Thursday, July 28, 2016

Kanisorn Wongsrichanalai's "Northern Character," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Northern Character: College-Educated New Englanders, Honor, Nationalism, and Leadership in the Civil War Era by Kanisorn Wongsrichanalai.

The entry begins:
There’s certainly a good deal of drama in Northern Character as young men wrestled with decisions about how to behave consistent with an ideal that they’ve internalized. The fights between young men who felt compelled to volunteer in the Union Army and their parents could be quite emotional. Not to mention the horrific scenes of the battlefield where many of these elites felt compelled to test themselves in the heat of combat.

Some of the individuals mentioned in Northern Character have already been portrayed in several films. Matthew Broderick played Robert Gould Shaw in Glory and Jeff Daniels portrayed Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain in both Gettysburg and Gods & Generals. Both actors...[read on]
Learn more about Northern Character at the Fordham University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Northern Character.

My Book, The Movie: Northern Character.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Ten top books about the Australian bush

Cal Flyn, a a freelance writer and reporter from the Highlands of Scotland, is the author of Thicker Than Water. One of her top ten books about the Australian bush, as shared at the Guardian:
All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld

The second novel by the acclaimed Anglo-Australian author weaves together the past and present of Jake, an Australian sheep farmer who has started afresh on an unnamed English island. Flashbacks to an earlier life in Western Australia deftly capture the unforgiving beauty of the antipodean landscape, and the macho culture of the shearers’ shed, where the female protagonist is accepted into the fold on the basis of being “a bloody good bloke”. Bleak in parts and full of foreboding, but also lyrical and compelling.
Read about the other entries on the list.

My Book, The Movie: All the Birds, Singing.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Margot Harrison's "The Killer in Me"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Killer in Me by Margot Harrison.

About the book, from the publisher:
Hasn’t he lived long enough? Why not? I could take him like a thief in the night.

This is how the Thief thinks. He serves death, the vacuum, the unknown. He’s always waiting. Always there.

Seventeen-year-old Nina Barrows knows all about the Thief. She’s intimately familiar with his hunting methods: how he stalks and kills at random, how he disposes of his victims’ bodies in an abandoned mine in the deepest, most desolate part of a desert.

Now, for the first time, Nina has the chance to do something about the serial killer that no one else knows exists. With the help of her former best friend, Warren, she tracks the Thief two thousand miles, to his home turf—the deserts of New Mexico.

But the man she meets there seems nothing like the brutal sociopath with whom she’s had a disturbing connection her whole life. To anyone else, Dylan Shadwell is exactly what he appears to be: a young veteran committed to his girlfriend and her young daughter. As Nina spends more time with him, she begins to doubt the truth she once held as certain: Dylan Shadwell is the Thief. She even starts to wonder ... what if there is no Thief?

From debut author Margot Harrison comes a brilliantly twisted psychological thriller that asks which is more terrifying: the possibility that your nightmares are real ... or the possibility that they begin and end with you?
Visit Margot Harrison's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Killer in Me.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eight books that’ll scare you out of going back in the water

At the B&N Reads blog Kat Rosenfield tagged eight books that will scare you out of the water and on to the beach, including:
Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, by Ben H. Winters and Jane Austen

Who says you can’t spice up a classic regency romance with action-packed scenes of violence and mayhem featuring tentacular monsters from the deep? ..Well, okay, some people do say that. But this book is not for them. It’s for you, the horror enthusiast who sees no reason why a pair of ladies in corsets can’t battle a horde of evil lobsters and make googly eyes at the marriageable bachelors of Devonshire all at once. This follow-up to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is just as good at plugging Jane Austen’s beloved heroines into a topsy-turvy world full of bloodthirsty monsters who are not named Wickham, which is to say, it’s very good at it.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Kanisorn Wongsrichanalai's "Northern Character"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Northern Character: College-Educated New Englanders, Honor, Nationalism, and Leadership in the Civil War Era by Kanisorn Wongsrichanalai.

About the book, from the publisher:
The elite young men who inhabited northern antebellum states—the New Brahmins—developed their leadership class identity based on the term “character”: an idealized internal standard of behavior consisting most importantly of educated, independent thought and selfless action. With its unique focus on Union honor, nationalism, and masculinity, Northern Character addresses the motivating factors of these young college-educated Yankees who rushed into the armed forces to take their place at the forefront of the Union’s war.

This social and intellectual history tells the New Brahmins’ story from the campus to the battlefield and, for the fortunate ones, home again. Northern Character examines how these good and moral “men of character” interacted with common soldiers and faced battle, reacted to seeing the South and real southerners, and approached race, Reconstruction, and Reconciliation.
Learn more about Northern Character at the Fordham University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Northern Character.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

What is S.A. Bodeen reading?

Featured at Writers Read: S.A. Bodeen, author of Trapped.

Her entry begins:
A recent book I loved was A Hundred Thousand Worlds by Bob Proehl. I picked it up at the library and the jacket copy was enough to make me check it out:
Valerie Torrey took her son, Alex, and fled Los Angeles six years ago—leaving both her role on a cult sci-fi TV show and her costar husband after a tragedy blew their small family apart. Now Val must reunite nine-year-old Alex with his estranged father, so they set out on a road trip from New York, Val making appearances at comic book conventions along the way.
I mean come on, cult sci-fi show? Comic cons? What’s not to love? As it turned out, there was so much more to love about the book. Valerie’s story intersected with others in the industry, including a writer and a comic book artist, all trying to answer their own questions about...[read on]
About Trapped, from the publisher:
Sarah Robinson and her family are shipwrecked on a remote and mysterious island. Their food is scarce and there's no sign of rescue. They have seen strange creatures, rescued a mysterious girl, and found the Curator, who has captured Sarah's father and stepbrother to use in a bizarre time travel experiment. And then the only man who knows about the island comes back—he's looking for buried treasure and won't leave without it, even if it means leaving the Robinsons stranded. Sarah knows an important key to finding the treasure, but will she keep it a secret?

Trapped is the thrilling third installment of the middle-grade Shipwreck Island series by S.A. Bodeen, full of mystery and unexpected twists and turns.
Visit S.A. Bodeen's website.

Writers Read: S.A. Bodeen.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Lindsay Hatton's "Monterey Bay"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Monterey Bay by Lindsay Hatton.

About the book, from the publisher:
In 1940, fifteen year-old Margot Fiske arrives on the shores of Monterey Bay with her eccentric entrepreneur father. Margot has been her father’s apprentice all over the world, until an accident in Monterey’s tide pools drives them apart and plunges her head-first into the mayhem of John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row.

Steinbeck is hiding out from his burgeoning fame at the raucous lab of Ed Ricketts, the biologist known as Doc in Cannery Row. Ricketts, a charismatic bohemian, quickly becomes the object of Margot’s fascination. Despite Steinbeck’s protests and her father’s misgivings, she wrangles a job as Ricketts’s sketch artist and begins drawing the strange and wonderful sea creatures he pulls from the waters of the bay.

Unbeknownst to Margot, her father is also working with Ricketts. He is soliciting the biologist’s advice on his most ambitious and controversial project to date: the transformation of the Row’s largest cannery into an aquarium. When Margot begins an affair with Ricketts, she sets in motion a chain of events that will affect not just the two of them, but the future of Monterey as well.

Alternating between past and present, Monterey Bay explores histories both imagined and actual to create an unforgettable portrait of an exceptional woman, a world-famous aquarium, and the beloved town they both call home.
Visit Lindsay Hatton's website.

The Page 69 Test: Monterey Bay.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five novels that get survival right

Alexandra Oliva has a BA in history from Yale University and an MFA in creative writing from The New School. Her new novel is The Last One.

One of five novels that Oliva says get important aspects of survival right, as shared at Tor.com:
The Martian by Andy Weir

When Watney comes to with a piece of an antenna sticking through him, he doesn’t hesitate—he acts. In what most of us would surely consider a hopeless situation, he relies on his training and saves himself from the most immediate threat to his life. That split-second decision—I’m not going to die here—is key to surviving many emergency situations. Moving forward, Watney’s resourcefulness and sense of humor are his main survival tools, not to mention his crazy depths of scientific knowledge. The Martian underscores the importance of ingenuity: When you’re in a true survival situation, you do whatever you need to do to survive, no matter how absurd. Even if that means growing potatoes in your own excrement.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Martian is among Jeff Somers's seven works of speculative fiction that don’t feel all that speculative and  five top sci-fi novels with plausible futuristic technology, Ernest Cline’s ten favorite SF novels, and James Mustich's five top books on visiting Mars.

--Marshal Zeringue

Shawna Yang Ryan's "Green Island," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Green Island by Shawna Yang Ryan.

The entry begins:
I see the movie adaptation of a book as a fantasy version, with the characters gaining a Hollywood level of beauty. So in Green Island, the movie….

The unnamed narrator of Green Island doesn’t give us any hints to how she looks, except that she has long hair in 1971, but I always imagined her as Taiwanese actress Shu Qi. Gorgeous, pillow-lipped and sleepy-eyed—the kind of beauty that seems a bit vulnerable, almost damaged, and oblivious to how stunning she is.

Her husband, Wei, is described as having the broad shouldered build of a hockey player, a Romanesque nose and thick eyebrows. He’s...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Shawna Yang Ryan's website.

The Page 69 Test: Water Ghosts.

The Page 69 Test: Green Island.

Writers Read: Shawna Yang Ryan.

My Book, The Movie: Green Island.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 25, 2016

What is Catherine Banner reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Catherine Banner, author of The House at the Edge of Night.

Her entry begins:
At the moment I’m reading several books which have just come out, or are about to. I just finished The Girls by Emma Cline, Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue, and Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly. All of them are women writers who are breaking new ground in different ways – telling stories which have not yet been told, and...[read on]
About The House at the Edge of Night, from the publisher:
A sweeping saga about four generations of a family who live and love on an enchanting island off the coast of Italy—combining the romance of Beautiful Ruins with the magical tapestry of works by Isabel Allende.

Castellamare is an island far enough away from the mainland to be forgotten, but not far enough to escape from the world’s troubles. At the center of the island’s life is a café draped with bougainvillea called the House at the Edge of Night, where the community gathers to gossip and talk. Amedeo Esposito, a foundling from Florence, finds his destiny on the island with his beautiful wife, Pina, whose fierce intelligence, grace, and unwavering love guide her every move. An indiscretion tests their marriage, and their children—three sons and an inquisitive daughter—grow up and struggle with both humanity’s cruelty and its capacity for love and mercy.

Spanning nearly a century, through secrets and mysteries, trials and sacrifice, this beautiful and haunting novel follows the lives of the Esposito family and the other islanders who live and love on Castellamare: a cruel count and his bewitching wife, a priest who loves scandal, a prisoner of war turned poet, an outcast girl who becomes a pillar of strength, a wounded English soldier who emerges from the sea. The people of Castellamare are transformed by two world wars and a great recession, by the threat of fascism and their deep bonds of passion and friendship, and by bitter rivalries and the power of forgiveness.

Catherine Banner has written an enthralling, character-rich novel, epic in scope but intimate in feeling. At times, the island itself seems alive, a mythical place where the earth heaves with stories—and this magical novel takes you there.
Visit Catherine Banner's website.

The Page 69 Test: The House at the Edge of Night.

Writers Read: Catherine Banner.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five of literature's sexiest scenes

Stuart Jeffries is a feature writer and columnist for the Guardian. One of his five sexiest scenes in literature:
"Spring in Fialta" by Vladimir Nabokov

Here’s my theory: just as the most effective horror movies leave the horror unvisualised (The Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity etc), the best sex scenes are ones that leave the sex undescribed, so you can do the imaginative work.

One morning, Nabokov’s narrator meets again the diverting woman in the grey suit in a Parisian hotel corridor. Every word is – if you’re in the mood for a bit of the other – sexual. She’s “waiting for the elevator to take her down, a key dangling from her fingers.” Her husband, she confides, has gone fencing. She leads him back to her room where “because of our sudden draft a wave of muslin embroidered with white dahlias got sucked in, with a shudder and a knock, between the responsive halves of the French window, and only when the door had been locked did they let go of that curtain with something like a blissful sigh; and a little later I stepped out on the diminutive cast-iron balcony beyond to inhale a combined smell of dry maple leaves and gasoline …”
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Naomi Schaefer Riley's "The New Trail of Tears"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The New Trail of Tears: How Washington Is Destroying American Indians by Naomi Schaefer Riley.

About the book, from the publisher:
If you want to know why American Indians have the highest rates of poverty of any racial group, why suicide is the leading cause of death among Indian men, why native women are two and a half times more likely to be raped than the national average and why gang violence affects American Indian youth more than any other group, do not look to history. There is no doubt that white settlers devastated Indian communities in the 19th, and early 20th centuries. But it is our policies today—denying Indians ownership of their land, refusing them access to the free market and failing to provide the police and legal protections due to them as American citizens—that have turned reservations into small third-world countries in the middle of the richest and freest nation on earth.

The tragedy of our Indian policies demands reexamination immediately—not only because they make the lives of millions of American citizens harder and more dangerous—but also because they represent a microcosm of everything that has gone wrong with modern liberalism. They are the result of decades of politicians and bureaucrats showering a victimized people with money and cultural sensitivity instead of what they truly need—the education, the legal protections and the autonomy to improve their own situation.

If we are really ready to have a conversation about American Indians, it is time to stop bickering about the names of football teams and institute real reforms that will bring to an end this ongoing national shame.
Visit Naomi Schaefer Riley's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

The Page 99 Test: The New Trail of Tears.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Irina Reyn's "The Imperial Wife"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Imperial Wife by Irina Reyn.

About the book, from the publisher:
Two women's lives collide when a priceless Russian artifact comes to light.

Tanya Kagan, a rising specialist in Russian art at a top New York auction house, is trying to entice Russia's wealthy oligarchs to bid on the biggest sale of her career, The Order of Saint Catherine, while making sense of the sudden and unexplained departure of her husband.

As questions arise over the provenance of the Order and auction fever kicks in, Reyn takes us into the world of Catherine the Great, the infamous 18th-century empress who may have owned the priceless artifact, and who it turns out faced many of the same issues Tanya wrestles with in her own life.

Suspenseful and beautifully written, The Imperial Wife asks whether we view female ambition any differently today than we did in the past. Can a contemporary marriage withstand an “Imperial Wife”?
Learn more about the book and author at Irina Reyn's website.

The Page 69 Test: What Happened to Anna K.

The Page 69 Test: The Imperial Wife.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Six must-read YA books for "Mr. Robot" fans

At the BN Teen blog Michael Waters tagged six top YA books for Mr. Robot fans, including:
Don’t Turn Around, by Michelle Gagnon

Noa, a lone wolf hacker much like Elliot Alderson, has led an isolated life since the death of her parents, cheating the foster care system by creating an online trail of a fake family that doesn’t actually exist. But when she wakes up in a warehouse, on an operating table, with a giant scar stretching across her chest and no memory of how she got there, Noa finds herself on the run—and, with the help of Peter, a leader of a hacker alliance, she must stop the corrupt corporation that has been threatening both of their lives. This setup—an antisocial hacker joins a hacktivist group in order to take down a corporation they believe has grown too powerful—has Mr. Robot written all over it.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 69 Test: Don't Turn Around.

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Bill Broun's "Night of the Animals," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Night of the Animals by Bill Broun.

The entry begins:
If Night of the Animals were made into a film, I don’t think anyone could more relish seeing how the casting unfolded than I. It’s something I’ve thought about way too much, actually. I would be oohing and aahing at every little scrap of a development. I’d probably coronary-out before the movie were finished, such would be my exhilaration.

Michael Caine is someone I’ve often fantasized about in protagonist Cuthbert’s role. He’s a little short, at only six foot, and at age eighty-three, a tad young, but if he could be coaxed from retirement, he would be my first choice all day long.

No question that, for me, a close second would be English comic genius, Stephen...[read on]
Visit Bill Broun's website.

Night of the Animals is among five top books that find beauty in the apocalypse.

My Book, The Movie: Night of the Animals.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top stories about prison life

Erwin James is a Guardian columnist. He served 20 years of a life sentence in prison before his release in August 2004. His books include two collections of essays, A Life Inside: A Prisoner's Notebook and The Home Stretch: From Prison to Parole, and Redeemable: A Memoir of Darkness and Hope.

One of James's five best stories about prison life, as shared at the Guardian:
The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner by Alan Sillitoe

This titular tale in this short story collection follows a boy called Smith who is sent to borstal for robbing a bakery. There he becomes a cross-country runner – such a good one that he becomes the governor’s hope for a PR coup when Smith is pitched to race in a competition against students at a local public school. In the race he streaks ahead of the field, only to stop yards from the finishing line in a supreme act of defiance that demonstrates the freedom of his mind and his spirit against the bleak and repressive borstal regime. Sillitoe understood that you can imprison the body, but the mind will always be free.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Jennifer Keishin Armstrong reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Jennifer Keishin Armstrong, author of Seinfeldia: How a Show About Nothing Changed Everything.

Her entry begins:
I’m currently reading Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried. It’s long been on my reading list, but I’m sure on some level I’ve been putting it off for years. I didn’t need to be convinced that it’s great. I’ve taught excerpts from it in my creative writing classes, and the writing is beautiful. But my dad is a Vietnam veteran, and part of me always resists anything that documents his experience in a real way. I knew that reading the whole book would put me right in it.

Strangely, I find myself reading this amid the turmoil of releasing a book. A book about a TV show, called Seinfeldia. A “book about nothing,” as many people, including my dad, have joked. They are joking, of course, mostly. They respect what I do, even if what I do is write about TV shows. Still, it feels a lot like nothing up against the real-ish story of a Vietnam veteran’s experience at war. I like that. It’s grounding. It reminds me that I’m not saving lives here. I’m not taking lives here. Maybe I’ll make a life a little more fun for a while. That’s something, but not everything.

Everyone told me how fantastic The Things They Carried is. I believed them, but...[read on]
About Seinfeldia: How a Show About Nothing Changed Everything, from the publisher:
The hilarious behind-the-scenes story of two guys who went out for coffee and dreamed up Seinfeld—the cultural sensation that changed television and bled into the real world, altering the lives of everyone it touched.

Comedians Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld never thought anyone would watch their silly little sitcom about a New York comedian sitting around talking to his friends. NBC executives didn’t think anyone would watch either, but they bought it anyway, hiding it away in the TV dead zone of summer. But against all odds, viewers began to watch, first a few and then many, until nine years later nearly forty million Americans were tuning in weekly.

In Seinfeldia, acclaimed TV historian and entertainment writer Jennifer Keishin Armstrong celebrates the creators and fans of this American television phenomenon, bringing readers behind-the-scenes of the show while it was on the air and into the world of devotees for whom it never stopped being relevant, a world where the Soup Nazi still spends his days saying “No soup for you!”, Joe Davola gets questioned every day about his sanity, Kenny Kramer makes his living giving tours of New York sights from the show, and fans dress up in Jerry’s famous puffy shirt, dance like Elaine, and imagine plotlines for Seinfeld if it were still on TV.
Visit Jennifer Keishin Armstrong's website.

My Book, The Movie: Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted.

The Page 99 Test: Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted.

The Page 99 Test: Seinfeldia.

Writers Read: Jennifer Keishin Armstrong.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Six YA mysteries for fans of "Broadchurch"

At the BN Teen blog Samantha Randolph tagged six YA mysteries for fans of the British television series Broadchurch, including:
Local Girl Swept Away, by Ellen Wittlinger

Local Girl Swept Away features a group of friends who are shaken when one of their members is swept out to sea. Without a body, they can’t know if Lorna is alive or if she’s lost under the waves forever. The three remaining friends are grieving and uncertain, especially Jackie, who struggles with unrequited feelings for Lorna’s boyfriend. As questions about Lorna’s fate rise, the haunting sense of disillusionment and grief matches the unforgettable tone of Broadchurch. However, as in Broadchurch, a sense of possible hope on the horizon shines through.
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Hugo Drochon's "Nietzsche's Great Politics"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Nietzsche's Great Politics by Hugo Drochon.

About the book, from the publisher:
Nietzsche's impact on the world of culture, philosophy, and the arts is uncontested, but his political thought remains mired in controversy. By placing Nietzsche back in his late-nineteenth-century German context, Nietzsche's Great Politics moves away from the disputes surrounding Nietzsche's appropriation by the Nazis and challenges the use of the philosopher in postmodern democratic thought. Rather than starting with contemporary democratic theory or continental philosophy, Hugo Drochon argues that Nietzsche's political ideas must first be understood in light of Bismarck's policies, in particular his "Great Politics," which transformed the international politics of the late nineteenth century.

Nietzsche's Great Politics shows how Nietzsche made Bismarck's notion his own, enabling him to offer a vision of a unified European political order that was to serve as a counterbalance to both Britain and Russia. This order was to be led by a "good European" cultural elite whose goal would be to encourage the rebirth of Greek high culture. In relocating Nietzsche's politics to their own time, the book offers not only a novel reading of the philosopher but also a more accurate picture of why his political thought remains so relevant today.
Learn more about Nietzsche's Great Politics at the Princeton University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Nietzsche's Great Politics.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten books that capture The Fifties of Chicago

At The Culture Trip Karla Sullivan tagged ten books that capture the 1950s of Chicago, including:
White Collar Girl

A well-written historically accurate novel of a female journalist and her struggles to survive in a man’s world which is 1950s Chicago, White Collar Girl is a must-read. Even when the protagonist, Jordan Walsh, has connections to esteemed writers such as Ernest Hemingway, she fights for survival as a working girl in 1955. Renée Rosen is also author of DollFace and What the Lady Wants. Renee is a Chicago writer who completed her first novel when she was 17.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Catherine Banner's "The House at the Edge of Night"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The House at the Edge of Night by Catherine Banner.

About the book, from the publisher:
A sweeping saga about four generations of a family who live and love on an enchanting island off the coast of Italy—combining the romance of Beautiful Ruins with the magical tapestry of works by Isabel Allende.

Castellamare is an island far enough away from the mainland to be forgotten, but not far enough to escape from the world’s troubles. At the center of the island’s life is a café draped with bougainvillea called the House at the Edge of Night, where the community gathers to gossip and talk. Amedeo Esposito, a foundling from Florence, finds his destiny on the island with his beautiful wife, Pina, whose fierce intelligence, grace, and unwavering love guide her every move. An indiscretion tests their marriage, and their children—three sons and an inquisitive daughter—grow up and struggle with both humanity’s cruelty and its capacity for love and mercy.

Spanning nearly a century, through secrets and mysteries, trials and sacrifice, this beautiful and haunting novel follows the lives of the Esposito family and the other islanders who live and love on Castellamare: a cruel count and his bewitching wife, a priest who loves scandal, a prisoner of war turned poet, an outcast girl who becomes a pillar of strength, a wounded English soldier who emerges from the sea. The people of Castellamare are transformed by two world wars and a great recession, by the threat of fascism and their deep bonds of passion and friendship, and by bitter rivalries and the power of forgiveness.

Catherine Banner has written an enthralling, character-rich novel, epic in scope but intimate in feeling. At times, the island itself seems alive, a mythical place where the earth heaves with stories—and this magical novel takes you there.
Visit Catherine Banner's website.

The Page 69 Test: The House at the Edge of Night.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 22, 2016

Lisa Jewell's 6 best books

Lisa Jewell was born and raised in north London, where she lives with her husband and two daughters. She is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author of at least twelve novels.

One of the author's six best books, as shared at the Daily Express:
HIGH FIDELITY by Nick Hornby

A fantastically funny, sharp novel and massively modern at the time. It’s about a guy who runs a record store and he’s trying to work out why he split up with his girlfriend. It’s about people and a setting I understood. It also ignited a sense I’d had that I’d like to write my own novel.
Read about another entry on the list.

High Fidelity also made Jen Harper's list of seven top books to help you get through your divorce, Chris Moss's top 19 list of books on "how to be a man," Jeff Somers's list of six books that’ll make you glad you’re single, Chrissie Gruebel's top ten list of books set in London, Ted Gioia's list of ten of the best novels on music, Melissa Albert's top five list of books that inspire great mix tapes, Rob Reid's six favorite books list, Ashley Hamilton's list of 8 books to read with a broken heart, Tiffany Murray's top 10 list of rock'n'roll novels, Mark Hodkinson's critic's chart of rock music in fiction, and John Sutherland's list of the best books about listing.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Shawna Yang Ryan reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Shawna Yang Ryan, author of Green Island.

Her entry begins:
I just finished Eka Kurniawan’s Beauty is a Wound, an Indonesian novel beautifully translated by Annie Tucker.

The prostitute Dewi Ayu, who has been dead for twenty-one years, rises from her grave and discovers that her horrifically ugly youngest daughter, Beauty, is pregnant by what appears to be a ghost. From there, the reader is pulled along on an adventure that stretches back to Dutch colonialism, through the experience of forced sex workers during World War II, to independence and coups and massacres. Akin to One Hundred Years of Solitude, the book introduces a huge cast of characters and becomes a history of all their lives and of their town, Halimunda. Four hundred and sixty pages later, Kurniawan has finally given us enough context to understand who impregnated Beauty. In the meantime...[read on]
About Green Island, from the publisher:
A stunning story of love, betrayal, and family, set against the backdrop of a changing Taiwan over the course of the twentieth century.

February 28, 1947: Trapped inside the family home amid an uprising that has rocked Taipei, Dr. Tsai delivers his youngest daughter, the unnamed narrator of Green Island, just after midnight as the city is plunged into martial law. In the following weeks, as the Chinese Nationalists act to crush the opposition, Dr. Tsai becomes one of the many thousands of people dragged away from their families and thrown into prison. His return, after more than a decade, is marked by alienation from his loved ones and paranoia among his community—conflicts that loom over the growing bond he forms with his youngest daughter. Years later, this troubled past follows her to the United States, where, as a mother and a wife, she too is forced to decide between what is right and what might save her family—the same choice she witnessed her father make many years before.

As the novel sweeps across six decades and two continents, the life of the narrator shadows the course of Taiwan’s history from the end of Japanese colonial rule to the decades under martial law and, finally, to Taiwan’s transformation into a democracy. But, above all, Green Island is a lush and lyrical story of a family and a nation grappling with the nuances of complicity and survival, raising the question: how far would you be willing to go for the ones you love?
Learn more about the book and author at Shawna Yang Ryan's website.

The Page 69 Test: Water Ghosts.

The Page 69 Test: Green Island.

Writers Read: Shawna Yang Ryan.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top urban fantasy series about policing the supernatural

Melissa F. Olson is the author of six Old World novels for 47North as well as the upcoming Tor.com novella Nightshades. One entry on her list of "five urban fantasy series where partners in an actual government agency have to deal with otherworldly threats," as shared at Tor.com:
The Nathaniel Cade Series by Chris Farnsworth

A powerful vampire swears a blood oath to the office of the President, and has to work with a very young and very green White House employee to fight supernatural threats. I read Blood Oath, the first book in Christopher Farnsworth’s President’s Vampire trilogy, in between the idea for Nightshades and actually writing it, and thank goodness. Blood Oath and its sequels (please more books, Chris?) are the gold standard for how to do third person, procedural UF with plenty of action and intrigue.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 69 Test: Blood Oath.

--Marshal Zeringue

Bill Loehfelm's "Let the Devil Out," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Let the Devil Out (Maureen Coughlin Series #4) by Bill Loehfelm.

The entry begins:
From the beginning of the series, I’ve felt Rooney Mara would be the best possible Maureen Coughlin. There’s a dark, volatile incandescence to Mara that’s terrifying, exciting, and perfect and my opinion on that hasn’t changed.

So for this post, for the fourth book in the series, I’ve been thinking in a different direction, of a big, fun way to play with the idea of the Maureen Coughlin books coming to the screen. Who, if I could pick anyone, would I want in charge of the project? I think it’d be fascinating, and probably not a little bit difficult to see someone else interpret and present my material, see them rebuild the world I’ve built according to their own vision. How would it look, feel, and sound? That would be such a crazy, challenging experience, as a novelist, to share like that.

I started out thinking of directors. My first thought was Michael Mann, who’s done a couple of my favorite movies, Heat and Collateral. After seeing him shoot L.A. and Miami, I’d love to see him shoot New Orleans, especially since so much of the series takes place at night. He takes time with character building and with the smaller, human stories that unwind over the course of an exciting crime story. David...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Bill Loehfelm's website.

The Page 69 Test: Fresh Kills.

My Book, The Movie: The Devil in Her Way.

My Book, The Movie: Let the Devil Out.

--Marshal Zeringue