Monday, January 27, 2020

Five of the best novels set in the 18th century

Laura Shepherd-Robinson has a BSc in Politics from the University of Bristol and an MSc in Political Theory from the London School of Economics. She worked in politics for nearly twenty years before re-entering normal life to complete an MA in Creative Writing at City University. She lives in London with her husband, Adrian.

Blood & Sugar, her first novel, won the Historical Writers’ Association Debut Crown, was a Waterstones Thriller of the Month, and a Guardian and Telegraph novel of the year. It was also shortlisted for the Crime Writers’ Association John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger and the Sapere Historical Dagger; and the Amazon Publishing/Capital Crime Best Debut Novel.

At the Waterstones blog, Shepherd-Robinson shared five of her favorite novels set in the 18th century, including:
A Place of Greater Safety by Hilary Mantel

A depiction of Revolutionary France by one of the greatest writers of historical fiction, the novel follows the lives of three key revolutionary figures, Danton, Desmoulins and Robespierre. It glides from the grand political stage to the intimacies of the salon with effortless ease. A story about faction and feminism, belief and betrayal, it explores how this idealistic enterprise descended into political violence, and ultimately devoured its children. I read it around the same time as I read Simon Schama’s Citizens and they make wonderful companions. 900 pages long, but an incredibly fast-paced read, the book plunges you into the tinderbox that is revolutionary Paris. I began it on Christmas Eve 2013 and finished it on Boxing Day. It took me three days to recover from the emotional intensity.
Read about another entry on the list.

A Place of Greater Safety is among the Barnes & Noble Review's top books on uprisings in pursuit of freedom around the world.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 26, 2020

What is Emily Suvada reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Emily Suvada, author of This Vicious Cure.

Her entry begins:
The latest book I read was Recursion by Blake Crouch. I'm a huge fan of Crouch's ever since having Dark Matter recommended to me by a friend, and am working my way through his backlist. However, Recursion is a straight-up masterpiece of a speculative thriller, and my mind is still blown by its pace, and how it manages to be incredibly complex without becoming confusing or bogged down in detail. Crouch is, in my opinion, one of the best structural thriller writers around, and his ability to deliver ever-increasing stakes as the plot progresses is unparalleled. Every time...[read on]
About This Vicious Cure, from the publisher:
Cat is desperate to find a way to stop Cartaxus and the plague in this gripping finale to a series New York Times bestselling author Amie Kaufman says “redefines ‘unputdownable!’”

Cat’s hacking skills weren’t enough to keep her from losing everything—her identity, her past, and now her freedom. She’s trapped and alone, but she’s survived this long, and she’s not giving up without a fight.

Though the outbreak has been contained, a new threat has emerged—one that’s taken the world to the brink of a devastating war. With genetic technology that promises not just a cure for the plague, but a way to prevent death itself, both sides will stop at nothing to seize control of humanity’s future.

Facing her smartest, most devastating enemy yet, Cat must race against the clock to protect her friends and save the lives of millions on the planet’s surface. No matter the outcome, humanity will never be the same.

And this time, Cat can’t afford to let anything, or anyone, stand in her way.
Visit Emily Suvada's website.

The Page 69 Test: This Cruel Design.

Writers Read: Emily Suvada.

--Mashal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Thomas Cole's "Old Man Country"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Old Man Country: My Search for Meaning Among the Elders by Thomas R. Cole.

About the book, from the publisher:
We aspire to live in a country where old men are celebrated as vital elders but not demeaned if they become ill and dependent. We aspire to maintain health as well as maintain dignity and fulfillment in frailty. Old Man Country helps readers see and imagine these possibilities for themselves. The book follows the journey of a writer in search of wisdom, as he encounters twelve distinguished American men over 80 -- including Paul Volcker, the former head of the Federal Reserve, and Denton Cooley, the world's most famous heart surgeon. In these and other intimate conversations, the book explores and honors the particular way that each man faces four challenges of living a good old age: Am I still a man? Do I still matter? What is the meaning of my life? Am I loved? Readers will come to see how each man -- even the most famous -- faces universal challenges. Personal stories about work, love, sexuality, and hope mingle with stories about illness, loss and death. This book will strengthen each of us as we and our loved ones anticipate and navigate our way through the passages of old age.
Visit Thomas Cole's website.

The Page 99 Test: Old Man Country.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top books for blended families

At the Guardian, Brett Kahr tagged a number of books helpful for understanding blended families. A few works of fiction on the list:
Literary works provide us with an abundance of useful material, whether classic fairytales such as Cinderella, or novels such as Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, Mary Renault’s The Bull from the Sea, or Joanna Trollope’s Other People’s Children – each a beautifully crafted engagement with the vicissitudes of stepfamilies.
Read about another entry on the list.

Wuthering Heights appears on Siri Hustvedt’s ten favorite books list, Robert Masello's list of six classics with supernatural crimes at their center, André Aciman's list of five favorite books about the intensity of a once-in-a-lifetime love, Emily Temple's top ten list of literary classics we (not so) secretly hate, Cristina Merrill's list of eight of the sexiest curmudgeons in romance, Kate Hamer's list of six top novels with a strong evocation of atmosphere, Siri Hustvedt's six favorite books list, Tom Easton's top ten list of fictional "houses which themselves seem to have a personality which affects the story," Melissa Harrison's list of the ten top depictions of British rain, Meredith Borders's list of ten of the scariest gothic romances, Ed Sikov's list of eight top books that got slammed by critics, Amelia Schonbek's top five list of approachable must-read classics, Molly Schoemann-McCann's top five list of the lamest girlfriends in fiction, Becky Ferreira's list of seven of the worst wingmen in literature, Na'ima B. Robert's top ten list of Romeo and Juliet stories, Jimmy So's list of fifteen notable film adaptations of literary classics, John Mullan's lists of ten of the best thunderstorms in literature, ten of the worst nightmares in literature and ten of the best foundlings in literature, Valerie Martin's list of novels about doomed marriages, Susan Cheever's list of the five best books about obsession, and Melissa Katsoulis' top 25 list of book to film adaptations. It is one of John Inverdale's six best books and Sheila Hancock's six best books.

The Page 99 Test: Wuthering Heights.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Pg. 69: Debbie Herbert's "Scorched Grounds"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Scorched Grounds (Normal, Alabama Book 2) by Debbie Herbert.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the eighteen years since her father went to prison for killing her mother and brother, Della Stallings has battled a crippling phobia. Her fear only grows when her father’s released. She still believes he killed her family, but the police don’t have enough evidence to arrest him again.

When new grisly murders occur—each bearing the telltale signs that seem to implicate her father—Della begins to wonder if the real murderer is still out there. Could her father have been framed?

To find the truth, Della must face her greatest fears and doubts—not only to find justice for her family but to ensure her own survival.
Visit Debbie Herbert's website.

The Page 69 Test: Scorched Grounds.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Shai M. Dromi's "Above the Fray"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Above the Fray: The Red Cross and the Making of the Humanitarian NGO Sector by Shai M. Dromi.

About the book, from the publisher:
From Lake Chad to Iraq, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) provide relief around the globe, and their scope is growing every year. Policymakers and activists often assume that humanitarian aid is best provided by these organizations, which are generally seen as impartial and neutral. In Above the Fray, Shai M. Dromi investigates why the international community overwhelmingly trusts humanitarian NGOs by looking at the historical development of their culture. With a particular focus on the Red Cross, Dromi reveals that NGOs arose because of the efforts of orthodox Calvinists, demonstrating for the first time the origins of the unusual moral culture that has supported NGOs for the past 150 years.

Drawing on archival research, Dromi traces the genesis of the Red Cross to a Calvinist movement working in mid-nineteenth-century Geneva. He shows how global humanitarian policies emerged from the Red Cross founding members’ faith that an international volunteer program not beholden to the state was the only ethical way to provide relief to victims of armed conflict. By illustrating how Calvinism shaped the humanitarian field, Dromi argues for the key role belief systems play in establishing social fields and institutions. Ultimately, Dromi shows the immeasurable social good that NGOs have achieved, but also points to their limitations and suggests that alternative models of humanitarian relief need to be considered.
Visit Shai M. Dromi's website.

The Page 99 Test: Above the Fray.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top books about the mysterious world of audiophiles

Luke Geddes's new novel is Heart of Junk.

At CrimeReads he tagged "ten of the many mystery and mystery-tinged books about audiophiles," including:
The Big Rewind by Libby Cudmore

The conceit of this novel is classically hardboiled—wannabe music journalist Jett Bennett discovers her friend’s dead body on her own kitchen floor and turns gumshoe when the wrong man is fingered by the police—but it is its Brooklyn hipster milieu that sets it apart and earns it a spot on this list. For the central clue to unraveling this mystery is a mixtape of tastefully curated love songs ranging from sappy AOR hits like Stevie Wonder’s “Knocks Me Off My Feet” to The Magnetic Fields’ arch “Nothing Matters When We’re Dancing.” The eclecticism of the book’s musical references reflects Cudmore’s all-encompassing sensibilities as a writer; The Big Rewind is at once a cynical satire of millennial cultural mores, an earnest though quirky rom-com, and a rollicking good mystery.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 24, 2020

What is Matt Killeen reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Matt Killeen, author of Devil Darling Spy.

From his entry:
I have managed to read some awesome fiction this last year, like Sarah Maria Griffin’s unique Other Words For Smoke, Anna Mainwaring’s Tulip Taylor and some trademark Kathryn Evans creepy, fridge horror, Beauty Sleep. I was also lucky enough to get an advanced copy of Sherri L. Smith’s The Blossom & the Firefly which is a heart-rending tale of a young tokkōtai (kamikaze) pilot and one of the schoolgirls tasked with...[read on]
About Devil Darling Spy, from the publisher:
In this utterly gripping thriller, Sarah, the fearless heroine of indie bestseller Orphan Monster Spy, hunts a rogue German doctor in Central Africa who might be a serial murderer.

It’s 1940, and Sarah Goldstein is hiding in plain sight as Ursula Haller, the Shirley Temple of Nazi high society. She helps the resistance by spying on Nazi generals at cocktail parties in Berlin, but she yearns to do more. Then the spy she works for, the Captain, gets word of a German doctor who’s gone rogue in Central Africa. Rumors say the doctor is experimenting with a weapon of germ warfare so deadly it could wipe out entire cities. It’s up to the Captain and Sarah to reach the doctor and seize this weapon–known as “the Bleeding”–before the Nazis can use it to murder thousands. Joining them on their journey, in of the guise of a servant, is Clementine, a half-German, half-Senegalese girl, whose wit and ferocity are a perfect match for Sarah’s. As they travel through the areas now known as the Republic of the Congo and Gabon, Clementine’s astute observations force Sarah to face a hard truth: that mass extermination didn’t start with the Nazis.

This unbearably high-stakes thriller pushes Sarah to face the worst that humanity is capable of–and challenges her to find reasons to keep fighting.
Follow Matt Killeen on Twitter.

The Page 69 Test: Orphan Monster Spy.

The Page 69 Test: Devil Darling Spy.

Writers Read: Matt Killeen.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Maxine Eichner's "The Free-Market Family"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Free-Market Family: How the Market Crushed the American Dream (and How It Can Be Restored) by Maxine Eichner.

About the book, from the publisher:
US families have been pushed to the wall. At the bottom of the economic ladder, poor and working-class adults aren't forming stable relationships and can't give their kids the start they need because of low wages and uncertain job prospects. Toward the top, professional parents' lives have become a grinding slog of long hours of paid work. Meanwhile their kids are overstressed by pressure to succeed and get into good colleges. In this provocative book, Maxine Eichner argues that these very different struggles might seem unconnected, but they share the same root cause: the increasingly large toll that economic inequality and insecurity are taking on families.

It's government rather than families that's to blame, Eichner persuasively contends. Since the 1970s, politicians have sold families out to the wrongheaded notion that the free market alone best supports them. In five decades of "free-market family policy," they've scrapped government programs and gutted market regulations that had helped families thrive. The consequence is the steady drumbeat of bad news we hear about our country today: the opioid epidemic, skyrocketing suicide and mental illness rates, "deaths of despair," and mediocre student achievement scores. Meanwhile, politicians just keep telling families to work a little harder.

The Free-Market Family documents US families' impossible plight, showing how much worse they fare than families in other countries. It then demonstrates how politicians' free-market illusions steered our nation wildly off course. Finally, it shows how, using commonsense measures, we can restructure the economy to work for families, rather than the reverse. Doing so would invest in our children's futures, increase our wellbeing, reknit our social fabric, and allow our country to reclaim the American Dream.
Learn more about The Free-Market Family at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: The Free-Market Family.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five hilarious essay collections by women

Josh Gondelman is a writer and comedian who incubated in Boston before moving to New York City, where he currently lives and works as a writer and producer for Desus & Mero on Showtime. Previously, he spent five years at Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, first as a web producer and then as a staff writer. He’s also the author of the essay collection Nice Try: Stories of Best Intentions and Mixed Results. In 2016, he made his late night standup debut on Conan (TBS), and he has also performed on Late Night With Seth Meyers (NBC) and The Late Late Show with James Corden (CBS).

At Electric Lit, Gondelman tagged five "favorite funny essay collections by women," including:
Maeve In America: Essays by a Girl from Somewhere Else by Maeve Higgins

It’s such well-trod territory to describe an Irish person as “charming” but Maeve Higgins is so charming that it’s ridiculous not to mention. She has such a beautiful way of imbuing every topic she writes about with genuine compassion and such a light touch that she makes for a constantly wonderful and trustworthy narrator. She also has a great reading voice, so consider listening to the audiobook or at the very least digging into one of her many podcasts to get a feel for what she sounds like!
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Pg. 69: Donis Casey's "The Wrong Girl"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Wrong Girl by Donis Casey.

About the book, from the publisher:
They say a life well-lived is the best revenge...

Blanche Tucker longs to escape her drop-dead dull life in tiny Boynton, Oklahoma. Then dashing Graham Peyton roars into town. Posing as a film producer, Graham convinces the ambitious but naive teenager to run away with him to a glamorous new life. Instead, Graham uses her as cruelly as a silent picture villain. Yet by luck and by pluck, taking charge of her life, she makes it to Hollywood.

Six years later, Blanche has transformed into the celebrated Bianca LaBelle, the reclusive star of a series of adventure films, and Peyton's remains are discovered on a Santa Monica beach. Is there a connection? With all of the twists and turns of a 1920s melodrama, The Wrong Girl follows the daring exploits of a girl who chases her dream from the farm to old Hollywood, while showing just how risky—and rewarding—it can be to go off script.
Visit Donis Casey's website.

The Page 69 Test: Hell with the Lid Blown Off.

My Book, The Movie: Hell With the Lid Blown Off.

The Page 69 Test: All Men Fear Me.

My Book, The Movie: All Men Fear Me.

The Page 69 Test: The Wrong Girl.

--Marshal Zeringue

Peter Riva's "Kidnapped on Safari," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Kidnapped on Safari: A Thriller by Peter Riva.

The entry begins:
Making movies always requires imagining who would play the leads and supporting cast. It is a fruitless exercise since studios and directors always have candidates that the script writer and/or author may not have thought of. Insofar as my “casterbation” of this fruitless exercise is concerned, I can clearly see Mbuno played by Don Cheadle or even by Edi Gathegi (he may be a bit young). No question Cheadle could capture the role of a deeply spiritual, action-competent, and focused safari guide.

For Pero Baltazar, I can easily see Josh Duhamel, Will Smith, Jamie Foxx, Vince Vaughn, or—if I had a choice—...[read on]
Visit Peter Riva's website.

Writers Read: Peter Riva.

The Page 69 Test: Kidnapped on Safari.

My Book, The Movie: Kidnapped on Safari.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Marion Kaplan's "Hitler’s Jewish Refugees"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Hitler’s Jewish Refugees: Hope and Anxiety in Portugal by Marion Kaplan.

About the book, from the publisher:
An award-winning historian presents an emotional history of Jewish refugees biding their time in Portugal as they attempt to escape Nazi Europe

This riveting book describes the experience of Jewish refugees as they fled Hitler to live in limbo in Portugal until they could reach safer havens abroad. Drawing attention not only to the social and physical upheavals of refugee life, Kaplan highlights their feelings as they fled their homes and histories while begging strangers for kindness. An emotional history of fleeing, this book probes how specific locations touched refugees’ inner lives, including the borders they nervously crossed or the overcrowded transatlantic ships that signaled their liberation.
Learn more about Hitler’s Jewish Refugees at the Yale University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Hitler’s Jewish Refugees.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five novels about murder all in the family

Tiffany Tsao's new novel is The Majesties.

At CrimeReads she tagged "five tales featuring family murdering family, or family members who end up murdering someone else." One title on the list:
My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

Korede receives a call and finds out that her sister, Ayoola, has killed a man. Again. Using her expertise as a nurse, she masterminds the disposal of the body. Again. At first our sympathies lie entirely with Korede. The annoyingly gorgeous and narcissistic Ayoola seems to expect that her responsible older sister will literally help her get away with murder every time. But as the plot thickens, so does our understanding of the tragic and violent past that binds the sisters together. Powerfully feminist and masterfully deadpan, Braithwaite’s novel will keep you spellbound until the last breath. I mean, line.
Read about the other entries on the list.

My Sister the Serial Killer is among Victoria Helen Stone's eight top crime books of deep, dark family lore and Kristen Roupenian's six best books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

What is Chad Dundas reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Chad Dundas, author of The Blaze.

His entry begins:
The sad truth is, with three kids under the age of eight and what amounts to two (or three) jobs depending on my workload any given week, I don’t get to read as much as I should. I’m also embarrassed to say I’m a bit of a slow reader, which further complicates things. I’m always amazed by people who can steam through an entire book in a day or two. I’m dying to know their secret. But I am resolved to do more reading in 2020 – it’s the time of year for resolutions, after all.

I’ve stockpiled a disconcerting number of year-end “best of” lists in my browser bookmarks folder during the last couple of months and I’m intent on working my way through as many of them as I can. At the moment, I’m about halfway through The Bird Boys by Lisa Sandlin (a New York Times pick for best mystery of 2019, if I’m not mistaken) and so far, it’s delightful. Set in New Orleans during the mid-1970s, it has a pleasing “’70s cop show vibe” as fledgling private investigator Tom Phelan and his embattled secretary/investigative partner Delpha Wade meander through a series of cases while searching for the estranged brother of a mysterious wealthy client. Phelan and Wade are...[read on]
About The Blaze, from the publisher:
One man knows the connection between two extraordinary acts of arson, fifteen years apart, in his Montana hometown–if only he could remember it.

Having lost much of his memory from a traumatic brain injury sustained in Iraq, army veteran Matthew Rose is called back to Montana after his father’s death to settle his affairs, and hopefully to settle the past as well. It’s not only a blank to him, but a mystery. Why as a teen did he suddenly become sullen and vacant, abandoning the activities and people that had meant most to him? How did he, the son of hippy activists, wind up enlisting in the first place?

Then on his first night back, Matthew sees a house go up in flames, and it turns out a local college student has died inside. And this event sparks a memory of a different fire, an unsolved crime from long ago, a part of Matthew’s past that might lead to all the answers he’s been searching for. What he finds will connect the old fire and the new, a series of long-unsolved mysteries, and a ruthless act of murder.
Visit Chad Dundas's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Blaze.

The Page 69 Test: The Blaze.

Writers Read: Chad Dundas.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten political travelogues

Edward Platt was born in 1968 and lives in London. His first book, Leadville, won a Somerset Maugham Award and the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize. He is also the author of The Great Flood which explores the way floods have shaped the physical landscape of Britain, and The City of Abraham, a journey through Hebron, the only place in the West Bank where Palestinians and Israelis lived side by side.

At the Guardian, Platt tagged ten favorite political travel books, including:
Wanderlust: A History of Walking by Rebecca Solnit

Walking is always a political act, Solnit says, for “the history of both urban and rural walking is a history of freedom”. It is also “an unwritten, secret” history that “trespasses through everybody else’s field – through anatomy, anthropology, architecture, gardening, geography, political and cultural history, literature, sexuality, religious studies”. Few other writers could navigate a path through such a maze. Solnit’s reading is so wide-ranging that she lays down a secondary trail across the bottom of the page, an unfurling tickertape of other writers’ thoughts.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Lauren Jae Gutterman's "Her Neighbor's Wife"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Her Neighbor's Wife: A History of Lesbian Desire Within Marriage by Lauren Jae Gutterman.

About the book, from the publisher:
At first glance, Barbara Kalish fit the stereotype of a 1950s wife and mother. Married at eighteen, Barbara lived with her husband and two daughters in a California suburb, where she was president of the Parent-Teacher Association. At a PTA training conference in San Francisco, Barbara met Pearl, another PTA president who also had two children and happened to live only a few blocks away from her. To Barbara, Pearl was "the most gorgeous woman in the world," and the two began an affair that lasted over a decade.

Through interviews, diaries, memoirs, and letters, Her Neighbor's Wife traces the stories of hundreds of women, like Barbara Kalish, who struggled to balance marriage and same-sex desire in the postwar United States. In doing so, Lauren Jae Gutterman draws our attention away from the postwar landscape of urban gay bars and into the homes of married women, who tended to engage in affairs with wives and mothers they met in the context of their daily lives: through work, at church, or in their neighborhoods.

In the late 1960s and 1970s, the lesbian feminist movement and the no-fault divorce revolution transformed the lives of wives who desired women. Women could now choose to divorce their husbands in order to lead openly lesbian or bisexual lives; increasingly, however, these women were confronted by hostile state discrimination, typically in legal battles over child custody. Well into the 1980s, many women remained ambivalent about divorce and resistant to labeling themselves as lesbian, therefore complicating a simple interpretation of their lives and relationship choices. By revealing the extent to which marriage has historically permitted space for wives' relationships with other women, Her Neighbor's Wife calls into question the presumed straightness of traditional American marriage.
Learn more about Her Neighbor's Wife at the University of Pennsylvania Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Her Neighbor's Wife.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eight thrillers about women in a hostile workplace

Lisa Levy is a columnist and contributing editor at LitHub and CrimeReads. She is the former EIC of crime fiction site The Life Sentence and the former Mystery/Noir editor at the LA Review of Books.

At CrimeReads Levy tagged eight thrillers focused on women in the workplace, including:
Renee Knight, The Secretary (Harper Collins)

Christine Butcher is the secretary of the title. She works as a high-powered assistant to supermarket heiress Mina Appleton, who is also a TV host and media personality. It’s a fruitful relationship for twenty-plus years, with Mina giving orders and Christine eagerly doing everything to smooth out Mina’s life. But when Mina is accused of wrongdoing, Christine is forced from the background into the public eye, since Christine must have known about, if not participated in, Mina’s malfeasance. This is one of those books that gives what would have been a minor player the role of protagonist, with excellent results.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 69 Test: The Secretary.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Pg. 69: Matt Killeen's "Devil Darling Spy"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Devil Darling Spy by Matt Killeen.

About the book, from the publisher:
In this utterly gripping thriller, Sarah, the fearless heroine of indie bestseller Orphan Monster Spy, hunts a rogue German doctor in Central Africa who might be a serial murderer.

It’s 1940, and Sarah Goldstein is hiding in plain sight as Ursula Haller, the Shirley Temple of Nazi high society. She helps the resistance by spying on Nazi generals at cocktail parties in Berlin, but she yearns to do more. Then the spy she works for, the Captain, gets word of a German doctor who’s gone rogue in Central Africa. Rumors say the doctor is experimenting with a weapon of germ warfare so deadly it could wipe out entire cities. It’s up to the Captain and Sarah to reach the doctor and seize this weapon–known as “the Bleeding”–before the Nazis can use it to murder thousands. Joining them on their journey, in of the guise of a servant, is Clementine, a half-German, half-Senegalese girl, whose wit and ferocity are a perfect match for Sarah’s. As they travel through the areas now known as the Republic of the Congo and Gabon, Clementine’s astute observations force Sarah to face a hard truth: that mass extermination didn’t start with the Nazis.

This unbearably high-stakes thriller pushes Sarah to face the worst that humanity is capable of–and challenges her to find reasons to keep fighting.
Follow Matt Killeen on Twitter.

The Page 69 Test: Orphan Monster Spy.

The Page 69 Test: Devil Darling Spy.

--Marshal Zeringue

M.L. Huie's "Spitfire," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Spitfire by M. L. Huie.

The entry begins:
I write historical fiction and movies are a large part of my research. My debut novel Spitfire takes place in London and Paris of 1946. I’ve traveled to both of those cities, but only film can allow me to venture back in time. So, it’s natural that I also “cast” my book with actors to help me more clearly “see” the book as I’m writing.

My protagonist Livy Nash is a young woman of 26 in this book. She’s English and grew up in Blackpool, Lancashire. She’s working-class, direct, funny and pretty damaged when we first meet her. Livy was one of many women recruited to serve as a spy behind enemy lines during World War Two, and her war ended in tragedy. She comes home a broken woman, but soon after the book begins she’s recruited anew by Ian Fleming. Yes, that Ian Fleming.

So, the actor who plays Livy in the film or HBO series of Spitfire (hey, I’m not picky) would have to...[read on]
Visit M.L. Huie's website.

My Book, The Movie: Spitfire.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Vaneesa Cook's "Spiritual Socialists"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Spiritual Socialists: Religion and the American Left by Vaneesa Cook.

About the book, from the publisher:
Refuting the common perception that the American left has a religion problem, Vaneesa Cook highlights an important but overlooked intellectual and political tradition that she calls "spiritual socialism." Spiritual socialists emphasized the social side of socialism and believed the most basic expression of religious values—caring for the sick, tired, hungry, and exploited members of one's community—created a firm footing for society. Their unorthodox perspective on the spiritual and cultural meaning of socialist principles helped make leftist thought more palatable to Americans, who associated socialism with Soviet atheism and autocracy. In this way, spiritual socialism continually put pressure on liberals, conservatives, and Marxists to address the essential connection between morality and social justice.

Cook tells her story through an eclectic group of activists whose lives and works span the twentieth century. Sherwood Eddy, A. J. Muste, Myles Horton, Dorothy Day, Henry Wallace, Pauli Murray, Staughton Lynd, and Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke and wrote publicly about the connection between religious values and socialism. Equality, cooperation, and peace, they argued, would not develop overnight, and a more humane society would never emerge through top-down legislation. Instead, they believed that the process of their vision of the world had to happen in homes, villages, and cities, from the bottom up.

By insisting that people start treating each other better in everyday life, spiritual socialists transformed radical activism from projects of political policy-making to grass-roots organizing. For Cook, contemporary public figures such as Senator Bernie Sanders, Pope Francis, Reverend William Barber, and Cornel West are part of a long-standing tradition that exemplifies how non-Communist socialism has gained traction in American politics.
Visit Vaneesa Cook's website.

The Page 99 Test: Spiritual Socialists.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six top novels with unreliable narrators

Catherine Steadman is an actress and author based in North London, UK. Her debut novel, Something in the Water, has become a New York Times bestseller published in thirty countries with film rights optioned by Reese Witherspoon’s production company Hello Sunshine. As an actress, she has appeared in leading roles on British and American television as well as on stage in the West End, where she was nominated for a Laurence Olivier Award. She grew up in New Forest, UK, and lives with a small dog and a fairly tall man.

Steadman's new novel in the U.S. is Mr. Nobody.

At The Week magazine she tagged six of her favorite books that feature unreliable narrators. One title on the list:
Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk (1996).

A social satire about the existentialist dread brought on by consumerist societal norms, Fight Club features a narrator whose life is without meaning until he meets two enigmatic strangers. If you still haven't read this, the twist is a corker.
Read about another entry on the list.

Fight Club is among Sarah Pinborough's top ten unreliable narrators, Richard Kadrey's top five books about awful, awful people, Chris Moss's top 19 books on how to be a man, E. Lockhart's seven favorite suspense novels, Joel Cunningham's top five books short enough to polish off in an afternoon, but deep enough to keep you thinking long into the night, Kathryn Williams's eight craziest unreliable narrators in fiction, Jessica Soffer's ten best book endings, Sebastian Beaumont's top ten books about psychological journeys, and Pauline Melville's top ten revolutionary tales.

--Marshal Zeringue