Monday, February 18, 2019

Pg. 69: John Fried's "The Martin Chronicles"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Martin Chronicles by John Fried.

About the book, from the publisher:
A powerful and heartfelt coming-of-age novel that follows Martin Kelso as he grows up in 1980s New York and faces the magic of first experiences, as well as the heartbreak of hard-won life lessons.

Martin Kelso’s comfortable world starts to change at the age of eleven. Girls get under his skin in ways he never noticed before. His cousin Evie, who used to be Marty’s closest confidante–the one who taught him the right way to eat a pizza and how to catch tadpoles–has grown up into a stranger, mysterious and unpredictable. Marty and his best friends once inhabited fantasy worlds of their own making, full of cowboys and cops and robbers, where the heroes always won the day. But now, as neighborhood kids are attacked on their walk to school, they find themselves wanting to play a new game that better prepares them for real life.

As life changes quickly and Marty feels less secure with himself, the difference between games and reality, friend and foe, and right from wrong becomes much more difficult to distinguish. At the same time, this new world offers possibilities as exciting as they are frightening.

This poignant debut perfectly captures the intense emotion, humor, and earnestness of young adulthood as Marty, age eleven to seventeen, navigates a series of life-changing firsts: first kiss, first enemy, first loss, and, ultimately, his first awareness that the world is not as simple a place as he had once imagined.
Visit John Fried's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Martin Chronicles.

--Marshal Zeringue

Robin Blake's "Rough Music," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Rough Music by Robin Blake.

The entry begins:
To have the luxury of personally screen-casting the characters in my novels! A prospect as delightful as it is unlikely, but here goes.

Titus Cragg is in his early forties – a strong but not overbearing character, capable of great courage, even foolhardiness, but also a man of tender feelings, particularly towards his wife. He can be grumpy, and is on occasion really angry, about the kind of injustices that he frequently faces in his job as coroner. But he is also humorous, tolerant and rarely vindictive. His greatest interest – outside family and work – is his library, and it is to books that he often turns when needing guidance. So: a bookish, uxorious, strong-minded, liberally inclined, justice loving, middle-aged lawyer. Who could take that role?

Sir Ian McKellen would have been perfect for the part, as he was born in Wigan just down the road from Preston. Unfortunately he is now more at home playing white-bearded wizards older than time, rather than forty-something lawyers. I have...[read on]
Visit Robin Blake's website.

My Book, The Movie: Rough Music.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six of Victor LaValle's favorite recent books

Victor LaValle is the author of the short story collection Slapboxing with Jesus, four novels, The Ecstatic, Big Machine, The Devil in Silver, and The Changeling and two novellas, Lucretia and the Kroons and The Ballad of Black Tom. He is also the creator and writer of a comic book Victor LaValle's DESTROYER.

LaValle is co-editor of A People's Future of the United States: Speculative Fiction from 25 Extraordinary Writers.

At The Week magazine he recommended six favorite recent books, including:
An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon (2016).

The closest to a true work of science fiction on this list, Solomon's novel tells the story of the HSS Matilda, a spaceship that carries humanity's survivors through the stars following the destruction of Earth. Within the ship's walls, people are divided into masters and slaves. Aster is a sharecropper who wishes to escape, but to do so she must foment rebellion. It's one hell of a debut novel.
Read about another entry on the list.

An Unkindness of Ghosts is among Joel Cunningham's top 11 sci-fi & fantasy books or series with a powerful message of social justice.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, February 17, 2019

What is J. Albert Mann reading?

Featured at Writers Read: J. Albert Mann, author of What Every Girl Should Know: Margaret Sanger's Journey.

Her entry begins:
Unpresidented: A biography of Donald Trump by Martha Brockenbrough

An unapologetic, well-researched biography for young adults of our sitting president. Brockenbrough shies away from nothing. Not the lies. Not the lawsuits (close to 4000 of them). Not the infidelities. Trump’s life is laid bare in blue ink. Surprisingly, even though the unending press on Trump for the last two years has made me weary of his name and face, the book felt like a fresh read.

Brockenbrough’s narrative of the man in the oval office is neat, linear, and truly interesting. Trump’s life parallels the story of our country—it’s love affair with capitalism, disdain for working people, and the inability to move beyond race and gender as...[read on]
About What Every Girl Should Know, from the publisher:
This compelling historical novel spans the early and very formative years of feminist and women’s health activist Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, as she struggles to find her way amidst the harsh realities of poverty.

Margaret was determined to get out. She didn’t want to clean the dirty dishes and soiled diapers that piled up day in and day out in her large family’s small home. She didn’t want to disappoint her ailing mother, who cared tirelessly for an ever-growing number of children despite her incessant cough. And Margaret certainly didn’t want to be labeled a girl of “promise,” destined to become either a teacher or a mother—which seemed to be a woman’s only options.

As a feisty and opinionated young woman, Margaret Higgins Sanger witnessed and experienced incredible hardships, which led to her groundbreaking work as an advocate for women’s rights and the founder of Planned Parenthood. This fiery novel of Margaret’s early life paints the portrait of a young woman with the passion and courage to change the world.
Visit J. Albert Mann's website.

The Page 69 Test: What Every Girl Should Know.

Writers Read: J. Albert Mann.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sjón's ten favorite books

Born in Reykjavik in 1962, Sjón is a celebrated Icelandic novelist. He won the Nordic Council's Literary Prize for his novel The Blue Fox (the Nordic countries' equivalent of the Man Booker Prize) and the novel From The Mouth Of The Whale was shortlisted for both the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. His novel Moonstone – The Boy Who Never Was was awarded every Icelandic literature prize, among them the 2013 Icelandic Literary Prize. His latest published work is the definite edition of the trilogy CoDex 1962.

One of his ten favorite books, as shared at Vulture.com:
The Fish Can Sing by Halldór Laxness

Set in Reykjavík at the turn of the 20th century, this novel has a Chaplin-esque quality in its celebration of how the good values of society are to be found among those clinging to its lowest rung. Álfgrímur is an orphan living with an old couple who have opened their small farm to the misfits and the meek. A nearby graveyard becomes the boy’s playground, and it is there he is discovered to have “the pure tone” while singing at funerals of the lost and lonesome. From their gravesides he goes into the world to become a singer. It is my favorite book by Laxness, not least because it is his attempt to understand why someone like himself, born in a town of 10,000 people, found the right melody to transform the stories of a small world into world literature.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Fish Can Sing is among David Mitchell's six favorite books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Wendy Pearlman & Boaz Atzili's "Triadic Coercion"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Triadic Coercion: Israel’s Targeting of States That Host Nonstate Actors by Wendy Pearlman and Boaz Atzili.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the post–Cold War era, states increasingly find themselves in conflicts with nonstate actors. Finding it difficult to fight these opponents directly, many governments instead target states that harbor or aid nonstate actors, using threats and punishment to coerce host states into stopping those groups.

Wendy Pearlman and Boaz Atzili investigate this strategy, which they term triadic coercion. They explain why states pursue triadic coercion, evaluate the conditions under which it succeeds, and demonstrate their arguments across seventy years of Israeli history. This rich analysis of the Arab-Israeli conflict, supplemented with insights from India and Turkey, yields surprising findings. Traditional discussions of interstate conflict assume that the greater a state’s power compared to its opponent, the more successful its coercion. Turning that logic on its head, Pearlman and Atzili show that this strategy can be more effective against a strong host state than a weak one because host regimes need internal cohesion and institutional capacity to move against nonstate actors. If triadic coercion is thus likely to fail against weak regimes, why do states nevertheless employ it against them? Pearlman and Atzili’s investigation of Israeli decision-making points to the role of strategic culture. A state’s system of beliefs, values, and institutionalized practices can encourage coercion as a necessary response, even when that policy is prone to backfire.

A significant contribution to scholarship on deterrence, asymmetric conflict, and strategic culture, Triadic Coercion illuminates an evolving feature of the international security landscape and interrogates assumptions that distort strategic thinking.
Learn more about Triadic Coercion at the Columbia University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Triadic Coercion.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Elinor Lipman's "Good Riddance"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Good Riddance by Elinor Lipman.

About the book, from the publisher:
The delightful new romantic comedy from Elinor Lipman, in which one woman’s trash becomes another woman’s treasure, with deliriously entertaining results.

Daphne Maritch doesn't quite know what to make of the heavily annotated high school yearbook she inherits from her mother, who held this relic dear. Too dear. The late June Winter Maritch was the teacher to whom the class of '68 had dedicated its yearbook, and in turn she went on to attend every reunion, scribbling notes and observations after each one—not always charitably—and noting who overstepped boundaries of many kinds.

In a fit of decluttering (the yearbook did not, Daphne concluded, "spark joy"), she discards it when she moves to a small New York City apartment. But when it's found in the recycling bin by a busybody neighbor/documentary filmmaker, the yearbook's mysteries—not to mention her own family's—take on a whole new urgency, and Daphne finds herself entangled in a series of events both poignant and absurd.
Visit Elinor Lipman's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Family Man.

The Page 99 Test: I Can't Complain.

The Page 69 Test: Good Riddance.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 16, 2019

What is A.F. Brady reading?

Featured at Writers Read: A.F. Brady, author of Once a Liar.

Her entry begins:
I am reading a small, but diverse pile of books these days because I am a mom to two little ones and I spend half my life rereading the same stories over and over to my kids. We are currently obsessed with Cars and Trucks and Things That Go by Richard Scarry. My brother and I used to read this when we were children and I am extremely excited to be bringing it to my two-year-old now, and he delights in...[read on]
About Once a Liar, from the publisher:
Did he kill Charlie Doyle? And if he didn’t…who did?

Peter Caine, a cutthroat Manhattan defense attorney, worked ruthlessly to become the best at his job. On the surface, he is charming and handsome, but inside he is cold and heartless. He fights without remorse to acquit murderers, pedophiles and rapists.

When Charlie Doyle, the daughter of the Manhattan DA—and Peter’s former lover—is murdered, Peter’s world is quickly sent into a tailspin. He becomes the prime suspect as the DA, a professional enemy of Peter’s, embarks on a witch hunt to avenge his daughter’s death, stopping at nothing to ensure Peter is found guilty of the murder.

In the challenge of his career and his life, Peter races against the clock to prove his innocence. As the evidence mounts against him, he’s forced to begin unraveling his own dark web of lies and confront the sins of his past. But the truth of who killed Charlie Doyle is more twisted and sinister than anyone could have imagined…
Visit A.F. Brady's website.

Coffee with a Canine: A.F. Brady & Maurice.

The Page 69 Test: Once a Liar.

Writers Read: A.F. Brady.

--Marshal Zeringue

Nine top new books to read this Black History Month

At Entertainment Weekly David Canfield tagged nine of the best new books to read this Black History Month, including:
One Person, No Vote by Carol Anderson

All of the books on this list have present-day implications, but perhaps none moreso than this charged dive into voter suppression from the Chair of African American Studies at Emory University. One Person, No Vote looks at this history of this anti-democratic tactic, particularly its racist roots.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Adele Parks's "I Invited Her In," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: I Invited Her In by Adele Parks.

The entry begins:
When I wrote I Invited Her In, I did not dare envisage any particular movie stars to play the roles. I guess I think it’s tempting fate because I secretly long for a movie deal and don’t want to appear presumptive to the capricious fates who can, you know, somehow secretly read my mind and then perhaps deny me my greatest wish! But what the heck, let's throw caution to the wind and have some fun casting!

OK first off, I’d love to cast incredible Amy Adams as Mel. Adams has tremendous range and I can see her as a struggling, desperate, young mum as well as a fierce tiger ready to defend her family against any threat. She’d bring enormous...[read on]
Visit Adele Parks's website.

The Page 69 Test: I Invited Her In.

Writers Read: Adele Parks.

My Book, The Movie: I Invited Her In.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven deeply weird SFF romances

Sam Reader is a writer and conventions editor for The Geek Initiative. He also writes literary criticism and reviews at strangelibrary.com. At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog he tagged seven deeply weird sci-fi & fantasy romances,including:
The Smoke, by Simon Ings

Simon Ings’ novel walks a very odd, careful line between being an apocalyptic look at a post-cyberpunk future, and an examination of how love and obsession can turn someone toxic, as it charts the decline of human civilization in an alternate-history Great Britain through the numerous relationships of the Lanyon family. Through it all, Ings manages to put an impressively heartfelt spin on the strange proceedings, be it via the obsessive love the alien narrator exhibits by telepathically stalking protagonist Stuart Lanyon for a violent act he committed when he was younger, to the unusual lengths Stuart’s father and sister in law go in trying to keep Stuart’s mother alive after a terminal diagnosis, to the way the gap in ability between Stuart and his transhumanist girlfriend Fel eventually poisons and destroys his relationship. The personal and deeply human face The Smoke puts on the eventual obsolescence of the “regular” humans makes it all that more unsettling, even as the love stories at its core make it feel achingly real.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 69 Test: The Smoke.

My Book, The Movie: The Smoke.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 15, 2019

What is Darius Hinks reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Darius Hinks, author of The Ingenious.

His entry begins:
I read in such an unfocused way. My reading is as messy as every other aspect of my life. I usually have half a dozen or so books on the go. At the moment, I’m re-reading the beautiful Peter Owen illustrated edition of Goose of Hermogenes, by Ithell Colquhoun. It’s an incredibly strange novel, quite unlike anything I’ve ever read before. Colquhoun was a surrealist painter (back in the 50s) and that really comes through in her writing. It feels more like slipping into a dream than reading a novel. Well, more of a nightmare than a dream – it’s pretty disturbing in places. I can’t say it makes a lot of sense but it’s so vivid and atmospheric I keep thinking about it and...[read on]
About The Ingenious, from the publisher:
Thousands of years ago, the city of Athanor was set adrift in time and space by alchemists, called the “Curious Men”. Ever since, it has accumulated cultures, citizens and species into a vast, unmappable metropolis.

Isten and her gang of half-starved political exiles live off petty crime and gangland warfare in Athanor’s seediest alleys. Though they dream of returning home to lead a glorious revolution, Isten’s downward spiral drags them into a mire of addiction and violence. Isten must find a way to save the exiles and herself if they are ever to build a better, fairer world for the people of their distant homeland.
Visit Darius Hinks's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Ingenious.

My Book, The Movie: The Ingenious.

Writers Read: Darius Hinks.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Amber Cowie's "Rapid Falls"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Rapid Falls by Amber Cowie.

About the book, from the publisher:
Forgive and forget? The past and present collide for two sisters who survived a tragedy—and must now survive the truth behind it.

It’s been twenty years since Cara’s boyfriend died in a horrible accident and her sister, Anna, went to prison. The tragedy has become a local legend, but Cara has moved past her grief to have a successful career and a happy family. Pity about Anna. Recently released from incarceration, she’s struggling with addiction, guilt, and shame—a shattered life. Cara’s forgiveness seems to be the only thing that helps her pick up the pieces.

But as Anna pulls herself together, her memories of that night on the bridge start to come into focus. And few of them match her sister’s.

As past secrets unfold and nothing is what it seems anymore, Anna desperately searches for the truth. But what if Cara doesn’t want her to find it?
Visit Amber Cowie's website.

The Page 69 Test: Rapid Falls.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman's "Sounds Like Titanic"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Sounds Like Titanic: A Memoir by Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman.

About the book, from the publisher:
A young woman leaves Appalachia for life as a classical musician—or so she thinks.

When aspiring violinist Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman lands a job with a professional ensemble in New York City, she imagines she has achieved her lifelong dream. But the ensemble proves to be a sham. When the group “performs,” the microphones are never on. Instead, the music blares from a CD. The mastermind behind this scheme is a peculiar and mysterious figure known as The Composer, who is gaslighting his audiences with music that sounds suspiciously like the Titanic movie soundtrack. On tour with his chaotic ensemble, Hindman spirals into crises of identity and disillusionment as she “plays” for audiences genuinely moved by the performance, unable to differentiate real from fake.

Sounds Like Titanic is a surreal, often hilarious coming-of-age story. Hindman writes with precise, candid prose and sharp insight into ambition and gender, especially when it comes to the difficulties young women face in a world that views them as silly, shallow, and stupid. As the story swells to a crescendo, it gives voice to the anxieties and illusions of a generation of women, and reveals the failed promises of a nation that takes comfort in false realities.
Visit Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman's website.

The Page 99 Test: Sounds Like Titanic.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven novels inspired by World War One

Rhys Bowen's latest novel is The Victory Garden.

At CrimeReads she tagged seven novels inspired by World War I, including:
Somewhere in France by Jennifer Robson

This is a novel that shows how class and prejudice are changed by war. Lady Elizabeth Neville-Ashford wants to travel the world, pursue a career, and marry for love. But in 1914, the stifling restrictions of aristocratic British society and her mother’s rigid expectations forbid Lilly from following her heart. When war breaks out, she seizes her chance for independence. Defying her parents, she moves to London and eventually becomes an ambulance driver in the newly formed Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps—an exciting and treacherous job that takes her close to the Western Front where she is reunited with Robert Fraser, her brother’s friend and now a doctor. Robert grew up poor, and therefore not a suitable match for Lilly. Will the war mean that such restrictions can be broken down?
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 14, 2019

What is Barry Eisler reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Barry Eisler, author of The Killer Collective.

His entry begins:
I just finished listening to an outstanding book that I hope will be widely read: The Hell of Good Intentions: America’s Foreign Policy Elite and the Decline of U.S. Primacy. It’s a study of what the author, Harvard Kennedy School professor Stephen Walt, calls liberal hegemony, a foreign policy worldview Walt persuasively argues has been disastrous for America and for the world. As the jacket puts it: “Since the end of the Cold War, Republicans and Democrats alike have tried to use U.S. power to spread democracy, open markets, and other liberal values into every nook and cranny of the planet. This strategy was doomed to fail, but its proponents in the foreign policy elite were...[read on]
About The Killer Collective, from the publisher:
A fast-paced, page-turning novel of betrayal, vengeance, and depraved secrets in high places from the New York Times bestselling author of the John Rain and Livia Lone series.

When a joint FBI–Seattle Police investigation of an international child pornography ring gets too close to certain powerful people, sex-crimes detective Livia Lone becomes the target of a hit that barely goes awry—a hit that had been offered to John Rain, a retired specialist in “natural causes.”

Suspecting the FBI itself was behind the attack, Livia reaches out to former Marine sniper Dox. Together, they assemble an ad hoc group to identify and neutralize the threat. There’s Rain. Rain’s estranged lover, Mossad agent and honeytrap specialist Delilah. And black ops soldiers Ben Treven and Daniel Larison, along with their former commander, SpecOps legend Colonel Scot “Hort” Horton.

Moving from Japan to Seattle to DC to Paris, the group fights a series of interlocking conspiracies, each edging closer and closer to the highest levels of the US government.

With uncertain loyalties, conflicting agendas, and smoldering romantic entanglements, these operators will have a hard time forming a team. But in a match as uneven as this one, a collective of killers might be even better.
Visit Barry Eisler's website.

The Page 69 Test: Livia Lone.

The Page 69 Test: The Killer Collective.

Writers Read: Barry Eisler.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: J. Albert Mann's "What Every Girl Should Know"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: What Every Girl Should Know: Margaret Sanger's Journey by J. Albert Mann.

About the book, from the publisher:
This compelling historical novel spans the early and very formative years of feminist and women’s health activist Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, as she struggles to find her way amidst the harsh realities of poverty.

Margaret was determined to get out. She didn’t want to clean the dirty dishes and soiled diapers that piled up day in and day out in her large family’s small home. She didn’t want to disappoint her ailing mother, who cared tirelessly for an ever-growing number of children despite her incessant cough. And Margaret certainly didn’t want to be labeled a girl of “promise,” destined to become either a teacher or a mother—which seemed to be a woman’s only options.

As a feisty and opinionated young woman, Margaret Higgins Sanger witnessed and experienced incredible hardships, which led to her groundbreaking work as an advocate for women’s rights and the founder of Planned Parenthood. This fiery novel of Margaret’s early life paints the portrait of a young woman with the passion and courage to change the world.
Visit J. Albert Mann's website.

The Page 69 Test: What Every Girl Should Know.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top genre-twisting novels

Alan Trotter is a writer based in Edinburgh. Muscle, his debut novel, was awarded the inaugural Sceptre Prize for a novel-in-progress. He has a PhD in English Literature from the University of Glasgow - his dissertation concerned writers making unusual use of the form of the book.

One of his top ten genre-twisting novels, as shared at the Guardian:
Blind Man with a Pistol and Plan B by Chester Himes

The earlier Harlem Detective books featuring Grave Digger Jones and Coffin Ed Johnson are raucous, macabre fun – try All Shot Up or Cotton Comes to Harlem. But in these final two books (one unfinished) something breaks. Finally, even a chaotic version of the detective novel can’t deal with injustices as large as those Himes heaps on his two policemen – confronted with the bone-deep racism of a whole society, struggling with their own position as black men defending the white status quo. Nothing is resolved, no cases are cracked, the violence is not just brutal but shocking. It’s a fascinating, sad, disorienting conclusion.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Darius Hinks's "The Ingenious," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Ingenious by Darius Hinks.

The entry begins:
One of my influences when writing the novel was Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s brilliant Fleabag series. My favourite heroes are the ones who tumble headlong through a story being erratic and unpredictable and always looking like they’re about to implode. So, if I was going to cast someone as Isten, Phoebe Waller-Bridge would be a good option. Isten’s pretty tough though, so maybe Waller-Bridge with a little Eva Green thrown in for good measure. If I could choose the director, my first choice would be...[read on]
Visit Darius Hinks's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Ingenious.

My Book, The Movie: The Ingenious.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

What is Adele Parks reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Adele Parks, author of I Invited Her In.

Her entry begins:
I’ve just finished reading The Mother-In-Law by Australian author Sally Hepworth. It’s about the often-tricky relationship between a new wife and her mother-in-law. Lucy married Oliver, desperately hoping his mother might become the mom she never had. But Lucy’s mother-in-law, Diana is a conundrum. She’s a pillar of the community, a respected advocate for social justice and a strong, devoted matriarch, yet for all that she remains cool and distant. Lucy just can’t get close to Diana, no matter how hard she tries. Over the years Lucy is forced to settle for impeccable manners, rather than the genuine warmth she longs for. Then Diana is ...[read on]
About I Invited Her In, from the publisher:
‘I invited her in… and she took everything.’

When Mel hears from a long-lost friend in need of help, she doesn’t hesitate to invite her to stay. Mel and Abi were best friends back in the day, sharing the highs and lows of student life, until Mel’s unplanned pregnancy made her drop out of her studies.

Now, seventeen years later, Mel and Abi’s lives couldn’t be more different. Mel is happily married, having raised her son on her own before meeting her husband, Ben. Now they share gorgeous girls and have a chaotic but happy family home, with three children.

Abi, meanwhile, followed her lover to LA for a glamorous life of parties, celebrity and indulgence. Everything was perfect, until she discovered her partner had been cheating on her. Seventeen years wasted, and nothing to show for it. So what Abi needs now is a true friend to lean on, to share her grief over a glass of wine, and to have some time to heal. And what better place than Mel’s house, with her lovely kids, and supportive husband…

This dark, unsettling tale of the reunion of long-lost friends is thoroughly gripping exploration of wanting what you can’t have, jealousy and revenge.
Visit Adele Parks's website.

The Page 69 Test: I Invited Her In.

Writers Read: Adele Parks.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: A.F. Brady's "Once a Liar"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Once a Liar by A.F. Brady.

About the book, from the publisher:
Did he kill Charlie Doyle? And if he didn’t…who did?

Peter Caine, a cutthroat Manhattan defense attorney, worked ruthlessly to become the best at his job. On the surface, he is charming and handsome, but inside he is cold and heartless. He fights without remorse to acquit murderers, pedophiles and rapists.

When Charlie Doyle, the daughter of the Manhattan DA—and Peter’s former lover—is murdered, Peter’s world is quickly sent into a tailspin. He becomes the prime suspect as the DA, a professional enemy of Peter’s, embarks on a witch hunt to avenge his daughter’s death, stopping at nothing to ensure Peter is found guilty of the murder.

In the challenge of his career and his life, Peter races against the clock to prove his innocence. As the evidence mounts against him, he’s forced to begin unraveling his own dark web of lies and confront the sins of his past. But the truth of who killed Charlie Doyle is more twisted and sinister than anyone could have imagined…
Visit A.F. Brady's website.

Coffee with a Canine: A.F. Brady & Maurice.

The Page 69 Test: Once a Liar.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Katharine Smyth's "All the Lives We Ever Lived"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: All the Lives We Ever Lived: Seeking Solace in Virginia Woolf by Katharine Smyth.

About the book, from the publisher:
A wise, lyrical memoir about the power of literature to help us read our own lives—and see clearly the people we love most.

Katharine Smyth was a student at Oxford when she first read Virginia Woolf’s modernist masterpiece To the Lighthouse in the comfort of an English sitting room, and in the companionable silence she shared with her father. After his death—a calamity that claimed her favorite person—she returned to that beloved novel as a way of wrestling with his memory and understanding her own grief.

Smyth’s story moves between the New England of her childhood and Woolf’s Cornish shores and Bloomsbury squares, exploring universal questions about family, loss, and homecoming. Through her inventive, highly personal reading of To the Lighthouse, and her artful adaptation of its groundbreaking structure, Smyth guides us toward a new vision of Woolf’s most demanding and rewarding novel—and crafts an elegant reminder of literature’s ability to clarify and console.

Braiding memoir, literary criticism, and biography, All the Lives We Ever Lived is a wholly original debut: a love letter from a daughter to her father, and from a reader to her most cherished author.
Visit Katharine Smyth's website.

The Page 99 Test: All the Lives We Ever Lived.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six thrillers with missing, mistaken, or "changed" children

C. J. Tudor is the author of The Chalk Man and The Taking of Annie Thorne.

At CrimeReads she tagged six thrillers featuring terrifying changelings, including:
Pet Sematary, by Stephen King

Sometimes dead is better ... When Louis Creed, his wife Rachel and their two young children, Ellie and Gage move into a beautiful old house in Maine, it all seems too good to be true—and it is. Ominously, there’s a busy highway that runs past the house, and in the woods behind, a “Pet Sematary” where the children of the town bury pets that have met a grisly end on the tarmac. When the Creed’s cat, Church, is run over, their neighbour Jud takes Louis not to the Pet Sematary, but to the “real” cemetery: a far more ancient burial ground. Nothing too bad about that ... until Church returns home the next day. But then, tragically, Louis’s infant son, Gage, is killed, and he starts to consider the unthinkable ... Even Stephen King himself considered the novel too dark to be published.
Read about another entry on the list.

Pet Sematary is among Jeff Somers's top 25 cats in sci-fi & fantasy, Jessica Ferri's five top books on American small towns, and Sandra Greaves's top ten ghost stories.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

What is Padma Venkatraman reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Padma Venkatraman, author of The Bridge Home.

Her entry begins:
I'm reading Faint Promise of Rain, the first in a historical fiction series, I believe, by author Anjali Mitter Duva. Set in 16th century India and written in lyrical, evocative prose, that brings alive the sights and sounds of dance and the desert where the novel begins, this is the story of a dancer's exploration of art, duty, and freedom, at a time change. I was drawn to it because...[read on]
About The Bridge Home, from the publisher:
Four determined homeless children make a life for themselves in Padma Venkatraman’s stirring middle-grade debut.

Life is harsh in Chennai’s teeming streets, so when runaway sisters Viji and Rukku arrive, their prospects look grim. Very quickly, eleven-year-old Viji discovers how vulnerable they are in this uncaring, dangerous world. Fortunately, the girls find shelter–and friendship–on an abandoned bridge. With two homeless boys, Muthi and Arul, the group forms a family of sorts. And while making a living scavenging the city’s trash heaps is the pits, the kids find plenty to laugh about and take pride in too. After all, they are now the bosses of themselves and no longer dependent on untrustworthy adults. But when illness strikes, Viji must decide whether to risk seeking help from strangers or to keep holding on to their fragile, hard-fought freedom.
Visit Padma Venkatraman's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Bridge Home.

My Book, The Movie: The Bridge Home.

Writers Read: Padma Venkatraman.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Darius Hinks's "The Ingenious"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Ingenious by Darius Hinks.

About the book, from the publisher:
Thousands of years ago, the city of Athanor was set adrift in time and space by alchemists, called the “Curious Men”. Ever since, it has accumulated cultures, citizens and species into a vast, unmappable metropolis.

Isten and her gang of half-starved political exiles live off petty crime and gangland warfare in Athanor’s seediest alleys. Though they dream of returning home to lead a glorious revolution, Isten’s downward spiral drags them into a mire of addiction and violence. Isten must find a way to save the exiles and herself if they are ever to build a better, fairer world for the people of their distant homeland.
Visit Darius Hinks's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Ingenious.

--Marshal Zeringue

Brian Freeman's "The Crooked Street," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Crooked Street by Brian Freeman.

The entry begins:
I’ve written the entire Frost Easton series – starting with The Night Bird and The Voice Inside and now continuing with The Crooked Street – with television and movies in mind. Yes, I mean you, film agents. Get busy.

So what would that look like?

Start with the fact that I love the romance and drama of the San Francisco setting in the books. I was a huge fan of Hitchcock’s Vertigo growing up, and I think you’ll find echoes of that tone in how I approach the city. I like to play up its natural beauty and also take advantage of its mystery: the fog, the crazy-steep streets (remember Bullitt?), the high bridges and the cold depths of the bay. I try to give readers a “you are there” feel in all of my settings, and that would play out perfectly in bringing these books to the screen. The scenes are written visually to make them come alive in your head.

Who would play the leads?

Okay, I’ll let you in on a secret. I actually wrote the character of Frost with Justin...[read on]
Visit Brian Freeman's official website and follow him on Facebook.

The Page 69 Test: Stripped.

My Book, The Movie: Stripped.

The Page 69 Test: Stalked.

My Book, The Movie: Spilled Blood.

The Page 69 Test: The Cold Nowhere.

My Book, The Movie: Season of Fear.

Writers Read: Brian Freeman (January 2018).

My Book, The Movie: The Crooked Street.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven top books about modern romance

Emma Jane Unsworth has worked as a journalist, a columnist for The Big Issue, and a barmaid. Her novel Animals (Canongate) won a Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize 2015. Her next novel, Grown Ups, will be published by The Borough Press/HarperCollins in January 2020. The film of Animals, for which she wrote the screenplay, premiered at Sundance 2019.

At the Guardian Unsworth tagged seven of the best books about modern romance, including:
I just finished Jade Sharma’s novel Problems, and I can’t believe more people aren’t raving about it. Maya has a husband, a lover and a raging heroin addiction. Just your classic love triangle. It’s not the kind of redemption story you might expect and really cracks open the daily inner monologue of a smart woman doing dumb things. Stretching and pinning a marriage wide open, Sharma writes with a fearless rigour. Shades of Jennifer Egan and Katherine Heiny abound in this dark and raucous debut – but the style is so fresh it makes even the word modern seem old.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue