Saturday, December 20, 2014

J. Kingston Pierce's five favorite crime novels of 2014

J. Kingston Pierce is the overworked editor of both The Rap Sheet and Killer Covers, the senior editor of January Magazine, and the lead crime-fiction blogger for Kirkus Reviews. One of his five favorite crime novels of 2014:
Sundance, by David Fuller (Riverhead)

Finally, let me diverge from the theme to take in a work of speculative historical/Western fiction. Although we’ve been told that Harry Longabaugh, aka the Sundance Kid, perished during a November 1908 shootout in Bolivia, accompanied by fellow outlaw Butch Cassidy, David Fuller imagines an alternative scenario. As Sundance opens, we see Longabaugh--or Longbaugh, as this author prefers to spell it--being released from a Wyoming prison, where he’d spent 12 years under an assumed name, for a crime unrelated to bank or train robbing. 1913 presents the Kid with a vastly different world from the one he’d known during his misspent youth (he’d now be in his mid-40s), but he hasn’t lost his determination to reunite with wife Etta Place, who’d stayed in contact with him through most of his incarceration, but has now disappeared into the concrete wilds of New York City. Following clue after vague clue (might he be reading too much into the signs Etta allegedly left behind?), Longbaugh cuts a fascinating, dangerous path through Manhattan, encountering old friends and new foes as he struggles to find his beloved, hoping time hasn’t sapped her desire for his company. The end of Sundance is a bit too neat, but given how things might have turned out, it’s also satisfying as hell. This is David Fuller’s second novel, following 2008’s Sweetsmoke, and if I enjoy that one as much as I did Sundance, you can be sure I’ll be hoping for more from this author.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 69 Test: Sweetsmoke.

The Page 69 Test: Sundance.

My Book, The Movie: Sundance.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Sebastian Rotella's "The Convert's Song"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Convert's Song: A Novel by Sebastian Rotella.

About the book, from the publisher:
A global manhunt sweeps up a former federal agent when his childhood friend becomes the chief suspect in a terrorist rampage.

His hazardous stint in U.S. law enforcement behind him, Valentine Pescatore has started over as a private investigator in Buenos Aires. Then he runs into a long-lost friend: Raymond Mercer, a charismatic, troubled singer who has converted to Islam. After a terrorist attack kills hundreds, suspicion falls on Raymond—and Pescatore.

Angry and bewildered, Pescatore joins forces with Fatima Belhaj, an alluring French agent. They pursue the enigmatic Raymond into a global labyrinth of intrigue. Is he a terrorist, a gangster, a spy? Is his loyalty to Pescatore genuine, or just another lethal scam?

From the jungles of South America to the streets of Paris to the battlegrounds of Baghdad, The Convert’s Song leads Pescatore on a race to stop a high-stakes campaign of terror.
Learn more about The Convert's Song at the Mulholland Books website.

Writers Read: Sebastian Rotella.

The Page 69 Test: The Convert's Song.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eight of the grinchiest characters in literature

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Ginni Chen tagged the eight grinchiest characters in literature, including:
The Dursleys (The Harry Potter Series, by J.K. Rowling)

This pair is guilty of doubling up on Grinchyness to make the holidays horrible throughout Harry Potter’s childhood. In Harry’s pre-Hogwarts years, he receives a box of dog biscuits at Christmas. In later years, he receives a toothpick, a fifty-pence piece, and a single tissue from his aunt and uncle. Leave it to the Dursleys to turn the generous tradition of gift-giving into a passive-aggressive way of saying, we hate you.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Harry Potter books made Molly Schoemann-McCann's top five list of fictional workplaces more dysfunctional than yours, Sophie McKenzie's top ten list of mothers in children's books, Nicole Hill's list of five of the best fictional bookstores, Sara Jonsson's list of the six most memorable pets in fiction, Melissa Albert's list of more than eight top fictional misfits, Cressida Cowell's list of ten notable mythical creatures, and Alison Flood's list of the top 10 most frequently stolen books.

Neville Longbottom is one of Ellie Irving's top ten quiet heroes and heroines.

Mr. Weasley is one of Melissa Albert's five weirdest fictional crushes.

Hedwig (Harry's owl) is among Django Wexler's top ten animal companions in children's fiction.

Butterbeer is among Leah Hyslop's six best fictional drinks.

Albus Dumbledore is one of Rachel Thompson's ten greatest deaths in fiction.

Hermione Granger is among Nicole Hill's nine best witches in literature and Melissa Albert's top six distractible book lovers in pop culture.

Dolores Umbridge is among Melissa Albert's six more notorious teachers in fiction, Emerald Fennell's top ten villainesses in literature, and Derek Landy's top 10 villains in children's books. The Burrow is one of Elizabeth Wilhide's nine most memorable manors in literature.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban appears on Amanda Yesilbas and Katharine Trendacosta's list ot twenty great insults from science fiction & fantasy and Charlie Jane Anders's list of the ten greatest prison breaks in science fiction and fantasy.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone also appears on John Mullan's lists of ten of the best owls in literature, ten of the best scars in fiction and ten of the best motorbikes in literature, and Katharine Trendacosta and Charlie Jane Anders's list of the ten greatest personality tests in sci-fi & fantasy, Charlie Higson's top 10 list of fantasy books for children, Justin Scroggie's top ten list of books with secret signs as well as Charlie Jane Anders and Michael Ann Dobbs's list of well-known and beloved science fiction and fantasy novels that publishers didn't want to touch. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire made Chrissie Gruebel's list of six top fictional holiday parties and John Mullan's list of ten best graveyard scenes in fiction.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is K. V. Johansen reading?

Featured at Writers Read: K. V. Johansen, author of The Lady.

Her entry begins:
I tend to always be reading a bunch of things at once, switching between them as the mood takes me.

Just finished Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch

Read it at one sitting as soon as I wrested it from the Spouse’s hands. (He got it first because he’s the one that paid for it, house rule.) I love this series. Very well-conceived ‘magic-in-the-real-world’ fantasy, very good mysteries, great characters. I enjoy the way that the landscape, human-made and natural, carries weight and reality and becomes essential to...[read on]
About The Lady, from the publisher:
Possessed by a ghost who feeds on death, the undying assassin Ahjvar the Leopard has been captured by the Lady of Marakand, enslaved by necromancy to be captain of her Red Masks. His shield-bearer Ghu, a former slave with an uncanny ability to free the captive dead, follows Ahjvar into the war-torn lands of the Duina Catairna to release him, even if that means destroying what is left of Ahj’s tormented soul.

Deyandara, the last surviving heir of the Catairnan queen, rides into a land ravaged by disease and war, seeking the allies she abandoned months before, though they have no hope of standing against the army led by the invulnerable Red Masks of Marakand and the divine terror of the Lady.

In the city of Marakand, former enemies ally and old friends seek one another’s deaths as loyalists of the entombed gods Gurhan and Ilbialla raise a revolt, spearheaded by the Grasslander wizard Ivah, the shapeshifting Blackdog, and the bear-demon Mikki. The Lady’s defenses are not easily breached, though, and the one enemy who might withstand her, the Northron wanderer Moth, bearer of the sword Lakkariss, has vanished.
Visit K. V. Johansen's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Leopard.

Coffee with a Canine: K.V. Johansen & Ivan.

The Page 69 Test: The Lady.

Writers Read: K. V. Johansen.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, December 19, 2014

Maureen Corrigan's top 12 books of 2014

One of Maureen Corrigan's twelve favorite books of 2014:
Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher

One of the reasons Dear Committee Members is such a mordant minor masterpiece is that Julie Schumacher had the brainstorm to structure it as an epistolary novel. This book of letters is composed of a year's worth of recommendations that our antihero — a weary professor of creative writing and literature — is called upon to write for junior colleagues, lackluster students and even former lovers. The gem of a law school recommendation letter professor Jason Fitger writes for a cutthroat undergrad whom he's known for all of "eleven minutes" is alone worth the price of Schumacher's book.

Schumacher has a sharp ear for the self-pitying eloquence peculiar to academics like the fictional Fitger, who feel that their genius has never gotten its due. His resentment seeps out between the lines of the recommendation letters he relentlessly writes — or ineptly fills out on computerized questionnaires — urging RV parks and paintball emporiums to hire his graduating English majors for entry-level management positions. Dear Committee Members serves up the traditional satisfactions of classic academic farces like David Lodge's Small World and Kingsley Amis' immortal Lucky Jim, but it also updates the genre to include newer forms of indignity within the halls of academe.
Read about another book on the list.

Dear Committee Members is among Kate DiCamillo's 3 favorite books of 2014 and Ellen Wehle's four top novels "in which teachers and students run just a little bit off the rails."

The Page 69 Test: Dear Committee Members.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Jonathan Petropoulos's "Artists Under Hitler"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Artists Under Hitler: Collaboration and Survival in Nazi Germany by Jonathan Petropoulos.

About the book, from the publisher:
“What are we to make of those cultural figures, many with significant international reputations, who tried to find accommodation with the Nazi regime?” Jonathan Petropoulos asks in this exploration of some of the most acute moral questions of the Third Reich. In his nuanced analysis of prominent German artists, architects, composers, film directors, painters, and writers who rejected exile, choosing instead to stay during Germany’s darkest period, Petropoulos shows how individuals variously dealt with the regime’s public opposition to modern art. His findings explode the myth that all modern artists were anti-Nazi and all Nazis anti-modernist.

Artists Under Hitler closely examines cases of artists who failed in their attempts to find accommodation with the Nazi regime (Walter Gropius, Paul Hindemith, Gottfried Benn, Ernst Barlach, Emil Nolde) as well as others whose desire for official acceptance was realized (Richard Strauss, Gustaf Gründgens, Leni Riefenstahl, Arno Breker, Albert Speer). Collectively these ten figures illuminate the complex cultural history of Nazi Germany, while individually they provide haunting portraits of people facing excruciating choices and grave moral questions.
Learn more about Artists Under Hitler at the Yale University Press website.

Writers Read: Jonathan Petropoulos.

The Page 99 Test: Artists Under Hitler.

--Marshal Zeringue

Cover story: "Cinema of the Dark Side"

Shohini Chaudhuri is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies at the University of Essex. She is the author of Contemporary World Cinema: Europe, the Middle East, East Asia and South Asia (2005) and Feminist Film Theorists (2006).

Her new book is Cinema of the Dark Side: Atrocity and the Ethics of Film Spectatorship.

Here Chaudhuri explains the connection of the book's cover to the pages within:
Four blindfolded captives, their hands bound behind their backs, crouch in the sand. Standing guard next to them are two soldiers, while other soldiers, not visible in the frame, cast ominous shadows on the ground. Behind them rises a yellow dust cloud, swirling into the sky. This dramatic photograph is displayed at a vital moment in Alex Gibney’s documentary Taxi to the Dark Side (2007), detailing the capture of a young Afghan taxi driver named Dilawar, who took three passengers for a ride in December 2002 and never returned. In it, the captives stand for Dilawar, who was among thousands arbitrarily detained and interrogated under the aegis of the “War on Terror.” Dilawar was imprisoned in Bagram military base, where he was tortured to death.

Why was this chosen as Cinema of the Dark Side’s cover image? While much of our mainstream news and media is concerned with terrorism of groups such as Al-Qaeda and Isis, my book focuses on the cinematic treatment of state terror. It takes its title from US Vice-President Dick Cheney’s declaration shortly after 9/11 that the US and its allies should “work the dark side” to defeat their enemies, hinting at dirty tactics involving torture and extraordinary rendition. The photograph from Taxi to the Dark Side lends a view into one of the many landscapes of state terror that the book explores, starting with films about torture and the “War on Terror” (including Taxi to the Dark Side itself), then evoking thematic links in other contemporary films about the Holocaust, the Rwandan genocide, the disappearances in Argentina and Chile, the conflict in Israel-Palestine, and science fiction films on immigration, detention and deportation.

As the photograph from Taxi to the Dark Side shows, the aesthetic choices made by filmmakers are key to how we understand and respond to their depictions of atrocity. Each aesthetic choice is at the same time an ethical one. Like the film from which it derives, the photograph illuminates the implications of Cheney’s “dark side” for its victims, which belie his rhetoric that torture is a necessary evil and an effective means of gathering intelligence. The composition of crouching captives, ordinary men snatched from their routine lives, surrounded by sinister, shadowy military figures who exert the power of life and death over them, invites our sympathies for the oppressed and tortured rather than (as in other films such as Zero Dark Thirty) their torturers. Dramatically scaling from deep brown (the ground with its shadows and the men’s somber clothes) to yellow (the dust cloud) and the sky beyond, the chiaroscuro effect sets the tone of the book and invites readers into its study of the “dark side” of state terror in 21st century cinema.
Learn more about Cinema of the Dark Side at the Edinburgh University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Nina Darnton's "The Perfect Mother," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Perfect Mother by Nina Darnton.

The entry begins:
This is always fun. It is not completely pie-in-the-sky, though perhaps it mostly is, because Susan Tarr, a screenwriter who lives in LA, and I have written a screenplay based on the book. It is currently making the rounds and who knows, maybe we will be lucky enough to actually be doing this exercise for real one day.

For now though, let’s dream. The most important characters to cast are, of course, Jennifer, the mother, Emma, the daughter, Roberto, the Spanish detective, and Mark, the husband. Let’s look at each of them.

Jennifer: Cate Blanchett, because she is wonderful and can do anything, or Claire...[read on]
Visit Nina Darnton's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Perfect Mother.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Pg. 69: K. V. Johansen's "The Lady"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Lady by K. V. Johansen.

About the book, from the publisher:
Possessed by a ghost who feeds on death, the undying assassin Ahjvar the Leopard has been captured by the Lady of Marakand, enslaved by necromancy to be captain of her Red Masks. His shield-bearer Ghu, a former slave with an uncanny ability to free the captive dead, follows Ahjvar into the war-torn lands of the Duina Catairna to release him, even if that means destroying what is left of Ahj’s tormented soul.

Deyandara, the last surviving heir of the Catairnan queen, rides into a land ravaged by disease and war, seeking the allies she abandoned months before, though they have no hope of standing against the army led by the invulnerable Red Masks of Marakand and the divine terror of the Lady.

In the city of Marakand, former enemies ally and old friends seek one another’s deaths as loyalists of the entombed gods Gurhan and Ilbialla raise a revolt, spearheaded by the Grasslander wizard Ivah, the shapeshifting Blackdog, and the bear-demon Mikki. The Lady’s defenses are not easily breached, though, and the one enemy who might withstand her, the Northron wanderer Moth, bearer of the sword Lakkariss, has vanished.
Visit K. V. Johansen's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Leopard.

Coffee with a Canine: K.V. Johansen & Ivan.

The Page 69 Test: The Lady.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Lee A. Farrow's "Alexis in America"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Alexis in America: A Russian Grand Duke's Tour, 1871-1872 by Lee A. Farrow.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the autumn of 1871, Alexis Romanov, the fourth son of Tsar Alexander II of Russia, set sail from his homeland for an extended journey through the United States and Canada. A major milestone in U.S.–Russia relations, the tour also served Duke Alexis’s family by helping to extricate him from an unsuitable romantic entanglement with the daughter of a poet. Alexis in America recounts the duke’s progress through the major American cities, detailing his meetings with celebrated figures such as Samuel Morse and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and describing the national self-reflection that his presence spurred in the American people.

The first Russian royal ever to visit the United States, Alexis received a tour through post–Civil War America that emphasized the nation’s cultural unity. While the enthusiastic American media breathlessly reported every detail of his itinerary and entourage, Alexis visited Niagara Falls, participated in a bison hunt with Buffalo Bill Cody, and attended the Krewe of Rex’s first Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans. As word of the royal visitor spread, the public flocked to train depots and events across the nation to catch a glimpse of the grand duke. Some speculated that Russia and America were considering a formal alliance, while others surmised that he had come to the United States to find a bride.

The tour was not without incident: many city officials balked at spending public funds on Alexis’s reception, and there were rumors of an assassination plot by Polish nationals in New York City. More broadly, the visit highlighted problems on the national level, such as political corruption and persistent racism, as well as the emerging cultural and political power of ethnic minorities and the continuing sectionalism between the North and the South. Lee Farrow joins her examination of these cultural underpinnings to a lively narrative of the grand duke’s tour, creating an engaging record of a unique moment in international relations.
Learn more about Alexis in America at the LSU Press website.

Writers Read: Lee A. Farrow.

My Book, The Movie: Alexis in America.

The Page 99 Test: Alexis in America.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top novels about 9/11

Porochista Khakpour is the author of Sons and Other Flammable Objects and The Last Illusion; both are 9/11 novels.

One of her top ten novels about 9/11, as shared at the Guardian:
The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid

Hamid is one of my favourite writers and this book is pretty mind-blowing. For one thing, its narrative structure is fascinating: the whole thing is a dramatic monologue. We’re in a cafe in Lahore and a Pakistani is telling his life story to an American. The Pakistani happens to be a former American – a successful Princeton graduate, who at one time had a great job and an American girlfriend. After 9/11, he retreats from it all, but the real question is: how much of a choice did he have?
Read about another book on the list.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist is among Jimmy So's five best 9/11 novels and Ahmede Hussain's five top books in recent South Asian literature.

The Page 69 Test: The Reluctant Fundamentalist.

Also see: David Ulin's five essential 9/11 books, five best works of literature on 9/11, five of the best new 9/11 books and eight worthy 9/11 books.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Stacy Henrie reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Stacy Henrie, author of Hope Rising.

Her entry begins:
Though historical romance is what I write and read the most, every so often I crave a funny contemporary romance. I also like Jane Austen adaptation novels. So Pride, Prejudice, and Cheese Grits by Mary Jane Hathaway, a story of two people whose pride nearly keeps them apart like Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, fit the bill. I love the premise of...[read on]
About the book, from the publisher:
FROM A GREAT WAR, SPRINGS A GREAT LOVE

In France at the height of World War I, American nurse Evelyn Gray is no stranger to suffering. She's helped save the life of many a soldier, but when she learns her betrothed has been killed, her own heart may be broken beyond repair. Summoning all her strength, Evelyn is determined to carry on-not just for herself and her country, but for her unborn child.

Corporal Joel Campbell dreams of the day the war is over and he can return home and start a family. When a brutal battle injury puts that hope in jeopardy, Joel is lost to despair . . . until he meets Evelyn. Beautiful, compassionate, and in need of help, she makes an unconventional proposal that could save their lives-or ruin them irrevocably. Now, amidst the terror and turmoil of the Western Front, these two lost souls will have to put their faith in love to find the miracle they've been looking for.
Visit Stacy Henrie's website.

My Book, The Movie: Hope Rising.

The Page 69 Test: Hope Rising.

Writers Read: Stacy Henrie.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The top 25 YA novels of 2014

Caitlin White rounded up her top 25 young adult novels of 2014 for Bustle. One title on the list:
Six Feet Over It by Jennifer Longo (Random House Books For Young Readers)

You may think that a novel set in a cemetery would be depressing, but as we learn from Six Feet Over It’s protagonist Leigh, it’s really just part of the everyday. After Leigh’s father impulsively buys a graveyard, Leigh is stuck selling gravestones to the bereaved, and she chews on Junior Mints compulsively as they sit across from her in tears. Suddenly, readers (and I hope it wasn’t just me) are laughing at a family’s recent loss. But believe me, there will be tears, too, as Longo deftly weaves in cultural depictions of death, family drama, and the pain of losing a best friend into this darkly funny novel.
Read about another book on the list.

The Page 69 Test: Six Feet Over It.

My Book, The Movie: Six Feet Over It.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Raanan Rein's "Fútbol, Jews, and the Making of Argentina"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Fútbol, Jews, and the Making of Argentina by Raanan Rein.

About the book, from the publisher:
If you attend a soccer match in Buenos Aires of the local Atlanta Athletic Club, you will likely hear the rival teams chanting anti-Semitic slogans. This is because the neighborhood of Villa Crespo has long been considered a Jewish district, and its soccer team, Club Atlético Atlanta, has served as an avenue of integration into Argentine culture. Through the lens of this neighborhood institution, Raanan Rein offers an absorbing social history of Jews in Latin America.

Since the Second World War, there has been a conspicuous Jewish presence among the fans, administrators and presidents of the Atlanta soccer club. For the first immigrant generation, belonging to this club was a way of becoming Argentines. For the next generation, it was a way of maintaining ethnic Jewish identity. Now, it is nothing less than family tradition for third generation Jewish Argentines to support Atlanta. The soccer club has also constituted one of the few spaces where both Jews and non-Jews, affiliated Jews and non-affiliated Jews, Zionists and non-Zionists, have interacted. The result has been an active shaping of the local culture by Jewish Latin Americans to their own purposes.

Offering a rare window into the rich culture of everyday life in the city of Buenos Aires created by Jewish immigrants and their descendants, Fútbol, Jews, and the Making of Argentina represents a pioneering study of the intersection between soccer, ethnicity, and identity in Latin America and makes a major contribution to Jewish History, Latin American History, and Sports History.
Learn more about Fútbol, Jews, and the Making of Argentina at the Stanford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Fútbol, Jews, and the Making of Argentina.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Elizabeth Speller's "The First of July"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The First of July: A Novel by Elizabeth Speller.

About the book, from the publisher:
A captivating novel of the tragedies of war, as lives cross, dreams are shattered, and futures altered as the hours pass during the first day of the Battle of the Somme.

On July 1st, 1913, four very different men are leading four very different lives.

Exactly three years later, it is just after seven in the morning, and there are a few seconds of peace as the guns on the Somme fall silent and larks soar across the battlefield, singing as they fly over the trenches. What follows is a day of catastrophe in which Allied casualties number almost one hundred thousand. A horror that would have been unimaginable in pre-war Europe and England becomes a day of reckoning, where their lives will change forever, for Frank, Benedict, Jean-Batiste, and Harry.
Learn more about the book and author at Elizabeth Speller's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Elizabeth Speller and Erwin.

Writers Read: Elizabeth Speller.

The Page 69 Test: The First of July.

--Marshal Zeringue

Cover story: "A Talent for Friendship"

John Edward Terrell has long been recognized as one of the world's leading experts on the peopling of the Oceania and the remarkable biological, cultural, and linguistic diversity of modern Pacific Islanders. He is also a pioneer in the study of global human biogeography, baseline probability analysis, and the application of social network analysis in archaeology and anthropology. Since 1971 he has been the curator of Oceanic archaeology and ethnology at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago where he now holds the endowed Regenstein Curatorship of Pacific Anthropology established there in 2005.

His new book is A Talent for Friendship: Rediscovery of a Remarkable Trait.

Here Terrell explains the connection of the book's cover to the pages within:
Google the word “friendship” for images and you will get back an astonishing number of sweet and often charming pictures of kittens, dogs, babies, bunnies, and people cheek-to-cheek, jumping up and down, strolling off into the sunset by the seashore, and similar visual clichés all resonating with the popular understanding of friendship as a special kind of spiritual relationship between kittens, dogs, babies, bunnies, and the like. My book, however, looks at what it means to be human from a far more inclusive perspective. I argue that our skillful ways of turning strangers into friends—and thereby expanding our social networks beyond the confines of hearth and family—comprise one of the great defining characteristics of our species. Believe me, therefore, it wasn’t easy to find a cover illustration celebrating friendship in this more encompassing fashion. I found the picture we finally used as cover art at the on-line Bridgeman archive. We know nothing about it except the labeling given there: “Group of men and women at picnic, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, USA, circa 1895.” The designer at Oxford University Press gave the image a more sepia tone to resonate with the subtitle of my book. I like to think there is a nice amount of humor in my book, and I also think this picture raises a nice sense of humorous intrigue.
Learn more about A Talent for Friendship: Rediscovery of a Remarkable Trait at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Lee A. Farrow's "Alexis in America," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Alexis in America: A Russian Grand Duke's Tour, 1871-1872 by Lee A. Farrow.

The entry begins:
What a dream come true that would be! Obviously, since my book is nonfiction, I am choosing actors I like who I think look the parts. If my book became a movie, I would want Aaron Taylor-Johnson to play Grand Duke Alexis; Matthew McConaughey to play Custer; Jude Law to play...[read on]
Learn more about Alexis in America at the LSU Press website.

Writers Read: Lee A. Farrow.

My Book, The Movie: Alexis in America.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

What is David Niose reading?

Featured at Writers Read: David Niose, author of Fighting Back the Right: Reclaiming America from the Attack on Reason.

His entry begins:
I’m currently reading The Affluent Society by John Kenneth Galbraith – the updated fortieth anniversary edition that was released in 1998. This book is recognized as a classic, but I still don’t think it gets the attention it deserves. In fact it is particularly relevant today as a refutation of conservative economics.

Galbraith was everything you’d want a public intellectual to be, and this book was his masterwork for the general reader. He took a complex subject, economics, and presented it from a unique standpoint that broke with traditional thinking. And importantly, he conveyed his new ideas with a lucid style of writing that was easy for the non-economist to understand. He was also very witty.

Many people don’t know that Galbraith invented the term “conventional wisdom,” and...[read on]
About Fighting Back the Right, from the publisher:
The political scene is changing rapidly in America. The religious right is on the defensive, acceptance of gay rights is at an all-time high, social conservatives are struggling for relevance, and more Americans than ever identify as nonreligious. What does this mean for the country and the future? With these demographic shifts, can truly progressive, reason-based public policy finally gain traction? Or will America continue to carry a reputation as anti-intellectual and plutocratic, eager to cater to large corporate interests but reluctant to provide universal health care to all its citizens? Fighting Back the Right reveals a new alliance in the making, a progressive coalition committed to fighting for rational public policy in America and reversing the damage inflicted by decades of conservative dominance. David Niose, Legal Director of the American Humanist Association (AHA), examines this exciting new dynamic, covering not only the rapidly evolving culture wars but also the twists and turns of American history and politics that led to this point, and why this new alliance could potentially move the country in a direction of sanity, fairness, and human-centered public policy.
Visit David Niose's blog, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

Writers Read: David Niose.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: R. S. Deese's "We Are Amphibians"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: We Are Amphibians: Julian and Aldous Huxley on the Future of Our Species by R. S. Deese.

About the book, from the publisher:
We Are Amphibians tells the fascinating story of two brothers who changed the way we think about the future of our species. As a pioneering biologist and conservationist, Julian Huxley helped advance the “modern synthesis” in evolutionary biology and played a pivotal role in founding UNESCO and the World Wildlife Fund. His argument that we must accept responsibility for our future evolution as a species has attracted a growing number of scientists and intellectuals who embrace the concept of Transhumanism that he first outlined in the 1950s. Although Aldous Huxley is most widely known for his dystopian novel Brave New World, his writings on religion, ecology, and human consciousness were powerful catalysts for the environmental and human potential movements that grew rapidly in the second half of the twentieth century. While they often disagreed about the role of science and technology in human progress, Julian and Aldous Huxley both believed that the future of our species depends on a saner set of relations with each other and with our environment. Their common concern for ecology has given their ideas about the future of Homo sapiens an enduring resonance in the twenty-first century. The amphibian metaphor that both brothers used to describe humanity highlights not only the complexity and mutability of our species but also our ecologically precarious situation.
Learn more about We Are Amphibians at the University of California Press website.

The Page 99 Test: We Are Amphibians.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven books for fans of Haruki Murakami

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Monique Alice tagged seven books for readers who love Haruki Murakami, including:
Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman

There’s already something magical about London, but the London we know is nothing compared to the dual metropolis of Gaiman’s creation. In Neverwhere we learn there is a London Above and a London Below, the latter being the home of the poor souls who “fell through the cracks in the world.” Murakami lovers will recognize the theme of turning a city over to visit its secret and spellbound underbelly. Gaiman is a fantasy writer through and through, but his genius shines as much for the realism of his characters as for his whimsicality.
Read about another entry on the list.

See--Ten of the best Haruki Murakami books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Stacy Henrie's "Hope Rising"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Hope Rising by Stacy Henrie.

About the book, from the publisher:
FROM A GREAT WAR, SPRINGS A GREAT LOVE

In France at the height of World War I, American nurse Evelyn Gray is no stranger to suffering. She's helped save the life of many a soldier, but when she learns her betrothed has been killed, her own heart may be broken beyond repair. Summoning all her strength, Evelyn is determined to carry on-not just for herself and her country, but for her unborn child.

Corporal Joel Campbell dreams of the day the war is over and he can return home and start a family. When a brutal battle injury puts that hope in jeopardy, Joel is lost to despair . . . until he meets Evelyn. Beautiful, compassionate, and in need of help, she makes an unconventional proposal that could save their lives-or ruin them irrevocably. Now, amidst the terror and turmoil of the Western Front, these two lost souls will have to put their faith in love to find the miracle they've been looking for.
Visit Stacy Henrie's website.

My Book, The Movie: Hope Rising.

The Page 69 Test: Hope Rising.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 15, 2014

Billy Collins' 6 favorite books

One of Billy Collins's six favorite books, as shared at The Week magazine:
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Nabokov demonstrated how brilliantly ironic prose could lift a perverse longing to the level of great literature. Humbert puts himself on trial, turning his reader into jury member, as he describes his pursuit of a nymphet, his flight from justice, and the menace of his rival.
Read about another entry on the list.

Lolita appears on Charlotte Runcie's list of the ten best bad mothers in literature, Kathryn Williams's list of fifteen notable works on lust, Boris Kachka's six favorite books list, Fiona Maazel's list of the ten worst fathers in books, Jennifer Gilmore's list of the ten worst mothers in books, Steven Amsterdam's list of five top books that have anxiety at their heart, John Banville's five best list of books on early love and infatuation, Kathryn Harrison's list of favorite books with parentless protagonists, Emily Temple's list of ten of the greatest kisses in literature, John Mullan's list of ten of the best lakes in literature, Dan Vyleta's top ten list of books in second languages, Rowan Somerville's top ten list of books of good sex in fiction, Henry Sutton's top ten list of unreliable narrators, Adam Leith Gollner's top ten list of fruit scenes in literature, Laura Hird's literary top ten list, Monica Ali's ten favorite books list, Laura Lippman's 5 most important books list, Mohsin Hamid's 10 favorite books list, and Dani Shapiro's 10 favorite books list. It is Lena Dunham's favorite book.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Andrew Denning's "Skiing into Modernity"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Skiing into Modernity: A Cultural and Environmental History by Andrew Denning.

About the book, from the publisher:
Skiing into Modernity is the story of how skiing moved from Europe’s Scandinavian periphery to the mountains of central Europe, where it came to define the modern Alps and set the standard for skiing across the world.

Denning offers a fresh, sophisticated, and engaging cultural and environmental history of skiing that alters our understanding of the sport and reveals how leisure practices evolve in unison with our changing relationship to nature. Denning probes the modernist self-definition of Alpine skiers and the sport’s historical appeal for individuals who sought to escape city strictures while achieving mastery of mountain environments through technology and speed—two central features distinguishing early twentieth-century cultures.

Skiing into Modernity surpasses existing literature on the history of skiing to explore intersections between work, tourism, leisure, development, environmental destruction, urbanism, and more.
Learn more about Skiing into Modernity at the University of California Press website and Andrew Denning's website.

Writers Read: Andrew Denning.

The Page 99 Test: Skiing into Modernity.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Kelly Bowen reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Kelly Bowen, author of I've Got My Duke to Keep Me Warm.

Her entry begins:
City of Women – David R. Gillham

This was an exceedingly well written novel set in Berlin, 1943. It is, essentially, the story of ordinary women who do extraordinary things for reasons that are not always black and white. Every once in awhile you come across a book that you can’t help but insert yourself into the plot and then ask, ‘what would I have done under those circumstances’? And if you can’t answer right away, and find yourself still thinking about it months later, then...[read on]
About I've Got My Duke to Keep Me Warm, from the publisher:
WHERE SECRETS SMOLDER...

Calm. Cool. Collected. Gisele Whitby has perfected the art of illusion-her survival, after all, has depended upon it. Years ago, to escape an abusive husband, Gisele "disappeared." Now she must risk revealing her new identity to save another innocent girl from the same fate. But she needs a daring man for her scheme, and the rogue in question shows a remarkable talent ... for shattering Gisele's carefully constructed facade and igniting her deepest desires.

... PASSION IGNITES

This isn't the first time Jamie Montcrief has awakened naked and confused from a night of drinking. It is, however, the first time a stunningly beautiful woman offers him payment afterward. Gisele has a business proposition for him, a mission involving cunning thievery and a brazen rescue. How can he say no to a plot this dangerous . . . and a woman this delectable?
Visit Kelly Bowen's website.

The Page 69 Test: I've Got My Duke to Keep Me Warm.

Writers Read: Kelly Bowen.

--Marshal Zeringue

Stacy Henrie's "Hope Rising," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Hope Rising by Stacy Henrie.

The entry begins:
Nearly from the first, I had Rupert Penry-Jones in mind when I wrote Corporal Joel Campbell’s character in my WWI romance Hope Rising. His light hair and aptitude for both seriousness and clever wit fit Joel so well.

For a heroine, I would choose...[read on]
Visit Stacy Henrie's website.

My Book, The Movie: Hope Rising.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Eleven of the best spooky true crime stories

At Bustle Jordan Foster tagged eleven of the spookiest true crime stories, including:
For the Thrill of It by Simon Baatz

Just in case you’re confused, this book is not about the thrill of driving fast cars or bungee jumping or going clubbing every night until 5 a.m. Perhaps the subtitle will clear things up: Leopold, Loeb, and the Murder That Shocked Jazz Age Chicago. Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb were 19 and 18, respectively, in 1924 when for — as the title implies — the thrill of it, they abducted and murdered 14-year-old Bobby Franks in broad daylight. The killers thought they were too smart to get caught and were convinced they’d committed the perfect crime. Except for the fact that they left behind a crucial piece of evidence that, even in the days before DNA testing, put the proverbial nail in their coffin. Plenty of crimes jockey for the title of “Murder of the Century,” but the unflappable, sadistic teenagers at the heart of this case make it a prime contender for the dubious honor.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 99 Test: For the Thrill of It.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Joshua Sanborn's "Imperial Apocalypse"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Imperial Apocalypse: The Great War and the Destruction of the Russian Empire by Joshua A. Sanborn.

About the book, from the publisher:
Imperial Apocalypse describes the collapse of the Russian Empire during World War One. Drawing material from nine different archives and hundreds of published sources, this study ties together state failure, military violence, and decolonization in a single story. Joshua Sanborn excavates the individual lives of soldiers, doctors, nurses, politicians, and civilians caught up in the global conflict along the way, creating a narrative that is both humane and conceptually rich.

The volume opens by laying out the theoretical relationship between state failure, social collapse, and decolonization, and then moves chronologically from the Balkan Wars of 1912-13 through the fierce battles and massive human dislocations of 1914-16 to the final collapse of the empire in the midst of revolution in 1917-18. Imperial Apocalypse is the first major study which treats the demise of the Russian Empire as part of the twentieth-century phenomenon of modern decolonization, and provides a readable account of military activity and political change throughout this turbulent period of war and revolution. Sanborn argues that the sudden rise of groups seeking national self-determination in the borderlands of the empire was the consequence of state failure, not its cause. At the same time, he shows how the destruction of state institutions and the spread of violence from the front to the rear led to a collapse of traditional social bonds and the emergence of a new, more dangerous, and more militant political atmosphere.
Learn more about Imperial Apocalypse at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Imperial Apocalypse.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Kelly Bowen's "I’ve Got My Duke to Keep Me Warm"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: I've Got My Duke to Keep Me Warm by Kelly Bowen.

About the book, from the publisher:
WHERE SECRETS SMOLDER...

Calm. Cool. Collected. Gisele Whitby has perfected the art of illusion-her survival, after all, has depended upon it. Years ago, to escape an abusive husband, Gisele "disappeared." Now she must risk revealing her new identity to save another innocent girl from the same fate. But she needs a daring man for her scheme, and the rogue in question shows a remarkable talent ... for shattering Gisele's carefully constructed facade and igniting her deepest desires.

... PASSION IGNITES

This isn't the first time Jamie Montcrief has awakened naked and confused from a night of drinking. It is, however, the first time a stunningly beautiful woman offers him payment afterward. Gisele has a business proposition for him, a mission involving cunning thievery and a brazen rescue. How can he say no to a plot this dangerous . . . and a woman this delectable?
Visit Kelly Bowen's website.

The Page 69 Test: I've Got My Duke to Keep Me Warm.

--Marshal Zeringue