Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Five top novels about art and artists

At B&N Reads Jenny Shank tagged five terrific novels about art and artists, including:
The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud

Nora Eldridge, the narrator of Messud’s incandescent novel, once dreamed of being an artist, a wife, and a mother. Instead, due to caring for her aging parents and other concerns, she has ended up a single, middle-aged woman with a career as an elementary school teacher. Then she becomes enamored of the family of one of her students, Reza Shahid. His mother is Sirena, an Italian artist who invites Nora to share her studio space and return to her work as an artist, and his father is a Lebanese professor in Boston on a fellowship. Nora is drawn in, wanting to be a part of the Shahids’ lives, but finding Sirena respects no boundaries between art and life.
Read about another book on the list.

The Woman Upstairs is among Joyce Maynard's six favorite books and Alex Hourston’s top ten unlikely friendships in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Steven G. Marks's "The Information Nexus"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Information Nexus: Global Capitalism from the Renaissance to the Present by Steven G. Marks.

About the book, from the publisher:
Capitalism is central to our understanding of contemporary economic and political life and yet what does it really mean? If, as has now been shown to be the case, capital and property rights existed in pre-modern and pre-capitalist societies, what is left of our understanding of capitalism? Steven Marks' provocative new book calls into question everything we thought we knew about capitalism, from the word's very origins and development to the drivers of Western economic growth. Ranging from the Middle Ages to the present, The Information Nexus reveals that the truly distinctive feature of capitalism is business's drive to acquire and analyze information, supported by governments that allow unfettered access to public data. This new interpretation of capitalism helps to explain the rise of the West, puts our current information age into historical perspective, and provides a benchmark for the comparative assessment of economic systems in today's globalized environment.
Learn more about The Information Nexus at the Cambridge University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: The Information Nexus.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

What is Lydia Pyne reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Lydia Pyne, author of Seven Skeletons: The Evolution of the World's Most Famous Human Fossils.

Her entry begins:
I find that I read many books simultaneously, leaving them scattered around the house. Every place to sit and read has a book next to it. Overall, I enjoying reading a mix of fiction and nonfiction and, looking through the books on my bookshelves, I think that the list of what I’m currently reading definitely reflects my eclectic taste and reading habits.

Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets by Svetlana Alexievich

I recently finished Svetlana Alexievich’s brilliantly poignant oral history of post-Soviet society. This book is one of the most powerful that I’ve ever read – Alexievich’s unique style of weaving together multiple individual monologues creates an...[read on]
About Seven Skeletons, from the publisher:
An irresistible journey of discovery, science, history, and myth making, told through the lives and afterlives of seven famous human ancestors

Over the last century, the search for human ancestors has spanned four continents and resulted in the discovery of hundreds of fossils. While most of these discoveries live quietly in museum collections, there are a few that have become world-renowned celebrity personas—ambassadors of science that speak to public audiences. In Seven Skeletons, historian of science Lydia Pyne explores how seven such famous fossils of our ancestors have the social cachet they enjoy today.

Drawing from archives, museums, and interviews, Pyne builds a cultural history for each celebrity fossil—from its discovery to its afterlife in museum exhibits to its legacy in popular culture. These seven include the three-foot tall “hobbit” from Flores, the Neanderthal of La Chapelle, the Taung Child, the Piltdown Man hoax, Peking Man, Australopithecus sediba, and Lucy—each embraced and celebrated by generations, and vivid examples of how discoveries of how our ancestors have been received, remembered, and immortalized.

With wit and insight, Pyne brings to life each fossil, and how it is described, put on display, and shared among scientific communities and the broader public. This fascinating, endlessly entertaining book puts the impact of paleoanthropology into new context, a reminder of how our past as a species continues to affect, in astounding ways, our present culture and imagination.
Visit Lydia Pyne's website.

The Page 99 Test: The Last Lost World.

Writers Read: Lydia Pyne.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eight top speculative works narrated by dead people

Jeff Somers is the author of the Avery Cates series, The Ustari Cycle, Lifers, and Chum (among many other books) and numerous short stories. At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog he tagged eight speculative works with dead narrators, including:
Warm Bodies, by Isaac Marion

Marion’s narrator and protagonist is, of course, a zombie, which is a modern twist on the dead narrator angle. R is an unusual zombie, at first, able to think semi-coherently and still retaining some spark of his living humanity. When his appetites drive him to kill a young man and eat his brain, R experiences the man’s memories—which include his girlfriend, Julie. R saves Julie and protects her, continuing to consume her boyfriend’s brain in order to experience more memories—and slowly, along with some of his fellow zombies, evolving into something more. A surprisingly touching story that found a surprising new angle for the zombie apocalypse, not to mention a new angle for a posthumous narrator.
Read about another entry on the list.

Warm Bodies is among Sarah Skilton's six most unusual YA narrators, Rachel Paxton-Gillilan's five funniest YA zombie novels, Nick Harkaway's six favorite holiday books, and Nicole Hill's seven favorite literary oddballs.

The Page 69 Test: Warm Bodies.

My Book, The Movie: Warm Bodies.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Kodi Scheer's "Midair"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Midair by Kodi Scheer.

About Midair, from the publisher:
For four young women abroad in Paris, a game of Truth or Dare turns life-and-death.

“I had a secret: I wanted to leave the earth in a spectacular fashion. Specifically, by leaping from the Eiffel Tower.” So begins this provocative coming-of-age novel about a teenage girl bent on self-destruction and revenge, set in the City of Light.

It’s the summer of 1999, the end of a millennium. In the mind of Nessa Baxter, a girl from rural Illinois, Paris is the remedy for all of her woes. The death of her beloved brother and the betrayal by her classmate Kat has left Nessa bereft and doubtful about her future. She plans to exact revenge on Kat during their renegade French Club trip. Along with classmates Whitney and Kiran, the four girls embark on a series of misadventures in Paris. As part of her plan, Nessa starts a game of Truth or Dare that spirals out of control.

A suspenseful psychological drama, Midair is the story of a young girl’s descent into darkness and the secrets we keep, even from ourselves.
Visit Kodi Scheer's website.

My Book, The Movie: Midair by Kodi Scheer.

Writers Read: Kodi Scheer.

The Page 69 Test: Midair.

--Marshal Zeringue

Coffee with a canine: Bruce DeSilva & Brady and Rondo

Featured at Coffee with a Canine: Bruce DeSilva & Brady and Rondo.

The author, on how the fictional Brady and Rondo in his new novel compare to the real-life dogs of the same name:
The dogs that Liam Mulligan, the hero of my novels, adopts in The Dread Line not only have the same names as mine but have almost exactly the same personalities—something I consider a remarkable coincidence. Mulligan’s two dogs, like mine, are the best of friends, so inseparable that neither will go for a walk without the other. Both Rondos are protective, displaying a suspicion of strangers by barking incessantly at them. Both Bradys are gregarious and affectionate with everyone they meet. Both Rondos are eager to please, constantly studying their masters for clues about what they should do next. Both Bradys are stubborn and independent, obeying commands to come or stay only when it suits them. Both Brady’s refuse to fetch, watching balls sail over their heads with a look that says, “You expect me to get that?” But the fictional Rondo...[read on]
About DeSilva's new novel, The Dread Line, from the publisher:
The Dread Line: the latest Liam Mulligan novel from award winning author Bruce DeSilva.

Since he got fired in spectacular fashion from his newspaper job last year, former investigative reporter Liam Mulligan has been piecing together a new life--one that straddles both sides of the law. He's getting some part-time work with his friend McCracken's detective agency. He's picking up beer money by freelancing for a local news website. And he's looking after his semi-retired mobster-friend's bookmaking business.

But Mulligan still manages to find trouble. He's feuding with a cat that keeps leaving its kills on his porch. He's obsessed with a baffling jewelry heist. And he's enraged that someone in town is torturing animals. All this keeps distracting him from a big case that needs his full attention. The New England Patriots, shaken by a series of murder charges against a star player, have hired Mulligan and McCracken to investigate the background of a college athlete they're thinking of drafting. At first, the job seems routine, but as soon as they begin asking questions, they get push-back. The player, it seems, has something to hide--and someone is willing to kill to make sure it remains secret.
Visit Bruce DeSilva's website and blog.

Coffee with a Canine: Bruce DeSilva and Brady (November 2010).

Coffee with a Canine: Bruce DeSilva & Rondo and Brady (June 2012).

The Page 69 Test: A Scourge of Vipers.

My Book, The Movie: A Scourge of Vipers.

Coffee with a Canine: Bruce DeSilva & Brady and Rondo.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 22, 2016

Seven of the unlikeliest platonic pairings in YA lit

At the BN Teen Blog Sarah Hannah Gómez tagged seven of the most unlikely platonic pairings in YA lit, including:
Noa and Peter (Don’t Turn Around, by Michelle Gagnon)

There’s no reason these two should meet. Noa is a girl who grew up in the foster system, and she’s on the run after waking up on a gurney in what is definitely not a hospital. Peter, on the other hand, is a bored rich kid who hacks into his father’s company’s servers just to prove he can. But Noa is a hacker, too, and they’ll find that where she woke up is connected to what Peter may have just found on one of his hacking sprees.
Read about another entry on the list.

Don’t Turn Around is among Michael Waters's top six YA books for Mr. Robot fans.

The Page 69 Test: Don't Turn Around.

My Book, The Movie: Don't Turn Around.

--Marshal Zeringue

Jeff Somers's "The Stringer," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Stringer by Jeff Somers.

The entry begins:
I don’t think about my books as films while writing; in fact it never occurs to me until someone approaches me at a reading or a convention or something, and then I have to scramble mentally to come up with a decent answer, or, sometimes, run drunkenly away, because running away is my go-to response to any stressful situation, which explains why I am always sweaty when you see me.

The Stringer is about magicians who use blood—fresh and spurting from a wound—to fuel magic spells. The more blood you shed, the more powerful your spell can be, but the use of language matters as well—skilled wordsmiths can fashion spells that use less blood for the same effect because of the efficiency of their writing. There’s action and desperation, but you also need actors who can believably convey a sort of low-rent literacy while mumbling a made-up string of words. So, here’s who I think should play the characters in The Stringer.

Lem Vonnegan: Karl Urban. Lem is a grifter at heart—a grifter with magical spells, but a grubby con man nonetheless, and Urban has the physicality for the role.

Pitr Mags: If we could genetically combine...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Jeff Somers's website.

My Book, The Movie: Chum.

The Page 69 Test: Chum.

The Page 69 Test: We Are Not Good People.

My Book, The Movie: We Are Not Good People.

My Book, The Movie: The Stringer.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Bill Crider reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Bill Crider, author of Survivors Will Be Shot Again: Sheriff Dan Rhodes Mysteries (Volume 23).

His entry begins:
What am I reading? I’m glad you asked. I’m reading the January 1958 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

Why am I reading it? Because I was looking through a stack of paperbacks, and there it was. It’s a digest magazine, so I don’t know what it was doing in the stack.

The fact that it was there is not the only reason I’m reading it, though, or even the main one. The real reason is that I read the entire issue back in 1958 when I bought it off the rack in The Corner Book Store in Mexia, Texas, and I wanted to see if I remembered any of the stories and to see how they held up for me.

Let me tell you about two of them. The first is “Remembrance and Reflection” by Mark Clifton. I didn’t remember the story, but what I did remember is that it’s the fourth and final story in a group based on a couplet from Alexander Pope’s Essay on Man: “Remembrance and reflection how allied! / What thin partitions sense from thought divide!” The three previous stories had appeared in a different magazine, Astounding Science Fiction, and I don’t know why the fourth one turned up in F&SF. I’m sure that would be a good story in itself. What I do know is that while I wasn’t at all familiar with Alexander Pope when I started reading the stories, I did like the couplet. I memorized it at the time, and I’ve thought of it often in the years since. The story, like the others in the series, is about a personnel director who works for a company called Computer Research and who finds himself hiring people with psychic powers. In this final story he discovers that he can’t quite sort out his thinking about those powers and about science and fit his thoughts into new framework. His life is changed, and he suffers...[read on]
About Survivors Will Be Shot Again, from the publisher:
Life is never easy for Sheriff Dan Rhodes. Even in a small Texas county, there's always something going on for a sheriff to look into, whether it's an attempted robbery, a marijuana patch guarded by an alligator, or a murder. This time the murdered man seems to be connected to a string of recent burglaries, but just how isn't easy to figure out. It takes some time and another murder before Sheriff Rhodes discovers the answers.

Survivors Will Be Shot Again, Bill Crider's latest installment in the critically-acclaimed Sheriff Dan Rhodes mystery series, finds Rhodes dealing with murders, thefts, marijuana, and gators in Clearview, a small Texas town where secrets are easier to keep than you might think.
Learn more about the book and author at Bill Crider's website and blog.

Read the Page 69 Test entries for Crider's A Mammoth Murder, Murder Among the OWLS, Of All Sad Words, Murder in Four Parts, Murder in the Air, The Wild Hog Murders, Murder of a Beauty Shop Queen, Compound Murder, Half in Love with Artful Death, and Between the Living and the Dead.

Learn about Crider's choice of actors to portray Dan Rhodes and Seepy Benton on the big screen.

The Page 69 Test: Survivors Will Be Shot Again.

Writers Read: Bill Crider.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Barry Hankins's "Woodrow Wilson"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Woodrow Wilson: Ruling Elder, Spiritual President by Barry Hankins.

About the book, from the publisher:
When Woodrow Wilson was elected as a ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in 1897, his preacher father allegedly remarked, "I would rather that he held that position than be president of the United States." Fifteen years later he was both. Easily one of the most religious presidents in American history, almost all of Wilson's policies and important speeches were infused with religious concepts. The son, grandson, and nephew of southern Presbyterian divines, with six consecutive generations of preachers on his mother's side, Wilson viewed his political career as a sacred calling. As he remarked to a Democratic Party leader just before his inauguration in 1913, "God ordained that I should be the next president of the United States."

As a scholar, Princeton University president, governor of New Jersey, then president, Wilson spent his entire career trying to further the cause of public righteousness. In 1905, he uttered his life's credo: "There is a mighty task before us and it welds us together. It is to make the United States a mighty Christian nation and to Christianize the World." Nonetheless, the 28th president was not principally a religious figure, and he didn't fit comfortably in any religious camp, either in his own time or today. In Woodrow Wilson: Ruling Elder, Spiritual President, Barry Hankins tells the story of Wilson's religion as he moved from the Calvinist orthodoxy of his youth to a progressive, spiritualized religion short on doctrine and long on morality.
Learn more about Woodrow Wilson: Ruling Elder, Spiritual President at the Oxford University Press website.

Writers Read: Barry Hankins.

My Book, The Movie: Woodrow Wilson.

The Page 99 Test: Woodrow Wilson.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Five fantasy books not shelved in the fantasy section

Michael Swanwick has received the Hugo, Nebula, Theodore Sturgeon, and World Fantasy Awards for his work. His newest collection of short fiction is Not So Much, Said the Cat. One of Swanwick's top five fantasy books you won’t find in the fantasy section, as shared at Tor.com:
Big Fish: A Novel of Mythic Proportions by Daniel Wallace

Edward Bloom, traveling salesman and absentee father, is dying and his son desperately wants to connect with and understand him. But the old man is a compulsive storyteller, and the entire book is told in the voice of the American tall tale. Wonderfully unreliable incidents involving a giant, a two-headed geisha, a magical glass eye, an underwater town, and of course a tremendous catfish overwhelm the inherent sadness of an old man’s death, and ultimately the facts must bow before the superiority of a good lie well told.

Big Fish was made into a movie which I could watch with pleasure every day of the week but the novel is much, much better.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Rae Meadows's "I Will Send Rain"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: I Will Send Rain by Rae Meadows.

About the book, from the publisher:
A luminous, tenderly rendered novel of a woman fighting for her family's survival in the early years of the Dust Bowl; from the acclaimed and award-winning Rae Meadows.

Annie Bell can't escape the dust. It's in her hair, covering the windowsills, coating the animals in the barn, in the corners of her children's dry, cracked lips. It's 1934 and the Bell farm in Mulehead, Oklahoma is struggling as the earliest storms of The Dust Bowl descend. All around them the wheat harvests are drying out and people are packing up their belongings as storms lay waste to the Great Plains. As the Bells wait for the rains to come, Annie and each member of her family are pulled in different directions. Annie's fragile young son, Fred, suffers from dust pneumonia; her headstrong daughter, Birdie, flush with first love, is choosing a dangerous path out of Mulehead; and Samuel, her husband, is plagued by disturbing dreams of rain.

As Annie, desperate for an escape of her own, flirts with the affections of an unlikely admirer, she must choose who she is going to become. With her warm storytelling and beautiful prose, Rae Meadows brings to life an unforgettable family that faces hardship with rare grit and determination. Rich in detail and epic in scope, I Will Send Rain is a powerful novel of upheaval and resilience, filled with hope, morality, and love.
Learn more about the book and author at Rae Meadows's website.

The Page 69 Test: Mothers and Daughters.

The Page 69 Test: I Will Send Rain.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top works of fiction for musicians

At B&N Reads Jenny Shank tagged five fabulous works of fiction for musicians, including:
Music for Wartime, by Rebecca Makkai

Makkai’s brilliant story collection is filled with tales of people for whom music is lifeblood. Sometimes Makkai takes this in a playful direction—in “Couple of Lovers on a Red Background,” a divorced woman who yearns to become a mother discovers that Johann Bach has appeared in her apartment. She sets out to seduce the father of 22, in the hopes of producing a prodigy. In other stories, music is a matter of life and death, as in “The Worst You’ll Ever Feel,” in which the son of a Romanian musician can intuit the story a musician is expressing through his music, and he learns from a Jewish violinist’s song about his suffering in Romania during World War II.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Pg. 99: J. Poskanzer, W. Josephson, and N. Katz's "Literary Starbucks"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Literary Starbucks: Fresh-Brewed, Half-Caf, No-Whip Bookish Humor by Jill Poskanzer, Wilson Josephson, and Nora Katz; Illustrations by Harry Bliss.

About the book, from the publisher:
From the creators of the eponymous viral Tumblr comes a single day with your favorite authors in one Twilight-Zone-esque Starbucks...

Ever wonder which intricate, elaborately-named drinks might be consumed if your favorite authors and characters wandered into a Starbucks? How many pumpkin lattes J.K. Rowling would drink? Or if Cormac McCarthy needed caffeine, which latte would be laconic enough? Look no further; LITERARY STARBUCKS explores such pressing matters with humor and erudition. Set over the course of a single day, and replete with puns and satirized literary styles, the three authors go darker, stronger, and more global than the blog in book format, including illustrations by acclaimed New Yorker cover artist and cartoonist Harry Bliss.
Learn more about Literary Starbucks at the publisher's website, and visit the Literary Starbucks blog.

The Page 99 Test: Literary Starbucks.

--Marshal Zeringue

Barry Hankins's "Woodrow Wilson," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Woodrow Wilson: Ruling Elder, Spiritual President by Barry Hankins.

The entry begins:
Woodrow Wilson: Gregory Peck the way he played Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird—serious, driven, strong sense of justice (except on race; contra Finch), not given to humor or frivolity, but very affectionate and loving with his children.

Ellen Wilson (Wilson’s first wife): Geraldine Chaplin the way she played Tonya in Dr. Zhivago —smart, devoted to her husband, good mother, but couldn’t stand up to Wilson, willing to promote his career while tolerating and even supporting his affair.

Mary Hulbert Peck (Wilson’s long-running emotional mistress):...[read on]
Learn more about Woodrow Wilson: Ruling Elder, Spiritual President at the Oxford University Press website.

Writers Read: Barry Hankins.

My Book, The Movie: Woodrow Wilson.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top gateway books

Keith Yatsuhashi's debut novel is Kojiki. One of five gateway books that opened the door for him to specific genres, as shared at Tor.com:
Gateway to Young Adult: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I never considered young adult a genre for me. But, like Harry Potter, so many people whose opinions I trust said I just had to read The Hunger Games. Eventually, I gave in and wow, was I glad I did. The Hunger Games destroyed all my misconceptions about YA. Suzanne Collins’ stories are complex and emotionally charged. I never imagined the genre could be so raw. A 16-year-old with PTSD? Unbelievable. Torture, the brutality too. I couldn’t believe it. Sure, it’s not as overt as in A Game of Thrones, but the violence every bit as twisted. Needless to say, I’m now a YA reader. Some of my new favorites include: Libba Bray’s The Diviners and Brandon Sanderson’s The Reckoners. Check them out if you haven’t already done so.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Hunger Games also appears on Catherine Doyle's top ten list of doomed romances in YA fiction, Ryan Britt's list of six of the best Scout Finches -- "headstrong, stalwart, and true" young characters -- from science fiction and fantasy, Natasha Carthew's top ten list of revenge reads, Anna Bradley ten best list of literary quotes in a crisis, Laura Jarratt's top ten list of YA thrillers with sisters, Jeff Somers's top eight list of revolutionary SF/F novels, Tina Connolly's top five list of books where the girl saves the boy, Sarah Alderson's top ten list of feminist icons in children's and teen books, Jonathan Meres's top ten list of books that are so unfair, SF Said's top ten list of unlikely heroes, Rebecca Jane Stokes's top ten list of fictional families you could probably abide during holiday season and top eight list of books perfect for reality TV fiends, Chrissie Gruebel's list of favorite fictional fashion icons, Lucy Christopher's top ten list of literary woods, Robert McCrum's list of the ten best books with teenage narrators, Sophie McKenzie's top ten list of teen thrillers, Gregg Olsen's top ten list of deadly YA books, Annalee Newitz's list of ten great American dystopias, Philip Webb's top ten list of pulse-racing adventure books, Charlie Higson's top ten list of fantasy books for children, and Megan Wasson's list of five fantasy series geared towards teens that adults will love too.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Kodi Scheer reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Kodi Scheer, author of Midair.

Her entry begins:
I'm re-reading Tampa by Alissa Nutting. It contains so many elements that I love--dark humor, high stakes, and an interesting but deeply flawed narrator. You hate Celeste because she preys on young boys, yet you keep turning the pages because you see glimmers of her humanity. She doesn't have control over these abhorrent thoughts, nor can she control the constant arousal. In some ways, Celeste is...[read on]
About Midair, from the publisher:
For four young women abroad in Paris, a game of Truth or Dare turns life-and-death.

“I had a secret: I wanted to leave the earth in a spectacular fashion. Specifically, by leaping from the Eiffel Tower.” So begins this provocative coming-of-age novel about a teenage girl bent on self-destruction and revenge, set in the City of Light.

It’s the summer of 1999, the end of a millennium. In the mind of Nessa Baxter, a girl from rural Illinois, Paris is the remedy for all of her woes. The death of her beloved brother and the betrayal by her classmate Kat has left Nessa bereft and doubtful about her future. She plans to exact revenge on Kat during their renegade French Club trip. Along with classmates Whitney and Kiran, the four girls embark on a series of misadventures in Paris. As part of her plan, Nessa starts a game of Truth or Dare that spirals out of control.

A suspenseful psychological drama, Midair is the story of a young girl’s descent into darkness and the secrets we keep, even from ourselves.
Visit Kodi Scheer's website.

My Book, The Movie: Midair by Kodi Scheer.

Writers Read: Kodi Scheer.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 19, 2016

Twelve top kick-ass women from sci-fi and fantasy

Jeff Somers is the author of Lifers, the Avery Cates series from Orbit Books, Chum from Tyrus Books, and We Are Not Good People from Pocket/Gallery. His new story is The Stringer.

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog Somers tagged twelve kick-ass women from sci-fi and fantasy whose strength doesn’t necessarily mean masculine traits, including:
Nyx, God’s War, by Kameron Hurley

We could slot in just about any Kameron Hurley protagonist here, but we’d be remiss not to mention Nyxnissa so Dasheem. She is a Bel Dame, a licensed bounty hunter who cuts off heads on behalf of her government on the ravaged, war-torn colony world Umayma. She’s a veteran of the front lines in the planet’s never-ending Holy War. Her body has been destroyed and rebuilt so many times, she’s not even sure if she’s still human. And she has not an ounce of compassion for you or anyone else. (That’s her there, up top. That bundle she’s holding? Yeah, it’s a severed head.) Hurley’s brutal Bel Dame trilogy is filled with brittle, fascinating, alienating characters, none more so than Nyx, who is a self-destructive madwoman who cleaves to no principals other than her own self-interest, and God help you if you make the unfortunate decision to become her ally, because it’s probably not going to turn out well. She is perhaps the fiercest female character in all of genre fiction, unapologetically vicious, shaped into a monster by a remorseless society and a heartless world—and her most dangerous opponents tend to be her fellow Bel Dames, women enhanced with strange, bug-based tech that gives them powers akin to magic.
Read about another entry on the list.

God’s War is among Adrian Tchaikovsky's top five books featuring adventuring parties and Joel Cunningham's seven top sci-fi books featuring strong women.

My Book, The Movie: God’s War and Infidel.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Bill Crider's "Survivors Will Be Shot Again"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Survivors Will Be Shot Again: Sheriff Dan Rhodes Mysteries (Volume 23) by Bill Crider.

About the book, from the publisher:
Life is never easy for Sheriff Dan Rhodes. Even in a small Texas county, there's always something going on for a sheriff to look into, whether it's an attempted robbery, a marijuana patch guarded by an alligator, or a murder. This time the murdered man seems to be connected to a string of recent burglaries, but just how isn't easy to figure out. It takes some time and another murder before Sheriff Rhodes discovers the answers.

Survivors Will Be Shot Again, Bill Crider's latest installment in the critically-acclaimed Sheriff Dan Rhodes mystery series, finds Rhodes dealing with murders, thefts, marijuana, and gators in Clearview, a small Texas town where secrets are easier to keep than you might think.
Learn more about the book and author at Bill Crider's website and blog.

Read the Page 69 Test entries for Crider's A Mammoth Murder, Murder Among the OWLS, Of All Sad Words, Murder in Four Parts, Murder in the Air, The Wild Hog Murders, Murder of a Beauty Shop Queen, Compound Murder, Half in Love with Artful Death, and Between the Living and the Dead.

Learn about Crider's choice of actors to portray Dan Rhodes and Seepy Benton on the big screen.

The Page 69 Test: Survivors Will Be Shot Again.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten books about long marriages

Jane Rogers has published eight novels, written original television and radio drama, and adapted work for radio and TV. Her last book, The Testament of Jessie Lamb, was the 2012 winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award for science fiction; it was also longlisted for the Booker Prize. She has won the Somerset Maugham Award, the Writers’ Guild Best Fiction Book, has been a finalist for the Guardian Fiction Prize, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. She is Professor of Writing at Sheffield Hallam University, and she lives in Banbury, England.

Rogers's new novel is Conrad & Eleanor.

One of the author's top ten books about long marriages, as shared at the Guardian:
The Children Act by Ian McEwan (2014)

McEwan very cleverly reveals just how much the turmoil in Fiona’s marriage is affecting her work as a high court judge. The economy and precision of the writing enable us to glimpse quite vividly her husband’s side of the story, and indeed the whole history of their 35-year-old marriage.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Joel Selvin's "Altamont"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Altamont: The Rolling Stones, the Hells Angels, and the Inside Story of Rock's Darkest Day by Joel Selvin.

About Altamont, from the publisher:
In this breathtaking cultural history filled with exclusive, never-before-revealed details, celebrated rock journalist Joel Selvin tells the definitive story of the Rolling Stones’ infamous Altamont concert in San Francisco, the disastrous historic event that marked the end of the idealistic 1960s.

In the annals of rock history, the Altamont Speedway Free Festival on December 6, 1969, has long been seen as the distorted twin of Woodstock—the day that shattered the Sixties’ promise of peace and love when a concertgoer was killed by a member of the Hells Angels, the notorious biker club acting as security. While most people know of the events from the film Gimme Shelter, the whole story has remained buried in varied accounts, rumor, and myth—until now.

Altamont explores rock’s darkest day, a fiasco that began well before the climactic death of Meredith Hunter and continued beyond that infamous December night. Joel Selvin probes every aspect of the show—from the Stones’ hastily planned tour preceding the concert to the bad acid that swept through the audience to other deaths that also occurred that evening—to capture the full scope of the tragedy and its aftermath. He also provides an in-depth look at the Grateful Dead’s role in the events leading to Altamont, examining the band’s behind-the-scenes presence in both arranging the show and hiring the Hells Angels as security.

The product of twenty years of exhaustive research and dozens of interviews with many key players, including medical staff, Hells Angels members, the stage crew, and the musicians who were there, and featuring sixteen pages of color photos, Altamont is the ultimate account of the final event in rock’s formative and most turbulent decade.
Visit Joel Selvin's website.

Writers Read: Joel Selvin.

The Page 99 Test: Altamont.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Seven notable genre-bending historical fiction YA books

Eric Smith is the author of The Geek’s Guide to Dating and Inked. One of seven genre-bending historical fiction YA books he tagged at the BN Teen blog:
Ivory and Bone, by Julie Eshbaugh

Let’s go really far back in time with this pick. I’m talking all the way back, to the dawn of man. In Eshbaugh’s debut, we’re taken to the prehistoric era, to a world where hunting and gathering are really all there is to life. It’s a time when the landscape and the creatures that roam it are unforgiving and dangerous. And, as it turns out, so are the people. Prehistoric clans vs. Prehistoric clans, set in a magnificently imagined world. The plot is set up a bit like Pride and Prejudice, with one of the principals possessing a dark history and dangerous rival. As romance and tensions mount, war starts to brew on the horizon.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Tom Bullough's "Addlands"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Addlands by Tom Bullough.

About the book, from the publisher:
The stark beauty of the Welsh countryside is given powerful life in this sweeping tale of one family from World War II to the present day, for readers of Alice Munro, Kent Haruf, Bruce Chatwin, and Louise Erdrich.

Addlands (i.e., headlands): the border of plough land which is ploughed last of all.

The patriarch of Funnon Farm is Idris Hamer, stubborn, strong, a man of the plough and the prayer-sheet, haunted by his youth in the trenches of France. The son is Oliver, a junior boxing champion and hell-raising local legend who seems from birth inextricably rooted to his corner of Wales. Bridging these two men’s uneasy relationship is Etty, a woman born into a world unequipped to deal with her. Following the Hamer family for seventy years, this novel’s beauty is in its pure and moving prose, and its brilliant insight into a traditional way of life splintering in the face of inevitable change. Addlands is also a tale of blood feuds and momentous revelations, of the great dramas that simmer beneath the surface of the everyday. Through all the upheavals of the twentieth century, the only constant is the living presence of the land itself, a dazzling, harsh, and haunting terrain that Tom Bullough conjures with the skill and grace of a master.
Visit Tom Bullough's website.

Writers Read: Tom Bullough.

My Book, The Movie: Addlands.

The Page 69 Test: Addlands.

--Marshal Zeringue

Kodi Scheer's "Midair," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Midair by Kodi Scheer.

The entry begins:
The main plot of Midair follows four girls on their renegade French Club trip to Paris. A game of Truth or Dare spirals out of control and becomes life-or-death.

The protagonist, Nessa, is a brooding teenager in 1999, when most of the action takes place. There are also a number of brief flash-forward scenes, so the actress who portrays her must play a guilt-ridden 35-year-old woman as well as a vengeful 18-year-old girl. I think Kristen Stewart showed her acting chops in Clouds of Sils Maria and Still Alice--she'd be a good choice for the role. And I love that Stewart refuses to smile and be "likable." I'm fascinated by female characters with interesting motivations who don't feel the need to please everyone. Novelist Claire Messud said, "If you're reading to find friends, you're in trouble." I don't read books (or watch movies, for that matter) to make friends.

Nessa's frenemy, Kat, is blunt, beautiful, cunning, and hypersexual. I think...[read on]
Visit Kodi Scheer's website.

My Book, The Movie: Midair by Kodi Scheer.

--Marshal Zeringue

Coffee with a canine: Dale Kushner & Maisie

Featured at Coffee with a canine: Dale Kushner & Maisie.

The author, on how Maisie got her name:
We played around with several names for our new puppy, but “Maisie” had staying power. We hadn’t known it’s one of the most popular names in Scotland, short for Margaret, and since the breed of Golden Retriever originated in Scotland, we thought it was a good match. (Our girl is definitely a Maisie, not a...[read on]
Dale Kushner is the founder and director of The Writer’s Place, a literary center in Madison, Wisconsin.

Her books include the poetry collection More Alive Than Lions Roaring and The Conditions of Love, her first novel.

The Page 69 Test: The Conditions of Love.

My Book, The Movie: The Conditions of Love.

Coffee with a Canine: Dale Kushner and Malibu.

Coffee with a canine: Dale Kushner & Maisie.

Visit Dale Kushner's website, Facebook page, and Psychology Today blog.

--Marshal Zeringue