funder, Stasiland

Funder’s Stasiland is an anomaly on this list, written by an Australian who lived in West Berlin in the 1990s. Still, being a secondhand witness to history is a role that more of us will face as the fall of the Berlin Wall passes into its 30th, 40th, and 50th anniversaries. Funder’s history captures a rare moment in time during which one could experience both East and West before they became a unified whole. Her interviews with Stasi victims and former operatives creates what The Monthly best described as “Alice in a totalitarian Wonderland.”
Read about another entry on the list.

Stasiland is among Hester Vaizey's five top books on modern Germany history and Steve Kettmann's ten best books on Germans and Germany.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 10, 2019

What is Margaret Mizushima reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Margaret Mizushima, author of Tracking Game: A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery.

Her entry begins:
I’m fortunate to have been asked to read an Advance Reader Copy of The Spoilt Quilt and Other Frontier Stories: Pioneering Women of the West, a collection that will be released by Five Star Publishing on November 20, 2019. This fine anthology includes stories written by two of my favorite historical fiction authors: New York Times bestselling author, Sandra Dallas, and two-time Colorado Book Awards finalist, Pat Stoltey.

The opening story that shares its name with the anthology title is written by Sandra Dallas and features a sheriff and his wife who arrive at an outlying farm to investigate the farmer’s death by pitchfork. The storyteller captivated me as the tale outlined the events leading up to this man’s murder—fine writing at its best.

Pat Stoltey’s contribution, "Good Work for a Girl," captures the hardships a family endures as they head west to...[read on]
About Tracking Game, from the publisher:
Two brutal murders, a menacing band of poachers, and a fearsome creature on the loose in the mountains plunge Mattie Cobb and her K-9 partner Robo into a sinister vortex.

An explosion outside a community dance sends Mattie Cobb and Cole Walker reeling into the night, where they discover a burning van and beside it the body of outfitter Nate Fletcher. But the explosion didn't kill Nate—it was two gunshots to the heart.

The investigation leads them to the home of rancher Doyle Redman, whose daughter is Nate's widow, and the object of one of their suspect's affection. But before they can make an arrest, they receive an emergency call from a man who's been shot in the mountains. Mattie and Robo rush to the scene, only to be confronted by the ominous growl of a wild predator.

As new players emerge on the scene, Mattie begins to understand the true danger that's enveloping Timber Creek. They journey into the cold, misty mountains to track the animal—but discover something even more deadly in Tracking Game, the fifth installment in Margaret Mizushima's Timber Creek K-9 mysteries.
Visit Margaret Mizushima's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Margaret Mizushima & Hannah, Bertie, Lily and Tess.

My Book, The Movie: Burning Ridge.

The Page 69 Test: Burning Ridge.

Writers Read: Margaret Mizushima.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven books about insomnia to distract you from late-night anxiety

Gnesis Villar, an intern at Electric Literature, tagged seven books to distract you from late night existential dread, including:
Insomnia by Marina Benjamin

More than a third of all adults experience insomnia and the number rises in those over sixty-five. Marina Benjamin writes on her personal experience with the condition and adds new dimensions to both our understanding of sleep, the night, and how we perceive darkness. In her usage of literature, art, philosophy, psychology, pop culture, and more, Benjamin pays close attention in her musings to the relationship between women and sleep detailed throughout history.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: James Lovegrove's "Sherlock Holmes and the Christmas Demon"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Sherlock Holmes and the Christmas Demon by James Lovegrove.

About the book, from the publisher:
It is 1890, and in the days before Christmas Sherlock Holmes and Dr John Watson are visited at Baker Street by a new client. Eve Allerthorpe - eldest daughter of a grand but somewhat eccentric Yorkshire-based dynasty - is greatly distressed, as she believes she is being haunted by a demonic Christmas spirit.

Her late mother told her terrifying tales of the sinister Black Thurrick, and Eve is sure that she has seen the creature from her bedroom window. What is more, she has begun to receive mysterious parcels of birch twigs, the Black Thurrick's calling card...

Eve stands to inherit a fortune if she is sound in mind, but it seems that something - or someone - is threatening her sanity. Holmes and Watson travel to the Allerthorpe family seat at Fellscar Keep to investigate, but soon discover that there is more to the case than at first appeared. There is another spirit haunting the family, and when a member of the household is found dead, the companions realise that no one is beyond suspicion.
Visit James Lovegrove's website.

My Book, The Movie: Sherlock Holmes and the Christmas Demon.

The Page 69 Test: Sherlock Holmes and the Christmas Demon.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, November 09, 2019

The best books about nannies

Amanda Craig is a British novelist, short-story writer and critic. Her novels include Hearts And Minds and The Lie Of the Land. She is currently working on her eighth novel, which is inspired by the fairy-tale of "Beauty and the Beast."

At the Guardian, Craig tagged some of the best books about nannies, including:
For most readers, nannies remain unusual or uncommon – proof of a family’s privilege. However, this year has seen three notable adult novels with nannies at their centre. Jill Dawson’s captivatingly lyrical The Language of Birds explores the life of “Mandy River”, based on the one murdered by Lord Lucan, and for once puts the nanny centre stage as a person in her own right. Madeline Stevens’s slow-burning thriller Devotion dramatises the resentment that a poor young woman might feel when working in the home of a rich New York couple, and the unhealthy friendship that develops between her and the children’s mother. Ruth Ware’s The Turn of the Key is a wonderfully suspenseful riff on Henry James’s classic The Turn of the Screw, set in the Scottish Highlands and with toxic children at its heart. Nana the dog has never seemed more left behind.
Read about another entry on the list.

My Book, The Movie: Devotion.

The Page 69 Test: Devotion.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Jon Lawrence's "Me, Me, Me?"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Me, Me, Me?: The Search for Community in Post-war England by Jon Lawrence.

About the book, from the publisher:
Many commentators tell us that, in today's world, everyday life has become selfish and atomised--that individuals live only to consume. But are they wrong?

In Me, Me, Me, Jon Lawrence re-tells the story of England since the Second World War through the eyes of ordinary people--including his own parents-- to argue that, in fact, friendship, family, and place all remain central to our daily lives, and whilst community has changed, it is far from dead.

He shows how, in the years after the Second World War, people came increasingly to question custom and tradition as the pressure to conform to societal standards became intolerable. And as soon as they could, millions escaped the closed, face-to-face communities of Victorian Britain, where everyone knew your business. But this was not a rejection of community per se, but an attempt to find another, new way of living which was better suited to the modern world.

Community has become personal and voluntary, based on genuine affection rather than proximity or need. We have never been better connected or able to sustain the relationships that matter to us. Me, Me, Me makes that case that it's time we valued and nurtured these new groups, rather than lamenting the loss of more 'real' forms of community--it is all too easy to hold on to a nostalgic view of the past.
Learn more about Me, Me, Me? at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Me, Me, Me?.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten must-read crime books set in the American West

JP Gritton’s awards include a Cynthia Woods Mitchell fellowship, a DisQuiet fellowship and the Donald Barthelme prize in fiction. His stories have appeared or are forthcoming in Black Warrior Review, Greensboro Review, New Ohio Review, Southwest Review, Tin House and elsewhere. His translations of the fiction of Brazilian writer Cidinha da Silva are forthcoming in InTranslation.

Wyoming is his first novel.

At Publishers Weekly, Gritton tagged ten of his favorite crime books set in the American West, including:
The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt

De Witt’s hilarious, weird, wonderful novel follows two hired assassins, Eli and Charlie Sisters, on their latest job for “the Commodore,” a mysterious figure of infamy and riches: kill Hermann Warm, who has “stolen” something from the Commodore and now mucks about in the gold camps of California. Like the assassins themselves, however, the mission is much more than it appears at first glance.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Sisters Brothers is among John Larison's ten books that represent the evolution of the Western.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 08, 2019

James Lovegrove's "Sherlock Holmes and the Christmas Demon," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Sherlock Holmes and the Christmas Demon by James Lovegrove.

The entry begins:
The best screen Holmes is undoubtedly Jeremy Brett, who played the role in the 1980s Granada series and nailed the character completely. Most of the time he was accompanied by Edward Hardwicke, who was likewise excellent as Watson – tolerant and reliable. If these two were still alive and in their prime, I would gladly have them star in a movie of any of my Holmes books. In fact, when writing Holmes’s dialogue, I tend to hear Brett’s voice.

I also think that Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie, back when they were a comedy duo, would have made a fine Holmes and Watson. Each could have played either role.

Specifically for The Christmas Demon, the other main parts would offer present-day British thespians plenty to get their teeth into. Most of the action takes place at Fellscar Keep, a Yorkshire castle in the depths of a freezing winter, and the large family who live there form the bulk of the supporting cast. Roger Allam would make a convincing Thaddeus Allerthope, the crusty patriarch, and...[read on]
Visit James Lovegrove's website.

My Book, The Movie: Sherlock Holmes and the Christmas Demon.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Hank Early's "Echoes of the Fall"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Echoes of the Fall: An Earl Marcus Mystery by Hank Early.

About the book, from the publisher:
Earl Marcus has faced a litany of demons in his time, but a grisly murder sends him spiraling into a vortex of long-buried secrets.

After losing a hotly contested sheriff's race to the lackey of corrupt politician Jeb Walsh, Earl Marcus has had the worst summer of his life. But worst turns deadly when a body turns up on Earl's front lawn, accompanied by a cryptic letter.

Earl finds a cell phone in the victim's car and tracks it to The Harden School, an old, isolated campus surrounded by barbed wire and locked gates, and catches a sneak peek at a file labeled complaints, where he finds a familiar name: Jeb Walsh. Jeb's ex-wife Eleanor had lodged multiple complaints against the school on behalf of her son, and when he contacts Eleanor, the horrifying truth begins to emerge.

Desperate to make a connection between the school and the dead man, Earl journeys into a world where nothing is sacred.
Visit Hank Early's website.

The Page 69 Test: Echoes of the Fall.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five YA novels based on real folklore

Shea Ernshaw the author of The Wicked Deep and Winterwood.

At Tor.com she tagged five "YA books [that] were inspired by real world myths and legends and unexplained tales," including:
Conversion by Katherine Howe

Inspired by true events, Conversion is the story of several friends attending St. Joan’s Academy who are inexplicably struck by a strange condition which causes the girls to suffer from uncontrollable tics, seizures, hair loss, and coughing fits. In this fictional portrayal, the cause of their condition is linked to Salem, Massachusetts.

But this book was based on the real-life events that took place in a high school in Le Roy, N.Y. where high school students began suffering from similar ailments. The community of Le Roy feared it might be pollution or poisoning of some kind, but it was eventually determined to be a case of “conversion,” a disorder where a person is under so much stress that their body converts it into physical symptoms. Also known as hysteria.

Whatever the cause, this fictional book based on the events in this small town in N.Y. is a perfect read for fans of stories the explore the boundary between fact and fiction. I couldn’t put this one down!
Read about another entry on the list.

Conversion is among Darren Croucher's top five dual YA narratives that bridge history and the present day, Meredith Moore's five top YA thrillers and Anna Fitzpatrick's top four books "featuring small towns, teen girls, intimate friendships on the border between love and hate, and brutal murders."

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 07, 2019

Pg. 99: Helen Fry's "The Walls Have Ears"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Walls Have Ears: The Greatest Intelligence Operation of World War II by Helen Fry.

About the book, from the publisher:
A history of the elaborate and brilliantly sustained World War II intelligence operation by which Hitler’s generals were tricked into giving away vital Nazi secrets

At the outbreak of World War II, MI6 spymaster Thomas Kendrick arrived at the Tower of London to set up a top secret operation: German prisoners’ cells were to be bugged and listeners installed behind the walls to record and transcribe their private conversations. This mission proved so effective that it would go on to be set up at three further sites—and provide the Allies with crucial insight into new technology being developed by the Nazis.

In this astonishing history, Helen Fry uncovers the inner workings of the bugging operation. On arrival at stately-homes-turned-prisons like Trent Park, high-ranking German generals and commanders were given a "phony" interrogation, then treated as "guests," wined and dined at exclusive clubs, and encouraged to talk. And so it was that the Allies got access to some of Hitler’s most closely guarded secrets—and from those most entrusted to protect them.
Visit Helen Fry's website.

The Page 99 Test: The London Cage.

The Page 99 Test: The Walls Have Ears.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six legal thrillers with essential social messages

Chad Zunker studied journalism at the University of Texas, where he was also on the football team. He’s worked for some of the most powerful law firms in the country and invented baby products that are now sold all over the world. He has wanted to write full time since he took his first practice hit as a skinny freshman walk-on from a 6’5, 240 pound senior All-American safety — which crushed both him and his feeble NFL dreams.

Zunker is the author of the David Adams legal thriller, An Equal Justice, as well as The Tracker, Shadow Shepherd, and Hunt the Lion in his Sam Callahan series. He lives in Austin with his wife, Katie, and their three daughters.

At CrimeReads, Zunker tagged six legal thrillers with essential social messages, including:
Havana Requiem by Paul Goldstein

Havana Requiem won the 2013 Harper Lee Prize of Fiction—can you tell I’m a big fan of that award? Goldstein’s book tells the efforts of lawyer Michael Seeley to help a group of aging Cuban jazz musicians and their families reclaim copyrights to their musical work. When his client goes missing, Seeley realizes there is a deeper conspiracy at play that begins to point not only at the Cuban secret police but also his former law firm.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Elizabeth LaBan reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Elizabeth LaBan, author of Beside Herself.

Her entry begins:
I am a firm believer that whatever is going on in your life can greatly affect your connection to a book. I think that’s why I love reading about marriage and family life so much, and literally couldn’t put down the book Fleishman Is In Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner when I read it recently. For that reason, I decided to read Less by Andrew Sean Greer right now during the weeks my novel Beside Herself is brand new in the world because I want to read about the plight of another author. The book, which won the Pulitzer Prize, is about Arthur Less who is described on the back of the book as a failed novelist. He is struggling with his love life, and, in an effort to escape, embarks on a journey around the world. As the book opens, Arthur Less is heading to another, more successful author’s book event where he...[read on]
About Beside Herself, from the publisher:
With her signature wit and charm, bestselling author Elizabeth LaBan shows how marriage doesn’t necessarily follow a straight line and unexpected detours might just bring you back to the place you most want to be.

When she finds out her husband cheated, Hannah Bent thinks her marriage is over. Isn’t that what happens after an affair? But she’s seen friends divorce, and it’s not pretty. Plus, she and Joel have kids and an otherwise-happy life, and she still loves him, although begrudgingly.

Furious and feeling stuck, she suggests having her own affair to even the score. Joel, desperate for forgiveness, agrees. But does she really want to go through with it? And how exactly does a married mother of two get back in the dating pool? Many awkward dates follow until she finds a deep and unexpected connection where she was least looking for it.

Just as she thinks she’s made a decision, her journey to happiness is waylaid by storms of doubt. But the important thing is that she’s finally figuring out what she truly wants for herself, and she understands that whatever choice she makes must be hers and hers alone.
Visit Elizabeth LaBan's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Restaurant Critic's Wife.

The Page 69 Test: Not Perfect.

Writers Read: Elizabeth LaBan.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top books of fiction about mathematics

Catherine Chung was born in Evanston, IL, and grew up in New York, New Jersey, and Michigan. Writing has been her life-long passion, but as an undergraduate she indulged in a brief, one-sided affair with mathematics at the University of Chicago followed by a few years in Santa Monica working at a think tank by the sea.

Eventually she attended Cornell University for her MFA, and since then she and her books have been given shelter and encouragement from The MacDowell Colony, Jentel, Hedgebrook, SFAI, Camargo, The University of Leipzig, VCCA, UCross, Yaddo, Civitella Ranieri, The Jerome Foundation, the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation, and the Constance Saltonstall Foundation. Her brother, Heesoo Chung, has also given her a bed and fed her lots of ice cream at criticał times.

Chung is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship and a Director’s Visitorship at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. She was a Granta New Voice, and won an Honorable Mention for the PEN/Hemingway Award with her first novel, Forgotten Country, which was a Booklist, Bookpage, and San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of 2012. She has published work in The New York Times, The Rumpus, and Granta, and is a fiction editor at Guernica Magazine. She lives in New York City.

Chung's latest novel is The Tenth Muse.

At the Guardian, she tagged ten top books of fiction about mathematics, including:
Too Much Happiness by Alice Munro

Sofia Kovalevskaya was a 19th-century mathematician at a time when women were not allowed in most of Europe to attend university. She married a man who promised to take her to Germany to study, and she became a pioneer, making major contributions to the field and becoming the first woman in Europe to obtain a doctorate in mathematics. Still, her life was filled with tragedy and disappointment, and the title story of Alice Munro’s collection is a rich but searing fictional account of her life.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue