Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Pg. 99: Frank L. Smith III's "American Biodefense"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: American Biodefense: How Dangerous Ideas about Biological Weapons Shape National Security by Frank L. Smith III.

About the book, from the publisher:
Biological weapons have threatened U.S. national security since at least World War II. Historically, however, the U.S. military has neglected research, development, acquisition, and doctrine for biodefense. Following September 11 and the anthrax letters of 2001, the United States started spending billions of dollars per year on medical countermeasures and biological detection systems. But most of this funding now comes from the Department of Health and Human Services rather than the Department of Defense. Why has the U.S. military neglected biodefense and allowed civilian organizations to take the lead in defending the country against biological attacks? In American Biodefense, Frank L. Smith III addresses this puzzling and largely untold story about science, technology, and national security.

Smith argues that organizational frames and stereotypes have caused both military neglect and the rise of civilian biodefense. In the armed services, influential ideas about kinetic warfare have undermined defense against biological warfare. The influence of these ideas on science and technology challenges the conventional wisdom that national security policy is driven by threats or bureaucratic interests. Given the ideas at work inside the U.S. military, Smith explains how the lessons learned from biodefense can help solve other important problems that range from radiation weapons to cyber attacks.
Learn more about the book and author at Frank L. Smith III's website.

The Page 99 Test: American Biodefense.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six notable YA novels set in college

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog, Dahlia Adler tagged six top YA novels set in college, including:
A Little Something Different, by Sandy Hall

I was already intrigued by this book for being the first to be released from Macmillan’s new crowdsourcing imprint, Swoon Reads, and hearing that it has fourteen different points of view. Then an employee at Barnes & Noble said the Magic Buzz Sentences to me when I was book shopping there: “It’s set in college,” and “It has some LGBT characters.” Fastest I have ever grabbed a book off a shelf. As in [Jennifer Echols's] Love Story, the characters are thrown together via freshman creative writing, but this sounds like a sweeter, lighter ride I can’t wait to crack open.
Read about another entry on the list.

Writers Read: Sandy Hall.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Shannon Stoker's "The Alliance"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Alliance: A Registry Novel by Shannon Stoker.

About the book, from the publisher:
To overthrow a brutal dictator and free her country, a brave young woman will risk her life and liberty to spark a revolution in this explosive final installment in Shannon Stoker’s electrifying Registry trilogy.

Mia Morrissey fled to Mexico to escape the government marrying her to someone she did not love. Now, she’s going risk everything so that the rest of America can be free.

Going undercover as part of a diplomatic mission, Mia returns to America. But life there is more dangerous than ever as the walls grow ever taller, and the forgotten country faces its most ruthless leader yet, Grant Marsden ... a shadow from Mia’s past. With the help of Andrew, Carter, and other members of the subversive group Affinity, she embarks on a perilous journey to defeat Grant, bring down the government, and destroy the Registry once and for all.

When a terrible betrayal exposes the operation, Mia discovers that her enemies have used her—and so have her friends. Alone and frightened, she’s uncertain who to trust—or whether the mission is worth what she’s sacrificing.

With the fate of her friends and the future of her country on the line, Mia knows that her next step may be the last for her ... and America.
Visit Shannon Stoker's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Shannon Stoker & Nucky.

Writers Read: Shannon Stoker.

The Page 69 Test: The Alliance.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Brian Clegg reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Brian Clegg, author of Final Frontier: The Pioneering Science and Technology of Exploring the Universe.

His entry begins:
I came to my current read, Jon Ronson’s Them: Adventures with Extremists as a ‘more of the same read’ after being entranced a week ago by his book The Psychopath Test. As I mention in my review of that, it was recommended to me by a fellow panelist on a ‘How to Write Popular Science’ masterclass, and it’s one of those books that is hard not to consume at one sitting. While Them is along similar lines – a look at a serious issue, but undertaken in a light-hearted fashion that makes the book both funny and thought-provoking – I don’t think it works quite as well as The Psychopath Test. That book was perfectly balanced. Here, the central theme is...[read on]
About Final Frontier, from the publisher:
Star Trek was right — there is only one final frontier, and that is space...

Human beings are natural explorers, and nowhere is this frontier spirit stronger than in the United States of America. It almost defines the character of the US. But the Earth is running out of frontiers fast.

In Brian Clegg's The Final Frontier we discover the massive challenges that face explorers, both human and robotic, to uncover the current and future technologies that could take us out into the galaxy and take a voyage of discovery where no one has gone before… but one day someone will. In 2003, General Wesley Clark set the nation a challenge to produce the technology that would enable new pioneers to explore the galaxy. That challenge is tough — the greatest we’ve ever faced. But taking on the final frontier does not have to be a fantasy.

In a time of recession, escapism is always popular — and what greater escape from the everyday can there be than the chance of leaving Earth’s bounds and exploring the universe? With a rich popular culture heritage in science fiction movies, books and TV shows, this is a subject that entertains and informs in equal measure.
Follow Brian Clegg on Twitter, and visit his website and blog.

Coffee with a Canine: Brian Clegg and Goldie.

Writers Read: Brian Clegg (September 2009).

Writers Read: Brian Clegg (December 2011).

Writers Read: Brian Clegg.

--Marshal Zeringue

Stuart Rojstaczer's "The Mathematician's Shiva," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Mathematician's Shiva by Stuart Rojstaczer.

The entry begins:
I just sent an advance copy of my novel, The Mathematician’s Shiva, to a producer with an IMDB credit list as long as a Hummer limo so, of course, I’ve thought about how my novel should be done by Hollywood. The rule of thumb is that bad books make good movies and good books make bad movies, but I think my novel, a good book, can be an exception to the rule and be a good movie. Here’s the elevator pitch. A math genius dies. Rumor has it she’s gone to her grave with a solution to a million-dollar problem that, out of spite, she revealed to no one. The math community descends upon her funeral desperately looking for the solution. There’s greed, chaos, mystery, comedy and lust. All I need is the right screenwriter – me, certainly – and the right cast and director. Here’s my wish list.

Rachela Karnokovitch. She is the queen bee, a mathematical genius to whom others defer to almost always. I need someone who can play royalty with a Polish accent. Meryl Streep? Helen Mirren? Those two would both be fabulous. Let them battle it out with screen tests.

Alexander “Sasha” Karnokovitch. The mostly dutiful son of Rachela, he’s an inveterate skirt chaser who somehow, in approaching middle age, must find a way to finally grow up. I need someone who can be dark, intense and also can tell a joke. It’s...[read on]
Visit Stuart Rojstaczer's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Mathematician's Shiva.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 01, 2014

Six notable biographies of underappreciated historical figures

A. Scott Berg has written five biographies including Lindbergh, a 1999 Pulitzer Prize winner, and Wilson, a portrait of the 28th U.S. president. One of his six favorite biographies of underappreciated historical figures, as shared at The Week magazine:
Nora by Brenda Maddox

James Joyce created, in Molly Bloom, one of literature's most provocative female characters. Nora Barnacle of Galway, Ireland, was Joyce's wife and muse as well as the inspiration for Molly and the female thoughts that suffuse his writing. Every reader of Maddox's book will forever view Joyce's life and work in a new light.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Julie Schumacher's "Dear Committee Members"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher.

About the book, from the publisher:
Finally a novel that puts the "pissed" back into "epistolary."

Jason Fitger is a beleaguered professor of creative writing and literature at Payne University, a small and not very distinguished liberal arts college in the midwest. His department is facing draconian cuts and squalid quarters, while one floor above them the Economics Department is getting lavishly remodeled offices. His once-promising writing career is in the doldrums, as is his romantic life, in part as the result of his unwise use of his private affairs for his novels. His star (he thinks) student can't catch a break with his brilliant (he thinks) work Accountant in a Bordello, based on Melville's Bartleby. In short, his life is a tale of woe, and the vehicle this droll and inventive novel uses to tell that tale is a series of hilarious letters of recommendation that Fitger is endlessly called upon by his students and colleagues to produce, each one of which is a small masterpiece of high dudgeon, low spirits, and passive-aggressive strategies. We recommend Dear Committee Members to you in the strongest possible terms.
Visit Julie Schumacher's website and Facebook page.

Writers Read: Julie Schumacher.

The Page 69 Test: Dear Committee Members.

--Marshal Zeringue

Coffee with a canine: Joanne Rocklin & Zoe

Featured at Coffee with a Canine: Joanne Rocklin & Zoe.

The author, on the Zoe-inspired dog in her new novel:
My new middle grade children's novel takes place in the 1950’s in Pittsburgh, during the worst polio epidemics of that era. Franny, my main character contracts the disease and can no longer walk. During her hospital stay she is introduced to the recently published Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, and falls in love with the book, and, especially, the spider, Charlotte. She longs for a Charlotte of her own. Her wish is granted in the form of the brilliant and hilarious Fleabrain, her dog Alf’s flea. Alf, the patient and generous "host" of Fleabrain, is modeled after my good-natured and friendly Zoe....[read on]
About Fleabrain Loves Franny, from the publisher:
This gem of a novel takes place in Pittsburgh in 1952. Franny Katzenback, while recovering from polio, reads and falls in love with the brand-new book Charlotte’s Web. Bored and lonely and yearning for a Charlotte of her own, Franny starts up a correspondence with an eloquent flea named Fleabrain who lives on her dog’s tail. While Franny struggles with physical therapy and feeling left out of her formerly active neighborhood life, Fleabrain is there to take her on adventures based on his extensive reading. It’s a touching, funny story set in the recent past, told with Rocklin’s signature wit and thoughtfulness.
Visit Joanne Rocklin's website.

The Page 69 Test: Fleabrain Loves Franny.

Coffee with a Canine: Joanne Rocklin & Zoe.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Sandeep Jauhar's "Doctored"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Doctored: The Disillusionment of an American Physician by Sandeep Jauhar.

About the book, from the publisher:
In his acclaimed memoir Intern, Sandeep Jauhar chronicled the formative years of his residency at a prestigious New York City hospital. Doctored, his harrowing follow-up, observes the crisis of American medicine through the eyes of an attending cardiologist.

Hoping for the stability he needs to start a family, Jauhar accepts a position at a massive teaching hospital on the outskirts of Queens. With a decade’s worth of elite medical training behind him, he is eager to settle down and reap the rewards of countless sleepless nights. Instead, he is confronted with sobering truths. Doctors’ morale is low and getting lower, and when doctors are unhappy, their patients are apt to be unhappy as well. Blatant cronyism determines patient referrals, corporate ties distort medical decisions, and unnecessary tests are routinely performed in order to generate income. Meanwhile, a single patient in Jauhar’s hospital might see fifteen specialists in one stay and still fail to receive a full picture of his actual condition.

Unwilling to accept the prevailing norms, Jauhar fights to keep his ideals intact. But he, too, finds himself ensnared in the system. Struggling to pay back student loans and support a wife and son on his hospital salary, he resorts to moonlighting for a profit-driven private practice that orders batteries of tests just to drum up fees and ward off malpractice lawsuits.

Provoked by his unsettling experiences, Jauhar has written an introspective memoir that is also an impassioned plea for reform. With American medicine at a crossroads, Doctored is the important work of a writer unafraid to challenge the establishment and incite controversy.
Learn more about the author and his work at Sandeep Jauhar's website.

The Page 69 Test: Intern: A Doctor’s Initiation.

The Page 99 Test: Doctored.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Pg. 69: Justina Chen's "A Blind Spot for Boys"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: A Blind Spot for Boys by Justina Chen.

About the book,from the publisher:
Shana has always had a blind spot for boys. Can she trust the one who's right in front of her?

Sixteen-year-old Shana Wilde is officially on a Boy Moratorium. After a devastating breakup, she decides it's time to end the plague of Mr. Wrong, Wrong, and More Wrong.

Enter Quattro, the undeniably cute lacrosse player who slams into Shana one morning in Seattle. Sparks don't just fly; they ignite. And so does Shana's interest. Right as she's about to rethink her ban on boys, she receives crushing news: Her dad is going blind. Quattro is quickly forgotten, and Shana and her parents vow to make the most of the time her father has left to see. So they travel to Machu Picchu, and as they begin their trek, they run into none other than Quattro himself. But even as the trip unites them, Quattro pulls away mysteriously... Love and loss, humor and heartbreak collide in this new novel from acclaimed author Justina Chen.
Visit Justina Chen's website.

The Page 69 Test: A Blind Spot for Boys.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Shannon Stoker reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Shannon Stoker, author of The Alliance: A Registry Novel.

Her entry begins:
I am in a book club and we are reading Orange is the New Black this month. I rarely do non-fiction so it’s a nice change. I’m plugging along at Doctor Sleep too, which I really need to finish. Someone gave me a copy as a Christmas present, so it’s only been...[read on]
About The Alliance, from the publisher:
To overthrow a brutal dictator and free her country, a brave young woman will risk her life and liberty to spark a revolution in this explosive final installment in Shannon Stoker’s electrifying Registry trilogy.

Mia Morrissey fled to Mexico to escape the government marrying her to someone she did not love. Now, she’s going risk everything so that the rest of America can be free.

Going undercover as part of a diplomatic mission, Mia returns to America. But life there is more dangerous than ever as the walls grow ever taller, and the forgotten country faces its most ruthless leader yet, Grant Marsden ... a shadow from Mia’s past. With the help of Andrew, Carter, and other members of the subversive group Affinity, she embarks on a perilous journey to defeat Grant, bring down the government, and destroy the Registry once and for all.

When a terrible betrayal exposes the operation, Mia discovers that her enemies have used her—and so have her friends. Alone and frightened, she’s uncertain who to trust—or whether the mission is worth what she’s sacrificing.

With the fate of her friends and the future of her country on the line, Mia knows that her next step may be the last for her ... and America.
Visit Shannon Stoker's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Shannon Stoker & Nucky.

Writers Read: Shannon Stoker.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top books about serial killers

Laura McHugh's debut novel is The Weight Of Blood. One of her ten favorite books about serial killers, as shared at the Telegraph:
THE LOVELY BONES by Alice Sebold

I was fascinated with Sebold’s fresh and ingenious approach of having teen murder victim, Susie, narrate from the afterlife.

A thoroughly heart-wrenching portrait of a life cut short and the lasting effects on the loved ones left behind, the novel is also incredibly suspenseful as Susie watches from above, unable to protect the living from her prolific killer.
Read about another book on the list.

The Lovely Bones is one of Tamzin Outhwaite's six best books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Margaret Maron's "Designated Daughters," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Designated Daughters by Margaret Maron.

The entry begins:
Rather than a movie per se, I'd rather see all 19 of my Judge Deborah Knott novels turned into a series for "Masterpiece Mystery." (Hey, if you're gonna aim high, might as well shoot for the moon, right?) I've never cast the characters in my head except for Deborah's daddy. The only actor I've ever seen that matches the description of that tall, blue-eyed fiddle-playing bootlegger is...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Margaret Maron's website.

The Page 69 Test: Three-Day Town.

My Book, The Movie: Designated Daughters.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Top ten alternate histories

Christopher Edge is the author of the Twelve Minutes to Midnight series and other books.

For the Guardian, he tagged his ten favorite twisted histories (also known as alternate histories, counterfactuals, "what-if" fiction), including:
The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling

Hailed by many as the first steampunk novel, The Difference Engine depicts an alternative timeline where Charles Babbage has succeeded in the construction of his prototype computers, the Difference Engine and its successor, the Analytical Engine. This heralds a technological revolution alongside the industrial one, with steam-powered computers transforming a society now ruled by an intellectual elite. With hackers becoming clackers, the novel presents a fascinating exploration of a Victorian information age.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Difference Engine is one of Jeffery Deaver's top ten novels featuring the internet or computers.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Dori Hillestad Butler's "The Haunted Library"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Haunted Library by Dori Hillestad Butler.

About the book, from the publisher:
When ghost boy Kaz’s haunt is torn down and he is separated from his ghost family, he meets a real girl named Claire, who lives above the town library with her parents and her grandmother. Claire has a special ability to see ghosts when other humans cannot and she and Kaz quickly form a friendship. The two join forces to solve the mystery of the ghost that’s haunting the library. Could it be one of Kaz’s lost family members?
Learn more about the book and author at Dori Hillestad Butler's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Haunted Library.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Julie Schumacher reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Julie Schumacher, author of Dear Committee Members.

One book she tagged:
Smith Henderson, Fourth of July Creek
I read a review of this novel which praised it but spent a good deal of time discussing its resemblance to the work of Cormac McCarthy – which I found discouraging, because I am one of the few people on the planet who doesn’t care for McCarthy’s work. Fortunately, I loved Fourth of July Creek, which is powerfully dramatic in its portrayals of a well-meaning but damaged social worker and some of the rural and very damaged children he attempts to assist. There’s a bleakness here, but Henderson offers the reader – and his characters – hope as well....[read on]
About the book, from the publisher:
Finally a novel that puts the "pissed" back into "epistolary."

Jason Fitger is a beleaguered professor of creative writing and literature at Payne University, a small and not very distinguished liberal arts college in the midwest. His department is facing draconian cuts and squalid quarters, while one floor above them the Economics Department is getting lavishly remodeled offices. His once-promising writing career is in the doldrums, as is his romantic life, in part as the result of his unwise use of his private affairs for his novels. His star (he thinks) student can't catch a break with his brilliant (he thinks) work Accountant in a Bordello, based on Melville's Bartleby. In short, his life is a tale of woe, and the vehicle this droll and inventive novel uses to tell that tale is a series of hilarious letters of recommendation that Fitger is endlessly called upon by his students and colleagues to produce, each one of which is a small masterpiece of high dudgeon, low spirits, and passive-aggressive strategies. We recommend Dear Committee Members to you in the strongest possible terms.
Visit Julie Schumacher's website and Facebook page.

Writers Read: Julie Schumacher.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Martin Ruef's "Between Slavery and Capitalism"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Between Slavery and Capitalism: The Legacy of Emancipation in the American South by Martin Ruef.

About the book, from the publisher:
At the center of the upheavals brought by emancipation in the American South was the economic and social transition from slavery to modern capitalism. In Between Slavery and Capitalism, Martin Ruef examines how this institutional change affected individuals, organizations, and communities in the late nineteenth century, as blacks and whites alike learned to navigate the shoals between two different economic worlds. Analyzing trajectories among average Southerners, this is perhaps the most extensive sociological treatment of the transition from slavery since W.E.B. Du Bois's Black Reconstruction in America.

In the aftermath of the Civil War, uncertainty was a pervasive feature of life in the South, affecting the economic behavior and social status of former slaves, Freedmen's Bureau agents, planters, merchants, and politicians, among others. Emancipation brought fundamental questions: How should emancipated slaves be reimbursed in wage contracts? What occupations and class positions would be open to blacks and whites? What forms of agricultural tenure could persist? And what paths to economic growth would be viable? To understand the escalating uncertainty of the postbellum era, Ruef draws on a wide range of qualitative and quantitative data, including several thousand interviews with former slaves, letters, labor contracts, memoirs, survey responses, census records, and credit reports.

Through a resolutely comparative approach, Between Slavery and Capitalism identifies profound changes between the economic institutions of the Old and New South and sheds new light on how the legacy of emancipation continues to affect political discourse and race and class relations today.
Learn more about Between Slavery and Capitalism at the Princeton University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Between Slavery and Capitalism.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 29, 2014

Pg. 69: Kevin Baker's "The Big Crowd"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Big Crowd by Kevin Baker.

About The Big Crowd, from the publisher:
Tom O’Kane has always looked up to his brother, Charlie, latching onto him as a surrogate father as soon as he arrived in America from County Mayo. Charlie is the American Dream personified: an immigrant who worked his way up from beat cop to mayor of New York. But what if Charlie isn’t as wonderful as he seems?

More than a decade after Tom arrives in New York, he is forced to confront the truth about Charlie while investigating the mysterious “suicide” of Kid Twist, Charlie’s star witness against the largest crime syndicate in New York. As Tom digs deeper, the secrets he uncovers throw everything he thinks he knows about his beloved brother into question.

Based on one of the biggest unsolved mob murders in history, The Big Crowd brings the 1940s to indelible life, from the beaches of Acapulco to the battlefields of World War II, from Gracie Mansion to the Brooklyn docks.
Learn more about the book and author at Kevin Baker's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Big Crowd.

Writers Read: Kevin Baker.

The Page 69 Test: The Big Crowd.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Sandy Hall reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Sandy Hall, author of A Little Something Different.

Her entry begins:
As a young adult librarian, I work really hard to strike a balance between what I need to read and what I want to read. Luckily I genuinely love and enjoy reading young adult literature, so I don’t mind reading that the majority of the time. But there are definitely times when I just need to read a story about my peer group.

When I can get away with it, I try to read one YA book, one adult book, one YA book, one adult book, etc. There are certain times of the year that I can’t squeeze an adult book in the middle, like when I need to read for my book awards committee or when I’m planning summer book club.

Now that you know my extremely scientific technique for reading, I can tell you about what I’ve been reading this summer.

Ready, Player One by Ernest Cline was actually recommended to me by one of the teens at work. She loved it. She kept going on and on about it every time I ran into her and I knew I needed to get a hold of it ASAP. It’s...[read on]
About A Little Something Different, from the publisher:
The distinctive new crowdsourced publishing imprint Swoon Reads proudly presents its first published novel—an irresistibly sweet romance between two college students told from 14 different viewpoints.

The creative writing teacher, the delivery guy, the local Starbucks baristas, his best friend, her roommate, and the squirrel in the park all have one thing in common—they believe that Gabe and Lea should get together.

Lea and Gabe are in the same creative writing class. They get the same pop culture references, order the same Chinese food, and hang out in the same places. Unfortunately, Lea is reserved, Gabe has issues, and despite their initial mutual crush, it looks like they are never going to work things out.

But somehow even when nothing is going on, something is happening between them, and everyone can see it. You'll be rooting for Gabe and Lea too, in Sandy Hall's quirky, completely original novel A Little Something Different, chosen by readers, writes, and publishers, to be the debut titles for the new Swoon Reads imprint!
Visit Sandy Hall's Twitter perch and learn more about the author.

Writers Read: Sandy Hall.

--Marshal Zeringue

Douglas Corleone's "Payoff," the movie

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

The entry begins:
Since the opening scenes of my new novel Payoff take place at the Calabasas, California home of movie mogul Edgar Trenton, My Book, The Movie presents an ideal question.

When Edgar Trenton’s teenage daughter is kidnapped during a violent home invasion, he turns to former U.S. Marshal Simon Fisk to ensure a smooth ransom exchange. Not just because Simon Fisk is a kidnapper’s worst nightmare, but because Simon owes Edgar Trenton a favor. Years ago, Edgar granted Simon’s request to nix the film version of a book based on Simon’s own real-life nightmare – the abduction of his six-year-old daughter Hailey and subsequent suicide of his beloved wife Tasha. When Simon made the request, the film already had a star attached – Jason Statham was under contract to play Simon Fisk.

But if Payoff were to be made into a movie, who would fill out the rest of the cast?

While writing the book, I imagined Tom Wilkinson (Michael Clayton) playing the role of movie mogul Edgar Trenton, and Jennifer...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Douglas Corleone's website.

Writers Read: Douglas Corleone (August 2013).

The Page 69 Test: Good as Gone.

My Book, The Movie: Payoff.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five of the best new girl-powered sci-fi and fantasy novels

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Nicole Hill tagged five of the best new girl-powered sci-fi and fantasy novels, including:
The Angel of Losses, by Stephanie Feldman

Fans of Catherynne M. Valente’s Deathless can get their folklore and mysticism fix here. Feldman weaves Jewish myth with a heaping helping of family secrets to form an imaginative work that’s part magical realism and part fable. When college student Marjorie finds her grandfather’s mysterious notebook filled with stories about the mysterious White Rebbe, she comes to realize everything she understood about her grandfather, her family, and her thesis (on the legend of the Wandering Jew) is, well, lacking. And then off we go through the centuries—and the various incarnations of folklore—to find out the truth.
Read about another book on the list.

See Stephanie Feldman's list of ten of the best creepy books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Pg. 99: Kenneth Dyson's "States, Debt, and Power"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: States, Debt, and Power: 'Saints' and 'Sinners' in European History and Integration by Kenneth Dyson.

About the book, from the publisher:
States, Debt, and Power argues for the importance of situating our contextually influenced thinking about European states and debt within a commitment to historically informed and critical analysis. It teases out certain broad historical patterns. The book also examines the inescapably difficult and contentious judgements about 'bad' and 'good' debt; about what constitutes sustainable debt; and about distributive justice at times of sovereign debt crisis. These judgements offer insight into the nature of power and the contingent nature of sovereign creditworthiness. Three themes weave through the book: the significance of creditor-debtor state relations in defining asymmetry of power; the context-specific and constructed character of debt, above all in relation to war; and the limitations of formal economic reasoning in the face of radical uncertainty. Part I examines case studies from Ancient Greece to the modern Euro Area and brings together a wealth of historical data that cast fresh light on how sovereign debt problems are debated and addressed. Part II looks at the conditioning and constraining framework of law, culture, and ideology and their relationship to the use of policy instruments. Part III shows how the problems of matching the assumption of liability with the exercise of control are rooted in external trade and financial imbalances and external debt; in financial markets and vulnerability to banking crisis; in the character of the 'private governance of public debt'; in who has power over indicators of sustainability; in domestic institutional and political arrangements; and in sub-national fiscal governance. Part IV looks at how the problems of mismatch between liability and control take on an acute form within the historical context of European monetary union, above all in Euro Area debt crises.
Learn more about States, Debt, and Power at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: States, Debt, and Power.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Nomi Eve's "Henna House"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Henna House by Nomi Eve.

About the book, from the publisher:
An evocative and stirring novel about a young woman living in the fascinating and rarely portrayed community of Yemenite Jews of the mid-twentieth century, from the acclaimed author of The Family Orchard.

In the tradition of Anita Diamant's The Red Tent, Henna House is the enthralling story of a woman, her family, their community, and the rituals that bind them.

Nomi Eve’s vivid saga begins in Yemen in 1920, when Adela Damari’s parents desperately seek a future husband for their young daughter. After passage of the Orphan’s Decree, any unbetrothed Jewish child left orphaned will be instantly adopted by the local Muslim community. With her parents’ health failing, and no spousal prospects in sight, Adela’s situation looks dire until her uncle arrives from a faraway city, bringing with him a cousin and aunt who introduce Adela to the powerful rituals of henna tattooing. Suddenly, Adela’s eyes are opened to the world, and she begins to understand what it means to love another and one’s heritage. She is imperiled, however, when her parents die and a prolonged drought threatens their long-established way of life. She and her extended family flee to the city of Aden where Adela encounters old loves, discovers her true calling, and is ultimately betrayed by the people and customs she once held dear.

Henna House is an intimate family portrait and a panorama of history. From the traditions of the Yemenite Jews, to the far-ranging devastation of the Holocaust, to the birth of the State of Israel, Eve offers an unforgettable coming-of-age story and a textured chronicle of a fascinating period in the twentieth century.

Henna House is a rich, spirited, and sensuous tale of love, loss, betrayal, forgiveness, and the dyes that adorn the skin and pierce the heart.
Visit Nomi Eve's website and Facebook page.

My Book, The Movie: Henna House.

Writers Read: Nomi Eve.

The Page 69 Test: Henna House.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Kevin Baker reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Kevin Baker, author of The Big Crowd.

His entry begins:
I tend to read both fiction and nonfiction at the same time, what I need to read for my work, and what I read for pleasure (all too infrequently), or because I want to satisfy my curiosity about something.

With the hundredth anniversary of the start of World War I, I’ve begun reading through the spate of recent books on the subject. I wanted to see if the old Barbara Tuchman thesis from The Guns of August still stood up: that the conflict was caused mostly by putting into place mechanisms for war, that could not be halted once they were triggered.

It does, but this is only part of the whole story, at least according to Sean McMeekin’s July 1914: Countdown to War, which is tremendously well-researched. It makes clear that the full story is even more depressing, that the war was brought on in good part by the bureaucratic maneuverings of obscure cabinet ministers, trying to win petty political points. I’ve just started...[read on]
About The Big Crowd, from the publisher:
Tom O’Kane has always looked up to his brother, Charlie, latching onto him as a surrogate father as soon as he arrived in America from County Mayo. Charlie is the American Dream personified: an immigrant who worked his way up from beat cop to mayor of New York. But what if Charlie isn’t as wonderful as he seems?

More than a decade after Tom arrives in New York, he is forced to confront the truth about Charlie while investigating the mysterious “suicide” of Kid Twist, Charlie’s star witness against the largest crime syndicate in New York. As Tom digs deeper, the secrets he uncovers throw everything he thinks he knows about his beloved brother into question.

Based on one of the biggest unsolved mob murders in history, The Big Crowd brings the 1940s to indelible life, from the beaches of Acapulco to the battlefields of World War II, from Gracie Mansion to the Brooklyn docks.
Learn more about the book and author at Kevin Baker's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Big Crowd.

Writers Read: Kevin Baker.

--Marshal Zeringue

Bruce Grierson's "What Makes Olga Run?," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: What Makes Olga Run?: The Mystery of the 90-Something Track Star and What She Can Teach Us About Living Longer, Happier Lives by Bruce Grierson.

The entry begins:
Coming soon to your local multiplex, What Makes Olga Run?, the movie. It’s the story of an uptight city guy’s slow absorption of the paleo lifestyle – primitive food, polyphasic sleeping and intense barefoot workouts with boulders — which he views as the secret of recovering his lost youth. His mentor on this journey, the Burgess Meredith to his Rocky, is a 90-something track athlete with Old Country grit and a Zen-like intelligence: Olga Kotelko.

There’s surely an Oscar waiting for the actress who can pull off the role of Olga. The part demands a pretty serious level of physicality. The real Olga Kotelko notched more than fifty world records in three age categories — most recently women aged 95-99. She was a sprinter and a high jumper. It’s hard to imagine, say, Betty White, putting that kind of spring into even her walking step.

But here’s the thing: In every physiological test done on her by specialists across North America, the real Olga scored at least 30 years younger than her chronological age. And in physical appearance she was at least 25 years younger. So we’re not looking for a 90-year-old actress here. We’re looking for a 65- to 70-year-old actress. That opens up the field to all those late-Boomer Oscar-winners who must be dying for another chance to carry a film: Goldie Hawn, Glenn Close, Sigourney Weaver, Cher. (!). (Okay, the last two are probably out, since Olga was five-foot-zero and 125 pounds.)

For pure athleticism, a casting director’s thoughts might drift to Jane...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Bruce Grierson's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

The Page 99 Test: What Makes Olga Run?.

My Book, The Movie: What Makes Olga Run?.

--Marshal Zeringue

The top 10 fictitious biographies

Jonathan Gibbs is a writer and journalist born in Trinidad, raised in Essex, and living, now, in London. His debut novel is Randall.

For the Guardian, Gibbs tagged his top ten biographies of made-up persons as if they were real. (Note: these are not fictionalized biographies – novels based on the life of a famous person. There are many of those.) One title on the list:
Orlando by Virginia Woolf

Woolf's light-hearted "escapade" is a satirical romp through the very idea of a biography, with its portrait of a nobleman who lives from the Elizabethan era right through to the 1920s, somehow changing gender along the way. Its sentence-by-sentence delight in evoking past times offers a model that few "proper" historical accounts can hope to follow – not least because it's skipped on a decade before they've tied their bootlaces.
Read about another entry on the list.

Orlando is among Sam Mills's top ten fictional sex changes.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Twenty books from the 1990s that are still great

At the Huffington Post, Stephen Graham Jones tagged twenty books as great today as they were in the 90s, including:
A Simple Plan (1993):

I would like to submit this as the single best thriller ever written. And that's taking into account Thomas Harris, and Firestarter, and Preston and Child's Thunderhead, and even Ira Levin. Stephen King was spot-on to blurb this, to bring it to our attention. Thank you. If I could just write this book once, I might stop writing. What other worlds would there be to conquer?
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Courtney Miller Santo's "Three Story House"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Three Story House: A Novel by Courtney Miller Santo.

About the book, from the publisher:
Renovating an historic Memphis house together, three cousins discover that their spectacular failures in love, career, and family provide the foundation for their future happiness in this warm and poignant novel from the author of The Roots of the Olive Tree that is reminiscent of The Postmistress, The Secret Life of Bees, and Kristin Hannah’s novels.

Nearing thirty and trying to avoid the inescapable fact that they have failed to live up to everyone’s expectations and their own aspirations, cousins and childhood best friends Lizzie, Elyse, and Isobel seek respite in an oddly-shaped, three-story house that sits on a bluff sixty feet above the Mississippi.

As they work to restore the almost condemned house, each woman faces uncomfortable truths about their own failings. Lizzie seeks answers to a long-held family secret about her father in her grandmother’s jumble of mementos and the home’s hidden spaces. Elyse’s obsession with an old flame leads her to a harrowing mistake that threatens to destroy her sister’s wedding, and Isobel’s quest for celebrity tempts her to betray confidences in ways that would irreparably damage her two cousins.

Told in three parts from the perspective of each of the women, this sharply observed account of the restoration of a house built out of spite, but filled with memories of love is also an account of friendship and how relying on each other’s insights and strengths provides the women a way to get what they need instead of what they want.
Learn more about the book and author at Courtney Miller Santo's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Roots of the Olive Tree.

My Book, The Movie: The Roots of the Olive Tree.

My Book, The Movie: Three Story House.

Writers Read: Courtney Miller Santo.

The Page 69 Test: Three Story House.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is M. P. Cooley reading?

Featured at Writers Read: M. P. Cooley, author of Ice Shear.

Her entry begins:
My reading right now is split between pleasure and research for book two. First, the pleasure reading. I just finished Chris Holm’s Dead Harvest, which was a joy ride. It’s main character, Sam Thornton, is a collector of souls, and when I picked it up I think I had expected meditations on death and redemption with some suspense thrown in. Instead I got meditation and death and redemption in the middle of an all out demon war. With tight prose and world building that was organic and interesting, this novel had a life-and-death pace that made it...[read on]
About Ice Shear, from the publisher:
A small town cop’s murder investigation turns deadly when she uncovers a web of politics and drugs linked to an outlaw motorcycle gang in this gripping debut suspense novel for fans of Winter’s Bone, Frozen River, Breaking Bad, and Sons of Anarchy.

As a cop on the night shift in Hopewell Falls, New York, June Lyons drives drunks home and picks up the donuts. A former FBI agent, she ditched the Bureau when her husband died, and now she and her young daughter are back in upstate New York, living with her father, the town’s retired chief of police.

When June discovers a young woman’s body impaled on an ice shear in the frozen Mohawk River, news of the murder spreads fast; the dead girl was the daughter of a powerful local Congresswoman, and her troubled youth kept the gossips busy.

Though June was born and raised in Hopewell Falls, the local police see her as an interloper—resentment that explodes in anger when the FBI arrive and deputize her to work on the murder investigation. But June may not find allies among the Feds. The agent heading the case is someone from her past—someone she isn’t sure she can trust.

As June digs deeper, an already fraught case turns red-hot when it leads to a notorious biker gang and a meth lab hidden in plain sight—and an unmistakable sign that the river murder won’t be the last.
Learn more about the book and author at M. P. Cooley's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

My Book, The Movie: Ice Shear.

Writers Read: M. P. Cooley.

--Marshal Zeringue

Kevin Baker's "The Big Crowd," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Big Crowd by Kevin Baker.

The entry begins:
The Big Crowd is based closely on a series of real events, about a New York City mayor just after World War II who was forced into exile in Mexico, after he was accused of taking part in the greatest unsolved murder in mob history.

It’s a story about politics and crime, with all sorts of conflicting loyalties between what we owe the people we love, and our duty to the rest of those around us, so naturally I thought of Martin Scorsese as the ideal person to direct it. Someone else who understands the nuances of civic and personal corruption in a big city would be James Gray.

For the mayor, Charlie O’Kane, who started out as an Irish immigrant and a beat cop, I thought of Liam Neeson, who can convey that sort of bluff ruggedness but also a certain vulnerability. Someone else like that might be Bryan...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Kevin Baker's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Big Crowd.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Edward Dolnick's "The Rush"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Rush: America's Fevered Quest for Fortune, 1848-1853 by Edward Dolnick.

About the book, from the publisher:
A riveting portrait of the Gold Rush, by the award-winning author of Down the Great Unknown and The Forger's Spell.

In the spring of 1848, rumors began to spread that gold had been discovered in a remote spot in the Sacramento Valley. A year later, newspaper headlines declared "Gold Fever!" as hundreds of thousands of men and women borrowed money, quit their jobs, and allowed themselves- for the first time ever-to imagine a future of ease and splendor. In THE RUSH, Edward Dolnick brilliantly recounts their treacherous westward journeys by wagon and on foot, and takes us to the frenzied gold fields and the rowdy cities that sprang from nothing to jam-packed chaos. With an enthralling cast of characters and scenes of unimaginable wealth and desperate ruin, THE RUSH is a fascinating-and rollicking-account of the greatest treasure hunt the world has ever seen.
Learn more about the book and author at Edward Dolnick's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Forger's Spell.

The Page 99 Test: The Clockwork Universe.

The Page 99 Test: The Rush.

--Marshal Zeringue