Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Pg. 99: Diana Walsh Pasulka's "Heaven Can Wait"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Heaven Can Wait: Purgatory in Catholic Devotional and Popular Culture by Diana Walsh Pasulka.

About the book, from the publisher:
After purgatory was officially defined by the Catholic Church in the thirteenth century, its location became a topic of heated debate and philosophical speculation: Was purgatory located on the earth, or within it? Were its fires real or figurative?

Diana Walsh Pasulka offers a groundbreaking historical exploration of spatial and material concepts of purgatory, beginning with scholastic theologians William of Auvergne and Thomas Aquinas, who wrote about the location of purgatory and questioned whether its torments were physical or solely spiritual. In the same period, writers of devotional literature located purgatory within the earth, near hell, and even in Ireland. In the early modern era, a counter-movement of theologians downplayed purgatory's spatial dimensions, preferring to depict it in abstract terms--a view strengthened during the French Enlightenment, when references to purgatory as a terrestrial location or a place of real fire were ridiculed by anti-Catholic polemicists and discouraged by the Church.

The debate surrounding purgatory's materiality has never ended: even today members of post-millennial ''purgatory apostolates'' maintain that purgatory is an actual, physical place. Heaven Can Wait provides crucial insight into the theological problem of purgatory's materiality (or lack thereof) over the past seven hundred years.
Learn more about Heaven Can Wait at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Heaven Can Wait.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten fictional families you could probably abide this holiday season

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog, Rebecca Jane Stokes tagged ten fictional families you might enjoy more than the one you'll actually spend the holidays with, including:
The Everdeens

If I had to pick any family with whom to dwell during the holidays in an apocalyptic version of earth, it would have to be the Everdeens. That’s mainly because if I overindulge in my food rations, Prim or Mama Everdeen would be able to brew up some sort of herbal tincture to treat my indigestion. That being said, the “cornucopia” utilized in the Games themselves is a cruel mockery of the symbol of a day when the only battle to the death should be over the last piece of pumpkin pie.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Hunger Games also appears on Jonathan Meres's top ten list of books that are so unfair, SF Said's top ten list of unlikely heroes, Rebecca Jane Stokes's top eight list of books perfect for reality TV fiends, Chrissie Gruebel's list of favorite fictional fashion icons, Lucy Christopher's top ten list of literary woods, Robert McCrum's list of the ten best books with teenage narrators, Sophie McKenzie's top ten list of teen thrillers, Gregg Olsen's top ten list of deadly YA books, Annalee Newitz's list of ten great American dystopias, Philip Webb's top ten list of pulse-racing adventure books, Charlie Higson's top ten list of fantasy books for children, and Megan Wasson's list of five fantasy series geared towards teens that adults will love too.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Jen Nadol's "This Is How It Ends"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: This Is How It Ends by Jen Nadol.

About the book, from the publisher:
If you could see the future, would you want to? After the disturbing visions Riley and his friends see turn out to be more than hallucinations, fate takes a dangerous twist in this dark and suspenseful page-turner.

Riley and his friends are gearing up for their senior year by spending one last night hanging out in the woods, drinking a few beers, and playing Truth or Dare. But what starts out as a good time turns sinister when they find a mysterious pair of binoculars. Those who dare to look through them see strange visions, which they brush off as hallucinations. Why else would Riley see himself in bed with his best friend’s girlfriend—a girl he’s had a secret crush on for years?

In the weeks that follow, the visions begin to come true...including a gruesome murder. One of Riley’s closest friends is now the prime suspect. But who is the murderer? Have Riley and his friends really seen the future through those mysterious binoculars? And what if they are powerless to change the course of events?
Visit Jen Nadol's website.

Writers Read: Jen Nadol.

The Page 69 Test: This Is How It Ends.

--Marshal Zeringue

Todd Moss' "The Golden Hour," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Golden Hour by Todd Moss.

The entry begins:
I get this question a lot, which hopefully means readers believe The Golden Hour would make a terrific movie. Judd Ryker is not your typical gun-wielding thriller hero. He’s a 30-something soft-spoken professor on leave from Amherst College who arrives at the State Department armed with data and ideas. Judd’s a nerd who’s much more comfortable with numbers than people, but as a diplomat, this is a problem he needs to quickly overcome. (I know a lot of successful people like this—they are brilliant analysts, but they could work on their people skills!) Jake...[read on]
Visit Todd Moss' website.

Writers Read: Todd Moss.

The Page 69 Test: The Golden Hour.

My Book, The Movie: The Golden Hour.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Pg. 99: David Carr's "Holy Resilience: The Bible's Traumatic Origins"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Holy Resilience: The Bible's Traumatic Origins by David M. Carr.

About the book, from the publisher:
Human trauma gave birth to the Bible, suggests eminent religious scholar David Carr. The Bible’s ability to speak to suffering is a major reason why the sacred texts of Judaism and Christianity have retained their relevance for thousands of years. In his fascinating and provocative reinterpretation of the Bible’s origins, the author tells the story of how the Jewish people and Christian community had to adapt to survive multiple catastrophes and how their holy scriptures both reflected and reinforced each religion’s resilient nature.

Carr’s thought-provoking analysis demonstrates how many of the central tenets of biblical religion, including monotheism and the idea of suffering as God’s retribution, are factors that provided Judaism and Christianity with the strength and flexibility to endure in the face of disaster. In addition, the author explains how the Jewish Bible was deeply shaped by the Jewish exile in Babylon, an event that it rarely describes, and how the Christian Bible was likewise shaped by the unspeakable shame of having a crucified savior.
Learn more about Holy Resilience at the Yale University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Holy Resilience.

--Marshal Zeringue

Cover story: "The Price of Thirst"

Karen Piper is the author of Cartographic Fictions and Left in the Dust, which the Los Angeles Times has called an “eco-thriller” that every “tap-turning American” should read. A regular contributor to Places magazine, Piper is also a winner of Sierra’s Nature Writing Award and has published in numerous academic journals. She is professor of postcolonial studies in English and adjunct professor in geography at the University of Missouri.

Piper's new book is The Price of Thirst: Global Water Inequality and the Coming Chaos.

Here she explains the connection of the book's cover to the pages within:
The cover photo is a large well in Gujarat, India, a region of the world known for water shortages. You’ll notice how crowded it is, how far down the ropes go, and how it’s surrounded by desert. You’ll also notice that it is mostly women who do the hard work of hauling water, and that this work is getting harder by the day. The reality for many people in the world is that these wells are drying up or becoming too dirty to drink—primarily because of climate change, pollution, and over-extraction of groundwater resources. My book talks about these three things, and also about the global challenges we will all face in finding and distributing water fairly. In India, the groundwater is so over-pumped that millions of people are affected by fluoride poisoning, due to the fact that deep aquifers have more fluoride in them than shallow wells. It’s a very serious problem that causes skeletal deformities, blindness, and a host of other issues.

Ultimately, imagine what would happen to the people in that photograph if that well were dry tomorrow, or if there were only enough water for two of those people. Or imagine that a French or American corporation came in and posted a sign saying, “Sorry, this water now belongs to us. No further access.” What would the people in that photograph do? That is precisely the question of my book.
Learn more about The Price of Thirst at the University of Minnesota Press website.

The Page 99 Test: The Price of Thirst.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five thick books that deserve their own movie series

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog John Bardinelli tagged five long books that deserve their own movie series, including:
Stranger in a Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein

One of the big sci-fi books from the 1960s, Stranger in a Strange Land tells the story of Valentine Michael Smith, a human born on Mars who comes back to his home planet and tries to understand life in a post–World War III society. Nothing humans do makes sense to him, and half of the things he does make no sense to humans. The book eventually veers off into free love hippie commune territory that seems a little dated by today’s standards, but in 1961, it was practically revolutionary.

Filming Stranger in a Strange Land wouldn’t take as many movies as the other items on the list. The uncut edition is about 528 pages long, but the material isn’t as dense, and Valentine’s psychic powers and rise to stardom would make for some great big screen material. The MPAA would have a field day with the sexual content, but hey, if 50 Shades of Grey gets a movie, we can’t grok why Stranger in a Strange Land shouldn’t, too.
Read about another entry on the list.

Stranger in a Strange Land is among MaryKate Jasper and Charlie Jane Anders's top ten super-weird books that are considered part of the science fiction canon and Battlestar Galactica creator Ron Moore's favorite sci-fi novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Gavriel D. Rosenfeld reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Gavriel D. Rosenfeld, author of Hi Hitler!: How the Nazi Past is Being Normalized in Contemporary Culture.

His entry begins:
The historical legacy of the Nazi era continues to fascinate me and I have begun work on a new book about the history of the Fourth Reich. As part of this project, I recently finished reading a (by now, surely forgotten) novel from 1944, Erwin Lessner’s Phantom Victory: A Fictional History of the Fourth Reich, 1945-1960. This future history (or to be technical, retroactive alternate history) was written by an Austrian World War I veteran and emigré to the United States and features a nightmare scenario in which the United States neglects to follow up its military victory over the Nazis with a hard peace and thereby enables the Nazis to return to power and establish a Fourth Reich. The plot and characters are reasonably engaging (the founder of the Fourth Reich is a charismatic peasant named Friedolin who leads the Germans back to power via feigned penance for their crimes), but the book is mostly of interest for...[read on]
About Hi Hitler!, from the publisher:
The Third Reich's legacy is in flux. For much of the post-war period, the Nazi era has been viewed moralistically as an exceptional period of history intrinsically different from all others. Since the turn of the millennium, however, this view has been challenged by a powerful wave of normalization. Gavriel D. Rosenfeld charts this important international trend by examining the shifting representation of the Nazi past in contemporary western intellectual and cultural life. Focusing on works of historical scholarship, popular novels, counterfactual histories, feature films, and Internet websites, he identifies notable changes in the depiction of the Second World War, the Holocaust, and the figure of Adolf Hitler himself. By exploring the origins of these works and assessing the controversies they have sparked in the United States and Europe, Hi Hitler! offers a fascinating and timely analysis of the shifting status of the Nazi past in western memory.
Visit Gavriel D. Rosenfeld's website.

Writers Read: Gavriel D. Rosenfeld.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 24, 2014

Pg. 99: Deana Rohlinger's "Abortion Politics, Mass Media, and Social Movements in America"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Abortion Politics, Mass Media, and Social Movements in America by Deana A. Rohlinger.

About the book, from the publisher:
Weaving together analyses of archival material, news coverage, and interviews conducted with journalists from mainstream and partisan outlets as well as with activists across the political spectrum, Deana A. Rohlinger reimagines how activists use a variety of mediums, sometimes simultaneously, to agitate for – and against – legal abortion. Rohlinger's in-depth portraits of four groups – the National Right to Life Committee, Planned Parenthood, the National Organization for Women, and Concerned Women for America – illuminates when groups use media and why they might choose to avoid media attention altogether. Rohlinger expertly reveals why some activist groups are more desperate than others to attract media attention and sheds light on what this means for policy making and legal abortion in the twenty-first century.
Learn more about Abortion Politics, Mass Media, and Social Movements in America at the Cambridge University Press website and Deana A. Rohlinger's website.

Deana Rohlinger is an associate professor in the department of sociology and a research associate at the Pepper Institute of Aging and Public Policy at Florida State University.

The Page 99 Test: Abortion Politics, Mass Media, and Social Movements in America.

--Marshal Zeringue

Dick Cavett's 6 favorite books

Dick Cavett contributes regularly to the New York Times's online opinion section. His new book is Brief Encounters: Conversations, Magic Moments, and Assorted Hijinks.

One of the legendary talk-show host's six favorite books, as shared at The Week magazine:
Zen in the Art of Archery by Eugen Herrigel

Herrigel, a German philosopher-teacher, goes to Japan for instruction, intrigued by tales of an archer who hits his target without aiming or caring and the swordsman whose discipline allows him in combat to dismiss from his mind both his opponent and his opponent's sword. Sound crazy? There's much to learn here about learning.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Elizabeth Kadetsky's "The Poison that Purifies You," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Poison that Purifies You by Elizabeth Kadetsky.

The entry begins:
The twenty main characters in The Poison that Purifies You abide by the David Mitchell/Wachowski Brothers principle, also known as the Vertigo principle: a core of actors plays multiple roles. Also, time collapses which in this case allows for actors from past and present to co-exist in the same collection and even story. And, of course, race is no object—characters’ hair color and ethnicity easily shift. Since Hitchcock has been evoked, casting begins with Kim Novak, and to match eras loosely, she plays alongside Jon Voight, in his Midnight Cowboy iteration, in the short story “Loup Garou.” Novak, hair curled and dyed black, plays the part-native French Canadian former waitress Cecile. Jon Voight plays across from her as John, who, in the writing was named for, yes, Jon Voight. He wears tight white jeans, a cowboy hat and a Western snap shirt and drinks straight from...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Elizabeth Kadetsky's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

My Book, The Movie: The Poison that Purifies You.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: E.B. Moore's "An Unseemly Wife"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: An Unseemly Wife by E.B. Moore.

About the book, from the publisher:
Not all journeys come to an end….

1867
. Ruth Holtz has more blessings than she can count—a loving husband, an abundant farm, beautiful children, and the warm embrace of the Amish community. Then, the English arrive, spreading incredible stories of free land in the West and inspiring her husband to dream of a new life in Idaho.

Breaking the rules of their Order, Ruth’s husband packs up his pregnant wife and their four children and joins a wagon train heading west. Though Ruth is determined to keep separate from the English, as stricture demands, the harrowing journey soon compels her to accept help from two unlikely allies: Hortence, the preacher’s wife, and the tomboyish, teasing Sadie.

But as these new friendships lead to betrayal, what started as a quest for a brighter future ends with Ruth making unthinkable sacrifices, risking faith and family, and transforming into a woman she never imagined she’d become….
Visit E.B. Moore's website.

The Page 69 Test: An Unseemly Wife.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Pg. 99: Gary Schmidgall's "Containing Multitudes"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Containing Multitudes: Walt Whitman and the British Literary Tradition by Gary Schmidgall.

About the book, from the publisher:
Walt Whitman burst onto the literary stage raring for a fight with his transatlantic forebears. With the unmetered and unrhymed long lines of Leaves of Grass, he blithely forsook "the old models" declaring that "poems distilled from other poems will probably pass away." In a self-authored but unsigned review of the inaugural 1855 edition, Whitman boasted that its influence-free author "makes no allusions to books or writers; their spirits do not seem to have touched him." There was more than a hint here of a party-crasher's bravado or a new-comer's anxiety about being perceived as derivative.

But the giants of British literature were too well established in America to be toppled by Whitman's patronizing "that wonderful little island," he called England-or his frequent assertions that Old World literature was non grata on American soil. As Gary Schmidgall demonstrates, the American bard's manuscripts, letters, prose criticism, and private conversations all reveal that Whitman's negotiation with the literary "big fellows" across the Atlantic was much more nuanced and contradictory than might be supposed. His hostile posture also changed over the decades as the gymnastic rebel transformed into Good Gray Poet, though even late in life he could still crow that his masterwork Leaves of Grass "is an iconoclasm, it starts out to shatter the idols of porcelain."

Containing Multitudes explores Whitman's often uneasy embrace of five members of the British literary pantheon: Shakespeare, Milton, Burns, Blake, and Wordsworth (five others are treated more briefly: Scott, Carlyle, Tennyson, Wilde, and Swinburne). It also considers how the arcs of their creative careers are often similar to the arc of Whitman's own fifty years of poem-making. Finally, it seeks to illuminate the sometimes striking affinities between the views of these authors and Whitman on human nature and society. Though he was loath to admit it, these authors anticipated much that we now see as quintessentially Whitmanic.
Learn more about Containing Multitudes at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Containing Multitudes.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five of the best oddball detective novels

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.

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Somers tagged five detective novels featuring "oddballs who will satisfy your yen for mystery and your yen for surprisingly creative worlds," including:
The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, by Michael Chabon

This fantastic novel is an alternative history novel, and what truly sets it apart from just about every novel ever written is how well it’s constructed. The alternative timeline, wherein Israel is destroyed in 1948 and a temporary Jewish settlement in Alaska becomes the Jewish state (something that almost happened) is simultaneously subtle and ambitious in scope. Add in a mystery that’s well-constructed just as a mystery, a long list of creative and fascinating characters (and genius riffs on one of the world’s most musical languages, Yiddish), and you’ve got a tremendous book that also happens to be an oddball detective novel.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Yiddish Policemen's Union is among J.D. Taylor's ten top counter-factual novels and Molly Driscoll's top six alternate-history novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Ann Purser reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Ann Purser, author of Suspicion at Seven: A Lois Meade Mystery.

Her entry begins:
I belong to a book club - around twelve of us turn up in the Reading Room (truly a small building erected about a hundred years ago in our tiny village, in an effort to educate the poor and neglected members of the parish}. We meet once a month, and this is about right for me to read one book a month. This month we have Fludd, by Hilary Mantel, a deliciously creepy read. Into churchy matters - dark corners of the mind - comes Fludd, a strange character who comes and goes at will, sometimes without apparently taking steps to appear or disappear. Frustrated women, corrupt clergy, all...[read on]
About the book, from the publisher:
Lois Meade has done enough buffing and polishing over the years with her cleaning business, New Brooms, to know that all that glitters is not gold. So when a bag of costume jewellery is the main clue in a murder, she has a strong suspicion that appearances may be deceiving…

After a woman is discovered in the Mill House Hotel, strangled with a silver necklace beside a bag filled with faux silver, gold and pearls, costume jewelry dealer Donald Black seems like the obvious suspect. But Lois knows Donald’s wife, who runs a baker’s shop near the hotel, and can’t believe her husband could be a killer. Plus, Donald has an airtight alibi.

Nevertheless, Donald is no angel. It appears he’s running a pyramid scheme, and Lois’s mother is getting sucked in. Could the murder have anything to do with his unscrupulous business practices?

As Inspector Cowgill and Lois hope the bling may shine a light on the killer, the discovery of a second body on the old waterwheel in the hotel may be grist for the mill in solving the murder—if they can manage to catch the culprit without getting the runaround.
Learn more about the book and author at Ann Purser's website.

The Page 69 Test: Found Guilty at Five.

Writers Read: Ann Purser.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Pg. 69: L. E. Modesitt Jr.'s "Heritage of Cyador"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Heritage of Cyador (Recluce Series #18) by L. E. Modesitt Jr.

About the book, from the publisher:
From New York Times bestselling author L.E. Modesitt comes Heritage of Cyador, the new novel in the Saga of Recluce.

Scarcely a year after the events of Cyador’s Heirs, Lerial uses his mastery of Order and Chaos, the competing natural forces that shape his world and define the magic that exists within it, to utterly destroy an Afritan military force crossing into Cigoerne.

Five years later, Lerial, now an overcaptain and a field commander of Cigoerne’s Mirror Lancers, must lead three companies of troops into Afrit on a mission of mutual interest: neighboring Heldya is threatening to invade Afrit, and if that nation falls, Cigoerne is certain to be next.

The mission is both delicate and dangerous; Lerial’s value in the effort to repelling Heldya is undeniable, but his troubled history against Afrit may reopen old wounds that will never truly heal.
Learn more about the author and his work at L. E. Modesitt, Jr.'s website.

The Page 69 Test: Heritage of Cyador.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five cop books that hit the target

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Ellen Wehle tagged five cop books that hit the target, including:
Darkness, Darkness, by John Harvey

“Better, as far as they’re all concerned, for Jenny’s body to have stayed where it was, underground.” In England in 1984 the coal miners went on strike, police went undercover to spy on them, and a woman named Jenny Hardwick disappeared. DI Charlie Resnick was on duty at the strike, so 30 years later, when builders discover Jenny’s skeleton under a demolished house, he expects to be called in. What he doesn’t expect is the reluctance of everyone involved—including Jenny’s family—to find her killer. What is it they fear? Fans of realistic, character-based mysteries will love this dip into British history.
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Claire Prentice's "The Lost Tribe of Coney Island," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Lost Tribe of Coney Island: Headhunters, Luna Park, and the Man Who Pulled Off the Spectacle of the Century by Claire Prentice.

The entry begins:
On March 29, 1905 Dr Truman K. Hunt boarded the RMS Empress of China at Hong Kong Harbor, bound for Vancouver. Hunt was almost forty, a medical man from Iowa who had served as Lieutenant-Governor of the remote Bontoc region of the Philippines. And he wasnʼt traveling alone. With him were 50 Bontoc Igorrotes, tribesmen, women and children from the far north of the Philippines.

Ahead of them lay 20 days and nights at sea. And when they arrived on dry land they had another vast journey ahead of them, this time by train. It would take them across the United States to their new home, Coney Island. There, among the fairground rides and ʻfreak shows,ʼ the Igorrotes would perform a distorted sideshow version of their tribal life for the public who paid a quarter to gawk at the “dog eating, head hunting savages” [these were their managerʼs words]. Within weeks the Igorrotes were the talk of America.

Hunt would be a dream role for a gifted character actor. In fact he was a gifted actor himself. A brilliant self publicist, he sold stories about the Igorrotes to newspapers across the country. A charmer with an eye for the ladies, and the capacity to impose his will by flattery and force of personality, by the end of the summer he shows a darker side to his nature. He is a hero who turns villain, a chancer who believes his own tall tales. It would be a great role for Matthew...[read on]
Visit Claire Prentice's website. and follow her on Twitter.

The Page 99 Test: The Lost Tribe of Coney Island.

My Book, The Movie: The Lost Tribe of Coney Island.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 21, 2014

Five books that changed Kimberley Freeman

Kimberley Freeman was born in London and grew up in Brisbane, Australia. Her books include Ember Island, Wildflower Hill, and Lighthouse Bay.

One of five books that changed her, as shared at the Sydney Morning Herald:
THE LORD OF THE RINGS
J.R.R. Tolkien

I was introduced to this book in grade 10 by my best friend, Mandy. I was one of the nerdiest kids at school, always being picked on, and spent most lunch hours in the library. When Mandy and I and some other friends started reading Tolkien we developed a distinct identity as the fantasy library nerds, which made us close and safe (the tough kids were never in the library). My partner recently read the Lord of the Rings aloud to me. Now that I'm an adult and have studied early medieval literature I have even more appreciation for the deep mythic resonances of the story and the beautifully chosen language.
Read about another book on the list.

The Lord of the Rings also made SF Said's top ten list of unlikely heroes, Nicole Hill's top eight list of notable royal figures in fiction, Becky Ferreira's top seven list of bromances in literature, Nicole Hill's list of eleven of the most eccentric relatives in fiction, Nicole Hill's top seven list of literary wedding themes, Charlie Jane Anders's list of fifteen moments from science fiction and fantasy that will make absolutely anyone cry, Elizabeth Wein's top ten list of dynamic duos in fiction, Katharine Trendacosta and Charlie Jane Anders's list of the ten sources that inspired the dark storytelling of Game of Thrones, Rob Bricken's list of 11 preposterously manly fantasy series, Conrad Mason's top ten list of magical objects in fiction, Linus Roache's six best books list, Derek Landy's top ten list of villains in children's books, Charlie Jane Anders and Michael Ann Dobbs' list of ten classic SF books that were originally considered failures, Lev Grossman's list of the six greatest fantasy books of all time, and appears on John Mullan's lists of ten of the best women dressed as men, ten of the best bows and arrows in literature, ten of the best beards in literature, ten of the best towers in literature, ten of the best volcanoes in literature, ten of the best chases in literature, and ten of the best monsters in literature. It is one of Salman Rushdie's five best fantasy novels for all ages. It is a book that made a difference to Pat Conroy.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Malcolm Gaskill's "Between Two Worlds"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Between Two Worlds: How the English Became Americans by Malcolm Gaskill.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the 1600s, over 350,000 intrepid English men, women, and children migrated to America, leaving behind their homeland for an uncertain future. Whether they settled in Jamestown, Salem, or Barbados, these migrants—entrepreneurs, soldiers, and pilgrims alike—faced one incontrovertible truth: England was a very, very long way away.

In Between Two Worlds, celebrated historian Malcolm Gaskill tells the sweeping story of the English experience in America during the first century of colonization. Following a large and varied cast of visionaries and heretics, merchants and warriors, and slaves and rebels, Gaskill brilliantly illuminates the often traumatic challenges the settlers faced. The first waves sought to recreate the English way of life, even to recover a society that was vanishing at home. But they were thwarted at every turn by the perils of a strange continent, unaided by monarchs who first ignored then exploited them. As these colonists strove to leave their mark on the New World, they were forced—by hardship and hunger, by illness and infighting, and by bloody and desperate battles with Indians—to innovate and adapt or perish.

As later generations acclimated to the wilderness, they recognized that they had evolved into something distinct: no longer just the English in America, they were perhaps not even English at all. These men and women were among the first white Americans, and certainly the most prolific. And as Gaskill shows, in learning to live in an unforgiving world, they had begun a long and fateful journey toward rebellion and, finally, independence
Visit Malcolm Gaskill's website.

The Page 99 Test: Between Two Worlds.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six top YA antiheroes

One title on Dahlia Adler's list of six top Young Adult antiheroes, as shared on The Barnes & Noble Book Blog:
Parker Fadley (Cracked Up to Be, by Courtney Summers)

This book was pretty much my gateway into my love for the modern incarnation of YA, and more than five years later, Parker is still one of my favorite characters. Once upon a time, she was a popular and powerful cheerleader, and an utterly adored girlfriend and best friend. Now she’s…well, not much of anything, or at least that’s what she’s going for. But just because she’s trying to detach herself from everyone these days doesn’t mean they’ll let her, no matter how cruel she is. (And she is hilariously cruel, and cruelly hilarious.)
Read about another entry on the list.

Cracked Up to Be also appears on Dahlia Adler's list of five books for Veronica Mars fans.

The Page 69 Test: Cracked Up to Be.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Jen Nadol reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Jen Nadol, author of This Is How It Ends.

Her entry begins:
I’m reading two middle grade books right now, unusual in that I rarely read MG or more than one book at a time.

The first is Cornelia Funke’s The Thief Lord which I bought several months ago, thinking my ten year old might like it. He hadn’t picked it up so I started reading it aloud to my two younger sons who are riveted by the story of a group of homeless children living in an abandoned movie theater in Venice. We’re about halfway through and I think the story is about to take a turn for the speculative with the item the children are going to steal. It’s a wonderful book to read aloud because the writing is so graceful and the author has really taken time to paint vividly both the characters and the cold, damp atmosphere of Venice as...[read on]
About This Is How It Ends, from the publisher:
If you could see the future, would you want to? After the disturbing visions Riley and his friends see turn out to be more than hallucinations, fate takes a dangerous twist in this dark and suspenseful page-turner.

Riley and his friends are gearing up for their senior year by spending one last night hanging out in the woods, drinking a few beers, and playing Truth or Dare. But what starts out as a good time turns sinister when they find a mysterious pair of binoculars. Those who dare to look through them see strange visions, which they brush off as hallucinations. Why else would Riley see himself in bed with his best friend’s girlfriend—a girl he’s had a secret crush on for years?

In the weeks that follow, the visions begin to come true...including a gruesome murder. One of Riley’s closest friends is now the prime suspect. But who is the murderer? Have Riley and his friends really seen the future through those mysterious binoculars? And what if they are powerless to change the course of events?
Visit Jen Nadol's website.

Writers Read: Jen Nadol.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Seven top books on feeding the world

One title from the Guardian's list of the top seven books on feeding the world:
The Politics of Food: The Global Conflict Between Food Security and Food Sovereignity by William D Schanbacher

Our current global food system is a violation of human rights, says Schanbacher. This passionate and informative book argues the current model for combating global hunger is too dependent on trade and international agribusiness. Schanbacher puts together a concise argument – examining global trade and corporate monopolisation of the food industry – on why food sovereignty is a more sustainable and effective approach to solving world hunger.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Beth Bernobich's "Allegiance"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Allegiance: River of Souls (Volume 3 of 3) by Beth Bernobich.

About the book, from the publisher:
King Leos of Károví, the tyrannical despot whose magic made him near immortal and who controlled a tattered empire for centuries through fear and intimidation, is finally dead. Ilse Zhalina watched as the magical jewels that gave him such power reunited into a single essence, a manifestly God-like creature who then disappeared into the cosmic void. Ilse is now free to fulfill her promise to Valara Baussay, the rogue Queen of Morennioù, who wants to return to her kingdom and claim her throne.

Ilse will do all in her power to help Valara if only as a means to get to her home. Home to her lover, Raul Kosenmark, who is gathering forces in their homeland of Veraene now that Leos is dead in order to save them from an ill-advised war. Pulled by duty and honor, Ilse makes this long journey back to where her story began, to complete the journey she attempted lives and centuries before and bring peace between the kingdoms. Along the way she learns some hard truths and finally comes to a crossroads of power and magic. She must decide if duty is stronger than a love that she has sought through countless lifetimes.

Will Isle give up her heart’s desire so that her nation can finally know lasting peace?

Allegiance is the thrilling conclusion to Beth Bernobich's River of Souls trilogy.
Learn more about the book and author at Beth Bernobich's website.

The Page 69 Test: Passion Play.

The Page 69 Test: Allegiance.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Erik J. Wielenberg's "Robust Ethics"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Robust Ethics: The Metaphysics and Epistemology of Godless Normative Realism by Erik J. Wielenberg.

About the book, from the publisher:
Erik J. Wielenberg draws on recent work in analytic philosophy and empirical moral psychology to defend non-theistic robust normative realism and develop an empirically-grounded account of human moral knowledge. Non-theistic robust normative realism has it that there are objective, non-natural, sui generis ethical features of the universe that do not depend on God for their existence. The early chapters of the book address various challenges to the intelligibility and plausibility of the claim that irreducible ethical features of things supervene on their non-ethical features as well as challenges from defenders of theistic ethics who argue that objective morality requires a theistic foundation. Later chapters develop an account of moral knowledge and answer various recent purported debunkings of morality, including those based on scientific research into the nature of the proximate causes of human moral beliefs as well as those based on proposed evolutionary explanations of our moral beliefs.
Learn more about Robust Ethics at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Robust Ethics.

--Marshal Zeringue

John Lawton's "Sweet Sunday," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Sweet Sunday by John Lawton.

The entry begins:
Sweet Sunday? Oddly, I never cast anyone for Raines in the Cinema-of-the-Mind. Only time I have so lapsed. Troy? Easy … James Mason … and I have argued the case for Robert Downey Jr with producers on several occasions to no avail. (Dear Bob, I do hope you’re reading this ... the part is yours for the asking.) Tosca? … Janeane Garofalo to a T.

The parts I cast in this book were mainly the women … Rose is Alex Kingston (ER, Dr Who, Moll Flanders), Althea is Alfre Woodard (First Contact) and perhaps Lois would be Grace Zabriskie … and, sad to say, as fictions never age and actors do ... all of them as they were ten or twenty years ago.

Turner Raines … well, he’s a Texan and perhaps Texas’s most famous actor is Tommy Lee Jones, but TLJ must be my age at least so maybe Texas’s 2nd star actor gets the part...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at John Lawton's website.

The Page 69 Test: Then We Take Berlin.

Writers Read: John Lawton.

The Page 69 Test: Sweet Sunday.

My Book, The Movie: Sweet Sunday.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Todd Moss' "The Golden Hour"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Golden Hour by Todd Moss.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Golden Hour: In international politics, the hundred hours following a coup, when there is still a chance that diplomacy, a secret back channel, military action—something—might reverse the chain of events.

As the top American diplomat for West Africa, Todd Moss saw a great deal about how diplomacy and politics actually work. But as he shows us, the results aren’t always pretty.

When Judd Ryker is appointed director of the new State Department Crisis Reaction Unit, he figures he has a mandate to help the United States respond more quickly to foreign crises, but he hasn’t reckoned with the intense State, Defense, Pentagon, White House, and CIA infighting and turf battles he would face. Then comes the coup in Mali. It is his chance to prove that his theory of the Golden Hour actually works—but in the real world, those hours move very, very quickly indeed, and include things he’d never even imagined.

As Ryker races from Washington across Europe to the Sahara Desert, he finds that personalities, loyalties, everything he thought he knew, begin to shift and change beneath his feet—and that friends and enemies come in many forms.
Visit Todd Moss' website.

Writers Read: Todd Moss.

The Page 69 Test: The Golden Hour.

--Marshal Zeringue