Saturday, January 16, 2021

Pg. 99: Stacy G. Ulbig's "Angry Politics"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Angry Politics: Partisan Hatred and Political Polarization among College Students by Stacy G. Ulbig.

About the book, from the publisher:
At a time of political tribalism and ideological purity tests, when surveys tell us that pluralities of the people in each party deem the opposition “downright evil,” it can be hard to remember that cross-party hatred isn’t an inherent feature of partisan politics. But, as this book reminds us, a backward glance—or a quick survey of so many retiring members of Congress—tells us that even in the past decade partisan rancor has grown exponentially. In Angry Politics, Stacy G. Ulbig asks why. Even more to the point, she traces the trend to the place where it all might begin—the college campus, among the youngest segment of the electorate.

A distinguished researcher and scholar of political psychology and public opinion, Ulbig gets right to the heart of the problem—the early manifestation of the incivility pervading contemporary US politics. With an emphasis on undergraduates at four-year universities, she gauges the intensity and effects of partisan animosities on campus, examines the significance of media consumption in forming political attitudes, and considers the possibility that partisan hostility can operate like racial and ethnic animosities in fomenting intolerance for other groups. During the college years, political attitudes are most likely to be mutable; so, as Angry Politics explores the increasing combativeness on campus, it also considers the possibility of forestalling partisan hatred before attitudes harden. Finally, Ulbig finds hope in the very conditions that make college a breeding ground for political ill will. Embracing their responsibility for developing responsible citizens capable of productive political engagement, colleges and universities may well be able to inject more reason, and thus more civility, into future partisan debate.
Learn more about Angry Politics at the University Press of Kansas website.

The Page 99 Test: Angry Politics.

--Marshal Zeringue

Q&A with Gerald Brandt

From my Q&A with Gerald Brandt, author of Threader Origins:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

Threader Origins wasn't the working title for the book. During our first revision pass, my editor (two time Hugo Award winning Editor) Sheila Gilbert and I hashed out the titles for all three books in the series. At the time, I had no idea what to call books two and three, but once we had Threader Origins they fell into place. The working title was Qabal. The problem with that is that it focused on the wrong things in the book. This really is an origin story on a couple of levels, the first being Darwin's (the main character's) introduction to Threads and how to use them, and the second is on the Threads themselves and the power they give and take. This is Darwin's first step into a new world, and he finds out more about himself than he could have in his own.

What's in a name?

Character names was a big issue for me in this novel. As I...[read on]
Visit Gerald Brandt's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Operative.

Writers Read: Gerald Brandt (January 2017).

The Page 69 Test: Threader Origins.

Q&A with Gerald Brandt.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 15, 2021

Ten top dinner parties in modern fiction

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

The Perfect Guests is her new novel.

At CrimeReads, Rous tagged ten of the best dinner parties in modern fiction, including:
Atonement by Ian McEwan

The dinner here involves a gathering of family, plus a couple of friends. An asphyxiating silence at the beginning of the meal is eventually broken by a guest, Paul, who rudely turns away from the hostess to start a private conversation. Several of the diners are wrestling with their own private issues, and the scene is set for events to get much, much worse before the evening is over.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Atonement also appears on David Leavitt's top ten list of house parties in fiction, Abbie Greaves's top ten list of books about silence, Eliza Casey's list of ten favorite stories--from film, fiction, and television--from the early 20th century, Nicci French's top ten list of dinner parties in fiction, Mark Skinner's list of ten of the best country house novels, 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

Pg. 99: Gavin Weightman's "The Great Inoculator"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Great Inoculator: The Untold Story of Daniel Sutton and his Medical Revolution by Gavin Weightman.

About the book, from the publisher:
Smallpox was the scourge of the eighteenth century: it showed no mercy, almost wiping out whole societies. Young and old, poor and royalty were equally at risk – unless they had survived a previous attack. Daniel Sutton, a young surgeon from Suffolk, used this knowledge to pioneer a simple and effective inoculation method to counter the disease. His technique paved the way for Edward Jenner’s discovery of vaccination – but, while Jenner is revered, Sutton has been vilified for not widely revealing his methods until later in life.

Gavin Weightman reclaims Sutton’s importance, showing how the clinician’s practical and observational discoveries advanced understanding of the nature of disease. Weightman explores Sutton’s personal and professional development, and the wider world of eighteenth-century health in which he practised inoculation. Sutton’s brilliant and exacting mind had a significant impact on medicine – the effects of which can still be seen today.
Visit Gavin Weightman's website.

The Page 99 Test: Eureka: How Invention Happens.

The Page 99 Test: The Great Inoculator.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Doug Engstrom's "Corporate Gunslinger"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Corporate Gunslinger: A Novel by Doug Engstrom.

About the book, from the publisher:
Doug Engstrom imagines a future all too terrifying—and all too possible—in this eerie, dystopic speculative fiction debut about corporate greed, debt slavery, and gun violence that is as intense and dark as Stephen King’s The Long Walk.

Like many Americans in the middle of the 21st century, aspiring actress Kira Clark is in debt. She financed her drama education with loans secured by a “lifetime services contract.” If she defaults, her creditors will control every aspect of her life. Behind on her payments and facing foreclosure, Kira reluctantly accepts a large signing bonus to become a corporate gunfighter for TKC Insurance. After a year of training, she will take her place on the dueling fields that have become the final, lethal stop in the American legal system.

Putting her MFA in acting to work, Kira takes on the persona of a cold, intimidating gunslinger known as “Death’s Angel.” But just as she becomes the most feared gunfighter in TKC’s stable, she’s severely wounded during a duel on live video, shattering her aura of invincibility. A series of devastating setbacks follow, forcing Kira to face the truth about her life and what she’s become.

When the opportunity to fight another professional for a huge purse arises, Kira sees it as a chance to buy a new life ... or die trying.

Structured around a chilling duel, Corporate Gunslinger is a modern satire that forces us to confront the growing inequalities in our society and our penchant for guns and bloodshed, as well as offering a visceral look at where we may be heading—far sooner than we know.
Visit Doug Engstrom's website.

The Page 69 Test: Corporate Gunslinger.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Top ten unconventional essays

Eula Biss is the author of four books, most recently Having and Being Had. Her book On Immunity was named one of the Ten Best Books of 2014 by the New York Times Book Review, and Notes from No Man’s Land won the National Book Critics Circle award for criticism in 2009.

At the Guardian, Biss tagged "10 book-length essays that appeal to [her] in their style, and that informed [her] writing of Having and Being Had." One title on the list:
Holy Land by DJ Waldie

This book artfully documents the planning and construction of a blue-collar suburb in California, as well as a life lived in that suburb from infancy to middle age. It is composed of several hundred numbered sections, most no longer than a page and some no longer than a sentence, all of them quietly poetic. One reads: “In a suburb that is not exactly middle class, the necessary illusion is predictability.” This work invites the reader to consider how our lives are shaped by the structures we live within, and to wonder what it might mean to live a “good life”, in both material and spiritual terms. These questions were often on my mind as I was writing Having and Being Had.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Michael D. Hattem's "Past and Prologue"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Past and Prologue: Politics and Memory in the American Revolution by Michael D. Hattem.

About the book, from the publisher:
How American colonists reinterpreted their British and colonial histories to help establish political and cultural independence from Britain

In Past and Prologue, Michael Hattem shows how colonists’ changing understandings of their British and colonial histories shaped the politics of the American Revolution and the origins of American national identity. Between the 1760s and 1800s, Americans stopped thinking of the British past as their own history and created a new historical tradition that would form the foundation for what subsequent generations would think of as “American history.” This change was a crucial part of the cultural transformation at the heart of the Revolution by which colonists went from thinking of themselves as British subjects to thinking of themselves as American citizens. Rather than liberating Americans from the past—as many historians have argued—the Revolution actually made the past matter more than ever. Past and Prologue shows how the process of reinterpreting the past played a critical role in the founding of the nation.
Learn more about Past and Prologue at the Yale University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Past and Prologue.

--Marshal Zeringue

Megan Chance's "A Splendid Ruin," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: A Splendid Ruin: A Novel by Megan Chance.

The entry begins:
I always cast actors or models as my characters before I start to write. I find it really helpful because when I’m writing I see the scenes unfolding in my head like a movie. It’s all very cinematic, so the wrong actor can mess up everything. It becomes rather obsessive on my part, trying to find the perfect person to represent the character I see in my head. 

This also means that I have pictures of actors taped up all over my office, so it looks like the bedroom of a 14-year old girl, which can be embarrassing when the cable guy comes to fix the modem.

In A Splendid Ruin, I cast Rebecca Hall as May Kimble. I wanted someone attractive, but who wasn’t classically beautiful, and the look she had in The Prestige was exactly what I wanted for May. Capable and smart and...[read on]
Visit Megan Chance's website.

My Book, The Movie: A Splendid Ruin.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Seven top contemporary novels about the Victorian era

Paraic O'Donnell is a writer of fiction, poetry, and criticism. His most recent novel, The House on Vesper Sands, was a Guardian and Observer book of the year for 2018. It is out now in the US from Tin House.

At Electric Lit, he tagged seven top 21st-century novels with 19th-century settings, including:
Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

In Atwood’s best-known fictions, for all their undisputed merits, character is often subservient to some overarching schema of ideas. Based on real events—involving an Irish maid implicated in a brutal double murder—Alias Grace provides a counterpoint in a character study as enthralling as it is forensic. It also demonstrates the necessity of revisiting grim historical realities, like the coercive medicalization of femininity, that have never quite gone away.
Read about another entry on the list.

Alias Grace is among L.S. Hilton's top ten female-fronted thrillers, Rebecca Jane Stokes's top seven books for fans of Orange Is The New Black and Tracy Chevalier's six best books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Sabina Henneberg's "Managing Transition"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Managing Transition: The First Post-Uprising Phase in Tunisia and Libya by Sabina Henneberg.

About the book, from the publisher:
Examining the factors that shaped the first interim governments of Tunisia and Libya, which formed in the immediate aftermath of the 2011 uprisings that brought down their governments, Managing Transition analyses each interim government to enhance our understanding of how political transition occurred within two North African countries. Tracing the importance of the key decisions made during these transition periods, Sabina Henneberg demonstrates the importance of these decisions taken during the short phase between authoritarian collapse and first post-uprising elections, including decisions around leadership, institutional reform, transitional justice, and the electoral processes themselves. By documenting, in close detail, the important events of the 2011 Arab Uprisings, and the months that followed, this study shows that while pre-existing structures strongly influence the design and behaviour of first interim governments, actors' choices are equally important in shaping both immediate and longer-term phases of transition.
Learn more about Managing Transition at the Cambridge University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Managing Transition.

--Marshal Zeringue

Q&A with Claire Booth

From my Q&A with Claire Booth, author of Fatal Divisions:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

I think that titles play a really important part of bringing readers into the story. I hope that Fatal Divisions does that. The book is about families—the ones you’re related to and the ones you form with friends—and the actions that can tear those families apart. It was a tough title to come up with, because the natural phrases that come to mind are so overused—“Family Ties,” “Blood Kin,” etc. My editor and I batted around many combinations before we settled on Fatal Divisions, and I’m quite happy with it.

What's in a name?

Since this is a series, most of my character names were decided long ago. I do have one very important new one in Fatal Divisions, however...[read on]
Visit Claire Booth's website.

My Book, The Movie: Another Man's Ground.

The Page 69 Test: Another Man's Ground.

My Book, The Movie: A Deadly Turn.

The Page 69 Test: A Deadly Turn. 

Writers Read: Claire Booth (March 2019).

My Book, The Movie: Fatal Divisions.

The Page 69 Test: Fatal Divisions.

Q&A with Claire Booth.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Five works about the world after the end of the world

At Tor.com James Davis Nicoll tagged five novels about the world after the end of the world, including:
Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice (2018)

The Anishinaabe were relocated to the far north by Canadian governments who hoped that the pesky indigenes would just die off. But the isolated community has survived every catastrophe that has befallen them…including this last, the probable death of complex civilization. It’s not clear what has happened. All the community knows is that communications and electric power have failed. No more supplies may be coming. The south is eerily quiet.

The community has a generator, fuel, and a cache of stored food. They have traditional hunting skills. Will that be enough to survive the coming winter?
Read about another entry on the list.

Moon of the Crusted Snow is among Laura Sackton's nine favorite wintery reads.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Amanda Frisken's "Graphic News"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Graphic News: How Sensational Images Transformed Nineteenth-Century Journalism by Amanda Frisken.

About the book, from the publisher:
Pictures, profits, and peril in the yellow journalism era

"You furnish the pictures and I’ll furnish the war." This famous but apocryphal quote, long attributed to newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, encapsulates fears of the lengths to which news companies would go to exploit visual journalism in the late nineteenth century. From 1870 to 1900, newspapers disrupted conventional reporting methods with sensationalized line drawings. A fierce hunger for profits motivated the shift to emotion-driven, visual content. But the new approach, while popular, often targeted, and further marginalized, vulnerable groups.

Amanda Frisken examines the ways sensational images of pivotal cultural events—obscenity litigation, anti-Chinese bloodshed, the Ghost Dance, lynching, and domestic violence—changed the public's consumption of the news. Using intersectional analysis, Frisken explores how these newfound visualizations of events during episodes of social and political controversy enabled newspapers and social activists alike to communicate—or challenge—prevailing understandings of racial, class, and gender identities and cultural power.
Learn more about Graphic News at the University of Illinois Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Graphic News.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Gerald Brandt's "Threader Origins"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Threader Origins by Gerald Brandt.

About the book, from the publisher:
This first book of a new sci-fi series introduces an alternate earth where powerful Threads have the power to alter reality as we know it.

Pulled from his world by an experiment gone wrong, Darwin Lloyd is one of the few that can see the Threads—quantum strings that can be manipulated to change or control reality. On an alternate Earth ravaged by war, Darwin is torn between the Qabal and SafeHaven, his only goal to find a way back home and stop the same fate from happening in his time line.

Threads—thought of as a gift from the machine he helped his father create—and Threaders are both loved and hated, treated as gods by some and as criminals by others. Out of his element, Darwin must learn how to control the Threads and possibly join the hated Qabal to find the path back to his dad.

But Thread use comes at a price. Follow the possibilities and probabilities too far and the human mind shatters, leaving the Threader a mindless, drooling husk. Yet the Thread’s pull is almost irresistible, and a constant battle for those that can see them.

In this strange new world, Darwin discovers what he could never find on his own: friends, family, love, a mother he lost years before, and a younger sister he never had.
Visit Gerald Brandt's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Operative.

Writers Read: Gerald Brandt (January 2017).

The Page 69 Test: Threader Origins.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 11, 2021

Eight books about magical and mysterious libraries

At Book Riot, Megan Mabee tagged eight of the best books about magical and mysterious libraries, including:
THE LIBRARY OF LEGENDS BY JANIE CHANG

Set in 1937 China, this historical fantasy follows Lian as she flees her university with a group of classmates to escape Japanese air raids. Lian and her companions embark on a 1,000 mile journey across China to reach safety. In secret, they carry with them the Library of Legends, a 500-year-old treasure trove of ancient folklore. When danger befalls the group, Lian escapes with the handsome Shao and his maidservant Sparrow, a pair with an uncanny connection to one of the very legends they’re safeguarding.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Francesca Polletta's "Inventing the Ties That Bind"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Inventing the Ties That Bind: Imagined Relationships in Moral and Political Life by Francesca Polletta.

About the book, from the publisher:
From deciding to hold the door for the person behind you, to resolving for whom you will cast your vote, every day we find ourselves charged with making moral decisions. What steers our choices? And how do we weigh competing priorities and moral convictions? In Inventing the Ties That Bind, Francesca Polletta shows that we do not solve these dilemmas, whether personal or political, based on self-interest alone. Instead, relationships serve as a kind of moral compass. People consider the nature of their ties to one another to know what their obligations are, and in situations that are unfamiliar, they sometimes figure out the right thing to do by imagining themselves in relationships they do not actually have. Polletta takes up a wide range of cases, from debt settlement agencies to the southern civil rights movement, revealing that our relationships and how we imagine them are at the heart of our moral lives—guiding us as we choose whom to help and how we define what it means to treat someone as our equal. In a time of growing polarization, understanding how we make sense of our ties to one another is more urgent than ever.
Learn more about Inventing the Ties That Bind at the University Chicago Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Inventing the Ties That Bind.

--Marshal Zeringue

Q&A with Elizabeth Green

From my Q&A with Elizabeth Green, author of Confessions of a Curious Bookseller:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

I hope the title entices readers to flip to the back and read the summary. The word Confessions is true to the spirit of it, in that it's an epistolary tale about a quirky bookstore owner in Philadelphia. Through emails, journal entries, blog posts and other means, the reader learns about the narrator's life through her quotidian confessions – be they truthful or not. The narrator is also curious – not in the sleuthing sense but in the off-centered sense. She is unique, cantankerous, bold, and so is truly curious by nature.

Also, she's a bookseller, and so what's more appropriate than calling it like it is? The publisher, I think, came up with the title initially as we were throwing ideas at the wall, and this one stuck the most. We certainly did go back and forth a bit with it, but in the end the editor, my agent, marketing and I all agreed that it was best to call it Confessions of a Curious Bookseller. I'm glad we did, because...[read on]
Visit Elizabeth Green's website.

The Page 69 Test: Confessions of a Curious Bookseller.

Q&A with Elizabeth Green.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Five top retellings of "Jane Eyre"

Rachel Hawkins is the New York Times bestselling author of multiple books for young readers, and her work has been translated in over a dozen countries. She studied gender and sexuality in Victorian literature at Auburn University and currently lives in Alabama. The Wife Upstairs is her first adult novel.

At CrimeReads, Hawkins tagged five retellings of Jane Eyre that influenced the crafting of The Wife Upstairs, including:
Jane Steele, by Lyndsay Faye

Reader, I murdered him.

As soon as you read that line, you understand the ground Faye is treading with her dark and gleefully fun take on Jane Eyre. But this isn’t a beat-for-beat remake. Faye’s Jane is a fan of Bronte’s novel, giving this Victorian Gothic a meta spin that makes it all the more satisfying. Like Jane Eyre, Jane Steele is a poor orphan, tormented by relatives as well as evil school officials, but they’re in for a nasty shock when it turns out Miss Steele has a violent streak.

One of the most enjoyable parts of this book is seeing those echoes of Jane Eyre—the big house, its brooding master and his secrets—, but watching as Faye takes those beats into new and interesting territory, weaving a story that ends up being very different from the original Jane’s but every bit as thrilling.
Read about another entry on the list.

Jane Steele is among Lorraine Berry's ten Brontë adaptations you need to read and Kristian Wilson's seventeen books for Jane Eyre lovers.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Carolyn A. Conley's "Debauched, Desperate, Deranged"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Debauched, Desperate, Deranged: Women Who Killed, London 1674-1913 by Carolyn A. Conley.

About the book, from the publisher:
Contemporary studies have concluded that women are far less likely to kill than men and that when women do kill, they do so within the family. Debauched, Desperate, Deranged: Women Who Killed, London 1674-1913 examines the evolution of this pattern in the over 1400 trials in which women were prosecuted for homicide in London from the late seventeenth century until just before the First World War. Which deaths were considered homicides and in what circumstances women were culpable illustrates profound changes in the prevailing assumptions about women. The outcomes of trials and the portrayals of these women in the press illuminate changes in perceptions of women's status and their physical and mental limitations. Debauched, Desperate, Deranged breaks new ground in existing studies of gender and homicide, using a long time frame to discern which trends are brief anomalies and which represent significant change or continuity.

Debauched, Desperate, Deranged is the first empirical, quantitatively as well as qualitatively based study of women and homicide from the seventeenth century to the twentieth. It presents new and significant conclusions on changing incidence of maternal homicides and the remarkable constancy of spousal homicides.
Learn more about Debauched, Desperate, Deranged at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Debauched, Desperate, Deranged.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Claire Booth's "Fatal Divisions"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Fatal Divisions by Claire Booth.

About the book, from the publisher:
Family secrets and internal police politics cause trouble for Sheriff Hank Worth and his Chief Deputy Sheila Turley in this compelling mystery.

Hank Worth has always been committed to his job as Branson sheriff, so getting him to take a break is difficult. But to everyone's surprise he agrees to take time off after a grueling case and visit a friend in Columbia, Missouri, leaving Chief Deputy Sheila Turley in charge. She quickly launches reforms that create an uproar, and things deteriorate even further when an elderly man is found brutally murdered in his home.

As Sheila struggles for control of the investigation and her insubordinate deputies, Hank is not relaxing as promised. His Aunt Fin is worried her husband is responsible for the disappearance of one of his employees, and Hank agrees to investigate.

The search for the missing woman leads to a tangle of deceit that Hank is determined to unravel . . . no matter the impact on his family.
Visit Claire Booth's website.

My Book, The Movie: Another Man's Ground.

The Page 69 Test: Another Man's Ground.

My Book, The Movie: A Deadly Turn.

The Page 69 Test: A Deadly Turn. 

Writers Read: Claire Booth (March 2019).

My Book, The Movie: Fatal Divisions.

The Page 69 Test: Fatal Divisions.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 09, 2021

Fourteen books that are so sexy they're basically erotica

At Bustle, K.W. Colyard tagged fourteen books that are so hot they're basically erotica, including:
Bad Behavior by Mary Gaitskill

The book that inspired Secretary, Mary Gaitskill's collection of steamy stories is an exploration of the unspoken — and shameless — desires of the United States' underclasses.
Read about another book on the list.

Bad Behavior is among Cai Emmons's nine unabashed books about bodies.

--Marshal Zeringue

Alison M. Parker's "Unceasing Militant"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Unceasing Militant: The Life of Mary Church Terrell by Alison M. Parker.

About the book, from the publisher:
Born into slavery during the Civil War, Mary Church Terrell (1863–1954) would become one of the most prominent activists of her time, with a career bridging the late nineteenth century to the civil rights movement of the 1950s. The first president of the National Association of Colored Women and a founding member of the NAACP, Terrell collaborated closely with the likes of Frederick Douglass, Ida B. Wells, and W. E. B. Du Bois. Unceasing Militant is the first full-length biography of Terrell, bringing her vibrant voice and personality to life. Though most accounts of Terrell focus almost exclusively on her public activism, Alison M. Parker also looks at the often turbulent, unexplored moments in her life to provide a more complete account of a woman dedicated to changing the culture and institutions that perpetuated inequality throughout the United States.

Drawing on newly discovered letters and diaries, Parker weaves together the joys and struggles of Terrell's personal, private life with the challenges and achievements of her public, political career, producing a stunning portrait of an often-under recognized political leader.
Learn more about Unceasing Militant at the University of North Carolina Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Unceasing Militant.

--Marshal Zeringue

Q&A with Chris Harding Thornton

From my Q&A with Chris Harding Thornton, author of Pickard County Atlas:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

The title was a weird journey. The working title was Reclamation, which is one underlying theme, but there are more, and readers will find their own, so that felt too reductive. Pickard County Atlas came to me solely because maps from county atlases appear at key moments in the story. Only after the publisher didn't push for a different title did I think it actually fit. The main thing it conveys is how connected the story is to place (a fictional county in north-central Nebraska in 1978, just prior to the 1980s farm crisis). In the book, the place is described as a "cusp" where the Nebraska sandhills begin, and the three main characters are on cusps of their own. The first character we see is a sheriff's deputy named Harley Jensen, who has a tragic past he's carried with him for four decades. Then we meet Pam Reddick, who married too young, has a three-year-old, and feels suffocated by poverty. And then there's Rick, her husband, whose older brother was killed by a farm hand in 1960, leaving the Reddick family a wreck. The body was never recovered, but just prior to the book's opening, Rick's father has a headstone dedicated to his lost son, and that's all it takes for the characters to start falling from their respective cusps. So, the place, era, and characters are intertwined, and...[read on]
Visit Chris Harding Thornton's website.

Q&A with Chris Harding Thornton.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 08, 2021

Ten historical crime novels that trace the history of New York City

Stacie Murphy began writing A Deadly Fortune in March of 2017 as a way to force herself to stay off Twitter in the evenings. (It didn’t work).

At CrimeReads, Murphy tagged "ten novels—ranging from the early 18th century to the middle of the 20th, some standalones and others part of wonderful series—" that trace the history of New York City. One title on the list:
A Dangerous Engagement, Ashley Weaver

While the other six novels in Weaver’s Amory Ames series are set in England, A Dangerous Engagement draws Ames and her husband Milo across the Atlantic to attend the wedding of a friend. When one of the wedding party winds up dead, Amory and Milo investigate, plunging headfirst into the unfamiliar environment of 1933 New York City. Speakeasies, gangsters, and the lingering effects of the stock market crash are all in evidence throughout the novel, and the fact that the main characters are British gives Weaver an opportunity to highlight cultural differences and details about New York that would be out of place from a native narrator.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 69 Test: A Dangerous Engagement.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Molly Greeley's "The Heiress"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Heiress: The Revelations of Anne de Bourgh by Molly Greeley.

About the book, from the publisher:
In this gorgeously written and spellbinding historical novel based on Pride and Prejudice, the author of The Clergyman’s Wife combines the knowing eye of Jane Austen with the eroticism and Gothic intrigue of Sarah Waters to reimagine the life of the mysterious Anne de Bourgh.

As a fussy baby, Anne de Bourgh’s doctor prescribed laudanum to quiet her, and now the young woman must take the opium-heavy tincture every day. Growing up sheltered and confined, removed from sunshine and fresh air, the pale and overly slender Anne grew up with few companions except her cousins, including Fitzwilliam Darcy. Throughout their childhoods, it was understood that Darcy and Anne would marry and combine their vast estates of Pemberley and Rosings. But Darcy does not love Anne or want her.

After her father dies unexpectedly, leaving her his vast fortune, Anne has a moment of clarity: what if her life of fragility and illness isn’t truly real? What if she could free herself from the medicine that clouds her sharp mind and leaves her body weak and lethargic? Might there be a better life without the medicine she has been told she cannot live without?

In a frenzy of desperation, Anne discards her laudanum and flees to the London home of her cousin, Colonel John Fitzwilliam, who helps her through her painful recovery. Yet once she returns to health, new challenges await. Shy and utterly inexperienced, the wealthy heiress must forge a new identity for herself, learning to navigate a “season” in society and the complexities of love and passion. The once wan, passive Anne gives way to a braver woman with a keen edge—leading to a powerful reckoning with the domineering mother determined to control Anne’s fortune ... and her life.

An extraordinary tale of one woman’s liberation, The Heiress reveals both the darkness and light in Austen’s world, with wit, sensuality, and a deeply compassionate understanding of the human heart.
Visit Molly Greeley's website.

Q&A with Molly Greeley.

The Page 69 Test: The Heiress.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: B. Brian Foster's "I Don't Like the Blues"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: I Don't Like the Blues: Race, Place, and the Backbeat of Black Life by B. Brian Foster.

About the book, from the publisher:
How do you love and not like the same thing at the same time? This was the riddle that met Mississippi writer B. Brian Foster when he returned to his home state to learn about Black culture and found himself hearing about the blues. One moment, Black Mississippians would say they knew and appreciated the blues. The next, they would say they didn’t like it. For five years, Foster listened and asked: “How?” “Why not?” “Will it ever change?” This is the story of the answers to his questions.

In this illuminating work, Foster takes us where not many blues writers and scholars have gone: into the homes, memories, speculative visions, and lifeworlds of Black folks in contemporary Mississippi to hear what they have to say about the blues and all that has come about since their forebears first sang them. In so doing, Foster urges us to think differently about race, place, and community development and models a different way of hearing the sounds of Black life, a method that he calls listening for the backbeat.
Visit B. Brian Foster's website.

The Page 99 Test: I Don't Like the Blues.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 07, 2021

Q&A with Molly Greeley

From my Q&A with Molly Greeley, author of The Heiress: The Revelations of Anne de Bourgh:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

The Heiress is the untold story of Anne de Bourgh from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, and the title is very much a nod to one of the main things we know about Anne from Austen's novel - that she is the heiress to a grand estate in Kent. Coupled with the subtitle ("The Revelations of Anne de Bourgh") I think the title does some pretty decent lifting as far as getting the reader into the story. Anne is voiceless in Pride and Prejudice - she has no speaking lines whatsoever, and is known only as the rich, supposedly sickly cousin of Mr. Darcy - and as such is something of a blank slate; the "revelations" aspect of the subtitle indicates that there is more to her, and to her story, than we...[read on]
Visit Molly Greeley's website.

Q&A with Molly Greeley.

--Marshal Zeringue

Claire Booth's "Fatal Divisions," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Fatal Divisions by Claire Booth.

The entry begins:
Fatal Divisions is the fourth in my series featuring Sheriff Hank Worth of Branson, Missouri. He’s a guy in his late thirties who has a dry sense of humor and is pretty laid back. He also speaks fluent Spanish, courtesy of his Latinx mother. So, since this is dream casting, I’d love Oscar Isaac to play him.

In this book, I really dive into Hank’s family life. That means there’s a lot more of his father-in-law. Duncan McCleary moved in with the Worths after the death of his wife. Duncan is a blunt, cantankerous old man who frequently tries Hank’s patience. I think someone like...[read on]
Visit Claire Booth's website.

My Book, The Movie: Another Man's Ground.

The Page 69 Test: Another Man's Ground.

My Book, The Movie: A Deadly Turn.

The Page 69 Test: A Deadly Turn. 

Writers Read: Claire Booth (March 2019).

My Book, The Movie: Fatal Divisions.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top books about the unknowable

Peter Ho Davies’s latest book is A Lie Someone Told You About Yourself. His previous novel, The Fortunes, a New York Times Notable Book, won the Anisfield-Wolf Award and the Chautauqua Prize, and was a finalist for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. His first novel, The Welsh Girl, a London Times Best Seller, was long-listed for the Booker Prize. He has also published two short story collections, The Ugliest House in the World (winner of the John Llewelyn Rhys Prize, and the Oregon Book Award) and Equal Love (finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and a New York Times Notable Book).

At the Guardian, Davies tagged ten "books that each in their various ways face the unknown, less to dispel mystery than to accept it," including:
Evening’s Empire by Zachary Lazar

True crime, like detective fiction, often promises to dispel mystery, but can sometimes only reveal its depths. Lazar’s book is a pensive, mournful investigation into his own father’s murder at the hands of the mob when the author was a child, complete with what he describes as “conjurings” – imagined scenes that fill the gaps the facts leave behind, while simultaneously reminding us of their absence.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 69 Test: Evening's Empire.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 06, 2021

Pg. 69: Monica Rodden's "Monsters Among Us"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Monsters Among Us by Monica Rodden.

About the book, from the publisher:
Fans of Sadie and You will be riveted by this compulsively readable new thriller about a survivor of dating violence who uses her newfound awareness of everyday evil to hunt for a killer.

When Catherine Ellers returns home after her first semester at college, she is seeking refuge from a night she can barely piece together, dreads remembering, and refuses to talk about. She tries to get back to normal, but just days later the murder of someone close to her tears away any illusion of safety.

Catherine feels driven to face both violent events head on in hopes of finding the perpetrators and bringing them to justice with the help of her childhood friend, Henry. Then a stranger from college arrives with her lost coat, missing driver’s license–and details to help fill in the gaps in her memory that could be the key to solving both mysteries. But who is Andrew Worthington and why is he offering to help her? And what other dangerous obsessions is her sleepy town hiding?

Surrounded by secrets and lies, Catherine must unravel the truth–before this wolf in sheep’s clothing strikes again.
Visit Monica Rodden's website.

Q&A with Monica Rodden.

The Page 69 Test: Monsters Among Us.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: John M. Hobson's "Multicultural Origins of the Global Economy"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Multicultural Origins of the Global Economy: Beyond the Western-Centric Frontier by John M. Hobson.

About the book, from the publisher:
Westerners on both the left and right overwhelmingly conflate globalisation with Westernisation and presume that the global economy is a pure Western-creation. Taking on the traditional Eurocentric Big Bang theory, or the 'expansion of the West' narrative, this book reveals the multicultural origins of globalisation and the global economy, not so as to marginalise the West but to show how it has long been embedded in complex interconnections and co-constitutive interactions with non-Western actors/agents and processes. The central empirical theme is the role of Indian structural power that was derived from Indian cotton textile exports. Indian structural power organised the first (historical-capitalist) global economy between 1500 and c.1850 and performed a vital, albeit indirect, role in the making of Western empire, industrialisation and the second (modern-capitalist) global economy. These textiles underpinned the complex inter-relations between Africa, West/Central/East/Southeast Asia, the Americas and Europe that collectively drove global economic development forward.
Learn more about Multicultural Origins of the Global Economy at the Cambridge University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Multicultural Origins of the Global Economy.

--Marshal Zeringue

Nine novels that explore secrecy & deception in racial identity

Zach Vasquez is a native of Los Angeles, California. He writes fiction and criticism.

At CrimeReads he tagged "nine crime, suspense and noir novels that revolve around the act of racial passing," including:
Devil in a Blue Dress, Walter Mosley

In most classic hardboiled and detective fiction, characters of color—particularly Black characters—were usually depicted as ancillary figures, and broadly defined caricatures (if not outright stereotypes). While there were some writers of color within the genre whose work reflected and gave voice to their own experience, most of them languished in obscurity during their lifetime. The popular and acclaimed mysteries of Walter Mosley—in particular his Easy Rawlins P.I. novels—serve as a corrective to this historical exclusion, working beautifully within the framework of the genre even as they transgress it.

Mosely’s first (and best known) novel is the period mystery Devil in a Blue Dress, which follows a Black WWII vet named Ezekiel “Easy” Rawlins as he gets roped into locating a beautiful and mysterious white woman hiding out in the Watts section of Los Angeles. Rawlins—a rough-around-the-edges, but inherently moral hero cut from the same cloth as Raymond Chandler’s shambolic knights errant—ends up uncovering a deadly conspiracy that reaches from the gutters of the criminal underworld to the echelons of political power, and quickly discovers that nothing is what it seems—including one key player’s true racial identity.
Read about another entry on the list.

Devil in a Blue Dress is among Peter Colt's eight books featuring unlikely detectives, E.G. Scott's ten best pairs of frenemies in fiction, Alex Segura's nine top jazz-infused crime novels, Lori Roy's five top morality-driven thrillers, and Al Roker's six favorite crime novels.

Raymond “Mouse” Alexander, from Mosley’s Easy Rawlins series, made The A.V. Club's list of “13 sidekicks who are cooler than their heroes.”

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 05, 2021

Q&A with Molly MacRae

From my Q&A with Molly MacRae, author of Heather and Homicide:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

My titles are teasers. It’s just barely possible someone will see the title Heather and Homicide and mistake the book for a nonfiction case study of botanical criminal activity. More likely they’ll recognize it as something lighter, and maybe even for what it is, a cozy mystery. It’s the fourth book in the Highland Bookshop Mystery series, with the title following the pattern of the other books – two alliterative words separated by the word “and.” The first word is something recognizably Scottish, the third suggests something nefarious. The beauty of only three words is wiggle room. Heather could have been the plant that turns whole hillsides purple. Instead, Heather is a true-crime writer who says she’s arrived in seaside Inversgail, Scotland, to research recent murders for her new book. But if that’s true, why does she seem more interested in a shadowy lawyer who had nothing to do with that crime? And why is she seemingly being stalked by death? I love coming up with titles, and for this book, and this series, titles come first. They’re teasers for me as much as for readers. They’re clues to the puzzle of where is this story going to...[read on]
Visit Molly MacRae's website.

My Book, The Movie: Plaid and Plagiarism.

The Page 69 Test: Plaid and Plagiarism.

The Page 69 Test: Scones and Scoundrels.

My Book, The Movie: Scones and Scoundrels.

The Page 69 Test: Crewel and Unusual.

The Page 69 Test: Heather and Homicide.

Q&A with Molly MacRae.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: M. Bianet Castellanos's "Indigenous Dispossession"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Indigenous Dispossession: Housing and Maya Indebtedness in Mexico by M. Bianet Castellanos.

About the book, from the publisher:
Following the recent global housing boom, tract housing development became a billion-dollar industry in Mexico. At the national level, neoliberal housing policy has overtaken debates around land reform. For Indigenous peoples, access to affordable housing remains crucial to alleviating poverty. But as palapas, traditional thatch and wood houses, are replaced by tract houses in the Yucatán Peninsula, Indigenous peoples' relationship to land, urbanism, and finance is similarly transformed, revealing a legacy of debt and dispossession.

Indigenous Dispossession examines how Maya families grapple with the ramifications of neoliberal housing policies. M. Bianet Castellanos relates Maya migrants' experiences with housing and mortgage finance in Cancún, one of Mexico's fastest-growing cities. Their struggle to own homes reveals colonial and settler colonial structures that underpin the city's economy, built environment, and racial order. But even as Maya people contend with predatory lending practices and foreclosure, they cultivate strategies of resistance—from "waiting out" the state, to demanding Indigenous rights in urban centers. As Castellanos argues, it is through these maneuvers that Maya migrants forge a new vision of Indigenous urbanism.
Learn more about Indigenous Dispossession at the Stanford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Indigenous Dispossession.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top books like "The Queen's Gambit"

At Bustle, K.W. Colyard tagged ten "books like The Queen's Gambit that prove chess is far from boring," including:
The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves

Ten years ago, Annika and Jonathan conducted a brief, but passionate, love affair after meeting in the University of Illinois' chess club. They've gone their separate ways since college, but can they make a fresh go at their relationship, now that they're established in their adult lives?
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 04, 2021

Pg. 69: Julia Claiborne Johnson's "Better Luck Next Time"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Better Luck Next Time by Julia Claiborne Johnson.

About the book, from the publisher:
The eagerly anticipated second novel from the bestselling author of Be Frank with Me, a charming story of endings, new beginnings, and the complexities and complications of friendship and love, set in late 1930s Reno.

It’s 1938 and women seeking a quick, no-questions split from their husbands head to the “divorce capital of the world,” Reno, Nevada. There’s one catch: they have to wait six-weeks to become “residents.” Many of these wealthy, soon-to-be divorcees flock to the Flying Leap, a dude ranch that caters to their every need.

Twenty-four-year-old Ward spent one year at Yale before his family lost everything in the Great Depression; now he’s earning an honest living as a ranch hand at the Flying Leap. Admired for his dashing good looks—“Cary Grant in cowboy boots”—Ward thinks he’s got the Flying Leap’s clients all figured out. But two new guests are about to upend everything he thinks he knows: Nina, a St Louis heiress and amateur pilot back for her third divorce, and Emily, whose bravest moment in life was leaving her cheating husband back in San Francisco and driving herself to Reno.

A novel about divorce, marriage, and everything that comes in between (money, class, ambition, and opportunity), Better Luck Next Time is a hilarious yet poignant examination of the ways friendship can save us, love can destroy us, and the family we create can be stronger than the family we come from.
Follow Julia Claiborne Johnson on Facebook and Twitter.

The Page 69 Test: Better Luck Next Time.

--Marshal Zeringue

Q&A with Monica Rodden

From my Q&A with Monica Rodden, author of Monsters Among Us:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

It does a lot of work. I'm very grateful to my publishing team for the title. Before it was very English major-y: Whatever Our Souls Are Made Of (based off the quote from Wuthering Heights). While my book does take some inspiration from that classic novel, that title makes it sound almost like a romance--which the story most definitely is not! Monsters Among Us tells the reader immediately that this is a thriller novel with high stakes and danger lurking in the shadows.

What's in a name?

I want to answer this one so badly, but I...[read on]
Visit Monica Rodden's website.

Q&A with Monica Rodden.

--Marshal Zeringue

Fourteen top books about unions, organizing, and American labor

At Book Riot, Sarah Ullery tagged fourteen of the best books about unions, organizing, and American labor, including:
THE RADIUM GIRLS BY KATE MOORE

Often, workplace regulations are cursed by employers as too rigorous, too strict. But Radium Girls is a good example of why your workplace needs to be regulated and held accountable.

In 1917, women went to work in factories, painting radium on items needed for the war. They asked if it was safe, and their company told them yes. Soon, they started to glow. As the years passed the women started to get mysterious deadly illnesses that were traced back to their work in the radium factories. Dying, but determined, the women who had been knowingly poisoned by their employers refused to give up without receiving justice.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 03, 2021

Pg. 99: Theresa Keeley's "Reagan's Gun-Toting Nuns"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Reagan's Gun-Toting Nuns: The Catholic Conflict over Cold War Human Rights Policy in Central America by Theresa Keeley.

About the book, from the publisher:
In Reagan's Gun-Toting Nuns, Theresa Keeley analyzes the role of intra-Catholic conflict within the framework of US foreign policy formulation and execution during the Reagan Administration. She challenges the preponderance of scholarship on the administration that stresses the influence of evangelical Protestants on foreign policy toward Latin America. Especially in the case of US engagement in El Salvador and Nicaragua, Keeley argues, the bitter debate among US and Central American Catholics over the direction of the Catholic Church shaped President Ronald Reagan's foreign policy.

The flash-point for these intra-Catholic disputes was the December 1980 political murder of four American Catholic missionaries in El Salvador: Maryknoll Sisters Maura Clarke and Ita Ford, Ursuline Dorothy Kazel, and lay missionary Jean Donovan. Liberal Catholics described nuns and priests in Central America who worked to combat structural inequality as human rights advocates living out the Gospel's spirit. Conservative Catholics, by contrast, saw them as agents of class conflict who furthered the so-called Gospel according to Karl Marx. The debate was an old one among Catholics, especially after Vatican II and liberation theology's growth. But, as Reagan's Gun-Toting Nuns contends, the intra-Catholic debate intensified as conservative, anticommunist Catholics played instrumental roles in crafting U.S. policy to fund the Salvadoran government and the Nicaraguan contras.

Reagan's Gun-Toting Nuns describes the religious actors as human rights advocates and, against prevailing understandings of the fundamentally secular activism related to human rights, highlighting religious-inspired activism during the Cold War. In charting of the rightward development of American Catholicism, Keeley provides a new chapter in the history of US diplomacy and shows how domestic issues such as contraception and abortion joined with foreign policy matters to shift Catholic laity toward Republican policies at home and abroad.
Learn more about Reagan's Gun-Toting Nuns at the Cornell University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Reagan's Gun-Toting Nuns.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top romance novels for fans of Netflix's "Bridgerton"

At Vulture, Carly Lane tagged ten romance novels to read after binging Netflix's Bridgerton, including:
The Devil in Winter, by Lisa Kleypas

Kleypas is arguably one of the most widely known authors in historical romance, and with good reason. Like many of the names on this list, the place you begin with her books is really dependent on what mood you might be in — but might this humble writer suggest her Wallflowers series, about a group of four friends who enter society and make a pact to find themselves husbands? The Devil in Winter revolves around arguably the shyest member of the group who approaches London’s most notorious rake with a daring proposition: marriage.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue