Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Pg. 69: Carly Anne West's "The Bargaining"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Bargaining by Carly Anne West.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Shining meets The Conjuring in this chilling and suspenseful new novel from the author of The Murmurings.

The fact that neither of her parents wants to deal with her is nothing new to Penny. She’s used to being discussed like a problem, a problem her mother has finally passed on to her father. What she hasn’t gotten used to is her stepmother…especially when she finds out what she’ll have to spend the summer with April in the remote woods of Washington to restore a broken-down old house.

Set deep in a dense forest, the old Carver House is filled with abandoned antique furniture, rich architectural details, and its own chilling past. The only respite Penny can find away from April’s renovations is in Miller, the young guy who runs the local general store. He’s her only chance at a normal, and enjoyable, summer.

But Miller has his own connection to the Carver house, and it’s one that goes beyond the mysterious tapping Penny hears at her window, the handprints she finds smudging the glass panes, and the visions of children who beckon Penny to follow them into the dark woods. Miller’s past just might threaten to become the terror of Penny’s future…
Learn more about the book and author at Carly Anne West's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Murmurings.

The Page 69 Test: The Bargaining.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top 19 books on the "How to be a man" reading list

At the Telegraph Chris Moss tagged "19 books - novels, poetry and non-fiction - that provide life lessons, relationship counselling and sex education for the modern male," including:
High Fidelity (1995)

Many of Nick Hornby’s books speak intimately to men’s inner lives, but the story of record shop employee Rob Fleming and his struggle to connect – and then separate – his musical passions from his erotic ambitions provides lots of laughs as well as insights into the anxieties that come with commitment.
Learn about another entry on the list.

High Fidelity also made Jeff Somers's list of six books that’ll make you glad you’re single, Chrissie Gruebel's top ten list of books set in London, Ted Gioia's list of ten of the best novels on music, Melissa Albert's top five list of books that inspire great mix tapes, Rob Reid's six favorite books list, Ashley Hamilton's list of 8 books to read with a broken heart, Tiffany Murray's top 10 list of rock'n'roll novels, Mark Hodkinson's critic's chart of rock music in fiction, and John Sutherland's list of the best books about listing.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Pg. 99: Benjamin N. Lawrance's "Amistad’s Orphans"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Amistad's Orphans: An Atlantic Story of Children, Slavery, and Smuggling by Benjamin N. Lawrance.

About the book, from the publisher:
The lives of six African children, ages nine to sixteen, were forever altered by the revolt aboard the Cuban schooner La Amistad in 1839. Like their adult companions, all were captured in Africa and illegally sold as slaves. In this fascinating revisionist history, Benjamin N. Lawrance reconstructs six entwined stories and brings them to the forefront of the Amistad conflict. Through eyewitness testimonies, court records, and the children’s own letters, Lawrance recounts how their lives were inextricably interwoven by the historic drama, and casts new light on illegal nineteenth-century transatlantic slave smuggling.
Benjamin N. Lawrance is the Hon. Barber B. Conable Jr. Endowed Chair in International Studies at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Learn more about Amistad's Orphans at the Yale University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Amistad's Orphans.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Cara Black reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Cara Black, author of Murder on the Champ de Mars.

Her entry begins:
I’m reading the galley of The Alphabet House by Jussi Adler-Olsen, which I snagged via an online contest. See, writers enter contests, too. I’ve been dying to read this book, after inhaling all the Inspector Q series that Adler-Olsen writes but just aren’t translated fast enough. This is a departure, a standalone. From the notes, Adler-Olsen said he drew on the experience growing up, as a doctor’s son, and living on site with his family in mental institutions. The premise is quite unexpected: what happens...[read on]
About Murder on the Champ de Mars, from the publisher:
Paris, April 1999: Aimée Leduc has her work cut out for her—running her detective agency and fighting off sleep-deprivation as she tries to be a good single mother to her new bébé. The last thing she has time for now is to take on a personal investigation for a poor manouche (French Gypsy) boy. But he insists his dying mother has an important secret she needs to tell Aimée, something to do with Aimée’s father’s unsolved murder a decade ago. How can she say no?

The dying woman’s secret is even more dangerous than her son realized. When Aimée arrives at the hospital, the boy’s mother has disappeared. She was far too sick to leave on her own—she must have been abducted. What does she know that is so important it is worth killing for? And will Aimée be able to find her before it is too late and the medication keeping her alive runs out?

Set in the seventh arrondissment, the quartier of the Parisian elite, Murder on the Champ de Mars takes us from the highest seats of power in the Ministries and embassies through the city’s private gardens and the homes of France’s oldest aristocratic families. Aimée discovers more connections than she thought possible between the clandestine “Gypsy” world and the moneyed ancien régime, ultimately leading her to the truth behind her father’s death … After all, for Aimée, murder is never far from home.
Learn more about the book and author at Cara Black's website.

The Page 69 Test: Murder at the Lanterne Rouge.

My Book, the Movie: Murder at the Lanterne Rouge.

The Page 69 Test: Murder below Montparnasse.

The Page 69 Test: Murder in Pigalle.

My Book, The Movie: Murder in Pigalle.

My Book, The Movie: Murder on the Champ de Mars.

Writers Read: Cara Black.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tom Santopietro's "The Sound of Music Story," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Sound of Music Story: How A Beguiling Young Novice, A Handsome Austrian Captain, and Ten Singing Von Trapp Children Inspired the Most Beloved Film of All Time by Tom Santopietro.

The entry begins:
Since my book The Sound of Music Story concerns the making of The Sound of Music, the opportunity to cast other actors to portray Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, Eleanor Parker, and Robert Wise seems like a lot of fun--- a great hall of mirrors project. So:

Julie Andrews: Keira Knightley or Carey Mulligan

Christopher Plummer: Benedict Cumberbatch

Eleanor Parker: Cate...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Tom Santopietro's website.

The Page 99 Test: The Godfather Effect.

Writers Read: Tom Santopietro.

The Page 99 Test: The Sound of Music Story.

My Book, The Movie: The Sound of Music Story.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Cynthia Swanson's "The Bookseller"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Bookseller: A Novel by Cynthia Swanson.

About the book, from the publisher:
A provocative and hauntingly powerful debut novel reminiscent of Sliding Doors, The Bookseller follows a woman in the 1960s who must reconcile her reality with the tantalizing alternate world of her dreams.

Nothing is as permanent as it appears...

Denver, 1962: Kitty Miller has come to terms with her unconventional single life. She loves the bookshop she runs with her best friend, Frieda, and enjoys complete control over her day-to-day existence. She can come and go as she pleases, answering to no one. There was a man once, a doctor named Kevin, but it didn’t quite work out the way Kitty had hoped.

Then the dreams begin.

Denver, 1963: Katharyn Andersson is married to Lars, the love of her life. They have beautiful children, an elegant home, and good friends. It’s everything Kitty Miller once believed she wanted—but it only exists when she sleeps.

Convinced that these dreams are simply due to her overactive imagination, Kitty enjoys her nighttime forays into this alternate world. But with each visit, the more irresistibly real Katharyn’s life becomes. Can she choose which life she wants? If so, what is the cost of staying Kitty, or becoming Katharyn?

As the lines between her worlds begin to blur, Kitty must figure out what is real and what is imagined. And how do we know where that boundary lies in our own lives?
Visit Cynthia Swanson's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Bookseller.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top books about love

Jemma Forte's novels include If You’re Not the One and When I Met You.

One of her top ten books about love, as shared at the Daily Express:
The Rosie Project – Graeme Simsion

Don has Asperger’s and wants to find a wife, so applies his heightened sense of logic to the problem and comes up with a solution.

He writes a list of criteria, a questionnaire that he will pose to future dates in order to establish who is suitable and who isn’t. And yet, what transpires is that love ends up finding him. Not the other way around.

And isn’t that so true of life?

When single people are looking for love it’s so often a futile search, then, just when they’ve given up or stopped thinking about it, wallop, they meet someone.

This is such a humorous book. I love writers who deal with serious themes but manage to inject wit and levity into the story. Again I find this more honest than writing something incredibly downbeat because in my experience life is bad and good. It’s beautiful and terrible and humour is often the thing that keeps people going.

This is a romantic, modern, funny, interesting love story and I can’t imagine what a challenge it must have been to have written from the point of view of someone who has Asperger’s but it is done so successfully.

Don thinks very differently from most people which comes across in every thought that goes through his head. He is a wonderful character and one you find yourself cheering on throughout.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Rosie Project is one of  Bill Gates's nine favorite books.

My Book, The Movie: The Rosie Project.

The Page 69 Test: The Rosie Project.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 02, 2015

Pg. 99: Greg Weiner's "American Burke"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: American Burke: The Uncommon Liberalism of Daniel Patrick Moynihan by Greg Weiner.

About the book, from the publisher:
Daniel Patrick Moynihan (1927–2003) may be best known as a statesman. He served in the administrations of presidents Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and Ford; was ambassador to India and the United Nations; and represented New York in the U.S. Senate for four terms. But he was also an intellectual of the first order, whose books and papers on topics ranging from welfare policy and ethnicity in American society to international law stirred debate and steered policy. Moynihan was, journalist Michael Barone remarked, “the nation’s best thinker among politicians since Lincoln and its best politician among thinkers since Jefferson.” He was, Greg Weiner argues, America’s answer to the 18th-century Anglo-Irish scholar-statesman Edmund Burke. Both stood at the intersection of thought and action, denouncing tyranny, defending the family, championing reform. Yet while Burke is typically claimed by conservatives, Weiner calls Moynihan a “Burkean liberal” who respected both the indispensability of government and the complexity of society. And a reclamation of Moynihan’s Burkean liberalism, Weiner suggests, could do wonders for the polarized politics of our day.

In its incisive analysis of Moynihan’s political thought, American Burke lays out the terms for such a recovery. The book traces Moynihan’s development through the broad sweep of his writings and career. “The central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics, that determines the success of a society,” Moynihan once wrote. “The central liberal truth is that politics can change a culture and save it from itself.” In his ability to embrace both of these truths, this “American Burke” makes it bracingly clear that a wise political thinker can also be an effective political actor, and that commitments to both liberal and conservative values can coexist peaceably and productively. Weiner’s work is not only a thorough and thoroughly engaging intellectual exploration of one of the most important politicians of the twentieth century; it is also a timely prescription for the healing of our broken system.
Visit Greg Weiner's website.

The Page 99 Test: American Burke.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Kate Riordan reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Kate Riordan, author of Fiercombe Manor.

Her entry begins:
I’m currently in the middle of Rachel Hore’s A Gathering Storm, which I’m really enjoying. It’s just the sort of escapist read I look for when life is busy and the news is depressing. There is a modern strand but It’s mainly set in the 1930s and during the Second World War, and follows Beatrice Marlow from rural Cornwall (which I know and love myself) to war-battered London and back. It’s got all the elements I like in a book – and tried to put in my own: family secrets, a historical setting, a big old house, thwarted romance and a dose of...[read on]
About Fiercombe Manor, from the publisher:
In this haunting and richly imagined dual-narrative tale that echoes the eerie mystery of Rebecca and The Little Stranger, two women of very different eras are united by the secrets hidden within the walls of an English manor house.

In 1933, naive twenty-two year-old Alice—pregnant and unmarried—is in disgrace. Her mother banishes her from London to secluded Fiercombe Manor in rural Gloucestershire, where she can hide under the watchful eye of her mother’s old friend, the housekeeper Mrs. Jelphs. The manor’s owners, the Stantons, live abroad, and with her cover story of a recently-deceased husband Alice can have her baby there before giving it up for adoption and returning home. But as Alice endures the long, hot summer at Fiercombe awaiting the baby’s birth, she senses that something is amiss with the house and its absentee owners.

Thirty years earlier, pregnant Lady Elizabeth Stanton desperately hopes for the heir her husband desires. Tormented by the memory of what happened after the birth of her first child, a daughter, she grows increasingly terrified that history will repeat itself, with devastating consequences.

After meeting Tom, the young scion of the Stanton family, Alice becomes determined to uncover the clan’s tragic past and exorcise the ghosts of this idyllic, isolated house. But nothing can prepare Alice for what she uncovers. Soon it is her turn to fear: can she escape the tragic fate of the other women who have lived in the Fiercombe valley...
Visit Kate Riordan's website.

The Page 69 Test: Fiercombe Manor.

Writers Read: Kate Riordan.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tatjana Soli's 6 favorite books that conjure exotic locales

Tatjana Soli is the author of The Lotus Eaters, The Forgetting Tree, and The Last Good Paradise.

One of her six favorite books that conjure exotic locales, as shared at The Week magazine:
House of Stone by Anthony Shadid

A beautiful memoir by the gifted late journalist about rebuilding his family's ancestral home in southern Lebanon. Shadid gave us a personal story of the human costs of war. I'd urge anyone who wants to understand the Middle East beyond the headlines to read it.
Read about another entry on the list.

Writers Read: Anthony Shadid (August 2007).

--Marshal Zeringue

Cara Black's "Murder on the Champ de Mars," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Murder on the Champ de Mars by Cara Black.

The entry begins:
If they make my book into a film, here's who I'd like to play to direct the the movie: Sir Carol Reed. He directed The Third Man, and brought Graham Greene to Vienna and told him to write a screenplay with post war Vienna as a character. Greene did that in spades, the dark glistening cobbled streets at night, the sewers, the black market, all so evocative. I’ve read in interviews that Sir Carol Reed asked the characters to...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Cara Black's website.

The Page 69 Test: Murder at the Lanterne Rouge.

My Book, the Movie: Murder at the Lanterne Rouge.

The Page 69 Test: Murder below Montparnasse.

The Page 69 Test: Murder in Pigalle.

My Book, The Movie: Murder in Pigalle.

My Book, The Movie: Murder on the Champ de Mars.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Augusta Scattergood's "The Way to Stay in Destiny"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Way to Stay in Destiny by Augusta Scattergood.

About the book, from the publisher:
From the author of the acclaimed Glory Be, a novel that celebrates baseball, fast piano, and small-town living in the wake of the Vietnam War.

When Theo gets off a bus in Destiny, Florida, he's left behind the only life he's ever known. Now he's got to live with Uncle Raymond, a Vietnam War vet and a loner who wants nothing to do with this long-lost nephew. Thank goodness for Miss Sister Grandersole's Boarding House and Dance School. The piano that sits in Miss Sister's dance hall calls to Theo. He can't wait to play those ivory keys. When Anabel arrives things get even more enticing. This feisty girl, a baseball fanatic, invites Theo on her quest to uncover the town's connection to old-time ball players rumored to have lived there years before. A mystery, an adventure, and a musical exploration unfold as this town called Destiny lives up to its name.

Acclaimed author Augusta Scattergood has delivered a straight-to-the-heart story with unforgettable characters, humor, and hard questions about loss, family, and belonging.
Learn more about the book and author at Augusta Scattergood's website and blog.

Writers Read: Augusta Scattergood (April 2012).

The Page 69 Test: The Way to Stay in Destiny.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Top five books about revenge

Fanny Blake's books include With a Friend Like You, The Secrets Women Keep, What Women Want, and Women of a Dangerous Age.

One of her five top books about revenge, as shared at the Daily Express:
The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

Although Lisbeth Salander’s desire for revenge against the men who tried to kill her and the government who nearly destroyed her life fires her throughout the trilogy, the scene that stays with me is in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Having been violently abused by her court-appointed guardian, the lawyer Bjurman, unable to trust the police, she takes matters into her own hands.

She tasers him, sodomises him and tattoos the words, ‘I am a sadistic pig, a pervert and a rapist’ across his chest.

A revenge he won’t forget.
Read about another book on the list.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo made Kat Rosenfield's list of the eight most famous body parts in fiction, Rebecca Jane Stokes's top ten list of books about women in peril…who fought back, Maureen Corrigan's top five list of crime & mystery novels of 2008, Camilla Läckberg's top ten list of Swedish crime novels, and is one of Lynda Bellingham's six best books. The Millennium Trilogy is one of Ken Follett's five best trilogies, and Lisbeth Salander is among Panayiota Kuvetakis's top ten fictional female friends we'd like to have as anything close to real-life friends and Anne Holt's top ten female detectives.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Emily Gray Tedrowe reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Emily Gray Tedrowe, author of Blue Stars.

Her entry begins:
I'm late to the party on this wonderful novel, but I'm so glad I just read A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki. Earlier this winter I took a long weekend's writing retreat with a good friend, the writer Zoe Zolbrod. We stayed at a Benedictine monastery where I've often found the quiet and simplicity conducive to work. She and I stayed in dorm-style rooms side by side, writing our new novels with the focused intensity two working mothers of young kids know how to bring when they get an opportunity like this. For breaks, we took long walks on the prairie preserve and shared meal time with the monastery community, including the three sisters in residence there. We spoke with admiration about their lives devoted to social justice and care for the earth. Zoe said, this reminds me of Ruth Ozeki's novel - I hadn't read it - but her enthusiasm made me...[read on]
About Blue Stars, from the publisher:
Emily Gray Tedrowe has written an extraordinary novel about ordinary people, a graceful and gritty portrayal of what it’s like for the women whose husbands and sons are deployed in Iraq.

BLUE STARS brings to life the realities of the modern day home front: how to get through the daily challenges of motherhood and holding down a job while bearing the stress and uncertainty of war, when everything can change in an instant. It tells the story of Ellen, a Midwestern literature professor, who is drawn into the war when her legal ward Michael enlists as a Marine; and of Lacey, a proud Army wife who struggles to pay the bills and keep things going for her son while her husband is deployed. Ellen and Lacey cope with the fear and stress of a loved one at war while trying to get by in a society that often ignores or misunderstands what war means to women today. When Michael and Eddie are injured in Iraq, Ellen and Lacey’s lives become intertwined in Walter Reed Army Hospital, where each woman must live while caring for her wounded soldier. They form an alliance, and an unlikely friendship, while helping each other survive the dislocated world of the army hospital. Whether that means fighting for proper care for their men, sharing a six-pack, or coping with irrevocable loss, Ellen and Lacey pool their strengths to make it through. In the end, both women are changed, not only by the war and its fallout, but by each other.
Visit Emily Gray Tedrowe's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

Writers Read: Emily Gray Tedrowe.

--Marshal Zeringue

Four books that changed Peter Twohig

Peter Twohig was a rock musician, public servant, management consultant and naturopath before turning to full-time writing. He has degrees in professional writing and philosophy, and lives on the NSW Central Coast. His first novel, The Cartographer, won the prestigious Ned Kelly Award. Its sequel, The Torch, is "a novel about innocence for grown-ups" set in 1960s Melbourne.

One of four books that changed him, as shared at the Sydney Morning Herald:
1984

George Orwell

I was about 20 when I first read it (I've returned to it a few times), and had just finished Animal Farm, which really made me think. But the sheer literary power of 1984 made me think a different way altogether, feel a different way - permanently. I had read masters before - Maugham is high on my list - but never before seen that mastery of modern English. I saw what it looks like when a writer owns the language.
Read about another book on the list.

Nineteen Eighty-four is on the Guardian's list of the five worst book covers ever, the Independent's list of the fifteen best opening lines in literature, W.B. Gooderham's top ten list of books given in books, Katharine Trendacosta and Amanda Yesilbas's list of ten paranoid science fiction stories that could help you survive, Na'ima B. Robert's top ten list of Romeo and Juliet stories, Gabe Habash's list of ten songs inspired by books and a list of the 100 best last lines from novels. The book made Charlie Jane Anders's list of ten science fiction novels we pretend to have read, Juan E. Méndez's list of five books on torture, P. J. O’Rourke's list of the five best political satires, Daniel Johnson's five best list of books about Cold War culture, Robert Collins' top ten list of dystopian novels, Gemma Malley's top 10 list of dystopian novels for teenagers, is one of Norman Tebbit's six best books and one of the top ten works of literature according to Stephen King. It made a difference to Isla Fisher, and appears on John Mullan's lists of ten of the best Aprils in literature, ten of the best rats in literature, and ten of the best horrid children in fiction.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Thomas Ahnert's "The Moral Culture of the Scottish Enlightenment, 1690-1805"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Moral Culture of the Scottish Enlightenment, 1690–1805 by Thomas Ahnert.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the Enlightenment it was often argued that moral conduct, rather than adherence to theological doctrine, was the true measure of religious belief. Thomas Ahnert argues that this “enlightened” emphasis on conduct in religion relied less on arguments from reason alone than has been believed. In fact, Scottish Enlightenment champions advocated a practical program of “moral culture,” in which revealed religion was of central importance. Ahnert traces this to theological controversies going back as far as the Reformation concerning the conditions of salvation. His findings present a new point of departure for all scholars interested in the intersection of religion and Enlightenment.
Learn more about The Moral Culture of the Scottish Enlightenment, 1690–1805 at the Yale University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: The Moral Culture of the Scottish Enlightenment, 1690–1805.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Auston Habershaw's "The Iron Ring," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Iron Ring by Auston Habershaw.

The entry begins:
The Iron Ring was just released by Harper Voyager Impulse early this month, so perhaps discussions of who will play whom in the movie are premature, but, hell, this is the Internet, dammit! Why shouldn’t I indulge in delusions of grandeur?

Tyvian Reldamar—played by Damian Lewis

Lewis has the right look, the right charm, and I have no doubt he can sport a devilish grin if he needs to. Whoever plays Tyvian needs a certain arrogance about him—he’s a guy who is supremely confident in himself and supremely disdainful of everyone else. I’m pretty sure Lewis could pull this off.

Artus—played by Currently Unknown

Tyvian’s sidekick/constant annoyance should be played be a newcomer—a fresh faced kid with a lot of potential, just like Artus. I want the next Daniel Radcliffe or...[read on]
Visit Auston Habershaw's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Iron Ring.

Writers Read: Auston Habershaw.

My Book, The Movie: The Iron Ring.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Tracy Weber reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Tracy Weber, author of A Killer Retreat: A Downward Dog Mystery #2.

Her entry begins:
I’ve been burying myself in cozy mysteries lately, both because I love cozies and because I’m trying to improve my writing technique. What better way to learn than by reading my fellow (and I must say, awesome) writers?

Right now I’m particularly excited, because my first book, Murder Strikes a Pose, has been nominated for the Agatha award for Best First Novel. So, of course, I have to read the competition. Of the other four books nominated, I’m currently reading two: Tagged for Death by Sherry Harris and Finding Sky by Susan O’Brien.

These two novels are great representations of the genre. Although crime takes center stage (in one, a disappearance; the other, a murder) we also learn...[read on]
About A Killer Retreat, from the publisher:
When Kate Davidson gets an offer to teach yoga classes at the Elysian Springs resort, she jumps at the opportunity—even if it means enduring the wedding ceremony of the center’s two caretakers. But avoiding the M-word turns out to be the least of Kate’s problems when a wedding guest is found floating face-down in the resort’s hot tub, shortly after a loud, public fight with Kate.

The police pick Kate as their number-one suspect, so she teams up with her boyfriend Michael, best friend Rene, and German shepherd sidekick Bella to find the real killer. They must solve the crime before the police arrest Kate, or her next gig may last a lifetime—behind bars.
Visit Tracy Weber's website, blog, and Facebook page.

Coffee with a Canine: Tracy Weber and Tasha.

The Page 69 Test: Murder Strikes a Pose.

The Page 69 Test: A Killer Retreat.

Writers Read: Tracy Weber.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six of the best SF/F novels with non-white protagonists

Lauren Naturale likes literary fantasy, the gothic, historical fiction, and sensational things to read on trains; she writes in and about all of these genres.

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog she tagged six SF/F novels with non-white protagonists that aren’t by Octavia Butler, including:
Adaptation and Inheritance, by Malinda Lo

After a car crash, David Li and Reese Holloway learn the truth: they’ve been “adapted” with alien DNA. Malinda Lo says she had The X-Files in mind when she wrote these linked YA novels, but what makes them truly stand out is her handling of the love triangle, in which Reese struggles to choose between David and her alien ex-girlfriend. I’m including Adaptation and Inheritance for David’s sake; for YA fantasy about Asian girls in love, consider Lo’s previous book, Huntress.
Read about another book on the list.

Writers Read: Malinda Lo (September 2009).

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Kate Riordan's "Fiercombe Manor"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Fiercombe Manor by Kate Riordan.

About the book, from the publisher:
In this haunting and richly imagined dual-narrative tale that echoes the eerie mystery of Rebecca and The Little Stranger, two women of very different eras are united by the secrets hidden within the walls of an English manor house.

In 1933, naive twenty-two year-old Alice—pregnant and unmarried—is in disgrace. Her mother banishes her from London to secluded Fiercombe Manor in rural Gloucestershire, where she can hide under the watchful eye of her mother’s old friend, the housekeeper Mrs. Jelphs. The manor’s owners, the Stantons, live abroad, and with her cover story of a recently-deceased husband Alice can have her baby there before giving it up for adoption and returning home. But as Alice endures the long, hot summer at Fiercombe awaiting the baby’s birth, she senses that something is amiss with the house and its absentee owners.

Thirty years earlier, pregnant Lady Elizabeth Stanton desperately hopes for the heir her husband desires. Tormented by the memory of what happened after the birth of her first child, a daughter, she grows increasingly terrified that history will repeat itself, with devastating consequences.

After meeting Tom, the young scion of the Stanton family, Alice becomes determined to uncover the clan’s tragic past and exorcise the ghosts of this idyllic, isolated house. But nothing can prepare Alice for what she uncovers. Soon it is her turn to fear: can she escape the tragic fate of the other women who have lived in the Fiercombe valley...
Visit Kate Riordan's website.

The Page 69 Test: Fiercombe Manor.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 27, 2015

Ten top bad boys with good(ish) hearts in YA fiction

Catherine Doyle lives in the west of Ireland. She holds a bachelor's degree in Psychology and a master's degree in English from the National University of Ireland, Galway. Vendetta, her debut novel, is the first part of the Blood for Blood series.

For the Guardian she tagged her top ten bad boys with good(ish) hearts in YA fiction, including:
Damon Salvatore in The Vampire Diaries by LJ Smith

"Damon, leather and silk and fine chiseled features. Mercurial and devastating."
―LJ Smith, The Vampire Diaries.

Damon Salvatore bursts into character as the main antagonist and all-round snarky anti-hero in The Vampire Diaries. With his drop-dead good looks, rapier wit and struggle to get-good-to-get-the-girl, it’s hard not to be enthralled by the darker Salvatore brother, and the conflict that follows him. Playing Devil to brother Stefan’s Angel, Damon really comes into his own when his feelings for Elena Gilbert begin to chip away at his selfish, morally-unhinged behaviour. Damon’s latent humanity is brought to light when those he holds dear are threatened, showing precious glimpses of the person he is capable of becoming when he allows himself to love and care for those around him.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Leanna Renee Hieber's "The Eterna Files," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Eterna Files by Leanna Renee Hieber.

About the book, from the publisher:
London, 1882: Queen Victoria appoints Harold Spire of the Metropolitan Police to Special Branch Division Omega. Omega is to secretly investigate paranormal and supernatural events and persons. Spire, a skeptic driven to protect the helpless and see justice done, is the perfect man to lead the department, which employs scholars and scientists, assassins and con men, and a traveling circus. Spire's chief researcher is Rose Everhart, who believes fervently that there is more to the world than can be seen by mortal eyes.

Their first mission: find the Eterna Compound, which grants immortality. Catastrophe destroyed the hidden laboratory in New York City where Eterna was developed, but the Queen is convinced someone escaped—and has a sample of Eterna.

Also searching for Eterna is an American, Clara Templeton, who helped start the project after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln nearly destroyed her nation. Haunted by the ghost of her beloved, she is determined that the Eterna Compound—and the immortality it will convey—will be controlled by the United States, not Great Britain.
Visit Leanna Renee Hieber's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

Writers Read: Leanna Renee Hieber.

My Book, The Movie: The Eterna Files.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Auston Habershaw reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Auston Habershaw, author of The Iron Ring: Part I of the Saga of the Redeemed.

His entry begins:
So, my reading life is a complicated one. As a literature professor and a fantasy author, my reading time is split between three things: my love (fantasy and science fiction), my work (literary fiction), and my curse (student writing). In any given semester, I need to read between 6 and 12 novels for my classes and grade an additional 2400 pages or so of student writing. After that, I can squeeze in whatever reading for pleasure I can get. Because of this, my reading for pleasure list is way, waaaay longer than I have time for, unfortunately.

Nevertheless, here’s what I’m reading now:

The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

This is a classic of hard-boiled detective fiction from the 1930s—one of the seminal works of the genre. I’m currently teaching it in my Modern American Writers class. If you haven’t read Chandler, you really should (even if you don’t care for detective fiction). What you’re learning here is style. Chandler’s voice is so unmistakable that...[read on]
About The Iron Ring, from the publisher:
Tyvian Reldamar—criminal mastermind, rogue mage, and smuggler of sorcerous goods—has just been betrayed by his longtime partner and left for dead in a freezing river. To add insult to injury, his mysterious rescuer took it upon himself to affix Tyvian with an iron ring that prevents the wearer from any evildoing.

Revenge just got complicated.

On his quest to get even, Tyvian navigates dark international conspiracies, dodges midnight assassins, and uncovers the plans of the ruthless warlord Banric Sahand—all while running from a Mage-Defender determined to lock him up. Tyvian will need to use every dirty trick in the book to avoid a painful and ignominious end, even as he discovers that sometimes even the world's most devious man needs a shoulder to lean on.
Visit Auston Habershaw's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Iron Ring.

Writers Read: Auston Habershaw.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Tom Santopietro's "The Sound of Music Story"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Sound of Music Story: How A Beguiling Young Novice, A Handsome Austrian Captain, and Ten Singing Von Trapp Children Inspired the Most Beloved Film of All Time by Tom Santopietro.

About the book, from the publisher:
On March 2, 1965, "The Sound of Music" was released in the United States and the love affair between moviegoers and the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical was on. Rarely has a film captured the love and imagination of the moviegoing public in the way that "The Sound of Music" did as it blended history, music, Austrian location filming, heartfelt emotion and the yodeling of Julie Andrews into a monster hit. Now, Tom Santopietro has written the ultimate "Sound of Music" fan book with all the inside dope from behind the scenes stories of the filming in Austria and Hollywood to new interviews with Johannes von Trapp and others. Santopietro looks back at the real life story of Maria von Trapp, goes on to chronicle the sensational success of the Broadway musical, and recounts the story of the near cancellation of the film when the "Cleopatra" bankrupted 20th Century Fox. We all know that Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer played Maria and Captain Von Trapp, but who else had been considered? Tom Santopietro knows and will tell all while providing a historian’s critical analysis of the careers of director Robert Wise and screenwriter Ernest Lehman, a look at the critical controversy which greeted the movie, the film’s relationship to the turbulent 1960s and the super stardom which engulfed Julie Andrews. Tom Santopietro's "The Story of 'The Sound of Music'" is book for everyone who cherishes this American classic.
Learn more about the book and author at Tom Santopietro's website.

The Page 99 Test: The Godfather Effect.

Writers Read: Tom Santopietro.

The Page 99 Test: The Sound of Music Story.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Seven books to celebrate the Chinese New Year

At B & N Reads Ginni Chen tagged seven books to celebrate the Chinese New Year and the Year of the Sheep, including:
A Wild Sheep Chase, by Haruki Murakami

It’s all about sheep this year, which makes this gripping thriller about an elusive, mutant sheep strangely appropriate. Only Murakami could write a mystical mystery about livestock. A young man uses a seemingly benign image of sheep in an ad campaign. Unbeknownst to him, one of the sheep pictured is more than it appears, and the subject of a menacing man’s search. Our narrator becomes ensnared in a quest to track down the sheep that becomes increasingly surreal.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Laura Lippman's "Hush Hush"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Hush Hush (Tess Monaghan Series #12) by Laura Lippman.

About the book, from the publisher:
The award-winning New York Times bestselling author of After I’m Gone, The Most Dangerous Thing, I’d Know You Anywhere, and What the Dead Know brings back private detective Tess Monaghan, introduced in the classic Baltimore Blues, in an absorbing mystery that plunges the new parent into a disturbing case involving murder and a manipulative mother.

On a searing August day, Melisandre Harris Dawes committed the unthinkable: she left her two-month-old daughter locked in a car while she sat nearby on the shores of the Patapsco River. Melisandre was found not guilty by reason of criminal insanity, although there was much skepticism about her mental state. Freed, she left the country, her husband and her two surviving children, determined to start over.

But now Melisandre has returned Baltimore to meet with her estranged teenage daughters and wants to film the reunion for a documentary. The problem is, she relinquished custody and her ex, now remarried, isn’t sure he approves.

Now that’s she’s a mother herself—short on time, patience—Tess Monaghan wants nothing to do with a woman crazy enough to have killed her own child. But her mentor and close friend Tyner Gray, Melisandre’s lawyer, has asked Tess and her new partner, retired Baltimore P.D. homicide detective Sandy Sanchez, to assess Melisandre’s security needs.

As a former reporter and private investigator, Tess tries to understand why other people break the rules and the law. Yet the imperious Melisandre is something far different from anyone she’s encountered. A decade ago, a judge ruled that Melisandre was beyond rational thought. But was she? Tess tries to ignore the discomfort she feels around the confident, manipulative Melisandre. But that gets tricky after Melisandre becomes a prime suspect in a murder.

Yet as her suspicions deepen, Tess realizes that just as she’s been scrutinizing Melisandre, a judgmental stalker has been watching her every move as well....
Visit Laura Lippman's website.

The Page 69 Test: Hush Hush.

--Marshal Zeringue

Shari Goldhagen's "In Some Other World Maybe," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: In Some Other World Maybe by Shari Goldhagen.

The entry begins:
Several of the characters in In Some Other World, Maybe are themselves actors or writers, so I suspect that they would actually have thought about this quite a bit...even if they wouldn’t admit it.

Phoebe is someone whose early life is defined by the fact that she’s conventionally beautiful—something she uses to her advantage, even if she isn’t quite comfortable with that. There are several contemporary actresses who I think would work well—Gemma Arterton, Natalie Portman, maybe Rachel Weisz (who is technically a little old for the character, but never seems to age). In my head though she kind of looks like a young...[read on]
Visit Shari Goldhagen's website and Twitter perch.

My Book, The Movie: In Some Other World Maybe.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Laura Grace Weldon reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Laura Grace Weldon, author of the poetry collection, Tending, and a handbook of alternative education, Free Range Learning.

Her entry begins:
I usually have several books going at any one time. When I stumble on great ones I love to talk about them.

All the Light We Cannot See took author Anthony Doerr 10 years to write. His craftsmanship lifts this novel into the realm of art. The book's two main characters, who don’t meet until late in the novel, are entirely memorable. Maurie-Laure is a blind girl raised by her father. He has built her a perfect miniature replica of their neighborhood so she will never be lost. He takes her to work with him at the Museum of Natural History, where she learns eagerly. When the Nazis take over Paris, Marie-Laure and her father seek refuge in a...[read on]
Among the praise for Weldon's poetry collection, Tending:
“Laura Grace Weldon employs radical empathy to enter into the hidden lives of rutabaga, cows, the neighborhood bully, and the beating heart of life itself. Playful, curious, sensual, she aims to open the reader’s eyes and heart.”
--Alison Luterman, author of See How We Almost Fly and The Largest Possible Life.

“Laura Grace Weldon’s poems remind us that our world’s necessary brushes between nature and technology, human and animal, are not necessarily ones of friction. Instead, Weldon sees these moments as truly wondrous ones, available to us not only on the farm, but also in the back pocket of a window washer, swinging among the skyscrapers.”
--Brad Ricca, author of American Mastodon and Super Boys.
Learn more about Laura Grace Weldon's poetry collection, Tending, and her handbook of alternative education, Free Range Learning.

Visit the author's blog, website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

Coffee with a Canine: Laura Grace Weldon & Winston and Cocoa Bean.

Writers Read: Laura Grace Weldon.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top fictional troublemakers

Matt Sumell's new book is Making Nice.

One of the author's top ten fictional troublemakers, as shared at the Guardian:
Bobby Allen Bird in Saguaro by Carson Mell

One day, down in New Orleans, I ended up at the apartment of one of my sister’s yogi friends where – in an idiotic attempt to bed her – I beelined straight for her bookshelf and ridiculed things I’d only half read. She eventually got tired of listening to me, grabbed a book off the bottom shelf, and said something like, “You probably haven’t read this – it’s self-published – but you might like it.” Self-published? I thought. This should be good. Thing is, it’s better-than-good. Way better, and from the very first sentence: “When I was twelve years old I was best friends with a baby.” Fun, fast and voice-driven, Saguaro chronicles the life of rock legend Bobby Allen Bird as he recounts his struggles with barbiturates, dangerous women, fist fights with Bob Dylan, a cruise for satanists and a comeback, often while wearing his favorite colour: pink. If you like your troublemakers to be of the expectation-confounding variety, Bobby Bird’s your man. As for that yogi girl, she didn’t sleep with me, but as consolation I got to keep the book. Putting that in the win column.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue