Friday, July 25, 2014

Pg. 69: M. D. Waters's "Prototype"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Prototype by M. D. Waters.

About the book, from the publisher:
The stunning debut that began with Archetype— and has readers buzzing—concludes in Prototype, when a woman’s dual pasts lock onto a collision course, threatening her present and future.

Emma looks forward to the day when she can let go of her past—both of them. After more than a year on the run, with clues to her parents’ whereabouts within her grasp, she may finally find a place to settle down. Start a new life. Maybe even create new memories with a new family.

But the past rises to haunt her and to make sure there’s nowhere on the planet she can hide. Declan Burke wants his wife back, and with a little manipulation and a lot of reward money, he’s got the entire world on his side. Except for the one man she dreads confronting the most: Noah Tucker.

Emma returns to face what she’s done but finds that the past isn’t the problem. It’s the present—and the future it represents. Noah has moved on and another woman is raising their daughter.

In the shocking conclusion to M.D. Waters’s spectacular debut, Emma battles for her life and her freedom, tearing down walls and ripping off masks to reveal the truth. She’s decided to play their game and prove she isn’t the woman they thought she was. Even if it means she winds up dead. Or worse, reborn.
Visit M. D. Waters's website.

Writers Read: M. D. Waters.

My Book, The Movie: Prototype.

The Page 69 Test: Prototype.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Kenneth Kolb's "Moral Wages"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Moral Wages: The Emotional Dilemmas of Victim Advocacy and Counseling by Kenneth H. Kolb.

About the book, from the publisher:
Moral Wages offers the reader a vivid depiction of what it is like to work inside an agency that assists victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Based on over a year of fieldwork by a man in a setting many presume to be hostile to men, this ethnographic account is unlike most research on the topic of violence against women. Instead of focusing on the victims or perpetrators of abuse, Moral Wages focuses exclusively on the service providers in the middle. It shows how victim advocates and counselors—who don't enjoy extrinsic benefits like pay, power, and prestige—are sustained by a different kind of compensation. As long as they can overcome a number of workplace dilemmas, they earn a special type of emotional reward reserved for those who help others in need: moral wages. As their struggles mount, though, it becomes clear that their jobs often put them in impossible situations—requiring them to aid and feel for vulnerable clients, yet giving them few and feeble tools to combat a persistent social problem.
Learn more about Moral Wages at the University of California Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Moral Wages.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top injustices inflicted on fictional characters

Jonathan Meres is based in Edinburgh. A former stand-up comedian, he has won a Time Out award for comedy and was nominated for The Perrier Award. Having left behind his stand-up days, Meres now classifies himself as a writer and an actor, strictly in that order.

For the Guardian he shared his top ten books that are so unfair, including:
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

In the ultimate reality show, there's only one rule. Kill or be killed. It's so unfair. Especially as 16-year-old Jennifer Lawrence – sorry, Katniss Everdeen was planning to meet her mates in the mall and go for a pizza. Or something. Sorry, I'm just a bit bitter because I actually had an idea for a book a few years ago, about "the ultimate reality show" but I just never got round to writing it. Oh well. That'll learn me.
Read about another entry on the list.

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 24, 2014

What is Tom Young reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Tom Young, author of Sand and Fire.

His entry begins:
A lot of my reading lately has come in an effort to fill gaps in my knowledge of history, especially recent history. With that goal in mind, I’ve begun reading The Gulag Archipelago, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s three-volume nonfiction work about the Soviet prison camp system and his own years as a political prisoner.

As Anne Applebaum’s foreword points out, The Gulag Archipelago is itself a part of history, having first been circulated in the author’s home country in unbound, hand-typed form. Solzhenitsyn describes how a nighttime knock on the door could catapult practically any Soviet citizen from the embrace of family to the torments of the gulag. The victims often had no idea why. A petty rivalry or an incautious word could ruin a life. And, as the author puts it, arrests could...[read on]
About Sand and Fire, from the publisher:
North Africa. A jihadist leader has seized a supply of sarin gas and is wreaking havoc: a nightclub in Sicily, a packed street in Gibraltar. Acting on information, Marine gunnery sergeant A. E. Blount, at six-foot-eight a formidable warrior, the grandson of one of the first black Marines, sets out with his strike force to kill or capture the terrorist.

But it is a trap. Several Marines are killed, some are captured, and the jihadist promises that unless forces withdraw, he will execute one prisoner a day. Immediately, Blount’s friends and colleagues Sophia Gold, now with the U.N., and Lieutenant Colonel Michael Parson, working for the United States Africa Command, rush to Libya to help coordinate rescue efforts. The ordeal, however, has only begun. Soon they will all be fighting for their lives in the sand and fire of the desert.
Learn more about the book and author at Thomas W. Young's website and blog.

My Book, The Movie: The Mullah's Storm.

Writers Read: Thomas W. Young (August 2011).

Writers Read: Tom Young (August 2012).

Writers Read: Tom Young (July 2013).

Writers Read: Tom Young.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top holidays in fiction

Emma Straub is the author of the novels The Vacationers and Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures, and the short story collection Other People We Married. One of her top ten holidays in fiction, as shared at the Guardian:
The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith

Because sociopaths like to take holidays too! Highsmith's much-loved villain heads to Italy in this novel, where he follows and then kills a high-born man he pretends to know from school. I don't know whether Facebook has made this sort of thing easier or more difficult. Easier, I fear. Watch out when someone claims to have taken English class with you in grade 10.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Talented Mr Ripley is on E. Lockhart's list of favorite suspense novels, Sally O'Reilly's top ten list of novels inspired by Shakespeare, Walter Kirn's top six list of books on deception, Stephen May's top ten list of impostors in fiction, Simon Mason's top ten list of chilling fictional crimes, Melissa Albert's list of eight books to change a villain, Koren Zailckas's list of eleven of literature's more evil characters, Alex Berenson's five best list of books about Americans abroad John Mullan's list of ten of the best examples of rowing in literature, Tana French's top ten maverick mysteries list, the Guardian's list of the 50 best summer reads ever, the Telegraph's ultimate reading list, and Francesca Simon's top ten list of antiheroes.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Kimberly Elkins's "What Is Visible"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: What Is Visible: A Novel by Kimberly Elkins.

About the book, from the publisher:
A vividly original literary novel based on the astounding true-life story of Laura Bridgman, the first deaf and blind person who learned language and blazed a trail for Helen Keller.

At age two, Laura Bridgman lost four of her five senses to scarlet fever. At age seven, she was taken to Perkins Institute in Boston to determine if a child so terribly afflicted could be taught. At age twelve, Charles Dickens declared her his prime interest for visiting America. And by age twenty, she was considered the nineteenth century's second most famous woman, having mastered language and charmed the world with her brilliance. Not since The Diving Bell and the Butterfly has a book proven so profoundly moving in illuminating the challenges of living in a completely unique inner world.

With Laura-by turns mischievous, temperamental, and witty-as the book's primary narrator, the fascinating kaleidoscope of characters includes the founder of Perkins Institute, Samuel Gridley Howe, with whom she was in love; his wife, the glamorous Julia Ward Howe, a renowned writer, abolitionist, and suffragist; Laura's beloved teacher, who married a missionary and died insane from syphilis; an Irish orphan with whom Laura had a tumultuous affair; Annie Sullivan; and even the young Helen Keller.

Deeply enthralling and rich with lyricism, WHAT IS VISIBLE chronicles the breathtaking experiment that Laura Bridgman embodied and its links to the great social, philosophical, theological, and educational changes rocking Victorian America. Given Laura's worldwide fame in the nineteenth century, it is astonishing that she has been virtually erased from history. WHAT IS VISIBLE will set the record straight.
Visit Kimberly Elkins's website.

My Book, The Movie: What Is Visible.

The Page 69 Test: What Is Visible.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Elvin T. Lim's "The Lovers' Quarrel"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Lovers' Quarrel: The Two Foundings and American Political Development by Elvin T. Lim.

About the book, from the publisher:
The United States has had not one, but two Foundings. The Constitution produced by the Second Founding came to be only after a vociferous battle between Federalists and Anti-Federalists. The Federalists favored a relatively powerful central government, while the Anti-Federalists distrusted the concentration of power in one place and advocated the preservation of sovereignty in the states as crucibles of post-revolutionary republicanism -- the legacy of the First Founding. This philosophical cleavage has been at the heart of practically every major political conflict in U.S. history, and lives on today in debates between modern liberals and conservatives.

In The Lovers' Quarrel, Elvin T. Lim presents a systematic and innovative analysis of this perennial struggle. The framers of the second Constitution, the Federalists, were not operating in an ideational or institutional vacuum; rather, the document they drafted and ratified was designed to remedy the perceived flaws of the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union. To decouple the Two Foundings is to appreciate that there is no such thing as "original meaning," only original dissent. Because the Anti-Federalists insisted that prior and democratically sanctioned understandings of federalism and union had to be negotiated and partially grafted onto the new Constitution, the Constitution's Articles and the Bill of Rights do not cohere as well together as has conventionally been thought. Rather, they represent two antithetical orientations toward power, liberty, and republicanism. The altercation over the necessity of the Second Founding generated coherent and self-contained philosophies that would become the core of American political thought, reproduced and transmitted across two centuries, whether the victors were the neo-Federalists (such as during the Civil War and the New Deal) or the neo-Anti-Federalists (such as during the Jacksonian era and the Reagan Revolution).

The Second Founding -- the sole "founding" that we generally speak of -- would become a template for the unique, prototypically American species of politics and political debate. Because of it, American political development occurs only after the political entrepreneurs of each generation lock horns in a Lovers' Quarrel about the principles of one of the Two Foundings, and succeed in justifying and forging a durable expansion or contraction of federal authority.
Learn more about the book and author at Elvin Lim's website.

The Page 99 Test: Elvin Lim's The Anti-Intellectual Presidency: The Decline of Presidential Rhetoric from George Washington to George W. Bush.

The Page 99 Test: The Lovers' Quarrel.

--Marshal Zeringue

M. D. Waters's "Prototype," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Prototype by M. D. Waters.

The entry begins:
I chose my character inspiration for Archetype really early on. Almost immediately I saw Katie Holmes as Emma, but if I had to choose someone to play her in the movie I’d choose Jennifer Lawrence. She’s truly a brilliant actress and capable of all sorts of roles.

As for Declan and Noah, I had Bradley Cooper and the model David Gandy in mind. I wouldn’t mind seeing Bradley playing Noah, but I also think Charlie...[read on]
Visit M. D. Waters's website.

Writers Read: M. D. Waters.

My Book, The Movie: Prototype.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Ten top unlikely heroes

SF Said is an award-winning author. He was born in Lebanon in 1967, but has lived in London since he was 2 years old. His novels include Varjak Paw (2003), the sequel, The Outlaw Varjak Paw (2005), and PHOENIX (2013), an epic space adventure for readers of 9 and up.

For the Guardian, Said tagged his ten favorite "underdogs who come good and save the day," including:
The hobbits in The Lord Of The Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

In a world full of wizards and warriors and magical elves… it's the smallest, least conventionally heroic characters who save the day. I devoured Tolkien's epic when I was 11. It had a massive impact on me, increased by Peter Jackson's wonderful films. I cry every time at that scene at the end, where the newly-crowned King Aragorn bows down to the hobbits – and every single hero of Middle Earth follows suit.
Read about another entry on the list.

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Jeri Westerson's "Cup of Blood"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Cup of Blood by Jeri Westerson.

About the book, from the publisher:
London 1384 When a corpse turns up at his favorite tavern, Crispin begins an inquiry, but the dead man turns out to be a Knight Templar, an order thought to be extinct for 75 years, charged with protecting a certain religious relic which is now missing. Before he can begin to investigate, Crispin is abducted by shadowy men who are said to be the minions of the French anti-pope. Further complicating matters are two women: one from court with an enticing proposition, and another from Crispin’s past, dredging up long-forgotten emotions he would rather have left behind. And as if all that weren’t bad enough, a cunning young cutpurse by the name of Jack Tucker has insinuated himself into Crispin’s already difficult life. The deeper Crispin probes into the murder, the more it looks like the handiwork of an old friend turned adversary. With enemies from all sides, Crispin has his hands full in more than murder.
Learn more about the author and her work at Jeri Westerson's website and her "Getting Medieval" blog.

Westerson's first six books featuring Crispin Guest are Veil of Lies, Serpent in the Thorns, The Demon's Parchment, Troubled Bones, Blood Lance, and Shadow of the Alchemist.

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.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Robert Garland's "Wandering Greeks"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Wandering Greeks: The Ancient Greek Diaspora from the Age of Homer to the Death of Alexander the Great by Robert Garland.

About the book, from the publisher:
Most classical authors and modern historians depict the ancient Greek world as essentially stable and even static, once the so-called colonization movement came to an end. But Robert Garland argues that the Greeks were highly mobile, that their movement was essential to the survival, success, and sheer sustainability of their society, and that this wandering became a defining characteristic of their culture. Addressing a neglected but essential subject, Wandering Greeks focuses on the diaspora of tens of thousands of people between about 700 and 325 BCE, demonstrating the degree to which Greeks were liable to be forced to leave their homes due to political upheaval, oppression, poverty, warfare, or simply a desire to better themselves.

Attempting to enter into the mind-set of these wanderers, the book provides an insightful and sympathetic account of what it meant for ancient Greeks to part from everyone and everything they held dear, to start a new life elsewhere--or even to become homeless, living on the open road or on the high seas with no end to their journey in sight. Each chapter identifies a specific kind of "wanderer," including the overseas settler, the deportee, the evacuee, the asylum-seeker, the fugitive, the economic migrant, and the itinerant, and the book also addresses repatriation and the idea of the "portable polis." The result is a vivid and unique portrait of ancient Greece as a culture of displaced persons.
Learn more about Wandering Greeks at the Princeton University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Wandering Greeks.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is M. D. Waters reading?

Featured at Writers Read: M. D. Waters, author of Prototype.

Her entry begins:
I’m currently in the middle of Amped by Daniel H. Wilson, which takes a very likely future and sets us in the worst possible outcome. What if we could use technology to, not only make us smarter, but control seizures and other such medical issues? What if the human race got scared because the technology worked? What if the government listened to our fears and decided to take action? There’s a...[read on]
About  Prototype, from the publisher:
The stunning debut that began with Archetype— and has readers buzzing—concludes in Prototype, when a woman’s dual pasts lock onto a collision course, threatening her present and future.

Emma looks forward to the day when she can let go of her past—both of them. After more than a year on the run, with clues to her parents’ whereabouts within her grasp, she may finally find a place to settle down. Start a new life. Maybe even create new memories with a new family.

But the past rises to haunt her and to make sure there’s nowhere on the planet she can hide. Declan Burke wants his wife back, and with a little manipulation and a lot of reward money, he’s got the entire world on his side. Except for the one man she dreads confronting the most: Noah Tucker.

Emma returns to face what she’s done but finds that the past isn’t the problem. It’s the present—and the future it represents. Noah has moved on and another woman is raising their daughter.

In the shocking conclusion to M.D. Waters’s spectacular debut, Emma battles for her life and her freedom, tearing down walls and ripping off masks to reveal the truth. She’s decided to play their game and prove she isn’t the woman they thought she was. Even if it means she winds up dead. Or worse, reborn.
Visit M. D. Waters's website.

Writers Read: M. D. Waters.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Seven books not to bring to the beach

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog, Rebecca Jane Stokes tagged seven books not to bring to the beach, including:
Jaws, by Peter Benchley

I’ve definitely made my fair share of jokes about this infamously murderous shark, but I did it knowing full well I’d be avoiding the ocean the way I avoided the shower after first seeing Psycho. Sure, read Jaws…in February.
Read about another entry on the list.

Jaws is on the Barnes & Noble Review's list of five top books set at the beach and is one of six hugely popular books that accidentally screwed the world.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Susan Spann's "Blade of the Samurai"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Blade of the Samurai by Susan Spann.

About the book, from the publisher:
June, 1565: Master ninja Hiro Hattori receives a pre-dawn visit from Kazu, a fellow shinobi working undercover at the shogunate. Hours before, the shogun’'s cousin, Saburo, was stabbed to death in the shogun’s palace. The murder weapon: Kazu’s personal dagger. Kazu says he’s innocent, and begs for Hiro’s help, but his story gives Hiro reason to doubt the young shinobi’s claims.

When the shogun summons Hiro and Father Mateo, the Portuguese Jesuit priest under Hiro’s protection, to find the killer, Hiro finds himself forced to choose between friendship and personal honor.

The investigation reveals a plot to assassinate the shogun and overthrow the ruling Ashikaga clan. With Lord Oda’s enemy forces approaching Kyoto, and the murderer poised to strike again, Hiro must use his assassin’s skills to reveal the killer’s identity and protect the shogun at any cost. Kazu, now trapped in the city, still refuses to explain his whereabouts at the time of the murder. But a suspicious shogunate maid, Saburo’s wife, and the shogun’s stable master also had reasons to want Saburo dead. With the shogun demanding the murderer’s head before Lord Oda reaches the city, Hiro and Father Mateo must produce the killer in time . . . or die in his place.

Susan Spann's Blade of the Samurai is a complex mystery that will transport readers to a thrilling and unforgettable adventure in sixteenth-century Japan.
Visit Susan Spann's website.

My Book, The Movie: Blade of the Samurai.

Writers Read: Susan Spann.

The Page 69 Test: Blade of the Samurai.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Nick Smith's "Justice through Apologies"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Justice through Apologies: Remorse, Reform, and Punishment by Nick Smith.

About the book, from the publisher:
In this follow up to I Was Wrong: The Meanings of Apologies, Nick Smith expands his ambitious theories of categorical apologies to civil and criminal law. After rejecting court-ordered apologies as unjustifiable humiliation, this book explains that penitentiaries were originally designed to bring about penance – something like apology – and that this tradition has been lost in the assembly line of mass incarceration. Smith argues that the state should modernize these principles and techniques to reduce punishments for offenders who demonstrate moral transformation through apologizing. Smith also explains the counterintuitive situation whereby apologies come to have considerable financial worth in civil cases because victims associate them with priceless matters of the soul. Such confusions allow powerful wrongdoers to manipulate perceptions to disastrous effect, such as when corporations or governments assert that apologies do not equate to accepting blame or require reform or redress.
Learn more about Justice through Apologies at the Cambridge University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: I Was Wrong: The Meanings of Apologies.

The Page 99 Test: Justice through Apologies.

--Marshal Zeringue

Rufi Thorpe's "The Girls from Corona del Mar," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Girls from Corona del Mar by Rufi Thorpe.

The entry begins:
While I didn’t write The Girls from Corona del Mar thinking of what it would be like as a movie, the challenge of trying to imagine it as one is delicious. Because it is a story of friendship, the chemistry of the two lead actresses would be the most important thing. I’m thinking of the kind of chemistry between Angelina Jolie and Winona Ryder in Girl, Interrupted, or between Susan Sarandon and Gina Davis in Thelma and Louise. Both actresses would need to have a lot of heart, I think, since in their different ways Mia and Lorrie Ann are both difficult, even as they are lovable.

Mia jokes continuously that she has a little black stone for a heart. There is something angry in her and distrustful, but also funny and biting. As much as she bemoans her own weakness of character, she loves those close to her passionately and unendingly, and in her life she manages to make moral decisions. I would love to see someone with a bit of fire in them for the role, but also with a real intellect. I think Jena...[read on]
Visit Rufi Thorpe's website.

Writers Read: Rufi Thorpe.

The Page 69 Test: The Girls from Corona del Mar.

My Book, The Movie: The Girls from Corona del Mar.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 21, 2014

Dean Koontz's 5 favorite books

Dean Koontz's new novel is The City.

One of his five favorite books, as shared at The Week magazine:
The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman

This tale of early-20th-century New York City is rich with engaging detail. Raised by a sinister father who owns a freak show, Coralie falls for Eddie, who is from an Orthodox Jewish family. The polished, luminous prose serves well a wonder-filled story that goes over the top with the kind of authority Ray Bradbury would have adored.
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Rufi Thorpe's "The Girls from Corona del Mar"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Girls from Corona del Mar by Rufi Thorpe.

About the book, from the publisher:
“Why did Lorrie Ann look graceful in beat-up Keds and shorts a bit too small for her? Why was it charming when she snorted from laughing too hard? Yes, we were jealous of her, and yet we did not hate her. She was never so much as teased by us, we roaming and bratty girls of Corona del Mar, thieves of corn nuts and orange soda, abusers of lip gloss and foul language.”

An astonishing debut about friendships made in youth, The Girls from Corona del Mar is a fiercely beautiful novel about how these bonds, challenged by loss, illness, parenthood, and distance, either break or endure.

Mia and Lorrie Ann are lifelong friends: hard-hearted Mia and untouchably beautiful, kind Lorrie Ann. While Mia struggles with a mother who drinks, a pregnancy at fifteen, and younger brothers she loves but can’t quite be good to, Lorrie Ann is luminous, surrounded by her close-knit family, immune to the mistakes that mar her best friend’s life. Then a sudden loss catapults Lorrie Ann into tragedy: things fall apart, and then fall further—and there is nothing Mia can do to help. And as good, brave, fair Lorrie Ann stops being so good, Mia begins to question just who this woman is, and what that question means about them both.

A staggeringly honest, deeply felt novel of family, motherhood, loyalty, and the myth of the perfect friendship, The Girls from Corona del Mar asks just how well we know those we love, what we owe our children, and who we are without our friends.
Visit Rufi Thorpe's website.

Writers Read: Rufi Thorpe.

The Page 69 Test: The Girls from Corona del Mar.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Paul M. Cobb's "The Race for Paradise"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Race for Paradise: An Islamic History of the Crusades by Paul M. Cobb.

About the book, from the publisher:
In 1099, when the first Frankish invaders arrived before the walls of Jerusalem, they had carved out a Christian European presence in the Islamic world that endured for centuries, bolstered by subsequent waves of new crusaders and pilgrims. The story of how this group of warriors, driven by faith, greed, and wanderlust, created new Christian-ruled states in parts of the Middle East is one of the best-known in history. Yet it is offers not even half of the story, for it is based almost exclusively on Western sources and overlooks entirely the perspective of the crusaded. How did medieval Muslims perceive what happened?

In The Race for Paradise, Paul M. Cobb offers a new history of the confrontations between Muslims and Franks we now call the jihad.

An engrossing synthesis of history and scholarship, The Race for Paradise fills a significant historical gap, considering in a new light the events that distinctively shaped Muslim experiences of Europeans until the close of the Middle Ages.
Learn more about The Race for Paradise at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: The Race for Paradise.

--Marshal Zeringue

Coffee with a canine: Tess Hilmo & Daisy

Featured at Coffee with a Canine: Tess Hilmo & Daisy.

The author, on hanging out with Daisy:
If I'm in the house, she's right there with me. Sometimes I feel guilty because I'll go downstairs to grab something and she will follow me. Since she is 13, she's a bit slower and will inevitably get to the bottom stair right as I'm going back up. The look on her face is like, "Seriously?" but she...[read on]
About Hilmo's new book, Skies Like These, from the publisher:
Twelve-year-old Jade’s perfect summers have always been spent reading and watching TV reruns, so she’s not happy when her parents send her off to Wyoming to her aunt’s house. She meets a boy who calls himself Roy Parker—just like the real name of the legendary rebel cowboy Butch Cassidy. Roy’s dad’s hardware store has closed because a chain store has opened up in town, and Roy thinks it is just like the big cattle barons in Butch’s day who put the local ranchers out of business. He wants Jade to be his Sundance Kid and help him pull some stunts worthy of Butch Cassidy. Sabotage the big store? Outsmart the store’s owner by doing reconnaissance on his ranch? Jade wants to be a good friend, but she’s not so sure about Roy’s schemes.
Visit Tess Hilmo's website.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Tess Hilmo & Daisy.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Susan Spann reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Susan Spann, author of Blade of the Samurai.

Her entry begins:
I read a lot, and widely, so there’s always a nice selection on my desk.

One of my favorite, and fastest, recent reads was Kerry Schafer’s Dream Wars series, a trilogy of novellas that starts with The Dream Runner. Kerry’s a friend of mine, and I loved her novels, Between and Wakeworld, so when I saw she had a new release I jumped at the chance to read it. The Dream Runner tells the story of a young woman “drafted” into the service of a mysterious merchant who can sell a person any dream that his or her heart desires. Of course, the customers quickly learn that getting what you wished for isn’t always a good thing…

As a huge fan of The Twilight Zone, I’d recommend The Dream Runner (and the others in the Dream Wars series) to...[read on]
About Blade of the Samurai, from the publisher:
June, 1565: Master ninja Hiro Hattori receives a pre-dawn visit from Kazu, a fellow shinobi working undercover at the shogunate. Hours before, the shogun’'s cousin, Saburo, was stabbed to death in the shogun’s palace. The murder weapon: Kazu’s personal dagger. Kazu says he’s innocent, and begs for Hiro’s help, but his story gives Hiro reason to doubt the young shinobi’s claims.

When the shogun summons Hiro and Father Mateo, the Portuguese Jesuit priest under Hiro’s protection, to find the killer, Hiro finds himself forced to choose between friendship and personal honor.

The investigation reveals a plot to assassinate the shogun and overthrow the ruling Ashikaga clan. With Lord Oda’s enemy forces approaching Kyoto, and the murderer poised to strike again, Hiro must use his assassin’s skills to reveal the killer’s identity and protect the shogun at any cost. Kazu, now trapped in the city, still refuses to explain his whereabouts at the time of the murder. But a suspicious shogunate maid, Saburo’s wife, and the shogun’s stable master also had reasons to want Saburo dead. With the shogun demanding the murderer’s head before Lord Oda reaches the city, Hiro and Father Mateo must produce the killer in time . . . or die in his place.

Susan Spann's Blade of the Samurai is a complex mystery that will transport readers to a thrilling and unforgettable adventure in sixteenth-century Japan.
Visit Susan Spann's website.

My Book, The Movie: Blade of the Samurai.

Writers Read: Susan Spann.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sixteen very funny books

Some staff members at Publishers Weekly their favorite funny books. The entry tagged by Oren Smilansky, editorial assistant:
Portnoy's Complaint by Philip Roth

My grandpa of all people was the one who suggested I read this filthy novel. I was 18 and, like a lot of guys at that age, really into Bukowski. Based on that fact alone, he thought I might like Portnoy’s Complaint. Grandpa said it was one of the books he used to assign his high school English students, so I definitely wasn’t expecting the obsessive, hilarious, x-rated monologue I got when I started reading. Portnoy’s “complaints”—all shared with his psychotherapist, detailing his upbringing in a Jewish home in New Jersey as well as his sexual experiences – stood out to me as a stubborn and single-minded young male. I ripped right through the book and read passages aloud to nearly anyone who would listen. When I emailed Grandpa to thank him for the recommendation, and to tell him I was going to read Goodbye, Columbus next, he replied, “Glad I could be of service, but I don’t care for Roth’s other books.” I’m not certain that this is the funniest book I ever read—I think that award goes to Money by Martin Amis–but it was the first time I laughed out loud at something on every page.
Read about another book on the list.

Portnoy's Complaint is among David Denby's six favorite books and Matthew Pearl's top ten books inspired by Edgar Allan Poe.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Judith Frank's "All I Love and Know"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: All I Love and Know: A Novel by Judith Frank.

About the book, from the publisher:
Told with the storytelling power and emotional fidelity of Wally Lamb, this is a searing drama of a modern American family on the brink of dissolution, one that explores adoption, gay marriage, and love lost and found.

For years, Matthew Greene and Daniel Rosen have enjoyed a quiet domestic life together in Northampton, Massachusetts. Opposites in many ways, they have grown together and made their relationship work. But when they learn that Daniel’s twin brother and sister-in-law have been killed in a bombing in Jerusalem, their lives are suddenly, utterly transformed.

In dealing with their families and the need to make a decision about who will raise the deceased couple’s two children, both Matthew and Daniel are confronted with challenges that strike at the very heart of their relationship. What is Matthew’s place in an extended family that does not completely accept him or the commitment he and Daniel have made? How do Daniel’s questions about his identity as a Jewish man affect his life as a gay American? Tensions only intensify when they learn that the deceased parents wanted Matthew and Daniel to adopt the children—six-year-old Gal, and baby Noam.

The impact this instant new family has on Matthew, Daniel, and their relationship is subtle and heartbreaking, yet not without glimmers of hope. They must learn to reinvent and redefine their bond in profound, sometimes painful ways. What kind of parents can these two men really be? How does a family become strong enough to stay together and endure? And are there limits to honesty or commitment—or love?
Visit Judith Frank's website.

The Page 69 Test: All I Love and Know.

--Marshal Zeringue

Kimberly Elkins's "What Is Visible," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: What Is Visible: A Novel by Kimberly Elkins.

About the book, from the publisher:
A vividly original literary novel based on the astounding true-life story of Laura Bridgman, the first deaf and blind person who learned language and blazed a trail for Helen Keller.

At age two, Laura Bridgman lost four of her five senses to scarlet fever. At age seven, she was taken to Perkins Institute in Boston to determine if a child so terribly afflicted could be taught. At age twelve, Charles Dickens declared her his prime interest for visiting America. And by age twenty, she was considered the nineteenth century's second most famous woman, having mastered language and charmed the world with her brilliance. Not since The Diving Bell and the Butterfly has a book proven so profoundly moving in illuminating the challenges of living in a completely unique inner world.

With Laura-by turns mischievous, temperamental, and witty-as the book's primary narrator, the fascinating kaleidoscope of characters includes the founder of Perkins Institute, Samuel Gridley Howe, with whom she was in love; his wife, the glamorous Julia Ward Howe, a renowned writer, abolitionist, and suffragist; Laura's beloved teacher, who married a missionary and died insane from syphilis; an Irish orphan with whom Laura had a tumultuous affair; Annie Sullivan; and even the young Helen Keller.

Deeply enthralling and rich with lyricism, WHAT IS VISIBLE chronicles the breathtaking experiment that Laura Bridgman embodied and its links to the great social, philosophical, theological, and educational changes rocking Victorian America. Given Laura's worldwide fame in the nineteenth century, it is astonishing that she has been virtually erased from history. WHAT IS VISIBLE will set the record straight.
Visit Kimberly Elkins's website.

My Book, The Movie: What Is Visible.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: H. H. Shugart's "Foundations of the Earth"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Foundations of the Earth: Global Ecological Change and the Book of Job by H. H. Shugart.

About the book,from the publisher:
“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?” God asks Job in the “Whirlwind Speech,” but Job cannot reply. This passage—which some environmentalists and religious scholars treat as a “green” creation myth—drives renowned ecologist H. H. Shugart’s extraordinary investigation, in which he uses verses from God’s speech to Job to explore the planetary system, animal domestication, sea-level rise, evolution, biodiversity, weather phenomena, and climate change.

Shugart calls attention to the rich resonance between the Earth’s natural history and the workings of religious feeling, the wisdom of biblical scripture, and the arguments of Bible ethicists. The divine questions that frame his study are quintessentially religious, and the global changes humans have wrought on the Earth operate not only in the physical, chemical, and biological spheres but also in the spiritual realm. Shugart offers a universal framework for recognizing and confronting the global challenges humans now face: the relationship between human technology and large-scale environmental degradation, the effect of invasive species on the integrity of ecosystems, the role of humans in generating wide biotic extinctions, and the future of our oceans and tides.
Learn more about Foundations of the Earth at the Columbia University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Foundations of the Earth.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Ten top books of the Midlands

Sathnam Sanghera is a British journalist and author of Marriage Material: A Novel and The Boy With The Topknot: A Memoir of Love, Secrets and Lies in Wolverhampton. He claims "there is certain way of thinking and writing when you are neither from the north or the south, when you live in an English urban, multicultural setting which is not London," and tagged ten top books that capture that mindset, including:
The News Where You Are by Catherine O' Flynn

The author of the Costa prize-winning What Was Lost is a master of dialogue and social comedy and all her books make me ache with envy, but the idea of setting a novel around a regional TV news programme was particularly inspired. O'Flynn gets a great deal of comedy out of presenter Frank Allcroft, who is described in the book as "the unfunniest man on God's Earth", but her teasing never veers into mockery. A book as humane as it is amusing.
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Alecia Whitaker's "Wildflower"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Wildflower by Alecia Whitaker.

About the book, from the publisher:
The best songs come from broken hearts.

Bird Barrett has grown up on the road, singing backup in her family's bluegrass band and playing everywhere from Nashville, Tennessee, to Nowhere, Oklahoma. But one fateful night, when Bird fills in for her dad by singing lead, a scout in the audience offers her a spotlight all her own.

Soon Bird is caught up in a whirlwind of songwriting meetings, recording sessions, and music-video shoots. Her first single hits the top twenty, and suddenly fans and paparazzi are around every corner. She's even caught the eye of her longtime crush, fellow roving musician Adam Dean. With Bird's star on the rise, though, the rest of her life falls into chaos as tradition and ambition collide. Can Bird break out while staying true to her roots?

In a world of glamour and gold records, a young country music star finds her voice.
Learn more about the book and author at Alecia Whitaker's website.

Writers Read: Alecia Whitaker (February 2014). 

Writers Read: Alecia Whitaker.

The Page 69 Test: Wildflower.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten astounding books about World War I

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Molly Schoemann-McCann tagged ten "books [that] will amaze and educate readers as we remember World War I on its centennial," including:
All Quiet on the Western Front, by Erich Maria Remarque

One of the most critically acclaimed war novels in existence, this viscerally realistic portrait of service in the German trenches during the First World War is seen through the eyes of a young man who quickly loses his enthusiasm for battle and struggles to hold onto his humanity. If you’ve long been meaning to read this renowned classic, what better year than the hundredth anniversary of what was referred to, even then, as the Great War?
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Rufi Thorpe reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Rufi Thorpe, author of The Girls from Corona del Mar.

Her entry begins:
Because I have a two-year-old and all my adult-time hours are spent writing, I tend to mostly listen to audiobooks. And so I do dishes, fold laundry, and walk the dog with my head half in this world, half in an invented one, and for this I prefer the biggest, thickest, goopiest novels available. Maybe you will not know what I mean by goopy-- I want them to be viscous and clotted with people and places, an overabundance of character and detail, things I haven't seen or thought about, parts of the world I'd like to explore. I just listened to The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert, about an early female pioneer of botany. I just adored it. There are many delightfully erotic passages about female masturbation, a subject very seldom explored, as well as really nuanced and elegant examinations of those few abiding philosophical questions: time, mortality, the...[read on]
About The Girls from Corona del Mar, from the publisher:
“Why did Lorrie Ann look graceful in beat-up Keds and shorts a bit too small for her? Why was it charming when she snorted from laughing too hard? Yes, we were jealous of her, and yet we did not hate her. She was never so much as teased by us, we roaming and bratty girls of Corona del Mar, thieves of corn nuts and orange soda, abusers of lip gloss and foul language.”

An astonishing debut about friendships made in youth, The Girls from Corona del Mar is a fiercely beautiful novel about how these bonds, challenged by loss, illness, parenthood, and distance, either break or endure.

Mia and Lorrie Ann are lifelong friends: hard-hearted Mia and untouchably beautiful, kind Lorrie Ann. While Mia struggles with a mother who drinks, a pregnancy at fifteen, and younger brothers she loves but can’t quite be good to, Lorrie Ann is luminous, surrounded by her close-knit family, immune to the mistakes that mar her best friend’s life. Then a sudden loss catapults Lorrie Ann into tragedy: things fall apart, and then fall further—and there is nothing Mia can do to help. And as good, brave, fair Lorrie Ann stops being so good, Mia begins to question just who this woman is, and what that question means about them both.

A staggeringly honest, deeply felt novel of family, motherhood, loyalty, and the myth of the perfect friendship, The Girls from Corona del Mar asks just how well we know those we love, what we owe our children, and who we are without our friends.
Visit Rufi Thorpe's website.

Writers Read: Rufi Thorpe.

--Marshal Zeringue