Thursday, May 26, 2022

Top ten novels about inheritance

Cressida Connolly is a reviewer and journalist who has written for Vogue, the Telegraph, the Spectator, the Guardian and numerous other publications. Connolly's books include The Happiest Days, which won the MacMillan/PEN Award, The Rare and the Beautiful, My Former Heart, and After the Party.

Her new novel is Bad Relations.

At the Guardian Connolly tagged ten top novels about inheritance, including:
A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley

Shakespeare’s King Lear is perhaps the most confounding fiction ever written about inheritance. Why doesn’t the favourite daughter just humour her batty old father and get the prize? This question, among others raised by the play, lodged itself in the mind of US novelist Smiley. Her novel is a subtle and at times harrowing reworking of the Lear story, in which the kingdom becomes a farm in the mid-west. As a study of how toxic a legacy may be, it is hard to better.
Read about another entry on the list.

A Thousand Acres is among Alison Espach's ten best novels featuring sisters, Renée Branum's seven novels about family curses, Lois Leveen's five novels that riff on—and rip off—Shakespeare, Stacey Swann's seven novels about family members making each other miserable, Robert McCrum's ten top Shakespearean books, Rachel Mans McKenny's eleven books about midwesterners who aren’t trying to be nice, Hannah Beckerman's top ten toxic families in fiction, Brian Boone's five books that offer a brand new take on pre-existing works, Edward Docx's top ten Shakespearean stories in modern fiction, Emma Donoghue's six best books, Anne Tyler's six favorite books, Sally O'Reilly ten top novels inspired by Shakespeare, Alexia Nader's nine favorite books about unhappy families, and John Mullan's top ten twice-told tales.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Andrew Leon Hanna's "25 Million Sparks"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: 25 Million Sparks: The Untold Story of Refugee Entrepreneurs by Andrew Leon Hanna.

About the book, from the publisher:
25 Million Sparks takes readers inside the Za'atari refugee camp to follow the stories of three courageous Syrian women entrepreneurs: Yasmina, a wedding shop and salon owner creating moments of celebration; Malak, a young artist infusing color and beauty throughout the camp; and Asma, a social entrepreneur leading a storytelling initiative to enrich children's lives. Anchored by these three inspiring stories, as well as accompanying artwork and poetry by Malak and Asma, the narrative expands beyond Za'atari to explore the broader refugee entrepreneurship phenomenon in more than twenty camps and cities across the globe. What emerges is a tale of power, determination, and dignity – of igniting the brightest sparks of joy, even when the rest of the world sees only the darkness. A significant portion of the author's proceeds from this book is being contributed to support refugee entrepreneurs in Za'atari and around the world.
Visit Andrew Leon Hanna's website.

The Page 99 Test: 25 Million Sparks.

--Marshal Zeringue

Q&A with R.W.W. Greene

From my Q&A with R.W.W. Greene, author of Mercury Rising:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

Mercury Rising -- I’m pretty sure that’s been the title since I started the thing, and I received no pushback from the publisher. The name of the series, “The First Planets,” was a collaboration but mostly the contribution of my spouse.

It would be a spoiler to talk about all the work I think the title does, but on the surface it conveys “space” and “heating up.” The cover smacks of alien invasion. On an SFF store shelf among many other titles, that’s pretty much a successful mission. The other work done may only be apparent when the reader reaches The End, maybe reads the acknowledgements, closes the book, and looks at the cover again. The title is both indirectly direct and directly indirect … and maybe a misdirection.

What's in a name?

The protagonist of Mercury Rising is Brooklyn Lamontagne. It’s a...[read on]
Visit R.W.W. Greene's website.

The Page 69 Test: Mercury Rising.

Q&A with R.W.W. Greene.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Jacinda Townsend's "Mother Country," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Mother Country: A Novel by Jacinda Townsend.

The entry begins:
The hardest question, for me, is casting. When I think of my protagonist Shannon Cavanagh, whose muted sauciness informs so much of the plot, I think of Kerry Washington. My co-protagonist, Souria Maouloud, does not speak the same language as her captors and neighbors for so much of the novel: Thandiwe Newton is an actress whose range would allow her to commit all the on-screen physicality that Souria's role would require. Shannon's husband, Vladimir Grenfell, is such an unmitigated dork, and in some way nonetheless to blame for everything that goes wrong in this novel. LaKeith Stanfield would be a perfect Vlad.

My favorite films are...[read on]
Visit Jacinda Townsend's website.

My Book, The Movie: Mother Country.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five horror books that will change your view of everyday objects

Nina Nesseth is a professional science communicator. Her background is rooted in biomedical sciences and science communication, with a special interest in human biology. She is a staff scientist at Science North in Sudbury, Ontario. In 2017, Nesseth co-authored The Science of Orphan Black: The Official Companion, published by ECW Press.

Her forthcoming book is Nightmare Fuel: The Science of Horror Films.

At Nesseth tagged "five horror novels that, at some point in my life, really made me rethink what sort of stuff I keep lying around my house." One entry on the list:
Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill

In Heart-Shaped Box, Joe Hill captures that exact spooky feeling that you get when you think you’re seeing a monster in your room but it turns out to be a pile of laundry that you left on a chair. That exact feeling, except without any sort of comforting revelation once the lights come on.

Jude spends his time and money collecting morbid memorabilia, and his most recent find—a funeral suit—comes with a major string attached in the form of a killer ghost. Some of the scariest scenes hinge on a single Shaker chair that sits in the hallways outside of Jude’s room. Jude starts to dread what might or might not be in the chair nearly every time he has to leave his bedroom, and the tension is nerve-fraying.
Read about another entry on the list.

Heart-Shaped Box is among the Telegraph's fifteen scariest books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Ben Jones's "Apocalypse without God"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Apocalypse without God: Apocalyptic Thought, Ideal Politics, and the Limits of Utopian Hope by Ben Jones.

About the book, from the author:
Apocalypse, it seems, is everywhere. Preachers with vast followings proclaim the world's end. Apocalyptic fears grip even the nonreligious amid climate change, pandemics, and threats of nuclear war. As these ideas pervade popular discourse, grasping their logic remains elusive. Ben Jones argues that we can gain insight into apocalyptic thought through secular thinkers. He starts with a puzzle: Why would secular thinkers draw on Christian apocalyptic beliefs – often dismissed as bizarre – to interpret politics? The apocalyptic tradition proves appealing in part because it theorizes a relation between crisis and utopia. Apocalyptic thought points to crisis as the vehicle to bring the previously impossible within reach, offering resources for navigating challenges in ideal theory, which involves imagining the best, most just society. By examining apocalyptic thought's appeal and risks, this study arrives at new insights on the limits of utopian hope.
Learn more about Apocalypse without God at the Cambridge University Press website, and visit Ben Jones's webpage.

Coffee with a Canine: Ben Jones & Sloopy.

The Page 99 Test: Apocalypse without God.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Brian Klingborg's "Wild Prey"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Wild Prey: An Inspector Lu Fei Mystery (Volume 2) by Brian Klingborg.

About the book, from the publisher:
The search for a missing girl sends Inspector Lu Fei undercover into the wild corners of Myanmar, and the compound of the deadly and mysterious woman warlord responsible for the illegal trafficking of exotic animals and possibly more, in the next book from Brian Klingborg, Wild Prey.

Police Inspector Lu Fei has an unfortunate talent for getting himself into hot water with powerful and well-connected people. Which is why he’s been assigned to a backwater town in a rural area of Northern China and quietly warned to keep his head down. But while running a sting operation on the sale and consumption of rare and endangered animals, Lu comes across the curious case of a waitress who has gone missing. Her last known whereabouts: a restaurant frequented by local elites, owned by smooth-talking gangster, and known for its exotic -- and highly illegal -- delicacies.

As usual, Lu's investigation ruffles some feathers, resulting in his suspension from the police force. Lu figures he's reached a dead-end. Then he's contacted by a mysterious government official in Beijing who wants him to go undercover to track down the mastermind behind an illegal animal trafficking network -- and hopefully, the answer to the fate of the missing waitress. The mission will require Lu to travel deep into the lawless wilds of Myanmar, where he will risk his life to infiltrate the hidden compound of a mysterious and ruthless female warlord in a bloody and nearly hopeless quest for justice.
Visit Brian Klingborg's website.

My Book, The Movie: Wild Prey.

Q&A with Brian Klingborg.

The Page 69 Test: Wild Prey.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Seven books that show a different side of horse girls

Courtney Maum is the author of the novels Costalegre, Touch, I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You, and the handbook Before and After the Book Deal: A writer’s guide to finishing, publishing, promoting, and surviving your first book. Her writing has been widely published in such outlets as BuzzFeed; the New York Times; O, the Oprah Magazine; and Poets & Writers.

[The Page 69 Test: I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without YouThe Page 69 Test: TouchThe Page 69 Test: Costalegre]

Maum's new book is the memoir, The Year of the Horses.

At Electric Lit she tagged seven books about "horse girls who are dirty, daring, and feminist as hell," including:
Horse Crazy: The Story of a Woman and a World in Love With an Animal by Sarah Maslin Nir

Horse Crazy is a love letter to horses and a deeply researched tribute to her fellow equine fans. Nir contrasts her journey from loneliness into belonging on horseback with the careers of everyone from the famed horse whisperer Monty Roberts to the Randall Island-based urban cowboys George and Ann Blair who gave free riding lessons to hundreds of inner-city students previously excluded from the sport because of its high cost.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Wendy Rouse's "Public Faces, Secret Lives"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Public Faces, Secret Lives: A Queer History of the Women's Suffrage Movement by Wendy L. Rouse.

About the book, from the publisher:
Restores queer suffragists to their rightful place in the history of the struggle for women’s right to vote

The women’s suffrage movement, much like many other civil rights movements, has an important and often unrecognized queer history. In Public Faces, Secret Lives Wendy L. Rouse reveals that, contrary to popular belief, the suffrage movement included a variety of individuals who represented a range of genders and sexualities. However, owing to the constant pressure to present a “respectable” public image, suffrage leaders publicly conformed to gendered views of ideal womanhood in order to make women’s suffrage more palatable to the public.

Rouse argues that queer suffragists did take meaningful action to assert their identities and legacies by challenging traditional concepts of domesticity, family, space, and death in both subtly subversive and radically transformative ways. Queer suffragists also built lasting alliances and developed innovative strategies in order to protect their most intimate relationships, ones that were ultimately crucial to the success of the suffrage movement. Public Faces, Secret Lives is the first work to truly recenter queer figures in the women’s suffrage movement, highlighting their immense contributions as well as their numerous sacrifices.
Visit Wendy Rouse's website.

The Page 99 Test: Her Own Hero.

My Book, The Movie: Her Own Hero.

The Page 99 Test: Public Faces, Secret Lives.

--Marshal Zeringue

Q&A with Susan Furlong

From my Q&A with Susan Furlong, author of What They Don't Know:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

The title, What They Don’t Know, propels the reader directly into a twisty story where they meet Mona Ellison, a seemingly normal suburban housewife with a devastating secret. Her life appears perfect to those around her, until her son goes missing, and the police show up accusing him of a heinous crime. Her quest to find her son and prove his innocence, leads her on a trial of social media clues through the sinister side of suburbia where she finds she’s been betrayed by those she trusted most. Or is it Mona who can’t be trusted? Readers will have fun trying to figure out what the characters do or don’t know, and who...[read on]
Visit Susan Furlong's website.

My Book, The Movie: Splintered Silence.

The Page 69 Test: Splintered Silence.

Writers Read: Susan Furlong (December 2018).

Q&A with Susan Furlong.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 23, 2022

Nine novels featuring teens behaving badly

Davida G. Breier was born in Miami, FL and spent her formative years in Florida, rural Minnesota, urban New Jersey, and suburban Pennsylvania. She’s worked as a youth sports photographer, TV extra, substitute teacher, jewelry maker, bookseller, and ATM cleaner. Breier discovered the world of zines and independent publishing in 1994 and Baltimore’s City Paper awarded her with “Best Local Zinester” in 2000 and “Best Zine” in 2003. She won the Literary Death Match, Baltimore 3.0 event in 2011. She’s spent the last two decades in various roles within the book industry and currently works for Johns Hopkins University Press. Breier lives in Maryland with her family, a pack of wee rescue dogs, a rescue tortoise, and two companion chickens.

Her new novel is Sinkhole.

At CrimeReads Breier tagged nine books featuring teens behaving badly, including:
This Is How I Lied by Heather Gudenkauf

Again, we have adults reckoning with their deadly lies as teenagers. Twenty-five years ago, sixteen-year-old Eve Knox was found murdered in her hometown of Grotto, Iowa. Discovered by her best friend, Maggie, and Eve’s peculiar sister Eve, there were multiple suspects, but the case was never closed. Maggie father was Chief of Police, so it’s no surprise that Maggie also goes into law enforcement. Now, twenty-five years later, Maggie is faced with a new piece of evidence and begins unearthing secrets, including her own.
Read about another entry on the list.

This Is How I Lied is among Nicole Baart's six top Midwestern mysteries.

The Page 69 Test: This Is How I Lied.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Elizabeth D. Leonard's "Benjamin Franklin Butler"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Benjamin Franklin Butler: A Noisy, Fearless Life by Elizabeth D. Leonard.

About the book, from the publisher:
Benjamin Franklin Butler was one of the most important and controversial military and political leaders of the Civil War and Reconstruction eras. Remembered most often for his uncompromising administration of the Federal occupation of New Orleans during the war, Butler reemerges in this lively narrative as a man whose journey took him from childhood destitution to wealth and profound influence in state and national halls of power. Prize-winning biographer Elizabeth D. Leonard chronicles Butler’s successful career in the law defending the rights of the Lowell Mill girls and other workers, his achievements as one of Abraham Lincoln’s premier civilian generals, and his role in developing wartime policy in support of slavery’s fugitives as the nation advanced toward emancipation. Leonard also highlights Butler’s personal and political evolution, revealing how his limited understanding of racism and the horrors of slavery transformed over time, leading him into a postwar role as one of the nation’s foremost advocates for Black freedom and civil rights, and one of its notable opponents of white supremacy and neo-Confederate resurgence.

Butler himself claimed he was “always with the underdog in the fight.” Leonard’s nuanced portrait will help readers assess such claims, peeling away generations of previous assumptions and characterizations to provide a definitive life of a consequential man.
Follow Elizabeth D. Leonard on Twitter.

The Page 99 Test: Benjamin Franklin Butler.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Chris Pavone's "Two Nights in Lisbon"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Two Nights in Lisbon: A Novel by Chris Pavone.

About the book, from the publisher:
You think you know a person...

Ariel Pryce wakes up in Lisbon, alone. Her husband is gone—no warning, no note, not answering his phone. Something is wrong.

She starts with hotel security, then the police, then the American embassy, at each confronting questions she can’t fully answer: What exactly is John doing in Lisbon? Why would he drag her along on his business trip? Who would want to harm him? And why does Ariel know so little about her new—much younger—husband?

The clock is ticking. Ariel is increasingly frustrated and desperate, running out of time, and the one person in the world who can help is the one person she least wants to ask.

With sparkling prose and razor-sharp insights, bestselling author Chris Pavone delivers a stunning and sophisticated international thriller that will linger long after the surprising final page.
Visit Chris Pavone's website.

See: Chris Pavone: five books that changed me.

Coffee with a Canine: Chris Pavone & Charlie Brown.

The Page 69 Test: The Expats.

The Page 69 Test: The Accident.

The Page 69 Test: The Travelers.

The Page 69 Test: The Paris Diversion.

The Page 69 Test: Two Nights in Lisbon.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 22, 2022

Coffee with a canine: Ben Jones & Sloopy

Featured at Coffee with a Canine: Ben Jones & Sloopy.

The author, on how Sloopy got her name:
The inspiration for Sloopy's name is "Hang on Sloopy" by the McCoys -- the official rock song of the state of Ohio and a favorite of the Ohio State University (my alma mater) Marching Band. It yields no shortage of nicknames: Sloop, Sloop dog, the Great Sloop, the...[read on]
About Ben Jones's new book, Apocalypse without God: Apocalyptic Thought, Ideal Politics, and the Limits of Utopian Hope, from the publisher:
Apocalypse, it seems, is everywhere. Preachers with vast followings proclaim the world's end. Apocalyptic fears grip even the nonreligious amid climate change, pandemics, and threats of nuclear war. As these ideas pervade popular discourse, grasping their logic remains elusive. Ben Jones argues that we can gain insight into apocalyptic thought through secular thinkers. He starts with a puzzle: Why would secular thinkers draw on Christian apocalyptic beliefs – often dismissed as bizarre – to interpret politics? The apocalyptic tradition proves appealing in part because it theorizes a relation between crisis and utopia. Apocalyptic thought points to crisis as the vehicle to bring the previously impossible within reach, offering resources for navigating challenges in ideal theory, which involves imagining the best, most just society. By examining apocalyptic thought's appeal and risks, this study arrives at new insights on the limits of utopian hope.
Coffee with a Canine: Ben Jones & Sloopy.

--Marshal Zeringue

Nine top road trip novels

Bud Smith works heavy construction and lives in Jersey City, NJ. He is the author of Teenager (2022), Double Bird (2018), Dust Bunny City (2017), among others. His fiction has been published in The Paris Review, The Believer, The Baffler, and The Nervous Breakdown, and many others (collected below). He is also a creative writing teacher and editor.

At Lit Hub he shared nine of his favorite road trip novels, including:
Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove

As realistic as any other fairytale, this fairytale is about a cattle drive from Texas to the snow peaked tip of North America in the late 1870s. Two ex-Texas Rangers have heard a rumor that Montana is just about to open up for cattlemen, so they steal a bunch of Mexican livestock and head off on a drive. What follows is a list of every kind of natural disaster, Biblical in scope, a tale of friendship and denial, and a deep love story. Poignant. Sad as hell at the start of the page and then two paragraphs later the highest adventure you’ve ever seen. Despite its length, a breezy read.
Read about another entry on the list.

Lonesome Dove may just be The Great Texas Novel. It is among Louis De Berniéres's six best books and Ann Brashares' six favorite books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Dan Hassler-Forest's "Janelle Monáe’s Queer Afrofuturism"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Janelle Monáe’s Queer Afrofuturism: Defying Every Label by Dan Hassler-Forest.

About the book, from the publisher:
Singer. Dancer. Movie star. Activist. Queer icon. Afrofuturist. Working class heroine. Time traveler. Prophet. Feminist. Android. Dirty Computer.

Janelle Monáe is all these things and more, making her one of the most fascinating artists to emerge in the twenty-first century. This provocative new study explores how Monáe’s work has connected different media platforms to strengthen and enhance new movements in art, theory, and politics. It considers not only Monáe’s groundbreaking albums The ArchAndroid, The Electric Lady, and Dirty Computer, but also Monáe’s work as an actress in such films as Hidden Figures and Antebellum, as well as her soundtrack appearances in socially-engaged projects ranging from I May Destroy You to Us. Examining Monáe as a cultural icon whose work is profoundly intersectional, this book maps how she is actively reshaping discourses around race, gender, sexuality, and capitalism. Tracing Monáe’s performances of joy, desire, pain, and hope across a wide range of media forms, it shows how she imagines Afrofuturist, posthumanist, and postcapitalist utopias, while remaining grounded in the realities of being a Black woman in a white-dominated industry. This is an exciting introduction to an audacious innovator whose work offers us fresh ways to talk about identity, desire, and power.
Visit Dan Hassler-Forest's academic website and follow him on Twitter.

The Page 99 Test: Janelle Monáe’s Queer Afrofuturism.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Q&A with Brian Klingborg

From my Q&A with Brian Klingborg, author of Wild Prey: An Inspector Lu Fei Mystery:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

There is an art to creating a good book title. It must be catchy, suggestive of the plot without giving too much away, and not something that dozens of other authors have already used for their books.

The working title of the first book in the Inspector Lu Fei series was City of Ice. Pretty catchy, I thought. And relevant, as the book is set in the northern part of China, near Harbin, which is, in fact, nicknamed City of Ice. Unfortunately, many other authors, mostly writing in the fantasy genre, had already used that title. So, in the end, we had to change it to Thief of Souls. Although Thief of Souls is a good title, I’m not sure it let readers know what to expect. As I said to my editor, it sounds a bit like a 1980s synth-heavy pop song by Stevie Nicks.

The plot of this next book, Wild Prey, revolves around the illegal animal trade in China and Myanmar. In keeping with the criteria – catchy, relevant, unique – I came up with a variety of titles that included words like “meat,” “raw,” “butcher,” and so on. Okay, so perhaps I was going for lurid, rather than catchy.

After some back and forth, my editor and I narrowed the choices to either Wild Prey or The Quarry. We both liked The Quarry best – it was evocative and somewhat “literary.” However, when I started polling friends to see if they knew...[read on]
Visit Brian Klingborg's website.

My Book, The Movie: Wild Prey.

Q&A with Brian Klingborg.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: R.W.W. Greene's "Mercury Rising"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Mercury Rising by R.W.W. Greene.

About the book, from the publisher:
Even in a technologically-advanced, Kennedy-Didn’t-Die alternate-history, Brooklyn Lamontagne is going nowhere fast. The year is 1975, thirty years after Robert Oppenheimer invented the Oppenheimer Nuclear Engine, twenty-five years after the first human walked on the moon, and eighteen years after Jet Carson and the Eagle Seven sacrificed their lives to stop the alien invaders. Brooklyn just wants to keep his mother’s rent paid, earn a little scratch of his own, steer clear of the cops, and maybe get laid sometime in the near future. Simple pleasures, right? But a killer with a baseball bat and a mysterious box of 8-track tapes is about to make his life real complicated…
Visit R.W.W. Greene's website.

The Page 69 Test: Mercury Rising.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven novels where fun & games threaten to turn fatal

Heather Chavez is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley’s English literature program and has worked as a newspaper reporter, editor, contributor to mystery and television blogs, and in public affairs for a major health care organization. She lives with her family in Santa Rosa, California.

Blood Will Tell is Chavez's new novel.

At CrimeReads she tagged "seven novels that are a lot of fun for readers, if not for their game-playing characters." One title on the list:
The Last One, Alexandra Oliva

Twelve contestants are sent into the woods to participate in a reality TV contest. The host shares a secret with the audience back home: The game will continue until only one of them remains. At first, the contestants compete as a group, and prizes are awarded. Typical reality TV stuff. But when they split up, the line between what is a game and what is reality blurs. When one of them—a young woman the producers call Zoo—stumbles across a ransacked grocery store and what might be a dead body, she thinks it’s another challenge. But is it? The opening line is a stunner: “The first one on the production team to die will be the editor.” But can the reader trust even that?
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 69 Test: The Last One.

Q&A with Alexandra Oliva.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 20, 2022

What is Linda L. Richards reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Linda L. Richards, author of Exit Strategy.

Her entry begins:
Considering the type of fiction I write, this may sound odd. But. I’m very careful with my diet of media. I currently find myself in a place where I feel the need to be mindful of what I think about. Mindful about the things I dwell on and the dark corners I visit in my thoughts. I think it was Buddha who said: “We are what we think, all that we are arises with our thoughts, with our thoughts we make the world.”

If that is true — and my heart believes it is — then we need to be clear with ourselves about what we immerse ourselves in. Especially since, when crafting works as densely dark as my current series, you are required to spend some time going down pretty dark roads.

With that in mind, I supply myself with a strongly positive diet of material. The music I listen to is upbeat and positive (currently loving "Alright" by KYTES, "4 Mains" by Wim Mertens, "Soulfight" by The Revivalists and a whole lot of music you would describe as Ambient). The shows I watch are bright and fuel my soul (recently binged Emily in Paris and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel). When it comes...[read on]
About Exit Strategy, from the publisher:
A shattered life. A killer for hire. Can she stop?

Her assignments were always to kill someone. That’s what a hitman—or hitwoman—is paid to do—and that is what she does. Then comes a surprise assignment—keep someone alive!

She is hired to protect Virginia Martin, the stunning and brilliant chief technology officer of a hot startup with an innovation that will change the world. This new job catches her at a time in her life when she’s disillusioned, even depressed. It’s not the crushing depression she’d suffered when she’d lost her family and abruptly started this career, but over time, the life of a hired killer has taken a toll on her spirit.

She’s confused about the “why” but she addresses her charge as she always does, with skill and stealth, determined to keep this young CTO alive in the midst of the twinned worlds of innovation and high finance.

Some people have to die as she discharges her responsibility to protect this superstar woman amid the crumbling worlds of money and future technical wonders.

The spirit of an assassin—and her nameless dog—permeates this struggle to help a young woman as powerful forces build to deny her.
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.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Ron E. Hassner's "Anatomy of Torture"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Anatomy of Torture by Ron E. Hassner.

About the book, from the publisher:
Does torture "work?" Can controversial techniques such as waterboarding extract crucial and reliable intelligence? Since 9/11, this question has been angrily debated in the halls of power and the court of public opinion. In Anatomy of Torture, Ron E. Hassner mines the archives of the Spanish Inquisition to propose an answer that will frustrate and infuriate both sides of the divide.

The Inquisition's scribes recorded every torment, every scream, and every confession in the torture chamber. Their transcripts reveal that Inquisitors used torture deliberately and meticulously, unlike the rash, improvised methods used by the United States after 9/11. In their relentless pursuit of underground Jewish communities in Spain and Mexico, the Inquisition tortured in cold blood. But they treated any information extracted with caution: torture was used to test information provided through other means, not to uncover startling new evidence.

Hassner's findings in Anatomy of Torture have important implications for ongoing torture debates. Rather than insist that torture is ineffective, torture critics should focus their attention on the morality of torture. If torture is evil, its efficacy is irrelevant. At the same time, torture defenders cannot advocate for torture as a counterterrorist "quick fix": torture has never located, nor will ever locate, the hypothetical "ticking bomb" that is frequently invoked to justify brutality in the name of security.
Learn more about Anatomy of Torture at the Cornell University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: War on Sacred Grounds.

The Page 99 Test: Religion on the Battlefield.

The Page 99 Test: Anatomy of Torture.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten of the best novels about sisters

Alison Espach is the author of the novels Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance, an Indie Next Pick and Amazon Editors’ Pick for 2022, and The Adults, a New York Times Editor’s Choice and Barnes and Noble Discover pick.

At Publishers Weekly Espach tagged ten books in which "the sisters are the hearts of each story," including:
The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo

This is the last book I read about sisters that really blew me away. In this novel, you get to hear from all four of the Sorenson sisters and their parents about what it’s like to be in their big family. It is a huge cast and a challengingly wide scope for any writer to manage, but Lombardo is a master at creating individual portraits of each character. The fun is in watching the sisters grapple with their differences and marvel over their uncanny similarities. One of the best contemporary examinations of sisterhood.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Most Fun We Ever Had is among Tara Sonin's twenty-one books for fans of HBO’s Succession.

The Page 69 Test: The Most Fun We Ever Had.

--Marshal Zeringue