Thursday, August 27, 2015

Pg. 99: Stanley I. Thangaraj's "Desi Hoop Dreams"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Desi Hoop Dreams: Pickup Basketball and the Making of Asian American Masculinity by Stanley I. Thangaraj.

About the book, from the publisher:
South Asian American men are not usually depicted as ideal American men. They struggle against popular representations as either threatening terrorists or geeky, effeminate computer geniuses. To combat such stereotypes, some use sports as a means of performing a distinctly American masculinity. Desi Hoop Dreams focuses on South Asian-only basketball leagues common in most major U.S. and Canadian cities, to show that basketball, for these South Asian American players is not simply a whimsical hobby, but a means to navigate and express their identities in 21st century America.

The participation of young men in basketball is one platform among many for performing South Asian American identity. South Asian-only leagues and tournaments become spaces in which to negotiate the relationships between masculinity, race, and nation. When faced with stereotypes that portray them as effeminate, players perform sporting feats on the court to represent themselves as athletic. And though they draw on black cultural styles, they carefully set themselves off from African American players, who are deemed “too aggressive.” Accordingly, the same categories of their own marginalization—masculinity, race, class, and sexuality—are those through which South Asian American men exclude women, queer masculinities, and working-class masculinities, along with other racialized masculinities, in their effort to lay claim to cultural citizenship.

One of the first works on masculinity formation and sport participation in South Asian American communities, Desi Hoop Dreams focuses on an American popular sport to analyze the dilemma of belonging within South Asian America in particular and in the U.S. in general.
Learn more about Desi Hoop Dreams at the NYU Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Desi Hoop Dreams.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Shannon Grogan's "From Where I Watch You"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: From Where I Watch You by Shannon Grogan.

About the book, from the publisher:
Sixteen-year-old Kara is about to realize her dream of becoming a professional baker. Beautifully designed and piped, her cookies are masterpieces, but also her ticket out of rainy Seattle—if she wins the upcoming national baking competition and its scholarship prize to culinary school in California. Kara can no longer stand the home where her family lived, laughed, and ultimately imploded after her mean-spirited big sister Kellen died in a drowning accident. Kara’s dad has since fled, and her mom has turned from a high-powered attorney into a nutty holy-rolling Christian fundamentalist peddling “Soul Soup” in the family café. All Kara has left are memories of better times.

But the past holds many secrets, and they come to light as Kara faces an anonymous terror: Someone is leaving her handwritten notes. Someone who knows exactly where she is and what she’s doing. As the notes lead her to piece together the events that preceded Kellen’s terrible, life-changing betrayal years before, she starts to catch glimpses of her dead sister: an unwelcome ghost in filthy Ugg boots. If Kara doesn’t figure out who her stalker is, and soon, she could lose everything. Her chance of escape. The boy she’s beginning to love and trust. Even her life.
Visit Shannon Grogan's website.

My Book, The Movie: From Where I Watch You.

The Page 69 Test: From Where I Watch You.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten dog stories

Jill Ciment was born in Montreal, Canada. She is the author of Small Claims, a collection of short stories and novellas; The Law of Falling Bodies, Teeth of the Dog, The Tattoo Artist, Heroic Measures, and Act of God, novels; and Half a Life, a memoir.

One of her top ten dog stories, as shared at the Guardian:
The Call of the Wild by Jack London

All of London’s dog novels hark back to the courting stage of man and wolf, when we were still both beasts. London’s plots are really love stories - two wary beings learn to trust each other and fall in love. Buck, a huge St Bernard/shepherd mix, is kidnapped from his comfortable middle-class home, sold into bondage, and escapes. In the Alaskan wilderness, he discovers the bestial instinct within himself. Only late in life does Buck fall in love with a man, John Thornton, who saves his life. When he loses John to an Indian’s arrow, he returns to the wild and joins a wolf pack. London intends for Buck’s howl, “the song of the pack”, to be a dirge.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Call of the Wild is among Cliff McNish's top ten dogs in children's books, Brian Payton's top ten books about Alaska, Joshua Glenn's top 32 list of adventure novels of the 19th century, Sarah Lean's top ten animal stories, Ben Frederick's eleven essential books for dog lovers, Megan Miranda's top ten books set in a wintry landscape, Jill Hucklesby's top 10 books about running away, Charlie English's top ten snow books, and Thomas Bloor's top ten tales of metamorphosis. It appears on John Mullan's list of ten of the best wolves in literature and Alice-Azania Jarvis's reading list on dogs.

The Page 69 Test: Jill Ciment's Heroic Measures.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Nicole Galland reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Nicole Galland, author of Stepdog.

Her entry begins:
I’m usually a serial monogamist in my reading – I lose myself completely in something, finish it, and then move on to the next. At the moment, though, there’s a pile on my bedside table, and I despair of getting through them all before the end of summer. It’s a pretty eclectic stack.

I’ll start with Malcolm Gaskill’s Between Two Worlds: How the English Became American. This is research for my next novel (which I’m writing in collaboration with Neal Stephenson). I grew up in eastern Massachusetts, which means I’d been to Plimoth Plantation several times and done all the historical walks around Boston, but there’s 150 years between “Behold! the settlers” and “Behold! the revolutionaries” and that gap generally isn’t covered in the pop-cultural sense of American history – one might almost get the impression the Pilgrims got off the Mayflower and a few years later were throwing tea into Boston harbor. This book...[read on]
About Stepdog, from the publisher:
From the author of The Fool’s Tale and I, Iago comes a disarmingly charming and warm-hearted “romcom” about a woman, her dog, and the man who has to prove that he is good enough for both of them.

Sara Renault fired Rory O’Connor from his part-time job at a Boston art museum, and in response, Rory—an Irish actor secretly nursing a crush on his beautiful boss—threw caution to the wind, leaned over, and kissed her. Now Sara and Rory are madly in love.

When Rory’s visa runs out on the cusp of his big Hollywood break, Sara insists that he marry her to get a green card. In a matter of weeks they’ve gone from being friendly work colleagues to a live-in couple, and it’s all grand . . . except for Sara’s dog, Cody, who had been a gift from Sara’s sociopath ex-boyfriend. Sara’s over-attachment to her dog is the only thing she and Rory fight about.

When Rory scores both his green card and the lead role in an upcoming TV pilot, he and Sara (and Cody) prepare to move to Los Angeles. But just before their departure, Cody is kidnapped by Sara’s ex—and it is entirely Rory’s fault. Sara is furious and broken-hearted. Desperate to get back into Sara’s good graces, Rory takes off and tracks Cody and the dog-napper to North Carolina. Can Rory rescue Cody and convince Sara that they belong together—with Cody—as a family? First they’ll need to survive a madcap adventure that takes them all across the heartland of America.

Stepdog is a refreshing and hilarious romantic comedy that asks: How far would you go for the one you love?
Visit Nicole Galland's website.

The Page 69 Test: Stepdog.

My Book, The Movie: Stepdog.

Writers Read: Nicole Galland.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

John Hagedorn's "The Insane Chicago Way," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Insane Chicago Way: The Daring Plan by Chicago Gangs to Create a Spanish Mafia by John M. Hagedorn.

The entry begins:
In$ane was the product of a unique collaboration between the author and an Outfit (Chicago’s mafia) solider, Sal Martino. Sal was the godfather of the C-Note$, the Outfit’s minor league team. Sal fondly called the five C-Note leaders he mentored, “Two Dagos, Two Spics, and a Hillbilly.” With Sal’s encouragement, the C-Note$ joined a secret “Spanish mafia,” Spanish Growth & Development, that had goals of controlling violence, organizing crime, and corrupting police. In$ane is a tragedy of how SGD rose and collapsed in a bloody “war of the families.” Since I’m not a movie buff, I asked Sal to write how he’d produce a movie base on the book. Here is what he wrote:The film would open in 1989, focusing on five guys, Dominick, Sammy, Joey Bags, Mo-Mo, and Lucky, as they grow up in and around an area known as “The Patch,” in Chicago’s Little Italy.

Mo-Mo (Freddy Rodriguez) is a college student by day and a gangster by night, Joey Bags (Benjamin Bratt) is a high ranking old school gang member with ties to organized crime; Lucky (Stephen...[read on]
Learn more about The Insane Chicago Way at the University of Chicago Press website.

My Book, The Movie: The Insane Chicago Way.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Robert Masello's "The Einstein Prophecy"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Einstein Prophecy by Robert Masello.

About the book, from the publisher:
As war rages in 1944, young army lieutenant Lucas Athan recovers a sarcophagus excavated from an Egyptian tomb. Shipped to Princeton University for study, the box contains mysteries that only Lucas, aided by brilliant archaeologist Simone Rashid, can unlock.

These mysteries may, in fact, defy—or fulfill—the dire prophecies of Albert Einstein himself.

Struggling to decipher the sarcophagus’s strange contents, Lucas and Simone unwittingly release forces for both good and unmitigated evil. The fate of the world hangs not only on Professor Einstein’s secret research but also on Lucas’s ability to defeat an unholy adversary more powerful than anything he ever imagined.

From the mind of bestselling author and award-winning journalist Robert Masello comes a thrilling, page-turning adventure where modern science and primordial supernatural powers collide.
Learn more about the book and author at Robert Masello's website.

The Page 69 Test: Blood and Ice.

The Page 69 Test: The Medusa Amulet.

The Page 69 Test: The Einstein Prophecy.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six top novels featuring teens in Hollywood

At LitReactor Riki Cleveland tagged six top novels featuring teens in Hollywood, including:
The Notorious Pagan Jones by Nina Berry

One drunken night changes everything for America’s sweetheart Pagan Jones when she causes a car accident that kills her whole family. For nine months she is stuck in the Lighthouse Reformatory for Wayward Girls where the sadistic Miss Edwards is making every day a new sort of hell. But everything changes when Pagan’s old agent shows up with mysterious studio executive Devin Black, offering Pagan a juicy role in a comedy directed by award-winning director Bennie Wexler. Pagan must agree to a court-appointed guardian and a shoot in West Berlin starting in only three days time. Berlin is in great political turmoil and the mysterious Devin Black is up to something, but Pagan is just the girl to figure it all out.

Nina Berry paints a perfect picture of Berlin in the 1960s. The country is divided by war and attempting to rebuild, and it makes for the perfect backdrop for this intense thrill-ride of a novel. This book is definitely a page-turner, especially in the last third, and readers will really enjoy the fantastic setting and unique characters.
Read about another entry on the list.

Writers Read: Nina Berry.

My Book, The Movie: The Notorious Pagan Jones.

The Page 69 Test: The Notorious Pagan Jones.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Joachim J. Savelsberg's "Representing Mass Violence"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Representing Mass Violence: Conflicting Responses to Human Rights Violations in Darfur by Joachim J. Savelsberg.

About the book, from the publisher:
How do interventions by the UN Security Council and the International Criminal Court influence representations of mass violence? What images arise instead from the humanitarianism and diplomacy fields? How are these competing perspectives communicated to the public via mass media? Zooming in on the case of Darfur, Joachim J. Savelsberg analyzes more than three thousand news reports and opinion pieces and interviews leading newspaper correspondents, NGO experts, and foreign ministry officials from eight countries to show the dramatic differences in the framing of mass violence around the world and across social fields. Representing Mass Violence contributes to our understanding of how the world acknowledges and responds to violence in the Global South.
Learn more about Representing Mass Violence at the University of California Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Representing Mass Violence.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

What is Douglas Corleone reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Douglas Corleone, author of Gone Cold.

His entry begins:
A food jag is when a child will only eat one item, meal after meal. I sometimes go through periods like that with authors. When I first discovered Lee Child, I’d read nothing but Reacher novels for months at a time. If I fall behind on prolific authors such as Stephen King, I do the same. My current author jag is Harlan Coben. I originally picked him up because I was feeling nostalgic for my home state of New Jersey. But once Coben sinks his hooks into you, it’s incredibly difficult to break way.

Over the past few weeks I’ve read a number of his standalones, including The Innocent, Hold Tight, The Woods, Six Years, and Caught. I’m...[read on]
About Gone Cold, from the publisher:
Twelve years after a kidnapping destroyed former US Marshal Simon Fisk's family, he is newly determined to find the people responsible for taking his then-six-year-old daughter. He refuses to step away from the cold case, even after enduring months of dead ends and frustration.

And then, at last, he gets a break. On a brutal January night, Simon finds an urgent message on his computer. Attached are two images: one, a computer-generated image of Hailey Fisk had she reached eighteen years of age; the second, a sketch of a young woman wanted for murder in the Ireland. There are striking similarities. Within a matter of hours, Simon is on a flight to Dublin, setting off to find a girl who may be Hailey Fisk-before she's arrested for murder.

The chase will lead Simon through the UK and Ireland, where he learns secrets that have been kept far longer than the twelve years Hailey has been missing. It's Dublin where Simon hopes to find the people responsible for his daughter's disappearance and his wife's suicide. There he hopes to hold them accountable for what they've done. And, most importantly, it is there that Simon hopes to find Hailey, to bring her home once and for all.
Learn more about the book and author at Douglas Corleone's website.

The Page 69 Test: Good as Gone.

My Book, The Movie: Payoff.

The Page 69 Test: Gone Cold.

My Book, The Movie: Gone Cold.

Writers Read: Douglas Corleone.

--Marshal Zeringue

Shannon Grogan's "From Where I Watch You," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: From Where I Watch You by Shannon Grogan.

The entry begins:
This is easy. If they made my book into a film, I'd love two totally unknown actors to play the lead roles. I definitely have a visual image for my characters, and they don’t look like anyone I know or have seen in real life. Well, except Charlie—he has hair like Josh Duhamel.

I think Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling...[read on]
Visit Shannon Grogan's website.

My Book, The Movie: From Where I Watch You.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top books on the perils of education

Ian R. MacLeod is an acclaimed writer of speculative and fantastic fiction. For Tor.com he tagged five top novels on the perils of education, including:
Apt Pupil by Stephen King (originally published in Different Seasons)

A promising young lad rides his bike up to the doorstep of a neighbour, and on into the horrors of the old man’s corpse-filled cellar, the even greater horrors of Nazi Germany, and a concluding shoot-out which ends in his death. Which just goes to show once again that a good education isn’t necessarily a good one.
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Katherine Rundell's "The Wolf Wilder"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell.

About the book, from the publisher:
A girl and the wolves who love her embark on a rescue mission through Russian wilderness in this lyrical tale from the author of the acclaimed Rooftoppers and Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms.

Feo’s life is extraordinary. Her mother trains domesticated wolves to be able to fend for themselves in the snowy wilderness of Russia, and Feo is following in her footsteps to become a wolf wilder. She loves taking care of the wolves, especially the three who stay at the house because they refuse to leave Feo, even though they’ve already been wilded. But not everyone is enamored with the wolves, or with the fact that Feo and her mother are turning them wild. And when her mother is taken captive, Feo must travel through the cold, harsh woods to save her—and learn from her wolves how to survive.
Visit Katherine Rundell's Twitter perch.

The Page 69 Test: The Wolf Wilder.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 24, 2015

What is Stephanie Clifford reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Stephanie Clifford, author of Everybody Rise.

Her entry begins:
I just finished Cristina Henríquez' The Book of Unknown Americans. Henríquez's details give such a vivid sense of her characters' lives - the rundown Delaware apartment building that the characters live in, one of the father's jobs at a mushroom-packaging factory where he has to work in the dark. It's about moving to America, and it's also about family and sacrifice and what you do for...[read on]
About Everybody Rise, from the publisher:
It's 2006 in the Manhattan of the young and glamorous. Money and class are colliding in a city that is about to go over a financial precipice and take much of the country with it. At 26, bright, funny and socially anxious Evelyn Beegan is determined to carve her own path in life and free herself from the influence of her social-climbing mother, who propelled her through prep school and onto the Upper East Side. Evelyn has long felt like an outsider to her privileged peers, but when she gets a job at a social network aimed at the elite, she's forced to embrace them.

Recruiting new members for the site, Evelyn steps into a promised land of Adirondack camps, Newport cottages and Southampton clubs thick with socialites and Wall Streeters. Despite herself, Evelyn finds the lure of belonging intoxicating, and starts trying to pass as old money herself. When her father, a crusading class-action lawyer, is indicted for bribery, Evelyn must contend with her own family's downfall as she keeps up appearances in her new life, grasping with increasing desperation as the ground underneath her begins to give way.

Bracing, hilarious and often poignant, Stephanie Clifford's debut offers a thoroughly modern take on classic American themes - money, ambition, family, friendship - and on the universal longing to fit in.
Visit Stephanie Clifford's website.

Writers Read: Stephanie Clifford.

--Marshal Zeringue

Nine top historical novels

Philippa Gregory's new novel, The Taming of the Queen, tells the story of Henry VIII’s final bride, Kateryn Parr. One of the author's top nine historical novels, as shared at B & N Reads:
Simple Gifts, by Joanne Greenberg

I don’t know why this book is not universally adored. It deals with an eccentric, very poor family in remote Colorado who are paid to create a “heritage” experience, making their farm into a pioneer homestead of the 1880s. The question of authenticity and heritage versus history is central to the novel as it is to all historical fiction.
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Susan Campbell Bartoletti's "Terrible Typhoid Mary"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Terrible Typhoid Mary: A True Story of the Deadliest Cook in America by Susan Campbell Bartoletti.

About the book, from the publisher:
What happens when a person's reputation has been forever damaged? With archival photographs and text among other primary sources, this riveting biography of Mary Mallon by the Sibert medalist and Newbery Honor winner Susan Bartoletti looks beyond the tabloid scandal of Mary's controversial life. How she was treated by medical and legal officials reveals a lesser-known story of human and constitutional rights, entangled with the science of pathology and enduring questions about who Mary Mallon really was. How did her name become synonymous with deadly disease? And who is really responsible for the lasting legacy of Typhoid Mary? This thorough exploration includes an author's note, timeline, annotated source notes, and bibliography.
Visit Susan Campbell Bartoletti's website.

My Book, The Movie: Terrible Typhoid Mary.

The Page 99 Test: Terrible Typhoid Mary.

--Marshal Zeringue

Nicole Galland's "Stepdog," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Stepdog by Nicole Galland.

The entry begins:
Well naturally, I think my own dog (who inspired the novel) should play the title role of the Stepdog, Cody, even though she’s the wrong breed, because she is the sweetest, gentlest, best-behaved, smartest, most photogenic dog in the world. Not that I’m biased.

The story is a sort of romantic bow-tie between the narrator (an Irish actor/musician), his bride, her dog and her ex. A frequent and very flattering comment I’ve been hearing from folks about Stepdog is that there is something Nick-Hornby-ish in the tone of the book, which thrills me as I’m a big Hornby fan. Since the movie About A Boy is my favorite adaptation of anything in the Hornby canon, I’d opt for...[read on]
Visit Nicole Galland's website.

The Page 69 Test: Stepdog.

My Book, The Movie: Stepdog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 23, 2015

What is Stephen Emond reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Stephen Emond, author of Bright Lights, Dark Nights.

His entry begins:
I’m always reading a wide variety at the same time. At the moment I’m working on a historical fiction pitch and I’m knee-deep in research for that, so a lot of my reading is tied to that. I’ve also had an itch to draw lately, so I’ve been reading some comic books like Lumberjanes and Rocket Girl, and I just finished...[read on]
About Bright Lights, Dark Nights, from the publisher:
A story about first love, first fights, and finding yourself in a messed up world, from Stephen Emond, acclaimed author of Happyface.

Walter Wilcox has never been in love. That is, until he meets Naomi, and sparks, and clever jokes, fly. But when his cop dad is caught in a racial profiling scandal, Walter and Naomi, who is African American, are called out at school, home, and online. Can their bond (and mutual love of the Foo Fighters) keep them together?

With black-and-white illustrations throughout and a heartfelt, humorous voice, Bright Lights, Dark Nights authentically captures just how tough first love can be...and why it's worth fighting for.
Visit Stephen Emond's website.

The Page 69 Test: Bright Lights, Dark Nights.

My Book, The Movie: Bright Lights, Dark Nights.

Writers Read: Stephen Emond.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten must-read YA novels that deserve a bigger following

Guardian children's books site teen blogger John Hansen tagged ten must-read YA novels you've probably never heard of, including:
Under A Painted Sky by Stacey Lee

Under A Painted Sky chronicles the journey of two teenagers during the start of the Gold Rush, one an escaped slave and the other a runaway Chinese girl who longs to become a musician. On the run from law enforcement, the two head West, along the way meeting a fascinating cast of characters. Under A Painted Sky is a historical, a western, a coming of age novel, and a story of friendship all rolled into one.
Read about another book on the list.

Under a Painted Sky is among Sarah Skilton's top six YA books featuring cross-cultural friendships and Dahlia Adler's seven top YA novels about best friendship.

My Book, The Movie: Under a Painted Sky.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Susan Crandall's "The Flying Circus"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Flying Circus by Susan Crandall.

About the book, from the publisher:
From the bestselling and award-winning author of Whistling Past the Graveyard comes an adventure tale about two daredevils and a farm boy who embark on the journey of a lifetime across America’s heartland in the Roaring Twenties.

Set in the rapidly changing world of 1920s America, this is a story of three people from very different backgrounds: Henry “Schuler” Jefferson, son of German immigrants from Midwestern farm country; Cora Rose Haviland, a young woman of privilege whose family has lost their fortune; and Charles “Gil” Gilchrist, an emotionally damaged WWI veteran pilot. Set adrift by life-altering circumstances, they find themselves bound together by need and torn apart by blind obsessions and conflicting goals. Each one holds a secret that, if exposed, would destroy their friendship. But their journey of adventure and self-discovery has a price—and one of them won’t be able to survive it.

As they crisscross the heartland, exploring the rapidly expanding role of aviation from barnstorming to bootlegging, from a flying circus to the dangerous sport of air racing, the three companions form a makeshift family. It’s a one-of-a-kind family, with members as adventurous as they are vulnerable, and as fascinating as they are flawed. But whatever adventure—worldly or private—they find themselves on, they’re guaranteed to be a family you won’t forget.
Visit Susan Crandall's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Flying Circus.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Douglas Corleone's "Gone Cold," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Gone Cold by Douglas Corleone.

The entry begins:
Remember Jaguar’s 2014 Super Bowl ad featuring “British villains” Sir Ben Kingsley, Tom Hiddleston, and Mark Strong? That’s the tone I wanted to set for Gone Cold, the third international thriller to feature former US Marshal Simon Fisk. In Gone Cold, Simon returns to his birthplace, the United Kingdom, to discover what happened to his daughter Hailey, who was abducted twelve years earlier from the Fisk family home in Washington, DC. As mentioned in a previous MBTM blog post, my Simon Fisk is dream-played by action star Jason...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Douglas Corleone's website.

The Page 69 Test: Good as Gone.

My Book, The Movie: Payoff.

The Page 69 Test: Gone Cold.

My Book, The Movie: Gone Cold.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Gary Alan Fine's "Players and Pawns"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Players and Pawns: How Chess Builds Community and Culture by Gary Alan Fine.

About the book, from the publisher:
A chess match seems as solitary an endeavor as there is in sports: two minds, on their own, in fierce opposition. In contrast, Gary Alan Fine argues that chess is a social duet: two players in silent dialogue who always take each other into account in their play. Surrounding that one-on-one contest is a community life that can be nearly as dramatic and intense as the across-the-board confrontation.

Fine has spent years immersed in the communities of amateur and professional chess players, and with Players and Pawns he takes readers deep inside them, revealing a complex, brilliant, feisty world of commitment and conflict. Opening with a close look at a typical tournament in Atlantic City, Fine carries us from planning and setup through the climactic final day’s match-ups between the weekend’s top players, introducing us along the way to countless players and their relationships to the game. At tournaments like that one, as well as in locales as diverse as collegiate matches and community chess clubs, players find themselves part of what Fine terms a “soft community,” an open, welcoming space built on their shared commitment to the game. Within that community, chess players find both support and challenges, all amid a shared interest in and love of the long-standing traditions of the game, traditions that help chess players build a communal identity.

Full of idiosyncratic characters and dramatic gameplay, Players and Pawns is a celebration of the ever-fascinating world of serious chess.
Learn more about Players and Pawns at The University of Chicago Press.

The Page 99 Test: Players and Pawns.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top books that will drop you into the depths of despair

Jason Sizemore is the editor of five anthologies, author of Irredeemable and For Exposure: The Life and Times of a Small Press Publisher, a three-time Hugo Award loser, and an occasional writer. For Tor.com he tagged five books that will entertain and drop you into the depths of despair, including:
Blood Meridian, or The Evening Redness in the West by Cormac McCarthy

Frankly, I could fill this list with at least two more McCarthy novels: No Country for Old Men and The Road. But Blood Meridian is the most interesting of the three to me. The threadbare plot follows fourteen-year-old ‘The Kid’ as he travels through the wilds of Mexico with the scalp hunters John Joel Glanton and the monstrous Judge Holden.
The men as they rode turned black in the sun from the blood on their clothes and their faces and then paled slowly in the rising dust until they assumed once more the color of the land through which they passed.
Some critics cite Blood Meridian as the pinnacle of contemporary fiction. Naturally, that is a debatable stance. But McCarthy’s novel stands as an incredible indictment of senseless violence, in particular, those acts of evil committed in the name of America and Christianity. The Judge will haunt your dreams for weeks after you finish the last page.
Read about another book on the list.

Blood Meridian is one authority's pick for the Great Texas novel; it is among Robert Allison's top ten novels of desert war, Alexandra Silverman's top fourteen wrathful stories, James Franco's six favorite books, Philipp Meyer's five best books that explain America, Peter Murphy's top ten literary preachers, David Vann's six favorite books, Robert Olmstead's six favorite books, Michael Crummey's top ten literary feuds, Philip Connors's top ten wilderness books, six books that made a difference to Kazuo Ishiguro, Clive Sinclair's top 10 westerns, Maile Meloy's six best books, and David Foster Wallace's five direly underappreciated post-1960 U.S. novels. It appears on the New York Times list of the best American fiction of the last 25 years and among the top ten works of literature according to Stephen King.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is April Genevieve Tucholke reading?

Featured at Writers Read: April Genevieve Tucholke, editor of Slasher Girls & Monster Boys.

Her entry begins:
Lark Rise to Candleford by Flora Thompson

I adored the BBC series of the same name, and decided to pick up the book as well. It's a...peaceful book, one that provides a glimpse into rural English life before industrialization. It doesn't have a plot, per se, (unlike the mini-series)--it's more a series of sketches on nature and outdoor life. It makes me feel calm when I read it, in the same way as books by...[read on]
About Slasher Girls & Monster Boys, from the publisher:
For fans of Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, American Horror Story and The Walking Dead comes a powerhouse anthology featuring some of the best thriller and horror writers in YA

A host of the sharpest young adult authors come together in this collection of terrifying tales and psychological thrillers. Each author draws from a mix of literature, film, television, and music to create something new and fresh and unsettling. Clever readers will love teasing out the references and can satisfy their curiosity at the end of each tale, where the inspiration is revealed. There are no superficial scares here; these are stories that will make you think even as they keep you on the edge of your seat. From blood horror, to the supernatural, to unsettling, all-too-possible realism, this collection has something for anyone looking for an absolute thrill.
Learn more about the book and author at April Genevieve Tucholke's website.

My Book, The Movie: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea.

Writers Read: April Genevieve Tucholke.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 21, 2015

Five YA books in which poetry is part of the plot

Eric Smith is the author of The Geek’s Guide to Dating and Inked. One of his five top Young Adult reads in which poetry is part of the plot, as shared at the B&N Teen blog:
When Reason Breaks, by Cindy L. Rodriguez

An emotional read that discusses mental illness and suicide, When Reason Breaks focuses on two teenagers wrestling with identity: Emily, a seemingly typical smart girl who’s battling depression in secret, and Elizabeth, a Goth girl fighting with anger issues. The two seemingly mismatched girls connect over the poetry of Emily Dickinson, and with her words, try to find a way to move on. It’s a gripping, diverse contemporary novel that’ll have you looking up Dickinson poems as you’re reading along.
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The Page 69 Test: When Reason Breaks.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Nicole Galland's "Stepdog"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Stepdog: A Novel by Nicole Galland.

About the book, from the publisher:
From the author of The Fool’s Tale and I, Iago comes a disarmingly charming and warm-hearted “romcom” about a woman, her dog, and the man who has to prove that he is good enough for both of them.

Sara Renault fired Rory O’Connor from his part-time job at a Boston art museum, and in response, Rory—an Irish actor secretly nursing a crush on his beautiful boss—threw caution to the wind, leaned over, and kissed her. Now Sara and Rory are madly in love.

When Rory’s visa runs out on the cusp of his big Hollywood break, Sara insists that he marry her to get a green card. In a matter of weeks they’ve gone from being friendly work colleagues to a live-in couple, and it’s all grand . . . except for Sara’s dog, Cody, who had been a gift from Sara’s sociopath ex-boyfriend. Sara’s over-attachment to her dog is the only thing she and Rory fight about.

When Rory scores both his green card and the lead role in an upcoming TV pilot, he and Sara (and Cody) prepare to move to Los Angeles. But just before their departure, Cody is kidnapped by Sara’s ex—and it is entirely Rory’s fault. Sara is furious and broken-hearted. Desperate to get back into Sara’s good graces, Rory takes off and tracks Cody and the dog-napper to North Carolina. Can Rory rescue Cody and convince Sara that they belong together—with Cody—as a family? First they’ll need to survive a madcap adventure that takes them all across the heartland of America.

Stepdog is a refreshing and hilarious romantic comedy that asks: How far would you go for the one you love?
Visit Nicole Galland's website.

The Page 69 Test: Stepdog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten sleuthing stories

Robin Stevens is the author of the Murder Most Unladylike series. One of her top ten crime capers, as shared at the Guardian:
The Ruby in the Smoke by Philip Pullman

Philip Pullman is most famous for the His Dark Materials trilogy, but his Sally Lockhart quartet, about a beautiful blonde girl who has “a thorough grounding in military tactics, can run a business, ride like a Cossack and shoot straight with a pistol”, is a fantastic mystery series. This first book, about a missing ruby in foggy, dangerous late-Victorian London, is a heart-pounding mystery that shares a lot of DNA with Wilkie Collins’s The Moonstone and Conan Doyle’s The Sign of Four (both excellent criminal capers in their own right). Sally is a heroine to die for, and these books are marvels.
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The Ruby in the Smoke is one of Joanne Harris's top ten kids' books with kickass heroines.

--Marshal Zeringue

Stephen Emond's "Bright Lights, Dark Nights," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Bright Lights, Dark Nights by Stephen Emond.

The entry begins:
Casting a movie for Bright Lights would be so difficult! I’m drawing a blank on who could play Walter. It feels like there’s a definite “type” for the white, awkward male lead. Freddie Highmore, Logan Lerman, etc. There was a guy, Jack Carpenter that we talked to when working on an Emo Boy movie that would be good if he isn’t too old. Maybe even Nick Jonas? For Naomi, I see...[read on]
Visit Stephen Emond's website.

The Page 69 Test: Bright Lights, Dark Nights.

My Book, The Movie: Bright Lights, Dark Nights.

--Marshal Zeringue