Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Pg. 69: Jeri Westerson's "The Silence of Stones"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Silence of Stones: A Crispin Guest Medieval Noir by Jeri Westerson.

About the book, from the publisher:
London, 1388. When the mythical Stone of Destiny disappears from the throne of England, the populace takes it as a sign that rebellion is near. Desperate, Richard calls in Crispin Guest to find the missing stone and uses Crispin's page Jack Tucker as leverage. Unless Crispin can find the stone in three day's time, Jack will hang for treason.
Learn more about the author and her work at Jeri Westerson's website and her "Getting Medieval" blog.

The Page 69 Test: Veil of Lies.

The Page 69 Test: Serpent in the Thorns.

The Page 69 Test: The Demon's Parchment.

My Book, The Movie: The Demon's Parchment.

The Page 69 Test: Troubled Bones.

The Page 69 Test: Blood Lance.

The Page 69 Test: Shadow of the Alchemist.

The Page 69 Test: Cup of Blood.

The Page 69 Test: The Silence of Stones.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Gigi Pandian reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Gigi Pandian, author of The Masquerading Magician.

One title she tagged:
The Golden Age of Murder by Martin Edwards
This is an engrossing history of the Detection Club, the private club of mystery novelists that began in England during the Golden Age of Detective Fiction. Edwards focuses most on three of the founding members, Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, and Anthony Berkeley, all of whom had fascinating hidden lives. There are also stories about other club members, including my personal favorite Golden Age writer, John Dickson Carr. My copy of the book is now filled with notes in the margins about new-to-me classic mysteries I plan to...[read on]
About The Masquerading Magician, from the publisher:
Deciphering an ancient alchemy book is more difficult than Zoe Faust bargained for. She’d much rather be gardening and exploring her new hometown of Portland, Oregon—but time is running out for living gargoyle Dorian Robert-Houdin. If Zoe isn’t able to unlock an unusual alchemy book’s secrets soon, the French gargoyle will remain awake but trapped in stone forever.

When Zoe gives herself a rare night out to attend a classic magic show, she realizes the stage magicians are much more than they seem. A murder at the theater leads back to a string of unsolved robberies and murders in Portland’s past, and a mystery far more personal than Zoe and Dorian ever imagined.
Visit Gigi Pandian's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

Writers Read: Gigi Pandian.

--Marshal Zeringue

Cover story: "Houston Bound"

Tyina L. Steptoe is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Arizona.

Her new book is Houston Bound: Culture and Color in a Jim Crow City. Here Steptoe explains the connection of the book's cover to the pages within:
Sam “Lightnin’” Hopkins lopes down a city street in a black residential area of Houston. His guitar is tucked under his right arm and a cigarette dangles from his mouth. This image of Hopkins, captured by fellow musician Ed Badeaux, first appeared on the cover of Hopkins’s 1961 album, “Walkin’ This Road by Myself.” The image currently graces the cover of my book, Houston Bound: Culture and Color in a Jim Crow City. In addition to using Hopkins’s image, I also took the book’s title from a 1962 song he recorded called “Houston Bound.” The photograph and song appealed to me because both convey the idea of movement.

Houston Bound is a book about migrants, specifically black East Texans, Creoles of color from Louisiana, Tejanos, and Mexicans who moved to the city between the 1920s and 1960s. As these groups settled in Houston, they challenged notions of race, especially the meanings of blackness and whiteness. Born in Centerville, Texas, in 1912, Hopkins moved to the city in the late 1930s. His songs show the significance of mobility to him and the other Houston transplants who populate the pages of my book.

Before moving permanently to Houston, Hopkins spent some time working as a sharecropper. Planting and plowing on rented land gave his life a sense of confinement. He was bound by contract to a parcel of land, and endless cycles of debt often kept sharecroppers like him tied to a white landowner’s property. But the songs Hopkins recorded as a blues performer portray a man who had found freedom in mobility. He stopped farming to pursue work as a bluesman. Soon, he was wandering the roads of eastern Texas as an itinerant musician. In the process, he transformed from a sharecropper into a man with the ability to roam.

Recorded in New York City in 1960, the song “Houston Bound” further emphasizes migration and mobility, while also establishing the musician’s ties to his adopted hometown. The lyrics place him in New York, which he portrays as a temporary lover: “I’m so sorry to leave you, baby, but darling, I really got to say goodbye.” In the second verse, Hopkins’s virtuosic guitar playing provides sonic clues about the significance of mobility and his ties to Houston. When he sings, “My plane leaves early in the morning,” his fingers skillfully climb toward higher notes, mimicking his ascension into the skies. But when he proclaims, “Po’ Lightnin’ just gotta be Houston bound,” his fingers gravitate to lower notes that ground him back at home in Texas. By the time he recorded the song, he was no longer a sharecropper or an itinerant musician from East Texas searching for the next barn party. His work as a professional musician took him to places like New York, but he had a new home in the city of Houston. Like the image of Hopkins walking with his guitar, the song “Houston Bound” asserts a black Texan’s mobility in a society that often trapped and confined people like him.
Learn more about Houston Bound: Culture and Color in a Jim Crow City at the University of California Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five YA books for fans of the Wild West

Eric Smith is the author of The Geek’s Guide to Dating and Inked. One of five YA reads for fans of the Wild West that he tagged at the B&N Teen blog:
Revenge and the Wild, by Michelle Modesto

Modesto’s debut hit shelves just this week, and you want to get your hands on it right now. Westie is the adopted daughter of a local inventor, with a mechanical arm and a thirst for vengeance. She’s wild, and she’s haunted by memories of her family, slain by cannibals on the road to Rogue City, a place as full of magic as it is of pistols. Now, if your eyes are widening at the mechanical arm, the inventor, and magic…good. This here’s a different western, and we’re all about it.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 08, 2016

Jennifer Robson's "Moonlight Over Paris," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Moonlight Over Paris by Jennifer Robson.

The entry begins:
My difficulty, when dream-casting one of my books, is that I tend to create my characters with a very specific image of each one in my head, and usually they don’t bear much resemblance to particular actors or public figures. If pressed, though, I would say that Alicia Vikander, who played Vera Brittain in the recent film adaptation of Testament of Youth, is a pretty close match for the Helena I carry around in my head. I also like Saoirse Ronan (so wonderful in Brooklyn) and Mia...[read on]
Visit Jennifer Robson's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Jennifer Robson & Ellie.

My Book, The Movie: After the War Is Over.

The Page 69 Test: After the War Is Over.

Writers Read: Jennifer Robson.

My Book, The Movie: Moonlight Over Paris.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: William C. Dietz's "Graveyard"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Graveyard: The Mutant Files by William C. Dietz.

About the book, from the publisher:
2069, Los Angeles. Decades after a bioterrorist attack decimated the population and left many of the survivors horribly mutated, the “norms” have forced mutants into dangerous areas known as red zones. And the tensions between the two groups are threatening to boil over…

LAPD detective Cassandra Lee is known for her single-mindedness, and right now, she’s got only one goal—track down the Bonebreaker, the man who murdered her father. But her quest for justice is derailed when LA comes under attack.

The Aztec Empire, a Central American group determined to take back the U.S. territories that their Spanish ancestors once controlled, has led a mutant army into California. Suddenly caught in the middle of a war, Lee must put all her energy into keeping her city safe while unearthing the political secrets of LA’s shady mayor. And with the Bonebreaker hunting her down, losing focus even for a second could mean death…
Visit William C. Dietz's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

The Page 69 Test: Andromeda's Fall.

My Book, The Movie: Andromeda's Fall.

The Page 69 Test: Andromeda's Choice.

The Page 69 Test: Deadeye.

My Book, The Movie: Deadeye.

The Page 69 Test: Graveyard.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Chad Pearson reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Chad Pearson, author of Reform or Repression: Organizing America's Anti-Union Movement.

His entry begins:
During the course of researching what became my book, I discovered that employers, all of whom wanted control over their workforces, could be rather violent. Several employers active in the turn-of-the-century anti-union open-shop movement were once active in Civil War-era vigilante organizations. For example, Wilbur F. Sanders, one of the leaders of the anti-union Citizens’ Industrial Association of America, served as the lawyer for the Montana Vigilantes in the 1860s. And N. F. Thompson, another prominent Progressive Era union opponent, had served in the Ku Klux Klan with Nathan Bedford Forrest while he lived in Middle Tennessee. More than three decade later, Thompson called for a “justifiable homicide law.” Thompson believed that employers and non-union workers deserved the right to murder union activists responsible for seeking to prevent strikebreakers from entering workplaces. One of my book’s themes explores the long history of employer violence.

Questions about labor-management tensions--and employers’ belligerency in particular-- continue to interest me, and I’m currently looking at underexplored events to better understand these questions. Rather than focus exclusively on the industrialized northeast or Midwest, I have been drawn to the nineteenth century South. Military conflicts offer some useful examples for scholars of labor and management. In recent years, a number of scholars have re-introduced readers to the important insights found in W. E. B. Du Bois’s 1935 Black Reconstruction, an outstanding class struggle study that takes seriously the agency of the close to four million slaves during the Civil War and its immediate aftermath. He famously calls their involvement “a general strike.” A number of terrific books, including David Roediger’s Seizing Freedom: Slave Emancipation and Liberty for All, David Williams’s I Freed Myself: African Americans Self-Emancipation in the Civil War Era, and...[read on]
About Reform or Repression, from the publisher:
Historians have characterized the open-shop movement of the early twentieth century as a cynical attempt by business to undercut the labor movement by twisting the American ideals of independence and self-sufficiency to their own ends. The precursors to today's right-to-work movement, advocates of the open shop in the Progressive Era argued that honest workers should have the right to choose whether or not to join a union free from all pressure. At the same time, business owners systematically prevented unionization in their workplaces.

While most scholars portray union opponents as knee-jerk conservatives, Chad Pearson demonstrates that many open-shop proponents identified themselves as progressive reformers and benevolent guardians of America's economic and political institutions. By exploring the ways in which employers and their allies in journalism, law, politics, and religion drew attention to the reformist, rather than repressive, character of the open-shop movement, Pearson's book forces us to consider the origins, character, and limitations of this movement in new ways. Throughout his study, Pearson describes class tensions, noting that open-shop campaigns primarily benefited management and the nation's most economically privileged members at the expense of ordinary people.

Pearson's analysis of archives, trade journals, newspapers, speeches, and other primary sources elucidates the mentalities of his subjects and their times, rediscovering forgotten leaders and offering fresh perspectives on well-known figures such as Theodore Roosevelt, Louis Brandeis, Booker T. Washington and George Creel. Reform or Repression sheds light on businessmen who viewed strong urban-based employers' and citizens' associations, weak unions, and managerial benevolence as the key to their own, as well as the nation's, progress and prosperity.
Learn more about Reform or Repression at the University of Pennsylvania Press website.

Writers Read: Chad Pearson.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sebastian Faulks's six favorite books

Sebastian Faulks's novels include Birdsong, Human Traces, Charlotte Gray, and In Where My Heart Used To Beat. One of his six favorite books, as shared at The Week magazine:
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark

Spark's most famous novel is justly celebrated for the cunning way it tells its tale from different angles. Jean Brodie, a charismatic schoolteacher, has a powerful grip on her credulous teenage pupils. The extent of her dangerous self-deceit is laid bare with cruel humor and precision.
Read about another book on the list.

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is among Stuart Husband's top ten fictional teachers, Rachel Cooke's top ten spinsters, Karin Altenberg's top ten books about betrayal, Megan Abbott's five most dangerous mentors in fiction, the Barnes & Noble Review's list of five top books on teaching and learning and Ian Rankin's six best books. Miss Jean Brodie is one of John Mullan's ten best teachers in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Caroline Shaw's "Britannia's Embrace"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Britannia's Embrace: Modern Humanitarianism and the Imperial Origins of Refugee Relief by Caroline Shaw.

About the book,from the publisher:
On the eve of the American Revolution, the refugee was, according to British tradition, a Protestant who sought shelter from continental persecution. By the turn of the twentieth century, however, British refuge would be celebrated internationally as being open to all persecuted foreigners. Britain had become a haven for fugitives as diverse as Karl Marx and Louis Napoleon, Simón Bolívar and Frederick Douglass. How and why did the refugee category expand? How, in a period when no law forbade foreigners entry to Britain, did the refugee emerge as a category for humanitarian and political action? Why did the plight of these particular foreigners become such a characteristically British concern?

Current understandings about the origins of refuge have focused on the period after 1914. Britannia's Embrace offers the first historical analysis of the origins of this modern humanitarian norm in the long nineteenth century. At a time when Britons were reshaping their own political culture, this charitable endeavor became constitutive of what it meant to be liberal on the global stage. Like British anti-slavery, its sister movement, campaigning on behalf of foreign refugees seemed to give purpose to the growing empire and the resources of empire gave it greater strength. By the dawn of the twentieth century, British efforts on behalf of persecuted foreigners declined precipitously, but its legacies in law and in modern humanitarian politics would be long-lasting.

In telling this story, Britannia's Embrace puts refugee relief front and center in histories of human rights and international law and of studies of Britain in the world. In so doing, it describes the dynamic relationship between law, resources, and moral storytelling that remains critical to humanitarianism today.
Learn more about Britannia's Embrace at the Oxford University Press website.

Cover story: Britannia's Embrace.

The Page 99 Test: Britannia's Embrace.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Five of the best books with unforgettable sisters

Lee Kelly is the author of A Criminal Magic and City of Savages. One of her five favorite books with unforgettable sisters, as shared at Tor.com:
The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood

It’s really hard to categorize (or even adequately explain) Atwood’s tale of two sisters that spans nearly a century of time and several genres, but suffice it to say this is one of the most powerful books about sisterhood I’ve ever read. The story opens with Iris recounting her sister Laura’s death, and then jumps to Laura’s posthumously published science fiction novel (entitled The Blind Assassin), then to an elderly Iris many years in the future, and then backward in time as Iris recalls her childhood with Laura. It’s a portrait of two remarkable sisters, cut into puzzle pieces—pieces that the reader must fit and put together—and the experience is breathtaking and rewarding all the way through.
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Reed Farrel Coleman reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Reed Farrel Coleman, author of Where It Hurts.

His entry begins:
Unfortunately, a lot of the reading I do these days is for blurbs. Not that I’m complaining. I know how uncomfortable asking for blurbs can be and I am happy to help if I can. And I’m honored that my colleagues think my name on their books has some meaning. However, it does cut down on my time for reading strictly for pleasure. I was very lucky in that the most recent book I read for a blurb was Alex Segura’s Down The Darkest Street, featuring ex-journalist Pete Fernandez. I like to think of Alex’s work as hot house noir because it’s set on the steaming, humid streets of Miami. Segura does a nice job of...[read on]
About Where It Hurts, from the publisher:
From the critically acclaimed and award-winning author comes a gritty, atmospheric new series about the other side of Long Island, far from the wealth of the Hamptons, where real people live—and die.

Gus Murphy thought he had the world all figured out. A retired Suffolk County cop, Gus had everything a man could want: a great marriage, two kids, a nice house, and the rest of his life ahead of him. But when tragedy strikes, his life is thrown into complete disarray. In the course of a single deadly moment, his family is blown apart and he is transformed from a man who believes he understands everything into a man who understands nothing.

Divorced and working as a courtesy van driver for the run-down hotel in which he has a room, Gus has settled into a mindless, soulless routine that barely keeps his grief at arm’s length. But Gus’s comfortable waking trance comes to an end when ex-con Tommy Delcamino asks him for help. Four months earlier, Tommy’s son T.J.’s battered body was discovered in a wooded lot, yet the Suffolk County PD doesn’t seem interested in pursuing the killers. In desperation, Tommy seeks out the only cop he ever trusted—Gus Murphy.

Gus reluctantly agrees to see what he can uncover. As he begins to sweep away the layers of dust that have collected over the case during the intervening months, Gus finds that Tommy was telling the truth. It seems that everyone involved with the late T.J Delcamino—from his best friend, to a gang enforcer, to a mafia capo, and even the police—has something to hide, and all are willing to go to extreme lengths to keep it hidden. It’s a dangerous favor Gus has taken on as he claws his way back to take a place among the living, while searching through the sewers for a killer.
Visit Reed Farrel Coleman's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Hollow Girl.

The Page 69 Test: Where It Hurts.

Writers Read: Reed Farrel Coleman.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Jennifer Brown's "Shade Me"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Shade Me by Jennifer Brown.

About the book, from the publisher:
The first book in bestselling author Jennifer Brown’s thrilling suspense series for fans of Sara Shepard’s Pretty Little Liars, Shade Me is about a unique girl who becomes entangled in a mysterious crime and lured into a sexy but dangerous relationship with a boy who may be a suspect.

Nikki Kill has always been an outsider. Born with rare synesthesia, she sees the world differently. In Nikki’s eyes, happiness is pink, sadness is a mixture of brown and green, and lies are gray.

To Nikki, Peyton Hollis, the ultrarich it-girl at school, was seemingly untouchable. That is, until Peyton is violently attacked and the only phone number the hospital finds in Peyton’s cell is Nikki’s. Suddenly Nikki is pulled into Peyton’s glittering, fast-paced world as she tries to unravel an unfolding conspiracy.

As Nikki gets closer to the dark truth—and to Peyton’s gorgeous older brother—the only thing she can be sure of is death is a deep, pulsing crimson.
Learn more about the book and author at Jennifer Brown's website.

Read: Coffee with a Canine: Jennifer Brown & Ursula and Aragorn.

My Book, The Movie: Life on Mars.

The Page 69 Test: Shade Me.

--Marshal Zeringue

Yona Zeldis McDonough's "The House on Primrose Pond," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The House on Primrose Pond by Yona Zeldis McDonough.

The entry begins:
You can’t imagine how much fun it is to imagine your book brought to life as a movie. I do it all the time, and so do most of my writer friends. Of course I played this little game with my latest novel, The House on Primrose Pond. Julia Roberts, whose relaxed, versatile manner on the screen is always engaging, could easily play the protagonist, Susannah Gilmore. Reese Witherspoon, whose plucky charm manages to light up any vehicle she’s in, is another contender; both of these women would bring Susannah admirably to life. Russell...[read on]
Learn more about the author and her work at Yona Zeldis McDonough's website.

The Page 69 Test: You Were Meant For Me.

My Book, The Movie: You Were Meant for Me.

Coffee with a Canine: Yona Zeldis McDonough & Willa and Holden.

Writers Read: Yona Zeldis McDonough.

The Page 69 Test: The House on Primrose Pond.

My Book, The Movie: The House on Primrose Pond.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Four books that changed Clara Bensen

Clara Bensen is the author of No Baggage: A Tale of Love and Wandering.

One of four books that changed her, as shared at the Sydney Morning Herald:
The Art of Travel
Alain de Botton​

Witty and surprising, Alain de Botton's The Art of Travel investigates why it is we are attracted to faraway locales. What's the appeal and how often does the foreign mystique live up to our expectations? In addition to his own travels, de Botton weaves in (often hilarious) observations from the journeys of other artists and writers. As an avid traveller, I enjoyed the reminder that no matter where you go, you can't escape yourself.
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Ann Morgan reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Ann Morgan, author of Beside Myself.

Her entry begins:
I have several books on the go at the moment. As I choose one title from around the world to feature on my A Year of Reading the World blog each month, I'm nearly always reading something in translation. Right now, I'm exploring Thai literature, and am in the grip of an amazing novel called The White Shadow by Saneh Sangsuk, translated from the Thai by Marcel Barang. Like many literary novels, the narrative follows the struggles of an aspiring author, but the writing is so fresh, inventive and daring that it feels like a new departure rather than a...[read on]
About Beside Myself, from the publisher:
Six-year-old Helen and Ellie are identical twins, but Helen is smarter, more popular, and their mother's favorite. Ellie, on the other hand, requires special instruction at school, is friendless, and is punished at every turn.

Until they decide to swap places--just for fun, and just for one day--and Ellie refuses to switch back. Everything of Helen's, from her toys to her friends to her identity, now belongs to her sister. With those around her oblivious to her plight, the girl who used to be Helen loses her sense of self and withdraws into a spiral of behavioral problems, delinquency, and mental illness. In time, she's not even sure of her memory of the switch.

Twenty-five years later, she receives a call that threatens to pull her back into her sister's dangerous orbit. Will she take this chance to face her past?
Visit Ann Morgan's website.

Writers Read: Ann Morgan.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Tonio Andrade's "The Gunpowder Age"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Gunpowder Age: China, Military Innovation, and the Rise of the West in World History by Tonio Andrade.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Chinese invented gunpowder and began exploring its military uses as early as the 900s, four centuries before the technology passed to the West. But by the early 1800s, China had fallen so far behind the West in gunpowder warfare that it was easily defeated by Britain in the Opium War of 1839–42. What happened? In The Gunpowder Age, Tonio Andrade offers a compelling new answer, opening a fresh perspective on a key question of world history: why did the countries of western Europe surge to global importance starting in the 1500s while China slipped behind?

Historians have long argued that gunpowder weapons helped Europeans establish global hegemony. Yet the inhabitants of what is today China not only invented guns and bombs but also, as Andrade shows, continued to innovate in gunpowder technology through the early 1700s—much longer than previously thought. Why, then, did China become so vulnerable? Andrade argues that one significant reason is that it was out of practice fighting wars, having enjoyed nearly a century of relative peace, since 1760. Indeed, he demonstrates that China—like Europe—was a powerful military innovator, particularly during times of great warfare, such as the violent century starting after the Opium War, when the Chinese once again quickly modernized their forces. Today, China is simply returning to its old position as one of the world’s great military powers.

By showing that China’s military dynamism was deeper, longer lasting, and more quickly recovered than previously understood, The Gunpowder Age challenges long-standing explanations of the so-called Great Divergence between the West and Asia.
Visit Tonio Andrade's website.

The Page 99 Test: Lost Colony.

The Page 99 Test: The Gunpowder Age.

--Marshal Zeringue

Gina McKee's 6 best books

Gina McKee is an English actor and producer, known for In the Loop (2009), Notting Hill (1999) and Atonement (2007). One of her six best books, as shared at the Daily Express:
A FINE BALANCE by Rohinton Mistry

Years ago I came home from India with more questions than answers and it sparked me to find out more.

This is about four characters in the 1970s during the state of emergency – and through them it comments on the political landscape.

It satisfies head and heart.
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 05, 2016

Pg. 69: Phillip DePoy's "A Prisoner in Malta"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: A Prisoner in Malta by Phillip DePoy.

About the book, from the publisher:
In 1583, the nineteen-year-old Christopher Marlowe---with a reputation as a brawler, a womanizer, a genius, and a social upstart at Cambridge University---is visited by a man representing Marlowe's benefactors. There are rumors of a growing plot against her majesty Queen Elizabeth I, and the Queen's spymaster, Sir Francis Walsingham, has charged young Marlowe with tracking down the truth. The path to that truth seems to run through an enigmatic prisoner held in complete seclusion in a heavily guarded dungeon in Malta. Marlowe must use every bit of his wits, his skills, and his daring to unravel one of the greatest mysteries in history and help uncover and unravel scheme of assassination and invasion, one involving the government of Spain, high ranking English nobles, and even Pope himself.

Christopher Marlowe---Elizabethan playwright, poet, and spy---is one of the most enigmatic figures in Renaissance England. The son of a shoemaker from Canterbury, he attended Cambridge University on scholarship and, while frequently in trouble, was bailed out through the intercession of Queen Elizabeth I's Privy Council. Long rumored to have been an agent on behalf of the Queen's spymaster, Edgar Award winner Phillip DePoy's new series brings Marlowe and his times to life.
Learn more about the book and author at Phillip DePoy's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Drifter's Wheel.

The Page 69 Test: A Corpse's Nightmare.

The Page 69 Test: December's Thorn.

My Book, The Movie: December's Thorn.

The Page 69 Test: A Prisoner in Malta.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Jennifer Robson reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Jennifer Robson, author of Moonlight Over Paris.

Her entry begins:
I’m one of those people who always seem to have three or four books on the go—some for research, some because I’ve been asked for a quote or “blurb,” and always at least one book that’s just for fun.

As far as research goes, I’m right in the middle of writing my next book, which is set in London during the Second World War. Although I’m very familiar with the history of the period—much of my doctoral thesis focused on the home front in Britain—I’ve been madly trying to learn as much as I can about woman journalists during the war. I just finished Sketches from a Life by Anne Scott-James, a journalist and writer who was at Picture Post during the war, and I’m now reading My Day, a collection of Eleanor Roosevelt’s newspaper columns, as I’m thinking of...[read on]
About Moonlight Over Paris, from the publisher:
An aristocratic young woman leaves the sheltered world of London to find adventure, passion, and independence in 1920s Paris in this mesmerizing story from the USA Today and internationally bestselling author of Somewhere in France and After the War is Over.

Spring, 1924

Recovering from a broken wartime engagement and a serious illness that left her near death, Lady Helena Montagu-Douglas-Parr vows that for once she will live life on her own terms. Breaking free from the stifling social constraints of the aristocratic society in which she was raised, she travels to France to stay with her free spirited aunt. For one year, she will simply be Miss Parr. She will explore the picturesque streets of Paris, meet people who know nothing of her past—and pursue her dream of becoming an artist.

A few years after the Great War’s end, the City of Light is a bohemian paradise teeming with actors, painters, writers, and a lively coterie of American expatriates who welcome Helena into their romantic and exciting circle. Among them is Sam Howard, an irascible and infuriatingly honest correspondent for the Chicago Tribune. Dangerously attractive and deeply scarred by the horror and carnage of the war, Sam is unlike any man she has ever encountered. He calls her Ellie, sees her as no one has before, and offers her a glimpse of a future that is both irresistible and impossible.

As Paris rises phoenix-like from the ashes of the Great War, so too does Helena. Though she’s shed her old self, she’s still uncertain of what she will become and where she belongs. But is she strong enough to completely let go of the past and follow her heart, no matter where it leads her?

Artfully capturing the Lost Generation and their enchanting city, Moonlight Over Paris is the spellbinding story of one young woman’s journey to find herself, and claim the life—and love—she truly wants.
Visit Jennifer Robson's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Jennifer Robson & Ellie.

My Book, The Movie: After the War Is Over.

The Page 69 Test: After the War Is Over.

Writers Read: Jennifer Robson.

--Marshal Zeringue

Patrick H. Breen's "The Land Shall Be Deluged in Blood," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Land Shall Be Deluged in Blood: A New History of the Nat Turner Revolt by Patrick H. Breen.

Part of his entry:
For the actors, The Land would need a large ensemble that could present the dilemma of resisting and upholding slavery in ways that no one has ever done on film. (On stage there have been efforts to present a more complex story about slave resistance, including John Guare’s A Free Man of Color; if offered I would welcome the Lincoln Center’s 2010-2011 entire cast into my film.) Given my druthers among film actors, I would love to see Michael B. Jordan head this cast. He could be a compelling Nat Turner, portraying a man who was able to launch the South’s most important and deadly slave insurrection. Since I’m casting, I’ll also include Laurence...[read on]
Learn more about The Land Shall Be Deluged in Blood at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: The Land Shall Be Deluged in Blood.

My Book, The Movie: The Land Shall Be Deluged in Blood.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top books about weird spies

Max Gladstone has been thrown from a horse in Mongolia and nominated for the John W Campbell Best New Writer Award. He is the author of the Craft Sequence of books about undead gods and skeletal law wizards—Full Fathom Five, Three Parts DeadTwo Serpents Rise, and Last First Snow—and one of the authors of the new series The Witch Who Came in From the Cold at Serial Box. One of five books about weird spies that Gladstone tagged at Tor.com:
Declare by Tim Powers

The less known about a Tim Powers novel going in, the better, so may I suggest stopping now and reading this book if you haven’t already? Declare is a tale of twentieth century weirdness that follows a world of secret knowledge struggling to reinvent itself in the face of deeper and more secret knowledge. Catching hosts of strange-but-true details of history in the net of its plot, Declare melds the plausibly deniable symbolism and grandiose, grotesque schemes of magic and espionage.
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Pg. 99: Greggor Mattson’s “The Cultural Politics of European Prostitution Reform”

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Cultural Politics of European Prostitution Reform: Governing Loose Women by Greggor Mattson.

About the book, from the publisher:
Between 1998 and 2004, eleven out of the fifteen parliaments of the European Union (EU) countries debated whether to regulate prostitution at the national level, something that had, until then, been regulated by cities. Fears about globalization and the transfer of sovereignty to the EU created a context in which nations asserted themselves by imposing national standards to protect vulnerable women, strengthening states in the face of "global" pressures. Prostitution reforms allowed governments to apprehend women who are "loose" in the sense that they lack formal or clear connections to state benefits, national labor markets, or international human rights protections. Case studies of the first four EU countries that reformed prostitution, The Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, and Finland, are told through ninety in-depth interviews with people who helped craft, implement, or enforce new prostitution policies. Departing from previous accounts that stress the differences within these debates, The Cultural Politics of European Prostitution Reform instead analyzes their commonalities, foregrounding the increasing moral power of the state in a globalizing world and the endurance of national cultural difference.
Learn more about Greggor Mattson at his website or follow him on Twitter.

The Page 99 Test: The Cultural Politics of European Prostitution Reform.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Patricia Ward's "Skinner Luce"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Skinner Luce by Patricia Ward.

About the book, from the publisher:
“Skinner was what servs called each other. It was because they were fake, their skins a disguise…”

Every year when the deep cold of winter sets in, unbeknownst to humanity, dangerous visitors arrive from another world. Disguised as humans, the Nafikh move among us in secret, hungry for tastes of this existence. Their fickle, often-violent needs must be accommodated at all times, and the price of keeping them satisfied is paid most heavily by servs.

Created by the Nafikh to attend their every whim, servs are physically indistinguishable from humans but for the Source, the painful, white-hot energy that both animates and enslaves them. Destined to live in pain, unable to escape their bondage, servs dwell in a bleak underworld where life is brutal and short.

Lucy is a serv who arrived as a baby and by chance was adopted by humans. She’s an outcast among outcasts, struggling to find a place where she truly belongs. For years she has been walking a tightrope, balancing between the horrors of her serv existence and the ordinary life she desperately longs to maintain; her human family unaware of her darkest secrets.

But when the body of a serv child turns up and Lucy is implicated in the gruesome death, the worlds she’s tried so hard to keep separate collide. Hounded by the police, turned upon by the servs who once held her dear, she must protect her family and the life she’s made for herself.
Visit Patricia Ward's website.

The Page 69 Test: Skinner Luce.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Abby Geni reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Abby Geni, author of The Lightkeepers: A Novel.

Her entry begins:
There is nothing better than a good mystery. Whenever I have the chance to read for pleasure, rather than research or work, I gravitate toward the pillars of the golden age of mysteries: Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh, Rex Stout, Dorothy Sayers, Georgette Heyer, and Arthur Conan Doyle. I enjoy the way mysteries return me to my childhood—staying up late with the lights burning, eyes heavy with sleep, at once horrified and thrilled, promising myself I’ll stop reading and get some rest after the next chapter, and then the next chapter, and then the next chapter.

It’s always a sad day when I have read everything ever written by of one of my favorite authors. When I had exhausted Agatha Christie’s marvelous canon, I was crushed. When I got to the end of Sherlock Holmes, I was devastated. It’s terrible to feel that there are no new books to discover, no new mysteries to solve. I try to remember that there’s always another great option out there. Still, it can be hard to take the leap of faith and move from an author I adore to one I don’t know.

Lately I’ve been reading the works of Margery Allingham. Though I’m just starting her Albert Campion series, I’m already struck by her wit, her propulsive plotting, and her intricately drawn characters. On my shelf right now is Police at the Funeral, with...[read on]
About The Lightkeepers, from the publisher:
In The Lightkeepers, we follow Miranda, a nature photographer who travels to the Farallon Islands, an exotic and dangerous archipelago off the coast of California, for a one-year residency capturing the landscape. Her only companions are the scientists studying there, odd and quirky refugees from the mainland living in rustic conditions; they document the fish populations around the island, the bold trio of sharks called the Sisters that hunt the surrounding waters, and the overwhelming bird population who, at times, create the need to wear hard hats as protection from their attacks.

Shortly after her arrival, Miranda is assaulted by one of the inhabitants of the islands. A few days later, her assailant is found dead, perhaps the result of an accident. As the novel unfolds, Miranda gives witness to the natural wonders of this special place as she grapples with what has happened to her and deepens her connection (and her suspicions) to her companions, while falling under the thrall of the legends of the place nicknamed “the Islands of the Dead.” And when more violence occurs, each member of this strange community falls under suspicion.

The Lightkeepers upends the traditional structure of a mystery novel — an isolated environment, a limited group of characters who might not be trustworthy, a death that may or may not have been accidental, a balance of discovery and action — while also exploring wider themes of the natural world, the power of loss, and the nature of recovery. It is a luminous debut novel from a talented and provocative new writer.
Visit Abby Geni's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Lightkeepers.

Writers Read: Abby Geni.

--Marshal Zeringue

Leza Lowitz & Shogo Oketani's "Jet Black and the Ninja Wind," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Jet Black and the Ninja Wind by Leza Lowitz & Shogo Oketani.

The entry begins:
This is a book that’s got big screen or TV series written all over it. Magic, mystery, action, and a real-life message (can you imagine?) with a multicultural, multigenerational cast, a globe-trotting story, eco-warriors, and a young bad-ass female lead who takes no shit from anyone. Plus a ninja dog. What’s not to love?

Think Blade Runner meets Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon with a little bit of Karate Kid thrown in. And can we say we jumped out of our seats when we saw that new megabillion dollar blockbuster set in a f.f. galaxy ....Deja vu big time. The age of the female warrior has arrived!

Reese Witherspoon & Pacific Standard---we’re calling you!

JET--a ninja who doesn't know it. The last living female ninja, to be exact. Abandoned by her American father and stuck between cultures, can she become the true leader she’s destined to be?
Cast: Kiki Sukezane of NBC’s Heroes Reborn. Or Emily Kaiho.

SATOKO --Jet’s superbad mother, who left Japan after Jet’s birth and moved to a Navajo Reservation in the US, avoided capture, and trained her daughter in the secret ninja ways.
Cast: Carrie Ann Inaba, Michelle...[read on]
Visit Leza Lowitz's website.

The Page 69 Test: Up From the Sea.

Coffee with a Canine: Leza Lowitz & Bingo and Memo.

My Book, The Movie: Jet Black and the Ninja Wind.

--Marshal Zeringue

Coffee with a canine: Yona Zeldis McDonough & Willa and Holden

Featured at Coffee with a Canine: Yona Zeldis McDonough & Willa and Holden.

The author, on Holden and Willa's favorite humans:
I am by far Holden’s favorite in our household. He seeks me out and wants to chill with me wherever I am. I often look deeply into his dark, soulful eyes; I feel we are communing.

For Willa, it’s my husband Paul. She circles, coughs, and whimpers to get his attention and she wants to sit in his lap or be held by him 24/7. She’s also very coy and even flirtatious (if a Pom can flirt!) in his presence—I think she’s...[read on]
About The House on Primrose Pond by Yona Zeldis McDonough, from the publisher:
A compelling novel about one woman’s search for the truth from the author of You Were Meant For Me.

After suffering a sudden, traumatic loss, historical novelist Susannah Gilmore decides to uproot her life—and the lives of her two children—and leave their beloved Brooklyn for the little town of Eastwood, New Hampshire.

While the trio adjusts to their new surroundings, Susannah is captivated by an unexpected find in her late parents’ home: an unsigned love note addressed to her mother, in handwriting that is most definitely not her father’s.

Reeling from the thought that she never really knew her mother, Susannah finds mysteries everywhere she looks: in her daughter’s friendship with an older neighbor, in a charismatic local man to whom she’s powerfully drawn, and in an eighteenth century crime she’s researching for her next book. Compelled to dig into her mother’s past, Susannah discovers even more secrets, ones that surpass any fiction she could ever put to paper…
Learn more about the author and her work at Yona Zeldis McDonough's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Yona Zeldis McDonough & Willa and Holden (October 2014).

The Page 69 Test: You Were Meant For Me.

My Book, The Movie: You Were Meant for Me.

Writers Read: Yona Zeldis McDonough.

The Page 69 Test: The House on Primrose Pond.

Coffee with a Canine: Yona Zeldis McDonough & Willa and Holden.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top books about cancer

Austin Duffy grew up in Ireland and studied medicine at Trinity College Dublin. He is a practicing medical oncologist at the National Cancer Institute in Washington DC. This Living and Immortal Thing is his first novel. One of the author's top ten books about cancer, as shared at the Guardian:
The Immortal Tale of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

I was halfway through my novel when I discovered – to my horror – that this book was coming out. Lacks is an important woman in cancer history and features in my book, albeit figuratively. She died of an aggressive cervical cancer in the 1950s, which was then maintained after her death as an immortalised cell line. I calmed down when I found out that Skloot’s book was biographical and, I like to think, a non-fictional counterpart to my own.
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Pg. 69: Amy Parker's "Beasts and Children"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Beasts and Children by Amy Parker.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the tradition of Lorrie Moore, Claire Vaye Watkins, and Rebecca Lee, this debut story collection cuts into the sometimes dark heart of the American family

From the tense territory of a sagging, grand porch in Texas to a gated community in steamy Thailand to a lonely apartment in nondescript suburbia, these linked stories unwind the lives of three families as they navigate ever-shifting landscapes. Wry and sharp, dark and subversive, they keep watch as these characters make the choices that will change the course of their lives and run into each other in surprising, unforgettable ways.

The Bowmans are declining Texas gentry, heirs to an airline fortune, surrounded by a patriarch's stuffed trophies and lost dreams. They will each be haunted by the past as they strive to escape its force. The Fosters are diplomats’ kids who might as well be orphans. Jill and Maizie grow up privileged amid poverty, powerless to change the lives of those around them and uncertain whether they have the power to change their own. The Guzmans have moved between Colombia and the United States for two generations, each seeking opportunity for the next, only to find that the American dream can be as crushing as it is elusive.

Amy Parker's debut collection considers--with an unfailingly observant eye--our failures and our successes, our fractures and our connections, our impact and our evanescence. She marks herself a worthy heir to the long tradition of smart women casting cool and careful glances at the American middle class.
Visit Amy Parker's website.

The Page 69 Test: Beasts and Children.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Jason Gurley reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Jason Gurley, author of Eleanor: A Novel.

His entry begins:
I wish I had all the time in the world to read all of the books on my to-be-read list. (It’s less a list and more a collection of towering bookshelves, full of books, already purchased, that I am slowly working my way through.)

Lately I’m alternating between two books:

The first is Ta-Nehisi Coates’s sobering, powerful Between the World and Me. I adore it for all of its difficult truths, its perspective that is so different from my own, and I’m grateful, not only that it exists, but that it has been so widely read. “I resolved to hide nothing from you,” Coates writes to his son, and the book fulfills that statement. It’s beautifully written, and...[read on]
About Eleanor, from the publisher:
Eleanor and Esmerelda are identical twins with a secret language all their own, inseparable until a terrible accident claims Esme’s life. Eleanor’s family is left in tatters: her mother retreats inward, seeking comfort in bottles; her father reluctantly abandons ship. Eleanor is forced to grow up more quickly than a child should, and becomes the target of her mother’s growing rage.

Years pass, and Eleanor’s painful reality begins to unravel in strange ways. The first time it happens, she walks through a school doorway, and finds herself in a cornfield, beneath wide blue skies. When she stumbles back into her own world, time has flown by without her. Again and again, against her will, she falls out of her world and into other, stranger ones, leaving behind empty rooms and worried loved ones.

One fateful day, Eleanor leaps from a cliff and is torn from her world altogether. She meets a mysterious stranger, Mea, who reveals to Eleanor the weight of her family’s loss. To save her broken parents, and rescue herself, Eleanor must learn how deep the well of her mother’s grief and her father’s heartbreak truly goes. Esmerelda’s death was not the only tragic loss in her family’s fragmented history, and unless Eleanor can master her strange new abilities, it may not be the last.
Visit Jason Gurley's website.

The Page 69 Test: Eleanor.

My Book, The Movie: Eleanor.

Writers Read: Jason Gurley.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Steve Kemper's "A Splendid Savage"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: A Splendid Savage: The Restless Life of Frederick Russell Burnham by Steve Kemper.

About the book, from the publisher:
A life of adventure and military daring on violent frontiers across the American West, Africa, Mexico, and the Klondike.

Frederick Russell Burnham’s (1861–1947) amazing story resembles a newsreel fused with a Saturday matinee thriller. One of the few people who could turn his garrulous friend Theodore Roosevelt into a listener, Burnham was once world-famous as “the American scout.” His expertise in woodcraft, learned from frontiersmen and Indians, helped inspire another friend, Robert Baden-Powell, to found the Boy Scouts. His adventures encompassed Apache wars and range feuds, booms and busts in mining camps around the globe, explorations in remote regions of Africa, and death-defying military feats that brought him renown and high honors. His skills led to his unusual appointment, as an American, to be Chief of Scouts for the British during the Boer War, where his daring exploits earned him the Distinguished Service Order from King Edward VII.

After a lifetime pursuing golden prospects from the deserts of Mexico and Africa to the tundra of the Klondike, Burnham found wealth, in his sixties, near his childhood home in southern California. Other men of his era had a few such adventures, but Burnham had them all. His friend H. Rider Haggard, author of many best-selling exotic tales, remarked, “In real life he is more interesting than any of my heroes of romance.”

Among other well-known individuals who figure in Burnham’s story are Cecil Rhodes and William Howard Taft, as well as some of the wealthiest men of the day, including John Hays Hammond, E. H. Harriman, Henry Payne Whitney, and the Guggenheim brothers.

Failure and tragedy streaked his life as well, but he was endlessly willing to set off into the unknown, where the future felt up for grabs and values worth dying for were at stake. Steve Kemper brings a quintessential American story to vivid life in this gripping biography.
Learn more about the book and author at Steve Kemper's website.

The Page 99 Test: A Labyrinth of Kingdoms.

The Page 99 Test: A Splendid Savage.

--Marshal Zeringue

Emily Arsenault's "The Evening Spider," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Evening Spider: A Novel by Emily Arsenault.

The entry begins:
This is a fun exercise because The Evening Spider is the first book I’ve written that I can really imagine being made into a movie.

My story goes back and forth between 1879 and 2014. Two different women, both young mothers, occupy (and are somewhat haunted by) the same house in two different centuries. I think the tone of the movie will rely a lot on how Frances, my eccentric 19th century character, is played. There are moments when she might seem just slightly more crazy than eccentric. We would need an actress who could walk that line without going overboard.

When I first considered this question, Claire Danes came to mind. But I think the risk here is that Frances would just feel like a 19th century Carrie Mathison. So, perhaps a better choice would be Michelle...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Emily Arsenault's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Broken Teaglass.

My Book, The Movie: What Strange Creatures.

My Book, The Movie: The Evening Spider.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten of the best books set in the American West

Callan Wink's new story collection is Dog Run Moon. A fly-fishing guide on the Yellowstone River, he is the recipient of an NEA Creative Writing Fellowship and a Stegner Fellowship at Stanford University.

One of Wink's ten best books set in the American West, as shared at Publishers Weekly:
Close Range by Annie Proulx

The stories in Close Range capture the raw emptiness of Wyoming, a state with far more pronghorn than people. The characters in Close Range are cowboys, bar fighters, ranchers shrewdly imagined and closely observed. The now classic "Brokeback Mountain" alone is worth the price of admission here.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue