Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Five top books that reckon with illness & time

Maria Smilios's new book is The Black Angels: The Untold Story of the Nurses Who Helped Cure Tuberculosis. She learned about the Black Angels while working as a science book editor at Springer Publishing. As a native New Yorker and lover of history, medicine, and women’s narratives, she became determined to tell their story. In addition to interviewing historians, archivists, and medical professionals, she spent years immersed in the lives and stories of those close to these extraordinary women. Smilios holds a master of arts in religion and literature from Boston University, where she was a Luce scholar and taught in the religion and writing program.

At Lit Hub Smilios tagged "five books [that] reckon with time and mortality in different ways," including:
Paul Harding, Tinkers

Paul Harding’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Tinkers, tells the story of George Washington Crosby, a clock repairer, who lays dying in his living room. Surrounded by his kids, Crosby spends the last eight days of his life drifting in and out of consciousness, recalling the ecstasy and agony of his upbringing in Maine in early 1900. His memories, delivered in elegiac prose and steeped in the natural world — light and shadows and trees — contemplate the impermanence of time and reality, something Crosby desperately fears: “I will remain a set of impressions porous and open,” he says, and then slips back into memory, as if there he will solidify the image.

When his life comes to an end, Crosby finds solace in understanding that life is a series of fleeting moments, flashes of light that shine bright and fade away, and it’s the moment that matters, not what happens after: “Everything is made to perish… What persists beyond this cataclysm of making and unmaking?”
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 69 Test: Tinkers.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Pg. 99: Fabian Baumann's "Dynasty Divided"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Dynasty Divided: A Family History of Russian and Ukrainian Nationalism by Fabian Baumann.

About the book, from the publisher:
Dynasty Divided uses the story of a prominent Kievan family of journalists, scholars, and politicians to analyze the emergence of rivaling nationalisms in nineteenth-century Ukraine, the most pivotal borderland of the Russian Empire. The Shul'gins identified as Russians and defended the tsarist autocracy; the Shul'hyns identified as Ukrainians and supported peasant-oriented socialism. Fabian Baumann shows how these men and women consciously chose a political position and only then began their self-fashioning as members of a national community, defying the notion of nationalism as a direct consequence of ethnicity.

Baumann asks what made individuals into determined nationalists in the first place, revealing the close link to private lives, including intimate family dramas and scandals. He looks at how nationalism emerged from domestic spaces, and how women played an important (if often invisible) role in fin-de-si├Ęcle politics. Dynasty Divided explains how nineteenth-century Kievans cultivated their national self-images and how, by the twentieth century, Ukraine steered away from Russia. The two branches of this family of Russian nationalists and Ukrainian nationalists epitomize the struggles for modern Ukraine.
Learn more about Dynasty Divided at the publisher's website.

The Page 99 Test: Dynasty Divided.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five crime novels featuring law enforcement professionals who aren't detectives

Brooke Robinson is professional playwright who has had her work produced at London’s Vault Festival and the Old Vic, among others. She grew up in Sydney, Australia, and has worked as a bookseller, university administrator, and playwright there and in the UK. She started writing The Interpreter, her first novel, when the pandemic ground the theatre world to a halt, and is currently working on her second novel.

[Q&A with Brooke Robinson; The Page 69 Test: The Interpreter]

At CrimeReads Robinson tagged five crime novels featuring interpreters, transcribers, and other invisible law enforcement professionals, including:
In Nell Pattison’s The Silent House a shocking murder takes place in the Hunter household, a deaf family, making police reliant on British Sign Language interpreter Paige Northwood to conduct their investigation. Northwood’s links to the family, and the wider deaf community, make the situation extra complicated in this clever spin on the procedural thriller where the detectives are forced to step back.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 25, 2023

Pg. 99: Kendra Coulter's "Defending Animals"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Defending Animals: Finding Hope on the Front Lines of Animal Protection by Kendra Coulter.

About the book, from the publisher:
An in-depth look at the urgent struggle to protect animals from harm, cruelty, injustice, extinction, and their greatest threat—us.

Beloved dogs and cats. Magnificent horses and mountain gorillas. Curious chickens. What do we actually do to protect animals from harm—and is it enough? This engaging book provides a unique and eye-opening exploration of the world of animal protection as people defend diverse animals from injustice and cruelty. From the streets of major US cities to remote farms and tropical forests, Defending Animals is a gritty and moving portrait of the real work of animal protection that takes place in communities, courtrooms, and boardrooms.

Globally recognized expert Kendra Coulter takes readers across the different landscapes of animal protection to meet people and animals of all kinds, from cruelty investigators to forensic veterinarians, wildlife rehabilitators and conservation leaders to animal lawyers and entrepreneurs, each working in their own ways to defend animals. Bringing unparalleled research and a distinct and nuanced analytical viewpoint, Defending Animals shows that animal protection is not only physical, intellectual, and emotional work but also a labor so rooted in empathy and care that it just might bridge the vast divide between polarized people and help create a more humane future for us all.
Learn more about Defending Animals at the MIT Press website and follow Kendra Coulter on Facebook, Instagram, and Threads.

The Page 99 Test: Defending Animals.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven dark and thrilling novels about women who kill

Laura Picklesimer is the author of the novel Kill for Love by Unnamed Press. The book was the winner of the Launch Pad Prose Competition 2021 Top Book Prize and the Book Pipeline 2020 Grand Prize for Best Thriller/Mystery. Picklesimer’s fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in the Kenyon Review, the Arkansas International, the Santa Ana River Review, and Gold Man Review, among other publications. She holds a B.A. in Creative Writing from UCLA and an MFA in Fiction from Cal State Long Beach.

At Electric Lit Picklesimer tagged seven books that "feature women who kill, some for revenge and many just for the hell of it." One title on the list:
They Never Learn by Layne Fargo

If you’re looking for a story of revenge and feminist rage, this is your book. Dr. Scarlett Clark is an English professor at an East Coast university, and her extracurricular activities include uncovering men’s wrongs and making them pay. A female Dexter with a similarly strict code to her murders, her career and freedom are jeopardized when a colleague begins investigating the suspicious deaths that have plagued the college town since she took up tenure. The novel also features a second narrator, Carly, a new student who is learning to develop her own agency after leaving her abusive household behind. The story has plenty of twists and turns that will keep you guessing until the suspense-filled close.
Read about another entry on the list.

They Never Learn is among Julia Bartz's five thrillers featuring female psychopaths, Misha Popp's eight recent novels featuring truly fatal femmes fatales, Lesley Kara's six top crime novels about settling old scores, Heather Levy's top eight books on those darkest guilty pleasures we love to devour, Melissa Colasanti's six deliciously duplicitous female characters in thrillers, Amy Gentry's novels of the new Dark Academia canon, and Molly Odintz's six best vigilante thrillers.

My Book, The Movie: They Never Learn.

--Marshal Zeringue

Third reading: D.W. Buffa on "The Letters of T.E. Lawrence"

D.W. Buffa's new novel is Lunatic Carnival, the tenth legal thriller involving the defense attorney Joseph Antonelli. He has also published a series that attempts to trace the movement of western thought from ancient Athens, in Helen; the end of the Roman Empire, in Julian's Laughter; the Renaissance, in The Autobiography of Niccolo Machiavelli; and, most recently, America in the twentieth century, in Neumann's Last Concert.

Buffa writes a monthly review for the Campaign for the American Reader that we're calling "Third Reading." Buffa explains. "I was reading something and realized that it was probably the third time that I knew it well enough to write something about it. The first is when I read it when I was in college or in my twenties, the second, however many years later, when I wanted to see if it was as good as I remembered, and the third when I knew I was going to have to write about it."

Buffa's "Third Reading" of The Letters of T.E. Lawrence begins:
On August 2, 1909, T. E. Lawrence, five days before his twenty-first birthday, wrote a letter to his mother in which he told her that he had “left Beyrout not long after the beginning of July, and walked straight to Sidon (30 miles or so),” and that “everywhere one finds remains of splendid Roman roads and houses and public buildings, and Galilee was the most Romanized province of Palestine.” This letter, more than 4500 handwritten words in length, is one of 583 letters included in The Letters of T. E. Lawrence, published in 1938. The first letter, also to his mother, was written August 4, 1906; the last, to Henry Williams, was written May 13, 1935, a few days before his death. Forty-six of the letters were written to his publisher, Edward Garnett; fourteen to E. M. Forster, the author of Passage To India, who became one of Lawrence’s close friends; nine to Bernard Shaw, who thought Seven Pillars of Wisdom a very great book; and seven to Robert Graves, whose book, Goodbye To All That, is essential to understanding what the First World War did to those who fought it.

Ten letters were written to John Buchan, an English writer and diplomat, who was convinced that Lawrence’s letters “will rank as high as any of his books, because they show nearly all the facets of his character.” Buchan, who knew everyone of importance, and considered Lawrence “the only man of genius I have ever known,” understood him, perhaps, better than anyone had. When he met him in 1920, “his whole being was in grave disequilibrium. You cannot in any case be nine times wounded, five times in an air crash, have many bouts of fever and dysentery, and finally at the age of twenty-nine take Damascus at the head of an Arab army, without living pretty near the edge of your strength.”

The letters Lawrence wrote read like a novel: everything he does, everything that happens to him, everything he tries, everything he learns, all follow in the ordered sequence of a well-told story; everything , from the very beginning to the very last letter, leading to a conclusion that seems not just appropriate, but inevitable. The twenty year old who decides to write, “a comparison of the castles built by the Crusaders in Syria and Palestine with those of Western Europe;” the twenty year old who, as he wrote on September 22, 1909, had walked more than 1100 miles and seen all but one of “37 out of the 50 odd castles” that “were on my proposed route,” and, in part of the journey, had been “the first European visitor;” the twenty year old who did this was, at the beginning of the war, the only Englishman who...[read on]
Visit D.W. Buffa's website.

Third reading: The Great Gatsby

Third reading: Brave New World.

Third reading: Lord Jim.

Third reading: Death in the Afternoon.

Third Reading: Parade's End.

Third Reading: The Idiot.

Third Reading: The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

Third Reading: The Scarlet Letter.

Third Reading: Justine.

Third Reading: Patriotic Gore.

Third reading: Anna Karenina.

Third reading: The Charterhouse of Parma.

Third Reading: Emile.

Third Reading: War and Peace.

Third Reading: The Sorrows of Young Werther.

Third Reading: Bread and Wine.

Third Reading: “The Crisis of the Mind” and A Man Without Qualities.

Third reading: Eugene Onegin.

Third Reading: The Collected Works of Thomas Babington Macaulay.

Third Reading: The Europeans.

Third Reading: The House of Mirth and The Writing of Fiction.

Third Reading: Doctor Faustus.

Third Reading: the reading list of John F. Kennedy.

Third Reading: Jorge Luis Borges.

Third Reading: History of the Peloponnesian War.

Third Reading: Mansfield Park.

Third Reading: To Each His Own.

Third Reading: A Passage To India.

Third Reading: Seven Pillars of Wisdom.

Third Reading: The Letters of T.E. Lawrence.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, September 24, 2023

Pg. 99: Julian Go's "Policing Empires"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Policing Empires: Militarization, Race, and the Imperial Boomerang in Britain and the US by Julian Go.

About the book, from the publisher:
The police response to protests erupting on America's streets in recent years has made the militarization of policing painfully transparent. Yet, properly demilitarizing the police requires a deeper understanding of its historical development, causes, and social logics. Policing Empires offers a postcolonial historical sociology of police militarization in Britain and the United States to aid that effort. Julian Go tracks when, why, and how British and US police departments have adopted military tactics, tools, and technologies for domestic use. Go reveals that police militarization has occurred since the very founding of modern policing in the nineteenth century into the present, and that it is an effect of the "imperial boomerang." Policing Empires thereby unlocks the dirty secret of police militarization: Police have brought imperial practices home to militarize themselves in response to perceived racialized threats from minority and immigrant populations.
Learn more about Policing Empires at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Patterns of Empire.

The Page 99 Test: Policing Empires.

--Marshal Zeringue

The twenty-five best & scariest horror books ever

At B&N Reads Brittany Bunzey tagged twenty-five "must-read, truly bone-chilling" horror books, including:
The Hunger by Alma Katsu

So many pieces fit together to make The Hunger unmissable — the Donner party retelling, the sparkling prose, the weirdness of the west, the bizarre historical foundations. It’s all here, and it is masterfully woven to take you on a tense and gripping journey into the darkness of human nature. (And when you’re finished with this one, pick up Alma Katsu’s latest, The Fervor.)
Read about another entry on the list.

The Hunger is among Deborah E. Kennedy's seven hot mysteries set in the Midwestern winter, Meagan Navarro top ten scary good horror novels, Jac Jemc's top ten haunting ghost stories and Mallory O'Meara's top thirteen spine-chilling books written by female authors.

My Book, The Movie: The Hunger.

The Page 69 Test: The Hunger.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 23, 2023

Pg. 69: Anoop Judge's "Mercy and Grace"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Mercy and Grace: A Novel by Anoop Judge.

About the book, from the publisher:
From India to America, a woman’s search for family, home, and self becomes a journey of secrets and forgiveness in a powerful novel by the author of No Ordinary Thursday.

At twenty-one years old, Gia Kumari finally leaves the Delhi orphanage where she was raised. With few prospects for the future, she receives an unexpected invitation from a stranger named Sonia Shah in San Francisco: an internship at Sonia’s weddings and events company. Gia and America. It’s love at first sight as she navigates an unfamiliar but irresistible new world of firsts.

It’s Gia’s first real job; her first meeting with her only known family, her uncle Mohammed Khan; and her first romance with Sonia’s quirky yet charming stepson, Adi. But it might be too good to be true. Gia’s newfound happiness is unfolding in the shadow of a terrible family secret, the impact of which is still being felt in a place Gia now calls home. To save what matters most, Gia must come to terms with a tragic past she’s only beginning to understand―and a lifetime of lies she must learn to forgive.
Visit Anoop Judge's website.

The Page 69 Test: No Ordinary Thursday.

The Page 69 Test: Mercy and Grace.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five books to awaken your inner ballerina

Charley Burlock writes for Oprah Daily about authors, writing, and reading. Her work has been featured in the Atlantic, the Los Angeles Review, Agni, and on the Apple News Today podcast. She is currently completing an MFA in creative nonfiction at NYU and working on an book about the intersection of grief, landscape, and urban design.

At Oprah Daily she tagged five ballet-themed "books that range from a steamy page-turner to a raw memoir to a searing investigation." One title on the list:
First Position, by Melanie Hamrick

If you thought Black Swan was steamy, you better hold on to your leg warmers: This sensually detailed debut novel is Fifty Shades of Grey en pointe. On the first page of her diary, Sylvie Carter wrote out a series of rules for herself: “Be good. be very good. be beyond reproach”; “drink rarely… Do no drugs”; “Do not have sex with anyone.” Five years into her career at the North American Ballet, she discovers the old rules and says, “Jesus. I’ve broken every single one.” Sylvie spent the first 18 years of her life in dogged pursuit of ballet’s rigid perfection, attending all the right schools, eating all the right foods, and abstaining from all sensual pleasures. Five years later, her closest friend is now her fiercest rival, and…let’s just say Sylvie has learned to use her body for more than just pirouettes. In technicolor flashes between the past and the present, we piece together the scandal that, as a friend inelegantly describes it, “ruin[ed] your career and damn[ed] you for all time.” But this is just the beginning of Sylvie’s story, and she’s determined to be in control of its ending—until a new dancer joins her company and, once again, her rigid discipline is overcome by her own visceral desire. Is this the start of a further fall from grace or the first crack in an artistic and sexual breakthrough?
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 22, 2023

Pg. 99: Feargal Cochrane's "Belfast"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Belfast: The Story of a City and its People by Feargal Cochrane.

About the book, from the publisher:
A lively and inviting history of Belfast—exploring the highs and lows of a resilient city

Modern Belfast is a beautiful city with a vibrant tradition of radicalism, industry, architectural innovation, and cultural achievement. But the city’s many qualities are all too frequently overlooked, its image marred by association with the political violence of the Troubles.

Feargal Cochrane tells the story of his home city, revealing a rich and complex history which is not solely defined by these conflicts. From its emergence as a maritime port to its heyday as a center for the linen industry and crucible of liberal radicalism in the late eighteenth century, through to the famous shipyards where the Titanic was built, Belfast has long been a hub of innovation. Cochrane’s book offers a new perspective on this fascinating story, demonstrating how religion, culture, and politics have shaped the way people think, act, and vote in the city—and how Belfast’s past continues to shape its present and future.
Learn more about Belfast at Feargal Cochrane's website.

The Page 99 Test: Northern Ireland.

The Page 99 Test: Belfast.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten books with twists you won’t see coming

Maggie Giles is the Canadian author of The Things We Lost. Her writing interests span across a variety of genres, but she focuses on women’s fiction with suspense elements. A member of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, she enjoys creating new connections and experiencing new opportunities.

Giles's new novel is Twisted.

At CrimeReads she tagged ten books in which the "authors masterfully leave clues and hints that cause the reader to look another way while subtly hiding the truth behind excellent prose and well-drawn characters." One title on the list:
Don’t You Dare by Jessica Hamilton

A sexy thriller that throws the main character into the Daring Game, a game from college which leads to affairs, dangerous secrets and all-around debauchery, until someone anonymous takes over and they know everything…
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 69 Test: Don't You Dare.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Linda L. Richards reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Linda L. Richards, author of Dead West.

Her entry begins:
Right now I am reading The Hours Before Dawn by Celia Fremlin. I have not read this book before, and yet it gives me the feeling of getting back to my roots as a crime fictionist. I’ll tell you why. The Edgar-Award winning novel came out in 1958. It has the slow burn and languorous pace of a Patricia Highsmith novel, where you find yourself with your heart in your throat and you can’t even imagine how it got there.

In The Hours Before Dawn, an overworked and undervalued young mom takes in a boarder who soon appears to be not quite what she seems. This is...[read on]
About Dead West, from the publisher:
Rule #1 of being a hired killer: never get to know your target ... and definitely don’t fall in love with them

Taking lives has taken its toll. Her moral justifications have faltered. Do any of the people she has killed—some of them heinous, but all of them human—deserve to die?

Her next target is Cameron Walker, a rancher in Arizona. When she arrives at his remote desert estate to carry out her orders, she discovers that he is a kind and beautiful man. After a lengthy tour of the ranch, not only has she not killed him—she’s wondering who might want him dead.

She procrastinates, instead growing closer to Cameron. She learns that he’s passionate about wild horses and has been fighting a losing political battle to save mustangs that live on protected land near his ranch—he’s even received death threats from his opponents.

Suddenly, she’s faced with protecting the man she was sent to kill, encountering kidnappers, murderers, horse thieves, and even human traffickers along the way. Can she figure out who has hired her before they take matters into their own hands?

Perfect for fans of Dean Koontz and Tana French
Visit Linda L. Richards's website.

My Book, The Movie: Endings.

The Page 69 Test: Endings.

Q&A with Linda L. Richards.

Writers Read: Linda L. Richards (May 2022).

The Page 69 Test: Exit Strategy.

The Page 69 Test: Dead West.

Writers Read: Linda L. Richards.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Pg. 99: Hannah Forsyth's "Virtue Capitalists"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Virtue Capitalists: The Rise and Fall of the Professional Class in the Anglophone World, 1870–2008 by Hannah Forsyth.

About the book, from the publisher:
Virtue Capitalists explores the rise of the professional middle class across the Anglophone world from c. 1870 to 2008. With a focus on British settler colonies – Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United States – Hannah Forsyth argues that the British middle class structured old forms of virtue into rapidly expanding white-collar professional work, needed to drive both economic and civilizational expansion across their settler colonies. They invested that virtue to produce social and economic profit. This virtue became embedded in the networked Anglophone economy so that, by the mid twentieth century, the professional class ruled the world in alliance with managers whose resources enabled the implementation of virtuous strategies. Since morality and capital had become materially entangled, the 1970s economic crisis also presented a moral crisis for all professions, beginning a process whereby the interests of expert and managerial workers separated and began to actively compete.
Learn more about Virtue Capitalists at the Cambridge University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Virtue Capitalists.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Christine Wells's "The Royal Windsor Secret"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Royal Windsor Secret: A Novel by Christine Wells.

About the book, from the publisher:
Could she be the secret daughter of the Prince of Wales? In this dazzling novel by the author of Sisters of the Resistance, a young woman seeks to discover the truth about her mysterious past. Perfect for readers of Shana Abe, Bryn Turnbull, and Marie Benedict.

Cleo Davenport has heard the whispers: the murmured conversations that end abruptly the second she walks into a room. Told she was an orphan, she knows the rumor—that her father is none other than the Prince of Wales, heir to the British throne. And at her childhood home at Cairo’s Shepheard’s Hotel, where royals, rulers, and the wealthy live, they even called her “The Princess.”

But her life is turned upside down when she turns seventeen. Sent to London under the chaperonage of her very proper aunt, she’s told it’s time to learn manners and make her debut. But Cleo’s life can’t be confined to a ballroom. She longs for independence and a career as a jewelry designer for Cartier, but she cannot move forward until she finds out about her past.

Determined to unlock the truth, Cleo travels from London, back to Cairo, and then Paris, where her investigations take a shocking turn into the world of the Parisian demi-monde, and a high-class courtesan whose scandalous affair with the young Prince of Wales threatened to bring down the British monarchy long before anyone had heard of Wallis Simpson.
Visit Christine Wells's website.

My Book, The Movie: One Woman's War.

Q&A with Christine Wells.

The Page 69 Test: The Royal Windsor Secret.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eight top ghostly short novels in translation

Nghiem Tran was born in Vietnam and raised in Kansas. He is a Kundiman fellow, and he has received degrees from Vassar College and Syracuse University.

We’re Safe When We’re Alone is his debut novella.

At Electric Lit he tagged eight short books in which "grief, violence, death, and loneliness transform realistic settings from all around the world into dreamlike, haunting landscapes." One title on the list:
Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto, Translated by Megan Backus

After Mikage’s grandmother dies, she is taken in by her friend Yuichi and his mother Eriko. The three of them grow close and form a makeshift family. Eventually Mikage moves out and tries to create a life of her own. However, she learns about a horrific tragedy that befalls Eriko, and she returns to support Yuichi through this difficult period. Unfortunately, they are not able to connect as easily as they did in the past, and Yuichi plunges into the abyss of grief. Yuichi’s deteriorating mental state charges the atmosphere with dread, and I feared not only for his well-being but also for Mikage as she searches for him and attempts to bring him out of the darkness. The beauty of the novella lies in the compassion the characters show to each other even as the presence of death hovers directly over them.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue