Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Ten of the best shapeshifters in fiction

Aimée Carter is the author of Simon Thorn and the Wolf's Den and other books. One of her top ten shapeshifters in fiction, as shared at the Guardian:
Count Dracula, from Dracula by Bram Stoker

Believed to have been inspired by Vlad the Impaler, Dracula is a legendary figure. We all know the lore surrounding vampires: the fangs, the blood, the widow’s peak and intimidating black cloak. But while Dracula is well-known for turning into a bat, he could also shapeshift into fog and a wolf, which only made him all the more terrifying as a character.
Read about another entry on the list.

Dracula is on Helen Maslin's ten best list of castles and manors in fiction, John Mullan's list of the ten best coach rides in literature, Rowan Somerville's top ten list of good sex in fiction, Arthur Phillips' list of six favorite books set in places that their authors never visited, and Anthony Browne's six best books list. It is one of the books on John Mullan's lists of ten of the best teeth in literature, ten of the best wolves in literature and ten of the best mirrors in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sarah Strohmeyer's "This Is My Brain on Boys," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: This Is My Brain on Boys by Sarah Strohmeyer.

The entry begins:
I suppose I had Ellen Page in mind when I wrote about my extremely literal, brilliant and warm-hearted character Addie. (Poor Ellen. The curses of a youthful face!)

For Tess, her redheaded, wild, intuitive friend, I would love Jennifer...[read on]
Visit Sarah Strohmeyer's website.

The Page 69 Test: This Is My Brain on Boys.

Writers Read: Sarah Strohmeyer.

My Book, The Movie: This Is My Brain on Boys.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sixteen YA titles that get mental health right

At the BN Teen Blog Dahlia Adler collected recommendations for her collection of sixteen YA books that get mental health right. Two books that made the grade:
Invincible, by Amy Reed

Very few books really get the complexity that is addiction. Amy Reed’s Invincible goes deep down into the particular mix of anger, hopelessness, isolation, and longing that can breed addiction, and the result is astonishing. Books that deal with mental health can go a lot of places, but Reed’s book ventures somewhere I’ve never been before in a book. If you want to know what it’s really, truly like to love someone struggling with addiction, this book is it. To write about addiction you can’t be afraid of showing something ugly and unrelenting and powerful and frustrating. Reed has that bravery and paints a challenging portrait that makes it easy to understand how one disease (cancer) could lead so seamlessly into another (addiction).
–Corey Ann Haydu, author of OCD Love Story

Wild Awake, by Hilary T. Smith

Kiri is a brilliant pianist whose major concern is preparing for a huge competition, until a major family secret is revealed and it throws her for a loop. Suddenly, everything seems different and less important and her life feels completely changed; she wants new things, new people, and new experiences, and watching her chase them is exhilarating. By the time the reader realizes something is seriously wrong, Kiri has descended into an episode that neither she nor anyone else understands. This book brilliantly explores family, friendship, first love, creativity, and mania. We need all types of mental health books in YA: we need books that focus on diagnosis and treatment and we also need books like Wild Awake—books that show what mental illnesses feel like.
–Ally Watkins, Librarian and Co-Coordinator of MHYALit
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Pg. 69: Margaret Dilloway's "Momotaro: Xander and the Lost Island of Monsters"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Momotaro: Xander and the Lost Island of Monsters by Margaret Dilloway.

About the book, from the publisher:
Xander Miyamoto would rather do almost anything than listen to his sixth grade teacher, Mr. Stedman, drone on about weather disasters happening around the globe. If Xander could do stuff he’s good at instead, like draw comics and create computer programs, and if Lovey would stop harassing him for being half Asian, he might not be counting the minutes until the dismissal bell.

When spring break begins at last, Xander plans to spend it playing computer games with his best friend, Peyton. Xander’s father briefly distracts him with a comic book about some samurai warrior that pops out of a peach pit. Xander tosses it aside, but Peyton finds it more interesting. Little does either boy know that the comic is a warning.

They are about to be thrust into the biggest adventure of their lives—a journey wilder than any Xander has ever imagined, full of weird monsters even worse than Lovey. To win at this deadly serious game they will have to rely on their wits, courage, faith, and especially, each other. Maybe Xander should have listened to Mr Stedman about the weather after all....
Learn more about the book and author at Margaret Dilloway's website and blog.

Coffee with a Canine: Margaret Dilloway and Gatsby.

My Book, The Movie: The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns.

The Page 69 Test: The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns.

My Book, The Movie: Sisters of Heart and Snow.

The Page 69 Test: Momotaro: Xander and the Lost Island of Monsters.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Hannah Dennison reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Hannah Dennison, author of A Killer Ball at Honeychurch Hall.

Her entry begins:
Like many readers, I have a stack of books on my nightstand. With the recent publication of A Killer Ball at Honeychurch Hall, I’ve been doing a lot of traveling—and that means reading more than usual.

In the past two weeks I’ve read Allison Leotta’s Law of Attraction featuring federal prosecutor Anna Curtis. Anna is a smart, savvy lawyer who fights to protect women from domestic violence. What particularly impressed me was how Leotta skillfully weaves humor and...[read on]
About  A Killer Ball at Honeychurch Hall, from the publisher:
When antique dealer Kat Stanford stumbles upon the partially mummified body of a young woman in an abandoned wing at Honeychurch Hall, suspicion falls on those who had been living there many years ago. And it appears that the deceased had been murdered. Given her mother Iris’s checkered past, Kat is not surprised to learn that Iris knew the victim.

Meanwhile, the unexpected appearance of former lothario Bryan Laney sets female hearts aflutter. Despite the passing years, time has not dampened his ardor for Iris, but the feeling is not reciprocated.

With stories of hidden treasure and secret chambers, past and present collide. As Kat becomes embroiled once more in her mother’s mysterious and tumultuous bygone days, she comes to realize that life is never black and white, and sometimes it is necessary to risk your own life to protect the lives of the ones you love.
Visit Hannah Dennison's website and Facebook page.

The Page 69 Test: Murder at Honeychurch Hall.

My Book, The Movie: Murder at Honeychurch Hall.

My Book, The Movie: Deadly Desires at Honeychurch Hall.

The Page 69 Test: Deadly Desires at Honeychurch Hall.

Writers Read: Hannah Dennison.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five of the best grandpas in literature

Jeff Somers is the author of Lifers, the Avery Cates series from Orbit Books, Chum from Tyrus Books, and We Are Not Good People from Pocket/Gallery. He has published over thirty short stories as well. One of Somers's five best grandfathers in literary history, as shared at B&N Reads:
Vito Corleone in The Godfather, by Mario Puzo

Murderous, manipulative cancer on society? Sure, but Vito Corleone built a world-class criminal empire all in the service of providing for and securing his family. Having seen the damage done through vendettas in Sicily and then being forced to find his way through an unfamiliar society in America, Vito ruthlessly pursues power not as an aim in itself, but as a way to guarantee that his family is protected and inherits that power so they will never have to worry again. Unlike the grandfather in The Princess Bride, you might not want to have Vito creep into your room at night to read you a story, but he might not be a bad choice as grandfather if you’re, say, being bullied at school.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Godfather is among the Telegraph's ten worst dads in literature, and is one of Jackie Collins' six best books and five best literary guilty pleasures. It appears on Alice-Azania Jarvis's reading list on the Mafia and Will Dean's brief reading list on family dynasties.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Christine Gilbert's "Mother Tongue"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Mother Tongue: My Family's Globe-Trotting Quest to Dream in Mandarin, Laugh in Arabic, and Sing in Spanish by Christine Gilbert.

About the book, from the publisher:
One woman’s quest to learn Mandarin in Beijing, Arabic in Beirut, and Spanish in Mexico, with her young family along for the ride.

Imagine negotiating for a replacement carburetor in rural Mexico with words you’re secretly pulling from a pocket dictionary. Imagine your two-year-old asking for more niunai at dinner—a Mandarin word for milk that even you don’t know yet. Imagine finding out that you’re unexpectedly pregnant while living in war-torn Beirut. With vivid and evocative language, Christine Gilbert takes us along with her into foreign lands, showing us what it’s like to make a life in an unfamiliar world—and in an unfamiliar tongue.

Gilbert was a young mother when she boldly uprooted her family to move around the world, studying Mandarin in China, Arabic in Lebanon, and Spanish in Mexico, with her toddler son and all-American husband along for the ride.Their story takes us from Beijing to Beirut, from Cyprus to Chiang Mai—and also explores recent breakthroughs in bilingual brain mapping and the controversial debates happening in linguistics right now.

Gilbert’s adventures abroad prove just how much language influences culture (and vice versa), and lead her to results she never expected. Mother Tongue is a fascinating and uplifting story about taking big risks for bigger rewards and trying to find meaning and happiness through tireless pursuit—no matter what hurdles may arise. It’s a treat for language enthusiasts and armchair travelers alike.
Visit Christine Gilbert's website.

The Page 99 Test: Mother Tongue.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 23, 2016

Pg. 69: Andy Mozina's "Contrary Motion"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Contrary Motion: A Novel by Andy Mozina.

About the book, from the publisher:
By turns hilarious and bittersweet, Andy Mozina’s winning debut novel introduces a charming new hero for our times: a dysfunctional, divorced family man whose passion for life comes straight from the harp.

Matthew Grzbc is a talented musician who plays the concert harp. He is a divorced dad who lives in Chicago, has a sexy girlfriend, and has a major, potentially life-changing audition with an orchestra on the horizon. At least that’s how he appears on paper. But take a closer look and a very different man starts to emerge: an obsessive, self-sabotaging Midwesterner, fumbling through his relationship with his curiously neurotic six-year-old daughter and headed for destruction in his romantic life by grasping at any remotely affectionate warm body, including that of his ex-wife. Instead of playing to sold-out concert halls, he spends his days plucking out “Send in the Clowns” at hotel brunches, and his weekends serenading the captive audience at the local hospice.

When his father dies unexpectedly (while listening to a meditation tape), Matt’s life begins to come untethered. In quick succession his ex-wife gets engaged, his girlfriend begins to pull away, and his daughter starts acting out. With his audition rapidly approaching, Matt is paralyzed by panic—why can’t he hold it together and follow his dream? And what does that even mean, if you’re not sure what it is you really want?

Funny, poignant, and thoroughly engaging, Contrary Motion is a journey deep inside a male mind as it searches—desperately—for a way to balance life, love, and a harp.
Visit Andy Mozina's website.

The Page 69 Test: Contrary Motion.

--Marshal Zeringue

Larry D. Sweazy's "See Also Deception," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: See Also Deception: A Marjorie Trumaine Mystery by Larry D. Sweazy.

The entry begins:
I think the demands of character are deep with Marjorie Trumaine. The role would require an actress to be vulnerable and strong, wise and afraid, sad without being maudlin, and fearless when it came to going after the truth. It would be a nuanced role, a lead in a movie—everything revolves around her—which in today’s Hollywood is an unfortunate rarity (a female lead role). Reese Witherspoon comes to mind as a candidate to play Marjorie. I think she could get the North Dakota accent, and after her portrayal of Cheryl Strayed in Wild, I’m certain she could reach the emotional depths that playing Marjorie would require. Her spunk was evident from the beginning in Man in the Moon, and that attribute is also a necessary ingredient to bring Marjorie to life. Can she carry a movie? Absolutely.

Hank is another central character, and hugely important. I’ve been...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Larry D. Sweazy's website and blog.

Coffee with a Canine: Larry D. Sweazy & Brodi and Sunny (April 2011).

Coffee with a Canine: Larry D. Sweazy & Brodi and Sunny (April 2013).

The Page 69 Test: The Badger’s Revenge.

The Page 69 Test: The Devil's Bones.

My Book, The Movie: The Devil’s Bones.

The Page 69 Test: The Coyote Tracker.

The Page 69 Test: The Gila Wars.

My Book, The Movie: Escape to Hangtown.

The Page 69 Test: Escape from Hangtown.

The Page 69 Test: A Thousand Falling Crows.

My Book, The Movie: A Thousand Falling Crows.

The Page 69 Test: See Also Deception.

Writers Read: Larry D. Sweazy.

My Book, The Movie: See Also Deception.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sherman Alexie's 6 favorite books about identity

Sherman Alexie is the award-winning author of The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian and other books. His first picture book, Thunder Boy Jr., has just been published by Little, Brown.

Among his six favorite reads "about exploring your origins and seeing yourself clearly," as shared at The Week magazine:
Wondering Who You Are by Sonya Lea

After her husband sustains a memory-erasing traumatic brain injury, Lea has to rebuild her entire life with him, from the beginning of their courtship to their becoming parents, and learn, in middle age, to fall in love again. What happens to a person whose identity is completely erased? How does one start over?
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Sarah Strohmeyer reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Sarah Strohmeyer, author of This Is My Brain on Boys.

The entry begins:
I recently discovered Judith Merkel Riley who wrote humorous, historical, feminist novels with a supernatural touch. I am riveted by the tale of Margaret of Ashbury in A Vision of Light who is wed against her will at age 14 in the 13th century to a vile, evil merchant. She looks for someone to write her biography - since, of course, she is illiterate - and finds a barely tolerant priest. There are...[read on]
About This Is My Brain on Boys, from the publisher:
Jane Austen’s Emma meets The Rosie Project in this quirky, irresistible, romantic comedy from Sarah Strohmeyer, the author of Smart Girls Get What They Want.

Addie Emerson doesn’t believe in love. Not for herself anyway. With one year left of high school, she’s more interested in snagging a full scholarship to Harvard than a full-time boyfriend.

That doesn’t mean she’s oblivious to the ways of the heart. Or, rather, the head. Because after months of research, Addie has discovered how to make anyone fall in love. All you need is the secret formula.

But will her discovery be enough to win the coveted Athenian Award and all its perks? (See above, full scholarship to Harvard.) Or will she be undone by Dexter, her backstabbing lab partner, who is determined to deep-six her experiments at their exclusive private school?

Those are the least of her problems now that she’s survived a death-defying flight with a mysterious, dark-haired boy, who has delicious chocolate-brown eyes and a few secrets of his own.

With an experiment to mastermind, an infatuated exchange student on her hands, and at least one great white shark (more on that later), can Addie’s prefrontal cortex outwit her heart? Or will she have to give in to her amygdala and find out, once and for all, if this thing called love is more than just her brain on drugs?
Visit Sarah Strohmeyer's website.

The Page 69 Test: This Is My Brain on Boys.

Writers Read: Sarah Strohmeyer.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Five top books for the psychonaut

Patrick Hemstreet is a novelist, neuro-engineer, entrepreneur, patent-pending inventor, special warfare-trained Navy medic, standup comic, and actor. He lives in Houston, Texas with his wife and sons. The God Wave is his first novel.

At Tor.com he named his five top books for the psychonaut--"psychonauts explore the vastness and depth of the mind"--including:
The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry

Oneironautics or the ability to travel within a dream on a conscious basis, sometimes referred to as lucid dreaming, seems to me to fall under the umbrella of psychonautics. Jedediah Berry’s very clever work explores this concept within a sinister setting.

This magnificent novel is the best fictional representation I have seen on the subject of dreams. Without giving too much away … our protagonist, Unwin, must unravel a mystery that crosses into the ethereal world of dreams. Unwin is unprepared and inexperienced, he is the consummate neophyte who must survive the crucible of the mind.

Unwin is a clerk at a detective agency who is constantly studying case files. Naturally he accrues quite a bit of knowledge in the process. Suddenly he is promoted to the rank of detective. He must now put his knowledge to use or face the consequences of failure. He is the archetype for not only the psychonaut but any seeker of wisdom. There is a point when study yields diminishing returns and the seeker must engage in practical application. This is true for psychonautics, science, and just about everything worth learning.

The Manual of Detection is a one-two punch. It is a gripping tale that traverses beautifully into the realm of dreams. A realm considered to be the first step removed from the conscious mind in psychonautical exploration. Berry’s work also gives the psychonaut a relatable character in Unwin; truly we are all novices at one point.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 69 Test: The Manual of Detection.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Paula Stokes's "Girl Against the Universe"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes.

About the book, from the publisher:
From the author of The Art of Lainey and Liars, Inc. comes a fresh, contemporary story about one girl’s tragic past and a boy who convinces her that maybe her luck is about to change. Perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen or Jenny Han.

Maguire knows she’s bad luck. No matter how many charms she buys off the internet or good luck rituals she performs each morning, horrible things happen when Maguire is around. Like that time her brother, father, and uncle were all killed in a car crash—and Maguire walked away with barely a scratch. But then on her way out of her therapist’s office, she meets Jordy, an aspiring tennis star, who wants to help Maguire break her unlucky streak. Maguire knows that the best thing she can do for Jordy is to stay away, but staying away may be harder than she thought.
Learn more about the book and author at Paula Stokes's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

Girl Against the Universe is one of Dahlia Adler's top fifteen contemporary YA books that make fabulous valentines.

The Page 69 Test: The Art of Lainey.

The Page 69 Test: Girl Against the Universe.

--Marshal Zeringue

Laura McNeal's "The Incident on the Bridge," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Incident on the Bridge by Laura McNeal.

The entry begins:
If they made The Incident on the Bridge into a movie, I’d prefer that people who are not already famous play the teenagers, but that’s because I love to see movies in which the actors, especially young ones, are unknown to me. Then I don’t have to erase my feeling that, for example, Shailene Woodley is the girl from The Descendants. That said, I loved Lily James in the BBC version of War and Peace. Something about her teeth makes her endearingly fragile-looking. She would make a lovely, self-doubting Thisbe, I think. The next role I’d want to cast is Frank Le Stang, and since I can ask for the impossible here, I’d want Mark...[read on]
Visit Laura McNeal's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Laura McNeal & Link.

The Page 69 Test: The Incident on the Bridge.

Writers Read: Laura McNeal.

My Book, The Movie: The Incident on the Bridge.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Hugh B. Urban's "Zorba the Buddha"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Zorba the Buddha: Sex, Spirituality, and Capitalism in the Global Osho Movement by Hugh B. Urban.

About the book, from the publisher:
Zorba the Buddha is the first comprehensive study of the life, teachings, and following of the controversial Indian guru known in his youth as Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and in his later years as Osho (1931–1990). Most Americans today remember him only as the “sex guru” and the “Rolls Royce guru,” who built a hugely successful but scandal-ridden utopian community in central Oregon during the 1980s. Yet Osho was arguably the first truly global guru of the twentieth century, creating a large transnational movement that traced a complex global circuit from post-Independence India of the 1960s to Reagan’s America of the 1980s and back to a developing new India in the 1990s. The Osho movement embodies some of the most important economic and spiritual currents of the past forty years, emerging and adapting within an increasingly interconnected and conflicted late-capitalist world order. Based on extensive ethnographic and archival research, Hugh Urban has created a rich and powerful narrative that is a must-read for anyone interested in religion and globalization.
Learn more about Zorba the Buddha at the University of California Press.

The Page 99 Test: Zorba the Buddha.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 21, 2016

What is Larry D. Sweazy reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Larry D. Sweazy, author of  See Also Deception.

His entry begins:
I’m currently reading Red Bones by Ann Cleeves. This is a Shetland Island Mystery featuring DI Jimmy Perez. It is set in the remote Scottish Shetland Islands. I discovered the book by watching the TV show Shetland, which is based on this brilliant series. I had just finished watching Hinterland, a moody police procedural set in Wales when I stumbled onto Shetland. It was a good fit. I love stories set in remote, out-of-the-way places where the land influences the depth of character. The islands have...[read on]
About See Also Deception, from the publisher:
In a small North Dakota town in 1964, indexer Marjorie Trumaine investigates the alleged suicide of the local librarian, uncovering a web of secrets that puts her own life in jeopardy.

October 1964—Just months after freelance indexer Marjorie Trumaine helped solve a series of murders in Dickinson, North Dakota, she is faced with another death that pulls her into an unwanted investigation. Calla Eltmore, the local librarian, is found dead at work and everyone considers it suicide. But Marjorie can’t believe that Calla would be capable of doing such a thing.

Marjorie’s suspicions are further aroused when she notices something amiss at Calla’s wake, but the police seem uninterested in her observations.

Despite pressing job commitments and the burden of caring for a husband in declining health, Marjorie sets out to uncover the truth. What she finds is a labyrinth of secrets—and threats from someone who will kill to keep these secrets hidden.
Learn more about the book and author at Larry D. Sweazy's website and blog.

Coffee with a Canine: Larry D. Sweazy & Brodi and Sunny (April 2011).

Coffee with a Canine: Larry D. Sweazy & Brodi and Sunny (April 2013).

The Page 69 Test: The Badger’s Revenge.

The Page 69 Test: The Devil's Bones.

My Book, The Movie: The Devil’s Bones.

The Page 69 Test: The Coyote Tracker.

The Page 69 Test: The Gila Wars.

My Book, The Movie: Escape to Hangtown.

The Page 69 Test: Escape from Hangtown.

The Page 69 Test: A Thousand Falling Crows.

My Book, The Movie: A Thousand Falling Crows.

The Page 69 Test: See Also Deception.

Writers Read: Larry D. Sweazy.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Sarah Strohmeyer's "This Is My Brain on Boys"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: This Is My Brain on Boys by Sarah Strohmeyer.

About the book, from the publisher:
Jane Austen’s Emma meets The Rosie Project in this quirky, irresistible, romantic comedy from Sarah Strohmeyer, the author of Smart Girls Get What They Want.

Addie Emerson doesn’t believe in love. Not for herself anyway. With one year left of high school, she’s more interested in snagging a full scholarship to Harvard than a full-time boyfriend.

That doesn’t mean she’s oblivious to the ways of the heart. Or, rather, the head. Because after months of research, Addie has discovered how to make anyone fall in love. All you need is the secret formula.

But will her discovery be enough to win the coveted Athenian Award and all its perks? (See above, full scholarship to Harvard.) Or will she be undone by Dexter, her backstabbing lab partner, who is determined to deep-six her experiments at their exclusive private school?

Those are the least of her problems now that she’s survived a death-defying flight with a mysterious, dark-haired boy, who has delicious chocolate-brown eyes and a few secrets of his own.

With an experiment to mastermind, an infatuated exchange student on her hands, and at least one great white shark (more on that later), can Addie’s prefrontal cortex outwit her heart? Or will she have to give in to her amygdala and find out, once and for all, if this thing called love is more than just her brain on drugs?
Visit Sarah Strohmeyer's website.

The Page 69 Test: This Is My Brain on Boys.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top refugees' stories

Patrick Kingsley is the author of The New Odyssey: The Story of Europe’s Refugee Crisis. One of his top ten accounts of forced migration, as shared at the Guardian:
Virgil’s Aeneid

I’ve named my new book about the refugee crisis The New Odyssey, after Homer’s famous epic. But if it were better known, a more fitting namesake would have been Virgil’s Aeneid. Like today’s Syrians, Aeneas flees an ancient war in the Middle East and crosses the Mediterranean in search of safety. He eventually finds it in Italy – and founds the dynasty that would later spawn the Roman empire. Startling as it might be for some, the roots of European civilisation stem in part from the story of a refugee.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Aeneid is among Madeline Miller's top ten classical books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Suzanne Myers's "I'm From Nowhere," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: I'm From Nowhere by Suzanne Myers.

Her entry begins:
Because I was a screenwriter and film director before I was an author, when I’m writing a new book, I do tend to “cast” it so that I have pictures in my mind as a starting point for the main characters. Sometimes what happens is that by the time the book comes out, the actors are too old to actually play those characters in the movie version, but I think it helps me.

Here’s how I would cast I'm From Nowhere:

Wren- Tavi Gevinson or Maisie...[read on]
Visit Suzanne Myers's website.

Writers Read: Suzanne Myers.

My Book, The Movie: I'm From Nowhere.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 20, 2016

Pg. 69: Steena Holmes's "Saving Abby"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Saving Abby by Steena Holmes.

About the book, from the publisher:
All children’s book illustrator Claire Turner ever wanted was to be a mother. After six years of trying to conceive, she and her husband, Josh, have finally accepted that she will never be pregnant with a child of their own.

Yet once they give up hope, the couple gets the miracle they’ve been waiting for. For the first few months of her pregnancy, Claire and Josh are living on cloud nine. But when she begins to experience debilitating headaches, blurred vision, and even fainting spells, the soon-to-be mother goes to the doctor and receives a terrifying diagnosis. Since any treatment could put their unborn baby’s life at risk, the Turners must carefully weigh their limited options. And as her symptoms worsen, Claire will have to make an impossible decision: Save her own life, or save her child’s?
Visit Steena Holmes's website.

The Page 69 Test: Saving Abby.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Brooks Benjamin reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Brooks Benjamin, author of My Seventh-Grade Life in Tights.

His entry begins:
I've been on a serious Middle Grade kick lately, barreling through some books that have definitely rocketed to the top of my favorites list. Some of the recents are Swing Sideways by Nanci Steveson, The Distance to Home by Jenn Bishop, and Howard Wallace, P.I. by Casey Lyall. All three of these have something in common that I crave every time I open a book: incredible characters. Nanci's book features two girls who form an unlikely friendship that...[read on]
About My Seventh-Grade Life in Tights, from the publisher:
Football hero. Ninja freestyler. It’s seventh grade. Anything is possible.

All Dillon wants is to be a real dancer. And if he wins a summer scholarship at Dance-Splosion, he’s on his way. The problem? His dad wants him to play football. And Dillon’s freestyle crew, the Dizzee Freekz, says that dance studios are for sellouts. His friends want Dillon to kill it at the audition—so he can turn around and tell the studio just how wrong their rules and creativity-strangling ways are.

At first, Dillon’s willing to go along with his crew’s plan, even convincing one of the snobbiest girls at school to work with him on his technique. But as Dillon’s dancing improves, he wonders: what if studios aren’t the enemy? And what if he actually has a shot at winning the scholarship?

Dillon’s life is about to get crazy ... on and off the dance floor in this kid-friendly humorous debut by Brooks Benjamin.
Visit Brooks Benjamin's website.

The Page 69 Test: My Seventh-Grade Life in Tights.

Writers Read: Brooks Benjamin.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top fictional houses with personality

Tom Easton is an author of fiction for all ages who has published books under a number of different pseudonyms as well as his own name. One of his top ten fictional "houses which themselves seem to have a personality which affects the story," as shared at the Guardian:
Wuthering Heights. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

A dark, bleak house described as though it was a person. Mirroring Heathcliff’s dark, forbidding character, the house sits and sulks, at once exposed and yet hidden from view of Thrushcross Hall, its grander, more prepossessing neighbour.
Read about another entry on the list.

Wuthering Heights appears on Melissa Harrison's list of the ten top depictions of British rain, Meredith Borders's list of ten of the scariest gothic romances, Ed Sikov's list of eight top books that got slammed by critics, Amelia Schonbek's top five list of approachable must-read classics, Molly Schoemann-McCann's top five list of the lamest girlfriends in fiction, Becky Ferreira's list of seven of the worst wingmen in literature, Na'ima B. Robert's top ten list of Romeo and Juliet stories, Jimmy So's list of fifteen notable film adaptations of literary classics, John Mullan's lists of ten of the best thunderstorms in literature, ten of the worst nightmares in literature and ten of the best foundlings in literature, Valerie Martin's list of novels about doomed marriages, Susan Cheever's list of the five best books about obsession, and Melissa Katsoulis' top 25 list of book to film adaptations. It is one of John Inverdale's six best books and Sheila Hancock's six best books.

The Page 99 Test: Wuthering Heights.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Katherine A. Mason's "Infectious Change"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Infectious Change: Reinventing Chinese Public Health After an Epidemic by Katherine Mason.

About the book, from the publisher:
In February 2003, a Chinese physician crossed the border between mainland China and Hong Kong, spreading Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)—a novel flu-like virus—to over a dozen international hotel guests. SARS went on to kill about 800 people and sicken 8,000 worldwide. By July 2003 the disease had disappeared, but it left an indelible change on public health in China. The Chinese public health system, once famous for its grassroots, low-technology approach, was transformed into a globally-oriented, research-based, scientific endeavor.

In Infectious Change, Katherine A. Mason investigates local Chinese public health institutions in Southeastern China, examining how the outbreak of SARS re-imagined public health as a professionalized, biomedicalized, and technological machine—one that frequently failed to serve the Chinese people. Mason recounts the rapid transformation as young, highly trained biomedical scientists flooded into local public health institutions, replacing bureaucratic government inspectors who had dominated the field for decades. Infectious Change grapples with how public health in China was reinvented into a prestigious profession in which global impact and recognition were paramount—and service to vulnerable local communities was secondary.
Learn more about Infectious Change at the Stanford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Infectious Change.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Pg. 69: Kelley Armstrong's "City of the Lost"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: City of the Lost: Casey Duncan Novels (Volume 1) by Kelley Armstrong.

About the book, from the publisher:
Casey Duncan is a homicide detective with a secret: when she was in college, she killed a man. She was never caught, but he was the grandson of a mobster and she knows that someday this crime will catch up to her. Casey's best friend, Diana, is on the run from a violent, abusive ex-husband. When Diana's husband finds her, and Casey herself is attacked shortly after, Casey knows it's time for the two of them to disappear again.

Diana has heard of a town made for people like her, a town that takes in people on the run who want to shed their old lives. You must apply to live in Rockton and if you're accepted, it means walking away entirely from your old life, and living off the grid in the wilds of Canada: no cell phones, no Internet, no mail, no computers, very little electricity, and no way of getting in or out without the town council's approval. As a murderer, Casey isn't a good candidate, but she has something they want: She's a homicide detective, and Rockton has just had its first real murder. She and Diana are in. However, soon after arriving, Casey realizes that the identity of a murderer isn't the only secret Rockton is hiding—in fact, she starts to wonder if she and Diana might be in even more danger in Rockton than they were in their old lives.

An edgy, gripping crime novel from bestselling urban fantasy writer Kelley Armstrong, City of the Lost boldly announces a major new player in the crime fiction world.
Visit Kelley Armstrong's website.

The Page 69 Test: City of the Lost.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Samantha Mabry reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Samantha Mabry, author of A Fierce and Subtle Poison.

Her entry begins:
For a few weeks now, I’ve had In the American Grain by William Carlos Williams on my nightstand. I go back and forth to it because it’s dense and difficult and…strange. In the American Grain is officially referred to as a collection of essays written in (I believe) 1922, but, to me, they read like Modernist prose poems/alternate histories of major events in the formation of the Americas (according to Williams), from the explorations of the Vikings to...[read on]
About A Fierce and Subtle Poison, from the publisher:
In this stunning debut, legends collide with reality when a boy is swept into the magical, dangerous world of a girl filled with poison.

Everyone knows the legends about the cursed girl–Isabel, the one the senoras whisper about. They say she has green skin and grass for hair, and she feeds on the poisonous plants that fill her family’s Caribbean island garden. Some say she can grant wishes; some say her touch can kill.

Seventeen-year-old Lucas lives on the mainland most of the year but spends summers with his hotel-developer father in Puerto Rico. He’s grown up hearing stories about the cursed girl, and he wants to believe in Isabel and her magic. When letters from Isabel begin mysteriously appearing in his room the same day his new girlfriend disappears, Lucas turns to Isabel for answers–and finds himself lured into her strange and enchanted world. But time is running out for the girl filled with poison, and the more entangled Lucas becomes with Isabel, the less certain he is of escaping with his own life.

A Fierce and Subtle Poison beautifully blends magical realism with a page-turning mystery and a dark, starcrossed romance–all delivered in lush, urgent prose.
Visit Samantha Mabry's website.

The Page 69 Test: A Fierce and Subtle Poison.

Writers Read: Samantha Mabry.

--Marshal Zeringue

Coffee with a canine: Laura McNeal & Link

Featured at Coffee with a Canine: Laura McNeal & Link.

The author, on how she and Link were united:
I fell in love with a pair of dachshund puppies who lived around the corner from us, and although my husband Tom is a serial Doberman rescuer, he liked those puppies, too, and one day he said maybe we should get one. He was still just mulling the idea, but I found Link at a rescue place within 15 minutes and applied to adopt him immediately so Tom couldn’t possibly...[read on]
About McNeal's new novel The Incident on the Bridge, from the publisher:
From National Book Award nominee Laura McNeal comes a riviting, tautly told novel that is at once hopeful and harrowing. Perfect for fans of We Were Liars and Bone Gap.

When Thisbe Locke is last seen standing on the edge of the Coronado Bridge, it looks like there is only one thing to call it. But her sister Ted is not convinced. Despite the witnesses and the police reports and the divers and the fact that she was heartbroken about the way things ended with Clay and how she humiliated herself at that party, Thisbe isn't the type of person to end up just an "incident."

While everyone in town prepares to mourn the loss (some more than others), Ted and Fen, the new kid in town, set out to put the pieces together and find her sister.

But if Thisbe didn't jump, what happened up on that bridge?
Visit Laura McNeal's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Incident on the Bridge.

Writers Read: Laura McNeal.

Coffee with a Canine: Laura McNeal & Link.

--Marshal Zeringue

Laura Lippman's "Wilde Lake," the movie

Featured at My Book, the Movie: Wilde Lake: A Novel by Laura Lippman.

The entry begins:
Writing Wilde Lake, I needed to shut down any thoughts of movies, especially one particular movie and one particular actor. It was imperative that I banish Gregory Peck from my mind. Which is ironic, because I never think of Peck when I re-read To Kill a Mockingbird. I read the book when I was 11 or 12 and had not yet seen the film. In my mind, Atticus Finch looked more like Wally Cox, whom I knew from Hollywood Squares: Slender, be-spectacled. If you remember the book, Scout describes her father as "old," relative to other fathers, not someone inclined to throw a ball around with his son. That's why the scene when he shoots the rabid dog is so vivid; Jem and Scout have no idea that their father is a crack shot.

But, perhaps because I'm middle-aged now, I did begin to wonder if Atticus Finch was celibate. Whether he looks like Gregory Peck or Wally Cox, it seems unlikely, doesn't it? There would have been women eager to provide companionship to a widower with a good job. And if he wasn't keeping company with women in public, well -- you can see where I'm going with this. To Kill a Mockingbird is a child's eye view of the world until its final paragraph, which suggests that Scout...[read on]
Visit Laura Lippman's website.

The Page 69 Test: Wilde Lake.

My Book, the Movie: Wilde Lake.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top books set in company towns

Madeline Ashby is a science fiction writer, futurist, speaker, and immigrant living in Toronto. Her new novel is Company Town.

One of Ashby's five top books set in company towns, as shared at Tor.com:
Red Harvest

When I set about writing Company Town, one of the first novels I read in preparation was Dashiell Hammett’s Red Harvest. I liked it so much I even tried to include a quote from it in the novel: “This damned burg’s getting me. If I don’t get away soon I’ll be going blood-simple like the natives.” Red Harvest is short and brutal. It takes place in a company town called Personville, which the residents call “Poisonville.” Hammett uses his experience as a former Pinkerton detective to tell the story of the “Continental Op,” a private dick brought in by a newspaper reporter who naturally winds up dead. Hammett himself was on the side of organized labour: he joined the Communist Party, and he submitted to a prison sentence rather than give up the names of contributors to the Party. Both he and his partner, playwright Lillian Hellman, were blacklisted.

Dashiell Hammett is the mind behind both The Thin Man and The Maltese Falcon. His works were ideally suited to film thanks to his masterful control of point-of-view and perspective within the prose. Hammett works his words like a camera: we see what Sam Spade (or the Continental Op) sees, but that gaze never once peers within. The distance between what a Hammett anti-hero feels and what he actually tells you creates a sense of tension and dread within every story. It’s like jazz: it’s the notes you don’t hear. Also, Hammett has the best cure for a sleepless night in the world: a cold bath and a colder gin.
Read about another entry on the list.

Red Harvest is among Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones's top ten classic spy novels and 88 books that shaped America.

--Marshal Zeringue